Workout Review: 21 Day Fix Extreme

21 Day FixExtreme

It only takes 21 days to create a habit.  By now many of you are well familiar with Autumn’s first life changing program, 21 Day Fix.  The 21 Day Fix fitness program has been sweeping the nation helping everyday people get back on the horse through cleaning up their nutrition and exercise habits.  But for those of you that maybe are in the been there done that stage, or perhaps are wanting something a bit more challenging, a bit more extreme, Autumn released the second training series based on 21 Day Fix called 21 Day Fix Extreme.  And it’s no joke.

The title says it all.  This, my friends, is not for the faint of heart.  If you found yourself in a pool of sweat during the original 21 Day Fix prepare yourself as this program will have you literally sweating buckets and blasting through plateau’s.  Much like 21 Day Fix, Extreme features the best of cardio, resistance training, and those feel good classes like pilates and yoga for a full body transformation. The eating plan is similar to  21 Day Fix with the containers however it’s even more strict cutting out loving elements like your wine and guilty pleasure of dessert.

What are my thoughts?  I LOVED it.  In fact after completing the program two years ago I still incorporate at least one of her workouts like the lower body workouts, cardio fix extreme, pilates etc within my weekly routine. I really like how she diversified the timing for each exercise.  Before she primarily used the one minute interval approach, which that’s fine but i get bored easily and need changing interval times, exercises etc to keep me engaged.  21 Day Fix Extreme included that.  She mixed things up with one minute intervals, 30 second intervals etc.  Bottom line, if you have been working out on a somewhat regular basis for >6 months this is an excellent workout for shaping up for that wedding, bikini season, or a random trip to the islands.

Let’s take a deeper look into the workouts and nutrition, shall we?

# of workouts included: 6 main workouts, 3 additional workouts

Cardio workouts:

  • Plyo Fix Extreme – jumping, jumping, and more jumping…. oh but with weights, like 10lb weights!
  • Cardio Fix Extreme – cardio intervals mixed with strength intervals
  • the Fix Challenge – no equipment, 13 moves in a pyramid style routine
  • ABC Extreme – Abs, Butt and cardio to finish you off

Resistance Routines:

  • Lower Body Fix Extreme – Every muscle in your lower half will feel it 5 minutes in, sooo good.
  • Upper Body Fix Extreme
  • Dirty 30 Extreme – upper, lower and abs
  • Power Strength Extreme

Flexibility and Core: 

  • Pilates Fix Extreme –  pilates on steroids with bands
  • Yoga Fix Extreme – dynamic yoga flow
  • 10 Min hardCORE abs

I’m not going to go into crazy details on the nutrition plan. Fact of the matter is, I love the containers. I use them daily to transport things to and from work or anytime i need a quick measurement on something but I do not live and die by this plan. If you do not eat the cleanest or are trying to diversify your eating habits then I do recommend you give the nutrition program a chance as it can really help you understand the fundamentals of what you are eating and why and it takes the guesswork out of prepping meals for the week.

Want more insight into the program itself or the nutrition?  There are a lot of great reviews out on the web.  Here are a few of my favorites I recommend checking out:

21 Day Fix Extreme – A Review From a P90X Junkie and Marathoner

How do I get ripped?

The Dysfunctional Parrot – Review: 21 Day Fix Extreme

So did you try this program?  If so what are your thoughts and would you recommend it to a friend?

 

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Turkey Chili Mac

This week we had some cooler temps for September which got me in the mood for fall.  I even started pulling out fall related decor for my house.  I love this time of year!  And what comes with fall?  Warm, amazing smelling comfort foods!  However as someone who tries to consciously healthify everything I eat I decided to make my favorite Turkey Chili Mac, ooh soo good.  It must not be too healthy tasting as my husband and daughter love it too!

