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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Surviving "Eating Out" in the Summertime

I can tell you what I have heard at least 3 times already this morning from clients. "I went away last week with my family and ate horribly...I mean, we went out to dinner and had 'x' and then we went to brunch and I ate 'y', oh, and drank so much 'z'...". You can fill in the letters with every bad food or beverage you can imagine. And, basically, from this type of comment, my deduction is that you have completely let yourself go and have taken all the responsibility off of yourself (because you are on vacation) to eat healthy. Or, healthier like you would have if you had been at home and in your routine. No excuse for not still eating right. Let me tell you why.

Say you go out of town and you have to, EAT OUT. Remember these rules when you order and take some initiative to make some smart choices.

Breakfast: At almost any restaurant, you have the choice of ordering some oatmeal. I know that this is not a favorite food choice of some, but it is one of the healthiest, heartiest meals to start your day and boost your metabolism. Skip the brown sugar, and add some Splenda, some half and half, and your oatmeal is complete. Say you don't like oatmeal, you can get the 2 eggs (don't go for egg whites..the yolk is really not that bad for you unless you are seriously watching your cholesterol), and skip the potatoes (get cottage cheese or tomatoes instead) and if you are truly craving toast, get the wheat toast, dry. Dry=not buttered. You can put a thin spread of jelly on the toast, but honestly, you don't need it. I would rather you order another egg than have the toast anyway. More protein :) Skip the cheese, skip the pancakes. And, if by chance you want the omelet, get it packed with veggies, no cheese, and get the side of cottage cheese instead.

Lunch: Subway is my ultimate favorite choice- and you can always get the 6 grams of fat or less sub, in a wrap. A tortilla has fewer carbs than the bread choices there, plus it is like eating a burrito. But, less sodium, and definitely less fat. At restaurants, a sandwich is always a healthy choice, but watch mayo, dressings, butter, or cheese- order it without. Soups are a good option at lunch as well- stock up on the veggie soups and it if is creamy, stay away. The tomato based soups are the lowest fat options for you. Salads are good for lunch, but make sure you get enough protein on them. Keep the protein lean (chicken, tri-tip, or fish) and watch the dressings.

Dinner: You can best guess that if you go out to eat for dinner, that you will be consuming at least 1500 to 2000 calories- in one meal. That is the truth. Even the healthiest thing on the menu is still around 1000 calories at most standard, chain Americana restaurants (i.e. Chilis, Macaroni Grill, Red Robin, BJs Brewery). The tips I provide for Lunch remain the same for your dinner options. However, at dinner you might have better luck getting a full entree of lean meat (fillet of steak or fish, or chicken breast) with a healthy-sized side of veggies (that are steamed- not doused in butter or creamy sauce). Be food-smart and know that if you are going out to eat, you can ask the server to prepare the food in a way that is lower in fat. I always do, and my food comes out just as I want it- plus, I don't feel guilty after I eat it. Stay away from the starchy sides, like the potatoes, pasta, rice- and the bread that they serve you for non-nutritious filler prior to the meal. My biggest piece of advice- watch the alcohol content. I am serious about that. If you cut out the 2 glasses of wine that you have (even if it just 3 times a week), that is about 900 calories you can save yourself a week- and that equals a pound a month if you cut it out completely. Try it- who says you can't have fun without drinking? I bet you can have more fun if you lost some weight :)

Have a great day and take some responsibility for your food intake- don't make bad choices because you "had" to. You have the choice to be healthy- make the right decision today.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Quote of the Week

"If you don't like something change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." -Maya Angelou

Today, take a proactive stance to your choice to make today a great day. Take personal responsibility to make the decisions to make a positive impact in your own life today.

Race Schedule for this Week:

USAT Nationals at Lake Hagg (Portland, OR)- Saturday, June 30th.

Congrats to my friends, Danielle Harper and Audrey Maher, for having great races this past weekend. Danielle took 2nd in her AG and 4th overall at the Ventura Breath of Life Tri. Audrey took 1st in her AG to qualify for Kona at the Lubbock, TX 70.3. Great Job, guys!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Make Today a GREAT day

You woke up today and had two decisions: to make today a great day, or to make it a bad day. Do you believe that? That you have the power each day to choose to make yourself happy. Do you open your eyes to an alarm and think that today is going to be an ordinary day, same as the last few days, same as the last few weeks, months...Are you letting your life happen to you?

