I have been doing a lot of reading lately about the problem of belly fat versus fat that is collected in other areas of the body. Belly fat is a more serious indicator of a potential health problem down the road. Heart disease and stroke being the number one risk from fat around the abdomen. The U.S. Army has even included waist circumference as a measure to predict healthy potential soldiers. The used to use BMI and body fat percentage solely.
Now, how do you specifically target belly fat. The standard answer that a lot of personal trainers will give you is that you can’t spot reduce fat. For example, if you have fat around your bicep than doing curls will not get rid of bicep fat. But, there is some good news for people who worry about this excess fat around the abdomen. If you read my blog you know that I am a runner. I am running the ING NYC Marathon this fall. I have also said that distance running is not a way to reduce body fat. Instead to reduce body fat high intensity sprints and power exercise such as full body olympic movements will help torch body fat. Well here is where it gets complicated. A recent Duke University study focused on cardio endurance training vs high intensity resistance training and their responses to visceral belly fat in particular. Visceral fat is the fat that sits deeper in your belly. It surrounds your organs and is much tougher to get rid of than subcutanous fat which is more superficial and lies just under your skin. The Duke study found that endurance training actually helped get rid of the visceral fat more so than high intensity training. This is why you can sometimes see a runner who has a very “skinny frame” with a higher body fat percentage. If you look at them in a sweater you might say they are really skinny. However, if you asked them to take their shirt off you might see some belly fat. However, because their belly fat is that subcutaneous fat they are not at risk for heart disease etc. Now. think of the olympic weightlifter with a huge belly. This guy is powerful but he has the classic “beer belly” look. He is at risk for a heart attack much more than the runner.
So, what does this mean for you. If long term health is your goal. I would try to amp up your cardio. When I began running I could barely run a mile. It’s just classic overload principal. Start slowly and add on a little at a time. Maybe add 10% a week at the most. When you first start don’t worry about distance just run for a time. Say 10 minutes at first. Then the next week 11 minutes. A good way to keep you motivated would be to sign up for a 5K or a 10K a few months down the road. These races are everywhere and they are a lot of fun with other people running alongside you. If you currently work out 4 days a week then maybe do 2 cardio days and 2 weight training days. When I was 290 pounds I went to the gym 6 days a week and lifted weights. I could bench press 340 pounds. But to work on that overall health and reduce fat you need to focus on diet and add cardio. Keep in mind however that I didn’t start running until after I lost 60 pounds or so. Diet is the key to all of this.
Lastly, but probably the most important is diet. When you are lifting weights you need protein to repair muscle tissue. However, if you trying to lose weight then you have to worry about total calories. I always say get to your ideal weight first then worry about shaping your body the way you want it. I use a smart phone app. There are a bunch out there. Loseit, MYFitnessPal, or FatSecret are all good. MyFitnessPal is my favorite. If you don’t have a smart phone they also have a website. Most people will tell you that eating at home is the best way to control weight because you can control the food that you prepare. However, with these calories trackers you can look up the calories in a menu item at say subway or Dunkin Donuts and make better choices.
This may sound obvious but many yo-yo dieters just don’t do this. EAT FOODS YOU LIKE! If you are chewing carrot sticks and you just hate them then how long do you think you are going to do that? Find lower calorie options that you actually like to eat. I can’t answer this for you but there has to be something out there that you enjoy that is not 1000 calories. If you don’t do this then your diet will be temporary. You want this to be a permanent change in the way you eat and not a diet.
Cheat Days are a must. There are things that everyone loves that they just can’t have when restricting calories. My cheat day is usually Saturday night and sometimes Sunday if I am training for a race. I will usually have a few beers and dessert on Saturday nights along with dinner.
Don’t diet at special events. Christmas is not a time to worry about your weight. If you start to live this way you will always be aware of calories and what the calorie count is. It will always be in the back of your head. If you feel that you have control over your diet then go ahead because you can always get back to your routine.
It takes 14 days to create a habit. I would recommend that when you start this new lifestyle that you are extremely strict for 2 weeks. No cheat days for at least 2 weeks. Your body will adjust and you won’t feel as hungry after two weeks.
Eat to not be hungry. Don’t eat until you are full. Think about this. I am a foodie. I love food but biologically we eat because we need energy. Our bodies signal hunger. Once that signal ends than we no longer need to eat.
Eat when your hungry. If you are hungry Eat! Usually just a small amount of food will actually end your hunger.
