Category Archives: cardio

3 Easy Steps to Get Fit in 2014

1381532_648223808555104_266900310_nIf you have been anywhere around a TV set, a radio, or a computer, you have noticed the great abundance of “get fit now”. It is that time of the year again. The time when supplement companies and larger than though trainers are pushing their miracle cure all product on the unsuspecting consumers with low self-esteem. Do these products work? Some of them. Do they work safely and for a prolonged period of time? No.

We live in a society that is largely driven by instant gratification and impulse. No one wants to work to be fit, but everyone wants to have a fit body of a fitness model. After all, it is much easier to pop a pill and eat a pizza while watching football, than working out and eating clean. Does anyone think about the consequences of taking these drugs? Does anyone stop to ask why they work so quickly and so effectively? No. Why? Because blissful ignorance with a skinny fat body is significantly safer than a challenging and at times difficult reality in which one has to find information, process it, and work to get the results that they want. In short, half-baked approaches breed half-baked results and a lot of disappointed, misinformed consumers. So, what can you do to get lasting weight loss results? Read on.

What I have to say right now may not be what you want to hear, but I am not in the business of cuddling and propagating fitness myths. I am here to give you the hard truth and save you the time you’ll spend doing research on your own. Here’s the deal. Most “magic” weight loss pills, shakes, and powders are unsafe. If you have to order your food premade, you’ll gain all of your weight back after you stop eating “out of the box”. There is no such thing as getting “toned and fit” without changing your daily lives.

The only way to get true and lasting results is by keeping a clean and sustainable diet, maintaining a healthy attitude, and exercising daily.

Keeping a Clean and Sustainable Diet:

1238363_644675618909923_1184660794_nLet’s face it, if you drastically cut calories, completely cut out certain food groups or expect perfect rigid compliance to a dietary plan, you will eventually slip. In fact, when you slip you will binge, feel guilty, get down on yourself, and try to maintain the same diet with even more restrictions than before to make up for your pitfall. Does that sound like a healthy relationship with food? No. To me, that sounds more like an eating disorder and we all know that eating disorders are very unhealthy.

A sustainable diet should revolve around a lifestyle. When you decide to get in shape, you have to realize that you are on a journey and just like any journey, this one will have peaks and valleys. The secret to sustainable, healthy weight loss is realizing that a valley isn’t going to undo everything you worked for. So, if you make it a priority to eat healthy 90% of the time, that one piece of cake on your birthday, a plate full of delicious food on Thanksgiving, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese every other month aren’t going to send you on an express train to fat town.

A clean sustainable diet should involve all of the major food groups (unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating certain things) in moderation. Eating for weight loss is an art form that will take time to master fully, there is no diet that perfectly fits all, and there are no shortcuts. A clean, healthy diet with proper caloric intake (you can’t starve yourself!!!) takes time to develop and perfect.

I encourage you to do your research, look at various food plans, study strategic eating, and custom design your own eating plan. It will take time, but in the end you will be rewarded with energy, better health, and a lean, strong body.

Healthy Attitude:

quoteWe briefly touched on this subject in the previous section when we discussed a healthy relationship with food. You can’t punish yourself for slip-ups and deviations of off the plan, but you also have to hold yourself accountable for what you do in daily basis. Having a support group helps, but at the end of the day it is between you and your refrigerator, or between you and your bed.

You have to make a plan and stick to it regardless of what the world around you wants. If you know that what you are doing is right for you, then no one else has the right to keep you away from your goals and your dreams. Not even you. You have to push yourself every day. I wish I could tell you that it gets to a point where going to the gym or out on a run is automatic. No. I still have days when I question why I am up at 5 am on a cold winter morning. There are days when the last thing that I want to do is drive to the gym and lift a bunch of weights when the laundry is piled up, dinner needs to be cooked, and I still have a mound of paperwork to get through. However, I don’t make excuses. I put on my big girl pants, lace up my shoes, and I tell myself that it is better that way. I can say with full confidence,  I am yet to regret a workout that I did.

However, healthy attitude goes far beyond building a healthy relationship with food and regular, hard workouts. A healthy attitude also encompasses how you view the world. It is easy to be mad and sad about your circumstances, but when you make a decision to take control and change, you become empowered. Feeling strong and in control is what gets people in the gym initially, but most quickly get discouraged because the results didn’t come fast enough. Here’s the hard part: you have to remain positive and have faith in the fact that the results will come if you actually follow a program that you set for yourself. You have to force yourself to become an optimist on those days when you just want to quit because the pudgy feeling isn’t going away fast enough.

