Monday, July 28, 2014

5 Tips for Losing those Stubborn Last 5-10lbs of Bodyfat

Have you been working hard, following an exercise program and eating "healthy" but still not losing those last 5-10 lbs of bodyfat?  The following details are crucial to helping you finally reach that last stretch of your weight loss goals to be the...FITTEST, HEALTHIEST & LEANEST YOU!

1)  Drink more water!  Your body is 60% H2O so its the most vital nutrient.  Drinking water daily improves digestion, organ function, rejuvenates your skin, energizes muscles, has zero calories so helps keep calorie intake low and is satiating so helps keep you from overeating.

Best ways to drink more water daily:

  • Drink a glass 1st thing in the morning
  • 20-30 min before every meal and snack
  • Before, during and after every workout
  • 1 hour before bed
  • Eat more fruits and veggies which are comprised of 70-97% water
  • Carry a water bottle around to sip throughout the day
 It is recommended to have 8 glasses or 64oz of water a day, but everyone is different and depending on your activity level, sweat rate and environment, your hydration needs can vary.  Aim to have very light yellow urine.  Dark urine is a sign of dehydration which means your body is not getting enough water.  Clear urine is a sign of over-hydration, which means nutrients and electrolytes are being flushed out of the body too quickly.  So next time you are feeling a little parched instead of reaching for that diet soda or iced tea...DRINK WATER!

2) Change your workout!  If you've been taking the same group exercise class using the same 5-10 lbs dumbbells, spin class, yoga class, barre class, exercise video or running the same route at the same pace etc...its time for a change.  If you only do cardio, add strength to your workouts.  If you only lift weights add cardio.  Your body adapts and becomes very efficient at repeating whatever stress or training stimulus it encounters.  Over time that same stress will no longer elicit a training response, physiological change or fitness gain. That's why it is important to follow a periodized program that includes progression, with varying types of exercises and specific levels of higher and lower intensities, frequencies, and duration. Stuck in a rut?  Change it up!

3) Increase the intensity! If you feel comfortable during your workouts than you are not working hard enough. If you are trying to improve your body composition, workouts need to feel difficult, there needs to be a struggle and you need to be uncomfortable, otherwise you will not get stronger and increase muscle mass which is needed to lose weight and bodyfat. Intensity is my favorite variable to change in training programs and most convenient if you are pressed for time.  If you are lifting weights, lift heavier or faster.  If you are doing cardio, sprint, do hill repeats or jump rope.  Add power or explosive exercises to your workouts like plyometrics, medicine ball throws, Olympic lifts, kettlebells.  These fast moving exercises not only burn more calories but recruit more muscle fibers which increases the opportunity for muscles to get stronger and faster which boosts your metabolism.  Speeding up your metabolism burns more calories while you are at rest which is how you ultimately burn the most bodyfat. Pick it up and explode!
4) Eliminate processed foods! Nutrition is key factor in your quest for a better physique.  You can spend hours training and still not lose weight or shed bodyfat if you are not eating right.  The artificial ingredients added to processed foods are usually toxic, carcinogenic, cause  many digestive, respiratory, neurological, skin and cardiovascular diseases and also compromise immune function. They also inhibit the proper absorption of the vital nutrients ingested. How can your body feel, look and function its best when it is being pumped with unhealthy substances?   Know if you have any food allergies then eat a diet of all natural organic wholesome foods with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, hormone-free dairy and lean meats for healthier and leaner physique.

5)  Sleep more!  Our bodies need 7-9 hours of sleep varying per individual.  That is when nutrition is completely digested, when hormones to keep our metabolism in balance are released, muscles repair and grow and when bodyfat is burned.  Being well-rested will help us maintain mental clarity so we make better
choices throughout the day including nutrition. Going to sleep earlier also eliminates the opportunity for late night snacking which packs on unnecessary calories that are stored as fat that sabotage all our weight loss efforts.  Set aside a few days where you don't set your alarm, keep your room dark and let yourself wake up naturally. Take the average of the amount of hours you slept and that is the amount you need per night.  Get some comfy bedding, get your Z's and wake up happier, healthier and leaner!

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 Tips for Keeping Your New Year's Resolution to Get Fit!

