Muscle Memory

Muscle Memory (or Muscle Science) is a phenomenon whereby it is much easier to regain lost muscle mass than it is to put on new (initial) muscle mass.

Shrinking muscle or losing gains is a fear that many gym goers and lifters fear.

  1. Back when I was in college I broke my ankle pretty severely.  I spent 12 weeks on crutches and lost most of the muscle in my calf.  In fact, the muscle had diminished so much that I would play with it and watch it fling back and forth like a pendulum.  Once I was “back on my feet again” (literally), I was surprised at how quickly I regained the muscle in my leg.
  2. When guys walk back into my gym after taking months off from their training, I watch as their gains increase quite rapidly and their muscles grow so quickly, it’s like they never even stopped.

The reason:  The arc of building muscle size and strength lies in your nuclei.  Nuclei control protein synthesis.  The more nuclei you have, the more protein you are able to turn into muscle.  The first effect training has on your muscles is not actually growth; it’s to create more nuclei, which eventually facilitate the development of more tissue.

Screen-Shot Muscle

Via

Further, our muscle fibers have satellite cells which donate myonuclei.  The myonuclei allows the cells to grow larger.  Once your muscle fibers get bigger, more myonuclei are required because they can’t regulate that size fiber any longer.  They have reached their maximum limit or myonuclei domain.  Resistance training induces permanent physiological changes to your muscle fibers.  The first time you begin strength training, your muscles adapt and become bigger and stronger, which is facilitated by increasing the muscle nuclei (aka myonuclei).

Muscle

Via

Myonuclei are permanent.  Although it was widely believed that once muscles started to atrophy, the cell death, or apoptosis, occurred and the myonuclei were removed. However, current studies have shown that the myonuclei still exist even after period of not training or inactivity.  Previously untrained muscles acquire newly formed nuclei by fusion of satellite cells preceding the hypertrophy.  Detraining or inactivity leads to atrophy, but not loss of myonuclei,  The elevated number of nuclei in muscle fibers in a hypertrophic episode would provide for muscle memory and long-lasting effects of training.  Because they are still present, these cells skip the process of creating new myonuclei, allowing atrophy and gains to occur at a faster rate than the initial gains.  By skipping the first step of satellite fusion and nuclear donation, new nuclei increases new muscle protein synthesis.

Just like riding a bike…

When muscles shrink due to inactivity (i.e. when training is stopped for a significant amount of time), it is much easier to rebuild that lost or shrunken muscle.  And it takes less  time to rebuild that mass, than it took to build it initially.

New myonuclei in muscle fibers are added before any major increase in size during overload.  Old and new nuclei are retrained during severe atrophy.  The myonuclei are protected from the high apoptotic activity in inactive muscle tissue.  So, even as muscle shrinks, the nuclei remain present.

If you are someone who has never trained before, then you do not have the accumulation of myonuclei, but it is easy to get, since basically everything we do is a stress.  Unlike someone who is already training, who will find that it becomes harder and harder to stress the muscle out.

And although you may lose the muscle, you don’t lose the myonuclei.  Any myonuclei accrued from previous training remains in the muscle fiber.  So, even though your muscles have gotten smaller because you haven’t used them, you still have the results of your previous hard work – this being the myonuclei – so you can bounce back fairly easily.

When training is resumed, muscles are able to grow rapidly because the initial stage of adding nuclei is skipped and, once the nuclei are roused, they can set about synthesizing protein pretty quickly.

Muscle memory is also why physiologists recommend filling your muscles with as many nuclei as you can while you’re young.  Building muscle gets harder as you age, whereas maintenance is easy.  The type 1 fibers dominate when you get older, and the type 2 fibers (the fast-twitch fibers) tend to wane, but they’re still there.

So, get to the gym and take advantage of building myonuclei while you can.  And just as importantly, if you’ve been pumping away for a while, afraid to take a break because of fear of loss of gains, go ahead and rest.  It takes a very long time to lose the gains you’ve worked so hard to accrue.  And, as per my recent post, Rest Days are just as important in attaining your goals.

~FB

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Why I Don’t Offer Meal Plans Online

