Category Archives: Move

Fitness related research, opinions, articles, workouts, and advice.

Love Your Heart

Our heart is thought of as the center of our thoughts and emotions. At times we speak of the heart when someone has great enthusiasm or courage. February is American Heart Month. The topic of heart disease can be somewhat discouraging. But beating inside your chest is a pretty powerful muscle. Here are some amazing facts about this faithful organ:Love Your Heart

  • The more education you have, the lower your risk of heart disease.
  • The normal heart valve is about the size of a half dollar.
  • The first pacemakers plugged into a wall socket.
  • Happiness and a strong sense of emotional vitality helps lower your risk of heart disease.
  • The number of heart attacks peaks on Christmas Day followed by December 26th and New Year’s.
  • The first heart cell starts to beat as early as 4 weeks.
  • The first “study” showing benefits of vegetarian diet appears in the Bible’s Book of Daniel (600 BCE).
  • The blue whale has the largest heart – weighing 1,500 pounds.
  • Modesty prompted the invention of the stethoscope. Before it existed, doctors had to press their ears directly to each patient’s chest.
  • Heart disease has been found in 3,000-year-old mummies.
  • Your heart is about the size of your two hands clasped together.
  • Your heart beats 100,000 times a day.
  • Regular exercise is the most important key to heart health.
  • The beating sound is the clap of valve leaflets opening and closing.
  • Each minute your heart pumps 1.5 gallons of blood.
  • Your heart is a coordinated machine. The right side pumps into your lungs while the left side pumps it back into your body.
  • You control your heart health through diet, exercise, and managing stress.
  • Heart cancer is very rare because heart cells stop dividing early in life.
  • A woman’s average heartbeat is faster than a man’s by almost 8 beats a minute.
  • The heart has it’s own electrical supply and will continue to beat when separated from the body.

Heart And Vascular Team. “22 Amazing Facts About Your Heart (Infographic).” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic, 02 Aug. 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

At My Best

At my lowest weight 8 years ago, I was 147 pounds and size 6. I was 26. I have not weighed less than 160 since junior high. During a different conversation, I told my best friend about my weight and she was surprised. We didn’t talk too much more about it. I suspected her surprise came from the fact a lot of women think they are “fat” at 147 pounds.

Like a lot of women when I see models, celebrities , and other fit women I can get caught up comparing myself. But my profession (and rational mind) quickly reminds me that there are several ways to achieve your ideal body- healthy or not. And your ideal body may not be the same as the woman standing next to you. 

The fact I’m a female personal trainer comes the added pressure of having the “perfect body,”  “ripped abs,” or “flawless eating habits.” It’s a stereotype that is like a ton-of-bricks on your shoulders. Absolutely, there are those men and women who devote hard work and time to being very lean and ripped. I do respect that. After being 147 I know what that “look” requires. (I will write more about what is required in a later post.)

2008

May 2008

I looked amazing (if I do say so myself) when I was 147. I had the advantage of starting with more muscle than a lot of women, so I started at 175ish and I’m 5’8. I achieved this 28 pound  weight loss in about 12 weeks to enter my first figure competition. That was pretty reasonable weight loss progression. But what my body experienced at this weight wasn’t worth it. 

I was 147 pounds and under well-under 16% body fat when I stepped on stage dehydrated. (In effort to show off your physique you have to cut water before stepping on stage.) I also hadn’t had a menstrual cycle in about 8 weeks. When I finished the long competition day all I wanted to do was eat and go to sleep. The admiration of family, friends, and clients kept me going during competition prep. But I didn’t have the energy to celebrate this journey.

I’m not writing this discourage weight loss, but to offer the process  some perspective. A healthy goal weight for me wont be the same for  you. I come from a long line of tall, athletic family members. I am a “foodie,” “food snob,” “kitchen nerd,” “food artist” (not to be confused with sandwich artist). For me dry broccoli and chicken 3-6 times a day for the rest of my life would be the equivalent to waterboarding. So some extra quality calories and being hydrated will keep me around 160-170. This makes me around size 10, because my thigh muscles require it.

I workout 5 days a week, because the benefits outweigh the cost of not being fit. I’m proud to say I can leg press 500lbs, run 3 miles a couple of times a week without dying, and I help teach others how they can be proud of their fitness too.

I’m still working on pull ups. I hate pull ups.

Dec 2015

Dec 2015

My 160-170 might be your nightmare. My weight might be  your goal weight. But my best is different from your best. A healthy YOU is what matters. If you strive for good health, a reasonable weight is a side effect. If you want to be “ripped” by all means go for it. I know what it takes. I’m just not the healthiest, happiest, best version of myself when I’m there.

Healthy Eating: The Basics Never Change

salad catI was curious, so I searched the internet for “healthy living.” Google had about 576,000,000 options for me in .48 seconds. I narrowed the search to “diet plans.” Google had 21,300,000 results in 0.39 seconds. These numbers seem ridiculous, but there is something out there for everyone. I’ve heard and seen a lot of “healthy eating” over the past years, but the basics never change. Here are concepts I’ve seen healthy-eaters master over the years.

