Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Long Muscle is a Strong Muscle – Stretch It!

I want to discuss one of the components, of an overall effective exercise program, that too many of my clients and friends tend to overlook or believe it’s not that important.

Stretching - properly and effectively, will help you increase your muscular strength!

Have you ever noticed how a cat or a dog, or even a baby, stretches their whole body when they wake up?  But not us, we have way too busy a schedule to take time to stretch.  And, when we do exercise – whether it be paddling, going for a run or strength training – well, we barely squeezed in the workout, we just don’t have the time to stretch.  Besides, stretching is boring and really, how can it help me get stronger, leaner or faster?

When we use our muscles they contract to effectively do what we want our body to do.  They contract daily, all the time.  When we exercise we are adding weight to that contraction to give us a more effective workout whether we use free weights, machines or our own bodies.  But we don’t want our muscles to always be in a contracted mode.  They then become too tight, potentially setting us up for serious injury.  A tight muscle cannot strengthen anymore, no matter what you do.

Stretching elongates the muscle.  Effective stretching relaxes and elongates the muscle even more.  But we usually stretch for 30 seconds.  That should be good enough, right?  No!

Every body is different in how effectively we strengthen or train and it is also true for how effective our stretches can be.  For me, I must be able to totally relax – totally!  That means for me, I must lay on a mat on the floor so I don’t have to think or so my body doesn’t have to feel that it must balance or hold me up while I go through my stretches.

No matter what way you find you can effectively stretch your muscles – a good stretch takes time to relax and stretch that muscle.  In class, and with my personal training clients, I first recommend that a stretch is to be done 3 times.  The stretch is to be held for 30 seconds the first time, then release, hold the stretch for 45 seconds the second time and the third time the stretch is to be held for a minute.  All the same stretch, stretching the same muscle before moving on to the next muscle.  Breathing into each stretch is also important.  Long, slow, deep breathing encourages relaxation. 

And, to stretch effectively and to avoid injury, there are a few basic principles you need to follow.

Avoid Pain – A light ‘sting’ or tug of the muscle is what you want to feel, not pain that the body feels it must protect itself from.  When the body senses pain, it feels the need to protect itself – the muscles contract – resulting in ineffective stretching!

Stretch slowly – moving quickly from one stretch to another can result in the body feeling the need to protect and, again, contracting the very muscle you wish to elongate!

Avoid affecting the joints or other muscles - focus on moving the joint as little as possible and not allowing other muscles to contract or work against your stretch.  As with exercising, you need to remember that the body takes the path of least resistance.  It's the same with a stretch, if the body believes bending a joint will alleviate the energy of the stretch, it will try to do so.

Maximizing the effect of your stretches should be part of your daily habits, just like brushing your teeth or showering.

Enough said for now. Until next time, I remain . . . Yours in Fitness!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Book of Awesome!

A friend recently suggested that I buy "The Book of Awesome".  So, I went out and got a book by that name (the one pictured above).  Turns out, it was the wrong book.  The one that she was talking about is actually a children's book (I'm still going to get that one too) and the one I got is a compilation of anecdotes and short stories that the author says have caused him to think "Awesome!" when they happened.  Some examples include "when you push the button for the elevator and it's already there", or "finally remembering a word that's been on the tip of your tongue for a long time", or "hitting a bunch of green lights in a row".  It's a "Chicken Soup" kind of book that suggests that "sometimes it's easy to forget the things that make us smile and it's tempting to think the world is falling apart.  But, awesome things are all around us".  And, it got me thinking. What are some of the things that might cause me to think "Awesome!" when they happen?

Certainly, some of them are already listed in the book (for example "coming home after a long day to the smell of someone cooking dinner" or "snow falling on Christmas Eve"- those ARE awesome!).  With very little thought, I came up with some of my own that relate directly to my passion for health and fitness, and my desire to help others reach their goals.

Day after day, being able to experience the joy of sharing the benefits of consistent exercise and healthy eating with others - Awesome!

Watching a client, that perhaps has been struggling with their nutrition, finally having that "aha" moment when they realize the correlation between clean, healthy eating and their ability to perform their workouts at a higher level - Awesome!

Watching as a whole class does an exercise together and they ALL execute it correctly without any cues - Awesome!

Feeling the struggle, and then seeing the determined look on their face, as they realize that YES, they CAN do it! - Awesome!

Having a client tell me that they have followed the clean eating principles for 6 weeks and they have never felt better, emotionally as well as physically - Awesome!

