5 More Unconvential Fat-Loss Tips

In the previous article I outlined 5 unconventional fat-loss tips that you probably don’t normally hear in the media.  Below are 5 more tips that I think would be wise to follow. As mentioned in the last article, if you feel overwhelmed with all the tips, just pick 1 tip that you feel you are most comfortable with and start there.

 

1. If it’s in your kitchen you will eat it.

Regardless of how much willpower you may have, studies continuously show that whatever food you have in your house or kitchen will eventually be eaten.  If you are trying to lose fat, don’t buy heavily processed foods for your kitchen.  Save those food for those times you are on the road and have trouble finding healthy, minimally processed food.  You don’t need to stress out about it and start feeling guilty if you buy candy, donuts, cake etc. but do your best to limit bringing these items into your kitchen (tip: don’t shop on an empty stomach and you will be less likely to buy these types of food)

 

2. Limit liquid calories

coke

While many people will tell you to avoid liquid calories I think it is more practical to limit them. Try to limit your calorie intake from beverages to 150 calories a day.  This means, you can still drink a coke, or have a latte, but if your goal is fat loss, excessive ‘empty’ calories won’t help you get there.  Therefore, pick either a coke or latte in this instance.  It’s very easy to drink upwards of 500 calories a day in beverages which isn’t ideal for someone trying to lose fat.   Coke has little baby cans that come in under 100 calories (they’re so cute I tell ya!)

 

3. Add before you subtract

 

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Not related, but it’s funny. So there!

Psychologically it might make more sense to add healthy foods to your diet BEFORE you take away unhealthy foods.  On that note, protein and veggies are key in keeping you satisfied and preventing those cravings for certain food groups. Most people would be wise to simply find a way to eat more protein and veggies.  Every meal you consume should contain approximately 30 grams of protein (I palm-size approximately) and a generous helping (1-2 handfuls) of vegetables.  It’s a simple fact of nutrition that protein is the most satiating (filling) nutrient in the diet and adding vegetables gives you essential micronutrients and fiber to keep you full longer.  The more active you are, the more protein you should probably consume.  It’s difficult to consume too much because it fills you up so fast.  For instance, a chicken breast contains about 30 grams of protein and only 120 calories. On the flipside a 12 oz. Coke contains about 150 calories and 0 grams of protein.

 

4. Guilt should never enter the equation

guilt free food

Off the top of my head here are a few things you should probably feel guilty about in life. Stealing, murder, spousal abuse, child abuse and drunk driving (among many other things).  What shouldn’t be included in this list is food, regardless of what that food contains. Unfortunately though, it’s popular in dietary circles to attach guilt to the foods you eat (i.e. Guilt-free brownie anyone?).   This is especially true for foods with added sugar.  Put simply, once you attach a moral label to a food, you start to moralize all of your food choices, and end up thinking you are a failure as a person if you eat a brownie.  The healthiest people on earth eat many of the same foods you and I eat, but they eat them in moderation, and probably follow many (if not most) of the rules I list here.

 

5. Testimonies are playing tricks with your mind

Fat_Loss

Testimonies are awesome.  They help people decide which individuals are helping other human beings achieve their goals.  Unfortunately they can be incredibly deceptive too.  For instance, testimonies are usually written immediately after someone has achieved their goal.  If one’s goal is fat loss, or weighing a certain amount in 3 months, they will be more than eager to write a testimonial about the success of whatever program , health coach, or personal trainer they used to help them achieve their goal.  Ask yourself this question though.  What would their testimonial look like in 6 months?  1 year? 5 years?  The point here is that health is a lifelong pursuit.   Most anyone can get motivated for a set amount of time (30 days, 6 months etc.) because they see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The trick and biggest challenge we face as a nation is setting people up for lifelong health and wellness.

5 Unconvential Fat-Loss Tips

 

201410_2348_gaafc

Eat less, exercise more.

Try High Intensity Interval Training.

Eat Paleo!

Join a Crossfit gym.

Do a sugar detox!

Eat real food.

Cardio makes you fat!

Eat clean.

 

There is no shortage of fat loss tips like these that you can find on the internet and in popular magazines and diet books.  Unfortunately many of these tips aren’t practical, are overly simplistic or just flat out wrong.  Many don’t take into account common struggles many of us face on a day-to-day basis.     Furthermore, when this advice is written by health and fitness celebrities, these tips may be divorced from the daily realities many of us face.