Successful dieters are boring. They tend to eat the same things over and over again. Because they know that it is something they like and they know the calories. It makes it easy and convenient.
Finally, crate your own Eat This not That. Men’s health popular program that lets you make small changes to your diet that will save you calories each time. This was probably my number one weapon for weight loss. For example, I stop at Dunkin Donuts everyday after work. I used to get an Iced Coffee and a muffin. I go from work as a school teacher right to my personal trainer job and needed something to hold me over until dinner. After learning that a muffin at Dunkin Donuts has 600 calories and a chocolate glazed donut has only 350. I switched to a donut. How many weight loss guys will tell you to eat donuts!? But I just saved myself 250 calories a day 5 days a week. In three weeks if I did nothing else I would lose a pound right there. After a few months of ordering glazed donuts I also like egg sandwiches. The Ham, Egg, and Cheese, on an english muffin is 290 calories. Bam! I just saved 60 more calories a day. 3 months later they have an egg white flatbread turkey sausage sandwich. That is 210 calories. It is basically the same size and it fills me up just as much. I just saved 80 more calories a day. From my original muffin I am down 390 calories a day every day of the week. My original daily snack when I started going to Dunkin Donuts was an iced coffee with cream and sugar and a muffin. 700 calories. Now I get am Iced Coffee with Skim Milk and splenda and a bacon, egg, and cheese wrap. for 215 calories. I did not make all of these changes at once. That is the key. I changed one thing and when I got used to it I then changed another thing. Think about your daily habits and how you can make small changes one at a time.
Coffee with no cream
No cheese on a sandwich. (would you really miss it) that’s 150 calories.
Mustard instead of Mayo
Diet soda instead of regular soda
Brown rice instead of white rice.
Weight watcher’s bread vs your regular bread.
Lite beer instead of regular beer. etc
Find which swaps work best for you and remember choose one thing at a time. All of these swaps for me took place over the course of several years. If you tried it all at once then you would miss it too much because you are too close to your old habits. Start with one swap and then let it become a habit.
I was at a wedding last night and in the middle of the dessert my father in law asked how much I was going to run the next day to burn all this off. If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times. To lose weight or to stay thin you can’t rely on exercise. The answer is diet alone. Exercise is great for your heart and great for your muscle tone and great for strengthening ligaments and bones. But weight loss is about what you eat. If you have watched shows like “The Biggest Loser” on NBC you would think that these people just burn those calories off by working out. They do reach a higher “burn” than most people could because they are on the show full time and not leading a normal life with work and family obligations. However, what the show doesn’t show is what the contestants are eating. I am sure that is a major focus of the show but it’s not exactly made for television entertainment to watch people eat their 1700 calories a day.
I did run today. I ran 6.25 miles. The run which lasted 53 minutes and 21 seconds caused me to burn 893 calories. Any self respecting Italian wedding will take you over 900 calories easily. So what does this tell us? Either most people need to start running 15 plus miles on a daily basis or that the food is key to weight loss. I always tell my clients to focus on the food and after they get to their desired weight they can begin to focus on shaping their bodies with exercise. Lucky for me I am at a good weight and I can afford a cheat day. But, if you’re trying to lose weight then remember you can’t just burn it off in the morning. Everything you put in your body counts including drinks. But that’s a story for another day.
Being a teacher has many benefits. One of the biggest is the vacation time. This past week was our spring break. The weather has been beautiful here in New Jersey. Spring has definitely started early and it even looks like summer isn’t far behind. Lots of people are going to start a last ditch effort to lose some weight in the next few months before the summer hits. For those people I want to share my spring break as an example of how to lose weight and also what not to do.
In my ten days off I gained 4 pounds. I worked out even more than I normally do when I am at work. Here was my workout schedule:
Friday – lifted chest and triceps for 1 hour and 15 minutes
Saturday – ran 7 miles
Sunday – off Easter
Monday – ran 4 miles and lifted back and biceps for 1 hour and 30 minutes
Tuesday – ran 2 miles with a weighted vest. Lifted abs and legs for 1 hour and 30 minutes
Wednesday – Spin class for 1 hour. Lifted abs and arms for 1 hour.
Thursday – Olympic lifts and functional movements for 1 hour and 30 minutes
Friday – Off day
Saturday – Lifted Total body for 1 hour and 30 minutes
Sunday – Ran 5 miles fartlek.