Turkey Chili Mac (serving 1.5 cups makes 5 servings) Total cooking time: approx 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1lb 93/7 ground turkey (you can use lean beef here too)
  • 1 chili seasoning packet (or you can make your own with oregano, cumin, paprika, chili powder, black pepper)
  • 1 cup elbow noodles
  • 1/2 can kidney beans
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 yellow onion diced
  • 1/4 red pepper chopped
  • 1/4 green pepper chopped
  • garlic (to your liking)

Optional Toppings:

  • greek yogurt (for sour cream on top)
  • reduced fat cheddar
  • Oyster crackers
  • 1/5 avocado

Directions:

Heat pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Brown turkey and drain fat.  Add to pot onion, red pepper, green pepper and garlic and saute for a few minutes.  Add back in ground turkey and stir for about 5 more minutes. Add in the beans, cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili seasoning, and broth (you can also sub out the broth for water as well). Stir and let simmer about 15 minutes.  Lastly add in the uncooked elbow noodles and cover.  Let cook until noodles are done making sure to stir occasionally so that nothing sticks to the pot (approx 15 minutes).

Once noodles are cooked turn off the pot and let rest for a few more minutes to thicken before serving.  Scoop into bowl, add in your optional toppings: cheese, greek yogurt, oyster crackers, and avocado.

Voila!

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The Power of Naturopathic Medicine

power of naturopathic medicine

There comes a time in one’s life where stress gets the best of us, people get the best of us, life gets the best of us. Sometimes this comes on suddenly like a thief in the night and other times things progressively head south over an extended period of time.  Whether this is a mental issue, or a physical issue is indifferent they both lead to the land of blah. We try to self medicate with exercise, wine, sleep etc but nothing seems to be able to reset us back to that once calm, centered state we were in before.

I’ve been there and back.  I’ve tried numerous avenues to reset myself like mentioned above but none of which gave me any solid results. It was frustrating and draining. After my failed attempts I decided to try a holistic approach as I had heard numerous friends talk about the power of acupuncture, supplements and oil.  All sounded like voodoo to me…  but I decided if this has been around since ancient times let’s give it a try.

I started visiting a Naturopathic doctor last summer. What I loved immediately is she addressed the whole of me. She didn’t just go straight to what my issue at hand was she dug deeper and instead analyzed the whole.  After a bout of blood work and various other less invasive tests we sat down and went through the results.  What was really interesting is that what we found were areas of weakness in the body.  But those areas of weakness were not what my perceived issues were.  What I learned though is how closely related functions of the body are.  If one is weak it can affect a whole different part of you.

After review we started acupuncture to balance out my body and strengthen my pulse. I proceeded to get accupuncture treatments twice a month for about 5 months.  It was like a glorified nap for 20 minutes while I “baked” with needles stuck in me.  Seriously though they don’t hurt and if positioned right you can almost feel the energy circulating your body.  In addition I started taking what I now consider essential supplements with a myriad of benefits: Magnesium Lactate, liquid Vitamin D3, supplements to balance my blood sugar levels (they were a bit wacky), and L-theanine in liquid form to help with stress.  At first I was a bit skeptical as supplements are not cheap.  But as I started taking these I could literally feel the change.  My mood was lifted (thanks to the Magnesium), I felt stronger, less ornery and less stressed.  In addition to the supplements, I also carried my lavender essential oil everywhere…. you can never get too calm when you have a Type A personality!

Finally after those 5 months were up I decided to discontinue the acupuncture (for financial reasons… it is not cheap…) but I have continued to use the supplements with great results.  I am nowhere near that funk I used to be and just feel more balanced and ready to take on the world.

Moral of this story is, sometime life throws lemons at you.  Use that opportunity to dig deeper and explore other options. You don’t have to live feeling less than great.  What is awesome about naturopathic medicine is it is natural… you are not adding chemicals or other crap into your body to try to band aid a deeper issue. You are healing yourself from the inside out.  Balance. Strength. Power. Beauty.