If your answer is yes to most of these questions, you are like many people- and I suggest you change your way of thinking. We are creatures of habit and we do crave some sense of routine in our lives, and with this routine comes a feeling of comfort, and as a result, a possible fear of change. Everyday happiness in your life will not come out of your routine, but rather from the "unexpected" happenings that break the monotony that you are used to.

Think back to the last thing you did or place you went that was not in your "plan." What did you do? How did you feel? Why did you go? Do you think that there is a good chance that you remember it because it was out of your routine- there is a good chance of that. I went out to dinner last night with a girlfriend of mine from high school whom I hadn't seen in 9 years. We went to dinner and coffee and as of two days ago, I didn't know I was going to meet up with her. I didn't necessarily have time to meet with her, and I did have some other plans made, but I knew that meeting with her would make me happy. So, I just did it. My plans could be postponed- routine was broken, and I was okay with that.

Don't feel that everyday of every week should be programmed. There are new experiences to be had each day, new things to see, new friends to make, new workouts to try. Take advantage of each day that you have and try to do something new and fun when you can. New and fun can be something just out of your everyday plan- try it. Even if it means going to your local coffee place rather than the Starbucks for your morning cup of joe. Take the long way home tomorrow. Stop and "smell the roses"-as cliche as that sounds, it is true- enjoy each minute. Live life. Have fun.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

8 Great Energy Snacks

If you are having trouble fitting in your regular eating periods during the day (getting in your daily 5-6 small meals a day), then you might want to think out of your diet box and try these high energy, healthy snack combos (all around 300 calories). They are some of my absolute favorites and you should find something that is appealing to your pallet.

1. Nana-Yo: 1 banana with a Dannon Light and Fit Yogurt.
2. Tropical Cottage: 3 rings of pineapple with 2/3 cup low fat cottage cheese.
3. Peanut Butter Taco: 2 tsp natural peanut butter with wheat tortilla (low carb).
4. Yo-Mix: 1/4 cup Trail Mix (no M&Ms) with Nonfat Vanilla Yogurt.
5. The Stringy Apple: 1 serving string cheese with 1 Gala Apple.
6. Mixed Berry Nut: 1/4 cup Almonds with 1/2 cup strawberries/blueberries.
7. The Blue Granola: 1/2 cup granola with raisins on 1/2 cup nonfat blueberry yogurt.
8. Mango Mex: 1 cup nonfat cottage cheese with 1/4 cup medium mango salsa.

Have fun exploring your snacking opportunities! Remember that it only takes a few minutes for preparation in the morning to gather some of these snacks together to take on your busy day. Don't be THAT lazy that you can't feed yourself right.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Power of Positive Thinking

WATCH YOUR THOUGHTS. THEY BECOME WORDS.
WATCH YOUR WORDS. THEY BECOME ACTIONS.
WATCH YOUR ACTIONS. THEY BECOME HABITS.
WATCH YOUR HABITS. THEY BECOME CHARACTER.
WATCH YOUR CHARACTER, FOR IT BECOMES YOUR DESTINY.


I was giving a private volleyball lesson today to one of the most talented girls that I coach. She is a coach's dream- as for every minute of the hour that she spends with me, she gives me 100%. She is highly skilled, and highly motivated. She is the kind of player that could pick up a volleyball in the kitchen and play with it for hours, without needing a court or a net. She reminds me of my sister in that way- she is a pure gym rat. Today, we worked out and she was not performing at her best. I was not upset, but she was visibly worried about her playing. She had had a rough practice the previous week with her club coach and that was the last time she had touched a volleyball.

Every time she touched the volleyball, she was thinking back to that not-so-perfect practice, and I can tell she was wearing herself down. Finally, she broke down into tears and I was taken aback- purely because I didn't even think she was playing poorly. She has such high expectations for herself, coupled with the fact that she had a rough practice the week before, that it was making her feel really bad. And, I was at a loss of what to say. We took a water break and I had sometime to gather my thoughts.

