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  • Nutrition Strategies that Fuel an Energetic & Healthy Lifestyle.

  • Experience Increased Vitality, Sex Drive & Alleviate Aches & Pains.

  • Exercise Programs that Build Strength, Balance & Stamina using Functional, Primal Movement Patterns

About My Philosophy

matt_aboutI am Matt Espeut and I have been in the health and fitness business for 20 years. My philosophy centers on keeping it simple: Eat quality food, drink quality water, get plenty of rest and train properly with good technique. I advise clients not to get wrapped up in fad diets or gimmicks. Nutrition is based on whole organic foods, not packages, pills or potions.

All exercise programs revolve around functional, primal movement patterns, to build strength, balance and stamina. You will be trained sensibly, rigorously and efficiently, never doing something for nothing. I do not administer beat downs, I will bring out your best and you will feel better when you leave! I work the body using multi directional movements, using bodyweight / resistance and metabolic training methods to promote complete function and posture alignment.

The industry is constantly evolving, so I’m continually upgrading my education by learning from leaders such as Paul Chek (HLCI Certified), Martin Rooney (TFW Certified), Gray Cook (FMS Certified) and Mike Boyle (Strength Coach). This keeps me motivated and on top of my game.

I offer the complete package for all your fitness needs. Some specialize in training; some specialize in nutrition. I bring both, along with my knowledge and self principles. Not only do I teach & preach it; I live it.

Services / Benefits

RESULTS FOR EVERY AGE

Youth

  • Foundation Principles for Fitness
  • Injury Prevention
  • Athletic Performance
  • Sports Specific Development

Elderly

  • Improved Motor Skills
  • Better Balance
  • Independence
  • More Strength
  • Increased Bone Density
  • Increased Height

Adults

  • Better Posture
  • Weight Loss Aesthetics
  • Improved Vitality, Energy Levels & Sex Drive
  • Overall Productivity

 

Testimonials / Gallery

Pricing

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Single Sessions

  • 1 Person: $65 / Person
  • 2 People: $45 / Person
  • 3 People: $35 / Person
  • 4 People: $25 / Person





Packages

  • 1 Person: 12 Sessions – $750
  • 2 People: 12 Sessions – $450 / Person
  • 3 People: 12 Sessions – $350 / Person
  • 4 People: 12 Sessions – $300 / Person

Blog Latest Posts

Fit for Life: What Are Results in Fitness?

Fit

What Are Results in Fitness? There are only 3 factors that dictate progress:

1) Losing Fat

2) Gaining Muscle

3) Feeling Better

If these things are not being accomplished, than you are not getting results, and are wasting time money and energy. I am a firm believer in NOT wasting these valuable limited resources so I am going to give you a brief outline to help jump start you to getting results.


Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

We were developed on a cellular level and cells require water. We hit the gym to build muscle and muscle is compromised of millions of cells. We need enzymes to digest food to build muscle, and water aids in digestion, and the ability for enzymes to travel. In order to be able to move without cramping, our muscles need water. Get the picture? And that just deals with your needs during exercise. Being properly hydrated also prevents headaches, and free radical cell damage, caused by environmental toxins. Think: the solution for pollution is dilution!! Along with that goes aiding your kidneys and bladder in elimination. It is also responsible for shuttling water soluble vitamins to cells, so when you dehydrate yourself it is tougher for the body to absorb nutrients. I recommend ½ oz. of water for every pound of body weight, any less and you are doing yourself a disservice.

Sleep!

Eight (8) hours is not a luxury; it is a necessity for your well being. When you sleep, great things happen to your body as well as your mind and energy levels. Improving cognitive brain function, and increasing energy levels creates a huge network of positive attributes to the body. I hear the excuse all the time – “I am too busy to get that much sleep”. Do NOT confuse busy with productive, and if you are well rested you will become much more productive, than when you are tired, lethargic and miserable. The proper amount of sleep will allow you to wake happier and more energetic. Proper rest allows you to wake with clarity, and be more energetic. When you have the right mindset from the beginning of the day you accomplish many more tasks and are able to focus more efficiently. When you get the proper amount of sleep you wake up on fire and ready to go. Many people think that they are building muscle in the gym. Sorry, but that theory is wrong. When you work out you are actually breaking the body down. Training causes micro tears in the muscle, and the only way to recover from this is with proper sleep and nutrition. If this is not achieved, then you will not recover from physical activity, making positive gains or results nearly impossible.

Eat quality food frequently throughout the day

Not doing this is probably the biggest cause of not getting the results you want. When you eat efficiently you will get results faster and achieve your goals. When you consume garbage – processed food – you cause inflammation in the body. Our defense systems prioritize and fight off the most damaging invaders first. This means when you are sick you shouldn’t work out because our immune systems are fighting sickness and breaking the body down, causing the immune system to work too hard, prolonging all ailments in the body. So when you eat badly the body is too busy fighting inflammation and is too drained to build and repair and do the positive things our bodies need to get results. When you eat quality food, our systems work smoothly and efficiently allowing the body to uptake nutrients effectively, thus triggering results and progress.

Let’s simplify and summarize! 

1) Drink lots of clean water.

2) Get to bed on time.

3) Eat quality food throughout the day.

Follow these 3 simple steps, and I can guarantee you will start feeling better.

3 Biggest Hurdles Between You and Your Fitness Goals


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Being fit and healthy isn’t easy. There are many personal obstacles as well as outside distractions that derail us from our mission, and I am here to help you overcome a few. It is difficult enough for people that like to work out to find the time, and people that want to eat healthy who also have to eat on the go, to do so. Imagine how tough it is for the uninformed and unmotivated.

Obstacle #1- marketing and advertising

Everyone wants to get results the quickest way possible, doing the least amount of work, and I have said it over and over again that there is no easy way. It takes time, energy, and intensity to be fit. You will not get it in 4 mins a day, or by eating some sandwich with Fritos in it, because some guy claims he lost 100 pounds eating at the fast-food chain. You won’t get abs in 8 minutes a day without a proper eating plan, and you will not get fit at home watching videos unless you follow the program with intensity and read the fine print. So do not give in to all the fancy ads – if it says easy or quick, it is a lie. It is hard work, but anything worth having requires hard work. Many people fall prey to these quick fix schemes, and when they fall short of unrealistic goals, they get discouraged and quit. So do not start a program with unrealistic goals, and remember, there is really no easy way.

Obstacle #2 – peer pressure

People who are jealous of your aesthetics seem to always find fault and make fun of what you are doing. They harass you when you order healthy food, or read a label, or make a comment about working out. You always get the “we can’t all look like you” statement in condescending overtones, and roll their eyes when someone compliments you. They have reasons why you are fit and they are not, because they are busier or have more important things than you do going on in their lives. You fitness people all have someone like this in your lives, and I say ignore the negativity and let them rant. Because it makes as much sense as mocking someone with more money than you. Take jealousy as a compliment, and stick to your game plan. Being fit and healthy is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, and it is a lifestyle you shouldn’t have to justify or defend. When I hear that I am too conscious or I let fitness run my life, or I take it too far, I don’t feel the need to explain myself, nor do I have the desire to critique negative aspects of someone else’s lifestyle. I feel that taking care of yourself is a normal, primal instinct, and feel that knowingly consuming products that are harmful of damaging to your body is not an ideal lifestyle, so know that you are doing the right thing, stay the course, and let your critics enjoy their doctors’ visits.

Obstacle #3 – eating on the go

This seems to be the toughest challenge for both healthy individuals and foodies. But, it isn’t impossible to do, but it does take a conscious effort and a little planning. It can be done. So don’t let lack of time or restaurant meetings be an excuse to do it wrong. My first preference is to find a good market. Most have eating areas and prepared food ready and available. A roasted chicken and a salad or vegetables makes a prefect lunch and usually leaves extra for later. This costs about the same as a sandwich and bag of chips and is healthier and more balanced. There are several types of Tex/Mex chains that offer a decent meal on the go. I suggest getting bowl type meals with beans, instead of the wrap, and pile on the veggies. Many ethnic spots offer the same type of fare with meals being available instead of the standard sandwich or greasy processed meal. Although this isn’t as good as buying organic food and making it yourself, it is an acceptable alternative.

There are many ways to be deterred from a healthy lifestyle, we live in a time of what’s becoming the worst man made health epidemic ever. Disease and obesity is on the rise and our food supply keeps getting worse, but I do not write to discourage people – only to motivate and educate. I try to give you the tools to make the right choices and make positive gains. It’s up to you to open the toolbox.

Become Again What You Used to Be

healthgalsrun_360_360“When I was in college I was a great athlete.” “When I was younger I looked like this.” “Back in high school I was a track star.” These are quotes from older broken down athletes or people that just let themselves go. I always tell people that I wish I had the drive, dedication, strength and speed I have now, back in high school. I would have been a much better athlete. Why do people accept the fact that being fit and healthy is for younger people, and it is acceptable to regress to the point that walking up stairs is troublesome? How can one go from being an athlete and feeling superior, to being complacent and feeling broken? Why can’t you get into the same shape you were in years ago? You can, but you need to do it according to your goals and abilities.

