Sunday, March 30, 2008

Can Vitamin Water Help or Hinder Fat Loss?

Are you one of the many people who've been taking their vitamins via Vitamin Water and other similar drinks?

Is this a healthy alternative to juice and soda?

Will it help or hinder your fat loss efforts?

Check out Dave Soucy's video tip at
Healthy Weight Inner Circle "Tip of the Week"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'd Rather Fight Than Switch

OK, I realize that I'm really dating myself with that title. How long has it been since cigarettes were advertised on TV and does anyone even remember Tareyton? Amazing what you can remember from your cradle, huh? ;-)

Anyway, if you'd rather fight (or whine) then switch to a new workout routine, you need to keep reading.

Yesterday, one of my gym members asked me for a new workout card because her's was full. She gets brownie points for faithfully recording her workouts but a big, fat demerit for asking for a new card rather than a new routine. :-(

Sometimes my older members are not as quick to change their routines as I'd like but this lady had been doing the same exercises for 3 1/2 months - way too long. We discussed it and scheduled an appointment on Monday to go over a new workout. Demerit rescinded. :-)

If you have been doing the same strength training routine for more than 4-6 weeks, it's time to switch things up. Our bodies adapt to doing the same exercises over and over and although you will still get health benefits, you'll get better fitness and fat loss results from changing regularly.

For example, if you've been doing Pulldowns for your lats (upper back) switch to D.B. Rows. Pushups can be substituted for the Chest Press or Pec Flye machines.

If you're not experienced in weight training, get some professional guidance. Besides changing your exercises, you want to make sure that you are working your opposing muscle groups evenly (barring injury or muscle imbalances).


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are You Ready to Strip Down?

According to the calendar, spring is officially here. It sure didn't feel like it the last few days here in my neck of the woods, but today it has definitely warmed up.

So, are you going to spend another summer beating yourself up (and covering yourself up) because you're unhappy with your body? Or, are you going to commit to improving your health, self esteem and body composition through good nutrition and regular physical activity?

You don't have to spend hours in the gym or be obsessive about your diet to get results. But if you're looking for a magic pill or some effortless weight loss plan, you've come to the wrong blog. If you're serious about burning fat, looking better and improving your health, the healthiest and most efficient way is to exercise regularly and improve your nutrition.

If you don't have the advantage of working with me personally, I strongly suggest that you check out Craig Ballantyne's TurbulenceTraining program. I've done the workouts myself and I've used Craig's TT principles to design programs for my clients. The workouts are fast and effective and are designed to be done at home with minimal equipment.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a Jillian Michaels radio broadcast from January and she recommended Turbulence Training to one of her callers. (For those who don't know, Jillian is one of the trainers on The Biggest Loser.) The woman has helped lots of people drop some serious weight so her endorsement means something to me.

I discovered Craig Ballantyne and TT over a year and a half ago but I'm glad Jillian has caught up. :-D Oh, and just so you know, the recommendation was totally unsolicited. Craig knew nothing about Jillian's comments until a new TT member mentioned it on the forum; she had found out about his program from the radio show.

Speaking of the forum, another really great benefit of the TurbulenceTraining system is that you get three months free access to the TT members site. That way, if you find something confusing, or have any questions about the workouts, or you don't have a stability ball and want a substitute exercise, or if you just want some tips or motivation, you can post a comment or question and Craig and other TT members will respond. When was the last time you had easy access to a book's author to ask questions?

So, summer is fast approaching. It's time to ask yourself if you're ready to get healthier, drop excess fat and be happier with your body. If you are and you're local, give me a call and let's get started. If you don't live in Amish country, check out

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5 Fat Loss Myths by Craig Ballantyne

I read them every day on the internet. Exercise myths about not lifting weights until you lose weight, "light weight, high reps to tone", the "fat burning zone", etc. Check out Craig Ballantyne's myth-busting article for the facts.

