Category Archives: Fitness Tips and Techniques

Useful hints and tips for effective fitness training, workouts, motivation, or other related issues.

Barefoot Running Guide: What You Should Know to Start Barefoot Running

Recently, barefoot running has become a huge trend in the running world. Running barefoot is actually a natural solution to some major problems runners commonly experience. Whether you choose to run with no shoes at all or very thin-soled barefoot running shoes, barefoot running reduces foot pain and other injuries associated with running.

Many people are skeptical about barefoot running. Although you may have been conditioned to think you need specialized running shoes, people have been barefoot running for thousands of years. As more people started wearing shoes, the practice declined, but in the past few years, runners have once again popularized barefoot running. These days, everyone from housewives to Olympic athletes advocate barefoot running training.

Healthier feet

One reason to choose barefoot running is that it is actually better for your feet. Even when you buy shoes that are meant for running you could end up with a wide variety of negative effects. In fact, some “specialty” running footwear actually impedes natural movement. When you repeatedly run with unnatural movement, injury is inevitable. Running barefoot can also help you avoid “heel striking” which is not the ideal way to run.

Special Footwear

The barefoot movement has inspired a new type of footwear with very thin soles that mimic barefoot running. You may have seen this strange-looking shoe which looks a bit like wearing a pair of gloves on your feet. Wearing this type of shoe can help protect your feet while still giving you the benefits of barefoot running training.

Starting Out: Barefoot Running Guide

It will take your feet some time to develop a tough sole on the bottom of your feet. Even if you are an experienced runner, you should ease yourself into barefoot running so you can give your feet time to develop a thicker skin.

Before you go run five miles with no protection at all, consider purchasing barefoot running shoes. If you run without any footwear at all, you could risk cutting your foot or stepping in something unpleasant. Most large sports stores now carry barefoot running shoes; check with the store to see which shoe will work best for you.

Just because barefoot running training is trendy, doesn’t mean it’s the right exercise for you. Especially if you have experienced foot injuries in the past, barefoot running is probably not a good fit for you. Barefoot running is also not ideal for older runners.

In the beginning, barefoot running can be quite painful. Is the pain worth it? There are many runners who swear by barefoot running, so if you experience some pain, perhaps you should make an effort to “play through the pain”. The satisfaction you feel from barefoot running could be worth a little initial pain.

This barefoot running guide can give you an overview of this topic, but only you and your doctor can decide whether barefoot running training is the right choice. This type of running is well-suited for individuals who are adventurous, patient, and athletic. Does this sound like you? If so, you might want to try barefoot running and get started on this adventure today.

Do you have questions or comments about barefoot running? Please post a comment below, your input helps me fine-tune the content of this site to your needs, as well as give other readers extra input before they make important running decisions.

The Importance of Tracking Weight and Measurement Changes

It’s really easy to get discouraged when you’re first setting out on new fitness or weight loss goals, or when you’re getting really close to your goal and it takes longer to see results. I think it’s safe to say that discouragement is the top reason that people don’t make a lasting lifestyle change when they’ve decided that they really don’t like their current condition.

Possibly the best way to fight discouragement is to track your progress regularly from the time you start on a new fitness path. The more ways you have to check your progress, the better chance there is that there will be some good news for you whenever you start feeling discouraged.

Like everything else, the body and its functions are cyclical – and, as women, we DEFINITELY know all about that! It can be so easy to watch an average weight loss of one or two pounds a week, and then feel the creeping feelings of despair when that drops off or you even increase in weight for a couple of weeks.

By logging your weight and measurements every week throughout the course of reaching for your weight loss or fitness goals, you can get a lot better acquainted with the normal cycles of your body and realize when it’s a normal increase. You can also look at measurement changes and determine whether stalling in weight loss, or gaining weight, could simply be the result of gaining more muscle.

Achieving substantial weight loss and fitness goals can take a long time, and it is so great to be able to look back at the progress week-by-week since you started. On days you’re discouraged, looking back and realizing that even with that two-pound gain you’re still 37 pounds below where you started can be an excellent pick-me-up.

I’ve used just a simple Excel spreadsheet to track my progress with weight and waist, hip, thigh, arm, and chest measurements since 2008 (with a short break throughout pregnancy…it just didn’t seem fair or useful to add that in). Trust me, I’m still a LONG way from my goals, but when I see measurements still 2”-5” below my start size and a weight still 40lbs less, even seven weeks post-baby, it shows me that the past two years have certainly not been wasted and it’s definitely worth jumping back into the swing of things and working out, running, and just enjoying life.

Resources in Sheridan, Wyoming for Meeting New Year’s Weight Loss and Fitness Goals

Happy New Year’s from Sheridan, Wyoming, everyone! With two weeks left to go before the doctor gives the okay for me to cut loose and start exercising again, it’s time to start looking at some of the options. For those who are local to Sheridan, Wyoming, there are some excellent low-cost resources for losing weight in accordance with those New Year’s resolutions, which will allow us all to keep up with those plans of action even in the bitter cold weather.