Age is just a number

I was away with two friends last weekend. One is 51 years old and one is 30, and I am 45. We are all close in weight and height. I asked the older friend how his workouts were going and he informed me that he no longer lifted weights because his shoulder is killing him. Although this guy can kick my butt and just about anyone else’s on a mountain bike, he runs marathons and competes in crazy 24 hour races, tough mudders etc. I told him he was making a mistake and I backed it up by reminding him of the tough time he had completing the warmup phase of my workout system. This is because the balance and lateral movement were not his strong points. His activities are mostly straight line sports, and despite his natural ability and great condition, I am afraid he is going to suffer later on if he doesn’t strengthen around his injuries.

I was delighted when he asked my younger friend what he was doing, and he mentioned a few tips I had given him. I am glad he said that, because even though he is young and in great shape, he isn’t exempt from injury, and if I can help someone not to make the same mistakes as I’ve made, that’s an achievement.

Don’t give up

Most athletes are one dimensional, and when out of their element they do not excel. This is why a proper workout system will make everyone better. I have a philosophy to work around pain not through it, and try to prevent it. I have several clients with shoulder/knee/lower back issues, but I either work around them or fix them. So the mistake is avoidance. Do not avoid the gym because of a certain injury. You wouldn’t avoid a restaurant because you don’t like a certain dish. You would order something else. So my point is, if something is broken, don’t let everything around it suffer. There are other approaches.

Most athletes experience an injury along their careers, and when they get older, the usual way of training hurts and they give up, rather than seek an alternative action. My solutions are for just about every ailment, if something hurts, do something else, if you can’t move one direction, move another. You see, there is no one right way to work out, and there are many wrong ways, but the biggest mistake is to give up. If you were an athlete in college you should be able to move like one now. If you wore a certain size in high school, figure out a way to wear that size again. Life is too short to be a “has been” or a “was great” – you can achieve anything you want with the proper guidance and program.

Calories. It All Adds Up

weightlossscale_360_360“I went out for dinner last night, and wasn’t that bad with my eating.” I hear this all the time and I am sure many other trainers have heard some variation of this story. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about the cost of being healthy and how you can be on a budget, and still do it. But let’s face it – most training clients are not on a very tight budget. And one would think things are easier when you can afford trainers, cooks, massages, high quality food etc., but the problematic flip side to this is that this type of person eats out more frequently, attends more social gatherings, and business events, all which center around social eating.

Estimating calories when eating out

So I am going to give you a few examples of where your calories are and why you won’t make any improvements eating out. First, you sit down you order a drink. Let’s say a glass of wine. Ok so let’s start adding. That’s 80 calories of sugar on an empty stomach. Great way to get the insulin in your system out of control. Because you do not want to get tipsy you reach for the bread , but you are health conscious so you opt out of the butter for the healthier olive oil, which still carries 120 calories per tablespoon, easily absorbed into the bread. Add 40 calories just for the bread. So with a conservative figure 1 glass of wine 1 piece of bread w/ oil = 240 calories before you touch a morsel of “real food”. And I say conservative because after the first drink, inhibitions get weak, and spiked blood sugar causes excessive hunger, so one piece of bread or drink is unusual.

When multiple couples dine, usually appetizers are ordered family style. Unless everyone is health conscious, there is a good chance a pizza or fried calamari will be ordered. But you order a salad – “with dressing on the side, please”. Guess what? Figure another 120 calories worth of oil/dressing, some blue cheese crumbles and the salad, plus just one bite of something, a taste even, and that brings the appetizer round to a modest 200 + 240 pre app = 440 calories going into the dinner round.

Now we are primed and ready to eat, but trying to be fit requires sacrifices, so you shoot for the healthy omega 3′s and order the salmon with quinoa and vegetables. As healthy as it is, we still need to add 157 calories per 4 ounce piece of fish which is about 1/2 order in most places, and quinoa carries 170 calories per 1/2 cup, and cooks are more concerned about taste than calories so the olive oil runs rapidly in the kitchen adding hundreds of calories to a meal. So let’s figure 450 calories on dinner + the previous 440 and now we have 990 calories if we pass on dessert, and many people eat out more than once a week. That is 1/2 of a lot of people’s daily requirements on one meal.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a big calorie counter/pincher, and I advise people to up the quality of their food first, and in most cases they lose weight, feel less bloated/inflamed, eating quality food. I won’t start counting calories until results hit a plateau, but I always recommend grazing and spreading them out among 5-6 feedings, not 1 or 2. When you consume this many calories in one sitting, you will gain weight. Guaranteed. And I just detailed someone ordering with some concept of healthy food. THIS IS A MODEST ESTIMATE of a meal in a restaurant. I want to make it clear that I am not bashing restaurants, or trying to deter you from eating out and being social, because there are many good ones here. I am just trying to create awareness as to where your calories are hiding, and remind you to pay attention to small details to live healthier. So go out and enjoy food, just don’t kid yourself about the amount of calories you are eating, and stop scratching your head and guessing why you are not reaching your goals.

Is More Exercise Really Better?

tiredathlete_360_360My teen clients are notorious for asking me “what else can I do on my own?” and “how many more days should I be lifting weights?” And, they are surprised and mostly disgruntled when I advise them not to do more. My newer clients always ask how many more times a week do they need to train with me to get results and they too are surprised when I tell them none. You see, if you follow my system you will get results, and my system does not include over doing it, so I do not promote extra exercise until you make the proper progressions, and you prime your body to handle the load. Not until then, do I encourage extra workloads. I request that my clients and football players give 100% effort through the workout and it is impossible to do so if you are sore tired and broken down. I told an athlete that I would rather be slightly under trained than over trained and I compared it to a steak on the grill, if you remove it too early, you’re safe, and can put it back on; but if you burn it, it’s worthless.

Recovery is key

The same goes for your body, when you workout too much, several things happen. Your chance for injury increases, due to weakened and fatigued stabilizers and muscles. You compromise your immune system. You elevate cortisol levels, causing hormonal disruption, and risk muscle depletion. What doesn’t happen is achieving results. Recovery is the key to making gains. You will never reach your goal unless it is becoming skinny fat, or staying overweight. I see it every day. People at the gym for hours every day and never looking different or moving any better, because they are there too long, lack rest and burn muscle, causing body fat percentages to sway in an unfavorable direction. Not the most ideal way to spend your time and energy. This is not only due to improper exercise and progression but poor nutrition programming.

Eat Real

When I design a nutrition program, I try to stay away from as many processed foods as possible, and try to eliminate wheat all together. I encourage my clients to stay away but if you need to snack on something, go gluten-free. Many times this gets misinterpreted to eat as many gluten-free foods as possible. From pasta to pancakes to corn chips to cereal to brownies, it is still a processed food, and it still needs to be limited, period. Gluten free foods still have a high glycemic level, still have a lot of empty calories, and can still make you fat. Look what happened in the early 90′s fat free craze, it made people fatter because they removed something and replaced it with something just as bad or worse – fat for sugar, gluten for other processed flours etc. Many of these foods lack nutrients and proteins deeming them useless to the body anyway, so less is better.

In conclusion, there is no magic way to get results. The higher quality food you eat, the better you will feel. The smarter you train, and the more you pay attention and LISTEN to your body, the better you are going to be. Train hard and rest easy!

Are you being FOOLISH – or FIT FOR LIFE?

fruitsvegAfter an old bodybuilding picture of mine resurfaced last week, I discussed the details of contest preparation to a friend and told him of all the hard work and dedication it took to get there. All the heavy workouts, and the craziest, most restrictive diet you can ever imagine. He asked me if I could do it again. I told him I could, and could do it even better than I did in those days, because I know more and have evolved a lot since then. However, I told him I wouldn’t because I would have to restructure my whole training concept. Then I started to think of all the changes I have made since then, and all the mistakes I made during those days, and how I was misled into thinking I was a picture of health. Let’s rewind 15 years, and list what I thought was healthy and the reasons why I was wrong.

Learning From the Past

I owned a microwave back then, and now I won’t eat or consume anything that has been heated or thawed in one. Not withstanding the health issues, I think anything cooked in a microwave tastes horrible. Parts are still cold, while others are scorching hot, and everything tastes like rubber. This is due to the electromagnetic radiation used to provide heat. This also denatures and kills most live nutrients in your food, so you are eating food as nutritious as cardboard, and if you reheat in plastic this causes the Xeno estrogens from the plastic to leach into your food, so now you are eating nutrient deficient food loaded with toxic estrogens. Not a good thing! If you doubt the concerns I raise, just Google “don’t use a microwave” and read and watch experts in nutrition and holistic health talk about their concerns. Use the stovetop with stainless cookware. It takes about the same time, or just a little longer, than a microwave and will be better for you.

Two more mistakes I was making: eating cheap tuna from a can and using artificial sweeteners. The mentality was to eat high protein, and minimize extra calories. I never thought about the BPA’s in the can, or the high levels of mercury in the tuna, or the toxic nature of the sweeteners. Now, I do not buy or consume any canned goods, artificial sweeteners, or tuna. Buying fresh foods is more beneficial because the food is live, or has recently been so, and so are the nutrients and enzymes that our bodies need for growth and repair, and to keep our immune systems strong. I also only eat wild caught fish, such as salmon, striper, sea bass, halibut, and cod. Larger fish such as tuna, sword, and mako shark carry a higher concentration of toxins due to their position on the food chain. A lot of proof has been accumulating about eating these fish being tied to neurological disorders and problems with cognitive function. So you want to eat the smaller fish. Sardines, mackerel, and anchovies are the healthiest, but are not to everyone’s pallet as tasty. As far as the sweeteners, not too many people are unaware of the health risks, so I won’t be repetitive on this topic. To ignore the information that is universally agreed upon ends up being a personal choice – and in my opinion, one which would compromise a good diet moving in the right direction.