Noticing the new found confidence, the inner strength and the happiness of a client who has overcome their perceived limitations - Awesome! 

Knowing, and witnessing, how all the trainers I work with really are passionate and do care, as much as I do, about our clients. - Awesome! 

Watching as a client picks up a heavier weight than they did at their last workout, without being told that they should - Awesome!

Being at the finish line to cheer on a client who started out only being able to speed walk a short distance before feeling winded and is now finishing a 5K or 10K running event - Awesome!

Watching a client's face light up with joy and a smile when they realize, at their "end of training" measuring, just how many inches they've actually lost - Awesome!

I know, it's a fairly short list.  But, it's a start and I'm definitely going to continue to see the "awesome" in as many things and situations as I can.  And, I challenge you to think of your own list.  What causes you to react with an "Awesome!" response?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Fitness Industry’s Dirty Little Secrets

In an industry that is so important to our culture, and our well-being, the fact is that we have some unethical and uneducated people in the field of Health and Fitness.  It saddens me.  I am SO passionate about overall health and fitness, I become very frustrated, and even somewhat angry, when I see and/or directly feel some of the side effects of our industry’s "Dirty Little Secrets".  Because of that, I want to share with you some of these "secrets".  Hopefully, this will help you to avoid them.  You have to prepare yourself and be knowledgeable about what can happen, what does happen and how to avoid them.  Knowledge is definitely power and, with the information I can share with you, you are less likely to fall prey or become injured.  If you aren’t aware of these "Dirty Little Secrets", you may be affected and you won’t know until it’s too late!
Below are some of these "Secrets":
  • The fitness industry is highly unregulated.  Anyone, without any qualifications or certifications, can print up a business card and call themselves a Personal Trainer;
  • Some exercise facilities, or fitness companies (boot camps), employ people who are NOT qualified;
  • Some personal trainer certification programs take only a few days to complete and, in fact, some can even be taken on-line without any experience working with clients;
  • Some Trainers let their credentials lapse and may even use these expired degrees, certifications, education as their "credentials".  They do not keep up to date with current and relevant information;
  • There are those who are "flash in the pan" Trainers, recouping what they can for a short period of time.  They'll have no qualms whatsoever in taking your money now;
  • “Part time” Trainers tend to not have a vested interest in you, or their business, for the duration; and,
  • Remember, just because someone looks fit – it doesn’t mean they know how to teach proper, appropriate, safe techniques and execution of exercises.
Some of these Trainers, that lack credentials or operate with expired credentials and/or do not keep up to date on the latest research, can result in participants in a program having a higher risk of injury.  On numerous occasions I've witnessed several outdoor group classes having far too many clients with only one Trainer.  How can that one Trainer possibly watch everyone and check for proper form and technique?  I've watched how too many of these clients performed an exercise in a way that would result in serious injury.  If not in that class, then will for sure later on.  Some of our current clients have come from such classes and most of them come with horror stories and/or injuries.  One client I have even told me that when she questioned a "trainer" about a way in which an exercise was executed and the latest research around that exercise, she was told – “It all changes so much, all the time, so I don’t bother listening.  Trust me, do it this way.”  If a Trainer can't, or won't, explain their methods to your satisfaction, perhaps they don't understand themselves.

To assist you in determining if a Trainer is right for you, I've compiled a list of some questions that will help you avoid those "trainers" out there who may only be interested in the almighty dollar and not have your best interests at heart:
  • What are your qualifications?  - Ask for expiry dates and what recertification requirements there are to stay qualified.
  • What organization(s) are you a member of?  - You can call, or check on line, for most fitness organizations and research their certification requirements and up to date membership.
  • What workshops/seminars/conferences have you attended, over and above what's required to maintain your certification/qualifications?  What were some of your courses?  - this helps you in determining their commitment, passion, expertise and current knowledge.
  • Do you have liability insurance?  - This is VERY important for anyone in the industry.
  • How long have you been in the industry?  - This will help with determining their level of commitment.
  • What are the different jobs you have held?  - perhaps they started out as a front desk person in a gym and worked their way up from there.  Again, this info can help with determining their level of commitment and even their length of time in the industry.
  • Why are you doing this?  - helps with determining the "fit" for you as well as seeking info on their passion and/or commitment.
I am in this for the long haul!  I'm passionate about what I do and want to provide the best of the best for my clients.  I do this by combining fact-based information while helping them incorporate correct muscle memory in the execution of exercises.  I have attended numerous BCRPA and/or Can-Fit Pro workshops, seminars and conferences to ensure I have the most up-to-date information and credentials that I can have.  And, I believe in sharing that knowledge with ALL my clients so that they can take a more active, and ultimately more vested, interest in their health and well being.

