Should you diet or exercise; or both?

 

When it comes to losing weight, we feel overwhelmed and under-informed.

We believe when our best friend, Jan, tells us that the Keto diet is the only way to lose weight.

We get caught up in the latest hype, thinking this must be a new research finding that finally works wonders.

But the only truth is that it’s simpler than we actually want to believe. We want to believe it’s more complicated because at least that would give us some clarity on why we haven’t achieved our goals – and kept them – after so much practice. Does that say something about us?

Yes and no. We want to believe the hype because it’s, well, hype.  We love hearing the latest gossip, watch the latest episode of our favorite reality tv show and are obsessed with scrolling through our favorite social media newsfeeds.

How can weight loss and fat loss be so boring? It’s basically the same old thing you’ve heard a million years ago:

Move more + Eat less 

Ya, I know, BORING!

But so true and when you get down to it and finally accept this truth, it can actually help free you from ever believing another hyped up claim of fat and weight loss. You can simply smile and nod when your besties tell you they finally found the “golden bestest weight loss plan ever!” Because you now know better.

But it isn’t easy to give up our old habits this easily. We may feel like a fraud. We might secretly believe that there really is going to be another magical potion or balance of macronutrients that will burn off fat faster and give us the freedom we’ve always dreamed of.

But no. Not going to happen. Ever. So let’s stop putting off the inevitable and just start already! You can start today if you truly are ready. Just start tracking your foods. You don’t even have to count the calories yet. Just write down what you eat, make sure to take note of the amount and portions and tally it all at the end of the day. Easy peasy. Or is it?

At first, this is going to feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done! But just trust me and stick with it. It will get easier. You might have to cut back on some of the foods after a day or two of tracking. If you aren’t sure how many calories you need to lose weight, I have a video tutorial on how to find your personal magical weight loss calorie deficit range.

Now that you know how to find your calorie range,  you have no reason not to succeed, right? Or do you? I find the biggest component of weight loss and successful results come from accountability and support. We all need to feel like we are not alone in any of our efforts and it’s important to work with someone who can answer our questions and help us when we get stuck or hit a plateau. If that’s something you are interested in, you need to join my support system. Just shoot me an email to: spazzykay@gmail.com and tell me what your goals are for this month.

Here’s a fun and FREE workout you can try out with your favorite playlist to motivate you through! (message me and let me know if you give this a go!)

 

FREE Playlist Workout Challenge (from Fitness Bootcamp Pros Newsletter):

Choose 4 of your favorite pump-up songs – they should be between 3:30 and 4:30 minutes long.  Each circuit is done for the duration of the song.

Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio, then some moving stretches (leg swings, arm circles, etc)

Song 1:

– 10 Jumping Jacks

– 10 Reverse Lunges (10/side)

– 10 Mountain climbers (10/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Song 2:

– 10 Push-ups

– 10 BodyWeight Squats

– 10 Bent-Over Rows (10/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

 

Song 3:

– 10 Burpees

– 10 High Knees (10/side)

– 10 Walking Lunges w/ twist (5/side)

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Song 4:

– 10 Glute Bridges (hold 3 sec at top)

– 10 sec Side Plank (10 left / 10 right)

– 10 Mountain Climbers

– 10 second rest (if needed)

Dealing with food cravings

 

You know the feeling, you’re humming along on your new diet and exercise program and the BLAM!… you’re hit with the strongest cravings for every food item that isn’t listed on your meal plan.

What do you do?

For most of us, when we are at our most vulnerable (like when we are hungry and buzzing from less than stellar nutrients and calories) – we give in to the cravings and eat anything …and pretty much everything in our vicinity.

Why does this happen? Why do we sabotage ourselves when working on being healthier and and losing weight?

Here are some simple take aways you can implement right now to diminish these cravings when they come. Because, first of all, we can never stop them entirely. Why? For one thing, our bodies are used to a certain amount of food and energy we feed it and when it realizes that the “norms” have changed, it reacts by telling us to EAT MORE FAT! This is actually a good thing if we were really starving but in reality…we are not, but our body doesn’t know this. It also reacts erratically when it comes to hormone fluctuations that occur with stress in our lives, foods that we eat and a plethora of real life happenings that occur.