With that said, here are some unconventional fat-loss tips that I suggest following for sustainable health and wellness.  Some of them may not be sexy  (and therefore won’t show up in a trendy meme on the internet anytime soon) and it may not necessarily be what you want to hear, but….

 

this is what individuals need to hear on a more consistent basis.

 

 

1. Exercise probably isn’t your biggest limiting factor

Finding your biggest limiting factor is key in making positive steps in getting closer to your goal.  As counterintuitive as this may sound, exercise probably isn’t your biggest limiting factor if fat loss is your goal.  If I had to take an educated guess, most people who be wise to clean up their diet and mental health first.  Your mindset (how you approach health and yourself) is key in making sustainable changes, gaining better mental clarity, and in turn, setting realistic goals for yourself.  Once you’re clear on where you would like to go and have the right mindset moving forward, then it is a good idea to put nutrition next because that will fuel not only your workouts but life as well.  Mindset and in turn behavior change is the cornerstone of making sustainable changes.  Simply put, you can’t outwork a bad mindset and diet.  You can certainly make physical changes (i.e. lose body fat) with a bad mindset and diet, but more often than not they simply aren’t sustainable.

 

2. Chronic stress is a MAJOR problem

 

StressedMan

Stress doesn’t get the attention it deserves.  Chronic stress has major effects on all aspects of your health.  For instance, exercise is an acute (short-term) stress on the body.  If you are chronically stressed out most of the day, your body thinks you are exercising, even though you aren’t physically exerting yourself at the gym.  Guess what happens when you go to the gym and start working out?  You are already tired and worn out from the ‘exercise’ your brain has been doing the other 23 hours of the day.  It’s very possible your resting metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories throughout the day) will be depressed too because anytime the body is under chronic stress, your body slows down (slows calorie burning) because it thinks your life is in danger and wants to save energy (calories) even though you may want to burn it.

 

 

Some ideas to help control stress…

  1. Practice meditation/mindfulness
  2. Join a yoga or pilates class.
  3. Walk and hike more (bonus: walk or hike in the woods!)
  4. Don’t restrict foods you enjoy and aren’t allergic to
  5. Get social with people who share similar goals as you
  6. Surround yourself with supportive friends

 

3. Sleep matters a lot and has a profound effect on fat loss.

sleep-like-a-baby

If you are having trouble getting at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night, start taking action now, or you fat loss efforts may suffer.  Some ideas to get you started if you have trouble falling and staying asleep….

  1. Eliminate caffeine after 3pm.
  2. Sleep in a pitch black room (consider eye shades to help with this)
  3. If you have a partner that snores get ear plugs or have them try nose strips (or push them overboard 🙂
  4. Go to bed at a consistent time and wake up at a consistent time (i.e. sleep from 10:30 – 6:30am each night)
  5. Dinner should satisfy you and not have you craving food into the evening, which may affect stress levels and sleep quality (getting adequate protein is a good start)

 

4. Don’t restrict foods

no-cheating

It’s pretty popular to restrict foods that contain added sugar, gluten, grains, dairy etc.  While certain people who are allergic to ingredients like gluten or dairy will need to eliminate them from their diet, most people do not.  Any time you unnecessarily restrict a food you enjoy you could quite possibly be setting yourself up for failure in the long run.  Yes, there are countless testimonies of people ‘successfully’ losing weight and feeling great on various diets, but those testimonies are just a snapshot in time.  They don’t take into account the long-term effects and whether or not that person actually sustained that lifestyle beyond the arbitrary amount of days the diet lasted.  Finally, the more you restrict foods you enjoy, the more likely you will crave them.  While you may be able to hold out for a while (30 days for instance) ask yourself what your diet will look like on day 31?  Day 60?  Day 365?

 

5. Drink more water

water

It’s popular for health gurus to tell you what not to do eat and drink, but I like to flip this script and tell people what to eat and drink.  For starters, start drinking more water.  Water plays a vital role in your body and may help with staying satiated (feeling full).  Next time you are craving a certain food, drink a tall glass of water FIRST.  Give it about 20 minutes and see if you still crave that same food.  This isn’t a fool proof way to beat cravings, but is a good start.  Furthermore, next time you drink a calorie dense beverage, drink an equal amount of water in ounces BEFORE your drink.  Add a lemon (or other fruit) to the water to make it more interesting!

