Tabata of the Day

Mountain climbers are a complex exercise. You are in plank position so your arms and shoulders are holding you up while your core and legs are also engaged. Your cardiovascular system is working as you are alternating pulling your knees in towards your chest. The entire body is working hard which is why it is very challenging to do for the full eight rounds that tabata training entails. This is why I have most of my clients alternate just holding plank position with mountain climbers…and even this can be challenging. No matter what your schedule today entails I am sure you can fit four minutes into your day for this four minutes of tabata training!

20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber
10 second rest
20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber
10 second rest
20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber
10 second rest
20 second forearm plank
10 second rest
20 second mountain climber

This is a great video in case you don’t know what a mountain climber is https://youtu.be/nmwgirgXLYM The only tip I would add to what she is saying is to make sure you keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists. A lot of times I see people with their hands about 6-8 inches ahead of their shoulders. It may feel like it is making the exercise easier but it is placing way too much stress on the shoulder joint.

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Top 5 Tips for Meditation

MEDITATION1Meditating is hard. It can seem like a daunting task and after repeated failure it is easy to just give up. But there is a reason they call it a practice! Just like a yoga practice, every single day is unique and you never know what will surface when you take the time to practice.

The most important things are actually the simplest.

  1. Create a set time in your schedule. At first it is best to do it first thing in the morning when you wake up. You may want to splash some water on your face and brush your teeth to make sure you don’t fall back to sleep!
  2. Designate a set duration. When beginning a practice it can be hard to set aside part of your day to sit still. You may want to start with three minutes on the first day and set an alarm. See how that feels and try adding an additional minute every other day so by the end of the week you are sitting for six minutes.
  3. Find a special space in your home. Make a space that is quiet and clean. No clutter or visual distractions. You can create an altar of things that are special or have significant meaning to you. Make sure you have the proper seating arrangement that you can be comfortable sitting upright.
  4. Designate a focal point. You may want to keep your eyes open and stare at a candle flame. Other people choose to close their eyes and focus on the third eye if they are intellectual or the heart center if they are emotional. Try different methods to see what feels best.
  5. Focus on your breathing. Slowly begin to inhale through the nose taking slow deep breaths in and out. At first you can count your breaths in an effort to keep the mind from wandering.

This is a starting point. What you do with it from here is up to you. There are many benefits to meditation as simple as starting your day by taking a few minutes for yourself to preventing heart disease. If you have time for facebook you have time to meditate! Stop making excuses and start your practice today.

Hindsight is 20/20

1dd5531b9381852705af503fe68db45dWhen looking back on our lives we almost always find that our hindsight is 20/20. This is also true regarding fitness and nutrition. I haven’t been feeling very motivated with my workouts and have been roaming the grocery store on a daily basis for whatever suits my mood. This is not a combination for success! I am the number one supporter of advanced planning and routine. So while pondering what I could do to get on track and see results the first thing I did was to reflect on what has worked best for me in the past.

Simple questions you can reflect on:

  • What fitness routine or workout have I really enjoyed?
  • When was I in the best shape of my life? What was I doing?
  • What “diet” makes me feel the best?
  • What “diet” have I had the best results with?

I use the word diet in quotes because I don’t think it is good to use the word diet. “Diet” has many negative connotations and you should strive for a healthy balance in your nutritional routine rather than a system of deprivation.

For me the answer consisted of two things. I was teaching a lot of classes and doing the BeachBody program Asylum when I was in the best shape. I really enjoyed Asylum because it was a thirty day program that motivated me to stick to a daily workout plan. The workouts were challenging but I could really see the results in my strength, power, and agility. The Insanity Asylum were my 45-minutes of sanity to focus only on myself and that was a huge blessing. I have decided to start that program again and now BeachBody has an on-demand system so you can watch the videos anytime and anywhere. I am headed to Montreal this week so I wanted to make sure traveling would not interrupt my new routine.

