Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Follow the Golden Ratio to a Perfect Body…General Diet Plan for Active People

So it seemed like a LOT of you guys were totally digging the Do This…Look Like That..Total Body Blitz Workout.  I was happy to see such a great response, and glad so many of you are ready to start a total body change.  A bit cliché, but true; the first step is always the hardest. 

One thing that kept coming up however, was requests for a diet plan.  Creating general dietary plans is always a bit tricky.  Generally, exercise programming (like the workout linked above) is far easier to do effectively for the masses.  Because each of us are so physiologically different, creating a cookie-cutter diet plan that works for everyone is a real challenge.  Not to mention, there are so many different tastes and dietary requirements we all have.  That said, I contacted one our dietitians on staff to get a little extra help with this article.  Together, she and I have created what we believe to be a very good guideline to follow while completing a strenuous workout like the one linked above. 

A few key points to keep in mind; if you find you are gaining weight too fast, i.e. more than a pound a week, feel free to cut back on serving sizes and/or cut out meals as you see fit.  Unlike other diet plans, we’re not going to tell you exactly when you have to eat.  While some may like a highly structured plan, numerous studies show that forcing people to eat at certain times every day leads to burn out and lack of adherence.  We didn’t list EVERY food you could possibly eat.  We gave you several options, but if you enjoy something *healthy* that we didn’t list, feel free to substitute it.  i.e. beet salad for spinach salad, etc. 

With all that out of the way, lets move on to the good stuff.  Keep in mind, this diet was created for a 140lb woman of average build, working out 5 days a week (hopefully using the workout we posted last week).

So like I said, this is a general guideline for a diet plan.  Each week goes like this:

  • Monday: Pick one item from Breakfast Group 1, snack group 1 item, lunch group 1 item, snack group 2 item, dinner group  item, dinner side.
  • Tuesday: Breakfast group 2 item, snack group 1 item, lunch group 2 item, snack group 2, dinner group, dinner side, pre-bed snack.
  • Wednesday:  Breakfast Group 1, snack group 1 item, lunch group 1 item, snack group 2 item, dinner group  item, dinner side.
  • Thursday: Breakfast group 2 item, snack group 1 item, lunch group 2 item, snack group 2, dinner group, dinner side, pre-bed snack.
  • Friday:  Breakfast Group 1, snack group 1 item, lunch group 1 item, snack group 2 item, dinner group  item, dinner side.
  • Saturday: Breakfast group 2 item, snack group 1 item, lunch group 2 item, snack group 2, dinner group, dinner side, pre-bed snack.
  • Sunday: You decide!

Food Groupings

  • Breakfast Group 1: Protein shake, 3-egg scramble with 2 oz. diced chicken breast and veggies, 1 cup cottage cheese/handful of berries/slice of whole wheat toast, breakfast burrito.
  • Breakfast Group 2: Bowl of oatmeal with chopped walnuts, 3-4 Power Cookies and glass of milk, 1 whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, 1 bowl of whole grain cereal (Kashi golean Crunch for example).
  • Snack Group 1: mini pizza on whole wheat English muffin, chunky peach pop, low-fat ranch and crunch veggies, polenta biscotti, turkey rollups.
  • Lunch Group 1:  6 oz. chicken breast, 1 can of tuna, 1 6oz salmon filet, 1 turkey burger patty, 6 oz. grilled skirt steak, 1.5 cups cottage cheese
  • Lunch Group 2: Spinach salad with balsamic, baked sweet potato, asian green bean salad, 1/2 cup brown rice, tomato and mozzarella salad, 1 cup quinoa
  • Snack Group 2: Hummus and carrots, small handful almonds and apple, string cheese wrapped in prosciutto, feta walnut dip with whole wheat crackers, handful of edamame, ants on a log, small whole wheat bagel.  Substitute protein shake for snack group 2 if you are working out.  Take shake within 30 minutes of ending workout.
  • Dinner Group: seafood ravioli with red pepper cream sauce, cumin spiced chicken with chunky tomato sauce, 1 cup whole wheat pasta with Sicilian-style marinara and roasted veggies, pork chops and fava beans, beef and guinness stew.
  • Dinner Sides: Mock potatoes, steamed broccoli, balsamic grilled asparagus, 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup cous cous, hoisin glazed eggplant.

Before Bed Snack: Dairy protein of some sort, i.e. greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, etc.  Reason for this is dairy proteins are slow-digesting, meaning they’ll give you a steady source of protein throughout the night while you sleep.  This will keep your muscles from starving and help you maintain muscle mass 24 hours a day.

