Friday, April 27, 2012

Muscle Does Not Weigh More Than Fat

People often say "muscle weighs more than fat". Obviously, that's not true. A pound is a pound. What they mean is that a pound of muscle is denser and takes up less space than a pound of fat. So, you could lose fat, gain muscle, and stay the same weight but get smaller because you've reduced inches.

Don't get hung up on the scale. Gauge your progress by how many inches you've dropped and how your clothes fit. Here's some visuals...


Monday, April 23, 2012

Water: The Magic Elixir For Health And Fat Loss

I've written about the health and fat loss benefits of proper hydration before but here's another trainer explaining the importance of water.

Water: It's Not Boring
By Jini Cicero, CSCS

I graduated from high school in 19XX.  The actual year isn’t important (I keep telling myself.)  That year, our yearbook was titled “It’s the Water.”  I remember thinking to myself at the time, “what water?”  Our school wasn’t located near a beach, lake, river or other waterway so why was water so important that it had to be our yearbook’s theme?  I never found out why it was chosen for The Quixotion that year.  It might have just been a random title for the Agoura High School yearbook but I actually wondered about that for years.

Time went on and I couldn’t read anything health related, any fitness book, magazine, or news story without hearing about the importance of water. Most articles touched on keys points such as how important staying hydrated is to your health, or the fact that our muscles are 75% water, or that a person can live theoretically, weeks without food but only days without water.  Eventually, I came to believe there was nothing more I needed to know about water thank you very much.

Then I entered the fitness industry and learned a bit more; no, a lot more about the importance of drinking water.  I jumped on the trainer bandwagon preaching to clients the importance of drinking a minimum of eight 8 ounce glasses of purified spring water every day.  I’d step off my soapbox to the groans of my clients protesting, "I hate water; it’s so…boring."  Or, "can’t I at least have diet soda?"

"At least?" I wondered?  At-least-can-I-destroy-my-bones-with-phosphoric-acid-and-leave-my-body-craving-the-sugar-it didn’t-get-when-it-tasted-"sweet"-in-that-diet-soda?" No, you can’t.  Sodas (of any kind), juices, fruit, coffee, tea, anything wet, or anything with calories, is not water.  Water stands alone.

In the same way you’ll never smoke cigarettes once you learn what it does to your body, you will want to drink water all the time, when you learn what it does for your body-inside and out.  For example, when people become more serious about getting in shape; beyond the general health benefits of exercise, it is usually because they want to achieve one or both of the following goals: lose fat and/or gain muscle. Drinking water plays a big role in achieving both-not to mention maintaining general health and proper immune-system function, water’s anti-aging potential and more.  If you think water is important to your muscles because they are 75% water, know that our brains are 80% water and each of the five components of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, and body composition require neurological reactions which rely on a brain that is properly hydrated, not to mention the water these five elements require for proper performance.

How does water actually get into the brain and other tissues?  Water molecules enter our cells through one of three processes: diffusion (think of what happens when a single drop of food coloring is released into a bowl of still water), movement of water molecules through special channels that bring it into the cell, and through osmosis.  You might remember the term osmosis from high school biology.  It refers to the passage of water from an area of high concentration to one with a lower concentration. 

These processes are based ideally, on pure water, as opposed to water that has had anything added to it. In their book Water: Hydrate for Health, authors William Holloway and William Sickert state “…adding any substance to water-coffee, tea, sugar, flavorings, colors, proteins-decreases the concentration of the water molecules and lessens the pressure required for osmosis to occur which, in turn, reduces absorption.  That’s why it’s important to drink pure water.”  According to Holloway and Sickert, the fewer the additives, the more pure the water and the higher the “osmotic pressure;” setting the stage for the best possible hydration. 

Staying hydrated is nothing less than a law of healthy living as dehydration forces your body to work overtime in order to survive. Consider this:

•    In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.
•    A 3% loss in the volume of water in the body causes fatigue and even organ dysfunction. A 10% loss can be life threatening.
•    Even mild dehydration will slow down metabolism as much as 3%.
•    One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs in almost 100% of dieters studied.
•    Lack of water is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue.
•    A 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing.

