Why I Stopped Tracking My Workouts (and Macros)

A couple of years ago I got myself a FitBit.  At first, I had complete buyer’s remorse and wanted to return my tracker immediately.  But I hung onto it and eventually, I fell in love with it.  I loved being able to set goals, and alarms to keep me moving, and I especially loved being able to track my sleep pattern.  I definitely do not sleep as much as I think I do.
Fitbit-ChargeHR

FitBit Charge HR

My main reason for getting the FitBit was the heart rate monitor.  If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you may recall that I have a heart condition.  As a fitness professional – and participant – I thought it was important to be able to keep an eye on my heart rate during my workouts.  Though, sometimes I still overdo it and find myself gasping for breath or wanting to barf because my heart rate if out-of-control high.
Advertisements

Weight-lifting – Why Reps are Ruining Your Gains

Once upon a time, somewhere along the way, someone came up with the magic number for reps in a weight lifting set.  A set of 10 or 12 or 15 reps in set is considered key….and this ideal number may be ruining your gains.

Men's Health

via Men’s Health

The idea of a 12-rep set stemmed from studies that your time under tension (how long a muscle is under strain during a set) is surpassed at 45 seconds and gets closer to 60 seconds in a set.  Your tempo in your performance should be considered more important and valued higher than your reps.  Your tempo should be enough to elicit hypertrophy (the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells) and the main goal is to prolong the eccentric contraction (or negative) on the way down in your lift (i.e. 1-2 second contraction on the way up and 3-5 second contraction on the way down).

Our fixation on the 3 sets of 12 (or 10 or 15) is killing our gains because is does not reflect on the study of how we got to the “magic number”, but instead, focuses solely on the “magic number”.

Most people, when weight lifting, instinctively start out with a weight that is comfortable in order to ensure they have the energy to get through all reps.  What would be more beneficial to muscle growth (or hypertrophy) is to start with a heavier weight and lift to failure.  If this means you max out at 8 or 11 reps, then so be it.  Focus on the time and effort you are putting into a rep and not on the number of reps in a set – and on your time under tension – and watch your gains increase.

~FB

Should You Do a 30-Day Challenge?

30DayChallenge_Thumb_2.jpg

I was recently posed the question, “should I do a 30-day challenge?”

My answer: YES!

As this blog has shown, I am a huge supporter of 30-day fitness challenges.  Over the years, I have offered a plethora of challenges: abs, plank, squats, etc.  And, of course, the push-up challenge (which I am still participating in).

Here’s why I like 30 day challenges.

  1. First of all, it takes about 30 days to build a habit.  You may not be able to transform your body or reach your fitness goals in one month, but you can certainly create a fitness routine in 30 days that will put you well on your way to those goals.  The challenges can be a great way for someone new to exercising to start out, or it can be a great complement to your already existing fitness regime.  All one simply has to do is commit to 30 days (that includes rest days) of the challenge and put the time in to complete the daily task.  Sometimes, it is mere minutes of one’s day.
  2. Another reason I like a fitness challenge, because they can only take those mere minutes of your day.  For many beginners, the idea of putting in hours in the gym or for a workout can be exhausting to just think of.  So, the idea of completing these daily exercises in just a short period of time is certainly more welcoming.  Getting the task over with and moving on with your day can be exciting and rewarding in itself.
  3. The challenges provide structure and guidance and progression.  You don’t have to put the time and effort into your exercising.  The challenges tell you what to what to do, how to do it, and when to amp it up.  There is no guess work in your workout.
  4. Committing to, and completing the challenge is a often its own reward.  First, committing to something and sticking with it can be a big deal.   I am one of those people who, when I commit to something, I make darn sure I am committed.  No if, ands, or buts.  But that is not always the case for many people.  For those people, making that commitment and sticking with it, can also mean a huge personal growth.  Reaching the 30 day mark can mean big gold star for some and the amount of pride that comes with completing that last day/full challenge can be enough to push one to starting a full-time fitness schedule.
There are plenty of reasons to start a 30 Day Fitness Challenge.  And there are many challenges to try (seriously, just type in “challenge” in the search bar above).  Whether you’re just starting out in the exercise world or you want to add something to your regular routine, try committing to one month and see your success.
~FB

Push-Ups

Let me say this:  I hate push-ups.  I’ve said it before.  And I will likely say it again.  I hate push-ups.  I have hated push-ups for as long as I can remember.  I’m not sure why, but I would rather do 100 burpees than do 10 push-ups.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do them and I make my class participants do them.  It doesn’t mean I enjoy them.

