Tag Archives: Physical Fitness

September Celebration + How to Get More from Your Fitness Routine

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, Health & Happiness is posting some of its best articles from its first 10 years throughout the month of September.

If you like what you read here, please LIKE and SHARE this post, FOLLOW our site, and JOIN us on our Facebook page.

And if you’re in the Marquette area on Sept. 30th, please join us in celebrating our anniversary at YOUR Health & Happiness Forum from 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library.

Stay posted for more details! And please enjoy Part I of our September Retrospective!

Bodies in Motion: How to Get More from Your Fitness Routine

by Allison Cherrette

We’ve all been there. Motived by a wedding, an upcoming vacation, or general quality of life, we amp up our wellness program. We work out, we eat right, and yet something seems to be missing – the results! If your fitness program has become stagnant, consider these tips to help you stay on track, remain confident, and appreciate the improvements.

Be Realistic
Believe me, I would LOVE to have long, skinny legs like Gisele. It would be awesome. I could wear all of those mini-skirts that look so cute in the catalogues and I wouldn’t have to avoid short-shorts like the plague. Unfortunately, it’s just not anatomically possible for my body type.

We all have different bodies with different limitations, and we need to be okay with that. As a Pilates teacher, if there were one gift I could give all of my clients to help their fitness plan, it would be self-acceptance. Once we have that, we can set realistic goals, and celebrate even the smallest improvements.

If you want a fitness program that works, you have to look beyond the walls of the gym. Check in with your habits, and be honest with yourself. How much water are you consuming? Does your breath tend to be deep, or shallow? Does your dinner plate have more starches than protein? And are you sleeping?

When it comes to creating a sound wellness program, there are four aspects that are non-negotiable – a balanced diet, water, sleep, and breath. If one or all of those components are out of whack, it’s going to hinder your body from producing the best results.

Get in a Groove
If your daily workout is starting to seem like a chore, it’s time to reconsider your fitness plan. Running and weightlifting aren’t for everyone, but luckily there is oh so much out there. Think outside of the gym. If you’re not sure what’s going to inspire you, recruit a friend and go on a fitness tour. Check out the new yoga studio, try Pilates, or get outside and explore the beautiful U.P.

Once you find your fitness groove, it will come naturally. The pressure will be lifted. You’ll move more often. You’ll enjoy yourself. And you’ll achieve better results.

Focus on Quality
When you’re working to create an effective fitness program, focus less on the numbers and more on how your body feels. Joseph Pilates always said that we should never work out to the point of exhaustion. If you think about it, he has a good point. As our muscles tire, we tend to move more quickly through reps, just to get them over with. We quite literally start dragging ourselves on the treadmill just to check off that 30-minutes of cardio. Proper form? Psssh. That goes out the window.

If you ask me, the risk of injury is just not worth it. While you may have to start small, focusing on quality movements is going to give you better long-term results. And if you stick with it, you’ll be surprised by just how quickly your strength and stamina build.

Keep It Up
The number one way to achieve fitness results is to keep it up! You’ve got this. Track your progress to keep yourself motivated, and if you hit a roadblock, switch up your routine. Remember, you’re human and there are bound to be days when you’re just not feeling it. First of all, forgive yourself. Even when Zumba seems out of the question, try to get out for a slow stroll through the woods, or do some stretches in the living room.

When it comes to fitness, at the end of the day, if you’re moving, you’re headed in the right direction! For improved results remember to think holistically, be honest with yourself, and celebrate the little things.

Allison Cherrette is a PMA Certified Pilates Instructor and graduate of the 950-hour Advanced Program through The Pilates Center of Boulder. She offers group and private Pilates lessons at Bird On A Perch in Marquette. Feel free to contact her at info@birdonaperch.com with any questions.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2016 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2016. All rights reserved.



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Why Crunches Alone Don’t Make Your Middle Smaller

by Heidi Stevenson
It’s a common reaction. You decide a certain body part—your stomach, the back of your arms, the inside of your upper legs—is too big, and you seek out exercises to make it smaller. You do endless crunches, tricep kickbacks, and inner thigh lifts, only to find that said body part is stubbornly retaining its size. Why is this so? Why can’t that fabulous ab machine on TV eliminate abdominal fat as it promises to do?


When you attempt to change an isolated area of your body like your abdominal region, your triceps, (the muscle running along the back of your arms), or your adductors, (the muscle running along the inside of your upper legs), by targeting it with strength training exercises like crunches, tricep kickbacks, or inner thigh lifts alone, it’s called spot training, or spot reduction. And alone, it doesn’t work. If you are unhappy with the size of your stomach, you cannot attempt to change the shape alone and hope the problem will go away. You may already have strong muscles in that area. You might already really like the shape of those muscles.


Often though, those muscles are underneath accumulated body fat. In order to change this, you need to burn body fat. You need to focus on making your body smaller and leaner overall. If you are interested in “whittling your middle,” getting rid of the little thing swinging on the back of your arms, attacking that inner thigh jiggle, and if it is safe for you to lose weight, you need to combine the exercises targeting those areas with two things: sensible eating, and ample cardiovascular activity, which increases your heart rate—like running, biking, or swimming. In a very basic sense, taking in more calories than you burn results in accumulated body fat. Burning more calories than you take in results in loss of body fat.


Determining how many calories you should eat, and of what sort, as well as how much and what kind of activity is appropriate for you, is a complex task. You should consult professionals for help in these areas: physicians, nutritionists, personal trainers, etc. Once you have determined that your eating plan is sensible and your activity is ample for weight loss, then yes, go ahead and include those exercises to strengthen your muscles.


But make sure you are also strength training in a balanced, healthy way. Work opposing muscle groups: work your back muscles along with your abdominal muscles, your biceps along with your triceps, and your abductors along with your adductors. Work your upper body, if you’re working your lower body. Consider trying a discipline like Pilates, which includes a lot of integrative strength training (exercises in which you work a lot of muscles at once). Gaining balanced muscular strength and endurance will not only help change the shape of those underlying muscles. You’ll also be bringing that stronger body into your cardiovascular activity, making it easier to do more.


So now you are eating sensibly, including an appropriate amount of cardiovascular activity in your life, and including balanced strength training. Once you have done these things, the rest is up to your body’s natural shape and tendencies. We all have to accept that with which we are born. But you will see your body change. You will feel healthier and stronger. And really, that’s the most beautiful and perfect any of us need to be.


Heidi Stevenson is a certified group fitness instructor, currently teaching yoga, Pilates, and aquatics for the HPER Department and Recreational Sports program at Northern Michigan University. She has taught a wide variety of group fitness classes in Michigan and Pennsylvania over the last 14 years.
Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2010. Copyright Heidi Stevenson, 2010.



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