Have you tried Naturopathic medicine? What was your experience like?  Would you recommend it?

 

 

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

stuffed portobello mushrooms

I love a good hearty dinner especially if it’s packed with protein and ooey gooey cheese.  However, I also try and maintain an 80/20 clean eating lifestyle every week.  Because of that of that I constantly look for ways to re-invent variations of foods I love in a healthier way so that they fit into my week and I never have to feel guilty eating them.

The following recipe is one I am still perfecting.  The flavors are great, the meatiness of the mushroom cap really shines, and oh yea of course the cheese is on point!  However where I fail is with the cooking of the mushroom cap.  It always ends up overly liquidy.  So I definitely am looking for any pointers on how to drain out some of that excess water from the cap.

However without further ado here is my recipe for Portobello stuffed mushroom caps:

Ingredients – Makes 8 servings

  • 1lb chicken breasts
  • 8 Portobello mushroom caps
  • 8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 can diced black olives (optional)
  • 1 diced red pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Oregano (some to sprinkle on each cap)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Wipe off mushroom caps (check out this video: how to prepare portobello’s)
  3. Brush mushroom caps lightly with olive oil and set on parchment paper on baking sheet
  4. Place baking sheet in oven to cook mushrooms about 30 minutes
  5. While mushroom caps are cooking, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in pan, add chicken
  6. Cook chicken until no longer pink/internal temperature of 165 degrees
  7. While chicken is cooking dice red pepper
  8. Take cooked chicken and dice up
  9. Combine in a medium bowl chicken, red pepper, black olives, seasoning, and tomato sauce
  10. Spoon the chicken mixture into each of the portabella caps
  11. Sprinkle cheese over the tops of the stuffed portabella’s
  12. Pop in oven for about 10-15 minutes

I like to serve these with a side of steamed vegetables but they would also just be good by themselves.  Enjoy!

What stuffed mushroom variations have you made? I’m always looking for new, fun ways to dress these up!

 

Workout Review: Shift Shop

Shift Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a new trainer in the Beachbody house and he goes by the name of Chris Downing coming in with an explosive 3 week program called the Shift Shop.

How the program works

Simple three-week program (round 1).  Each week are two new cardio and strength training workouts each progressing in difficulty and time.  First week strength and cardio workouts are alternated 6 days a week/25 minutes a day. Second week ramps up same progressions of cardio and strength except slightly more difficult and 35 minutes a piece.  Last week ramps up again with sessions lasting 45 minutes. Throughout the three weeks you will also occasionally add in an ab focused workout and stretching.

The Workouts

Cardio 25, 35, 45 – high intensity intervals at 60 secs a pop

Strength 25, 35, 45 – multi-functional weight training recruiting both legs and arms simultaneously for an added burn

Abs – work your transverse abdominals, rectus abdominals, obliques and back

Stretch – much needed relaxation and stretching of muscle fibers to get you ready for the next challenge

Results

Debatable…  so I tried it.  I had not done an intense cardio based program in a while.  I had spent time focusing on muscles and lower intensity cardio workouts so initially these workouts were a challenge but definitely strengthened my muscular endurance.

While I enjoyed the program where I have issues is in the results.  Now I didn’t take it the whole nine yards and do the meal plan nor am I specifically talking about my results.  I wasn’t in it to try and change anything significantly or lose weight etc.  I just wanted to try out the new trainer.  I like Chris, he’s funny, keeps you going and makes the time fly.  I also love that his workouts include your whole body in training for agility and balance. By all means you are definitely in a pool of sweat by the end of pretty much all of the workouts in the program.

Where I go sideways is with results I am seeing posted online.  I’ve browsed tons of before and after pics for the program and honestly, I’m not impressed.  I mean I get that this is meant to charge you up and set up a pattern to keep you motivated to workout.  However where I have a problem is the sheer volume of intensity these workouts pack with little to no difference in visible results when you are done.  Why beat yourself up six days a week for little compensation?  You know?