1)  Pace yourself.  A common pitfall for people trying to start an exercise regime is “too much too soon” or going from “0 to 60.”  If you have been sitting a lot at work, on the couch, or on a bar stool for most of 2013 you shouldn’t start the first week of 2014 by exercising every day.  Your body and mind needs time to adjust to the new physical stress of exercise. Your body also needs time to recover, especially as we get older.  Too much too soon often times leads to an injury. A simple plan to follow if you are just starting back after a long hiatus is to aim for 3 workouts per week for the first 4 weeks.  If you are somewhat fit and have only been off the wagon for a few months or are a former athlete and feel like you can endure more, workout every other day or every 2 days.  Another strategy is complete a total body strength workout the 1st day, followed by a low intensity “recovery” workout like a 20 min jog or swim, 30 min on the stationary bike, 45 min walk at a fast pace or a beginner yoga class on the 2nd day and rest on the 3rd day, then repeat.  Increase the frequency, intensity, duration and change the types of workouts after you feel an improvement in your fitness and start to feel comfortable, then its time to push past your comfort zone.  In the meantime, capitalize on the New Year's motivation and just aim to be consistent!

2) Cross Train.  There are many components to fitness:  muscle strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, body composition, flexibility, balance, agility, power, speed and coordination.  Different types of exercise will help improve one or some of these components.  The more variation there is in your workouts the more fit you will become.  Only running will only work on cardiovascular endurance and leg strength (depending on the type of running workouts done) but it does nothing for flexibility, upper body strength, balance, coordination, etc.  Only practicing yoga will definitely make you more flexible and have good balance but, if your main goal is weight loss it is not the most time-effective.  It takes months and even years to develop a good practice especially if you are lacking upper body and core strength.  Also, if you only participate in one activity that doesn’t incorporate various movement patterns like running, cycling, and single-joint weight-lifting you are at risk of developing an overuse injury.  Activities that are great for increasing fitness with a huge calorie burn are gymnastics, dance and martial arts.  They are most effective because they challenge all the components of fitness. Think about what you would like to improve, what you need to improve and what would be the most fun. Explore, experiment and get excited about the various ways you can become more fit!

3)  Learn proper technique.  Technique is the key to making any activity effective.  Correct form and alignment will prevent injury and insure that you are getting the most out of your effort.  If you are in the gym without a clue of what to do ask a trainer.  Most gyms like Reebok Sports Club/NY have trainers on the floor that are there to answer your questions.  If it is not in your budget to hire a Personal Trainer or Coach, find a Group Exercise Instructor that pays attention to the participants’ form and technique or simply buy books. I personally feel nothing is learned better than through practical experience, so before you go off and spend on another expensive designer whatever, think about the price of your health and fitness and choose to invest in yourself.

Some of my favorite resources:

 “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy”, by Paul Chek

"The Yoga Bible", by Christina Brown, Ann-Marie Gallagher.




"Runner's World Complete Book of Running: Everything You Need to Run for Fun, Fitness and Competition,"  by Amby Burfoot


Group Exercise Instructor and 3-time World Kettlebell Sport Champion,
Lorna Kleidman:

Teaches a kettlebell class called Kettle X at various Equinox and the JCC. 

 4)  Set realistic goals.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and becoming more fit won’t either.  Aim to be consistent at first, then to feel better, then to reach the actual prize.  Whether it be to shrink a few sizes, increase your muscle mass, play a sport without injury or just keep up with your kids.  Set short term goals first so you medial maintain consistency and in time you’ll cross the finish line. 

5)  Make it social.  Join a club, sports team like Zogsports or enlist a friend to join you on your quest for better fitness.  Having a support team or someone to share the experience can give people the courage to get out of their comfort zone or face a new challenge.

Some fun groups I've had the honor of training with:

In Southern CT,  Team Mossman (at my 1st Triathlon camp in 2009)

In NYC,  Bridle Path Track Club at Ragnar Relay 2011

In Morris County, NJ 
Q CrossFit at a Kettbell Sport Workshop with Lorna Kleidman


6)  Sleep more.  It is not enough to just add physical exercise to your fitness regime.  Rest is equally important.  The body makes adaptations from the stress of exercise when it is resting or sleeping.  People are more likely to stick with an activity when they see results.  Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night to gain results.

7) Eat better but don’t make a huge overhaul to your diet.   All the hours of exercise and rest will not help you reap the benefits of your efforts unless you have healthy eating habits.  A diet of all-natural wholesome foods will be nutrient dense and low calorie which will help you use more energy for all your activities, recover better from all the stress, feel and look better.  You also have to be happy about what you eat.  Learn about and try different foods.  This will help you make better choices.  Know the unhealthy foods that you can’t live without like french fries or milkshakes.  Aim for a 80%:20% split.  If you are eating 80% healthy and 20% whatever that will ensure you lose weight, stay healthy and still enjoy the occasional meal of a burger and fries. 

Becoming more fit is a process and a lifestyle choice that takes consistency and hard work but it can be fun if you find options you enjoy and start feeling and seeing results.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can You Really "Spot Reduce"?

