In Canada the winter months may seem ENDLESS, the layers of clothes are many and most people tend to go into some type of ‘hibernation mode’ (too much food, too little exercise). More often than not you might have experienced some weight gain. Or you could be in a building phase, which is typical during the winter months, and your intake has purposely been higher & workouts scaled back to allow for some gains/ growth. In either case you will have found yourself to be carrying a bit more cushion than you might like.
At the first sign of spring, the gyms seem to come alive with those looking to perfect their ‘summer body’. The average person will spend hours on end on their cardio machine of choice in hopes of shedding unwanted weight gain and/or reduce their food intake way too much. This will only work against your body by killing your metabolism resulting in little to no change at all.
Here are some tips to help rev up your metabolism so that you can shed those last stubborn pounds and reveal your summer physique.
Better Food Quality. Your meals should consist of nutrient dense, whole foods. Cut out sugar & high processed foods as these do nothing to promote optimal body composition and only put you at risk for metabolic diseases. Be sure to consume a lot of dark leafy vegetables (aim for 1-2 cups per meal), anti-oxidant rich fruits and beneficial fats.
Protein With Every Meal. High-quality, high-protein intake keep you feeling full longer. It also sustains lean mass which in turn increases your metabolic rate (more muscle mass= more calories burned at rest). This is very important if you are trying to lose body fat. Also, don’t make the mistake of cutting calories without increasing protein as this will cause you to lose muscle mass along with fat mass, lowering your metabolism. Include lean red meat, fish, eggs in your meals. A clean, low-carb protein powder can help supplement your diet.
Include 4-5 Days of Weight Training. In order to look lean & tight you need to increase your muscle mass and reduce body fat. To do this you need to make sure you are really stressing out your muscles. Repeated tension or load on the muscles will cause the muscle to adapt and grow over time. Most people don’t lift heavy enough, or they continuously lift for the same amount of high reps and only 3 sets per exercise. Proper stress will only occur if you vary your training; ex: High-volume training (high reps, mod weight), high-load training (4+ sets, 4-6 reps, 85-90% of 1RM), varied tempo. Also be sure to include big compound movements (squats, deadlifts, pulls, presses, chin-ups) as these are multi-joint exercises and recruit major muscles.
Sprints vs. Steady State Cardio. While distance running (steady state cardio) has its benefits (heart friendly), if you are looking to seriously burn off body fat, incorporate sprint training into your workout regime. The high intensity of sprint training causes the same metabolic stress on the body as weight training. Just take a look at a sprinter’s body vs a marathoner. Have you ever seen a sprinter who carries extra cushion on them? Nope, neither have I.
Reduce Stress. High levels of stress from work/ every day life will result in high levels of cortisol being released into the body. This will actually lead to an increase in fat mass especially around your mid-section. Take time to unwind & reduce your stress levels. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga are just a few ways you can reduce stress levels.
Recovery. Give your body rest. All the hard work you put in the gym, although beneficial, is still a stress placed on your body. Too much of a good thing can ultimately lead to overuse injuries, fatigue and even weaken your immune system. Allow your body time to repair & rebuild, and always listen to your body.
Happy Training 🙂
From the moment I picked up my first piece of iron in my highshool weight room I knew what I wanted to do.
I still remember it as if it was yesterday.. a small, windowless room with dark grey walls, a few posters that included the anatomical positions, the muscular system, and an exercise guide for the universal cable machine that sat in the middle and occupied most of the room. It was an intro to weight training, which was part of the phys ed. curriculum for grade 12. The feeling of holding those outdated dumbbells was something I can’t describe.. but my curiosity for this unknown world is what I found alluring and was my first step into this industry.
The first time I opened up my first anatomy & physiology books in college I was overwhelmed with information about the human body. I was mesmerized by the way the body works both physiologically and physically. This only served to reaffirm my belief that I was on the right path.
It’s been almost 10 years in this industry and I have learned so much in the classroom, from fellow trainers (especially from the last studio I had the pleasure of working at) and from experience.
It’s true that in this industry it’s easy to become certified as a personal trainer.. but what sets apart the real trainers from the fake is the willingness to learn & continue learning, the passion for helping others and the commitment to the work. A good trainer inspires, educates and listens. We give tough love when we need to and praise you when accomplish goals.
