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Keeping on track through the holidays

I know that someone out there must also feel this indulgent tendency to overeat this time of year. It sucks: you want to sleep more, eat more and be less active.
You know how hard it is to shed the winter fat layer. It takes a lot of hard work and strict eating. Avoid putting on those extra 10 pounds in the first place, by just being a little less indulgent at your next holiday party. And by following some simple tips.fitnessSanta

1. Drink more water. About 8 x 8 oz glasses per day. Add a little mint sprig or lime slice to jazz it up.

2. Track What You Eat. The only way to improve upon your diet is to actually know what you’re currently eating. Keep a food journal, or download a free food tracker app, and input all of the calories that you consume over the course of a week. This will give you a broad look at where your low quality calories are coming from (high sugar, empty calories).
Your first step will be to eliminate these fattening calories and to start replacing empty calories with nutrient-filled whole foods.

3. Space Meals Apart. Much has been said over the past decades about the importance of eating small frequent meals throughout the day. This is old, outdated science. New research has proven that there’s more harm than good to eating more frequently than every 4 hours.
Stick with 3 meals each day, and fill in a protein-based snack if your meals are going to be more than 4 hours apart.

4. Prioritize vegetables. When you first sit down for a meal, eat the vegetable, salad, or other plant-based foods first, before moving on to the rest of the meal. The reason for this is to fill up on the higher fiber, higher nutrient foods first before eating the less-healthy items at your meal.

5. Lastly, have an attitude of gratitude. Eating well and being well studies have shown are linked to a healthy mind. Therefore lift your spirits, just by being grateful. The more you are grateful, the better you’ll feel, the better you’ll eat, and you may even go do that jog you’ve been wanting to do.

Have a happy Healthy holiday season!

Spring is in the Air!

If you’re trying to shed a few winter pounds, load up on the veggies of the season. And fresh spring produce is great from a Farmer’s Market, but if you can only make it to your local grocery store, try eating the following seasonal produce:

1. Rhubarb is the first harvest of the spring

and consists of heavy stalks and shiny skin.

2. Artichokes, shown above, grow largest in the spring.

Good signs are compact leaves and

stems that are freshly cut.

3. Radishes grow sweet and crunchy.

4. Mint flourishes best in the spring.

5. Asparagus season is from March through June.

Please note that thickness is not related to tenderness. Tenderness is related to how it’s grown and

how soon it’s consumed.

6. Peas mature in the spring and progress

into the summer.

7. Strawberries are local and are at their juiciest from April through June.

Now that the weather is improving and the sun is extending it’s stay for the northern hemisphere, get outdoors and get exercising! No more excuses.Image

Lose the belly this year

Many people want to know the secret for weight loss, health and vitality. It is a mystery as to the direct answer why do we have an obesity epidemic in this day and age? We are fatter than ever before, and sadly, the problem just seems to be getting worse.

In my past blogs, I’ve explained how exercise plus good nutrition equals weight loss. Today I offer you a remedy that is more specific: eliminate wheat and all wheat products. Cardiologist, William Davis M.D., proposes wheat as the source of the obesity epidemic in his book, “Wheat Belly.” His argument includes extensive real life experiments with his patients, and their radical transformation due to cutting out the wheat. Basically, wheat has been genetically altered into a modern plant that is drastically different than the plant from fifty years ago. It’s been proven much more addictive and toxic to our bodies than the whole grain of the past. Thus, when we have two slices of toast we spike our blood sugar higher than eating pure table sugar. Also, a myriad of other problems and diseases have occurred in our bodies  from eating wheat, such as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immunologic disorders.

But eliminating bread, cake, cookies, crackers, pasta is no fun! Getting the basket of bread and butter at your favorite restaurant before dinner is so tasty! Here is where will-power and the concern for your health must come into play. Do you want to lose that stubborn fat that has been piling up around your belly, thighs or butt? Do you want to look attractive, have a healthy long life for your children, or loved ones? You do have this option to turn your life around. What real harm will you encounter by cutting wheat and all flour-based products from your diet? Only the jealousy of others seeing you lose weight and look great!

In addition, exercise, getting active and having fun moving is the other key to the fountain of youth. Good luck this year!

What new year’s resolutions do you have? Please share.

happy_new_year

New Years resolutions hope!

