Friday, August 29, 2014

Is Strength Training Enough to Change Your Body?

I am often asked the question, "Is strength training enough to change your body?" That is actually not a dumb question. It is probably the most overlooked factor that I see when it comes to wanting to see results. You could work out with kettlebells, dumbbells, do Crossfit, or P90X. The truth of the matter is without changing your diet, you will not get real, noticeable results. Sure, you will get stronger. Sure, you might be able to go longer with endurance. However, to put on muscle and lean out, you need to pay a lot of attention to what goes into your mouth, and when.

Most women think you have to eat less to see results. Wrong. Most men think that you just have to eat more to put on muscle... again, wrong. Actually cutting calories at the wrong time, or adding in too many are exactly what will sabotage our goals in the gym.

I train a lot of women that think since they are finally working out in a gym, with a trainer, that the weight will just "fall" off! Nope. I consult men in our gym as well that don't understand why they can't put on muscle, or drop any fat. Here are a few factors that will tell you exactly why strength training alone is not enough to change your body.

Most fitness coaches, trainers and gym owners know that the equation is about 75% diet, 25% hard work. Some even say 80/20. Of course, genes, age, sex, intensity, frequency, load, and overall dedication play big roles in what our body looks and feels like. Don't ever be fooled by anything other than one fact. What you eat like is the single most defining factor in what you look like, and how you train.

Food is fuel. Food is where energy is found, muscle is built, and cells repaired. Besides hydration, without the proper fuel, our body will wither away and never get close to building bigger muscles or tight curves. Our dietary plan will either tire us out, or energize us. It can help us put on mass, or burn through our precious muscle tissue if we don't feed it enough protein.

Phytochemicals are found in greens and  keep our immune systems functioning like a machine during cold and flu season. Protein is what rebuilds and repairs our muscles that we have torn down in the gym. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred source of energy, a greatly needed source of fuel for the power lifter, the Olympic lifter, and the Kettlebell Sport enthusiast. Healthy fats are necessary for hormone production, lubrication, body temperature regulation and energy in endurance type sports as Crossfit and obstacle course style races. All food groups are needed. All have their respective roles in building our bodies before and after we tear them down in the gym.

The bottom line is this. Strength training is NOT enough to change your body. What will change your body, your energy levels and your physical outcome is your nutrition plan. I use the word "plan" very seriously. Plan on what to eat and when. Make sure you are getting enough calories from the right sources to fuel your body in the gym. Besides rest, your eating plan is probably more important than the actual workout when it comes to gaining muscle, and/or losing fat.

Eat for what you will be doing next. If you have a big workout planned, eat for that. Sitting on the couch watching TV? Eat for that. Most people in the fitness industry pack lunches, and have a fridge stocked with foods geared towards keeping the body strong and energized. Keep food that will nourish your body and mind on hand at all times, and junk foods far from reach. Eat often, and don't skip meals. These few tips will make those workouts in the gym start to show results.

After all, isn't that why we work out?

In heath and strength,


Monday, August 25, 2014

3 Exercises to Do Til You Die

I bet the title of 3 Exercises to Do Until You Die grabbed your attention eh? Fortunately, we are all smart enough to know now that exercise can be done forever. Not the exercises that we used to think kept us young like just cardio, or just machines, but actual strength training. Yes, even if you are 97 years old, you can strength train. I personally have a client that "trains" his father whom just celebrated his 97th Birthday! He does the exact exercises that I am going to describe to you, and has for over 50 years. This robust 97 year old just took a fall this up, and looked around and said "I got up because I exercise." Pretty damn cool if you ask me. This article can be shared with anyone. (Don't forget that if you are over 30, you are already in a state of muscular decline if you are not strength training.) Share this with your parents!

Let's get to the 3 Exercises to do until you die.  You want a squatting motion, a pulling motion and a pushing motion. 3 moves that will take your body through all of the daily tasks as you age that are known as Functional Strength. Squatting, pulling and pushing are not really considered exercise if you think of what activities you put your body through daily. You get up and down out of chairs. You bend over and pick up things and stand back up. You pull objects whether it be weeds from the garden, things from the back of the car, or dishes out of a cupboard. You push carts in stores, lawnmowers and wheel barrows, strollers and chairs around daily. Most of us don't think of that as exercise. It's not exercise until you cannot do it without injury and you are 70. Worse and even more common is the 40 year old that hurts themselves  doing one of those daily tasks. See, they did not consider it exercise either.

We need to make it a point to train our bodies to get stronger with age instead of weaker. We need to do exercises that mimic daily life, but in a controlled manner with purpose. The purpose is to place a demand on the body that it is NOT used to. The plan is to practice doing squats and deadlifts with everything from your own bodyweight to a larger weight. The same goes for the pushing and pulling moves. Rowing moves that get your elbows behind you to open up the chest and work the back. Moves like grabbing a rope and pulling yourself forward or upward. (you can attach a rope to anything and do this move in the beginning). Pushing moves like push ups on your knees for beginners (even off of a counter top for the aged) or push ups with the feet elevated for the strong. Chest pressing in different ways and angles.