IHT_MealPlan
I see it all the time; online “trainers”, celebrity or otherwise, offering their meal plans or nutrition advice, or  “…for just $99.99 you can have access to exactly what I eat in a day/week/month…”.
These tags drive me crazy and you’ll soon find out why.
There are so many of these online trainers who will guide (read: tell you) exactly what to eat per his/her typical day, or worse, push keto or some drastic fad or diet on readers.
Here is why I don’t offer online meal plans and why what these online gimmickers are doing is dangerous: NO TWO CLIENTS ARE THE SAME.
So how dare I (or anyone else) treat them the same?  What a 115 lb Instagram trainer eats in a day (or tells you what she eats in a day) will more than likely not be sufficient for most people who are watching her videos or subscribing to a website.  There is no personalization, no background, no medical or health history provided by the “client” – there is simply only a way to pay.  These are all important factors in prescribing a healthier diet in proper nutrition, or weight loss plan.  Individualization is a key component.
I must acknowledge that each and every client is unique.
In addition, I cannot have a preconceived notion of my clients.  I must recognize the individuality.  I need to be able to approach my clients with an open mind so that I can understand their specific and individualized needs.  I also need to understand what contributed to their present state or desire to change their eating habits.  Is there an underlying medical condition?  What is home life like?  Are there any financial contributions to unhealthy eating (can the client not “afford” better quality or healthier foods)?  These are questions that may need to be asked.  And going hand-in-hand with this approach is my understanding of how I can best assist them.
Because is client is different, what works for one person, may not offer the same success for another.  Client A may need better information/education about nutrition, whereas Client B may require full-on support and step-by-step guidance.  As a professional, I have to be humble enough to recognize when a client may need to be referred to a different professional altogether (doctor, psychologist, dietitian, etc.).  Although my clients are coming to me for my expertise, my expertise just may not be enough, and as such, clients who I believe may have disordered eating, health or medical issues, etc. must be referred to the proper practitioner.
Another step in my individualization is having my clients keep a food journal, as well as completing a basic health questionnaire.  How can I assess and provide knowledgeable information if I do now know my clients.  How can an online trainer purport to provide meal plans for clients/followers/readers/Googlers if they do not know each member of their audience.
As a Personal Trainer, I am not qualified to give my clients nutritional or diet advice.  As with any other trainer, it is considered out of my scope of practice.  As a Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach, however, I can provide nutrition advice and guidelines, parameters for healthy eating, support, coaching, etc.  And I certainly recognize the importance that each of my clients is unique and will therefore have unique, if not specific needs.
NWL
In addition, my clients will receive personal, one-on-one coaching from me.  I will work with each of them to discover what approach is best for them, and we will work together to create the best program suited to their individual needs.  You don’t get that with random, generic, online meal plans.  They will also get check-ins with me – whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or more or less.  My clients can ask me questions any time and a personal response will be guaranteed.  And since I am certified in both nutrition and fitness, I can also work with clients to design an exercise program that will work for them to ensure it fits their means and lifestyle.  Just as it is with nutrition, understanding that not all fitness levels are the same is just as important if my clients want to see results.
It is truly important to not lose that human touch and to recognize that each person’s needs are unique.  When it comes to health, it’s time to step away from the ease of the internet and to understand why our clients are coming to us, where they need help the most, and offer them the guidance, understanding, and support that a computer – or $99.99 – won’t provide them with.
~FB

Why Women Should Strength Train

There is an old adage that women should not lift weights because they will get big and bulky and manly.  So, let’s just scrap that idea now.

BW Lifter

A woman’s strength and muscular development are predetermined by hormones, physiology, and genetic make-up.  Generally speaking, women have about 1/10th of the amount of testosterone compared to men.  Because of the smaller amount of testosterone, the average woman does not have the ability to “bulk up” like her male counterparts.  In addition, women do not possess the same size muscle fibers or amount of lean tissue as men.  So, unless you are a professional bodybuilder – or have an overwhelming amount of testosterone (whether natuarally or by supplementing) – you are unlikely to turn into the Incredible Hulk

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on the reasons why you should be lifting weights.

Boost Your Metabolism Naturally

Although cardio burns more calories than strength training (during the first 30-minutes of your session), lifting weights burns more calories overall.  When you build muscle by adding strength training into your life, your resting metabolic rate (your ability to burn calories and fat) also increases.

           = Muscle Growth And Fat Loss

Strength exercises increase lean body mass while decreasing fat stores. The greater your proportion of lean mass to fat mass, the more metabolically active your body becomes, providing an increased metabolic rate, fat oxidation, and energy consumption (which means you burn more calories and fat simply by carrying more muscle!).

oxygen

Via Oxygen

Structural Tolerance

Structural Tolerance (strengthening of tendons, ligaments, other connective tissue) will aide in the ability to sustain greater stresses in training, and greater resistance to injury. Ligaments, tendons, and cartilage hold your bones together. These joints are at risk of injury when they become unstable. Resistance training strengthens the connective tissue, resulting in improved joint integrity, stability, and injury prevention.

Bone Modeling (and “fighting” Osteoporosis)

Bone modeling (and remodeling*) is the process by which bone adapts to load by changing size and shape and removing weak or damaged bone tissue. (*Remodeling affects material properties such as microdamage, mineralization, and collagen cross-linking.) When muscles contract against bone, it creates stress that causes bones to strengthen against the contractions. The stronger your muscles get, the stronger your bones must become to handle muscle contractions. Bone modeling helps prevent fractures and reduces your chances of getting osteoporosis.