Basically, I told her that I appreciate the type of player she is and how much effort and positive energy that she gives at each practice. I also told her that she needs to be very careful of the negative self talk she was generating, as it was definitely affecting her playing. It is true that you have to give yourself 10 positive comments just to erase 1 negative one. I explained to her the amazing connection between your "head and your body" and that if she wanted to start doing better and having fun, that she would need to not let any bad play linger in her head. We waited a bit, drank some more water, and then returned. The last half of practice was better and we ended on a high note.

As I sit her tonight, the quote that I list above came to mind. It is a nice reminder of how much your mental thoughts can determine your physical well being. Sounds very obvious, but most of us underestimate the power of positive thinking- not to mention overestimate the stress and negativity in our lives (which cripples us physically in ways of fatigue, overeating, or sickness). Next time you find yourself in a rut or a bad mood, snap out of it. Find your "happy place" and get ready to positively generate your own success simply by thinking you can and believing in yourself.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

I am going to assume that because you are reading my site that you really care about looking and feeling better. I am also going to assume that you want to learn something new because your daily 5- minute walk around the block with the dog is not enough of a justification for your daily physical exercise. You might also be saying to yourself, “I am so glad I did those extra 20 minutes of running today, that I am going to treat myself to an extra slice of cake or some ice cream after dinner.” And, one last time, making an ass out of you and me, I will assume that you have reached the inevitable plateau, or Comfort Zone, in your training regime and that you NEED TO GET THE HELL OUT- but you don’t know how.

If you are stuck in this Comfort Zone, which I refer to as the “C-Zone,” keep reading. If you are not in a C-Zone, put this article down and then come back and read it in about 3 weeks. You will soon be there. Either way, sit back, but don’t relax. I am here to help you get yourself uncomfortable.

First, think about your current fitness goals. One of the worst things that I can experience while training a client is to ask them what his or her goal is for the day and for the answer to be “I Don’t Know.” If you don’t have a goal for the day, go home. You are not only wasting your time, but my time. You might as well be praying to the workout fairy to come sprinkle some fat-loss dust on you, as you are training without purpose and focus. You need to seriously contemplate where you want your level of fitness to be and what you want to look like and then write down the action steps you are already doing to get yourself closer to these goals. I say “seriously” because we tend to overestimate the amount of activity we do, or the amount of healthy food we eat, and- guess what- we underestimate our down-time. Bottom-line, think in terms of specific goals when you write these action steps down in front of you. Maybe your goals are to lose 20 LBS before your cruise, or gain 10 LBS of Lean Body Mass before summertime. Or, maybe you just want to eat a whole hell of a lot better because you have been over-indulging during your monthly business trips and have been slacking on getting into the gym for your normal workouts. What are your action steps that you are doing to get to these goals- it is time to get serious.

Grab a piece of paper and write these action steps down in a list form. Once you are done, draw a box around them and then on top of the box, write the word C-Zone in big fat letters. These action steps have caused this comfort that has put your body in a state of adaptation. Plain and simple, you have stalled any progress by being boring and too easy on yourself. It’s time to step it up and only you know how hard you can push yourself.

Second, draw about 5 arrows from that box of current action steps in any direction (preferably, as far away from the C-Zone as possible) and then a line extended on each line, write a new action step to take each of those current steps to a new level. We will call these your C-Zone Breakers. For instance, if one of your current action steps is that you have cut out desserts except for 2 days out of the week, then your C-Zone Breaker would be to cut out desserts completely. Each C-Zone Breaker represents a new threshold for which you should reach- a new level of self-discipline, a new level of pain tolerance and sacrifice. This is a gut check moment and a true test just to see how much you really want this escape from the C-Zone- no pain, no gain. Ask yourself, how badly do you want it? And, are you up for the challenge? My fitness goals are to gain about 3 LBS of Lean Body Mass, while losing about 5 LBS of Fat Mass. In order to reach these goals, I am currently doing some action steps that I know will take me at least half-way toward my goals. However, I understand that I my body will adapt, enter the C-Zone, and therefore I will need to “change it up” in the future with some hard core C-Zone Breakers. Here is Erika’s plan of attack:

