While browsing in one of my favorite home products stores for stuff I don't need, I came across this gem: Muffin Tops baking cups.
I couldn't help but chuckle and be inspired to feature these in a blog post.
By now, you may be well aware that muffins and similar carbs can cause belly fat. But considering that processed carbohydrates make up a significant portion of the American diet, and 66% of Americans older than 20 are overweight, clearly some of us are still missing (or ignoring!) the message.
If you've got a muffin top--that layer of fat around your midsection that hangs over the top of your waistband--and want to do something about it, I've got some suggestions.
First, drastically reduce your consumption of processed carbs. That includes whole grains (100% whole wheat breads, whole grain pasta, bran flakes or other wheat-based fiber cereals and whole wheat tortillas and wraps). Studies prove that overconsumption of whole grains, even those praised as being high in fiber, contribute to declining metabolic rates. And of course, white flour products are completely out.
I can speak testimonially that the longer you eliminate or reduce processed carbs from your diet, the less you'll crave (or even like) them. For example, I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A recently, and because I have eliminated most breads from my diet over the last few years, I didn't want any of the sandwich bun. Yes, it was whole wheat with some cute seeds on top, but breads just don't appeal to me much anymore. I prefer to get my carbs through vegetables and fruits.
The same goes for added sugar. Get rid of products with added sugars and sweeteners. They're everywhere, so read food labels.
What to eat more of instead? Protein.
"Protein is much more metabolically complex, boosting metabolism and burning up to 30% of the calories you eat just during the digestion process, not to mention the fat-burning hormonal benefits of eating less wheat and more protein," says Josh Bezoni, author, nutritionist and metabolism expert. "Simply put, by swapping out toxic wheat for fat-burning protein starting today, you’ll do wonders for your metabolism and your waistline to boot,"
Now that we've addressed nutrition to whittle your middle, let's talk muffin-top-targeting exercises.
I came across the following "Miracle Muffin Top Workout" by Marta Montenegro, a certified strength and conditioning coach who teaches exercise physiology at Florida International University. I love it because the exercises involve the entire body in an intense circuit, build balance, and don't include a single crunch or sit-up (both of which may injure the spine over time).
"It's important to note that the exercises you choose and the effort you put into them really matter," Montenegro says.
Just as I tell my clients, instead of boring steady-state treadmill or elliptical work or sit-ups, Montenegro also recommends high-intensity workouts that more effectively reduce belly fat (and fat elsewhere on the body, including "the visceral fat that pads internal organs and has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes").
THE MIRACLE MUFFIN TOP WORKOUT
By Corrie Pikul featuring Marta Montenegro: http://www.oprah.com/health/Get-Rid-Of-Muffin-Top-Best-Exercises-Muffin-Top/1
The Circuit - You will need 2 small towels and 2 dumbbells (3–5 pounds).
*Perform the exercises in the following order, one after another, without pausing in between.
*When you've completed all 6 exercises, rest for 90 seconds.
*Do the entire circuit 1–3 times.
Dumbbell Squat to Shoulder-Press Rotation
A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that exercises that work both the legs and the upper body target the core more than traditional abdominal exercises (in fact, a study in the same journal shows that crunches don't do much for you—besides make you more efficient at doing crunches). This full-body calorie-burning move from Montenegro works not just the abs and obliques but also the glutes, hips and shoulders.
1. With dumbbells at your side, bend into a squat, pushing your hips backward as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight and your abs engaged.
2. As you raise your hips to come to standing, press the dumbbells over your head, rotating the torso toward the right, using the side of your abdominals. This should be one fluid movement.
3. Lower the dumbbells and bend into a squat again. Repeat the shoulder press to the left side.
4. Alternate sides for 12 total reps.
Compared with crunches and bent-knee sit-ups, non-traditional ab moves like these (and the Arm Roll-Outs) do a significantly better job of activating the upper and lower abdominals as well as the obliques, found a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Montenegro suggests doing this move on a smooth surface, like a wooden or tile floor (not a rug, where the towels won't slide).
1. Start in a high plank position with your palms on the ground underneath your shoulders, arms straight, core engaged, with a small towel under the toes of each foot. (If you have an exercise ball, you can use that instead of the towels.)
2. Use your abdominals to bring both knees in toward your chest. You should be in a crouch position with your knees between your elbows.
3. Hold for 1 count. Push from your abdominals to slide the towels under your feet back to starting plank position.
4. Do 12 reps.
Lunge to Overhead Press
This may not look like an ab move, but Montenegro says it will really feel like one—the abdominals will be working overtime to stabilize the body, especially as you press the weights overhead.
1. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height.
2. Start in a lunge position, with your right knee bent 90 degrees in front of you (be careful not to let the knee bend over your toes) and the left knee slightly bent behind you. Imagine a string pulling up from the top of your head, keeping the neck and back long.
3. As you straighten both legs to come to standing, engage the abs and press the dumbbells up over your head.
4. Bend the knees to come back to the lunge and lower the weights to shoulder level.
5. Do 6 reps, then switch legs. (To make this move harder, Montenegro suggests walking forward while doing the lunges.)
Towel One-Arm Rollout
This works the very deep abdominal muscles, says Montenegro, and conditions you to keep your abs tucked in (which creates a flatter profile).
1. Start in a high plank position (arms straight, core engaged) with a small towel under each hand. Try not to hunch your shoulders up to your ears.
2. With your hands on the towels and keeping both arms straight, slide your right arm forward as far as you can without moving the hips or torso.
3. Bring the right arm back to starting position.
4. Repeat with the left arm.
5. Alternate arms for 12 total reps.
Unilateral Dumbbell Dead-Lift
One study compared isometric exercises where you contract a muscle with no movement—similar to the standard plank—to strength exercises, like the deadlift. "The deadlift was the clear winner because it activated the trunk 60 percent more than the other exercises," Montenegro says. Here's her ab-tacular version of the classic weight move.
1. Stand with your feet together. Hold one dumbbell in your right hand and let it hang at your side.
2. Keeping the core pulled tight, lean forward, lifting your right leg behind you (same side of the body that's holding the weight) and lower the dumbbell toward the ground.
3. Bring the dumbbell down as low as you can while concentrating on keeping your back straight, core engaged, chest up and neck aligned with the spine. Keep the arm holding the dumbbell close to your body to avoid unnecessary pressure on the back.
4. Hold for 1 count.
5. Tighten your core even more, lower the right leg, and return to standing tall.
6. Do 6 reps, then hold the dumbbell in your left hand and repeat with your left leg, for a total of 12 reps
Towel Mountain Climbers
"The most common mistake people make with mountain climbers is to roll up their whole body," Montenegro says, meaning they lift their hips and throw their weight forward on to their arms. "They'll tell me they really feel it in their shoulders, when the abs should be doing all the work." She says that putting towels under your feet, as in this move, will isolate the ab muscles and keep your back flat to help you maintain proper form.
1. Start in a high plank position with your palms on the ground underneath your shoulders, arms straight, core engaged, with a small towel under the toes of each foot.
2. Use your abdominals to bring your left knee in toward your right elbow. This should be a fluid, controlled movement. You should feel the twist in your lower abs, not as much in your back or hips. Keep your shoulders squared.
3. Return to starting position, with both feet behind you.
4. Repeat by bringing the right knee to the left elbow.
5. Alternate sides for 12 total reps.
Now, go blast that muffin top (and leave its edible namesake on your plate)!
My 8-year-old son, Magnus, regularly asks me, "What's your favorite?" questions. Recently, he queried, "Mom, what's your favorite sport?" My response: "I like a lot of sports, but my favorite is probably football, followed closely by basketball."
When we watch television at home, it's usually on a sports channel. The thing that bugs me about a lot of televised games is how late they're aired on the east coast. Take the NCAA national football championship, for example. The game starts at 8:30p, and likely won't end until past midnight. If the game is a blowout, I won't mind turning if off early. But if it's a tight game, I'll want to watch til the end, sacrificing much-needed beauty rest.
Beyond that, staying up past my regular bedtime might give me the munchies. While I'm expecting my substantial dinner of grass-fed beef burgers, sweet potato fries and organic green beans to tide me over until the morning, you fellow sports fans out there who ate a lesser meal might want to consider these late-night snack suggestions, offered by the co-founders of BioTrust Nutrition.
But isn't it bad to eat late at night, you may ask? Firstly, a calorie isn't worth more when the sun goes down. Secondly, "the right night-time meal can often positively affect your results and recovery from exercise by feeding your muscles with quality nutrition as you sleep," say Joel Marion and Josh Bezoni from BioTrust (The key here is the assumption that you exercised today! You did, right?!). "The trick, as always, is choosing the RIGHT foods before bed, and knowing which foods those are."
Here are the BioTrust guys' general "rules" to creating the ultimate pre-bed meal:
1. Avoid carbs and insulin. Because consuming carbohydrates will result in a significant insulin release (which will in turn put the breaks on fat-burning), carbs are ill-advised for a pre-bed meal. Carbs are also much more easily stored as fat in the evening hours when metabolism is naturally slowing in preparation for sleep. Besides, you have very little opportunity to burn off that energy when consuming carbs at night -- sleep isn't a very calorically expensive activity!
In addition to carbs, certain animal proteins have been shown to yield a significant insulin response as well, such as red meat and certain fish. While these protein foods are OK for a pre-bed meal, there are better choices, like those mentioned below.
2. Choose slow digesting proteins. Slow digesting proteins, like white meat proteins such as turkey and chicken, are great night-time meal choices as they digest slowly and fail to produce a significant insulin response.
Another great choice is the milk protein casein, found in many protein blends and also in cottage cheese. Casein coats the stomach, digests slowly, and provides quality nutrition to your muscles over several hours...very ideal as a pre-bedtime protein source!