According to my Nike Fuel I burned 14, 781 calories from April 9th to April 15th. In comparison the previous week I burned 13,620 calories. I was more active in my week off than I was in my “typical” week. So how did I gain 4 pounds?
Diet Diet Diet.
If you follow my blog you know how I talk about how important diet is. I am sure not many people workout like I do. I have the luxury of being a physical education teacher and a personal trainer. I have easy access to gyms at all times. In a typical week I am pretty busy and go right from school to the gym to working out. I often don’t get home or sit down until 8 p.m. On spring break I was home more often. Sitting around the house leads to boredom snacking. I definitely indulged a little more than I normally do. The excess calories led to 4 pounds and it doesn’t matter how many weights I lifted or how many miles I ran.
Anytime you see or read something saying that lifting a certain way or doing this workout will result in weight loss I am here to tell you that will never happen. I am living proof. Not just for my ten days of spring break but for years. When I was 285 pounds I went to the gym 6 days a week without question or without excuses. I didn’t run like I do now because my 285 pound frame couldn’t support running. That would be an injury waiting to happen. I was however, very strong. I could bench press 345 pounds but I was very overweight.
If you want to get toned, see your abs, lose weight, get ripped, get shredded and or any of these things you need to get your diet in order. Doing ab exercises all day long by the thousands will not help you see your abs any better. It will strengthen your ab muscles but unless you have a low percentage of body fat you not see them because of the layer of fat above the muscles.
So, if you want to lose weight for summer focus on your diet first and foremost. Then once you reach your target weight try to build muscle.
Now go eat some lean protein and I have to try and lose those 4 pounds.
Maybe the most common question I get about my weight loss and healthy living is “what do you eat”? This post is not going to be a long winded article explaining why I choose certain foods but just a list of things I eat. Let me start by saying that I try stay under 2200 calories a day during the week and I go above that on the weekends.I also am very active. Basically I eat what I like. I don’t force down foods that I don’t enjoy. I just try to find healthier options that I do like. Saturday is usually a cheat day where I can eat whatever I want. Then on Sundays I usually eat light until dinner time. Of course this all depends on what the scale says on Saturday morning. I use a website and a phone app called Fatsecret where I record my food and exercise. I also “weigh in” every week and it graphs your weight over time so I can see how it has changed with my diet and exercise habits. If I am at a certain weight then I can feel ok about my cheat days and if not I just make adjustments. The other things that I concentrate on is getting at least 150 grams of protein a day. That being said here the things I eat in no particular order.
Dannon Lite and Fit yogurt
Laughing cow cheese
Weight Watcher’s bread
Dunkin Donuts. Egg white flat breads and Ham Egg and cheese on a English Muffin
Coffee with splenda and low fat half and half
Subway oven roasted chicken with pickles, peppers, oil and vinegar. six inch double chicken no cheese
Tostitos Multi Grain chips and salsa
Frank’s red Hot sauce
Amy’s frozen meals. Enchiladas with Spanish Rice and Beans.
Soup. any kind non creamy
Fiber One bars.
Thomas 100 calorie English Muffins
Sushi and Sashimi
Low sodium Soy sauce
Fruit. Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, melon, pears, mango, blueberries, Bananas
Jello Sugar Free
Jello Mousse Temptations
I eat the same thing over and and over until I get sick of it and then I will usually switch one of these things out for another but these are my staples of my “non cheats days” As you can see I don’t think fat is the enemy. I think Sugar and Bad carbs are the enemy. If you don’t know a lot about nutrition I would suggest taking a look at Men’s health “Eat This Not That”. I would also suggest keeping track of your diet and you begin to learn what groups things go into and also how many calories you are actually eating.
Where do I begin? 10 years ago I was finished with my athletic career. Due to a torn ligament in my elbow my baseball playing career had ended. I lifted weights but I was no longer competitive. I was really strong but I had poor diet habits. It took nearly 6 years as I continued to gain weight. 4 years ago I was 100 pounds heavier than I was in this picture.
I always tell people that I did not lose weight because of running. I started running because I lost weight. It started with just a mile on the treadmill. Then a year later I signed up for a half marathon in Jersey City. Now three years after I started running I ran my first Marathon.
The weekend started with the long drive down to Baltimore. We hit some miserable traffic and it took close to five hours. I was not too happy picking up my race bib above. The expo was at the convention center. It was pretty cool. There was a ton of running gear which I browsed through. The only thing I actually picked up were a few gu energy gels that came in handy during the race. I had originally planned to carry 4. However, I decided to bring 6 just in case and I am glad I made that last minute switch.
