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10 tips for real food newbies

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10 Tips for Real Food Newbies
 
 
If you're just starting out, just learning and baby-stepping away from packaged and boxed foods into a diet based on wholesome, natural traditional foods, those first few weeks (months? years?) can feel daunting at best, and completely impossible at worst.  It’s hard, especially if you were raised on Lean Cuisine, Pop Tarts and Crystal Light.  Never mind the conflicting information in the media: the government tells you to stick to low fat, but recently published studies illustrate the importance of high quality fats – including butter.  While Nourished Kitchen focuses exclusively on real foods, traditionally prepared to maximize nutrition, the site really centers around the pleasure of cooking – and for those just starting out, just giving up the frozen suppers and drive-thrus, it’s not enough to share recipes or techniques; rather, you need more practical and hands-on advice.

So here it is.  Print it out and pin it to your fridge, because it’s a good one – and I promise not to wax poetic about the luxury of raw cream or a freshly picked peach still warm from the sun – that is, until the next post.

1. Learn to read labels, really read them.

My first bit advice to anyone learning how to ditch processed foods and cook from scratch is simple: learn to read labels. When you take the time to actually read labels thoroughly, you’ll find crazy words like disodium guanylate, TBHQ (a form of butane – that’s lighter fluid!), MSG (a neurotoxin), artificial colors, nitrates and nitrites, BHA and BHT, and others. Taking the time to read labels, and then follow up on the ingredients you don’t immediately recognize is often enough to prevent you from tossing those foods into your shopping basket.  After all, who wants to serve up a plate of food laced with lighter fluid, neurotoxins and known human carcinogens to their children?

My first bit advice to anyone learning how to ditch processed foods and cook from scratch is simple: learn to read labels. When you take the time to actually read labels thoroughly, you’ll find crazy words like disodium guanylate, TBHQ (a form of butane – that’s lighter fluid!), MSG (a neurotoxin), artificial colors, nitrates and nitrites, BHA and BHT, and others. Taking the time to read labels, and then follow up on the ingredients you don’t immediately recognize is often enough to prevent you from tossing those foods into your shopping basket.  After all, who wants to serve up a plate of food laced with lighter fluid, neurotoxins and known human carcinogens to their children?

2. Ditch the boxes and packages and learn to stick to single-ingredient foods.

So once you’ve read the labels on those boxes, backs, tins and packages of processed foods, it’s time to ditch them.  Make the move to single ingredient foods; that is, only purchase foods from the store that contain one ingredient: a bag of brown rice, a bottle of olive oil, a package of butter, a pint of honey.

3. Give up that low-fat mentality, and dive into some butter and olive oil and maybe even tallow.

Do yourself a favor, and give up that low-fat mentality.  The low-fat, low-cholesterol dietary dogma of the 70s, 80s and 90s has largely been discredited; moreover, it’s probably worse for our collective health as it ignores our evolutionary heritage and the very foods that nourished the good health of our ancestors who were largely free of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Learn to love real fats: butter, coconut oil, olive oil and even grass-fed tallow and pastured lard.

4. Ditch refined sweeteners, and choose unrefined sweeteners in strict moderation.

Ditch the sugar, the high fructose corn syrup and, yes, even the agave nectar.  Sugar, natural and traditional or otherwise, is not good for anyone’s health; however, if you need a little something sweet to help you make that transition and reset your tastebuds, add raw honey, molasses, date sugar, unrefined cane sugar, sorghum syrup and brown rice syrup to your basket.  Moreover, use these sweeteners in smaller and smaller quantities each time you prepare a dish, whip up a batch of cookies or sweeten your tea.

5. Shop for fresh, local and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables  number among my many not-so-secret loves, but if you’re going to start cooking real food for your family, you need to start to love them too.  Don’t be fooled by the seemingly low prices of frozen and tinned vegetables; on a ounce-by-ounce basis, they’re not less expensive than fresh vegetables, purchased on sale and in season.  Besides, fresh vegetables – particularly picked recently from local farms practicing sustainable methods – often offer richer and more complex flavors.  Good flavor helps you to feed your family foods they’ll actually like – without dousing them in processed food additives or boiling them to death over the range.

6. Shop for fresh milk, or, at the very least, always choose grass-fed.

I’ve shared my love of fresh milk and why I drink raw milk before, but if you can tolerate dairy foods, choosing the right milks, butters, cheeses and creams makes all the difference – not only in flavor, but also in nutritive value.  Fresh milk from grass-fed cows is rich in micronutrients; what’s more, it’s also rich in immune-building beneficial bacteria and food enzymes.  If fresh milk just isn’t your style, at the very least choose vat-pasteurized milk from grass-fed cows as it is richer in nutrients and wholesome fats than conventionally produced milk and a far sight better than even most organic milk you find in the dairy case atyour grocery store.

7. Learn to love (the right) meats.

Much like choosing milk, the effort you place into choosing the right meats makes all the difference.  The conditions of concentrated animal feed operations are deplorable, but there’s an alternative beyond meatless Mondays and out-and-out vegetarianism.  Choosing meats from pasture- and grass-based operations ensures that you consume high quality meats from animals that were raised with respect for their natural diets and humane treatment.  These meats are richer in micronutrients, less apt to contamination by pathogens like e. coli and salmonella, and are better sources of wholesome fats than their conventionally raised counterparts.

8. Develop a repertoire of fast, easy, simple foods your family actually likes (so you don’t end up in the drive-thru).

Once you’ve figured out what not to buy, and also what it’s best to buy, it’s best to develop a plan that’ll prevent you from relapsing into your old ways and the unhealthy comfort of a standard american diet.  We all get stressed.  We all become overworked.  We all become tired, so it’s important to have a back-up plan – a repertoire of fast, easy and simple foods that your family can appreciate and that keep you from heading to the drive-thru.  Things like chicken fingers (made with almond flour, and without TBHQ), or homemade sun tea instead of soda, or, better yet, learn to use your slowcooker to make healthy “no-fuss” meals.