3 Exercises to do until you die. Squat, push and pull. If you are training in a gym, you should have these moves be the base of all workouts. If you work out at home, you can find a number of ways to mimic these moves.

Here is the list of the 3 Exercises to Do Until You Die...and a bunch of ways for everyone to do them.

Squatting moves

Bodyweight squats from a seated position to standing and back down.
Bodyweight squats from a chair to standing with one leg and back down.
Bodyweight squats with no chair.
Weighted bodyweight squats. Holding freeweights at sides, or at shoulders.
Barbell Squats.
Barbell Deadlifts.
Lunges...stationary/walking/alternating legs.
Weighted lunges with either free weights or barbells.

Pushing moves

Push ups on knees
Push ups on hands
Push ups with feet elevated
Push ups while exploding up to a clap (very difficult)
Exercise band pressing. Attached to doorways, trees and poles. Great for the weak, aged or muscles that need rehabilitation
Chest presses while lying flat on bench.
Barbell chest presses
Dumbbell chest presses
Single arm chest presses
Chest Flyes
Cable Crossovers and/or Flyes

Pulling moves

Cable rows
Lat Pulldown machines
Rowing with exercise bands attached to doorways, trees,and poles. Great for the weak, aged or muscles that need rehabilitation.
Renegade rows (also works core intensely!)
Bent over rows single sided
Standing Bent over rows

Want to be strong now? Better yet, want to look into the future and see a strong, erect standing and lean individual living life to the fullest? Start squatting, pushing and pulling and see how your life and posture changes. Building muscles using these moves will prepare you for a lifetime of strength without injury. (or at least you might bounce back up if you take a fall!) Remember the 97 year old. He is looking forward to his next birthday.

Searching and sharing ways for us to achieve optimal health and wellness,


Friday, August 22, 2014

Are You Suffering from Low Energy?

If you are suffering from low energy, you are not alone. Millions of adults are exhausted, overworked, under rested, undernourished, and frustrated. When you get into bed does your mind wander or do you fall into a deep sleep and wake up refreshed? Most likely not if you have any of the above mentioned issues. If you are female, you are much more likely to be suffering from all of the above. Add in hormones that rule our bodies and you have a recipe for adrenal burn out, weight gain, mild bouts of depression, and sometimes even anger towards ourselves. You need to get control or your life will spiral into exhaustion and illness.

There are many culprits that unknowingly sabotage our energy levels. Many of them are things that ARE in your control. Once you rid your life of the energy zappers and add in the energy enhancers, you will be on your way to what I call Constant Energy!

I am 54 years young and hate to be taken over by hormones. Let me tell you, at my age it is a constant battle. Lucky for me (and not so much for others ha ha) I am a control freak. I refuse to let my age do to me what it has "done" to so many other adults my age. I practice daily things that will boost my energy levels and stay away from things that I know (based on tons of research) will zap my vitality.

Here is a guideline that will get you on the track to Constant Energy and maybe even into a gym where you can believe it or not, get even more energy from working out!

1. Start every morning with mainly protein  a little complex carbohydrates , and a small amount of healthy fats. 

You have just come out of a "fast". Which means you are already suffering from low energy. Feed yourself.
Many good and tasty options are in my Smoothie Recipes for Optimal Health E-Book.

2. Stay away from sugar unless it is fruit.

Sugar in all it's hidden forms only gives you a temporary boost. Right after your blood sugar spikes from either a bagel, a pastry, some bread, cereal, or juice, you go from energized, to tired and craving more sugar.

3.  Drink  at least 6 glasses of pure water, all day long. 

Feeling tired is usually one of the first signs of dehydration. Sip on water daily and carry a BPA free jug around with you at all times. Athletes have shown to have a 5-10% reduction in work capacity when not enough water is taken in. Every cell in your body thrives on water. Never go without it!

4.  Stop eating foods that are loaded with pesticides, fillers, fake sweeteners, low fat foods, fake foods that mimic the "real thing", prepackaged foods and diet foods. 

Every one of these will disrupt the efficiency of how your body does everything from burn fat, to sleep well to ward off disease. Eat a clean diet. What that translates to is foods that have NO labels. Farm to table is the term.

5.  Turn off electronic gadgets 1 hour before bedtime. Cell phones, laptops, computers, facebook, twitter, kindles, all the stuff that we can't live without. Yeah, this one is tough these days!

Research has shown that the energy emitted from these sources keeps your brain "turned on" long after you have fallen asleep. What this means to your body is not getting into a deep enough sleep to feel energized in the morning. Turn them all off. Listen to some relaxing music. Read a paper book or magazine. Make your room completely dark. Melatonin, the sleep hormone is only produced in complete darkness, and less as you age.

