Make It a Healthy Thanksgiving

Despite the current pandemic, the biggest meal of the year is about to occur. Whether your plans are a lot smaller than in years past or not, the question is, are you ready? The average Thanksgiving dinner has over 2,000 calories. You don’t have to starve yourself or exercise excessively to counteract this monstrous meal. With some smarts and a little willpower, you can eat, drink, and still button your pants when it’s over. Follow these tips to the dinner table and have a healthier Thanksgiving …

Plan Ahead

Before you get to cooking, schedule a workout prior to your big meal. Even a short workout may reduce appetite. Some studies monitored the brain activity associated with appetite. They found a decrease in food interest immediately after exercise.  Don’t take a holiday from your health. Exercise is usually the first thing people won’t make time for. You owe it to make time for yourself. You probably want to spend the day with family and football games and the excessive amount of sitting that occurs with it so make your exercise time count. Be sure to eat a complete breakfast and make time for lunch. Even a light lunch is better than “saving up room.” Always remember to slow down when eating too. When hungry, we often eat faster and dish out larger portions. By eating fast, more food is consumed before the brain registers the stomach’s fullness. Also, alcohol absorbs more quickly into the bloodstream on an empty stomach so drink responsibly.

Choose Wisely

Know everything being offered before you serve yourself. Then, prioritize your favorites as a few splurge choices. You may prefer dark over white meat, yet decide on leaner white slices so you can save a splurge for something that matters more. Serve yourself with a table spoon instead of a serving spoon or ladle. This lets you sample the variety without overeating. Go for the healthiest options first– veggies, garden salads, and lean meats. There will be less room to pile on the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and creamy casseroles. Satisfying your hunger throughout the day prevents gorging on appetizers and pre-meal bread. Leftovers are permissible so stock up on plastic containers to share the wealth of leftovers. Everyone can enjoy a little slice of Thanksgiving in the days that follow. And, no one person is stuck with the burden of a week’s worth of overeating the same foods. 

Get Moving

Many use turkey as an excuse to laze around post-feast. Experts acknowledge turkey contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, popularly cited as a kind of dietary sedative. However, it is not likely the cause of Thanksgiving Day fatigue. Tryptophan‘s sleep effect only occurs on an empty stomach when eaten with no other protein sources. This same amino acid is found in other common foods, like eggs, yet no one claims they have a sedative effect. Perhaps the popular association between turkey and fatigue is a placebo effect. More likely, Thanksgiving fatigue is the outcome of overeating and that extra cocktail. A full stomach requires blood for digestion, which reduces blood flow elsewhere. Big meals, especially those high in carbs and sugar, naturally trigger sleepiness from the effort required to digest.

Seize the Quality Time

Holiday stress, particularly this year, induces fatigue. Instead of sleeping off the effects of food and family, take a walk. Get fresh air and perhaps a fresh perspective on the day, a tense situation, or the meaning of life. An invigorating walk burns off calories and allows time outside the confines of what is likely an over-crowded house. Practice mindfulness so your senses truly come alive this holiday season. Indulge in the moment, notice each breath, and savor every delicious bite.

Wishing all of you a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

Note: See you all again on December 8th for another year of the 12 Days of Fitness

Sifting Through the Fitness Bull#@*%

I’ve been a fitness professional for over 25 years. During that time, I think I’ve seen and heard it all before. But then, something else will come down the line leaving me scratching my head. What I’m talking about is all the lies and deceit that fitness marketing pushes on you, the consumer. Allow me to explain.

The Great Ab Deceit

Abs, short for abdominals, continue to be one of the top reasons someone will start to workout or continue to workout. It’s assumed that if one trains their abdominals hard  and excessively, they will attain the coveted 6 pack. That will never happen. All of the ab programs, DVDs, classes, etc. are nothing more than a pipe dream that will never see the light of day. But they’re sold and presented in such a way that the buyer thinks that this time will be different. This time it will work. Again, that’s a big no. First of all, being able to see the abdominals divided into 6 separate parts has so much more to do with diet than any exercise. Period. Second, it’s a conscientious, consistent, and difficult dietary journey that many people don’t even possess the genetics to make happen. It should never be one’s ultimate goal, just something that potentially, and I mean potentially can occur. And the marketers will continue to lead you otherwise.

The Great Cardio Myth

Cardio, short for cardiovascular, is great exercise. Don’t get me wrong. Cardiovascular exercise works the cardiovascular system, plain and simple. But where that ends is when people are led to believe that it’s the only way to lose unwanted pounds. You see it in the gyms and health clubs where 2/3 of the equipment in there is cardiovascular exercise equipment. In January, they are occupied to the fullest, complete with sign up lists in some places. Again, cardio is good and yes it does burn calories, but no where near the amount that most of those machines are programmed to report. Why do they do that? To keep you engaged and working towards a misguided number. It’s easy to use numbers as a guide, but in the end they rarely correlate with effort..

