Transform Your Body Using These 3 Easy Steps

Fitness Nutrition Weightloss

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OK first let me acknowledge you probably don’t want to see me with my shirt off but as you can tell I put on a few extra pounds over the winter.  It’s not that I stopped working out, I just stopped paying attention to what I was eating and enjoyed beer, wine, and sweets a little too much.  Unfortunately, aside from packing on a few extra pounds I also irritated my lower back in was in pain for a few weeks.  I decided I needed to shape up so I set a goal to go on a strict 4 week diet after my 41st birthday. Unfortunately, my strict diet only lasted about 4 days but I stumbled onto 3 simple steps that have allowed me make steady progress over the last 3 months.  I am convinced that these steps will also work for just about anyone.  The 3 steps are:

Step 1: Track Your Food

Tracking what you eat is probably the most important steps you can begin doing.  Most people we coach are surprised at the amount of calories and fat they are eating.  To start, download a fitness app like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt!, enter your personal settings and it will give you a recommend calorie target.  Next, you’ll need to get a food scale and some measuring cups.  This takes out the guess work, accuracy is important.  It requires a little leg work upfront but after a while the app will remember your most common foods and make tracking a lot easier.

Step 2: Make Adjustments

Now that you’re armed with the information of your diet, it’s time to make healthier choices.  Here are some ideas that can help:

  • Began preparing batches of lean meat. What really seems to work is cooking 3 days of chicken in a crock pot and shredding it. It’s easy to prepare, easy to weigh and portion out, and you can use different spices for variety. 
  • Purchase meal prep containers. This just makes it easy for you to put lunches together so you can grab and go. Most people make poor food choices if they are hungry and healthy choices aren’t readily available.
  • Enter as many meals as possible into your fitness app each morning. Since your meals are already prepared in your meal prep containers, this should only take a few minutes.  Now you only need to track your last meals of the day.

Focus on your total calories and the grams of Protein, Carbs, and Fat you consume. For simplicity sake, I recommend mainly focusing on your total calories and keeping your protein intake to 35-40% of your total calories.   Also, keep your fat consumption low.

Step 3: Exercise

Try to exercise 180 minutes per week.  The best way to break this up is to do either 60 minutes 3 time per week or 45 minutes 4 times per week. Ideally you should have a good mix of weights and cardio but I’ve seen people get results doing just one or the other.  Bottom line, get your sweat on!

These are the 3 steps I took that gave me results.  I would like to add that I usually have about 3 cheat meals on the weekend, enjoy a few glasses of wine or pints of beer, and treat myself to some type of dessert once a week.  I’m sure my progress would be much further if I didn’t treat myself as much but I still want to enjoy things too.  I just do it in moderation.

If you are interested in making similar changes and would like help getting started, CLICK HERE to schedule your free fitness consultation.

 

Abraham Gerving

5 Movements That Should Be In Every Workout Routine

Fitness

You have probably heard people say they are training “legs” or “chest” some other area.  This type of training was made popular by bodybuilders, however most people are NOT bodybuilders.  Instead, it is more efficient when people workout with movement in mind.  Here are the 5 movements every workout program should contain:

Squat:

If you have ever sat down in a chair and stood up again, you’ve squatted.  Squats basically work the entire lower body (quads, gluts, hamstrings, calves) and because they involve so many large muscle groups, they also burn a lot of calories.  There are several variations out there (back squat, front squat, goblet squat, kettlebell squat, etc.) so you should be able to find one that is a good fit for you.

Squat

Hinge (Deadlift):

If you are scared off by the term “deadlift”, don’t be.  While most people think of an Olympic athlete or powerlifter there are many other variations out there.  These variations include Romanian deadlifts, hyperextensions, kettlebell swings, and single leg deadlifts.  The “hinge” motions works the back side of your body (glutes, hamstrings, calves, back, etc.) and if done properly, will help train you how to pick things up properly and avoid back injury.  One important point: when doing this exercise make sure your lower back stays natural or even arched a little. DO NOT let it round.