For more information:
Visit the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) at: 
Visit the Can-Fit Pro website at:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Other Than Weight - What Can A Scale REALLY Tell You?

Get off the scale!
A scale can't measure health, fitness, talent,
purpose, personality, spirit, or love.
A scale can't  measure how good a worker,
parent, friend or partner you are.
A scale can't measure your insight, sense of
humour or self esteem. 

Get off the scale!
A scale can't tell you how enchanting your eyes are.
A scale can't express how wonderful
your hair looks when the sun shines on it.
A scale can't thank you for your
compassion and contagious smile.
A scale can't admire you for your
perseverance when challenged in life. 

Get off the scale!
The only thing a scale can give you is a numerical
reflection of your relationship with gravity.  That’s it!
Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned!

If, for some reason, you feel you must step on,
I want you to take note of the number, then
get off the scale and live your life!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maximize Fat Loss - Plan to "Mindlessly Eat Less"

If you're like most people you can probably remember a time when you ate more than you intended.  Studies have concluded that external cues influence how much you eat, which foods you eat, how fast you eat, whether you enjoy what you eat and more.  It’s not enough, according to these studies, to know your portion size, to know to stop eating when you feel full, or, what foods are not conducive to your goals of weight or body fat loss.

The size of your plate, or container, will determine how much you eat.   If you purchase the large bucket of popcorn you generally will eat 34% MORE than if you bought a smaller container.  Same goes for your dinner plate.  Use a smaller plate – your eyes and your mind will feel satisfied sooner.  Once while vacationing in Vegas, my husband and I went to a buffet for dinner.  On the way to the buffet table, I noticed super huge servings on almost all the plates at the tables – so huge in fact, that I knew most stomachs cannot digest all that food, not to mention how many calories or grams of fat were on those plates – for one meal!  I found the super big plates right there by the ‘dinner’ items.  I knew I would overeat using that huge plate (seemed more like a platter which made me understand all that food on people’s tables!) so I went to the salad section of the buffet and found a smaller plate – actually, probably my plate size at home.

You’ll probably argue – ‘well, I'm paying for the food – I might as well eat as much as I can’.  A perfect example of how your environment can alter your portion sizes!  If dining at a buffet gives you the attitude of eating more because it’s all there or eating ‘your money’s worth’ – which most people do – then avoid buffet tables while you are trying to lose body fat or weight.  Better yet, avoid them altogether.  Unless you are super diligent, you WILL end up eating too much fat, sodium and sugar at buffets.  And I haven’t even gotten to the dessert table yet.

Who you follow in the buffet line can also affects how much you eat.  If a woman follows a woman, the person behind usually took about the same amount on their plate as the one in front.  If the woman was larger, the person behind took more (with the attitude “I’m not that big, therefore I can”) and if a woman followed a guy, it didn’t matter and for men – well, it didn’t matter – they just filled their plates!

Other examples of your environment affecting your consumption of food:

  • If you tend to leave your serving dishes on the table at home, when eating a meal, men will eat 29% more and women will eat 10% more than if you leave them on the counter or a side table;
  • When you eat with someone who eats faster than you, you will consume significantly more calories than if you eat alone;
  • When you believe you are eating ‘healthy food’ or at a healthy restaurant you‘re apt to consume more calories and fat.  For example, in one study, people who ate at McDonald’s estimated within 200 calories of the actual consumption of their meal.  However, people who ate at Subway (considered a healthier option than McDonald’s) under estimated their calorie consumption by almost half!; and,
  • You will eat more of a food when you can see it, so take the fruit out of the refrigerator and place it in a clear bowl on the table to encourage snacking on healthy food.

Watch out for foods labelled ‘low fat’.  People tend to eat 21 to 46% more calories if they think the food is healthier or lower in calories or fat than the alternative.  And knowing you have to cut back or eat foods lower in fat and calories isn’t enough!  You count with your eyes, not your mind when eating.

Knowing you need to stop when you are full isn’t enough.  Knowing you are aware of ‘mindless’ eating or after reading this article you feel “I know now, I can stop the influence” isn’t enough.  Most of us are too busy with life, kids, work – our lives are chaotic and stressful.  To think we can just eat ‘better’ or ‘less’, or be more mindful, doesn’t work for 95% of the population.  For most people, the solution is not mindful eating – it’s setting up our environment at home and at work, so that we mindlessly eat less.