The High Intensity Faux Pas

If cardio is not effective enough, then higher intensity, HITT for short, must be the way. Not necessarily. HITT is a great side car to an already strong exercise base. Meaning it’s not a great place for a beginner to start. Exercise is a stress and if you are not adapted to the stress of exercise to begin with, HITT can severely hurt you. These HITT programs are sold and marketed as the next best thing and what you’ve been missing. They are good when applied appropriately, not thrown at you as the best way to exercise.

The Spot “Toning”, Spot “Reduction” Fallacy

Toys and gadgets are sold on the promise of delivering quick results to a certain location on the body. Good news: you can spot “target “ a specific muscle or body part. However, that doesn’t mean miraculously the fat layer on top of said muscle disappears. That’s the result of a systemic loss in body fat. When someone says they want to tone, what they’re really saying is that they want the muscle to show and that won’t happen without fat loss occurring systemically. Consequently, you can not work a specific area exclusively and hope to decrease the body fat that is present. It all takes place as an overall effect, not a specific one.

The Nutritional Fiction

I am a fitness professional, not a dietitian, but I would be remiss to not discuss nutrition. The topic of nutrition is probably the biggest source of deceit when it come to exercise success because they are closely associated. Without getting into the semantics of carbs and protein and fats (the macronutrients), I can 100% assure that there are no cleanses, magical foods, detoxes, or super supplements that will answer or correct a poor or even so-so eating pattern. You will continue to be duped and reeled in because that is how the machine works. Sell, sell, sell, and sell more.

The True State of Fitness

It’s all of the outside distractions that take away from something that’s inherently very basic. It’s an annual battle that continues and unfortunately will continue leading more and more into a state of confusion and craving the next best thing. The message has never changed – you need to exercise in whatever form you enjoy. You just need to do it. You need to be mindful of not only what you eat but how much you eat. If it’s off, it’s easy to blame it on something out of your control. The thing is, you always have control. You just need to find what works best for you, not others. Nothing, and I mean nothing will ever replace hard work done honestly and consistently. If you’re capable of those two things, you can never be disappointed.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Getting Back to Normalcy

During these trying times we often talk about when things will return to normal. Thing is, nobody really knows if and when that is. What we can agree on however is that life goes on. We must continue on with our lives the best we can. While this temporary wrinkle to our “normal” lives exist, more and more opportunities present themselves as a return to “normal.” For one, fitness is and needs to be a part of our lives. Besides the many proven benefits of fitness, making fitness a regular part of your life has been shown to be one of the top combatants to this ruthless pandemic. But finding a way to get and stay fit comes with its own issues and question marks.

Getting Back to the Gym

Here in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country., most gyms and fitness centers were given the green light to reopen in June. Each situation has its own limits and restrictions but nonetheless customers were permitted to pick up their fitness routines back inside the gyms where they had been committed. So, whether you are back in the gym or are thinking about going back, here are a few things to consider:

  • Learn more about what your club has done during the closure and what policies have been put in place for your safety, as well as the safety of its employees. You can generally find this information on the club’s website or social media channels; if it’s not there, make a phone call or arrange a face-to-face visit and ask about.
  • What deep cleaning took place during closures and the new cleaning and disinfecting policies that will be in place (e.g., what products are they using, how often areas are cleaned, who is responsible for the cleaning)
  • Capacity limits and if reservations are needed for the gym as a whole or the specific area where you plan to spend your time (e.g., group fitness studio, weight room floor, functional area, cardio equipment). Try to schedule your workouts during slow times if possible.
  • What entry policies are in place for employees and exercisers to help decrease the spread of the virus (e.g., temperature scans, daily health questionnaires, signs and symptoms, tracking of those using the building at the same time in case a member reports being diagnosed after exercising on site)
  • How policies for staff and patrons will be enforced.
  • What are their mask policies? Most places still require a mask be worn at all times, particularly if you are someone with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions.

Being able to clearly answer these questions is a positive sign that your gym or health club has done its due diligence, but you’ll still want to proceed with caution. On your first day back, carefully observe staff and patron behavior to see if what is proposed aligns with the club’s day-to-day reality. The less time you spend in the gym, the less exposure you will have, so get in and get out.

Alternatives to Working Out in the Gym

If you are uncertain about returning, have underlying health conditions, worry about being in frequent contact with others who are at high(er) risk whom you could possibly affect, take your time in returning. Keep in mind, there are other ways to get moving! It has never been easier to find at-home exercise options, whether it’s walking in your neighborhood, riding a bike, using an exercise app, training virtually with a fitness professional, or taking video-on-demand or live-streaming classes.

Everything comes down to a choice so always exercise good judgment and do what’s right for you.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Virtual Fitness: Is This the New Way of Fitness for the 21st Century?

2020 has been quite the year and we’re not even done yet. The days simply seem to run together as we keep looking for hope and answers. If you’ve been counting, it’s been about 5 months. That’s quite a bit of time to do something, anything with the time you’ve been given. Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to do something positive for yourself and for those important to you. For me, both personally and professionally, I’ve made the best of the time given to me, some planned, some not so much.

