In 1994, former surgeon general C. Everett Koop founded Shape Up America!, a nonprofit Web site dedicated to raising awareness about the health effects of obesity and providing responsible information about weight management to the public, as well as health care professionals Shape Up America! is a phenomenal reference for fitness and health information. Although it has no real community features, it offers a wealth of highly accessible content about diet and exercise, including weight management and fitness areas, a variety of quizzes to test your knowledge about fitness and health, a store, and an area for professionals. There’s also a regular newsletter. At this writing, free six-month memberships to Shape Up America! were being offered by the Gerber Corporation to anyone who wanted one. The membership section includes two calculators a meal and snack calculator and a metabolism calculator plus a recipe section and a support area.
Shape Up America! bills itself as “A non-profit organization dedicated to achieving healthy weight for life.” As a result, Shape Up America! is against dieting and in favor of changing eating habits. It has a point of view that the really healthy way to eat is to control portions, limit fats, and eat plenty of fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. It also believes that physical activity is essential. It does not believe that low-carb diets are healthy or that any weight loosing program in which you lose a lot of weight quickly is a good idea.
Shape Up America! is not a fancy Web site; it just has a lot of good information. The Cyberkitchen, for example, is a simple meal-planning system that helps you lose as much as one pound per week through a variety of meal plans. You select the foods for the meal plans, and Cyberkitchen does the calculating as far as calories are concerned. The weight loosing program does not let you choose a plan that limits your calories to more than 500 fewer than your daily allotment, thereby forcing you to lose weight slowly. At the end of the day, it shows you how many calories you’ve consumed versus your goal. The weight loosing program automatically creates recipes and a shopping list for your daily foods.
The Fitness Center is an ingenious place that provides a clear picture of your fitness level. After you answer a series of short questionnaires, the Web site assesses your activity level. Then, after you time yourself in a 1.5-mile run, the Web site assesses your fitness level. You then take this information to determine how many calories you should consume each day. The Fitness Center includes areas that provide tips for improving your fitness level, with suggestions for gradually increasing your fitness activities. It helps you overcome your own barriers to fitness by suggesting solutions to your issues. For example, if one of your issues for not exercising enough is that you don’t have enough time, the Web site suggests working out three times per day for ten minutes each time, because research shows that this is as good as one 30-minute workout per day.
Shape Up America! also includes a table to help you understand how hard you are working out. Called the Borg scale, it measures your perception of your physical exertion. Your goal is to exercise hard enough to be at 13 on the scale;
You think you’re in shape? Or you see someone at the gym who looks like he or she is perfect? None of us compare to the physical specimens who are Olympic or worldclass athletes, who train so hard that they don’t have to bother to count calories. Most people who are fit regularly do cardiovascular exercise and strength-training activities.World-class athletes use those as a starting point and add coordination, balance, and skills specific to their sporting event.
The difference between a world-class athlete and an average fit person starts with exercise. The average fit person exercises for 30 to 45 minutes per day, four to five times per week. The Olympic athlete exercises for four hours or more, six times per week.
When it comes to calories, the average fit person eats somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 per day. Olympic athletes take in somewhere around 6,000 per day, depending on their sport and gender. They don’t drink alcohol at all. While most of us eat every three to four hours, a world-class athlete who is burning a lot of calories eats every two hours.
Sleep? World-class athletes take a series of short naps throughout the day before their workouts. The rest of us sleep six to eight hours per night. The type of sport in which an athlete is engaged is key to his or her lifestyle. For example, weightlifters eat tremendous amounts of protein before events. And swimmers and runners eat more before events, while gymnasts eat very little before events.
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