Deadlift

Push:

This is any exercise where you are pushing something away from your body.  The most popular exercise of this type is the bench press but honestly, as I’m getting older, I prefer push-ups.  Other exercises include shoulder presses, dumbbell presses, and incline presses.  These exercises primarily work the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Bench Press

Pull:

Conversely to the push, this exercise involves pulling something toward your body (or your body toward something).  Rows, pull-downs, and pull-ups are excellent examples.  These work your back muscles, rear delts (back of the shoulder), and biceps. 

Pull-Down

Single-Leg Exercises

While walking, do you move both feet at the same time or do you have to balance on one leg as you step forward?  This is why it’s important to work on single leg exercises.  Many people have challenges balancing and unfortunately, if this isn’t addressed, the risk of falling increases with age. Common single-leg exercises include lunges and step-ups, but there is some overlap with the squat and hinge movements with Single-leg Deadlifts and Bulgarian Split Squats.  These exercises work both your lower body and your stabilization muscles.

Lunge

Before closing, allow an honorable mention to core training.   Most people think of core training as sit-ups and crunches but there are some recommended exercises that force you to keep your core straight as you resist something.  The best examples are front and side planks.  If you think about how you use your core in your daily life, it is almost always to support yourself.  Rarely does one “crunch”.

Side Plank

The next trick is putting this all together.  While not rocket science, there is some science involved.  If you would like help getting started or just putting a workout program together, our Jump Start program may be what you need.  Click HERE to schedule a free fitness consultation and see if this or any of our other programs would be a good fit for you. 

 

 

How I Lost 5 Lbs in 2 Weeks

Fitness Nutrition Success Weightloss

At the beginning of the year I realized I had put on a few “holiday” pounds so I set a New Year’s resolution to drop some weight.  I wanted to keep it simple so it could be more of a lifestyle change and not just a short term diet.  Here are the three things I did (and continue to do):

First, I started tracking everything I ate.  Personally I used the phone app Lose It! but there are other good ones out there too like My Fitness Pal. This allowed me to get a good snapshot of what I was eating and how much.  Boy was I surprised!

Second, I made changes to my diet.  I try to have a macronutrient breakdown of 40% Protein/40% Carbs/20% Fat. Lose It! gave me a calorie target based on my personal information and stated goal. Here is what my nutrition targets are: 176 Grams Protein, 176 Grams Carbs, & 39 Grams Fat for a total of 1759 calories per day. Obviously it’s extremely difficult to hit each target exactly so I primarily focus on Protein and total calories.

Third, I increased my cardio.  What’s interesting is now that I’m eating healthier I tend to have more energy which makes it easier for me to do my workouts.  I shoot for 20 minutes after my weight lifting workouts.

While this formula is simple, it can be difficult sticking to it.  Sometimes we just need a little help getting started or being held accountable.  If that speaks to you and you would like help click HERE and fill out a request for a free fitness consultation.  It’s worked for me and I know it will work for you too.

Your’s in health!

Abraham Gerving

Decisions, Decisions

Inspiration Nutrition Weightloss

 

 

Did you know we make over 200 food related decisions a day? Many of them are automatic and we just do not realize how these decisions can affect our weight. However, adding one to two pounds of extra weight a year can eventually lead to issues we have to deal with. So, what food decisions do you make?

There was a study conducted of a demographically-matched student sample of 133 Parisians and 145 Chicagoans to determine what cues people used to stop eating. In this study, the research showed those in Paris had three main reasons they were finished with their meals: 1) they wanted to save room for dessert, 2) the food no longer tasted good, and 3) the consumer started feeling full. Now go back and read those three cues again. Aside from sounding strange in our culture (I mean really, does the last bite really not taste as good as the first or are my taste buds just “well developed”) each of these cues are internal. These French eaters are relying on themselves to determine when they are finished, and even the last one, “started feeling full” is not “so stuffed I cannot sit down.” It is merely being satisfied, which may be why these eaters tend to weigh less than we, as Americans, do.