Now, you do the same thing. Take a look at your C-Zone and the C-Zone Breakers you have just laid before you on your goal sheet. For instance, one of your current steps that you have parked your ass in the C-Zone is (quoting you): “I go to the gym at 6 P.M. each day, 3 times a week, to workout.” However, you had a gut check moment and, honestly, you end up getting to the gym by 6:30 P.M. on average because work went late and traffic was shitty and you only end up getting in 80% of your workout because you want to rush to get home to eat and relax. You’re distracted and rushed in your workout and have seen no results in the last five months. Your C-Zone Breaker is “I need to get up at 5:00 A.M. to get in a better workout,” as you know you can get in your full hour, and potentially 10 minutes of high-intensity fat burn cardio at the end. It will be painful because you might have to go to bed a bit earlier each night and get up early enough to get in your pre-workout shake, but damn it, you will get better results. Whenever I hesitate to wake up in the morning for a workout, or fail to motivate myself to get to the gym, I always psyche myself up by saying to myself “Somebody, somewhere, is working harder than me right now. So, stop whining, suck it up and get working.” Ask yourself- are these C-Zone Breakers really that hard to grab on to? The challenge lies before you- the choice is yours.

Change is not easy. It is hard. Really hard. It takes sacrifice, dedication, and most of all, a tolerance for pain. Everyone reaches that plateau in their training or eating habits because our bodies are a hell of a lot smarter than we are and they adapt. Think about most things in your life right now- your job, your family, money, friends- and you are probably in your C-Zone. When is the last time you have tried a new food? Ran at least 30 seconds/mile faster? Lifted 10% heavier? 20% heavier? Have you even been keeping track of progress, or have you fallen into the comfort trap of not tracking your achievements as well? Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France who has an idea or two about getting out of the C-Zone, said, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” Don’t make excuses, set your pride aside, endure the pain needed to push you that extra inch or two harder, and get ready to do it all over again in about two months- your payoffs are going to be priceless in the long run, and you will thank yourself for it. Big Time.

I am a firm believer that anything is possible- for as cliché as that sounds, it is pretty damn true. That said, these C-Zone Breakers you have listed are goals that you are going to eventually reach and, once again, you will find yourself in a new C-Zone. These C-Zone Breakers are going to take the place of what is now in your square of comfort. Get ready for it and prepare for this adaptation. We will never out-smart our bodies, but we can sure as hell try.

Note the 5-Step Plateau Cycle.
• 1. We lose weight.
• 2. We reach the C-Zone.
• 3. We gain a bit back.
• 4. We hit our C-Zone Breaker and lose again.
• 5. Repeat Cycle.

Stay on top of this cycle and recognize that reaching your plateau is inevitable- the most challenging part is getting past step #3. But, with a bit of discomfort (everyone loves some pain anyway) and competitive spirit, you can push through and you will see results. You will see results. YOU WILL SEE RESULTS. But, I will warn you. Comfort will soon follow these results, so get ready to push yourself out of the Zone again and Break It with some pain and, as a result, you will gain a shit load of respect from your peers as you are the one that is constantly getting more fit, getting stronger, getting leaner and, most importantly, having the most fun changing up their workouts and training with purpose.

So, look back at your C-Zone and C-Zone Breakers you have laid before you. Think how long you have been in your Zone and know that you should plan to be in this zone for ONLY 1 month-2 months at a time. If you are doing the same thing for a period that lasts any longer than that, whether it be in your diet, workouts, life- you have reached a state of complacency and you need to get the hell out- as quickly as possible. Take a personal inventory of your progress and figure out how to break past your C-Zone. Make some positive changes in your workouts and nutrition and, while you are at it, if your results are not positively correlated with the degree to which you are “changing it up,” get a bit bolder with your C-Zone Breakers and embrace the temporary pain for a lifetime cycle of results. Now, shut up and lift.
Erika Lilley works out of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita.
Check out her blog at erikalilley@blogspot.com.