The second thing that really worked for me was Shakeology. It was an integral part of decreasing cravings and because it has all the nutrients I need my body performs at a higher level and just naturally loses body fat. I have never used anything like it. With all my travel I have had a hard time keeping a steady supply but now I have two bags on hand to get back on track. I know I also need to plan out my meals for the week but that will have to wait until I get back from Montreal!

This is a very “BeachBody” related post but what can I say? It works for me.

AMRAP for Beginners

amrap1You can make this workout as hard as you want if you are more advanced but I have also broken down the exercises for very beginners too. This workout requires no equipment so you can do it outside at the park, on the beach or at home. You can save the image onto your phone and pull it out when you need a simple but challenging workout. Even if you aren’t in the mood, try doing just one round of each exercise and see if you are inspired to repeat it or just stop there and at least you did a short workout! I made a YouTube video to take you step-by-step through the beginner variations of the exercises. It is much better to go slow with great form than to speed through them. Take your time, throw on some music you love, and have fun!

 

 

The Importance of Stretching

flexibility (2)I hear the complaints of not being flexible all the time but very rarely do I see anyone that is actually motivated to do something about it. I can only assume this is because people don’t understand the importance of stretching and flexibility.  I also know stretching can feel more like a chore than pleasure and if you don’t know what you are doing then you won’t see much progress.

Stretching has not only physical benefits but also mental, spiritual, and psychological benefits. Some of the tops benefits for me are:

  • Flexibility determines what movements you are able to make and how fast, accurate, and powerful they can be. If you are involved in sports this can be a key to getting an edge over your competition.
  • Flexibility helps your posture become more upright without mental reminders and your body become more relaxed as it reduces overall tension in the body. Better posture also helps you breathe deeper which improves overall health.
  • Flexibility relieves pain, prevents injuries, and helps relieve stress.
  • Flexibility teaches you how to embrace being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Stretching
This is something you can do on your own whenever and wherever you want. All you need to know is the top five stretches that work for you. You could do a google search or you could ask a physical therapist, massage therapist, personal trainer or fitness instructor for recommendations based on your body. I also do skype sessions with clients to teach them a stretching routine and make personal youtube videos for them to follow along with. A small routine can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes a day and will make you feel so much better.

Yoga
Try it on your own, go to a class at a local studio, try a class online with YogaGlo or Gaiam. This is an arena that it is best to do your homework first. Yoga can help you become more flexible but depending on the style of yoga it could be a slow road to progress. Holding a stretch for longer periods of time is when the muscle actually has the time to relax and go further into a stretch to help increase your flexibility. Classes that are quickly moving through the poses will generally take a longer period of time to increase flexibility than classes where postures are being held for over a minute.

Assisted Stretching
This is a one-on-one technique that you will need a professional for but it is a way to get instant results. You get what you pay for! All you need is a thirty minute session so it should not be a large financial burden or if you already get personal training you could ask them to do this for the last fifteen minutes of your session.

Thai Yoga Bodywork
This is also a one-on-one technique that you will need a professional for. With my experience this is the quickest way to increase your flexibility. I used to do this for the NBA and saw players get more progress in the first week than doing a year of yoga. If increasing your flexibility is important to you and you want lasting change then this is the approach for you.

I hope you find a technique that works for you. Flexibility is important and it is one more thing we begin to lose as we age. Don’t procrastinate on this! It is so simple to add into the daily routine. Start with just one stretch in the morning when you get up and one before bed at night.

Total Body Tabata

tbt

Short & Sweet workout…well maybe not sweet, let’s replace that with sweaty! Make sure you get warmed up for a few minutes before you get started but that is also why the first exercise is high knees because that will finish off your warm up quite nicely.

Tabata training is performed in intervals working as hard as you possibly can for twenty seconds and resting for ten seconds. During your rest period try to take a couple deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to help slow your heart rate down and prepare for the next round. You repeat this eight times to total four minutes. Take a one minute break in between each exercise. Don’t hold back! You should not be able to work as hard/fast on your last round as you do on your first. If you can that means you are not giving each round 100% effort or perhaps you are a super hero.