As women age, their levels of estrogen decrease.  We lose both bone and muscle mass.  In addition, as women age, we are prone to osteoporosis due to loss of estrogen.  However, resistance training can increase bone density. When bone feels the “pull” from the muscle contractions, bone growth is stimulated. Not only can strength training offset bone loss, it can actually cause an increase in bone density in women who regularly lift weights.
In addition to all of the benefits above, strength training can also provide improved mental health (as with any exercise, you’ll be happier and reduce your stress levels), better sleep, stronger (and more defined) body, a healthier heart, improved posture and balance, reduce diabetes risk, and longevity (that’s right!  Lifting weights can help you live longer!).
With all of this in mind, if you are not already implementing strength training into your regular exercise routine, you should consider doing so.  The benefits outweigh any negative aspects (whether there is truth to them or not).  So, just get out there and start.  You don’t need a lot of equipment or even a gym membership; improvise with what’s around you (laundry jugs, water bottles, cans, etc.) and go from there.
~FB

August Challenges

It’s been a little while since I have posted any challenges, and with the start of a new month just around the corner, I figured…..why not!

So here you go.  I’m posting two separate challenges.  You can do one or both.

The Awesome August Abs Challenge

August Challenge

The 30 Days of Abs and Squats Challenge

30 day challenge

These challenges can be mini workouts or a compliment to your regular exercise routine.

What I love about challenges is that they are a simple, yet effective way to keep you moving almost daily (remember to take your rest days!).  If you are a newbie to exercise, it’s also a great way to begin a workout regime.  AND, you can do the workouts right from your home – if you don’t want to leave the house.

Give one or both of these challenges a-go and see how you make out for the month of August.

~FB

Confessions

Inadequate
I’ve recently had to confess to someone why I’m such a nag.  I’ve owned up to my feelings of inadequacy and why, to this day, I still don’t feel like I measure up.  I can freely admit I have never felt beautiful.
I grew up the little fat girl.  It’s embarrassing to say this still, but I need to speak my truth. I was fat, chubby, chunky.  And I heard about it all the time.  I was teased and called names and shamed – from a tiny child until adulthood.  Being fat was never out of my reach.  And I still feel it.  I still feel like it.
Once I was old enough to figure out I could do something about my weight, I tried.  I did my best.  But, I was a teenager and I didn’t think things through and I took the “easy” route – resorting to eating disorders.  Starving, purging, non-binge purging, excessive exercise.  I damn near killed myself and ended up hurting the people around me.  I screwed up my body, my health, and my mental well-being.  I spent a lot of time getting better.  A lot of wasted time that could have been better spent for a 16, 17, 18 year old girl.
And then I was fat again.
Fast forward to years later and finally really figuring it out – for real – the fitness and nutrition part – and losing that weight and feeling better about myself.  BUT, I’m still the fat girl.  I still feel like the fat girl.  I can’t shake it.  Dammit!  I am still often focused on what’s wrong with me rather than what’s right with me.
And so, I often feel inadequate.  I feel like I don’t measure up to the standards some people have, and I nag them.  I NAG them.  I pester.  And it’s shitty.  Because, I’m not a jerk.  I’m not an asshole.  I just wear my heart on my sleep and I think the worst and I worry.  I still feel like a little (fat) girl.
And it’s even shittier because I’m an adult.  I have a good job, and I’m funny, and I have a wonderful social circle of friends and family; but I feel bad.  I feel like I’m hurting my relationships with people because of my pestering nature and I’m screwing up friendships before they even happen.  Because I still feel like the fat girl and I feel like I have to earn my way.
When my clients tell me they are struggling with their fitness or their nutrition or their self-esteem, I can tell them I can relate – because I’ve been in their shoes (and often still feel like I am).  And what’s really important is that I remind them of their self worth.  I have to remind myself sometimes of mine.
Being overweight or lackadaisical with our exercise habits or nutrition doesn’t make us worth less or worthless.  Yet, we continue to put so much emphasis on what we look like, rather than how we feel and on our physical and mental health.  This may seem hypocritical coming from a fitness and nutritional professional, but being healthy is as much mental as it is physical, and the aesthetic side of it should just be a bonus (rather than the main focal point).
Finding out the root of personal issues (like my feeling inadequate) can often help us let go of whatever is holding us back so that we can move forward with a better, healthier life.  Letting go of what hurts us and hinders us so that we can become fit – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
MiniMe
~FB

Day 31 – Reflect

Day 31 – Reflect

Today is the final day of this 31-Day Health and Wellness Challenge and your goal today is to Reflect. Reflect on the last 31 days, the last year, the last decade. Think about what is working for you and what isn’t. Deep reflections can really empower us to gain self-awareness and to improve and become better humans. And who doesn’t want to be a better human? If there is something in your life that isn’t working for you – change it. If things are going great, keep it up. Reflect on your relationships and your accomplishments. At the end of the day, be proud of who you are. And smile.