Friday, June 15, 2007

10 Signs You are Overtrained

Today, I had a hard workout. I mean, I had a 5-hour workout, and trained as hard as I possibly could, but it wasn't fun. It wasn't mentally challenging, but it was definitely physically, as my legs were toast from the run I had before our 60 mile ride. I went out this morning at 6am and did a 5-mile trail run. Then, went out for a 60-mile ride with my coach and a few other training buddies. This last week in particular, I have been sneaking in some extra workouts, and honestly, I have been feeling really good- performance-wise and physiologically. However, coach Rachel has reminded me that I can slip into my "over training" mode if I am not careful. So, I have been doing a self-inventory regarding my last week and I definitely have increased the mileage more than the standard 10% increase. I have also not been getting in my maximal amount of sleep. These are all red flags before something, like an injury or sickness, sets in.

I have decided to list some warning signs that you might be over trained, overworked, or in general, stressed-out. Take notice of these signs and get back on track (a.k.a.-take some rest) A.S.A.P.

1. You are too tired to train. You are unmotivated. You don't want to be there.... You are best taking the day off and coming back tomorrow at 100%.

2. You are making bad food choices- craving sweets, fatty-salty foods, and not eating enough. Food is your fuel for performance, so don't make your heavy training worse by making poor choices.

3. Waking up throughout the night, and not being able to fall asleep readily. Your sleeping patterns are going to suffer if you are training too much. Make sure to take time to rest and get proper sleep.

4. Too much caffeine intake (drinking coffee to stay awake). Drinking energy drinks and coffee just to stay awake are not good actions to take if your system is already working overtime to keep you energized. Make water your hydration drink of choice!

5. You are irritable and cranky. This happens to me immediately when I am over trained- and my performance really starts to suffer. Keep yourself positive by taking regular rest days.

6. You can't sleep at all- signs of insomnia. Once again, if you can't even fall asleep easily, you are VERY over trained or stressed. Try sitting in a dark room or reading before bed in a lightly lit room to wind down before bed. Remove yourself from the television before you sleep, as this artificial light will make it hard for you to fall asleep.

7. Heart palpitations/irregular heart rate. Your resting heart rate will increase if you are overtrained. If you notice that this has risen, it is time to take a break.

8. Rapid weight loss...or weight gain. Fluctuations in appetite cause fluctuations in weight. Keep your eating in check- don't be too lazy to not feed yourself or feed yourself crap.

9. Hydration- you are not getting enough water. Drink water- Remember to drink (.6 x Your body weight in lbs) of water.

10. You are not having fun in your workouts! First and foremost, you must have fun and enjoy what you are doing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Timing is Everything

Face it- sometimes, you just don't feel like working out. You have made your appointment at the gym with your personal trainer at 7:00 A.M. and, despite getting a great night of sleep, you have woken up with a lack of motivation to get your tush to the gym. You always work out at 7, but lately, things just haven't been jiving for you that early. Is it O.K. to waver from your normal morning hour? Won't you be letting yourself down if you change your time to later in the day? I mean, c'mon you wuss, you are supposed to be working out that early all the time, right?
Wrong.

Not "wrong" in that working out in the morning is bad. "Wrong" in that you don't always have to workout at the same time each day in order for you to reap the benefits of your planned workout. I feel that you can get your best workout in as long as you have had enough nutrition beforehand, and a recovery drink packed for after.

You probably already have figured out what your optimal time of day is that you like to workout. I personally like to eat a big breakfast before I do anything, so running or cycling at 5:30 in the morning is tough. Tonight, I decided to go for a 55 mile bike ride- and I departed at 5:20 PM. I called it my "sunset ride." It was a beautiful ride and I made it home just before 8:30 PM, just when the sun was completely down. I usually ride at 2pm in the afternoon, because that is when I get off work and I like to get my workout done. HOWEVER, I feel best after 4pm. And, most races are at 7am in the morning. So, what is the deal? What is my optimal hour?

