As I continue on my journey of being fitter, faster and stronger I found out something that I didn’t think would be true, and that’s the weight loss wasn’t the hardest part but the muscle gain is what I found difficult. For me it was and still is easy to shed the pounds, in the past 7 months I dropped 10+ pounds every month and on my way to dropping another 10. I just hope I put on the muscle I expect to as my target weight nears.
The advent of Thanksgiving commences the holiday season; a time for togetherness, giving, and of course, lots of delicious dinners and desserts. What is a health oriented individual to do when it seems everyone else is indulging?
The holiday season is a difficult time to stick to health goals as we all know — certainly contributing to the upcoming New Years’ Resolutions surrounding wellness. But this does not mean we should throw our carefully crafted discipline to the wind! So in light of the approaching holiday challenges, I present to you my survival tips for making it through the holidays with a clear conscience, no guilt or regrets, and less worries for your waistline.
Don’t go hungry. Temptation is much easier to resist if your stomach is not growling at you. Save overindulging later by eating breakfast and lunch on holiday dinner days. This way, you will not feel ravenous while selecting what you put on your plate.
Watch portion sizes. Follow the Plate Proportion Rule:Protein and carbs should make up 1/4 of your plate, whereas veggies should take up half. By setting a visual guideline for yourself, you will prevent overindulging on filler such as mashed potatoes and gravy, and ensure you get a serving of vegetables that you may have otherwise passed on. Fill your plate reasonably, and avoid seconds. The second helping will not taste better than the first!
Be condiment conscious. Have your vegetables without the cheese sauce and your meat without the skin or fat. The slimmer alternatives are just as delicious, and you will save an enormous amount of calories. Do not add extra salt, and you will avoid bloat. NO Gravy! Gravy is as empty in nutritional value as a soda, and just as potent in calorie content. Avoid!
Eat slowly. Allow your mind the time it requires to communicate appetite satiety to the rest of your body. Holidays are often culprits of overeating, given the tendency to enjoy as much as we can, as quickly as we can. Everyone has had the experience afterwards of “I ate too much!” Avoid this by savoring your food, and reap the rewards.
Do not consume empty calories. Liquids, such as wine, beer, juice and soda, contain no nutritional value. Each is filled with sugar and calories that we often not even considered when we eat. Save these calories for the food; stick with water. Not only will you be able to enjoy more, but water consumption will help you feel more full.
Stick to your guns. Aunt Mabel shouldn’t guilt you into having her famous cheesy potatoes if they are not part of what you have allotted for your planned plate. Remember that these are your goals, and what someone else does, or says, does not affect you. Only you have the power to improve yourself. Do not give that up!
Have some. Just be wise. Remember that indulging every now and then is perfectly acceptable! In fact, it has been shown that those who ‘cheat’ occasionally, are more likely to stick to their diets in the long run. This is a result of satisfaction; it is easy to resent your healthy choices if you receive no enjoyment.
Like a child who knows good behavior will earn him periodic privileges, we can accept our parameters, if the payoff is worth it. In the end, if you choose this option, just be wise about your choices. The piece of pie may not turf your results, but a whole pie and whipped cream might. Be reasonable.
To conclude, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to any comments or tips you might have about how you make it through the holidays in a healthy way!
How do you lose weight while still building muscle? To meet both your weight and strength goals, throw out that old treadmill program and replace it with a multifaceted approach that incorporates both training and nutrition.
Jumping on the treadmill and running for a half hour burns calories; however, you aren’t strengthening your muscles. To elevate your heart rate and engage your muscles for improved strength, perform plyometrics and other bodyweight exercises. This type of training allows you to do more reps at a high intensity, which activates your aerobic energy system and burns more calories. To achieve your goal, perform your regular exercise program with lower weight, more than 12 reps and less than 30 seconds of rest.
If you want to burn even more calories, use the treadmill, but avoid simply jogging at a medium pace. You need to push yourself and run like you would in a game. Interval training is a great way to condition your body for improved game-time endurance, while also helping you shed extra pounds of fat.
After all that hard work, it’s important not to go home and suck down four sodas and a bucket of fried chicken. A proper diet is just as important for losing fat and gaining muscle as your time in the weight room. Your muscles need fuel, so don’t pare down your calorie intake too much—trim only around 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
The infomercials don’t do a good job painting the real picture of incredible abs.
They never talk about the vast importance of diet.
