It happens to all of us at point or another. We think we are doing everything right.. exercising and eating as ‘clean’ as we possibly can. But then it happens.. you’re stuck and you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong.
Here are the top 3 reason’s that can stop your progress, and tips on how you can move past them.
1. Not Sleeping Enough
Sleep deprivation can affect your concentration and impair your memory; can make you feel lazy and less motivated (the thought of working out will feel like a major hassle); and affect your performance levels.
Insufficient sleep can also cause you to gain weight over time, by decreasing your body’s levels of leptin- a hormone responsible for making you feel full- and by increasing your levels of ghrelin, which increases your appetite and makes you want to eat more. (according an October 2010 article in the journal “Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism.”)
Another downside of sleep deprivation is the affect on your body’s ability to release growth hormone. By not getting enough sleep you are limiting your body’s ability to recover and regenerate cell & muscle tissue.
- ensure you are getting good quality sleep, about 7-9 hours will ensure your body will function at its best.
- avoid high sugar, refined carbs before bed time as this can raise your blood sugar & stress the organs involved in hormone regulation. Have a high protein snack instead.
- avoid screen time exposure 2-3 hours before bed as the blue light emitted from your devices can disrupt your circadian rhythm (if not, consider installing a blue light filter app)
If your brain detects the presence of a threat, whether it’s from a dangerous animal, work, or financial troubles, it will trigger the release of a cascade of chemicals, including adrenaline, CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), and cortisol. Your brain and body are preparing to handle the perceived threat by making you feel alert, ready for action and able to withstand an injury (fight or flight).
The release of adrenaline decreases appetite as blood flows away from the internal organs and to larger muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” But once the effects of adrenaline start to wear off, cortisol, (the “stress hormone”) remains and starts signaling the body to replenish your food supply. Today we use up a lot less energy dealing with our stress compared to our ancestors (they had to fight off large animals), yet we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the memo, so our brain is still going to tell us to reach for that cookie.
Besides fighting off large animals, our ancestors had to worry about famine. Their bodies learned to adapt by storing fat supplies for the long haul. Because of this when we are chronically stressed by life and/or work demands, the excess cortisol in our bodies slows down our metabolism, increasing visceral fat (belly fat). This type of fat releases chemicals triggering inflammation, putting us at an elevated risk for developing heart disease or diabetes. As you can see, chronic stress in our lives takes a major toll on our bodies.
- practice relaxation techniques
- find a quiet space & focus on some deep breathing
- learn how to say no. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts” and, when possible, say “no” to taking on too much.
- exercising too much without proper recovery can also impact the body in a negative way. Ensure you allow your body sufficient time for recovery. (Read my post on rest and recovery here).
3. Input vs. Output
By now you should know that your goals (whether its gaining mass or losing body fat) is dependent on whether you are fueling your body appropriately.
If your goal is fat loss then your output (exercise) should be greater than input (food). If you are consuming more than you are burning off, or if the quality of food is poor then you will not lose fat. Be cautious, though, to not restrict your calories too much as this can actually hinder fat loss as well and wreak havoc on your body, especially in women. The safest way to fat loss is learning portion control, eating quality, unprocessed foods, and having a proper weight training program.
If on the other hand, your goal is to gain muscle, then your input (food) should be greater than output (exercise). If you are not eating enough and exercising too much then you will not gain muscle muscle mass.
- for either goal, you should aim for nutritious, unprocessed foods. Include lean proteins, fruits & vegetables (especially greens), and healthy fats.
- limit high sugar, processed foods.
- have a proper weight training and HIIT program to help build muscle.
- be patient, it takes time. If you are gaining or losing too fast, then its likely not happening at a healthy level.. which is not sustainable in the long term.
There are other variables that come in to play, but I believe these are the top ones. Ultimately it comes down to listening to your body. Our bodies will always tell us if something is not working.. you just have to learn to listen.
Happy Training! 😊
I’ve seen it too many times… back when I worked at gyms and still now when I work out at my local commercial gym: alot (not all) of women are neglecting the big old compound exercises. The reasons could be many:
- Lack of knowledge: not knowing how to correctly perform the exercise
- Intimidation: some women feel intimidated walking into the free weights section because of all the testosterone around. I say OWN it.. do your thang girl!!
- Have been misinformed: some women might still believe that these big lifts are just “too manly” for them, totally not the case.
I could continue, but then this would turn into a looonnnggg rant.
Ok, so moving on… these lifts I like to refer to them as the “Build-A Body” group, because when implemented correctly can help ‘build’ your lady bumps and humps 😉 and who wouldn’t want that?!
- The Deadlift: A foundational lift. This exercise mimics everyday movements like bending and lifting (ex: picking up your little one). This one is my ultimate favourite lift. With so many different variations, I incorporate the deadlift in almost every one of my workouts. Muscles worked include:
- entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, hips): equals a beautiful backside
- engages your core musculature (internal girdle): a strong core increases overall strength, protects your back, and lets you wear those crop tops without thinking twice
- biceps and forearms: develops your grip strength so you can lift more heavy SH*T!
- Here’s a great article on deadlifting written by Tony Gentilcore (who is only the world’s deadlifting god)
- The Squat: Another foundational lift as you do this movement every time you sit and stand. With many variations to choose from, you can never get bored of this one.