I think my disdain for them originated because I had such little upper body strength.  Therefore, I had a difficult time performing them.  Then, a while back, I started doing them all the time.  I even got a set of those perfect push-up handles and my push-ups improved and increased.  Then, I had a terrible back injury and my push-up ability sort of went down the toilet.  And I guess I lost any motivation to improve them.

 So, for the month of January, I committed to and participated in the 100 a Day Push-up Challenge.

Push Up Challenge

Ugh.  As soon as I committed to this I dreaded it.  But I committed…

I started the challenge by doing 10 here and 10 there.  I’d do all varieties of push-ups – regular, modified (from the knees), triceps, etc.  Eventually, I moved on to doing 30 regular push-ups, followed by 20 triceps push-ups twice (50 and 50).  Eventually, I was doing as many push-ups at a time that I could do.  Sometimes that would be 50, sometimes it would be 70, and by the end, it was 100.  I did my push-ups anywhere I could…at the gym, in my living room, or even in the lunch room at work.  I made sure I got them done.

Over those 31 days I noticed that my arms and back and stamina for those wretched push-ups because stronger and increased.  I didn’t dread getting down to the floor to do the darn things as much as when I first started.  I was able to fling off more and more at a time and it made me happy.  (Not as happy as when I finally finished the challenge.)

I had fully intended to continue doing a push-up challenge – committing to doing 50 push-ups a day for the year.  I started off okay, but then I got hit with bronchitis and a throat infection and the flu and my push-up training came to a bit of a halt for a week or so.  But, the last few days I have gotten back on track and have completed (at minimum) my 50 push-ups a day.  My hope is that by the end of this year (Lord, give me strength..we are only in February) I will finally enjoy doing push-ups.

If you want to get in on this, comment below and let me know you are going to COMMIT to doing 50 push-ups a day, every day, until the end of 2018, and watch your body change and your strength increase.  It takes just minutes a day.  Why not commit to this with me?

Cheers.

Ellipticals

elliptical

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for some time, you might recall that my fitness routine initially started with an elliptical I had purchased (from Sears) at least a year prior.  I had every intention of utilizing this machine in order to lose weight.  But, the first time I tried it I found it “too hard” and didn’t bother to use it again.

When I hopped on it more than a year later, I was at a place in my life  where I was fat, (not just overweight, but fat), sad, depressed, and overall unhealthy.  I was now determined that it was time for a change.  I lugged that darned elliptical machine into my living room, turned the TV on to Oprah, and I powered (read “struggled”) through that workout.  I was hot and sweaty and out of breath.  My heart was beating and I felt like I was going to die.  But I continued.  I made a point to get on that elliptical every day.  I would make a point to set my goal each day and, as soon as I was close to achieving it, I would set a new one.  Eventually, the three minute workout that initially “nearly killed me” the year before, turned into a 20, 30, 60, and eventually 120 minutes routine.  It became part of my daily habit.  And I swear, that elliptical saved my life.

When I came across Reviews.com, a great site that offers comparisons and reviews on tons of products, I had to check it out.  The people are Reviews.com do the work for you by researching and reviewing anything you might be looking for – including the Best Elliptical Machines.

The Elliptical Reviews pinpoints what exactly you should be looking for in the machine, who they consulted, which ones were tested, and how they chose their overall best.  They compared prices, as well as the “luxuries” of each model reviewed.  It really is a useful site and I would encourage anyone wanting to invest in an elliptical (or anything, really) to check out the site and invest the time, too.  Buying any piece of exercise equipment is a big deal and can often run you a lot of money.  Your health is definitely worth it, of course, but I would suggest examining the research at Reviews.com and see if all of your questions are answered.  Perhaps they even answered questions you didn’t know to ask.

One of the greatest things I love about my elliptical is that the strides are short.  I’m 5’6 but I have fairly short legs (my torso goes on for days) and the strides are perfect for my little stumps.  What’s interesting to note about this is that every single elliptical machine I’ve been on in my lifetime, aside from the one I purchased, has incredibly long strides and I feel very awkward on them.  Is that something I would have researched back then?  No, I really just lucked out with that one.  But, now that I know there are different lengths of the strides, it is certainly something I will look for should I plan to purchase another one in the future.