Water is necessary for every biochemical reaction that occurs within every cell in the human body. Here are just a few of the things that water can do for you:

•    Water is critical to the health and youthful appearance of our skin.
•    It helps control appetite, assists with processes that metabolize fat and helps lessen fluid retention by relieving the body’s need to hold onto water.
•    Flushes out toxins that are stored in fat tissue and released into the bloodstream when fat is metabolized.
•    Improves energy metabolism.
•    Lubricates joints (research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.)
•    Serves as a way to bring vitamins, minerals and other nutrients into cells and assists with digestion, absorption, transportation and use of those nutrients.
•    Ensures the elimination of toxins and wastes.
•    Contributes to proper body temperature and energy production.

With benefits like these, why aren’t we all drinking more water?  Because…water is boring (say some.) 

Enter the marketers.  Always prepared to “find a need and fill it,” marketers advise manufacturers to produce “tastier” water. Rocker and “extreme” marketing genius Gene Simmons of KISS fame once told me, “The most brilliant marketing concept ever created was to put water in a bottle and sell it.” (He probably sells bottled KISS water.)

Today, supermarket shelves are packed with water-like alternatives from pH balanced water, water with added electrolytes, sugary sports drinks and their alter-ego artificially-sweetened sugary sports drinks.  These drinks (“formerly” considered water) contain fructose, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, sucralose, sugar and/or salt and will deliver about 30‐50 calories per 8 ounces serving (with typically 2 servings per container). If they aren’t loaded with sugars, then they have added artificial sweeteners, some of which have been found to be dangerous.

What about tap water?  If you’re thinking “that stuff can kill you!” you’re not alone.  Strangely enough, purified tap water can be the highest quality water you can drink-expensive yes, but worth it. There are basic water purification systems that screw into your kitchen faucet, and comprehensive systems that attach to your home’s water main, bringing cleaner, purer water to drink and bathe in than you could ever buy in the supermarket-and without the plastic bottles to add to the landfills. Consider using a stainless steel water bottle as many plastics, when warmed by the sun, are toxic.

Still think you need some type of flavoring?  Try these healthy additions:

•    Lemon or lime and mint
•    Lemon and rosemary or powdered cayenne
•    Spearmint, fennel or marjoram (crush slightly to release natural flavors)
•    Orange and ginger
•    Cucumber and mint
•    Lemon, lime, grapefruit & orange
•    Kiwi
•    White Tea (diluted 3x)
•    Tangerine and vanilla (unsweetened extract)
•    Cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger (use cinnamon sticks, ginger slices and freshly ground nutmeg, boil for 1 minute and dilute by 4x.)

How much water do you really need?  Think of your body weight in ounces, divide that number in half, and that is roughly the amount of water you should be drinking each day (although experts disagree on just how much water should be consumed on a daily basis.)  For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll need to drink 75 ounces of purified water each day. That basic amount does not include additional water consumed during exercise, particularly outside in the heat.

If water is so boring that you won’t drink it (beyond the water present in other liquids-that are basically keeping many people alive) how are you going to lubricate your joints? Expel toxins? Reproduce?  Water is the fluid of life and as the saying goes, don’t just survive; thrive!

William Holloway and William Sickert, Water: Hydrate for Health (Healthy Living Guide)

Jini Cicero, CSCS is a fitness expert and integrative performance coach in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Collected Fitness Wisdom #47

...where somebody is today is a result of the choices and decisions they have made, i.e. how they have chosen to respond the circumstances they find themselves in. Some people blame their circumstances for their situations. This of course is partially true, but if that's all they do they are disempowered, drifting without a paddle down the river heading for the rapids. When they look at their circumstances and become aware that they are making choices then they recognise that they are in a position to make a different choice. Now they are empowered. It does not mean the change will be easy, but it does mean that they have more control.