Another big mistake I was making was buying meat and other food from big discount stores. You know, the ones that sell tires and food in the same store? When you pay discount prices, you get inferior goods. The larger the scale, the lower the quality. Think about it. Can a small organic farmer give the same care to 100 animals as it gives to 1500 animals? Absolutely not. Is the food on a cruise ship with 2500 people on board as good as a small local restaurant that seats 30? Again the answer is no. I have learned over the years that it is rare to find a discount on quality items, from food to tools. Therefore I only purchase my food from quality markets, and only eat free range and grass fed meats and poultry. It is better for you, for the small farmer, and the environment.

I also subscribed to the fat free craze, eating fruity fat free yogurt, ice cream, cookies, and baked potato chips. Now I know that anything with a label that states: fat free/ no sugar/ vitamin enriched/low calorie/high fiber, is a bunch of processed over-marketed garbage. When you eat something packaged, the less ingredients the better, and if you can’t read the label – don’t eat it. Fat is better than the cheap fillers and chemicals they put in its place, and fat lowers the glycemic index on foods, making them more sustainable, and available to be broken down in the body as nutrients, so when they process yogurt by removing the fat, and add fruit with high fructose corn syrup, it makes it a high glycemic food, making the consumer fatter and fatter, and more and more insulin resistant, and closer to obesity, and diabetes. Not an ideal place for you to be. Eat snacks with ingredients you can read like: peanuts/dates/salt or potatoes/salt/oil (real organic chips). Less is better, and you will see and feel the difference.

A Little Older-A Lot Wiser

Back then obesity and other diseases were less than half as prevalent as it is today. I made these changes as soon as I knew the difference, and here I am 15 years later, healthier and fitter with more endurance than I have ever had, with my blood labs and hair analysis tests all being ideal, which leads me to believe that I am correct on these matters. Remember people, knowledge is power, and it took me a lot of education and research to find this stuff out. Now I am giving it to you first hand, in concentrated form. It is up to you to make the change. I changed, and I was enough of an authority then that people asked me for advice. I still knew more than most, but not enough. You now know enough to make a change. If you care about yourself you will make it. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

My definition of insanity: when you keep doing something over and over, expecting a certain response, and the results never change in a positive way, but keep getting worse. Stop the insanity, and live!!

The Three Commandments of Gym Etiquette

GymBikeYes, gym etiquette is a real concern – and it’s lacking in most gyms. I know you go to the gym to sweat and get down and dirty, but there are a few things we can do to make it a nicer, and safer, experience for all. I’m not saying you need to wear white gloves and a bow tie to work out, but some simple courtesy goes a long way, especially during peak hours, when things get crowded.

Unplug

One of my biggest issues in the gym is the cell phone. I understand that phones do many things, but when you are at the gym they should play music only. Really folks, let’s disconnect for an hour and focus on the task at hand….exercise and intensity. If you are that important that you can’t turn off your phone or email for one hour, maybe you should reschedule your workout times to a time when you can turn off, because answering the phone zaps intensity, and without intensity your results will be non existent. Its also bothersome waiting to use an area or a machine when the person is sitting around texting and holding up progress, and it is most annoying trying to focus when someone ten feet away is arguing on the phone. Remember that there are lots of heavy equipment and moving parts, and a gym can be dangerous, so let’s be considerate of others and for safety reasons, leave your phone in the locker.

Get to class on time

When I’m doing group instruction, I must explain the importance of punctuality, especially in cycle class or class that requires equipment and weights. First, you compromise on your warm-up. This is an important part of the workout. Besides that, it is dangerous to start adjusting your bike or set up your area, when others have started moving. Finally you have the distraction factor. It isn’t the end of the world to me if you are late, but what of the others who made the effort and arrived on time? It can be annoying and distracting.

Hygiene

Now let’s talk a little about hygiene. Being the cold and flu season, this area should not be overlooked. I have seen many guys leaving the men’s room without washing their hands. Seriously? I encourage my clients to wash their hands after every workout. Wiping down the equipment is always a welcome courtesy. Trust me, nobody wants to jump on a bench with a puddle of sweat, or a wet circle from ones head dripping off of it. Take 30 seconds and give it a quick spray, the next person will greatly appreciate it. And while many employees at the gym are mothers, they’re not yours, and even if they were, they’d tell you – let’s pick up our toys when we are finished. A lot of people feel that paying for a membership entitles them to a personal butler. If you use a piece of equipment, it is easier for the next person to find when it gets put away or re-racked to its rightful place, so please put your stuff away.

Finally, if you are sick – stay away. You might think you are being rough, tough and cool working out sick, but you are not only taxing your immune system even further, making recovery time longer, but you are spreading germs to every one in the building. When it’s cold outside, and you have a heated box full of sweaty people, you get an incubator for germs, so please think of your fellow gym goers, and keep your germs to yourself. Walk outside if you absolutely need to workout. Germs won’t spread as quickly in the cold, and YOU will feel better. Or just rest and recover.

We go to the gym to improve our bodies and de stress from the days’ events. We are not looking for more stress or to get sick. Going to the gym should be a pleasurable experience for all, so if everyone does their part and follows a few rules of etiquette we can all have an enjoyable workout, stay safe, and stay healthy.

Do You Have to Be Wealthy to Be Healthy?

Money_plate_360_360I am always hearing about how being healthy costs more than being unhealthy, and that you have to be wealthy to be healthy. Well there is some truth to this, because life in general is easier with a large bankroll. But I am going to give you some tips on how to overcome the expense and explain the pay off, if you do.

Most of the people that complain the loudest are the ones shopping at big box stores and looking for deals on food. When I occasionally visit this type of store, I observe what is in shoppers’ baskets and carriages and I always see cases of juice and junk food purchased in bulk. This is the type of wasteful spending that is going to impact the cost of shopping in a negative way. Some good news here is that these stores are jumping on the organic and health food bandwagon so you can still get some better prices on food than the smaller stores, but you will probably end up buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need. I use these big discount stores for non-perishable goods such as paper goods. I recommend shopping for your food on a weekly basis and purchasing fresh stuff.

Don’t (always) listen to your mother

My mother is notorious for buying larger quantities of meat and freezing what she doesn’t immediately need. I find fault with this for 2 reasons, first – frozen food doesn’t taste as good, and second, I watch as she regularly throws stuff away. You forget it’s there and it gets freezer burn or gets old. Imagine a stocked freezer and losing power in your house – there goes hundreds of dollars down the drain. When you pay a little more for food you buy only what you need and never waste, so it all averages out anyway. Buying in bulk is not necessary, you do not need to store food, we are in no danger of a shortage!! Buy fresh and shop frequently.

Like money in the bank!

When you look at the big picture, shopping healthy actually pays off – in big ways. First you spend less when you shop rather than buying cases, you only buy what you need. Now look at the long term savings: most OTC drugs won’t be needed because when you eat correctly you breathe better, so allergy meds are needed far less, if at all – your joints ache less, so you probably won’t need the anti inflammatory stuff – your sex drive is still there so you don’t need to buy ED drugs! Your headaches, and other symptoms that eating wholesome, good food prevents will become non-existent, you will be more productive, ambitious, and that pays off into your ability to work better and make more money. So, the next time you are in the check out line at the organic quality market remember you are not overpaying for food, you are making an investment – in yourself. And that’s as good as money in the bank.

Do You Just Want to Have Fun?

overtrainfemale_360_360Who said exercise has to be fun and exciting? Is eating/ showering/ driving, brushing your teeth fun and exciting? Do you change these routines to make them more interesting? Do you try handstands while eating to break up the monotony? Do you hop on one leg in the shower so you wont get bored? How about driving to work extra fast and in reverse, just to change things up? I know this sounds incredibly ridiculous, but I see this kind of stuff in the gym everyday, people trying to be “new/cool, and cutting edge and exciting”, with their fitness routines, just to change it up, and be more interesting.

It’s Not Fun…It’s Work…

Let’s be completely honest with ourselves, exercise isn’t very fun. Unless you disguise it with a bicycle, a lake, or a soccer ball, it’s a grueling challenge to not only find the time, but to also take the actions to get it done! If it were easy and fun everyone would be doing it, and we wouldn’t be in such a physical mess to begin with. It’s estimated that only 14% of the US population exercises in a regular, effective program. So with this being said, let’s accept it for what it is: exercise is work, and it’s something that we need to do more than want to do. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or fun. You do not need to add variety to every single workout, and you do not need to add variables and tricks to every exercise.

News flash!

