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Fierce Workout: Cry on My Shoulder

Warm weather is right around the corner and that means sleeveless shirts and exposed shoulders and arms. Who wouldn’t want to have some nice, sexy definition? This weeks no gym required workout is all about shoulders. All you will need is a set of tension (resistance) bands.

The How To:

Tension (resistance) Band Shoulder Press:

Stand on the tension band with one of your feet until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your hands over your shoulders and  elbows bent. Holding the tension band handles, palms out, push the handles up until your arms are almost fully extended (keep your elbow soft), then bring your hands slowly to the starting position.

Tension (resistance) Band Internal Shoulder Rotation:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well at about your waist level. With the tension band at your side, grab the handle with the hand closest to the band. Keep your upper arm pressed tightly against your body with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Pull the handle in towards your abdomen and slowly return it back to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band External Shoulder Rotation:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well at about your waist level. With the tension band at your side, grab the handle with the hand furthest away from the band. Keep your upper arm pressed tightly against your body with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Pull the handle out across your body away from your abdomen and slowly return it back to the starting position. Make sure that you are using appropriate tension for this exercise.

Tension (resistance) Band Front Deltoid Raise:

Wrap the tension (resistance) band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well. Hold the tension band handels with your arms in front of you, palms facing down. Pull the tension band up until your arms are parallel to the floor, then slowly return to the starting position. Remember to maintain appropriate, challenging tension on your resistance bands!

Tension (resistance) Band Lateral Deltoid Raise:

Stand on the tension band with your legs apart until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your arms straight down. Holding the tension band handles with your arms on either side of your body, palms in, pull the handles out and up until your arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the starting position.

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I’d love to her what you thought about this workout in the comments below or on our Facebook!

 

 

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!

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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: The Extinction

This is another AMRAP workout that is guaranteed to get your heart rate up and burn a bunch of calories. Although this is not one of the “no special equipment required” workouts, you can still use some of the household objects to get this one done. For example, if you do not have access to a kettle bell a gallon jug filled with water can be great substitute. You can use a park bench or a high curb to do your box jumps. Sometimes improvising is what keeps the workout fun and fresh. 🙂  Remember to use good form on your kettle bell swings!

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Fierce Workout: Sweating Bullets

This another Holiday travel friendly workout of the week. This week we will be using tension bands. You should be able to complete this workout in 30 minutes.

The How To:

Tension Band Squats:

Stand on the tension band with your hands by your shoulders in the squat position. Pretend that you are holding a barbell on your shoulders and you are about to do barbell squats. Your tension band should be appropriately tense. Now, stand up with your hands by your shoulders as you would while performing a barbell squat.

Tension Band Curls:

Stand on the tension band with your legs apart until you feel appropriate (challenging) tension with your arms straight down. Holding the tension band handles, palms out, curl up as you would with a dumbbell curl.

Tension Band Sit-ups:

Wrap the tension band around a post, tree, bedpost, or anything else that is sturdy and will hold tension well. Position yourself on the floor / ground facing away from the post. Holding your hands by your head with an appropriate (challenging) amount of tension on the band, perform sit-ups.

Sweating-Bullets

Try to rest only after you have completed a circuit. Push hard, dig deep, and remember it is a short workout designed to burn a lot of calories. After you finish, make sure that you stretch, use a roller if one is available, and drink lots of water. Have fun and let me know what you think!

Surviving the Holidays: Staying Fit While Traveling

holiday-fitnessHoliday season is right around the corner and with it comes a heavy travel schedule, stress, joy, pies, cookies, candy, guilt, and mounds of delicious, fattening food. So, how do you maintain all the progress you have made in the last few weeks and still enjoy your time with your family and friends?

First of all, I encourage everyone to take a look at the calendar. How many days are there between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year? 26! Even if you ate until you feel like popping on Thanksgiving and Christmas day, there are still 26 other days to stay on plan! Make it a point to stick to your diet and workout schedule during those 26 days. You will feel significantly better about yourself if are actually following through with a program that you have set for yourself. You might even feel more empowered by the progress that you are making despite the odds.

