Weekly fitness journal

This week’s goal was to majorly increase the intensity of my workouts as well as to cut the calories by a lot. I tried to split my workouts up each day by having a morning workout and an evening one. For the diet, while not too restrictive, I limited my carbs to breakfast and ore workout.

Sample workout
Part one (10:00am)
-Dumbbell press superset with plyometric pushups
-Cable flys superset with pushups on the physioball
– seated row superset with pullups
– standing pullover superset with modified pullups.
– cable crunches
– cable oblique crunches

Part 2 (6:00)
– 2 mile run
– 1,000 jumps with a jump rope
– various jumping exercises

Diet
The diet isn’t too much different from last week. The main thing is that I’m limiting my carb intake even more. At the end of the week, I’ll assess and decide where to go from there.

Results- Weight 169

Comments

I finally did it, I am below the 170 mark. When it comes to photos, I know that I need to be at 160. I’m pretty happy with the progress this week and again, it just shows how much your body can change when eating well for a couple of weeks. Surprisingly, I’ve been really energized. When I have a real goal, I get focused and it’s been that focus that I’ve been missing for the past several months. The increased exercise intensity has been manageable as well as the diet. The hardest part of the diet is the first few days. Now it’s pretty easy. This upcoming week will provide the real challenge as I need to drop about 9 pounds in a span of 10 days. The pictures will be worth it and it will be posted for everyone to see (good or bad).

5 things to look for in a new Personal Trainer

As someone who has been in the fitness industry,  I have seen my share of good trainers and my share of bad trainers. The following post is for anyone looking to work with a trainer. Beyond the basic things to look for which can be found here, these are good signs that the person you are working with is a quality person and personal trainer.

1- Complimentary Consultation. As a personal trainer I genuinely appreciate the fact that I can make a living doing something that I’m passionate about. In order for a trainer to do well, he or she needs to build trust and a connection with the client. A complimentary consultation can go a long way towards building that trust. This allows the client a chance to “interview” the trainer and make a decision without committing financially. Any trainer who is confident in his or her abilities, should have no problem offering a complimentary consultation as this is the chance to gather data and inspire the client moving forward. Someone who insists on payment for the first meeting is usually trying to make a quick buck and is taking a very short sighted approach.

2- Connection. As somewhat of an extension from #1, it is very important that you feel some kind of connection with the trainer. The fact of the matter is, if you choose to work regularly with a trainer, that person will become an integral part of your life. You will spend 1,2 or 3 hours a week with this person, more than you may spend with you may spend with your closest friends. In many cases, personal trainers become a friend in addition to being responsible for your workouts and fitness program. With all of this in mind, it’s important that the person you choose as a trainer be someone you feel a connection to and want to work with. You could have the most qualified trainer in the world but if you don’t like them, or are not inspired by them, all of the hard work could be for naught.

3- Focus should be on you. When meeting with a trainer, their focus should be on you and your goals. This is part of the importance of #1. The trainer should be asking questions about your background, fitness history as well as your goals. If the trainer isn’t asking questions related to your goals or worse yet, if he or she is creating goals for you then something is wrong. It’s a great sign when you meet a trainer who is asking a lot of questions, this means that the wheels are turning and they are designing a program as you speak with them.

4- Specializations. While the average personal training client is looking for weight loss and toning, there are many times when a client has specialized needs. If you have any health problems or physical injuries, current or previous, it’s important that the trainer know how to work with someone in that situation. For example, exercise is vital for many diabetes patients but a trainer without knowledge of how to train diabetes patients, could cause more harm than good. The same goes for a person with a specialized goal. A great example is marathon running. If you decide to run a marathon, it’s important that the trainer have knowledge of how to train a person running a marathon. Again, a serius injury could occur with the wrong training.

5- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. At the end of the day, a good fitness program is going to take hard work and time. If a trainer is promising results that seem too fast to really occur or that doesn’t take hard work, it’s likely either not true or not safe. A good trainer will be able to map out a plan which will take you to your goals but in all likelihood, it’s going to take hard work and little bit of time.