The three main cues found during this study that determined when the American eaters were finished were: 1) their TV show was over, 2) they’ve eaten the amount most think is normal (the plate is empty), and 3) they’ve run out of their beverage. I’ve also heard of an additional study where the eater is done eating when the people around them are finished. Each of these cues are external: something outside of themselves telling them when they are finished eating. For us, eating is a means to an end and the short length of time spent eating a meal, especially alone, is an indicator of that. But we eat with our eyes first, meaning we decide exactly how much we are going to eat by how much we dish onto our plates or into our bowls and even if there are internal cues telling us we are satisfied, if we took it, we tend to eat it.

According to Dr. Brian Wansink, Food Psychologist, Researcher and Author of Mindless Eating and Slim by Design, in our culture our stomach has three settings: starving, could eat more, and stuffed. So, how do we overcome the fact that we just haven’t really paid attention to those internal cues the French seem to innately notice? Let’s just deal with the external cues and how we can make better decisions:

  1. Make Mealtimes Special: No TV while eating. Maybe play some relaxing music instead. Make your living spaces a “No Food Zone” and eat at the table. This can help you to eat less food because the focus will be on the food and the people with whom you are eating.
  2. The Plate: First eat on a plate no larger than 10″. For me, a food segregationist (no food touching), that can be quite a task, but you definitely take less food. Second, dish 80% less than you think you would eat. Studies show your body doesn’t recognize the caloric deficit and over the course of a year, you could potentially lose up to 10 pounds doing just that.
  3. People: If you eat with a slow eater, pace with that eater. The slower you eat, the faster your brain catches up with the signals your stomach is sending saying “I’m satisfied.” If you eat with a fast eater, count how many times you chew your food. Perhaps 20 times per bite can pace your eating. An important piece is to never serve the food from the table. The fast eater will take more food because everybody else is still eating. The slow eater may take more because they saw others take more and are now justified.

We may not be able to stop ourselves with internal cues like “the food no longer tastes good” but we can do something about the cues we do use and begin to pay attention to those feelings of satisfaction.

Eating is only part of the equation. It is also important to round it out and exercise is a key factor in doing so.  If you would like help reaching your weight loss or fitness goals and want to see if one of our personal training programs is a good fit for you, please fill out the following form for a free fitness consultation.

Is Physical Activity All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Fitness Success Weightloss

 

Fitness Doctor

We’ve all heard the benefits of working out, but is it all “they” say it is? Really, there may be less flab and perhaps more muscle mass (under the flab depending on eating habits), but can exercise really provide the massive amounts of physical and emotional benefits? Let’s take a look at a few of the claims to decide:

  1. Weight Maintenance: Most of us have heard that in order to lose weight it is a simple question of burning more calories than you are taking in. It is true that exercise increases calories out, therefore, whether you are attempting to lose weight or maintain your current size, working out is an important piece to that puzzle. Keep in mind the calories we burn do not necessarily directly correlate to weight lost. Often times, especially when beginning a new workout regiment, there may be a gain in weight due to muscle gain or water retention, so do not become discouraged and give up. The CDC has a great website on physical activity and burning calories that is very beneficial you can find here.
  2. Improved Health: Regular physical activity actually lowers a person’s blood pressure, which in turn reduces strain on the heart and increases good (HDL) cholesterol. All of this works together to decrease your chance for heart disease. So far so good! It also helps to keep your blood glucose on target, lowering your risk for pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes (additional info found here). I’m impressed! Studies also suggest weight-bearing exercise helps to maintain bone density which can become an issue over time. The list goes on and on! I’m sold!
  3. Mental Well-Being: Have you ever heard of endorphins? Well, physical activity helps to bump of the production of these “feel good” neurotransmitters. Studies show working out can be as effective as medication for some people who suffer from anxiety and depression. If that isn’t enough, it also helps us to overcome stress. Feeling fatigued? That’s right! Exercise helps us to feel more energized as well! ACE has a great article related to the energy benefits.

So, what it comes down to is this: YES, exercise is exactly what they say it is in relation to how it benefits our bodies! Get started with your daily routine today here!

Winter Weight…What?

