Monday, July 22, 2013

Don't Drink Your Calories

One of the first things I tell people who are trying to drop excess fat is to ditch the liquid calories. Here's an excellent reminder article from Alicia & Carrie, The Boot Camp Girls.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

You’d be amazed at how easily calories can pile up in liquid form. There are many “hidden” calories in your favorite beverages, including those that you may think of as healthful.

A tall glass of orange juice has around 200 calories. This may not seem like a lot, but when you convert this to a small boiled potato and several chicken strips, it suddenly seems like just too much, since the solid meal just-mentioned has the same calorie total – and is apt to be far more satisfying. This doesn’t mean give up juice, but if you’re calorie conscious, settle for a small glass.

Do you know the local Starbucks barista by name? If so, this is a warning sign you may be getting tons of calories from your favorite Starbucks concoctions. For example, a Venti Peppermint Mocha with whipped cream and 2 percent milk has 480 calories. You don’t even want to know how much fat’s in it.

Omit the whipped cream and use skim milk, it’s 360 calories. Do you realize how much solid food you can eat for 360 calories? How do two pieces of toast and two eggs sound?

Beware of smoothies prepared at smoothie stands. A lot of calories get dumped in in the form of juice, sherbet and even ice cream. You can make a much lower calorie smoothie at home by blending some berries, yogurt, and crushed ice with a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

Why not just eliminate soda altogether? One can contains 150 calories of useless drink. Diet soda is not a smart alternative since it contains an artificial sweetener which can trigger hunger.

Coffee and Tea
Cut calories by using Stevia instead of sugar. Stevia has zero calories and is a natural herb with a good safety record.

Many people don’t realize how the calories in alcohol can quickly add up. Just 1 ounce of the following contain around 65 calories: rum, vodka, whiskey, gin and brandy.

Four ounces of sweet wine are 105 calories; 4 ounces of sherry and port are 75 and 90, respectively; a 3.5 ounce martini is 140; a 4 ounce margarita cocktail is about 170. Need you read more to be rudely awakened? You can see how “a small drink here and there” can strongly factor into your daily caloric intake.

Chocolate Milk and Hot Chocolate
One tablespoon of some chocolate powders is an unforgiving 50 calories. This may not seem like a lot, but for anybody who loves chocolate drinks, one tablespoon to 8 ounces of milk is a slap in the face.

For most chocolate lovers (if not all), even three tablespoons don’t quite cut it. This isn’t heaping tablespoons, either, assuming that if it were, the nutrition label would state “heaping.”

Four tablespoons of powder plus 8 ounces of skim milk mean almost 400 calories – all for a beverage that’s gone within moments if it’s cold.

Beware of chocolate syrups; they’re just as loaded with calories. A tall glass (two cups) of chocolate milk with whole milk can pack in 500 calories if you use only four tablespoons of the better tasting powders or syrups, and if you like a richer chocolate flavor, you’ll need to add six tablespoons total (at least) to satisfy your chocoholic requirements: That’s a 600 calorie glass of liquid.

Calories are just as formidable a force in liquids as they are in solids. To get a firm grip on just how many of your calories are coming from beverages and how to cut back on these calories without feeling deprived, call us today.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Cardio Is Not The Answer

What are your exercise goals? Are you looking to get fit, drop fat, get stronger, improve your health? If so, lots of cardio is not the way to reach any of those goals.

Unfortunately, way too many people still think that cardio is the be-all, end-all, all purpose exercise. It's not. If you want to participate in a 5K or a marathon or something in between, of course you need to walk or run to train for it but if your goal is fat loss or general fitness or improved  health, you need a good dose of strength training.

Strength training will make you look better, feel better, and function better.

When done correctly, it will make you stronger, help reduce the fat that covers your muscles to get that toned look most people want. (Of course, if you're going for the skinny-fat look, just keep focusing on cardio-cardio-cardio.)

If you're not already lifting weights, I highly encourage you to do so. Use challenging weights, not baby weights that you can performs tons of reps with.

Find someone who truly knows what they doing and have them design a  program for you. It doesn't matter if you want to join a gym or work out at home with no equipment; a good trainer will be able to create an effective  program for you regardless.

If you do join a gym, don't spend a lot of time on the resistance machines. Focus on free weight exercises where you are supporting your own bodyweight. Perform compound movements, learn about progressive resistance, and keep your reps on the lower end.

Challenge yourself and you'll be surprised how quickly you start to see a difference. 

That said, don't go crazy. Being on the verge of throwing up, constantly gasping for breath, and/or collapsing at the end of a training session does not constitute a good workout and will not get you better results. You can feel that way and still not be doing the right things to significantly change your body.

Train smarter.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Better 7-Minute Workout

In the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, a 7 minute workout was published. It also appeared in The NY Times Magazine and spread all over the internet.

The good? No exercise equipment was needed, just a chair and a wall and the creators of the workout stress working at a high intensity. (Regardless of TV infomercial hawkers and other snake oil salesman, if you think you can do 7 minutes of fluff and call it a workout, you’re kidding yourself.)

Each exercise should be done back to back and performed for 30 seconds at a difficulty level of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. You take 10 seconds between exercises to transition and rest. In describing the intensity, the author says the 7 minutes should be ”unpleasant”.  But, hey, after 7 minutes, you’re done, right? Well, kinda sorta.

The not-so-good? The exercise selection. While I would not categorize it as horrible,  there is definitely room for improvement. My 2 biggest criticisms:

1. If you only have 7 minutes to exercise, you should not be wasting ANY of it doing Ab Crunches. There are lots of better exercises for your abdominals that actually work your entire core. 

2. For many people, Tricep Bench Dips are an invitation to shoulder problems. I stopped having my clients do them years ago.

Below is a better alternative. Remember, work hard but use good form. Rest. Repeat 2-3 times, if desired.

If you are not a regular exerciser, pace yourself. As you get more fit, go faster (but always with good form).

1.    Total Body Extension
2.    Side Plank Reach Through OR Side Plank - L side
3.    Side Plank Reach Through OR Side Plank - R side
4.    Lying Hip Bridge
5.    Pushup
6.    Speed Skater   
7.    Bodyweight Renegade Row
8.    Stationary Prisoner Lunge - L side
9.    Stationary Prisoner Lunge - R side
10.  Spiderman Climb
11.  Prisoner Squats

Exercising just 7 minutes is not something you want to do on a regular basis but, if you push yourself, you can get a challenging workout with just 1 round of the above workout.