Tag Archives: weight loss

Healthy Holidays: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great time to get together with family, see old friends and eat lots of delicious food.  It’s also an easy opportunity to eat too much, eat the wrong things and end up feeling way off track with your meal plan.  Prevent each of those dining issues, stick with your meal plan, stay on track and get through this food filled holiday with these thanksgiving buffettips.

Get active.  Check out a local Turkey Trot.  You’ll have some fun and burn calories while making room for dinner.  Not in the mood for a jog?  Challenge your family to a backyard football game, play tag with the kids or take the dogs for a nice long walk.  Any activity that gets your blood pumping earns you an extra slice of turkey.

Eat before you eat.  Thanksgiving buffets can be delightfully tasty, especially when you’re very hungry.  Packing your plate with too much food is one major source of holiday season weight gain but it’s easy to prevent.  Eating something light and healthy before you head out will help stop you from over serving and over eating.

Scan before serving.  Look at all of your Thanksgiving options before piling anything on your plate.  Not only will this mean fewer trips to the buffet, it will help you make better for you choices.  Pick out dishes that are filled with vegetables and lean meats but light on greasy butter.  Limit desserts and alcoholic beverages to a minimum so make sure you get the one you like on the first try.

Make your own.  Just because it’s not a pot luck meal doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to pitch in.  Ask your host what you can bring to help out.  If you make it yourself, you know what’s in it and how much you can have without feeling guilty afterwards.

Take these Healthy Holidays tips with you to your Thanksgiving destination for a happy, good for day of feasting that won’t leave you feeling off track.

Coach Meredith

Run For Beer: Alcohol and Performance

Will run for beer.  Will run for wine.  These little phrases grace hats, headbands, and stickers alcohol and performancenear race courses every weekend.  It’s a great premise, running to burn the calories you know you’ll be enjoying after your workout.  Unfortunately, alcohol does more than simply replace your now missing calories.

Dehydration.  We all know that hydration is an important part of being able to perform at peak levels.  Alcohol acts as a diuretic, each gram of alcohol we consume generates 10 milliliters of urine.  This can equate to lots of bathroom trips and serious dehydration.  Muscles are 75% water and leaving them thirsty can result in fatigue, weakness and electrolyte imbalances with as little as 2% dehydration having an impact on your athletic performance.

Muscle Performance.  Not only will thirsty muscles not be able to perform at their peak, they won’t get any stronger.  In addition to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, alcohol can reduce the protein synthesis required for muscle building through a steroid hormone called Cortisol.  Cortisol is released in response to low blood glucose levels that results from indulging in alcohol and works in opposition to the systems that build muscle.  Cortisol can even tear proteins apart, resulting in muscle atrophy and making you weaker instead of stronger.

Sleep.  ‘Passing out’ is not the restorative sleep any body needs, especially those looking to be active the next day.  While one or two beverages might help relieve stress and make hitting the way a bit easier, alcohol does interrupt your sleep patterns.  To feel like we get a good night’s sleep, we have to enter REM sleep, which alcohol prevents.  Poor REM sleep can lead to tiredness during the day, an inability to concentrate and an overall crummy mood.

Weight gain.  Most of us know all of the empty calories associated with alcohol can lead to weight gain.  What we need to know is how.  Ethanol (alcohol), like a carbohydrate, is processed by the human body as sugar.  When we load the body up with processed foods or booze, blood sugar levels spike, insulin resistance decreases and everything the body can’t immediately process is stored as fat.  To learn more, check out this video from P360 in San Diego.

Hangovers.  Not only will have a headache after a night of boozing, your coordination, reaction times and balance will all be suffering, too.  You’ll also be less motivated to actually get out there and exercise while simultaneously inclined to eat something greasy and unhealthy.

There’s nothing wrong with having a fun and enjoying a few cocktails, it’s a great way to celebrate setting a new PR or finishing your first marathon.  Make sure you don’t end up steering clear of your recovery workout the next morning, by including water in your drinking plan, having food with your fun and stopping alcohol consumption long before bedtime.

