Keep Your Moving Parts Moveable: Nuggets of Workout Wisdom

Fitness, the ultimate gift that keeps on giving, is a priceless gift you give to yourself. But how fit does one need to be?

There are so many levels to fitness, so many ways to define it. But one thing’s for sure: it’s good not to ignore the subject. Fitness success comes from finding what’s right- what works- for you.

An opened mind is one of the most important traits that will help you reach fitness goals. An opened mind will search for new ideas when other ideas don’t work and will focus on what the body can do rather than upon its limitations. Throw in determination and you’ll be on your way to becoming your best fit self.

Is going to the gym a requirement? No. In fact it could be a fitness habit killer. It’s easy to feel intimidated at a gym even though, just like with church, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with other people’s reasons for going.

Home workouts are great, especially for busy people, because drive time is eliminated, there’s no pressure to look good in your gym clothes, you can work out in bits and pieces, in complete privacy, at your convenience, capturing otherwise wasted time intervals as brief as 30 seconds.

The best exercise plans will include more than cardio exercise because cardio exercise simply can’t do enough for the total body. There’s a lot more to your body than your heart and respiratory system. Cardio will leave you with a flabby core and weak arms. There’s nothing more targeted than weight training- more able to access every muscle of the body. Strength training will not make women too muscular. In fact, a case can be made that strength training with weights is even more important for women than for men.

You may observe super feats at the gym but will those people still be working out when they’re in their sixties- or are these people the fitness dropouts of tomorrow? If you do choose strength training as your exercise mode of choice you can easily keep your body beautiful. For how long? For as long as you maintain the practice. Maintaining your body’s shape and maximizing your metabolism is what you can expect from strength training. Middle-age bulge won’t be your problem.

Keeping youthful and beautiful skin is the truly big challenge as you age- way more difficult than retaining your body’s shape. The truly unavoidable signs of aging are skin-related. By the way, cigarette smoking is a guaranteed wrinkle multiplier. But the good news is everything looks better with muscles- even wrinkles.

The best choice is to exercise moderately and consistently- if you want fitness for life. A good motto is to make exercise an effort but never a strain. You brush your teeth every day and you exercise every day. It’s what you do. Your bottom line for exercise frequency is to work out more days than not. Focus on a number of ‘consecutive workout days’ rather than ‘days per week.’

Only you (not your trainer) can determine the workout intensity that is right for you. Make sure that the intensity of your workout matches your taste for intensity. Taste for intensity is personal- beware of when it changes.

McFIT Formula For Lifelong Fitness

MCFIT is an acronym representing moderation, consistency, frequency, intensity, and time. Each of these elements contributes to making you fit or making you quit your exercise habit.

MODERATION is important to lifelong fitness because it’s the opposite of excess. Excess is rarely a healthy choice and mostly leads to burn-out, injury, or both. Relative to your strength, make exercise an effort but never a strain – if lifelong fitness is your objective.

CONSISTENCY refers to how faithful you are to your exercise habit over an extended period of time. If you start and stop repeatedly, you’ll lose the benefit from maximizing the potential of this factor. The passage of time is necessary for the advantages of consistency to be realized.

FREQUENCY can be used as a strategy to develop the strongest exercise habit possible. Your body doesn’t require daily frequency – but daily frequency is beyond good for an exercise habit. Most people think ‘days per week’ but ‘consecutive workout days’ is a better paradigm for creating a strong habit.

INTENSITY addresses an intellectual aspect of your workout, and does not refer to the physical difficulty of your workout. Your body may be able to do the hard work – but does your mind embrace the experience? Here intensity refers to your mental outlook. Intensity is a personal choice. Your psyche may require extreme intensity for twenty years or more, then suddenly that level of intensity could become too much. Be alert to when your taste for intensity changes. Many people simply drop their exercise habit. A good motto is ‘don’t dread, adjust instead.’

TIME spent per workout is an important variable. If your workout requires 30-60 minutes and you don’t have that much time for exercise every day, will you entirely skip on busy days? It’s not necessary to work out for one hour and it’s not necessary to have a solid block of time for working out.

