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Saturday, June 8, 2013

What State Are You in Now?

Hello everyone!!! I hope you are all doing well!

Let's get right to it!

A few days ago we talked about taking time for yourself to relax and allowing your body to rest. Today we are going to dig a little deeper into the topic of resting and discuss why it is necessary in order to build and/or tone muscle. This information is beneficial for those trying to cut weight or bulk up,(or in other words, lose fat and/or gain muscle :).

There are two words you must understand in order to know how to prepare an adequate diet and exercise program. No matter what your goal is: losing weight, gaining muscle, toning muscle...you must understand when your body is at work vs. when it is at rest. No, I'm not specifically talking about when you are sleeping or when you are awake. I'm focusing more on muscle work vs. muscle rest cycles.

Most people believe that they are building muscle while they are performing an exercise. They imagine that each extra lunge or pull-up will pack on the muscle or help them drop weight right before their eyes. Then they leave the gym feeling pumped, smiling to themselves as they reflect on the amount of muscle they just built or fat they just lost. The truth, however, is just the opposite.

While you are at the gym (or workout location of choice), you are actually breaking your muscles down. This is known as the catabolic state. Each exercise targeting a specific muscle causes the muscle tissue in that area to be torn (i.e. break down). That being said, the more exercises you do focusing on one area, the more the muscle in that area will be broken down. Now, before you start thinking "Oh boy, I better stop exercising or I won't have any muscles left," let me advise you that this break-down is necessary to build muscle later. Muscle tissues are broken down during the catabolic state in order to create energy for the workout. The problem lies in the fact that most people think in order to build muscle, they have to spend hours in the gym targeting that muscle. Truth be told, you should only target specific muscle groups for up to 1 1/2 hours. Anything after that will deplete your muscle tissue too much and cause your muscles to become smaller rather than larger over time. Keep in mind, this is not a quick or approved way to lose weight (for those trying to cut).

The opposite of the catabolic state is the anabolic state (i.e. the process that occurs when muscle is being built). When the body is in an anabolic state, it is at rest. This is actually when your muscles are building/toning and when fat is being lost. After a workout, the body goes into a resting mode (anabolic state) in order to repair all of the damaged muscle tissue resulting from the exercises performed. During this time, the body breaks down fat molecules and nutrients from the diet and uses glucose to provide the energy for the tissue repair. (Many believe that fat can be turned into muscle, where in reality, fat is broken down and parts of it are used as an energy source to repair muscle tissue damage - leading to stronger, bigger muscle). So remember, if you want to build muscle...you have to let your body rest!!!

Going along with the importance of allowing your body time to recover, it is also important to remember that your body needs adequate nutrients to help fuel the process of fat depletion and muscle growth. If the body does not get enough nutrients before or after a workout, it is forced into a catabolic state. This is because the body must find an energy source for rebuilding the muscle from somewhere and if there is not a steady stream of fuel from a proper diet available, it will attempt to use more muscle tissue (i.e. break it down more) in order to try to repair itself. Clearly, the body cannot effectively build muscle by using muscle, thus, the muscle will continue to be broken down and the body will become weak.

In order to prevent an on-going catabolic state, one must provide the body with a protein source every 2-3 hours. The body is able to use protein to fuel muscle repair and an anabolic state is able to continue without interruption (from starvation mode). The more exercise you do, the more protein you will need. This is why protein supplements are so popular in the fitness industry (not to mention it keeps you feeling full longer, decreasing the need for unnecessary snacking - leading to weight loss over time). By supplying the body with a rich protein source before, during, and/or after a workout, the time frame of being in a catabolic state is decreased and muscles are able to be built (repaired) faster. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a small protein-filled snack before or after your workout such as protein shakes, lean meats, Greek yogurt, or 1% cottage cheese.

Brief overview of tips:
  • Don't work out longer than 1 1/2 hours at a time when trying to build muscle or cut weight
  • If working out longer than an hour, supplement your body with electrolytes and/or protein
  • Allow your body to rest after all workouts
  • Never workout the same muscle group more than once every couple of days (to allow adequate rest time)
  • Eat protein every 2-3 hours to provide enough fuel for rebuilding the damaged muscle tissue
I hope you understand your workout and/or diet a little more now! Click here to go to a great source for more on this information! 