Nutrition is 80 percent of the battle to remove belly fat. You can crunch ‘til the cows come home, but if you surpass your proper daily caloric intake, then you will never achieve the taut tone you’ve always wanted.
Typically, for a man to have his abs pop from the shame of his spare tire, his body-fat percentage must fall at or below 10 percent. For a woman’s abs to appear, like the forest through the fog, she must reach 12 percent body fat or less. Some women’s abs could appear at 14 percent or less, depending on the thickness of their abdominal muscle bellies.
Clogged Arteries Can Hide in Seemingly “Healthy” Athletes
You’re an athlete who works out every day, so there’s no way you’re at risk for heart disease, right? Unfortunately, not necessarily. According to a new study published by the University of Quebec, just being active and maintaining a healthy weight do not confer immunity from atherosclerosis, the dangerous buildup of fat on artery walls.
Working with 168 apparently healthy volunteers, ages 18 to 35, researchers for the study found that although none of the volunteers had red flags like obesity, smoking, high blood pressure or a family history of premature heart disease, a “staggering” number of them had atherosclerosis.
Young adults with atherosclerosis have an increased risk for heart attack or stroke later in life. According to the study’s researchers, fat buildup on artery walls is like a ticking time bomb.
Doctors recommend preventing atherosclerosis by taking two important steps:
Eating Healthy Many athletes feel that since they lead active lifestyles, they can eat any food they want. But fatty foods are dangerous to the body, even if they don’t enlarge your waistline. If you need to add weight for your sport, do it by eating healthy calories instead of fat.
Talking to a Doctor During your next physical exam, ask your doctor to test your cholesterol to rule out the possibility of clogged arteries. If you have high levels of LDL cholesterol, talk to a coach and dietitian about heart-healthy foods and a cardio program to that can help you meet both your athletic and health goals.
More Training Isn’t Always Better: Common Overuse Injuries and Remedies
We’ve all heard that “more is better,” and we often take that approach in our exercise programs. If a little bit of training is good, then hours spent in the weight room must be great!
True, you have to reach certain levels of volume and intensity to realize benefits from your training program. But too much extra work can lead to aches and pains. Some of the aches are okay—like muscle soreness after a killer workout. But the pain can mean you’re injured.
Injuries caused by overuse can be avoided with a structured program. Also, by understanding the source of your pain, you can often work around an injury, continue to train and get back to your old self—or hopefully a smarter version!
The following are common overuse injuries, with some quick ideas on how to treat the problem and prevent it from reoccurring.
Tender Knee Joint
If you are a runner or heavy lifter, you may experience a tender spot right below the knee. In most cases, the condition is patellar tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon that runs over the knee. Constant stress and strain on the tendon—from adding extra miles or running or lifting with bad form—makes it irritated and inflamed.
The key to recovery is to engage in activities that don’t aggravate the tendon, such as swimming, riding a bike or forms of resistance training that take the load off the knee joint. To hasten recovery, ice the knee after activity. If the problem lingers longer than two weeks, check with your doctor about anti-inflammatory medication.
The pain in your shoulder gets worse when you raise your arm, and you fear you’ve torn a rotator cuff. This can happen, but often the pain is caused by the swelling of a tendon in the shoulder area. This condition is most common in athletes who lift their arms overhead—especially pitchers and tennis players.
If you experience this problem, avoid activities that require moving the arm above shoulder level for a few weeks. In severe cases, stay away from chest and shoulder activity altogether. After a few days, if the pain persists or increases, visit your doctor to ensure nothing is torn.
If the pain start to subside, when you get back to the gym, make sure to work the small support muscles around the shoulder joint. Try using light dumbbells or bands, and perform flexibility exercises recommended by a coach or trainer.
Pain along the front of the lower leg is called shin splints—caused by inflammation of the muscles that attach on the front part of the shins. Weak or inflexible muscles can produce pain and tenderness in that area. Runners who put in too many miles on hard or uneven surfaces often strain those muscles and experience shin splints.
Getting back to your program requires you to “take a load off”—meaning your knees. Bike, swim or do circuit training until you can get back on your feet and resume your normal level of activity. Just take it easy. You might need to cut back on the miles at first, then gradually increase your time and distance. Use the time for cross-training, and realize that constantly performing the same movements can cause problems.
Low Back Pain
Most back pain stems not from overuse of our bodies but from overuse of our lounge chairs. Back problems affect mobility, sitting, sleeping and nearly everything else.
