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You Better Work

The holidays are over, time to get back into shape


The holidays are over and that means one thing: that "I can eat anything I want because it's a holiday" card is null and void and all you're left with is the lingering reminder of pie for breakfast and skipped workouts.

With that nagging New Year's resolution to get in shape looming in your mind, BW offers some tips from the pros on getting started.

• Get a baseline: Nobody wants to do it, but you've got to know where you're starting, so "break the dust off the scale and be brave enough to step up there," said Kimberly Justus, health and fitness program coordinator for the Downtown YMCA. Once you've got your starting weight, take some body measurements and go online to find your body mass index. Justus suggests weighing yourself no more than once a week and taking measurements once a month.

• Don't get overambitious: Jessica Smith-Blockley, a physical therapist at Therapeutic Associates, said her office often sees the results of when people try to do too much, too fast. "If you ease into it, it's a lot safer and you have a lot better chance of success," she said.

• Move: Yes, it seems simple, but just getting off your sedentary butt will help you tone it up. Justus suggests creating reasons to move a little more—park in the back of the lot or take the stairs.

• Mix and match: For best results, combine cardio with strength training.

• Add some weight: To loose weight, you need to tote some extra around in the form of hand weights resistance bands. By adding weights to your regular routines, be it walking or assorted cardio, you can build more lean muscle and jump-start your metabolism, Justus said.

• Take many small walks: If you don't have time to do one killer workout, try taking several 10-minute walks throughout the day. Each time you get up and out, you increase your metabolism. And that calorie burn doesn't stop when you do, it stays elevated even after you sit back down, Justus said.

• Active television viewing: No need to just sit there when you could be doing some squats or working that core. Try using hand weights to do some shoulder presses or biceps curls while seated—holding your abs nice and tight, of course.

• Eat: We hear it all the time, but we all need some reminding not to skip meals. Cutting calories shouldn't come in the form of cutting meals. Justus said everyone should eat at least three meals a day, but she advises flipping the usual mindset. Try eating your largest meal for breakfast, a little less at lunch and then having a light dinner.

• Don't forget to stretch: Smith-Blockley said a little focus on flexibility prevents injuries, but unlike what we were all taught in PE class, stretch after your workout, not before.

• Getting specific: Need some more precise direction? Smith-Blockley suggests the following exercises that you can do at home.

• Deep squats, to strengthen hips and knees. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat deeply while keeping your head and chest high. Do three sets of 10.

• Bridging, for trunk strength. Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and your arms at your sides. Slowly raise your rear up until your torso creates a straight line to your knees. Do three sets of 10.

• Push-ups, for chest strength. Good, old-fashioned push-ups, lowering yourself to within a few inches of the floor. Beginners can start on their knees if needed. Do three sets of 10.

• Lunges (with weight), for strengthening glutes and thighs. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, your back straight and head up. Step one leg forward and bend until the thigh is parallel to the floor. Alternate legs and do three sets of 10.

• Back extensions, to strengthen the trunk. Kneel on the floor with your hands flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart, in a tabletop pose. Holding your abs tight, extend one arm and the opposite leg, alternating side to side. Do three sets of 10.

• Dips, to strengthen triceps. Using a bench or chair for support, place your hands on the edge with your body facing away from the bench/chair. With your legs extended in front of you, slowly lower your body almost to the floor, then press back up until your arms are straight. Do three sets of 10.

• Heel raise, for strengthening calves. Using a step, balance on your toes, with your heels off the step. Rise up on your toes as high as possible, then lower back down. Do three sets of 10.