Have a great day!
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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Take Time to Take Time...for Yourself

Hey Everyone!!!

For some reason, I have been unable to post any pictures on here for the last week. I feel like giving up, but hopefully it will all be fixed soon. What's a blog without pictures right?

So, I know I've been absent from this blog over the last couple of days, but I promise it was completely necessary! You know that feeling when you feel like if you stop moving for even a second, your life will collapse into itself and you'll never be able to catch back up? No, it's just me huh??!? Well, that's the kind of week I've been having. Between baking tons of cake pops and cookies for my niece's dance recital, flipping around on the trapeze getting ready for our performance in July, going to birthday parties, working out with my trainer at Hitchfit, cooking healthy meals, practicing choreo. for new Zumba workouts, etc., etc., etc....I'm a little overbooked! Thank goodness it should slow down a little bit soon. :) So, with all that, I needed a break from writing just so I could keep my head above the water....BUT now I'm back from outer space...oh yes...that just happened! :)

Since I just enlightened you on all of my activities, I feel today's topic should be based around something I don't do well (and maybe you don't either): Relaxing!!!

It sounds simple enough, doesn't it? What does it mean to relax the mind and body? Take a few breaths, count to ten, take a nap? All good ideas, but what is the real goal behind all of it and why is it necessary? I mean, the body will tell you when its had too much going on, right? Yes...but usually a hospital visit or a mental breakdown occurs in order for you to get to that point first (if you don't realize that you need a break in time). After all, some stress is good for us...it keeps us motivated to reach our goals. The problem lies in the fact that some of us strive so hard to reach our goals that we end up forgetting to take care of ourselves in the process, which generally ends up delaying our goals anyway while we are forced by our bodies to recover.

Taking time to relax is extremely important! As our bodies (including our minds) take on the stress from daily activities, our muscles tighten. This is followed by increased activity by the heart and lungs, as our organs try to stay ahead of our needs. Our minds revert back to the instinctive idea of fighting or fleeing the object causing the stress and we reach a peak in physical and mental pressure. This occurs many times throughout the day and becomes extremely taxing on our bodies, leading to chronic illness if not treated properly in time. The only way to treat this process (or slow it down), is to take time to relax each day.

According to Dartmouth University, stress is one of the number one causes of chronic illness in the world today. There are at least six chronic illnesses caused by stress to include heart conditions, cancer, cirrhosis, depression, etc. Click here to go to the source of this information. You MUST take the time to take time for yourself!!! Even 1 minute of relaxation can make a difference for your overall level of health.

So, with all this in mind, take the next minute to close your eyes. Tune out all the noise around you. Put on some relaxing music if you need/want it. Now...spend one minute clearing your mind. If you find yourself thinking about something that needs to be done, push it out of focus for the time being and instead, focus on breathing. If you have a hard time focusing on nothing, count the numbers 1 to 60 to give your mind something to occupy itself. Breathe in deeply. Most of us take shallow breaths throughout the day and our lungs are never able to expand fully in order to get enough oxygen. It's amazing what a couple deep breaths can do to instantly provide a relaxed state of mind.

Our bodies are constantly fighting to keep up with our rigorous schedules. If you don't take care of your body, it won't take care of you. So, give your body a break. Get a massage, take a hot shower/bath, meditate to peaceful music, sit in a quiet room and focus on breathing, practice yoga, go for a walk, etc. It's not selfish to take time for yourself. After all, if you don't, someone else will be taking their time to take care of you later (and to me, that's more selfish since it's preventable now).

Now BREATHE...

Have a great day! See you tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Planning a Balanced Workout

* Please picture a dictionary here for the moment. (Getting really tired of the image poster not working on here...two days in a row already!)


Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well!

Today is going to be about learning the meaning behind some common words heard often in the fitness world. Let me start off by saying that I read a lot of fitness articles (and by a lot, I mean around 10-20 or more per day). It's an obsession.  After reading all these articles, the fitness "lingo" has become familiar to me and I no longer have to look words up every five seconds...okay two.