Fitness Inspiration Weightloss

Having trouble losing that winter weight? There are many habits we get into that help contribute to the gain: comfort foods and high calorie coffee drinks that warm us up from the inside, darker days that make it hard to get up early for that morning workout and even harder to stop by the gym on the way home. Let’s be real: we just don’t tend to move as much and eat as healthy as we do when the sun it out and it doesn’t seem so bleak and depressing. So, let’s focus on how we can get back on track!

Have you ever kept a food diary or tracked your food consumption? Studies show that people who write down their food intake tend to lose up to twice as much weight as they would by just trying to be more conscientious. There are many benefits to doing so.

The first and most obvious is having to commit to paper (or these days a screen whether it be your phone, tablet or computer) everything that passes your lips. That’s right, EVERYTHING! It really makes one think twice about popping that extra cookie into one’s mouth just because it’s there, doesn’t it?

The second benefit is that it helps you to be more aware of not just the amount of food you eat, but the types of foods you eat. How many veggies are you getting throughout the day? Fruits? How much protein? How much do you actually need? There are many apps and websites that can help with that information as it is not “one size fits all” but tracking your food certainly give you a picture of how you are eating on a daily basis. Speaking of pictures, I’ve attached one of MyPlate that is a simplistic guideline by the US Government that can help:

myplate_grayscale

 

Here are a few questions to consider once you’ve decided to track your food:

  1. What might get in the way and make it challenging?
  2. What do you think might make it easier?
  3. How many days a week is it reasonable to assume you could be successful?

Weight loss is said to be 80% eating habits and 20% exercise. These habits need to be a lifestyle, not just something temporary. Tracking your food can help your awareness so that the habit of tracking does not have to be permanent. Give it a try and see how you like it! There are apps, websites and successful weight-loss programs out there that have mastered this practice and can help you to journal your way to making that winter weight a thing of the past.

Remember, 20% of weight loss is exercise. That is something that cannot be ignored to be successful. Some find it the easier of the healthy habits to begin. Summer is right around the corner! Get started here!

The Three Principles of Success

Fitness Success

Success

Years ago, in a different professional life, I invested in a sales training program for self-betterment and career growth.   This program covered many different topics, one of which was success.  It taught that to become successful, there are three important principles to focus on: behavior, attitude and technique.  The interesting thing is that these three principles can be applied to just about anything in life. Let me briefly explain by using exercise as an example:

Behavior is the act of doing. In its purest form, this is just doing the action. For fitness, it’s basically showing up to the gym on a consistent basis.

Next is attitude which is what you believe and how you approach it. If you don’t believe exercise is beneficial or if you have a negative attitude toward it, chances are you won’t show up to the gym very often. On the other hand, if you have a positive outlook and believe you can achieve your fitness goal, you’ll most likely workout on a consistent basis.

Finally, technique is basically how you do it. There are a lot of different exercises and workout programs out there but not all are optimal for helping you to achieve the results you want. Learn the right exercises for your own personal goals and your chances of success will be dramatically increased.

While I used exercise as an example, these principles can be applied toward all areas of your life.  Want to improve in your career, athletics, or a hobby?  Focus on these principles and you will.  I challenge you to pick an area you want to enhance and give it a try.  Just think of the progress you can make in the next 12 weeks!

If you’re ready to begin building the behavior of exercise, get started by clicking HERE!

THE WORST THINGS TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT

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Nutrition is powerful. Depending on timing, amounts of food and combinations of macronutrients, nutrition can either amplify your efforts in the gym or detract from them. Who wouldn’t want to make the most of their food choices to achieve health and fitness goals?

While there’s no doubt that your overall healthy eating plan is essential to the exciting results they expect to see, pre- and post- workout nutrition can further boost those efforts. Adequate hydration, a meal of carbohydrates with some protein and fat in the hours before and immediately after a workout are all common recommendations for sustained energy and increased efforts. These exact recommendations may vary to some extent and should be personalized for each client with the help of a registered dietitian. However, that’s not all clients need to know to properly fuel and refuel for training sessions.

For people just learning about nutrition’s role in an effective training program, it’s important to outline both the foods to eat and the foods to skip. This total picture can help you now and set you up for long-term success.

