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

Stretching: Is it worth the time?

We’ve all heard how important stretching is. It’s been preached about forever and a day. I remember high school gym teachers would run us through some static stretches and that was a loooong time ago! 😉

All joking aside, stretching truly IS all that it’s cracked up to be and yet not everyone does it.

Why? It seems that many people feel it’s not as important as the all powerful ‘workout’ and it is just a waste of valuable time when there is so much to do in a day. Or maybe, it’s viewed as a practice for people who like to do yoga and or need to relax?

Maybe. While these can definitely seem true, it’s still critical to our goals to stretch but not in the way we’ve learned a million years ago in high school! (disclaimer: if you are in high school today and reading this, you might still be doing static stretching as my son has said and he’s in high school today)

 

Anywho (this word cracks me up because it makes absolutely NO sense and yet so many people use it), let’s talk about adding in some dynamic stretching into your program to see how valuable this is to your training. Maybe you don’t know what this is? Totally okay, because I’m here to help 😉

Dynamic stretching is exactly what the name implies. You are actually moving and involving the muscles for the stretch to take place. Static stretching is where you hold a stretch and breath for a given amount of time. (yes, kind of like yoga but not really). Dynamic stretching is perfect for both athletes and weight lifters alike, because it not only stretches the muscles but also helps incorporate a warm-up at the same time due to the movement that is involved. Two for one! No more thinking it’s a time waster (which it isn’t). 😉

 

So let’s clarify why it’s important to incorporate dynamic stretches and how they can help our performance. This way of stretching and moving tells our body that something is coming in terms of a workload being placed upon our bodies and we are better able to prepare for the challenges. It helps get our blood pumping, raises our core temperature and helps to eliminate and reduce muscle stiffness that we may experience. The muscles get flooded with blood and oxygen to help them perform at a higher level in sports and a workout plan. It helps our muscle fibers and connective tissue to become more flexible and improve our overall range of motion.

Not only these, but dynamic stretching also increases our power. A very important aspect to an athlete who needs to utilize explosive movements in their game, or a powerlifter who needs to exert explosive forces against a weight in order to perform and complete an exercise or lift.

I’ve been incorporating this type of warm-up in my clients’ workouts; both online and in person. It’s important to correlate the stretching movements with the workload that will be done. It would be a waste of our valuable time if we focused on upper body stretches only when our training that day involves running and lower body movements. My son played football last year in high school and told me how they warmed up with dynamic stretches. For these athletes, it’s important to incorporate both upper and lower body in their dynamic stretches. Here are some excellent benefits to adding dynamic stretches into your routine:

  • it increases flexibility
  • it increases our range of motion
  • in increases blood flow and body temperature
  • it increases our power output capabilities
  • it helps increase our endurance
  • it improves neuromuscular activation
  • it helps to improve our balance
  • it improves our coordination
  • it decreases our risk of injury

All winning benefits in my book! 😉

So now that you know what it is and why it’s important, let’s talk about how you can add it into your routine. I’ll give you a 3-step process to follow for best results in your next workout:

  1. Warm-up first for about 5 minutes on a machine or you can go for a walk, jog or even light cycling.
  2. Incorporate some dynamic moves based on the work you are getting ready to perform.
  3. Start your workout.

Easy! Now, what the heck are some dynamic moves anyway, right? (thought you’d never ask!) Here is a great video that shows both upper and lower body dynamic stretches. It also gets you warmed up, as you’ll see!

Let’s get started! Need some help with your training and goals? Let’s see if we can work together on some goal setting and success. Just fill in this application and I’ll be in touch shortly!

Stretching: Is it worth the time?

We’ve all heard how important stretching is. It’s been preached about forever and a day. I remember high school gym teachers would run us through some static stretches and that was a loooong time ago! 😉

All joking aside, stretching truly IS all that it’s cracked up to be and yet not everyone does it.