~ Nic Jarvis

You’re waiting? For what? Chances are it will never appear when you want it to. And it probably will never happen if you are just waiting. You’ve gotta do something NOW. Sitting on your ass only does 3 things. 1) It makes you fat 2) It makes you broke 3) It makes you unhappy.

~ Erik Rokeach

Why do big box health clubs suck?  Well, there are a number of reasons, but the big one for me is there is no coaching.  If people don’t have a plan to get them to their goals, they may fumble around like they’re looking for something in the dark and accidentally get there – but the odds aren’t great and they’ll probably give up before they have success.

~ Pat Rigsby

What if you kept going? What if you dismissed your genetics and all the other excuses and just kept at it and kept working hard?

~ Alwyn Cosgrove


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Women Have It All Wrong by Rachel Cosgrove

I posted this a excellent article a few years ago and it deserves to be seen again. I originally received it via e-mail and for some reason, Rachel never posted it on her blog so I can't give you a direct link.

If your goal is weight loss, you really need to read this. It's long but do yourself a favor and check it out.

Women have it all wrong!
By Rachel Cosgrove

Women have it all wrong when it comes to weight loss. The average woman when she joins a gym looks at how many treadmills there are and the aerobics schedule to see if there are classes that fit in her schedule. When women want to lose weight they torture themselves with repetitive movement for hours on end spinning their wheels or running to nowhere like a hamster in a habitrail! If you take a look at all of the women walking on the treadmills you'll notice none of them have the body most women want.

The problem is that most personal trainers haven't figured it out yet either. They get a female client who hires them to change their body and they think, "Oh man...another one of those stupid toning programs in the ladies only section with the pink dumbbells doing lots of reps..." Most trainers don't realize that they need to challenge women to get their bodies to change and to stop being afraid of pushing her to gain muscle to boost her metabolism to change the way her body looks, permanently.

Weight Loss Program the average woman does:

* Endless hours of cardio or aerobics classes

* Avoids strength training because she doesn't want to get "big and bulky" or maybe she uses some rinky dink pink dumbbells to "tone" for lots of reps

* Cuts back her diet to practically starve herself

* Focuses on the scale weight and a number she wants it to say

What works about this plan: NOTHING!

What is wrong with this plan: EVERYTHING!

She will lose weight but it will be a mixture of muscle, water and maybe some fat so she'll end up looking like a smaller version of her same self but in the process she will have dropped her metabolism so there will be no way she can keep the weight off and will gain it back guaranteed. This is the cycle most women have been through many times throughout their lifetime. Yet, when they want to lose weight they do the same thing again. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

Weight Loss Program the average Women SHOULD do:

* Metabolically demanding full body strength training program lifting challenging weights. This should be their priority workouts 2-4 days a week.

* Boost their intensity and drop the duration on their cardio sessions performing interval style workouts for no more than 30 minutes at a time.

* Fuel their body with healthy food every couple hours getting their metabolism revving.

* Focus on how her clothes fit and how she looks and feels and not on a number on the scale. Focus in Fat Loss, not Weight Loss.

What works about this plan: It will boost her metabolism, it will change her body, it will make her feel confident about herself, she can eat and she will be able to maintain her new body!

What is wrong with this plan: NOTHING!

To really change their bodies permanently women need to start checking out the strength training floor. They need to get out of their comfort zone and push their bodies beyond what it is used to. No more walking to nowhere on the treadmill! I am not talking about bodybuilding routines where you split up each body part and bomb and blitz the pecs or pump up the biceps. It is not necessary for a woman to isolate any muscle group to get the defined look she wants.

Instead a woman should do a full body, metabolically demanding program in which she alternates between an upper body compound movement such as a push up or chin up with a lower body compound movement such as a squat or lunge. Keep the rest periods short and use a weight that is challenging. Use 3-4 pairs of exercises working out for no more than an hour at a time.

