Tag Archives: exercise

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.

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.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes, medically known as diabetes mellitus, refers to a group of conditions that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems. So what are the types of diabetes and why is it important to avoid, if possible, this metabolic disease?

Types of Diabetes

There are four classifications of diabetes: Type 1 (juvenile diabetes); Type 2 (formerly known as adult onset diabetes – more on that later; Prediabetes (an attempt by the drug companies to push more medication); Gestational (occurs during pregnancy). Of the four, gestational diabetes of course only affects women and is generally resolved after the baby is delivered. Those with Type 1 diabetes are born with the condition, usually genetic, and do not make enough or too little insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose. For the rest of their lives, they are subjected to regular injections of insulin. As previously mentioned, Type 2 diabetes, formerly referred to as adult onset diabetes, is rampantly affecting a much younger population. Where Type 1 diabetes can be classified as a genetic, possibly susceptibility disease, Type 2 is classified as a lifestyle, environmental disease. (I.e. it can be avoided). Prediabetes, introduced first by the ADA (American Diabetics Association), is a fabricated state if you will, determining whether someone has a high susceptibility to becoming Type 2 diabetic. If the blood sugar concentration is between 100-125 mg/Dl (normal is considered 70-99 mg/Dl), they are classified as pre-diabetic. When you examine the proximity of the normal versus prediabetic ranges, about 85% of the population could be classified as prediabetic! A prediabetic diagnosis is a yellow flag that changes need to be made, which should not include medication which is generally prescribed.

The Best Treatment

Unfortunately for the Type 1 diabetic, there is no treatment, only management. Drugs are sometimes prescribed as a precaution to keep the patient from developing Type 2 diabetes. But the same non-drug treatments that a Type 1 diabetic should follow is the same prescription for the Type 2 diabetic – plenty of exercise, moderation of the diet, and monitoring of their weight. Someone diagnosed as being prediabetic is a wake up call to “get your ass” moving. Most will claim to exercise but believe me, it’s not enough. They’ve reached the point where exercise has to become something they do daily, not just here or there or when they feel like it. Exercise comes down to one simple function: muscles move, they require glucose. If high blood sugar levels are detected, movement is a simple, pain free, drug free method of keeping it in check. Monitoring the diet goes without saying. Ingesting a bunch of simple sugar is not a good idea and it’s what has caused the great fear of sugar. Sugar is not bad or evil. Added sugar is and it’s everywhere. Eating fruit isn’t an issue as when you eat fruit you’re also eating the fiber with the fruit. Strip it down to just fruit juice and we’ve got a problem. Extra weight, which is one of the top precursors to developing Type 2 diabetes, should and can be controlled by doing the other two. With extra weight comes an increased resistance to insulin. Overtime, it progresses to the point where insulin no longer works. So, what’s the inherent dangers of becoming diabetic?

The Dangers of Diabetes

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death. Bad news is that it’s on the rise because an increasingly growing number of individuals do not take good enough care of themselves. But just in case you needed the motivation, following are increased risks of a diabetic diagnosis:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Eye damage (retinopathy)
  • Foot damage
  • Skin disorders
  • Hearing impairment
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease

If you’re not a Type 1 diabetic, the good news is that you have a 100% chance of changing it all for the better. If your doctor tells you your blood sugar is higher than he or she is comfortable with, let them know that that’s the last time you’ll ever hear them say that to you again.

 

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

 

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

As a fitness professional, it is my job to not only work with people but educate them on the how, why, and what about fitness. In my 25 years of being a fitness professional I think I’ve heard and seen it all. Every once and a while something will surface that gets a lot of press and notoriety that people take for gospel. Most times, it’s something that was bad news in the past that’s just been repackaged to look new and sound better. It’s not. So here I’ve put together 5 of the top fitness/training myths that continue to pop up from time to time and ruin most people’s journey to optimum health and fitness.

