by Kathy Smith
For flat abs, try:
For strong arms, try:
For a toned butt, try:
For increased flexibility, try:
by Kathy Smith
by Kathy Smith
If there’s one area of the body most of us overlook, it’s the back. Naturally, we focus on toning the muscles we can see — our abs, legs, arms, chest, and shoulders. People don’t go around saying, “Hey! You’ve got a terrific back!” But in reality, no muscle group deserves more attention.
Think of your body as a house. Long before you start decorating, you’ve got to build a strong foundation; otherwise the structure will cave in. The foundation for your body’s strength comes from your abdominal and lower back muscles. If they’re weak, your body isn’t going to hold up. At that point, the decorating — sculpted arms and shoulders, for instance, won’t matter.
You’re especially prone to weakening your back muscles by spending a lot of time sitting at a desk or driving a car. In those poor-posture-prone positions, your back muscles tend to stretch out. If ignored, they’ll eventually lose strength. However, if you strengthen them, you’ll counter-act the tendency to slouch. You’ll stand tall, look slimmer, and project a confident image. Try out the superman exercise below to help strengthen your upper, middle, and lower back.
How to do it:
Strengthening your back muscles in order to improve your posture will help you boost your confidence. Standing tall projects to the world that you feel good about yourself, and it will make you look 10 pounds thinner…not to mention a few years younger! As we age, we need to pay more attention to our posture. By making a conscious effort to stand up straight, you fight the effects of gravity on the body. You’ll look firmer, more toned, and younger.
Medically speaking, perfecting your posture makes sense. Years of slouching can weaken your bones and put a strain on your internal organs. But when the spine is properly aligned, you’ll find you’re breathing more deeply, sitting more comfortably, and walking with more vitality.
Here’s a head-to-toe demonstration of perfect posture:
Make it happen!
by Kathy Smith
We all want to age well while not spending a fortune on anti-aging creams. No matter how many types of moisture cream and anti-aging remedies you buy, you might be missing the important and free remedies that can help us age beautifully such as exercise, good eating habits and…SLEEP! Sleep plays a major role in how well we age and how healthy we “look” (think about skin repair and rejuvenation). In fact, a good night’s sleep now appears to be every bit as important to good health as a nutritious diet and regular exercise.
When your regular sleep pattern is less than the recommended amount, it can compromise your immune system, causing symptoms like irritability and depression. We all have a bad night’s sleep from time to time. When you do, take extra care of yourself the next day. Instead of reaching for sugary or fatty snacks, focus on lean proteins, like fish, turkey or eggs that will keep you satisfied until your next meal. Then, take some time that evening to slow down and relax to ensure a better night’s sleep.
Research shows that people who exercise moderately or vigorously for at least 150 minutes a week (approximately 20 minutes a day) had better sleep quality than those who didn't.
Research shows that people who exercise moderately or vigorously for at least 150 minutes a week (approximately 20 minutes a day) had better sleep quality than those who didn't. Ready to stay on top of your exercise while benefiting from a great night of ZZZ’s? Every morning, pop in my Body Boomers Workout.
Make it happen!
by Kathy Smith
Here’s good news to kick off your day — you have an internal thermostat that’s working tirelessly to help you burn calories and torch fat….your metabolism! Even if you feel you have slow metabolism, you have the ability to speed it up to maximize the calories you burn each day, even when you’re resting. How your body burns fat and releases calories depends on several factors, and today I’ll show you the 5 BEST ways to boost your fat-burning potential.
1. Build Muscle
Your body is constantly burning calories, even when you sleep. However, muscle burns more calories than fat. So, women who have more lean muscle mass have a much higher resting metabolic rate and burn more calories, even when their bodies aren’t moving. Here are the facts: one pound of muscle burns six calories a day, while one pound of fat burns only two calories a day…and those calories add up overtime!
More importantly, muscle makes you stronger so you’re naturally more physical throughout the day. And, your other activities…from walking, to hiking to climbing up the stairs can be performed at a higher intensity, which means you’re burning even more calories in your daily life.
2. Integrate, Don’t Isolate
Using the “Integrate Don’t Isolate” method trains your body to perform functionally…the way nature intended. Whether it’s playing tag with the grandkids or hoisting a bag into the overhead compartment on a flight, real life is about twisting, bending, lifting, and pulling. This functional integration recruits multiple muscle groups and trains them to work as a team, improving your metabolism, efficiency, balance and reducing your risk of injury.
So next time you work out, try using this functional approach to focus on integration. For example, instead of doing a basic bicep curl and isolating the muscle, perform a bicep curl combined with a lunge, so that you’re incorporating both upper and lower body muscles as well as the core. Integrating multiple muscle groups in an exercise boosts metabolism and burns more calories in less time, making it a terrific timesaver.