Again, this is a very general plan.  The recipes selected (and linked to) are either some of my personal favorites and/or exceptionally healthy and balanced.  Obviously, the choices and recipes you actually decide to use are limitless.  These are just things that I’ve seen real-life clients use effectively. 

The key components of this diet rest on a few key principles:

  • 35% of your calories should come from protein.  1 gram of protein is equal to 4 calories.  35% should come from carbs.  1 gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories.  30% should come from fat.  1 gram of fat is equal to 7 calories.  There are variations on this ratio, but it experience 35/35/30 provides exactly what is needed.  If you deviate a bit, err on the side of more protein. 
  • Meals are evenly spaced out to ensure metabolism stays high.  Again, this type of eating works for most people.  Every body is different, so if you find eating 5-6 meals a day is too much, and sticking to 3-4 is easier AND effective..go with that.  This diet is hardly set in stone.
  • The most important meals are the post-workout whey protein shake and the dairy before bed.  Do your absolute best not to skip these.
  • The most effective diets are the ones that aren’t telling you exactly which foods to eat, which foods you absolutely cannot eat, and when to eat.  These type of diets are often scams/fads with ulterior motives.  This diet plan is a balanced and healthy diet that is easy to stick to.  The goal is to maintain the 35/35/30 balance and not neglect your intake of veggies and other foods that provide essential nutrients. 

This should give you a great step in the right direction to achieving the body and health you’ve always wanted.  As always, any questions, feel free to ask.

Drink This….Look like That…The MOST Important Meal You CANNOT Miss…

Okay, so here’s a spin-off to yesterday’s, Do This…Look like That workout posting…We received so many questions about pre/post workout nutrition advice, that it made sense to give you a guys a full write-up on what you should be consuming before and after your workout. 

Something to keep in mind…developing that lean, mean, athletic physique is accomplished 40% in the gym and 60% by what you put into your mouth.  I’ll save a full general diet plan for another time, so right now, we’re going to focus on two points; pre-exercise nutrition, and post-exercise nutrition (also kn0wn as the MOST important meal of your day). 

Pre-exercise nutrition is fairly simple.  You need to give your body fuel to perform at a high-level, although you don’t want to stuff yourself so you are exercising on a full stomach….that really isn’t pleasant.  You’ll see many bloggers, personal trainers, and self-appointed experts tell you to have a high-sugar, simple carbohydrate meal before exercise.  The idea behind this is you will get a boost of energy which will help you perform at a higher level.  While you will certainly get a boost, you will also get a crash.  Who wants to come down in the middle of a workout and have that lethargic feeling consume their mind and body?  Not me. 

Best bet is to consume a complex carbohydrate focused meal about 2-3 hours before exercise.  Think about having a bowl of oatmeal, some chicken and brown rice, quinoa salad, whole wheat pasta with marinara, etc.  These carbohydrates will take longer to break down into glucose (which is what your body uses for fuel), thus, providing a slower, but steadier stream of energy for you to exercise.  Personally, if even after a good carb meal, I’m still feeling sluggish, I’ll consume about 8 ounces of coffee 20-30 minutes before I work out.  This usually helps give me the jolt I need to perform at a high-level.

Now, on to the real reason you are here…what about that all important post-exercise meal?  Well, let’s wait just one minute.  Before we get that far, I need to have a serious talk with you ladies out there.  I’ve heard it a million times…whether its from someone half way around the world, or a real-life client….you. do. not. want. to. get. big. and. bulky.  I get it.  I really, realllly get it.  Problem is, so many of you women out there are afraid to eat protein because you’re afraid of a) excess calories in your diet and b) you have some crazy idea that protein is basically steroids and adding protein to your diet will make you huge and manly.   

Please, for the love of all things holy, get this idea out of your head.  Understand this; protein drives muscle synthesis.  Your body needs it to create new muscle.  When you work out, you break your muscles down.  When you rest and eat well, you build your muscles up.  You could do all the exercising and weight lifting in the world, but if you aren’t feeding your muscles, you’re seriously wasting your time. 

Fortunately for you ladies out there, the amount of muscle your body creates is much different than what a man creates.  You do not have to worry about packing on pounds of bulky muscle just because you begin upping your protein intake.  I can usually tell just by looking at two different exercisers who is getting enough protein.  One woman will have shapely, firm, and toned limbs, core, and back-side.  The other will usually have soft muscles, non-visible abdominals, and a weak lower body.  Protein is THAT important to develop a sexy physique. 