5 Fat Loss Myths: Why Long, Slow Boring Cardio is not the Best Fat Loss Program to Increase Your Metabolism and Burn Belly Fat...
By Craig Ballantyne, Men’s Health Magazine Expert, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, and Author of Turbulence Training

Here's just one myth that Craig addresses:

Myth #4 You Have to Do Cardio for at Least 20 Minutes Before You Start Burning Fat

We’re burning fat all the time, even while you sit here and read this message. Sure, exercise increases our fat burning, but it’s not as though the first 20 minutes of any workout don’t burn fat. That makes no sense at all!...

You can find the entire article at

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How To Get The Most From Your Workout

If you are like the average person interested in dropping some body fat, improving your health and getting stronger, then follow these guidelines to get the best results from your workouts:

* Always begin a workout with a full warmup. A good dynamic warmup prepares the muscles for what’s to come and allows you to work harder and with less risk of injury. If you are short on time, cut back on your working sets, never on your warmup.

* Perform a total body workout 3 times a week with at least one day of rest in between. Forget the bodybuilding mags and their body part routines. Muscles work in groups and trying to isolate them during a workout is a waste of time for the vast majority of people.

* Concentrate on compound exercises. Exercises like Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts, Pushups, Rows, Pulldowns, Presses, etc. work multiple muscles at a time, are more functional, and burn more calories than isolation work.

* Forget about the "low weight, high reps to tone" B.S. that is still floating around out there. Challenge your muscle using a resistance that you can only perform 6-10 times with good form. (There are some exceptions, of course.)

* Make sure your strength training program is balanced between opposing muscle groups. Don't ignore exercises you don't like or do extra sets just of those that you do like. Either scenario can cause muscle imbalances.

* Choose cardio intervals over slow, steady state cardio for shorter, more productive workouts. However, limit interval training to 3 times a week, 4 if you are advanced exerciser.

* For fat loss, increased strength and energy, and overall good health, incorporate good nutrition into your lifestyle. Exercise without healthy nutrition will produce mediocre results. Remember, you can’t out-train a bad diet.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Exercises, Reps, and How 3% Isn't Going to Help You Lose Fat

Exercises, Reps, and How 3% Isn't Going to Help You Lose Fat
By Dan Grant

When choosing exercises for your program you need to consider what exercises are going to be most beneficial for your goals.

What you want to do during your workouts is use as much muscle as possible. That means multi-joint exercises (squats, bench, pullups, deadlifts, rows, presses) are best because they will work more muscle then a single joint exercise (bicep curl, tricep kickback).

Take into consideration the size of your muscles as well. For example, doing squats are far more beneficial then bicep curls. Why?

Well your biceps are roughly only 3% of your entire muscle on your body. Doing the squat works over 50% of your total muscle.

So when you're thinking from a fat loss perspective, working out your bigger muscles will build you an overall greater lean muscle growth. The result of that is a higher metabolism, which is of course, what you want because you'll burn a higher amount of fat throughout the day. (My note: You will also burn more calories performing compound exercises than isolation movements because of the size and number of muscles you'll be using.)

Do I have my clients perform bicep curls? A little bit. Most of time we'll stick to 3-6 sets a week and actually push it kind of heavy for 6-10 reps.

Same thing applies with tricep specific exercises, EXCEPT we'll do 10-15 reps because I've found that the stress put on the elbow joints doing a heavier weight under 10 reps increases the risk of injury by a fair bit.

Generally we'll stick between 6-12 reps for most exercises but I'm going to mention that in the next email.

hope that helps,


Dan Grant

PS - Remember, look at the pros and cons of what you're doing. If it's increasing the risk of injury then re-evaluate. That's why i rarely do long cardio with my clients and it's also the reason we stick with over 10 reps for lying tricep extensions.

Exercises, Reps, and how 3% isn't going to help you lose fat

Monday, March 10, 2008

Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Nutrition

Getting healthy and discarding fat involves good nutrition but it doesn't have to be as complicated as some people make it, especially when you're just getting started. Here are some simple things you can do that will make a difference:

* Educate yourself on proper portion size. You will probably be shocked.

