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Archive for Fitness

Setting Goals: Twenty Fifteen

Well, the year has come to an end, and it’s time to start thinking about what you want to actualize in 2015. Here a little acronym to think of when setting a goal: S.M.A.R.T.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relavent

T – Time-bound

They are helpful for two reasons. First, they are effective in quantifying success. Second, they address unrealistic expectations. For example, you may want to finish a marathon in less than 3.5 hours. If this is your first marathon, you can see why this might be an unrealistic expectation. The key to SMART goals is to use both outcome goals, which focus on bottom-line results, and process goals, which address how you will train to achieve those results. For example, “To finish in the top five at the local Triathlon in my age group” is an outcome goal. The problem is that we have less control over outcome goals than they have over process goals. If you fail to accomplish an outcome goal, you may question the efficacy of your training, and get too self-critical. We have greater influence over process goals, such as “To run 2,000 miles during the calendar year.” Plus, in the end, this stuff is suppose to be fun! Enjoy life and have hope for what you can accomplish. It’s a new year and a new time to actualize your dream.

And remember, a goal without a plan, is just a wish.

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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!

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.

Fitness slump? Get to the tipping point!

Are you at a plateau in your speed, your fitness, your weight, body fat . . . are you at a plateau in your life? Are there things you want to change but just don’t know how exactly or know why it hasn’t changed yet? Often it can be very frustrating when you want something so bad, and you feel it’s right there within reach. Sometimes it just takes a tipping point to set you into action with accomplishing your healthy goals. Here’s a few guidelines to keep in mind if you decide to get in the best shape of your life.

1. The mental belief you can do it. Many times our own thoughts and beliefs prevent us from even forming a plan to begin working towards the goal. It’s like standing at the bottom of a huge mountain and you know what you want is up at the top. So, will you stand at the bottom of the mountain making up excuses why you cannot climb it? You must accept the reality that your goals are absolutely achievable!

2. Plan the work, work the plan. This is the second biggest ingredient for getting in the best shape of your life. Create a calendar that guides your weekly training plan of what workouts you’ll do and when. Getting something scheduled is the way to make it really happen! So, stop wishing and starting doing.

3. Stay positive. This ties in with number 1 on the list. You will most likely have stumbling blocks and setbacks that will discourage you. But, keep believing in your ability to make this dream a reality by not giving up and losing motivation. We have a very serious obesity epidemic today, and the way to change is with one person at a time. Your healthy fit way of life will positively impact numerous people, in more ways than you may even realize. Conversely, bad habits can rub off on others and create a domino effect.

4. Re-set your social circle. People will not always encourage your choices to eat low-fat and cholesterol-free foods. They may not even like it that you cannot attend some function because you have plans to exercise at that time. They may scoff at you at restaurants when you don’t chose to partake in dessert. Just remember, you are not alone. You are choosing the way of the healthy life. Many people will not understand why you do what you do. But, I guarantee you: we healthy folks support your choice! We are out here cheering for you and knowing that every little step counts towards climbing up that mountain. Keep that in mind and explain this message to your closest friends/ family and ask them to be supportive. And the rest of the critics can just frack off.

Your life is over in the blink of an eye, take action towards being the healthy, juicy, fit person you always wanted to be. I got your back.

Getting motivated

Take the stairs to burn calories and lose fat!

A lot of getting fit is mental. Many people who struggle with weight loss simply have had a series of failures to lose the body fat. For example, I had one client who was 30 lbs. overweight and had a desire to lose the weight, but gave up after one tough session. It makes me sad to see people resist exercise due to the fear of pain, and other mental inhibitions. Our society is so customized to convenience and pleasure that we won’t even walk ten minutes to the grocery store and carry a few pounds of bags home. Come on, admit it! We have all been there. We all have the extremely reasonable excuses why NOT to get in shape. I’ve met a few others who have had erratic work schedules and just could not achieve losing much of anything, except their health.

Conversely, many fitness professionals have the urge to train the strong athletes and naturally gifted: isn’t that what bootcamps are all about when you really get down to it? Very few “bootcamps” actually accommodate obese campers. The over-weight end up in the back of the pack, feeling discouraged as usual. Unfortunately, many fitness instructors cater to the strongest.

When will we wake up? Weak, strong, flabby, skinny-fat, and pot-belly people hear me out! Your time on this planet is limited. Forget the ridiculous “boot-camps” and coaches that make you work out till you puke. Or the instructors that get in your face or negatively encourage you. This is not the answer. The answer is patience, perseverance and internal motivation. One day at a time: get out there.

  • Start with doing something active every day. Even if it’s just walking around the block.
  • Try hiring a personal trainer or coach to jump-start your training. It’s worth every penny to get you over the “hump” of even starting up a fitness plan.
  • Looking more for weight-loss? Try cardio and high intensity interval training. Looking to get cut and build muscle? Try resistance training. And do both often, so you work all your different energy systems of the body.
  • Frequency: if you can only designate one day per week to work out, that’s better than nothing. However, the more often you workout, the quicker results appear. (See the first bullet point)
  • Lastly, eating right combined with exercise is how you get the most bang for your buck! It’s the magic combination, don’t just do one without the other. I recommend keeping a food journal. I like the Canvas Food Journal app to use on a mobile device.

Power up your workouts! Get motivated and go out and get started, we have several more months of showing skin and looking healthy on the beaches this summer.

Remove ugly belly fat

Some articles proclaim “how to get rid of belly fat!” or “Try these exercise to remove unwanted belly fat!” The articles may be missing one key point. We cannot simply laser off belly fat magically, unless you get surgery. Don’t get me wrong, exercise DOES WORK to reduce body fat. However, you can’t eat cookies and pie all day long and expect to lose the body fat!

Keep in mind, we all have different body shapes and different places fat cells like to accumulate. One type of body has those nice dimply thighs and chunky butts, where the fat cells love to pile up, with less of a chance for the extra ugly belly fat. The other type has less fat on the legs, but chronically chubby tummies. These are body types that you can’t escape. The fat will go where it wants to go.

If you are the type that has extra belly fat, you can do sit-ups all day long and it won’t burn those stubborn fat cells. Although, core and abdominal strength are an extremely important part of a fitness regime. The solution to burning the fat is essentially burning more calories, and then to eat less calories. If you’re burning calories, you’ll eventually use the fat cells to produce energy. Hence, zapping away those piled up fat cells around your belly button!

Don’t listen to all the articles that proclaim the cure to belly fat as being one specific exercise or trick. The key is to just go out there work hard, burn some calories, and then skip the ice cream at night.

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