My journey in the fitness world is now taking me in a new direction. I am nervous and excited as I have slowly been building up to this. I am still eager to learn as I think it’s imperative to keep learning new skills..and I will continue to do my best.
The iron jungle has been my classroom, my work, and is my refuge. It is where my journey began and where I continue to be. It is a place where I have unleashed my frustrations, pushed myself beyond my limits, and grown as a trainer and coach.
It’s where it all began 🙂
So you decide to try that new workout routine you found online. You start off great, working out steadily but a week (or two..or three) into it you realize it’s not working for you, so you stop.
Maybe a month later you find a book that promises to ‘melt that belly fat’ and you have all intentions to clean up your eating, and you do…for a week. But then you get frustrated because this book is just the world’s biggest ‘foods you can’t eat’ list and you give up.
You then buy a special on 3 months of boot camp or kickboxing classes and go religiously..till you feel burned out.
Another few weeks go by and you decide enough is enough and you spend serious money on some fancy detox and meal plan given to you by a holistic nutritionist and you couple that with working out almost every day…But
NOTHING. IS. HAPPENING!!!! (sound familiar?!)
Short Answer: You’re doing too much at once and not giving your body a chance to adapt.
Lets start with the nutrition aspect:
Save yourself money and and time and avoid getting sucked into these fancy diets, detoxes, and pills. You may think that they’re working at first but any weight lost is most certainly water weight.. and it will come right back.
The best and most effective way to lose body fat is to have a meal plan that works for you! Not a meal plan that you find online or borrowed from a friend. Everybody is different. With different metabolisms, different body compositions, different caloric needs. What worked for Joe or Sally will not work to the same effect for you.
Most people are misinformed and think that in order to lose weight you need to stick to a mere 1500 calories a day and eat chicken & asparagus day in and day out (I’m being dramatic I know :()
But if they only knew that there’s more to life than just eating chicken & asparagus!,
Quick Fact: Being on a low calorie diet for too long will sabotage your metabolism, prevent you from building muscle tissue, cause hormonal imbalances, seriously affect your energy levels..and so much more. (Learn more about effects of eating too little here)
The best way to go about losing body fat without compromising muscle tissue is by eating more. For someone who is just starting off, if your goal is fat loss multiply your current weight by 10-12 to give you a caloric range you should aim for. Start at the higher end of your caloric range as you want to be able to eat as much as you can while losing body fat.
(For building, multiply your body weight by 16-18)
Ex: using my weight of 142pds and taking into account the number of times I workout, my caloric range for a deficit phase would be 1988-2272 calories/day
From there make sure to include a lean protein, complex carb, and a healthy fat with your meals. The frequency of your meals should be roughly every 3-4 hours.. which works out to 5-6 times a day (your main meals, with snacks in between).
Moving on to the exercise part, again you want to make sure that you stick to one program..and one program only… and give your body a chance to adapt. Ideally you want to include 3-4 workouts per week (it goes without saying that I am a die hard fan of the iron, so I will always be an advocate for it!). Your workout program should incorporate compound movements as these engage alot of muscles and you get the most bang for your buck. Also any exercises to strengthen any weak areas should be worked into your program as you dont want to have any muscle imbalances as this could lead to injury.
The funny thing about the human body is that it likes to be in a state of balance. So any time that you upset that balance..in this case with exercise.. it will quickly work to repair itself and return to homeostasis. The result would be a leaner, stronger body that will have you smiling from ear to ear.
So to sum it all up, if you’ve been trying to lose body fat (or gain muscle) for a while now, and you have not seen the changes you had hoped for, maybe it’s time you step back and re-evaluate what you are doing. Going from one thing to another is just causing chaos on your body and making you miserable. Focus instead on following a well balanced nutrition & workout program and STICK TO IT.
And then your body will thank you 😉
I started the week off right. I got a metabolic workout in right in the morning (done at home). I’m not a fan of cardio as I get bored quickly (exercise ADD?!) so this is my go-to for some serious calorie burn.
First let’s cover some background on metabolic workouts.
What Is It?
