Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eights & Weights Video - Burpees

Some call it a burpee, some call it a squat thrust, but either way, we all recognize that this power exercise really burns some calories and tones all over. Haven't heard of a burpee? Watch the video below and try it at home. 

Here are a few steps to help you out as well:
  • Start in a standing position with your arms at your sides
  • Lower into a squat position like you're sitting in a chair, but have your knees together and your palms on the floor to the left and right of your feet
  • Jump back into the plank position (or you can extend one foot at a time like in the video below)
  • Jump forward back into the squat position
  • Jump straight up in the air in the standing position with your arms in the air above your head
  • Repeat
Sound complex? The video is here to guide you!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Need Some Help Eating Healthy on a Budget?

Recently, I've heard people make so many comments about eating healthy or eating natural and how expensive it is. But simply because restaurants charge you double when they put the word 'Organic' or 'Fit' beside a menu item does not mean you cannot still eat healthy on a budget. How do you do it?

I found this article on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion website on how you can use the 3Ps principle to eat healthier for cheaper. To access the whole article, visit the site here:

  • Plan meals and snacks for the week according to an established budget.
  • Find quick and easy recipes online.
  • Include meals that will “stretch” expensive food items (stews, casseroles,stir‐fried dishes).
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Check for sales and coupons in the local paper or online and consider discount stores.
  • Ask about a loyalty card at your grocery store.

  • Buy groceries when you are not hungry and when you are not too rushed.
  • Stick to the grocery list and stay out of the aisles that don’t contain items on your list.
  • Buy store brands if cheaper.
  • Find and compare unit prices listed on shelves to get the best price.
  • Purchase some items in bulk or as family packs which usually cost less.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season; buy canned vegetables with less salt.
  • Pre‐cut fruits and vegetables, individual cups of yogurt, and instant rice and hot cereal are convenient, but usually cost more than those that require a bit more prep time.
  • Good low‐cost items available all year include:
    • Protein — beans (garbanzo, black, cannellini)
    • Vegetables — carrots, greens, potatoes
    • Fruit — apples, bananas

  • Some meal items can be prepared in advance; pre‐cook on days when you have time.
  • Double or triple up on recipes and freeze meal‐sized containers of soups and casseroles or divide into individual portions.
  • Try a few meatless meals by substituting with beans and peas or try “no‐cook” meals like salads.
  • Incorporate leftovers into a subsequent meal.
  • Be creative with a fruit or vegetable and use it in different ways during the week.

I think these are great tips we can all implement. Print out the sample plate below, stick it on your fridge or put it in your purse to remind you of your meal targets.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hotel Rooms with In-Room Exercise?

Do you never hit the gym when you are traveling because you prefer to work out in your own room? Well, some hotels have the answer for you!

A few hotels have started offering in-room exercise options. Yes, there have been "Fit channels" for a while, but these are more intense physical options. If you are thinking about a trip, and are not sure what hotel options to choose, maybe this list can help you out:

Westin Hotels: A few Westin hotels offer an in-room option as part of their WestinWorkout program. Per their website, for those who prefer to work out in privacy or at their own convenience, Westin offers the special option of booking a guest room equipped with a treadmill, a stationary bike, dumbbells, fitness DVDs, resistance bands and stability balls. These rooms are limited so you have to ask specifically for one when you make your booking. They are also not at every location.

Kimpton Hotels: The Kimpton boutique hotels offer a yoga kit (includes mat, blocks, strap, and a towel) for you to practice yoga on your own. Technically, you can use the equipment for all other sorts of exercises too. Per their website, they'll send up a tote bag, with the props and straps you'll need for doing on-demand yoga classes, Pilates or meditation practice, right in your room. All you need to do is call the front desk.

Omni Hotels: Just like the Kimpton hotels, Omni hotels also offer a kit. Per their website,
Guest services will supply you with a handy canvas bag, a floor mat, two dumbbells and an elastic exercise band. You can create your own routine, or bring some DVDs!

