My experience training with a heart rate monitor

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Over the last few years I have read about the benefits of doing Heart Rate (HR) Training and seen an explosion of classes using this method but have yet to try it myself.  After personally using one for about a month, I now see the benefits and wish I had started years ago.

“What gets tracked gets improved!” Business books everywhere are touting the benefits of “Data Analytics”.  If you know and track the data, the results should improve.  The same concept applies to health & fitness whether you are tracking your food or tracking how hard you are working out.  I must admit that I was not  pushing myself as hard as I should have been in my cardio sessions.   Now that I can visually see my heart rate, I’ve been forcing myself to work harder.   Not only am I burning more calories in a shorter period but it is a lot of fun!  It feels like it has turned my workouts into a sort of game.  

 

Results? I think I am seeing results and based on the comments I have heard from other people,  I’d say they are too.  I have to admit, it feels pretty good 🙂

If you want to improve your weight loss or fitness results, our Boot Camp may be just for you.  We have recently invested in Polar Club, a group Heart Rate Training program, and are will be bringing this method of training to our Boot Camps. Want to learn more and see if this is right for you? Then click the button below and schedule a free consultation. I look forward to meeting with you.

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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.

 

Nutrition Strategies and Recipes from Top Health and Fitness Experts

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Nutrition Strategies and Recipes from Top Health and Fitness Experts

February 27, 2015

healthy snack

Have you ever wondered what health and fitness experts eat to fuel their bodies? From breakfast to snacks, and everything in between, top health and fitness experts offer insight into their dietary habits, nutrition tips and favorite healthy recipes.

Breakfast

All our experts agreed that breakfast was the day’s important meal. Bruce Mylrea, vice president of sales for Savvier Fitness, recommends starting the day in the healthiest way possible. “My morning breakfast shake for the Vitamix® takes 3 minutes and is packed with natural nutrients and phytochemicals that offer anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties.”

Bruce Mylrea’s Antioxidant Raw Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

1 handful of organic dark kale
½ organic carrot
2 organic broccoli tops
1 organic Brussels sprout
¼ avocado
1 Tbsp. hemp seeds
1 Tbsp. scoop chia seeds
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1 tsp. organic ginger
¼ cup fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds
¼ cup fresh or frozen mixed organic berries
dash of cinnamon
splash of unsweetened cranberry juice,
splash of unsweetened pomegranate juice
3 cups of filtered water

Blend until smooth.

Keli Roberts, ACE spokesperson and fitness expert based in Pasadena, Calif., starts her day with plain Greek yogurt with teaspoons of ground flax, hulled hempseed, honey, berries and chopped almonds. “Because I love all of the healthy fats,” she says, “the high protein and phytonutrients of these ingredients sustain me for hours, while keeping me healthy.”

When traveling, Roberts often finds herself at the mercy of the hotel or snack bar’s menu, so she travels with oatmeal and toppings. “I mix in ground flax and hulled hempseed, vegan protein powder and ‘Allyouneedislove’ [from australianvitamins.com] green powder. I like it because it’s inexpensive (one less meal to buy on the go) and it’s healthy and satisfying, guaranteeing that I get adequate fiber for the day, too.”

Dominique Adair, R.D., director of Adair Fitness and Nutrition based in New York and Los Angeles, makes her own breakfast staple mix. “My granola travels well without refrigeration and sustains my satiety for hours. It seems like I put everything I like in there, and store it airtight in the fridge until I need small amounts.”

Dominique’s Granola Recipe

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup coconut oil
½ cup alfalfa honey
1 ½ cups small diced dried apricots
1 cup diced dried figs
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup roasted, unsalted cashews
½ cup roasted unsalted walnuts
½ cup roasted unsalted almonds
¼ cup flaxseed meal

Toss the oats, coconut and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour this liquid over the oat mixture and stir until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 x 18 x 1-inch sheet pan. Bake at 350° F, stirring occasionally, until golden brown for about 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool; add dried fruit, nuts and flax seed meal.

When not traveling, Adair’s favorite breakfast includes slow-cooked oatmeal with chopped apples, almonds and a splash of coconut milk. “I add a hard boiled egg or two on the side because I can choose easily if I want the yolk or not. This gives me excellent energy and nutrition, and helps me stay full until my mid-morning snack.”

Snacks

Thinking about snacks in advance unites almost all trainers surveyed. Like Roberts, Mindy Mylrea, international fitness presenter, the 2013 CanFitPro Specialty Presenter of the Year Award, and creator of Tabata® Bootcamp, also carries healthy options when traveling. “My Raw Energy Brownie Bites are an amazing source of energy that I can make and snack on for days when I’m on the road.”