Coach Meredith

The Big Benefits of Interval Training

Runners can make big gains in race times by adding interval training.  The benefits of interval training at a high intensity are numerous.  From improved cardiovascular health, more effective weight loss and increased leg turnover, there’s not enough that can be said for the good things you’ll see from adding interval training to your program.  Here are five of those good reasons:

  • Interval training improves aerobic capacity by decreasing recovery time.  Bring your heart rate up then giving it a quick break trains that important muscle to operate at a higher level benefits of interval trainingfor a longer period of time without fatiguing by increasing the volume of blood it can move, replace and circulate.
  • Intervals increase lactate threshold.  Lactic acid is produced by anaerobic activity and the point at which it begins to accumulate in the blood stream is your lactate threshold.  Build-up of lactic acid can cause a decrease in muscle performance, stiffness and cramping.  The more tolerant your lactate threshold is, the more improvement you’ll see at high levels of effort.  Intervals work to increase this threshold by allowing the body to temporarily exceed it and recover while still maintaining an effective level of physical activity.
  • One of the biggest benefits of interval training is that it’s more effective at inducing fat loss, boosting metabolism and increasing post exercise calorie expenditure than typical endurance training.  Metabolic rates have been shown in increase for up to 24 hours following an intense interval session, burning calories all day long.  Intense interval training has also been linked to lower insulin resistance and improve glucose tolerance.
  • Increasing speed is the end goal for lots of runners and intervals are a great way to do it.  Increasing the lactate threshold allows for more intense activity for longer period of time before pain or fatigue can interfere with performance.  To run fast, you need to practice running fast.  Intervals are the perfect way to train your body to operate at a high level of intensity for a long period of time.
  • Intervals are fun!  Using varied interval workouts prevent workout boredom and are a great way to judge progress.  Interval workouts are not only more effective, but also less time consuming than traditional endurance workouts as a thirty minute interval workout will garner the same benefits as a two hour long steady state endurance workout.

Include high intensity training to your program to reap these big benefits of interval training.  Intervals can be done on any piece of equipment, with body weight exercises, while running and even while walking which means anyone can be helped by adding them.

Want to add intervals to your program?  Ask us how!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or comment below!

4 Running for Weight Loss Tips

Running is a wonderful way to burn calories, and can be an effective part of a weight loss program.  Running for weight loss, however, can be frustrating and difficult.  Here are four important things to know when you decide to include running for weight loss in your fitness program.

Running doesn’t always mean weight loss.  Yes, it can, but weight loss really comes from a calorie deficiency.  That means your body is burning more calories than it takes in, whether that is achieved by eating less or burning more.  If running for weight loss is going to work for you, you’ll need to find a way to create this caloric deficiency even when you add fuel requiring running to your day.running for weight loss

You aren’t running all day.  When running for weight loss, it’s important to consider your entire day.  Being sedentary before and after your exercise period can easily undo all the work you’ve just put in.  When designing your meal plan, but sure to take into account your level of activity all day long and steer clear of high calorie post-run foods if you’re done being active after your exercise session.

Include variety.  Challenging your mind and body is an integral part of any running for weight loss plan.  Your body works hard to adapt to training stimuli, and that means burnt calories.  By giving your muscles a new type of work to do, they constantly work to adapt.  Adding interval or hill work changes the demands your muscles and cardiovascular system have to deal with, aiding in post-exercise calorie consumption, increasing resting metabolism and increasing muscle mass.

Fat loss, not weight loss.  One pound of muscle weighs exactly as much as one pound of fat, it just happens to take up less room.  Muscle is more running for weight lossdense, and running will help build it.  Running for weight loss might not change the number on the scale, but as fat burns and muscle builds, clothes will fit better and legs will tone up.

Most importantly, run because you love to run, not because you’re trying to burn calories.  You must enjoy the type of exercise you do if it’s going to help with weight management or loss.  There are tons of exercise options out there, and any of them can be equally as effective as heading out for a run.

Want to add running to your plan?  Team FitNice is here to help!  Email us at Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

How to Eat More and Weigh Less

Want to eat more and shed body fat?  Yes, it is possible to eat more food while simultaneously shedding pounds, and you can do it.  eat moreWeight loss boils down to taking in fewer calories than you burn, creating a calorie deficiency, but it doesn’t always mean tofu and hunger.  Changing the foods you eat can dramatically shape weight loss patterns and doing so is probably easier than you think.  The word diet is often associated with fads, such as Atkins or South Beach, and that’s unfortunate.  Including proper foods, meal planning and good choices are important elements of a good, healthy, lifelong diet, and there’s nothing faddish about that.  If you pick the right foods, you can easily eat more while you begin to weigh less.

Picking the right foods can be challenging, and choosing foods that are filling, without being high in calories is even harder.  Here are a few tips to help you leave the supermarket with a cart full of delicious, filling foods.  Select foods that are rich in fiber.  Dietary fiber will help you feel full, and keep everything in your gut moving.  Fruits and veggies are rich in fiber, but also high in water content, which can aid with hydration, digestion and satiety.  It’s easy to eat more fruits and vegetables by adding them to almost any meal, especially salads and eat moresandwiches.  Cut up carrots, apples or celery to dip in low-fat dressings or peanut butter and keep them in ready-to-go containers in the fridge for healthy, easy to eat snacks.