Depending on which part of Sheridan you’re living in, there is a great option for general fitness training that will help get you conditioned for the warm months. My personal favorite option is the Holiday Inn – and not just because it’s near my own home, not far from Sheridan Community College. The Holiday Inn offers a great monthly price for the use of their pool, hot tub, sauna, and weight room. For just $15 per month for an individual or $35 per month for families, you can have unlimited access to these particular amenities. The pool room (which also includes the hot tub and sauna) closes at 11:00 p.m., but you can go to the weight room at any time of day or night, it’s open 24 hours!

I used to go to the Sheridan, Wyoming Holiday Inn weight room regularly, and have yet to have to share the place with anyone I didn’t bring with me. They have a recumbent exercise bike, a couple of treadmills, a couple of great elliptical machines, and some great weight-lifting machines that allow you to really target different areas of your body for great toning. I used to be quite a night owl, and really loved having this option that would allow me to work out at 1:30 in the morning, and it’s a lot safer than the bike path at night.

The YMCA has some awesome weight rooms and pools, though you do have to abide by their set hours. One of the great benefits of the Sheridan YMCA, though, is that they offer time with fitness experts to help you develop a good weight training regimen for yourself that is custom-tailored around any weaknesses you may have. For instance, when I was going there regularly I had a bad left knee and a weak left wrist from a previous break. They were able to explain what kind of limitations this put on me, and suggest some great exercises to help strengthen my weak points. The YMCA also boasts some great classes and teams to help super-charge your exercise goals – including Tae Kwon Do and indoor soccer.

Finally, Sheridan, Wyoming, does still boast a very discreet Curves that is located just off of main street. It’s very central, and it’s in a basement so no one can even look in the windows at you exercising. An enthusiastic Zumba group meets regularly at Scotty’s Skate Castle, and the Sheridan bike path is a beautiful scenic walk, run, or ride even in the middle of winter.

My own New Year’s resolutions include attending at least three fun runs this year, and I hope to see some of you there, or have others join in a similar goal from distant locations. I also plan on reducing my post-baby dimensions down to a point that I am comfortable with, and I will shortly be posting my current and goal measurements for the year. I do not own a scale, and while weight may be somewhat important, I do believe that the inches are even more telling of progress – and I have measuring tapes. Once the weather warms up a little bit, I plan on including the Sheridan Dog & Cat Shelter into my normal fitness routine as well – do not underestimate the motivational power of a dozen pairs of puppy-dog eyes begging you to take them for a walk, too, before you pack up and go home for the day.

Where are you reading this from? I’d love to hear about fitness opportunities in your particular area that other readers may be able to benefit from. Please post a comment with your location (or, if you’re uncomfortable giving it, just the state) and the types of opportunities you’ve found in your area that might help others keep their fitness goals.
With that, Happy New Year’s to all, and may your resolutions become your reality this year. It takes a lot of work to make most resolutions come true, but deliberate action can achieve even your wildest goals, so hang in there!

The Importance of Proper Breathing During Exercise

I had planned to make my next post about good exercises for toning triceps, but with Christmas upon us and New Year’s weight loss and fitness resolutions just around the corner, touching on the importance of proper breathing during a workout stuck out as an important precursor before getting into the actual exercises. One of the biggest issues people have with sticking to an exercise regimen is that they get too tired or it’s unpleasant because of cramps, muscle burn, and all those other wonderful side-effects. Some people think you just plain have to have those in an effective workout, but that’s not entirely true.

Breathing properly during a workout is extremely important. All of the oxygen in your blood stream has to come from your lungs first, and if you’re having a hard time keeping those lungs full then your heart ends up working overtime. Your body temperature will rise faster, your heart will beat a heck of a lot faster and harder, and you end up with the feeling that you can’t catch your breath. This is not the kind of workout you can sustain, and it’s certainly not fun.

Proper workout breathing techniques have a number of purposes, and of course the first one is to get oxygen into your body during a workout. The lack of sufficient oxygen to keep waste removed from your hard-working muscle tissues causes lactic acid to build up, and those muscles start to burn. Proper breathing can stave off this burn, cause it to last for shorter periods of time, and help you reach that “second wind” a lot faster.

Finally, the proper type of breathing during a workout can help you reach the goals you want and stick to them better and for longer. You won’t tire as easy when you use proper breathing techniques during your workout so you’ll be able to go for longer periods of time without rest, which translates into more time within your target heart rate range for maximum fat-burning and muscle-building.

Where to get started? I’d suggest learning how to do these workout breathing techniques. You could go wandering around the web and see what good information you can find, but I’ve decided to make it a little bit easier – I wrote my own article on the subject. I’ll link my article on how to breathe during workouts for your education and approval. Bear in mind that these breathing techniques should be used during all workouts, no matter how low-impact they may be.

As always, please feel free to post with any questions or comments, any suggestions on what you’d like to see next are greatly appreciated. If you have any comments on the linked article, please feel free to also leave those on this post, since any sent to me through Helium will be sent to my private inbox where the other members of the community here can’t benefit from them.