There are several other hotels that may offer these amenities so these are just a few. Make sure you do your research when you are booking or ask at the front desk. You never know.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baby Weight: Where to Start

New mothers face a different set of challenges than others. You've just had a baby in you for nine months, which means you probably have not been able to work as hard on your body as you usually would. Your middle area is bigger than you could have ever imagined, and of course, if you had to push, down there is a little less tight.

Getting back into your program is never easy, but you have to consider a couple of things: Your body needs time to recover, so give it about 6 weeks; And you need to understand how different your body is now from how it was prior to the baby. Plus, you now have a baby to take care of, so your time challenges are different.

Fret not though. It is achievable. You should focus on the following as you rebuild your training program:

Incorporate Kegels into your training: Childbirth weakens the pelvic floor muscles. For those who do not know, Kegels are meant to help strengthen these muscles, allowing for increased sexual pleasure and to tighten up the area down there. Kegels simply involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles (in your vaginal area). As you do any ab or lower body exercises, contract your pelvic muscles as you contract any other muscle, and then relax these muscles as you would relax other muscles as well. For example, as you bend into a squat, tighten up, and then as you lift up, relax the pelvic floor muscles.

Focus on cardio for fat burn: As a new mum, you've gained weight all over, and so it is important to do workouts that burn fat all over. Do something very high-energy that also forces you to use your core for balance, like taking a hip-hop or zumba dance class, swimming, or doing kick boxing.

Ease into the workout: Your body is like a machine. It needs to be charged, properly oiled, and heated up when necessary. Since you have had a foetus feeding off you for nine months, you now need to focus on eating right for your routine, and getting your body slowly charged as you fully get back into your workout regimen. Don't force your body to go lengths that it cannot yet achieve and then break yourself. Ease into the workout.

Don't hold out on the core exercises: There is no doubt about it - the midsection is one of the most problematic areas for mums. And if you take to long to work it out, you could risk making it harder to lose. So make ab exercises your best friend, especially ones for your lower abs like leg raises, reverse crunches, and six-inches off the ground. Also, make sure you incorporate core exercises into every single routine you do. Hold your abs tight in every pose, twist to work on your obliques when you can, and always sit upright with your abs in.

Manage your expectations: It took your body nine months to get where it is, and so it is important to be patient with it. You are not going to be able to run 10 miles a week after your delivery or get that butt that you were known for the minute the baby pops out. In fact, for the first few months, you'd have to work harder than you did before to get to the same level of fitness. So make sure you are prepared!

You can get your body back. You just need some patience and hard work. But you can do it!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tips to Stay Fuller Longer

Food is one of or biggest issues. It's difficult to understand what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. The good thing is Eights & Weights is here to make the process less complicated :)

If you didn't know, there are foods out there that help you feel like you're full for a longer time. It is less about the nutrients and more about the feeling sometimes because we may have our 3 regular meals, and still feel like we need to eat even when we're really not that hungry.

So what are some of the foods you can eat or things you can do to fight that deceptive need to eat?

Chew sugar-free gum: Yes, I said that will a straight face. Chewing gum actually reduces the need to chew since you have something flavorful in your mouth. If you really are starving, that's a different issue, but if you just felt like you needed to eat, then the gum should help your brain have time to process that you really aren't hungry. Just make sure it's sugarless so you're not defeating the purpose :)

Eat your complex carbs: There is a reason we keeping forcing whole grain down your throat. Not only is it healthier, it keeps you fuller longer because it doesn't just ease through your digestive system. However, complex carbs are not only found in whole grains; you can also eat foods like sweet potatoes and vegetables to stay full. Complex carbs also tend to contain more fiber, which keeps you fuller longer and contains fewer calories than simple carbs.

Fruit it, don't juice it: When you eat an apple, do you notice you are fuller than when you buy a cup of apple juice? But somehow, the cup of apple juice seems to contain more calories because they say it is more concentrated. Hmmm... Here's what I say: Eat the apple rather than drink the juice. And if you must, blend the juice yourself. Because it comes out thicker, more satisfying, and more natural than buying it from a store. And guess what? You stay fuller longer.