Here’s a news flash: adding tricks for variety or fun not only looks stupid, it is dangerous. There is no need to do this. Nor are most people ready to veer off the path of basic lifts and primal movements such as the squat, lunge, press and dead lift. Saying that, I do like to vary my routines, but a client needs to master certain tasks and moves, first. I change sequences, but practice the same movements. If I were to constantly change exercises, mastering them becomes difficult. I see people doing push-ups with their feet elevated, when their lower back is so arched it looks painful. In truth, not many people perform basic push-ups correctly anyway, so progressing before you “own” an exercise leads to injury and poor performance. I saw one guy balancing on a stick with a med ball and his feet on a balance board, while doing a push-up. Why? There are so many ways to vary the push-up without performing a circus act, why try so hard to be different? Another example, doing jump lunges, using erratic, ballistic movement patterns – what do they do? – they set you up for a knee injury, instead of just mastering a normal lunge. I see these silly and dangerous moves all the time in the gym – the other day a woman was attempting to squat standing on a bosu platform. When she attempted to do one, her knees bent about 20 degrees, while she over flexed at the waist, meaning she lacked enough flex ability to squat on solid ground, let alone on an unstable one. Across the gym a guy had the same issue, only he put on knee wraps and a belt, loaded the bar with 300lbs, and exercised poor form, instead of lowering the weight and doing it correctly. I realize all these people have good intentions, and everyone that laces up their sneakers and goes to the gym deserves credit, but I hate to see people setting themselves up for injury, or best case, lack results and waste time.

(Not) just the basics

My advice to you is to master the basics: the push up, the pull up and the squat. Be able to perform these exercisesperfectly before you progress, and add variations. Treat exercise as another necessary part of your day. Go in and get it done, use the gym as a tool towards your goal. It doesn’t have to be glamorous or dangerous or exciting. One of my instructors always said: push something pull something, squat, and do something rotational and you have a routine. Simple, safe, and effective. When you realize all the good you are doing for your body – hey – it just might be fun for you, too.

“Why Can’t You Be Normal?”

fruitsvegI have been asked this question numerous times in my life and usually just shrugged the question off but I want to give you real life situations that I have experienced recently.

Stats on obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are rising at alarming rates, so I am doing all I can to uphold a healthy lifestyle, and promote health to others by giving tips and information, so people can be informed enough to make wise choices. However it seems like I am a minority in this country, with fewer people think like me, than the ones that don’t.

I recently posted on my social media channels a way to combat hangovers, and one of my followers jokingly commented that ‘you need to be drunk’ to eat the way I do. I eat quality organic food throughout the day and try to avoid processed manmade junk, so why am I considered abnormal to some? This comment came from someone with a freezer full of brightly colored boxes loaded with chemicals and preservatives, and because I won’t eat this I am an oddity. This is what I deal with on a daily basis.

I visited an acquaintance last week, and he had just finished his food shopping. He had unpacked his groceries then made a comment about how well he shops by holding up a half gallon of almond milk as if it were the Lombardi trophy. I took that as my cue to examine the rest of his purchases, and give my opinion, which he encouraged. Imagine how shocked he was when I pointed out that 95% of his food is processed, boxed, frozen, and loaded with preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, and artificial ingredients. His response was “we can’t all be crazy and obsessed about how we eat, like you”.

So I am crazy and obsessed because I eat well? Another friend called me a drill sergeant uncle because I choose to feed my nephew fruit and cheese over mini muffins and sugar cereal, and encourage him to play outside over watching TV. This is the mentality that we face each and every day. So if eating a quality diet, choosing not to be fooled by big food and their huge marketing campaign, by consuming processed manmade junk food, exercising on a regular basis, looking and feeling great are signs of being an outcast, weirdo, oddity, then I’m ok with that! If that’s what happens to you, too, then you should be ok with it, too! You’re in good company!

Discipline Makes The Difference

discipline_360_360When it’s cold and rainy out – IT gets you to the gym.

IT will also get you there on nice sunny days, too.

When you are tired and unmotivated, IT helps you put on your sneakers.

IT even helps you say ‘no’ to a second helping of food or a sugary snack, or a second drink.

IT is, to me, the most important part of human nature, because it dictates who we are, and defines our character.

Without IT we will never reach our fitness goals, and no one’s program will work for you.

IT is – DISCIPLINE.

Discipline Makes the Difference

Clients who come to me with the most discipline are obvious. It shows in their results. I tell my clients when they make their appointments that I can’t help them unless they supply some discipline. I am only with an individual 2-3 hours a week. Without discipline to continue throughout the week, it won’t be enough to make a difference. Discipline is needed.

Some people like the gym to socialize, and some actually like to workout, others hate exercise all together, but still endure the misery because they know that it is beneficial. There are all different levels of self-discipline. Not only is it important to help improve our physical appearance, it’s necessary in most aspects of life.

Think about our military and how serious discipline helps those who serve make that type of sacrifice. Just think in our own lives, when we really want something, not only is it motivation, but it also takes discipline. From getting out of bed in the morning for that coffee, to getting to the gym, to working hard, being a good parent, it’s more than just wanting to do it – it’s the extra oomph that assures success, day after day, week after week.

Discipline Defined

Discipline: n. 1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior; especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. 2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control. 3. Control obtained by enforcing compliance or order. 4. A systematic method to obtain obedience: a military discipline. 5. A branch of knowledge or teaching.

Other definitions talk about training or conditions for the improvement of physical powers, self-control, systematic training in obedience to regulations and authority, a state of improved behavior, resulting from training, methods of practice, etc.

We as humans all have different levels of self-discipline. Regarding fitness, it is important or should I say imperative to have a high level in order to be fit and healthy, due to all the obstacles we face in life. You can acquire more of it if you practice or exercise it by setting small attainable goals, then progress on to bigger and more important ones. I feel that for me to reach the point where I can advise others to live a healthy lifestyle took big amounts of discipline and passion for the cause. The great part about discipline is, once you master it, your proper eating and exercise becomes another part of you, solidly with you all the time.

Join the Resistance

resistancetfw_360_360Join the resistance is a term or mantra used by one of my favorite motivators, Martin Rooney founder of the Training for Warriors program. He is a guy that formed a system of training for MMA fighters and athletes. He now uses his knowledge and enthusiasm to teach personal trainers to be better at what they do. I have attended many of his seminars, as well as completed his certification program, and although his technical knowledge about training and nutrition isn’t more advanced then mine, he has still made me a better trainer, by transferring energy, passion, and motivation to my skill set. We both believe in the work hard/smart, eat and rest well theory, and use the same common sense.

So what does he mean by “join the resistance”? Is he preparing us for a live version of the terminator, or some anti-government movement? No – the resistance is us (trainers and educators) trying to bring out the best in people, and inspire people to be the best one can be. We motivate people to get up and exercise, eat quality food, get plenty of rest, and take responsibility for our actions, and make changes for the best, both physically and mentally. To do this you have to resist laziness, temptation, and negative thought processes. I have joined his resistance long ago, and now I am here to tell you how to fight the resistance.

Be strong against those working against you

I have been a personal trainer for over twenty years and I encounter negative, overweight and/out of shape people that consider me and those who live this profession, neurotic, over board, too strict, and take health and fitness too far. Just because we take care of ourselves and live our passion. This is the resistance we need to fight – the negatives – the thoughts and actions that work against us. When I am out socially, or with family, and someone says: “Eat this dessert (usually some chemical laden fake food, from a supermarket chain), you need to live a little”, this drives me crazy. I go out of my way and encourage others to have the knowledge and discipline to avoid these foods – so, how is this living it up? Eating something that is going to make me tired, feel lousy, maybe feed disease and sabotage the time I spent working out, is not living it up in my book. But! Eating a nice filet medium rare, or getting a good night’s sleep, IS! So, join me – and let’s fight the resistance.

Choose the lesser evil

I was with my nephew at a Cub Scout campfire, and he wanted to eat a burnt marshmallow on a graham cracker with chocolate. I couldn’t let him eat a carcinogenic piece of high fructose corn syrup on a stick, just because all the other campers and parents were cooking them up and eating them. So I strategically dropped it in the fire and let him eat the cracker and chocolate. The lesser evil! Just because everyone does it, doesn’t make it ok – Fight the Resistance!

It’s your choice

When you are out with friends, and you stay out later than you wanted to, or you drank too much, maybe due to peer pressure, or you get the” c’mon lets have one more, or I don’t like to drink alone, or just one shot for old times”, remember: you are the one that has to suffer the next day. You will be dehydrated, tired, have a headache, or feel nauseous – you will be useless and miserable because you didn’t show enough discipline. It’s your choice – Fight the Resistance.

Fight for what you think is right

So for some populations joining the resistance means taking a stand and fighting FOR what you think is right, and trying to instill methods of accountability, discipline, and self worth into people, and to shed a light on healthy living as a good thing that you can attain, enjoy, and feel good about. For others, fighting the resistance should mean avoiding something bad because everyone else is doing it. Not giving in to peer, or society pressure, and making the right choices. It’s all about you doing it for yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you. Big food manufacturers don’t want you to eat healthy food, no profit for them. Even healthcare settings are said to be more about managing illness than keeping you healthy. Same with big pharma. Imagine what could happen to specialties like orthopedic surgery if we all trained well, and learned how to move properly and avoid injury? If everyone eats healthy, exercises properly, and gets plenty of rest, much of this will be needed much less.

It’s your war

It’s time to fight the resistance. It’s your war, and you need to fight it. If you are following me on social media, or here on GoLocal, or on my blog, you are probably one of the 14% of people that works out. That’s right, only 14% of this country’s population works out, so we (people that care about their health) are the minority. I say if you are a trainer or health professional? Join the resistance. All others? Fight the resistance.

4 Ways To Get Healthier For Free

runpink_360_360Do you want to become healthy without breaking the bank? Well, you’re in luck because getting healthy and saving money are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are four simple and cost-free strategies you can use to get in shape and stay in shape this fall.

Stop drinking calories

Unless you are juicing 100% organic vegetables, I do not advise you to drink your calories. Unless you want to gain weight. Even juicing, people get carried away and add too much fruit and calories to their juicing and smoothies. Juicing is a great way to get concentrated nutrients into your system, but it is easy to consume too many calories at one time. I see it daily at the gym, people workout, then hit the smoothie bar and purchase a protein drink loaded with artificial sweeteners, sugars, and all sorts of “add ins”. I see graham crackers and Oreos as options. C’mon man…although consuming high calories and simple carbs after an intense workout is beneficial, and absorbed into muscles more rapidly, due to low glycogen stores, I believe quality carbs such as sweet potatoes and brown rice, or quinoa are better choices for sustained energy. Even sport drinks and low calorie “diet” drinks cause setbacks when you are seeking optimal health and performance. Stick with pure clean water, and you will save lots of money and calories. By the way? Coffee has minimal calories, until you add cream and sugar, so keep that in mind.

Stop buying in bulk

Just stop it. Go back to times when we put thought into our meals and stopped at the market a few times a week – a bag at a time – that way you aren’t loading up on things that tempt you – even if you want them, tell yourself, oh, I’ll buy them the next time I come in – and then, don’t. Try doing this and I think you’ll find that in total you will spend less, eat healthier, and get some exercise, too. I find that marketing – stopping at a fresh air market – roadside stand – specialty store – also helps transition from work to home – good for your mood and mental health, too.

Stop serving family style

It is very difficult for anyone NOT to overeat when there are large bowls of food on the table in front if you, especially if the food is delicious. It is very easy to grab an extra spoonful of potatoes, rice, meat etc. if it is within reach – and wham! – 150 extra calories that you didn’t need nor wanted – and you just ate it because it was available. Instead, always plate the food in the kitchen, and leave the remainder in pans on the stove. Place 1/2 plate with vegetables, 1/4 with wheat-free grain, 1/4 with your protein – and serve. Save the leftovers for a healthy lunch tomorrow. Or you could serve buffet style – try being the server for your family as they come up to the counter, so you can control portions, especially for children who may have eyes bigger than their stomachs – or bigger than their stomachs should be eating.

Move a little more

Always free and always beneficial. Let’s face it folks, it gets really easy to be inactive with all the luxuries we provide ourselves. We sleep, hopefully for 8 hours, then sit for breakfast, sit on the way to school or work. Sit at work, sit for lunch, sit for dinner, sit and watch TV, then the cycle repeats itself. I say break the cycle. Wake up do some stretches/ push ups/ etc. park a little further away from the door instead of waiting for the front spot. Take the stairs. Stand up and stretch every hour. Get on a program and make movement a priority in your day. It stimulates circulation, stretches tight muscles, strengthens weaker ones, and gets you out of a seated slumped over position, saving your posture. Now get up – do it now! – and move.

A System For Feeling + Looking Better

fitgal1013_360_360Without exercise you won’t get fit. Without good nutrition you won’t be healthy.

Many people group the words health and fitness together as if they were synonymous terms. It’s hard to believe, but there are vast differences between the two, and I incorporate a system to bring both into your life. I will give you an example of how both terms differ, and how to bridge the gap.

The health-conscious people

Referred to as salad eaters, granolas, health nuts, etc. Their priority is to be healthy, and they will go to great lengths to be so. They make sure to only eat organic foods, use non-chemical cleaners, and avoid as many toxic compounds as possible. A wise decision for all. I know a girl that purchased an organic mattress, and had the air quality tested before she purchased an apartment. Many of these people own juicers or those large vita-mixers. Also a smart decision. The biggest mistake they can make, however, is that they fail to do any kind of strenuous exercise or strength training.

Peaceful in nature, the option of walking, gardening, mild yoga or time out with a cup of green tea and a book, is generally more appealing to them than a sweat fest or moving some iron. I believe this is a mistake, because everyone needs to be able to move and lift on a functional level and will at some point need to tackle a set of stairs or chase a child or pet around, and without a solid strength, and cardio base or good movement patterns, daily tasks are difficult, or even hazardous.

The workout workaholics

On the other side of the healthy & fit wannabes are those who workout to excess. You know the kind of people – those who exhaust themselves in an unhealthy way on cardio equipment day in and day out. If they miss a day they are incredibly stressed out about it. Or how about the person that leaves the gym and heads to the fast food drive thru on the way to work? Body builders go to extremes such as dehydration, and steroid use to have that sculpted look, and distance runners beat their bodies to the point of joint injury. Fitness models, drinking caffeine with artificial sweeteners, on the way to the tanning salon, are another example of a borderline fanatic. While a majority of these people look like the definition of fitness, they use some unhealthy methods to get to look that way. I personally do not believe you need to go to extremes to be both fit and healthy. If you have a temporary goal, such as a contest or wedding, ok, but not to maintain as a regular lifestyle.

Optimal health

The first step in a smart system is to build a nutrition program based on whole organic foods. I believe if you eat quality foods such as grass fed beef and lamb, wild caught fish, organic fruits and vegetables, eliminate processed grains and dairy, you are on your way to optimal health. Your body starts to work more efficiently on all levels. Remember good health is impossible without good nutrition.

Fitness becomes a lot easier after the first step in this system is applied. I apply progressions to my exercise regimen. First you start moving properly and get to practice good posture and body alignment. If you have bad posture, and movement deficiencies, it is WRONG to load the body with weight and resistance. When you join a karate studio, you do not get issued a black belt. Same thing applies with training, you won’t squat or dead lift with weight, until you OWN the movement. Then we work on progressions such as speed, and metabolic circuits.

For most people, I say step back and use a different approach. Work smarter not harder. When you incorporate a whole system of good nutrition and fitness training, that system will S-ave Y-ou S-ubstantial T-ime E-nergy and M-oney, too.

Stay Fit Indoors

So you don’t like big gyms, can’t afford small private training studios, and it’s getting too cold to do your thing outside? Guess this means it’s time to take the winter off from exercise, right? You can gain ten pounds, lose some muscle mass, and become depressed and de-conditioned, so you have to resort to frantic, unhealthy ways to get it back together in the spring. Or, you can spend less than $500 and purchase a few items that will give you a great workout at home, regardless of your fitness level.fitindoors_360_360

My motto is, and always has been, no excuses. You can achieve your goals regardless of your situation. Time, weather, space, and finances are no longer acceptable reasons to neglect yourself or your fitness after reading this advice.

Getting started

First, you’ll need a spot to perform your fitness routine. One that you can leave set up, ideally. Basements and garages are ideal spots to create a workout space. I like these choices because the floors are concrete and you can move around without disturbing others, and do various exercises without shaking the house. If you do not have the option of either of these, a spare bedroom or even your living room will work.

Next, you’ll need to buy a few things, tools to make your routine fun and challenging. I can get and give a great workout by just utilizing body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, and various plyometrics, and add progressions to all…but it is nice to have a few pieces of equipment, too. So here’s my list of suggested items to purchase and what you can do with them.

Swiss balls or stability balls

A great way to add balance to your routine. You do not need a lot of space to perform exercises on these, and you can purchase a top quality one for about $60. Some great moves are the supine ball roll, supine bridges, elevated feet planks with knee tucks, wall squats, and supine hamstring rolls.

Med balls and slam balls

You’ve seen them in old school boxing gyms. They come in different weight increments and can be used in moves—such as abdominal twists, sit-ups, and any range of motion exercises such as squats and lunges—to add weight and movement to any exercise. These do not bounce when slammed on the floor or against a wall, so standing, kneeling, and half kneeling chop/slams are a great way to work the core and stabilize the spine. Prices range from $15-35.

Rubber bands

Made popular in physical therapy programs, these can take the place of expensive cable machines. They come in different colors and resistances so they can create a challenge for all. Exercises such as rows, chest flies/presses, shoulder presses, raises, rotator exercises, and resisted rotations, can be done on different planes with different resistances just by shortening and lengthening the band. You can anchor to a pole, door, or piece of heavy furniture and add even more variation. A great versatile “must have” for about $15-30 each.

Jump rope

You’ll need ceiling height and a solid floor, of course. This is a great way to get a little cardiovascular conditioning while working on your coordination and footwork. Jumping rope also stimulates your calves and shoulders, and forces you to have rhythm. While jumping, maintain good posture, keep your abdominals tight, and vary your footwork by jumping on both feet, one leg, alternate legs, and increase speed. All this for $12-20.

Bosu balance trainer

These are popular right now. It looks like a Swiss ball cut in half with a platform on the bottom, and it’s a versatile tool for conditioning the entire body. You can use it for single leg training techniques, squats, and lateral movement, and it is durable enough to do jumping jacks on to reduce impact. Flip it over dome side down, for pushup and plank variations. These go for around $50-65.

If you want help locating equipment, you can go to my website at www.fitnessprofiles.net. Click on the Perform Better banner, and you’ll see everything you need to know about the equipment mentioned here. A heavy bag is a great inexpensive tool to train and relieve stress, but you need a sturdy place to anchor it. Cable machines are adjustable so you can train every body part, but they are also expensive and cumbersome. Start with what you can and make progressions along the way.

So just because the weather is getting chilly, don’t give up your fitness routines. Remember, we’re in this to be fit for life, not for just half the year. If you can join a gym, great. Even if you can’t, put together a little area for a home fitness priority. Before you know it all the members of your family will be asking you what to do with this piece of equipment and that. And that is the goal: to pass on a fitness regime that everyone can be part of.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot. There’s no excuse for a sedentary lifestyle…so, look around your home and set up your own area that will serve you well. Come spring you will not have to start all over again; you’ll be good to go back outdoors.

3 Really Good Reasons To Exercise

exerciseI started working out to get bigger and look better. When I started in the fitness business 20 years ago, I remember when people would work out to drop a few pounds. Or get ready for beach season. Fast-forward to today and it seems as though more people start exercising due to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Sometimes it’s a life or death situation to lose weight and become more fit. Whatever your reason to start or continue to exercise, here are a few more reasons many people don’t know about – but might just inspire you to get started…

1. Exercise increases your sex drive.

First, exercise not only makes you feel more desirable, it stimulates blood flow, which releases endorphins that release testosterone and other hormones. Second, you will have a better self-image and that enhancement leads to a greater sex drive. A big part of better sex is feeling sexy. Research shows that people who exercise have an improved body image over people who do not exercise. Being more comfortable with your body leads to better and more relaxed sex.

2. Exercise also makes you smarter.

Studies have shown that exercise releases brain chemicals that help with the retention process of new information. The reason for this is when you exercise, your blood pressure and blood flow increases, which in turn shuttles more oxygen through the entire body – brain included. It raises your focus for up to two to three hours afterwards, so it is advisable to work out just before a test or presentation, so you will peak when you perform. On a more scientific level, it makes the hippocampus super active, and when you rev up these neurons, cognitive function improves. This pattern works better with regular exercise, because the benefits can quickly recede. So be regular with your exercise patterns, not hit or miss.

3. Exercise aids in digestion.

If the food we eat doesn’t get digested properly, a whole lot of problems can arise in the body, such as: gastrointestinal issues, acidity, acid reflux, heartburn, constipation, bloating, and even bad breath. This is why healthy digestion is probably the most important element to your health. If you can’t utilize good nutrients, and eliminate bad bacteria, you end up sick, diseased, and overweight. During exercise, your heart rate and breathing increase, thus stimulating muscles that support the digestive tract, which in turn makes it more active and efficient.

So what will be your reason? Find that motivation that works best for you. If one of these inspires you to get started, then go with it, but remember, ultimately it is your health that is at stake. And that impacts all the people around you – your spouse or partner, your children, your family. It impacts your ability to earn a living. To have a positive outlook in life. To be happy. We all need to keep moving – the rewards just keep adding up – so, start now….and let me know what motivates you! Leave a message on Facebook or Twitter….and I’ll share your motivation with others. We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one!

Fit For Life: Three Wellness Myths Busted

imageWith all the opinions on health, diet, and exercise out there, it’s easy to be misled about what works and what doesn’t. It’s time to set the record straight and prevent you from setting yourself back on your fitness plan. Here are three of the biggest diet and exercise myths and why they’re wrong.

‘Working out’ a bad diet

Many think that if their diets aren’t up to par, they can just exercise a little harder and it will make up for it. If you think exercising without eating properly is enough, particularly for weight loss, it’s not. I currently have two clients that train with me, and they work very hard during our sessions–very little rest, high intensity workouts–and they come always motivated to do the program. But the weight they hoped to lose while getting more fit, is only very slowly coming off. The reason is that they do not pay close attention to their eating and drinking program. I do “preach” to them almost every time we work out, but one is a gourmet cook and fine wine aficionado who frequently entertains, so my recommendations and advice goes somewhat unheard.

Recently, this client’s friend lost 20 pounds without thinking very much about intense exercise…all through diet! Suddenly we have a change of heart happening, and a supermarket tour and shopping trip is on the calendar. I know that a few tweaks to eating habits, even when shopping at healthier markets and farmers markets will restore the path to total health and fitness at a much faster pace. So if you think exercise is enough, you could be expending time and effort for minimal results. You won’t make up for a weekend of rich foods and alcohol by running into the gym on Monday morning. If you want to get the most out of the time you spend exercising, you need to eat, rest, and recover properly!

The ‘other white meat’

Pork has been called the ‘other white meat’. Why? It is lower in fat, or carries a label that says “low sodium” or “nitrate free”. Pork products, of course, come from pigs. Ninety-five percent of pigs have been raised in inhumane conditions, are still fed what we consider garbage, along with antibiotics. The outcry and call for humane conditions that we see around beef and chicken hasn’t really included pork. As Jules said in Pulp Fiction, “pigs are filthy animals.” This holds true on the inside too. A pig has a shorter digestive system than cows, so food and digestive enzymes are eliminated too fast for ultimate filtration, leaving bacteria and toxins behind to accumulate into the meat. If you really need to eat pork products, it is essential you purchase only certified organic pork products, just as you should with chicken and beef.

Buy local (but organic)!

Just because something is local doesn’t make it good for you. Whenever I visit a farmers market or roadside stand, I always ask if it is organic. Most of the time the response is, “no, but we’re local”. Well, local pesticides are just as harmful as those used in other states. Washing the exterior of the product helps, but doesn’t eliminate toxins absorbed into the soil and root system. So the question you should be asking is, is the produce organic? Is it GMO free? If the answer is no, now the choice will be yours.

Most local animals are raised humanely in pastures, so eggs chicken and beef are good products. Just ask if it is free range and/or 100 percent grass fed. I believe in supporting local merchants and farmers, as long as they are up to quality standards, disclose the information, and they price their goods affordably. Supporting big-label products that come here from other countries, bypass local distributors, and sell at the same or a higher price is a big issue for me. So, I ask questions, I make educated decisions, and most of all, I don’t assume anything. You may want to do the same. Remember: don’t assume “local” means “organic”. Being an informed consumer makes you smarter in selecting your foods, and it will also serve to encourage the vendors to listen to what consumers want. That is how we have developed the local farmers’ markets, organic foods, and more. Your voice is powerful, and so are your questions!

Fit For Life: Monsanto, GMO’s + Healthy Eating

imageRecently, I asked my followers on Facebook, to tell me what topics they were interested in reading about, learning more about, and hearing my opinions and advice about. More than fitness, I heard there were lots of questions about whole foods, natural foods, what is organic, what are GMOs – and what should I eat – and where should I shop? There is so much confusion today. Are labels accurate? What’s the difference between what you read on the front of packaging and what is on the label – and how do you read a label?

You Can’t Exercise Out A Bad Diet

When people begin to work with me to attain better fitness, one of the first things I offer to do is to take them shopping. We learn about “whole” foods, and eating organic, or as near to organic as possible. We talk about “back to basics” and natural foods prepared in natural, wholesome ways. Watch how you prepare your foods and eat as natural as you can. You might even start by growing your own foods – and taking what’s growing now in your gardens, and bringing them inside for the cold season – no reason you can’t continue to have fresh herbs and other items all year round.

The GMO issue & labeling

What are GMOs? A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Organisms that have been genetically modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, insects, plants, fish, and mammals. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods, and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food. Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes. Over 60 countries have banned or restricted the production or sale of GMOs. They include Australia, Japan, and all of the European nations, but so far, no ban exists in the U.S.

As far as labeling goes, while products currently do not have to disclose if they contain GMO ingredients, they can note that they don’t – you’ll see the label usually on the front of the product – “Non GMO”. This is similar with RBGH found in dairy. You’ll see some cartons marked “No RBGH”. Locally, both Maine and Connecticut have passed laws requiring GMO labeling. Some food companies, such as Whole Foods, have partnered with the “Non-GMO Project” to independently verify which food items are Non GMO, with full labeling targeted for 2017.

Why GMOs?

Originally, GMOs were used as a way to keep growing foods healthier; as an herbicide. They were used to produce GMO corn, soy, and other basic food crops. No one knows the long term impact of GMOs in our food chain. There is much we do not know, but much to concern us, so I still go with some basic advice. If you want to be sure there are “No GMOs” in your food pantry, buy “organic”. Look for “No GMOs” on your food labels. Watch what you add to your foods to prepare them – oils, in particular. Think about that home garden. Read more about the issue. I’ve listed some good sources for more information, below. I like this advice the best, “if the food would not have been found in my grandma’s kitchen, then it won’t be found in mine.” Visit my page on Facebook and let’s talk about this more….