  1. You have to confuse your muscles. If you’ve ever bought into the hype about muscles getting confused (P90X people), pay attention. This idea of “muscle confusion” was fabricated by some clever fitness marketing gurus eager to sell their products. Simply put, muscle confusion states that you have to change up your workout from session to session or from week to week – different exercises, varying rep ranges, and switching up rest periods – in order to get leaner, faster, and stronger. And by never giving your body a chance to adapt to a specific routine, you’ll never plateau and consequently never stop making improvements. Not exactly. Spend too much time with any one specific stimuli and your body will adapt to it less and less. But actively changing things up from time to time will yield much better returns – no confusion.
  2. You can lose tons of fat and gain muscle at the same time if you train hard enough. In an ideal world, yes. But in the real world, no. The only types of people who can simultaneously pile on muscle and melt fat are beginners, those who are just coming back to the gym after a long hiatus, very obese individuals, or folks on performance-enhancing drugs. Unless you’re one of the above, you’ll be spinning your wheels if you really want to try and go down this route. Prioritize one over the other and keep up the intensity in the gym regardless of your goal.
  3. Cardio will burn fat. Steady-state cardio is not inherently a fat loss modality. By itself, it does have mild benefits for cardiovascular health, but it’s not going to get you the lean physique you’re striving for. The more cardio you do, the more efficient your body becomes at burning calories. Sounds like a good thing at first glance, but if fat loss is your goal, this is the opposite of what you want. Moreover, study after study has shown that exercise protocols involving steady-state cardio have led to negligible weight loss and that aerobic exercise by itself is not an effective form of weight loss therapy.
  4. More volume is better, no matter how you go about it. Translation – more total work is the answer. No. There are people who love to tell you that they spend hours in the gym when in reality the total work they’re actually doing is questionable. Training volume is a critical component of exercise and one that can be easily manipulated. In fact, it’s one of the greatest determinants of muscle growth, much more than any other component of exercise. But the “more is better” mantra is never the goal with exercise. Consistency and progressiveness are.
  5. As long as you exercise, you can eat whatever you want. This is one of my favorites. You ALWAYS have to be mindful of not only what but how much you eat. Exercise is NEVER a permission to eat whatever or how much you want. Most exercise sessions burn a lot less calories than you think (ignore treadmill counters, fitness trackers, or popular fitness threads). The long term effect over time is that you’re typically burning more than being sedentary which will have a positive effect. I will tell you that here is where most people fail. They’ll work out, modestly at best, and then buy a smoothie or their favorite coffee drink that they feel they’ve earned. That’s a big no.

And that’s the problem with much of the information you read – we take an ounce of truth and turn it into two tons of BS. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 6 – The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing

(This is part 6 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Here’s how you know a good doctor: A good doctor is one who asks a lot of questions and then listens to the answers the patient provides. A good doctor doesn’t make a recommendation or prescription before knowing the patient inside and out. A good doctor doesn’t have a one-size-fits -all solution for what ails the patient. Doctors take a Hippocratic oath when they become physicians. They swear to practice medical honesty. They swear to keep their patients from “harm and injustice.” The same should hold true in the world of fitness and wellness. Unfortunately, I can say that does not.

It’s All a Big Fat Lie

I’ve been in fitness for a long time now and have seen many trends come and go but none as prevalent as many of the multi-level marketing products sold. Not a day goes by when I hear or worse see fellow fitness “professionals” hocking something that claims to add beauty, fitness benefits, weight loss, and a cure for obesity. We all know deep down these claims are false, irresponsible, and self-serving. We want to believe though, both those who sell and those who buy. We want to believe because we will do almost anything to avoid being uncomfortable and face hard truths. That is why people who sell multi-level marketing products talk a lot more than those who are their customers. If they talk and dance fast enough perhaps they can convince you otherwise of what you already know deep down is a lie – that you can have your cake (or diet cheese puffs) and eat it too, or that you can enjoy that brownie-flavored energy bar and it will help you get and stay thin. You want so desperately to have the body you’ve always wanted and to find something that tastes as good as the food you’re addicted to. Unfortunately for you, there are plenty of people who are happy to sell you that bill of goods and with good reason – there’s potential for plenty of money in it for them. It’s profitable to give customers what they want and tell them things they like to hear. Unfortunately, in fields like medicine, fitness, and wellness, doing so is also often an injustice. We all know the truth about diets of all kinds. They only work in the short term. Period.