The night before we went to La Scala for a pasta dinner so I could get my carbs in before the race. I started eating more carbs 3 days before the race but this would be my last chance. The meal was very good. We headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. All I kept thinking of was the Seinfeld episode where the marathoner missed the Olympic trails because his alarm clock malfunctioned. “Was it the Snooze?’ No the am/pm!”
Race morning I woke up at 6 a.m. Alarm worked great (Thank you IPhone) although I am not sure if I really even needed one. I stuck with my plan of not eating before the race. I had a cup of coffee and plenty of water. I followed through just as I had planned it in my mind. I bundled up to face the cold weather and headed down towards Camden Yards. The hotel was just a block away which was perfect. I tried to stay warm. I had a long sleeve tight fitting north face, gloves that came in my gift bag, and a nice winter hat to keep my hands and head warm. I wore my typical Road ID tag and my Nike plus wrist band. I wore under armor shorts and t shirt which I love running in because of their ability to keep dry. I wore my Brooks ghost 4 running shoes.
When the confetti dropped and the gun sounded I started gingerly into my run. as I crossed the starting line I hit the button on my Nike sensor and waved goodbye to my family. I knew Miles 1-4 would be up hill from the elevation charts but to be honest it was a breeze. At that point I was fresh and still energized from the crowd and the race atmosphere. Great, I have to pee really badly. I saw a porta potty but there was a line. This is a race! I am not waiting in line to go to the bathroom. Plus at this point I was recalling what I said to my friends at work. I will not walk. If I walk I might as well stop. They though I should walk through the aid stations or at a few strategic points to conserve energy. I disagreed. Just before the race I read Dolphin Dan’s tweet. “Good luck to JoeLopez55 in the Baltimore Marathon today. #nowalking. I kept that promise at mile 3.5 or so I saw guys and girls using some well positioned trees. I ran off the road and used the trees and ran back onto course. It might have cost me 30 seconds or so but I didn’t walk and I felt much better. As we approached the Maryland zoo I was cruising. There was a downhill section that I felt like I was just flying through. I guess there were animals and stuff but I wasn’t really paying attention. I think I saw a penguin in a cage but I am not too sure. There were plenty of water stations along the route and I had my gu energy gels which I planned to take one every 4 miles. I stuck with water only. I didn’t want to do anything different than on my training runs.
The crowds were great. There were sections of local schools handing out swedish fish and cheering for the runners. There were very few spots where it was quiet. Several people held signs and others stuck their hands out to high five. Even the cops offered their support. Before I knew it was at mile 9 back near the inner harbor and looking for my family. The way the course was set up we decided they could see me at mile 9 and again at mile 13 both near the same location. I had a feeling that I might have missed them AT mile 9 but I kept looking. It was hard because there were big crowds at these points. I ran that first 9 faster than I told them I would. I guess I didn’t anticipate the perfect weather and the quickness that I ran the hills of 1-4.
At Mile 11 we go to the Under Armor Headquarters. It was a non de-script set of brick buildings with a huge sign telling you that you were there. They were promoting their newest running shoe. If we didn’t hit traffic on the way down I was planning on going to the Under Armor Block party where they were giving away free stuff for trying out the sneakers. I wear almost everything else Under Armor but I have always worn Brooks running shoes. There was a guy on the bullhorn encouraging runners and talking about how good we all looked in our Under Armor gear. They also had music blasting throughout the Under Armor Campus. When we made the turn back towards the inner harbor I knew I would see my family at mile 13 because they should have gotten a text when I crossed mile 9 because of the chip tracker I was wearing in my bib. I felt great. The first 13.1 I clocked at 1:56. I saw my family and it was a good feeling to see them along the route. I also got there just in time to see the start of the Half Marathon. This is always a cool site because the Half has a lot more runners than the full. Somewhere near 12,000 runners were starting just as I passed by. The merge was a little slow. Last year I was a half marathoner and I thought it was no problem but I guess seeing it from the other side was a little different. After doing 13 plus miles you don’t want to bob and weave to pass slower moving people but I guess it makes for the atmosphere of the race. From this point on it was definitely a lot more crowded. I did enjoy passing half marathoners at the end of the race and then having them see the words “full” on my back. I know that would bother me if I was running a half.
