Thursday, December 31, 2009

Win free books in January

Hope you all have fun party plans and a list of New Year's Resolutions. This is the first year in longer than I can remember that I didn't have any resolutions - I can't push myself with fitness goals, I eat anything I can keep down so the dietary goals are gone (I inhaled a Wendy's double stack the other day, my boys were shocked and then they laughed and laughed), and I'm too tired to be productive with my writing. Wow. Sob story, eh? I really am thrilled to be expecting and I figure growing a beautiful baby is a wonderful goal this year. Please share some of your goals. I'd love to dream with you.

I'm hosting a fun giveaway of books throughout the month of January on my book blog -

Here's a list of what you could win.

January 2nd - 101 Gourmet Cupcakes by Wendy Paul

January 4th - Where the Wind Blows by Caroline Fyffe

January 6th - Guided By Him…to a Thinner, Not So Stressed-Out You by Julie Morris

January 8th - Chickens in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley

January 9th - Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena

January 11th - Altered Plans by Rebecca Talley

January 13th - My Son, John by Kathi Macias

January 15th - Discipline Me Right by Mary Simmons

January 16th - The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts

January 18th - Counting the Cost by Liz Adair

January 20th - Methods of Madness by Stephanie Black

January 22nd - Altered State by Gregg Luke

January 23rd - A Tapestry of Spells by Lynn Kurland

January 25th - Women of Virtue by Jodi Robinson

January 27th - Torn Apart by Diony George

January 29th - All the Stars in Heaven by Michele Holmes

January 30th - Love Your Body by Brooke Parker

I wish I could enter!

Have a wonderful New Year,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let's Get it Started

The New Year is a-coming. Are you armed and ready with your resolutions? Every year I repeat my number one goal – improve my health and lose a bit of weight. If you share this goal, may I make a suggestion? Try strength training.


When you add strength training you bump up your metabolism and burn fat and calories even when you're reading stories to your babes. 

“Exercisers who added a total-body resistance routine lost more than twice as much body fat and four times as much belly fat as those who just did cardio workouts.” (i)

Unlike dieting, where you often see drastic weight loss that is put back on quickly, you’re less likely to regain lost pounds with strength training. It’s hard for your body to maintain dense muscle so you keep your fat-burners revving.

Here are the essentials of effective strength training:

1. Lift on each major muscle group twice a week. You can follow my blog to insure you're covering each muscle group or you can create your own schedule. My website – - has a strength training guide and You Tube videos to help you get started. You can choose to do an all-over body workout twice a week or split upper and lower body and lift four days a week, whatever works for you. If you’re short on time, one day a week will show improvements in muscle strength and density therefore increasing your metabolism.

2. Lift slow and controlled. Two counts up, four counts down. Going slower on the down (lowering or eccentric) part of the move increases strength without increasing size. Very important for women who want to increase metabolism, functional strength, and looked toned. Don't rush through the moves or you're wasting your time. Focus on each rep and make it count. It is much more effective to do four reps correctly rather than rush through twelve.

3. Good form. Head in alignment with spine, shoulders down and back, abs in, bum tucked under. It's been proven that having good posture will make you look ten pounds lighter and facilitate quicker weight loss.

4. Challenge yourself. Don't use too light of weights. Many women fear they will bulk up from strength training. It's really hard to do that without testosterone or eating a lot of extra calories. You may weigh more if you strength train (muscle weighs more than fat) but you will be a smaller size and look immensely better - that to me is worth a higher number on the scale.
Strength training will make you look and feel thinner, but only if you lift heavy enough weights to challenge your muscles. By the end of an eight to ten repetition set the muscle you are working should be exhausted. Using light weights and lots of repetitions will make you feel tired and sore but it won't improve muscle density or strength and therefore won't increase your metabolism or make your muscles look nice and sleek. I recommend women begin with at least ten-pound weights and then work up as they increase in strength. If you're on a budget, buy exercise tubing, it's inexpensive and you can alter the resistance just by changing your grip.

5. Don't waste your time. Anything that focuses on a small muscle group (i.e. inner or outer thigh exercises, forearm exercises) is a waste of your time (unless you're ten percent body fat and training for Ms. Olympia). You cannot spot reduce - which means you can't work a certain spot on your body and burn the fat off of it. You can strengthen the muscle, but fat burns off all over your body and everyone has spots where fat loves to hang out. Don't waste time on a lot of ab curls either. It's good to do stabilization ab work to have a strong middle, but curls have been proven to be ineffective. Also, don't waste your time with a lot of expensive equipment. No matter what you see on television, most of those machines are a waste of money. All you need is a set of hand weights or bands and some good shoes so you can go on a walk, run, or bike ride.

Make strength training one of your top 2010 Resolutions. Your body will love you for life.

(i) “10 Flat-Belly Shortcuts” by Alyssa Shaffer, Prevention Magazine, December 2009.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pushups - Love or hate 'em?

I've been annoyed lately with the pushup. Every aerobics class I go to the instructor demands pushup after pushup. In the weight-lifting room everyone's slugging through chest presses and more pushups. Now don't get me wrong. I love pushups. They're a fabulous and challenging exercise. What annoys me is the overuse of the chest muscles. All day long women hold babies, type on the computer, do dishes, clean the toilet (yuck) and we lean forward - stretching the back muscles, rounding the shoulders, and strengthening the chest (the purpose of the pushup). If we don't balance with some effective strengthening of the back we're going to have horrific posture.

So by all means do your pushups. They're great. But don't forget to strengthen your back with seated rows, bent-over rows, and reverse flys and to stretch your chest (my favorite is to place both hands on an open doorframe and push my chest through the door). Strengthen your back, improve your posture, and you'll look and feel great.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Interval Workout

With little time to exercise and far too high of treat consumption, intervals are a necessity for me this holiday season. It's possible to burn the same amount of calories in twenty minutes doing an interval workout as you would doing a steady-paced workout for forty minutes. But that's not all. After an interval workout your body burns calories at a higher rate for almost twenty-four hours. Also, there's been research that shows participants who included two-three interval workouts a week lost five times more body fat.

An interval workout basically means that you alternate pushing hard and going back to a moderate pace. Basically anything you can do that will increase your heart rate and get you breathing hard (add an incline, up the intensity, increase your pace). The key is to make your body work hard then give it a small break while you catch your breath. I like to time my intervals so I know I'm getting the best workout possible. I do one minute sprints followed by two-three minutes of jogging or I do a thirty seconds sprint, thirty seconds walk, thirty seconds jog. I repeat the intervals at least 4-7 times. You can time them however you like or you can just go on rating of perceived exertion and push yourself until you want to quit and then back off until you're ready to go again. I find the timing works well for me because I wouldn't go again!

How do you like to pace your interval workout? Have you personally seen the effectiveness of intervals?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flat Abs

I think most ab machines are a complete waste of your time. How dare I make such a claim when there are hundreds of ab products out there?

All I can say is the fitness companies are giving the public what it wants. Everyone is screaming for flat abs, so of course there are going to be products sold to meet that demand.

Here's the truth: Most of us have nice abs under a layer of fat. You use your abs all day long as a stabilizer and one of the best ways to train your abs to be flat is to think about holding them in throughout your day. But until we lose that fat on our abdomen with a sensible diet, challenging cardio, and effective weight training to increase metabolism, a million ab curls won't make our abs flat.