Thirty seconds has a greater value than zero – can keep exercise on your mind and in your life. You’re right if you’re thinking thirty seconds daily wouldn’t really be enough to create overall fitness – if that’s all you ever progressed to – but that doesn’t mean it can’t help you keep your habit until your body and mind crave more exercise.

On the other hand, thirty seconds daily spent working the same muscle would actually be enough to bring visible results to that one muscle. If you think about it you’ll realize that you can capture thirty seconds here and there throughout your day and thereby turn otherwise wasted time into effective exercise. As your thirty-second intervals multiply so will your results.

Focus on what you can do – not on what you can’t do. Whatever works for you is what is right for you. There are so many ways of doing things. The real point is to do what’s within your power to create a lifelong fitness habit.

The McFit approach has worked for me for 51 consecutive years – so far.

Two Traits Lead To Fitness: Opened Mind and Determination

Improved fitness is 100% achievable using two character traits: an opened mind and determination.

An opened mind erases excuses and will get you thinking outside of any rut. Determination finds a way not to quit. Your determination can be like an endlessly flowing river of energy.

Anyone can develop these character traits and learn to use determination and an opened mind to travel far along a fitness journey.

Ability to exercise is a heavenly gift. Exercise is not a punishment for being overweight. Skinny people need exercise too.

Logic tells us that if you want to change your body you must do something different from whatever it is that created the condition that now makes you unhappy. Instead of berating yourself for being out of shape or not meeting fitness goals, be understanding and kind and show yourself some love.

Make a decision: set an intention to find whatever it is that works for you so you can meet your fitness goals. Then don’t look back- except to learn from your mistakes or enjoy memories.

To focus on what you don’t like or how you hate exercise is little more than a way of hanging on to excuses. Instead of validating your well thought out excuses for what won’t work, direct your thought energy to search out what will work.

You may have acquired misconceptions about exercise, thinking you need to jump up and down and sweat for one hour. Review and revise your knowledge. Exercise can happen in bits and pieces of time throughout your day. Spend your thought energy searching for anything acceptable and tolerable for getting your exercise.

Some modes of exercise are more effective than others. For example, if you want toned arms your exercise choice will work your biceps. If you want strong abs you’ll include ab exercise. If you just want to exercise your respiratory system and burn some extra calories while relieving stress, you’ll do some aerobic exercise. But if you want to fundamentally change (improve) your metabolism you’ll include exercise that builds muscle, because muscle while at rest burns more calories than fat while at rest.

It’s safe to say that any amount of exercise (as little as 30 seconds) beats absolutely no exercise, provided it doesn’t lead to injury.

Regardless of how legit your excuses have been, there’s a way to exercise that can work for you. You need an opened mind to consider new choices. You need determination so that you won’t quit.

Are you out of excuses? Is it time to shut up (or “hush up” if “shut up” feels too harsh) and work out?

Regardless of your past struggles an opened mind and determination will serve you well to make exercise as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. Ultimately you’ll find a way that works for you.

It’s either time for no more excuses or time to admit that you really don’t care if your body is out of shape.

Fitness Is A Mental Game First

Fitness is a mental game first. Setting an intention to be fit is your first step toward becoming fit. The power of intention can be a huge factor in creating and sustaining your fitness lifestyle.

If your fitness thoughts are fleeting, then maybe you don’t truly desire fitness. But that could change at any time, so don’t give up.

The most important thing about intention is that it can activate your personal power.

Re-define to re-design. Power that comes from setting genuine intentions is life-changing, will allow you to re-define your thinking and then re-design your life.

The good and bad news about your intentions is that YOU are always in the control seat (it’s your mind) so you get all the credit and all the blame.

Intention comes first. Thought precedes action. “Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be.” – Henry David Thoreau

Intentions aren’t mere thoughts. Intentions are thoughts that include a plan and have aim, purpose, or resolve. Think of intention as targeted thought, combined with desire, that’s aimed at a specific goal.

Intention to develop a good habit is the precursor to identifying (and repeating) actions that eventually become that good habit. If you want to eat healthier first intend to eat healthier.