In addition to adding fruits and vegetables to your snack routine, try to replace corn chips or salty, fatty potato chips with air popped popcorn that’s just as tasty and will be more satisfying.  Switch out the rice in recipes for quinoa and trade iceberg lettuce for kale to increase fiber and eat more good for you foods that make you feel full.  The benefit of swapping out unhealthy, non-filling foods with those that make you feel stuffed is that sticking with a weight loss plan is much easier to do when you enjoy the things you eat, and even more so if they’re delicious and filling.

The extra bonus of switching to filling, good-for-you food while working to shed fat is that you’ll learn to like these foods best, and any worries about regaining the weight will slip away.

Are you looking for guidance on your weight loss journey?  We’re here to help!  Learn more by checking out our Nutrition page, send us an email at Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

Is Intermittent Fasting for You?

Intermittent fasting is a form of diet control that involves exactly what it claims and is slowly gaining popularity.  You fast, and you do it intermittently.  A hunger strike it’s not, so you won’t find yourself starving, but it’s possible that the old mantra of ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ might actually not be as valuable as we thought.intermittent fasting

For those who are trying to lose weight, a huge emphasis is often put on eating breakfast to get your metabolism going, then spacing out five more meals throughout the day.  Intermittent fasting often includes skipping breakfast and some proponents have abandoned the morning meal altogether.  Consisting of two phases, fasting and feasting, this diet pattern prevents the many small meals type of eating schedule from being possible.

Intermittent fasting relies on the fact that your body functions differently in each phase.  When feasting, the body burns the energy it can from what you’ve just eaten because it’s easily accessible, instead of pulling energy out of stored fat.  In the fasting phase, there’s no readily available source of energy in the blood, making the body more likely to go to fat stores for energy.  Burn fat, lose weight, and that’s good news.

The eating schedule associated with an intermittent fasting diet pattern can vary from eating only during certain time windows to taking a full 24 hours away from food.  Popular plans include alternate day fasting (12 hours of feast, 36 hours of fasting), randomly skipping meals, one or two 24 hour fasts during a week, 8 hours of feast, 16 of fast and 4 hours of feasting with 20 hours of fasting.  If you decide to give this type of eating a try, play with different feasting windows and be sure to take into account how your exercise or training routines can affect your body’s caloric needs.

Intermittent fasting can affect men and women differently, so before you start, check out this wonderful article from Mark’s Daily Apple.  If you want more information, you can also read this incredibly thorough article from Nerd Fitness or email us at Info@FitNicePT.com

Benefits of Interval Training (HIIT)

High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a great way to get the most from limited work out time.  HIIT workouts can range from taking four minutes to thirty, plus a warm up and cool down if it’s short and including them if you’re working out a little longer.  While HIIT is great for those who are short on time, it’s also a great weight loss tool, a fun way to keep workouts mixed up, and there is no equipment required.

HIIT involves alternating periods of maximal exertion with periods of rest.  Work and rest should occur in a 2:1 ratio with the intensity mimicking that ratio.  Work period should be at maximal, 100% efforts while rests should be at 50% effort.  A great example is sprinting for one minute then walking for thirty seconds and repeating.  A popular form of HIIT known as Tabata training was created by Izumi Tabata and uses cycles of 20 seconds of intense activity partnered with 10 seconds of rest between sets for 8 rounds (notice the optimal 2:1 ratio of these intervals), and one round should take four minutes.

The ultimate goal of interval training is to bring your heart rate up and down repeatedly, leading to increased cardiovascular capacity, increased insulin sensitivity, increased lactate threshold, decreased recovery time and numerous studies have demonstrated that HIIT increases resting metabolic rate (RMR)  leads to improvements in athletic performance.  HIIT’s maximal exertion pushes you into the anaerobic training zone, which isn’t a place steady state workouts visit.  Steady state exercise, such as a long walk or hour on the elliptical causes your body to burn more fat than glycogen, but when trying to lose weight, the goal is to burn the most total fat.  Interval training gives you rest periods which allow you to perform at a maximal rate for longer length of time than steady state activities, so you will burn more total fat by using HIIT.   This is great for burning fat because it throws your body into super repair mode and helps jump start your metabolism. During the up to 24 hours post workout your muscles are working to repair themselves, human growth hormone (HGH) production increases, leading to increased burning of calories and possibly slowing the aging process.

The best benefit of HIIT is that you don’t need a gym or any equipment other than yourself to get it done.  Anything and everything, including running, jumping, jumping rope, air squats, burpees, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups can all be used to do interval training.  So get out there and give it a try!