 

Some individuals will feel overwhelmed about where to start with this list.  In this instance simply pick one of the above tips and follow it for a month.  It won’t necessarily ‘shed’ and ‘melt’ fat away, but it is a great way to start.  Once you are comfortable you can move on and start applying more of these tips as you move forward and evaluate how you feel.

Stay tuned for the next blog post where I dive into more unconventional fat loss tips!   your mind will be blown!

mind-blown

Walk Your Stress Away?

You need to go for a walk.

I don’t know how many times I have had this thought run through my head when working with clients.  The more I’m in the fitness industry the more I realize that many of my clients need to understand all the factors that go into leading a healthy life and the simple act of walking is certainly one of them.

But unfortunately too many individuals walk not for simple enjoyment but rather for weight loss.  Trying to get individuals to change their mindset about health is tough but crucially important though.

All too often I see clients who simply don’t know how to ‘turn off.’

Stressed-Out

 

They are juggling a million things at once, and to top it off are looking for and requesting high intensity exercise sessions whose claim to fame is  burning ____(insert randomly made up number here) calories.

While balancing calories is certainly an important component of leading a healthy life, it certainly isn’t the only component.  What you need to understand is how balancing hormones is also key and cortisol is one of those hormones that is poorly misunderstood.

Stress 101

Cortisol_production_PI

 

Cortisol is a stress hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands which sit on top of your kidneys.  While you may associate stress with being bad, this isn’t entirely true.  For instance when you are lifting weights cortisol and stress hormones kick in.  Any time your body is under a stress, whether it be from exercise, sickness, injury, disease or in the most extreme circumstances—getting chased by a bear—your stress hormones kick on.  In these instances stress is your best friend.  It allows your body to do its job.

While this is commonly referred to as acute stress, the more harmful forms of stress are chronic stress. This is when you simply are unable to ‘turn off’ your stress hormones during the appropriate times of the day.  For instance, if you are under a lot of stress at work, eat poorly, don’t get sufficient sleep, having relationship or family troubles etc. your stress hormones may be ‘on’ all the time.

This is not ideal.

stress lady

Put simply, think of stress as having a split personality.  You absolutely need it, but too much for too long is not good. 

So, like most things in life, it’s all about balance. In this case it’s hormonal balance.

 

The curious Case of High Intensity Exercise

Among other things high intensity exercise can be thought of as anything that turns on your stress hormones.  This isn’t inherently a bad thing.  I promote and encourage some forms of high intensity exercise with all my clients including weight lifting and interval training.  High intensity exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits on both physical and mental health.

But…like stress, if you don’t balance high intensity exercise with moderately intense activities you most likely will have hormonal issues.

As an example, one of the more curious trends in the fitness industry is the proliferation of boot camps, high intensity group classes and CrossFit.  While these exercise trends aren’t inherently bad, I imagine many people seek them out because they provide acute relief for stress levels, as well as having the potential to burn a ton of calories.  Add to the fact that many of these classes don’t put a focus on exercise form, but rather intensity, and you have a recipe for potential disaster to one’s psychological and physiological health.

Need proof?  Ever wonder why people get really excited about trying out a new exercise class or form or training, begin losing weight, tell everyone about it, BUT eventually aren’t able to sustain the activity for very long?   A possible reason for this is that their giving their bodies too much stress.  They may already be under quite a bit of stress, but because exercise acutely lowers stress levels (you usually feel great afterwards!), individuals believe high intensity exercise is the best form of fat loss.  Basically they are giving too much stress to their bodies.

They need to ‘turn off’ BEFORE they start ‘turning on’ or they will most likely hit a wall at some point in time in the near future.

Enter Walking!

family_walking_in_woods

While properly prescribed high intensity exercise is an important component of a healthy life, don’t discount the benefits of the simple act of walking.  While the act of walking isn’t an inherently calorie ‘torching’ activity, think of it rather as a hormonal balancing activity.  Research has shown that walking in the woods has positive effects not only on cortisol levels but blood pressure and heart rate as well.

In a strange way walking can and absolutely should be a part of your plan if fat loss is your goal.

Why?

Because chronically elevated stress/cortisol levels influence what you eat, as well as how hard you are able to work out.  For instance, if you can’t ‘turn off’ at the appropriate times, when your body should be in a rest and digest state, your body won’t be fully recovered for your exercise session.  If you come to a personal training session with me and you are chronically stressed out, your body isn’t ready to elevate your cortisol levels even more. You’re basically putting stress on top of stress.