The simple definition of metabolic training is a workout containing structural and compound exercises done with little to no rest in between exercises. This maximizes caloric burn, increase metabolic rate (amount of calories your body burns at rest) during and after the workout, and seriously challenges your cardiovascular system.
Because structural & compound exercises are multi joint exercises (like squats & chin-ups) they require an intense amount of energy to execute, and when done as part of a metabolic workout you are really burning off that fat. The calories burned during this type of training can easily reach around 500 calories for a 30 minute workout, increasing your metabolic rate anywhere from 10-25% for up to 48 hours, and some studies have shown an increase in metabolic rate for up to even 72 hours. Over time these hundreds of extra calories burned can become significant.
(Here’s a study on impact on post exercise oxygen consumption.)
My Workout: Ascending/Descending Ladder
● DB Front squat (30 pds)
● DB Bent over row (30 pds)
》Set 1: I did 1 rep of each, then 2 reps, then 3…till I reached 10 reps (note: I did not stop at all till I finished the set) Completed in 21min 15sec
》 Set 2: Worked backwards from 10 reps to 1 😧 Completed in 24min 42sec
Variation: I used weight to up the intensity level. To make it easier lose the iron and stick to body weight exercises.
If you walk into a gym on any given day, make your way to the free weight section. I bet that you can count on one hand the women that you see in that area.
Because women still believe that working out with anything heaver than 10 pounds will make them ‘manly’. Because society has led women to believe this.
Just watch a fitness DVD, open up a woman’s fitness magazine,
or look at your gym’s ads. You will most likely see thin women on a treadmill or elliptical, or doing boot camp style classes. And if there are any pictures of a more defined female physique that happens to be holding any weights, it’s almost always 5 or 10 pound dumbbells.
Or how about those silly instagram accounts of women claiming to have built their booty with squatting day in and day out?
The normal range of testosterone levels in healthy adult males is between 280 to 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), Testosterone levels in women vary, but normal measurements range from 15 to 70 ng/dL.
Because of these differences in testosterone, it is physiologically impossible for a woman to ‘bulk up’ without the use of anabolic aids.
Ladies.. we are capable of so much more than this. Why should women train any differently than men? Why should women limit themselves when both men & women have the same skeletal foundation. Both genders push & pull, squat & lunge, and hinge.
Benefits Of Weight Training
• increases metabolism
• helps reduce risk of coronary heart disease
• strengthens bones/ joints
• decreases risk of arthritis
• decreases risk of osteoporosis (women are at higher risk)
• decreases risk of diabetes
• improves mental wellbeing (due to feel-good hormone serotonin)
• more muscle = more calories burned at rest
• improves posture
• improves balance & coordination
• strengthens core musculature
The health benefits are many, but aside from that, the physical strength gained in the gym will impact other areas of your life: there’s the major confidence boost you will get when pushing yourself to beyond what you thought yourself capable of, the greater sense of self (and self-love), the strengthing of character and mind, the respect and awareness of our bodies.
Where Should You Start?
If you are serious about changing your body then you need to start haulin’ iron. There’s no other way around it. And I mean getting down and dirty the old school way. Deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, bench presses..and variations on these exercises are the best way to start as they are compound movements. Compound exercises recruit major muscle fibres and tend to require signiﬁcant stabilization of the entire body by involving numerous muscles that otherwise might not be stimulated with isolation exercises.
Make sure you follow a proper training program that will gradually progress you as this is the most effective way to see results (coupled with good nutrition of course!).
So unleash that brute strength that lies within and you will discover the extraordinary feats your body is capable of. Be the architect of your body and build and sculpt a lean and feminine physique. And with that you will find an unbreakable mental perseverance that will reflect on other areas of your life 🙂
There are 24 hours in a day.
The average person is awake for 17 hours.
The average time spent with a trainer is 2-3 hours per week.
That leaves 116-117 hours per week that a trainer has no control over what their client eats or workouts that are not completed.
The reality is that alot of times a trainer is hired based on unrealistic expectations. The client expects to lose weight just because they have hired a trainer. They believe that the trainer is the answer to their problems.. an instant, guaranteed solution.
But this is far from the truth.