It is probably best to workout during the time of day when you feel your best, and if your schedule is flexible enough for you to do this, take advantage. But, if you are only free to workout at a certain time of day, each day, and you don't feel that it is optimal, try to re-figure your days sometimes to take advantage of your 'OPTIMAL HOUR.' Even if you do this once a week you will feel invigorated and feel a new, uplifting attitude about your workouts. Kill the monotony and get your 'sweat-on' at your optimal time. Nothing wrong with changing it up once in a while.

Check out my website:
http://www.shapefit.com/personal-trainers-erika-lilley.html

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Patience is...

Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience.”-Anonymous.

I had a client come to me today to talk about doing some "extra" cardio at the end of her resistance training workouts. She wanted to know what she should do. Now, granted she is currently doing her 1 hour resistance training workout and then cooling down for 10 minutes on the bike. So, basically, she is starting at ground zero. She thought she could start next week, coming in EVERY DAY for at least 30 MINUTES and be committed to that. That's a great thought, I was thinking to myself. I told her.."what makes you think you are going to start coming in here everyday to do high-intensity intervals when you are currently coming in for NONE?". Good point, Erika- she said.

Everyone wants instant results. Everyone wants the overnight solution. It's human nature and this will never go away. But, if you show patience and put in the consistent hard work, you will start to chip away and lose fat a percent at a time, or a pound at at time. If you step on the scale one day and you are "up", but have been doing everything right, step on in a week again and see what happens. You will probably be down. Just know that you might have "those days." Be patient. If you have been good for a couple of weeks, but slipped one week, don't get discouraged. Don't throw in the towel. Get back on track. Patience will get you there. Trust me.

10 Ways to Stay Patient in Weight Loss

1. Take the pressure off-be good to yourself.
2. Treat yourself to 1 or 2 cheats a week.
3. Don't weigh yourself every day- once a week is sufficient.
4. Have Fun.
5. Change up your routine every week.
6. Find a workout partner who has the same goals and track each other. Stay accountable to one another.
7. Find a fitness coach who will help motivate you, and keep you on track.
8. Understand that weight loss is not linear. You will have weeks where you might be up in lbs, but the next week, you might have a big drop. Stick to your plan and know that the lbs lost will eventually start to add up.
9. Celebrate big drops in weight.
10. Have belief that you can and you will!

Be PATIENT. Be STRONG. Have FUN.

What are you waiting for?



Friday, June 8, 2007

Kids are Phat

There are some incredible statistics out there today regarding child obesity and most of us are aware of them. In case you missed that it is a rising problem in America's society today... According to WEBMD.COM

*Among kids 2-5 years old, 12% are at risk of being overweight (in the 85th weight percentile for their sex and age) and 14% are already overweight (in the 95th percentile).
*Among kids 6-11 years old, 18% are at risk of being overweight and 19% are overweight.
*Among kids 12-19 years old, 17% are at risk of being overweight and 17% are overweight.
(All these numbers are up from the 1999-2000 time period. For example, the overall rate of overweight for kids 2-19 years old went up from 14% to 17%.)- WebMD.com.

These stats are from 7 years ago, and I apologize for that. Guaranteed that most of these kids in the age groups above have lived out these predictions and have become fat adults. I, myself, was a chubby adolescent. And, not for any reason except for we ate out a lot as a family. I was always athletic and played on every sports team and goofed off with the neighborhood kids after school. I just ate crappy. Had I not been athletic and active, I would have been much fatter, and at higher risk for health issues, such as Type I/II Diabetes.

Some other countries are doing something about this rising phenomenon of fat kids. China, for instance, is instituting MANDATORY DANCE lessons, 5 days/week, in their primary and secondary kids for their '07-'08 school year. In the USA, many schools don't even require kids to participate in P.E. classes everyday. Only twice a week. That is not nearly enough.

So, I was wondering, at a micro-level, what a "kid" would think to do if they wanted to become more active and healthy. So, I asked a local 15-year old, Alexandra, what she would recommend as far as these activities. It took her 5 minutes to list 5 ways in which to become more active. Here they are:

1. Since it is summertime, have a pool party and invite your friends over for some play time in and around the pool.
2. Take a bike ride to the park with your brother or sister and then play Frisbee once you are there.
3. Jump on the trampoline if you have one- it is fun and you don't even know that you are getting a workout.
4. Walk your pet around the block- just by playing with them for 30 minutes, you are getting more activity then by sitting in front of the TV watching some reality show for that same time period.
5. Rollerblade on your local bike path.