The vast majority of new year’s resolutions are about getting in shape, losing weight and basically looking good. It’s a well-known fact that people are desperate to reduce the flab that they acquire after the holiday debauchery. Cookies, candies, drinking and excessive eating celebrations pile on the pounds in December, and by January everyone is sweating away on eliptical machines. Hopefully, this January you will be well prepared with knowledge of how to go about reducing your visceral fat and firming up your body. Please don’t go blindly into the gym with some hazy plan of just jumping on the nearest cardio machine! As a Personal Trainer, I have a very specific routine and plan for each client to help them achieve their goals, which is not ALWAYS weight loss. However, I’ll share with you some overall tips across the board to help most of you this new year.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  1. Exercise AND reducing your calorie intake will result in loosing fat. Please don’t succumb to crash diets. Start slowly with eating smaller portions and cutting back a little on sugar and flour-based foods. This will get you going in the right direction. For more tips on nutrition read this article: Eating at the Right time. Although exercise alone cannot guarantee your ideal weight, regular physical activity is definitely one of the most important factors for successful long-term weight loss.
  2. Plan the work, work the plan. Have a little forethought before diving into your workout. Write it out, do some research on-line, or discuss with a Personal Trainer what your goals are and if they have any recommendations. Most Personal Trainers are happy to advance your success, since it’s good networking. I’ve included a sample workout below to get you started.
  3. The studies have shown that people who lose body fat have done it through cardio exercise, and not simply weight training alone. HOWEVER, there is a very specific type of training known as high intensity interval training or Short Burst Training using weights, cardio machines, etc. that is the key to burning the most calories in the shortest amount of time and increases your metabolism rate. It needs to be anaerobic, not just aerobic. That means you should be sucking wind, working hard with rest in between intervals. Wearing a heart rate monitor will give you the most specific answer of weather you’re going anaerobic or not. Disclaimer: this is not for everyone, check with your doctor before trying this exercise routine.
  4. Women: it is extremely difficult to “bulk up” from doing weights, unless you’re on steroids or other supplements. This is a ridiculous myth that most women believe. The reason most women “bulk up” is by adding muscle to fat. Therefore, it’s best to do cardio and  weight training together, with a reduced-calorie nutrition plan to achieve your lean non-bulky body.

Below I have given you a plan that you may or may not want to use for your new years resolution workout:

  • Warm-up with 5 – 10 minutes of jogging, biking or stair-climbing
  • Repeat the following three times:
  • 20 lunge-walks holding dumbbells (weight varies per person)
  • 30 sec – 1-minute planks or push-ups
  • 1 minute of jumping rope (or running on a treadmill at a fairly fast pace)
  • Then repeat these three times
  • 20 squats-with-overhead-press using a kettlebell or medicine ball (weight varies per person)
  • 12 rows with a band
  • 30 sec to 1 minute of mountain climbers
  • Finish with 10 minutes on the bike doing six 30-sec. intervals (with 30 sec. rest interval)
  • Stretch

And remember: any exercise is better than none. Even if you just want to go for a walk a few times per week, it’s better than just sitting at your computer. You don’t have to workout hard and often for exercise to be beneficial. Just get out there!

Tips on running a marathon

102679-019-014fRunning a marathon or half marathon is a whole different beast than the 5K or 10K running race. It really comes down to one very important skill: Endurance. Mentally it is very difficult to grasp this concept in our training, when we’re used to just going out running at a certain comfortable pace and then completing a certain comfortable distance. It’s often quite challenging to get out of our comfort zone, but as you may know this is what brings the most rewards in life!

 

1. Pacing

Often in a workout we start out blazing fast in the first interval and by the last interval our energy is zapped. Often this happens in races too, we start out energized and focused only on being competitive in the moment. It’s an extremely common mistake to warm-up and then go for broke. Often the first push of a workout should actually feel easy, efficient and nearly effortless. Keep in mind you need the energized surge of adrenaline to last you through the whole workout. Many people start out revved up and then by the end of class they pitter out. If you don’t exert such a huge effort at the start of the workout, by the end you might just surprise yourself with the level to which you can accomplish it. Once I did a 4th of July Firecracker 4-mile run. I really thought I was going to win. I started out the run doing a 1-mile race pace! I was in the lead! I kept up a good strong pace for 3 of the miles but by the last mile I had nothing in the tank and got passed by five girls, the fifth one as I was coming across the finish line I heard my friend Richard yelling “Go Maggie! Finish STRONG!” I didn’t know that meant there was someone inches behind me as I approached the finish line! She passed me one second ahead of me. What a bittersweet lesson on pacing.