That said, I do think this workout program would be a great fit post holiday season after overindulging or as a way to increase cardiovascular efficiency.  In fact I plan on saving the next round for those types of scenarios.  However if you are looking for a program to kick your ass AND get fast results I just don’t think this is it.  It really all depends on your goal.

To summarize, Shift Shop was fun.  I made it through all three weeks and was a sweaty mess.  Personally, I just feel there are quite a few better Beachbody programs for seeing results in the same time period.  I will go into some of my favorite programs in future reviews so stay tuned!

Did you try Shift Shop?  What did you think, did it work for you?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  Remember, we are all in this together, one crunch at a time.

Why your apparel could be ruining your workout

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Research has shown wearing the right clothing for the right type of working out can make or break your workout success. it has been found that although cotton is breathable and great it also absorbs sweat and doesn’t get rid of it thus making you feel even sweater and hotter in the process.  The best clothes to wear when your working out inside are those that are going to whisk moisture away from your body and keep you cool such as clothes made of

Scenario 1: Right Clothes, right workout

You’re finally motivated to start your new workout plan.  Maybe you even purchased some kick ass looking workout clothes for the occasion.  You look great and feel great.  As you progress through your workout you start getting super sweaty and your thinking, “my god did someone turn up the heat in here?”.  Your shirt is sopping wet and making you feel a lot hotter/heavier than you are, your new pants are not helping out the situation.  Finally after just being too hot you call your workout quits.

What went wrong? Wearing the wrong materials or types of clothing based on the style of the workout you are doing can really mess up your plans and ultimately the success of your workout.  I know, that sound silly but it is really true.  Good news is that today there are so many options for workout clothes that are fashionable but more importantly functional too…

  • Choose the right fabric. Your best bet is to look for a material that is moisture wicking meaning it will wick away that sweat while still remaining dry and cool allowing you to spend time focusing on your workout not how your clothes are doing a disservice. Synthetic materials or blends are great in this case.  As is bamboo, anything that says “dri-fit” or “cool-max”.
  • Wear the right type of clothes based on your workout.  For instance if you are doing yoga wearing looser fitting pants and a breathable tank top will keep you comfortable.  However if you are cycling long pants can be a hazard as they could get stuck in the pedals so cycling shorts or capri’s would be a better alternative.
  • Look for the level of support you need in clothing.  First and foremost you just want to make sure you are comfortable and distraction free. So make sure your clothing works for you…  find a sports bra with good support for your needs, look to compression clothing which has been shown to improve circulation and even quicken the muscle recovery process!

Scenario 2: Right shoes, right workout

You are running on the treadmill practicing for an upcoming half marathon, your toes start feeling numb and your outside of your foot is throbbing to the point you can’t bear it anymore and your workout is cut short.  What the heck just happened?

Like clothing, shoes play a huge part of your workout success.  Wearing worn out shoes or shoes inappropriate for the type of workout your doing can not only lead to unnecessary discomfort but can actually pose as a safety hazard.

How can you tell what shoe to get?

  •  Define what types of workouts you do most of the time.  Are you a runner? Aerobics more your style? Or maybe cycling…. step etc.  You need to understand what movement you do often so you can pick the right level of shoe support.  Like is you do a mix of weights, aerobics, running etc a cross trainer is most likely going to be best for you.  Buying your shoes at a good store is recommended as you can talk with an expert to really help you figure out what is going to be best for your level of activity.
  • Go shoe shopping toward the end of the day. Did you know that our feet can swell up to half a shoe size over the course of the day? Going toward the end of the day ensures you won’t end up with too small a size.  Another recommendation is to go based on when you workout.  So if you workout in the evenings go at night or if you are an early bird go in the morning.
  • Get the right fit.  Nothing is worse than wearing a shoe where your big toe is touching the top.  Or your running and your heel keeps slipping off.  Make sure you take time to test out moves in your shoe before buying it.  Try pointing and flexing or standing on the balls of your feet, jumping etc.  Make sure the shoe fits and isn’t slipping anywhere or too tight.
  • Be prepared to ditch your shoe 3-6 months from now.  Shoes will tend to wear out after about 500 miles are put on them…. depending on your routine this may be 6 plus months from now or as little as 3.  Be prepared to get new shoes if you notice the heel is uneven from wear or there are other wearing signs.

