Health Care

Fitness trainer offers tips for sticking with a healthier lifestyle

It is January and the temperature is dipping below freezing. It is time to begin thinking about swimsuits.

To be exact, it is time to begin thinking about how you are going to look in one once June rolls around.

At this time of year, gyms traditionally get plenty of new members. Some will get their desired results and some won't.

Fitness trainer Lauren Atwell says doing things the right way can ensure success.

Atwell, who works at Planet Fitness on Woodruff Road in Columbus, said a fitness program is about more than just losing weight.

"Getting fit will make you feel better. You will sleep better. You will have more energy," she said.

A part of any good fitness program includes cardio work for the heart and lungs, but Atwell said even something as simple

as taking a brisk 30-minute walk on a treadmill must be done properly to get maximum results.

"You should not slouch when walking. You should stand erect. Also, you should not get a firm grip on the machine but have your arms moving," she said.

Atwell said one needs to be focused. She is not a fan of reading while on the treadmill. "Watching TV is OK. I have nothing against that," she said, smiling.

Atwell added that it is a good idea is to put some variety into that cardio work by using not only the treadmill but another apparatus such as a bicycle or stepper.

While the cardio workout is needed, Atwell feels mixing in some work with weights is also important when it comes to toning the body.

"Weights boost your metabolism and give you general tone," she said.

"You will also get stronger.

Atwell added that women need not worry about getting bulky from pumping iron.

But lifting weights must be done properly.

She said people should not bounce or sway their body in order to get the proper number of repetitions. If you are doing so, you are likely using too much weight, she said.

"You can hurt yourself and you are using the momentum of your body to lift the weight and not the muscles you are supposed to be working," she said.

Atwell also said people should not use a weight so light that they are not challenged, that if you can do your repetitions too easily, then you are not going to get the results you want.

The trainer said there is nothing to be gained by lifting weights fast. Lifting should be done slowly with full extension.

"Doing it right is more important than doing it fast," she said.

People should drink water before, during and after a workout. "Stay hydrated," she said.

Stretching should be done before and after exercising.

"People should set a goal. It is motivating. They should know what days and time they are going to work out and stick to it," she said.

Atwell said being a weekend warrior will not get desired results.

She has a three-day and five-day weight training plan she uses at Planet Fitness.

"People work on different body parts on different days but should get some cardio work every day," Atwell said.

For example, on the three-day plan, people work the chest and back one day, shoulders and arms on another, and the legs on the third. There is a minimum of four exercises each day with people doing 12-15 repetitions.

Atwell does not give out diet plans.

"I am not a nutritionist," she said.

But eating smaller portions and staying away from fried foods is advice she does give.

"Don't deprive yourself but don't overindulge. You should not skip meals, especially breakfast, because that is unhealthy," she said.

She also said Internet apps such as HealthyOut and ShopWell can guide you as to what are the best foods for a good diet.

Her advice to beginners: Don't expect big changes early and focus on your accomplishments and not your weaknesses.