COVID-19 Effects on the Fitness Industry

Back in March, we were told to close down for two weeks. Two weeks became two more weeks, then a month, and then two months. For my brethren in the fitness industry, it was hard to take. Gyms were asked to close. Studios were asked to close. If you made a living teaching fitness classes or training those in the gym, you were quickly unemployed. Nobody knew for how long and as a result a lot of fitness businesses closed their doors permanently. On a personal level, I was devastated. Not because it personally affected me, but fitness has always been touted as one of the best things to have when combatting this virus. And I am a huge proponent of fitness. To simply deny people the ability to exercise seemed counterintuitive. Then came the onslaught of sales for home exercise equipment that depleted quickly with no signs of a return. No gyms, no equipment, and no hope if you didn’t have an alternative. But then, an opportunity for me professionally became apparent through all of this that has been going extremely well today, and hopefully for the foreseeable future.

The World of Virtual Training

I’ve been extremely fortunate. My business saw very little drop off and has actually grown in the worst possible environment I could be dealt. And why? Because of the trust and loyalty of my clients, I was able to venture into the world of virtual training. Virtual training is working with someone live, but digitally through an existing platform. I’m there, just not physically. Now I’ll be honest. Training “on-line” was something I had been looking into for several months prior to our shutdown. I prefer and would much rather be in the physical presence of working with a client. But it has opened a gateway for me professionally that had COVID-19 not happened, I still might not have explored. By training clients virtually, I’ve been able to run “business as usual” – which is good for me and excellent for my clients. For my clients, it’s an opportunity for them to continue to stay up with their fitness and alleviate any fears of potentially spreading of the virus. 

The Pros and Cons

Virtual training has opened the door for me to work with clients perhaps I may have never had the opportunity to work with in person. I now have the capacity to train anyone, anywhere in the world. But what are the benefits to the client? For one, especially during this pandemic, they’ve been able to stay with their fitness goals. I’m still involved in their journey, albeit just not physically. Two, they also have more flexibility with their scheduling with me. There’s never an excuse to miss a workout now – I’ll be there in a sec. Some of the downside? You have to be able to have some exercise equipment. If you were caught empty handed when the pandemic hit, your best chance of securing fitness equipment came from others potentially selling their own. I’m a huge proponent of body weight training, but unfortunately most can not rely on simple body weight training as their only mode of exercise. The biggest one however is having a strong and secure internet connection. Now I’m not going to lie. In my house, due to a teacher and student also needing an internet connection, there were three of us at any given time and our signal never timed out. But it is a possibility and one that can put a real damper on a session. 

Virtual training is different, yes, but the only true difference is me not physically being present. I’m still extremely capable of guiding clients through their workouts and making any of the adaptations required. In the end, virtual training isn’t for everyone and that’s ok. It’s an option to consider and one that is just as effective as me being in the physical presence. If you’d like more information or would like to give virtual training a try, just shoot me an email. Together, we can turn a pandemic into a positive.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

A Client Success Story

For those of you who have known me and followed me over the years know that not only am I fitness professional but a very passionate one. You see, fitness to me is a way of life. I’ve just been fortunate enough to make a career out of it. Most view fitness as a side activity, one that either fits into their lives or it doesn’t. I take a great deal of pride and education for myself in helping people to understand the positives that fitness can have on their lives. I don’t always have followers but that’s why I continue on. I want to share with you today a story of a client who has done all those things – made fitness a priority in her life; continued to follow my guidance; took all the positives along with the negatives and turned out to become the best version of herself.

How We Started

Tricia and I first met about 12 years ago when I worked at Pottstown Health Club. She had been working with one of my trainers and it was brought to my attention that I might be better suited to help her. Tricia had a “nagging” forearm issue of sorts that we later determined was the result of carrying heavy bags (computer, handbags). With a successful evaluation and treatment plan, Tricia’s arm got better and shall we say, the rest is history. Tricia has been a personal client since then and stuck with me through the gym closing and venturing out on my own. Stories like you’re about to hear are one of the many reasons why I do what I do, why I love what I do, and where my passion for all things fitness comes from. What better way than for you to hear this story other than from Tricia herself.

Her Story

I’ve always been athletic; a tomboy most of my life.  As a kid, I played baseball and football with the boys in the neighborhood.  I played field hockey and lacrosse in high school until knee issues sidelined me during my senior year.  Since then I’ve had a total of 5 surgeries on both of knees.  Ultimately, I will need a full knee replacement, so I have learned to manage the issues and pain since I was 17.  Having a chronic injury like that impacted my participation in sports, as well as working out.  This led to weight gain, which is not good for anyone, but for me with my knee issues, it was worse because I found it even harder to work out or even move.  That’s when I decided to take control and lose weight.  Another motivator was that I was engaged and wanted to look my best for the wedding. I joined Weight Watchers, as I knew I needed to be accountable to someone other than myself in the weight loss journey.  I lost 30 pounds and was very proud of myself.  I focused mostly on my nutrition but was working out a little as well. 

After the wedding, a few of my work friends started working out together at a gym close to the office.  Within a year, I was at my most fit and felt great.  I really enjoyed working out with my friends (never thought I would be a “gym rat” but I was there a lot). Then life happened.  I began traveling a lot with work and was not home a lot.  Because I was working out so much, I had a lot more “flexibility” in my diet.  When you stop working out consistently and continue to eat the same “flexible” way, a not-so-funny thing happens; you gain weight.  I did work out while I was traveling.  I found I had less excuses to NOT work out when I wasn’t home.  It helped that most of my work travel mates were working out in the hotel gyms, so if I brought my workout gear, and told my colleagues I was going to work out. I was accountable to them.  So, I tended to work out more when traveling then when I was home, but eating more than I should have, and maybe drinking more.  Because of my travel schedule, as well as losing most of my workout buddies (started families, changed jobs, moved) I canceled my gym membership. 

My husband and I decided to join Pottstown Health Club together.  I was using the cardio equipment and taking classes.  It had been a while since I spent time in a proper gym, so felt like I needed to work with a trainer; also felt like I needed someone to be accountable to again.  I had started working out with Cathy but then I met Jeff. He created a workout for me that allowed me to continue my momentum despite my injury.  I have continued to work with him since.

Fast forward a couple of years to the week I turned 40.  That seemed to be the year I hit the wall; it felt like I hit the wall, bounced off, then got run over by a truck, got up, and then fell face first into a vat of molasses.  I’ve felt stuck for the past 8 years. The week I turned 40 my back spasmed.  I never had any back issues until that week.  I spent most of that week in bed trying to recover from that until Jeff had recommended massage therapy.  In March of my 40th year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Luckily it was caught very early, but a lumpectomy and 7 weeks of radiation were necessary.  Oh, and you can’t forget the 5 years of Tamoxifen.  Through my recovery, it was difficult to bounce back into a healthy, fit lifestyle.  It’s been nearly 9 years, but I found my way.  My health journey has one consistent factor…accountability.  And today is no different.  I got a sinus infection in January and visited the local urgent care.  They take your temp, blood pressure and weigh you before seeing the doctor.  As you leave, they provide a synopsis of your visit, including an evaluation of your weight.  I rarely read that information, but for some reason I did after that visit.  Based on their information, I was considered OBESE.  I knew I was heavy, but to see that word in my “chart” was eye-opening. 

Jeff and I talk about accountability a lot, and why it is so hard for people to be accountable to themselves.  I think it took the word OBESE and the quarantine to finally get me to be accountable to myself.  I also know that I do not want to start my 50’s feeling the way I have for most of my 40’s. I’ve taken advantage of the time that I’m home to take care of ME.  I’ve been using my normal “commute” time to work out.  At 6:00AM I ride my Peloton for 20 minutes (that’s my normal commute time).  Again at 5:00PM, I’m on my bike for another 30-45 minutes.  I’m also eating clean and healthy; tracking everything I eat (using Weight Watchers again).  I am feeling great!  I have a lot more energy and just overall feel better.  My approach to the quarantine has been one of taking care of me.  Since I am not traveling (which has been a major excuse for not always eating healthy or working out) I really have no excuses to NOT take care of me.  If I’m not going to do it now, I’m never going to take responsibility for myself. 

My husband is benefitting from it as well.  His pants are a little looser too.  And I just hit 40 pounds lost!!  I am at the same weight I was when I got married 18 years ago.  The journey has not been easy.  As much as it is about eating healthy and implementing a fitness routine, it is also about psychology.  I’ve found that without feeling accountable to myself I would self-sabotage.  It was a viscous cycle.  It is a little crazy that it took the word obese and a quarantine to set me straight.

Tricia – a living example of what it means to train smart, eat well, and be better!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

Why Sleep Should Be Taken Seriously

As we continue in these days of uncertainty, we must strive to stay positive and find a silver lining. For me, I had the unusual opportunity to attend not one, but two online seminars just over a week ago. And the best part? They were free! Unfortunately, both had been set up to be live events but due to the current situation made good on their promise to deliver and went online instead. Now to most people, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when you consider most multi day conferences run anywhere from $300-$500, I call that a win. I wanted to share with you though the one conference that I know you would find the most valuable and interesting and that was the one on sleep and recovery.

Sleep Needs a Bigger Priority

One thing I’m sure most would agree on is that we need more sleep. Our lives have become this constant state of go and while most would complain about being tired or drained, the cycle seems to repeat endlessly. Have you ever noticed the amount of “energy” products that exist in the marketplace? While it appears to be highly unlikely to return to a time when we awoke at sunrise and were asleep by dark, we have to adapt or it can certainly kill us. Insufficient sleep is a public health concern.