Am I saying you should give up all ab exercises? No. I'm just saying to focus on losing the extra fat and train your core with effective exercises like plank, side plank, bicycle, captain's chair (lifting knees while suspended in the captain's chair), and crunches on a ball (amazing that adding the ball makes crunches effective, but it does because of the instability of the ball). You don't need to spend a lot of money or a lot of time on your abs. Five minutes a few days a week will be enough to give you good core strength and make those abs beautiful when those last few pounds come off.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Balancing Act

From a new tip out of Prevention Magazine - Balance on one leg to improve core muscles. (i)

I love any opportunity to work my core without doing sit-ups. Here's how it works. When your body is unstable, your core muscles engage to keep you from falling. If you concentrate on holding them tight it will be even more effective.

So how do you take advantage of this instability? Do one-legged squats or add a glute press or knee lift to your lunges. Use a Bosu ball or wobble board for squats and lunges. Stand on one leg while you do upper-body moves or hold a light weight overhead when you do lower-body exercises. I also balance on one foot while brushing my teeth, cooking, or getting ready in the morning (not a good idea while applying mascara).

Any other ideas for throwing yourself off-balance?

(i) "10 Flat Belly Shortcuts" by Alyssa Shaffer, Prevention, December 2009.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love Your Body by Brooke Parker

Brooke Parker's first book, Love Your Body, has just been released. Brooke is an amazing dietitian. I've had the opportunity to listen to her speak. Her positive attitude and real-life approach made me believe I could be healthy and happy.

Here's a little information about her book:

Are you tired of dieting and feeling unsatisfied with your appearance? In this book, registered dietitian Brooke Parker shares secrets for developing a positive body image and creating your own customized eating plan. You'll also learn how to replace negative thoughts about yourself with positive, motivational thoughts.

With the tools you master in Love Your Body, the scale, the media, and your "skinny jeans" will no longer have the power to determine your mood or your life!

Topics include:

-Finding a New Relationsip with Food

-Honoring Your Hunger and Fullness

-Finding Your Own Healthy Balance

-Creating Healthy Expectations

-The Inner Dialogue

-Put an End to Worry

-Your Body is a Gift

-Eliminating the Physical Triggers

-Destructive Thinking Styles

-Pampering Activities

..and many more

Brooke Parker is a registered dietitian. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Dietetics. She currently works for USU's Student Health Center providing nutrition support for the entire student body. She specializes in Eating Disorders and has worked with this clientele for 8 years. She is passionate about helping women overcome eating disorders and body-image issues.

Brooke and her husband live in northern Utah with their three young children. She loves being a mother and all that comes with it. She also enjoys gardening, family vacations, reading, golfing, and snow skiing.

Brooke will be signing copies of Love Your Body at The Book Table in Logan, Utah - Friday, December 4th from 6-10 p.m.

Buy link for Love Your Body -

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I used to be a rah-rah. Yes, many years ago I donned a too-short skirt and my pom-poms and cheered my team to victory. Back in the days when cheerleaders wore cheerleading uniforms that covered all their sides. Our group of rah-rahs firmly believed we were supporting our team, their good luck charm. In our minds we were selfless creatures holding up the sidelines for the greater good.

To get you in the spirit of cheerleading, I have a couple of challenges for you today.

#1 Challenge – Be someone’s cheerleader.

How can you be someone’s cheerleader? Look outside yourself. It’s easy to find someone who needs a lift and make them feel good about themselves. It could be your child, spouse, sibling, neighbor, friend, or co-worker. Opportunities abound to build someone’s self-esteem. Kind words will never come around to bite you. Quite the contrary. You’ll find as you encourage and lift others your feelings of self-worth and happiness will improve.

#2 Challenge – Identify the person who cheers you on. First tell them thanks and second internalize their words.

I have been blessed with an amazing mother who truly believes I can do no wrong. Everybody deserves someone like that in their life. I hope you all have someone who makes you feel better about yourself. Many of us have the tendency to dismiss anything positive said about us. We blush and change the subject. It’s important to be humble, but at the same time you need to feel good about yourself or you won’t be able to accomplish all the good you could. Internalize the compliments you receive and use them to make yourself a better person, use them to make your corner of the world a better place.

You don’t need a short skirt to cheer your team on. Get out there and make someone feel good today.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Loving You More

Do you love yourself more than that slice of Firehouse's chicken barbecue pizza? More than that slice of Granny's apple pie? More than that bowl of Dreyer's cookie dough ice cream with homemade hot fudge?

Yesterday I decided I loved Great Harvest's pumpkin chocolate chip bread more than I loved myself and ate two slices. I've been nauseated ever since.

This saying is going to be another weapon in my arsenal of "how to trick myself into making healthy choices." I'm going to simply think, "I love myself more than I love ______" You can enter your own vices - you know mine will be some form of chocolate.

Any advice that helps you stay strong?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Challenging Myself

How strenuous does my workout have to be?

The answer really depends on you - your health, your short-term and long-term goals.

If you're exercising to improve your heart, lungs, and overall health your workout doesn't need to be strenuous. You should do a cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy at a moderate pace and some strength training to increase bone density and help you function every day at your best.

If you're exercising to lose weight (in addition to all the great health benefits) you need to push yourself. You need to lift heavy enough weights to challenge yourself at least twice a week (or do a comparable strength training routine such as yoga or Pilates). You must do effective cardio (and a variety of cardio) and make sure to include intervals twice a week (speed up and slow down to challenge your body).

The truth is if you don't challenge your body it will not improve. Obviously you don't want to injure yourself or push hard if you have health or joint issues, but if you are a healthy, motivated individual who is trying to lose weight you should be a bit sore the day after a workout and you should be tired after you exercise.

It's okay to work hard. Working hard is the key to success.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fitness Contest Winners

I've finally got all the prizes sorted out and assigned to winners.

Jennalyn Jensen - Hobby Lobby and Cache Valley Fun Park gift certificates
Paula Best - Ross gift certificate
Chalisa Wursten - Borders gift certificate
Stephanie Austin - The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts
Lana Hansen - Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw
Karie Coats - Foot Zoning
Kris Monson - Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen
Stacey Buffaloe - Finding Faith by Terri Ferran
Wendy Gray - Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena
Ellen Johnson - Dawn's Early Light by Laurie L.C. Lewis
Cami Checketts - By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager
Amy Rasmussen - An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson
Leslie Pocock - Hair Product
Kendra Hickman - The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen
Heather Justesen - A Modest Proposal by Michele Ashman Bell

Thanks to all those who donated prizes and congrats to all our winners!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Betting on weight loss

My husband is embarking on a year-long bet with numerous friends to reach and maintain his goal weight. He's really motivated. I'm excited for him.
Have any of you ever placed money on weight loss?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Exercise and Work Performance

Did you know that working out can improve your work performance? Everything from improved mental performance and relationships with co-workers to higher concentration and productivity levels. Just another reason for you are all amazing for exercising!

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Nothing tastes as good as lean and mean feels." Michael Colgan

I know you've heard this quote too many times from me, but I keep hoping if I type it, read it, and repeat it a couple hundred times I will imprint it on my brain.

It's always easier for me to subscribe to this quote after I've had my serving of ice cream and I'm on board to eat great again! The trick is remembering it before I eat something that makes me feel awful.

Here's to a wonderful weekend of fun times with family and friends and healthy food that makes us feel good!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fitness Contest is Over

We survived another month-long fitness contest. Congrats! How did you do?

110 points for me. Not fabulous, but at least the contest helped me think before chomping down another pumpkin cookie. Obviously, the cookie intake didn't stop, but did slow down a bit!