Control the smells around you: When you're out, you can't really control other people, but when you're home, this is a great trick. Rather than have citrus, coffee, cupcake, or other 'foody' scents at home, stick to flowery or other non-food scents. The smell of food triggers your appetite.

Add lots of protein to your diet: You probably already know this by now: protein contains fewer calories than carbs and reduces the feeling of hunger later on. But it's not just any protein you should be targeting. Things like almonds and beans are your best bets. However, be conscious about how many almonds you eat because nuts do have a high fat content, and so eating too much could defeat the purpose.

Watch what you drink: Soda has so much sugar in it that it flows through your system pretty quickly, and then comes the slump. With the slump usually comes the desire to eat. Drinking lots of water, tea, and even dark cocoa help maintain that slow-releasing energy to keep you feeling full and refreshed.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Eights & Weights Video - Side Plank

Yes, I know it will no longer officially be summer tomorrow morning (*sobs*), but autumn is still a great season to work out since the winter coats haven't come out yet. Here is a video I made to help you work on your obliques. Working on your obliques help create than total ab definition that we all want. You don't have to do a push-up as you switch from side to side. Watch and try it at home.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Healthy Nigerian Recipe: Baked Plantain Chips

So I sometimes watch videos by another fitness blogger Adura, and in watching some of the videos yesterday, I wanted to share one I thought was great. In Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, a lot of countries eat deep fried plantain as one of the staples. Needless to say, it contains a lot of oil, and regardless of what oil you use, too much oil could pose a caloric problem.

I watched this video, and really wanted to share with you because it is an easy alternative for those who love plantains. For more information on Adura, visit her website here or check it out on my blog list on the side bar. Check out the video on Youtube to see calorie information as well, and while you're there, subscribe to her channel!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Video credit:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You Can't Out-Train a Bad Diet

So we talk about exercise. A LOT. And the fittest folks are usually looked at as the folks who exercise all the time. But to get your body healthy, burning the right amount of calories and losing weight or staying toned, diet plays such a huge role. And that is where most people face problems. People don't seem to understand that exercise is not magic; it does not erase a bad diet.

It sometimes seems like because eating right takes willpower, we slack off big time. Exercise takes willpower too. But slacking off on exercise does not feel good. Whereas eating bad food? Well, I don't need to say more. Plus as you sweat and hurt all over from exercise, you literally feel the calories going away.

But let me ask you this? Do you realize that you would achieve more eating healthier than exercising? Think about it. For example, you slave for an hour and burn 500 calories (depending on your body weight and what you do), and so if you eat a 1,000 calorie meal, that would be about 2 hours worth of exercise to burn off. How many times a day would you be able to keep it up?

Now, if you eat a 500 calorie meal instead of 1,000 by controlling your portions and picking better options, that would save a lot of time, and would melt off weight faster. So when you do work out for an hour, you're reaching your goal much quicker.

Additionally, food affects your mood and could be the difference between being sluggish or energized. Eating loads of burgers and high-fat foods usually slows you down and makes you less likely to work out. Or if you do work out, you're pushing yourself too hard for too long because you are determined to burn it off. And then you could hurt yourself.

Usually, people tend to overestimate how much they burn, and underestimate how much they eat. It's human nature.  I have read a few studies where Americans were polled and the result was that most Americans think they eat healthy. Yet, Americans are among the most obese in the world. This shows that people really do underestimate how much they eat. Thus, if you are eating wrong, and then you think you're burning more than you actually are, you see how that can be a problem for your weight loss goals? This is probably one of the reasons why people don't see results.

So what should you do? Starve yourself? Heck no. But you should be putting just as much effort into your nutrition as you are putting into your exercise regimen. Inform yourself about better food choices, and know what you are actually putting into your body. And you should start to see the results you my not have been seeing.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Insanity Workout Program Review

Have you ever started a conversation with “So I just completed the Insanity workout program”? I did that last week with a dude. His response? “Well, you don’t need to work out for the rest of your life then.” This has been the kind of attention the Insanity program has gotten: that it’s incredibly difficult, almost impossible, and requires a lot of effort and dedication. Well, all these things are true. I mean, what did you expect? It is called ‘Insanity’ so you’d have to be insane to do it.