* Eat more fruits and vegetables.

* Treat your body more like your car. Most of you wouldn’t fuel your car with the equivalent quality of fuel you run your body on.

* Forget "a calorie is a calorie." Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you that 2500 calories of burgers, fries, donuts, onion rings, manufactured iced tea, Tastykakes (Twinkies for any West Coasters), and ice cream has the same effect on your body as 2500 calories of lean meats, fruits, eggs, vegetables, and nuts.

* Eliminate liquid calories and drink lots of water.

* Limit processed foods, especially items containing sugar or high fructose corn syrup. (Sugar can also be disguised on the ingredient label as glucose, sucrose, maltodextrin, maltose, dextrose, sorbitol, fructose, corn sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, barley malt, caramel, and carob syrup.)

* Eat fresh, whole foods as much as possible.


Friday, March 7, 2008

How to Spot a Real Bargain

I have an 83 year old personal training client who has worked with me for almost 10 years. She knows the difference regular exercise has made in her health, strength and quality of life and she’s always encouraging her friends to join Body & Soul Fitness Studio. Unfortunately, most of them prefer sitting around for hours playing bridge and eating and think she’s crazy for working out 3 days a week.

Yesterday, she called me quite frustrated because a friend told her she was looking for a gym but wouldn’t join mine (or any) that require an enrollment fee. I realize that many fitness centers charge an activation/enrollment/initiation fee and you get little or nothing for it but that is definitely not the case with Body & Soul, and her friend knew it.

You see the friend had already called me about 2 weeks earlier and we had a long conversation about her situation and her medical issues. I explained to her that the modest enrollment fee includes an individualized program design and 2 one-on-one personal training sessions. New members complete a health history and then we discuss any injuries/medical concerns and their goals, current fitness level, available time, exercise experience, etc. Based on that information, I design a workout specifically for them. I don’t do "one-size-fits-all."

I’m not upset that my client’s friend won’t be joining. I want to work with people who truly understand and appreciate the importance of regular strength and cardiovascular training. Let me make it clear that this woman’s decision is not a matter of finances; it’s a matter of how much value she places on a properly designed exercise routine and good instruction.

I’m not saying cost should never be a factor in your decisions. However, I would encourage you to compare apples to apples. If you’ve read this far, you know what the activation fee at Body & Soul includes. If another fitness center charges half my fee but you receive nothing for it, and everything else is equal, which is really the better bargain? For a knowledgeable, experienced exerciser, it may be the other place. However, for most other folks, I would say that Body & Soul or a gym like it would definitely give you more value for your dollar.

So before you make a decision on joining a gym compare what each club offers along with all the costs.

One of my others members just asked me to set her husband up on a program because the activation fee for the gym he just joined (which is only $20 less than mine) entitles him to just a group orientation. (Unfortunately for him, Body & Soul is just for women.)

Some women’s gyms are not open 7 days a week; some have inconvenient hours or close multiple days for holidays when you’re off from work. Too many gyms employ people with little or no exercise background; these are the people who will teach you how to perform the exercises, set up equipment, answer your questions, etc. Is it worth saving a few bucks if you get hurt or don’t get the results you want because of inadequate instruction or supervision?

Just some things to consider. Remember, you get what you pay for.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Making Exercise A Habit

Whether you are attempting to get back on track with your workout regimen or whether you’re trying to establish a new habit of regular exercise, focus on frequency rather than duration.

Make it a goal to exercise 15-20 minutes every day. You will then begin to think of physical activity as part of your daily routine, and if you do miss a day, your total workout time for the week will not drop appreciably. In addition, daily activity helps fight stress and fatigue better than one or two long exercise sessions per week.

One important reminder, do not strength train the same body parts on consecutive days. You can alternate cardiovascular activity days with weight training days, or you can train upper body one day and lower body the next.