9. Try some super foods.  Who knows? you may end up loving them.

Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Traditional peoples thrived on foods native to their region and these invariably included some form of a highly nutrient-dense food: liver, roe, shellfish, oily fish, fresh butter, cod liver oil.  Sure, liver may not sound appealing initially, but it’s extraordinarily rich in vitamins and you might not even notice it, if you prepare it properly.

10. Give back to the real food community.

Lastly, give back to the real food community.  Share with friends – not only articles covering real food, or real food recipes, but also by preparing wholesome meals for your family or for get-togethers.  Use social media like twitter and facebook to share articles, your favorite blogs, ideas and activism alerts (did you know you can follow Nourished Kitchen on Facebook?).  Volunteer at your local farmers market.  Plant a community garden.  Give some real food to your food bank.  Teach schoolchildren how to cook.  Just give back, because the movement depends on each one of us.

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Low-Calorie Foods That Will Actually Fill You Up

By Diana Kelly 

Ever have those days when you feel hungry all day long? Us, too! The good news is there are plenty of healthy foods and meal combinations you can enjoy to help you feel full without breaking your calorie bank. The key is prioritizing the following three components for weight loss: protein, water and fiber. According to Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Eat Your Way to Sexy, “All three or any one of these will fill you up before they fill you out, so you push away from the table before you’ve overeaten.”

But before you start rooting through your fridge and cupboards, be sure to drink a glass of cold water and wait 15 minutes. Since people often mistake thirst for hunger, you may find the craving to eat subsides, Somer says. But, if you truly are hungry, reach for these weight loss-friendly foods when you need more substance for fewer calories.

1. Choose Filling Grains

To maximize that feel-full factor, choose 100 percent whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal. The filling fiber in oats helps balance blood sugar levels, unlike the roller coaster ride caused by sugary breakfasts, says Somer. Looking for an especially satiating whole-grain breakfast? Cook whole oats in milk for a protein, water and fiber - packed meal that will help prevent overeating later in the day.

2. Go Back to Black

You’ve swapped white rice for brown — but what about black? This lesser-known grain packs a hefty dose of fiber and antioxidants, with fewer carbs and calories than its white and brown counterparts. (A half-cup of cooked black rice is 90 calories compared to the 102 calories in white rice and 108 calories in brown rice.) Try sprinkling the flavorful grain on salads, in burritos or as a hearty side dish, suggests Manuel Villacorta, RD, author ofPeruvian Power Foods.

3. Eat Energy-Burning Greens

Veggies that burn calories? Now there’s a reason to eat your vegetables! According to Foods That Cause You To Lose Weight: The Negative Calorie Effect, one cup of broccoli contains just 25 calories and requires up to 80 calories to digest in the body, meaning you’ve burned 55 calories just by eating it! Not a broccoli fan? Try asparagus, cauliflower, celery or zucchini when you want an energy-efficient snack.

4. Go All in With Watermelon

Half of every plate or snack should be colorful produce, which is a combo of fiber and water to fill you up on fewer calories, says Somer. This summer, try satisfying your sweet tooth with water-logged watermelon. Two cups contain less than 100 calories and nearly half the recommended daily value of vitamin C!

5. Hit Bean Town

“Legumes [provide] the perfect combo of weight loss ingredients,” says Somer. They’re excellent sources of fiber and may help prevent against disease, studies have found. Beans specifically are a great food for waistline watchers as they also contain fiber, complex carbs and a host of antioxidants and nutrients. Consider stocking up on chickpeas, black beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, fava beans, red kidney beans and edamame. From soups and stews to salads and wraps, the possibilities are endless!

6. Soup for You

Studies show that people who include broth-based soups (even the low-calorie ones) in their diets consume fewer calories at mealtime. So if you’re at a restaurant, try a broth-based soup with fiber-filled veggies (like this one!) to help you eat less and keep your hands out of the bread basket. Pro tip: Ask the server to put half of your main dish in a to-go container before you see it on your plate. Voilà! You’ll shave off calories, fat and you’ve got lunch for tomorrow!

7. Add More Moo

You haven’t had milk with dinner since you were a kid, but you might want to reconsider. Research has shown that regularly consuming low-fat or fat-free dairy products, is a habit that can help you stay satisfied and slim. To get the recommended three servings per day, try starting your day with a cottage cheese- or yogurt-based breakfast, drink a glass of low-fat milk with your afternoon snack, or opt for low-fat chocolate milk post-workout (which may also help with exercise recovery!).

8. Drink Green

If you haven’t tried green smoothies yet, you’ve been missing out on a seriously nutrient-dense snack. Made with spinach, kale, collard, mustard or any other greens, green drinks are rich in vitamins and minerals, while providing feel-full fiber for very few calories (and no, they don’t quite taste like salad). For a tasty 140-calorie Green Smoothie, try your hand at this recipe from Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson. Start with 1/4 ripe sliced banana, 1/4 cup seedless green grapes, 1/4 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks, 1/2 cup fresh spinach, 1/4 green apple, sliced, 1/8 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt and 1 ounce of fresh or no-sugar added canned pineapple chunks. Add a ½-cup of ice and blend until smooth. Bottoms up!

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The Importance of Stretching and Flexibility

img 2201Flexibility development is perhaps for many sports men and women a neglected component of fitness. This may be because of the seeming lack of applicability of flexibility to performance in team sports. Whereas a Gymnast and dancer can see the immediate benefits of excellent flexibility as it is a key component in their relative activities, the game player’s need for good flexibility is less obvious. Is there a need to develop the same degree of flexibility in a games player as that demonstrated by the Gymnast. The answer is simply ‘No’. However, there is a need to ensure that the player:

a) is not limited in his performance by a flexibility limitation and
b) ensures he or she has a well-balanced degree of flexibility to ensure there is no flexibility issue in predisposing him to injury.