Have questions about working HIIT into your routine or what kind of exercises might be best for you?  Ask us through email at Info@FitNicePT.com

When Should You Do Your Cardio?

Many people wonder when they should do their cardio.  Do it before or after they lift weights?  The answer is different for every individual, but no matter what your fitness goals are, cardiovascular training is an incredibly important part of your routine.  Here are some tips for making sure you get the most out of your cardio training time.

We get most of our workout energy from a compound in our bodies called glycogen.  Glycogen is long term energy storage produced and stored in muscles and fat cells.  We get the glycogen we need from the food we eat, so the most important thing to know about any workout is that doing it on an empty stomach is a bad idea.  If you haven’t eaten before your session, your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs to perform at an optimal level.  This means you won’t see the results you want or expect because your body will start to feed on valuable muscle cells, rather than food stores to power the workout.

If your goal is to lose weight, you want your workout to have the largest afterburn effect possible.  The afterburn effect is best for weight loss because calories burn for up to 48 hours after your session, not just during it.  Heavy resistance training workouts have been shown to induce big afterburn effects, increasing cardiovascular health and strength, though scientific evidence is ultimately inconclusive.  Another excellent reason to save your cardio for second is safety.  Doing cardio before lifting uses up the glycogen stored in muscles, which means you don’t have it to help you pick those weights up.  By lifting first, you have the help you need to perform weight lifting exercises safely and correctly.  Not only does doing cardio second keep you safe, by the time you get to the cardio portion of your session, the lower glycogen stores in your muscles will lead your body to start using energy stores from fat cells.

If you have time in your day, you want to separate your lifting and cardio sessions into two separate times of day with two or more hours in between.  If you aren’t lucky enough to have that much time to exercise and are doing weights and cardio back to back, find what works best for you.  Try doing an intense run before you lift, try switching them and comparing how you felt after each one.  There is also the option to mix them together, doing a round of weightlifting followed by a sprint in a high intensity interval.  Since fat burn doesn’t actually occur while we work out, but one to 48 hours later, the determining factor is how much energy you expend overall.

The best answer is to do what works best for you.  Try each style of workout, writing down how you felt before, during and after each one then deciding which one you like best.  You also don’t have to stick with one style, you can always, and should regularly, change your workout so your muscles keep responding.

Questions?  Need or want help developing a plan to reach your goals?  Email us!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Strength Training Basics

The key to any strength training program is knowing what your goals are.  Strength training uses a variety of resistance techniques to achieve any number of goals, and your routine will vary greatly based on what your goals happen to be.  Weight training is a great way to burn fat and gain muscle no matter what your age, but it becomes especially important as we get older.

Muscles burn twice as many calories as fats do, so building muscle is a great way to enhance your metabolism and burn more calories every day.  When setting out to gain muscle and lose fat, it’s important to have a basic idea of what kind of routine you need to use to reach your specific goals.  There are lots of options for strength training equipment available, and you might be surprised how much you can do with just your own body weight.  Resistance bands, machines, free weights, and medicine balls are all other good choices for building muscles.  Picking a method for your training regimen has to be based on what your ultimate goal is.

If your goal is to ‘tone up’, you want to decrease body fat while simultaneously increasing muscle definition without busting out of your t-shirt.  In contract, those who want to buy bigger t-shirts for their biceps are trying to ‘bulk up’.  The average person is not interested in bulking up, lifting very heavy weights for a few reps every day, coupled with the strict diet required for reaching body building goals can really get in the way of day to day life.  That being said, everyone should lift heavy weights.

That may sound like a contradiction, but what you and I think of as heavy is a walk in the park to someone who body builds, just check out the Olympic records!  When your muscle becomes fatigued, it tears a little bit.  The body’s effort to repair these tears is what makes you sore and helps those muscle burn calories that take those unwanted pounds off.  Lifting light weights will get you results, if you have the time to do enough repetitions to fatigue your muscle.  You might have to do 100 reps with a 5lb weight to feel a little burn, but only 12 with a fifteen pound dumbbell.  Our time is valuable, so cutting down the reps by increasing the weight you lift will keep your workout moving along.

Whether we like it or not, muscle mass decreases with age.  It’s important to replace that muscle as we age regardless of what type of weight you’re lifting or how much time you spend doing it, as long as the muscles get tired.  Strength training of any type is also going to help keep bones dense, making them less likely to break and aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis.  Building muscle can also help with balance, making dangerous falls less likely to occur.

Now you have an idea of what you’re getting with a strength training routine, so go get started!  Have questions?  Want help?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com.