Furthermore, you build muscle, and burn the most amount of calories when you are resting.  BUT if your body isn’t at rest most of the day, you are  essentially swimming upstream. Your body is  in fat storage mode rather than fat burning mode under chronic stress.

Finally, chronic stress is also strongly linked to increase food consumption, namely highly processed, sugary food.  When you are stressed out you are looking for something to take the ‘edge’ off.  Sugar and processed carbohydrates are easy to overconsume when your body is stressed out.  Ever notice how most people eat more sugary, salty and fatty foods when they are stressed out? Sometimes people think that a ‘sugar detox’ is the solution, but for many people this doesn’t address the underlying potential cause, and food restriction could quite possibly add more stress to one’s life!

Put simply, we aren’t ‘addicted’ to sugar we are addicted to stress.

 

What You Can Do Today!

  • Walk and hike more in nature (woods, trails, mountains etc.)
  • Walk with friends, join a walking and/or hiking group etc.
  • Avoid or limit city walking if possible
  • Leave your tracking gadgets at home (fitbits, iwatches, etc.)

Remember, the act of walking isn’t about the calories being burned or the steps being taken but rather about you stress levels and overall sense of well-being.

In life, we can’t and shouldn’t quantify everything about our health.  Mental health is one of those things that is incredibly hard to quantify and I don’t imagine we will ever have gadgets that accurately tell us our mental states.  You’re the best judge of that 🙂

So get out and walk and take advantage of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer!  🙂

What’s the Deal with Carbs?

carbs

I feel bad for carbs.

Of all the macronutrients we consume carbohydrates probably have to be the most misunderstood one.

They seem to be the evil villain of the nutrition world.

I recently got a question from a client asking me my thoughts on ketosis (which is a form of carbohydrate restriction)

 

A (VERY) brief science lesson

Ketosis is a process where the liver creates something called ketone bodies out of the fat you consume. ketones are created when you severely restrict carbohydrates so much so that most of your energy is derived from the ketone bodies your liver creates.

Some claim that ketosis is the preferred way of burning fat in the body.  While it certainly is ONE way of burning fat, it definitely isn’t the only way, and some (like me) don’t believe it is the best way for active, healthy individuals to burn fat.

Below is a list of reasons why you may want to reconsider restricting carbohydrates and going on a Ketogenic Diet.  I’ll conclude by outlining some good, solid, research-backed advice to help you make sense of carbohydrates and how individuals can and probably should include carbs in their diet.

 

1. The brain likes sugar

Brain

Put simply our brains prefer to run on sugar (glucose).  Glucose is so important that if you eat a zero carbohydrate diet, your body will convert the other nutrients you  consume into sugar to keep you alive.

You constantly have a steady stream of glucose running through your blood at all times because it is that important. Your brain likes to burn rather than store glucose so it needs a steady stream of glucose coming in all day long.  It doesn’t  matter the composition of your diet, you are running on sugar (some individuals more than others), as well as fat and to a lesser extent protein.

 

 

 

 

2. Adherence is a BIG deal

Put simply it’s difficult to restrict carbohydrate intake.  While many people (depending on how desperate they are to lose weight) can restrict certain carbohydrates for  a while, ask yourself this simple question before you try a Ketogenic Diet (or any diet for that matter):

Can I live and most importantly thrive off this diet long-term? 

If  not, it probably isn’t a good diet to be on.

 

3. Stress is our silent killer, not sugar

stress

It seems like everywhere you go, and everything you read about nutrition someone has to mention how bad sugar is for us.  Yes, TOO MUCH sugar is not  ideal and is a contributing cause to many diseases.  But notice I said ‘contributing’ in that last sentence.

Something that rarely gets mentioned is stress  (both psychological and physiological).  Ketogenic diets have the ability to increase physiological stress (cortisol levels may rise) as well as psychological  stress (crap, now I can’t eat that piece of cake for my birthday!)

What’s interesting about stress, and cortisol in particular, is that chronically elevated  cortisol levels may be one reason why people who go on diets aren’t able to adhere to them long-term.  Furthermore, chronically elevated cortisol can  increase water retention in the body and therefore increase weight gain.