Simply put; we will have cravings at one point or another. We just need to understand how to minimize the power and impact over us and work on balance so we don’t feel deprived.  Here are some ways you can lessen and overcome these cravings as they come:

  1. Make sure you are eating enough calories to sustain your body’s basic needs. This means calculating (or doing some of your own research on foods eaten and satiety) your body’s calorie needs on a daily basis and then adding in additional calories for your workouts and activity levels. You’ll then subtract no more than 300-500 calories per day to be in a “calorie deficit” and be able to lose weight. The problem with this formula is that many of us underestimate our body’s needs and think that cutting back on calories more drastically, will help us to lose weight faster. This is a bad idea. Another common practice is to eat mostly “diet” food items that give us close to nothing in terms of nutrition and our body is now in hyper-active “starvation” alarm mode. How to change this? Once you know your calorie needs to lose weight (again, don’t cut more than 500 calories a day to minimize your body’s starvation cues), choose whole foods and eliminate all diet and processed foods. This will help to “feed” your body the nutrition it requires, even when you are cutting back on calories so that your body doesn’t work against you to eat more. Choose a large assortment of vegetables (the more colorful, the more nutrients), lean protein choices, whole grain carbohydrates (these are NOT bad for you) and don’t forget to get in enough healthy fats like nuts, nut butters, avocados, and olive oil. In order to create a “happy balance” in your mind and your body, plan to eat a food that’s completely off limits at least once or twice per week. This can be a decadent dessert you would crave or a serving of your favorite fat-laden foods. The key is to eat these fun treats with dignity and a fork or spoon in front of other people, rather than shoving un-portioned amounts into your mouth with your hands. Trust me, this will be one of the most important steps you can take in helping to curb those nasty cravings.
  2. Now that you’re on track with your food choices and getting in enough calories to sustain your body’s daily needs, let’s talk about what to do when you get a craving and aren’t planning your treat yet. Imagine this; you come home from a busy and stressful day at work and you eat dinner with your family and sit down to relax on the couch while watching the latest episode of “The Walking Dead”…when all of a sudden…BLAM! You need something STAT! On a commercial break, you head into the kitchen and open the refrigerator door to stare into the abyss…what do I want? What do I want? ..you ask yourself. You close the door and open the pantry door, only to repeat the process again. You may go back to the refrigerator and stare again…hoping to find what you’re looking for. But guess what? If you ever find yourself doing this, standing in front of the open refrigerator or pantry wanting something …but not quite sure what that something is…close the door and go someplace quiet. Sit down and feel that emotion. Because, that feeling of “wanting something” and not knowing what you want in food…means you are hungry for something emotional. It could mean you need to cry. You might need a hug and a close friend or loved one to listen to something that’s bothering you. You might need to grab a pillow and beat the crap out of it. Whatever it is, it is not about food. This is huge. We use foods for so many things and we wear foods when we overdo it on the emotional things. Start a journal and write down what happened that day and what you felt and start to process your emotional ties to food. Food used in this way is no different than overdoing it on a drug or alcohol. It gives us a rush of a good feeling and takes away that emotional need – but only for a brief moment. Then it passes and we need more…or we stop and find out how to deal with that emotion. I know, this one is deep but it’s important to get ahold of.
  3. Hormones and habits. I really don’t have much more to say except they can wreak havoc on our healthy plans. We may be humming along just fine and then BLAM!…we want to eat everything covered in chocolate. Or we may prefer crunchy foods when stressed out and hormones get out of control. Another issue is the habits we’ve created in eating certain foods when we feel these hormone surges. This takes some time to break. Again, it isn’t easy to do but trust me, it’s EVERYTHING as you move forward in your weight loss and fitness goals. Journaling will help you find patterns that bring about specific cravings and you can then learn how to better deal with them before they show up. One important thing to realize too, is when you give in to your craving and binge…you need to accept what happened and move on. Don’t beat yourself up or throw in the towel. Find out what happened and why you had your break down…and deal with it better the next time around. Because there will be a next time if you don’t…and there might be a next time even if you do.

 

There you have it on simple solutions for your emotional eating. I struggled with this for many years and the only other thing I didn’t mention above is getting therapy when dealing with deeper emotional needs. I hope this helps you today and shoot me a message if you would like to share your story or questions with me! 🙂

Common Struggles S.O.S.

It’s a new year.

We are naturally excited to start fresh. This is the time of the year to reassess our goals in life and most of the goals revolve around health, weight loss, fitness, and diets. Trust me, I’ve done it more times than I can count too but I finally got frustrated with the “on again” “off again” pattern and decided to get real with myself on what I was going to stick to and what I was going to let go.