With that out of the way, lets look at the MOST important meal of the day, which is the post-workout whey protein shake.  The idea behind this is pretty basic; we want to give your starving muscles the protein it needs, along with a simple carb (one of the few times I will recommend a simple carbohydrate) to spike insulin levels moderately, and help drive protein into your muscles.  There are certainly a variety of opinions on this matter, but I’ve seen what works, and those who consume a simple carb+whey protein shake every single time they workout, are looking pretty damn good.

So, to make that power shake after a workout, you need a few things:

  • 12 oz low-fat/skim milk
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 banana or 1 serving of dried fruit (cherries, apples, blueberries are all great in shakes)

Optional (if you have a hard time gaining weight/muscle):

  • 1/4 cup oats (grind these into a fine powder before adding anything else)

Blend those three ingredients up, add the oats if you feel you could use some extra calories, and drink it down.  Make sure to consume this power shake within 30 minutes of ending your workout.  Make it the first thing you do after you get home and don’t get lazy about it.  A well-timed protein shake taken consistently after each workout really will make the difference between looking average and looking (and feeling) GREAT!

Stay connected to the Share It Fitness launch by signing up here, and be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss any of our fitness articles and advice.  If you’re feeling really enthusiastic, follow us on FB to get quick updates and fitness advice in your news feed!

Do This…Look like That…Total Body Blitz Workout

Fitness is really is.  Most trainers, websites, exercise DVD makers, etc, want to make it seem like there’s some exact, and hard to comprehend, scientific formula to getting in shape.  They all claim to have figured it out, and purport that THEIR method is the best, and likely, only way to get in shape.  The whole game is designed to confuse you, so you become reliant on them for their advice and/or workouts.  The game is up; this simply isn’t the way fitness works.

Certainly, there are some elements of any successful workout program that must be followed.  We aren’t saying you can just go out, casually lift some weights, run a few miles a week, and develop a killer bod.  It’s not quite that simple.  Problem with so many exercise programs out there today is they take bits and pieces of the three basic elements of a great workout.  P90x, for example, is great at utilizing muscle confusion techniques…but only for a limited period of time.  These workouts aren’t geared for a lifelong body transformation..rather, a 90 day change, at which point, your body has gotten so used to the workout cycle, it stops making progress.

I’ve been in the exercise biz many a year now, and have created Share It Fitness to bring top quality exercise programming to the masses.  I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.  I know women don’t want to look like men, they simply want to develop that lean, mean, athletic look.  Being fit and sexy isn’t about being deathly skinny and starving yourself.  It’s about having a lean, toned upper body, a strong core, and a powerful and explosive lower body.  Developing this is very simple.  All it takes is self-discipline and a well-crafted plan.  If you stick to the plan below, to a T, I guarantee you will discover the body you’ve always wanted (provided you are eating a healthy diet as well).

It’s time to stop messing around with trends and fads, and start training to change your body and life, permanently.

For each week, each bullet point corresponds to one day.  It is best to do these in order (first bullet point = Monday, second bullet point = Tuesday, etc.) as the routine has been carefully designed to allow your muscles to rest effectively.

Week 1

  • Monday – 60 minutes HIIT cycling (30 seconds 100% intensity, 1:30 60% intensity, repeat for an hour)
  • Tuesday – 5 sets of 8: squats, barbell deadlifts, sumo squats, walking lunges, reverse lunges. 100 box jumps.
  • Wednesday – 30 minutes HIIT jump rope (45 seconds jump, 30 seconds rest. repeat for half-hour)/15 minutes row machine
  • Thursday – 5 sets of 8: bench press, military press, barbell curls, skull crushers, snatch, lat pulldowns. 250 ab reps ( you pick the type of exercises)
  • Friday – 60 minute jog

Tips: Try to complete this Mon-Fri, allowing yourself a full two days off on the weekend.  On weight days, make sure the weight is heavy enough that the 7th and 8th rep are VERY tough to complete.  Training heavy at the beginning of this program is key for establishing  your base.

Week 2:

  • Monday – 5 sets of 8: deadlifts, bulgarian squats, lunges. 5 sets of 50: squat jumps,  calve raises.  Plank for 3 minutes, 60 reverse crunches, 60 hanging knee raises.
  • Tuesday – 60 minutes HIIT cycling (:30/1:30 format)
  • Wednesday – 5 sets of 8: incline bench press, clean and press, overhead tricep extension, bent over barbell row, concentration curls, upright row.
  • Thursday – 60 minutes HIIT running (sprint for 30 seconds/jog for 1:30 minutes)
  • Friday – 5 sets of 8: deadlifts, bulgarian squats, lunges. 50 squat jumps, 50 calve raises.  Plank for 3 minutes, 60 reverse crunches, 60 hanging knee raises

Tips: When there aren’t any sets listed for squat jumps, calve raises, planks, and any ab exercises, complete the number of reps/time in as few sets as possible. i.e. 50 squats as fast as possible, before moving on to the 50 calve raises.  Continue to go heavy on the weight during resistance training.