What is Flexibility?

Flexibility has been variously defined as freedom to move, mobilization or more technically, the range of motion (ROM) achievable in a joint or group of joints. Range of motion may be measured either in linear units (e.g. inches or centimetres) or angular units (degrees). All the experts agree that flexibility is specific for each joint. So that good range of motion about the hip does not ensure good range of motion about the shoulder. Similarly ROM in one hip may not be highly related to ROM about the other hip and so on.

Types of Flexibility

There are two basic types of flexibility, static and dynamic. Static flexibility relates to ROM about a joint with no emphasis on movement speed. For example static flexibility is utilised when the gymnast performs a split. For the Rugby player the front row will require good shoulder but not excessive flexibility to maintain constant and static pressure on the opposition in a scrum. Thus there is a certain requirement for static flexibility in sport. Dynamic flexibility on the other hand corresponds to the ability to use a range of movement in performance of a physical activity at either normal or rapid speed. This is the type of flexibility that predominates in most sports. Here, too, flexibility is specific. If a golfer who is limited in shoulder rotation will not possess the ideal ROM in the back or down swing. Thus dynamic and static flexibility are required in most sports and different sports make different flexibility demands.


img 2783Stretching vs. Flexibility Development

A distinction should be made between flexibility training and stretching carried out during warm-ups. Flexibility training aims to make a long term improvement in flexibility or ROM about a joint. Stretching on the other hand is intended to ‘loosen’ out the muscles and connective tissue that will be taxed during the subsequent training session.


The Importance of Flexibility Training

As we have already noted the foundation upon which all physical fitness development is based is on a sound functional competence. Sound functional competence implies having a normal ROM about the joint during common functional movements that are applicable to sport. In addition there has to be a good degree of stability balancing this normal ROM about the joint. Limitations in flexibility about a joint will impact on the efficiency of movement of the athlete or player. On the other hand optimum flexibility helps to eliminate movement that is awk­ward and/or inefficient. This has the effect of improving sporting performance. Because of this important benefit, fitness coaches should impress upon all athletes and players that flexibility training is important. Even if the athlete has no evident limitations in their functional competence it is still important to continue to maintain a normal ROM throughout the training process. Sometimes an athlete can develop a ROM limitation if he or she fails to attend to regular ROM resetting in particular after competition or intensive capacity training. Restoring a normal ROM after intense training or playing or competing is an important strategy in ensuring continued normal ROM.

The foam roller is used for self-applied, deep-tissue massage of your muscle tissue. Foam roller massage can be performed as part of warm-up, before training, or at any time as recovery work. This is something I urge my clients and everyone to do to better benefit your fitness, and your health.

Deep-tissue massage creates longer, smoother, healthier muscle tissue which:

  • recovers faster
  • doesn’t become as sore
  • allows for great mobility
  • is stronger
  • is more injury-resistant
  • trains more readily
  • improves posture

The act of foam rolling itself also improves:

  • balance
  • body-awareness

Foam Roller Massage is best performed after warming-up, and prior to static stretching and dynamic mobility exercises.

  • Warm-up
  • Foam Roller Massage
  • Static Stretching
  • Dynamic Mobility

Perform foam roller deep-tissue over your entire muscle, usually in halves of thirds. Do this by resting your body-weight on the foam roller, on the segment of your muscle for about 15-20 seconds. The foam roller can cover more areas then the ones I mention, but you can ask me, another professional, or go to a seminar before doing the harder areas.

Foam Roller massage can be performed on your:

  • upper back
  • pecs
  • lats
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • adductors
  • it-band
  • quads
  • hip-flexors
  • shins
  • calves
  • neck
  • feet

When you encounter a “trigger point” — which is a tender knot in your muscle — rest on that spot, breathe deeply, and slowly massage back-and forth and side-to-side with a subtle rocking motion for about 20 seconds like I said earlier, or until the tenderness you feel decreases by about 50%. Working individual knots this way is called “trigger point therapy.”

Regular iterations of “Trigger Point Therapy” will cause the knots in your muscles to release over time, through a process called “Myofascial Release.”

When you aren’t able to find any new trigger points, upgrade to a denser foam roller, and you’ll be sure to find more.

Foam roller massage is not just for athletes — non-athletes stand to gain from deep-tissue massage because becoming mobile enough to properly perform basic human movements will help to avoid overuse injuries and chronic pain later in life.

To be safe, don’t roll on you lower back, don’t roll on joints or any other boney prominences, and be sure to take a Functional Movement Screen with your local trainer or physical therapist. The Functional Movement Screen will help to safely guide you toward solid functional movement patterns.

And remember to be patient — becoming mobile and strong throughout basic functional movement patterns requires a long term commitment to foam roller deep-tissue massage and other recovery work.

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Cardio Interval Training and Why It Works

With new research on exercise steadily surfacing, it can be hard to keep up with the headlines. But amid the many calls to change your routine, one thing seems to remain constant: the benefits of interval training. Some of my favorite evidence:

A study in the Journal of Physiology found that 20 minutes of interval training (30-second bursts followed by four minutes of recovery) produced the same physiological adaptations in the body and improvements in performance as 90 minutes of continuous cardio at a moderate pace. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who practiced high-intensity interval training for 15 weeks had a reduction in subcutaneous fat (the kind that sits just below your skin) that was nine times greater than those who performed steady-state cardio workouts for 20 weeks. And the list goes on and on.

Here's 30-minute routine for the treadmill to freshen up your sessions or workouts.

As always, feel free to adjust the speed up or down as you feel necessary; just make sure you're challenging yourself.

How can you change your metabolism?

image01(1) If you want to change your metabolism, you have to increase muscle mass and increase your muscle's oxidative capacity. Your muscles have these energy producing units called 'mitochondria' and this is where ATP are made and fats are burned.