 

I took a few polls on what most of us may be struggling in, both now and in the past, and will share my best tips here on these subjects. I hope they can give you an extra push to get yourself on track…and stay on track! 😉

  • How to get started. Getting started is always one of the hardest things to do. We wonder where should we begin and when should we begin? We may be plagued with unhappy memories of plans that went awry and worry this will happen once again. Our confidence levels may be at an all time low. Here’s my tips on getting started, and staying on track, for good this time:
    1. Get 100% clear on WHY you are doing this now. What are your goals? If it’s to lose 10 lbs, then ask yourself WHY do you want to lose 10 lbs? Losing 10 lbs is not a strong enough reason when the going gets tough (as it will!) so really dive deep into your “why” and pinpoint the importance of your goals this time. It could come down to some scary health issues you may be worrying about, it might be a reunion you want to look good for, it might be a wedding (your own or a family/friend). Whatever it is, get clear on your deep reason so you are willing to fight for the results instead of half-assing it, yet again.
    2. Once you have your WHY worked out and written down (I suggest to post it somewhere you will see daily), you must pick a start date asap. It’s better to start sooner, even “IF” that doesn’t sound like it will fit into your current schedule. (*hint: if you are not willing to start within the next 1-2 days, then you aren’t that serious about your goals yet!) Choose to start today or tomorrow at the very latest. Trust me!
    3. Finally, you will start with something simple. Your first step should be so simple that it almost sounds silly, compared to what you’ve done in the past. Let’s be honest, when we usually start something, it’s an “all or nothing” approach, am I right? We have a pre-written diet plan (which I despise), a grueling exercise program and a goal that almost seems impossible to reach. This never works. We have lives to live, we have other obligations and people that we need to work around. Diving into a program that is extreme will only leave us burnt out and dropping the plan within 1-2 weeks. #guaranteed Start simple. Choose one thing and get really good at it this week. For example, start with the goal of drinking 8 oz of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Then, set your phone alarm to remind you to drink another 8 oz every hour or two for the rest of the day. Yes, you’ll be using the bathroom more but you’ll also notice that you may not be as hungry in between meals, you may have some extra energy throughout your day and you will feel accomplished from this one simple step! Repeat the new habit for 7 days in a row before adding another simple step. You’ll find within a few months time, you’re able to maintain more consistency in these new habits and it won’t feel like you’re overhauling your entire life.
  • Making the time. When we are over-scheduled and overly busy with our lives, how the heck can we expect to make time to eat right and work out again? I’ll remind you to check out the first habit above on getting started and finding your reason “why”. If this reason is truly important to you, you will want to make it a priority. Once it’s a priority, you can then review your daily tasks and find something that isn’t as important to you and swap with your new priority. For example, are you needing to find time to exercise each day? I always suggest morning because there are less excuses that can get in our way and it’s amazing how that extra energy starts to add up in other areas of our day. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and just wake up without hitting your snooze button (you must be intentional about NOT hitting snooze!). Don’t worry about what you do for your workout, just workout! It could be a video from YouTube, a walk or jog on your treadmill or around your neighborhood, it could be following a written plan of exercises from Pinterest or taking a class at your local gym. 20-30 minutes of exercise is enough and you’ll feel more accomplished the entire day! Making time to eat right is simple enough to do…but also simple enough NOT to do so decide if this is important to you first. 🙂 Each evening, write out your foods for the next day and if you need to prep some of your meals ahead of time, do it then. Don’t let anything you want to get done wait until the last minute, especially when you are making these new changes. If it’s ready to go, you have less excuses to not get it done right. Have breakfast every morning. It could be as simple as a protein shake or a yogurt with a piece of fruit. Don’t get overly picky about your choices yet, just start with the habit of eating good foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Write these out the night before and take the foods with you as needed. Eat snacks in between if you are waiting longer than 3 hours between meals. Also, don’t forget to add in time for rest and recovery, or you will risk overtraining and injuries. Sleep at least 7 hours each night. Turn off your tv, computer and put down your cell phones at night so that your brain can relax and you can sleep soundly and wake up more alert when the alarm rings in the morning.
  • Staying Motivated. Now that you have started your program (and figured out your why), and have made the time and commitment to workout and eat healthy foods…what happens when motivation wanes? (because it does) Once again, reassess your reasons “WHY’ to see if they are still important enough to you when motivation is low. If it is, you must find an accountability system. This is HUGE when it comes to improving your consistency and sticking to your plan. There will be times when your energy is low, when your motivation isn’t there and your willpower seems non-existent. You might now WHAT to do but for some reason, you just can’t get yourself to do it. That’s where accountability kicks in. Accountability is the acknowledgment of your responsibility for your actions with the obligation to report, explain and be responsible for the resulting consequences. In other words, having accountability keeps you consistent because you’re required to report back to someone what you’re doing – or not doing – with your diet and your exercise plan. This someone can be a friend, family member, a coach or a Facebook group. What makes accountability so powerful is that it doesn’t matter how little motivation you may have to do something. If you know there is someone – or multiple someones – expecting you to report back to them…you will get it done. Or go MIA…which will then mean your WHY didn’t mean as much after all. Need a support group on Facebook? I have one that you can join and just get accountability today: Join the Facebook Online Fitness Community HERE

