What An Ideal Workout Looks Like

28 Mar

The ideal breakdown between strength training, cardio, and sweet, sweet rest.

It’s time to review your workout and fitness goals. Unless you work out for a living, chances are, you don’t have an endless number of hours to spend in the gym every week. But no matter how many days you have to work on your fitness goals, it’s tough to know how to split your time between different types of exercise.

Workout variety is a good thing, but with endless moves, classes, and online programs out there, knowing where to start is half the battle. Cardio, strength training, and rest are all major aspects of living an active lifestyle, but how much of each should you be doing?

Your magic number of days depends on how active you already are. For example, you’ll probably see results from one day a week if you don’t already work out at all. But if your body is used to six days a week, one day probably won’t cut it.

The breakdown varies depending on your specific goals, but in general, four to five days a week will do the trick if you’re simply aiming to improve your fitness and stay in shape. If you’re going for the full five, three days should focus on strength training, two days should focus on cardio, and two should be active rest. If you only want to work out four days a week, think about your goals: If you want to add muscle tone, cut a cardio day. If you want to improve endurance, skip a strength day. Or, switch it each week.

Here’s how to crush it at each one:

Strength Training

The more muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate. Strength training also strengthens joints and bones.

How Often: Three times per week.

How Long: A strength-training session should last 45-60 minutes.

How To Do It: You want to include upper and lower body moves, and you want to have a balance between pushing and pulling movements. So, for example, a pushing movement would be a chest press, and a pulling movement would be a row. You should do different moves in each of the three strength sessions, but repeat them every week. Personally, I would stay with a program for four to six weeks and progressively increase the weight. The week before your last week, I would have a little bit of a drop-off, to give your body a little bit of a recovery, and the last week really push it hard. Four to six weeks is not a magic number. It is how long it takes to hit a plateau. I change up my program once a month.

Bonus Tip: Strength training is also where you can improve other elements of your fitness. You can work on coordination during the warm-up with non-linear movements and patterns like crawling. You can also improve balance (and engage your core!) by doing single-leg exercises. Another tip: warm up before hitting the weights and stretch when you are finished to prevent soreness. Be sure not to stretch too deeply, but warm up only, before you lift weights as you can put your muscle out of normal range of motion and cause injury. It is better to stretch after the workout.

Cardiovascular Exercise

As important as it is to strength train, cardio has its place in a balanced workout routine, too. Doing cardio keeps your circulatory system working optimally helping you to recover faster…and it keeps your endurance up. It also increases your VO2 max, which helps your body utilize oxygen. Check, check, and check. 🙂

How Often: Two times per week.

How Long: The American College Of Sports Medicine recommends logging 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity per week. How you split that up will depend on what type of training you’re doing (longer, steady-state sessions vs. shorter HIIT workouts).

How To Do It: You’ve got a ton of options: Spinning, an outdoor jog, the good old elliptical machine, (my favorite) the stair master, and the list goes on. Whether something is cardiovascular depends on where your heart rate is at and how long you’re doing it for. Target heart rates are different for everyone. A good baseline to aim for during your cardio routines is between 120 and 150 beats per minute for 20-30 minutes. (Learn more about target heart rates here.) I’m a big fan of doing functional movements to keep my client’s heart rate up. For example, I will do a circuit training program, where you strength train for a set and then perform cardio exercise for 30 seconds. You then also fit into strength training and cardio into a combination workout —the key is trying to do more reps within a certain time span to keep that heart rate elevated.

Bonus Tip: Another option is interval training, which helps you burn more calories in the same time as steady state. I like to do 1 minute 30 seconds rest with 30 second intervals for 20-30 minutes. The best part? You can do this with pretty much anything. Indoor row machine, bike, treadmill, functional movements, and my favorite the stair master, you name it.

Rest

Taking a break lets your body recover and rebuild so you can get back to your workouts refreshed and ready to rock it. Of course, this isn’t a free pass to sit on the couch all day (well, not every time at least). A rest day should actually be considered ‘active recovery’, meaning you don’t have to hit the gym or break a serious sweat, but you should do something. It’s not just about the physical recovery—it’s also the mental. Doing something that you enjoy that’s active is great for the mind…and it assists in residual fatigue. Plus, it keeps up your conditioning.

How Often: Two times per week.

How Long: Aim for 20-60 minutes.