I was preparing for my 15-21 from the beginning. I ran hill repeats all summer with the Lifetime Running Club. However, I do have to say making miles 15-21 on a marathon all uphill is just cruel. I actually ran these miles quite well keeping my pace. I was determined not to let that hill beat me. However, Mile 22 I just was worn out. I slowed to a 12:38 pace for this Mile. The hill got to me. That one Mile was the only outlier in the entire race. I am still bothered by that one mile. What if I stayed on pace the whole time? In fact here are my splits.
Mile 1: 9:25
Mile 2: 8:25
Mile 3: 9:01
Mile 4: 7:53
Mile 5: 8:26
Mile 6: 8:26
Mile 7: 7:41
Mile 8: 8:25
Mile 9: 9:01
Mile 10: 10:10
Mile 11: 8:25
Mile 12: 8:26
Mile 13: 9:25
Mile 14: 8:25
Mile 15: 8:26
Mile 16: 9:26
Mile 17: 9:26
Mile 18: 8:26
Mile 19: 10:06
Mile 20: 8:25
Mile 21: 9:26
Mile 22: 12:38?????
Mile 23: 10:57
Mile 24: 8:55
Mile 25: 8:25
Mile 26: 9:23
After that it was just few more miles to go. I took two miles to recover and then for the the last 3 miles I returned to my normal pace.
When I saw Camden Yards I knew we were close. In that last stretch you run through the area behind the ballpark between the stands and the warehouse. The sides are filled with people. I heard Ann screaming my name. “You’re doing great! Almost finished.” After that I turned the corner and saw M & T Bank stadium and the finish line. When I crossed I felt so relieved. I bent over and felt my hamstrings tighten up and then I checked my watch. The clock had me at under 4 so I knew I broke 4 hours. To be honest I would have been happy with anything under 4:10. After getting my medal and eating and drinking. I just had to sit down and contemplate what I just did. 26.2 miles. I felt drained a little emotional. I couldn’t wait to see m family but I couldn’t move. I just wanted to sit there and enjoy the sun. When I found Ann and I my family I was still a little shaken but I was so happy. This was one of the best days of my life. They say when you finish your first marathon you have either one of two reactions. Wow, I will never do that again or that was awesome I can’t wait to try it again. I am not ruling out another one. I think this just motivates me to do more. The rest of the weekend we had great meals. I had plenty of drinks and dessert. The next mornings breakfast at Blue Moon Cafe was incredible! I highly recommend the Gingerbread pancakes if you are in Baltimore. The weekend as a whole was a success. I can’t be more proud and I might even take my dog Wrigley on a trail run this weekend to celebrate! Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. Thanks for all the facebook messages and comments. Of course thanks to my wife Ann who the last few months have been planned around my weekend runs. Baltimore Marathon. Mission accomplished 3:57.04. I still am mad about that one 12:38 mile though!
So for those of you who spoke with or read my blog last week know I was supposed to make my last long run of 21 miles before tapering. However, I melted in the humidity and died out at 17.5. I went to facebook, twitter, and my running friends for advice on whether I should attempt to get 20 or just begin my taper three weeks out like my original plan called for. Every single person I talked said to just forget about and stick with my original plan and start the taper. For someone reasons I just couldn’t imagine showing up on October 15th and attempting to run 8 more miles than I have ever run in my life. Keep in mind this is my first marathon. I have never ran more than 18 miles at a time before. If this was my 3rd marathon I would have tapered. So despite the advice I ran 3 miles earlier in the week and then went out for 21 today. Fortunately it was much cooler today and it actually felt like fall. I ran a blistering pace (for me) of 3 hours and 7 minutes. If I run this pace on Marathon day I will be ecstatic.
The Good. I wore exactly what I plan on wearing for the marathon. Same shirt, shorts, socks, and sneakers. I wanted to see if there were any unforeseen issues. Maybe the socks shift out of place and cause blisters or maybe my shirt is too loose and causes chafing. Luckily, everything felt great. So let’s analyze what I did so hopefully I can recreate it. First of all I the weather. I can’t control what the weather is on October 15th but certainly that was a big factor. 58 degrees with little humidity and partly cloudy vs 83 degrees with 93% humidity. The second is I actually had pasta the night before. It was my mom’s birthday so we went out for dinner. I had penne all vodka with grilled chicken. I have no idea if this played a factor or not but guess what? I plan on having pasta the night before the big day. I also had two beers and an Irish Coffee. Coincidence? Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game of his entire major league Hall of Fame baseball career. Who am I to argue? Third thing is I ate nothing before I ran. I woke up and had a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. Last week I tried t eat and my stomach was not agreeing. I started to cramp up and feel side stitches most o the way. I did take 3 Gu packs with me and had those every 5 miles. They are 100 calories of high carb and sugar which can replenish glycogen stores that are lost on the run. On race day I will probably use 4 of them. I also tried to drink 6 ounces of water every three miles. I have tried gatorade or vitamin water before but again it doesn’t agree with my stomach. Maybe I will switch to gatorade late in the race when I am on the home stretch but I plan on mostly drinking water.