Travel

Some of us can’t have consistent access to the gym during the holidays due to travel and family obligations. Not to worry, you can still get a great workout that will burn calories even if you didn’t splurge on a fancy hotel that has a private gym.  Here’s how:

 TRX

TRX is a suspension system that will change your life. It is compact, fits in most carryon, and can be fastened to a door, a pull-up bar or any number of other surfaces. TRX allows you to perform a variety of moves that encompass practically every part of your body with just your body weight and angle variation.

 Take it outside

Even if you don’t have time for a full run, grab a few of your relatives and get outside. Be a kid again and play some football, tag, or even hide and seek. Think about it this way: your kids will be happy and worn out before the day ends and you’ll feel better because you had some cardio!

Go for a hike, or grab all the pets that need walking and go for a long walk. The pets will thank you and you will thank you! Seriously, no need to sit inside and be tempted by all the food. Go get some air, do something fun, be a kid again!

 Tension Bands

Much like the TRX, Tension Bands are a space saving travel must have! Tension bands can replace dumbbells for most exercises and are fun and easy to use. I find that they are best used together with a TRX.

 High Rep, High Intensity Exercises

Forgot to pack your TRX and your Tension Bands? No problem, a high rep, high intensity routine will get your heart rate high and your muscles working. Try exercises such as air squats, squat jumps, high knees, butt kicks, push-ups (of all varieties), crunches, triceps dips, and box jumps (you can use a park bench for these). There are endless possibilities and the amount of calories that you can burn is insane!

For more “no gym required” workouts, visit our workout page or our Facebook page!

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Eating While Traveling

Keeping a good diet is always difficult when you are traveling. Even if you usually pack your own food, traveling with it might present an issue. Believe it or not, if you are taking a road trip this holiday season, you’ll have an easier time staying on plan than those with long layovers. Most airports won’t let you go through security with a drink larger than three ounces and you can forget about bringing food! So what is one to do when stuck on a long flight or have a long layover? Here are some tips:

 Be Smart

Airports will usually have a number of restaurants that offer lighter dishes. If you are eating at the restaurant, go for a salad with a grilled protein, get your dressing on the side, and make sure to steer clear of anything that is candied, breaded, or contains large quantities of fat.

Not ready for a meal but would like a snack? Airport newsstands and coffee shops frequently carry nuts and occasionally some fresh fruit. If you can find some skim milk and a banana, you are basically set for a nice snack.

Some Starbucks locations still offer protein powder as an addition to their drinks. If you go for a nonfat, sugar free, nothing bad protein latter, you just might make it to your destination without deviating from your diet.

However, if you slip up, panic and make the wrong choice, don’t beat yourself up. One bad meal isn’t going to make you fat, a few bad meals might.

If you are traveling by car and wondering how to stay on plan, you are in for a treat! I LOVE road trips and at this point I am somewhat of a pro at making them nice, relaxing, and fun. Even before I began my fitness journey I would pack food for long trips. I found that it saved me money and helped me get to where I was going faster. What can I say, I hate stopping and LOVE driving! Here’s what I pack:

Get a large cooler and a bunch of ice or ice packs, fill it with the following:

 Short Trips (3-4 hr):

Protein Powder / Protein Drinks
Water
Nuts
Fruit or veggies (green apples, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cut and cleaned green peppers, radishes, celery sticks, grapes, pears)

Long Trips (5+ hr):

Water
Meal Replacement Shakes
Protein Drinks / Protein Powder
Salad (lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers) precut in a large Tupperware container
Lean protein (precut grilled chicken or individual packets of tuna)
Fruit and Veggies
Almond Butter
Nuts

 

I also find it useful to have a cooler with me at the hotel room. That way I can stop by the local grocery store and get everything I need for a healthy snack or mid-day meal. What can I say, the small fridges just don’t cut it for me anymore!

If you have any questions about keeping your progress through the Holidays, visit our Facebook page, send me an email, or comment below. I’m sure you can come up with a plan for you!

Getting Fit For the Holidays

GrowSet Up a Schedule

Most of us have incredibly full schedules, family responsibilities and things that we would rather be doing instead of spending the time in the gym. However, if you want to look your best and impress your friends and family this holiday season, you have to dedicate the time to achieve your goals.