The Truth

You know what solves the obesity epidemic? Telling people the truth. Telling people they need to face why they are addicted to processed and toxic food or asking them to face why it is they don’t want to get uncomfortable with rigorous daily exercise. Again, telling people this truth is often not profitable or sexy. It is much more profitable to tell people what they want to hear, which is that there is a fun and easy way to do exercise, and that there is a version of packaged food that is good for you. If you look at the definition of dietary supplement you’ll notice that these supplements are “not considered food.” The same goes for the diet products our country consumes en masse. The fact is we are addicted to toxic and processed food, much of which isn’t even food in the first place. Many of the foods we eat are derivatives of food mixed with chemicals we cannot pronounce, and they come to us in boxes that have shelf lives of months. Selling people products, potions, pills, and powders based on shoddy science or popular belief is downright laughable to me.

The Reality

The reality is food doesn’t have a shelf life. As Michael Pollan says in his book Food Rules, don’t buy anything that is sold at a gas station. Yet another hard truth is that when you switch to eating real food it probably won’t taste as good to you either, at least initially. But understand that we need less stuff from a box or a pill – a lot less. That is the truth we need to be spreading. Obesity and the correlated health issues such as diabetes are continuing to skyrocket out of control. Clearly the rapid and robust growth of the supplement industry and multi-level marketing have solved nothing except make those who sell these goods richer. Money – this is the cause of the multi-level marketing craze in the fitness industry – greed, and specifically greed in response to coming from a position of lack or want. Remember when your parents used to say, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Couldn’t be any more succinct than that.

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

See you tomorrow for Day 7 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full

12 Days of Fitness: Day 4 – 10 Fitness Myths That Need to Die

(This is part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

A New Year means more people come to the party and with them they carry on believing in old views about fitness and weight loss. Science gets ignored and myths prevail. Good results sometimes require debunking bad ideas. Far too many enter the New Year with old ideas. They still believe fitness myths that were probably debunked years ago. The following are 10 myths that live on because their friends, coworkers, family members, and popular media continue to endorse them.