The woman with toned arms and defined legs looks that way because she has the very thing most women are terrified of, muscle. They are so afraid to lift weights in fear of bulking up that they never get their bodies to look the way they want them to. They have it deeply seeded in their subconscious that as soon as they touch anything over 10 pounds, they will sprout humungous muscles! Even if they do use weights, they probably still aren't lifting heavy enough and pushing themselves hard enough to get the look they want. Most women don't know what their bodies are capable of and tend to not push themselves hard enough. There was actually a research study done on this where they showed that women when left to train on their own, lifted loads below what they were capable of.

Maybe it is because women have been conditioned our whole lives to exercise from the point of view of what we "can't" do, rather than what we can do. Women grew up doing "girl" push ups, because we were told we "can't" do actual push ups or hanging from the bar instead of a chin up because girls "can't" do chin ups. The first woman to run the marathon had to sneak in dressed as a man because women "can't" run a marathon, and that was only in the 70's, not that long ago. Women "can't" lift too heavy, they will hurt themselves. We still subconsciously hold ourselves back when it comes to training whether we realize it or not.

We need to start training from the standpoint of- What CAN you do? How much CAN you lift? How strong CAN you get? And stop letting "can't" enter our vocabulary. As women start to push themselves in the gym, lifting weights and building lean muscle tissue, their metabolisms will be revving and they will be the toned, defined body they have always wanted.

So how do you get your body to change? You have to lift enough weight to build muscle to increase your metabolism, fuel your body with healthy food and turn your body into a fat burning machine. Stop pounding your body with hours of cardio and stop starving yourself!

Rachel Cosgove is a triathlete and personal fitness coach. She and her husband Alwyn own Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Workout for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - Saturday, April 14th

Join me for a fun and challenging group workout session.

Spread the word among your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Minimum donation for participants is $20. Sponsor donations are greatly encouraged. We can raise so much more money for the kids of St. Jude if those who can’t join us still support this worthy cause. Sponsor donations of ANY level are appreciated.

Sponsor sheets are available, if you want one.

Space is limited. Please register by Thursday, April 12th.

The workout will last approximately 45 minutes, including warmup and cooldown.

All fitness levels are invited. Exercises will be adapted or substituted, as necessary. Anyone 12 and older is welcome to participate.

Body & Soul Fitness Studio
618 Columbia Avenue, Lancaster, PA
(717) 509-7777

Plenty of free parking


All proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where no child is ever turned away due to parental inability to pay and no family is billed for services not paid by insurance. 


Friday, April 6, 2012

Meditation Workshop At Body & Soul Fitness Studio

Yoga for Peace...Of Mind

Presents:        "The Seventh Limb"
                  Meditation for Busy Lives

Instructor:     Susan J. Atkins, Ph.D.

Saturday, April 14th    9:00-11:00 AM

Session one will present information about the benefits of meditation practice and we will also dispel common myths. Everyone can meditate. It simply requires the willingness and correct instruction.

Session one will include a basic breath meditation, an ambient sound meditation, a visualization practice, and a body scan.  A sheet of "helpful reminders" will be  provided for each style of meditation.

Saturday, April  21st    9:00-11:00 AM

Session two will begin with a review and a question and answer period. After having two weeks to practice, you may wish for clarification.

Session two will include another visualization practice, a mindfulness practice, mantra meditation, along with variations for walking practice.

Each session $25.   
Save $. Register and pay for both for $40.

The instructor, Susan J. Atkins, Ph.D., RYT is a Clinical Psychologist and Registered Yoga Teacher. She is also certified in Relax and Renew Restorative Yoga by Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T. Susan has practiced yoga since 1972.  For the last 15 years she has studied with some of the most advanced scientists and yogis in mind/body health.

Both sessions will be held at Body & Soul Fitness Studio and there is plenty of free parking.

Call Susan Atkins at 396-1365 to reserve your space or for more information.

Body & Soul Fitness Studio
618 Columbia Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17603