That’s it for today’s tips. I will be sharing all week with you and hope that you take what you need and make it work for you this month. Shoot me any questions or comments and I’ll get right back to you as needed. Here’s to your best year yet!

Things to be grateful for and some other stuff….

Today I posted a LIVE video on Facebook regarding foods and dieting. I dislike diets and what they teach us. We are not meant to eat to stringent rules and strange combinations because we are all unique and our bodies and systems run differently to anyone else’s. If you missed the video, you can check it out HERE.

If you need help with your own nutrition and are interested in some help, you can set up a free nutritional strategy session with me HERE.

Today’s post is dedicated to those special people in our lives. I was so honored to spend my elder son’s 20th birthday last night with him, his girlfriend, my daughter and her boyfriend and my youngest son and my husband. We had an enjoyable dinner and celebration and it made me feel so humbled by these simple moments and blessings in our lives.

Another grateful moment is today. I have had a cyst-like bump on my scalp for at least a few years now. (I know, I’m a procrastinator!) My doctor assured me it wasn’t anything to be concerned about as it was more than likely a cyst or fat deposit. hmmmm…here I am fighting fat all my life and the possibility that a FAT ball was attached to my scalp is a little ironic, don’t you think?

So anyway, my husband went with me to the medical center and I really didn’t know what to expect but just wanted the darned thing gone already. (Nobody really knew I’ve had it as I had become a pro at styling my hair to hide the ugly bump) I remember reading information about these issues on google and seeing videos on YouTube that assured me I wasn’t alone in dealing with this thing. I was a bit astounded to see that some people took it upon themselves to “drain” it at home on their own because they didn’t want to deal with the doctor’s office…say what? I can’t imagine doing something so ridiculous on your own without knowledge or experience. Have I reached your “ick” threshold yet? 😀

When the doctor first took a look at the bump, he said, “Wow! That’s big!” (not alarming at all when your doctor says that…lol) He seemed pretty relaxed about it and told me that I’d be stitched up after he removed it and I’d experience pain for a day or two. It was a basic office procedure as I was set up on a reclining dental-patient type chair and given numbing shots all around the bump. (I definitely felt those needle pokes!) The procedure itself took about an hour since it was clear once he cut through the skin that it was a fat deposit and would need to be cut out.

Yay…not really.

If you don’t like procedure details, you might want to skip this paragraph…. (You’ve been warned!) I heard the clipping sound of him cutting around the base of the bump and it sounded oddly like scissors cutting through hair. (none of my hair was harmed in this procedure, thank you very much doc!) I then felt him trying to pry the fat ball out of my scalp. There wasn’t any pain but the pressure and the pulling was a bit uncomfortable! He had to keep cutting around it and under it and it was a bit unnerving. Apparently, a cyst could be drained but these fat deposits are connected to tissue and it takes a bit more time and attention.

Not to mention the discomfort!

After it was all said and done, they cauterized and stitched my scalp up and then he asks me, “Kathy, do you want to see it?” Now, I’m usually not too good with looking at anything that makes me nauseous or lightheaded and this would seem to rank pretty high up in those areas. (I went out cold when I had blood drawn in order to get a marriage license with my then soon-to-be-husband before we married; when Ben told me to “check out your blood! it’s cool!” but it wasn’t cool because I looked at the vial that was pooling with MY BLOOD and then promptly passed out) This case seemed different though; I was interested in seeing what this blob looked like as it has been a part of my scalp for a long time now and I was so excited to have it gone. He held it up and it looked like a jelly ball roll of gross. That’s about as descriptive as I can be. 🙂

They told me I needed to go home and wash my hair and I felt a bit tender on my scalp but pretty good to say the least. I felt pretty good and figured it would be a cinch to recover from. My hubby told me to rest up and he proceeded to wait on me hands and foot and made me lunch and tea. (seriously? Tea? he’s the best!) After lunch, I took a pain pill and laid down and fell asleep.