The Insanity program was created by fitness instructor Shaun T. and the Beach Body crew. If you have every tried any other exercise videos by Beach Body, you’d know that they push the limit with their workouts.

The slogan for the workout program is “Dig Deeper”. The premise is that you can push yourself farther and farther doing interval and plyometric training to achieve the best shape of your life in 60 days. To do this, you would have to garner up strength and endurance you never knew you had every single day.

The program comes with a nutrition guide, a calendar, and support from the Beach Body team on their website. It is a 60 day program, with 6 days a week of intense work and 1 day a week of rest. Before you start the program, you are required to take a “Fit Test”, which you take about every 2 weeks on the program to gauge your fitness level. The Fit Test consists of doing as many repetitions as possible of particular exercises within a span of time. As you get fitter, obviously, the more you should be able to do.

There are 14 videos in the series, and a calendar is provided to tell you what video to do on what day. The first month is made up of total body cardio conditioning workouts that go from 30 to 40 minutes each. And then you get a rest week where you focus on balance and your core before you get back into the 2nd month. Month 2 is intense. You get high intensity workouts. The workouts get longer consisting of about 45 to 60 minutes each. So there is a bit of shock going from month 1 to month 2, especially with that rest week in between.

Let me add a disclaimer here to state that I couldn’t actually take the week off between month 1 and 2 as I was training for a few races and so still had to run consistently, and I also did not consider the Insanity workout as my full workout program for those 60 days. I did all the videos every day, but I also supplemented with other workouts as well. Yea, I know, I’m crazy. 

If you start the program and have a hard time even though you thought you were pretty fit, that is absolutely normal. The intensity of just the warm-ups can be a bit challenging until you get used to it. It usually starts with 3 rounds of a warm-up circuit, consisting of sprints, jumping jacks, butt kicks, high knee runs, and a bunch of other exercises involving jumping, power, and fast movements. Then you stretch for about 4 minutes before you really get into the workout. Each workout consists of circuits with about a 30 second water break in between circuits. Some videos don’t have designated water breaks, but you are instructed to take breaks when you feel you need to. After it all, there is another few minutes of stretching, and then you’re done.

Pros of the Workout Program
  1. Unlike the P90x and some other intense workout programs, there is no equipment necessary! So you can do it at home, take it on trips, etc.
  2. The videos are long so it can be considered your whole workout.
  3. All the folks in the video are fit! So it pushes you to do as much as they are doing.
  4. Shaun T’s attitude just makes me want to exercise! As he keeps yelling “Ah! You can do it!”, you actually start believing you can.
  5. Unlike many workout programs where you kind of wing it, you have a structured calendar that tells you exactly what to do when. 
  6. It comes with a great nutrition program to help you get where you need to be (Note: I did not follow the nutrition program)
  7. It involves a lot of powerful movements, and you know I love my power workouts.
  8. The Fit Test allows you to see your progress periodically so you’re sort of competing with yourself.

Cons of the Workout Program
  1. I wake up in the morning now after I’ve just had a dream where someone was yelling “Dig Deeper” at me in Shaun T’s voice. It’s pretty bad.
  2. Well, it does cost almost $120, which is pretty steep. 
  3. There is no substitution so it’s either you can do something or you can’t. Some trainers like Jackie Warner give you substitute positions if you are not yet strong enough to do the regular version.
  4. The exercises are very similar across the videos. For example, the warm-ups are the same for most videos in month 1, and then most videos in month 2. You can lose your excitement if every video is similar.
  5. It would help if they gave an estimate of how many calories it burns for a particular body weight and gender. I know some folks say it’s not about the calories, but if part of the point is to get a great body, knowing how much you are burning is important. But I guess you can measure your own heart rate and figure the calories out.
  6. Because it does involve a lot of jumping and quick movements, it can be very hard on the joints. So it is not a workout you should be on forever because it is very high impact.
  7. This workout is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of dedication, which is what makes me like it. But I see how this can make others easily fall off of it if they hadn’t prepared themselves for the craziness before starting.

