Things That Make the Scale Go Bump In The Night

The scale. Friend of few, the enemy of many.

The scale tells us one thing. Our current pull on gravity at the present moment – aka our weight. It tells us nothing else about ourselves. Not how fit we are, how nice we are, how bad we are…it only tells our weight.

 

The debate rages on about how to use the scale, or if to use the scale at all.

Like anything else in the fitness and diet world, it depends on the individual and their mindset.

If someone has had issues with the scale in the past, first I will look at what they were, how they handled them, and if it was a serious enough problem to avoid the scale – or if we just need to shift their mindset.

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The 5 Exercise and Diet Myths That Can Go Away Now

Do you know what the WORST part about being a dietitian and trainer is? Telling complete strangers what you do at social events.

 

“So what do you do?” – “I’m a registered dietitian and trainer”

 

  • “Oh, so you are totally judging my plate right now…”
  • “What do you think about _____ diet?”
  • “I used to work out all the time.”
  • “So do you sell supplements and stuff?”
  • “I can’t believe you’re eating that”
  • “You drink alcohol?”

The list goes on and on.

I am only half kidding about that being the worst part because it usually gives me an opportunity to make a sale, and hopefully show someone that a better way is out there.

But what most people think exercise and diet have to be to see results is completely wrong.

1) Pain

Exercise and dieting do not have to involve pain. Unless making healthier choices for your future is physically painful to you. But really, physical pain with exercise is not a good thing. It is definitely NOT a sign of a good workout. Yes, you may be a little sore the day after or two, but in the muscles, and you feel like you worked out.

Sometimes it’s okay to never be sore! That sounds great, doesn’t it?

Soreness is most common when you push yourself too hard, your form gets crappy, or you add a new exercise to the mix.

All three of those things are not necessary or not recommended either! Training is a skill that must be honed in. You cannot improve a skill if you overdo it, do it sloppily, or try adding a new skill every week.

Stop going to workouts that leave you crippled, puking or passing out. And if you are a trainer who brags about these things – shame on you.

2) Suffering

“I ate a carrot and an egg for lunch today, and I am soooo hungry” 🙂

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Ladies, Do These 2 Things to Get Results…For Real

There are no magic foods that burn fat, and there are no must eat foods for optimal results. However, if there was a must-have food group or category of foods, it would be…

Protein – one of the three main macronutrients that I always seem to be talking about.

9/10 times when I first meet with a female client or go over the food journal of a client online, the first thing I notice is not enough protein.

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The 9 Essential Exercises for Serious Runners (with Videos)

Runners love to run. This is obvious. Running can also be a double-edged sword.

Some swear it is the best form of exercise, and others swear off it for life because of bad experiences.

Running can be one of the best forms of exercise and competition, and at the same time can be one of the most stressful and injurious forms of exercise.

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You Can’t Run Away The Fat

 

Sure, go from zero running to some running to lots of running and you will probably lose some weight. But then what?

I’ve seen it, in people I know, in people I read about, in people I see out in public…the weight loss stalls.

Now, I used to be that meat head that would say “cardio is dumb, you don’t need to do cardio, just lift and diet and you will be good”.

While I partially still agree with this – I also don’t think cardio is dumb. It is very important to make sure your heart is strong and functions well or, well, you die. If you ENJOY running – or more traditional cardio, and it doesn’t harm you – then more power to ya, run run run!

However, using cardio as a sole means of fat loss with complete ignorance of diet and some cross training is a recipe for disaster.

The three common traps that cardio lovers seem to fall into are:

  1. Weight loss stopped? Time to run more.
  2. I run a lot/train for marathons – I can eat whatever I want.
  3. I want to be better at running – so I will run more!

When weight loss stops on a pure cardio routine, many peoples first instinct is “I need more cardio”. Here why that might not be the best idea.

When you live by the cardio – you die by the cardio. Meaning that the more cardio you add and add and add to your week, as soon as something happens in your life that doesn’t allow you to run 10 hours per week, your progress will backfire and your weight will rocket back.

Without paying any attention to creating a slight caloric restriction through food instead of just trying to run more, you set yourself up for trouble when trouble strikes in your life.

Your body also becomes very efficient at running at a slow and steady pace. Meaning you CONSERVE calories so you can last longer on your run, but at a slightly slower pace. When fatloss is the goal, efficiency sucks.

Crank up the intensity, hit some sprints (on a bike especially) and turn your body into a furnace in a shorter amount of time.

This is where problem 2 comes in – the “I run a lot therefore I can eat whatever I want”.

There is a generic statistic that says you burn about 100 calories per mile traveled while running so lets just use that for an example.

Say you run 10 miles one day – so “burn” 1000 calories. Then you go to Olive Garden to celebrate with friends and get the biggest past dish you can find because you “earned” it.

Well that dish is 2500 calories, plus the 4 breadsticks you ate – so there you go, you now cancelled out your run plus jumped into a surplus.

The main point being – its very easy to supplant the caloric burn of a cardio workout if you blindly eat whatever.

You must still pay attention to diet, and eat enough for performance – but also if you goal is fat loss, you must be in a slight deficit.

And the last trap – more running = better at running, its not always the case.