How To Do It: Whether you hit up a restorative yoga class or just take a walk, active recovery shouldn’t require a ton of effort like a workout day, but it should get you moving.

Bonus Tip: Where you place these rest days is up to you—if you do your workouts Monday through Friday, feel free to take the whole weekend off. Or, you could break them up by doing a strength day, a cardio day, then a rest day before getting back to weight training.

Of course, your perfect gym week may vary slightly based on your goals and your schedule, but it’s all about having good fitness habits.

If you want results, you need to have a routine that you can stick with. I’ve seen so many people try to fit workouts in inconsistently, and it ends up being a waste of time. So, no matter what you do and when you do it, the goal should be to rock it, rest, repeat.

You Can Not Out Train a Bad Diet

13 Mar

Eat Clean and Train Dirty! If you want results, and I mean real results, you must eat clean. It does not matter how hard you work in the gym, you will never out train that bag of Cheetos and fried foods.

Your best bet is to eat clean. What does that mean you ask? Well here are some tips for eating clean:

 No Processed Foods

It’s quite easy to learn about the clean eating lifestyle, but following it can be difficult and a major shock (a good one) to your body. One of the main foundations of clean eating is cutting out and avoiding processed foods. Doing so will prevent the consumption of unhealthy and sometimes very harmful additives. Processed foods are hard on your body and have been connected to serious health complications, including cardiovascular disease and obesity. They can contain so many bad ingredients that are difficult on your liver and for you to digest, and those harmful ingredients and additives are often then stored in the body.

Reading the ingredient list and nutritional information on the side of pre-made, packaged, and processed foods can be a real wake up call if you haven’t read it before. Processed foods can have an alarming amount of sodium, fat and sugar. To make it worse, the serving size is often only half or less of what you’d regularly eat. Next time you’re shopping, skip processed foods to eat clean and greatly improve your health.

Eat Several Small Meals a Day

A clean eating staple when following this diet and lifestyle involves eating several small healthy meals a day, either 5 or 6, instead of 3 (or fewer, depending on your routine) big meals. Some benefits of eating this way include improving your metabolism through the extra work required to digest food more frequently and maintaining blood sugar levels. It can also prevent overeating because you won’t feel starving at your next meal, causing you to eat more than your body needs. It provides your body regular nourishment to keep you energized and satiated throughout the day.

Some people think that eating a small meal won’t satisfy them, but if you eat the right foods and give your body time to adjust to the new meal schedule, you should be fine. One key tip to clean eating that will help with feeling full and for longer is to include foods with fiber in your small meals. Eating fresh vegetables is a major part of clean eating and there are many veggies that contain a high amount of fiber, so you shouldn’t feel hungry.

Exercise Portion Control

Even if you’re an exercise junkie or are training for something physically demanding, portion control is an important aspect of clean eating that’s doable regardless of your situation. Everyone requires different amounts of food, depending on their age, sex, weight, medical history, and lifestyle. Through portion control you can still get the added protein you need to train, while loading up your body with vital nutrients that will help your overall health.

Eat Fresh Vegetables

There’s an impossibly long list of health benefits from eating fresh vegetables, from giving you energy, improving digestion, and protecting your skin and eyes to potentially reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and many types of cancer. Many vegetables are considered superfoods because of these amazing health benefits, so stock up and eat them regularly. Eating fresh vegetables is a definite do for clean eating and you’ll see and feel the benefits of these powerful foods.

Drink Plenty of Water

Clean eating is about keeping your body clean in every aspect, allowing it to flourish and helping your body become as healthy and strong as possible. Water is vital for your body and impacts more of your health than you may know. It can flush out toxins and other harmful waste in the body, enhance and maintain healthy muscles, and decrease joint pain.

Staying hydrated is also known to help control your appetite. Hunger is often mistaken for thirst, causing people to eat and overeat instead of the body what it really needs – water. Drink water throughout the day, at least the standard 8, 8-ounce servings, though your activity level and health impacts how much you should drink. By helping your body thrive from staying well-hydrated all the time you’ll be on your way to keep your body clean.

Eat Whole Grains

Whole grains are seriously good for you, yet processed foods containing grains don’t contain many of the nutrients that make whole grains healthy because certain components are removed. To eat clean in regards to grains, you need to make sure that whatever grain-based food you’re buying actually says the word ‘whole’ before the grain, like whole wheat flour. If you don’t look at the ingredient list and just assume that a product is whole grain, you’ll probably eat foods that just have wheat flour and you’ll be missing out on some of the good stuff.

