Category Archives: gym

Easy Calorie Counting & Demystifying Weight Loss

Nutrition and Calories

l_a1d8c110-60e7-11e1-b1da-97b177c00001It is no secret that in order to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume. Cutting calories and “dieting” is more of an individual process than generic, preset approach. It is only through trial and error that you will be able to know what truly works for you and how many calories you need to consume in order to lose weight and gain lean muscle.

If you follow Fierce Miles, you have heard me say this time and time again—severe caloric restriction is not sustainable and extremely dangerous. Creating massive deficits will wreak havoc on your hormones and result in slowing down your metabolism even further which will lead to the inevitable weight gain.

Of course, there are general guidelines that can help you figure out your approximate optimal daily caloric intake. However, without good record keeping and a willingness to go through a certain period of trial and error, you will never be able to zero in on what truly works for you.

 

Fat Loss:       

The general formula to calculate daily caloric intake with the emphasis on fat loss is the following:

Focus on getting 11-16 calories per pound of your target body weight.

So, if your goal weight is 140 lbs:

11 cal X 140 lbs = 1540 calories (this is your absolute lowest daily intake)
16 cal X 140 lbs = 2240 calories (this is your highest daily intake)

Muscle Building:

The general formula to calculate daily caloric intake with the emphases on muscle building and weight gain is the following:

Focus on getting 17-25 calories per pound of target body weight.

So, if your goal weight is 200 lbs:

17 cal X 200 lbs = 3400 calories (lowest daily intake)
25 cal X 200 lbs = 5000 calories (highest daily intake)

Weight Maintenance:

It is generally ill-advised to maintain a caloric deficit for prolonged periods of time. Your body will eventually get use to the deficit making fat loss more difficult. In order to maintain a healthy metabolism and a lean, strong, healthy body, periods of maintenance are essential. During maintenance periods your body rests and rebuilds.

There is no set formula to calculate your maintenance calories. I suggest starting slowly increasing your caloric intake by 15-20 % every week until you stop losing weight. A large increase in the daily caloric intake may result in an increase in body fat. If that happens just reduce the weekly caloric increase.

Maintenance periods can be tricky and it usually takes time to find the proper increase percentage. Good record keeping is essential for the maintenance phase.

Counting Calories:

fitness-inspiration-954-eaf80244-sz480x480-animateToday, there are a number of tools that you can use to track your daily caloric intake. However, nothing beats good old math. Many food companies actually underestimate caloric values of their products on their labels due to the way they count calories in fiber. It has been a fitness myth for many years that calories from fiber do not count towards the total caloric value of a carbohydrate because fiber isn’t fully absorbed by the body. The key word here is fully. Some fiber does get absorbed and can’t be counted towards “free nutrients”. So, what does that mean?

That means that some food companies do not include the caloric value of fiber in the calorie total of the product. Although a difference of 10 calories here and there may not sound like much initially, an extra 100 calories a day can add up to 1 pound of body fat gain per month.

Here are the macro nutrient caloric values:

Protein = 4 cal/gram
Carbohydrates = 4 cal/gram
Fat = 9 cal/gram
Fiber = 4 cal/gram (fiber is a carbohydrate and there for is 4 calories per gram. When you take into account that only about ½ of the fiber gets absorbed by the body, it totals to roughly 2 calories per gram. When calculating total caloric value of fiber, divide by two).

Example of calculating calories based on food labels:

Let’s take Healthy Life High Fiber Bread, the label give the following information:

Calories: 70
Total Fat: 0.5 gram
Total Carb: 16 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 5 gram

Look at the total fiber number, divide by two. Subtract the number you are left with from the carbohydrate total and multiply by 4 to get the proper carbohydrate calories in the food you are looking at.

When you calculate it out:

0.5 x 9 = 4.5 (fat)
5 / 2 =2.5
16 – 2.5 = 13.5
13.5 x 4 = 54 (carbs)
5 x 4 = 20 (protein)
4.5+54+20= 78.5 (total calories)

So the total calorie count in the Healthy Life High Fiber Bread is 78.5.

What to do when a food doesn’t have a nutrition facts label:

There are a number of resources that you can turn to if you find yourself in a situation where nutrition facts are not readily available.

  • USDA National Nutrient Database
  • USDA Super Tracker (a more user friendly version of the Database)
  • CRON-O-METER (although this does not come in a convenient app form, it is accurate)

In most cases a simple Internet search will answer all of your macro nutrient questions. However, make sure that you rely on trustworthy sources for your nutrient information. Some of the largest fitness and calorie tracking applications that are available today grossly underestimate calorie information and are laden with human error.