So, if you are in the market for something (anything) new, pop over to Reviews.com and do a little comparison shopping.  You never know what you might be looking for.

~FB

Staying on Track

If you recall from my previous post, I noted it’s much easier to have success with your fitness/weight loss/health goals if you make a plan and make a commitment.  I know, personally, that if I say I’m going to do something, I may not always follow through with it. But if I commit to something, I am committed 100%.  So, here are my commitments for 2018:

Whole 30

To kick off the new year, I’ve committed to another Whole 30 – which begins TOMORROW. As always, I’m super excited to start another Whole 30 Program.  I have over-indulged in my fair share of chocolate this Christmas season, and I really need to slay my sugar dragons.

Whole30 Reset

I began preparing for my 30 days late this past week.  I got my grocery shopping done and spent part of the weekend eating clean meals.  My fridge is organized and the chocolate is going into cold storage.  I have been waiting to get started and now I’m more than gung-ho. I know how great I feel during and after my 30 days and I know the chocolate will be there later on down the road if I really feel the need to have some.  But, for the next 30 days, I’m committed to clean eating and drinking.

Gym Routine and Workouts and Rest

Fortunately, I don’t really ever need to push myself to exercise.  In fact, I’m eager to do my workouts and, it seems, it’s often all I think about.

Rest Day2

I mean, if I’m being completely honest….

In addition to my boot camps, family fitness classes, and attending Zumba, I have regular gym sessions (I often exercise more than once a day – splitting my days with lifting in the morning and cardio/boot camp in the evenings).  Therefore, I sometimes get through a work day on 3-5 hours of sleep.  And, let’s be honest, that just isn’t enough.  Although I am fully functional on just a few hours of sleep, I am committing to resting more in 2018.  I am going to let go of my fear of missing a workout and spend time relaxing (and snoozing).

RestDay

Eye Health

A few years back I had eye surgery.  It was a gross surgery where my eyeball was cut into and a membrane was scraped out.  Although, my vision in that eye on it’s own has not improved (and may never), my vision with both eyes together is still better than 20/20. That being said, I’m constantly fearful that the sight in my good eye will go and I’ll be SOL.  If it happens, I won’t be able to read and my driver’s license will likely be taken away.

Eyes

Be proactive and take care of your vision.

I have been as proactive as I can be, but the issue with my “bad” eye was such a fluke that there really is no way to prepare for or prevent the same thing happening in the other eye. However, I am careful with my eyes and I do what I can to ensure my eye health is up to par.  I keep drops in my desk at work and at home, I always have my sunglasses on during the day, even in the winter, and especially with all this snow in Nova Scotia so as to prevent Photokeratitis – or snow blindness.  In fact, I have several pairs of sunglasses with different UV protection and different shades of protection so that I have a pair to go with every weather condition. And I already have my next appointments set with my eye surgeon/check-ups.

Although I don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, Warby Parker now offers a Prescription Check App that allows an eye doctor to assess your vision and provide an updated glasses prescription.  If you are someone who wears glasses, or just want to have your vision checked out, then it may be worthwhile checking out this app.

So that’s my short-list of my commitments for staying on track this year.  What’s on your list?

~Cheers

 

 

Welcome to 2018 – This is YOUR Year

It’s a brand new year, which means the resolutions have been made and people are out in abundance to make this year their best year ever.

Diets have been started, gyms have been joined, pacts have been sworn to.  And while I’m hoping that most of you will have success, some of you will fail.  Why?  Because plans aren’t being made.

I never make resolutions for the New Year when it comes to fitness and health.  I may make other resolutions, such as reading more, watching less television, spending more time with friends, etc.  Those are the resolutions that are easy to keep.  Because they’re easy. Changing your health and lifestyle doesn’t come easy for many.  It didn’t come easy for me at first.  Mostly because I wasn’t being honest with why I wanted to “change my life”.  (In complete honesty, I didn’t want to change my life, I just wanted to stop being fat.)  It wasn’t until I made the commitment to change my life and improve my health – for me (and not for the New Year) – that things started shifting for me.  I made a plan and I stuck with it. Why?  Because my lifestyle was becoming detrimental to my health.  I wasn’t exercising and I was eating crap and I have a heart condition to worry about.  I didn’t want to die from a heart attack before I turned 30.  That’s when I made the commitment to and for myself.