3. HIIT It
We all want to raise our metabolic rate, even after we untie our running shoes. The key to igniting your calorie-burning engines for several hours after your workout is HIIT training (also called “interval” or “burst” training). HIIT training uses short bursts of higher intensity when you work out. For example, if you’re on a brisk walk, try amping up your intensity for 60-second bursts, then continue at a steady-state pace for 60-seconds, and continue this cycle for 10 minutes.
One of the key reasons HIIT training is so effective in helping your body shed calories is because it raises your Lactate Threshold. When you reach your lactate threshold, you’re starting to “feel the burn.” That’s the feeling of your body producing more of the waste product lactic acid than it can clear away. The more the lactic acid builds up, the more you feel the burn. The lactate threshold is what keeps you from pushing harder and breaking through your workout barriers.If you only work out at a steady state pace and don’t push yourself during your workouts, you never reach that limit. But when you push yourself to that grimace range a few times a week by doing some burst training, you raise the calorie count of your workouts and speed up your body’s natural calorie-burning engines.
4. Eat Every 3-4 Hours
When you eat is as important as what you eat. In order to rev up your metabolism, it’s important to stay on schedule, eating a small 400-calorie meal or 200-calorie snack every 3 to 4 hours. I prefer to have my meals scheduled between 8 am and 7 pm, including four meals and one snack. Do this consistently, and you’ll experience fewer hunger pangs, steadier energy levels, and you’ll be less tempted to “cheat,” thus improving your chances of weight loss success.
5. Take Turmeric
In the spice game, turmeric is a true all-star. This powerful anti-inflammatory is usually associated with spicy Indian dishes – but there’s so much more to it than that. The key ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which may just work wonders for the body. Studies suggest that curcumin can not only help speed up your metabolism but also improve your insulin production, aids in proper carbohydrate absorption, and helps clear the plaque in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s.
Make it happen!
by Kathy Smith
1. Consider Your Past Habits
You’re sitting on the couch with your friends and family watching television when a bag of salted chips comes your way. You ask yourself, “Should I have one?” You know that each chip is only about 10 calories, and that isn’t much. This is when you need to recall previous times you were in the same situation. Did you eat just one? If you didn't — and you ate half a bag, which is 600 calories, then the best decision today is to pass the bag to someone else.
2. Detach Mood From Food
Sometimes when you've had a really bad/stressful/exhausting/boring day, you arrive home and all you want is to eat a pint of ice cream and a bag of barbecue potato chips. Sound familiar? Sometimes eating is not about hunger. Mood eating is one of the most overwhelming issues for any weight-conscious person. We often turn to comfort foods for reasons other than fuel, and distinguishing the physical need from the emotional need — especially in the heat of the moment — can be one of the hardest things to do. Boredom, loneliness, anger, sadness, anxiety, frustration, and fatigue are all controlling emotions. The key is to strike a balance between knowing what you eat and understanding how you feel.
3. Make Your Home A Healthy Environment
Your environment should support your healthy eating habits. Create a positive energy in your kitchen with how you stock and organize it, just as you create a certain energy in your home with your choice and placement of furniture. Start by doing an inventory of your kitchen, then discard items that don’t fit your healthy lifestyle and may sabotage your weight loss goals.
4. Shop Smart At The Grocery Store
Although your shopping habits may change, the store you shop at doesn’t need to change. Just remember my rule of thumb — stick to the perimeter! Most markets have a similar layout. Meats, produce, and dairy are found around the perimeter, with processed foods in the center (the most concentrated area of junk “goodies” and convenience foods full of unnecessary fats, sugars, carbs, and salt). When you stay on the perimeter, you stick “close to the earth,” buying foods closest to their natural state.
Make it happen!
THE BEST EXERCISE FOR ELIMINATING ARM JIGGLE
by Kathy Smith
If that headline caught your attention, chances are good you’ve battled with “bat wings,” or upper body flab, or a little extra jiggle in your wave. Well, it’s time to change all that, once and for all. It’s time to embrace your arms.
Your arms don’t have to be a point of embarrassment. They can be your calling card (think all the media on Michelle Obama). Here are the three basic steps to waving goodbye to arm fat for good:
First things first: You’ve got to do cardio to lose arm fat. It’s all about choosing the right kind of cardio to do that. We’ve come such a long way in the fitness and wellness industries since the disco days of legwarmers. But early aerobics did get one thing right: It incorporated moves into the entire body. Cardio on a treadmill, stationary bike or outdoor jog is great, but doesn’t involve much work for the arms
To define your arms, start to look for cardio exercises that use the entire body. I’m a big fan of rowing, for example. My friend Josh Crosby created a great indoor rowing workout called Indo-Row, which is an incredibly fun and challenging group exercise class. The best part about doing a full-body workout like that is that you’re not just burning a ton of calories, your targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time, including your arms – which is crucial if you’re concerned with how to lose arm fat.