Enjoy your meals, set up your environment for success, menu plan and journal what you eat.  Cut the excuses, we can all think of reasons to start ‘tomorrow’.  Start now to “mindlessly eat less”.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Weight Loss Magic Formula

A magic pill, or a quick fix, to weight loss.  It's what we all want and never seem to find.  What we tend to look for is something easy.  It was easy to pack it on, right?  Why is it so hard to take it off?

There are many reasons why our bodies want to hold onto excess body fat.  The simplest reason is we consume too many calories!  For the most part, that's true. But, for a successful weight loss program, it’s not the total answer.  It’s more complicated than that.

So, for now, lets’ not get into why it’s there and focus more on how we can take it off!  And, realistically, we aren’t even concerned about the ‘weight’.  It’s more about body fat loss and inches lost than that ‘number’ on the scale.

Starting any exercise and nutrition regime to promote body fat loss requires some planning, both before and during your program.  It all starts about 3 weeks before, at a time when you find yourself thinking and feeling that you are not happy with the way you look and feel.  Chores are harder and you are more tired at the end of the day.  Here is where you do your research.  What do you want to do? What time have you got? Where do you want to go?  Who can help you (as in a gym, a fitness company such as Alter Ego Fitness Experience or a Personal Trainer)? 

Pick a date approximately 3 weeks away to start your nutrition and training program. Call around or find a trainer that can help you with a workout program to get you started (at Alter Ego Fitness Experience we do packs of 5 or 10 - 1-hour Personal Training sessions and one can take up to 6 months to use up the 5 pack and one year to use up the 10 pack).   To ensure proper use of muscles, and to keep down the risk of injury, you will need professional help with your workout program .

As far as eating healthier, get a Canada Food Guide for ideas on the servings required in a day and the foods you need to eat to stay healthy.  I strongly recommend that you journal what you eat and when you eat every day.  Create your own journal (or one can be purchased through Alter Ego Fitness Experience).  Go out and purchase a low fat, low sodium, low sugar cook book.  You’ll need new ideas on how to eat.  Don’t fall prey to magazine or newspaper articles on what foods to eat to slim down!  If you eat a variety of foods, or as I say a “rainbow” of foods (funny how now the Canada Food Guide has a picture of a rainbow!), and keep to eating foods as close to their natural state as possible you will succeed in nourishing your body.

With 2 weeks to go, once you have prepared yourself and have booked when you are starting, begin eliminating the following foods from your meals:  WHITE foods (flour; sugar; salt; rice); any and ALL junk food; and, Pop or sweetened fruit type juices.

At one week to go, be sure you have your workout gear arranged.  You will need runners for you and your individual foot strike.  So, see a professional at a running store (Frontrunners Westshore and Peninsula Runners both have passionate and dedicated staff there to ensure you get what you need!).

Try out a recipe or two.  Don’t forget you will want snack ideas as well.

Bottom Line:  Plan, plan, plan.  One of my favourite sayings:  If you fail to plan – you plan to fail!

Plan when you are going to do your workouts.  Make them consistent – 3 times a week, for an hour each time, is a minimum for successful body fat loss.

Plan your nutrition.  Plan to eat whole nutritious foods that are low in fat (no trans fat!), salt and sugar.  Plan to eat several small meals or snacks a day.  Start with clean sweeping your kitchen, your car and your desk at work.  Get rid of all those snacks and foods that aren’t working for you and that contain any of that white stuff (listed above) that tends to encourage body fat storage.

Any safe, effective weight loss or body fat loss program will take 12 weeks or more depending on your goals.  A general rule of thumb:  for HEALTHY weight loss (factoring in muscle building) is 1.5 to 2.0 pounds a week.  It’s not quick and it’s not easy but it is worth it to be feel good, look good and to minimize your risk for such diseases as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and certain types of cancer.

Take the plunge this week.  Today would be even better!  Good luck and remember, there will always be little stumbles along the way and diversions, but keep consistent, keep up your determination and realize that Rome wasn’t built in one day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cut the Sweetness – Live Longer!

