Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More success!

Along with Stefanie's post about her results and workout experience, last night I got a couple of emails from Kim and Wendy. Both have completed their first week with their plans and have had great results!

I have to say, everyone working out with the fitness and nutrition plans are working really hard and doing a great job. It's so much fun to get updates on their progress!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Why high protein diets aren't so good

A high protein diet is one that consists of more that 30% of the daily caloric total from protein, or 3 times the protein RDA for athletes. When a person eats a higher percentage of protein, their kidneys are overworked. They are also increasing their intake of saturated fat & decreasing the amount of fiber as well. Both of these instances increase the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Consuming a high amount of protein causes the body to go into ketosis. Ketosis changes the pH balance of the blood. There's less oxygen. The decrease in oxygen promotes an environment in the body that helps cancer grow. The body tries to balance the pH balance of the blood by taking calcium to neutralize the effects.

For every gram of protein consumed above tissue maintenance, between 1 and 1.5 mg of calcium is excreted. The typical American diet already consumes very little calcium. By depleting calcium stores in the body, people who eat high protein diets are at a higher risk for osteoporosis. Especially women.

The need for fluids is also increased by high protein intake. Protein requires approximately seven times the water for metabolism than carbohydrates or fat. The low carb consumption (common for weight loss) can lead to a decrease in glycogen stores (energy) which results in poor physical performance and dehydration.

So overall, high protein diets increase your risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. It causes your kidneys to overwork, your body is prone to dehydration and as a result, you will have very little energy. It's not really the picture of health, is it!

Monday, February 26, 2007

You can do it! Ways to minimize FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)

When beginning to change your body, you can have all of the science in the world to back you up, but it all starts in your mind first.

A person must truly believe they can make the changes to achieve their goal. Belief is one of the most powerful predictors of change and success. If you really think you can do it, you will!

There are some strategies that can help you believe in yourself a little more:
  • Take baby steps: Making drastic changes all at once can seem overwhelming and unattainable. If you make modest goals and gradually increase them, you may have better success.
  • Visualization: World-class athletes often use visualization to enhance their performance. You don't have to be an Olympian for this to work. You can begin visualizing yourself working towards your goal. Eating right everyday, overcoming temptations. Being consistent in your workouts, making it to the gym everyday. You can visualize what it will be like once you've achieved your goal, being thinner and or stronger.
  • Schedule negativity: Self doubt and the accompanying thoughts that run through our minds often lead us to sabotaging our own success. It's difficult to just "stop the tape". By scheduling a specific time during the day (like from 8:30-9:00 am) to just let it happen, it will help you to deal with those thoughts without it interfering with your day or your success.
  • Flipping negatives into positives: Sometimes we can use those negative thoughts to help us get through a workout. When there are people in your lives that are less than supportive of your fitness goal, or there are people who don't think you can do it, use that anger to your benefit. Use it to do that last rep when your muscles are so tired and you want to quit. Use that anger to push through the last 10 minutes of your cardio when you just want to get off the machine. Think to yourself, "I'll show you! I am going to do it!" This type of anger management really works well.
By using the power of your mind, you can achieve so much more. There's a lot to be said about the lesson in the book, "The Little Engine That Could". If you think you can, you will!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Timing is everything with Rep Tempo

Some people may ask themselves, "how fast should I be doing this?" while going through the motions of a certain exercise. More often than not, some don't even think about it. You can spot these people in the gym very easily. They're the ones doing bicep curls like they're shoveling coal into a steam engine.

Repetition tempo refers to the speed with which each repetition is performed. This is an important variable that can be changed to achieve specific training goals such as power, size, stability and endurance.

Repetition Tempo Spectrum
Training Phase Rep Tempo (eccentric/isometric/concentric)
  • Power = explosive (x/x/x)
  • Strength = moderate (2/0/2)
  • Stabilization = slow (4/2/1)
The amount of time that a muscle is under tension produces a specific result (time under tension). For example, the best tempo for muscle gain is about 20-70 seconds per set (8-10 reps with a tempo between 4/2/1 and 2/0/2). By focusing eccentric and isometric muscle actions at slower motions during stabilization phases of training, the connective tissue (as well as the stabilizing muscles) work harder and it prepares the body for more specific forms of strength and power training that will follow.