Fit For Life: Are You Reading That Label Right?

imageIt says it’s healthy, right on the label! Right?
I have dealt with many people that claim they can’t get the results they want no matter how hard they try. The first thing I ask them is how are their eating habits. Nine out of ten times people tell me that they eat “pretty well”. They are not telling me this because they are trying to lie to me, but due to false marketing and media claims, they are disillusioned into thinking they are eating healthy. That is, until I have them do a detailed log of 4-5 days worth of eating in a diary, give them my analysis, and tell them the truth about what the food they are consuming is doing or not doing to reach their goal. The answer is always the same: “I don’t eat as well as I thought.” So here is a list of what are the most common things people think are healthy foods, but really aren’t.

First, low fat dairy.

There are numerous reasons why dairy isn’t healthy, but to simplify: it is a highly processed food that is both inflammatory and high glycemic. This is due to the process of pasteurization and homogenization, wherein milk is heated to sterilize it. Then it is filtered to remove the fat globules. Because heat kills nutrients and damages the proteins and probiotics, it then needs to be fortified with synthetic man made vitamins and minerals to replace the damage done during processing. Your body now recognizes this as an invader, not as a real nutrient dense food, thus causing inflammation and disruption in the digestive tract. By removing all the fat, there is nothing for the villi in the lining in the intestines to bind to that would slow the absorption into the blood stream and allow the body to break down the nutrients and utilize them. This makes it as high glycemic as sugar and water…not an ideal food to stabilize blood sugar. Opt for raw or organic full fat dairy if you need to have it. It is a better and more satisfying choice.

Soy.

Another highly marketed food that has people brainwashed into thinking it’s a health food is soy. Not only is soy a neurotoxin, and most soy consumed is genetically modified, it is also a component that mimics estrogen. This causes hormonal disruption, but research indicates that it causes early puberty in infants given soy-based formulas. Women can experience menstrual irregularities, while men can experience lower testosterone due to elevated estrogen production. Unless soy is organic and fermented, it contains heavy levels of phytates. Phytates support nature by not allowing a seed, nut, or grain to germinate until the environment has just the right amount of water and warmth to support life. The phytates do this by blocking enzyme (life) activity. Once the environment reaches the conditions for optimal survival, the phytates actively break down and the enzymatic processes trigger life to begin. Phytates are also mineral blockers and have been found to block absorption of zinc, calcium, selenium, iron, and other minerals when consumed by humans. Even minor iron deficiencies can lead to fatigue, lethargy, poor athletic performance, a weakened immune system, and learning disabilities. These facts should be enough to avoid this stuff, but if you Google this info, you will find much more.

Gluten-free.

Another line of products tainted by the food industry is gluten-free products. Yes, I am a big advocate of avoiding gluten whenever possible (even if you do not have celiac, because most products containing gluten have little or no nutritional value, and is considered just empty calories in my book. Gluten (like phytates) also blocks the absorption of beneficial nutrients. Reason enough to avoid, with the price of good food what it is. So just like the fat-free craze of the 90s, big manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon and flooding the market with gluten-free products. Even without the gluten, these products are highly processed, and now contain extra sugars, fillers, binding agents, and a whole host of ingredients you can’t pronounce. Mainly because of this, and also because gluten free products doesn’t taste that great, my advice is to avoid all processed foods as much as possible, and on occasion, or if in a jam, just eat the real thing, but don’t make a habit of it.

Drinks

The last item I want to shed light on is flavored and or sports drinks. If you want to add quick pounds around your waist, start drinking your calories, or should I call it what it is: liquid chemicals. Think about what they give underweight patients and babies. Concentrated liquid calories. Look at heavy beer drinkers, very few are thin, because it is easy to drink mass amounts of calories in a short amount of time. Look at the label on sports drinks and juices and calculate the per serving calories you are consuming. Now realize that intense activity burns about 10 calories per minute. Now, do the math. Most are disguised as nutritional by inserting words such as “electrolyte, minerals, vitamins, 100% fruit, and protein”; when in all actuality you are drinking pasteurized, sugar added junk food. Unless you are juicing at home and you know all the ingredients, stay away from this stuff. If it says low or zero calories, it’s even worse for you because it is all carbonated chemicals. And if its electrolytes you are looking for, just add a pinch of sea salt to your water. Electrolytes require minerals such as sodium, not sugar.

Keep a diary.

You’ll be surprised what foods you are eating, as well as what foods you are missing. Don’t trust labels…read the back of the packages, and avoid the front health claims. Learn more about what you put in your body and be skeptical about health claims. As with more things in life, there are few easy solutions.

Fit For Life: An 8-Step Plan For Better Living

imageWhen asked what I do for a living, the first word that comes to mind is ‘motivate’. I try to show all the positive aspects of living a healthy lifestyle while making people more aware of the negative effects of not doing so. Many health and fitness experts are extremists and spend lots of time protesting against large companies making junk food. However, from a personal perspective, I feel my job is to lead by example and educate people so they do not support and eat these products.

We are seeing the government stepping in and beginning making changes: food labeling, sugar content modification, GMO management, etc. Companies will be motivated to change when we no longer buy their products. By my sharing information, scientific data, giving good examples of healthy living, and working with individuals on their personal fitness plans and goals, I hope I am able to motivate any one who is interested in living a fit, healthy life. As we do our job on a personal change basis, we will influence global change as well.

So, here’s where we start!

M–Mind must be in it.

This is where it all begins. You have to realize that it is time for a change. Your mind is the willpower and your heart is the drive. You need to play the scenario over in your head that you are taking the first step. This step is up to you and is the only way you will improve your situation…sound mind to build a sound body.

O–Overcome all fears, excuses, and obstacles.

You are not the first person to make a change for the better and you won’t be the last. Set goals that are attainable and then progress from there. When this happens, you are on your way and nothing will stop you.

T–Take the first step.

Buy some workout clothes and sneakers, join a gym, hire a trainer, recruit a partner. Whatever it takes to get you started on your path. You will find that this is the toughest step, but once you start feeling the benefits, you will realize you did the right thing.

I–Integrate health and fitness into your lifestyle.

Now that you’ve started, make it your routine. Just like eating and sleeping, make fitness part of your life. I’m not telling you to be obsessive about it, but make it a high priority in your life. Schedule it in as a regular activity and give it priority on that to-do list.

V–Value your existence.

What are you worth healthy vs. being sick? Realize what you are worth to your family and career. If you say I am too busy with work and your family to exercise, ask yourself this question, “What if I have a heart attack, become diabetic, get sick or become obese? What do I do then? What does my family do?” Taking care of yourself is money in the bank, and an investment for your later years. When you take care of you, everyone around you will benefit.

A–Appreciate how simple a healthy life can be.

If you are eating whole foods and exercising on a regular basis, I can guarantee that you are feeling better. If you are exercising properly, I guarantee you are moving better, standing taller, looking better, and performing everything in life at a higher level. Appreciate this–you worked for it.

T–Turn away from temptation.

It’s around every corner. Don’t totally deprive your self of treats and cheating once in a while, but don’t make it a habit. Keep it a rarity. I love sweets, so when I want cake or a cookie, I buy one piece or one cookie and eliminate the temptation of going back for seconds. Do not buy these treats in bulk. Don’t keep them in your house.

E–Exist on a different level.

People that do not live a health-conscious lifestyle see people that do as an oddity because we use food and exercise as our path to what I consider a functional existence. You will more than likely no longer need to rely on OTC drugs to alleviate joint pain, asthma, or indigestion. Your behavior associated health risks will decrease dramatically, your waistline will get smaller, you will have more energy, and you will definitely elevate your mood. You will exist on a different level. Call me odd if you want–I’ll be at the top of the hill waiting for you.

Fit For Life: Fitness At Every Age

imagePeople have asked me numerous times about what I specialize in. I tell them that I don’t have a specialty; I just like to make everyone better. I have an age range of clients from 14 to 87, and I enjoy training all of them for different reasons.

Young and fit

Youth groups are challenging because kids have vastly different abilities. Some are natural athletes, some are built like stick figures, and some have weight issues at an early age. This is an extremely important time in the developmental process, both physically and mentally, so it needs to be handled wisely.

On a physical level, their bones and joints are still growing, so caution needs to be taken so that they don’t do permanent damage when exercising. Loading their bodies with weight needs to be progressive and incremental. I would never load a bar on a teen’s back and have them squat, for instance. It’s best to wait until the growth process is over to avoid any spinal compression issues.

Form is also crucial and needs to be perfect; otherwise, injuries can occur. It makes me cringe when I see fathers in the gym pushing their kids to lift heavier than they should, or to perform high-risk maneuvers. Their intentions are great, but their knowledge of body mechanics and movement patterns isn’t. So parents, hire a pro to help your teen. It will benefit them in the long run.

On a mental level, it is tough to deal with fragile emotions and body image issues. You don’t want teens taking things to extremes such as overtraining or over dieting, which can lead to eating disorders and other dangers. I think it is best to educate kids about nutrition with a health and performance-oriented goal rather than an aesthetic one. That way, they can focus on getting stronger and faster. The ‘looking good’ part just happens, so they are not stressing or taking drastic measures for the wrong reasons.

Bouncing back

Those in the age group of 40-65 may have a variety of things going on in their lives, whether it be their kids going to college, a divorce, career changes, discovering a medical problem, etc. I notice many people wanting to make changes to get their lives and bodies back. Because of their maturity, this crowd usually understands what they need to do, but bad habits and lifestyle are so addictive that starting a new routine can be difficult.