The word is out – the “Fight Against Sugar “, as the Times Colonist article reads, is upon us.  I have been warning clients for over 2 years about the effects, especially the hidden effects, that sugars have on our minds, bodies and ultimately our increased body fat.
I am talking about the white sugar, the fructose corn syrup and/or any of those other kinds of sugars that are not meant for human consumption.  Don’t even get me started on all those chemical sweeteners out there!
Don’t get me wrong – not ALL sugars are bad for you.  In fact, just like the differences between trans and sat fats, and the "necessary for life" Omega fats, not all sugars are created equal and not all sugars have the capacity to literally destroy our very cells.
The sugars I want to help you avoid are those that are not considered healthy such as fructose corn syrup and most other sweeteners labelled ‘syrups’, white sugar and brown sugar (which is really just white sugar with molasses added to turn it brown).
All fruit, and most vegetables, have sugars in them.  But, they have the healthy and natural combination that, when consumed, breaks down in the body and is utilized efficiently and effectively as energy to keep us moving.  Other sugars, like corn syrup or white table sugar, are processed so much that they are not natural and are pure sugar and are absorbed by the body in a way which increases the blood insulin levels.  This sends the body into ‘stress mode’.  When the body believes it is stressed by the high insulin levels in the blood, the adrenal glands work overtime, the pancreas must pump even more insulin to level out the excess sugar(fat) and the end result – the body stores the fat.  It dumps all this fat that the sugar became into the fat cells that are just waiting to be filled!
Because of the adrenal glands and the pancreas working so hard, and because of the extra fat you have now encouraged your body to hold, you are bigger around the middle and there are spots that jiggle.  Not to mention how much all this plays on your heart and your mind.  Brain fog anyone?
We have changed the way we eat sugar.  Nearly 90 % of the sugar we eat comes from packaged, processed foods (how about that cereal you are eating every morning?  What’s the sugar content in that?).  Sugar is the most common food additive according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
What does this mean in terms of what you are currently eating?  Well, it means you must read your labels!  It means you must curb your appetite for added sugars.  Get rid of the simple carbs like most desserts, donuts, soft drinks, juices that have added sugar and many processed foods.  Eat more fresh and in-season fruits and vegetables.  Fill yourself up with naturally occurring sugars so that you don’t have ‘room’ for the added unhealthy sugars.  Buy processed foods, like your morning cereals, that are sweetened with a better alternative like fruit juice.
Did you know that 1 teaspoon of sugar is about all the ‘extra added’ sugar an adult woman can consume without adding too many extra calories?  That’s not much in a day when you consider some breakfast cereals have as much as 5 teaspoons!  For easy figuring – there is 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon.  No wonder we are all battling the bulge, not to mention our tired and overworked adrenal glands and digestive system.
Sugar is everywhere.  You must be vigilant in your quest to rid your diet of excess sugars, especially the kinds that just overwork you inside and out.
Keep on eye on this blog for future articles on the various types of sugars and get ideas on what, and how, to make better choices for your body.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Make A Commitment To Your Personal Health and Fitness

I applaud everyone who wants to make changes to their lifestyle.  Those who want to get fitter and healthier.  However, it seems that most folks don’t get past the first 2 months of their new-found enthusiasm for a healthier lifestyle.  Why?  Because there are too many out there who don’t really understand the concept of combining training (exercise) and nutrition.  Or, how they work together.  Each is not sufficient, on their own, to achieve the success that most people seek.

Without a regime of healthy nutrition, you are setting yourself up for failure.  You will be working your body hard, while failing to supply it with the fuel it requires to perform at a peak level.  So, you’ll just get into your training regime only to have to quit because you will be injured or sick.  Getting sick (flu or cold) within 6 to 8 weeks of any training program usually means your nutrition hasn’t been adjusted to help your body compensate for the exercise you’re doing.

To ensure you are losing body fat and gaining muscle, consider having a professional give you a Comprehensive Body Assessment.  It’s one of the best ways to follow your success.  At Alter Ego Fitness Experience we take numerous girth measurements and, by using a formula developed by the US Navy Seals, we will then accurately calculate your overall body fat percentage.  This Comprehensive Body Assessment works well at the beginning of your training and nutrition program and then every 6 weeks thereafter.  

Working with a trainer, and/or nutritionist, you can then monitor your nutrition and make any changes necessary for healthy body fat loss and muscle gain!  Body fat loss and muscle building through a fitness regime, combined with a solid nutrition program – now you are on the right track for long term health and fitness!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring Rejuvenation Retreat

March 31st - April 3rd, 2011

For women only!

Pay in full by March 07th and you SAVE $50!