That’s when the pain started…

I woke up and with my head piercing in pain from the incision site. It was ridiculous at how much pain there was but of course, there was my hubby giving me an ice pack, more pain medicine and running to get anything I needed. He made dinner  (meatloaf, rice and salad) and I’ve been laying in bed ever since trying to keep the pain at a minimum and still act like I’m not feeling sorry for myself. 😉

I know that I’ll be better in a day or two and so thankful to have a family that I can appreciate and a hubby that gives back as much as I need. Today’s post is dedicated to the ones we love and appreciate in our lives and for all of the amazing blessings that surround each of us in our daily lives….

Now, to get these stitches out and get on with this!!!

 

 

THE BEST DIET OF ALL TIME

What’s the best diet?

As a fitness professional, one question I hear all the time is, “which diet or nutrition plan do you recommend for best results?”

“Is it Paleo? Vegan? Intermittent fasting? Should I detox first?” etc etc etc

Everyone wants to know the “secret diet” for best results.

Let me share the secret: there is NO secret or ‘best’ diet. I know that may sound upsetting and maybe you don’t quite believe me when you read this but let me explain why.

Everyone of us is so different. You and I have many differences, as do you and everyone else in this world. Just to prove this is true, here are just a few differences many of us have:

• Body type: Some are tall and thin; others short and stocky. Or everything in between.

• Fitness level and body composition: Some are active, strong, lean, and dense. Some have been sedentary for the last 50 years and may be frail, without a lot of muscle.

• Dietary preferences and exclusions: Whether kosher or halal; plant-based or carnivore; scavenger or “picky eater”; iron stomach or “allergic to everything”, we all have a vast range of food preferences and many reasons for them.

• Budget: Some of us might be struggling students, some are middle-class families trying to make ends meet, or highly paid executives — maybe even a pro athlete.

• Organic / conventional: Some of us live on boxed and packaged foods. Some try to read labels, sometimes. Some of us may choose only kale that has been lovingly grown by a sect of Californian monks who hand-pluck the bugs off.

• Nutrition knowledge and diet history: Some of us will be faithful followers of a certain dietary practice, or a history of trying different diets. Others have very little nutrition knowledge at all.

• Time: Some of us have an open schedule, ready for any kind of health and fitness project. Others have a crowded daily schedule and countless conflicting priorities.

• Ethnic background and heritage: I work with clients all over the world. A meal or cuisine that suits your lifestyle may not suit someone who lives in another country or distant state, city or town.

• Age: As we age, our metabolisms change, our food tolerances and appetites change, and our digestive abilities change. You get the picture.

So when someone asks me what the ‘best’ diet is out there…it depends on each and every one of us and the differences we have.

You can be healthy and fit whether you eat mostly meat or mostly veggies, mostly fat or mostly carbohydrates, many times a day or just a few times, and so on. When working with a client, I ask them to track their foods for a few days and then we review the foods they enjoy most and how to make their meals work for them in reaching their goals; while not making them feel deprived of what they enjoy about their favorite foods.

What do they need to be their best?

GOOD NUTRITION IS MORE SIMILAR THAN DIFFERENT.

You might be wondering:

How can such varied diets all keep people fit and healthy? Well, despite their differences, most effective nutrition programs are more alike than different. Here’s how:

1. Good nutrition asks people to care about their food and eating.
Research shows that your actual choices are probably less important than simply paying better attention to what you eat. When you really care about what you eat, and make mindful, deliberate choices, you almost inevitably eat better.

2. Good nutrition focuses on food quality.
Almost no decent diet plan asks you to eat more processed, nutrient-depleted pseudo-food. Instead, pretty much every plan recommends eating whole, minimally processed, nutrient rich foods — foods that our body has a longstanding relationship with.
Regardless of the macronutrient breakdowns or specific choices, just eating better quality food will improve most of our health significantly.

3. Good nutrition helps eliminate nutrient deficiencies.
When we care about what we eat, choose foods mindfully, and try to get the best-quality foods we can afford, we usually get lots of valuable nutrients as a bonus. Many times, when people start a certain diet program, they just start eating better overall. They get more nutrients.
They may get more variety.
Or fresher foods.
Or less-processed foods.
Or foods they chose mindfully. Because of these factors, they feel better. And that’s one reason they start making wild claims about the rejuvenating power of their new diet. They didn’t do anything special, really. They often just started getting what their bodies needed.