As you can see wearing the right types of clothes can really help you make your workouts a success.  By taking the time initially to pick the right clothes and shoes you will be happier, be able to stay focused on the workout and get so much more out of the whole experience distraction free.

 

 

Baked Chicken Parmesan

 

This recipe I’m sharing with you today is an awesome healthier alternative when you are craving a comforting dish of chicken parmesan.  I mean who doesn’t love that dish?  It’s cheesy, it’s got breaded chicken all place on a bed of pasta and drizzled with pasta sauce.  Bon appetite!

However, what’s not to love is the calories and fat this dish can pack anywhere from 700-1300 calories depending where you go and up to 52 grams of fat!  Yikes!  But have no fear, you can still enjoy a comfort version of chicken parmesan within your home without having to worry about it sabotaging your diet plans.

Sounds great right?  But what’s the tradeoff?  Using spaghetti squash and a reduced fat mozzarella you can still make the dish you love but significantly reduce calories and fat associated with it.  It’s a win win situation!

It all starts with a nice sized spaghetti squash.  look for one that has a deep yellow color and feels heavy for its size.

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Cut and remove the seeds from your spaghetti squash and place on a roasting pan in oven at 375 for 30-40 minutes until spaghetti squash can be separated with a fork.  Pro tip: pierce spaghetti squash a few times and microwave 3-5 minutes to make it easier to cut through squash. 

In the meantime, take thin chicken breasts and flour, dip in egg wash, and roll in breadcrumbs. Put in oiled trying pan and cook until browned and chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees. Pro tip: use chicken that’s already been breaded. I like Tyson panko breaded chicken tenders.

Pull out spaghetti squash when done and shred strands with fork. Preheat broiler. Dump spaghetti squash strands in oven safe dish. Take your favorite pasta sauce and pour some over spaghetti squash. Take the chicken once cooked and lay slices over top of squash. Add more pasta sauce and top with 1oz shredded mozzarella cheese.

Pop dish in broiler for 5 minutes until cheese melts. Let cool and enjoy!  Too bad I got so excited I mixed it all up before taking this picture…  oops!

 

 

The Magic Equation for Success

I often get questions from people on what are the most important things they can do to see change whether that is weight loss, toning up or addressing health issues.  The equation for success is a simple 3 step process:  Set a goal, be realistic about what you can/cannot do and whatever your plan is be consistent.  That’s it!  The magic formula that stands between you and crushing it.

 

Fitness success formula

So why then is it so hard?  Why do people often fail?  Did you know that approximately 70% of people who start an exercise program quit?! Talk about the odds stacked against you. But the question still remains why did your plan fail?  Starting is step #1 and a great accomplishment but without the proper amount of forethought before beginning your plan motivation quickly slides into a slippery downhill slope.

Now the story can go two ways…. there are those of you who are like “yeah that’s totally me, I just can’t stick with a plan no matter how hard I try”.  On the flip side, there are others who say “I did have a plan and a goal but I saw no results so I just quit”.  Do you think Simone Biles got to the olympics by throwing the towel in?  Hell no, she tried it again and again and again until she perfected her craft.