I began thinking of writing this post after having a brief conversation with one of my friends, who had to stop me every couple of seconds to ask me what something I had said meant. I guess I could feel super smart and allow myself the ego boost off of it, but I'd rather allow myself to feel the need to share my knowledge so that all of you could understand the fitness world (and your own workouts) better. :) After all, how can you get the full benefits of an exercise if you don't understand how your body is reacting to it or how to take care of yourself prior to, during, or after performing it?

The two words that we will be discussing today are: aerobic and anaerobic. I'm sure you have heard one (or both) of these words at some point if you have been involved in any kind of exercise program, but let's take some time now to really break them down and understand them.

According to the www.livestrong.com website, the term aerobic was created by Kenneth Cooper in the 60's. The word can be broken down into its original Latin form: aero-bic, literally meaning air-life (Click here for the source of this info.). In layman's terms, aerobic (in the fitness world) means to perform an exercise which causes one's body to move oxygen at a steady pace throughout the blood stream - preventing fatigue. In other words, (to make it even easier to understand) if your breathing pattern does not increase during your exercise routine, the exercise you have chosen is likely low-intensity and considered aerobic. This includes exercises such as casual walking, casual swimming, light yoga, and/or stretching. Low-intensity workouts are beneficial for everyone, as calories are still being burned at a notable rate for every 20-25 minutes of exercise; however, they are most beneficial for those with joint pain, recent surgery and/or trauma, or pregnancy. Furthermore, all workouts should begin with a warm-up and cool-down phase, which would fall into the low-intensity (aerobic) range. Keep in mind, only the beginning of the warm-up phase falls into the low-intensity range, as the point of a warm-up is to speed up the heart rate to meet or rise above the aerobic threshold.

The second term we are going to discuss is anaerobic. As with most words in the English language beginning with an-, un-, in-, or non-, the use of "an-" tells the reader that the word (in this case anaerobic) is used to describe the opposite of the definition for the main word it precedes (in this case aerobic). Therefore, the word anaerobic (in the fitness world) can be broken down simply as any exercise which causes one to push the body past its ability to move oxygen quickly enough throughout the bloodstream to prevent fatigue. When the body cannot move oxygen fast enough throughout the bloodstream, the person's metabolism changes. Since oxygen is used by the body to remove cell waste (released by the cells during exercise), a lack of oxygen causes the waste to build up around the muscles being used (i.e. fatigue). High-intensity (and some moderate intensity) workouts fall into this category, to include: weight lifting, crossfit, powercut, zumba, biking, running, etc. Basically, if you are breathing heavily during your workout, you have crossed into the anaerobic phase. This is not a bad thing in general, as hundreds of calories are burned during this phase; however, like everything else - it's best used in moderation. Anaerobic exercise is not advised for those with breathing problems, joint pain, etc. Click here to learn more about aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise. Consult with your physician before starting any moderate or high-intensity workout program.

Within the last fifteen years, the fitness industry has been pushing interval training (workouts that combine low, moderate, and high intensity exercises all into one program). Interval training has been linked to improving the amount of time that aerobic activity can be performed (a.k.a. endurance level improved), increased weight loss (as the constant increase and decrease of the heart rate burns more calories in shorter time frames than only aerobic or anaerobic exercise alone), increased HGH production, increased metabolism, decrease in fat while increasing muscle, etc. Click here to learn more about interval training.

Hopefully you now understand aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise better than you did before you started reading this post! :) If you have questions, feel free to ask AND make sure you come back tomorrow to learn more about taking care of your body before, during, and after a workout! :)

Have a great day!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Lift It to Lose It and Improve It

* Imagine an image of free weights posted here for the moment please. :) For some reason the image poster is down again. Grr!!! :(


So how is everyone doing today?? :) I hope you are all doing well! Yesterday was an exhausting day for me, but so worth it! I received my certification for Zumba Basic Instructor yesterday after attending an eight-hour class with Tony Witt! It was sooooo much fun but you definitely earn your certificate! We danced almost the entire time! Anyway, so now I'm ready to start leading classes and I can't wait to see where the journey takes me! Maybe I'll see some of you there! :)

On to the topic of the day...

