Healthy Habits for Weight Loss

06 Apr

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 15 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 gym. 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.
  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! 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.