3. Add fat. Quality, healthy fats such as nuts, oils, and nut butters are great additions to a pre-bedtime meal as they will help to further slow gastric emptying and digestion while increasing fullness and satiety so you don't wind up snacking all night long.
The guys add, "Just follow these 3 simple rules for night-time snacking (slow digesting protein, low carb, add fat) and you'll be in great shape...give it a try with an evening snack tonight!"
And finally, GO BUCKEYES!
After seeing his results on my new body measurement scale, one of my neighbors expressed his renewed interest to lose weight. He had done it before, he said, and he knew how to do it again.
"How will you lose the weight?" I asked. "By cutting out all carbs," he said. "All carbs?" I repeated? "Yes, all. I did that before a few years ago and lost 15 pounds," he stated.
Folks, if someone told me that to lose weight I'd have to eliminate all carbohydrates from my diet, I likely wouldn't bother rising in the morning. Not only would that depress me, but without carbs, I wouldn't have the energy to move anyway. My neighbor's family was quick to point out that on this protein-only diet, he was grumpy and intolerable. Besides that, it wasn't sustainable, and he put the weight back on.
Despite carbs getting a bad rap, they aren't all evil. In fact, they're an essential component of a balanced diet. Consider these points by the National Academy of Sports Medicine:
The body needs carbohydrates because:
So, what might be the best carbs you can choose that also blast belly fat, according to the experts at BioTrust Nutrition? These four:
#4 - Berries & Cherries
Berries like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and cherries (although not technically a berry) are some of the BEST carbs you can eat. They are high in fiber, packed with antioxidants, and score extremely low on the glycemic index, especially cherries which come with a GI of just 22.
#3 - Sprouted Grain Bread
Sprouted grain breads, like Ezekiel 4:9 bread (one of the most popular brands of sprouted grain bread) is a great way to include bread in your diet on occassion without all the issues associated with white breads and even 100% whole wheat breads.
Instead, Ezekiel bread is organic, sprouted, 100% whole grain flourless bread. A 2-slice serving even contains 8 grams of complete protein and 6 grams of fiber, so don't give up the bread, just choose the right kind!
#2 - Quinoa
While brown rice is thought to be the healthy grain, there’s one even better, and that’s quinoa.
Quinoa is a gluten free grain that contains double the protein of brown rice along with greater fiber content and a lower glycemic load.
Not only that, but quinoa is the ONLY grain to contain complete protein and the full spectrum of amino acids. It comes in several varieties, including “oatmeal-like” flakes and it’s wholegrain rice-like form.
Enjoy it as an oatmeal substitute for breakfast, in salads or casseroles, or as a wholesome whole-grain, high protein side item to any lunch or dinner meal.
#1 - Beans, Lentils, and other Legumes
Beans and Lentils, part of the "legume" family, are packed with loads of fiber and protein. These guys come in so many different varieties that you'll never get bored: lentils, chickpeas, black eyed peas, black beans, red beans, kidney beans, navy beans, butter beans, lima beans, pinto beans...and the list goes on.
You may now officially make peace with carbs, keep them in your diet, and add those top four carbs to your grocery list!
SUBSCRIBE HERE to FitnessIsFreedom.net
You know the trivial conversation that takes place at social events? Or the small talk that happens in passing, when people say they'll do something that you know will never happen? My dad calls that "cocktail talk." It's conversation with a smile, but is as empty as a carton of milk at my house. I'm not a fan of cocktail talk. In fact, I've avoided events because that kind of vapid conversation just saps my energy.
Beyond that, I'm not going to tell you something just because it sounds nice. For instance, I won't say that your baby is beautiful if s/he resembles Elmer Fudd. And I'll be the first to admit that neither of my boys would have won any beauty contests as infants. Heck, I had a 13-year-old French bulldog with only one eye who was just plain ugly. But what I will do is say something kind that is genuine, because telling you something that I don't really mean is, well, cocktail talk.
The topic of fitness seems to attract this sort of idle chit-chat. I can't tell you how many unsolicited conversations I've had with people who open up to me about their health struggles, pick my brain for fitness advice and try to convince me that they're going to start exercising tomorrow. I'm happy to share my knowledge with them and offer support, but it's difficult for me to consider the conversation anything more than space filler when they're downing a plate of chips and queso, Buckeye balls and chicken wings, and guzzling their third margarita.
But you know what engages me? What energizes me? What makes me want to jump on a bandwagon? People who actually DO what they say they'll do. People who are honest with where they are today, and are committed to getting where they want to be tomorrow, even if they're not quite sure how to get there. They'll do what it takes to turn thought into action, even if that means seeking help from others. My favorite clients have been the ones who simply showed up, because they said they would, because they made a commitment, because they believed in the process. Did they have occasional setbacks and bad days? You bet. But they didn't waste energy on small talk and excuses.
At the end of the day, the only cocktail talk that should really concern you is that which you're having with yourself. What superficial conversation with your alter ego is keeping you from a meaningful exchange? What area in your life are you letting swirl about, rather than pinning it down, chiseling it out and making something of it? What opportunity are you allowing to escape you because you're only giving it marginal attention? Determine what it is that you talk about doing, but have yet to do...and do it.
(PS: I still have space in the Fitness Is Freedom Results Club, which kicks off the week of January 12, 2015. This is a perfect place to end the cocktail talk and begin making the kind of healthy lifestyle changes that last. CLICK HERE for more info and to pre-register.)
1. Sprint in place with high knees for 20 secs. Recover 10 secs. Repeat for a total of 8 rounds or 4 minutes.
2. Hold a plank on your elbows and feet for as long as you can. Release when your form suffers (i.e, back arches, chest/shoulders collapse, knees drop, head lowers from neutral).
Need to pass the time while en route to your holiday destination? Want a quick diversion from shopping or wrapping presents? Need some bullet points to keep you on track over the break? Check out the following list that provides useful guidelines for general health. Note the number of minutes suggested to workout each week (hint: break it up into 30-minute increments).
Your Health: It's a Numbers Game (by Emily Bibb posted on http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Health-Numbers-Know-32173074#reactions)
While healthcare specifics vary by individual, having a general understanding established by doctors and research can help guide your daily choices for the better. Covering topics from diet to sleep, we've rounded up a few numbers you should strive for or, at the very least, consider. Some numbers are simply a reminder, while others may surprise you. Check out the complete list below.
SUBSCRIBE HERE to FitnessIsFreedom.net
I am often asked if I "detox," and what detoxing solutions I recommend. I must first admit that I don't follow detox trends, and consider the detox movement to be gimmicky. That's not to say that some detox recipes aren't nutritious, hydrating or harmlessly benign, but beyond that, I'm just not convinced. I still provide a response to the question, however: Drink lots of water, poop daily, eat clean and exercise.
To be honest, I've grown weary of all of the quick fixes, special concoctions and miracle products. Folks, there is no secret. Eat right. Move more. Don't smoke. Get rest.
One of my sisters in the medical field shared the following article with me (thanks, Lauren!), which debunks detoxes. No doubt there are articles out there that would vehemently refute the findings here, but I found this information posted on TheGuardian.com worth sharing with my readers.
You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth. So how do you get healthy?
There’s no such thing as ‘detoxing’. In medical terms, it’s a nonsense. Diet and exercise is the only way to get healthy. But which of the latest fad regimes can really make a difference? We look at the facts
by Dara Mohammadi, theguardian.com
Whether it’s cucumbers splashing into water or models sitting smugly next to a pile of vegetables, it’s tough not to be sucked in by the detox industry. The idea that you can wash away your calorific sins is the perfect antidote to our fast-food lifestyles and alcohol-lubricated social lives. But before you dust off that juicer or take the first tentative steps towards a colonic irrigation clinic, there’s something you should know: detoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.
“Let’s be clear,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The respectable one, he says, is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions. “The other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”
If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, he says, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention. “The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak,” he says. “There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”
Much of the sales patter revolves around “toxins”: poisonous substances that you ingest or inhale. But it’s not clear exactly what these toxins are. If they were named they could be measured before and after treatment to test effectiveness. Yet, much like floaters in your eye, try to focus on these toxins and they scamper from view. In 2009, a network of scientists assembled by the UK charity Sense about Science contacted the manufacturers of 15 products sold in pharmacies and supermarkets that claimed to detoxify. The products ranged from dietary supplements to smoothies and shampoos. When the scientists asked for evidence behind the claims, not one of the manufacturers could define what they meant by detoxification, let alone name the toxins.
Yet, inexplicably, the shelves of health food stores are still packed with products bearing the word “detox” – it’s the marketing equivalent of drawing go-faster stripes on your car. You can buy detoxifying tablets, tinctures, tea bags, face masks, bath salts, hair brushes, shampoos, body gels and even hair straighteners. Yoga, luxury retreats, and massages will also all erroneously promise to detoxify. You can go on a seven-day detox diet and you’ll probably lose weight, but that’s nothing to do with toxins, it’s because you would have starved yourself for a week.
Then there’s colonic irrigation. Its proponents will tell you that mischievous plaques of impacted poo can lurk in your colon for months or years and pump disease-causing toxins back into your system. Pay them a small fee, though, and they’ll insert a hose up your bottom and wash them all away. Unfortunately for them – and possibly fortunately for you – no doctor has ever seen one of these mythical plaques, and many warn against having the procedure done, saying that it can perforate your bowel.
Other tactics are more insidious. Some colon-cleansing tablets contain a polymerising agent that turns your faeces into something like a plastic, so that when a massive rubbery poo snake slithers into your toilet you can stare back at it and feel vindicated in your purchase. Detoxing foot pads turn brown overnight with what manufacturers claim is toxic sludge drawn from your body. This sludge is nothing of the sort – a substance in the pads turns brown when it mixes with water from your sweat.