Again, I wish I could tell you that feeling discouraged goes away with time – it doesn’t. But if you keep at it long enough, you will learn that the voice inside your head that tells you “it’s not working”, “you don’t have the body for this”, “you are too old” etc. is a total liar. With time, you learn to ignore your own little critic and you learn that when the voice rears its ugly head, you are closer than you ever were before to achieving that one goal that you set for yourself.

Exercising Daily:

Khloe-Kardashian-Fitness-MotivationA good diet and a great attitude aren’t going to get you far without exercise. Consistent, challenging, daily exercise paired with a great diet is a sure recipe for a fabulous body. Now, let me clarify, I am not telling you to go out and do Zumba (although it is a fun way to initially lose some extra weight). The exercise that I am talking about involves 3-4 heavy weight training sessions and 3 cardio sessions a week. You can’t be a cardio queen and expect a toned body of a fitness model. You have to lift HEAVY weights. Let me say this right now: there is no way that you are going to end up looking like a she Hulk unless you are SPECIFICALLY working to attain that aesthetic. So, no, don’t tell me that lifting heavy turns women into men. It is a total myths that is propagated by men who are scared of strong women, women who are scared of hard work, and skinny fat models who would be out of a job if the rest of us woke up and realized that having the ability to pick up more than 5 lbs at a time makes you more attractive and gives you the lean, toned look you actually want. Yes, I’m talking to you ladies.

Gentlemen, I have to caution you against trying to show off. Heavy training means lifting the weight you can ACTUALLY lift with PROPER form. Allow me to elaborate: that means that you shouldn’t be squirming under a barbell during your bench press like a deranged worm because you loaded the bar too heavy. You are not a hero if you get hurt, so why set yourself up for failure? Take it easy, maintain proper tension throughout your exercises and watch your body bulge with awesome rippliness faster than the guy who has been trying to “out lift” you all alone and has been doing it wrong.

trustI don’t know about you, but for me, a fit strong body is a status symbol. You can’t buy it, you can pay someone to surgically make it. You have to invest the time, the sweat, the tears and the doubts to achieve it. There are challenges to achieving your perfect physique at any age and in any circumstance, so don’t discount the efforts of the younger crowd just because of their age or the older crowd just because of their experience. We all face different struggles, have different body types, and respond to different things better than others. Building a body you want takes time, it takes trial and error and you have to be willing to invest in your journey fully in order to rip the perfect results.

Fierce Workout: Step It Up

All of us, at one point or another, knew that we could use a little more speed, a touch more endurance, and a bit more mental strength to fight through those last miles, or even, those last few feet.

Recently, I remember crossing the finish line of a race so exhausted and drained that I honestly didn’t think that I would make it. Needless to say, I placed and PRed, but  reaching both of those goals simply means that now I have to beat them. This week I present to you a workout that is sure to help you step up your game just like it helps me to step up mine.

This one is all about endurance and mental strength. I usually do a short warmup, stretch, and begin this circuit with an easy, 1 mile run. During the workout, I do not stop. It burns, it hurts, but that just simply means that it is working! Remember, your brain will want to quit before your body. Train your mind to stay strong, fight the negative voice that says “can’t”! After the workout, I cool down with another 1 mile run and stretch.

Step-It-Up

If you are an advanced athlete and want to make this workout a bit harder, you can always raise the reps and add weight. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Fierce Workout: Spring to Action

The weather has been getting cooler and I have been spending more and more time outside. If you are tired of the stuffy gym and are ready to enjoy this beautiful fall weather before the rains drive us back inside, here’s a short and sweet, calorie burning, cardio exhilarating treat that can be done anywhere!

Spring-to-Action

Remember, do what you can, take breaks when needed, and make sure that you are well hydrated before, during, and after exercise.

Fierce Workout: No Strings Attached

This weeks workout features one of the underutilized, low impact exercise tools for improving work capacity and core strength — Battle Ropes. I often find myself using a variety of exercises using ropes as part of my cross-training and conditioning.

There is an old Russian saying, “Hardships during training, make for easy battles”, meaning that your training should feel hard to alleviate the struggles during the times when you are actually judged based on your performance. The workout below is designed to simulate what a body goes through, physically and mentally, during a taxing race. Let me know what you think of this workout on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

No-Strings-Attached

I recommend doing this workout without stopping until you get to the end of each set. However, as with any other exercise, you should exercise caution and take breaks when needed.