Setting up a schedule is one of the key parts on a successful weight loss journey. You need to know when you are going to be shopping, cooking, and working out. Here are a few factors to consider in order to set up the best schedule for you:

Make sure that the time fits your routine:

Developing new habits takes time and effort. Make sure that you are not setting yourself up for failure by playing to your weaknesses. For example: If you are not a morning person, it is probably not a good idea to commit to an early morning workout. If you know that you will have a hard Wednesday at work, it may not be the best day to shop for groceries.

Look at your schedule, figure out what times work best for you and play to your strengths. If you are at your best, you will enjoy your time at the gym more and will be more likely to keep your commitment than if you are tired, hungry, and have a million other things to do.

Plan Ahead:

Planning ahead is the best way to insure that you will actually keep your commitments. If you have food that is already cooked, prepped, portioned, and ready to go, you will be less likely to eat something that you will regret later. If your gym bag is already packed, you are more likely to go to the gym, etc. Set aside at least half of one day a week for planning and prep.

From my experience the best planning and prep day is Sunday. That’s when I usually cook all of my food, organize my workout clothes, write my workouts and get ready for the week.

Your Time is Your Time:

Make sure that people around you understand that you will require time that is only yours for the next few months. During that time you will be training, planning, and prepping. That time is none negotiable. That time is YOURS! In addition to staying on plan, setting time aside that is meant just for you can make you feel better about yourself and your goals. After all, your time with you is long overdue.

 Discipline

You Get What You Put In

Let’s be realistic for a moment. If you really want to achieve your weight and fat loss goals, you can’t be eating junk, skipping workouts, and then wonder why you only lost three pounds when you should have lost twenty.  You need to keep yourself accountable.

The best way to do that is to embark on this journey with a partner, get a trainer, or join and online group of people whose goals are similar to yours. Yes, you can do it alone, but it will be harder and you will need to have the iron will to succeed.

I find that a combination of a training partner, tracking your food, and working with a personal trainer seems to be the best way to succeed, especially when you are just starting out.

Abs Are Made In the Kitchen

I say this time and time again: your fitness goals will be achieved only if you are eating right. Dieting is not a quick fix, it is a life style. That means that you have to have a diet that is sustainable long term, that isn’t crazily restrictive, and that you can deviate from. That means that you should eat carbs, fats, and protein from healthy sources with a reasonable amount of calories a day. An 800 calorie diet is NOT going to work! Eating 10000 calories from healthy sources isn’t going to work either. You need to research and find a diet that is right for you and is sustainable.

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Cardio Is Not Always King

Yes, sure you can get on the treadmill and run until you are blue in the face and the weight will initially come off. However, regardless of how hard you try, you will never get that “toned” look you are going for unless you lift some weights. Don’t worry, you won’t get “bulky” after a few months of weight training unless that is what you are trying to do. Despite the common misconception, a woman will not look “manly” after lifting without some serious dedication to muscle building and diet.

Lifting heavy will however help you build stronger muscle that will burn more fat (yes, imagine that!) than just cardio alone. Not to mention it’ll tighten everything that is loose preventing you from having that “skinny fat”, malnourished look.

Another benefit of heavy weight training is that you get to eat more calories. Imagine actually being able to eat a scoop of ice cream every once in a while without feeling guilty the next day because your body can sustain it!

 

Supplements

Now that you have set your schedule, researched your diet, and are working with a trainer, it might be tempting to go to the store and get any one of the “help me get skinny” products that you can get over the counter.  But before you do, ask yourself this: do you want to be looking fit for 12 weeks or do you want to actually be fit for life? Do you want short term results and almost instant gratification at the expanse of your health, or do you want to accomplish your goals and be healthier as a result? That’s what I though.

There isn’t enough research to support the effectiveness and safety of the over the counter fat burners, but there is enough research and evidence to support that they are an ineffective way to remain tight and lean year round.

 

Don’t sell yourself short by taking a short cut, instead, bite the bullet and take the time to build new, healthy habits that are guaranteed to keep you in shape and on track long after the Holidays are over.

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.

 

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!