“It’s a scandal,” fumes Ernst. “It’s criminal exploitation of the gullible man on the street and it sort of keys into something that we all would love to have – a simple remedy that frees us of our sins, so to speak. It’s nice to think that it could exist but unfortunately it doesn’t.”
That the concept of detoxification is so nebulous might be why it has evaded public suspicion. When most of us utter the word detox, it’s usually when we’re bleary eyed and stumbling out of the wrong end of a heavy weekend. In this case, surely, a detox from alcohol is a good thing? “It’s definitely good to have non-alcohol days as part of your lifestyle,” says Catherine Collins, an NHS dietitian at St George’s Hospital. “It’ll probably give you a chance to reassess your drinking habits if you’re drinking too much. But the idea that your liver somehow needs to be ‘cleansed’ is ridiculous.”
The liver breaks down alcohol in a two-step process. Enzymes in the liver first convert alcohol to acetaldehyde, a very toxic substance that damages liver cells. It is then almost immediately converted into carbon dioxide and water which the body gets rid of. Drinking too much can overwhelm these enzymes and the acetaldehyde buildup will lead to liver damage. Moderate and occasional drinking, though, might have a protective effect. Population studies, says Collins, have shown that teetotallers and those who drink alcohol excessively have a shorter life expectancy than people who drink moderately and in small amounts.
“We know that a little bit of alcohol seems to be helpful,” she says. “Maybe because its sedative effect relaxes you slightly or because it keeps the liver primed with these detoxifying enzymes to help deal with other toxins you’ve consumed. That’s why the government guidelines don’t say, ‘Don’t drink’; they say, ‘OK drink, but only modestly.’ It’s like a little of what doesn’t kill you cures you.”
This adage also applies in an unexpected place – to broccoli, the luvvie of the high-street “superfood” detox salad. Broccoli does help the liver out but, unlike the broad-shouldered, cape-wearing image that its superfood moniker suggests, it is no hero. Broccoli, as with all brassicas – sprouts, mustard plants, cabbages – contains cyanide. Eating it provides a tiny bit of poison that, like alcohol, primes the enzymes in your liver to deal better with any other poisons.
Collins guffaws at the notion of superfoods. “Most people think that you should restrict or pay particular attention to certain food groups, but this is totally not the case,” she says. “The ultimate lifestyle ‘detox’ is not smoking, exercising and enjoying a healthy balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet.”
Close your eyes, if you will, and imagine a Mediterranean diet. A red chequered table cloth adorned with meats, fish, olive oil, cheeses, salads, wholegrain cereals, nuts and fruits. All these foods give the protein, amino acids, unsaturated fats, fibre, starches, vitamins and minerals to keep the body – and your immune system, the biggest protector from ill-health – functioning perfectly.
So why, then, with such a feast available on doctor’s orders, do we feel the need to punish ourselves to be healthy? Are we hard-wired to want to detox, given that many of the oldest religions practise fasting and purification? Has the scientific awakening shunted bad spirits to the periphery and replaced them with environmental toxins that we think we have to purge ourselves of?
Susan Marchant-Haycox, a London psychologist, doesn’t think so. “Trying to tie detoxing in with ancient religious practices is clutching at straws,” she says. “You need to look at our social makeup over the very recent past. In the 70s, you had all these gyms popping up, and from there we’ve had the proliferation of the beauty and diet industry with people becoming more aware of certain food groups and so on.
“The detox industry is just a follow-on from that. There’s a lot of money in it and there are lots of people out there in marketing making a lot of money.”
Peter Ayton, a professor of psychology at City University London, agrees. He says that we’re susceptible to such gimmicks because we live in a world with so much information we’re happy to defer responsibility to others who might understand things better. “To understand even shampoo you need to have PhD in biochemistry,” he says, “but a lot of people don’t have that. If it seems reasonable and plausible and invokes a familiar concept, like detoxing, then we’re happy to go with it.”
Many of our consumer decisions, he adds, are made in ignorance and supposition, which is rarely challenged or informed. “People assume that the world is carefully regulated and that there are benign institutions guarding them from making any kind of errors. A lot of marketing drip-feeds that idea, surreptitiously. So if people see somebody with apparently the right credentials, they think they’re listening to a respectable medic and trust their advice.”
Ernst is less forgiving: “Ask trading standards what they’re doing about it. Anyone who says, ‘I have a detox treatment’ is profiting from a false claim and is by definition a crook. And it shouldn’t be left to scientists and charities to go after crooks.”
Article link: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/detox-myth-health-diet-science-ignorance
The ultimate lifestyle ‘detox’ is not smoking, exercising and enjoying a healthy balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet.
SUBSCRIBE HERE to FitnessIsFreedom.net
Early in our marriage, my husband and I had the good fortune to spend a few weeks in Greece. Our home base was Athens, but we ventured to several of the surrounding islands, including Santorini. I will never forget sitting at a cliffside cafe in Oia, watching the sunset over the Mediterranean sea. The views throughout Greece were rivaled only by the flavorful meals we savored.
Since that trip, Greek salads (using spinach leaves) have become a staple in our diet, and you'll always find a container of feta cheese in our fridge. I now make my own olive oil-based salad dressing that contains just four simple ingredients (see "Ed's Dressing" under Favorite Recipes tab). We also consume fish and poultry regularly, fruits and veggies daily, and red meat rarely. Any bread we eat is organic whole grain, unsprouted and/or full of seeds.
Because of my profession, I field a lot of questions about diet, nutrition and specifically, what I eat. My pat answer is, "Eat clean, lean and green." I am not a licensed nutritionist, and my exact diet isn't perfect for everyone, but I am confident recommending a Mediterranean diet. Numerous studies have shown that "eating Greek," so to speak, is heart healthy, nutrient dense, and just this month, was reported by major news outlets to slow the aging process.
I came across the following article from Health.com that provides a great starting point to understanding the Mediterranean diet.
10 Things to Know About the Mediterranean Diet: Your guide to the feel-great meal plan.
At this point, you probably already know that the Mediterranean diet is good for your health. Research proves over and over again that people who put an emphasis on produce, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats not only weigh less, but also have a decreased risk for heart disease, depression, and dementia. So what are you waiting for? Here are the basics: Shop the market perimeter, eat seasonally, and break (whole-grain) bread with people who make you smile. Now for the nitty-gritty.
At this point, you probably already know that the Mediterranean diet is good for your health. Research proves over and over again that people who put an emphasis on produce, fish, whole grains, and healthy fats not only weigh less, but also have a decreased risk for heart disease, depression, and dementia. So what are you waiting for? Here are the basics: Shop the market perimeter, eat seasonally, and break (whole-grain) bread with people who make you smile. Now for the nitty-gritty.
Ready to embrace a Mediterranean diet, but not sure what to make? Here are a few links to websites featuring recipes:
SUBSCRIBE HERE to FitnessIsFreedom.net
Can you believe we're just a month away from 2015?! If you’re like most folks, your New Year’s resolution will likely include a weight loss or fitness goal. What’s the best way to be successful? Start planning now, and get help from a fellow neighbor who just happens to be a fitness expert!
An article on Health.com reported that, each January, "roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions." A 2002 study found that while about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46%) are still on target six months later.
"Around week four to six...people become excuse mills," says Pam Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women. "That’s why it’s important to have someone there on a regular basis to get you through those rough times."
And that's why I've created the Fitness Is Freedom Results Club--an accountability group that provides support, motivation and expertise to help overcome excuses and form healthy new habits.
For my Saint Johns County area neighbors, I plan to offer weekly sessions for nine weeks, beginning the week of January 11th, to help you reach your fitness goals. Sessions will include a weigh-in, goal setting, discussion topics, dynamic interaction and Q&A, among other activities. We will meet at the close-by Julington Creek Plantation Recreation Center, where Child Watch will be available for morning sessions for those who need it. Get more info and register by clicking here.
As a fitness professional with more than a decade of experience, and the privilege of coaching hundreds of clients (see Testimonials), it is my passion to help empower people through better health. And what better time to do that than at the start of a new year! Space will be limited, so sign up now!
While teaching a group fitness class today, participants noticed that I was literally sweating through my shirt in the shape of a heart. There's no hiding that I love what I do! Helping others feel empowered through better health is my passion. My website is FitnessIsFreedom.net because being fit grants you the freedom to do the things you love.
As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge, to coach, instruct and inspire, and to sweat alongside amazing people.
A family member of mine regularly reminds me that you can have all the money in the world, but if you don't have your health, nothing else matters. I give thanks everyday that I am blessed with good health and that I am motivated to maintain it. I wish the same for each one of you, and encourage you to reach out to folks like me if you need help.
Sending season's greetings, love and gratitude to all!
SMASH! The rear passenger window shattered from the impact, spraying glass fragments upon my 7-year-old son. While attempting to leave an air show last month, our vehicle was T-boned by an absent-minded driver trying to perform a three-point turn in the parking lot. Thankfully, no one was injured (save for a small cut on my son's leg). Aside from being a bit shaken up, it was a windy ride home with a blown-out window.
The impact from this crash was minimal, despite the obvious damage to our vehicle, so our seatbelts easily kept us in our places. But what if speed had been a factor and the impact had been greater? And what if my family was representative of the 66 percent of American adults who are overweight or obese?
Turns out that, in a worse car crash, our odds of injury and survival could be partially dependent upon our fitness level.
Really? How can that be? I would have guessed that a thick layer of body fat might provide some extra measure of protection to vital organs upon impact. Not so, according a recent article in The Washington Post titled, "A depressing sign of America's obesity problem: fatter crash test dummies."