There are many other whole grains and whole grain products that are finally fairly mainstream, such as quinoa, buckwheat, rye, and brown rice, increasing your options for including whole grains in your diet. These popular and healthy alternatives use whole grains for all kinds of baking and cooking. And to top it off, according to the Mayo Clinic whole grains are not only good for you, they’re an essential part of a healthy diet and have been linked to decreasing the risk of heart disease and other serious medical conditions.

What NOT To Do in the Gym

09 Jan

Ah! It’s that lovely time of year again when people go all out at the gym, either novice or experienced, and try to achieve those ever so lovely new year resolutions. UGH! I cannot stand this time of year. If you want to know what NOT to do just watch 90% of the people working out in the gym in January!!

Here are some tips to help you be in the right!

  1. Don’t rely on the calorie counter on the machine.The calorie counter on the machine is automatically set for a 200# male when you hit Quick Start on the equipment. And not everyone burns the same amount of calories when working out. Everyone has a different metabolism. The best way to know your actual calorie burn? Use a fitness tracker. Because you program in your statistics in your fit tracker it is more accurate. Yes, when you program your age and other numbers in the machine it will be closer but still not totally accurate. The good news? You more likely burn more calories than is stated on the machine! 🙂
  2. Do not watch others in the gym to see how it’s done. I have been a trainer for almost 13 years now and I can tell you for a fact that 90% of the people in the gym are doing their exercise wrong – for you. This statement ought to say, “To learn what NOT to do in the gym watch others!” Be careful out there! It is a dangerous world. I’ll give you an example, my son and I were working out the other day when I noticed a guy doing something majorly wrong on the lat pull down (btw this is the most misused piece in the gym FYI.) This guy was even training a 10 year old little brother or son how to do this. It infuriated me for so many reasons. My son told me the only reason all those guys listen to him is because he is swole. Whatever! They’ll be wondering why their shoulders hurt and do not work like they used to when they pull ligaments by doing it all wrong. To be on the safe side, use machines first. All machines in the gym have pictures on them demonstrating how the exercise is done. The pictures also show you what muscles are being used. It is a great idea to study the picture, practice the exercise, and make sure you feel the muscles being worked (the ones in the picture).
  3. Calculate your heart rate before you hit the gym. Everyone should know what their heart rate should be during their workout. I can tell you it should never get over 220 minus your age in beats per minute. And during your workout it should stay between 65-85% of that number to get adequate caloric burn or “heart work” as I like to say. To read all about heart rate Click Here to read my blog post on this now.
  4. Rest is just as important as working out.Some people start working out and think that they have to work out every single day for hours on end. This is NOT the way to perfect health. It is all about balance. What is good for you is individual. But on average, a good cardio workout would consist of 20-30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times per week. And add some strength training in there too. Everyone ought to include some strength training as good muscle tone is good for many reasons whether you are 15 or 90 years of age.
  5. Remember good eitiquette in the gym. This is often overlooked. Be sure you do not hang out on the equipment if others are waiting. It is probably best to not hang out on the equipment at all, you may not know if others are waiting. I had a lady set up house at the ONLY leg press at the gym this morning and run around the gym doing several different exercises. By the time I could do leg press I had already worn out all the muscles used on there that it would only do me harm to train there. I’m still stewing over this one. Do not stand around and talk to friends while you sit on a piece of equipment. And remember to re-stack your weights when you are finished!! If your momma forgot to teach you these manners I’m here to teach you now. It is so difficult for the ladies to have to unstack those 45# weights that these guys left on the leg press or bench press. That is just plain rude! Here’s a little side note/joke for you ladies. Next time you see a guy who has left the leg press full of weights stacked to the hilt on one of those machines, I want you to pay attention to his range of motion. Range of motion would be how far he actually brings the weight down to the chest and then pushes it all the way back up. Most likely that “macho man” will not be able to handle a big range of motion. This can also explain why he can’t re-stack all those weights too! Just speaking from experience of sights I have seen in the gym 😉
  6. It is ALL ABOUT POSTURE!! If I were to come up with a motto about my training this would be it. Fitness is all about posture! Period! Never ever lean on the equipment when doing your cardio. You are doing yourself a dis-service when you do this. Not only are you training your muscles wrong but you are putting your spine out of alignment and setting yourself up for injury. It looks LAZY to see people leaning on the equipment during their cardio. Perhaps the settings are too high, maybe you need to try another piece of equipment, or maybe you need to just stop. Whatever the issue, be sure to stand up straight and focus on re-training good posture! To read my blog post on posture click here.        Happy Training, Kathie 🙂

Biggest Loser is being Called Out…FINALLY

25 May

biggest loserI knew it was a matter of time but it had to happen. I see this all the time. The Biggest Loser really is a big loser!