I wholeheartedly want you to succeed in your resolution.  But, instead of calling it a New Year’s Resolution, why not calling it a Lifestyle Change or a 2018 Commitment?  And instead of making a resolution, why not sit down and plan out how you will improve your health this year?  What will you do?  Make a list:

Will you commit to: Working out 3 days a week?; Creating a grocery list to include only the good stuff?  Plan your meals in advance?  Trying and sticking with a fitness class for a full session?  Eating clean?  Quitting smoking/drinking/binge watching tv?

Think about what you want to accomplish.  Do you want to:  Improve your overall health? Sleep better?  Eat more veggies? Lose weight?  Get stronger?  Run your first 5/10K?  Have mental clarity?

Once you know what and why you want to accomplish, and you commit to your new life changes, your rate for success goes up.

And for all of you who are old pros at this, be sure to support those around you. Encourage those in your circle to continue to eat better, exercise, sleep more, log out.  Welcome the newbies to your lifestyle.

And don’t be a dick in the gym!  We were all the newbie at one point.  For some, stepping into a fitness room for the first time is intimidating enough.  Be friendly!  A smile goes a long way!

2018 Gym

Saw this in someone’s feed and stole it.

Cheers and good luck!

~FB

Surviving the Holidays

Buffet
 A few years ago, I provided some tips on avoiding holiday weight gain.  (If you search Christmas or Holidays at the top of the page/in the search bar, you’ll get all kinds of good stuff from me -workouts and recipes.)  With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, this year I thought I’d provide you with some of tips on how to get thru the holidays without ruining your fitness or nutrition plan.

Christmas is often seen as the season of indulgence.  There are an excessive amount of parties and dinners and get-togethers and functions – not to mention Christmas dinner – and with all of that, there comes large quantities of food and drinks.  Whether it’s chips and dips and beer or a buffet with an abundance of rich desserts and cheeses and wines, there is likely something that will can entice even the strongest-willed guest.

 christmasbrunchbuffet

So, in order to do your best at not over-indulging (or gorging yourself) this Christmas, here are some of my best tips:

Make a Plan.   Don’t start the season off without knowing exactly how you will approach it.  Look at your calendar and figure out when you can get your workouts in – even if you can only spare 20 minutes.  Utilize that time to make the workout count!  Making a plan also comes into play when you’re preparing to feast.  If you are attending a holiday party where you know there will be lots of decadent foods served, plan your meals and eating routine around that.  Have a lighter lunch or dinner* or have a healthy snack instead of your regular meal if you will be eating later at an event.  If you really have the will power (or discipline) you can always prepare your own snacks to take with you to a holiday party – that way, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and won’t go over your portion.  *You can also prepare a nutritious meal at home prior to going to your event.  This will prevent you from overeating or eating excessive junk at the party.  And again, this way you will know exactly what you’re consuming.

  1. Commit.   If you commit yourself to staying healthy during the holidays, stick to it.  This does not mean committing 100% (although, how fantastic would that be?), but why not commit yourself 80-90%.  If you’re not able to get to the gym 4 times per week during the Christmas rush, why not commit to getting there twice a week?  Or saving your gas and working out at home 3-4 times per week.  There are ways to compromise while (sort of) sticking to your plan.
  2. Challenge Yourself.  If you are going to be working out less during the holidays, make sure your workouts count.  Adding in strength training (you should be doing this anyway), plyometrics, HIIT workouts, or something out of the ordinary can rev up your system and help you in burning more fat than your regular workout.  There are so many other ways to do this easily – increasing the intensity on your treadmill or elliptical, holding your yoga pose longer.  Whatever it is, make sure it’s challenging you and see the difference.
  3. Eat Breakfast.  I cannot stress enough how eating a well-rounded, healthy breakfast can change your life.  Protein and the right carbs can be a game-changer for your entire day.  People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat during the day.
  4. Don’t Drink (All) Your Calories.   Have a glass of wine or punch or a beer – just don’t overdo it on the booze or eggnog or cider.  Holiday party drinks are almost always loaded with sugar or fat.  So be on the lookout for that and sip wisely.  In addition to this, making your own java can help save you calories – and money.  Brewing at home as opposed to purchasing overpriced, over-sugared coffees/mochas/lattes/etc. will help you monitor what’s going in your body and what’s coming out of your wallet.