High Knees
Low Impact: March in place with high knees as quickly as you can bringing your knee as close to hip level as you can. Make sure to swing your arms too in order to get your heart rate up even more. If you arms are bent at a ninety degree angle then your elbow should be coming up to about shoulder level on the upswing.
High Impact: Run with high knees – same alignment tips as above. You can run in place, around the room, on a treadmill or outside.

Squats
Low Impact: With feet shoulder width apart, sit back as far as you can and try to get your hips down to the same level as your knees. Depending on flexibility and injuries this may not be possible, but go to the point that is comfortable for your body.
High Impact: Take the squats up a notch by turning it into a squat jump. With feet shoulder width apart squat down as low as you can and jump up into the air. Land as soft as you can because landing quietly helps protect your joints instead of jolting them. Try to make the movement fluid by immediately going into a squat rather than pausing in between landing and the next squat.

Mountain Climbers
Low Impact: Got down into plank position on your hands and toes. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists. Alternate pulling your knees into your chest one at a time and returning the opposite foot back to plank position.
High Impact:  Same as the low impact version but pick up the pace so you are running the knees towards your chest. Remember to keep your butt down! This is still a variation of plank position so imagine your body like a plank of wood and create a straight line from your heels to shoulders.

Bicycle Crunches
Low Impact: Lay down on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your neck with elbows out wide. Do a cross crunch and lift your right foot off the floor while bringing your left armpit towards your right knee. Alternate sides. Make sure you keep the elbow out wide so you are really twisting in the torso instead of just folding your arm in towards the knee.
High Impact: Lay down on your back with knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet in the air. Place your hands behind your neck with elbows out wide and hold a crunch position with shoulders lifted up off of the floor. Do a cross crunch and lift your right foot off the floor while bringing your left armpit towards your right knee. Alternate sides as quick as you can reaching the opposite leg out as straight and low as you can. Make sure you keep the elbow out wide so you are really twisting in the torso instead of just folding your arm in towards the knee.

The Morning Ritual

I truly believe that the secret to success lies in the daily routine. Creating a perfect morning routine will start you off on the right foot each day, properly fuel you, and make you feel accomplished for taking the positive steps and healthy habits you committed to. So, how do you create the perfect morning routine? Since I don’t know you personally or your goals I can’t give you a cookie cutter answer but I can give you a few different options and you can create your own.

Initial Wake Up
Unless it is to turn off your alarm, DO NOT touch your phone. You managed to disconnect from email and social media the entire time you were sleeping so an extra thirty minutes without it is okay too! Take a few slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Think about two to three things you feel extremely grateful for, think about a goal you are striving towards, think about someone who inspires you – fill your mind and heart with goodness before you even get out of bed.

Hydration
I highly recommend starting your day with a glass of water before anything else. Depending what is going on in your body, you may want to pick a couple of these additions to your routine.
ADD ONS
Warm water with lemon – This is a great way to wake up your digestive system, neutralize the harmful acid in your body that can cause disease, it helps with weight loss, and can also soothe an upset tummy. If you have a hard time eating in the morning this may stimulate your appetite. You could also boost this with some ginger and/or honey for even more benefits.
Apple Cider Vinegar Shot -A shot of this will act as an antibacterial, it lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, and helps with weight loss and skin issues just to name a few benefits.
Apple Ginger Shot – I make this in my juicer with half of an apple and an inch of ginger. An apple a day keeps the doctor away! The ginger acts as an instant anti-inflammatory, pain reliever and helps to boost your immune system. Most diseases are inflammatory related so this can be a very helpful component of the daily routine.
Coffee with Coconut Oil – Also known as bulletproof coffee! This combination boosts your energy, aids in fat loss, and keeps you satiated if you are trying to do intermittent fasting or eat less calories.
Green Tea – This tea has such an immense amount of benefits that even if you don’t start your day with it, you should try to fit it somewhere into your daily routine. It increases fat burning, improves physical performance, lowers your risk of several different cancers, is antibacterial making it great for dental health, and improves your brain function and overall health.