So what does all of this scientific mumbo-jumbo mean? By incorporating rep tempo into your workout routine, you can maximize your desired fitness goal (like getting "toned" opposed to increasing size) while decreasing your risk of injury. This is a great focus for circuit training for that very purpose.

The best way to remember the differences in eccentric, concentric and isometric contractions and when to go at a slower pace; concentric is similar to "contraction", or flexing. Eccentric is similar to accelerate, like if you let gravity or the machine do the work, it accelerates your motion. An even more simple method is to think about the force in the workout. Whenever you feel like it would be easy for gravity or the machine to do the work for you, slow it down.

Lets do a few exercises with the rep tempo spectrum...

Triceps- Cable Press
Stabilization Phase 4/2/1-2: Extending down (concentric) 2 second motion. Hold (isometric) 2 seconds. Returning to starting position (eccentric) 4 seconds.

Strength Phase 2/0/2: Down (concentric) 2 seconds. No hold (isometric). Up (eccentric) 2 seconds.

Ab Floor Crunch
Stabilization Phase 4/2/2: Crunch up 2 seconds. Hold 2 seconds. Back down 4 seconds.

Strength Phase 2/0/2: Up 2seconds. No hold. Down 2 seconds.

You can see how just the slightest difference in technique can produce a completely different result. By using the appropriate tempo that compliments your fitness goal, you can notice a world of difference when you look in the mirror.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Integrated Training

Integrated training is a concept that incorporates all forms of training in an integrated fashion as part of a progressive system. These forms of training include flexibility training, cardio training, core training, balance training, reactive training and resistance training. This system was developed by NASM and is termed Optimum Performance Training (TM).

The OPT model is a training program that systematically progresses anyone to any fitness goal. It's detailed. It's organized. It's science. It's how I work out and it's how I train all of my clients.

The OPT model is based on the scientific rationale of human movement science. Each stage has a designated purpose that produces a systematic approach for progression toward individual goals.

The OPT model is divided into three different building blocks- Stabilization, Strength and Power. Each building block contains specific phases of training.

Stabilization training addresses muscular imbalances, challenges the core muscles, improves the stabilization of joints and overall posture. This is a component of training often left out by the fitness professional however, it is the most important in helping to achieve the desired fitness goal.

Strength training focuses on increasing muscle size and or maximal strength. Most traditional programs begin at this point and as a result, often lead to injury. The body is not strong enough from the "inside", or the core and stabilization muscles, and the body cannot tolerate the type of load needed in this phase.

Power training is to target specific forms of training that are necessary for force production. This is the training program for any athlete looking to improve their sports performance.

All of these phases of training have been specifically designed to follow biomechanical, physiological and functional principles that minimize injury and maximizes long lasting results.

Friday, February 23, 2007

If fitness was easy, nobody would be fat

It takes a lot of hard work to get in shape. Some people want to do it, others aren't quite ready to commit to the effort. Well, Stefanie has been committed and working very hard to get to her goal. She's getting closer and closer every day, every week. It hasn't been easy, but nothing good in life is. And you know what? She's already seeing results! It's very exciting. I love it!

She wrote about her results while still continuing to work towards her ultimate goal...Shakira-like abs. I just wanted to give her a shout out because she's been doing great. Even if she did cheat on her nutrition once.

So, go check her out & giver her some props too!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Improving flexibility and function with Self Myofascial Release

What is Self Myofascial Release (SMFR)? It's a flexibility technique where muscles are rolled over a foam roll (or some other cylindrical object at home), using body pressure to massage micro-adhesions in the fibrous tissue that surrounds and separates muscle tissue.

What does this really mean? Massaging your own muscles to get rid of muscle knots, improving flexibility and helping you to feel and function better after your workout.

When you workout, you cause damage by creating micro-tears in the muscle. Don't worry, it's a good thing. Your body heals by using protein to patch it up, also creating muscle density and increasing your metabolism. However, that protein patch produces a knot in the muscle, making it tight and inflexible. It also changes the way the muscle works, decreasing it's efficiency in a contraction. When a muscle isn't working right (or the way it's supposed to), your amazing body will find a better way. The path of least resistance.