  1. Lifting weights makes you bulky. To be fair, my industry has come a long way in dispelling this one. But you’ll still get people, particularly women, who believe three-pound weights will build a lean, toned physique while anything heavier will likely lead to tighter pants. There are literally mountains of science-backed benefits linked to resistance training, like improvements in strength, mood, anti-aging effects and metabolism. Look it up. I’m not lying.
  2. The key to results: Eat a lot less and exercise a lot more. This one is so widespread. It’s convincing because it’s only partly true. You do need to be mindful of what you’re eating and for many that simply means eating a lot less. And most likely you need to exercise more frequently. The trick is not to tackle both at the same time, especially not at full speed.
  3. Keto is the best diet for weight loss. Another year, another diet. Just in the low-carb category, we’ve gone from Atkins to South Beach to Paleo and now to Keto. We could create separate timelines for everything from low-fat to vegetarian to fasts and cleanses. Do you see the ridiculousness? With each new fad, we learn yet again that no single diet is right for everyone, while some aren’t a good idea for anyone. When it comes to a lot of these popular diets, most people don’t completely understand the challenges of a particular diet. Stop following blind faith and believe in good ol hard work!
  4. A good workout burns a ton of calories. As someone in my industry who I admire, Gray Cook says, “First move well, then move often.” Burning calories is a byproduct of your physical activity. It will happen. But labeling any workout good or bad by the number of calories burned and you’re not getting the idea. You generally don’t burn a ton of calories in a workout. In fact, unless you are monitored with gas exchange equipment, it’s a best guess.
  5. Cardio is the only way to lose weight. Visit any gym on any day in January and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an open treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or stairclimber. It’s a sure sign that the general public still believes cardiovascular exercise is the premier way to drop pounds. After all, a cardio machine keeps a running count of the calories you’ve burned, like exercise is a video game and the goal is to get the highest score. Of course cardio exercise can burn a lot of calories. But there’s a catch: You have to do a lot of it.
  6. Stretching will loosen tight muscles. Humans evolved to move, not spend long hours sitting. We sit at our desks at work, on our couches at home, and in cars. The problem with traditional stretching is that it only pulls on a given muscle, with no consideration for the mobility or stability of the joints surrounding it. A more practical approach: improve range of motion and joint function.
  7. Big muscles are built with big weights. Bigger muscles are typically stronger, and stronger muscles are typically bigger. But the science of muscular hypertrophy is actually more nuanced. Load is just one of the major drivers of hypertrophy. You also need time under tension, which is achieved with moderate to high rep ranges and controlled movements, and volume. The more total sets and reps, the greater the training effect.
  8. Every workout needs to be all-out. Never judge the quality of a workout by how fast your heart is racing or how much you are sweating. What’s even more dangerous is going full throttle when you struggle with less than 50%. Learn to progressively increase workout loads and how beneficial it is to cycle your workouts.
  9. Deadlifting hurts your back, and squatting is bad for your knees. The only people who believe this are those who have never done either exercise properly. The squat and hip hinge movement patterns are vital for health and performance. The best training programs include multiple examples of both. You will receive greater benefit from either or both exercises, than skipping them altogether.
  10. Hiring a personal trainer will fix everything. For so many, contracting a personal trainer is a get-out-of-jail-free card. It means you can cheat on your diets, skip workouts, do whatever you want, etc. After all, you hired a trainer, and that should be enough, right? Don’t you wish. Having an experienced trainer, not some glorified cheerleader, for you will be the one stop solution to getting everything and more out of your fitness journey.

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

See you tomorrow for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays

 

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing

(This is part 2 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

In a survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of Americans (76 percent) said they had had their cholesterol level checked at least once in the previous five years. Despite the commonality of the cholesterol test, many are seriously misled about what the results of the test mean. Many people aren’t even receiving a useful cholesterol test at all. A total cholesterol test, for instance, tells you practically nothing about your health. What you really need to know is how much high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) you have and, beyond that, the size of the LDL particles.

Get Educated

If you’re confused, it’s not your fault. Cholesterol has been a highly publicized scapegoat for causing heart disease for decades, and many have diligently cut all cholesterol-rich foods, which also tend to be nutrient-rich foods, from their diets as a result. Others have opted to take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs at the recommendation of their physicians. More than 1 in 4 Americans over 45 take them, despite their lengthy list of side effects and dubious effectiveness. But the real question is this: do you really need to be worried about cholesterol? Is it the villain that’s it’s portrayed to be, silently clogging up your arteries and putting you at a dangerously high risk of heart attack, one cholesterol-laden egg yolk at a time? The answer is, for most people, no. So let’s put some of the most widely circulated cholesterol myths to bed once and for all.

Top Cholesterol Myths Busted

Myth#1: Cholesterol Is Bad Cholesterol is not inherently bad. If it were, your liver wouldn’t produce it (btw, your liver makes about three-quarters or more of your body’s cholesterol). It’s rather important. Many of the healthiest foods happen to be rich in cholesterol (and saturated fats), yet cholesterol has been demonized since the early 1950s following the popularization of Ancel Keys’ flawed research. In reality, cholesterol has many health benefits. It plays a key role in regulating protein pathways involved in cell signaling and may also regulate other cellular processes. It’s already known that cholesterol plays a critical role within your cell membranes, but research suggests cholesterol also interacts with proteins inside your cells, adding even more importance. Your body is composed of trillions of cells that need to interact with each other. Cholesterol is one of the molecules that allow for these interactions to take place. It also plays an essential role in your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is critical for synapse formation, i.e. the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things, and form memories.