I have said it for years…this show is bogus. My professional opinion has always taken that stance – see previous posts about the show, search them on my site. You will see.

There is no quick way to weight loss. If you lose weight too fast you will send your body into starvation mode and your body will store whatever you do eat, when you eat again, as fat! PERIOD! End of story.

It is now coming out that contestants were encouraged to take pills. “Adderall and ‘yellow jackets’ — pills that contain ephedra extract. Ephedra is used to promote weight loss and boost energy, and was banned by the FDA in 2004.” This taken from the New York Post article on the scandal that rocks the Biggest Loser today. Click Here to read that article now.

This does not surprise me one bit. I have seen it happen so many times and I see it happening today. Biggest Loser has been accused of having contestants gain more weight to be on the show, making them sweat it out, forcing them to train like athletes immediately after a sedentary lifestyle, forcing them on below 800 calorie per day diets, forcing them to throw up to lose weight, sweat it out, and now having them take diet pills. All of the above lead to a guarantee of weight gain when the previous mentioned methods are not maintained for life. And it is impossible to maintain those methods for life. IMPOSSIBLE! Not only are they impossible to maintain but they are also lead to a lifetime of poor health and psychological illnesses as well as eating disorders.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves!!

I watched my ex-husband go on an extremely low calorie diet to lose 150# back in 1998. He looked great, back then, but he gained it all back and then some. He still, to this day, yo-yo’s on his weight. And he never achieved the 150# weight loss again. He also has health issues, probably will for a lifetime.

One of his favorite ways to lose weight was he would drink a diet coke, eat a bag of pretzels but he wouldn’t eat the pretzels. He would spit the remnants back into the empty diet coke bottle so he could get the taste of food. Oh my, that was lovely. NOT!

I feel so sorry for those contestants on that show. I always knew something was not right about it. I promote health. I have studied under some of the finest personal trainers. I have been a certified fitness trainer for 13 years now. It only works when you do it the right way and let me add this, for the right reasons.

I Joined Planet Fitness

22 Jan

pf-judgementfree

So back in November I joined Planet Fitness. Crazy, I know but I needed a gym that had a stair climber <-my favorite cardio, and the Y does not have one nor does the gym I run. I know why….a rolling stair case is a tricky piece of equipment. They break easy and require a lot of maintenance. Having said this, one of the four stair climbers has been broken in the gym since the beginning of December. Who knows if they will fix it either.

Planet Fitness is a cheap gym, prices are very cheap at $10 a month, who can’t afford it? So because it is cheap it is very crowded (at least in January) and misused!!

They claim to be “home of the judgement free zone”, meaning you can’t be a “meathead” or “gym rat” and work out there. Kind of stupid in my opinion because they claim to be non-judgemental but they will turn on a siren and call out someone for dropping their weights or grunting in the gym and even discontinue their membership. BTW grunting is sometimes necessary to get through that rep as it is necessary for the tennis player to grunt to get that hit just right. Not that I do it but for the serious athlete it is necessary. Dropping weights is another story but sometimes necessary as well, but use discretion and be courteous to those in the gym.

Like I said I only use the stairs and I get my workout done in as little as 20 minutes. I have enough time to watch people in the gym though. Let me say this….if you want to know what NOT to do just watch those working out in the gym. Entertainment at it’s best!

Here are a few things to watch for:

  • POSTURE. Posture is one of the most important things to focus on when working out whether that be cardio or strength training. I see so many people slouching on machines – this is just wrong! And when lifting weights they do not focus on standing or sitting correctly. This leads to posture imbalances or injuries.
  • INTERVAL TRAIN CARDIO. You must interval train to get results, no matter what your goals are. If you jump on the treadmill (any equipment for that matter) and go the same speed the entire time you are never going to overcome that plateau. An interval should be so hard that you barely reach a minute, slow down/rest work for about 2 minutes or the rest of your workout depending on your stamina and go fast again. Intervals build endurance and also strengthen your heart and lungs so oxygen moves through your body better. Your heart and lungs are the most important part of your cardio fitness and you must make them work more efficiently to benefit from all the sweat and tears.
  • NOT CLEANING EQUIPMENT AFTER USE. The gym is one of the dirtiest places in the world. It is full of bacteria and germs. Imagine holding onto someone else’s sweat or sitting in their butt sweat. GROSS!!!! I carry around a cleaner and wipe the equipment before and after use. All gyms have antibacterial wipes and towels nowadays for this very reason.