A trainer will provide you with the necessary guidance and tools to help you change your lifestyle to that of a more healthier and active one. These changes will only help in reaching fat-loss goals IF you are willing to follow your trainer’s instructions. But more than half the time these instructions/guidance fall on deaf ears.
And what happens when you realize months have passed and you haven’t reached your goal?
You blame your trainer.
It’s your trainer’s fault that you miss your workouts, or that you have a cookie here.. a slice of pizza there. It’s your trainer’s fault that come the weekends your ‘healthy’ eating goes out the window.. because it’s so much easier to blame your trainer than to own up and blame yourself.
If your doctor were to tell you that you had a life threatening illness and unless you made drastic changes to your lifestyle, you would not survive.. would you think twice about it?
You probably wouldn’t even argue.
So why is it that most people are unwilling to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle in order to lose weight?
The average person will start to gain 1pd of fat per year after the age of 25 and lose 1/2pd of lean muscle after 25 years old.
What does this mean? By the time you have reached 55 years you will have gained anywhere between 25-30 pds of fat mass & lost about 10-12 pds of lean muscle tissue. (Lean muscle utilizes calories to work, repair, and refuel itself. Fat requires very few calories—it just kind of sits there)
You may not feel the effects of being overweight and inactive now.. but you most definitely will see how your lifestyle takes a toll on your body as early as your 40 ‘s. From coronary heart disease, to diabetes, to cancers.. these diseases can all be prevented with proper lifestyle changes. Why wait till then, when it’s too late? If you start the process early on, it will only be that much easier.
(See the effects of obesity here.)
So before you commit to hiring a trainer ask yourself these questions:
• Am I ready to give up certain foods/ habits?
• Am I willing to make time to exercise on a weekly basis?
• Am I willing to avoid situations that can throw me off-plan?
• Am I willing to put my health first and not ‘cheat’ myself for a moment of satisfaction?
If you can answer yes to all these then you are willing to commit to a new & healthier lifestyle. This is when a trainer can be your best investment. Because you will be focused on your goals, you will take accountability for your actions, you will be able to follow your trainer’s program and trust that the process will work.
And then the magic will happen!
If you walk into your local GNC, Popeye’s, or any other supplements store, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the products on their shelves. You will find row after row of bottles all claiming to ‘help burn fat’, ‘increase muscle mass’, ‘increase metabolism’.. etc. They are aimed at attracting your attention, because who doesn’t want to look lean & tight?
But do you really need all that stuff?! The answer is: NO.
The average person (non-athlete/ competitior) does not need to spend an insane amount of money on supplements that really are not needed.
The truth is, if you are eating healthy.. chances are your food is providing you with the majority of the nutrients your body requires to be at it’s best. But for someone who is in a caloric deficit, the following are some supplements which will help ensure you are running on optimal.
1. Fish Oils
Two out of three essential omega-3 fatty acids are found in the oil of fish. These are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) & EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Together with ALA ( alpha-linolenic acid , found in things like flax and walnuts), the three fall under the subheading of omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial for brain function, normal growth and development, and inflammation. Deficiencies have been linked to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, some cancers, mood disorders, arthritis, and more. But that doesn’t mean taking high doses translates to better health and disease prevention.
Aim for 3-9 daily grams of total fish oil (about 1-3 grams of EPA + DHA) per day (make sure their primary source isn’t fish discards).
Look for small-fish-based formulations (e.g. herring, mackerel). Since smaller fish are lower on the food chain they are less likely to accumulate environmental toxins. Or choose krill oil or algae oil.
Avoid cod liver oil.
Trans-fats can interfere with EPA & DHA in the body, so try to avoid consuming too much trans-fat.
Choose liquid over capsules as they will be of higher quality.. and you will also avoid the dreaded ‘fish burps’.
Most of us will have a small deficiency of vitamins and/or minerals in our daily diet. These deficiencies can affect mood, energy levels, slow down our metabolism, affect how we burn fat..just to name a few. It’s important that we fill this gap with a good multivitamin.
How Much To Take?
Always stick to the recommended dose as overdosing of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) can build up to toxic levels in our bodies.
Learn all about the role of vitamins and minerals in our bodies here.