The Insanity workout is not for everyone, and so you should know your body and take the Fit Test to determine if it is for you. I know folks always seem to want results pronto, but my advice is that you should have already been doing some sort of exercise before you start this program. Don’t just jump into it without any prior experience because you could hurt yourself and you could lose focus.
But if you do have some exercise experience, you should definitely try it out and push your body. And let me know how you do! I finished it, but I still incorporate a video here and a video there into my daily workout routine.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

PS. My favorite person on the DVDs is Tanya. She is awesome! You know what I mean if you've done the program.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Green Booster Shake Recipe

So everyone has their own green drink, right? I woke up this morning not feeling quite so energetic, and I thought I'd pump myself up with greens to start my day. You know you can get a pseudo "high" from taking a concentrated amount of greens all at once.

My shake really consists of 4 things:
  • 1 Small Banana (70 calories)
  • Half a Golden Delicious Apple (40 calories)
  • As much spinach as I can fit into the blender (about 30 calories)
  • Half a cup of Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk (about 40 calories)
  • Water to get to whatever consistency I am in the mood for

Remember the blender I talked about yesterday? I blended it all up, and got this green goodness. The spinach barely contains any calories, and the apple is to give it that tang (plus, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?). The banana is obviously to give it a little sweetness and the potassium in the banana helps protect your muscles from cramps if you exercise hard. The soy milk is for a little protein and creamy consistency.

That's a total of about 180 calories and gave me 2 full glasses. That's not a bad breakfast, right? Try it and enjoy!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wave Station Express Dispensing Blender

Okay, let me state first that this is not endorsed in any way. A couple of months ago, I decided I was tired of flavorless protein shakes, or flavored ones where I couldn't pronounce the ingredients and contained a ridiculous number of calories. 

So as usual, I went on Amazon (Yes, this is the answer to all my problems. Or is it the reason for my problems? Hmmm...). I initially thought I could just buy a regular blender and just maybe add a little flavor to some of the bland protein shakes. But in my search, I found this magical - but very affordable - product: The Wave Station Express Dispensing Blender by Hamilton Beach.

Let me tell you some positive things about it:
  • It has 4 speeds and a pulse setting, including the Regular speed, Juicer, Smoothie, and Milkshake. This means you can use it for all sorts of things!
  • It has a dispenser (like a little tap), so you can blend, dispense, and not create a whole mess.
  • It looks cute :)
  • The power is actually pretty good, which I did not expect. It crushes ice well (if you want to make a smoothie), but also blends anything from carrots to bananas very well.
  • You get a 3 year warranty
  • It is dishwasher safe
  • If you don't want the dispenser, they also provide a cap option to just close off that space. Isn't that thoughtful?
What's the negative, you ask? Well, they are very few:
  • It doesn't look super-professional. The base is made of plastic so it isn't super-glossy.
  • The dispenser can be difficult to clean if you are not using a dishwasher. 
  • It is not a particularly small blender so it does take up some space.
  • The blender top does not fit tightly, so if you do decide not to use the dispenser, make sure you hold on to the top as you pour.
You should totally get it if you are looking for an easy way to get your fruit and veggies in, or make a great protein shake. Here is it on Amazon and on Walmart.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Standing Oblique Twist

Last week, we talked about the standing oblique twist and described how to do it. Check out that post here: Crunch-Free Ab Exercises. This week, I thought I'd show you. The twist is great for your core because you're twisting side to side. But make sure you keep your core tight as you move. The punch also help work out your shoulders and the back of your arms so make sure you hit hard!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Top 3 Fitness Mistakes Women Make

Original article by Joe Dowdell in Shape Magazine

To get the best results, investigating what you're not doing is just as important as what you are doing at the gym. Here are the three most common mistakes that hold women back:
Too Much Emphasis on Aerobic Activities and Not Enough on Strength Training
Most women fail to realize the value of strength training. And when I say strength training, I don't mean 20-30 repetitions using 3-lb dumbbells. I’m talking about lifting challenging loads like 8-12 repetitions maximum (RM). What does that mean? Repetition maximum refers to the maximum number of repetitions that you can perform with a given load while still maintaining excellent form. In the above example of 8-12 RM, the last perfect repetition should fall within the 8-12 rep range. If you are not able to perform 8 reps with a given resistance, use a slightly lighter weight that allows you to do so. On the other hand, if you can perform more than 12 reps with the resistance, then I suggest increasing the load a little.