I joined the gym in November and once January hit it was packed with new year resolution fools. It is already slowing down a bit but I really dislike working out with so many people in the gym. It is gross and  full of people doing their workouts wrong. So many people jump into a fitness regimen and end up hurting themselves. Take it easy, slow start and work your way up to the “all-out” work out. There is a reason we fitness trainers are CPR certified. As I like to say, “I know CPR but I really do not want to have to perform it.”

Take it easy and happy training!! Kathie

Goal Setting Basics

03 May

“Without goals, you are like a ship without a rudder – heading in no particular direction.” -Roy Williams, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of North Carolina

We all know about the importance of goal setting and, to some extent, we all set them from time to time. But, guess what, not all goals are created equal. There are many types of goals, and some are more effective than others. Furthermore, certain types of goals may be more beneficial in some situations while others lead to more positive results in others. Sport psychologist Dr. Damon Burton, in his book “Sport Psychology for Coaches,” outlines the different types of goals one can set. At the risk of greatly oversimplifying Burton’s work, below is a summary of two basic goal types:

Outcome Goals

These are the goals you’d absolutely love to accomplish if all the pieces fell into place and you worked really, really hard. Outcome goals involve such statements as “I want to win,” or “I want to lose 20 lbs.” Outcome goals are great. They motivate us and they provide purpose for exercising or practicing so hard. Outcome goals come with some caveats, however. First of all, they do not provide a roadmap for accomplishing a particular goal. Saying “I want to win” delivers no information on what you need to do to actually accomplish this feat. Outcome goals are rigid and leave no room for adjustments. If your only goal is to lose 20 lbs. and you lose only 15 lbs., does this mean you failed? Numerous environmental conditions may occur that hinder your ability to reach your goals. But if you do not accomplish your exact target goal, it does little good to beat yourself down. According to Burton, flexibility is highly important in the goal setting process and outcome goals do not provide any room for error. Finally, outcome goals can be stressful. We can’t always control the conditions that determine whether we reach our goals or not. Worrying about factors that we cannot control places our focus on external conditions, leaving room for “what-ifs.” For example, if you are lining up for a bike race with the goal of winning, much of your goal relies on how the other competitors perform. If you have the best race of your life, but another competitor simply outperforms you, it’s disadvantageous to say that you failed to reach your goal. Sport psychologists refer to setting strictly outcome goals as living in “outcome world.”

Process Goals

Process goals are smaller, controllable goals that provide more information for how to reach our outcome goals. If you have an outcome goal of winning a running race, a process goal might be more along the lines of “I will lengthen my stride by an inch;” or “I will stick to my race plan and focus on just my race.” If your outcome is to lose 20 lbs., you might have a process goal of exercising for 30 minutes each day or decreasing your calorie consumption to the amount of calories you burn per day. Process goals are specific, measurable and controllable. These goals relieve stress because they are related to your own individual efforts. Process goals make reaching outcome goals more likely because they provide specific information for how to improve. Process goals are also flexible. While your outcome goal remains constant, you can adjust your process goals based on progress and degree of difficulty.

How to Set Goals

Whenever you set goals, it’s best to begin with your dream outcome goals. It’s okay to dream big, but your outcome goals should also be realistic. According to Burton, the most effective goals are those that are moderately difficult and represent about a 5 to 10 percent improvement beyond your previous level. If you can run a mile in eight minutes, aim to make your next goal to run it in about seven minutes and thirty seconds or so. Then, once you set your outcome goal, set about three or four process goals that will help you reach this outcome. Make them specific, controllable and within your ability level.

We hear about goal setting all the time, but it continues to be one of the most important, and most effective performance-enhancement tools you can use. While outcome goals are motivating, avoid living in outcome world. Keep your mind focused on specific process goals that are completely within your control.

Action Precedes Motiviation – New Year’s Resolution Key

13 Dec

The time is upon us! Time to prepare for new year resolutions. I am here to help you. Here is the first of a few posts to get you motivated to start 2011 fresh!!