Ask the Trainer: Is walking enough?

Question: Hi, I am a 54 year old woman. In the past few years I have gained some extra weight and have recently begun a walking program. Do you believe that walking is enough for someone in my situation?

Answer: As with many of these questions, there is not a  clear cut answer. Much of the answer lies in what your goals and capabilities are. In general, I absolutely recommend walking. From an activity and a psychological perspective, walking is great. For many of us, our surroundings are made for us to be lazy. We tend to lead very sedentary lives and walking is an activity that gets lost on many people. For many people, a 2-3 mile walk is a daunting task and it is much easier to take a cab, train, car or bus instead of the walk. So, I would definitely recommend anybody increase the amount of walking they do. It keeps you active, moving and also has psychological benefits. Making the decision to walk , either as an alternative to other modes of transportation or just as an activity, usually carries over to other things. You may find yourself taking stairs more often, preparing your own meals, getting up to change channels and choosing other, more active alternatives throughout the day.

Things get a little more cloudy when it comes to walking as a means of achieving results. Walking can be great for someone who is rehabbing an leg injury. It can also be good for an otherwise very sedentary adult with health problems. As great as walking can be, if weight loss is your goal, it may not be the most effective means of achieving that goal. A combination of a healthy diet and exercise are the components needed to lose weight. If the weight loss goal is small (3-10lbs) then the diet in combination with walking may be enough. For a weight loss goal of more than 10lbs, walking is not likely to be enough exercise. On average, walking will burn approximately 150-250 calories per hour. This may not be enough for someone looking to lose a significant amount of weight when compared to other forms of exercise:

Activity                                            calories/ hour

Running (moderate)                    530-630

Running (heavy)                        800-1200

Cycling (moderate)                    450-600

Weight lifting (moderate)       200-400

In addition to burning more calories, more intense exercise will increase the metabolism in a way that you are burning more calories, post exercise for up to 2 hours after the workout. More intense exercise is also important for the heart and developing the cardiovascular system and walking will likely not help in this area unless the person is severely deconditioned.

When it comes to using walking as a form of exercise, we get a mixed bag. While there are definitely benefits to increasing the amount of walking you do, it’s not a replacement for vigorous exercise especially if there is a specific weight loss goal.

Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

Weekly fitness journal: Do as I say…

It’s kind of ironic that last week I posted an article about the importance of not losing too much too fast. I should have prefaced that with a rule saying that extreme measures should only be taken if there is a very specific goal in mind and then only if you are prepared to gain the weight afterward. The irony is that I have a photo shoot scheduled in 3 weeks and I need to be at my goal weight by then. My goal weight is 160 and I now weigh 173 so extreme measures must be taken.

Diet- I’m now in a position where I need to cut 13 pounds in 3 weeks or about 4 pounds a week. From a dietary standpoint it means doing something I preach against, cutting carbs. I’m at a point where I limit myself to carbs at breakfast, before I work out and a little at lunch. This also means blame foods with little salt or seasoning an lots of water.

Sample diet
Breakfast- oatmeal w/water raisins and splenda
Snack- 3 slices of smoked turkey
Lunch- baked chicken w/ vegetables and a 1/2 cup of rice
Pre- workout- smoothie with strawberries, blueberries
Post workout- protein shake with skim milk
Dinner- ground turkey

Exercise- this week I’m pushing the calorie burning part of the workout so I have cut out any heavy strength training and replaced it with cardiovascular type work I’d interval training.