Strength training, especially at higher intensities, promotes something called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Sometimes referred to as "afterburn," EPOC is basically an increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity. During the post-workout recovery process, excess oxygen is used to facilitate all of the processes that restore your body back to its resting state and to help it adapt to the exercise (stress) just performed. The "afterburn" also fuels your metabolism to return your body temperature and heart rate back to its pre-exercise state. Some research shows that this increase in resting metabolic rate can last up to 72 hours after your workout is over, with 24-48 hours being more the norm. Higher metabolic rate means more calories burned, so if changing body composition is your goal, this is key to success.

It’s also important to remember that lean muscle tissue is very metabolically active (it burns calories at rest). The more lean muscle tissue you have relative to your overall body composition, the greater your potential to burn more calories. While cardiovascular training, especially steady-state cardio, burns calories during the exercise session itself, it does very little to promote the process of EPOC.
Program Hopping
What exactly is program hopping? In a nutshell, it looks something like this: A woman will go to a bootcamp class on Monday, a spinning class on Tuesday, a barre class on Wednesday, a yoga class on Thursday, a Pilates mat class on Friday, and then finish off her week with a hip hop bootylicious sculpt class on Saturday (OK so I made that class up). The bottom line is that too many class-loving women, despite all of their efforts to exercise, never look any differently aesthetically. In fact, sometimes they look worse.

There is nothing wrong with adding a little variety to your training program, you just need to be smart about it. Try performing the same total-body strength training routine on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday, mix in a spin class, try a boxing or kickboxing class on Thursday, and schedule in your favorite yoga class on Saturday. Try this schedule out for a month. I guarantee you’ll be happier with the results, and if not, change your schedule slightly until you find what works best (but still isn't your class-hopping frenzy).
Not Enough Protein in Your Diet
Research shows that 10 percent of women don't even get the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 46 grams of protein per day. To optimize your body composition, you should aim to double that amount. One study from the University of Illinois found that when women doubled their protein intake (twice the RDA for protein), they lost more body fat and experienced a greater improvement in body composition than those who followed a lower-protein diet. Another study from Purdue University found that women report being less hungry throughout the day when eating a high-protein diet. It's tough to find a reputable study that doesn’t support women eating more protein. Aim to include a protein source (eggs, chicken, fish, lean beef, Greek yogurt, etc.) in every meal and snack.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Original article can be found on the Shape Magazine website.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Health Corner: Can Weight Loss Really Be Fun?

Today, we have a guest writer! We are introducing a new segment on Eights & Weights called 'Health Corner' where doctors and other health professionals will give us advice on health issues we face today, from a professional perspective. 

Dr. Chikelue Enyekwe of Enyekwe's Clinic is an experienced doctor that provides various health tips, information on medical conditions, exercise, diets, and health issues via his blog What is his mantra? Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Love it :)

Can Weight Loss Really Be Fun?
by Dr. Chikelue Enyekwe

I have come to realize that most people abandon their weight loss programs because they no longer enjoy doing them. Some people that I have had personal discussions with, even some of my own patients, always ask "Why would I continue killing myself trying to lose weight?" They would even go as far as saying that they’d rather remain overweight than get involved in any stressful weight loss program.

Developing a fun weight loss program fun is completely dependent on the types of things that turn you on. However, no matter what you do, you shouldn’t lose track of the ultimate goal, which is to shed weight. It is called ‘weight loss’ after all.