Hygiene
You know what you need to do better than I do! I do recommend taking a shower in the mornings to wash off that lazy energy and start the day refreshed but if you do your workouts in the morning you may want to wait until after.  In that case just wash your face, brush and floss your teeth, and put on some deodorant if you need it.
ADD ONS
Oil Pulling – Take a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes. This is a hard one to do in the morning because it is time consuming and best done on an empty stomach but you can multi-task and do it while you are checking emails, making breakfast, and packing your bag. The benefits vary from whiter teeth and better breath to cavity and gingivitis prevention. It helps with TMJ, sleep problems, sinus issues and skin issues (reports have shown improvement in acne, psoriasis and eczema). It has also been a hangover cure for many people!
Tongue Scraping – This is a must for me! And preferably anyone I am going to kiss! After you brush your teeth a lot of the saliva with all the toxins you just brushed off your teeth linger on your tongue when you are spitting the tooth paste out. Even if you brush your tongue it is still there. A tongue scraper will clean the tongue off and can also tell you ahead of time if you are starting to come down with a cold as there will be a change in mucus on the tongue. It is super simple and takes about five to ten seconds. I highly recommend it. There is a nice article on MindBodyGreen if you would like more details and research.
Dry Brushing – Before you hop in the shower you can use a soft bristled brush, exfoliating gloves or loofah to “brush the skin”. You want all of the strokes to be towards your heart. Your skin is your largest organ and this will help detoxify your body, improve circulation, soften your skin and decrease cellulite. Click here for more information and step-by-step instructions.

Exercise
I understand that some people have a difficult time getting out of bed any sooner than they absolutely have to but a round of tabata training only takes four minutes and is enough to get results. If you could find just one four minute song that really drives you then it will help you squeeze in at least a small workout each day and get those endorphins pumping to wake you up and make you feel great! If you have time for more or go take a morning class then go for it. I love to do my workouts first thing in the morning because life just can’t get in the way and I feel more motivated the rest of the day.  If you aren’t into a high intensity workout like tabata training than do three rounds of sun salutations on each side to get a nice full body stretch. You could also combine the two – a round of tabata training followed by sun salutations would be a perfect start to the day.

Nutrition
The perfect breakfast is as unique as you! Just make sure it is super healthy. The food you put into your body is your fuel for the day and you get to choose whether it is unleaded or premium. I always like making what I call “a bowl of goodness”. I have three different versions of this depending on the season and what I am in the mood for but it always includes fruit, nuts, and super foods like bee pollen, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seed powder. The ways I change it up is by either just leaving it a giant bowl of fruit, adding yogurt to it (I use a vegan coconut milk version), or adding oatmeal with cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and pouring hot water over the top. Other days I may just make a green juice or a smoothie but my day always begins with fruits and vegetables that my body can quickly digest and get all the nutrients it needs to feel satisfied and happy.

Think about the lovely morning rituals you would like to have and write them down. Make a detailed schedule of what time you would need to wake up and what it entails. Try it out and see what works and what doesn’t. Keep trying different approaches until you find what truly resonates and works for you! Please feel free to share any secrets to your morning routine in the comments.

 

Number One Tip for Quick Weight Loss

Tabata-Training-582x319

Tabata training is your ultimate weapon for fat burning. The Tabata method was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata while he was the head coach for Japan’s national speed skating team. The Tabata protocol puts short but intense stress on the body to boost the metabolic rate, increase strength and stamina. When this intense exercise occurs on a regular basis the body increases its resting metabolism to handle the new demands. This means you will begin to burn more calories even when you are resting. A study by Dr. Tabata showed that using his method five days a week for six weeks produced a 14 percent increase in the participants’ aerobic capacity and a 28 percent increase in their anaerobic capacity.