Finally, there is strong evidence that people consume too many heavily processed carbs because their stress levels are  too high to begin with. The processed carbs increase the ‘happy’ hormones 🙂  but because they are heavily processed your body doesn’t tell you that you are full and need to stop eating so you overindulge 🙁

 

4. Sugar increases insulin…and so does other food

streak

You probably don’t associate streak and a glass of milk with insulin, but much like sugar they too increase insulin levels.  While it has been claimed numerous  times that elevated insulin levels lead to fat gain (with insulin usually only talked about in the context of sugar), this isn’t always true.   The type and quantity of carbs will directly influence whether or not you become  insulin resistant and prevent you from burning fat.  And then there’s this…

 

 

 

 

5. Exercise!

exercise

I can’t remember the last time I have watched a video or read an article about carbohydrate restriction where the individual spoke about the benefits of  exercise in overall health and wellness and how carbs can and probably should fit into the picture.

Put simply, among other things, exercise increases  insulin sensitively.  Essentially it allows you to eat more carbohydrates, and is actually preferred if you are doing high intensity exercise (weight lifting,  sprints etc.).

If you limit, or worse yet, eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, your body will use ketones to produce energy.  This is not a very efficient  process (despite what you may have heard).

While I don’t recommend doing this, restrict your carbs by 50% for one day and then go do a high intensity  workout.  See how you feel during and after the workout.   You could also simply monitor the type and quantity of carbs you consume each day you are  active and see if you can spot a trend in how you feel overall.

 

Ketosis not all Bad!!!

Despite the negative aspects of ketogenic Diets that I think individuals need to be aware of, there is at least one very promising effect of going on ketogenic Diets…

at least for some people.

Ketogenic Diets have shown a ton of promise with neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, ALS etc.).  Be careful not to extrapolate these results to healthy, active individuals though. Just because restricting carbs is helpful for certain individuals it doesn’t mean it is a preferred state to be in for healthy individuals.

Furthermore, just because restricting carbs helps these individuals doesn’t mean carbohydrates where the problem to begin with.

We have been consuming carbohydrates for centuries.  It wasn’t until recently that the food industry figured out how to create heavily processed carbs and most importantly (for their bottom line) get people hooked on them.  It’s the quality of the carbs you are consuming that will influence your health.

Enter…the Common Denominator Diet

 

portion control

Instead of trying to sell you on some fancy diet, with some cool name, I’m going to instead bring together all the common aspects most, if not all diets, share.  Beware, your mind is about to be blown…

 

  • Eat 6-8 cups of vegetables and fruit a day (more veggies if fat loss is your goal)
  • Eat a dense source of protein with EVERY meal
    1. One palm size for women (about 25-30g)
    2. Two palm sizes for men (50-60g)
  • Make your own food most of the time to limit processed food intake (if your new to making your own food, start with 1-2 homemade dinners a week).
  • Drink mostly water (yes you can still burn fat while sipping a latte or drinking a beer every now and then!)
  • Exercise 3-4 times/week and simply move more every day!
  • Manage stress levels
  • Sleep at least 8 hours every night

There. I said it.

No secrets.  Just the same old, boring advice you have heard time and time again.  But in this case boring is effective.

What wasn’t mentioned here, but is crucially important is adherence.  If you can’t adhere to the diet/lifestyle the chance of you sticking to it drops quite a bit, which only increases your frustration levels (and stress levels!).

Finally, the reason low carbohydrate diets work for some people is because they enjoy it.  If it takes away from enjoying your life though, it probably isn’t for you.  If you enjoy exercise and moving a lot, minimally processed carbohydrates are going to be your friend (keyword ‘minimally’).  While exceptions exist (some people may do well on Ketogenic Diets) the rules of a healthy diet outlined above are generally agreed upon rules for a reason.  They simply make the most sense for most people.

One final note: testimonies are VERY powerful in getting individuals to start a new diet. Something to consider with Ketogenic diets is that the initial weight loss individuals see with the diet can mostly be attributed to water loss (you are depleting your carbohydrate stores which carry water).  So it’s best to put those testimonies in context and realize that most people won’t sustain that weight loss over the long-term if they don’t enjoy that way of eating.

Wondering if your homemade meal is working towards your fat loss goal?  Shoot me (Brent) an email with the recipe (along with some general background on your activity levels) and I’ll let you know my thoughts!

I’m doing everything right, why am I still not losing weight?!