So then what sets these two groups apart?  Why did one plan fall through and the other plan play out like an airplane stuck on a runway? Lets take a look into what happened in both scenarios:

Scenario #1: “I just can’t stick with a plan no matter how hard I try”

For the majority of you, chances are you fall into a version of the above (based on the previous stat at the beginning of the article). It’s ok the great thing is that it is NEVER too late to start again.  In the words of Janis Joplin, “Tryyyy just a little bit harder”.  So how can you try a little harder?  Let’s be frank, you need to set a goal.  That’s usually the biggest missing piece it’s lack of clarity from what you want and are expecting to achieve.  If you don’t know what you want, no one else will either. So my advice to you is come up with a solid plan… think it through.  What do you want?  What are your expectations?  Are they too high?  By all means it is good to challenge yourself but if you set some super high expectation of yourself that’s almost just as bad as not setting one at all.  Start small…. crush it…. set a new goal again and again and again.

So what are some types of goals you can try out if you need some ideas?

  1. Upcoming event  – for some of you maybe you have a vacation or wedding or event coming up in a few weeks, months etc that you want to look your damn best for.  What’s great about this goal is there is a clear date and a clear timeline to follow.  You know exactly how much time you have and are committing to.  The trick though is once you nail your goal don’t stop and say “ok I’m good i’m going to go back to being lazy now”.  NO! Set another goal…..  see below for some more ideas.
  2. Health related – Maybe you went to the doctor recently and uncovered that you are overweight or have high cholesterol, or worse are pre-diabetic or maybe you just want to be able to have enough energy to keep up with your kids. Whatever it is don’t just sit there wishing you could do something different just do it!  Use that goal as your driver to get healthy and benchmark your change.  By 6 months from now I want to be 20 lbs down or by my annual health exam next year I want to lower my cholesterol.
  3. Vanity goal – Maybe honestly you just want to look good.  You want to wear those size 4 or 6 pants you buried in your closet for the last 10 years or you want to see definition in your abs or firm up your butt. That’s ok too.  In this case find and clip pictures of what you aspire to be, how you want to look and use those pictures along the way as motivation toward your goal.  Just keep in mind realistic expectations… unless you are willing to supplement time, nutrition and hardcore years of training/clean eating most people will never look like the airbrushed models in a magazine (sorry!).  But that’s ok, be your best version of you.

The great thing is that once you start a plan that you thought out and succeed, that success will continue to motivate you to smash your goals again and again!  In the words of Sagi Kalev in Beachbody’s program Master Hammer & Chisel, “Are you a hammer or are you a nail?”.  Be the hammer….

Crush it!

Scenario #2: “I did have a plan but saw no results so I quit”

It’s ok, I’m not going to yell and say you didn’t try hard enough, I don’t know your situation.  But I do have a question for you.  What didn’t work?  Did you set a realistic goal?  Did you focus on exercise AND diet?  After all it takes two to tango.  You can kill it day in and out at the gym but if your diet is filled with crap choices your going to be stuck in the same spot like a hamster running on a wheel. To really succeed you need to be realistic too… maybe you were too extreme with exercise and diet and burned out before seeing any changes?  Think back on why you quit and then try again a different way or with a more defined goal in mind.  See how that works.

Look, no matter which scenario resonates with your current situation it is never too late to figure out what works but you have to be willing to try and no one can motivate you more than you can yourself.  Check out some of the other articles on this site to help inspire your new workout plan and diet and apply the 80/20 rule to all that you do.

Lastly, in this super long post, I do want to take a moment to congratulate those of you reading this that have figured out what works for you.  I know there are at least a few of you out there killing it and seeing really great results.  You, my friends are what can help the rest.  Share your success and what works for you.  Remember, we are all in this together…. we only have one life to live so let’s make the most of it.

By Kim Hale, founder of HoneyCrunched Fitness

 

Cardio Day Do’s and Don’ts

stretching before cardio

C-A-R-D-I-O, what’s that spell?  Cardio! (Insert dramatic eye roll here). What’s your definition of cardio?  If you’d ask a group of people I suspect you would find a different answer from all of them.  Maybe you like to run or take long walks, maybe your more of a get in go hard and get out in 15-20 minutes in which case HIIT is for you,  whatever your type cardio plays an essential role in heart and cardiovascular health.  Cardio also releases those endorphins that make us feel good while managing to help elevate our metabolism.  It’s an essential building block of a healthy lifestyle.