Great job, Alex. These activities are free and all it takes is time and effort to get yourself to do them. Adults can heed to this advice as well. I am seriously concerned for kids out there today and if the parents are not encouraging this active lifestyle behavior, they are not going to get healthier. Also, for you as a parent, be a good role model and watch your lifestyle as well- your kids learn the most from you.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

5 KEYS FOR FITNESS SUCCESS

I have been an active person my entire life, and I don’t remember a time where I was NOT doing a sport in school, training for an event, or coaching individuals to help them reach their fitness goals. I have a healthy lifestyle and believe that there is no other way to get “fit” but to adopt some habits into your life that will positively encourage this type of living. If you feel good, you will look good, and who do you know doesn’t want to do both of those things? If you have found yourself in fitness rut and want a fool-proof snapshot of what you must do in order to achieve fitness success, then I hope I can help you. I am not saying that I know the secret to your success: however, I have picked up on some recurring themes within the four walls of the gym that I train at, which I recite to my clients on a daily basis. These themes I refer to as my Keys for Fitness Success: Set Your Goals, Develop a Routine, Put “You” First, Thinking of Food as Fuel, and Start Weight Training and Cut the Cardio.

SET YOUR GOALS.

This might seem cliché, but it is very true. In order to achieve something that you set out to do, you must clearly visualize what this “something” is and how you are going to go about measuring it your ways in which to get “it” and knowing when it is that you finally are going to achieve “it.” I always have a short-term goal and a longer-term goal, and I am always writing my goals down with a clear map of “How I am going to achieve it” planned along with it. The more you are inspired to reach your goal, the higher your chance of achieving it. What really drives you to lose 30 lbs? What is your reason for gaining 5 lbs of muscle or losing 15 lbs of fat? If your reason for the goal is not a strong enough fuel for you to grasp this pot of gold at the end of the tunnel, you might find yourself on the path to non-achievement. Get realistic about what you want to achieve, draw out a path for how you are going to go about it, and keep your plan visible so that you are constantly reminded of it. Sometimes, I even tell my closest friends and family about my path to my goals so that they can encourage me along the way.

DEVELOP A ROUTINE.

It is proven that if you develop a structured plan for your daily workouts rather than deciding on whim when and where to workout on a workout-to-workout basis, then you will be more successful. Lay out your workout plan a week in advance so that you are making it a priority, and therefore, can plan other events around it. For instance, start waking up in the morning before work and head to the gym at least 4 times a week. After two weeks, you will be amazed that this routine you have developed has become second nature and getting fit has become part of your lifestyle.


PUT “YOU” FIRST.

One of the most common excuses I hear from my clients when it comes to working out was, “I got too busy:” or, basically, they didn’t make time to eat right or workout because life got too crazy. I watch several people that I know train for Ironmans, who also have families and full-time jobs. Training for this event can sometimes add up to working out 3-5 hours in 1 day. And they find time to fit it in. So, that just proves that the whole, “I didn’t have time” line is the biggest excuse in the book and I find it super difficult to accept it. You have 24 hours in a day and for at least 1 hour of that day, you can set aside time to enjoy some time in the gym, or in a pool, or on your bike. Exercise is important because not only will it make you look better, but it will make you feel awesome and improve your health. Wouldn’t the chance to ultimately live longer motivate you enough to mange your time better throughout the day and make healthy decisions. If you can, workout before you go to your job in the morning. Find time to fit in a lunch-hour workout if your job allows. Weekends are perfect for family activities, in which you can join your spouse for an evening walk or encourage your kids to play at the park while you run around the nearby bike path. You are in control- take personal responsibility and make eating right and exercise a priority.


THINK OF FOOD AS FUEL.