This path of least resistance in recruiting other muscles to do the job produces joint pain, chronic muscle tension and pain and poor posture. When working out in a physical state like this, you can set yourself up for disappointment because your aren't achieving the results you're looking for and ultimately, you could be injured during an exercise.

A little visual, if you will:

This is the way your muscle fibers should look

This is how they look after a workout

Lovely, isn't it? The concept, not my drawing. Anyway, to remedy the predicament your muscles are in all you have to do is roll the knots out, making the muscle nice, smooth and flat again. Then you start this process all over again with the next workout. This is why SMFR is a very important component of a flexibility and warm-up (and cool-down, for that matter) program.

This technique will make your muscles and body work better, helping you to achieve the fitness goal you're working so hard at. Plus, it really makes you feel better afterward by reducing your post-workout soreness. Now, who doesn't want that?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

We live in a fast paced world where our most valuable resource is time. What seems to suffer from our lack of time is our nutrition. Most often we're lead to fast food as meal options & more often than not, we skip breakfast on our morning rush out the door.

We've been told by our mother's that "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day". This is very true. By skipping breakfast, we're literally starving our brain & sabotaging our physical performance throughout the day.

If you think about it, your body has been fasting all night while you've been asleep. When you wake up, your "tank is on empty". If you try to drive your car on an empty tank, you end up stranded on the side of the road waiting for AAA or the kindness of a good samaritan to get you back on the road.

Your body is much more amazing than your car. If you run your body on empty, it will keep going, but it will also find a more efficient fuel source. And that's not body fat. Body fat is like putting diesel in your brand new Mercedes. Nope, your body is going to use the best fuel source available, muscle. When your body uses muscle or other lean tissues, it's equivalent to putting the most expensive, premium grade fuel in your car. And there's a cost for that.

While your body has a great back up for a source of energy, it's very damaging to your overall health. When trying to reach a fitness goal, losing lean body mass decreases your metabolism. This is why we tend to hear people say, "But I hardly eat anything! Why am I still fat?" Because losing muscle increases body fat. If you make sure to eat breakfast, as well as frequent meals throughout the day, your body will have enough energy to get you through the day & make sure your workout kicks some major butt (your butt, that is).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Spot Reduction is a fitness myth!

Many people believe that if you just do a lot of crunches, your waist line will shrink. Or, if you do a million squats in your routine, you'll drop the fat from your thighs.


The concept of spot reduction is a complete myth. We have absolutely no control of where we lose body fat in our quest of a slim & toned body. It's all up to genetics. And ladies, I hate to tell you this, but the first place to shrink is usually your chest.

While we have no control of where we lose fat, we do have control in targeting specific muscles for strength. Focusing on your chest will help you achieve an increase in upper body strength. Incorporating a multitude of leg exercises will make your quads stronger.

You'll see a difference in muscle specific routines as long as the rest of the components of your program are in place. Your nutrition must be balanced & the type of cardio must fit your goal. With the right routine, you'll watch your body change before your eyes.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Show some love

Fighting childhood obesity is something that really tugs at my heart strings. I really enjoyed coaching kids soccer, watching them learn and have fun while running around. I also know how much obesity effects kids emotionally, absolutely demolishing their self-esteem.

Nike is working to fight the fat with their NikeGO program. The long term goal is to get full time P.E. classes back in schools. They are funding after school programs, providing places for kids to play, making donations to parks and giving grants to schools, clubs and anyone dedicated to children's physical fitness.

You can help support NikeGo by recycling your gym shoes. The recycled shoes are used to make sports surfaces for kids to play on. There are other ways you can help the cause as well.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The best kind of cardio

A lot of people wonder, "What's the best kind of cardio"? "What will burn more calories, the treadmill or the elliptical trainer"? "It must be the stair master. That thing makes you sweat like no other".

It's much more simple than that. The best kind of cardio is the kind you like to do.

There's nothing that kills motivation more than dreading the exercise you're about to do. Especially when it comes to cardio. I mean, really! Who wants to go crazy for 30 minutes (at least)! You like running every day? Great! That's the best kind of cardio for you. The key to making it the most efficient type of cardio is to make sure you keep track of your Target Heart Rate.