Myth#2: High Cholesterol Is Caused by What You Eat. This is simply untrue. The biggest factor in cholesterol is not diet but genetics or heredity. Your liver is designed to remove excess cholesterol from your body, but genetics play a large part in your liver’s ability to regulate cholesterol to a healthy level. Eating nutritious cholesterol-rich foods is not something you should feel guilty about; they’re good for you and will not drive up your cholesterol levels as you may have been told. It’s estimated that only 20 percent of your blood cholesterol levels come from your diet. If you’re still worried about the cholesterol in your diet, take a look at the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. As recently as 2010, U.S. dietary guidelines described cholesterol-rich foods as “foods and food components to reduce.” They advised people to eat less than 300 milligrams (mg) per day, despite mounting evidence that dietary cholesterol has very little to do with cholesterol levels in your body.The latest guidelines have finally removed this misguided suggestion, and they even added egg yolks to the list of suggested sources of protein.The long-overdue change came at the advice of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which acknowledged what the science shows, which is that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

Myth#3: Everyone’s Cholesterol Level Should Be the Same What is a healthy cholesterol level? That depends. Despite what your doctor may tell you, there’s no rule that says everyone’s total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and your LDL less than 100 mg/dL. Further, this will tell you very little about your heart disease risk. If your doctor tells you your cholesterol is too high based on the standard lipid profile, getting a more complete picture is important—especially if you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors. For starters, you can ask for a NMR LipoProfile, which looks at particle sizes of LDL cholesterol. Large LDL particles are not harmful. Only small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem, as they can squeeze through the lining of your arteries. If they oxidize, they can cause damage and inflammation.

Myth#4: Children Cannot Have High Cholesterol It’s possible for children to have high cholesterol levels, which is typically due to a liver problem that makes the liver unable to remove excess cholesterol from the body. Lifestyle changes, including exercise, limiting sugar intake and eating real (not processed) foods, will often help to restore healthy levels.

Myth#5: Margarine Is Better Than Butter for Cholesterol Butter, especially raw organic butter from grass-fed cows, is a wealth of nutrition and nourishing fats. Research points to the fact that butter may have both short-term and long-term benefits for your health. Further, replacing saturated animal fats with omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable fats (i.e., margarine) is linked to an increased risk of death among patients with heart disease, according to a 2013 BMJ study. Swapping margarine for healthy butter is the opposite of what your body needs for heart health, and here’s why. Saturated fats have been shown to raise HDL cholesterol—a benefit—and may also increase LDL. The latter isn’t necessarily bad either, as research has confirmed that eating saturated fats raises levels of large, fluffy LDL particles—the type that do not contribute to heart disease. Further, eating saturated fat may even change the small, dense LDL in your body into the healthier large, fluffy LDL! On the other hand, margarine has historically contained synthetic trans fat, the worst type of man-made fat that increases small, dense LDL—and your risk of chronic disease.

The Anti-Drug Method

Looking for a non-drug way to boost your heart health? Here are some of my top recommendations:

  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. It is vitally important to eliminate gluten-containing grains and sugars, especially fructose.
  • Consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • Make sure you are getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg of krill per day may improve your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.
  • Replace harmful vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil, butter, avocado, pastured eggs and coconut oil (remember olive oil should be used cold only, use coconut oil for cooking and baking).
  • Include fermented foods in your daily diet. This will not only optimize your intestinal microflora, which will boost your overall immunity, it will also introduce beneficial bacteria into your mouth. Poor oral health is another powerful indicator of increased heart disease risk.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through appropriate sun exposure as this will allow your body to also create vitamin D sulfate—another factor that may play a crucial role in preventing the formation of arterial plaque.
  • Exercise regularly. Make sure you incorporate high-intensity interval exercises, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.
  • Practice regular stress-management techniques.

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

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day#16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain