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Sunday
Feb122012

6 Keys To Losing Bodyfat

In the past two weeks, three different women have separately asked me for tips on how to reduce their bodyfat.  I'm not sure if everyone is envisioning bikini season despite the freezing winter temperatures, but this seemed like a perfect time to record some of the keys I see as essential elements in any fat loss program.

These tips are meant to be (somewhat) simplistic and easy-to-follow, but as always you can find much more in-depth scientific research by Googling any of the key terms to follow.

The first axiom that helps plot the course to fat loss is to remember that DIET IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EXERCISE.  I'm sorry for yelling, but often that point gets missed and requires loud tactics to drive home the point. I've used this saying before, but it bears repeating - great abs are made in the kitchen.

Now that we've successfully established that when it comes to fat loss, diet is more important than exercise, we can move on to some of the micro-level details:

#1 - Cut out the junk.

In-case you are puzzled as to what constitutes "junk", it would be any of the following: sugars, sodas, fried foods, white carbs like breads, pastas, white potatoes, and heavy dairy like cheeses or most regular milk.  None of these sorts of foods belong anywhere in a fat loss program.

 

 #2 - Keep it clean.

After eliminating the "bad", begin to focus on the good.  Your daily eating habits should be focused around solid clean food sources.  Base your grocery shopping and meals around lean proteins, LOTS of vegetables (particularly leafy greens and colors), moderate amounts healthy fats, low-to-moderate amounts complex carbs (more on this in a minute) and some select fruits.

Examples are as follows:

Lean Proteins: Lean turkey breast, organic chicken breast, Tilapia, Salmon, Egg Whites, organic eggs, Tofu, Bison.

Vegetables: Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Mixed Greens Salads, Baby Carrots, Red/green/yellow Peppers, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Cabbage.

Healthy Fats: Avocado (this does NOT mean guacamole), extra virgin olive oil, Almonds, Almond Butter, organic Peanut Butter, Coconut Oil.  Eggs and Salmon also fit into this category.

Complex Carbs: Oatmeal, Oat Bran, Sweet Potatoes, Brown rice, Quinoa

Fruits: Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Grapefruit

 

#3 - Reduce carbohydrates later in the day.

It's time to start looking at food (particularly carbohydrates) as fuel.  Carbs make up the body's most immediate energy source (especially fruits, sugars, and non-complex sources) so it makes little sense to load up on an energy source when the remainder of the day will be mostly spent sitting in-front of the computer or television, or preparing for bed.  Replace the space on your dinner plate that would normally be filled by pasta, mashed potatoes, white rice, or dinner rolls with salads and/or vegetables.

 

#4 - Focus carb intake around workouts

To build off of point #3, it makes little sense to continuously fill your body with carbs (think muffins and bagels around the office, lunchtime sub sandwiches) throughout the day if your energy expenditure is mostly walking back and forth to the copy machine or restroom.  One strategy that has worked well for me is to limit carb intake to pre-workout only.  The goal is to fuel up with energy and burn those carbs off during my intense workout.  I've even abandoned the long-held strategy of post-workout carbs (rice cakes, gatorade, bananas, etc) to "refill muscle glycogen stores" after an interesting read which made tons of logical sense. Post-workout carb refilling is appropriate if you are an endurance athlete. It does not fit into a plan focused around reducing body fat.

  

#5 - Limit "Reward Meals" to 1-2 times per week

I use the term "Reward Meals" instead of cheat meals to signify that these meals truly should be a reward for your hard work and diligent eating during the week.  The 90/10 rule applies towards your diet in that if you keep on-track 90% of the time, the remaining 10% may slow your progress slightly, but will not ultimately derail it.  It is important to remember however that a Reward Meal is not an entire Day's worth of gorging. It may also be helpful to plan your reward meals the day before a tough workout so that those extra calories go towards your energy level and performance in the gym.

 

#6 - Intensity of Exercise > Duration of Exercise

The metabolism is a lot like a fire.  Focus on using your brief-but-intense workout to rev up the metabolism for the remaining 23 hours of your calendar day. A fat loss workout does not need to be two hours.  It should not be an endless marathon on the stairmaster or elliptical trainer.  Those machines can have a small-but-focused role in your workout, but they should not be foundation of your plan as I so often see many women doing in the gym.

Those looking to shed bodyfat should instead utilize interval training like Tabatas, or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to get their heart-rate up, which takes advantage of the fat-burning qualities of Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and Lactic Acid.  Intense resistance training (don't be scared ladies) also plays a HUGE role in priming the body's hormones to burn off stored fat cells.  A targeted clean diet plan sets the stage for the correct hormonal environment within your body.  Intense resistance training brings hormones like testosterone and HGH into the equation, which have proven fat loss attributes.

 

There are other aspects of your fat loss plan that need to be in-sync, such as getting a proper amount of sleep (8-9 hours per night is recommended), and avoiding a stressed daily mindset.  The body will not release stored body fats if your normal temperament is stressed and agitated, as this throws the hormones I mentioned earlier out of balance.

Losing body fat is a process not an event.  It is not a linear, mathematic equation (eat 500 calories less, burn 500 calories more, etc) that happens exactly as it would on a calculator.  It requires patience, perseverance, and a plan.  Life does not happen in a linear fashion, and neither will your fat loss.  But with the right tools in-place, it can be put into action just in-time for beach and bikini season around the corner.

Thursday
Nov242011

Black Friday - Time to Fix Your Diet

I highly doubt I need to delve into what "Black Friday" is in the U.S.  Many of you (by the time you read this) will have gotten up before dawn to stand in-line at Wal-Mart or Best Buy or Macy's or the shopping destination of your choice.  Understandably, there will be tons of great sales and many people (some in my own family) will make a mad dash to get their Christmas shopping finished by sundown tomorrow.

But I believe "Black Friday" has another purpose that is greatly overlooked.

"Black Friday" is the single best day of the year to clean up your diet.

As our culture embraces, many people will stuff themselves to the point of food coma with turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and other family-made dishes.  Most of those same people face looming guilt the following few days after they see all the damage they've done at the dining table (and on the bathroom scale). But the Day-After-Thanksgiving also marks one of the best times to refocus and clean up your eating habits for the rest of 2011.

This is not meant to point fingers at anyone else but myself.  After training for, and completing two half-marathons in the past month, my diet has gotten way out-of-wack.  Not compared to the average person, or those around my office, but by my own personal standards.  When logging heavy miles and lots of hours of endurance training, it becomes very easy to allow dietary standards to relax by rationalizing things such as "I ran 5 miles this morning, I can have this cupcake that so-and-so brought into the office"  or "These fries from Chick-Fil-A won't kill me, I did 8 miles yesterday, I need the carbs."  Even someone like me who is heavily concerned with proper diet and nutritional function can rationalize eating junk, just because it tastes good.

One of the fitness experts I follow on Twitter, Jade Teta said it well in a recent article (he frequently drops Tweet knowledge), that there's no point in claiming you are "Eating Right" if your diet isn't giving you the results you're after.  As usual, he is spot-on, and might as well have been speaking to me directly.

Many people, myself included often have a single "tipping point" (credit: Malcolm Gladwell) that causes them to (figuratively) jump off the couch and decide to clean up their diet.  In-addition to finishing my endurance event calendar for 2011, my recent tipping point was seeing The Rock come back on WWE Raw last week (confession: we are potentially entering Man Crush territory). 

The People's Champ looked great, he was more ripped and defined than ever.  Some of his tweets while on-set shooting the movie "G.I. Joe 2" mention his diet, and Rocky eats clean even while busy.  The Rock trains hard, and he eats clean, it's not a magic formula.  It works for him, it works for Jade Teta and his wife Jill Coleman, it works for another of my fitness heroes Rob Riches, it works for Jamie Eason, it works for ironman triathlete Nell Stephenson, I think we're seeing a pattern develop.

I'm not "done" with running, I'll still work in 2-3 solid runs per week (one tempo/speedwork, one long run) but after close to six months away from regular resistance training, it's time to ditch some of the superfluous cycle classes and jogs, and get back to throwing some weight around. 

As for the rest of you, hopefully you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinners, and take time to enjoy the company of your family and friends and reflect on whatever it is that makes you thankful these days.  Even those with many problems in life have blessings for which to still be thankful.  Be sure to mix in some football games on the couch as well.

Then, come "Black Friday" take a detour from Best Buy or Nordstrom or the mall, and head to the grocery store and get a head start on eating clean for the rest of 2011.  Not only will your body will thank you, but bathing suit/bikini season will be here before you know it.

Sunday
Nov132011

Fitness Spotlight: Lyndsay Braswell

I've spent time writing about a variety of nutrition philosophies (Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, Vegan, etc).  This next section is a more in-depth look at one of the more interesting people I've come across in the fitness world.

Lyndsay Braswell  (@FitRawChic) is a fellow fitness enthusiast, but her diet is completely vegan.  She is a walking example that disproves two long-standing stigmas: 

(1) Vegans can't be athletic or have muscle tone

(2) A vegan diet has to be boring and bland

She also serves as another example that if you want to badly enough, people with regular jobs can still find time to fit their workouts into the schedule.

Lyndsay's personal site, LilGreenDress.com is diverse in fitness guidance, as well as recipes, video How-To's and other culinary ideas.  We took a break from commiserating about our respective NFL teams' (Redskins & Panthers) terrible 2011 seasons to dive into a few questions about her background, current projects, and future plans:

How did you become a vegan?

 Several times in my life people have tried to convince me to go vegan, but I like many other people thought that meant a diet of twigs and berries. It also meant giving up the bodybuilder staples, chicken and eggs.  

Wanting to take my nutrition to the next level because I still had issues with certain aspects of my health, I took a food intolerance test and come to find out I am highly intolerant to eggs!  Dairy was also found to be an enemy as well as certain kinds of seafood. 
I began reading up on the vegan diet, and one thing led to another. I've been meat-free for almost 2 yrs now and I feel and look better than I ever have! Hands down, one of the best decisions I've ever made!



What is your athletic background?

 

My introduction to lifting weights was in 8th grade when I was chosen to be in the Bigger, Faster, Stronger program.  This was a club that prepared middle schoolers for high school sports by lifting weights before school.  Not missing one workout I had my first real taste of what it felt like to throw some real weight around.  Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment as I improved in all areas of performance.
In High School I played Varsity Field Hockey and Lacrosse and in order to be better my dad felt I needed to pump some iron. I was given my first gym membership at 15 and I haven’t stopped since!



What are you up to now? (contests, competitions, recent or upcoming events, etc)

Due to my workload I decided to take the rest of the year off from competing. I plan to compete next Spring in Fitness America and/or the WBFF. I did just complete a half marathon on a whim, and want to set doing a marathon as one of my goals for 2012 if time permits.

What's a typical day's schedule for you (ex: from wake up including workouts/cardio, normal job, etc to bed)

My work dictates my workouts and my customers dictate my work! I try to workout before work and a normal day for me in the office is 8am-4:30pm.  If I’m traveling my workday could be longer and whereas it’s easier for me to hit the gym after an office day, when I’m traveling it is harder.  In a perfect world I’d be working out at 9:30am after a good nights sleep.  A 6am workout after a restless sleep is not exactly my ideal workout time, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

What is your diet like in a typical day? (normal circumstances vs contest prep)

Again my diet changes, it’s actually changed more so as a vegan than when I was a non vegan. Before my diet was standard and typical. I did the egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast, fish or chicken, sweet potato or brown rice, veggies for lunch and dinner,protein shakes in between. Thank goodness those days are over!

Now I might start my day off with a green smoothie or a quinoa dish (quinoa is a complete protein source), lunch I still might have a sweet potato and/or a salad with beans, and for dinner I might have a big salad and lentil or bean dish, with a glass or two of wine.  I snack on nuts, fruits, dark chocolate, and in a pinch, vegan protein shakes.
I’ve learned to eat light during the day because I spend sometimes almost 8 hours behind the desk.  I find if I eat heavier it makes me sleepy and my creative juices come to a halt! 

All in all, I try to eat a lot of antioxidant rich fruits and veggies, and my staples are black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and spirulina. During contest prep I eat the same foods, just less and I don't like to cheat except for maybe a glass of wine here or there. :)

How do you manage to watch your carb intake being a vegan (versus a typical "all meat & veggies" fitness diet)?

 

I eat more carbs than the carnivore dieters.  It’s hard to get all the protein I want without added carbs.  I’ve tried to swig down just vegan shakes all day, but it was hard on my stomach and I didn’t feel good.  Tofu is another low carb source of protein and not that I’m against soy, just not for every meal. I am still working on finding the vegan competitor diet that suits me best. It’s always a work in progress.

Are you a fan of "empty stomach morning cardio" or not?

 I do believe in empty stomach cardio, especially since I have to workout so early. There is NO way I’m waking up extra early just to eat!  It’s also not like I’m running a marathon at dark thirty in the morning.  I mean we are talking no more than 45 min.  I’ve been fine with averaging up to an hour sometimes and did not feel as if it ate up my muscle.

What's the one "cheat" food you can't live without?

Cheat food: dark chocolate and Grey Goose. I love sweets!

What's your favorite exercise/activity? What's your least favorite?

Favorite exercise, squats! They are a great all around exercise! Least favorite, squats! They are problematic. People tend to do too much weight with poor form, which will as you know, kill their joints and give them serious knee and back problems.


If you could send one message to women out there (about taking control of their fitness/health...being afraid of lifting weights...anything) what would it be?

 

Women tend to want to take care of others in sacrifice of their health. I want them to know lifting weights is not a vain activity and even if they only have 30min (although 1 hour is ideal) to workout do so, because eventually 30min will turn to 1 hr anyway!  The better they take care of themselves, the better they’ll take care of others. Plus they will feel amazing, and confidence breeds success!



If you could send one message to people in-general about the typical American diet, what would it be?

Vegan is not a boring diet by any means, and you can still build muscle not eating animals. However, I understand unless you are passionate about one of the 3: health, animals, environment, it could be difficult to give up the animal kingdom. Although I believe the healthiest way to eat is a whole foods, plant based diet, I don't judge or force my lifestyle on anyone. Instead I encourage everyone to eat less meat and incorporate more fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies are full of nutrients and our body needs them to prevent disease and to stay looking good! 

 

Whether you're a vegan, or still fit animal products into your diet - Lyndsay is still a great example from whom we can all learn.  We agree on many of the same fitness principals, particularly that women should never be afraid of the weights, and that both men and women should prioritize how you take care of your body (and what kinds of fuel goes into it) every day.

Wednesday
May182011

Former NFL Player Discovers Vegan Diet

              Friends and co-workers pick at me often because I’m constantly making tweaks and subtle changes to my diet.  This is in large part due to the fact I am always learning something new that can further optimize both my workouts and my overall physical health. 

                One of my oldest friends, Alvin Pearman has a similar mentality.  Alvin and I went to the same high school and spent countless summers as workout partners while I was in college and he was preparing for his final high school seasons.  I graduated three years prior to Alvin, then he went on to break nearly every touchdown and rushing record at our high school.  He finished his career as the all-time leader in rushing yardage for Mecklenburg County in North Carolina.  He earned a scholarship to the University of Virginia and finished a brilliant career as the school’s all-time leader in pass receptions by a running back, as well as posting 1,938 all-purpose yards in his senior season, the fourth highest total in ACC history.

                In 2005, Alvin was selected in 4th round of the NFL Draft, #127 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.  He spent five seasons in the NFL with the Jaguars, Titans, and Seahawks (where he would meet his future wife during time off due to a knee injury).

                Beginning the latest chapter in his life, Alvin has become more serious in educating himself about his diet and nutrition.  While neither of us enjoys being categorized or labled, his latest pursuit has taken him down the path of a Vegan diet. 

                Since I have been down this path myself (and am headed there once again as of this writing), I asked him to share part of his story and some of the things he has learned so far:

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(1) Compared to now, what was your diet like as a high school and college player at Virginia?

In high school, my diet consisted primarily of meats and starches. In college, the cheapest food definitely outweighed the healthiest food- especially when I started living off campus. Chicken Parmesan was my staple meal of choice. 

 

(2) When did you decide to switch to a more vegan/vegetarian approach?  What was your motivation?

For the last few years, I have become increasingly aware of the environmental and physiological benefits of a whole grain, plant-based diet however I was reluctant to make the switch due to the physical demands of football. Specifically, I have always had a difficult time maintaining the weight that I felt I needed to keep. Once the season would start, I would find myself loosing the weight I packed on during the offseason. I was afraid that if I stopped eating meat, I wouldn’t be able to maintain the weight I needed to for football. I finally made the switch to a whole grain, plant based diet when I hung up my cleats and transitioned away from the game in September of 2010.

 

(3) Were there any books that were key resources in educating yourself?

Three books that drastically influenced my diet are "The China Study", by Thomas M. Campbell and T Colin Campbell; "The Food Revolution", by John Robbins; and "7 Pillars of Health", by Don Colbert.

 

 

(4) What sort of physical changes have you noticed since the change?

The first thing that I noticed was my core body temperature decreased. When I was single, I would keep my house at 67 degrees. Once I got married, my wife and I compromised at 70 degrees. Once I made the diet switch, I soon felt more comfortable around 75 degrees, which made my wife happy. This may sound weird but I actually feel more in tune with my body. I seem to be more sensitive to what my body needs. I have also dropped about 15 pounds to a weight I feel more natural with.

 

(5) What does your meal plan menu look like on a typical day?

Sample day:

Early morning: Whole grain oatmeal with strawberries, bananas, and soy milk.

Mid-morning: cashews, carrots

Early afternoon: spinach salad with apples, cranberries, pecans,

Late afternoon: whole grain toast with hummus, pear

Early evening: quinoa with sweet potatoes and avocados

*3-4 quarts of purified water daily.

 

 

 

 

(6) Are you still able to stay active and have productive workouts?

My workload has dropped drastically since transitioning away from football. Gone are the 5-day-a-week, 4-hour, grind-till-you-can't-think-straight workouts and in are the 3-day-a-week, 30-minute maintenance workouts. My goal is no longer to be as strong or as fast as a possibly can, rather it is to be as healthy as I can. My workouts are productive and I have high energy levels throughout the day.

 

(7) How has your wife reacted to the change?

She's been supportive. Meals are always interesting since she cooks most often and still eats meat. She will normally prepare a meal and make some meat for herself on the side. Yesterday I had vegetarian chili with brown rice and she cooked ground lamb meat to put in her chili. Besides the tree hugger jokes she throws at me, we have a pretty good balance.

 

(8) Is this something you might teach to your son (just a few months old as of this writing) as he gets older and learns about nutrition and eating habits?

I will encourage my son to make informed decisions with what he eats.

 

(9) In your opinion - why are more college and NFL players hesitant to go this route?

I believe most college and NFL players are hesitant to go the vegetarian/vegan path due to fear and misinformation.

 

(10) What has been the most difficult part of your transition so far?

I am reluctant to label myself as a hard pressed "Vegetarian". As a dinner guest, I won't allow food to get in the way of fellowship. In other words, if I am presented with a meal, I will not turn away food that has been prepared for me- even if it includes meat.

A difficult part of my transition was moving away from the idea that a good meal is prepared quickly. We have found that we need to be more intentional with our prep time and cook time in order to make a flavorful, nutritious meal. I have grown to appreciate this time and dinners have become more of an evening experience with my wife.

 

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While some may feel that a vegetarian or vegan diet is not optimal for them, it’s always important to learn as much as you can about the human digestive system and what foods work best for your body.  Alvin comes from an athletic family (his father was our Track & Field coach, and his wife was a Track & Field athlete in college) so to some degree he will always be an athlete. 

                I am admittedly biased as his friend, however I think Alvin is a positive example of someone who continues to pursue not just optimal athleticism, but optimal health overall.  He has certainly inspired me to be more diligent about my nutritional pursuits as I learn more about what constitutes vegan nutrition.

                You can also learn more about Alvin Pearman’s latest venture in the world of photography.

 

Sunday
Mar062011

Fitness Spotlight: Demi Goodman

For this edition of the Women's Fitness Spotlight, I wanted to highlight one of the butt-kicking instructors from the Charlotte YMCA system - Demi Goodman.  Not only does Demi put together dynamite fitness classes, but as you'll see, she is also currently in-training to earn her pro card as a Figure Competitor. 

                      

After fielding so many of my endless questions about her diet and training, she was generous enough to take time out for a quick interview:

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What event/contest are you currently preparing for?

Currently I’m getting ready to compete for a Pro Card in the NPC National Masters Figure in Pittsburgh
this July. Figure competitions highlight a conditioned physique, with fuller muscles. Yes it is similar to

bodybuilding, but not as vascular or lean, and slightly more feminine with competitors wearing high
heels, jewelry, hair, make- up, the works.

 

In what events have you competed in the past?

Track and Field, Junior High and High School
2001- Galaxy Nova (military obstacle course)
2001- NPC Mountaineer, 2nd Place Figure
2002- NPC Metrolina, 3rd Place Figure
2004- North Carolina State Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness, 6th Place figure
2010- Elite Muscle Bodybuilding, Figure, and Fitness, 1st Place figure

 

What’s your athletic background?

I’ve always been athletic and played all kind of sports but concentrated mainly on Track and Field. I was
on the track team in Junior High and High School and qualified for State Finals during my high school
years. I ran mainly short sprint events, 4X 100 m relay, 200 m, 100 m, as well as the Long Jump.

 

What sort of classes are you currently teaching?

I’m currently teaching Athletic Conditioning, Total Strength, Core, and ROC IT circuit at DOWD, Childress
Klein and the Ballantyne Village YMCA. I’m also certified to teach spin, but I haven’t had enough time in
my schedule to get started yet. I’ve also been a personal trainer for about 12 years with the Childress
Klein YMCA and recently started training at the Ballantyne Village YMCA. Between the two Y’s as well as
a few home clients, I’m staying very, very busy with personal training.

 

What’s does a typical day look like for you?

Whew, my days are usually pretty busy, at least for the first half of the day. Generally I get up about
4:30 a.m., to get ready to teach a class and/or train clients. After that, I head off to yet another gym
to get my own work out in. I usually hit weights for about 45 minutes, and then proceed to do a round
of cardio for 30-45 minutes.

I will do a second round of cardio later in the evening (around 7:00ish) for
another 30-45 minutes or so. I don’t do two rounds of cardio every day in the offseason, but when I’m
getting ready for a show, this becomes a daily ritual.

 For fun, I play flag football every Tuesday night on a co-ed team with my husband. I’m the quarterback blitzer as well as a receiver and periodically the quarterback as well. Because I’m on the field for the entire game sprinting, I get an easy hour of cardio in! As well as I get to let off a little steam!

 

 

What is your diet like most days?

My diet stays pretty healthy all year round. I eat around 6 meals a day which look a lot like this:

Meal #1 - 5 egg whites, 1/3 cup of plain oatmeal
Meal #2- Low carb protein shake, with 1 tbsp. of omega peanut butter

Meal #3- 4 ounces of lean chicken, fish or red meat, with either potato, rice or quinoa, coupled with a nice, small salad

Meal #4- Low carb protein shake
Meal #5- Chicken, fish, or turkey, with some type of vegetable (no starches here)
Meal #6- Protein shake (good to do before bed, helps the body from getting catabolic)

For competition, I eat A LOT of fish throughout the day for the first half of the week, and then switch it
up to chicken on other days. It is so boring and bland, but it really helps the body burn off any kind of
extra fat you may have while maintaining lean muscle. During my offseason, my coach has pity on me
and allows me to have 2 cheat meals (not days) on the weekend. I generally don’t go too nuts, but it
does help keep me sane. However, when it gets about 2
½ months out from competition, those cheat
meals are taken away. It’s time to get really serious!!!!

Are you a fan of cycling your carbs or keeping them low in general?

I like how I look when I keep the carbs low, but my energy level is so much better when the carbs are
higher.

Are you a fan of “empty stomach morning cardio” or not? Why?

For me, no, I have a pretty tough tummy and usually can get down a low carb protein shake since
it absorbs pretty quickly. I need to eat in order to have enough energy to power through the more
strenuous cardio I have to do while prepping for a show. And I do not believe in fat burners. Yes they
give you energy, but they can really mess up your adrenal glands. However, because of my class and
client schedule, I don’t usually do cardio (outside of classes that I teach) before I train with clients so
unless it’s the weekend, I usually don’t have time to do cardio first thing in the morning.

 

What’s the one cheat food you can’t live without?    

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I have a sweet tooth, so instead of narrowing it down to a specific food, I will
just say, I have to have a sweet treat on my cheat days. It could be a couple chocolate chip cookies, or a slice of really good cheesecake. Whatever it is, I enjoy it since I only get to cheat twice a week.

  

What’s your favorite exercise/activity?  What’s your least favorite?

I LOVE to lift heavy! I have made some of the best, most significant changes to my body by lifting with
heavier weight. As far as a favorite weight exercise, I’m going to say pull ups. Again, by consistently
doing these over the years, my body has developed good, solid strength and nice muscle. My arms,
back, shoulders, and core really have benefited greatly from this movement. As for a cardio activity,
I love, love, love to jump rope. I can go for a straight hour especially when I have some good music to
listen to.

My least favorite would be running long distances. I have such respect for folks who can get
out there and just run, but I’ve never been good at it.

If you could send a message to women out there about eating right, being afraid of weight training, etc. what would it be?

1.) Women need to be weight training period! Yes, cardio is very important, but I see so many “skinny fat” girls (really thin, but high body fat) because they do not participate in any kind of weight training, it drives me nuts. I just want to tell these girls, step away from the elliptical and pick up some iron!!!!

2.)  Another thing I would share is when you hit your 30’s, keep an eye on your hormone levels. If your hormones get even a little out of “whack”, it can totally effect how you look and feel. I have seen so many women struggle with their weight even though they were eating well and exercised consistently. But because something was off in their system, they were not reaping the rewards of their hard work, at least not visually. So, if you are in your mid 30’s and beyond, and have begun to notice you are actually back sliding ( start to gain weight even though you’ve been eating right and exercising hard), it may be time to see your doctor and inquire about testing your hormone levels as a possible culprit.

3.) Last bit of advice, take time off from the gym! Don’t over train! Doing high intensity athletic conditioning classes, for example, every day of the week is overtraining. If you don’t allow at least one day away, your body will never have a chance to recovery thus setting you back. Trust me, a day of rest will do absolute wonders for your body and your mind!