Yes, you need to practice any skill to get better.

But for runners, don’t forget strength!

You need to build up the muscles through strength training so they can endure long runs, and the pounding on the pavement.

Strength training not only builds muscle (which boosts your resting metabolic rate) but it also helps build BONE.

How many cardio lovers do you know who have gotten stress fractures? I know a few.

Heavier loading of the bones and especially the axial skeleton greatly improves bone density. This means squats, lunges, step ups, deadlifts, all those good lower body exercises should be done 2-3 days per week. 

So if your goal is to lose some fat here’s what I would recommend:

  • Don’t rely solely on running- if you enjoy it, cool, but you don’t NEED to run. Biking, swimming, hiking, circuit training, are all great ways to get cardiovascular improvements as well.
  • Don’t ignore diet. Your goal should be to lose fat at a pace of 1-2 pounds per week with as little change to your normal routine as possible. So don’t just add in 10 hours of cardio per week because that wont last. Start with bodyweight x 10 for your calorie goal.
  • Weight train – not only to help prevent running injuries, but also to improve your metabolism, your muscle tone, and to improve your mood and energy.

 

 

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“But what do you do for cardio?” – Answering that awkward question…

I had just finished up with my 5AM workout group for the day. They had all just busted their butts doing some circuit style full body training, a little boxing work, and a few running sessions all before the sun came up.

As we gathered in close to stretch out after the workout, I was going over how important stretching is, and admitting how I have been slacking on my stretching up until a few weeks prior. I started talking about how I have been incorporating intra-set stretching between my lifts, during my rest periods instead of just standing around. I gave an example of how during my squats the other day I would do one set, then stretch my hips during the rest for 30 seconds on each side.

Then it happened…the question.

“But what do you do for cardio?”

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(Lift weights faster, bro! – NO)

I paused and hesitated to answer for a second. She felt like she had offended me, and started apologizing and saying that she didn’t mean it to sound so insinuating (she is one of the nicest people I have ever met, so I just giggled a little bit)

The reason I paused was because I had to think about it, honestly. I don’t run. I don’t bike. I don’t swim. I don’t “cardio”.

Here is where my answer was crucial, and how most trainers who don’t “cardio” can slip up and end up sounding like pricks.

I believe my answer was something like, “well, I really don’t do traditional cardio, because I personally don’t enjoy it, I never have, and I like lifting and doing more unconventional cardio, like kettlebell swings, rope slams, sled work, etc.”

I followed that up with the bigger picture, and this is what I want you to take away from this post. Do what you enjoy, what gets you results, and what works for YOU. There is no one size fits all program, workout, fat loss plan, etc.

Now we have to ask, why does one “do cardio”? I would say most answers would be centered around fat loss (or dreaded weight loss) or for cardiorespiratory fitness/endurance. Not that these aren’t decent answers, but another good one would be “because I enjoy it”.

Lets take a look at my situation:

  • I am a 210 pound, 26 year old, Male
  • I work at a job where I am on my feet 6-10 hours per day, tracking around 15,000-20,000 steps per day
  • I lift weights 3-4 times per week
  • I eat roughly the same foods every single day (dinners tend to vary more)

First, I have age, gender, and body type on my side. A majority of my clients are 35-55 year old women. Do you realize how stupid some male trainers, my age must sound talking to these women about “you just need to run faster, lift heavier, eat healthier…blah,blah,blah”?

I am always the first to admit, I have the advantage of youth and hormones on my side. It’s a fact.

Second, I an active all day. This is know as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) or how much your move during the day outside of planned exercise. Click here to read more about NEAT.

This is a HUGE and often overlooked factor when it comes to losing and keeping fat off. More movement in the day adds up to more calories burned in the end. Move more!

Third, I exercise 3-4 days per week with weights. I usually end up using heavy weights, going to near failure on final sets, and monitoring my rest periods between sets. I will sometimes superset exercises, giant set, drop set…essentially boost my intensity with the weights.

Confused as to what all those terms are? Check out my

FREE Weight Training 101 PDF HERE

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Lastly, I eat roughly the same foods everyday, especially for breakfast and lunch. I change up fruits and veggies here and there, but really my starchy carbs, protein quantities and fat intake all remains the same for most of the day, day after day. This is what works for me, it doesn’t get boring, and it keeps me at my desired body weight for right now.

When I do feel like getting my heart rate jacked up I will usually go with some forms of high intensity cardio (swing, sleds, ropes, etc.). Why? Because this is what I enjoy doing, and honestly I can get it over with faster.

Is this type of training, cardio, and weight lifting approach going to work for everyone? NO!

Remember, its what you enjoy doing that will keep you going for the long term. Could I benefit from doing some more traditional cardio? Absolutely! It is great for cardiovascular endurance, heart health, and yes even maintaining optimal body fat levels (sorry to the anti-cardio bros out there).

For more info, check out this fantastic article by Tony Gentilcore on T Nation all about how cardio won’t make you lose your gainz.

Do what you enjoy, what gets you where you want to be, and what helps keep you in optimal health. You be you! All this talk about cardio actually has me tempted to do a little spinning this afternoon…

 

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Stay healthy my friends,