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Is Your Body Ready for Summer?
March 18, 2014


I know you’re ready for the cold days of winter to be history, right? I mean, who isn’t? But if you are like a lot of folks, there may be some slight hesitancy with the anticipation of the arrival of warmer weather. Here it is, people! All around us flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, squirrels are playing, and bees are buzzing. What does all this mean? Oh, I think you know where I am going with this...fewer clothes. That’s right. Soon and very soon we will be baring much more of our bodies than we have in several months. This raises the question: Are you ready for the unveiling?

Not to worry. There is still time to remedy the situation. There is only one prerequisite. You have to get off your booty and move, NOW! There is no time to waste. So, let’s talk about an actual plan to get this year’s body into last year’s swimsuit and looking better than ever. Good idea? I thought so too!

So, what are the three things? 1) Cardiovascular exercise, 2) strength train, and 3) proper nutrition. That’d be the trifecta we are after!

Be sure and read the ACSM Cardio Guidelines before beginning cardio training. Also, check with your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.If you are just beginning cardio training, you will need to sort of ease into this. By that I mean, don't hit the treadmill running for an hour on your first day. Start out slowly beginning with 20 minutes (especially if you are in poor condition or very overweight) and increase your time by 5 minutes a week until you have reached your desired duration. This is called progressive training. Since you are now exercising what was once a non-exercising body, you will also be utilizing the overload principle by making it work harder than it is used to. These are two of the essential fundamental principles of exercise.

By starting out slowly and progressing in this manner we will avoid injury due to over-training. Be patient, but be persistent. All in good time my friend. Beginning cardio training is the hardest part. The main thing is to get started and stick with it.

If you are already doing cardio, kudos to you. If weight loss is your desire and you’ve been doing moderate intensity and long duration workouts, I suggest you kick it up a notch a couple of times a week with a high intensity interval training session. This is done by alternating short bursts of high intensity with active recovery, which is typically a less intense form of the original activity, i.e., warm up for 5 minutes then do 1 minute at high intensity and 2 minutes at moderate, then back to 1 minute high, etc. for the duration of anywhere from 6 to 15 minutes then cool down for around 5 minutes. Feel free to be creative with those parameters.

If you aren’t strength training, you are missing out on the magic bullet of fitness training. You will burn more calories even at rest if you partake in a good strength training program, so get started with this pronto! Be sure and read the Strength Training Guidelines before actually beginning your routine.

If you are already strength training, kudos to you again! If not, start with doing at least 8-10 strength training exercises targeting every major muscle group on 2-3 nonconsecutive days a week. This means chest, back, shoulders, arms, and legs. A list of exercises such as chest press, shoulder press, lat pulldown, biceps curl, triceps pressdown, squats, leg extension, leg curl, calf press, crunches, twist crunches, and back extensions would fit the bill perfectly!

I actually demonstrate all those exercises at my website at If you are just beginning strength training you will want to start out the first week with one set for each exercise and do 10 to 15 repetitions each. On the second week, begin doing 2 sets of everything for 8 to 12 reps. Find a weight that makes the last 2 repetitions very challenging yet still doable in good form. For more info on how to do these exercises properly consult my website.

Due to lack of space in this newsletter, I will continue with nutrition tips and secrets for shedding winter weight in next month’s edition. For now, this should get you started nicely: Stop eating so darn much! Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud? Seriously, this is advice I am giving myself as well, and if it’s good enough for the goose...well, I think you get my gist. Portion control is one of the biggest problems with weight loss and weight control. Begin by eating about half the amount of food that you’ve been eating and watch the scales and your belly go down. Of course I am speaking very generally here. A calorie count of under 1200 for women and 1800 for men is never a good idea ever. Keep an eye out for your next Straightforward Fitness Flash newsletter where I will go into much more detail on proper caloric intake and healthy nutrition advice to help ensure your fitness goals are reached before it’s time to slip into those Speedos!

DISCLAIMER: Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise or nutrition plan.

For more tips and info that can help you get better results from your fitness plan, be sure and check out my new eBook So You Joined a Gym...Now What? Part II Essential Workout Tips & Secrets for Beginners: How to Exercise & Train Smart." The information in this book will kick your workouts into overdrive, no matter what your level of fitness. Because it matters HOW YOU WORKOUT! This book will show you how. Go to Smashwords for any other format that isn't covered at Amazon.

Since the main topic in this newsletter is getting our summer bodies ready, I thought we'd focus on crunches today. Nothing sets off a swim suit like a nice I right? And nothing works it better in my opinion than a properly performed stability ball crunch, also known as Swiss Ball Crunch.

Swiss Ball Crunch
Primary Muscle Groups Worked:
Total abdominals

To see a video of this exercise click here.

Preparation: Sit on the ball and then walk your feet away while simultaneously going down into a lying position, allowing the ball to stop at the lumbar spine area or the lower back. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees should be bent at a 90 degree right angle.

Execution: Place your hands across your chest (beginner) or behind your head (intermediate or advanced) and slightly curl you head neck and shoulders towards your pelvis. Exhale your air through your mouth as you come up and pause for a second as you empty your lungs completely at the top of the move, then slowly return to the start. Repeat for as many reps as you can until failure.

TIPS: 1) This is a subtle move of only a couple of inches. Remember, it is a crunch, not a sit-up. While simultaneously curling up, envision doing an accordion-type contraction with your abdominal muscles while pushing your belly button into the ball. 2) Never pull with your hands and always do slow, controlled moves—never bouncy or jerky. 3) Keep the same distance between your chin and chest at all times (pretend you have an orange lodged there), leading with the shoulders—your head and neck are only along for the ride. 4) Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. This will help ensure that your butt doesn't drop too low on the ball.

HEREIN LIES THE CHALLENGE: Control the speed, and always exhale on the way up. For more help with core stability ball training go to Core Training.

Okay, peeps! You know I usually like to make you think, cry, or laugh with these vids, right? This month I decided to go with a "get up and move" video that also encourages you to live your truth and be BRAVE. You could be amazing, you could turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug! Which will it be? Whatever you do...I pray this video inspires you to bravely live YOUR truth. Click here to view.

Be sure and check out my new blog site! Just click here. to head on over and give it a read! I will be posting a new blog in the next few weeks.

Please sign up for my mailing list and subscribe to my blog so that you can be informed when I post a new blog. I am a believer in less is more so don't worry about being inundated with posts telling you every time I had a snack or a new thought. On the other hand, I hope you find the wait between posts worthwhile as I plan to speak directly from my "writing" soul and I look greatly forward to it.


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Thanks so much for subscribing to this newsletter and for reading it and for your support. Our relationship is reciprocal as I live and learn from all that happens in my life, just as you live and learn through yours. We are truly in this together, and I empathize with your challenges as I do my own. I promise to hang in there and learn and grow along with you, and I hope that sharing through my writing maybe helps you a smidge. If it does, that is my payback. It is why I continue to do what I do.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to pay it forward to anyone you think would like it too. That is the best compliment you could ever pay me, and I appreciate it very, very much.

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From my heart to your health,

Linda Burke, CPT

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