    Sugar Rush

    Enter a caption

  5. Don’t Punish Yourself.  If you’re at a party or a dinner and there is something you really want – eat/drink it.  Just limit yourself.  You don’t necessarily have to eat the entire plate of cookies, but you can have one.  Enjoy it.  Savor it.
  6. Don’t Forget that Christmas/the holidays are not all about food.  Christmas parties and family gatherings are also about being social and spending time with friends and loved ones.  So, step away from the buffet table or the chip bowl or the bar and indulge in the conversation, listen to the music, sit by the fire.  Mingle, tell stories, and Enjoy Yourself!

Partiers

Cheers!

Nutrition

Nutrition

via

You’d think it would be basic common knowledge by now that good nutrition is important (likely the most important factor) in living healthy, long lives.  But, alas, some people still don’t get it.  You see people non-stop forging garbage into their bodies and then wondering while they are unhappy, unhealthy, overweight, tired, lethargic, have acne, etc.  <– This list goes on and on.

Here it is:

In order for our bodies to function properly and stay healthy, it is important that we follow a good nutritious diet.  Good nutrition provides energy and the building blocks of muscle.

The more you know about the importance of nutrition, the better the good food will taste. Increasing your knowledge on the importance of good nutrition will make healthy foods more appealing to you, not only because of the taste but also because of their nutritional content.  It’s fun to eat when you truly understand what you’re putting into your body.

Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients our bodies need in order to not only function properly, but also allow chemical reactions to occur at a faster rate.

If we think about food as fuel, and even medicine, for our bodies it can give us a better understanding of the role nutrition plays in our overall health, and guide us in making better food choices.

We want to achieve longevity and increased energy and promote growth and happiness, and proper nutrition can assist in all of that.  This does not mean you can’t indulge in “treats” (i.e. the craptastic foods like baked goods and chocolate) on occasion, it means you have to limit putting them in your body and be wiser to the effect the crap foods have on your health.  BALANCE is vital to good health and well-being.

Balance

We know from research that a healthy diet can lower risk of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, some cancers, and diabetes (to name just a few ailments).  Choosing healthier foods and following a proper nutrition plan can also provide mental clarity and clean up hormonal imbalances.  (<–This is part of the reason I love the Whole 30 Program so much.)  And aside from all of this, eating better really just makes one feel better.  You don’t usually get the same satisfaction from French fries and frozen dinners that you get from fresh produce and lean proteins.

The growing epidemic of poor health and obesity and preventable diseases can all be reversed by living healthier – following a healthy and nutritious diet and exercising.

What is comes down to – eating the right foods is as important as the air we breathe.  Choose wisely.

~FB

Early Mornings

Sunrise

I spent the entire summer getting up bright and early to either walk, run, or go to the gym.  And I absolutely loved it.  The early morning fitness became a huge part of my routine and my “me” time.  I enjoyed being up early enough to witness the sunrise each morning, and I enjoyed the solitude.  And, of course, I enjoyed getting more activity into my days.  However, since early October, my morning workouts have somewhat dwindled.  My running partner and I only made it out a few times after the Harvest run, and I haven’t been getting to the gym in the mornings as often as I was…mostly because I’ve been going in the evenings (my fitness routine has not suffered – just changed a bit), and I’ve also continued hiking/walking on my lunch breaks.  I’ve been getting my morning gym sessions in here and there but have been sticking to mostly evenings and weekends.

And once the mornings started getting colder and it was staying darker longer, I just wanted to stay cuddled up in my warm, cozy bed instead of venturing outside for a walk or run.  And every time Running Buddy and I made a plan to get up and get out, something happened or we’d just cancel.

So, we made a pact this weekend to drag our butts out of bed Monday morning and get back into the routine.  And we did it!  And you know what?  I loved it!  I felt so darn good.  Of course, I had to bundle up with extra pants and warmer gear, but I loved every minute of it.  And I hit 10,000 steps before 8:00 am – which almost never happens.  I felt so accomplished that morning and I am definitely planning to stick to the routine as much as possible.

And, as much as I’m dreading winter coming, I am totally looking forward to the solitude of a dusting of light snow in the mornings (here and there).

Early Snow Winter Morning Wallpaper Retina

Doesn’t this look charming?

To be honest, I was dreading getting up so early the other morning but I really enjoyed it – not the dragging my arse out of a warm, cozy bed but that little change my day so much better.  (#littlechanges)