You are in the gym every day, putting countless hours in a given week into lifting weights and doing cardio.  You watch what you eat, manage your stress and try to get enough sleep.

But you are frustrated. 

The number on the scale hasn’t budged and you feel like all the work you have put in has been a waste of time.

I’m here to tell you that that you are quite a bit closer to your goals than you realize though.  You probably don’t need to overhaul what you are doing in and out of the gym, but rather need to make some small modifications, that in time will pay off huge.  With that in mind, here are some key ideas to consider.

1. It starts with your head

Psychology

I’m a personal trainer not a psychologist.  But the more time I spend in the industry, the more I realize that individuals need to understand how your mind affects your health and in turn the actions you take in regards to your health.  If you feel like a failure, believe that you are broken and need to be fixed or aren’t happy with who you are now, in this moment, an exercise program or diet won’t help you in the long term.  Sure finishing up a cleanse, diet, or some fancy infomercial exercise program may give you a fleeting sense of satisfaction (as it should), but think about what effect this has on you psychologically.   Did it empower you to make positive change for good?  Or did it exploit the insecurities you may have about your body/health? Our society doesn’t need more diets and detoxes and fancy exercise programs. We need individuals to understand that making small changes to their mindset and in turn their behaviors will pay off huge in the long run. Simply put, mindset and behavior change is the foundation on which everything else in health is built.

 

2. Nutrition is a REALLY big deal

fruit dumbbell

While it pales in comparison to mindset, more people need to understand the power of good nutrition.  Without going into too many details here as this isn’t a nutrition post, start by making one small change to your diet today. Start eating more protein.  Build every meal around a good source of protein.  Eat a palm-sized portion of protein at every meal (roughly 30 grams is a good place to start if you have a food scale).  Don’t obsess over whether or not you are eating too much sugar, aren’t consuming enough calories, just focus on one specific and measurable goal for one month.

Don’t believe me? Think about it this way.

If conquering one goal is too difficult, can you imagine what would happen if you tried to do a complete dietary overhaul and tackle many goals at once (a popular approach used in many diet/detox and cleansing programs)?  It’s like teaching a student calculus before he even has a firm grasp of basic arithmetic.

 

 


3. Lift heavy things frequently.

813PvlBh0mL._SL1500_

I love cardio. I love yoga. I love pilates.  But if this is the main attraction of your fitness program, you may need to rethink your workouts a little.  I encourage all my clients to lift heavy weights.  Challenge and push yourself.  If you are doing squats only lifting 10 lbs. you aren’t pushing yourself.  You are staying within your comfort zone.  You don’t have to go all CrossFit with your workout but your body does need and want your workouts to be on the edge of your comfort zone, not under or completely over that zone.

What I see more often than not though are the two extreme ends of this exercise intensity continuum.  Generally speaking people either aren’t pushing themselves hard enough, and therefore their bodies have no reason to adapt, or are pushing themselves too hard and their bodies are fighting back (fatigue, burnout etc.).

And for the record if you are a woman your muscles won’t get bulky, they will gain strength.  Increased muscle mass not only increases your metabolic rate and therefore calorie burn, but has dramatic effects on your mental well-being as well. 

 

4. Rest/active recovery is incredibly underrated.

Rest-in-Jesus-Christ

While I’m a huge proponent of lifting weights regardless of your health goals, it is equally as important to incorporate rest/active recovery days in your    health plan.  While this will vary from person to person, generally speaking walking, light jogging, yoga, pilates, quality sleep etc. are great forms of rest   and active recovery. Incorporating these lower intensity exercise and rest options into your life is imperative because contrary to popular belief, your      body doesn’t adapt and change in the gym.  It’s on your rest days and times between workout sessions that your body builds muscle and burns the most  amount of fat.  If you are constantly pushing yourself, your body is constantly being broken down.  Smart recovery is HUGE when it comes achieving  your health goals.

 

 

 

5. Train movements not muscles

Goblet-Squat-2

Squats, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, rows and carries.  That covers about 90% of what you will ever need in your exercise program.  Sure those exercises aren’t sexy or flashy but they are effective.  Compound multi-joint exercise target the most amount of muscles in the body. Furthermore, they are what you do in your life outside the gym, so they are about as functional as you can get.  You squat, you pick things up off the ground (deadlift) you push things, you pull things and you carry things.   While single joint exercises like bicep curls have their place in fitness, when is the last time you did a bicep curl outside the gym?  Do you think it is the best use of your time in the gym then?  Unless your goal is simply to get bigger biceps, start focusing on pushing yourself on the simple compound exercises.