Sample workout
Warmup
1.5 mile run
20 minutes of tabatas
1,000 jumps with a jump rope
6 rounds of bag work
Abs

I can be very motivated when there is a goal so I should be fine. The real challenge will be that last week but I’m up for the task. As long as I’m prepared, the diet isn’t all that bad. I eat regularly so I’m never hungry. The workouts this week have been fun. I’ll never be the type to run 6 miles but my style of cardio is very effective. It intense and leaves me feeling like I just got run over by a truck. I will be at 160 by the end and kids, do as I say, not as I do 😉

Feel free to comment

Illustration of why it’s better to lose 1-2 pounds a week

Last week, I wrote about the importance of losing weight slowly and consistently versus a rapid weight loss program. This week, I am going to give an example of what frequently happens when someone loses weight too fast versus someone who does it at a consistent clip.

As I mentioned before, the body is only capable of losing 1-2 pounds of fat per week so any more than that comes from lean body weight which is weight that we don’t want to lose. For this example, we are going to take a person who is 200 pounds and 30% body fat. This means that the person has 140 pounds of lean body weight and 60 pounds of fat. I am going to go through two separate scenarios with this person to show my point.

Scenario 1- This person decides to go on a crash diet or a very low calorie diet. This person could very easily lose 30 pounds over the span of 5 weeks. If we average this weight loss out to 5 pounds a week, then in a best case scenario, this person would have lost 8 pounds of fat and 22 pounds of lean weight.  What results is that this person is actually less healthy at 170 pounds than he was at 200 pounds because his body fat percentage is still 30% and he has lost 22 pounds of valuable lean weight. What makes this example even worse is what happens next. 95% of the time a crash diet will fail within 6 weeks and the person puts back on all of the weight that was lost. In this case, if this person puts back on 30 pounds, he won’t put on 22 pounds of lean weight and only 8 pounds of fat. The likely outcome will be the reverse and he’ll put on 20 pounds of fat weight and 10 pounds of lean weight. The result will be that this person will be back to 200 pounds but with a body fat of 36%. He will have gone from 60 pounds of fat weight up to 72 pounds of fat weight because of the crash diet.

Scenario 2- The same person follows a program which includes a balanced and healthy diet with strength training. If the person is focused on losing 1-2 pounds a week the after 6 weeks, this person will only have lost 10  pounds but it will all be fat weight. After 6 weeks, this person would be 190 lbs but his body fat percentage would have dropped down to 26%. Another 6 weeks and 10 pounds of fat later, his body fat would have dropped to 22% and finally another 6 weeks and 10 pounds later and his body fat would have dropped to 17%.

As you can see, scenario 1 lost 30 pounds in 5 weeks but paid for the rapid weight loss by losing mostly lean weight. He also had the added negative  benefit of gaining back mostly fat. Scenario 2 took 18 weeks to lose 30 pounds, almost 4 times as long but this person was able to lose 12 percent body fat and 30 pounds of fat in that time.

Feel free to comment or ask questions. Any involvement would be greatly appreciated.

Weekly Exercise Journal 3

Diet: This weeks goal was to build back some structure to my diet. Due to my hectic schedule, I’m constantly eating on the go which is a waste of money and way too many calories. This week was about going back to basics for me. I made a trip to trader Joe’s and got a ton of food. I prepared ground turkey, chicken breasts as well as sliced steak. I also got tons of fruits and healthy snacks. I’m making sure to have something to eat every 3-4 hours and for me I’m munching on whatever is in my refridgerator. I’ve been able to keep to it this week.

Exercise:The focus this week was to include some cardio. I was happy with the frequency last week but strength training is not enough. My goal this week was simple, one 1.5 mile run.

Results:

Weight- 175 (-3)

Bodyfat- 9.4 (0)