"Crash test dummies have long helped auto manufacturers keep cars as safe as possible, but the slim plastic mannequins are increasingly poor mirrors of the modern American man and woman," the article explained.
In response, Humanetics, the world's leading producer of crash test dummies, is developing "a new obese dummy to better mirror the U.S. population."
A crash test dummy weighing over 270 pounds with a body mass index of 35 (30 and above is considered obese by the CDC) is already in process.
The article states that Americans' ever-expanding waistline has also made it more difficult for traditional crash test dummies to properly model how car passengers' bodies will react during an auto accident. "Obese people are 78 percent more likely to die in a crash," Chris O' Connor, the CEO of Humanetics. "The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat."
Furthermore, the article cites a 2010 study from the University at Buffalo and Erie County Medical Center that reached a similar conclusion. "The study, which analyzed data from more than 150,000 car crashes in the United States between 2000 to 2005, found that moderately obese drivers faced a 21 percent increased risk of death, and morbidly obese drivers faced a 56 percent increased risk of death."
"Crash test dummies have saved lives and provided invaluable data on how human bodies react to crashes, but they are designed to represent normal-weight individuals," lead author Dr. Dietrich Jehle told the Daily Mail in 2010.
As if we needed another compelling reason to manage our weight! The months between Halloween and New Year's are considered the greatest season for weight gain. Let's commit now to eating cleaner, reducing portion sizes, moving more, losing fat and being safer in our vehicles!
My husband, Marcus', birthday is this month, so we left the kids with my parents for the weekend and kicked off the birthday celebration with a date night. We headed straight to historic Saint Augustine, which offers a slew of restaurants, rich history and ambience (if you've never been, you really must visit our nation's oldest city).
We started at our favorite little bar on the waterfront with its 70 beers on tap. I chose my favorite concoction offered here. (Wait, what?!? YOU drink alcohol?! Yes. Yes, I do. As in everything, balance and moderation are key.). Drinks come in 8, 16 and 22 ounce glasses. Which to choose? Most folks go with 16 ounces because, well, 8 ounces in the American diet seems like a sippy cup serving. It just so happens that I'm fond of sippy cups, so I went with the smallest serving (DECISION #1). I was also getting hungry and knew that dinner was at least 45 minutes away, so I splurged on a calorically-dense appetizer of shrimp empanadas (DECISION #2).
We finished our drinks and app, paid our bill, then headed to another restaurant for dinner. We chose a place that serves seafood caught off the coast of North Florida (DECISION #3). The menu is completely dependent on whatever kind of fish was caught the day before and delivered to the restaurant that morning. I ordered fish tacos (DECISION #4). Sides offered were black beans and rice, chips, soup or a mixed greens salad. I chose the salad with dressing on the side (DECISION #5). For a beverage, I stuck with water (DECISION #6).
Having already consumed empanadas and a beer, I was feeling satiated after eating my salad and just one of three fish tacos. I could have forced myself to eat more, but I can't stand that gluttonous feeling of being over-full, bloated and lethargic--how most of us feel after a Thanksgiving meal...and too many others (DECISION #7). Besides, Marcus wanted to end our evening with a birthday treat from Cousteau's Waffle & Milkshake Bar (he's clearly a bad influence on me!), so I needed to be prepared for an indulgence there once dinner settled.
Taking my leftover tacos in a to-go box, we entered Cousteau's where Marcus got a ridiculously decadent milkshake (vanilla ice cream, nutella, bananas, whole milk, and a TON of whipped cream). I opted for the half dozen waffle bites--the smallest order and least expensive item on the menu (DECISION #8). The bites were warm, sugary, deliciously chewy, and more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Could I have eaten the larger order? Sure, but why over-indulge only to regret it later? We enjoyed our desserts as we strolled the city's streets.
As you can see, I made at least eight dietary decisions over the course of the night. This was definitely a cheat day for me, but because of the choices I made, I was able to enjoy my splurges, guilt free, because I didn't go off the deep end with any of them. Let's take a closer look:
I'm sharing this date night run-down with you to demonstrate how to stay on track with your fitness goals, even during special occasions (particularly with the holidays approaching). I realize that many of you reading this have weight loss goals, so it wouldn't behoove you to eat empanadas and waffles. But what I hope will be your takeaway is that you have the ability to decide, at every meal, what goes into your body. Since weight management is 80% diet, knowing that you control your intake, portion size, and beverage consumption should empower you to make prudent choices. Eating right is a give and take, a prioritizing of what we need versus what we want. Approach each meal, everyday, as an opportunity to give your body what it needs to be its best, to please your palate with favorite flavors, and make decisions that benefit you in the long run.
And remember: calories in, calories out. Marcus and I continued his birthday celebration the following day with a high intensity exercise session to burn off last night's meal (DECISION #9)!
At the conclusion of one of my Cardio Kickboxing classes recently, a participant approached me to say that she had shown her family my website. While looking at the photos, specifically the close-up of my abdomen, her 10-year-old son exclaimed, "Her stomach is scary! Is yours gonna look like that, Mom?" The mom, with a laugh, replied, "No, dear. Mine will never look like that!"
Out of the mouths of babes, right?! I found this unfiltered exchange to be both hilarious and insightful. Having two sons of my own, I can appreciate the honesty, particularly from those whose minds are yet unwarped by media, cultural norms and prejudices.
This boy's opinion of my belly reminded me that not everyone has the same fitness goals. Not everyone wants to run a marathon (myself included!). Some folks find yoga and mind/body exercises just plain boring. Others don't want to consume animal protein as part of a healthy diet. Many don't want to work out in a gym, while still others don't desire defined abs--including that 10-year-old! And you know what? That's totally fine.
We as trainers must always align our programs to match the healthy, realistic goals our clients desire, while ensuring that functional training is incorporated to support daily activities. No matter what your fitness goals are--or aren't!--everyone needs to be able to sit up in bed, squat down to pick things up from the floor, reach for objects placed overhead, carry awkward items, climb stairs, bend over, pull someone close for a hug, and get on and off of the toilet. That's where The Big 6 come in.
The Big 6 represent six essential movement patterns that are used in everyday life. Fitness programs should incorporate all of these:
A seventh bonus movement should be practiced as well: single-leg exercises that challenge balance and vertical stability.
These exercises may be adapted to any fitness level, can be performed with or without added resistance, are easily accomplished at home or a health club, and may be executed individually or combined as compound movements. Review your program to be sure all of them are represented, and perform them one to three times per week.
And for those who may may desire a "scary stomach" of their own, the Big 6, along with a lean diet, support that goal, too!
When you head to the gym for a workout, in what area, and with what equipment do you spend the most time? The area featuring gleaming chrome machines? The dumbbell rack? Perhaps you're intimidated and altogether lost on the gym floor and head straight to a group fitness class. When I'm not teaching and have a few extra minutes to train outside of a class, I bypass nearly all of the fancy strength training machines for good ol' fashion dumbbells. I also prefer resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls and jump ropes. Beyond that, some of my favorite workouts don't use equipment at all. They leverage your own body weight.
It's not that machines are useless. In fact, they offer a good starting point for the novice exerciser because they are usually self-explanatory, don't require racking and stacking of weights, can be used without the need for a workout partner, and are generally safe for those lacking stability or with functional limitations.
But machines can't compete with free weights when it comes to training functional movement. For the purposes of this article, strength-training machines do not include cable machines (such as the standing cable machine), which are in their own category and do allow similar freedom of movement and core engagement as free weights. Free weights are defined as weights, such as dumbbells and barbells, that are not attached to another apparatus or structural device, and that don't limit range of motion.
"Strength machines are generally regarded as inferior to free weights for improving core stability and neuromuscular efficiency (proper movement patterns) because they offer artificial support versus one's core musculature providing the stability," according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Furthermore, NASM reports that machines don't accommodate movements that incorporate combined upper and lower body exercises, and machines can't be adjusted to fit all body types, therefore reducing their efficacy and potentially creating greater stress to the body. And because most machines primarily work in one plane of motion, they limit strength development through all three planes.
Eventually, the goal of exercisers should be to graduate from machines to free weights to allow the body to become stronger through multijoint, total body exercises that replicate real-life movements.
Aside from the concerns listed above, my bottom-line reason for avoiding machines is that most require the user to sit. Um, don't we sit enough already?! Why would we sit to exercise? How many of you are sitting as you read this right now? And how much time have you spent sitting during the last hour, three hours, six hours, nine hours? If the majority of your waking hours are spent sitting (which, by the way, decreases your life span), why on earth would you sit during the short amount of time you devote to movement?
I like how Rich Froning puts it. By the way, Froning won his fourth consecutive title as the Fittest Man on Earth at the CrossFit Games this past July.
"Pick things up and put them down. Run. Carry stuff. It's what our bodies were made to do, not sit on a machine and do single joint movements."
Froning goes on to say that using machines and performing single joint movements are, however, better than "sitting and doing nothing," and he's right. Any movement is better than none at all. But my question is, if you're going to go to the trouble of exercising, don't you want it to be as effective and functional as possible, enabling you to increase range of motion and enhance total body strength?
If the jury is still out for you on machines versus free weights, here's a list of pros and cons for each type of equipment, courtesy of NASM.
MACHINES -- PROS:
MACHINES -- CONS:
FREE WEIGHTS -- PROS:
FREE WEIGHTS -- CONS:
If the pros of strength machines still outweigh the cons for you, I challenge you this week to add one free weight exercise into your routine. Let me know which you incorporate. Try squats or lunges while holding dumbbells at your side. Perform 8-12 repetitions if the weight is fairly heavy, and 12-20 reps if you're starting with light weight.