The more mitochondria you have and the more active they are the greater oxidative capacity you will have for fat loss. HIIT(high intensity interval training) increases mitochondrial capacity and you actually increase the amount of mitochondria you produce. Studies show that you get greater fat loss through high intensity training because of the increase in oxidative capacity. Whereas with LISS(low intensity steady state training) you're only burning calories at that precise moment, there's no 24 hour energy expenditure (boost in metabolism) and it hurts you down the line because your body adjusts to it and you end up needing more to lose fat. With HIIT you are burning calories at the moment but you actually change the muscles metabolism and it boosts your metabolism because you increase the mitochondria density of your muscle, so you increase the muscles oxidative capacity and you really do burn more calories. What most people don't realize is you have to put your body in an uncomfortable mode and use the max energy expenditure.

Reminder, I'm not saying to not do long steady cardio, like; marathons, triathlons, cross country running, trail running, long bouts on the treadmill/outdoors, etc. I'm mainly talking about the effects cardio interval training(HIIT or IT) has on your workouts, to better your gains in a different way.

The Bottom Line

Do the type of cardio that you have a personal preference for. Whichever one fires you up the most because you'll most likely work harder at it. HIIT is quicker, proves to be more effective for fat loss, creates metabolic changes, and helps with muscle retention but not everybody can do HIIT. LISS is safer, but takes twice as long to accomplish similar things and it still has its place for fat loss in moderate amounts, from a pure calorie burning standpoint (meaning only to burn calories & not make changes to your metabolism). My intentions weren't to favor one form of cardio and bash the other, even though it sounded like that. My intent was to educate and bring awareness that science is proving good results with HIIT cardio.

There are many ways to work out on a treadmill, but my favorite are intervals. Changing your pace every few minutes busts through the boredom often associated with indoor running, and once you set your pace on the treadmill, it's difficult to cheat. In this workout, the running speed pushes you beyond your comfort zone with a gradual build, and the minute-long recovery is just long enough to lower your heart rate and rev up for the next interval. Another reason to love intervals: they help you lose belly fat. This workout combines running with walking, so if you're new to intervals, then you should definitely give it a try.

The key to effective exercise for weight loss and overall health is not duration but intensity. The long slow constant speed aerobics that we've all been trained to believe is so good for us is exactly the wrong thing for us to be doing all the time. – Partial reference from: http://jonnybowdenblog.com/interval-training-weight-loss/#sthash.DDN42TMH.dpuf

I'm here to tell you that if you don't like running, you don't need to be spending hours a day on a treadmill or out jogging around your neighborhood to lose weight. In fact, those hours of running could actually be causing you a litany of healthy issues that I can help you avoid. There's a type of advanced training that not only burns calories more efficiently than just cardio, but it can also increase your aerobic breathing capacity MORE than just cardio while also increasing your capacity for max sprinting ability.

(warning – interval training is not for beginners. You should at least be familiar with these exercises before attempting interval training).

Why interval training?

Your heart is a muscle: If you keep your heart beating at a constant rate, and never expanding it outside of its comfort zone, it will never grow. If you do 100 benchpresses with 10 pounds and don't "feel it", your chest will never develop. Same thing with your heart...if it's not feeling the exertion, it doesn't have to work harder, and nothing has changed. However, when you throw some intervals in there, your heart will have to work harder, pump more blood, and work harder to return to normal levels.

Interval training promotes a healthier physique. I know this is pretty superficial, but who doesn't want to look good? Weight training plays a HUGE rule. However, it's a lot easier to get weight training in when you don't have to run for 2-3 hours a day.

Interval training improves both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. As referenced in this post from Mark's Daily Apple, Dr. Tabata's "famous study on moderate and high-intensity interval training helped legitimize a movement – away from chronic cardio and toward high-intensity workouts. This studies showed that high-intensity intermittent training actually improves both anaerobic (intensity and muscle building) and aerobic (slower, oxygen consuming) body systems, while aerobic exercise only improves aerobic systems." Two for one!

So try something new, and see how it goes for you. Go on the Facebook page to give your new program, or to make comments. Visit us on Facebook @RiseNGrindFitnessGym

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Tips for Better Eating and a More Fit Lifestyle

Truthfully, health and fitness isn't hard to attain.

Consistency is a major key in reaching your health and fitness goals, but that is common knowledge. In fact, you probably would have told me how important consistency is had I asked you for some tips on weight loss. It's that easy.

Easy to say, but very hard to do. There are too many reasons not to succeed. Finding time, tracking, it's an ordeal and could seem very overwhelming.

At Rise N Grind Fitness we focus on helping you to be consistent because we cover all of the necessary bases. Check out our 5 steps to reaching your health and fitness goals and leads to long term consistency. Whether it's working on eating better, or the fitness aspect.

1. Set Goals - Short term, so that you can attain them in your lifestyle.

2. Evaluate - Take a look at your goals and see if it will work for you.

3. Design a Comprehensive Program - Start from finding things that are doable in your daily schedule and create a list, or calendar.

4. Implement the Program - Set the times/days and make it happen.

5. Re-evaluate - After a week or two, see if there's more efficient ways to make the plan better, and add another goal if you finished one.

All of our clients fill out a food journal, works out with with a monthly calendar, and we do all of this together. Make sure to check out the other blogs for tips. Hopefully it motivates you to be more consistent.

70 percent food

I totally agree with the above saying – "abs are made in the kitchen". In other words, eating better helps you lose the fat around your midsection. This lowers body fat so that ab muscles are visible. So, eat a lot of unhealthy "fake stuff" and you have a big tummy, eat real whole foods stuff and it will help you have a smaller tummy.