Sleep Loss and Deprivation

There are many factors that contribute to insufficient or poor sleep, such as hormones and psychological factors, but the reality is with some focus and concentration on making sleep a priority, we have the ability to improve it. Lifestyle changes such as choosing to go to bed at the same time everyday, turning off all electronics 1 hour before going to bed, and either adopting a meditation or breathing regime can go a long way. You simply can’t afford to not improve your sleep and following are 10 reasons why.

What Poor Sleep is Costing You

  1. Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight. People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to develop obesity, respectively.
  2. Poor sleepers tend to eat more calories. Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
  3. Poor sleep causes poor concentration and productivity. Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation.
  4. Poor sleep can negatively affect athletic performance. Less sleep duration has been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation.
  5. Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.Sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors.These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease.
  6. Poor sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk. In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population.
  7. Poor sleep is linked to depression. Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. It’s been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.
  8. Poor sleep decreases your immune function. Not the best thing to hear during these times. Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.
  9. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation. Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body. In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel disease.
  10. Poor sleep affects emotions and social interactions. Believe it or not, sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially. Kind of like the reason for being a moody monkey. Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.

The bottom line: along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

5 Ways to Stop Overeating

Overeating is easy to do, especially during this time of being recommended to stay home. It’s also easy because there are many factors that cause us to overeat, including stress and noshing too fast—both of which we likely experience or do on an almost daily basis. Fortunately, there are many tactics you can use to stop overeating once and for all, from slowing down to learning your body’s hunger cues. Use these tips and strategies to get your eating on track so you can feel fueled and satiated instead of full and frustrated and not putting on what has come to be known as the Covid-15.

Plan Ahead

This is a great tactic even when life is “normal”. Out of sight, out of mind, meaning if it’s not in the house in the first place the chance of eating it is lower. If you’re surrounded by unhealthy food all the time, it can be easy to eat all day long, whether or not you are hungry. Here’s one way to avoid this temptation: Think about how you’ll feel after you eat too much—like those times when you know you’re full, but there’s still food on your plate. A similarly powerful tactic is thinking about how you’ll feel if you don’t eat the food. In almost every case you feel proud, happy and more satisfied than if you’d indulged unnecessarily. Strategy: Before you grab that muffin in your kitchen—especially if you’ve already had a full breakfast—think to yourself: How will I feel when I finish this? Better yet: How will I feel if I walk away right now? Make this a habit, doing it every time you reach for an unnecessary snack; sometimes you’ll want to indulge and that’s okay. But you may find that you say “no” a lot more often than you say “yes.”

Eat Slower

It takes time for your stomach to tell your mind that you’re full because the process of feeling satiated takes time. The stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as it fills with food or water. These signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve that connects gut and brainstem. This process of sending signals from your gut to your brain can take anywhere from five to twenty minutes, which is why it’s important to eat more slowly. Eating too fast is a surefire way to overeat because we get this cue well after we’ve already eaten too much.  Strategy: The next time you eat, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how long it takes you to feel full, paying close attention to the cues your body is sending you. This will give you an approximation of how long it takes your body to feel full, which you can use to stop overeating in the future. Continue eating slowly until you notice that “I’m full” feeling. 

Eat Mindfully

In our on-the-go world, we’re often eating breakfast in the car, rushing through lunch at our desk, and half-heartedly chowing down on dinner while watching our favorites shows. In all of these situations, your focus isn’t on the food you’re eating. It’s on driving, working or watching television, which can lead to overeating. When you’re not paying attention to your body, it’s easy to miss the “I’m hungry” cue—just like when you eat too fast. Strategy: Make a rule to eat at least one meal a day without doing anything else. Notice the difference in recognizing your satiation (feeling full) cues and how satisfied you are. Slowly increase this to two meals each day and eventually to all three.

Give Yourself Time

How many times have you looked down at your plate, knowing that you’re full, and finished it anyway? When you’re done, you feel full and mad at yourself: “Why did I eat the rest of that? I didn’t need it and now I feel like crap”. It’s hard to resist food in the moment, thanks to our need for instant gratification. But giving yourself time to decide whether or not to finish the plate may be exactly what you need. Strategy:  The next time you’re in a moment where you would normally eat more, but know you shouldn’t, stop for 10 minutes. Give yourself time to decide if you want to eat the rest of the food on your plate. Almost every time, you’ll be happy to toss or save the rest of the food when your 10 minutes is up.

Pay Attention to All Your Hunger Cues

If you’re waiting for your stomach to growl, you may be setting yourself up to overeat, because we don’t all experience the same hunger cues. Sometimes it shows up as a headache or a bad mood that comes on suddenly. Knowing how hunger can show up in your body is key to recognizing it before it’s too late and you’re starving. Other potential hunger signals include:

  • Growling stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Low energy
  • Suddenly irritable (“hangry”)

Strategy: Make note of which hunger cues you experience each time you eat. Slowly you’ll discover what means “I’m hungry” for your body, allowing you to eat right away rather than waiting until later, when you’re ravenous, and therefore more likely to overeat.