Have you ever heard the quote, "You're known by the company you keep"? My mom said that to me regularly throughout my youth. It's a take on the verse found in Proverbs, "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble."
She cautioned me to choose my friends carefully, knowing that they would have significant influence over me, and I over them. To avoid the "wrong crowd," I kept busy with church activities, school work and athletic pursuits, and was expected to abide by strict house rules and a rigid curfew. "Nothing good happens after midnight," Mom would say.
While I balked at such conservative parenting as a teen (but now model it as a parent!!), the idea that we reflect those with whom we spend time rings as true for me today as it did then.
I spend a fair amount of time on social media, and it struck me one day while perusing Facebook that a significant portion of my FB friends share my passion for fitness. Through their posts, I've been enlightened, inspired, educated, and even motivated to stop procrastinating and get up from my computer right then and there to go work out. Beyond that virtual community, my work in health clubs allows me to be surrounded by fitness enthusiasts nearly every day.
While not all of my friends share a love of health and wellness, the majority of the company I keep does--and it has made all the difference. I'm absolutely certain that the fitness community to which I belong has helped propel my career and kept me on track when I questioned what the heck I was doing, or if my efforts had value.
By nature, humans gravitate toward others like themselves. We have an innate desire to be a part of a group, a pack, a unit. So it makes sense that I would align myself with likeminded fitness folks. For those who desire to lose weight, get healthy and seek wellness, whom you align with will make or break your success.
There are many examples to prove this, but one in particular was a woman--we'll call her Beth--I coached a few years ago. Beth was eating right, losing weight and on the right track, yet she came to my office distraught. I asked her what was wrong, and the bottom line was this: her best friend, who was also overweight, felt threatened by Beth's success. The friend had nearly stopped speaking to Beth. Beyond that, Beth's larger circle of friends didn't embrace a healthy lifestyle either despite her invitations to the gym, so she was constantly pressured to eat poorly and skip exercising.
Beth knew she was doing the right thing for her health, but felt unsupported and lonely, and was contemplating abandoning her program. Here's the deal folks: it's easier for others to pull you down than it is for you to pull them up.
I'm a loyal sort, so I wasn't going to tell Beth to just ditch her friends, but I did tell her that it was time to make some new ones. If she was going to be successful at reaching her fitness goals, she had to surround herself with those who shared her mindset, and would provide encouragement, accountability and positivity. She did just that by increasing her time in the club, attending classes and taking advantage of social opportunities with them. This growth was at times a painful process for Beth, but her desire for self-improvement, for metamorphosis into her best self, meant shedding the old and embracing the new.
If you're someone who's working toward a goal for better health, yet your best buddies are always tempting you to try the latest fast food concoction, the new buffet on the corner, a doughnut when they see the 'Hot & Now' sign, or to ditch working out for happy hour, it's time to make some decisions. Will you allow that company to thwart your efforts to live a healthier life? Or will you seek a new circle of fitness friends who will help get you to your goal?
Q. Can I eat whatever I want as long as I exercise?
A. The majority of daily caloric expenditure is not in the time spent exercising but in the total energy expenditure during 24 hours. Approximately 3,500 calories equals one pound of body fat, so to lose one to two pounds per week, one must maintain an average caloric deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day. However, a person may burn 250 calories from exercise and spend the rest of the day participating in sedentary activities. Calories that are not used for energy production are stored as fat. Therefore, a person can eat 100 calories a day more than what their body needs to maintain, and in the course of 35 days, theoretically they will gain a pound of fat. Even a mere 10 extra calories a day over daily maintenance needs could add up to a pound of weight gain over 350 days!
Q. What are the risks of starvation (very low calorie) diets?
A. Most nutrition experts do not recommend an energy intake any lower than 1,200 calories, and even that may be too low for an active or very large person.
Very low calorie diets (VLCD) should be followed only under the supervision of a medical professional. A VLCD is a doctor-supervised diet that typically uses commercially prepared formulas to promote rapid weight loss in patients who are obese. These formulas, usually liquid shakes or bars, replace all food intake for several weeks or months. VLCD formulas need to contain appropriate levels of vitamins and micronutrients to ensure that patients meet their nutritional requirements. People on a VLCD consume about 800 calories per day or less.
When used under proper medical supervision, VLCDs may produce significant short-term weight loss in patients who are moderately to extremely obese. VLCDs should be part of a comprehensive weight-loss treatment program that includes behavior therapy, nutrition counseling and physical activity. Additionally, long-term maintenance of weight loss with VLCDs is poor and no better than other forms of obesity treatment.
Some of the risks of following an overly restrictive diet include:
[On a personal note, clients I've worked with whose "diet doctors" prescribed a VLCD for them had poor long-term results. They were cranky, hungry and lethargic. While they did lose weight, it was determined that much of what they lost was lean mass--a most unfortunate outcome since muscle is your body's fat-burning engine. When your body lacks sufficient nourishment, it becomes catabolic. That's a scientific term for the state your body enters when it's starved and begins to break down muscle tissue. You must eat to fuel optimal results!]
The human body is a marvel of resilience and adaptability. Depending on the combination of circumstances, we can live just about anywhere, in just about any climate. We can adapt to different foods, types of shelter, seasonal variations, and levels of stress. We can exist weeks, months or even years with nutrient deficiencies.
But there's one thing, besides a lack of oxygen, that our bodies can't adapt to. It's dehydration.
"The importance of proper hydration cannot be stressed enough," reports the National Academy of Sports Medicine. "Water is vital to life itself; it constitutes approximately 60% of the adult human body by weight...Studies show that a fluid loss of even 2% of body weight will adversely affect circulatory functions and decrease performance levels."
When we stay properly hydrated, our bodies benefit in the following ways:
What happens to our bodies when we're DE-hydrated? We experience decreases in performance, blood pressure and volume, sweat rate, cardiac output and blood flow to the skin. Our heart rate, core temperature, perceived exertion and use of muscle glycogen increases. We retain more water and sodium.
At most clubs where I've worked, we would measure clients' total body water percentage using a bioelectric impedance scale, which also measures body fat. Invariably, the majority of clients were below recommended hydration levels. One trainer would tell her achy clients that due to dehydration, "Your joints are like the Sahara Desert." A lack of water affects every physiologic function, so yes, even joint pain and stiffness can be at least partially attributed to this deficit.
Different tissues in your body contain different amounts of water. Livestrong.com reports that body fat contains approximately 10 percent water, while muscle is approximately 75 percent water. "In general, men should aim for a total body water percentage between 50 and 65 percent, while the ideal range for women is between 45 and 60 percent."
So, how do we determine if we need to drink more water? Just go by our thirst, right? Wrong, according to NASM. "Thirst alone is a poor indicator of how much water is needed. Athletes consistently consume inadequate fluid volume, managing to replace approximately 50% of sweat losses."
Daily water intake recommendations state that sedentary men should consume an average of 3.0 L (approximately 13 cups) and sedentary women should consume an average of 2.2 L (approximately 9 cups) of water. For those trying to lose weight, drink an additional 8 ounces of water for every 25 pounds above ideal weight. Increase water intake before, during and after exercise, and if you're in a hot climate.
When exercising for less than an hour, experts say to stick with water for fluid replacement. For exercise lasting more than 60 minutes, sports drinks are acceptable and help replenish muscle glycogen stores.
Now that you're convinced to consume more water, here are a few of my personal tips to help you make that happen:
Considering that every aspect of your physical health, down to the cellular level, is impacted by hydration, drink up TODAY. This is one area of your health and wellness that you can control!
Q. Do carbohydrates make me fat?
A. The answer is no. Carbohydrates are necessary nutrients. They provide energy for the body, metabolism of fats, spare muscle proteins, and provide essential fiber, vitamins and minerals. Excess intake of any nutrient, carbohydrate, fat, protein or alcohol over daily calorie needs will cause weight gain.
Selecting carbohydrates that are moderate- to low-glycemic foods and high in fiber can help with satiety, blood sugar regulation and energy balance indirectly. Overconsumption of sugar, refined processed carbohydrates and high-glycemic foods could lead to uncontrolled spikes in blood sugar, low energy and increased appetite. Therefore, to avoid hunger, it is advised to choose unprocessed, whole-food carbohydrates sources such as vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole fruit and grains to provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for healthy weight loss. In addition, carbohydrate is imperative to glycogen repletion before, during and after exercise for strength, power, aerobic and anaerobic performance, and conditioning. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for carbohydrate intake for an adult is 45 to 65% of total caloric intake.
Q. Does eating at night make me fat?
A. Weight gain is a result of eating more calories than you burn on a regular basis, not when you eat. Because of their preference or schedule, many people eat later in the evening, before bed, or even wake up in the middle of the night to take in calories. If one gains weight doing this, it is because of excess calorie intake, not the timing.
The body does not have an enzyme with a watch that after 7 pm preferentially stores items, especially carbohydrates, as fat. We all have a certain number of calories that we can consume without gaining weight. As long as we do not exceed that number, weight gain will not occur.
Imagine this scenario: at your height, weight, and activity level, you know that you burn 2,750 calories in a 24-hour period. You have had a busy day, and since your 350-calorie breakfast, you have not had the opportunity to eat. You get home late after a long day and you are starving. At 9 pm, you eat an enormous 1,000-calorie meal. Added to the 350-calorie breakfast, this brings your total calories consumed for the day to 1,350 calories. After your late meal you are exhausted and promptly go to bed. Will you gain weight? Simply put, no. You have burned 1,400 calories more than you consumed. So, the moral here is to figure out how many calories you can have during the day to lose or maintain weight and distribute those calories and foods in a manner that makes you feel your best and prevents hunger.