The Joy of Cooking is cookbook title. Preparing food isn’t everyone’s idea of joy, but basic cooking skills are necessary. Dining out wastes money and calories. And diners have little control over the cook who prepares the meal. In a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, authors and researchers Julia Wolfson and Sara Bleich analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES)

As part of the NHANES data gathered between 2007 and 2010, approximately 9,500 adults 20 and older were asked about their cooking habits. Researchers found that households that reported cooking dinner at home most frequently (6 to 7 times a week) consumed “significantly fewer” calories and ate better than those who relied more heavily on restaurant meals and frozen foods.

The researchers found that 8 percent of adults lived in households in which someone cooked dinner no more than once a week; 44 percent cooked dinner 2 to 5 times a week; and 48 percent reported cooking dinner 6 to 7 times a week. Compared to the low-cooking category, those in the high-cooking category consumed significantly more fiber, fewer carbohydrates, and less sugar.”

Calories count. Calories are just units of food energy. A lot of people hate the idea of paying attention to calories, but it is necessary. You can’t cut your electric bill if you aren’t paying attention to leaving the lights on. Start with turning some lights off. And using less heat in the winter. This gives you a handle on how you are using electricity. You have to cut your food energy (in general) to cut your weight. This takes a conscious effort.

Quality of calories count even more. After you have paid attention to your quantity of food you have to begin to understand the quality of your choices. Eat boxed and canned food sparingly. If it had a mom, and came from the ground it’s edible. Eat unadulterated food. Or as close as you can get. Don’t drink your calories. Eating lean protein, fruits and vegetables with a splash of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats will help your body run optimally. Pasture-raised and organics do matter, and if incorporated into your grocery bill correctly are affordable.

Staying informed. If you don’t know how many calories are in a Starbucks Frap there are a ridiculous amount of websites/apps/wearable fitness monitors/software that will tell you. “Not knowing” is no longer a good excuse for being ignorant to nutrition. If all the info is confusing and you don’t know how it applies, then hire a professional. Me and thousands of professionals love to help clients apply nutrition knowledge. We can’t do the work for you, but we can give you honest and educated guidance. Since you limiting dining out, use the money to hire someone.

Nutritional intervention for weight loss or healthy lifestyle will work 80% of the time. Some people do have physiological roadblocks to weight loss that are not solved by nutrition and/or exercise. If, after 3 months with consistent nutritional and fitness effort, you aren’t seeing results consult your doctor. Bloodwork, urinalysis, and/or have hormone levels checked and evaluated.

Patience. Learning how your body best performs is a gradual process. What works for one person may not work for you and your lifestyle. Or it might. Never give up. Nutrition is an individual thing. There isn’t a single blueprint for everyone, but mastering basic healthy eating is crucial to the process.

Gifting Fitness

Q: How do I give a fitness-related gift? I don’t want to imply my family member is out-of-shape.

giftA: Gifting fitness to a friend or family member can be tricky. You care about them, which is why you want them to enjoy the health benefits of exercise. You just don’t want to insult your loved one in the process.  There are some helpful guidelines to making sure your thoughtful gift won’t offend anyone:

  1. LISTEN. If your friend or family member has mentioned they need new workout shoes, clothes or want a fitness gadget this might be your moment. It is okay to casually ask about their “New Years Resolutions” now. Maybe they will have fitness in mind. Keep in mind with clothes, if not 100% sure about size, DON’T BUY. Gift cards are best options for yoga pants.
  2. GIVE THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE, NOT A THING. Maybe something you can do together, gym membership fees, personal training consultation, or a fitness class.
  3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Know the person you are buying for, not everyone would enjoy hot yoga. Sometimes massages are uncomfortable for shy people. If you have a fitness junkie in your life. YES. They probably will enjoy an expensive fitness class, gift certificate or gadget.
  4. OBSCURE GIFTS. Wireless headphones can be used for running, and while you walk to class or work. This way you avoid them unwrapping a fitness dvd and feeling judged.

Lastly, if YOU would like to receive a fitness related gift, ASK! Fitness and wellness gift giving is tough and awkward at times. Make it easy on your loved ones. Tell them you want to sweat!

Gift Certificates are now available!

A2i Gift Certificate (2)

In Between Walking and P90x

(Please consult a medical or health professional before you begin any new exercise, nutrition or supplementation program or if you have questions about your health. This plan should only be followed after first consulting with your medical or health professional to verify its suitability to your circumstances. Please keep in mind that results differ per individual, even when using the same program.)

After miles and miles of walking or elliptical you may need to increase the intensity or type of workout. You aren’t ready for P90x, so this workout combines the cardiovascular benefits of a walk or elliptical work with a full body workout. It’s designed to keep you moving and your heart rate high. Use this workout to replace 1-2 cardiovascular workouts per week to shake up your routine. Good for intermediate exercisers who can walk at least 30 minutes 3 times each week. This workout could be done at home or in the gym.

This plan is four circuits, each consisting of four exercises. You’ll do four exercises in order, one after another, but with special rest periods: Do A1,  followed by , rest 1 minute, and then move on to A3, followed by  A4, then you rest 2 minutes before beginning with A1. Then repeat from A1 through A4 before you move to the next circuit of B1, B2, B3 and B4. All exercise explanations are below.