Fierce Workout: Fierce Fit

This week is all about endurance and seeing what you are made of.  Do this workout as fast as possible, with proper form for 30 minutes. Make sure that you are keeping track of how many rounds you have completed, write the number down. I do this workout at least once a month to see if I can beat my score every time. Enjoy!

fiercefit

Gym Faux Pas

Since many of you are just starting your fitness journey, I’d like to talk about a few things that might help you avoid an uncomfortable situation and save you the dirty looks. You may already know this, but there is a certain gym etiquette that most of us prefer you abide by. Below I have assembled a short list of gym faux pas that everyone should know:

shutupandsquat

Using Your Phone

No one, and I mean no one, wants to hear your conversation with your girlfriend about how awesome the party was last night, how horrible your boss is, or how hot that guy / girl is that you hooked up with last night. There is a time and a place to use your cellphone and it is definitely NOT while you are working out. Plus, if you can talk on the phone that means that you are not working hard enough, taking up valuable time on the equipment, and annoying everyone who is actually putting in the work. Think of it this way, your gym is like a movie theater but instead of watching a film, you are watching your health and body composition. Don’t be a jerk and disturb everyone around you. Hang up or take it outside!

you are doing it worng

Have a Question? Ask Somebody!

This seems self-explanatory, but you’ll be surprised how many people lack common sense. If you have a question about a piece of equipment, ask someone, google it, or simple look at the machine. More often than not there is a demonstration of what it does and how to use it. Don’t just jump in and assume that you can figure it out. Why risk a chance of injury?

clean

Leaving Sweat on the Equipment

We know you are working hard and sweating bullets. That’s what you are supposed to do! However, be nice and wipe your sweat off the equipment so the other person can come in and use it without having to worry about your funk.

keep-calm-and-re-rack-weights

Not Racking Your Weights

If you can do ten reps, you can do one more to rack your weights. Be considerate to others and to the gym employees who will have to pick up your mess.

spotting_wrong

Unsolicited Spotting and Hovering

It is NEVER ok to spot another person unless they asked for it. Don’t be that creepy person. Just mind your own business.

Waiting to use a machine? Don’t hover. You can always do something else while you wait. You can also politely ask to cut in while the other person is taking a rest. More often than not, they’ll let you.

creepygymguy

Locker Room is NOT Your Bathroom

That means be modest, don’t leave your stuff lying around everywhere, and don’t be gross.

NoFragrance

Smells are Bad

I really don’t know what could be worse than being hit by a wave of perfume or cologne while you are in the middle of a heavy set. It is disorienting, nauseating, and extremely annoying. Why would you want to wear a fragrance to the gym anyway? Who are you trying to impress? Remember, you are here to workout, not to strut your stuff!

However, perfume and cologne are not the only offensive odors. If you know you have bad BO, take a shower and put on some deodorant, if you are a smoker, please try to refrain from smoking before you come to the gym.

Finally, if you think that what you are doing could be annoying or impolite, it probably is.

 

 

 

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: 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: Better, Faster, Stronger

In preparation for the fall running season, I have been doing a lot of track and hill drills to build speed and endurance. When I plan my workouts I keep one simple rule in mind: hard training leads to easy races. I train very hard, I constantly demand more of myself so when I get to race day I know that I can do anything! Below is one of my track workouts that I find to be very effective in building mental and physical endurance. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

better_faster_stronger

I would recommend that you take breaks as needed and make sure that your heart rate doesn’t drop too much during your rest periods. Always remember to hydrate properly before and after exercise. This particular workout can take a lot out of you especially if you push through it without breaks. Good luck, have fun, and be safe!

Lean and Strong is The New Skinny and Fragile!

streetart_amsterdam_break_the_stereotypeEarlier this week I was at the store and picked up Women’s Health Magazine. I was astonished by what was in it. First and foremost what blew my mind were advertisements of soft, none developed, skinny women. Second, headlines such as “Flat abs in 15 minutes!” and “healthy cocktails” all but had me up in arms. I bought the magazine just because I could get at least 6 blog posts out of it just on the subjects of  fitness and nutrition myths!

