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Blogs

One Small Change

Contributing writer Joe Kita dares to make one little, healthy change every month. Past experiments include giving up caffeine, napping daily, and stretching like it's your job.

One Small Change

30 Workouts in 30 Days

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I did it. I exercised for 30 consecutive days. (Click here to read why I started this streak in the first place.) Specifically, I rolled out my yoga mat and practiced for at least half an hour every day. To squeeze it in, I sometimes had to practice before dawn, after dark, and once in the unsteady wake of multiple martinis.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “My Nana does yoga, and it’s not a real sport.” But you’re wrong. Try doing a style called “ashtanga.” It’s a series of nearly 100 linked postures, so you never stop moving. It’ll not only kick your butt but it’ll also bring you face-to-face with it, which can spike heart rate in ways you never imagined.

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Tags: Attitude, Planning, Health

One Small Change

The Simple Psychology of Consistent Training

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For this month’s One Small Change blog I started a workout streak in order to explore firsthand the challenges of exercising more consistently. So far, my streak stands at 21 consecutive days, which I was really proud of until I heard about Dale Webster. This guy is to fitness streaks what Lady Gaga is to glam pop—the very definition of it. He’s caught at least three waves off the coast of northern California every day since September 3, 1975. And no, that’s not a misprint. We’re talking nearly 35 years.

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Tags: Attitude, Motivation, Longevity, Health

One Small Change

Practice Makes Perfect... Right?

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This month I’ve committed to working out at least one hour every day in order to explore the physiological and psychological effects of “exercise streaking.”

When I began my streak of daily yoga two weeks ago (click here if you haven't read the previous blog posts in this series), I was enthusiastic but skeptical. I had come of age during an era when coaches advocated following a hard workout with a day of rest so the muscles could fully recuperate. Knowing I could kick back made intervals and long, solitary runs or bike rides more bearable. But for this month’s experiment, I wouldn’t have that luxury.

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Tags: Rest, Focus, Goals, Regeneration, Soreness

One Small Change

Lessons from a Man Who Hasn’t Missed a Workout in 16 Years

Jim Langley taking a break on the bike path.

Jim Langley is on a streak. He has ridden his bike for at least one hour on 5,927 consecutive days. That’s nearly 17 years. What makes this feat even more amazing is that he has a 40-hour-per-week job, two daughters (one still at home), a wife of 30 years, a couple of dogs, and plenty of other hobbies and responsibilities. In other words, he’s functional on and off the bike. In fact, when I called him the other day to chat, he couldn’t immediately tell me his streak stats. He had to do the math. Daily cycling isn’t something he began or continues for Guinness fame, but rather because he loves it.

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Tags: Focus, Goals, Motivation, Outdoor Recreation, Energy, Health, Cycling

One Small Change

Start an Exercise Streak

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Although he did a lot of work with heavenly bodies, I never pegged Sir Isaac Newton as a fitness trainer. But then I happened across his First Law of Motion. If, like me, you never paid attention in high school physics, it goes like this:

An object at rest tends to stay at rest,
while an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

Think of yourself as the “object” in this equation, and you’ll have the premise for our next One Small Change experiment. This month’s challenge is to start and sustain an exercise streak. The plan is to commit to working out every single day for the next 30 days in order to test Newton’s First Law—namely, once we get our bodies in motion does it get any easier to vanquish inertia and sustain that motion?

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Tags: Goals, Training, Motivation, Energy

One Small Change

Are You Eating Enough Fiber?

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When I started this experiment on February 1, I weighed 179.5 pounds—the heaviest I’ve been since college. Since I don’t believe in diets and a particularly snowy winter was limiting my efforts at exercising more, I opted for what seemed an incredibly easy solution: eating an additional 14 grams of fiber every day.

According to the National Fiber Council, by doubling my daily fiber intake I could expect to ingest 100 fewer calories per day. (Fiber’s bulk naturally fills you up, so you eat less.) This equates to one pound lost every 35 days or 10 pounds dropped per year, assuming everything else remains constant. Not as fast as you might desire for summer Speedo season, but impressive nonetheless since no other changes are required—no extra sweat and no dieting.

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Tags: Carbohydrate, Nutrients, Metabolism, Weight Loss, Food, Breakfast

One Small Change

The Fiber Forum: You Ask, We Answer

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While it seems that everyone understands carbs, fats and protein, fiber somehow escapes us. Maybe it’s because it’s the plumber of nutrients, working in husky coveralls in the dark bowels of the system to keep our pipes clean. No need to pay it any heed as long as it’s working. But since I undertook this month’s One Small Change of eating 14 extra grams of fiber per day in an attempt to lose weight, lots of questions have come up. This is intriguing stuff. Here are some additional things I’ve been wondering about or have been asked by you:

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Tags: Carbohydrate, Nutrients, Health, Weight Loss

One Small Change

Tired of Oatmeal?

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I’m fed up with oatmeal—literally. I’ve been eating a heaping bowl every morning for the past 3 weeks in an attempt to get a jump on the additional 14 grams of daily fiber that research says is needed to lose weight. Oatmeal, especially the organic steel-cut kind, is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to dress it up (almonds, raisins, blueberries, bananas, apples, a snazzy bowtie…) it remains oatmeal. While it’s satisfying for the body, it just doesn’t do much for my palate.

One of the tenets of weight loss is to never embark on a diet that you can’t sustain for the rest of your life. And for me, oatmeal every morning falls into this category. I mean, why do you think God created huevos rancheros?

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Tags: Food, Nutrients, Snacks, Weight Loss, Breakfast

One Small Change

Fibbing About Fiber

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As I try to lose weight this month by doing nothing more than eating 14 grams of additional daily fiber, I’ve been reading a lot of food labels. And I’m finding that some products I never expected to contain any fiber actually hold a shocking amount. For example:

  • Fiber One Key Lime Pie Yogurt (5 grams per container)
  • Skinny Cow No-Sugar-Added Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches (5 grams per sandwich)
  • Propel Body Peach Mango Water (6 grams per 20 ounces)

So what am I doing choking down steel-cut oats, bulgar wheat and mung beans? Apparently, all these products have more roughage than even such fibrous hall-of-famers as Sunsweet Prune Juice and Metamucil (both of which offer a comparatively measly 3 grams per 8 ounces.)

How can this be? How can a bottle of water be so laden with fiber—unless they're counting the container?

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Tags: Nutrients, Health, Weight Loss, Food

One Small Change

Fill Your Breakfast with Fiber

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Judging from the size and looks of consternation (constipation?) on the faces of most Americans, it should be obvious that as a nation we are not getting enough fiber. In fact, some will argue it’s a moral as well as dietary deficiency. Fortunately, I’ll only be addressing the latter dilemma this month as I try to lose my winter gut by doing nothing more than eating 14 additional grams of fiber per day. You heard right. No extra workouts, no dieting, no other changes. My life will proceed as normal except for some extra birdfeed.

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Tags: Nutrients, Metabolism, Weight Loss, Breakfast

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