LOW-CARBOHYDRATE MEALS

Post-workout, one of your biggest goals should be fueling for the next workout. This means replacing stores of glycogen that can be used for energy in training sessions to come. This is where high-quality carbohydrates are a must. Whole-grain breads, crackers and pasta as well as fruits are rich in carbohydrates that are converted by the body into glycogen and stored in the muscles for future energy. You should avoid simple carbohydrates such as high-sugar foods, such as high-sugar protein bars, refined bread products and candy, which can cause blood sugar to spike and crash with few to no nutritional benefits.

CALORIE BOMBS

After a strenuous workout, you may be tempted to indulge in a higher-calorie meal. This may especially be the case if they’ve heard of the “afterburn effect” or post-exercise oxygen consumption, in which the body may continue to burn calories after exercise depending on duration, intensity and a variety of other factors. Not only can excess calorie consumption after a workout erase these possible gains in the short term, it can also set you up for unhealthy diet and exercise habits in the future.

HIGH-FAT FOLLY

As with high-calorie meals, many people often see post-workout as an optimal time to splurge on a higher-fat meal. What they may not realize is the effect that fat has on carbohydrate digestion and, therefore, the replenishment of the all-important glycogen stores. Research indicates that higher amounts of fat actually slow digestion and the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose and glycogen. Less glycogen being replaced post-workout means there will be less available for the next training session.

LONE VEGGIES

This is the only time you may hear health professionals and dietitians suggest skipping vegetables. It’s not because they aren’t low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods that have been shown to help with everything from cancer prevention to a healthy heart and toned body. It is because they lack the basic macro nutritional necessities of a post-workout meal: moderate-to-high carbs with some fat and protein. We suggest you wait a few hours after a workout to go crazy with the vegetables and load up on hunger-curbing fiber and nutrients. Immediately post-workout, you should stick to something that will effectively fuel energy stores.

The majority of this information has been provided by Evolution Nutrition.  You can visit their website at www.evolutionnutrition.com

The Best Thing You Can Do After A Workout

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The most important thing you can do after a workout is refuel*. From a physiological perspective, your body has just undergone a bout of physiological stress. After a weight-training session, your muscles are in a catabolic state, which means muscle protein breakdown is occurring. After a cardio or weight-training session your body also has depleted its glycogen stores, which are the body’s key source for energy during exercise.

*For more information on pre-workout fuel, check out The Two Most Important Things You Can Do Before A Workout.

By making an effort to refuel quickly after a workout, you can maximize your body’s ability to build lean muscle mass, prevent muscle breakdown and restore the cell’s energy reserves. The ideal timeframe for refueling is up to 30 minutes after a workout. These 30 minutes, sometimes referred to as the “anabolic window,” optimizes the body’s use of fuel. Although research has yet to narrow this time frame to an exact minute, it is best to think of your window as insurance. It’s easy to get distracted after a workout, but if you go hours without eating you miss out on the opportunity to prevent muscle breakdown and enhance muscle protein synthesis. Therefore, if you make it a priority to consume something within 30 minutes of completing your exercise session, you can avoid the risk of losing all of the benefits of your training session.

It takes some effort and planning to optimize your training through refueling, but it is well worth it. After all, refueling helps the body recover, which will make your subsequent workouts that much more effective. Recommendations for post workout consumption include a carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1. Essentially, to optimize protein synthesis and restore glycogen, these ratios appear to do the trick. To make your post-workout consumption practical, think about bringing your shake or food with you to the gym or wherever you are training. Whey protein is a great post-workout protein option, as it is rapidly digested and can get into your muscles cells quickly. By keeping it in your gym bag, you can be sure to optimize your training and avoid worrying about when you can get access to food.

Weight Training for Weight Loss

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April 1st, 2015

As a female in the exercise science field for the past 12 years, I have learned a thing or two about the importance of weight training. When the end goal is weight loss (or pretty much any end goal), a weight-training program is a must. 