Saying “no” to temptation is a good habit you first intend to have- and then develop through repetition. Before you enter the quick store- or wherever you typically purchase your bad food temptations- intend to say “no” to the bad food.

If you want to acquire a daily exercise habit, you must first intend to. One simple choice, for starting a home-based exercise habit, is to place a pair of lightweight dumbbells in your kitchen and intend to use them for 15-20 seconds each time you enter the kitchen- or at least the first 2-3 times you enter.

Thoughts carry energy and have power. Thoughts lead to actions and actions are behaviors. Behavior can be shaped. Behavior can be viewed as results from thoughts when thoughts spill into actions.

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would have never otherwise occurred… unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way”. – Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Conscious intention leads to actions of your choosing. Thoughts expand into a consciousness. Intend to develop a fitness consciousness and it will expand and improve throughout your lifetime.

The real power of intention will keep you focused. You’re one intention away from any fitness habit you desire. Genuine intention leads to actions that become habits. Habits define lifestyle.

Intention is the pathway to the habits that create a fit lifestyle. Intention can kick-start anything- especially personal power. Intend to make every choice a healthy choice.

What if you screw up? Where there’s life there’s hope- and no limit to the number of times you can start over.

Strength Training For Appearance: Icing On Your Cake?

There are so many choices for healthy exercise. There isn’t just one choice for keeping fit but certainly some choices are better for some purposes than others.

Adding strength training as an exercise staple in your life will create overall fitness for you but improved personal appearance will be icing on your cake. The older you get the more you’ll appreciate how targeted strength training can be.

Bone loss prevention is a major benefit of strength training. For this reason strength training may be more important for women than for men. Women are often afraid it will make them too muscular- but it won’t.

Strength training is ultra- adaptable to time, place, personal schedules, workout length, energy level, etc.

Over time, exercise frequency is far more important than workout length- because a higher frequency fortifies a habit and strong habits survive.

Just 30 seconds of daily strength training exercise can either get you started or keep your exercise habit going. Consistency- that comes from daily exercise habits- makes shorter workouts more valuable (effective). Even if you’re hanging on by a thread you’re still hanging on. Things could get better really soon.

Choose moderation and avoid extremes if your focus is on lifelong fitness.

Running or walking, along with strength training, are great choices for sustaining overall fitness- mainly because these choices are low cost and don’t depend upon anyone except you.  

Fitness is a consciousness that can improve and expand with time. A first step is to set an intention to be fit. If your intention is genuine, behaviors that lead toward fitness will be the behaviors you’ll choose.

Participation in competitive sports can teach valuable lessons- but lifelong fitness isn’t really one of them. Why, you ask? Because the inherent association of losing, that’s unavoidable in competitive sports, has negative connotations, is discouraging for some people, and excess is often encouraged in order to win. In the game of life, being healthy is a superior way to be a winner.

In life, if you’re inclined to eat well and exercise the universe has blessed you with two priceless gifts.

Let moderation and consistency guide your exercise choices if you care to sustain lifelong fitness.

Read labels so you’ll know what you’re eating- if it doesn’t grow in a garden or you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Try to follow at least a 90/10 rule for eating Mother Nature’s finest creations.

Success comes from learning what works for you. Find physical activity you can enjoy. Anything is better than absolutely nothing- provided it doesn’t lead to injury. Give strength training a try.

10 FitnessTips After 50 Years: Will They Work for You?

By Frankie O’Brien

Expert Author Frankie O'Brien

Was “keeping my moving parts moveable” setting my fitness bar low?

At 13 I didn’t start exercising to get skinny or to look good. I was a slim, active kid when I first started exercising and reading food labels. I wanted to do what was within my personal power to be healthy.

Now, over 50 years down the road, I greatly appreciate what my fitness habits have done for my appearance.

I never cared about being an athletic champion. I realized that greatness wouldn’t come from moderation. Still today I choose moderation because it’s a healthy choice.

At 13, my exercise routine included arm circles, side bends, push-ups, and leg-lifts. A few years later I added jogging. Many years later I added strength training.