Bad habits that keep you from reaching optimal health, such as smoking, drinking or overeating don’t have to follow you into the New Year. However, if you don’t want these habits hanging around for another 12 months, you must prepare yourself psychologically.

Experts agree that no matter how stubborn a habit you’ve developed, there are ways to break those negative patterns and keep healthy resolutions throughout the New Year. The trick is to keep everything in perspective. Perspective, now I like that!!

“Focus on realistic goals with measurable results,” says Jill RachBeisel, M.D., director of Community Psychiatry at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “You need to break things down into small steps that you can manage.”

For example, Dr. RachBeisel says that, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds, you should focus on losing five pounds at a time. Instead of trying to lose five pounds a week, focus on losing one pound a week.

“Create bite-sized jobs for yourself that you’ll be able to accomplish,” states Dr. RachBeisel. “If your goal is too big, you’ll feel defeated before you even get started.”

When deciding on your New Year’s resolutions, it is easy to get swept up in hopeful yearning. As the clock ticks away the final minutes of the old year, the excitement can be intoxicating. You believe that you’ll be able to tackle your goals effortlessly. But, after the initial rush of New Year’s celebration fades and reality sets in, your ambitions can once again seem insurmountable.

According to Hinda Dubin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and psychiatrist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the key to achieving even your most lofty goals is to get started immediately.

Action precedes motivation, not the other way around,” said Dr. Dubin. “People often think that they should wait until they are motivated to start doing something good for themselves. They say, ‘I’ll start that diet or fitness program when I’m really well rested and have a lot of energy’. But it doesn’t work that way.”

Dr. Dubin says that instead of waiting for inspiration to act on your goals, you need to take action first and inspiration will follow. Your initial action doesn’t have to be anything big. Just by putting on your sneakers and hopping on the treadmill for 10 minutes, you will make that energy you are “waiting” for materialize.

“Once you initiate an action — even the smallest of actions — you pick up momentum and you realize, ‘Hey, this isn’t so bad,’ and it becomes a lot easier to keep moving forward and to stay motivated,” says Dr. Dubin.

Expert Advice

University of Maryland experts offer these additional tips to help you reach your goals:

  • Avoid perfectionist thinking. While we certainly always want to better ourselves, it is healthier to think in positive terms than it is to focus on how much we fall short of our aspirations. In other words, students should view the grade of an A- as better than a B, rather than not as good as an A.
  • View setbacks as lessons for growth. Mistakes can be, and usually are, opportunities for learning. If you fall short of your goals, ask yourself what kept you from achieving them and then try to make corrections. People who like to sail understand this navigational concept. You almost never go directly from point A to point B. You set a course and periodically take readings of your position then make adjustments as you go along.
  • Don’t make absolute resolutions. Keep them realistic. For example, Dr. Dubin suggests that instead of saying you won’t yell at your kids anymore, resolve to yell at them less often.
  • Don’t keep your resolutions to yourself. Tell someone you trust about your resolutions. Dr. Dubin says that it helps to share your goals with friends, who can gently nudge you in the right direction when you veer off course.
  • Give them some meaning. According to Dr. RachBeisel, people sometimes make goals that aren’t necessarily meaningful to them. Your goal should be something you really desire to change or achieve, not something that society says is good for you to do or your family members would like to see you do. If you don’t have strong, internal motivation within yourself, you won’t be successful.
  • Take baby steps. Set realistic goals that are attainable and then take small steps that are likely to be met with success toward those goals. Don’t try to lose 10 pounds in a week or quit smoking cold turkey with no preparation. Instead, try joining a weight loss program and try to lose a pound a week, or join a smoking cessation group.
  • Fine-tune your spirituality. Dr. Dubin says that it is important to add a spiritual dimension to your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to get fit, you may also resolve to get outdoors more often instead of going to the gym. Time outside will help you get in balance with nature, and will honor both the physical and spiritual sides of yourself.

Don’t Hit a Brick Wall Prevent Your Plateau in Fitness

19 Feb

So I have been asked to talk about fitness plateaus tomorrow at the Health Expo in Needville. I thought I’d share my talk with yall here too.