 

Fencing: An Unconventional Form Of Cardiovascular Exercise

faa075000149This week I decided to do something different. In this blog I wanted to cover an unconventional form of cardio exercise that not only builds reaction time, speed, agility, and endurance, but also requires a great deal of strategy and a quick mind. I am, of course, talking about fencing and other forms of weapon based martial arts. For this weeks blog post, I asked my friend Kevin Yates, a fencer and a sword smith, to write a guest post about the benefits of this wonderful sport that is, so often, neglected and overlooked the fitness community. Here’s what he had to say:

As a fencer and avid follower of western martial arts, commonly known as European sword fighting, I found that it was the “only” form of exercise that was enjoyable to me. As I got older I decided to research what goes into this sport.  The art itself requires, and also helps to reinforce a sense of balance, anaerobic readiness, aerobic efficiency, flexibility, reflexes, speed, and coordination. Though strength is a useful addition to one’s combat arsenal, it is truly secondary to speed and accuracy, as in a true sword fight it takes less than 1 pound of pressure for a moderately sharpened metal tip to break the skin and pierce a vital organ, bones withstanding. In most fights, it remains, the faster guy who wins, not the stronger.

If high intensity workouts are your thing, nothing quite matches armed combat.  During a fight you will have moments, sometimes minutes worth of posing, planning, preparation that ends with a flurry of combinations, counters, and feints.  One on one exchanges rarely exceed 20 seconds, which pushes the muscles to use resources readily available instead of relying on nutrients and sugar to come from the blood over time. Arguments involving metabolism heavily favor intense moments of activity coupled with recovery instead of steady maintained exertion which is exactly what you find in combat. The liver, heart, lungs, and kidneys benefit from these workouts the most.

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Coordination, speed, and precision are key components that make up a good fighter. In combat, unlike with other forms of exercise, sloppy or lacking form becomes immediately evident and can lead to injury or a lost bout. Most modern sword combat training, is heavily centered on form, precision and safety aspect, in order to minimizing broken bones, pierced skin, damaged organs, or tendon/muscle damage. These skills (form and precision) do not need to be learned in direct confrontation either. One popular method of inducing muscle memory involves frequent and rigorous training with a pell or dummy. This allows for a safe and effective way to learned proper technique without the fear of retaliation and subsequent injury. However, nothing prepares you for a direct confrontation better than facing a live opponent.

 

fencer950

Outside of improving your cardiovascular health, teaching patience and precision, self defense and improving muscle tone, armed combat also helps develop faster reflexes and hand-eye coordination. Very few things teach a person to react quickly and correctly on moment to moment basis quite like armed combat. In all simplicity there are about 11 styles of attack which can be countered by roughly 8 styles of blocks. Regardless of the style of combat, these simple moves (with some variation) are repeated over and again until they become second nature. Then the ability to fight comes into play as one must use these moves to deliver a strike against the opponent without in turn receiving one. In addition to the physical aspect of fighting, there is a mental component. There is a point in every fencing bout when it stops being a skirmish and becomes a very convoluted form of chess style strategy coupled with moment to moment reactionary changes in direction, flow, and patterns. A successful fighter will be able to out-think the opponent while reacting to unforeseen changes. The heart isn’t the only thing racing at these moments. Every muscle in the body of a fighter, including the heart, works in unison to form a complex dance that improves the body, the mind, and overall reaction time, physical readiness, and fitness.

–By Kevin Yates

The Leg Annihilation

Last week I wrote about a workout that defeated me at first and that I defeated a few hours after. This week I decided to share that workout with you. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart. So, make sure that you are well hydrated, have plenty of energy and are ready to sweat. Have fun, don’t give up, and let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

Round 1:
15 (each leg) Weighted lunges
30 Weighted (Wide) Jump squats
30 Jumping Switch Lunges
15 (each leg) Weighted Step ups

REST 60 SEC

Round 2:
15 Smith Machine (wide) squats
30 Jump Squats (narrow)
15 Smith Machine squats (narrow)
30 Box Jumps

REST 60 SEC

Round 3:
15 TRX Hamstring Curls
30 Pop Squats
15 Stiff Leg Dead lifts
60 Sumo Squats

REST 60 SEC

Do each round 2 times before moving on to the next round.

Running

National Running Day is coming up on June 5th and there are plenty of great running communities and causes that need your help. Donate to a cause or volunteer at a race and spread the word about this wonderful sport.

The One Fund was formed to help those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing and their families. If you have $10 you can make a difference. Remember, every little bit counts.

Atlanta Track Club is a wonderful community of runners in Atlanta Georgia. Visit their website and sign up for on of the races or volunteer at a race and help spread the love and good cheer of running in your community.