There are 135 points total (5 points per day Monday-Saturday). Please total your score and either post it on the blog or e-mail it to me camichecketts(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Thanks to all who did the contest and to those who donated prizes. Once I get all the scores turned in I will let the highest score choose her prize on down until we run out of prizes. There are a lot of prizes so even if you don't think you did very well, you still might win something, so don't despair!

Here's the list again so you can be thinking which prize you'd like.

Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story by Mark L. Shurtleff donated by Candace Salima -

Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena - -

Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw - -

A Modest Proposal by Michele Bell - -

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen - -

Finding Faith by Terri Ferran -

Against the Giant by Christy Hardman -

By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager - -

Women of Virtue by Jodi Robinson -

Dawn's Early Light by Laurie L.C. Lewis - -

An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson - -

The Journey donated by Jewel Adams - -

The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen - - www.heatherJustesen.blogspot. com

The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts -

Foot Zoning donated by Stephanie Austin

Free Nutrition Consult donated by Christa Kramer (Roxy)

$10 Borders gift certificate donated by Cami Checketts

$10 Ross gift certificate donated by Cami Checketts

$10 Hobby Lobby gift certificate donated by Liz Cellan

Hair products donated by Lynette Jensen

Gift certificates to Cache Valley Fun Park - soft play, lazer tag, bowling, skating donated by Ellen Johnson

Hope you have a fabulous Monday,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I often talk myself into making mistakes. It's easier to convince myself that I don't have any self-control. I can't stop myself from eating that bowl of ice cream (it's always nice to blame someone else. It's not me, it's my lack of self-control.)

From this day forward I am recruiting the power of positive thinking. I've got more self-control that I know what to do with. I believe that I can stop my fingers from wrapping themselves around that piece of chocolate in the candy dish and plunging it into my mouth. I can resist the urge to whip up a batch of cookies and bake whole wheat bread instead. I can stop eating when I'm full instead of busting. I can wake up a few minutes earlier and work harder at the gym.

I, Cami Checketts, have self-control. (And I have a great back-up plan when that self-control falters. I'm going to call my husband or one of my closest buddies and let them remind me that I'm strong!)

How about it, friends? Who's with me?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fitness Contest

How is everyone doing with the fitness contest? I've been consistently getting four points every day. I know I'm supposed to get five, but it is pumpkin cookie baking time. How do you pass that up? I'm going to really try to buckle down this last week. Any tips for staying strong when treats look and smell so good?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Metabolism Boosters

I'm always trying to find ways to increase my metabolism. If we can get that fire burning it will consume calories all the time, even when you're reading David Baldacci's newest book or watching the latest episode of CSI. Here are a few metabolism boosters:

- Lift weights - Woo-hoo. Our favorite thing to do is proven to be the best way to burn more calories. But you smart people already knew that!

- Drink plenty of water - if you're dehydrated you will burn fewer calories throughout the day.

- Drinking ice-cold beverages can burn an extra ten calories a day - that may not seem like much, but it adds up to a pound lost a year.

- Dieting will drop your metabolism - as you lose weight there's less of you to maintain so your resting metabolic rate drops. The solution - weight lifting. Increase your muscle density and your metabolism will keep on kicking so you can keep on losing. You do need to eat healthy as well and exercise portion control, but starving yourself is a temporary fix. You will lose weight initially but it will be difficult to keep it off (you have to keep dropping calories because your metabolism has lowered) and it will also make you miserable. Focus on healthy, whole foods and everyone will be happier.

- Spicy foods can give you a a temporary 23% boost in metabolism. Bring on the salsa - I wonder if the metabolism boost balances out the tortilla chips.

- Eat more protein - it's harder for your body to process, you can burn twice as many calories digesting protein as carbs.

- Change things up - your body is an amazing machine. If you do the same workout over and over again you will hit a plateau. Try a different kind of cardio, lift in a different order, with different reps or sets, or higher or lighter weights. Trying something new will boost your metabolism after as your body compensates for the extra calories burned.

- High intensity exercise burns more calories during and after exercise (some studies show up to 24 hours after). Sorry friends. I know the interval workouts bite, but they are worth the pain.

Please share any metabolism boosting tricks that have helped you.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


How are your shoes? Last month my husband bought me a new pair of running shoes. Brooks "The Beast." I've been running in The Beast for years. At races men always ask, "Why are you running in a fat man's shoe?" I always answer, "Because it works for me." Imagine my surprise when my new Beasts did not work for me. My knees hurt, my feet hurt, I dreaded running.

I finally swallowed my timidity and returned the shoes to Al's Sporting Goods (thank heavens for a thirty-day guarantee). The salesman was wonderful and exchanged my shoes for the Asics Foundation without flinching.

If you've ever run in the wrong shoes or worn-out shoes you know how bad it can hurt. No matter what sport you're doing, make sure you have the right shoe to support your joints and keep you going strong. It's much smarter to pay $100 now rather than thousands in medical bills later.

What's your favorite workout shoe?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weight Lifting Anyone?

I often have women complain to me that they cannot lose weight no matter what they do. When I ask if they lift weights they look at me like I'm suggesting they pluck their nose hairs.

If you aren't lifting weights you are missing out. Many women shy away from strength training because of fears and misconceptions. Strength training is the most effective way to lose weight, change your shape, and increase daily stamina.

Following are some common questions answered to help you get started.

Q - Will weight lifting make me bulky?
A - No. To bulk up you have to have testosterone. Use weights that challenge you (you should be ready to be done after 8-12 reps) and make sure you lift slow, especially on the eccentric or lowering phase and you'll increase strength and metabolism without increasing size.

Q - What is proper form and how can it help me?
A - Proper form is your basic good posture - head in alignment with spine (I like to push my tongue against the spot between the roof of my mouth and my upper teeth, it naturally pulls your head into alignment) shoulders down and back, abs in tight, bum tucked under. Proper form not only prevents injury it makes your weight lifting and cardio more effective and good posture will also make you look ten pounds lighter.

Q - I want to lose weight on my abdomen, how do I do that?
A - You cannot spot reduce (lose weight or fat off any one spot). Any product or person that claims they can burn weight off a certain part of your body is lying to you. You will burn fat off your entire body as you strength train effectively, include cardio (especially intervals), and eat right (5-6 small meals or snacks, lots of veggies, water, lean meat, etc.).

Q - How heavy of weights should I lift? I need a number.
A - It really depends on your strength. I recommend at least 8 to 15 pound dumbbells, but if you're just starting out 5 pounds might be a challenge. Be careful not to hurt yourself with too heavy of weights but at the same time you need to challenge yourself to improve. Don't feel stupid if you have to try out different sizes of weights in the sporting goods aisle at Target. As I said earlier, the proper weight should fatigue you by 8-12 reps. Bands are also a great option because you can up the resistance by simply holding them differently.

Q - I've recently started weight lifting and I swear I'm gaining weight. Help!
A - I've seen women gain weight initially - muscle weighs more than fat - so until the metabolism kicks in you may not lose weight and you could even gain a bit. Please be patient. It can take 6 weeks to 3 months before you start seeing the results you want. Remember, being healthy is not a quick fix. This is a lifestyle, not an overnight weight loss scam. But I promise you if you will lift weights, eat sensibly, and do effective cardio you will be fit and healthy for life. Also, concentrate on how you look and feel, not the weight on the scale. A body fat test is a fabulous indicator of how you're doing. I weigh a lot more than anyone could guess but I fit into the size of jeans I want and I feel strong and full of energy so I don't worry about the scale overly much (of course I still worry a bit, I'm a woman!).