3. Protein Powder
Although not really necessary if you are consuming a diet high in lean proteins such as lean red meats, chicken, fish.. it is more of a time saving option since most people have busy schedules that prevents them from getting in an adequate amount of protein.
Dietary protein is broken down by our bodies into amino acids acids to produce important molecules in our body – like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies – without an adequate protein intake, our bodies can’t function well at all.
Protein also helps replace worn out cells, acts as a transport system throughout the body, and aids in growth and repair.
Consuming protein can also increase levels of the hormone glucagon, which helps to control body fat. Glucagon is released when blood sugar levels drop. This causes the liver to break down stored glycogen into glucose for the body.
Protein also helps to liberate free fatty acids from adipose tissue – another fuel source for cells which in turn results in a leaner appearance.
How Much To Take?
Consuming higher levels of protein (~1g- per pound of body weight) may help you feel satisfied after eating as well as maintain a healthy body composition and good immune function. Aim to consume some protein before and after training to ensure adequate recovery.
Limit your consumption of protein powder to 80 grams/day (about 4 scoops)
If you’re consuming a high amount of protein and not getting in your recommended amount of fruits & veggies (5-6 servings/ day) then you are creating an acidic environment that will affect your muscle & bones.
How Much To Take?
Follow label recommendations, sticking with 1-2 servings/ day.
Use in addition to real foods.
Learn more about greens supplements and their benefits here.
So here you have the supplements that are worth spending money on.. the rest are just going to fill up space in your cupboard and eventually collect dust.
There has recently been an obsession with waist trainers. Celebrities the likes of Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, and Beyoncé.. just to name a few.. have been praising their waist trainers for giving them the much coveted and sought after ‘hourglass’ shape. Social media has also been a big part in giving praise to these updated medieval corsets. And now they have made their way into the fitness industry.
This angers me.
If you follow any fitness account on instagram, you are likely to have come across some ‘fitness pro trainer’ endorsing waist trainers or cinchers. They will take selfies in gym attire with a waist trainer on and credit that for their flat stomach, defined abs and hourglass figure.
THIS IS NOT TRUE!
I won’t even get into the fact that most of these so called ‘master’ or ‘pro’ trainers are a walking advertisement for plastic surgery, but the fact that there are thousands of women, alot of them young impressionable women.. even teenage girls, who will believe that an ever-constricting cincher will give them their dream body.
Anyone who has knowledge of the body will know that you cannot spot reduce, meaning that you can not target one specific body part/ area (ex: stomach, thighs) and lose fat only there. Fat loss is universal. When it occurs you will lose fat overall, some areas may go faster depending on your fat distribution.
What is waist training?
This new fad promises to melt belly fat, shrink your waist and give you an hourglass shape. You’re supposed to wear this compressive latex undergarment similar to a girdle (think: spanx on steroids) about 8-10 hours per day.. even while working out. As time passes by and ‘inches’ are lost you cinch your waist trainer more..and then *POOF* you end up with the much coveted mid-section.
Companies selling fitness waist cinchers claim that they compress your core, ramp up perspiration, release toxins, and metabolize fat. The tight fit also restricts your abdomen, reducing your food intake during the day. Advocates proclaim that these garments will help you lose fat and inches from your waist.
Waist Training Myths
1. It slims down your waist.
As stated before, you cannot spot reduce fat. The inches that you end up losing are a result of water weight from the excess perspiration (sweat) your body releases while wearing your waist trainer. Because it is water weight you will gain it back once your body is hydrated again.
2. Gives you an hourglass shape.
Ok.. let me provide some visuals:
>Full tube of toothpaste , cap on. Take your fingers, squeeze it in the middle. What happens? Still a full tube, BUT the toothpaste that was in the middle is now pushed to the top or the bottom..
>Hold a water balloon. Squeeze the middle of it. What happens? The center of the balloon is now thinner due to you squeezing it. When you remove your fingers, the balloon goes back to being a regular ol’ balloon.
What has happened in both scenarios is a REDISTRIBUTION of mass from one point to another, making it APPEAR thinner. You have not in any way actually REDUCED it.