Why? It seems that many people feel it’s not as important as the all powerful ‘workout’ and it is just a waste of valuable time when there is so much to do in a day. Or maybe, it’s viewed as a practice for people who like to do yoga and or need to relax?

Maybe. While these can definitely seem true, it’s still critical to our goals to stretch but not in the way we’ve learned a million years ago in high school! (disclaimer: if you are in high school today and reading this, you might still be doing static stretching as my son has said and he’s in high school today)

 

Anywho (this word cracks me up because it makes absolutely NO sense and yet so many people use it), let’s talk about adding in some dynamic stretching into your program to see how valuable this is to your training. Maybe you don’t know what this is? Totally okay, because I’m here to help 😉

Dynamic stretching is exactly what the name implies. You are actually moving and involving the muscles for the stretch to take place. Static stretching is where you hold a stretch and breath for a given amount of time. (yes, kind of like yoga but not really). Dynamic stretching is perfect for both athletes and weight lifters alike, because it not only stretches the muscles but also helps incorporate a warm-up at the same time due to the movement that is involved. Two for one! No more thinking it’s a time waster (which it isn’t). 😉

 

So let’s clarify why it’s important to incorporate dynamic stretches and how they can help our performance. This way of stretching and moving tells our body that something is coming in terms of a workload being placed upon our bodies and we are better able to prepare for the challenges. It helps get our blood pumping, raises our core temperature and helps to eliminate and reduce muscle stiffness that we may experience. The muscles get flooded with blood and oxygen to help them perform at a higher level in sports and a workout plan. It helps our muscle fibers and connective tissue to become more flexible and improve our overall range of motion.

Not only these, but dynamic stretching also increases our power. A very important aspect to an athlete who needs to utilize explosive movements in their game, or a powerlifter who needs to exert explosive forces against a weight in order to perform and complete an exercise or lift.

I’ve been incorporating this type of warm-up in my clients’ workouts; both online and in person. It’s important to correlate the stretching movements with the workload that will be done. It would be a waste of our valuable time if we focused on upper body stretches only when our training that day involves running and lower body movements. My son played football last year in high school and told me how they warmed up with dynamic stretches. For these athletes, it’s important to incorporate both upper and lower body in their dynamic stretches. Here are some excellent benefits to adding dynamic stretches into your routine:

  • it increases flexibility
  • it increases our range of motion
  • in increases blood flow and body temperature
  • it increases our power output capabilities
  • it helps increase our endurance
  • it improves neuromuscular activation
  • it helps to improve our balance
  • it improves our coordination
  • it decreases our risk of injury

All winning benefits in my book! 😉

So now that you know what it is and why it’s important, let’s talk about how you can add it into your routine. I’ll give you a 3-step process to follow for best results in your next workout:

  1. Warm-up first for about 5 minutes on a machine or you can go for a walk, jog or even light cycling.
  2. Incorporate some dynamic moves based on the work you are getting ready to perform.
  3. Start your workout.

Easy! Now, what the heck are some dynamic moves anyway, right? (thought you’d never ask!) Here is a great video that shows both upper and lower body dynamic stretches. It also gets you warmed up, as you’ll see!

Let’s get started! Need some help with your training and goals? Let’s see if we can work together on some goal setting and success. Just fill in this application and I’ll be in touch shortly!

The UN-Diet Plan

So here we are on another Monday and facing a new month ahead.

Holiday season looms and many people start to shudder at the thought of finding a new DIET….

“When will it end?”, you might wonder at times.  “Why can’t I just finally stop needing to lose weight and get fit again and again?”

I’ve been asked so many times from clients and friends about the newest, fad diets and what I think about them. Let me simplify and just tell you that I think all diets are crap. They are created to deprive us and make us feel bad about ourselves.

Why? So that we finally stop following that said diet and gain the weight back again (because we didn’t really learn anything of value except that we suck and can’t lose weight) only to have to find another diet plan as soon as we hit rock bottom or need to get into better shape for an event.