Questions and answers provided by NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition Revised
Could you or someone you know be royalty without even realizing it? Take this 'YES or NO' quiz to find out!
If you answered YES to the majority of these questions, then I now crown you Cardio Queen!
Before you claim your royal title, I need to know one thing: Does your fitness goal include losing fat, increasing lean mass and accelerating your metabolism so that you burn more calories at rest? If you answered yes to this as well, you may want to reconsider donning that crown.
But first, allow me to applaud your commitment to exercise. The fact that you incorporate movement into your day already demonstrates that you value fitness. Making exercise a habit is a critical step in your path to wellness.
My guess is, though, that if you've been performing steady-state cardio for a while (meaning, aerobic activity that is a continuous, steady effort, as opposed to an interval workout where you vary your intensity, allowing for periods of recovery), one or several of these has occurred:
Am I right? Here's some additional insight from one of my favorite fitness experts, Rachel Cosgrove, who co-owns one of the most successful gyms in the country and writes for numerous reputable fitness magazines: "Your body quickly adapts to steady state aerobic activity, decreasing the amount of calories you burn with each walk/run, making you more and more efficient at the activity. This is the goal if you're training for an endurance event – to be super efficient using the least amount of energy (calories) possible to complete the distance. You want just the opposite if you're trying to lose fat."
Numerous studies support this, including this one from the American Journal of Medicine --
I had a client, who is now a good friend (I love when that happens!), who began her fitness journey attending one cardio-based group fitness class most days of the week. Then it progressed to two classes per session. Eventually, she began jogging a couple of miles on the treadmill before classes. She came to me exasperated, exhausted and feeling like she was losing the weight management battle, not to mention her free time. I recall asking her two questions: "How's your diet?" and "Are you doing any strength training?" Her diet was mostly liquid--sweet tea--and she wasn't doing any strength training for fear that it would make her bulky. Please, lady friends, put that myth to rest! While some of us may have an easier time than others adding defined lean mass, we women lack the natural hormones to develop man muscles.
Ok, so back to my client. Once she cut the sweet tea, added real food to her diet, especially healthy amounts of protein, drastically reduced traditional cardio and emphasized circuit-style weight training into her program to build muscle and burn significant calories, she noticed immediate results. Very quickly, she became strong, lean, shapely and energized. Beyond that, she reclaimed her schedule by cutting her time in the gym by more than half.
Are we saying that you should never perform steady state cardio? Absolutely not. It builds endurance, conditions your internal organs, releases feel-good endorphins, and improves our mental state. Furthermore, as I reported in a previous blog, "An individual's cardiorespiratory fitness level is one of the strongest predictors of morbidity and mortality." (NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition Revised). But if your goal is fat loss, steady-state cardio should not take precedence over muscle-building strength training or metabolism-revving interval training. If you are an endurance competitor, then by all means, perform steady state cardio as that is training for your sport. That said, even distance athletes benefit from strength training.
So, where does that leave your Cardio Queen crown? Hopefully, on your mantle, at least for most days of the week. On other days, swap it out for weights, a kettlebell or bodyweight exercises performed in interval fashion. For example, after warming up, perform exercises as intensely as you can--and with correct form--for, say, 30 seconds. Then rest for 60-90 seconds. Repeat all work/rest intervals for a total of 15 minutes. As your conditioning improves, reduce the length of your recovery, as low as 30 seconds. And if you're a serial cardio class taker, reclaim some time in your life by skipping three one-hour classes and lifting weights instead for 20 minutes. Imagine what you could do with the two hours you'll get back from that simple decision!
Need help putting an interval training and/or metabolic resistance training program together? You know where to find me!
Do you own a t-shirt with a funny or inspiring phrase on it? Clothing has always been used as a form of expression, but over the last decade or so, our duds have become quite blatant. Text is now printed directly on the chest, back or sleeves of our garments, letting the world know exactly what we think. I'm a bottom-line kinda girl, so terse t-shirt text is up my alley.
I especially enjoy searching for uniquely scripted shirts for my husband. For him, I get thrifty, as in, I visit thrift stores. Who doesn't love sorting through the racks of t-shirts arranged by color, hoping to find a one-of-a-kind gem? Alright, maybe you don't, but I'm ok with working up a sweat digging through piles of used stuff. More calories burned! Anyway, some of my husband's favorite t-shirts include one that reads, "Grillin' & Chillin'-- Hicks Family Reunion" (we're not members of the Hicks family), another promoting the "U Suck Vacuum Cleaning Vocational School," and still another emblazoned with "Tough Actin' Tinactin" in large Stencil font. All of them reflect his sense of humor and appreciation for the absurd.
I, too, have a few scripted shirts that I wear when I work out, with decidedly motivational messages. They read, "Strong is the new skinny," and "Quitting is not an option." I feel extra tough when I wear that one.
During a recent trip to T.J. Maxx (where I intended to purchase four things and left with 12! Does that qualify me as a Maxxinista...or someone with a shopping problem?), I discovered a sleeveless, white shirt in the athletic clothing section that I just HAD to have. The tank featured a large, shiny gold heart made up of the following exercise and wellness words and phrases: motivation, sweat, go, swim, believe, live your best life, cycle, smile, achieve, challenge, run, laugh, determination, dance and dream. What an amazing compilation of words, scattered in the shape representing love, set in a blingy gold design!! Totally me, right?! When I meet people while wearing this shirt, I think I'll just state my name, then point to the heart-shaped collection of words on my chest and say, "Read this and know me."
Ok, so it doesn't represent everything about me--a few words could be swapped out for, "family," "faith," "sleep," "pizza," and "bulldogs," but it's mostly spot on. As I tried the shirt on again, considering the message it would send to those who read it, I began pondering this post's Thought of the Day:
If you could design a shirt that reflected your current level of or relationship with fitness, what would it say? Instead of a heart made up of positive words, would it be a big red "X" made up of words like , "overweight, tired, pre-diabetic, depressed, hungry, embarrassed, out of breath and hypertensive"? If the message on your shirt would be negative, perhaps because you haven't been successful at weight management or diet discipline, take a look at the words again on my new shirt. Pick your favorite, be it "believe," "cycle," "dance," "sweat," or another one that motivates you, and own that as your new t-shirt message for the next month. You may have noticed that nearly all of the words are verbs--they require action. How can you embody that word such that if it were written on your chest, others would believe it? Let me know the word you chose in "Comments" below, and how you plan to live it out over the next 30 days!
Less than a year ago, we moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. With its top-rated schools, easy access to major roadways, close proximity to the beach, a wide selection of builders and lots of preserved green space, it's one of the fastest growing communities in the Southeast. What that means is, everyone is new to one another. That's a lot of newness.
While it's exciting to start fresh, it can also be daunting to forge new relationships. Those take time. And willingness. And reciprocity. And energy. Whew. I'm tired already.
So why bother making an effort to get to know the folks who live beside, across and around us? I discovered the answer while reading a book called, The Art of Neighboring--Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door, by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.
The book's bottom line is this: "The majority of issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors...The idea is that when neighbors are in relationship with one an other, the elderly shut-in gets cared for by the person next door, the at-risk kid gets mentored by a dad who lives on the block, and so on." Government programs wouldn't be as necessary if we dealt with social issues on a street-by-street basis.
When we moved in to our current home in January, no one on our street went out of their way to welcome us. No freshly baked cookies. No house plants. Not a single doorbell ring or note of welcome left on our stoop. This was dismaying to me, but I figured that perhaps folks had what I call new neighbor fatigue, where their neighborliness was tapped out due to so many families moving in over the last couple of years. And being new themselves, it's possible that they were still acclimating (and hoping for a welcome wagon of their own). Beyond that, everyone's busy. Sooooo busy. Long work hours, kids schedules and an addiction to overscheduling allow little time to neighbor. We fall prey to this condition, too.
Thankfully, I've lived in a neighborhood where our neighbors became our best friends, so I know what this should look like. We shared food, holidays, vacations, milestones, and still remain close to this day, even though we're in Florida and they're in North Carolina (Shout out to the Whitteds, Lowerys, Strines/Kings and Buckleys in Cornelius!). While that was an unusually utopian situation, I've always desired to recreate that on some level in each of my subsequent neighborhoods. It hasn't happened, yet, but maybe there's more I could do to foster a neighborly environment.
I've tried to spend time in the front yard with the boys to show I'm available for impromptu chit-chat, but I often find myself the only parent outside. Perhaps my driveway jump rope/ kettlebell workouts have been off-putting?! I wave at neighbors driving by, who usually wave back, but very few car-side convos have commenced. And our yard is regularly a gathering place for neighborhood kids, but their parents rarely come over to join in the fray. Don't get me wrong--my neighbors aren't anti-social (well, not most of them anyway), and we have two block parties each year, but casual congregations in the street aren't common.
Rather than trying to overanalyze the sociological issues afoot, I'm going to press on with what I know is right: to love thy neighbor. I will look for small, yet impactful ways to show those who live around me that we are a friendly family who believes in community. There are literally eight recently built homes--six of which became occupied in the last two months--on the street adjoining mine, so we shall go about the art of neighboring them. I've put together little gift bags containing a welcome letter, neighborhood contact information, a useful "home" notepad/clipboard set and chocolate chip cookies, that we will deliver during one of our family walks. Cute, simple, thoughtful. Who knows what will come of it. If nothing else, it will be a teaching moment for my boys to treat others as you would like to be treated.
Ok, so some of you may be thinking, "This is great and all, but this is a fitness blog. What does neighboring have to do with that?" I believe that fitness doesn't just refer to the physical. In fact, being physically fit means little if we aren't emotionally fit, mentally fit, spiritually fit, and in this instance, socially fit. All of these require effort, discipline and commitment on our part. It's time to do mine.