Week 3:

  • Monday – Super Sets: jump rope 45 seconds/12 box jumps/rest 1 minute.  Repeat 20 times.
  • Tuesday – 5 sets of 8: close grip lat pulldowns, single arm dumbbell rows, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell flys, incline dumbbell curls, standing barbell curls, lat pulldown burnout (100 reps on light weight).
  • Wednesday – Super Sets: jump rope 45 seconds/12 box jumps/rest 1 minute.  Repeat 20 times.
  • Thursday – 100 body weight squats, 60 crunches, 100 alternating lunges, 60 bicycle crunches, 100 knee tucks, 100 flutter kicks, 3 minutes plank.
  • Friday – 30 minutes HIIT cycling (:20/1:00 format), 30 minutes HIIT running (sprint every other .2 miles, i.e. 0-.2 jog, .2-.4 sprint, .4-.6 jog, .6-.8 sprint, .8-1 mile sprint)

Tips: Super sets involve no rest between exercises; only rest when indicated.  Last week of heavy resistance, go hard and heavy.  Make sure you’ve increased the weight on each exercise from Week 1, if only slightly.

Week 4

  • Monday – 3 sets of 20: leg press machine, squats, deadlifts, calve raises, hamstring curl machine, box jumps
  • Tuesday – 20 minutes HIIT cycling (:20/1 min), 20 minutes HIIT rowing (:20/1 min), 20 minutes HIIT jump rope (:30 jump/:30 rest)
  • Wednesday – 3 sets of 20: lat pulldowns, bench press, incline bench press, tricep pushdown, concentration curls, upright rows, bicycle crunches, decline sit ups, hanging leg raises
  • Thursday – 60 minutes casual jog
  • Friday – 3 sets of 20: leg press machine, squats, deadlifts, calve raises, hamstring curl machine, box jumps

Tips: Use light weight on resistance training days.  Do these exercises slow.  Count to a full 4 seconds on the lift, and a full 2 seconds on the lower.

The above routine is part one, of a 12-week total body makeover.  You should already be seeing results after only 4 weeks of training.  As we previewed in week 4, part 2 focuses on increasing total time under tension (TUT) resistance training, which is a departure from the high sets/low rep heavy training that made up weeks 1-3.  Cardio training begins to include more cross-training principles and explosive movements to really develop your lower body while maximizing fat loss at the same time.  Part 3 will introduce complex lift formats such as step sets, drop sets, etc. while combining short, intense bouts of cardio to give you a couple more extreme workouts each week.

Part II of this workout found here…and Part III here.

After 12-weeks, we break down how to continue to push your body over the remaining 40 weeks of the year, to  ensure you are continually making progress and avoiding burnout.  Stay connected to the Share It Fitness launch and ensure a free membership by signing up here, and be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss the rest of this Total Body Blitz workout.

Georgia’s Controversial Childhood Obesity Ads – Necessary or Overboard?

Strong4Life is a non-profit organization created in Atlanta to address the childhood obesity epidemic that has shown no sign of slowing in the state of Georgia. About 40% of Georgia’s children are overweight, yet the majority of Georgians don’t consider childhood obesity a problem. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta designed an ad campaign to gain people’s attention and create a sense of urgency for this neglected medical crisis. The campaign was specifically intended to get parents and caregivers out of denial as 75% of parents of obese children don’t think they have a problem on their hands.

The anti-obesity ad campaign features overweight children with messages such as “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid,” and “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” The children in the ads were made aware of the ad’s intent and of the potential backlash that could result. Maya Watson, one of the 13 year old subjects, wanted to send a good message to others out there like her, showing them they are not alone. Feedback from her peers has been positive and since the launch she has gotten help from the hospital where she has learned what small healthy changes she can make to her daily routine in order to live a healthier lifestyle.

 However, not everyone believes these ads are beneficial. They have indeed gotten people talking but many do not agree with the angle that was taken. Many believe these ads are too negative and don’t help the problem as no solution is proposed. Mommy bloggers in particular are coming out to petition and put an end to the advertisements. They believe these ads cause shame, which will put a child down, not motivate them to make positive changes.

What do you think?