Do you feel like you are doing everything "right" but it isn't happening fast enough? Before you give up or buy into a "quick fix gimmick" understand THESE things: It takes a 3500 calorie DEFICIT to lose one lb of fat. So, in order to lose an average of 2 lbs a week you need to burn or deplete 7000 calories. 2 lbs a week may not seem like a lot but that is 104 lbs in a YEAR. Now, you may vary slightly- but losing "30 lbs in a month" of FAT is just not physically possible or healthy. You are losing MUSCLE mass at that point and you WILL rebound from that.

Though at the same time knowing this, doesn't mean you can't eat things off your diet, like "cheat meals". Just be consistent in doing what you need to do. Those "cheat meals" won't affect your progress...in moderation of course.

10-4a5a760d-591018-128010-d4568173-1178926-128010-3ff42491-611296-128010-7e01c771-357238-1280

Eating healthier doesn't mean, it's a boring salad, its bland/boring, it tastes like diet so it must be a "diet". These are all things that don't look or taste bad, well to me of course.

So go back to the top of the blog, and write or type out the 5 steps to reaching your health and fitness goals. After you got that, put your goals in after, "set goals", and finish steps 2 through 5. If you don't mind people seeing your goals and or 1-5 steps, post it in the comment/status section of my Facebook www.facebook.com/LukePTConditioning to share with other people and myself. Doing that, will help you get more ideas from people on their 5 steps, and feedback.

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How To Stay Consistent In Your Fitness

This blog will be dedicated to health and wellness. I hope to help people see and feel the importance of it.  Touching over some nutrition, how to do certain exercises w/pictures and videos.  Even getting into different types of training or training “fads”.  A lot of variety, and a lot of ground to cover, but I’ll try my best to help you guys understand the topics, and not make it so vague or unanswered, like other blogs or articles may do. 

I’d like to share a 4 week series blog. You can expect to see a lot of your fitness questions covered and answered.  There’s 4 important elements to be successful in exercising; Consistency, Food, Interval Cardio, and Flexibility.  Everyone of them compliment the other, but the one that’s at the top of all is the one we’re going to talk about.  Which would be consistency.  There are three definitions of consistency that I like:

1. Reliability or uniformity of successive results or events.

2. Correspondence among related aspects; compatibility.

3. Agreement or harmony between parts of something complex; compatibility.

They all ring true to things in life, that we try to have, but might fall short from sometimes.  Let’s say we’re at work, slaving all day, staring at the donuts a co-worker brought in trying not fall into temptation, looking at the clock while trying to finish up your work so you can make it to the group class at the gym, but it all ends up in failure because you finished your work way late.  You missed the time for class, and was hungry for staying so late that you got up and ate two donuts.  Has this happened to you?

Consistency is one of the keys to longevity. Imagine having the absolute best strength and conditioning program in history in your fingertips.  Complete it, and you’ll be as lean, muscular, and strong as you could possibly ever desire.

Now, imagine taking that program, and only performing 50% of it because you got sick, work got busy, or your kids had soccer practice during your normal gym time.  Results wouldn’t be so great, huh?

Now, imagine a second scenario: taking a strength and conditioning program that is only 50% as “good” – but performing it with 100% adherence: no missed sessions and no sessions cut-short.

Life is like a roller coaster, with many ups and down and those unexpected turns.  Here are some suggestions to make you more consistent with your strength and conditioning programs.

1. Write exercise into your schedule. – I’m always amazed that people will schedule haircuts, oil changes, and massages, but they won’t pencil their exercise sessions into the schedule.  If it’s important, you make time for it instead of finding time for it. This quick change in your approach to scheduling exercise will pay big dividends.

2. Find accountability online. – You don’t have to look any further than various forums on the internet to find loads of people who can walk a mile in your shoes.  They’ll talk you through problems, offer encouragement, and introduce you to new workout ideas that will keep you motivated and making progress.  Use friends/family to workout with, co-workers, online groups, images on instagram/pinterest, online apps etc.

Taking it a step further, get a family member or friend on board with your strength and conditioning program.  Get a trainer, or even bring that family or friend with you to training and do a tandem or group training workout.  You’ll have someone to whom you must be accountable, not to mention a spotters handy whenever you need one!

3. Keep exercise clothes in your car. – I know a lot of people who have canned their training sessions at the end of a long day at work because they forgot to bring their training clothes with them.  This is why you ought to have an extra pair of socks, sneakers, shorts, and a t-shirt in your car at all times just in case.  You never know when you’ll need them.

4. Train at the time when you’re most energized. – If you’re a morning person, training at the end of a long day of work is a recipe for disaster; you’ll cut every corner possible during your exercise session – and that’s if you even make it to the gym.  Likewise, if you have always struggled to wake up in the morning, 6AM training sessions probably aren’t going to be super productive.  Pick a time that means you’ll be bringing the “A” game.

These seven suggestions are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring adherence to a program.  That said, I’d encourage you to share your strategies in the comments section below so that others can find the right “consistency mix” for their strength and conditioning programs.

Part reference to Men’s Health: http://blogs.menshealth.com/fitness-pros/how-to-be-more-consistent-with-your-strength-and-conditioning-programs/2012/05/03/#ixzz2k5UEPaqy

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Toned Abs: One of the Most Sought After Body Parts People Would Like to Have!

By Jason Christoff

We all have abs, but most of us have a layer of body fat that hides them.With eating clean and dedication to the gym at least four to five times a week, I started to see my abs in about two months. *Diet is the most important factor for getting your abs right and exercising and weight lifting will help define your abs.

It IS possible and it CAN be done!

Diet: Maintain a diet that’s high in protein (organic chicken, wild fish, organic extra lean beef), moderate in fats (raw organic almond butter, raw organic nuts, organic avocado, organic olive oil), and low in carbs (organic sweet potato, organic brown rice, organic vegetables & organic berries). Be careful of the size of your portions with each meal(keep them small), and be sure you’re eating small meals or healthy snacks every three to four hours to help speed up your metabolism. And… drink lots of spring water, it helps a lot!