Q – What if I’m over sixty and have joint issues?
A – You should always speak with your primary care doctor before starting any weight-lifting program. If you have joint or health issues I would strongly recommend a qualified personal trainer (make sure to check their credentials and talk with past clients who have similar health issues to yours).
Be smart when you’re exercising. You want to make your muscles sore, but if your joints start hurting – stop. Usually hips, knees, and feet are the worst offenders. If you have lower body pain, be careful with squats and lunges. You may want to stick with machines that work quadriceps and hamstrings like the flexion and extension machines.
There are also wonderful machines like the Elliptical, Stair Master, or spin bikes that give you a great cardiovascular workout without damaging joints like a treadmill can. Find what you are comfortable with and what you enjoy doing and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your doctor or a qualified trainer.

Q - I've done Body for Life twice. The first twelve weeks I lost weight, but the second twelve weeks weren't as effective. What should I do?
A - Change your program. There are a lot of great weight lifting programs out there, but your body is an amazing machine and it will adapt to the demands placed upon it. You've got to change the order you lift, the size of weights, the number of reps, etc. We all know that cross-training is important with cardio. The same thing applies to weight lifting. Go very slow one day with heavier weights. Another day do higher reps - 12-15 reps with a comfortable weight and a normal pace (but never fast, please, I hate seeing the bounce and swing). I try to change things up on the blog, but sometimes I forget as well. I'll try to do a better job of varying the sets and reps.

Q - You're always talking about metabolism. How does strength training help my metabolism?
A - Strength training increases the size and density of your muscle fibers. Muscle is hard to maintain, so your body kicks into overdrive to keep up. Therefore you burn fat and calories even when you're sitting around. Isn't that fun?

Q - How many sets and reps should I do?
A - The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions on the major muscle groups at least two times a week. Here's the link to their current recommendations -
That's your basic answer, but like I said earlier - variety is a very good thing. You can do 5 sets of 5 or 2 sets of 15 and still see results. There has also been research that one set is almost as effective as three. I said almost, it will take longer to see results with only one set, but if you're crunched for time, it's okay to just do one. The important thing is that you're doing the reps slow and controlled and lifting heavy enough weight to challenge or overload the muscle. If you aren't overloading that muscle (no, you don't have to kill yourself every time, but you do need to feel that muscle working) you're wasting your time.

If you have any other questions, please post a comment below. Also, please share any strength training success stories. I personally have helped two friends lose seventy pounds each with strength training, effective cardio, and a healthy diet. If you want to feel great, give strength training a try.

Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, exercise scientist, and author. For more information on her books -

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Confidence from Within

Lately I've realized that I am aging. Wrinkles, age spots, sagging skin on spots no one wants to see. It's all a bit depressing but also wonderful. I've come to realize that I need to be confident because of who I am not just what I look like. No, I don't look like a teenager anymore, but thankfully I don't want to. I'm happy with the muscles I've built by lifting faithfully, the wrinkles I've earned with too much laughter, the strands of gray hair I keep finding (who needs highlights?).

I've often wondered if I would be able to age gracefully or if I'd fight it Botox-style. I'm praying I'll be able to embrace each year and realize that my confidence comes from the things I accomplish with my writing, the smiles I create on my boys' faces, the relationship I have with my husband, the chances I take to help someone feel good about themselves, the friends who make me giggle like a teenager, the knowledge that I am a beloved daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me. All these things give me confidence that sagging ab muscles can't take away.

I hope all of you know how wonderful you are and are blessed with confidence from within. Please share with all of us what gives you confidence.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Worried about the weekend

Today is a whole new chance to be healthy.

Last night I struggled with wanting a bowl of ice cream, but I stayed strong. Drank a glass of milk with dinner to satiate the craving then brushed my teeth and chewed a lot of gum. My boys are always asking why I chomp on my gum so hard. Isn't that supposed to be a Mom line? Sometimes gum is the only way I make it through.

I'm a bit worried about this weekend. I'm traveling to Park City, Utah for a fun writer's conference with Utah RWA. The problem is two days of writing workshops, lectures, enjoying old friends and meeting new ones, and lots and lots of good food. There's a three-hour party devoted to chocolate. Very bad for Cami. Any suggestions on how to resist without being a party downer?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Does exercise increase your appetite?

I've been reading articles about the effect exercise has on appetite. As usual, there's conflicting evidence. The general consensus is that moderate activity decreases your appetite, but vigorous exercise can increase your appetite.

I think the main issue is eating healthy, filling food. Most experts say you need to eat within half an hour after exercise to replace your glycogen stores. Eat low-fat, high-protein and high-fiber foods and you will be fine.

I also think it's important to not talk yourself into a pit that I've been in many times - "I work hard, I deserve to eat this ice cream, chocolate, cookie, or whatever." Although exercise is fabulous for your heart, lungs, prevention of disease, and re-shaping your body, you will not be able to maintain a healthy weight if you consume too many calories. Most of us underestimate how many calorie we burn with exercise. So avoid the trap and think, "I worked hard today, I want to keep being healthy and getting double the rewards!"

Another trap to avoid is exercising hard at the gym but then sitting around the rest of the day. Your overall movement will contribute to your weight control and health as much as your gym session. Try to sneak in little ways to move all day - run the stairs instead of yelling down to the kids, park farther away at the grocery store, take more trips rather than hauling twenty pounds of stuff from the car in each arm.

What about you? How do you keep your appetite under control when you're exercising hard? How do you keep yourself moving when the couch looks so appetizing?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Satiate Your Cravings

It's always hard when I'm trying to eat healthy to find foods that satiate my cravings. I assumed it was because I cut so much fat out of my diet, but a new article says differently, "It used to be thought that fat contributed to maintaining a feeling of fullness. But now fiber and protein have been shown to be the two key factors. The combination of protein and fiber slows your digestion and is thought to extend the release of hormones that trigger the "I'm full" response in the brain." (i)

Most of us get enough protein, but fiber is harder. Here are some articles about fiber benefits and the foods with the highest fiber content:

My favorites on the list? Black beans, bran cereal, popcorn, peas, apples, pears, berries, and oats. I throw oats or grind wheat to put in all of our pancakes, breads, waffles, etc. My boys hate it! Someday they'll thank me, right?

When I'm really craving a treat and want to be good I pop some popcorn, spray Can't Believe It's Not Butter on it and guzzle Crystal Light or I'll mix fruit, yogurt, and cottage cheese to get a low-fat treat that is almost as good as ice cream (nothing compares to ice cream for me!).

What's your favorite way to sneak in more fiber?

How do you satiate yourself when you're craving a treat?

(i) "Feeling Satiated Longer" by Megan Porter, RD -

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Let's Start This Contest

First day of the big fitness contest. Are you all so excited you can hardly stand it? I'm snacking on grapes while I type this afternoon, rather than my usual bowl of cookie dough ice cream with homemade hot fudge (sorry about the sensory detail, that almost made me want to go make a bowl!).

I have to admit to being a bit depressed today. First day of the fitness contest and I'm so sick I can't workout. I don't understand why, but this also makes me want to sit around and eat. Thank heavens for the contest. I'm at least on track to get my four other points today, even if I can't exercise.

When you're sick, do you workout anyway or do you figure you'll recover quicker if you give your beat-up body a rest?

Have a healthy day,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Giveaways - Fitness Contest

If you are still trying to decide whether to enter October's fitness contest, you really should. I've got so many fun prizes. I'm going to be extremely motivated to walk right past the Dreyer's display. If I walk really fast I can't smell the ice cream!