My exercise choices couldn’t be dependent upon anyone or anything- like transportation, money, or a babysitter. Eventually, as a busy mother of four, I needed something I could do at home.

A friend taught me about jogging in 1967- a time in history when a market for running shoes didn’t yet exist. In 1967 only two companies made running shoes- but only for men, unless by special order and at great expense.

The perimeter of the parking lot across the street from my freshman year dorm served as my track. Shin splints and blisters were part of my life. After 2 years of jogging daily I finally purchased a pair of (men’s) shoes, despite the fact that the smallest shoe available was a size and a half too large for me.

Fast forward to today. I’m 64. Strength training has kept my body exceptionally youthful. I’ve not experienced middle-age weight gain or a metabolism slowdown.

I eat whenever and whatever I want- but I’ve conditioned myself (through self-talk) not to want what I shouldn’t eat.

Yes. Sometimes I eat bad food, but mostly I stay off the slippery slope. I follow a 90/10 rule for best food choices vs. not good food choices.

I do splits at the end of my strength workout. I’m proof that stiffness doesn’t automatically accompany aging. It results from non-use. You can rid your body of stiffness.

Stretching exercise often leads people toward injury. But carefully incorporating limbering exercises into my strength workouts is something I’ve always done. For example, after doing leg extensions I do stretching/limbering movements because my leg muscles crave it. I never limber up or stretch cold muscles.

After more than 50 years of working out I know that fitness is an ever-growing consciousness, a process one can get better at.

You may find these ideas interesting or helpful:

1. Good habits push bad habits out of your life.
2. Taste for workout intensity changes: too much intensity is a fitness habit killer.
3. Positive self-talk is life changing.
4. Exercise more days than not.
5. Make exercise an effort, never a strain.
6. Moderation combined with consistency is a formula for longevity and fitness success.
7. View grocery shopping as an opportunity to choose good health- not a mundane task.
8. Always read a food label if there is one and avoid laboratory-created foods.
9. Fresh means “ripe off the vine” rather than merely “not spoiled.”
10. Choose organic foods whenever possible.

Exercise and eating well are to good health what love is to marriage: you can’t have one without the other.

“A lifelong fitness habit is a truly priceless gift you give yourself,” says Frankie O’Brien.

Cardio For Weight Loss: Is It Best? What Is?

Cardio exercise for losing weight is like giving someone a fish to satisfy their hunger while improving metabolism through muscle-building strength training is like teaching someone to fish.

People do more cardio because they want to lose weight. Cardio exercise only burn calories. Cardio is great for stamina and endurance or to burn extra calories but not to create overall fitness.

Strength training is the better exercise choice for weight loss because while you burn calories you also create muscle mass, which fundamentally improves metabolism and makes metabolism most efficient. Later you can always add more cardio for weight control- to burn more calories.

Statistics will tell you to do cardio for the heart- for 20 minutes 3 times per week. The issue with cardio exercise is it’s not an overall muscle workout.

We believe strength training is the optimal choice for overall fitness. Do cardio to get ready for your strength workout.

An ideal workout (with an ideal cardio to strength ratio) would begin with approximately 20% cardio exercise, followed by approximately 80% strength exercise.

Many strength movements done in a gym can be adapted for an at-home workout.

A great way to start a workout is with a light 5-10 minute cardio warm-up to get the body temperature ready for a strength workout.

Starting with 45 minutes of cardio exercise and then working out with weights would use too much energy on exercise that’s not for building muscle.

Include 2 strength movements for each main body part. An ideal approach would be to work chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, abs- in that order.

Move from one body part to the next based upon the fact that the muscles required for a given movement are neighboring muscles.

Notice how your body is feeling in the moment and (intuitively) make adjustments accordingly. Adjustments are good and should be expected. An intuitive approach (to all exercise) can help keep you injury free.

Here’s some basic movements:

Chest: incline dumbbell presses and flys.

Back: pulldowns and cable rows.

Shoulders: lateral raises, standing dumbbells presses.

Arms: dumbbell/ barbell curls for biceps, push-downs for triceps.

Legs: presses, dead-lifts.