Ok, ok, I am better now, but let’s face it, how can we battle the obesity epidemic when women are being fed conflicting and, at times, damaging information? You will be surprised how many women out there go to Cosmo for advice on fitness and nutrition. I did have higher hopes for Women’s Health Magazine, though. After all, the word “health” is in the title. It was extremely disappointing to see hundreds of glossy pictures filled images of women that were so retouched, they looked disproportionate.  I am sure that I am not the only one that finds “skinny fat” absolutely unattractive.

When did we lose touch with a healthy look? Why are we still holding on to an almost Victorian notion of a weak, helpless, anemic woman? Why can’t a girl have muscles? Why are we, women, allowing the society to continually define us as weak? Ladies, remember, you have the capacity to bare children! That alone propels you to a category of strength and resilience. Yu don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were developed enough to hold it in case you did? Ladies, go to the gym and lift. Lean and strong is the new skinny and fragile!

Getting Back In it Slowly

I am having one of those days.


I can’t wait to get to the gym tomorrow and get some work done. Tomorrow is a leg day, my favorite day of the week. I began to love the responsibility of taking care of my own workouts.  I get to do everything that I want to do and nothing that I don’t. So, tomorrow I will lift, squat, lunge, and step-up on boxes to my heart’s content. Maybe I will even row a little, you never know. I am looking forward to a nice, slow, intense session of lifting heavy things and putting them back down.  After almost a week of being out I desperately need some “bar” therapy.

I had a training session with a new trainer today and I am not sure if I can truly roll with this trainers style. It’s fun, it’s new, but I am use to a more methodical, scientific approach to training.  I am not saying that it is all bad, this trainer had some great moves that I will be incorporating into my routine, but today was not the day to do them. The entire workout my body was not cooperating, I could feel my elbow swelling, my lungs being full of post sickness “gunk” and my body was slow and sluggish. Most of the time I could not breath and my energy levels were in the dumps. That’s what I get for being sick this long! It’s okay, though, tomorrow is a new day and tomorrow I am going to be in a full -on beast mode!

In other news, I spent almost the entire weekend researching topics that I want to write my “in depth” weekly blog entries about. I am excited to say that this Saturday I will have something special up for you guys. Also, I just received the NASM book, so I am extremely excited to start reading it. Stay tuned.

FINALLY!

I can’t tell you how excited I am today. I finally felt good enough to go to the gym and lift some weights! Yay!

When I got to the gym I felt like a child that was released into the candy store. I wanted to do everything all at once. The voice of reason, however, reminded me that I must not give in to my fitness ADD and just stick to the program. So, I stuck to it.

Today was my upper body day. After going through my first set of exercises  I felt a touch “fried”. I think I over zealously pushed myself a little harder then I should have after a long absence. Second and third set of exercises I breezed through, which tells me that I probably need to increase the weight or the number of reps, and finally when I got around to training my biceps, I was completely bored. I need to come up with a more creative ways to train my biceps or at least get them engaged when I am doing my lower body. Finally, I trained abs today as well. Again, I need a more creative way to train abs. I am very bored with my Russian Twists and V-ups and Captain’s Chair exercises…

The more I continue working out at the small, private gym that I go to, the more I realize how much I miss having  someone to spot me, talk to, and workout with. I use to dislike training with other people, now I feel like I need a pack.

I think I am going to start looking for an excepting bunch of body builders to take me under their wing. I think it is time to be part of a group.

Living Vicariously Through My Friends


I think I already said this before, but being sick or having to stay away from my normal workout routine due to an injury turns me into  an incredibly grumpy person. I am on day four of forced rest and I am itching to go back to the gym. Logically I understand that rest is required, that I will be able to come back to my routines quicker if I give myself time to rest and rejuvenate, but emotionally I am a mess. Over the last few years I have gotten use to leaving my stress at the gym, and although there were moments of self doubt about my fitness progress, I never doubted one thing — working towards my fitness goals made me very happy.
Since I could not go to the gym this morning due to this incessant sinus infection, I decided to relive some stress by doing simple meditation. Granted, I haven’t meditated in a long while, but I have to say, it has nothing on lifting heavy weights or doing 30 burpees. It just isn’t the same for me. I am really looking forward to finally being able to keep my date with the Smith machine at some point this week.  
So, dear friends, since I can’t be out there doing pullups, pushups, squats, and deadlifts, get off your butts and go do something active for me. A few pushups, a few bench dips, some jumping jacks, superman planks, and burpees will totally make your day! Seriously, go do it, then call me and tell me all about it. ’cause I AM DYING HERE!!!! 🙂