Journal: I absolutely hate running, it’s the bane of my existence. It must be a combination of thngs for me. First of all, I have asthma so I get short of breath quickly but that’s not a real excuse as I have no problem playing basketball for hours or sparring for 5 rounds. Second is after about 5 minutes of running, my body starts to itch sometimes violently. I’ve read articles about this being a medical condition but sometimes I think that it’s my mind messing with me because of my hatred of running. Finally, running is just boring and I don’t have the attention span to keep it up for an extended period. Even with all of these reasons not to do it, I realize that if I want to lose the weight quickly, I’m going to have to suck it up and run. This week I set a modest goal of 1.5 miles. I decided to do it outside as it was a nice day so I took my ipod, put on a sweatshirt, shorts and went out. About .5 miles into the run, the itching began and I started to feel winded. I was very much inclined to quit right on the spot. A minute later the itching got more intense and I could sense that I was mentally starting to give up. I had reached to proverbial fork in the road, I was either going to quit and likely not run again or I was going to push through and get past this barrier. I decided to put on my favorite song (Rosetta Stoned by Tool) put my head down and made the decision to push through. I made the 1.5 miles and hated every minute of it but in the end I was very proud of that accomplishment. It was a big moment for me to finish that run and I’m more excited than ever about what the future holds for me.

 

Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

Why you shouldn’t worry if you don’t lose more than 1-2 pounds a week.

     The majority of my clients over the years have wanted some form of weight loss, some more than others. Early on in my career, it seemed to be an inevidability that a person would experience frustration at not losing weight fast enough. Whether the person wanted to lose 10 pounds or 40, there was this feeling of wanting to get from point a-z without travelling through the other steps in between. Generally, when someone is participating in a weight loss fitness program, it is not advisable to lose any more than 2 pounds a week. In fact, losing more than that number is usually less healthy and is less likely to succeed. It was a challenge for me early on to learn the proper ways of articulating this without discouraging the client but over time, I’ve formed a good way of both explaining this and coming up with a good alternative way of approaching weight loss.
We live in a society that is all about instant gratification and the fitness industry is no different. Weight loss suppliments, dvd’s and products are all sold as things that will create almost instant results. This creates an attitude when it comes to fitness which focuses on a lot of weight loss in a very short period of time. When someone approaches their fitness program with this mindset, 90% of the time, they will end up disappointed when they don’t see the pounds melting off. This frustration eventually leads to the person abandoning their fitness program.
     People make a few major mistakes when beginning a fitness program geared towards weight loss. The first mistake is that they focus too much on the scale. The second mistake is that the person usually tries for too much too fast. It seems a bit counter to the goal to say that people pay too much attention to the scale but the fact of the matter is that it’s true. When you are in a weight loss program, it’s more important to know the kind of weight you are losing and not simply the amount of weight that you lose. I will illustrate this point in next weeks post but simply put, it’s more important that a person lose fat and inches than total pounds. The second mistake is also common and very dangerous. Often times, especially with beginners, a person will get gung ho over a diet and exercise routine. They will work out 5-6 days a week for an hour and a half, they will go on the new fad diet and usually this person will show a sharp drop in weight over the first few weeks of their fitness program followed by a plateau. Usually within 4-6 weeks, the person has stopped losing weight all together and they start feeling tired, sluggish and eventually get burned out. They stop the program and gain all of the weight back. This happens because the person is not physically and emotionally ready for that kind of program. It’s sustainable up to a point but eventually the budy simply can’t handle the dramatic change and it breaks down.
     Aside from the physical and mental fatigue that comes from a sudden and dramatic change is the fact that the body will end up burning lean bodyweight instead of fat for it’s energy. Our bodies are only designed to lose 1-2 pounds of fat a week and usually anything more is going to be lean bodyweight. This means that while 10 pounds may look good on the scale, only 2 of those pounds would be from fat so it’s definitely not ideal.
The right way to approach weight loss is the same way one should approach fitness. Fitness/ weight loss is an ongoing process which requires consistency and regular assessments of progress. A person should be in a fitness program which they feel they can sustain forever. This means starting slowly and increasing the intensity of the diet and exercise over time rather than going to an extreme right off of the bat. It is also important to measure progress. This is not only done by the scale but also by measurements, pant size and even other people recognizing the change in your body. A good weight loss program should see a person make small but consistent progress over time. This is habit forming and much more likely to succeed in the long run. It’s much better to lose 1-2 pounds a week over the course of a year than it is to lose 30 pounds in a month and then to crash and gain it all back.
     Next week I’m going to illustrate the difference between a consistent weight loss program and one of your typocal crash dieting programs. Be sure to check it out as it really shows the importance of consistency and steady progress over super fast weight loss.