Exercise: Any core work you do with a stability ball or Bosu ball will absolutely help strengthen your midsection and help make your abs pop. You can perform crunches, planks, ab roll outs, ball rotations, knee tucks, etc… on these types of balls. If you want to make your muscles bigger, lift heavier. You can add some weighted exercises to the mix to increase the size of your ab muscles. You can perform weighted crunches (using cable), weighted russian twists with a heavy dumbbell or medicine ball, weighted sit ups, medicine ball toss, etc. Finally, exercises like the plank and others that you can hold for a minute at a time will help show the muscularity of your muscles.

Fat Burning Tip: To help burn more fat, consider doing high intensity interval training twice per week. An example is getting on a treadmill and sprinting for 30 seconds and then walking for one minute. Repeat this anywhere from six to 10 times.

"You don't need folate, you need spinach. You don't need vitamin D, you need sunshine. You don't need liposuction, you need movement. You don't need calcium, you need almonds. You don't need antibiotics, you need rest. You don't need science. You only need nature."

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When Desire Isn’t Enough: 3 Tricks To Get Your Transformation Back On Track

If it were easy to transform, everybody would do it. So why don't they? Because they fall in common traps along the way. Here's your roadmap around the biggest three culprits!

Your New Year's Resolution this year was a doozie. After feeling inspired by reading seemingly everybody else's incredible transformation story, you decided it was your time. You spent days scouting out the perfect workout program, made a list of everything you couldn't eat (and what a list it was!), told everyone your plans, and then wiled away night after night tweaking the details on your fitness app.

Fast forward two months, and that after-picture isn't so vivid in your mind anymore. The image in the mirror says you barely changed at all. You started off strong, but then began falling into your old habits, going to the gym less than you'd planned, and just got burned out. Now you're starting to suspect—yet again—that perhaps a transformation isn't in the cards for you.

Why do we fall short in our most cherished goals? There's no simple answer, since we're all different in terms of our driving forces and individual psychology. But there are common themes, such as setting goals that are far too big or drastic for the timeframe, or developing an all-or-nothing mentality.

I offer an alternative viewpoint that can drastically impact your results over what remains of this transformative year—and there's plenty left, by the way. My three-point plan won't give you a magic formula for what rep scheme to use or what macros to ingest to melt away your former self, but if used correctly, it will drastically impact the results you achieve and leave you ready to set some new goals next January.

Rule 1: Set Realistic Benchmarks

When setting goals, most people shoot for the stars. This is great, and I encourage my clients to aim high. If you are inspired to transform by someone else's successful transformation, that "eyes on the prize" motivation is crucial to keeping you excited through the long, repetitive work of a transformation.

However, I also advise people to be realistic about what they want. If you have 50 pounds to lose to hit your goal weight, don't expect to drop all of it in just 3-4 months. This doesn't mean that such a drastic weight loss is impossible—on the contrary, it's very possible—but obsessing over a big, round number may not be the best way to achieve it.

If you still see your old weight staring up at you from the scale, it's time to break down your lofty goal into more realistic chunks. Do you think you could manage a 1-2 pound per week loss for the next few months? I bet you could. Once you achieve this goal a few times, you'll find a rhythm in your program and the weight will add up more quickly than you think.

Once you lose the first 10-15 pounds, weight loss often slows down. It's a natural process, because once you weigh less, you burn less energy. So realistically, you should expect a slower rate of loss the closer you get to your goal. A pound per week loss is a realistic goal to build around here, and anything more than that is gravy (not literally). Understanding how this process works gives you an idea of what to expect, and how to stay clearheaded as you navigate toward the end goal.

"Yeah, but I want it now!" you say. I get it. But understand that your long-term health and well-being are well worth the time involved. If, by some trick of self-denial and pharmaceutical tinkering, you are able to magically wake up skinny one day, you're far more likely to wake up fat soon after. You don't want that. So prepare yourself for a journey.

Rule 2: Forget Rigid Meal Planning

Look at those transformations, and you'll consistently see diet listed as the hardest thing for most people to master. It's not because they don't know what to eat, or when to eat. It's because it took them a long time to learn how to bend a diet without breaking it.

Unless you're an athlete who has to make weight for a meet, missing a meal here or there is not the end of your long-term changes. Focus on establishing habits you can maintain for a lifetime. No one ever got fat by enjoying 2-3 meals per week that were outside of their healthy meal plan; they fell out of shape when those 2-3 bad meals per week turned into 2-3 per day. The lesson here: contain the explosion.

As long as you stay active and aware of your daily food choices, you have the mindset it takes to get to your end goal. Simply being aware that food is a choice is a huge improvement over most people's mindset. Don't mistake feeling guilty all the time for awareness. Given how long it takes to transform a body, I guarantee that unexpected circumstances will throw a wrench in your dietary diagram here and there.

More often than not, these wrenches will come in the familiar form of friends and family. Should this make them the enemy? Not if you want to enjoy your life, or have actual people (as opposed to online avatars) around to compliment you on your post-transformation body. The key is to reframe the issue. Realize that the act of enjoying food in good company is good for you psychologically. It's nourishment for your spirit, and your spirit is the motor that will ultimately get you to the end of a transformation.

If you know you're going to a birthday party Saturday evening, do you best to follow your diet leading up to that day, and then enjoy some goodies in moderation. That's right: enjoy them. It's just one meal and one day. Tomorrow is a new day with new choices. Repeat those two sentences as often as necessary.

Rule 3: Learn How to Press Reset

If you are anything like me, your diet and training are important to you. I plan a lot of my day around food and training. However, that doesn't mean my plans don't land in the gutter sometimes.

There are times when you get sick, or injured, and you have to take time off from the gym. There will be weeks or months when you travel so frequently that you can barely watch your diet and can't train like you plan. Guess what? It is OK. Learn how to press reset.