Can we just ban them for good? I finally did and I want to empower you, my dear friend, to do the same. (If you already have then high five to you but please pass this along to someone who might still be stuck in diet hell)

It took me years to finally learn what areas were holding me back and un-learn what I needed to change in order to finally succeed and enjoy my life. I didn’t want to eat broccoli and chicken breast for the rest of my days. I didn’t want to cut out carbs. I didn’t want to live on salads. I didn’t want to NOT have fun when I wanted. (I may sound like a 2-year old throwing a tantrum but honestly, don’t you feel like that when you’re told YOU CAN’T HAVE THAT?? we now understand 2 year olds better!)

I’d love to give you a guideline to start today. Since we are taught to be “good” or “bad” in any given moment or following a plan of what we “can” and “cannot” eat (which is ludicrous to think long term but we need to take baby steps first) I am sharing my 7 Day Slim Down plan, Exercise Plan and Grocery List with you. But let me explain what this plan actually is and what it is not.

  1. It is NOT a diet. It is a blueprint of how to start implementing real foods into your life again. Most of us learn to cut out as much foods as possible. So we wake up each morning and skip breakfast (because who’s really hungry in the morning anyway, right?) then we end up scarfing down some unhealthy foods before lunch because we are so hungry. This continues throughout the day as we go through our feelings of guilt from eating what we shouldn’t have eaten and then starving ourselves some more because we ate too much of what’s not good for us.
  2. It IS a blueprint (as mentioned above) and by noticing there are 3 meals every day and 2 snacks in between 2 of those meals is your starting point. You can either choose to follow the foods written out for reference if you don’t like coming up with your own; or you can use the grocery list of foods and swap out items that you actually enjoy and/or have on hand. I’ve never liked following a meal plan written out for the masses either but it’s a helpful tool to learn from and adjust as needed for our own lives and likes.
  3. It will help with drinking more water (which most of us don’t get enough of) because being dehydrated makes us think we are ‘hungry’ and if we just stick to our water intake we won’t have as many hunger pangs throughout the day. Start drinking water early in your day and glug it! I wake up and immediately (no, don’t go do ANYTHING else until this is done!) drink 1/2 to 1 full liter of water on an empty stomach. We wake up dehydrated already and what’s the first thing most of us pour down our throats? Coffee…which just dehydrates us more. Now, I love coffee and would never dream of telling anyone to stop drinking it because I won’t either…but I will first get my water in and then enjoy my coffee! 😉
  4. This forces you to eat foods that are from nature. We are so used to buying convenience foods because we tell ourselves we are “too busy” to eat healthy but I call B.S. on this too. It takes less time than you think and saves you tons of money in the long run to buy whole foods and cook them up yourself. Trust me, I haaaate spending extra time on anything but if I can get a healthy meal cooked and still smile to enjoy it; then anyone can! I am not a natural ‘foodie’ and don’t enjoy taking my time when cooking but there are so many quick and easy recipes online that we are out of excuses.
  5. This plan also comes with a simple ‘at home’ fitness program. You don’t have to follow the workouts but commit to at least taking a daily walk for 15-20 minutes and timing yourself so that you see when you’re able to walk faster and/or add more time to your walkabouts. If you choose to give the workouts a try and are hesitant because you don’t know if you’re able to finish them – just do at least 10 minutes and if you don’t feel like continuing after 10 minutes is up, then stop. Easy peasy. Let’s stop making things so difficult that it stops us before we start.

I know you can do this. It’s only 7 days, after all and you can start any day of the week that you desire. What I challenge you to do is to stick to the full 7 days. No, they don’t have to be perfect and if you make mistakes along the way or fall of track…don’t stop. That’s the old patterns of diets. Instead, try to just stay on track with every day. Finish each day to the best of your ability and write it down in a notebook. Was it hard to eat the foods? Did you get some activity in? How did you feel throughout the day as opposed to the week before? Etc…

I’d love to know if you give it a go. Just drop 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!