Run Now  is an organization that promotes the wonderful sport of running. So, if you run, know anyone who runs, go and pledge miles or buy their “run now” bracelet and they will make a donation to The One Fund.

Yard Work

To those who believe that gardening is not a form of exercise I challange you to do the following:

Carry 12 large bags of garden soil up and down the hill,  5 bags of cow manure, 6 bags of rocks. After you are done with that, squat and pick up one bag at a time depositing it into a planter. Then, go dig a trench for a retaining wall. After that, do some planting yoga to stretch all of the muscles you just used.

I hurt. That is all. Even my fingers are too tired to type. But in a few weeks I will be making salads with organic, home grown vegetables. don’t worry, I’ll share if you ask nicely.

I Have a Love Hate Relationship With Burpees. Seriously, I do.


I feel that a workout full off Burpees is a fitness metaphor to life. 

I did not feel like going to the gym today at all. In fact, all I wanted to do today was sleep, and maybe stay on my sofa, watch trashy TV and eat plums all day long. However, what we want and what we need do not always coincide. 
What I needed to do was to get up, take a cold shower, start working on my research for the next article I was writing, and then go to the gym, write the article(S), go pick up more research material, go to a meeting, meet with a friend for dinner and IKEA trip, come home and go to bed so I can get up, go run, plant, etc. Wow, I am tired just thinking about all of it! So, how did I get myself on board with my own day today? Simple.
 I made myself get out of bed and did 15 squats, drank and ice cold glass of water, put the tea on, and stuck myself in the cold shower. That got the ball rolling. By the time I was done and sort of dry, I had my morning green tea ready, my hard boiled eggs (that I peeled the night before) were waiting for me in the fridge and all I had to do, was grab a hand full of spring mix, one orange, and one small whole grain pita and I had my breakfast ready. I love pre planned breakfast because it is so quick and portable, I don’t even need a plate most days! 
I sat down to do my research with my breakfast in my lap, and I have to say, by my third bite and my forth sip of hot tea, I was awake and ready to put some damage on the topic I was writing about! By the time my back started to hurt from all the sitting it was already time to hit the gym (don’t you love the timing? Your body always knows when it is time to get moving) . I put on my running shoes (still with that vague “but I don’t wanna” whining in the back of my head). I told myself that those who give up and skip workouts do not get abs. So, I grabbed my bottle full of Spark and left to go get some burpees done. I hate burpees. I hate them, hate them, hate them. I hate them more than I hate Steve the kettle bell. Yes, I named the kettle bell. It makes it easier to throw my fist up at the sky when my butt is thoroughly kicked by the workout and dramatically curse the day Steve the kettle bell was forged in the deep fires of pure evil. 
My workout today consisted of the following: 
15 pushups (no knees allowed)
30 walking lunges (sing it with me Alicia Keys style: My Quads are on FIIREEE!!!)
15 Dolphin Pushups
15 Mountain Climbers
30 sec rest
So far pretty easy right? Gooood.
15 triceps dips
15 jump lunges
15 pile squats (45 lb KB)
15 burpees
30 secs rest
I HATE BURPEES!!!! (but you have to do them until you love them. That’s how that works)
15 curtsy lunges
15 bicycles
15 mountain climbers
15 spiderman plank
Repeat 4 times, for time, trying to beat the previous try each time.  
This almost made me cry. Especially after burpees. I think because I hate them, I try to push through them as fast as I possibly can which just causes me to get more tired and wanting to cry. Usually I feel really good about this workout and can take at least a few seconds off, but today, today I wasn’t with it fully. 
At first I blamed in on the fact that I didn’t have my pre-workout protein shake. Then I remembered that I did, in fact, have a protein shake 30 minutes before I left. Now, I blame it on not having my head in the game fully.  That’s ok, though. At the end of the day, calories burnt, are calories burnt and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is always tomorrow to have a great, hard, enjoyable workout. That is exactly what I am planning on. In a few minutes I am going to leave my office and go to Big Peach Running Co. to pick up my sexy, shiny, pair of brand new minimalist shoes which I am planning to begin breaking in tomorrow.
How did your Friday workout go?

A Girl Gotta Have Shoes!


While I was doing my elliptical HIIT this morning, I got to thinking about shoes. Every girl needs a new pair of shoes every once in a while. Some of us love high heels, personally, I’ll take a good running shoe over a pair of fabulous heels any day.  Oh, who am I kidding, I would never pick between the two. I’d take them both! In the delicate matter of picking out shoes, one should never play favorites. 
Long story short, here is  something that I found useful when I was picking out my pair of running shoes. Hope it helps you too.