Thought for the day: How is your social fitness? Is there a neighbor whom you haven't met? According to The Art of Neighboring, less than one percent of people can list the names, occupations and personal interests of their eight nearest neighbors. How might their life and yours be positively impacted by your efforts to love thy neighbor?
Credit: "Welcome to the neighborhood" hang tag downloaded from http://www.beneathmyheart.net/2011/06/3960/
My 7-year-old son, Magnus, started second grade last week. The first day was an especially momentous occasion, as this was his school's official grand opening--the smell of fresh paint, new carpet and children's futures wafting through the recently erected halls. It was also a memorable day because Magnus and hundreds of his fellow classmates biked to campus. Most students live just under two miles from the school, so we are required to provide our own transportation. And what better way to get there than by bike?
Except that on the first day of school, I didn't own a bike. And didn't plan to own a bike (other than my stationary indoor cycle). But I wanted to chaperone Magnus to school to help him navigate this new adventure. I figured I would just jog with the pack of kids who ride together, at least for the first few weeks while they learned the routine. And that's what I did...the first morning. It was truly a meaningful experience watching this parade of elementary and middle school kids, clad in colorful backpacks and helmets, processing into a new year of learning at a gleaming, modern facility. Norman Rockwell would have been proud of this Small Town, USA, moment.
I jogged back home after releasing my little bird to the academic world, feeling thankful for such a positive start. Once I caught my breath, I also recalibrated my plans to run alongside the kiddos before and after school. For one thing, I don't love jogging. It's boring. It's a slow way to get somewhere. And it's killer on the joints. For another, I can't keep up with the bikes. Nope. Not even while wearing a pair of my super-duper-light-as-a-feather-ready-for-anything-neon-colored Nike running shoes.
With that, I knew what I had to do--get myself a set of wheels, and fast. But what kind? There are so many choices...so many expensive choices, and all I needed was something easy, functional, and affordable. Oh, and cute. REALLY cute. With a matching helmet. And a bell. I gotta have a bell. And while I'm at it, I'd love a cupholder and storage space (Oops, I'm talking about a bike, not a car!).
I realize this is a lot to ask for, especially by a gal who hasn't owned a bike since I rode to school on a bright yellow cruiser in the second grade. Wait! That's it! I decided to hearken back to my elementary years and get an easy-to-ride cruiser. By the second day of school, I found a sweet deal on the perfect bike: a gloss blue retro Huffy cruiser, complete with basket on the front, cupholder and rear rack for storage! Of course, I completed it with a polka-dotted bell and color-coordinated helmet.
As I rode (and wobbled...they say you never forget how to ride a bike, but that was doubtful for the first few spins around the block!) to school to pick up my son, then followed he and fellow riders home, I was reminded of riding my bike as a child. The wind in my hair. The freedom of movement. The spirit of adventure. I was rediscovering a little piece of my youth, and calling upon my body--now three decades older--to have muscle memory, to use my core for an exercise other than planks, squats, lunges, and pushups, and to engage in a new shared physical activity with my child.
This moment is why I work so hard to stay fit and healthy. To keep up with my ever growing boys. To be the parent who can ride alongside them, show them that you're never too old to be active, and to participate in their journey. Then to embarrass them by ringing that bell every chance I get!!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Is there an activity that you loved doing as a child, but gave it up for one reason or another? Perhaps dance, tennis, rollerblading or basketball? Would you like to try it again? What's keeping you from it and how can you overcome the obstacle(s)?
At the risk of belaboring coverage of the death of comedian Robin Williams, I want to take this timely and relevant opportunity to remind readers that exercise is proven by research to be one of the best treatments for depression.
Now, before I proceed, by no means am I implying that a jog around the block could have saved Mr. Williams, or someone like him in such a hopeless state, particularly with the added knowledge that he was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. I've read that Mr. Williams was an endurance athlete, and participated in numerous cycling and triathlon events. In fact, CNN reported that he used exercise and cycling to manage his stress and depression, but "the prospect that [Parkinson's] would prevent him from doing that was extremely upsetting, adding to the depression." So clearly, for those battling the depths of depression, exercise alone won't provide salvation.
That said, studies show that exercise, as part of a treatment program, can significantly improve symptoms of depression.
According to the article, "Understanding Depression," from the Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, "
How does exercise relieve depression? For many years, experts have known that exercise enhances the action of endorphins, chemicals that circulate throughout the body. Endorphins improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They may also serve to improve mood. Another theory is that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.
Hear ye, hear ye, all milk lovers (and haters!)! I've come across some information that will contribute to the conversation about milk. (WHAT?! You're not engaged in a dialogue about milk?! Ok, leave it to us food geeks to hash out this topic.)
Over the last year or so, I've engaged in conversations about milk with some of my nutritionally saavy friends, most of whom shun cow's milk (or certainly non-organic versions). Their reasons vary, including that it sets off immune disorders, exacerbates chronic respiratory diseases, creates digestive issues, is filled with antibiotics and chemicals, is zapped of its nutrient content through pasteurization and homogenization, and simply, that it's just not natural to drink the milk of another creature.
In full disclosure, cow's milk has been one of my favorite beverages since I was old enough to pour my own satisfying, thirst quenching, creamy cup. As a girl, I truly believed that the reason I never broke a bone growing up was because the calcium in this miracle drink made them stronger than steel (truth is, ounce for ounce, bone IS stronger than steel!). But as a wellness advocate, I felt compelled to research my options in the milk category, particularly because it's a staple of my kids' diet (one of whom has asthma), and I want my family to consume what's healthiest.
If you peered into my refrigerator over the last few months, you would have found a combination of organic skim cow's milk, organic plain soy milk, organic rice milk, organic almond milk and organic coconut milk, and last year, I experimented with raw cow's milk (geez, I've spent a ton of money on milk!).
After all of this sampling, what remains in my fridge today? Organic skim cow's milk and a carton of Silk's almond/coconut blend (Score! Two in one!). As info, I use the almond/coconut blend in smoothies that will also include either yogurt or powdered whey protein.
So, for now, I'm comfortable continuing with organic cow's milk, particularly when I come across articles like the one I included below from The Running Blog by The Guardian. The article (with only minor edits for brevity) aims to prove that milk is the best recovery drink out there. Additionally, several other sources support milk's benefits for post-workout recovery:
For those of us who train hard, want quick recovery and nutrient replenishment, and desire faster results, what we consume, and when, really matters. Based on these articles, milk--with yummy chocolate!--should be on the menu.
THE SECRET POWERS OF CHOCOLATE MILK
Source: The Running Blog by The Guardian
Mo Farah drinks it, scientific studies recommend it, and a round-the-world athlete swears by it – could chocolate milk drink be a runner's best friend?
Studies indicate that chocolate milk contains the ideal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio for post-run recovery.
Mo Farah has a penchant for chocolate milk after races and intense training sessions, but far from being a rare moment when the double Olympic champion strays from his almost monastic nutritional regime, this is actually a vital part of his post-run recovery program.
The explosion of research in sports science over the past decade has allowed elite athletes to approach every aspect of racing in minute detail in a bid to gain even the smallest of edges. And as unlikely as it sounds, there is a growing belief that a humble bottle of chocolate milk may be the best recovery drink out there: "We now know that chocolate milk has the ideal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, which your muscles require to replenish glycogen levels," says Kelly Pritchett of the department of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia.
The surprisingly revitalising qualities of chocolate milk were only discovered by accident. A scientific study looking at the best beverages for post-exercise rehydration was supposed to pit the finest electrolyte sports drinks on the market against each other. Nine elite cyclists were taken through a series of glycogen-depleting exercises, consuming various recovery drinks in between, while a handful were given just milk as a control to gauge the relative benefits of each drink. But in an unexpected twist, the cyclists on milk outperformed their rivals by a considerable margin.
Initially this was thought to be a fluke, but sports scientists from a variety of different institutions have since repeated the experiment with similar results. Chocolate milk contains a three-to-one ratio of carbohydrate grams to protein grams which appears to enhance glycogen replenishment, as well as far more potassium, calcium and vitamin D than most sports drinks. Crucially, chocolate milk also appears to be naturally tuned to human digestive systems – the dairy-intolerant or allergic clearly notwithstanding – containing exactly the right balance of fast-absorbing proteins such as whey protein (which pumps essential amino acids into the bloodstream promoting muscle growth and repair), and slow-absorbing proteins such as casein (which keeps amino acids in the blood stream many hours later, reducing the amount of muscle breakdown).
In response, the manufacturers of Gatorade and other similar post-exercise thirst quenchers have attempted to copy the optimal carbohydrate-protein ratio found in milk, but even with their upgraded products, they cannot outperform the real thing.
"The key thing is there are still no studies which have found chocolate milk to be inferior, so it's always either equal or superior to your over-the-counter recovery drinks," Pritchett says. "And from a cost standpoint, on a weekly basis you're looking at maybe £7 a week versus up to £24. So it's more economical."
While it may appear that the chocolate is only there to make it taste nice, the extra sugar actually plays a key part in ensuring you're getting the post-exercise recommendations for carbohydrate: an 8oz glass of chocolate milk contains about 30-35g of carbohydrate compared to just 12g in normal milk.
With athletes including Farah constantly seeking ways to push the boundaries, several studies have also investigated whether alternative milks such as almond or soy may prove even more effective recovery beverages. But while it was found neither contains the optimum balance that makes low-fat chocolate milk ideal – with soy lacking the carbohydrate content and almond lacking the requisite amount of protein – this research did reveal that timing is crucial.