 

2.  Long Distance Run (LDR)

The single most important run you can possibly do for training for a marathon or half marathon, is the LDR. It should truly be done in a slow to moderate pace, maybe slower than you’re used to running. And it should really push your limits for length. I recommend going by time rather than distance. For example start with a 1 hour run, if you’re ready for that. Then build on that, each week by increasing the time by 10 or 15 minutes. If you add on too much time too soon, you may get injuries, or illness, and staying injury-free is crucial!

 

3. Recovery

Lastly, but probably most important, be sure to take time off every 10 -14 days or if you’re feeling really run down. If you are following a proper training plan, you’ll definitely need to build in recovery days to refresh and rebuild and take it really easy, including foam rolling, stretching and eating helathy. Recovery can be the most challenging for some runners!

Strong Core for Winter Sports

It’s December and now is the season for skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, ice skating, and even sledding. If you’re not an active winter athlete, and you prefer to sit on your butt gaining weight this winter, then don’t bother reading this article. But if you have hopes and dreams, or scheduled plans to get involved in winter activities, I advise you to strengthen your core. Even if you do just want to sit on the couch all winter, tucking in your tummy and improving your posture will at least make your waistline appear a little slimmer.

Many people refer to “the core,” and typically we think of the abdominals as our core. But it is much MUCH more than just abs! It includes any muscle that is directly engaged with the spine or pelvis. The core will be the protective barrier for accidents or nasty falls. Therefore, a strong core is automatic injury prevention. Many winter sports are on very slick surfaces, where balance and stability are absolutely essential. Yet again, the core muscles will keep you balanced and on your feet. Changing directions on snow comes not just from your lower body, but the pelvis shifts your weight as it is the powerhouse of your whole body. Need a few exercises that will get your core powered up for the season, without any equipment? Watch this video:

Please don’t end up ruining your entire winter season, by getting injured out there on your first weekend. Firm up and stay tight. Have fun!

Eating at the right time

Having a hefty meal for dinner, after skipping lunch and barely eating a sufficient breakfast seems to be what many Americans do in their busy lives. Eating a nice piece of chocolate cake at the end of dinner also goes along with this routine. Then a few hours later after consuming 90 % of his/her calories for the day, it’s bedtime.

If you’re gonna eat a donut, do it in the morning!

Is this possibly why we are getting a poor night’s sleep after we just loaded up on fat, sugars, carbs, etc.? How can we run around all day long and forget to eat properly? Easy, life is busy and eating isn’t always at the forefront of our mind. However, our bodies go without food as we sleep at night and when we awake it’s the best possible time to pack it full of calories and nutrients to be productive and burn more calories efficiently. Breakfast is crucial. Numerous studies have linked breakfast-eaters with a lower body fat percentage. Next, lunch is the second most important meal of the day. Try to eat a nice filling lunch full of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and plenty of vegetables. Then, make dinner your smallest meal of the day. If you’re at a restaurant for example, just eat an appetizer.

Another big mistake with the right timing of meals is just after a workout. No appetite after your workout? Try drinking a smoothie, or a protein drink such as Kefir. Drinking flavored kefir, like blueberry, pomegranate, strawberry, etc, is full of the protein and carbs your body desperately needs after working out. If you deny your body the post-workout food, you’ll have a much more difficult time losing weight. In fact, some studies show that if you don’t have a post-workout meal, your body goes in to a sort of “starvation mode” and stores more fat out of a survival instinct.

Lastly, the further time goes by after your workout, the less junk food you should eat. That means, no late-night desserts if your workout was at 8 AM. Are you just dying to eat a piece of pie? Then eat it first thing in the morning! Right before or right after your workout! I know it seems crazy, but think of food as fuel. You start out the busy day with no fuel in your tank, things could get ugly. On the flip side, you fill up your tank right before you turn your car off for the day the fuel will not get burned up and will just sit in your tank turning to fat. It’s all in the timing.

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