Overeating, just like overtraining, is a behavioral choice, knowingly or unknowingly. By creating awareness and developing a strategy that is unique to you, meaning you find what works best for you, and implement it is the key to your success. These are just some of the more sensible strategies you can try, but in the end, you’re just looking to create a lifelong habit.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

How Fast Does Fitness Dissipate?

We are currently living in some very challenging, different times. You can’t go to visit family or friends. You can’t travel and going to the store is a task within itself. Most can’t go to work either because the business had to shut down or their work was considered to be “ non-essential”. All of this from a vicious virus that has spread not only continentally, but globally. And if fitness is a part of who you are, that too has been stripped from you. Gyms, fitness centers, studios, and whatever else fitness gatherings that we have taken for granted are closed. What is one to do? More on that in just a bit. A bigger concern is what happens to the fitness we have all worked so hard to build and/or maintain if all of the sudden it stops!

The News is Not So Bad

First, it’s important to remember that taking time off now and again is a good thing. Any good workout program includes a heck of a lot of rest days, especially if the exercise is very intense. And there are benefits to both “active recovery” and complete rest. Exercise inflicts a degree of stress on your body. Generally speaking, if you’ve been working out several times a week for more than a year, your muscle memory is solid. When it comes to fitness, we’ve all heard the saying “Use It or Lose It”. While it’s true that when you stop exercising you lose fitness, how quickly you lose it depends on several factors, including how fit you are, how long you have been exercising and how long you stop. Losing fitness when you stop working out, also called detraining or deconditioning, is one of the key principles of conditioning. The principle of use/disuse simply means that when we stop exercising, we generally begin to decondition and lose both strength and aerobic fitness. Most of us need to stop exercising on occasion for any number of reasons. Illness, injury, holidays, work, travel, and social commitments often interfere with training routines. When this happens, we will often see a decline in our level of conditioning. That being said, the better in shape you are, the minimal that is lost. A few weeks, ok; a month, a little bit more; a month or two more and you’ll see and feel a drop in both muscular strength and cardio fitness. Here are some of the general guidelines to how we lose fitness.

Strength Loss

  • For most people, strength loss occurs after two to three weeks of inactivity, but that can vary.  A 2017 study showed that men who did resistance training held on to muscle strength after a two-week break. But a 2013  study showed that athletes will start to lose muscle strength after three weeks without a workout. 
  • The more muscle you have, the more you stand to lose. A 2015 study found that active young adults lost one-third of their leg strength after just two weeks of inactivity.

Cardio Loss

  • Sadly, we lose this kind of conditioning a little more quickly than we lose strength.
  • An older, but a landmark 1984 study showed that after 12 days of inactivity, VO2 max dropped by 7 percent and enzymes in the blood associated with endurance performance decreased by 50 percent. 
  • A 1993 study of endurance cyclists found that four weeks of inactivity resulted in a 20 percent decrease of their VO2 max, which measures a person’s maximum capacity to take in, transport, and use oxygen during exercise.
  • The really good news is that while your cardio conditioning does fall faster than your strength, it’s easier to regain.

Other Factors

Consistency is key for building new habits, and it’s as true for the body as it is for the mind: If your body hasn’t been enjoying exercise for long, it can be easier to lose the progress you’ve made. While your fitness level is key to how quickly you get back to your fitness baseline, a few other variables also come into play.

  • A 2000 study found that age plays a role in bounce-back time. Among 41 study participants who were either 20 to 30 years old or 65 to 75 years old, the older people lost strength almost twice as fast as the younger people during a six-month “detraining” period.
  • Children have a serious advantage. A 2018 study found that 10- to 13-year-olds were able to hang on to fitness gains after four weeks of detraining. 

How to Make the Most of Your Time in Quarantine

1. Go for a walk. Indeed, training a little will do a much better job of maintaining your gains than totally stopping, especially if you’re able to squeeze in the odd cardio session that’ll train you at the upper end of your intensity level.

2. Incorporate some resistance training. If you have some equipment, great, but it’s not necessary. Do some body weight training exercises like push ups or squats. For the really inclined, do a four-minute Tabata session (or two) that will make a huge difference in maintaining your strength.

3. Hire a coach. No one thinks they need a coach until they need one. Technology today, especially in today’s era of “social distancing”, makes it easier to reach people in every corner of the world right from where you are currently.

3. Eat well. Exercise helps control junk food cravings, so you may need to try harder to avoid less-healthy foods while you’re not working out. Get lots of protein, healthy fats, and low-GI carbs, and your body will thank you. Eating well will help you avoid any weight gain, which would make restarting fitness all the more challenging.