There have been countless times when I have had a client insist we "target" their stomach, thighs or arms in an effort to "spot-reduce." They truly believe that doing endless reps of ab exercises, the inner and outer thigh machine or tricep extensions will zap away the fat in these areas.  If this is your game plan, your efforts will be in vain.

People store more fat in different areas.  For most men and some women its their stomachs.  For most women its their hips and thighs.  Some people its their lower back and others upper back.  That is where the terms pear shaped and apple shaped come from.  Even at their ideal weight people still maintain this apple or pear shape but on a smaller, leaner scale.

Weight loss occurs when your body burns, through chemical reactions (metabolizes) more calories than it consumes.  This does not mean that you need to be on a starvation diet because it will be counter-productive in the long-run.  If you are consuming too few calories your body's protective mechanism will slow down its metabolism to counter-act the low calorie intake, calories will be stored and minimal physical changes will occur.  When you exercise muscles, depending on the Frequency (times per week), Intensity (low or high), Type (aerobic or anaerobic), and Time (duration), you will either increase muscle strength, size/mass (hypertrophy), endurance, rate of contraction (speed & explosiveness), coordination and/or flexibility.  Unfortunately, exercising a specific muscle does not decrease its fat stores.  Your body's metabolism is what will burn fat for energy throughout the day or while you are sleeping. 

So how do you lose fat stores in these wretched areas?

Maintain a balance by doing the following:

1) Start a regular exercise program that improves your cardiovascular & skeletalmuscular systems with a combination of  different types of workouts:  running, cycling, swimming, stair/rock climbing, rowing, hiking, walking, jumping rope, plyometrics, weight training, martial arts, gymnastics, dance, yoga.  Only then will you burn more calories.

2) Eat a balanced diet of natural wholesome foods that includes water, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts & lean protein (if you are a carnivore).  Eliminate or limit processed/packaged/fast foods.  Not only are most processed foods calorie dense but also many artificial ingredients hinder the absorption of the important nutrients that naturally derive from foods.

3) Rest. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night ensures that your body recovers from the stress of exercise, work and life's challenges.

Only by maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise program and adequate rest will you achieve an optimal metabolism that will shed body fat.  No ways around it!

Have patience and be consistent and watch as your body fat starts to disappear and you achieve the best "shape" you can be!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Take Your Workouts to the Park!

Where do you exercise?  With a health club within every few blocks, NYC is full of options.  Even so, you don't need to belong to a fancy health club or crowded gym to get a good workout.  Even if you are content with your fitness locale of choice its always good to get a change of environment...

Ever think of working out in a park?  There is nothing simpler.  All you need is yourself (your body weight will create the resistance) and a park bench.  Find a set of stairs or a steep hill and you'll have yourself a killer workout!

Benefits of park workouts:

1) Allows for application of different exercise modalities with more ease. If you have been doing the same workout routine for years or even months you have plateaued and are not seeing improvements in your physique or advancements towards your health & fitness results. The more variation you have in your workouts, the more stress/stimili you are applying to your body and therefore the more it will adapt/improve to get results.  Most people do too much of one modality, cardiovascular training (running, spinning, eliptical), flexibility training (yoga, pilates), or muscular hypertrophy training (bodypart/split-routine/body builder workouts). In a park you can have an integrated circuit workout comprised of strength, balance, flexibility, agility, speed, power and cardio exercises all in one workout.  The gym is not always the ideal environment for these types of workouts due to space.

Sample workout:

Cardio/Speed: Stairs or Hill Repeats 2-3min
Power/Agility: Jumping Lunges 30+ sec
Strength/Flexibility: Walking Lunges 20 reps
Strength/Balance: Single Leg Deadlift 15 reps each leg
Strength/Flexibility: Decline Push Ups to failure, Crawling in grass 1 min, Dips to failure, a Plank Variation 30sec+

Repeat 2-3X

2)  Vitamin D, the "Sunshine Vitamin."  This important vitamin is produced in our bodies when we are exposed to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight (not through a window).  It helps the intestines absorb calcium and phosphate which in turn helps prevent osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and even effects diabetes and obesity.  If you work in an office you probably don't get enough exposure to natural light which in turns leads to a Vitamin D deficiency.  Vit D naturally occurs in only a few foods which is why sun exposure is so important. Of course too much sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer and other illnesses, but 5-30 min a few times a week, or 1-2 workouts in the park per week is just right!  So not only is getting outside good for your training regime its also excellent for your nutrition!

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3) Of course the most obvious benefit is the cost...its free!

As much as I love my home, the Koncrete Jungle, I also love to see green trees, the clear blue sky and feel the sun's warm rays.  I get outside as much as I can because it feels good too.  When the temps drop, layer up.  You'll feel warm as soon as you get going.

Get yourself to the nearest park & workout!