Strategies for maintaining healthy eating habits (Part 1 of 2)

As mentioned in a previous post, the majority of diets fail. Diets fail for a wide variety of reasons but there are a few basic reasons why most diets are destined to fail right off the bat. The key to maintaining healthy eating is to change the approach one has to their “diet.”

Why do diets fail?
Of the many reasons why diets fail, I think the biggest comes from our perception of the word “diet.” When people think of that word, they associate it with something temporary, something restrictive, painful and a means to an end (losing weight). These are all negative associations and automatically make the diet likely to fail.
Another reason why diets fail is because they are generally not sustainable. Most diets are so restrictive that a person can only stick to It for a finite period of time. A person may notice significant weight loss from a new diet but once they go off of it, the weight is likely to come back on in equal or greater numbers. The final reason why diets fail is because they are often not specific to the person. Everybody has different habits, lifestyles and physical needs. A diet must take all of these individual needs into account in order to be successful.

How do I approach an effective diet?

In order to have successful diet, one must overcome the obstacles mentioned above. The first thing that we need to do is to change our mindset when it comes to the word “diet.” The word “diet” simply refers to the way we are currently eating. Whether your diet is healthy or unhealthy, the word still applies so there is no need to apply those negative connotations. For a diet to be successful, what is needed is the proper mindset. It needs to be approached as a lifestyle change and not simply a way to lose weight. While weight loss may be a goal, it is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to keep the weight off long term.

A typical crash diet is designed to be used for a finite period of time and generally to lose a significant amount of weight over a short period of time. While these diets can yield good results initially, the person will almost always gain the weight back once they stop the diet. For this reason, a good diet must be sustainable. It needs to be something that the person can stick to for an indefinite period of time. If someone can sustain a healthy diet, they will lose weigh at a steady and consistent pace but more importantly, they will keep the weight off.
The reason why I use the word “strategies” in the title is because it is essential that a person have a strategic approach to their diet. Everybody is different and requires a different approach to structuring their diet. Specificity is very important and we need to take a variety of factors into account. Things like work schedule, availability of food, sleeping habits, religion etc. all may have a potential impact and should be takes into account. If a person can pit together a diet which takes into account their lifestyle, they are more likely to stick with it than if they are simply given a sheet of paper with what they should do.

Please check back next Tuesday for part 2 of this series as I will go into the 4 basic rules and you can start to build the frame of a good diet.

My Fitness Journal

We all go through it, even the mighty trainer. It’s that moment when you realize that you’ve let things get out of hand. For me, that moment occurred this weekend while trying to put on kachi pants that a year ago were almost too big for me. This time, I could barely get the thing on and it did not look good. Now I’m not delusional, I’m by no means in bad shape but ones body image is a very subjective thing and I have set a standard for myself which needs to be met.
It all started when I got back from my vacation in August. I gave myself two weeks of eating whatever I wanted. Somehow those two weeks turned into five months and suddenly I’m 20 pounds heavier, not consistently working out and barely fitting into my already close fitting clothes.
I’ve had a hard time getting motivated to get back into peak form. It’s very strange for me, being someone who normally coaches people to be the one needing the coaching.
I chose to chronicle my own exercise program to both serve as a form of motivation for myself and to show readers that everyone goes through this process. The psychology behind it, the ups and downs, this will serve as a insight for anyone that is interested.

I’m going to keep track over 3 months. I’m starting with my weight at 183 lbs, bodyfat of 10% and my waist is 34″. My goal at the en of 3 months is to be at 163, 4.5% bodyfat and 31″ waist. Each week, I’ll give details on my workout and how I’m doing with my program. Check back every Thirsday for a new Journal.

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