Here's the list of the prizes I've accumulated so far:

Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story by Mark L. Shurtleff donated by Candace Salima -

Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena - -

Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw - -

A Modest Proposal by Michele Bell - -

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen - -

Finding Faith by Terri Ferran -

Against the Giant by Christy Hardman -

By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager - -

Women of Virtue by Jodi Robinson -

Dawn's Early Light by Laurie L.C. Lewis - -

An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson - -

The Journey donated by Jewel Adams - -

The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen - - www.heatherJustesen.blogspot. com

The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts -

Foot Zoning donated by Stephanie Austin

Free Nutrition Consult donated by Christa Kramer (Roxy)

$10 Borders gift certificate donated by Cami Checketts

$10 Ross gift certificate donated by Cami Checketts

$10 Hobby Lobby gift certificate donated by Liz Cellan

Hair products donated by Lynette Jensen

Gift certificates to Cache Valley Fun Park - soft play, lazer tag, bowling, skating

Can you believe all those fun prizes? If you haven't heard of a book on this list, you should go check out the author's website. These are amazing writers and I am so grateful they would donate to the contest.

If you're interested, you can review the rules here and leave a comment to be entered into the contest -

Hope you all have a marvelous day,

Prizes for our Fitness Contest

I asked one of my author loops to donate books to our little fitness contest. You will not believe the response I got! Oh, this contest is going to be fun. Just two more days until go time. Here's the list of all the prizes.

Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story by Mark L. Shurtleff donated by Candace Salima -

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena -

Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw - -

A Modest Proposal by Michele Bell - -

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen - -

Finding Faith by Terri Ferran -

Against the Giant by Christy Hardman -

By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager - -

Women of Virtue by Jodi Robinson -

Dawn's Early Light by Laurie L.C. Lewis - -

An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson - -

The Journey donated by Jewel Adams - -

The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen - - www.heatherJustesen.blogspot. com

The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts -

Free Nutrition Consult donated by Christa Kramer (Roxy)

$10 Borders gift certificate donated by Cami Checketts

$10 Ross gift certificate donated by Cami Checketts

$10 Hobby Lobby gift certificate donated by Liz Cellan

Hair products donated by Lynette Jensen

Can you believe all those fun prizes? If you haven't heard of a book on this list, you should go check out the author's website. These are amazing writers and I am so grateful they would donate to our contest.

If you haven't decided to enter the contest, you really should. It's going to be so much fun and with this many prizes, we are going to have a lot of winners. Just leave a comment if you want me to include your name on my list. Here's the rules in case you haven't seen them yet -

Hope you all have a marvelous day,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fitness Contest

The October fitness contest is coming soon. I'm so excited. I've been doing well without my ice cream and have even lost a couple of pounds, but this contest is going to help me be even more healthy.

Here are the rules:

Contest runs October 1st through October 31st. (I know it's cruel to include Halloween, but if I don't I'll be snitching baby Snickers from my boys Trick or Treat bags and that's just rotten of me.)

You can receive points Monday through Saturday. Sunday is a "free day," but I'd caution you to be careful. I still limit myself to one treat on my free day so I don't undo my healthy week.

Points available each day: 5

1 point for drinking at least 8 - 8 ounce glasses of water

1 point for eating at least 5 fruits and veggies

1 point for a fabulous exercise session (I'll leave it up to you to determine what's fabulous and if you've pushed yourself hard enough to receive a point)

1 point for no treats - This basically includes real treats - ice cream, cookies, donuts, candy, cake, etc. We aren't cutting out jam on our toast or a bit of sugar on our Total (I can't down the stuff without a shake of sugar). Again, this is up to your discretion. I'm trusting you to make yourselves as miserable as I'll be without chocolate.

1 point for no junk food - chips, fries, hamburgers, pizza, etc. This is true junk food, greasy, deep-fat fried. If you make a healthy pizza with whole wheat crust and a bunch of veggies or a tofu hamburger or some other such craziness, that isn't considered junk food.

So 5 points possible each day (Monday - Saturday). You keep track of your own points, but I'd love an update on how it's going.


The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts (I know you're all dying to win a copy of this one)

Weight-lifting gloves

$10 Borders gift certificate

$10 Ross gift certificate

This is all I can afford this month. Christmas is coming, you know. If any of you are willing to donate prizes that would help immensely. Also, if we get enough entries I might be able to get some prizes donated by Icon Health & Fitness. So tell your friends. We're going to have so much fun!

A good friend of mine has lost sixty pounds recently by following the blog, eating right, and exercising. She said to me the other day, "I'm having so much fun with it." I kind of thought she was nuts, but since I've been eating better and feeling great I realize that she's right. It really is fun to feel good and to be able to button your jeans!

Please let me know if you're joining us for the contest by posting a comment below or e-mailing me - camichecketts(at)yahoo(dot)com. My other blog - is also joining us for this contest. Maybe we could compete with those followers to see who gets the most total points? Hmmm. I'll think on something to increase our competitive spirits.

Have a wonderful weekend,


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quote and Book Giveaway

"Nothing tastes as good as mean and lean feels." Michael Colgan

I've always loved this quote and tried to use it to motivate me to eat better, but recently I've begun to notice how truly crappy I feel when I eat ice cream and chocolate. Don't get alarmed. I'm not turning my back on my favorite foods! It's just been amazing to me how much better I feel when I eat healthy and how sick I get when I don't. It's like my poor body is saying, "We've consumed chocolate for the past 35 years and we need you to back off now chickie."

Have any of you noticed that difference when you eat healthy? Is it worth it for you to give up some comfort foods and realize that the taste is only temporary but your health and fitness level are permanent? It's taken me years to come to this realization and I'm praying I won't forget it next week!

Wanted to share another giveaway and review of The Sister Pact -

If you already have your copy you could start stocking up for Christmas presents (hey, an author can hope).

Have a lovely day,


Friday, September 18, 2009

Delaying Gratification

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.” Zig Ziglar

How many times have I been miserable because of this very concept? I must savor that bowl of ice cream this minute, but tomorrow I’ll be sorry because I’m nauseated while I work out. I must swipe my debit card for that pair of jeans, but next week I’m upset because my checking account is nearing zero. I must snooze late because the boys woke me up multiple times, but during the day I’m miserable because I didn’t get my workout in.

We live in a society of instant gratification. Need a question answered? Minutes on the Internet and you’ll have more information than you could possibly use. Hungry? Jimmy John’s will have your sandwich ready before you’ve finished ordering. Tired? Drink a Red Bull and you’ll feel pep immediately.

The age of ease could be a good thing for our society, if we took the extra time given us by modern technology and used it for good – spending more quality time with family and friends, giving more of ourselves to serve others, exercising and enjoying nature, finding ways to better ourselves and our world.

The problem I see with our society is we squander that extra time with television viewing, Internet surfing, or the mastering of video games. I’m not going to get started on my anti-media kick because none of you need the opinions of a zealot. But I am going to say if we don’t train ourselves and our children to delay gratification we are going to have a very unhappy life.

Why is it important to learn to wait, to work hard for a goal, to understand that we can’t have everything we want?

First of all, patience is a virtue for many reasons. Not everything in life is going to come at the snap of our fingers. We’re going to face trials and hard times, if we haven’t learned to be patient in afflictions, our suffering will be quadruple what it should be.

Second, I think of wise Mama Bear from The Bernstein Bears, “Greedy cubs just want more and more.” Buying and consuming is fun sometimes, but too much and all you want is more and more. The trick is to be satisfied with the good things we have while still working hard and being productive.