With Target Heart Rate training, it will maximize your workout. You won't wast your time working out too hard or not hard enough. You can workout at different intensities to achieve specific goals. By having a specific, scientific number to work from, you're pretty much guaranteed success (provided the rest of your program is on spot).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Anatomy lesson on abs

The most asked about muscle group without a doubt, has to be the abdominals. This is next to the glutes of course. Everyone is looking for that nice flat stomach, or the washboard six pack. This muscle group also takes the most work.

Without the right nutrition plan, you can do all of the crunches in the world & it won't make a difference. Your abs are covered by a layer of body fat. If there's too much body fat, you won't see the results of your efforts underneath.

Genetics comes into play too. Some people were born with fitness model bodies. Some people have to work a little bit harder. That doesn't mean it can't happen at all, it just means that it will take a hell of a lot more work than the genetically gifted.

So, with nutrition & genetics aside, how do you get the coveted six pack? It all starts with anatomy & working from the inside out.

Most people want to worker their "lower abs". What they really want to work is their deep internal muscles that support the body. The Transverse Abdominis. The core.

The best way to start working your core is using the "drawing-in maneuver". It's as simple as pulling the navel in toward the spine. You want to focus on the region just below the navel pulling in as well.

You should do this all day long. In your computer chair at work, while you're out & about running errands & most definitely during every single exercise. This maneuver activates your core, not only making it stronger, but stabilizing your body helping to prevent injury to your spine.

If your abs are strong from the inside, the outer muscles, the Rectus Abdominis, will work more efficiently. Then you'll be on your way to a kick butt set of abs that you'll want to show off.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

From the beginning

First let me start off with my qualifications. I've been a personal trainer for 4 years with a large corporate gym. I'm certified though NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and I'm also certified through Apex for nutritional & supplement education. This qualifies my programs to be approved Level 1 weight control programs and in compliance with goals and recommendations of the American Dietetic Association for weight management.

Prior to becoming a personal trainer, I worked in chiropractic for 4 years. I studied Chiropractic Biophysics as a C.A. and I apply rehab & biomechanical education to my workout programs. I also did patient fitness programs to restore function to the body, and for weight loss to help with joint pain. I became certified through Pneumex, a physical therapy technique that helped to correct scoliosis, improved neurological function for those who had suffered trauma (like a stroke)and also used it for improving sports performance.

While in high school, I played soccer and ended up coaching for a kids team for a few seasons. I've trained clients for marathons in power walking, running, cycling and swimming. I've also trained guys for baseball, lacrosse, soccer, mountain biking, rock climbing, martial arts. I don't train anyone for body building or fitness competitions.

My own sports obsessions are hiking with my husband and kids, mountain biking, rock climbing and really, any outdoor sport.

I've had many successes with my clients, from loosing 80 lbs in 6 months, to recovery after hip replacement surgery in only 3 weeks. I myself had lost 30 lbs in 2 months, my husband lost close to 90 lbs in a year. I now can add my post-pregnancy success as well.

Along with specialized workout programs, I also have a passion for nutrition. In my years of training and studying fad diets, I've found out what works and what doesn't. I've developed my own signature nutrition plan. It's a unique plan that is tailored to the individual. I base it off of a persons Resting Metabolic Rate. With that number, I then figure out how many calories an individual needs to achieve their fitness goal. Once I've figured out the caloric total, I balance the macronutreints (carbs, protein, fat) in every meal and throughout the day. I incorporate balance with the glycemic index as well. It's been a very successful plan for myself and many, many dedicated clients.

I started this blog for a few reasons. Before I became a parent, my passion in life was everything fitness related. That soon changed when my son was born. Even though I got myself back into shape 3 months post-partum, fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans, my own motivation was lost.

A friend emailed me asking for a workout program. I was flattered and thrilled to help someone out again. In developing her a virtual fitness plan and in essence becoming her cyber trainer, my motivation is back. I feel that spark of excitement knowing that I'm helping to change someones life for the better. It's amazing!

With that motivation and her help, I've decided to attempt to work from home, developing plans for people all over the world. I also want this to be source of useful information, so I will frequently post health and fitness tips.

It's a great time to learn something new, change your life and the health of your family!