Be sure to push yourself out of your comfort zone when doing this routine. You’ll rev up your metabolism and create an after burn effect that will increase your metabolism for the next 24-48 hours.

Time to update your workout if you have been walking or using the elliptical for 30 minutes 3 times each week for at least 4 weeks.

Time to update your workout if you have been walking or using the elliptical for 30 minutes 3 times each week for at least 4 weeks.

Circle Run

While running around a rolled-up towel (or any other small item you won’t trip on), try to keep your head and shoulders as steady as possible. Facing forward move around the towel 30 seconds clockwise and 30 seconds counterclockwise.

Birddog

On hands & knees, hands firmly placed about shoulder width apart. Lift left arm straight in front and extend the right leg to rear. Hold for 2-3 seconds & return to the floor. Continue on one side for 30 seconds. Try not to put hand and knee back on floor for the entire 30 seconds, but hover and then return to extended position. Then do on opposite side for 30 seconds.

Split Jack

Think of these as jumping jacks for the 21st century. Instead of hopping laterally, you’re going to stay in place, but skip front and back while moving opposing arms and legs to keep your balance (right arm and left leg go forward while the left arm and right leg go backwards.) It requires a little coordination, but you should be able to get into a good rhythm during your set.

Incline Burpees

This exercise is modified if you aren’t ready for full burpees. Start by placing your hands on a bench or other sturdy surface between knee and waist height. Step back one leg at a time to an angled plank position. Hold this stance for a moment before stepping forward one leg at a time. And stand up. Repeat for given time.

The lower you place your hands, the more challenging the exercise is. As you adapt to incline burpees, perform this modification on level ground. Continue to step with one leg at a time. And return to a standing position at end.

Plank Knee Drives

Start in a push-up position, hands approximately shoulder-width, elbows straight. Maintain a neutral spine position; keep the hips in line with the spine and lower extremities as well. Maintaining straight back and squeezing glutes (butt), bring one knee towards the chest by flexing the hip and knee, moving in a controlled manner. Return leg to the start position. Alternate sides, and repeat for given time.

Bodyweight Squat

Nothing fancy here. Cross your arms in front of your body and perform a standard squat, as far down as your flexibility will allow.

Inch Worm

Bend forward and place your hands on the ground just in front of your toes. You’re your weight onto your hands and “walk” your hands forward until you’re reaching out as far as you can, and then “walk” your hands back to the starting position.

Spider-Man Climb

For this one, imagine that the floor has just become the outside wall of a skyscraper and you’ve just become the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, climbing up to the rooftop. From a straight arm push-up position, bring one knee up towards the elbow on the same side, and then return to start. Alternate sides with each rep.

Side-to-Side Shuffle

Remember bend your knees, keep your head up, and don’t cross over feet. Choose a distance of  8-10 feet. Moving side-to-side quickly, with a choppy, lateral step to the right with your right foot. Carry your left foot to where your right foot was. As your left foot comes down, again move your right foot further right. Again carry your left foot over to where your right foot was. When you have covered enough distance, switch back and go the other way. Remember to keep your feet parallel to the direction you are moving.

5-Dot Drill

From “position one” (standing upright, with feet together), take a small jump forward and land with your feet wide, then jump back to “position one.”

Immediately take a small jump backwards, landing with your feet wide, and then jump back to “position one.” That’s all one rep — Start at position one, jump forward, return to position one, jump backwards, return to position one. If jumping and hopping are not options simply step in each position as quickly as you can.

Bicycle Crunch

A classic ab exercise. Lay on back with hands next to ears, elbows out. Legs extended over floor. Twist torso bringing right shoulder and elbow to left knee as you bring it towards chest. Alternates sides for given time. Really crank out those reps quickly and focus on bringing alternate knees and elbows into the center.

Step-up

Using stairs. Lead with left foot. Step onto second stair, skipping first step. Bring right foot up to step. Then use left foot to step down. Bring right foot down. Repeats until set is done, then switch lead legs.

Table

Sit on floor, feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Place hands on floor behind you with fingers towards your body. Lift buttocks off ground and drive hips up and away from floor as high as possible. Hold this position squeezing buttocks.

Lateral Step-Out Squat

Begin in a semi-squat position, and take a wide step out to the side with one foot. Return to center and immediately repeat with the other leg/to the other side. You can develop a rhythm with this, almost tick-tocking as you go, but be sure to maintain that semi-squat position.

Side Hip Raise

Lying on side, rest bottom forearm on floor with elbow directly under shoulder. Place other hand on hip with elbow skyward. Lift body off floor with only forearm and outside of knee supporting body weight. Raise hips straight up in the air, pushing body past parallel and then lower to ground. Advance: Straighten legs and perform with feet staggered one in front of the other. Alternate sides after 30 seconds.

Swing Kick

Stand behind a chair and lift one leg after another, back and forth over the chair. Modify by keeping knees bent over back of chair and slow speed. Advance with legs straight, hands in the air, and fast speed.