What does this mean in action? Do not just lay there in bed trying to convince yourself that all isn't lost. Realize that overcoming challenges enhances the secret skill that defines the physically fit: to find a way to keep moving forward. Shoulder tweaked? Work your legs and lungs. Calves so dominated by DOMs that you can barely walk? Do pull-ups. Did a plantar fasciitis flare-up knock you down? You can always work on your core.

Even if you find yourself missing three or more consecutive days of training, don't beat yourself up about it. Close your eyes, breathe, relax. Think of your life as an arrow that always points ahead. Then get back on track the following day. One or two days of going off your diet or training doesn't have to turn into a weeklong binge or training hiatus.

Life is uncertain, which means training is uncertain. It doesn't have to negatively affect you. If you catch yourself in a pattern you don't wish to be in, stop and press reset. Don't waste any time being mad or upset with yourself. Just keep going. You can always move forward.

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Does Exercising Help Get Rid Of Cellulite?

Cellulite causes skin to look dimpled and bumpy instead of smooth. This condition generally affects women rather than men, and it appears most commonly on the butt, thighs and sometimes the stomach. Having a healthy weight and a toned body plays an important role in reducing cellulite, although it does not cure the condition. Nevertheless, you can significantly reduce its appearance.

Weight and Cellulite

Having too little muscle and too much fat can cause or worsen cellulite, but even healthy, slender people can have it. The International Dermal Institute explains that 80 to 90 percent of adult women display this condition --and, of course, it is not true that 90 percent of women have too much fat. Clearly, other factors affect the existence of cellulite. Scientists point to fluid retention and lost skin elasticity as well as a fat-and-muscle imbalance. Hence, exercise cannot offer a perfect cure, especially for an active, fit woman of a healthy weight.

Burning Calories to Reduce Fat

Research studies have found that losing weight can decrease cellulite. Because exercise burns calories, it can help reduce your excess fatty tissue. Cellulite makes skin look bumpy because fat tissue bulges out between the connective tissue just under your skin. As you lose excess fat, the fat bulges less, and it lays flatterand closer to the connective tissue, smoothing the appearance of your skin.

Strength Training to Increase Muscle

As cellulite can stem from an imbalance of muscle tissue and fat tissue, building muscle helps just as much as losing fat. Toning your muscles helps give your body a smooth, firm appearance, whereas weak or flaccid muscles exacerbate the bumpy, uneven look of cellulite.

In addition to doing cardio to lose weight, you should also devote time to working your muscles. Choose exercises that target the location of your cellulite. For example, if you have cellulite on your bum, then leg presses, lunges and squats will increase muscle tissue and make your butt look smoother and firmer.

Combining Exercise with Diet

Exercise plays a key role in weight loss, but it only works effectively when coupled with proper food intake. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn each day. Regular exercise helps your body burn more calories and boost your metabolism overall. To ensure your weight-loss success, however, you should combine exercise with counting calories.

Warning: Although many women who have cellulite can lose weight healthily, some thin women also have cellulite. Sufficiently slender or underweight women should not lose weight just to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

REFERENCES "Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy"; Cellulite: A Review of Its Physiology and Treatment; Matthew Avram; 2004

South Shore YMCA: Women's Strength Training: The Cellulite Connection

International Dermal Institute: Cellulite: What Is It, Where Does It Come From, and How Do I Make It Go Away

University of New Mexico: Cellulite: A Review of its Anatomy, Physiology and Treatment

American Council on Exercise: Exercise and Cellulite

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Resolutioners, You’re Two Months In...

We are just over 2 months into the new year and many resolutioners haven’t made as much progress as they’d have thought they would by now. If you are one of the people I’m talking about, this article is for you. You probably pack your own lunch most of the time and realize that in order to be in full control of what goes into your mouth and through your body, you’ve got to do plan your meals on a regular basis.

But every now and then you just don’t. You get up late and don’t have time. You’re not in the mood to cook the night before. The fridge is empty and you’re not in the mood to run to the store, etc. There’s a myriad of reasons, all of which end up in you chalking your lunch up to a cheat meal and following your co-workers to that trendy and chic lunch cart that they’ve been raving about, or the hip new sandwich shop that’s always got a line of people spilling out into the sidewalk. This happens once a week but hey, you’re good the rest of the week. One small cheat meal a week can only put a small dent in your progress at most, right?

Wrong. Your “tiny” cheat meal is the culprit. Even if it’s billed as something healthy or organic, most takeout and restaurant food is very calorie dense with way too little fiber and vegetables. Just one burrito can pack a whole day’s worth of calories, or more. “But Khalid, I’m human. I have a spouse, a job, children, pets, bills, visiting relatives, bowling nights, yardwork, etc… I have a life and I don’t always have time to pack a lunch!”

Well, have no fear. I myself fall into the same situation, but I have a foolproof solution every time it happens. That solution is the supermarket. Yes, that’s right. You can get a hot, tasty , healthy and calorically-sound lunch from the supermarket. I’ll show you how.

Here’s my basic formula for a lunch:
-meat
-fibrous vegetables
-healthy fat

Meat
For your meat, you’re going to need something that’s already cooked and can be heated in the microwave. A quick stroll-through gave me the following options:

-shrimp
-meatballs
-sausage

Now, for your fibrous veggies, head on over to the produce section. For maximum ease and minimum prep, you can’t go wrong with a bag or plastic container of pre-washed leafy greens. Field greens, arugula, spinach, and mustard greens all are great options. Once you’ve got that, you’re almost done.

Healthy Fats

Time for your healthy fat source. Here you have the following options:

-olive oil to drizzle on your greens
-nuts to sprinkle on your greens
-1/2 to one whole avocado

Here’s what I chose:

-meatballs
-field greens
-one tomato
-one cucumber
-one lemon
-1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
-also be sure to go to the deli counter and get a plate, untensils (including a knife) and some salt.

Now, let me show you step-by-step how I took the items above and created a delicious, healthy lunch.