Eating a healthy, or clean, diet is more important than the exercise put in by an individual when it comes to losing weight or body fat. Think of your body as a well-working machine. If you feed your machine the cleanest fuel, it will perform better- faster, stronger, and more efficient. I tell my clients to think about the food that they are putting into their mouth and if their choices are not getting them closer to their fitness goal, then don’t consume it: simple as that. I would venture to say that diet is almost 70% of the weight loss battle, where as exercise is 30%. You should have a good idea about what types of food are considered “clean” foods for which to fuel your body and which ones are unhealthy, foods. (If not, there is probably a good chance that you are not losing weight because of this reason.) Remember that it is human nature to overestimate the amount of “good” food that a person eats and underestimate the number of total calories that a person eats in a day. You can try out this theory by keeping a food journal for a week. You might be amazed at just how many calories you are eating in a day, or how few you are consuming. One of the biggest problems that people have is that they don’t eat enough, or frequently enough. Most of my clients don’t eat enough of the food that is going to get them lean or they are uneducated about the nutritional value of most foods. Some big tips for how to eat clean is to keep a balanced diet of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. A good split in a 2000 calorie diet would include a breakdown of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. If you want to lose 1 lbs a week, you must eat 500 calories less than you burn for 7 days and a total of a 3500 calorie deficit equals 1 lb lost. You must always eat breakfast, and if you are going to eat carbs, try to eat them at this time of day, and around the time of your workout. Try to eat 5 to 6 small meals a day, each meal consisting of 200-300 calories. Increase the consumption of high density, low calorie foods, such as vegetables. I always have some lean protein and veggies for dinner, which is completely filling and satisfying. Limit the amount of sugars you eat, while also watching your consumption of alcohol. When I say limit, I mean keep these servings to about 1-2 a week. Trust me, if you cut them out, after a week or two your body will not crave them anymore. Increase the amount of water that you drink and, the biggest thing of all; you don’t need to starve yourself in order to lose weight. The best ‘diet’ is one that is not called a diet, but that is seen as an overall healthy food menu that includes all your fuel types in moderation and in proper proportions. Moderation is key and, yes, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”- so, watch your portions!


START WEIGHT TRAINING AND CUT THE CARDIO.

Your body is composed of Lean Body Mass and Fat Mass. Your body fat percentage as a total of your total body weight is your fat mass (in lbs) and the remaining weight, in lbs, equals your lean body mass. Most people who are trying to “lose weight” are trying to decrease this body fat percentage, or total fat mass. Therefore, you must increase your lean body mass, or muscle mass, so that your body composition becomes less fat and more muscle- plain and simple. The most effective way in which to do this is to start a weight training program. The more muscle you have on your body, the greater the amount of fat burned. In addition, with a higher amount of lean body mass, the greater your resting metabolic rate will be because of the fuel needed for these muscles to work and perform. If you are spending endless hours in a gym on an elliptical trainer for 45 minutes a day without any weight training program at all, and are not seeing any results, I am not surprised. Long bouts of steady paced aerobic workouts (whether it be running or biking at one pace for an hour or two) without any variation in speed or intensity will not do much for making your body lean. You may drop some weight in the beginning, if you are overweight and have never worked out before, starting this type of program. However, our bodies are smart and will start to adapt to this long, slow distance and your results will begin to plateau. Keep in mind that you can get more bang for your buck at the gym by lifting weights for 30 minutes rather than running for 60 minutes. In fact, lifting weights for 3 times a week for about 45 minutes each time will get you the results you want, to not only increase your composition in favor of the lean body mass, but to help you gain some overall health benefits, such as an increase in core strength, increase in bone mineral density, and higher overall aerobic capacity.

I hope that I have helped motivate you to re-think your fitness goals and start making a plan that puts you first and helps you to prioritize healthy eating and routine workouts. Remember that time is truly of the essence for all of us, and that you can get in a more effective workout in less time than you think by doing more resistance training and less steady state elliptical training. Most of all, think of your fitness goals in the broader sense in that you are adopting a more healthy lifestyle. Exercise and healthy eating are positive choices that will put you on the path to living a stronger, more youthful life full of health and happiness. Now, go out there and enjoy life!




Clancy, Mike and I

Clancy, Mike and I
SB Tri Finishers- Nice Tiles!