4. Good nutrition helps control appetite and food intake. For most people, “it’s hard to eat just one” of the hyper-addictive deliciousness of processed foods. We often keep eating and eating them, but never feel satisfied.

We may also eat them on the go, when we’re rushed and busy.

So not only are we eating foods that encourage us to eat more of them, we’re not even really paying attention to the experience at all.

On the other hand, when we’re more aware of what we’re eating; choose a variety of more satisfying, higher-quality foods; and eliminate nutrient deficiencies, we almost always end up eating less food overall.

We feel more satisfied — both physiologically and psychologically.

We lose fat, gain muscle, and perform better. Notice that you don’t need calorie counting here.

Focusing on food awareness and food quality is usually enough for people to tune into their own hunger and appetite. That means calorie control without the annoying calorie math. (cuz I don’t love math) 🙂

5. Good nutrition promotes regular exercise.
When you start paying attention to what you are eating, you usually start thinking about physical activity too.
Or vice versa: If you take up an activity you love, eventually you start wondering if your nutrition could help you do that activity better.

Good nutrition fits with regular activity like a key into a lock. And most nutrition programs suggest that people exercise along with eating well.

Hopefully this information helped you understand the basis of a good meal plan and that most of them are more similar than we think.

If you need help with your meal planning, shoot me an email today: kathyprofitness@gmail.com

The Do’s & Don’ts of Ab Training for Women

Yesterday, I attending a mini quarterly fitness training for my group exercise education and credentials. I absolutely love taking these trainings because I am able to see new techniques and get new ideas from the master trainers as well as the fellow trainees.

It was an interesting thing though. I took 2, hour long master classes and they were hard core, but I was still able to do more once they were done. This, of course, due to the fact that I’ve been an avid exerciser for umpteen years and my body can just do more than when I began.

But then, I took a HIIT cycle class which is sweetly referred to as “Sprint”. Sounds harmless enough, right?

WRONG!! It was 30 minutes of freaking HELL on stationary wheels!!! 😦

One. Thirty. Minute. Class.

My body wouldn’t stop shaking. I was worn out and had to find my breath and focus throughout the workout. This is HIIT. This is AWESOMENESS!!!!!!

Why am I sharing this when today’s topic is clearly related to ab training? Because, my dear, you ALREADY have amazing abs! You just have some gorgeous fat covering your awesome abs. So what do we do to expose those gorgeous midsections? I’m here to help!

Before we get to some focused ab exercises to follow – and to avoid; let’s share why HIIT Training is the secret to amazing abs. 

  • Don’t have time to spend on working out; either at home or the gym? No problem with HIIT! It’s the ideal workout for busy schedules. You can squeeze in a quick workout just before you jump into the shower in the morning, or during your lunch break or even after you get the kids to bed at night. Seriously, there are NO excuses with time when it comes to HIIT workouts. Research has shown that you can achieve more progress in just 15 minutes of HIIT workouts (done 3X a week) than jogging on the treadmill for an hour. (boring!)  Want more good research info? According to a study presented in 2011 at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training. Whaaaat?????
  • You’ll not only have better results during your HIIT workout, you’ll also be burning more calories after your workout for 24-48 hours! This is commonly referred to as “EPOC”; or exercise post oxygen consumption. (you had me at burning more calories at rest, right?)
  • You’ll build a healthier heart! Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic (or “without oxygen”) zone. This is pretty much how you feel when you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest. But when we are consistent and do our very best every sweat session, we receive extreme results. One study done in 2006 found that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, the subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace. See? Heart = Happy! ❤
  • It’s also pretty awesome because you don’t even need equipment to get these results! You can choose running, biking, jump roping, and rowing when doing HIIT workouts but the greatest thing is that you don’t need any equipment to get it done! High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like jumping lunges work just as well to get your heart rate up. Fast. In fact, some equipment, like dumbbells can make HIIT less effective because of the fact that you aren’t focusing primarily on getting the heart rate up…you tend to split that with the weight training aspect.
  • Weight and fat loss “secret”! Anyone who has been on a diet knows that it’s hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!
  • Your metabolism becomes more efficient at rest (what we talked about above). In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, making you younger both inside and out!
  • Get sexier leg definition and strength! The largest muscle group in your body is seriously taxed during HIIT training and the effects are to be proud of! Who doesn’t want lean, sexier legs as you’re losing body fat all over and shedding those extra pounds?
  • You can do it anywhere so no more excuses on where to workout anymore either. You can workout at home, the gym, outside, in a lobby, in your hallway…anywhere!!! Since it’s such a simple concept—go at maximum effort for a short period of time followed by a recovery period and repeat—you can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have.
  • Beat the boredom workout blues! I don’t know if you’re like me but I HAAATE to be bored!! If I feel bored in my workouts, my mind starts to wander and guess what happens to the intensity of my workout? It suffers because my mind is thinking of things other than what I’m doing at the moment and this seriously messes with our results! Solution? HIIT workouts! This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You may be in pain, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!