This second step is all about toning muscle. Remember, resistance training is a must.
And the best exercise might surprise you.
The NUMBER ONE EXERCISE that will help you tighten and tone your arms, your new best friend, the triangle pushup. A study at the University of Wisconsin showed that this move is the most effective exercise out there when it comes to toning the jiggly areas of the arms. Ready to try it for yourself? See video above to get started.
Also, try a sculpting workout that incorporates multiple muscle groups (once again, integration is a biggie). I love TRX classes, for example, because after a fun-filled hour, you’ve moved your body in so many different planes of directions, and you’ve used your arms for almost all of it.
As we age (especially in that 40-60 year range), we women become increasingly concerned with our arms – not just the tone, but the quality of the skin itself. Over time, we begin to lose collagen, causing that area to sag and look “creepy.” Sunlight, of course, is a major factor here.
But staving off saggy skin doesn’t have to prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors. Just make sure you come prepared. Hopefully, it goes without saying, but the first step is to always slather on some SPF. But, it’s also important to keep in mind, when it comes to your skin, you are what you wear. So next time you’re exercising outdoors, skip the tank top, and wear something that covers (at least) the upper part of the arms. I like to find a fabric that has SPF protection, like the Solumbra line.
Remember, toning your arms isn’t just about the appearance of sculpted triceps. It’s about giving yourself the strength, the confidence and the freedom to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. Whatever you’re doing, chances are good that you’d like to live life on your terms. And, strengthening the upper body is just another way to give yourself a helping hand toward reaching that goal.
To tone arms and lose fat, just think of the Three ‘UPS’
Thanks for reading,
by Kathy Smith
When we hear the word “muscle,” we generally think about the biceps, triceps, glutes and shoulders. But there’s an overlooked area of the body that deserves some much-needed attention: Your feet. Think about it: Your feet are the foundation of your body and your life. Whether you’re an elite athlete or an occasional walker, your feet are responsible for carrying you everywhere you go in life. And the numbers are staggering: the foot is comprised of over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, 26 bones and 33 joints. And at some point in our lives, almost 75% of us will experience an issue with our foot health.
I started to think more about the importance of foot health just recently. My daughter Kate is a competitive runner who went to the Olympic trials last year. Needless to say, she’s no stranger to intense physical training, and to the aches and soreness that occasionally result from it. But when she suffered a stress fracture in her foot from overuse, suddenly this part of her body she’d always taken for granted couldn’t perform its basic (and incredibly important) function. She started a new regimen for strengthening the muscles in her foot – a simple 5-minute routine that led to her recovery (and one that she still practices to this day).
These exercises can be completed during two commercial breaks, and they will save you from the months of inactivity and rehabilitation that can arise from a foot injury. Check out my instructional video, for a quick tutorial. Follow along at home or in the gym!
This experience made me reevaluate how crucial foot health really is. I started taking special care of my feet, researching the best shoes for comfort and overall protection. And my research revealed something interesting: It’s not just about our shoes. It’s also important to focus on what’s underneath them: Our socks.
And so began my love affair with the Thorlo brand of socks. Their philosophy is simple: Make the best product. (Their fantastic team often quotes the motto “We make socks, but we sell foot health.”) It’s all about the science of fat pads: The fat pads in our feet protect them from harm, but walking on hard surfaces destroys them over time. This process is accelerated when we wear poorly designed socks and shoes. So Thorlo set out to make a protective athletic sock that simulates nature’s fat pads with its specially-engineered acrylic fabric cushions.
I had the great privilege to visit Thorlo’s headquarters in Statesville, North Carolina, where I saw firsthand their dedication to quality and great craftsmanship. It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s best socks are being made in Statesville: At one time, 70% of American hosiery was produced in this small and lovely rural area. They have a long-standing tradition, with a heavy focus on quality. With the best tools, the best machinery and the best raw materials, they produce an exceptional product – a product that’s now a cornerstone of foot health for my family and me.
With these easy exercises, and amazing socks, insure that a most vital part of your body is always ready to support you and your activity goals!
Thanks for reading,
by Kathy Smith
I’ve never been a big follower of celebrity gossip, but I did notice an interesting trend in the not-so-distant past: Gwen Stefani makes headlines rocking Rockefeller Center, flaunting her signature six pack abs. Rihanna is spotted at the Heathrow airport in a midriff exposing her flat stomach. Suddenly there’s less chatter about the butts of Jennifer Lopez and the Kardashians, and a lot more focus on midsections. And you don’t have to be a pop music diva to jump on this bandwagon. No matter your age or shape, there’s no doubt about it: Abs are back!