When this is all over, and believe me, it will end, the gym will be right there waiting for you when you’re ready for it, but for now, do what you can and do what makes you happy. Until then, stay safe and stay well.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Fitness Tidbits From One of the Best

In today’s post I wanted to share with you some of the musings from someone whom I consider to be one of the best in the business, Thomas Plummer. Mr. Plummer is a veteran in the fitness industry as both a trainer and business consultant for over 30 years. In July of 2019, I finally had the privilege of seeing Mr. Plummer for the first time in 25 years  at two sessions at the 2019 NSCA National Conference. I also got to speak with him personally at the hotel gift shop. As an astute follower of Mr. Plummer’s knowledge, I can tell you he shoots straight from the heart in telling the truth that most weak minded people would find insulting or offensive. I’ll let you decide for yourself as I share with you some of his clippings from recent posts/articles and see if you agree.

A Training Client’s Code Of Responsibility

  • I will find a coach whom I trust and stick to the plan. I will not try and outthink my trained professional.
  • I will accept who I am now and not try to be the person I was physically 20 years ago.
  • I understand that no matter how many times a week I go to the gym, there is no magic workout that will overcome a lousy lifestyle. If I want big change, I have to make big change, in not only how I approach fitness, but how I live too.
  • I will always remember that there will be days when I just don’t feel like it and even the act of just showing up and getting it done is far superior to doing nothing at all.
  • Good coaches lead but aren’t magicians. I still have to do the work if I want the change. My fitness is my responsibility.
  • I understand that the ultimate goal of any fitness plan is the quality of life. Looking good is nice, but living healthy and feeling great is everything in life and fitness.
  • I realize that about 99% of all the garbage on FB and YouTube may not be true and I will trust my coach instead of the magic exercise or supplement of the week.
  • I will not lie to my coach about food, or wine, or what I ate Sunday watching the game. And no matter what I say, I realize my body can’t lie and what i ate is what I wore in today so I might as well as write it all down.
  • My goal is to get to the point where I understand that fitness is motion, and motion is life, and the best day of my life is when I just go out for a long walk for the simple pleasure of moving that day.
  • I will understand that my coach is a professional, the same as everyone else who supports me in life, such as my doctor, accountant or chiropractor, and that I understand he or she needs to get paid decent money for putting up with my nonsense every week.

Things to Ask and Ponder Yourself

  • Why don’t you fight back?
  • When did you quit on yourself physically?
  • What day did you decide it is no longer worth taking care of your body?
  • If you are in your 30s and not happy with your body now, but not doing anything about it, what kind of health and body will you have ten years from now?
  • Isn’t being there to watch your kids grow up important enough to get you to move?
  • Is hanging on the back of the shopping cart because you are too lazy to stand up and walk the life you want?
  • Are bad food choices worth dying early?
  • Do you really want to spend your years watching others live full and active lives while you sit and do nothing but make excuses?
  • Do you use the time excuse when you spend hours a day staring at screens?
  • Do you use the money excuse when you could at least walk and hour a day and change your life?
  • Do you blame not knowing when you could hire a coach for only an hour a month if you don’t have much money to start you in motion?
  • If not now, then when?
  • When will you realize your life and how you live it is your choice?

Age is Not an Excuse

  • You choose your age.
  • You define your own age by the choices you make each day as to how you will live.
  • You can be in your 50s and choose to live as 35.
  • You can chase fitness and healthy food and have a body that screams 35.
  • You can jump rope, chase the grandkids, run on the beach, and love the one you love.
  • Or you can ignore your health, tell yourself 50 is getting older and you are slowing down, watch television for four hours a day, wear frumpy old lady clothes, wear the same hairstyle you did in high school and be 50 doing everything you can do to be 65.
  • You can be the 40-year-old guy with the too-much-time-at-a-desk forward head lean thing going on with the muscle-free rounded shoulders, old dude pleated pants to hide the belly (it doesn’t) and ignore that your choice of lifestyle is killing you, or you can fight back, join a gym, get a coach and turn back the clock to a mentality and body that says 30, not 40 looking a bad 60.
  • You can move, eat better, dress better, and realize age is just a condition of your mind and you choose to be the youngest version of yourself possible or you choose to live 20 years past your time.

The Choice is Yours

  • You choose to sit, others choose to move.
  • Most of the diseases of aging are self-inflicted and we know they are coming
  • You refuse to exercise, you are a self-inflicted statistic in the making…and you do know it is coming your way.
  • You just didn’t wake up some morning, stand in front of a mirror naked and realized, “how the hell did this happen to me? I look like a bad clay project done by a bunch of four-year-old drunks.”
  • You became that nasty artwork in the mirror by choice, by one lazy day at a time, by one donut as a snack, by too much, too much of everything bad for too long.
  • But today, if you choose, you can turn back the clock.