Now back to our main topic; AB workout do’s and don’ts! 

If you’re like most women, we tend to wish for abs and want for abs so badly that we hope that our random sit-ups, crunches and plank challenges will do the trick. But let me share how you can get better results and stay away from moves that will actually make you look thicker around the middle! (no good!) Following these tips (as well as adding HIIT training to your routines) will help you get those rock hard abs – or at least tighter abs if you prefer. Bikini and tank top season is always just around the corner!

Ab exercises you should NEVER do! 

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that although you want tighter, leaner abs, you also don’t want a thicker waist.

Am I right? I knew it!! 😀

Then you’ll definitely want to stay away from weighted side bends.

Stay away from these!

 

The problem with this exercise is that it directly targets the oblique muscles with large amounts of resistance. The reason this is a “negative” exercise for lean abs, let’s talk about how the abs and obliques function. The obliques are two different muscle groups that originate from the lateral (aka: side) part of your lower ribs and insert into the front portion of your iliac crest. The obliques wrap around your sides and help you turn and bend your torso which helps your spine stability.

 

Normally, the obliques are visible only when you start getting rid of body fat layers. But when you target these muscles with extra resistance (such as dumbbells and weights) it makes them look bigger. This is because the obliques are positioned along the sides of your torso, and the effect is to actually thicken your waist. I don’t think this was your focus if you’ve done this move before, right?

It’s important to mention that the weighted side bend isn’t a bad exercise; in fact, many people like it because it strengthens your core, and some lifters actually want to increase the size of their waist. But if you’re looking for that hourglass figure, you’re better off skipping this move on ab day.

Exercises to help tighten your midsection

  • Add resistance to your main ab muscles (such as the rectus abdominis or “six pack muscles”) themselves. You can also still target your obliques (in fact, you’ll want to hit all the areas) but eliminate the added weight in this area and stick to higher reps instead. Want to start with some great moves today?  Here are some of the best to get started with:

 

1. Lying Leg Raise                                             

2. Decline sit ups with twist (no weights) 

 

3. Hanging Leg Raise                                       

 

 

4. Stir the Pot                                                       

 

How Often Should You Work Your Abs?

If you regularly do compound movements like lunges, squats, and deadlifts, you’re most of the way there. These exercises involve a lot of core work and stabilization so you’re getting a good ab workout without doing any specific “ab /core” exercises. But if you’re looking for better (and faster results), consider adding a HIIT workout 1-2 times per week and 1-2 of these ab moves above about 2-3 days per week. Perform 3-5 sets of each exercise for at least 10-20 reps per move. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets.

There’s no reason that you need to spend a full day on “core work” this way. If you start now by working these tips into your regular program (and avoiding those side bends), you’ll have a more toned core and your body will be summer ready all year long!

Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I’d love to get you into a transformation challenge if you’re up to it! Shoot me an email and let’s chat! www.kathyprofitness@gmail.com 

Abs to be proud of after age 40

Think you can’t have abs after your 20’s or 30’s? Well I love a good challenge so I was up to it as I turned 40…and in turn, signed up to take on the stage for my very first fitness competition!

Yep.

As a mom of 3 and a 40 year old, I committed to donning a two piece and walking on stage amongst other fit women; who, quite honestly, were in their 20’s and 30’s.

Proud day after 6 months of hard work and eating to prove it!

You could say I was nuts…and probably still am because I don’t regret it. Yes, I got flack for being an “egotist” and embarrassing my family but they were all supportive – especially my dear hubby! He was darn right proud!

Why? Because let me tell you what you are seeing when you look at someone with toned abs and a tight physique. You may be thinking they are naturally leaner, fitter and just more lucky…but you’d be wrong.