We have secured the deluxe, luxury rooms at the Oceanwood Resort (a small, but certainly not lacking in the "pamper you" department, resort) on Mayne Island.  All suites, but one, have a view of the ocean and some even have large soaker tubs and fireplaces!  Also included are an outdoor hot tub (pictured), as well as a games room with a pool table and a very intimate restaurant.  Check it out online at to pick out your preferred room.
For the "rejuvenation" portion of your retreat, you will have the opportunity to join us on both Friday and Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM for a 90 minute Alter Ego workout, and both afternoons we'll also host a one hour run or hike at 2:30 PM. 
Your meals are given the utmost attention to detail and taste as they choose only the "freshest of the fresh" ingredients.  The taste and presentation is comparable to the top restaurants here in Victoria.  You will not be disappointed!
And, I realize that some of us cannot possibly enjoy a good meal without a glass of wine.  For those folks, they have a well stocked bar, with many varieties of wine and cocktails.  But, alcoholic beverages and desserts are not included in your package price.  However, you will have the opportunity to indulge if you wish - after all it is your retreat!
Your retreat package includes:
·      Accommodations, with the option of a 3-night stay (arriving Thursday afternoon, March 31st) or a 2-night stay (arriving Friday afternoon);
·      ALL meals (excluding drinks and desserts)!  You will get a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday, as well as a full breakfast/brunch on Sunday before you leave;
·     ALL taxes and gratuities, for the included accommodations and meals;
·     Two 90-minute workouts - one each on Friday and Saturday mornings;
·     Two 1-hour hikes and/or runs - one each on Friday and Saturday afternoons; and,
·     For those choosing the 3-night option, a "Meet and Greet" social event on Thursday evening.

PRICING (per person) 
Varies, dependent upon the room you choose, as follows:

Double Occupancy:
·         Two night stay          -  $469.70 - $536.90
·         Three night stay       -  $578.90 - $685.30
Single Occupancy:
·         Two night stay          -  $542.50 - $676.90
·         Three night stay       -  $657.30 - $858.90

Contact the Alter Ego Fitness office ASAP to reserve the room of your choice and pay your non-refundable deposit of ½ the costVisa, MasterCard or cash accepted. And remember, if you pay in full by March 07th, you can SAVE $50!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gaining Muscle Or Fat – What’s Your Choice?

Gaining muscle is good!  Gaining fat is not!  

Did you know that, from about age 30, we start to lose muscle if we don’t work out on a regular basis?  In this instance, the saying, “use it or lose it” is so true.  And, when we lose muscle it becomes harder to do just about anything.  Hence the feeling of energy loss.  It takes more energy to do the simple tasks because we don’t have the muscle we once had.  When we lose muscle, our joints now take on more load to hold us up than they should.
When we lose muscle our metabolism also slows down dramatically.

A slowdown in our metabolism means that we need fewer calories to keep going.  How many of us eat less because we are over 30 or because we’ve stopped working out regularly?  It’s not reality, is it?  So, as a result of our slower metabolism, we start to store more body fat because we’re still eating too much!  Think about this - one pound of fat uses up 3 calories, but one pound of muscle eats up 35 calories at rest!  So the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn.  Even while you are sleeping – you are burning more calories than ever before!

What really hurts, is the body is a machine, literally, that works best when moving.  Ideally, it should be several times a day, but at least 2 to 3 times a week.  And, when we don’t work the body, it’s not just the muscles that are affected.  Your inner functions (your digestion and brain) are off balance as well.  What tends to happen, because we don’t move, is that we miss the feeling of euphoria that comes with building muscle and working the heart.  So, we turn to food for that good feeling.  What feeds that feeling?  Sugar and fat!  Yup, I’m talking about white sugar and too much fat.  Yes, it’s true, we all need fat - but not that much!  And, NO ONE needs white sugar!  It causes our bodies to store more fat!

The best way to lose fat and gain muscle is an effective exercise program combined with a healthy nutrition plan.  But, don’t think of it as a temporary (“just until I lose a few pounds”) diet and fitness plan.  To be truly effective, it must be a lifestyle choice.

So, now, what choice will you make - muscle or fat?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Personal Trainer vs DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Workout Programs

Personal training is one-on-one instruction that incorporates goal setting, with fitness and health education, into challenging workouts developed specifically for each individual's needs.  Personal training programs are for those individuals who want to be active and fit, sculpt or tone their physique, or lose excess body fat, but would prefer the more personal one-on-one attention.

A Personal Trainer is just that, someone who gets personal with you.  They are there to not only celebrate your achievements but to also help carry you through your tough times.  They will understand when you need that encouragement with a soft touch or when you need a push with more of a “tough love” approach that only they can give during those times when you get disillusioned or complacent.