Athletes with severe back problems should see a specialist, but most people are able to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, back pain with stretching and strength training. With tight muscles through the lower back, weak muscles in the stomach area and hours and hours of sitting at work and at home, we put constant stress on our lower backs. A stretching program that includes the back, hamstrings and hip area; core-strengthening exercises; and simply moving around more often can lead to a dramatic reduction in back pain.
When treating most overuse injuries, the key is to use common sense. More isn’t always better. Find a happy balance between working out and wearing your body out.
Hey there, lovin' the blog. My partner recently bought me a bench and barbell set, however I don't have a squat rack and have yet to find time to MacGyver something up. What are some alternate exercises I can do until then? So far my knowledge is pretty much limited to bench presses, overhead presses, deadlifts and power cleans. Cheers, Tess
Hip thrust are another you can do by rolling the barbell over your hips and thrusting your hips to the ceiling. Before you do that you might want to cushion the barbell to keep from rubbing directly on your hip bone. You can also do good mornings which is a lower back exercise, up right rows also for shoulders using a barbell. I know so many I can go on and on lol. If you need more let me know
just needed some advice on this.. so last friday i "injured" my wrist doing shoulder presses on the smith machine. so this week i still continued my workouts but went light so i dont "injure" it more. but i cant really do any curls, DB lat raises, DB shoulder presses, or anything really that puts pressure on my wrist (even turning a door knob at times) should i just do cardio and ab workouts when i go to the gym and rest my wrist for a bit and then see what happens?
Absolutely rest the wrist since you can’t perform alot of upper body workouts that doesn’t mean you can’t train. This is a great opportunity to focus on lower body training. But def give the wrist sometime if it is still hurting consult with your doctor and once it heals focus on better form when it comes to hand placement.
Hi ! I alternate my upper and lower body days and I feel like I'm in a rut on weight exercises I can do for legs. Right now, I am doing squats, overhead, front, hack, zercher. Squats are great but I need to break up the monotony, can you recommend anything else to do that affects those same muscle groups?--JenY
You can do deadlifts, single leg squats (no joke), seated single leg press (also no joke), weighted hip thrust all of these are fun but its a short list of many, and if your legs routine is becoming less interesting it might be time to add some more weight for a bigger challenge. you can even take the calisthenics approach and use your own body weight. I hope this helps Jeny if not dont be shy to let me know and I can prepare a better list of exercises for you.
SFS NEWS: Proposed Food Labels Will Make It Easier to Eat Healthy
Many athletes find eating healthy a challenge due to misleading advertisements and confusing food labels. What’s an athlete to do when a McDonald’s cheeseburger contains more nutritional value than a salad? Fortunately, help may be on the way.
A new government report issued by the Institute of Medicine recommends new labeling for all food. The new labels would present calorie content and nutritional value in an easy-to-read format on the front of all packaging. The proposed label would print calorie content in a large font and use a three-star warning system for trans fats, sugar and sodium.
If a food is high in sodium, but has no sugar or trans fats, it would receive two stars. The star system would help athletes quickly tell the difference between a 150-calorie snack worth eating and a 150-calorie snack that should be skipped.
The proposed food labeling changes are designed not only to help consumers make better food choices, but also to encourage manufacturers to stop hiding sugar and sodium in supposedly healthy food. Some protein bars and nutritional shakes that appear healthy—as conveyed in advertising pitches and labels with pictures of fresh fruits and vegetables—actually contain unhealthy sweeteners. Sugar, which zaps an athlete’s energy and causes unwanted weight gain, won’t be able to hide in so-called health foods any longer if the proposed label changes take effect as regulations.
Meantime, it’s important to consult the nutrition label of every food you eat. Never assume anything is good for you because of its appearance.
I love your blog! it is very inspirational. I've been wanting to tone-up my body(not loose weight) but especially around my mid-section area. I was wondering if you could recommend any good workouts in order to achieve my goal of having rock hard abs? :) Thanks.
Well if you didn’t know you cant spot reduce so choosing where you want to lost the weight is out of the question. The only way to get your abs to show is through diet and reducing the fat under and over your abdominal muscles. No ab workout will get them to show either all that does is thicken and bulk ab muscles. If your determined to get rock hard abs build a diet that will give what you want.
A health concern that the American society seems to take for granted are vaccinations. With so many different types of diseases that could affect our everyday health, this infographic illustrates the advantages of vaccines and also highlights the stats and facts of this great debate