Everyone I have spoken to about cardio gives you a wide range of emotions about how they feel waking up knowing it’s cardio day.  There is the one type of person that absolutely loves cardio and focuses most if not all their weekly workouts around spinning, running, rowing , jumping etc.  The second type doesn’t mind getting a little sweaty and out of breath few times a week, and our last type hates it almost as bad as a kid hate getting a shot at the doctor’s office.

I fall somewhere between the last two categories. I used to be a 100% focused cardio-a-holic! I loved it and my lungs and endurance sure did too… but let’s be frank cardio is downright exhausting! I was not doing it because it was my favorite thing to be doing at 5am in the morning I was doing it because I feared that the only way to maintain my weight/not gain weight was doing a large amount of cardio – all the time.  WRONG.  So it wasn’t until I forced myself to try a new Beachbody program, Master Hammer and Chisel that I learned there is a much better way!  I could lift weights and increase my strength and stability in every day things like pushing doors and picking up my daughter while changing how my body looked.  You definitely work up a sweat and increase your heart rate lifting weights and yes I did have 1-2 cardio days a week I just didn’t live or die by cardio like my former self.  Here’s a great article if you are on the fence about cardio benefits versus weights from Precision Nutrition:.

But what works well for me and my body goals may not be the same things you like or the goals you have.  However amongst it all there are a few guiding rules when it comes to cardio and reaping benefits from it versus going overboard:

DO make sure to incorporate cardio weekly. 

What’s your goal? Weight loss?  Incorporate 3-4 cardio sessions a week.  Gain muscle/maintain you can get away with 2 no more than 3 days of cardio a week.

But, DON’T overdo the cardio.

I repeat… do not. Rather if you have tank in the gas ditch your go to cardio routine for some pilates, yoga or strength training substitute.  Overdoing cardio leads to low levels of energy, feeling burned out, and is not going to change your physique the way you want.  Seriously…  think about your goals and answer this question:  Would you rather be a smaller version of your current self or would you rather be more defined “toned” and stronger?  Excess cardio with no weight training focus gives you a “skinny fat” physique versus adding in strength training (with or without weights).

DO mix up the intensity of cardio you do weekly.

Not every cardio session has to be max intensity or too low intensity.  Mix is up add a quick HIIT session,a low intensity walk, or a steadystate run into the week.  Not only will your mind thank you but it will keep your body guessing which promotes change and prevents plateaus.  Need some inspiration?  Check out Popsugar Fitness’ cardio workouts for inspiration.

DON’T starve yourself before doing cardio.  

Yes in some various states when all the stars are aligned if the intensity of your cardio is low enough you may just possible burn more fat doing cardio on an empty stomach…  but personally, I’d rather fuel myself with something small as opposed to nothing and be starving, sweating and running on E through the whole thing.

DO make sure you are mentally prepared for cardio

The worst thing you can do is force yourself to go for a run or through some HIIT routine when you are running on 3 hrs of sleep, or you went out and drank too much the night before, or you are feeling ill.  Not only will you suffer through the whole workout but this also can lead to bad form and potential injuries which would set you back even further from your goals.  Instead on these days DO workout but opt for something more manageable like yoga or pilates or even a nice walk outside.

How often do you like to do cardio a week?  Have any extra tips to share with us on what works for you?  Share in the comments below.

 

Diet Trends – Fat Free/Low Fat Craze

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I wanted to take some time to do a series of blog posts on various diets out there.  I know when faced with the goal of losing weight or getting healthy that there is so much information out there it is to our detriment. I also know that there are many “quick fix” diet plans and crazy low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, high protein variations. With all these choices it is bound to drive a person crazy….  and fact of the matter is what is right for you might not be right for someone else.  So I’ll take you through some of the biggest fads and leave you to decide but ultimately a well rounded diet based on whole foods and exercise will always ensure long term success.