Third, the Lord wants us to learn to labor and feel good about what we produce. There is much satisfaction in a job well done. Success that comes quickly usually leaves just as quickly.

How does this translate into health and fitness?

It’s possible to lose weight quickly with crash diets, but 99 times out of 100 that weight will come back just as quickly (usually with some extra pounds to boot). It’s possible to take some crazy drug or shot to lose weight, but are you willing to risk the side effects that could stick with you for life?

“Trading what you want most for what you want now?”

What most of us want is to be healthy and fit for life: To be able to play with our children or grandchildren without aches and pains. To feel good each morning as we roll out of bed. To look halfway decent in those jeans that cost way too much money.

To achieve these goals we’ll need patience, hard work, and a little bit of know-how. We’ll need to realize that though we might want to push the snooze button for the third time, we need to get out of bed and get our workout in. Instead of reaching for that second brownie (I know it looks like heaven) we’ll have to say "no" to ourselves and think about our long-term goals instead of letting our taste buds rule the house. When we’re exercising and want to quit, maybe we need to push ourselves even harder (within reason, of course) and someday soon we’ll realize that the extra sprint on the treadmill or the extra set of triceps dips is really paying off.

I hope each one of us can try a little harder, once in a while deny ourselves some luxuries and treats, and realize how wonderful it feels to put mind over body and conquer the natural man.

Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, writer, pro-bono fitness trainer, and wanna-be supporter of Cold Stone Creameries (she had to give up ice cream to fit in those jeans that zeroed out her checking account). Her latest novel, The Sister Pact, is in stores now. For more information, please refer to her website –

Friday, September 11, 2009

Exercise - Your Happy Pill

"A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world."

~ Paul Dudley White

I love this quote. Quite often when I'm getting ornery and feeling sorry for myself I turn to chocolate, but I've been on a five-day hiatus from my happy food and I've had to get creative. When I force myself to move (especially when I want to lay on the couch and moan) I feel so much better physically and mentally.

Next time you're tired, grumpy, irritable, or just plain fed up with the world - go on a walk or bike ride, turn on some music and dance, do some yoga, or get on the floor and wrestle with your children. Let me know if it works for you as well as it has for me. If it doesn't - grab some chocolate.

Have a happy weekend,


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fitness Contest?

Through my other fitness blog - - I often host fitness contests. We get points for healthy eating, exercise, water intake, etc. Then I provide prizes for the winners. Would any of you be interested in doing something like that? I'm thinking of doing it for the month of October. Any input would be wonderful.

My friend Leslie Pocock and I are embarking on a fitness and healthy eating contest that begins today. Here's our plan. If either of us eat a treat or unhealthy food or if we don't exercise we have to put a dollar in a jar. At the end of the contest we have to give the other person our jar full of money, unless we reach our weight loss goal. If we reach our goal we keep our money and our husbands said they would match the money for shopping.

I really need a kick in the pants right now (I can't fit into some of my pants!).

What helps you to get motivated? Contests, money, fitting into your clothes, feeling good? Are fitness contests effective for you or do you just go back to old habits as soon as you finish?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Inspirational Quote

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

My sons learned this quote at karate class. When I asked them to explain it they said, "If you get mad you have to tie yourself up and not get mad." Cute.

I'm going to give you a different interpretation. As a lot of us are strength training to lose or maintain weight, it sometimes becomes frustrating because as you know muscle weighs more than fat and until your metabolism kicks in high gear and you start burning more fat you will probably not lose weight and may even gain.

So, when you get to the end of your rope (you feel like quitting because you're short on time, it's just too hard, or you're just plain sick of working so hard and not getting the results you want) tie a knot and hang on. I promise the results of being active and healthy will be worth it. This isn't a temporary fix. This is a lifestyle. If you keep working hard it will be a lifestyle that will benefit you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I'm so proud of all of you. Keep up the good work,


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Love Every Part of Your Body

Have you ever been on a diet? How many times? If you’re like most of us the answer is probably, “I start a new one every morning!”

One study found that 86% of Americans want to lose weight. (i) Really? 86% of us are not happy with our shape?

With 66% of Americans fighting overweight issues (ii), it does make sense that many are struggling to lose those extra pounds. Of course we want to be healthy, but do we really have to look like a model?

As LDS men and women we are blessed to know that we are children of God and He loves us. That alone should be enough to make us feel good about ourselves. He wants us to be happy and I believe He also wants us to be healthy so we can accomplish all that we can during our sojourn on earth.

But to be healthy and accomplish our work we also have to stop comparing ourselves to others. Let’s take charge of our health and love the body we're in. The really cool thing about embracing your shape and unique beauty is if you feel good about yourself it will be easier to improve your health and lose weight.

Ideas to help you love your shape and size:

1. Bury the scale under your laundry pile - try to focus more on how your clothes are fitting and how you feel. If you want a true indicator of improvement try a fat percentage test or measure yourself regularly with a tape measure.

2. Lift weights in front of a mirror (it’s okay to do this in a tank top, at least if you’re in your bedroom without your teenagers laughing at you) - watch how your muscles contract and realize that you are strong and beautiful.

3. Don't compare yourself - Everyone has their own strengths. It might be easy for your friend to stay thin, but maybe she couldn't lift her 95-pound ten-year old and carry him to the doctor when he broke his arm (that was a proud moment). Try to compliment and be happy for other people instead of letting that darn jealousy take over. Looking for the best in others will help you feel better about yourself too.

4. Pray – We’ve been instructed to pray over our fields, flocks, homes, etc. I think it is also important to pray about overcoming food addictions, to pray for help in finding the time and energy to exercise and improve our health, and to pray for confidence. The Lord wants us to be happy. Turn to him and He will fulfill those needs.

5. Exercise - whenever you allow negativity to creep in, go on a walk or bike ride, turn on some music and dance, drop and do twenty pushups, try some yoga moves. Make yourself move. The endorphins will start dancing with you and you really will feel better. (iii)

6. Fake it until you make it. I know this seems, well, fake. But I promise if you put a smile on your face and pretend to love your body, you can change your attitude and eventually the smile will feel more natural than the frown.

7. Be grateful for the health you've got. Whenever I'm on a run and want to quit I tell myself, "Some people would give anything to be able to run and they can't." Focus on the blessings of being able to move, breathe, and serve your family, neighbors, and those in need with your healthy body.

8. Write down the things you love about your body. If you get a bit depressed about the dimples on your thighs (please tell me someone else has those too) focus instead on how toned your calves look or the fact that your biceps are responding to all those curls.

Focus on taking care of your body and I promise your body will love you back.

Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, author, and exercise scientist. For exercise routines, please refer to her blog – Her latest novel, The Sister Pact, will be released in July 2009.

i. Addressing Body Image in Eating Disorder Treatment

Author: Meghan Vivo

Date: 3/11/2009

An Interview with Anna Treacy, MPH, NCHES

ii. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

iii. The Most Important Exercise Tip By Robin Lloyd, Special to LiveScience

Link to this post -

Friday, August 21, 2009

Posture and Weight Loss

It's amazing the effect posture can have on a person's confidence, success level, and how other people perceive them.

Studies have proven that people with good posture look ten pounds lighter, and now they've discovered that good posture can help you lose weight quicker.

So how do you get good posture?

It's easy to say, "Stand up straight." But sometimes if you're in the habit of slouching or you are bent over a computer or baby all day it is almost painful to stand up straight. If that's the case you need to strengthen your back muscles (seated row, bent-over row, lat pull-down, etc.) and stretch your chest muscles. My favorite chest stretch is to place hands at shoulder level on a door frame, then lean forward through the open door. You must hold a stretch for 26 seconds for it to be effective.