- helps build and shape nice thighs
- helps build glutes
- builds overall strength
- The Hip Thrust: This one is a great glute builder/ isolator exercise. Remember that your glutes are pure muscle and in order to grow them you need to learn to fire the glutes and stimulate them properly using heavier loads, varying rep ranges, etc. You can increase or decrease the intensity level by doing body weight hip thrusts, adding bands, doing singe leg variations.. possibilities are many.
- Pull-ups: This is the ultimate upper body exercise as it builds incredible strength. As a multi joint exercise:
- works & strengthens entire back musculature, shoulders, biceps, grip strength
- creates a tapered effect of the back making your waist look smaller
- different hand positions target the muscles a little differently/ changes difficulty
- Vertical/ Horizontal Presses: These include push-ups & variations (horizontal press exercises); military press, push-press, shoulder press, etc (vertical press exercises). These exercises:
- increase upper body strength (women have less muscle mass compared to their lower bodies.. we gotta work harder at it!)
- work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core
- Band assisted push-ups (beginners)
- Awesome push-up variations (advanced)
- Military Press helps build amazing shoulders
- Push Press helps build raw strength. Improves shoulder stability. And can I just say it look badass when a woman does it!!
So here it is ladies.. a short list of some lifts to definitely include in your training. Don’t be intimidated or embarrassed of walking into that gym and grabbing some iron. Your body will thank you 😉
Happy Training 🙂
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 🙂
There’s something about holding a kettlebell that makes me oh-so-happy :).. so with the weather not being nice today I decided to do my workout at home. It was just me and my kettlebell (60pds) and good ol’ rope.
So today’s workout was a circuit:
☆Sumo deadlift 15×8
☆2-hand press 6×8
☆Kettlebell swings 25×8
☆Jump rope drills 90sec x8 (not pictured)
Total time: 48min 52sec 😥
Benefits of Kettlebell Training
▪ Most people are unaware of over training the front side of their body (ex: chest, abs &quads, aka: the mirror muslces). However, the back side of the body (posterior chain) is equally important for functional and esthetic reasons. Kettlebells promote coordination among all the muscles of the posterior chain. Training these muscles corrects posture, imbalances and reduces lower back pain among others.
Quick Fact: Your posterior chain is a group of muscles, tendons, & ligaments on the back side of your body. These are the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
▪ They promote hip flexor flexibility & strengthen the abdominal muscles. This reduces pelvic tilt & decreases lower back pain.
▪ Trains your body to work as a unit. No kettlebell exercise is ever a single joint movement. Every swing, lift, or press engages many joints & muscle groups forcing the body to always work as a unified whole.
▪ Teaches proper bracing of the abdominal cavity. People tend to suck in their stomach when told to ‘engage the core’. Kettlebells teach ‘bracing’ the mid-section (as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach). This internal pressure created by your breath and abdominal wall supports your back, making you stronger.
▪ The acceleration/deceleration of moving a kettlebell strengthens connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, cartilage). This increases mobility, strength & flexibility reducing the possibility of injury.
So there you have it.. just some of the benefits these awesome chunks of iron can have on the body when incorporated into your workout.
Happy training 🙂
You’ve probably all been told that to see the results you want, you need to put in the work.
It takes dedication, commitment, perseverance, sacrifice and patience. Notice I did not mention time. I purposely left time out because I believe that if you are commited to your goals then you will make sure to dedicate the time necessary to achieve your goals. There is no way around it. You either have results or excuses.. not both.
I will talk a little about myself and my fitness goals:
I had gained 50 pds with my recent pregnancy.. I guess that’s just how my body works (I had gained 60pds with my first pregnancy). I get what it is to look at yourself after baby is born and not recognize your body. You still look pregnant..and it’s frustrating.
My goal throughout my pregnancy was to keep as active as I could. I continued my workouts (with obvious adjustments) until a few pregnancy-related discomforts didn’t allow me to lift weights anymore..at around the 7 month mark. I then focused on prenatal yoga & stretching.
Once my son was born & I passed the 6 week mark I resumed my weight training. My goal was to shed my baby weight and tighten up my abdominal section by October (my son was born in January). The truth was, having a baby around again left me with little time for myself & zero energy. But I made the effort to workout at least 2x/week and keep my food as clean as I could.
As the months passed, I developed a nice little routine. I would do my metobolic workouts from home, and make it to the gym for my weight training sessions (which ended up being late at night). I’ll be honest and say that there were many times I just didn’t have the energy to go to the gym or I just wanted to stay home.. and sometimes I did. But I didn’t beat myself up over it.. I just made up for it the next day.
I shed the baby weight by the time October rolled around and I felt comfortable in a bikini (I had a destination wedding to attend), which felt great!
My current goal is to focus on gaining more definition. At the moment I don’t have definitive time of where I want to be by “X date”. I just train and eat clean ( I do indulge here & there) and I don’t feel guilty about it.
• I currently weight train 3x/week
• Do 1 metabolic workout at home
• I eat 5-6x/day
• Drink about 2L of water/day
We all have jobs, spouses, kids, social lives; but what you need to do is dedicate yourself to your goals, commit time to reaching them, understand that there will need to be some sacrifices made along the way, and have perserverance when faced with obstacles.
With dedication and commitment no goal is unattainable ☺
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 🙂
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.