10 Greatest Fitness Tips of All Time

If you’re reading this article, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it’s not the first fitness article you’ve ever seen. One thing you’ve probably noticed is the abundance of information everyone is throwing at you in regards to fitness. Every fitness writer on the planet has their own opinion they want to impart on you. As I’m sure you’ve found, a lot of times, information is contradicting, leaving you to guess which is the most correct. Often, people will become so overwhelmed with information, they fail to act on it at all, for fear of picking bad advice. Forget all the extraneous information for the time being. Consider the list below, your fitness Bible. These tidbits of information and widely accepted by the vast majority of fitness professionals and are KEY to helping you achieve your goals. If you make an honest committment to stick by these 10 rules, you WILL realize results. Forget the rest, stick with this list, and you’ll be good to. Now, on to the 10 golden rules of fitness…

1. Spot toning does not work. No matter what informercials or weight loss products tell you, you simply cannot spot tone that area of fat on your stomach, or legs, or arms. Fat loss is the result of a consistent and effective cardio program which causes a total loss of fat over your entire body. On a related note, doing a thousand crunches isn’t going to burn the fat on your stomach, but cardio will.

2. Vary your workouts. Whether you are doing a cardio-heavy routine, or a resistance-heavy routine, you MUST vary the exercises, weights, and manner in which you exercise. Your body grows accustomed to a specific type of stimulus after only a few weeks and progress will be diminished the longer you stick to the same thing. Add supersets, do high-intensity interval training, start swimming, go for high reps/low weight…you get the idea.

3. Protein + a simple carb is VITAL after a workout. You have a 30-45 minute window upon finishing your workout to get your protein. Your muscles are hungry for the nutrient and you can further the benefits of your workout by feeding your muscles what they crave. The addition of a simple carb to your protein shake further helps drive protein into your muscles to be sure they suck up every last drop. This meal is crucial. If you are skipping this, you are simply cutting yourself short.

4. Diet plays a bigger part in your body composition than exercise. Want to be lean, strong, and healthy? Exercise certainly plays a large part, but diet is the single most important factor it determining what your body looks like. A poor diet and a lot of exercise is going to get you no where. Give your diet the attention it deserves and properly plan healthy meals so you don’t find yourself resorting to less nutritous options.

5. Lifting legs will help you grow all over. Your legs are the largest muscle group in your body. When you lift any muscle, your body releases testosterone and other chemicals that foster muscle growth. By lifting with your legs (especially if you don’t give them much attention), you will be giving your body an instant boost of muscle-buildilng hormones that will help you develop in other areas. Pretty much a legal form of steroids…

6. Ladies, lifting weights will not make you look like a man. Women who lift weights regularly do not look like men, female body builders, etc. They look lean, long, toned, and sexy. The simple act of lifting weights will not make you big and bulky. Your bodies aren’t designed to build muscle like that. Now, if you are eating a female body builders diet and/or using unnatural supplements, that’s another story.

7. Lifting weights without proper fuel is a waste of time. Tied into the previous point, but this one is more for the guys out there. If you are going to spend the time lifting weights, mixing up your routine, and doing whatever else it takes to force muscle growth, you need to be eating properly. Muscles do not grow on their own; they need fuel. Make sure to take in extra calories when you are trying to build muscle or your muscle mass and strength will continue to plateau.

8. Compound movements are king. Compound movments, which require multiple muscle groups to complete are the foundation of any great weight training program. Deadlifts, bench press, wide-grip pullups, squats, and clean and presses are great for buildling a lean and defined body. Don’t neglect them. Find a way to include them into what you do; it is absolutely vital for your success.

9. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) will help you reach goals faster. You probably already know that cardio is neccessary to lose serious weight and tone up. But doing HIIT, i.e. jog for a minute, sprint at 100% effort for 20 seconds, repeat, is far more effective at building your cardiovascular ability AND helping you burn calories. HIIT shocks your body in a way that a static 5mph jog never could. As an added benefit, it’ll help you cut down on the time spent in the gym.

10. Building a lean, athletic build and becomign fit doesn’t require a gym. Contrary to what gyms want you to believe, you don’t NEED to be a member of a gym to get fit. Certainly they have their benefits, but if you simply can’t afford it, or don’t have the time, or whatever the reason, do NOT give up. There are so many great exercises and routines you can do with next to no equipment, being in a gym is not a requirement so many make it out to be. A well-designed at home program will get you exactly where you need to be.

This list certianly isn’t comprehensive, and I’m sure others will wonder why I didn’t add this or that. The point is though, if you take away only 10 things from all the fitness bloggers, writers, etc. that you read…let these 10 be the ones that make the biggest impression. Understand them, know them, and follow them, and you’ll find yourself making gains you never thought were possible.

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