Abs: sit-ups, flutters, or leg lifts, on a bench or on the floor.

If people don’t want to get onto the floor they can use a bench. Start with movements that use larger body parts.

Chest and back are larger body parts than shoulders and arms. When working larger parts you indirectly use smaller assist muscles in shoulders and arms- a smart and sneaky way of getting it all.

To start the ab exercise, the feet are hooked onto something while you’re “pulsing” the abs- keeping constant pressure on the ab muscles: you don’t “open up” all the way when doing crunches, flutters or scissor leg lifts.

Want to learn how to work out most efficiently? Learn about fitness for everyday people- not from celebrities and not from kids. Watch easy to learn strength training videos and read encouraging articles about fitness. Visit

Label Reading Vs. No Label Necessary: What’s Better?

Label reading will always be a beneficial habit to have while grocery shopping. But even for label readers, label language can be difficult to interpret- often misleading.

Nowadays one nearly needs to be a linguist- and a lawyer who specializes in FDA regulations- to interpret food labels or to not be misled by claims for what is safe for consumption. The fact that nutrition “marketing” exists might be the first red flag.

Might “part of a healthy breakfast” end up being the bad part? Marketing that creates an impression or illusion is out of place when it comes to establishing that a food choice as healthy.

Nutrition buzz words come and go. They create marketing opportunities to persuade you to make what will likely be inferior food purchases. These terms come to mind: no added sugar, made with (real juice), no added hormones, all natural, no artificial ingredients, or fresh.

If your #1 rule of thumb while food shopping is to avoid purchasing food that requires a label then nutritious food selection will be less of a challenge.

Buy what Mother Nature makes, in its original form, and avoid the confusion and challenge of labels altogether.

If grocery shopping has become repetitive, boring or mundane for you, your challenge may be to restore your enthusiasm for grocery shopping.

Challenge yourself to learn to use spices to make your healthiest choices appealing. Spices are Mother Nature’s flavor enhancers. Spices are good. Laboratory created flavor enhancers are evil.

Genetics may have set the stage for your health before birth but personal choices for eating well are opportunities for self-correction. Grocery store choices can make you healthy or make you sick.

If most of your meals come from restaurants, you’ve put your health into the hands of strangers. Exercise is extremely important- but a different issue.

Monstrously huge companies determine what foods come into the market place and how the food is presented to us. We don’t have to fear the monsters- if we side step them and stick to label-free organic foods made by Mother Nature. We’ll need oversight watchdogs for those who issue the “organic” labels but that’s a discussion for another time.

In marketing, perception may be reality but good health is measurable and has nothing to do with perception.

If the food you purchase has a label you need to read that label- and understand what it’s telling you, what it’s not telling you, and what it wants you to believe that may or may not be true.

In personal relationships people typically avoid controversy. Avoid controversy in your relationship with food too.

Don’t squander your time, money, or health. Avoid grocery store aisles that have nothing that’s label-free. Avoid temptation. Out of sight is out of mind.


Typically speaking, the healthiest food choices don’t need a label- except to identify where the food was grown, what helped it grow, how it was handled, or when it was picked. The “label” might be a sticker or signage placed near the food item.


Make most of your buy vs. bye decisions at the grocery store by choosing foods that don’t need a label.


90/10 Rule: Strong Habits Survive

Healthy habits enable healthy choices and must be strong in order to prevail. 

No one’s perfect. You can’t be perfect. We need to allow ourselves to be naughty sometimes.

The internet is flooded with recommendations for using an 80/20 or 75/25 rule as a lifestyle guide for making healthy food and exercise choices.  

The big problem with both the 80/20 and 75/25 rule is they create a slippery slope of weak habits. We, your authors, reject both the 80/20 and 75/25 rule.

We recommend you choose at least a 90/10 rule for making healthy food choices and for exercise frequency.

Here’s why: You need a strategy that will establish strong healthy habits because your habits create your lifestyle.

Can you get away with a higher percentage of goof-ups? With good genetics? Maybe- but you won’t know until it’s too late.

A paradigm of “getting away with” something is another slippery slope. A slippery slope leads to a fall and genetics are a crap shoot.