I'm growing a bit tired of doing food posts at the moment so I figured I'd switch it up a bit and go with the topic of exercise instead. Some of you may have noticed that the workout I posted this past week was a bulking routine. I find that the word bulking is intimidating to some, especially women. Women generally stick with cutting routines because they want to stay lean and toned while men generally go with bulking routines because they want their muscles to be stacked. Most women do not understand that they will get cut results faster if they weight lift...yes, it's true...you won't look like Arnold ladies! :)

Women do not have the required testosterone levels to stack muscle the way that men do, so lifting weights will only help you get cut rather than stacked. :) So - ladies - if you want nice toned muscles and you HATE HATE HATE cardio, weight lifting is a great solution...and for those who LOVE cardio, weight lifting will still get you results faster and you will be a healthier "lean" because your muscles will be given the proper attention they deserve (specific muscles on specific days will help give attention to all the muscles rather than the full-body cardio pump workout that may actually only be working out your legs and/or core, while neglecting your arms, back, and shoulders).

Don't worry fellas, this post is not only for the ladies! Next we will discuss the benefits of weight lifting for everyone. (Note: Before beginning any weight-lifting regimen, consult with your physician. Also, if you have back, shoulder, or knee issues and your doctor approves weight lifting, don't go crazy with it. The idea is to get stronger and healthier over time - it is not a competition to see who can lift the most. You must always work up to your goal!!! Lastly, always have a partner to help guide you during free weight squats or bench-presses! Lifting alone can be dangerous! Okay, all my warnings are out there!! :)

So what are the benefits of weight lifting (besides looking like a sexy beast? :)

  • Weight loss - Even though weight lifting is associated with bulking routines, the result of strength training with weights is lean muscles (not bulky) with thick fibers. These thick fibers allow for better performance in endurance sports and balance due to the increased amount of molecules the body provides to move oxygen throughout the building muscle. This has been linked to helping restore the nervous system if it is imbalanced as well. Click here for the source of this information.
  • Faster Response Times - As muscles are built using weight training, the brain is sending and receiving signals to carry out the exercise. The more the brain is trained to interact with the muscles, the faster the brain-to-muscle response time will be overall. Resistance training has been linked to increasing the brain's function level more than other types of training because more muscles are being focused on at once.
  • Decreases the risk for type 2 diabetes - In order for muscle tissue to be built, glucose is required. The muscles obtain this glucose from the bloodstream. As more glucose is taken out of the bloodstream, the person's blood sugar level decreases. This helps keep the blood sugar level balanced instead of having to consume more sugar on top of what is already in the bloodstream to fuel the muscle growth. Since the bloodstream must remain balanced in order to grow healthy muscles, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is decreased. Click here to be taken to the source of this information
  • Decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease - The body generally stores fat around the organs as a back up in case of starvation (visceral fat). Since this stored fat is typically not needed in this day and age (as it may have been hundreds of years ago when food was not as readily available), it never gets used. This can lead to heart disease as the fat builds up around the organ and prevents it from receiving the oxygen and/or nutrients it needs. Weight lifting depletes the fat and lowers this risk. Weight lifting also contributes to decreasing cardiovascular disease due to the amount of oxygen that is pushed through the heart during lifting sessions. As the pulse increases from lifting weights, the level of oxygen pushed through the blood stream increases and is carried into and away from the heart. This increased oxygen increases the heart's ability to function properly.
  • Decreases the amount of muscle loss caused by aging - Between our 40's and 50's, if our muscles are not used regularly, they start to decrease in size. This leaves our bodies weak when it comes to performing simple tasks and causes us to fall apart faster. Weight lifting keeps the muscles, brain, and transmitters between the two active; thus, the muscle tissue is prevented from breaking down - keeping us healthier and stronger longer. Click here for the source of this information.
  • Reduces stress and depression - As with any exercise that increases one's pulse, weight lifting causes endorphins (your body's personally prescribed happy pills :) to be released into the body. Endorphins contribute to a positive mood, reducing stress and feelings of depression.
So, if you want to help your body help itself - lift weights 3-4 times a week, focusing on different muscle groups each time. Your organs and joints will thank you for it later. (Note - after the first few sessions, you will feel sore. This is normal, as the muscles are not used to being worked in this manner. Don't quit! It will get easier over time as your muscles begin to get stronger! :)

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.