3. Improves posture & strengthens the core.
Ummm.. NO not really. The only reason it may seem to improve your posture is because it forces you to sit up or stand up straight because of the stiff material. When you don’t have it on chances are your poor posture will return. Also.. by wearing something that tight you are not allowing your body’s natural core musculature to develop.
4. Reduces food intake.
Since this undergarment is essentially compressing your midsection (which houses many organs..including the stomach) it will give you a false feeling of being full. Does this sound healthy to you at all?
Now let me tell you what can and does happen:
1. Constricting the abdomen and torso could impair lung function by restricting the amount of space available for the lungs to expand into the abdomen and fill with air. When the lungs don’t expand…they don’t exchange oxygen or expel carbon dioxide, and the person is short of breath. While exercising your rate of breathing and demand for oxygen is higher, so if you’re wearing your waist trainer during exercise then you will feel the effects on your breathing even more. Reduced oxygenation can also affect your metabolism by slowing it down, which in turn can affect your weight
2. Can restrict your bowels.
This can lead to constipation
3. Causes bruised skin.
Can also bruise ribs if it’s tight enough.
4. Genetics play a big role.
If you genetically don’t have an hourglass shape, no amount of waist training will do that for you.
5. Compresses & shifts organs.
I will stop there.. though there are many other dangers to this new fad. The truth is that now a days people are looking for a quick fix. It takes time and dedication to food & exercise to achieve a flat and toned mid-section.
Abs are made in the kitchen and chiseled in the gym. Don’t fall prey to these fads.. because it’s just a TEMPORARY solution.
The average person who is trying to lose weight will usually cut out or severely reduce their carbohydrate intake. Sure they will experience an initial weight loss of anywhere between 5 – 15pds within the first 2 weeks. A simple and fast solution.. or so they think. The majority of that weight lost will be from water and mucle tissue.
Energy levels are the first to be affected from low carb diets, followed by headaches, cravings (usually for junk food), mood swings, slowed metabolism. The longer you are on a carb restricted diet the more it will take a toll on your body. Imagine not being able to go up a flight of stairs without losing your breath…or to experience hair thinning/ loss. These serious side effects can be a result of almost non-existent carbs for too long.
Your body cannot function without carbs. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for all of our body’s functions. From muscular contraction, to proper brain function, to immune response.. carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients your body cannot do without.
Simple Carbs vs. Complex Carbs
A simple carb is absorbed by the body quickly (ex: a piece of cake, pasta, white rice) compared to a lower glycemic complex carb (ex: oatmeal, nuts, beans) which is digested and absorbed by the body at a slower rate.
Once broken down and absorbed, these monosaccharides/sugars go to the liver to fill energy stores. After that, they enter the bloodstream and venture out to the other cells of the body and muscle tissue.
That being said, not all carbs are created equal. Depending on whether you are trying to lose body fat, maintain, or build, the majority of your carbs should be nutritious complex carbs.
Carbohydrates & Exercise
When you are weight training, carbs are the main fuel used by the muscles during a workout. Glycogen (carbs stored in the muscle cells) provides energy for workouts, allowing you to lift more and build more muscle. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning it burns alot more calories than fat. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. So if you’re lacking this macronutrient, you’ll run out of gas fairly quickly and your workout sessions will suffer.
The most important time to consume carbs is AFTER training. Since your body uses glycogen for energy during an anaerobic weight training workout, your glycogen stores will be depleted after your weight training workout. By consuming a high amount of carbs right after your session, the carbs will be shuttled directly into the muscle cells instead of the fat cells. The depleted glycogen stores in your muscles will act like a sponge and soak up all those carbs into the muscle cells. The result will be bigger and fuller muscles with a much quicker recovery period. If you do not replace those burned carbs immediately after your training session, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to increase your muscle growth and enhance muscle recovery and recuperation.
How Much Do I Need?
For the average person carbohydrate intake should be about 130 grams per day. Higher amounts of carbohydrates are needed with increased muscle mass and increased physical activity levels. However, excessive carbohydrate consumption will be stored for future use (as fat or glycogen).
So don’t be afraid to consume carbs.. it is an essential macronutrient that your body needs in order to function at its optimal level. Focus on including healthy complex carbohydrates into your meals and your body will thank you!