Fear of heart disease, high cholesterol, and an increasing waistline spurred this diet fad to emerge in the late 70’s. Can you guess what it is?  Yup, the reduced fat phase.  At this time in history all we knew was that some preliminary studies showed that egg yolks, red meats and other fats had shown an increase in heart related issues which was enough to declare a war against fat and in turn pro carbs (sigh).

The introduction to this diet spurred the food industry to start making tons of changes to remove whatever fat they could from their products and you started seeing Reduced fat cheese, low-fat cookies, fat-free butter… the list goes on.  However, one problem with this diet is that by stripping out fat from our diets we added in a bunch of sugars and chemicals to mimic that “fat” component.  High carb low-fat was for sure the way to go! Then of course in the 90’s the trend diet took full hold of America and we were avoiding fat at all cost.  Peanut butter, nuts, avocado’s, cheese and full fat yogurt and milk got the boot as did all those cooking oils.

Simply put, this diet is extremely flawed.  Unless you have super high cholesterol or another specific health reason to have to restrict fats from your diet this fad can actually do your body more harm than good.  Bodies need fat, it is essential to body energy, cell growth, your immune system, and reproductive systems.  Fat is not the devil! Without it our immune systems weaken, vitamin deficiencies can occur and because of the added chemicals in fat-free foods you can actually increase your risk of cancer!  Fat helps keep us feeling full throughout the day and squashes sugar cravings.

But all that said, eating the RIGHT type of fat is what is essential.  Yes fat can still be bad if by “fat” your brain automatically goes to pictures of fried food or rich desserts.  Those fats are still bad and yes they will always be bad… But fats occurring in natural, whole foods will not.  Those are the one’s you want to surround yourself around within your diet: avocado’s, cheese, egg yolks, nuts, coconut and olive oil.

Why do you think the Mediterranean diet is such a huge success all through the decades?  It’s based on a high fat diet but with the right fats and on that diet people are maintaining their healthy lifestyle, losing weight, protecting their hearts and are not walking around sugar-crazed and starving all day!

So to help you make the most of your healthy habits including exercise try incorporating a fat of some sort in every meal.  Eating a balanced diet (fat, carb, protein) diet is always essential to success but definitely don’t give fat the cold shoulder.

On a personal note, I have avoided fat for years.  I remember in my teens (90’s) jumping on that fat-free bandwagon and for years I stuck to my butter sprays, fat free rubber cheese, diet breads, and faux spreads/dressings.  But now I’m in my 30’s I have issues with my immune system, I’m always freezing and my reproductive health isn’t in A+ status. So my mission has been to add fats back into my diet in moderation from the right sources.  I have already noticed by adding in fats that I feel more full, i’m started to not feel as cold and I just seem to be in a better state of mind.

Here’s an example daily food log of mine:

Breakfast –  1/2 cup 2-4% cottage cheese with berries, 1 piece of sprouted bread with 1 tbsp chia flax peanut butter (I’m obsessed)

Snack – apple with 1/2 tbsp peanut butter

Lunch – Kale salad with chicken or tuna, red peppers, tomatoes, croutons, parmesan cheese, and 1/4 avocado with Champaign vinaigrette dressing

Snack – popcorn (Skinny Pop) and almond mix

Dinner – Salmon or chicken breast, lentils, and kale sautéed in coconut oil with mushrooms, lemon juice and red pepper

Dessert – Halo top ice cream (1 cup) with a rice cake smeared with 1 tsp peanut butter

Total calories: About 1800

Total Fat: 60 grams

Total Protein: 100-120 grams

What is your take on fat?  Do you incorporate enough fat in your diet or find success another way?  Let us know in the comments below!