Another thing that helps as you're focusing on improving your posture is to do visual checks in a mirror and think through the aspects of good posture.

Head in alignment with spine - Michael Colgan offers this advice - push your tongue against the spot where the back of your teeth and the roof of your mouth connect, it will naturally straighten you.

Shoulders down and back - think about contracting shoulder blades together rather than thrusting them back and chest forward

Hips tucked under - tighten your bum slightly

Abs in tight

I sit slouched in my chair typing this list. I'm headed to do a visual check and see if I can't look ten pounds thinner!

Hope you all have a fabulous day,


Monday, August 10, 2009

Lose Weight for Life

Stockton split his ear in two last night. It was so sad. Stitches and Momma up holding him all night. This morning he peed in one of my heater vents. I guess he was sick of all the positive attention!

Today, I'm posting an article about the best weight loss secret around.

97% of dieters gain back their weight within five years. (i) Obviously Atkins, The South Beach Diet, the cabbage diet, etc. are not lifelong solutions to maintaining a healthy weight. There is a better way. A magic formula that I like to call - Strength Training.

Doesn't that just sound miraculous? Too many women are afraid of weights. I’ve heard numerous excuses, but the most frequent are: I don’t know how to lift weights and I don’t want to bulk up. The fact of the matter is: Most women couldn’t bulk up even if they wanted to (we lack the testosterone levels) and if you are one of those rare women who does bulk up: watch your calorie intake and don’t do max-outs or lift heavy weights and then drop them and you’ll be fine.

The excuse that you don’t know how to lift weights is valid, but easily fixed. Buy a book on weight-lifting, look online for advice, hire a personal trainer or follow my blog and save yourself the cash!

Lifting weights increases your metabolism more than anything else you can do. If you diet you will probably lose weight, but then your metabolism will drop because there's less of you to maintain. Then you must keep decreasing food intake to maintain your new weight. It's a vicious, unhappy circle. Not that you shouldn't eat right to lose weight, but if you diet alone it will be really hard to keep losing/maintain.

Cardiovascular exercise is a great thing, but it will also make you more efficient and decrease your metabolism slightly because all your body systems are working better. So, you can lose weight with cardio, but then you will probably plateau and have to increase the duration/intensity of your cardio to keep losing. This is why you see women who walk or do aerobics for years and never reach their ideal weight. Just like diet, cardio is an important factor in losing weight, but done alone it is a tough way to lose weight.

Which brings us to my favorite solution - weight lifting. As you lift you increase your muscle size and density and voila - your metabolism increases because muscle is hard to maintain. So then you're burning calories even when you're sitting. The keys are to lift regularly (at least twice a week), lift slowly (especially on the lengthening or eccentric phase of the lift) and lift heavy enough weights (8-20 pound dumbbells).

One warning - you will probably gain weight as you start lifting. You're increasing the muscle mass and density, but it takes longer to start burning off the fat. Please give it at least three months. 

Also, you have to eat small, healthy meals (lots of veggies, fruit, high-fiber carbs, lean meats, and low-fat dairy) and do cardio (preferably intervals, the best cardio around for burning fat). If you incorporate all three aspects and stick with it, you'll see results.

Please let me know if you have any questions about strength training?

Hope you all have a great day,


(i) Obesity and Weight Loss Maintaining a Healthy Weight by Dr. Deborah Wilson -

Friday, August 7, 2009

Book Giveaway - The Sister Pact

The contest for a free copy of The Sister Pact ends tomorrow. Don't forget to enter -

Good luck!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Treat Control

I wanted to post on something that I thought of the entire drive home from California. Wish I would've thought of it during my trip so I didn't eat so much! I'm wondering when a treat stopped being a treat? My Memphis will grab a bowl of ice cream as a snack and you all know my issues with chocolate addiction! So at our house we're trying to make a treat into a special occasion not a daily splurge (or two or three times a day). Here are some suggestions that will hopefully help us all.

1 – When do you truly enjoy a treat? I’ve found that I don’t savor a treat if I eat it in a party setting. I’m too focused on the social aspect of the party and I consume treats mindlessly. I’ve made it a point to only eat treats when I’m with my family or alone and can focus on the sensation and delight of each bite.

2 – Of course holidays are special times for treats, pie on Thanksgiving, sugar cookies on Valentines. But how about adding some healthy traditions to holidays. A walk after Thanksgiving dinner or a flag football game with the extended family. A dance-a-thon on Valentine’s or a family wrestling match. For my three sons, nothing says love like a kicking, biting, hitting wrestling match.

3 – Don’t keep treats in the house. Go out for an ice cream cone or a slice of pie. Make a treat a special time to be with those you love, not just a convenient thing to grab out of the fridge. (I had to throw my 5-quart container of ice cream in the trash to write this article. Maybe if I hurry I can pull it back out before it thaws.)

4 – Eat fruit as dessert. Great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with something healthy. I try to steer away from fruit juice because of the extra calories. In Prevention Magazine they claimed that reducing “liquid calories” is five times more effective for weight loss than cutting back on calories from solid foods. So if you can, eat the whole food.

5 – If you absolutely must have a treat, try a small ice cream cone or a couple of wrapped chocolates like Dove Promises. Yum! I find sometimes it’s better for me to have a small portion of a treat I’m really craving rather than eating everything in the pantry and still feeling unsatisfied.

Please add any ideas you have that help you and your family to make treats special and rare!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Baby Steps

How many times have you decided you are going to change your life? Get organized, start exercising, drop the treats and add the fiber, etc. etc. I get on one of these rampages every few months (usually after we've been on vacation!). But I've found that it never works for me to tackle everything at once.

It’s smart to begin with one change at a time. Small differences can add up to big results. Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to rule or completely change your lifestyle. Baby steps are the key to making lifelong changes. Instead of losing weight with a crash diet – which always comes back on – or starting an ambitious exercise program and getting injured or burned out, take it slow and change one thing at a time.

One change a month is a great goal. In a month you can make something into a long-term habit and if you concentrate on one goal you won't be so overwhelmed.

For example:
January - make a goal to eat five servings of fruits/veggies a day.
February - outline a plan to lift weights twice a week.
March – decide to use only child-sized plates and bowls to force yourself into eating smaller portions.
April - convince your family to go for an after dinner bike ride or walk. We have a jar of healthy activities. We draw one every night (or that's the goal at least).
May - trade white bread for high fiber bread.

Our main goal should be healthy and fit for life not just a desire to lose weight because we have a trip or class reunion coming. So go write on your calendar what your next month’s goal is going to be. I write my monthly goals on my desk calendar then I’m reminded of them many times a day. This month the goal is running. I've got a half-marathon on the 29th so I'm logging at least twenty-five miles a week. My poor legs are tired!

What's your latest fitness/health goal?

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Sister Pact - win a free copy

The Sister Pact will be in bookstores August 1st. Yeah! I'm doing a giveaway on my blog - and on Goodreads. Here's a little info about the book. (Hope you can read this, I inserted as large a picture as I could!) For more info go to my website - or you can read the entire first chapter here -
Thanks, friends!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Self-control is the key in improving the lacking areas of my life. I want to be a fun, interactive Mom (control my time-wasters so I can focus on the boys), I want to push myself physically and accomplish my writing goals, I want to eat reasonably and feel healthy. I searched the web for some kind of self-control tips, but the best article I found talked about how we don't need willpower, we need to make choices. Here's an excerpt from it:

Chant the following each day, several times. They are mantras that will save your life:

- The choice to do nothing is still a choice and yields nothing.