We’d all like to tighten and tone our abs. Training with efficient abdominal exercises, however, can be a tricky matter. I like to think of it as a geography lesson. Learning about the different areas of your abdominals – and more importantly, how they all work together – is the key to a firm, flat stomach.
So let’s map out those sexy new abs, and the abdominal exercises (all of which you can find on my Tummy Trimmers DVD) that get you there:
1. Reckoning with the rectus
The Rectus Abdominis is the scientific name for the muscles that run from the rib-cage to the hips. It’s what gets you those six pack abs. And here’s the great news about six packs: We’ve all got them! It’s just a matter of strengthening them – and then burning off the layer of fat that’s covering them up (but more on that later). Working the rectus is where the classic crunch comes into play – or any movement, for that matter, that brings the shoulders closer to the hips.
2. Leaving those love handles behind
The obliques are your twisting muscles – the ones that run diagonally from the side of your ribs, to the front of your pelvis. They help on the path to a flat stomach by hemming you in, creating a waistline. Left to their own devices, however, the obliques can turn into – you guessed it – love handles. Abdominal exercises that involve rotating the midsection are great for toning the obliques – like rowing crunch.
3. Training the transverse
The Transverse Abdominus is the fancy title for the layer or sheath running across your midsection. Anytime you “suck in” to squeeze into a tight pair of jeans, you’re engaging that transverse – so this is the area with the power to make you look instantly thinner. But more importantly, it’s also a stabilizer, so it improves your posture and helps prevent back injury. The forearm plank is an excellent way to work those belly-flattening transverse muscles.
4. And don’t forget the man behind the curtain
When picking abdominal exercises, it’s common to overlook the back end. The Spinal Erector (or “Erector Spinae”) refers to the group of muscles connecting the lower and upper spine. When you make the conscious decision to sit up straight (which, hopefully, you just did), those are your spinal erector muscles at work.
It’s that simple. Great abs come from strengthening all the muscle groups of your core. The only other step between you and a flat stomach, is cutting through any excess belly fat. Check out my Tummy Trimmers DVD to help get rid of belly fat with fat-blasting tips and cardio moves.
Thanks for reading,
by Kathy Smith
If you’re feeling like you've hit a plateau and can’t seem to make progress, here are three things you can do before breakfast that will jump-start your metabolism, and set your day up for success. You can improve your body by incorporating three simple habits into your routine before breakfast each day. This isn't a gimmick or impossible goal; it is something I live by each and every morning. My days begin with a 20-minute gratitude meditation, then I press play on my iPod and listen to a playlist that includes Jack Johnson and Mumford and Sons. Create your own morning ritual by trying the following three techniques. These simple changes that will give you a jumpstart to a better body and improved health. After a while, they’ll become second nature.
1. Beverage: Do three morning shots
Start your morning off with 3 shots:
2. Activity: Roll out your mat for movements that matter
Not only does yoga help lengthen and tone muscles, but it also helps you be mindful of your breath so you make better choices throughout the day. Yoga is a simple and powerfully effective workout for toning your body and getting your muscles going. By raising your metabolic rate first thing in the morning, you’ve won half the battle towards improving your physique. A few simple yoga routines will jumpstart your body’s calorie-burning machine, and keep it burning faster all day long. Yoga has a triple benefit on your body.
Yoga is a great addition to your strength-training repertoire, especially as a morning wake up. And it prepares both your mind and body for the day ahead. Calm your mind while strengthening your muscles with Core And More, my ultimate combination of yoga and pilates. Plus, Core and More is paired with a workout calendar to take the guesswork out of planning your routine!
3. Food: Never (ever!) skip your protein!
Your day is off to a stellar start. Don’t blow it by sinking your teeth into junk food later on. Good eating begins with good planning, and that planning happens at the start of the day. Planning will help you stick to your goals, staving off those pesky extra ounces that come from indulging. Before breakfast is the perfect time to pack your lunch, select a dinner recipe, and slip a snack or two into your purse.
Breakfast sets the tone for the entire day, and you don’t want to skip your morning meal. Here’s a delectable shake recipe that has tons of healthy goodness (and even some chocolate). If you’re in the mood for something warm and comforting, try my protein-packed Santa Monica Omelet.
The before-breakfast solution to a better body is simple. Do your yoga, drink some water and green tea, and prepare healthy food. You only have one opportunity each day to put these practices into motion. Before breakfast is the golden opportunity to create a haven of health and repose before the day begins. With each morning, you’ll be taking action toward a more vibrant body.
Be sure to check out my YOGA SCULPT DVD for Activity #2!
Thanks for reading,
This is Kathy Smith - welcome to my new weekly "Fit Forever with Kathy!" blog here at CollageVideo.com. Every Friday you'll see a new post with fitness and wellness tips and tricks as well as lifestyle advice designed to lead to you an active, healthy future.
Thanks for reading.