Mindy Mylrea’s Brownie Bites Recipe

2 cups assorted nuts (such as almonds, walnuts or cashews; I don’t recommend peanuts)
2 cups pitted dates
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large scoops cacao powder
2 large scoops raw cacao nibs

In a food processor, grind the nuts first and then add the dates and vanilla. Finish with the cacao. Form into balls and freeze.

Jessica Matthews, assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego, believes that healthy drinks can save time, advocating drinking coconut water (in the shell when possible) between meals and snacks. “It’s great for rehydrating after a really strenuous, sweat-filled boxing workout. Plus, it tastes amazing.”

Pete McCall, owner of PMc Fitness Solutions based in San Diego, Calif., also recommends healthy snacks to maintain satiety and blood sugar levels between meals. He often opts for the protein pack at Starbucks because it has a hard boiled egg, grapes, peanut butter, whole wheat bread and cheese. When that is not available, McCall snacks on red apples and almonds.

Adair’s energy boost is surprisingly simple and ubiquitous. “I love my coffee. Caffeine gives me both mental and physical alertness, which for me is one cup in the morning and one cup at about 4 P.M.”

My favorite snack, which also serves as a meal on many occasions, is first-pressed virgin green Mykonian olive-oil popped blue corn, topped with wild oregano, organic Tumeric, and salt collected from Aegean rocky cliffs and dried on the stove, accompanied by organic (and alcoholic) fermented apple cider.

Dinner

To be sure, a healthy dinner to refuel after a long day of training is important. After leading several outdoor boot camps around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Noel Chelliah, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach, reboots with a home-cooked dinner. “I almost always choose fish as my protein,” he says, “and do pan-fried salmon fillet with sautéed spinach and garlic because it requires minimum preparation time, and I can keep enough in the freezer for a week and prepare each one in ten minutes.”

Steve Feinberg, CEO of Speedballfitness.com based in New York City, also recommends cooking meals for the most amount of control of ingredients. After a typical day of training up to five clients and teaching a minimum of four classes, he makes his own meatballs.

Steve’s Meatball Protein Meal Recipe

Combine:

½ pound grass-fed buffalo meat
1 cup winter organic baby kale
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
¼ cup cottage cheese
Garlic, salt and pepper to taste

Form into balls and sauté in coconut oil on low heat. Serve with a side of additional low-fat cottage cheese and half an avocado. 

To be sure, given the wide variety of nutritional sources and resources these days of what research considers healthy and unhealthy, the information often proves confusing. Just having a peek into the lives of what respected names in the industry actually eat can help us all feel just a bit more ‘normal.’ Or not.


Lawrence Biscontini, M.A., has been a contributor to ACE for blogs and vlogs for many years, and has contributed to several ACE textbooks. He enjoys reading about food, as well as preparing and enjoying different types of foods from around the world. Biscontini is also the author of the cookbook, Meals and Musings, the proceeds of which support his charity. Find Lawrence at www.findLawrence.com.

Activity Monitor Review (Gear Fit)

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SHINY new objects are always exciting! In the world of fitness trackers, I like to look at the latest technology articles, analyzing what’s hot, what’s not, and what I will finally decide worthwhile to put on my wrist where everyone can see. That tracker finally arrived and has been on said wrist for two months now. Here is what I think:

The Samsung Gear Fit is not only a fitness tracker, but a Smart Watch that allows me to receive notifications for whatever apps I choose to be notified for. I have chosen to only be connected to one email account (out of three), Facebook messaging only, and text messages. It would be easy to go overboard and be “connected” to everything.

The Gear Fit is a watch that has the ability light up with the flick of your wrist. In my line of work, that can be counterproductive during public speaking engagements (SHINY objects) but it is a great feature. The size of the watch is also nice for small wrists, but not so small it wouldn’t look just fine on a male as well. It has a pedometer, tracks sleep, heart rate when you tell it to, and you can set it to track your run, cycling, or a specific walk so it determines your speed and distance. Like any other sports watch, there is a timer and stopwatch, but unlike any other, you can also control your media on your phone and there is a panic feature that will dial the emergency number programmed in.

All of these features are a lot of fun to play with! I use the running, pedometer and sleep feature on a fairly regular basis, as well as the notifications from my phone. There is a coach in the run app that tests your heart rate and vibrates on your wrist to tell you…something, but I’m usually too tired to look down at my wrist, so I turned off the coach.

Where I am disappointed is in the actual tracking itself. I do wear another trusted monitor elsewhere with a proven pedometer accuracy and my steps never line up. Some days, the Samsung Gear Fit are way over, some days they are way under. When compared to a tracker specific to running, they are also WAY different.

I am no professional; I just love trackers. The Samsung Gear Fit may not be as accurate as others, but as a lover of trackers, it is definitely a worthwhile option, especially with the added Smart Watch features.

By Jaime Gerving