It takes hard FREAKING work! Every day.

I haven’t done another fitness competition since and it’s now been 5 years. It’s not that I didn’t want to continue; heck, I placed 2nd in my division and 3rd overall (which included those 20 and 30 year olds, thank you very much!) and qualified for Nationals that same year.

The reason I didn’t compete again is because it’s a full time job.

You need to train like a “mother” (and I don’t mean someone who’s had children) and you have to eat like an athlete. The time and energy it takes to cook, workout, rest, recover and continue is time consuming and I’d rather spend that time with my family while they still need me. 🙂

But I did learn quite a many lessons from those intense 6-months of training and counting every macro and morsel that I ate. In case you think you can’t have abs – most likely because of what you’ve been taught over the years and what other people have said – I’m hear to debunk every one of those crazy negative issues and tell you that it’s most likely because you’re not informed well-enough.

Intrigued? Follow along…

My abs today. 45 is no excuse!

1. Squeeze in “sneaky” cardio. You’ve heard the saying that in order to lose weight, you’ve got to ‘move more and eat less’, right? Well the moving more part can help trim those abs, buns and everything else across your body but if you’re like me, it needs to not feel like cardio. I can easily fit in a 5 minute jump rope session in between a busy day’s schedule or add some sprints or burpees in between my weight lifting routine to up the calorie burn and get it done in increments. If you detest long cardio sessions like I do, then fitting in these sneaky cardio burns can make all the difference in showing off those abs come summer season!

2. Combine core work and cardio. As I said before, I love fitting in small increments of cardio in between my weight lifting sessions. In order to get into the shape I needed to for my competition, I committed to circuit training on most days. This meant that while I’d perform my typical chest, back, leg, etc, days; I’d follow up a set of weight work with 30-60 seconds of jump squats, mountain climbers or jump rope which allowed me to get the most out of my workout sessions. Bonus? While these aren’t technically “ab crunches”, they do indeed involve core activation and help to carve out those abs!

3. Start with planks & not crunches. It’s not that I don’t like doing crunches – because I do – I prefer engaging my core entirely and “feeling the burn” is a great indication that work has been done! Did you know that your booty is actually part of your core? True story. But doing crunches doesn’t activate the glutes like planks do and most people usually resort to momentum while doing crunches and feel it in their neck. Not really the goal, am I right? It’s important to strengthen the entire core – imagine you have a wide girdle that covers the areas below your chest and stops just under your booty (this is your core) – before you progress to moves like crunches so you can master the moves instead of just the stuff on top. 😉 Along with planks, I’d suggest also beginning by lying on your back and raising your feet up and knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your hands on your quads (front part of your thighs) and push them away from your body as you engage your core to keep the knees over your hips. (you’ll feel these if done right)

4. Work your abs every day — but not in the same way daily. Your core muscles recover quite quickly so you can actually work them more often than other parts of your body without over-training. The secret however, is to change it up. For example, if you do planks on Monday, try doing C-curves (a Pilates type exercise) on Tuesday. How? Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Prop your upper body onto your forearms. Then, without changing the angle your upper and lower body have to the floor, place one hand at a time behind each thigh. Hold as long as you can, just as you would in plank.

5. Eat for awesome abs. Here’s where most of us get lost. We think that by workout out with enough cardio and performing our ab routines daily, we can get away with eating our favorite foods and just “eating better”. What the heck does this mean, anyway? LOL I’m guilty of saying this before too so I’m not calling you out in any way. I found that just by honing in on a few key areas, I was able to lean out sooner and much easier than when I ate “clean” and counted calories. Want to know how? Start with getting in a protein drink no later than 30 minutes after your workout since the quickest way to recover the tears in your muscles after you workout is to get protein into your body quickly. I use either a clean whey protein (no sucralose or unhealthy ingredients added) or Shakeology for my fuller-packed nutritional punch. Follow that up by drinking at least 4 liters to a gallon of water each day and eating whole grain carbs and healthy fats. If you need some help with foods, check out my healthy food list to plan out your meals for the week or month.

BONUS!! I’m super excited to bring my all-new FITNESS MEMBERSHIP SITE to you!! It’s been something I’ve dreamed of launching for almost a year now and I’m set to open this coming June! If you’d like priority information, please shoot me an email and title it “MEMBERS ONLY” and I’ll get you all the info as it rolls out! LIVE workouts, meal plans, personal help and more! Community like no other with support, accountability and TONS of content!