A good Personal Trainer will do an assessment of your current level of fitness and body composition (including girth measurements, body fat and BMI testing), review your goals, and then create an individually tailored program to help you achieve those goals safely and effectively. Your Personal Trainer will be there to provide instruction and assist you to perform various exercises.  They will manage you and your program, monitor your technique and motivate you to give 100% in every workout.  They will provide a personal touch to a totally safe and supportive training environment for you.  If you follow what they give you, you should succeed in your quest to be healthier and fitter while reaching and even surpassing your goals!

You can hire a Personal Trainer to work with you for each and every workout, once or twice a week or even a once monthly visit.  It all depends on what you need and your Personal Trainer will be able to offer suggestions for you.

On a final note, it is very difficult to “blow off" a workout when you know your Trainer is waiting for you.  That, in itself, gets more of a commitment from you and in the end, it’s all about that consistency and commitment, isn’t it?

On the other hand, a DIY (do-it-yourself) program is completely different.  DIY is just what the name implies – a program that you figure out (and utilize) all on your own.  Usually, this is done without the benefit of up-to-date knowledge of what is considered safe and/or effective.  Never mind whether you head into the gym and get shown the equipment, or head out onto the streets or trails on your own again, it doesn’t necessarily mean your great intentions are going to work for you.  You see, it is so easy to become injured because, without the benefit of some knowledgeable assistance, what you may be doing is setting yourself up for muscle imbalances.  Muscles imbalances are one of the top reasons why people get injured.  So you’ll just get into your training regime only to have to quit because you are injured.
Another common reason for injury is you feel “I’ve put off getting fit long enough!” and you head into the gym or onto that trail with all your gusto!  You are to be applauded for your enthusiasm, but alas, “too much, too soon, too fast, too far” gets a lot of people sidelined quickly because now they are nursing an injury. 

When working on your own, sometimes you don’t have the knowledge to accomplish what it is you want in the long run.  Is it to gain more muscle?  Is it for a specific sport?  Do you want to tone up, lose body fat or excess weight?  Or, all of the above?  One of the top reasons people quit their DIY training regimes is because they are frustrated with their results. 

And, when working out by yourself, you often spend too much time doing too little.  I don’t mean you don’t work hard!  What I mean is you will usually work muscles individually.  A personal trainer can get you to do compound exercises that work multiple muscles.  These exercises are great for people who want an effective workout in half the time!

It's estimated that over 90% of DIY workout strategies often don’t last longer than 3 to 4 months.  People end up frustrated or, worse yet as mentioned above, get injured.  Those results just create intense negative feelings about working out that play with your mind too.  You create self-sabotage methods, or feel it’s all an uphill battle that you cannot win.
Finding a personal trainer could take some time.  You may need to interview a few to make sure you are both compatible and comfortable with each other.  The cost may seem prohibitive, but with some slight adjustment to your current lifestyle, it may be more affordable.  For instance, I had one client tell me she could easily pay for her personal training sessions because she had quit buying her coffee every morning on her way to work and quit buying lunch as often as she had been doing.

I was excited about  her revelation, on more than one level, as I had been recommending she not drink as much coffee AND, to help her lose weight (one of her goals), I wanted her to make her food rather than buy a meal that she couldn’t keep track of the fat, sugar or salt intake.  It was a win / win for this client and hiring a personal trainer can be a win / win for you too!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kettlebell Training Classes

To introduce you to the benefits of training with kettlebells, we are offering a week of BFF (Best Friends & Family) Introductory Classes.  Bring a friend or family member and the class is FREE!  These classes will be held the week of February 7th - 12th.  Contact the office for more detailed information on times and locations.  And, our next 4-Week Kettlebell Training Session begins on February 14th.  Sign up NOW to ensure you have a spot!

Kettlebells have been around for quite a while, but they have just fairly recently received a huge upswing (pun intended) in interest and popularity.

For those that don’t already know, a kettlebell is (as you can see in the picture) a weight that looks somewhat like a cannonball with a handle attached.  Unlike traditional dumbbells, the kettlebell's center of mass is extended beyond the hand.  This allows for swing movements not possible with traditional dumbbells and, because more muscle groups are utilized in the swinging and movement of a kettlebell (than during the lifting of dumbbells), a kettlebell workout is said to be more effective, and can yield better results in less time.