Plateaus hit all of us as they are a huge factor in being human. The body gets used to doing the same thing over and over, and in life we are forced to change.  Change is really good, as you will see. What better time to talk about plateaus than right here at Lent. You see, a plateau is usually hit within 40 days – hmmm that is how long Lent is. See the parallel? Another parallel is the fact that we are about 40 days into the New Year and this is exactly about the time people start falling off the wagon in their fitness programs. And do you know why? It is that little thing called plateau. Yup – they’ve hit it. Little do they know is that if they hired a knowledgeable trainer in the beginning or read up on fitness they would know what to do when they hit that plateau. Discouragement – bye bye!

So what is a plateau in fitness? It is when progress comes to a standstill after months (40 days) of continued progress. You’ve changed all your bad habits for good ones and committed to improving your lifestyle. And then all of a sudden BAM! A halt in your progress! This occurs thanks to repetition in your fitness routine.

Our bodies are incredibly efficient and are able to adapt to any kind of work we give it. When we give it the same tasks to perform over and over again, the body adapts to the level of work and therefore becomes more proficient. Once the body gets to its optimal efficiency in performing these tasks, it requires less energy and consequently burns less calories, putting a stop to our progress. Hence, you have hit a fitness plateau. And this is when so many people quit.

So what can you do to prevent this? Well, first of all let’s ask these first questions to determine the type of plateau you’ve hit and what type of action we are going to take.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have you been overtraining or working out too much? Not getting enough rest? Working out even though you are sore?
  2. Have you been performing the same workout over and over again for the last several weeks?
  3. Have you been eating enough calories?

If you answered yes to any of these questions and you quit seeing results from your fitness program then you have hit a fitness plateau. Here are some suggestions to overcome a plateau:

  • Take time off. The number one cause of lack of progress is overtraining. Your muscles may not be able to recover and heal the tiny tears that occur in the fibers during a workout. This is why you are sore! Without rest and recovery your body responds by decreasing the amount of calories you burn while inactive in an effort to conserve energy. Rest is just as important as working out. This may come as a surprise to some of you but it is! Taking time off allows your body to fully recover and add to that new muscle growth you’ve already stimulated.
  • Add variety. You must always challenge and surprise your body. The reason your body hits a plateau in the first place is because it has gotten used to the same ole thing. Cardio exercise is important in everyone’s fitness regimen and it doesn’t matter who you are. Interval training is very important in everyone’s cardio exercise program and you should already be incorporating intervals in your program. If you don’t know what interval training is Click Here to read about it. You can always vary the way you do intervals. For example, if you’ve been doing 1 minute fast and 2 minutes rest work, you can vary that to 2 minutes fast and 1.5 minutes rest work. You can also vary the cardio activity you are doing. Instead of using the bike try water aerobics for a change. In your strength training program you can do something as simple as reversing your routine in order to overcome a plateau. This is called muscle confusion.
  • Eat More. I know I can hear you now! What? Eat More!! Are you kidding me Kathie? No I am not! Your body needs to maintain daily function and your body will either 1) use fat for fuel or 2) use muscle (protein) for fuel – called thermo genesis or “starvation mode”. I preach about that “starvation mode” thing all the time! Many people think that cutting calories to below a healthy level will speed up their weight loss by forcing the body to consume stored fat. And yes it will speed up weight loss but when they do start to eat again, and I don’t care if it is lettuce, the body will store it as fat for the next time the body “starves” for energy. The fact is your body can function twice as long if it holds onto the fat and uses the protein (your muscles) for fuel. And this is exactly what happens, causing you to lose muscle while slowing your metabolism.

So in a nutshell, hitting a plateau is a good thing. Basically your body needs rest, more food, and a change in the program to overcome the plateau. So change is good after all!! -Kathie

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February Monthly Motivators

01 Feb

February Monthly Motivators from Kathie’s Fitness Blog:

  • Did you know: Muscle Growth is the logical byproduct of muscle contraction.
  • Did you know: Sodium is an essential mineral that is an absolute must for muscle growth.
  • Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment. -Lao Tzu
  • Real world zen: Exercise outside to help oxygenate your cells with fresh air and facilitate the removal of waste products through your skin.
  • Quick tips: don’t take the all or nothing approach. It is better to do a little training than nothing at all. If you can only fit one strength training routine in a week you’ll still benefit from it.
  • Diet tip: The heavier the loaf of bread the more packed it is with cancer fighting whole grains. The more “airy” that bread or dinner rools are, the more likely they are nothing more than white flour, sugar, and preservatives.
  • Tight muscles can lead to muscular imbalances and postural problems. Uh oh!