Be the good.

~FB

Day 27 – Combine My Workouts

Day 27 – Combine My Workouts

Today you’re challenge is to combine all the little exercises I’ve given you over the last 27 days:

1. Plank (30 – 60 seconds) x 3
2. Get some steps. It’s a gorgeous day so get out for a walk/run/hike
3. Do the Body Weight Workout from Day 14 (do it twice)
4. Do 50 Push-ups (x1 or x2)
5. Squat. Find the perfect song and squat til you drop. (Well, not really drop.)

You can always find a workout somewhere. #everydayistrainingday

~FB

Day 26 – Shop Local

Day 26 – Shop Local

It’s Saturday. Get out to a Farmers’ Market or shop at locally owned stores in your community; try craft breweries in your town. Keep your money in your local economy.

honey dew

So get out there today: Pick up some fresh fruit or pastries or local meats; shop at a store in your town and support your friends and neighbors. Have an adventure in your backyard.

~FB

Day 25 – Listen to a Podcast

Day 25 – Listen to a Podcast (or betterment program).

podcast

Podcasts seem to be all the rage these days.  They’re easy listening, easy to find, and the topics are seemingly endless.  So for the days when you don’t feel like reading, toss the book aside and search out a podcast that will be good for your mental health and your soul.

Check out “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations” or “Happier With Gretchen Rubin” for a little inspo and enlightenment.

oprah

Via OWN

If you’re still not quite convinced, here are 5 reasons to listen to a podcast today:

(Via HuffPost)

  1. Get inspired! What inspires you? Are you intrigued and interested in new ideas and expanding your horizons? What are you passionate about?  Chances are you will find a podcast that will truly inspire you. Check out TED radio hour http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510298/ted-radio-hour Hosted by Guy Raz, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, the meaning of work, or inexplicable connections. Guy takes TED talks on the subject of the episode and shares conversations, interviews and explanations that bring the ideas to life. Other recommendations: TED Talks http://blog.ted.com/audio_podcasts/ NPR Fresh Air http://www.npr.org/podcasts/381444908/fresh-air
  2. Stay educated and informed Learn new things in your areas of interest or hobbies.  Check out a business or marketing podcast.  Learn a new language.  The possibilities are almost endless. The Daily – from New York Times https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-daily/id1200361736?mt=2 Social Media Marketing Podcast & Social Media Marketing Talk Show:  http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/podcasts/ Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield: http://www.amyporterfield.com/category/podcast/
  3. Personal and Professional Growth Do you want to work on your own personal development? How about learning more about your career or profession or listening to experts in your field? Check out: Super Agents Livehttp://www.superagentslive.com/   Interviews with real estate agents and industry experts 20 Best Real Estate Podcasts https://placester.com/real-estate-marketing-academy/20-best-real-estate-podcasts-2015/ 20 Excellent Podcasts for Any Marketer http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/20-excellent-podcasts-for-any-marketer/ Self-Improvement Podcasts https://player.fm/featured/self-improvementAchieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod: Success | Productivity | Personal Development | Lifestyle | Business https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/achieve-your-goals-hal-elrod/id820889267?mt=2 The Productivity Show | Getting Things Done (GTD) | Time Management | Evernote https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/productivity-show-getting/id955075042?mt=2
  4. To Escape! Discover great podcasts for the pure entertainment value and as a way to focus on something different than what you deal with daily. Many news and politics TV, radio shows, comedians, and celebrities have podcasts. 15 Podcasts That Will Leave You Pondering Life’s Big Questionshttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/08/top-mindful-podcasts_n_6423426.html Are you into great story-telling? Check out these popular series: This American Life – gives listeners touching, humorous and often unexpected vignettes of life in America. Serial – for true crime fans Need more comedy or celebrities in your life, try: The Nerdist – hosts talk about all things nerdy, including comics, video games and TV shows http://nerdist.com/podcasts/nerdist-podcast-channel/ WTF with Marc Maron – features interviews with comedians, as well as others in the entertainment and radio communities. http://www.wtfpod.com/
  5. Optimize Your Time Listen to podcasts while walking, driving, commuting, or working out. I find that I really enjoy my commute from Las Vegas to Southern California when I listen to my favorite podcasts. I get inspired, educated or entertained which makes a 4 to 5-hour drive literally fly by!
Happy Listening.
~FB

Day 24 – Drop It Like a Squat

Day 24 – Drop it like a Squat

Pick a song and squat to the whole thing. (I like Take on Me by Aha, or Footloose – both great squatting songs.) Have fun.

squat

Remember to keep the weight in your heels, butt sicks back, keep knees in line with your toes, keep your shoulders lifted (you may tilt slightly). Just think of it as sitting down – without the chair.

squat-infographic.png

~FB

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