 

 

 

6. Patience & Consistency.

hello, my name is consistency

Last but not least comes patience.   Fitness and health is a journey not a destination.  Enjoy the ride, and don’t put so much pressure to get to your destination so quickly.  It’s easy to be inspired by what you see in the media and the flashy testimonials from infomercials, and TV shows, but in reality patience and consistency is the name of the game.

If you are tempted to go on a cleanse/detox/elimination diet/whatever-is-trendy-by-the time-you-read-this, ask yourself what your life and health will look like AFTER the program.  Did you enjoy it enough to want to continue it long term?  If the program is designed to give you a ‘boost’ or ‘jumpstart’ into fat loss, did it do that?  Or after the cleanse are you more discouraged and confused than ever about what to do to keep you performing and living and your highest level? Extreme measures taken to achieve good health will more than likely leave you disappointed and discouraged in the long run.

 

Interested in learning more about how to incorporate these principles into your workout?  Email us today to sign-up for a FREE assessment and workout where a certified personal trainer can show you how powerful small changes can make on your life!

Working Out During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a busy time for many people, but this doesn’t mean you have to limit or even forego your workouts in the gym.  Here are a few tips to take with you to the gym to make your workout more effective and efficient during the busy holiday season.

 

1. Plan ahead

If you are planning on working out today in the gym, what exercises are you going to do?  Do you have them written down?  Writing down your exercises not only helps you track your progress, but also helps organize your training sessions.  Instead of having to think about what you are going to do next in your workout session, writing down your workouts will save yourself some time as well as help mentally prepare you for your upcoming workout.

 

2. Incorporate supersets into your workout

Many people like to do a set of one exercise, rest, and then do a few more sets before starting their next exercise.  While straight sets have their time and place, it may be a more efficient use of your time if you utilize a concept called supersets instead.  The idea here is pretty simple.  Instead of going from one exercise to the next, you would instead do a set of one exercise, rest, and then do a set of another exercise right after.  You would then repeat this process for however many sets you have chosen to do.  Here is a good example of how I would write this up for a client.

1a. goblet squats 3×12 (translation: 3 sets of 12 repetitions)

1b. push-ups 3×12

In this example you would do 12 repetitions of a goblet squat, and then after a short break do 12 repetitions of a push-up.  You would then repeat this superset 3 times.  It may be best to think of it as a mini circuit.

Supersets are a great way of increasing your workload, and therefore calorie burn, all the while spending less time in the gym.

 

3. Choose compound movements

Bicep curls. Tricep push-downs. Calf raises.

All of these activities may have their time and place in your workout, but if you are limited in time it’s best to utilize multi-joint compound movements.  For instance, while bicep curls and tricep push-downs target and strengthen your biceps and triceps respectively, your time would be better spent doing a rowing variation and a push-up variation instead.  Rows targets not only your biceps but also your back and core as well.   When done correctly, the push-up targets your chest, triceps, and core.   Instead of isolating muscles think about how you can combine muscle groups in the safest manner possible.

 

 4. Try Cardio Strength Training

As the name suggest, this method of training emphasizes both strength and cardio at the same time.  For instance, instead of separating your workout into a cardio session (i.e. running, rowing etc.) and a strength session (i.e. lifting weights), combine the two.  While strength training mainly targets your anaerobic system, Cardio Strength Training targets both in a more even fashion.

While it may seem complicated, the concept is pretty simple and straight forward. Instead of lifting only 1 rep to failure (as advised in most strength training programs), you would instead drop the weight for a selected exercise a little bit, so you are also targeting more of the cardiovascular system at the same time.  For example if you’re doing goblets squats, and you normally do 50lbs for 12 repetitions, you could drop the weight down to 35lbs, and possibly increase the volume or time spent doing the exercise.  So instead of doing 3 sets of 12 repetitions at 50lbs for goblet squats, you could do 3 sets of 20 reps at 35lbs. You may also want to regress the push-up as well to make it a little easier (i.e. incline push-ups).  This is just one example of many ways you can modify an exercise routine to help it target both your aerobic and anaerobic system.