How to Introduce the Fun Factor into your Weight Loss Program
  • Give yourself a target: The average human being likes competition; creating a goal and beating it. To have the competitive feeling in any weight loss program, you have to give yourself an achievable goal like “I will shed 1 kg by the end of this week”. If by the end of the week you weighed yourself and found out you were on point, you'd feel good and want to do more. But remember that your target should be something achievable, or you will get frustrated in the process.
  • Participate in physical activity you love: When you are doing something you view as play, not work, you’d see that you would be doing it well and not get as tired quickly. Why would you focus on a jogging regimen when your favorite cardio exercise is cycling? Why would you eat a lettuce salad every day when cabbage is your favorite vegetable? Don’t do anything simply because everyone is doing it. Think about your personal goals.
  • Talk about your weight loss with friends and family: This is very important as it boosts your morale and makes you not want to quit. Whenever you feel like calling it quits, remembering that everybody is looking up to you to achieve your goal will make you fight on. Besides, you would want to prove to them that you could actually do it.
  • Find other people to lose weight with: Don’t train in isolation. Partnerships push people, and when you see others working out, it triggers your competitive spirit. Register in a gym, cook lunches  with your friends and family, or do both. Find a way to do it with other people who have the same goals as you do. 
  • Make your environment comfortable: I wouldn’t have thought this was a factor until I went to visit a friend who is a physical therapist. His gym was located in a rural area, and so was mostly frequented by the middle class. One day he had this case. Some folks brought their mother to the gym to start a  weight loss program. She obviously did not want to cooperate as she thought of the whole idea as punishment, but she came just to please the kids. Handling her case was quite difficult until we realized she was into music. During her subsequent visits, we started playing her type of songs. And guess what happened? The woman now comes to the gym and starts cycling and semi-dancing without moaning or complaining. This is all to say that the clothes you wear, the house you eat in, and the environment you work out in all have an effect on your weight loss program.
  • Know that there is always an alternative: Okay, so you’ve read some blog posts that say cassava is high in calories. You’ve probably even read some of these posts on Eights & Weights. And then as soon as you read it, your friend Tolu made this beautiful pounded yam and egusi soup (a Nigerian dish consisting of yams and melon seed stew) that leaves your mouth watering.  You start getting mad at the world and turning against your workout program for subjecting you to this mental torture. Instead of putting yourself through that, create your own alternative. Maybe prepare some wheat or oatmeal, which is lower in calories, as a substitute for the pounded yam, and then have a little bit of Tolu’s soup?
The key is to understand the basics of the way the body loses weight. The moment you understand that the program is about balancing calories consumed with calories burned, you’d stop seeing weight loss as torture, and instead as something worth doing and worth doing well.

For more information on Dr. Chikelue Enywkwe, visit his site at, email him at, or follow him on the following social network links:

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nigerian Blog Awards 2012 - Nominate!

The Nigerian Blog Awards are under way again :) Yes, that means it's time to nominate your favorite Nigerian blogs. Not just this one, but yes mostly this one...

Click on the image below for the link:

Here are a few suggestions on what you should nominate us for. Nominations close September 23rd.
Best Cause Blog: Blog about raising awareness for a particular cause, such as a medical condition or a political movement.
Best Fitness or Health Blog: Blog that focuses on healthy living, exercise, or wellness.
Best Tutorial Blog: Blog that focuses on teaching its readers through the use of step-by-step instructions.
Nigerian Blog of the Year: Best overall blog by a Nigerian or best blog with a strong focus on any aspect of Nigeria.

No, we do not win any prizes, and neither do you. But we do win the satisfaction of knowing you love us and recognize how hard we are working to get you the tools you need to be successful in your fitness program. So if you love Eights & Weights, nominate us. We really do appreciate it :)

If you want suggestions of other blogs to nominate. Let me know and I'll be sure to share.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crunch-Free Ab Exercises

I don't know about you, but I pretty much hate laying there doing repetitive movement trying to get to a 100, and creating tension in my neck in the process. Don't get me wrong, crunches work if they are done as part of an overall training routine. But doing crunches every day can get boring. Thankfully, the cruch is not the only way to work your abs. So let's try some other movements.

Knee Lift Twist
Lift your knees like you're running with just high knees. Each step should see your knee coming up to your waist-level. As you lift each knee, don't lean back. Use your core to lift each knee up so it's like you are doing a crunch in the standing position. As you lift your knees, put your wrists in front of your chin and rotate your waist to the same side as the knees you are lifting. This means your elbows should be almost touching our knees.

