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.
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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

Staying Inspired

I have been having a very emotional and stressful week.  I normally am an upbeat person and always on the go, so when stress and lethargy run high in me, I’m not sure of the best outlet. Because I normally don’t deal with it.
Earlier this week my cat of 12 years started seizing and his health is in jeopardy and I’m a basket case. Dealing with my own heart condition is one thing, dealing with a heart condition in a very loved pet is another.  The thought of losing my long-time companion has me feeling like I’ve been punched in the heart.  Literally.  This pain is real and it’s taking my breath away.
And although I haven’t had much of an appetite lately, part of me has been thinking about comforting my pain by stuffing my head with chocolate and all that kind of goodness.
Oddly enough, a new-found friend has also been suffering through an emotional and stressful week – probably the hardest one he’s had in a very long time , but instead of easing his pain with the kind of garbage one would find in comfort food (like my craving for all that is chocolate), he turned down my offer of coffee and a pastry and instead kept to his healthy journey.  What a man!  What an inspiration.
Josh's lunch

This is his actual lunch – I was very jealous!!

So…thanks to him, I said no to drowning my sorrows in chocolate and red wine and instead picked up some carrot sticks and hummus.  I don’t yet have the appetite, or frankly the desire to eat anything, but when I’m ready, my healthy choices have already been made.
~FB

Fitness Fads to Avoid in 2018 (Guest Post)

(By Scott Reid**)

Fad

With every New Year it seems a new fitness fad comes along, promising quick or instant results with very little work. But we all know that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, and when it comes to our health some fads are not only a waste of time, they can actually be harmful.

So, let’s pledge to make 2018 fitness-fad free!  Good old-fashioned exercise and nutrition are what is needed to get in shape and there are no quick fixes unfortunately. Here is a quick guide to the top fitness fads to be avoided this year.

  1. Cutting out all carbohydrates

One of the reasons this fad is still popular is to start with, if you stop eating carbs you will see a rapid weight-loss, but this is due to water loss rather than any kind of fat loss, and it will soon balance out again.

But if you are trying to work out and exercise to build up a good physique, you need carbs for energy and to perform at your best. If you want to increase muscle mass and have stable, consistent energy levels, then you need to eat some carbohydrates.

  1. Eating Small Meals Every Couple of Hours

 There is a myth that if you eat small meals regularly it helps to cut down fat by boosting your metabolism but the difference between this and eating fewer larger meals is actually negligible – it’s just another fitness fad.

In fact, if you are eating every few hours, your body is constantly digesting food which can make you lack energy and feel very lethargic, making it hard to concentrate and get tasks done during the day.

The best time to eat meals is when you feel hungry and when it suits your body and your lifestyle. There is no magic timing procedure for eating which results in weight loss.

  1. Only eating one type of food

We’ve all heard of the notorious cabbage soup diet and no doubt seen numerous detox programs which advocate giving your body or system a break by only eating one type of fruit or vegetable all day.

These are just bad fitness fads. Your body needs a variety of food groups to stay balanced and get all of the nutrients you need to keep going all day. Eating just grapes for a day doesn’t rest your system; it pushes it out of whack and will probably give you an upset stomach for your troubles.

A balanced diet, with real nutritious food, is the way to go – don’t cut out particular food groups and don’t rely on only one food even if only for a day – it really won’t have any kind of positive impact on your overall health.

This goes hand in hand with cleansing routines – these are fads which often proclaim eating a single food to cleanse your system – let’s knock these on the head for 2018.

Try something like the 105 Plan.

  1. Changing your exercise routine each time

There is a new fad out there about changing up your exercise routine, never doing the same exercise twice, with the bizarre premise that your muscles will get used to the routine otherwise and stop responding.

Muscles don’t work that way – they respond to whatever movement you carry out so if you are not seeing results then you are not working out hard enough or correctly so seek advice from a personal trainer. It may be that you need to add some more weights to increase the challenge.

However, if you constantly change what you are doing, how can you measure results as you will be exercising different muscle groups each time, with no consistent approach? This is a fad which doesn’t work.

It’s great to vary your exercise but just jumping from one thing to another every day isn’t going to produce any kind of consistent results.

There are many fitness fads out there and no doubt new ones will spring up throughout the year endorsed by some celebrity or other and picked up by the media as the latest and best way to get fit, reduce fat or whatever it might be.

But anyone who is serious about their health and fitness knows full well that these types of fads are just that – fashionable trends which will be discredited and disappear as quickly as they arrived and should just be ignored.

The only way to get fit and healthy is to change the way you eat, to a healthy balanced diet, on a permanent basis, and to include regular exercise into your daily routine. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, it involves gradual change and hard work, whereas our society seems to demand instant results, which is why all these fitness fads become popular in the first place.

Rather than spend a fortune on the latest fad, only to be disappointed, let’s all agree to make 2018 fitness-fad free.

(** The views and opinions expressed in this post are that of the writer.)

 

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

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

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)

“Small Change, Big Gain”

Last month I wrote a post on my Top 5 Wellness Favorites.  Included in that post, was mention of the company Elysium Health.  Elysium is all about the small, daily habits that lead to a healthier and better life.  And since my post, the team at Elysium has come up with a great infographic and included quotes from some wellness sites – MINE INCLUDED.  (That’s me at the bottom – NSFitBitch.)

ElysiumSCBG

Thank you Elysium for providing this great infographic and for including my post.

~FB