I believe that, in addition to giving you incredible muscle endurance, when combined with a proper nutrition plan, a kettlebell workout will rapidly melt any excess fat that you may have!  The kettlebell training we provide involves compound exercises, that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, and seeks to integrate your breathing, movement and alignment along with your ability to control and balance the weight.  You are not isolating parts of the body the way you do with traditional weight-training workouts.  A swing or snatch is pretty much a full body exercise, distributing the load over a wide range, from your feet all the way to your hands.  Of course, some parts of the body are worked more than others and, consequently, you develop core strength, muscular endurance and increased cardio capability all at the same time!
Corissa (one of our "A Team of Trainers") and I took the training to be certified instructors for pro-grade kettlebells (that's us in the top picture performing an intermediate level move) and I am really excited to offer this training option to our clients.  I believe that kettlebell training really is a fun, safe way to get in shape and stay in shape!  For the women, kettlebell swings will get your legs and glutes looking better than they ever have and kettlebell presses will give you a sculpted body with movements that are similar to yoga but with the added benefits of resistance training.  For the men, a kettlebell training program is one of the best fitness regimes to build functional strength, stamina and explosiveness that are ideal for all sports.
We vigilantly ensure that all Alter Ego Fitness participants employ proper, safe techniques, when working with the kettlebells and, to ensure more effective monitoring of proper use and form, our classes are kept small.  I'm confident that almost everyone – from beginners to fit athletes – will see the positive benefits and results of a kettlebell workout.  You really should try them out as part of your exercise routine!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Personal Weight Loss Resolutions

Did you recently make a "resolution" to lose weight?  Personally, I find it troubling when so much time, money and energy is spent to convince us to lose weight and really, what is weight loss?  When we lose weight are we really losing the excess body fat that is jiggling all over our bodies?  If we run enough, or sweat enough, will we see weight loss or less jiggling?  Ultimately, will we be healthier and fitter?  Probably not!

The right reason to get into a personal fitness program is not because you are being shamed into it and not because everyone else is doing it (the gyms are at their busiest right now).  And, it’s definitely not because there are sales on all over town.  The best reason is because you know,  deep down, that you need to do something.  You feel more jiggles than last year, your weight gain is steadily going up no matter what you do and you generally feel "blah".  Listen to your inner self, that "gut instinct" that tells you – you need to/want to do something!

With most diets, the weight loss you experience in a few short weeks is usually NOT fat loss.  If you aren't eating right, it can easily be muscle loss and if you are not drinking enough water it can simply be water loss.  Both of which are unhealthy and it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will put that weight back on.  We all know that “yo-yo” dieting doesn’t work and it's now being widely reported to be detrimental to overall health in the long run.  Seriously, the whole concept of “dieting” doesn’t work.  Looking at your nutrition as a lifestyle change (not a short term diet) along with following a consistent fitness training program is the best way to combat weight gain (body fat gain) and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In a healthy fitness and nutrition program, the most weight loss (that can easily be calculated with that scale you have at home) you should see in one week is 1 to 2 lbs.  That’s it!  (Did you just do the math in your head calculating how long it would take you to get to the number you seek?  Stop that!)

If you consistently lose that, then you KNOW you are probably doing things right.  You're NOT letting yourself become dehydrated (because you know to drink 10 to 12 cups every day) or losing muscle (because you are working out consistently 2 to 3 times a week).  And, usually, the norm is that some people don’t see the number on the scale move too much for the first 4 to 6 weeks (and sometimes up to 12 weeks!) because they are gaining muscle but the excess body fat is still there.  In my own personal body transformation, I lost over 10% body fat but saw only a 5 lb weight loss on the scale.  For those of you not understanding the change a 10% body fat loss means – to me, I lost 5 dress sizes – but ONLY 5 lbs!  But, with all that muscle gain, the weight on the scale kept moving down.  By this time I was convinced that number on the scale wasn’t the answer.  Muscle gain, clean nutrition and consistency in both nutrition and training were what was needed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Welcome To My Personal Fitness Blog!

Here I go, jumping into the world of blogging!  Literally and figuratively (that's me on the right).

After much thought, consideration and planning (with a fair amount of work by my personal assistant - read "husband") I am venturing into another form of electronic communication.  I am REALLY new at this, so please be patient.

I look forward to using this media to share some thoughts on health and fitness (i.e. tips, recipes); pass on information that I believe is important to our client's overall well-being; and, generally share my opinion on a variety of health, nutrition, fitness and personal training related topics.  But, in all fairness, I should warn you that it may occasionally be on more of a personal interest topic that I feel a need to "get off my chest".  At all times, I welcome your comments.

If you want to keep receiving these tidbits of knowledge and info from me, please click on either the "Follow" or member "Sign In" link on the right side of this page and add your info.

Enough said for now.  Until next time, I remain . . . Yours in Fitness!