Your first task is going to be to slice up your tomato and cucumber. As you can see, it doesn’t look too pretty but it’s the best you’ll be able to do with a plastic knife which is most likely all you’ll have at your disposal.

Next, grab a pair of scissors and open the very top of your bag of greens. Add the sunflower seeds, tomato and cucumber into the bag and mix around. While you’re doing this, put your meatballs onto your paper plate and into the microwave for it’s prescribed time.

Once your meatballs are done, push them to one side and empty the contents of your bag. Squeeze your lemon over the veggies and sprinkle everything with salt to taste.

And that there’s your lunch, folks. This came out to about 400 calories which was perfect for me. You can fine tune it to meet your caloric needs by adding or subtracting meatballs.

Khalid Kohgadai is a trainer at Body Mechanix SoMa.

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The Mental Approach to Weight Loss

The weight-loss industry is a billion-dollar industry yet the majority of individuals in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese.  Although we know there is no magic pill that will instantly make us thinner, we continue to fall for false advertising claiming otherwise.  This is because there’s an unconscious part of us that would like to believe we can get the results we want without much effort on our part.  The formula for losing weight is simple: burn more calories than you take in.  The actual implementation of this formula in our own lives is much more difficult.  Our mental processes play a tremendous role in whether we are successful in our weight loss goal.  Here are some useful strategies you can put in place today to start a healthy and long lasting weight loss plan:

  • List the reasons you want to lose weight
  • List the reasons you want to keep the weight on
  • List what you are willing to do when committing to lose weight
  • Start with a small and reasonable goal of 5 lb.  Once those 5 lb come off, ask yourself “is it reasonable for me to lose another 5 lbs?”…keep going in 5 lb. increments until the desired goal is reached.
  • Do not sabotage the goal and set yourself up for failure by setting an ideal weight or dress size at the beginning.
  • Focus on a weight you can sustain for the rest of your life.
  • Focus on eliminating calories you can maintain for the rest of your life.
  • Start with reducing your caloric intake by 100 calories.  For example if your baseline caloric intake is 2000 calories, go down to 1900 and ask yourself, “can I be o.k. at this level for the rest of my life?”  “Will I be able to maintain my intake at 1900 for the rest of my life?” You can keep going down in 100 calorie increments until you feel you can sustain a level for the rest of your life.  Don’t start at 1200 calories and think you can keep this up for the rest of your life because it’s not healthy and you will gain all the weight lost the minute you increase your calorie intake level. Also keep in mind:
  • Eating too few calories with low levels of protein will set you up for over eating later.
  • Eating foods with too much sugar will set you up for more sugar cravings later.
  • It’s better to eat nuts instead of sugary snacks because nuts have protein and fiber which keep you fuller longer and keep your blood sugar stable, minimizing cravings.
  • Introduce more whole, unprocessed foods into your diet such as whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts and legumes, and lean proteins such as turkey, tuna, and chicken.
  • Eliminate empty calories such as sodas and alcoholic beverages.
  • Reduce your salt intake and increase your use of spices to flavor dishes.
  • Increase your healthy fat intake such as omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts/seeds such as flax seed and walnuts.  Use olive oil in moderation in your cooking and topping for salads.
  • Become Active:  Walk or strength train at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Start carrying around reminder cards with mantras or affirmations to remind you about staying on track.  You can use the following statements as examples:
  1. “I can eat whatever I want, at any quantity I want at this moment, or I can be healthier and thinner.  I can’t have both.”
  2. “I can eat better quality food at home than here at this restaurant.”
  3. “If I stick to my plan, I will be very proud.”
  4. “I will not have this doughnut (or piece of cake, etc.) because I’m going to have my (desert of choice) tonight.”
  5. “Which deprivation do I want?  Not eating ice cream or not being able to cross my legs [walk up stairs, run around with my kids, etc].”
  6. “Hunger and cravings always go away, whether I eat or distract myself.”

Figure out the reasons you are eating or craving.  Identify the location of the craving. If it’s not in your stomach and in your throat, it is not hunger based.

Be forgiving of mistakes.  If you give in and cheat by eating some chips, don’t give up and say, “Oh well, I might as well have the whole bag.”  Dieters often use automatic thoughts such as “I’m a terrible and weak person and I can’t be successful at this diet, so I might as well give up and keep eating,” to sabotage their plan.  Keep reminding yourself that mistakes happen but get right back on track.

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Question From Megan S.

I strength train twice a week, and my arms still have zero definition. What am I doing wrong? Megan S., Baltimore, MD

To look toned, you need to keep increasing the weight you’re lifting. “Most women carry a five-to 10-pound purse every day, and then think lifting five pounds at the gym will make a difference,” says trainer and Women’s Health advisor Rachel Cosgrove.

Use this rule: If 12 to 15 reps with a certain weight becomes a breeze, add a few more pounds. Incorporate upper-body moves that target multiple muscle groups (like pushups and rows) and remember that you can’t see muscles if it’s covered with a layer of flab, so do cardio two or three times a week and a eat a balanced diet to reduce your body fat, says Cosgrove.

Don’t wait to shed a few pounds before loving your looks. In a study at the Technical University of Lisbon, women who were counseled to improve their body image lost a higher percentage of weight than those who weren’t. Poor body image can lead to emotional eating and anxiety, which hinder weight loss, says Ph.D. candidate Eliana Carraca. So focus on what you like about your body rather than what you would change.

Best ways to lose weight

  • Think about how much better you feel when you are thinner
  • Eat healthy snacks
  • Limit sugar intake
  • Don’t skip meals

Best ways to keep it off

  • Reward yourself for sticking to your diet or exercise plan
  • Eat plenty of low-fat sources of protein
  • Follow a consistent exercise routine

Best ways to do both

  • Eats lots of produce
  • Control portions
  • Weigh yourself
  • Plan purchases before grocery shopping

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