 

 5. Keep it Simple

The holidays can be a stressful time so it makes sense to not allow your workouts to become too stressful both psychologically and physiologically.  For instance, if you are a heavy lifter, the month of December may be a good time to deload, or put another way, back off from strenuous training.  Walking is an incredibly underrated activity as are most forms of lighter intensity activity like yoga and pilates.   If you can’t make it to the gym, find ways to stay moving.  It could be a hike, or a simple walk around your neighborhood.  January will be here in no time and you will be fresh and ready to tackle a new workout challenge.

 

These are just a few examples of how you can make your holiday workouts more effective and efficient.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can make your workout routine more efficient, email us today to set-up a FREE assessment and consultation.

Meet our new 1800 Fit Manager – Brent Holm!

Come on downstairs next week to meet our new 1800 Fit Manager, Brent Holm. He’ll officially take over on October 4, 2014.

Brent Holm is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through
the NSCA.  He graduated from the University of Washington with a
Masters degree in education.  His expertise and areas of interest
include functional movement, injury prevention, metabolic
conditioning, improving body composition, stress management and
nutrition.

Education
University of Washington
Masters in Education

Certificates
NSCA CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist)
FMS (Functional Movement Screen Specialist)

Expertise
Functional movement
Metabolic conditioning
Injury prevention
improving body composition
Stress management
fat-loss nutrition support

Hydration Requirements for Summer Heat

Hydration is important, especially when the body loses plenty of heat and perspiration due to warmer weather. With Gatorade and Vitamin Water on the market, hydration is rather confusing, leading people not to  know what to drink and when.

The first thing to understand if you are going for weightloss, sugary sport beverages may hinder weightloss goals due to the sugar and extra calories. Electrolytes are important, especially when exercising more than 60 minutes (in a row) throughout the day. However, there are better options instead of sugary, or artificial chemical, drinks.

Better options include:
-Nuun tablets
-Vitamin C Packet (best post workout)
-Airborne Tablets (best post workout)
-Getting electrolytes through foods and salt (try pink Himalayan salt  or sea salt)

Hydration Requirements are
-Less than 60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise – water only
-60-90 minutes of moderate to intense exercise – electrolyte beverage may benefit (especially during post exercise)
-90+ more minutes of moderate to intense exercise – electrolyte beverage and possible glucose restoration (possibly during and post exercise)
-More than 2 hours of moderate to intense exercise – electrolyte beverage and glucose restoration (during and / or post exercise).

Stay hydrated by drinking 7-10 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. Stay safe in the heat!

Why cross train in the summer?

Summer, that time of year where the sun is out and that time to play outdoors. It’s an ideal time to cross train since there are plenty of indoor and outdoor opportunities to move. From histanding_on_mountainking to SUPing, the opportunities are near endless.

Cross training is ideal to avoid the risk of overuse injury as well as stimulates different movements, thus the body doesn’t adapt or plateau as easily. In addition, the stimulation over-rides boredom and effortless movements by “doing the same old thing.” The same rules apply while working out in the gym.

Many people want to look good and “get in shape” for the summer especially for large weight loss goals. However, getting in shape requires time. So if you are “out of time” the best idea is to cross train throughout the summer. This means incorporating different cardio, strength and movement exercises to keep the muscles and body stimulated.

If overdone, the body can easily over-train, but when training smart, and including workouts such as yoga and Pilates  the stimulates range of motion, flexibility and bodyweight / core strength. Plus, its sustainable. Sitting for the majority of the day is taxing on the body and when going from one extreme sedentary movement to the hard-core working out everyday of the week, this leads to injury and overuse. And that’s where cross training truly benefits because people can sustain an exercise program long-term. In  addition, the stimulation will benefit for those “quick” summer getting in shape goals.

 

Core Training Series Part 4: Plank with Leg Lift

Plank with Leg Lift

This plank incorporates full-body strength to properly execute this more advanced style of plank.

PlankLegLift

There are two ways to execute this plank

1. Static Hold – Situate the body into a plank position on the hands. Lift your right foot off the floor, keeping the pelvis parallel to the ground, and hold for 10 – 20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite leg. Complete each leg twice.

2. Dynamic Movement – Situate the body into a plank position on the hands. Lift your right foot off the floor for two seconds, lower and lift the left leg. Continue to alternate lifting the legs, either for 10 reps on each leg (20 reps total) or continue for a 30 second bout. Complete two sets.