Let’s get real. Sure, you can cut your calories in half, or spend your morning or evenings doing cardio to lose some pounds, but I can promise you both will not last nor will they give you a healthy looking and functioning body. 

When it comes to weight training for weight loss, it is important to put a few key points out there. First, you will not get BIG from lifting weights. You get “big” from overconsumption of energy (calories), which can be converted into fat or muscle based on the types of foods you eat and the exercise you do. Second, you can lift more than you think—and you should (with the help of a spotter, if necessary). And finally, if weight training is done properly you will likely be sore the day or two after your workouts (especially if you are new to resistance exercise). This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, and it is a normal response to weight training. Be sure to stretch, drink plenty of water and incorporate sound nutrition to help your body recover quickly between workouts. 

Here are five key points to keep in mind while working toward your weight- or fat-loss goals. After all, weight is just a number and doesn’t say a whole lot about your body. I’m 5’2” and weigh about 135 pounds, while my mom is 5’2” and weighs around 113 pounds—the biggest difference is the amount of muscle we each have. Keep that in mind as you work toward your goals. 

1. Lift heavy weights. I have trained a lot of individuals over the years and I cannot tell you how many have sold themselves short. You won’t get results lifting the same weights you’ve been lifting (if you’ve been lifting). You have to go up in weight. Increase weight and you’ll increase your strength and muscle mass. Increase your muscle mass and you’ll increase your metabolic rate. Increase your metabolic rate and you will burn more calories. Burn more calories than you consume and you will lose weight. If you want to lose weight and not look “skinny fat,” you need to lift HEAVY weights.

2. Intensity. You don’t have to spend more than 30 to 45 minutes on your weight workouts. In fact, you could cut this down to 20 minutes. I love training with my powerlifting friends, but I do NOT have the focus or the time to lift weights for more than two hours. The key is to work hard throughout the entire workout, minimizing rest and keeping your heart rate elevated.  

3. I want you to fail. If you want your body to change, you have to push past your comfort zone. You can’t expect results doing the same thing you’ve always done—that’s called insanity, right? So when I say I want you to fail, I mean I want you to have to rest. I want you to not be able to finish that last rep or two, because you picked up the heavier weights. By pushing your body out of its comfort zone, you are forcing it to respond and to change. Your body has to use energy to repair and recover. Make your body work for you, and don’t be afraid to fail.

4. Do supersets and hybrids. A superset involves doing two or more exercises that target the same muscle group, back to back with minimal rest in between. For example, doing a set of 12 heavy squats followed by a set of 12 heavy lunges is a superset. A hybrid involves combining two or more movements into one movement. Combining a squat with a shoulder press or a lunge with a squat followed by a lunge are examples of hybrid exercises. Incorporating these into your weight-training workouts can increase the intensity of your training, which is ideal for losing weight.

5. Circuit Training. Circuit training is a great way to get in multiple exercises. You can focus on your upper body, lower body, or total body, all while keeping the intensity up. Of course, you still want to focus on using heavy weights. Below is a sample total-body, circuit-training workout. Move quickly from exercise to exercise and rest for a minute at the end of each round. Don’t be afraid to rest during a set, recover quickly, and then get back after it. 

Weight training circuit

Exercises:

Squat + Curl

squat and curl

Push Ups

push up

Dumbbell Row + Fly

dumbbell row

dumbbell fly

Bench Step Ups

bench step ups

Lunge + Front Raise

lunge and front raise

Renegade Rows

renegade row

Incline Dumbbell Press

incline bench press

Bench Dips

bench dips

Plank Shoulder Touches

plank shoulder touches

Ultimately, weight-loss occurs due to a combination of factors—sleep, nutrition, mindset and physical activity all play key rolls in initiating and maintaining weight-loss. Be sure to check in with a physician before jumping into a weight-training regimen and don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is the point at which growth and change occur. Aim for three total-body, circuit-training workouts a week. If you decide to split your workouts, try to do two workouts focusing on your upper body, two workouts focusing on your lower body, and one total-body workout per week. Remember, these workouts can be as little as 20 to 30 minutes—the key is keeping the intensity high.