The Bad. I had a pretty bad foot pain. Just under my big toe on my right foot I had an excruciating pain. When I am running on flat ground moving straight ahead I was fine. Any pronation at all because of an uneven surface was really painful. The streets of Morristown are crowded and if I had to side step a person or a garbage can or any lateral movement was really painful. I am hoping it is just a bone bruise from just the wear and tear of 350 miles of road running. If that is the case I am hopeful that the next two weeks of tapering will help heal that up. Worst case scenario I guess is a stress fracture but I am not there yet I don’t think.
The Inspirational: My wife Ann ran her first ever 5k on Saturday. After weeks of training she ran and completed her 5k and even reached her goal time. In fact, when I was debating whether or not I would ever attempt a full marathon she was the one who made me a deal. She said if I ran a marathon she would run a 5k. I created a workout plan for her and she followed it perfectly. Despite having a pretty nasty cough that popped up the week of the race she battled and reached her goal. I am so proud of her and she did an amazing job.
Now its time to taper. All the hard work in mostly done and I feel ready. This coming week I have two runs of 4 miles with speed work and 8 miles with a hill or two. Then I have a massage scheduled on Saturday which I am very much looking forward to. It is a 90 minute “extreme sports massage” at Bliss in Hoboken. Then after that we are in race week. 2 miles flat and 5 miles flat at an easy comfortable pace during the week. I took of work on the Friday before so I can head down to Baltimore and relax. I have to pick up the race packet and my free under armor T shirt at the Health expo. Then I can walk around a little and see what the expo has to offer. Then Friday night I plan on getting some pasta and a good night’s sleep before race day. Hopefully I can finish the race and hopefully the weather cooperates. Stay tuned foe race day updates. Baltimore running festival. October 15th. Here I come.
In my marathon training I am supposed to increase the distance for two consecutive weeks before going backwards in a down week. For example, in weeks 1-4 my long runs were 4, 6, 3, 8. This method allows you to increase your distance while giving your legs time to rest on down weeks. However, this past week I fell into the trap of being overconfident on my down week. Partly to blame was the fact that we were having a BBQ for some friends on Sunday. So I squeezed in my long run on Saturday after lifting legs on Friday. I ran 10 miles two weeks ago and breezed through a 12 mile run last weekend on a humid free beautiful day. All I had to do was a quick 8. This should be a piece of cake. Wow was I wrong. I got through the first 4 fairly easy despite my legs feeling heavy. On the way back I was dying. It was a butal, humid, and disgusting day and my legs had not yet recovered from the previous day’s squats. I didn’t eat the way I normally would before a run. I didn’t hydrate properly. I didn’t pace myself correctly. My distance runs are supposed to be an easy pace which for me is usually around 9:20 to 9:50 a mile. I so overlooked this run that I was just trying to get it over with. My pace ended up being at like 8:50 which is too quick for an easy distance run. I didn’t respect the run. Rule number one is you have to respect the workout. Every run could be your best or your worst. Each run needs to be treated with that respect. I have 8 training weeks left until marathon Saturday. Starting this week I am dropping my weekly runs down from 3 times a week to only 2. I start with 14 this coming weekend and I can promise you this. I will not take it lightly.
The Biggest Loser has been one of the best television shows for close to five years now. I have to admit that I am a fan of the show. I have watched it from the beginning. To see people lose literally hundreds of pounds in the few months they have can be inspiring. However, it is important to know a few behind the scene items about the show. Number one keep in mind that the contestants don’t have to get up and go to work. They are able to spend as much as 6 hours a day working out. I don’t know about you but that isn’t possible in my day to day life. Many of the contestants have put some weight on after they have left the show simply because they cannot keep up that workout pace. I have a lot of respect for the trainers on the show. I follow Bob Harper and Jillian on Twitter. I like both of their individual styles. However, if I had access to my clients for six hours at time I could get a lot done as well.