"In order to enhance recovery, the key is to get the carbohydrate and protein you need in the first two hours after exercise," says Pritchett. "We say this is the window of opportunity, as the ability to replace muscle glycogen is boosted during that period when you have increased blood flow going to the muscles. If you wait longer, it could take more time to restore your natural levels."
Chocolate milk has also been found to be an excellent drink for runners taking part in intense multi-day endurance events. Last September, 52-year-old Tom Denniss, a mathematics researcher from Sydney, broke the world record for a round-the-world run, completing more than 600 consecutive marathons to cover 26,000km in just 622 days. Denniss firmly believes that chocolate milk made a huge difference to his ability to clock up the miles without sustaining injury: "To recover I just sat down at the end of each day, and before the day started, and I'd mix up a litre of chocolate milk," he said. "I found that was really important for hydration. I had always been a reasonably big milk drinker anyway, but I thought that was just me, just what I liked. It turns out it contains exactly the right sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium electrochemical balance which the body requires for the muscle synapses to fire."
"Chocolate milk is a very effective recovery beverage especially when doing something like multiple marathons back to back," Pritchett confirms. "You're not going to be able to recover if you can't get in the carbs and the protein, and the nice thing about it is that it's convenient and it's an easy way to get something in if you find you don't want to eat after exercise."
This entry is a bit of a departure for my blog, which primarily centers on health and wellness subjects. But I feel justified to stray from my usual path today. Because it’s my birthday. My 40th birthday. The Big 4-0. Four decades. Twenty plus twenty. You get the idea. It’s a milestone birthday, so please indulge me as I wax philosophical about my life thus far.
Most of my birthdays over the last decade have come and gone with adequate, yet unmemorable fanfare, and even less reflection. By the time I hit 30, then started having babies, the world became so much less about me, and most of my subsequent birthday celebrations demonstrated that. I say that not to complain, but to make the point that I don’t want this birthday—my, gulp, 40th—to pass by as just another day. Because it’s not. Should I be blessed to live to 80, I’m officially middle age, even though the sweet cashier at Wal-Mart who carded me said middle age is really 55. Bless her.
I teeter between moments of mourning for my youth, and thankfulness that I’ve had this much life. It’s not that I wish I could return to my 20s, because I don’t. I lacked wisdom, humility and perspective that I’ve earned since then through mistakes, loss and perseverance.
It’s just that 40 is, well, FOOOOOORTY. This is when people start saying, “You’re how old? Oh, I hope I look like you when I’m that old.” And, “Oh girl, you look great for your age.”
What else happens at 40? Brown spots. I’m now noticing brown spots. And random gray hairs in conspicuous places. And the insistence on wearing large brimmed hats when I’m in the sun. And less tolerance for teenage shenanigans. And growing pessimism and weariness of government, politics, food quality, the environment and what the future looks like for my boys. Oh, and phobias—of flying, murky ocean water, cruise ships and germs.
Despite all of that, there’s a lot of good stuff about turning 40: four decades’ worth of memorable loving, laughing and living it up—and great health! So, to kick off my mid-life celebration, I’m going to pause long enough to reflect on 20 highlights and reasons for gratitude in my 40 years (in no particular order) :
1. I have functional relationships with my immediate family members. It’s actually better than that, but being a child of divorce and having familial ups and downs since, I’m just thankful that I can call any of my closest relatives and end the conversation with “I love you.”
2. I married a remarkable man. After a bitter breakup with a prior boyfriend in college, I’ll never forget my sister saying to me, “If he’s not the one God intended, think how much better that one will be.” She was right.
3. I was able to get pregnant three times, and deliver two precious boys. Despite losing my second pregnancy, I embrace that experience because it made me more compassionate, humble and relatable.
4. I was able to breastfeed my children—an act that, for me, made me feel wholly woman, perfectly nourished my children and gave greater utility to my body as it was designed.
5. I was raised by parents who were focused on instilling character in me, not on indulging every whim and wish my adolescent heart desired. Character-building moments were often painful, but made me resilient and appreciative.
6. I’ve traveled abroad and throughout North America, which has blessed me with perspective. It taught me that I am such a minute part of this world, yet have an ability to make positive contributions that benefit us all.
7. I was raised in the church and came to accept Christ as my savior at an early age. My faith has served as my compass and foundation throughout my life.
8. I was born in North Carolina. I love that state, and despite growing up mostly in Florida, returning to that state as an adult instantly reconnected me to my roots.
9. I have a small handful of loyal friends. They have sustained me through relocations, remind me of the value of community and raise my spirits when I’m down.
10. I have never been poor, hungry, unsheltered, unwanted or unloved. Considering the immeasurable poverty, homelessness, abuse and anquish experienced by millions in this world, I consider that a significant highlight in my life.
11. I get to pursue my passion for fitness professionally. While the financial compensation is lacking in this field, the reward I receive from clients whose lives are enhanced through my facilitation is highly fulfilling.
12. I had a strong female figure in my life—my grandmother, Priscilla—who was ahead of her time with fashion, nutrition and fitness. By example, she taught me to be independent, confident and brave.
13. I have never had a serious illness or injury. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, being able to move your body as it was designed is, well, everything. I have friends with varying degrees of physical limitations, and their perseverance inspires me and makes me thankful for my full physical capacity.
14. I worked in corporate America for a decade, and while I was reluctant to conform to the confines of cubicle life and corporate speak early on, that experience has paid dividends ever since.
15. I have eaten my favorite food—pizza—all over the world, and am thankful that my top pick comes from a U.S. chain.
16. My last three homes have backed up to woods. Not a big deal to some, but being able to step out on the back porch and see nature in action, hear rustling leaves and watch the seasons change provides an oft needed slice of serenity.
17. I grew up without a dishwasher, clothes dryer, computer and cable tv, and my first car had no AC and a hole in the floor board. Why is this a highlight? Because I sure as heck appreciate having those things now!!
18. I’ve been able to easily secure employment throughout my life. I had great jobs in college, a career in communications with a Fortune 500 company immediately upon graduating, have had my own communications consulting business for years, and have held positions of authority at leading health and wellness businesses. For some folks, good jobs are elusive. I’ve been blessed with several.
19. My palate has evolved such that I truly desire healthy foods over fast foods. I fully embrace and believe the “you-are-what-you-eat” concept, and am thankful to have access to nutritionally dense food options. I grew up eating organic vegetables from my family’s garden. I had no idea then how beneficial and unusual that was to be able to pick fresh lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, green onions, pole beans, gourds and herbs from my own back yard. How I wish I had that now!
20. I stepped on the scale this morning, and my weight is essentially the same as it was when I was 20. Woohoo! Even better, my body composition has improved since my 20s as I have applied what I’ve learned over the years about exercise techniques and clean eating. I’m much leaner and more defined at 40. And I love that my job allows me to help other people achieve similar results.
As I celebrate this birthday and reflect on my life’s journey so far, my heart is full with gratitude. I have been blessed immeasurably more than I could have asked or imagined. Bring on the next 40 (although I’m in no hurry!)!!
Want to help me celebrate? Join me in :
How often have you looked at a magazine and wished you had the body of the model gracing the cover--her long limbs, narrow torso and lighter-than-air presence? If you're an ectomorph, you likely share her figure. But if you're a mesomorph or endomorph, fuggetaboutit, turn the page and delve into an unrelated article, because that's not how you were (wonderfully!) made.
If you're now thinking, "Ecto- what? Endo- who?," allow me to explain.
In the 1940s, a PhD MD by the name of Willam H. Sheldon developed the idea of somatotypes, or human physical types. "People are born with an inherited body type based on skeletal frame and body composition." Generally speaking, the gist is that everyone falls into one of three body type categories: ectomorph--slim, linear type, mesomorph--muscular type, and endomorph--round, higher fat type.
Let's delve deeper into each somatotype, courtesy of directlyfitness.net, to learn common characteristics, male and female examples, training and dieting tips for each one.
The ECTOMORPH Body Type
Ectomorphs are often below the average weight for their height and have a skinny appearance. Ectomorphs tend to have very high metabolisms and often complain of relentless eating with little to no weight gain.
Common Ectomorph Characteristics Include:
Ectomorph Training Tips:
Ectomorph Dieting Tips:
The ENDOMORPH Body Type
The endomorphic body type is the complete opposite of an ectomorph. This individual will usually be larger in appearance with heavier fat accumulation and little muscle definition. They find it hard to drop weight even though they try several diets or workout programs.
Common Endomorph Characteristics Include:
Endomorphs Training Tips:
Endomorphs Dieting Tips:
The MESOMORPH Body Type
The mesomorph is somewhat in between the ectomorph and the endomorph and as such, displays qualities from both. This individual is capable of being both muscular and lean. S/he has a larger frame (bone structure) as the endomorph does, but a low body fat percentage as the ectomorph has. Bodybuilders possess this somatotype.
Common Mesomorph Characteristics Include:
Mesomorph Training Tips:
Mesomorph Dieting Tips:
Most people are a combination of types. You may be predominantly one of these, but recognize characteristics of another type. For instance, I'm an ecto-meso combo based on the characteristics outlined here.
So, which one(s) are you? Once you've identified your dominant somatotype, embrace it, and adopt training, diet and lifestyle habits that allow you to be the healthiest ecto, endo or meso you can be!
Sources: http://www.uh.edu/fitness/comm_educators/3_somatotypesNEW.htm; http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/553976/somatotype; http://www.directlyfitness.com/store/3-body-types-explained-ectomorph-mesomorph-endomorph/
SUBSCRIBE HERE to FitnessIsFreedom.net!
Molly is a wife, mom,
CLICK HERE AND ENTER YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS TO RECEIVE THE LATEST NEWS FROM FITNESSISFREEDOM.NET!
I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.