Oblique Twist with a Reverse Hook 
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your wrists and fingers like you're ready to punch. Leave the left arm beside you, but move the right arm in front of your chest and parallel to the floor. At the same time, move your upper body to the left using just your waist. Punch out straight with the side of your right wrist. As you are punching, move your upper body to the right side. Switch hands and repeat on the left. See the photo below for guidance. You should definitely feel this in your obliques (the sides of your abs).

Scorpion plank 
Get into a plank position. And then bring your right knee towards your left elbow. Repeat the same motion with your left.

Pulsing plank 
Start in a plank position. Then simply start to pulse your pelvic region (small pulses), while you keep your abs tight. You'll notice how much more of a core workout you get from this.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:,

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Battle of the Elliptical vs. the Treadmill

The question always comes up: Which form of cardio is the best? The two forms of cardio that have people riled up the most are the elliptical and the treadmill. They are probably the two most common cardio machines you would find in any gym, and they are thought to be somewhat similar in the type of motion required.

Because everyone is different, what exercise works for each person is also different. So it is key to understand what is most important to you as you determine what works. Here are a few key differences between the elliptical and the treadmill to help you decide:

Calories burned
Well, I had to start with this one! When we talk about cardio, we are usually looking for what burns the most calories in the least time, and with the least effort! Ummm... you're seeing things. I did not say that last part. 

Okay, so how does the elliptical compare to the treadmill? Of course it depends on your weight and your speed. But on average, a 150 pound person usually burns about 600 to 700 calories on the treadmill if they run for about an hour. The elliptical is also about 600 to 700 calories an hour, unless you're pushing harder and putting in more effort one way or the other. 

Effort required
Which leads to the next point. How much effort is required to burn the same number of calories on the treadmill vs. the elliptical? It looks like the elliptical takes this one. Again, unless you are pushing harder, the elliptical usually requires less effort than the treadmill to go at the same speed. Why? With the treadmill, you are lifting and dropping your whole body and so it feels harder. With the elliptical, you are pushing and pulling rather than lifting and dropping.

Impact on your joints
If you lift and drop any object consistently, there is bound to be some damage. Your body operates in the same manner. Whenever you drop your legs as you run, you put a lot of impact on your knees and ankles. And so the surface on which you run is pretty important. Treadmills and race tracks were created with materials to minimize the impact on your joints. However, there is still some impact. The elliptical on the other hand does not involve lifting and dropping and so the impact to your joints is very minimal.

Flexibility of the exercise
If you were raised by humans, you probably know how to run. It is naturally built into our genes. Thus, perfecting your run, and introducing different types of training to your runs would be more natural than trying to figure out how to mix up your training on the elliptical. On the treadmill, you can do interval training (speeding up for a short interval, and slowing down for a short interval) to burn more calories, or do power exercises like side shuffles. The treadmill is a more flexible machine if you get bored easily.

Volume of muscles reached
Running is a great overall body workout. It is difficult to compare it to anything else. If you look at any runner, their leg muscles and core muscles are usually toned. However, with the elliptical (depending on the type of elliptical), because you are using your arms as well, you end up building both your upper and lower body muscles. Can someone say "Hello upper back"? Plus, the elliptical allows you to do reverse spins, or squat as you push, which means you'd be working different muscle groups that you wouldn't ordinarily reach in a forward upright motion.

Endorphin rush
Maybe this is just me, but when I finish time on the treadmill, I feel an amazing endorphin rush that I don't get from the elliptical. That is not to say I don't get an endorphin rush from the elliptical. I do, but it's not comparable. Could it be because I sweat more? Maybe. Or because it feels like more of an accomplishment? Maybe. It may be a different feeling for you.

Given all of that, I would still pick the treadmill over the elliptical. However, there are tremendous benefits of choosing the elliptical over the treadmill, especially if you are older, have been injured before, or if you are concerned about your joints.

Which would you choose?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:,
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