6.  Supplement with Melatonin.

Circulating levels of melatonin vary daily, but are necessary for the body during the evening when circadian rhythms function to promote deeper sleep. As we age we produce less melatonin. I supplement with two 3 mg. tablets 1/2 hour before bedtime every evening and I sleep very well. Melatonin is also responsible for many other biological functions.

7.  Limit caffeine intake.

Nothing wrong with a cup of java in the morning. I drink 1/2 of a cup of fair trade organic coffee with 1 tsp of organic raw coconut oil every morning. A cup of coffee has also shown to improve fat burning and endurance before a workout. The "energy drinks" that are lining the shelves are loaded with chemicals, sugars, and things that your body cannot use properly. Don't be fooled by the words energy! The low and zero sugar ones are even worse. These are liquids that need to be completely eliminated from your diet. Drink green tea (which has been shown to help reduce belly fat) either hot or iced for a pick me up.

8. Keep stress out of your life.

Ever get a good night's sleep when you are riled up about something or someone? From yoga to self talk, find ways, and people that keep you calm and grounded. As far as that "inner voice", keep the words you repeat to yourself calming, in control and believing that you have choices and no-one can take away your happiness. That in itself is calming. A stressful life is a sure energy saboteur. Keep calm. Keep naysayers and downer people away. Hang out with people that are energized and that love life!

9.  Exercise!

Exercise when done regularly is a pure energizer. I would have put this one first as it is something that everyone can do at some level. The longer you sit idle, the more tired you get. Set your clock, tell yourself the night before that you are getting up, eating a good breakfast, then getting your blood flowing! The more you practice this, the more your body will look forward to it.

10. Stop dieting to change your body.

This topic frustrates me to no end and is the exact reason that I got certified in fitness training and nutrition. Diets make us tired, crabby, depressed, mad, fatter in the long run, and consume our thoughts. Eat real food. Eat organic and healthy foods that you can pronounce, with no labels, and stop counting every calorie. Diets make you lose muscle which slows down your metabolism and makes you feel even worse. If you remember one of these tips, remember this one. Eat pretty, nutritious and natural foods.

Energy is something we were all meant to have. If you are suffering from low energy, you need a mind and body overhaul. Unfortunately the world we live in finds many ways to creep into our lives making us think we have no control over what happens next. Use these tips daily to stay grounded, vital and energized.  When you put these practices into your every day life you will be amazed at how soon you look forward to tomorrow with excitement!

Searching and Sharing for ways for us to achieve optimal health and wellness,


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easiest Way to Get the Right Amount of Protein Daily!

If you are one of the many that is struggling with what the easiest way to get the right amount of protein daily is...then you came to the right place.

We live in a "quick fix" world, and we want gratification now. Why else would people try a new fad every week to lose weight, or get fit. Even the most educated of us fall prey to the media, telling us about how to get fitter, faster. Faster is not better when it comes to weight loss. A quick fix that sounds too good to be true, IS too good to be true. The reason is that it is not going to last. What changes our bodies is sound nutrition mixed with strength training and cardio. Fitness authorities will all agree on that!

I consult people daily on nutrition, fat loss, strength gains, and how to make choices easy to fit into busy lifestyles. If a client hires me to consult about their diet, I ask them to keep a diary for 2 weeks of everything they eat and drink. I have not once seen anyone that even comes close to the amount of protein that they should eat. Whether they are working out hard, or have never worked out, people seem to have a hard time getting in enough protein. I advise people to get 1 gram of protein per lean pound of body weight daily, and more if they are trying to put on muscle and size.

The reason everyone has told me that they can't get in enough protein, is that they either commute in the car daily, spend the day in meetings, or can't prepare lunches often enough. Eating a chicken breast, tuna or lean beef is not always an option. Enter Smoothies!!

I have always been a fan of a travel cup, or shake with a delicious meal in it. Sometimes it is in place of a meal. Sometimes it is a pre or post workout smoothie, sometimes it is a snack. No matter how you blend it, it is a smoothie loaded with ingredients that  give you energy, and it helps you meet your daily requirement of protein. If you are building a lean and strong body, you don't want to miss out on protein. Protein is the only nutrient that rebuilds and repairs muscle tissue.

In Smoothie Recipes for Optimal Health, I have listed over 45 smoothies that can literally be life changing.. Need more energy? I have a smoothie for that. Need a recovery drink after an intense hour at the gym? I have a smoothie for that. Need a quick breakfast to get you through til lunch? I have quite a few options for that as well.

Smoothie Recipes for Optimal Health  will change your energy levels, give your body the protein you need to build a great and lean body, and take the guess work out of exceptional health!

Searching and sharing ways for us to achieve supreme health and wellness, without fad diets!


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