- I am responsible for my body. If I don’t take responsibility, who will?

- I make choices daily as to how I'm going to fuel my body.

- I will STAY aware

- Choice IS control (i)

I like this list. We have choices to make every day. I falter because I let myself think that certain choices won't make a difference in the long-term or I justify my behavior. (I ran hard this morning, I deserve this bowl of ice cream!)

How do you keep yourself in control? How do you motivate yourself to make healthy choices?

(i) A Guide to Empowerment and Self-Control by JLee Davis -

Monday, July 20, 2009

Becoming a runner

My little sister, Abbie, has been working diligently to become a runner. She started by walking a block then running a block, gradually increasing the ratio until she was running a mile then walking for a few minutes before running again. Saturday we ran five miles together. Such a proud moment for me.

I know not everyone can run because of joint or health issues, but I found this great article in Prevention about how to become a runner. And it's well worth trying. "Minute for minute, running burns about twice as many calories as walking." (i) Running has been proven to be one of the top cardiovascular means to burn calories. Also running stimulates more good-mood hormones in the brain so runners report enjoying their workout more. (No wonder I'm so addicted to my run even when it hurts like a bikini wax.)

So if you've ever wanted to try running, here's your chance. Check out this link -

(i) Turn your walk into a run ... and drop a size in 4 weeks by Marianne McGinnis, Prevention, July 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Metabolism Boosters

I see articles on metabolism every day. Why is everyone so excited about increasing metabolism? If you can get your metabolism working for you instead of against you, you’ll burn calories even when you’re sitting around reading The Sister Pact (had to throw that in there).

I’ve compiled a list of metabolism boosters to help you kick yours in gear.

1. Lift weights - Personal fitness trainer Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, ACE, notes that every pound of muscle in our bodies burns 35 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns just 2 calories per day. While 30 minutes of aerobic exercise may burn more calories than 30 minutes of weight training, Calabrese says, "in the hours following the cessation of exercise, the weight training has a longer-lasting effect on boosting metabolism." (i)

2. Lift heavier weights – “When exercisers lifted identical volumes (such as 10 pounds 10 times or 20 pounds 5 times), those using the heavier dumbbells burned about 25 percent more calories when they were finished.” (i)

3. Drink plenty of water - if you're dehydrated you will burn fewer calories throughout the day.

4. Drinking ice-cold beverages can burn an extra ten calories a day - that may not seem like much, but it adds up to a pound lost a year. My question now is - if cold beverages burn extra calories, does ice cream have the same effect? Hmmm. I'd better do some research. I'll try a bowl a day for a year and see what the results are.

5. Eat more often. It may sound crazy to those trying to lose weight by severely restricting their daily caloric intake, but the problem with this old school of thought, explains Michigan dietician Julie Beyer, is that it actually slows metabolism. “Every cell of the body is like a flashlight bulb,” she explains. “When our bodies don’t get enough food, or fuel, every cell burns less brightly.” Recent studies show that eating smaller meals every three to four hours aids metabolism and weight loss. (ii)

6. Move more all day. You can burn up to 350 extra calories daily – enough to shed more than 35 pounds this year-simply by pacing while you talk on the phone, getting up to talk to someone rather than e-mailing, and walking rather than driving for short errands.” James Levine, MD, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot. (iii)

7. Spicy foods can give you a temporary 23% boost in metabolism. Bring on the salsa - I wonder if the metabolism boost balances out the tortilla chips.

8. Exercise outside – You can burn 10% more calories by doing the same run or walk outside as you would on a treadmill.

9. At least once a week have a long cardio day. Exercising for sixty minutes could burn five times as many calories post-workout than thirty minutes.

10. Eat more protein - it's harder for your body to process, you can burn twice as many calories digesting protein as carbs.

11. Eat breakfast. People who eat breakfast weigh less than those who don’t.

12. Avoid stress. “Stress can actually cause weight gain, particularly around the tummy,” says Shari Lieberman author of Dare to Lose. Stress increases cortisol which slows metabolism. (iii)

13. Include interval training two to three days a week. High intensity exercise burns more calories during and after exercise. Some studies have shown women who did a twenty-minute interval workout lost five times as much weight as those who did a forty-minute steady-paced workout.

14. Sleep. Oh, I like this one. “Research shows that people who don’t sleep for seven to eight hours a night are more prone to weight gain. Additionally, we now know that lean muscle is regenerated in the final couple of hours of sleep each night.” Julie Beyer, dietitian. (ii)

Combine all these tricks and you could call metabolism your friend and not have to stress if you eat a few bites of Ben & Jerry’s every day.

Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, exercise scientist, and author. Her third book, The Sister Pact, will be in stores August 1, 2009. Please refer to her blog for strength-training routines.


(i) “The Ultimate Over-40 Fat Fighter!” by Selene Yeager - Prevention Magazine

(ii) “Boosting Metabolism: 10 Tips That Work” by Susan Woodward for MSN Health & Fitness

(iii) “Make the Most of Your Metabolism” By Colette Bouchez WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature -

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Try Something New

The human body is amazing. It adapts quickly to stresses placed upon it. This is a very good characteristic for our ancestors. Not so great for us.

Variety is key when you're trying to lose weight, get past a plateau, or become more fit. If you do the same cardio or same weight routine over and over it will become easy. This is a good thing because it means you're getting stronger, but it also means that you are burning less calories because your body is used to the demands placed upon it.

You can fix this problem by upping the intensity, duration, and speed of your workout or by changing the type of workout you do. Cross-training will recruit different muscle groups, challenge your body in a new way, and help you burn more calories.

If you always walk, try riding a bike or going for a swim. If you love the elliptical machine, try the Stairmaster. If you faithfully go to step aerobics, try yoga, pilates, or a kickboxing class. If you workout at home and need some variety, rent a new workout video or borrow one from the library.

Can't wait to hear about all the new exercises you're going to try,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Combining Bands & Weights

New studies have shown that combining weights with exercise tubing and bands can provide three times the sculpting power of ordinary weight routines. (i) The reason is the band provides resistance throughout the entire move while the weight and band combined fatigue your muscle in far fewer reps, increasing strength, muscle density, and metabolism.

Sounds pretty good? So how do you do it?

Combining your resistance band with free weights isn't rocket science, but it's very individual. Most people can hold onto the handles of a resistance and small dumbbells at the same time without sacrificing form or safety. If your bands are the "Pilates" style ones that are flat and don't have handles, you can usually wrap them around the dumbbell handle. But if you find these options too uncomfortable, you can probably rig your band to your dumbbells in whatever way suits you best—just make sure it's secure, you can grip the dumbbell without risk of dropping it, and you aren't sacrificing form to try this technique. Be creative when it comes to exercises. You could add dumbbells to nearly every exercise that uses a resistance band, or the other way around. (ii)

You can also do some funky moves with the band such as "sword draw", "tabletop balance," and "scissor press." Click on this link for pictures and descriptions -

If you're short on time this can be a really effective way to tone and increase your metabolism without buying a lot of extra equipment. All you need is a pair of hand weights 5-15 pounds each and a band. For a really inexpensive band go to a medical supply store and have them cut you a length of tubing. It will cost less than a dollar and be perfect for wrapping around the weight.

Happy toning,


(i) "Speed Shrink your Trouble Zones" by Melissa Daly, Prevention Magazine, June 2009

(ii) "Dumbbells Plus Bands Equals Twice the Results" by Nicole Nichols -