The second thing about the show is the unrealistic diet restrictions. On one of the episodes a few weeks ago they had a dry erase board with the contestants menu for the day written on it. It listed them as consuming 1300 calories for the day. This is an extremely low amount. My belief is that a person who is moderately active can lose weight with taking in as much 2000 calories a day. While this method may not bring about 15 pound weight loss weeks it is a more possible long term solution. I just feel like at 1300 calories eventually this will lead to a major breakdown. The body needs food to help the metabolism stay active. Smaller and more frequent meals will help achieve this goal. A general rule of thumb is two pounds per week is a good pace except for extreme cases. Keep track of your diet on a web site like www.fatsecret.com.
One of the most important things you can do if you are just getting started on the weight loss path is find a local trainer. Yes The “celebrity” trainers who charge upwards of 500 dollars an hour sounds great and they have impressive resumes. However, at the end of the day most trainer’s have the same set of tools at their disposal. Just make sure that they have up to date certifications and you can get a reference. Any good trainer will be able get you going in the right direction. If you have never stepped foot in a gym and just need a little guidance I would highly recommend that you find a trainer. After a few months you can cut down on your sessions with the trainer and use your new found knowledge on your own. A good trainer should not only take you through a workout but give you the tools to eventually succeed on your own. Hopefully one day you can become the Biggest Loser.
The number one thing that most of my clients don’t understand is what is called spot reduction. You cannot spot reduce fat from a certain area of your body by working that area. If you want to lose fat around a certain area then you just have to lose fat as a whole. However, client after client tells me that they want to do a lot of abs to get rid of their midsection fat. The latest was a woman doing a Russian twist and she told me that we should do this more often because she needed work in that area.
Muscle and fat are two completely different things. For whatever reason people can’t seem to grasp this concept. Let’s say for example that you had fat around the back of your arms. A lot of older women have this problem. By doing tricep. exercises such as dips and tricep. extensions you build the muscle underneath the layer of fatty tissue. The muscle tissue will grow stronger and become tighter but this really has no effect on the fat above the muscle. I don’t want to make it seem like there is no hope. In fact if you have trouble spots then diet would be the number one way to remedy. If you are able to cut calories and combine that with your workout and increased metabolism from lifting weights then you will see improvement in your problem area.
Back to the situation. For those of you who watch the “Jersey Shore” Mike the situation is one of the characters who is known for having great abs. The average person will never have abs with definition like that. However, the number of crunches and leg lifts and bicycles really has nothing to do with seeing abdominal definition. In fact, anyone who works out on a regular basis has pretty strong abs. However, in order to see the definition you would have to have a pretty low body fat percentage. Maybe 8% or less. For the person who has a real job and a family this is just not a reality. If you happen to be a reality TV star who doesn’t have much to do it might be easier.
Strong abdominals are important. They can help strengthen you from the inside out. It is important for posture and can help prevent back pain. You may have heard some people talk about the core. My definition of the core is any muscle that acts on the spine. If any of these muscles are out of balance it can throw the spine out of whack. While you may never be able to be the situation you should still look into a personal trainer who can show you how to work your core effectively for life and not just for show.
Not sure what this is? Well first of all it’s pronounced Fa -Yay. It’s an incredible Greek yogurt that you can most likely find in your grocery store. It has turned into my go to snack. It has a rich and creamy texture to it. Although it comes it many flavors I choose the plain 0%. You will save about 40 calories per serving compared to the 2%. They also have flavors but why not add in fresh natural toppings of your own. I have mixed in honey, sugar free jelly, and fresh fruit such as blueberries and raspberries. Really whatever you feel like is a good idea. You can get a large container but I recommend the individual ones. They are 6 ounces. It is a predetermined amount for your snack. This eliminates mindless snacking. This way you know exactly how much you are going to eat. That is a good tip for snacking in general. For example, don’t eat out of a large container. Instead take out your pre-planned amount and put it into a smaller serving bowl. You will be less likely to go back when the bag has already been put away. The individual size Fage 0% plain has 90 calories. It also packs a full 15 grams of protein to only 7 grams of sugar. The protein will help you feel fuller longer. Add in a tablespoon of organic honey and about 10 blueberries and you are looking at 150 calories. Not bad for a night time snack.