Best Wishes to Everyone

  • May you always keep your shoulders one inch wider than your hips.
  • May you always have a butt that only needs one chair. One butt, one seat; that is a basic rule of life.
  • May you always remember that if you are wearing it, then you ate it and if it is on the hips it came through the lips.
  • May you always remember that lying to your coach, and yourself, in your food journal helps no one. Entering one glass of wine, but drinking one bottle, does make it difficult to help you lose weight, although you might be fun to hang out with.
  • May you always have a belt buckle that points east and west, not mostly to the south.
  • May you always remember that hardcore purists die alone in the dark without friends. Being 90% good equals a life of health and friends.
  • May you always remember that the best day you will ever have in life is today. Doesn’t matter who you use to be. Doesn’t matter who you will be. Does matter who you are today.
  • May you always remember that your kids, family and friends are worth a few hours a day without your phone in your hand.
  • May you learn whomever wrote, “He who dies with the most toys wins” was wrong. He should have said, “He who dies with most experiences wins.” Life is about what you do and how you live, not about what you own.
  • May you always remember that not trying at all is worse than actual failure. Not trying because you don’t know where to begin is a lie you tell yourself because you are lazy. Do something, even if it is wrong, and keep moving forward. You can fix a mistake moving forward, you can’t ever fix doing nothing.
  • Always remember that even one small act of kindness changes someone else’s life, and maybe your own soul. Petty people who are continually angry are the people the world can do without. If you are one of those, grow up in 2020. Your friends and family will be grateful.
  • Always remember that no matter how bad your day is, somewhere in the world are people who don’t have fresh water, enough food or the simple safety we assume to be part of life. Even when life is tough, you should still be grateful for your life.

Learn the Power of Saying NO

  • Say no to drainers of life who expect you to carry their load.
  • Say no to anyone who wants your time and energy but gives nothing back.
  • Say no to taking on so many projects your own life and business hurts.
  • Say no to your television and get a life today.
  • Tell your phone you are breaking up and today I can’t scroll with you.
  • Say no to toxic people who do everything they can to keep you from succeeding.
  • World, today the answer is no to you, but for me, I am all about yes.
  • My life is short. I will only spend time with the ones I love or the ones who inspire.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

What Does it Mean to “Eat Right”?

Eat right and exercise – the generic plan for most who embark on the journey to getting better, healthier. At the turn of the New Year, it was the promise or resolution made by many. Now at almost half way through only the second month of the year, did they ever clearly know what it meant? Exercise is easy, right? Join a gym or a program, start running, or use the exercise equipment received over the holidays. But eat right right? What does that even mean?

Misinformation

Eating right has got to mean eating more fruits and vegetables and I think most would agree. No one has gained weight from overeating vegetables or fruit. But wait! I thought fruit was dangerous from the sugar. Hold on. Proof number one of the dietary myths that permeate the landscape. Fruit in and of itself is nature’s candy sweetened by a substance known as fructose. However, in the presence of the fiber and water that accompanies fruit that is consumed should offset the “fear” of eating fruit for its sugar content. Fruit juice on the other hand is simply sugar flavored water, no where near the same thing. While most would agree consuming more fruits and vegetables is a good start, I would question where or how they actually increase consumption of the two. Potatoes are not a vegetable. They are a starch. Corn is the same thing. A starch is defined as a type of carbohydrate, or more specifically a complex carbohydrate, since it is made up of long chains of sugar molecules. Other sources are peas, beans, pasta, rice and grains. No vegetables here. What about the dangers of carbohydrates? Proof number two of bad dietary myths. Carbohydrate is an essential macronutrient to our living, functioning bodies. A small, small percentage of the population has to control and monitor their carbohydrate consumption due to its effects on their blood sugar. For most of us, carbohydrate presents no reason to avoid it like the plague. Its gross popularity has grown from the simple fact that we consume way too much food in general, not just carbohydrate. Carbohydrate gets its undeserved reputation because it’s in more than 70% of all food consumed. Eliminate or drastically drop how much carbohydrate you consume and of course changes are going to occur. You do the math! What about meats and proteins? Everything from grass-fed, to antibiotic, cage free, wild caught, sustainable, etc. has created a big furor of, “What the hell am I supposed to eat?”. These terms are only meant to describe how the animal is treated and/or harvested. Says nothing about a protein being good or bad. Protein is another important macronutrient to the body and vitally important because our bodies don’t manufacture protein on its own, a component to all living tissues and cells.So my question again is, do people really know what it means to eat right?

A General Consensus

Most of us will eat the way we were raised; what we learned from our parents. Food science has changed a little bit, but not that much. Fat, protein, and carbohydrate are essentially the same thing we knew them to be over 100 years ago. We have a better understanding of how we react to certain macronutrients but in small percentages, not the vast population that marketers and the pseudoscience would have you believe. Nutrition is a very individual concept. What works for others may or may not work for you. As frustrating as that may seem, you have to go with what works for you and no one or no diet may have the answer for you. Not overeating is a great start and if you think you don’t overeat, I would suggest examining closer just how much you consume. Quantity and quality of food are very different. Cut down on the amount of everything you consume and instead focus on quality of the food you consume (less processed, less dining out, etc.) and you’ll be on a better way to eating right.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Train Smart. Eat Well. Be Better.

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