Your authors are veterans of decades of healthy habits- like working out nearly every day and avoiding processed (and otherwise compromised) foods.

The good (and the bad) news is we become a product of our habits- after genetics. Creating good habits and keeping them strong is a fundamental strategy for healthy living.

Simply stated, food needs to be Mother Nature’s original work.  Make 9 of 10 food choices whole foods made by Mother Nature. When your body feels hunger, then eat. Choose to meet your nutritional needs first- before you indulge yourself with a “treat” that is more a punishment to your body. Don’t think you’re a “foodie” if really you’re using your adult freedom to be undisciplined.

It’s better when exercise is frequent rather than lengthy. A good exercise pattern is 4 consecutive exercise days, then 1 day off, then 4 consecutive exercise days, then 1 day off. Repeat that pattern. Too many consecutive days off weakens your habit.

The most important thing about any habit is that it’s chosen. Healthy habits contribute to peace of mind and guilt-free living.

Doing your best to be healthy leads to having no regrets. Embrace both your opportunity and responsibility to choose your habits. Then go the extra mile: strategize to make them strong.

What you don’t know before your good habits are in place is how good you’ll feel due to their effect.

You’ll discover that your good habits feel better than your old bad ones and that good habits aren’t difficult to maintain-particularly with the strength created by a 90/10 percentage of making healthy choices vs. the “not so much” type.


Allow yourself an occasional unhealthy food choice or a guilt-free skip day from your exercise routine. But if you don’t need a break from your good habits, don’t take one. If you do take a break, make sure you’ve earned it.


Stick to the 90/10 rule because numbers don’t lie. The 90/10 rule is reasonable without being too risky. 


Your Exercise Plan: No Time? No Problem: Change Your Plan

No time for your exercise plan? No problem. Just change your plan.

Be proud of yourself for planning a trip to the gym. Be even prouder when you can’t make it to the gym but you overcome obstacles and implement an alternate plan. Any exercise is better than none- provided it’s not excessive.

Obstacles will appear. An opened mind will drive you to find exercise options that fit even your busiest day- when your primary plan won’t work.

The good news is you don’t need a gym to get a great workout. A gym provides more options for exercise choices than home workouts but you don’t need all those options included in every workout.

Home workouts are a top choice for sustaining your exercise habit. You can work out any time of the day, all at once or in bits and pieces, in private, for free.

Start with a floor and a few ideas. A floor can be used for strength exercises or stretching.

Use any room (laundry or kitchen) in your home and any increment of time: twenty seconds can get you started.

Push-ups (modified included), or jumping jacks are old-school and don’t require any equipment- or money spent.

Fitness videos could be a good choice. You could learn a few strength training movements on-line for free. With only two or three different sets of lightweight dumbbells, you’ll discover strength training movements that target large or small muscles of your body.

Home workouts are important because they eliminate obstacles that lead to skipping.

Keeping consecutively skipped workout days (regardless of the workout brevity) to a minimum is a primary strategy that will contribute to sustaining your lifelong exercise habit.

The more consecutive days you work out before taking a day off, regardless of the brevity of each workout, the stronger your workout habit will become. Strong habits survive.

The smallest amount of exercise (even just twenty seconds) is better than none because it will effectively keep your habit strong: you’ll keep exercise on your mind and in your life. To keep your habit strong, do everything you can to avoid taking more than one or two consecutive days off from working out.

Get into a groove with your routine.  But don’t act spoiled when you can’t have your way. Instead of skipping or quitting, make an adjustment. Adjustments are good- and to be expected.  

Here’s an entirely different reason for changing your plan: your taste for intensity may change. Intensity is important, variable and personal. Too much intensity leads to injury or quitting. You could enjoy an intense routine for years- and then suddenly burn out or enjoy it no longer. Don’t dread. Adjust instead. 

If you don’t have time for the exercise you’d planned, change what you’d planned to do. Then don’t be surprised to hear yourself saying “this feels so good.”

If you’re having trouble getting motivated, invite a family member or friend to join you. Remember that success is found by learning what works for YOU.