To follow the Tabata protocol it only takes 4 minutes! You begin by picking an exercise and performing it for 20 seconds at your maximum capacity, rest for ten seconds and repeat the cycle seven more times. You can pick any exercise from cardio to strength and could do just one or alternate two exercises or even pick 8 different exercises. You can also create an entire Tabata workout. Sometimes I pick 5 exercises and do each of them Tabata style and have a nice well rounded half hour workout (including the warm up and cool down).  I am going to start posting some Tabata workout ideas every week so you can add them into your daily routine. If you want to try it out right now just jog in place as quick as you can for twenty seconds, rest for 10 and repeat for a total of eight rounds. There are a wide variety of free tabata timer apps out there so you don’t have to pay attention to the clock. If you aren’t used to exercising this is a great way to get started. Everyone has four minutes to spare, no excuses!

Set Yourself Up for Success!

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It’s the start of a new year and fitness goals are on the minds of many people. Unfortunately this will only last a few weeks and will dwindle off before January is even over! I am hoping the information here may help you stay on track for the long haul. I have seen many clients come to me frustrated that their weight is not changing and I want to remind you that it is not the only way of tracking your progress. It isn’t even the best way because there are so many variables that go into your weight from how hydrated you are to gaining muscle mass from your workouts. Some people get on the scale every single day and I feel this is actually an unhealthy habit because the results of that number influence whether they are happy or frustrated. I tend to stay off the scale and found that weekly measurements are a much better way to track my progress.

The Scale
If you are a scale person and can’t imagine you life without using that as a measurement then I have the scale for you! I just bought the new Weight Watchers scale and it measures your body weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, body mass index, and your bone density. This will give you a much more accurate breakdown of your weight and more information to help you set smarter goals. I have women come to me with 14% body fat and tell me they want to lose 15 pounds because that is what they weighed in high school – it just isn’t a realistic or healthy goal once you punch in the numbers!

how_it_works_muscle_fat1

Measurements
Using a measuring tape (like one from a sewing kit) is an amazing way to track your progress. You may have noticed that sometimes your body weight may stay the same or even go up but your clothes are fitting better or getting loose. This is because you have gained muscle and lost fat. A pound of fat takes up much more space than a pound of muscle so your measurements go down even though your weight stays the same. If you don’t have a method to actually track your body fat percentage this is the next best thing. Here are some different parts you can measure:

Neck  Wrap the measuring tape around the neck directly above the trapezius muscles before the neck starts to widen out.

Chest  Measure around the widest part of the chest. This is usually the nipple line but this can vary in women depending on breast size.

Waist  Measure at the smallest part of the waist. If you do not have a “waist”, then measure around your belly button.

Abdomen  Measure six inches below the waist measurement.

Hips  Measure around the widest part of the hips and where the buttocks protrude the most.

Thigh  Measure directly below the fold of the buttocks where the butt meets the thigh.

Quad  Measure directly above the knee cap.

Calf  Measure the widest part of the calf.

Bicep  Measure from the edge of the collar bone to the tip of the elbow. Divide this in half and measure around the arm.

Helpful Tips
There are a few important things to remember when taking measurements to ensure that they are accurate.

  1. Always wear the same outfit. Sweatpants vs. spandex and sports bras vs. padded bras do make a difference.
  2. Always take the measurements and weight in the morning. That way there is no meal digesting, bloating, or muscle swelling to interfere.
  3. Always take the measurements in the same location. If you measure your waist at the smallest part one week and at your belly button the next week then you will most likely get different results and it will not be an accurate assessment.
  4. Decide if you are only going to do the measurements on one side, which side you are going to measure and make sure you write it down. Using your dominant side will make it easier to remember.

I like to do my weight and measurements every Sunday morning when I am working towards a goal. It helps me mentally prepare for the week ahead and see the progress I have made each week. I am hoping that everyone can make 2016 the year they stay on track with healthy eating and working out. Keep in mind that slow progress is still progress. Let me know if you have any questions!