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Archive for holiday nutrition

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 This is old, outdated science.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!


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!

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.

Season of Chub

The Christmas carols on the radio, the smell of pine, the twinkling lights, the shopping extravaganzas . . . oh, and the cookies, chocolates and decadent appetizers! It’s chilly outdoors, so we enjoy the season while cuddling up in a warm blanket and participate in our human version of hibernation. All this adds up to equal weight gain. Notoriously, we all gain a little holiday chub. Then comes January and the cash diets ensue. Does this cycle sound familiar? The good news is that you still have the power to stop the trend. Whether you’ve put on weight already or not, finding a little balance in life right now makes all the difference in the world.

If stress of the season has you eating like a hungry hippo, get out and run some intervals, or do a stair workout. Stairs can be an immediate heart rate spiking workout, frying away calories eaten at last night’s holiday party. Find a nice long set of stairs (at least 50 or more steps) and try this workout:

1. Warm-up with a 5 – 10 minute jog, then do one set of easy stairs. You don’t want to get very fatigued on this first set.

2. Box jumps up the stairs (that is two-foot jumps up each step).

3. Hold a 1-minute plank.

4. 1 set of quick foot-strike steps up each step, 1 set of bounding up every other step.

5. Wall-sit for 1 minute. If no wall, do another plank.

6. Side-stepping up on the left leg all the way up. Then, right leg all the way up.

7. 50 crunches with legs straight up towards the sky. 50 bicycle abs exercise.

8. Last set of stairs, go for 3 – 5 sets – this is for building muscular endurance.

9. Finish with my 5-ab exercise series seen on this youtube video: Ab series of Five Video

10. Stretch your legs really well with touching your toes, runner’s stretch, and calf-stretch. Also make sure to stretch your front of your thighs (the quadriceps), by pulling your heel towards your butt.


Love food? Train more.

I really enjoy eating. Salty, sweet, you name it. I’m not a picky eater either. But I’m in great shape with a relatively low BMI. How do I do it? Working out. And not just lifting weights, but also long endurance aerobic exercise too. Keeping up with both strength training and easier long (one hour +) workouts can help burn off all that delicious cake you ate.
If you sit most of the day on your computer or in your car, chances are it’s not easy to stay or get skinny. Humans are naturally active creatures. If you don’t get up in the morning and chase prey as food, then it may be harder to burn off the doughnut for breakfast. (By the way, I do not condone doughnuts) My point is this, if you have a big appetite and a battle with eating the healthiest, just get out and up your exercise.
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that most of us tend to overeat. I know I do. So, get up in the morning and go climb stairs, go for a run and do a few burpees, for example. Get your heart rate up and keep it up for an hour or so. Then eating your mom’s delicious stuffing and turkey with a large heaping of mashed potatoes won’t be quite so bad for you. If you’re in San Diego, I have a Thanksgiving morning workout that’s 90 minutes of heart-pumping sweat-soaking fun! Don’t miss out on a good calorie-burning experience Thanksgiving morning.

Avoid weight gain during the holiday season

As we head in to the dark season of winter, our bodies tend to hibernate. Every year people who typically work hard at staying fit pile on the pounds during November and December. The rest of the year it’s a little easier to resist temptation. The plates of holiday cookies, baskets of Halloween candies or canisters of peppermint bark do not come lurking by our desks. Generally, we have a lot of opportunities to get out in the warm sunshine, but as sunlight hours shorten, it’s more challenging. November 6th is daylight savings and soon it will be dark by the time many of us leave the office. Hence, many evening outdoor workouts are slashed from the schedule.

Quite simply, maintaining a healthy weight is calories-in-calories-out. If you are not exercising as much because you’re in your off-season or not enough daylight hours, essentially you need to cut back on how many calories you’re consuming. Here are a few tips to consider during this health-challenged season.

  1. Skip the large caramel mocha with whipped cream. You’re potentially eating enough calories for a whole meal, 500 – 600 calories depending on the size. Instead, try fat-free milk and honey as a sweetener in your caffeinated beverage (even better, skip the sweetener completely). Peet’s Coffee and Tea of La Jolla is a wonderful local spot if you’re shopping in the La Jolla Village Square Shopping Center. Try the delicious varieties of tea for a healthy option too.
  2. Pile on the healthy snacks. If you can fill up on carrot sticks and hummus, then next time you see those chocolates circulating through the office, you’re more likely resist the temptation. So pack some carrots, almonds or apples to eat, rather than cupcakes.
  3. Drink plenty of water. Another tactic to help you feel less hungry and susceptible to impulsive eating habits is staying hydrated by drinking eight glasses of water each day. Also, soups with clear broth have a high water content and are comfort foods to eat during the cooler months.
  4. Get your partner on a health kick. Sometimes the person we’re dating, living with, best friends with or married to has terrible eating habits. Peer pressure can be very influential with food choices. “Let’s go get burgers.” As you’re thinking, I should probably be eating a salad. But that peer pressure works both ways, point out all the benefits a salad can be. Stay strong with your healthy choices too!
  5. Eating consciousness goes a long way. If you write down what you ate in a day, you’ll be amazed. Often we eat without much awareness. Such as, when getting meals ready for the family, we end up snacking on junk food. Putting others first, and giving less priority to our own healthy needs is a bad habit. Eat healthy today and live longer tomorrow. Your loved ones will be happy for that!

Weightloss needed? Get a routine.

Run in picturesque locations

Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

When life is in upheaval, be it stress in your family, a change in a career, a breakup, a loss of a loved one, unemployment, or moving, staying with your routine is difficult for some of us. Understandably so, since getting to the pool or carving out time to go for a run can be challenging. This is the nature of life. We’re often thrown curve balls and coping and adjusting to these stressors is rough. However, these challenging periods in life are exactly the time when sticking with your routine can be the greatest satisfaction! It will also be urging your sense of self-discipline to keep on track, keep the train chugging along with direction and purpose. A fitness routine is a challenging thing to master unless you have a personal coach encouraging you and keeping tabs on your progress. If you have a lack of self-discipline then try hiring a coach. If you can’t do that, sign up for a class that meets regularly and COMMIT yourself to really showing up and doing your best. Those who do NOT stay consistent with training will see the fewest results and accomplishments. Here are a few tips to planning the work and working the plan:

  1.  Sign up for a class, like Mission Fit Camp. They have a great outdoor athletic program for newbies to advanced athletes. They have impressive reviews on yelp.com too!
  2. Start small and build upon it. If you begin a running program, for example, increase your work load (time or distance) by 10% each workout. So if you do a 30-minute run to start, try moving up to a 33 or 35 minute run next. If you add too much too soon you’ll have more chance for injury.
  3. Set a goal and work towards it. Sign up for a race or an event, like a Thanksgiving Fun Run. Father Joe’s Thanksgiving 5K runs through Balboa Park. Burn some calories before feasting on turkey.
  4. Prioritize your health. By exercising regularly you’re valuing your heart and longevity. So get out there as frequently as possible, and save money from healthcare costs!

Lastly, share this message with those who you love and want to have good health too. Thinking about preventing disease before it happens is the best way to live a long healthy happy life.

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