Once we get on track nutritionally, I find it only takes a few weeks to get someone in this age group moving properly, showing strength gains, and feeling better. It is extra-rewarding for them at this age because they feel and move like they did in their 20’s. Just by doing body weight exercises and a few simple core-strengthening moves, their posture improves, alleviating lower back and knee problems. After incorporating some strength training, people are amazed at what they can do. This is especially true for people who were once athletes because with the proper cues and techniques their muscle memory lets them bounce right back into fit form.

Unless they are training for a specific event, I discourage any exercises that are stressful on the body, such as running and jumping. Many actually love the fact that they can get fit and healthy without long, treacherous bouts of cardio exercise. At this age, any bouts of continuous movement at the same pace or moving in the same plane will cause injuries due to overuse. Best-case scenario, it will waste time and get them nowhere. This is why it is important to vary the routines and train the whole body as a system.

Never too late

My 86-year-old client is always saying, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” I tell her that it’s never too late to show improvement. Now she works out with dead lifts and squats. Yes, that’s right, squats and dead lifts for an 86-year old woman. Chair aerobics and 1 lb. weights will not help improve balance, strength, or stability for this age group. Seniors’ bodies need to move, push, pull, and lift just like the rest of us, only slower and with some modifications. This is why all the same rules apply, just with a more conservative approach.

Most of the workout should focus on balance and movement by simulating everyday moves: getting in and out of the car, putting stuff in overhead cabinets, using the facilities, getting out of bed, etc. Creating a little resistance within the exercise also helps to take them out of their comfort zone. When they can bend and touch the floor, lift something overhead, perform tasks that make them feel independent, they feel great, and we feel great knowing how much we improved someone’s life.

Strength and resistance should take up another part of the workout. You need to pay extra attention to this population as not to overdo it. Watch their facial expressions, listen to their breathing, and if they ask for a rest, let them have it immediately. Remember that everything they do is something more than what is done at home. Always follow the first rule as a trainer: “do no harm”–especially with this population.

Fitness IS ageless. It’s a constant cycle of assessment, proper technique, and adaptation. Remember what my 86-year-old client said, and look at the long life ahead of you. You’re getting fit to live long, healthy and without injury or disease. You’ll thank yourself for it in your senior years and at every stage throughout your life.

Fit For Life: Finding The Best Exercise For You

imageIf I take classes, will I get fit? Is Pilates good? How about yoga? Swimming? Can I lose weight by taking cycle classes? These are frequently asked questions in my field, and my answer is always the same–YES! Followed by a big–IF–if you perform the exercise correctly. There is no such thing as a bad exercise, but there is such thing as a badly executed exercise.

Group exercise

I do like the idea of group exercise because it fuels camaraderie among participants, and it gives incentive, and a touch of competitiveness, as well as, hopefully, a fun environment. What I don’t like about it, however, is the execution. I see a lot of people in large classes jumping around aimlessly trying to follow cues given by usually one instructor. It is impossible for one person to pay attention to more than 10 people effectively, thus overlooking a lot of bad form and technique. It is an inexpensive alternate to personal training, but could cost more in the long run if you get injured. So keep moving, just pay attention to what you are doing. If it feels wrong, or ineffective, it probably is, so skip moves you feel uncomfortable with.

Group cycling

Group cycling classes offer most of the good things about the group experience, and less chance to execute poorly, because you stay in one place, without jumping around. If cued properly by a qualified instructor, execution of good form and technique isn’t difficult. This is usually a little more intense type of exercise than most groups, focusing on core and lower body strength, as well as endurance and stamina. Although all may participate, classes usually are made up of hardcore cardio fanatics, with some beginners mixed in. You will sweat, and elevate your heart rate levels thus causing you to develop a strong heart and lungs, as well as burning lots of calories in a short time. Some women fear getting big legs, but don’t worry about that, because you won’t be using enough resistance for a long enough time for that to happen.

Pilates

Pilates is another form of exercise, more popular among women, but a good challenge for all. This can be performed in a group by way of a matt class or a on a more personal level using various pieces of spring loaded equipment. This form is good because it teaches you how to integrate breathing, while stabilizing and working the core, a very important combination to achieve strength and balance in the body. It is preformed in a smooth flowing motion, going from one motion into another, which strengthens and promotes balance and graceful movement patterns. It’s very rare to see a “regular” at this practice in bad shape.

Yoga

Yoga is an ancient form of movement that has many forms. There is bikrim, raffa, and various other forms, some more intense than others using body weight resistance, some taking place in a very hot room, and other forms where relaxation, breathing, and stretching are the protocol. This is usually done in a group setting, with an instructor walking the room to help improve form and technique. There are also all levels of yoga, so do a little research before you jump into a class, because you don’t want to waste your time doing a form you won’t like, find boring, or can’t do. Although yoga builds strength and flexibility, it also adds a spiritual component, incorporation of mind, body, and spirit to the routine, so keep an open mind when attending.

Swimming

Swimming is a fun recreational activity that burns mega amounts of calories, while utilizing every muscle in your body including the heart and lungs. The only drawbacks are that unless you are a competitive swimmer you will find doing a half hour of this in a structured session boring, and quite difficult. It’s also a little difficult to find the best place to achieve this kind of exercise. So, if you jump in and out of the water while at the beach or do a few laps in the pool, consider it more active recreation than a workout.

Strength Training

I wanted to save, in my opinion, the most important element of any fitness regimen for last. And that is strength training. Not to quote those awful commercials–but–yes, you do need to lift things up and put them down. Moving weight (not only resistance bands and cables) is the most effective way to build muscle tissue and true strength. Although I find all the other activities, above, great and beneficial, they should be done in addition to lifting weights, not instead of.

There isn’t a spin bike, yoga class, or reformer that can duplicate the benefits of the dead lift, squat, or overhead press–all primal movements that most of us need to do, if some form, at some point during their day. I stand by strength training as the foundation to any program. Don’t mistake me for one of those guys who likes to throw weights around the gym and grunts while doing it, because I am far from that. Every client I have from youth to elderly performs moves that require strength, balance and stability as well as proper form and movement patterns, adapted and customized to produce true fitness.

Fit For Life: Eat This, Not That

imageLet’s talk about the food we eat. So much in the news every day! Eat this, not that. The information is confusing, and people just don’t know what to eat, and what to buy. While not getting into breaking down macro-nutrients and counting calories, I do want to give you a basic understanding of what foods I recommend you should be eating as well as what foods you shouldn’t, and why.

Factory foods

Due to large food manufacturers spending millions of dollars marketing their products and trying to deceive the public, eating healthy has become more difficult than ever. Even when you know what to eat, it can be difficult to find the proper foods in traditional supermarkets and in restaurants. When I hear the word “factory”, the first thing I envision is a large building or complex, with pipes taking chemicals ‘in’ and tall stacks taking wastes and pollutants out. Inside are teams of people working in protective gear–very much like hazmat suits and gas masks. And, yes, it is very much like that in large food factories. Now ask yourself if you want a place like this making your food? The sad truth is that most Americans eat food that comes from this type of manufacturing setting. So this is where we can begin: STOP EATING FOOD MANUFACTURED IN A FACTORY! This includes processed foods and grains as well as animal products that have been mass-produced. Ask yourself if the animals were raised with care and pride, or were they treated like some other commodity, such as plastic or Styrofoam?

GMOs

Today, just about anything containing soy, wheat, and corn, has been produced in an outdoor manufactured way, with large cash crops being turned into GMOs (genetically modified organisms). There are too many reasons NOT to consume GMOs, for me to list, but if you Google ‘dangers of GMOs’ you will find a plethora of good, detailed information. For the purpose of overall health, our bodies do not break down, digest, and utilize these foods efficiently, therefore causing great stress and inflammation to the body. So when we eat something that doesn’t get broken down and used as energy or building blocks for muscle, it gets stored as fat.

Farms

Another thing to be wary of is the way your animal sources are produced. Larger “feedlot” farms are notorious for mistreating animals, keeping them in confined areas, and feeding them all sorts of processed, garbage foods to fatten them up quickly. When you feed animals huge amounts of processed grains they get fatter faster. Is there a relationship to humans gaining weight and being heavier than ever? Avoid eating this stuff. Look for grass fed beef, lamb, bison, free range chicken, eggs, and pork, and consume only wild caught fish. If you don’t carefully select your animal sources, you are eating all the toxins, and antibiotic drugs they consumed, magnified! Fat in their bodies as well as ours store toxins, so the more of these inferior products we consume, the more toxic matter we consume, the sicker we get. Animals that are allowed to roam, forage, and eat what they were biologically designed to eat (cows/grass, chickens/seeds and insects, etc.) provide us with more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that our bodies need to maintain a strong immune system, build muscle, burn fat, and be healthier, energetic, more vital and efficient. You will also be supporting farmers that treat their animals in a humane fashion and a much more sustainable closed organic cycle.

Organic & Local

The last important thing to consider is weather your produce was grown organically or conventionally. Some argue that the difference in nutrients is minimal, so consider other factors. Conventional growers use pesticides that can not only harm workers spraying them, (hence the gas masks they wear while using them) but also kill all the microorganisms needed to replenish the soil in a closed organic cycle. Sure, you can wash your produce and peel the skin, but what about the chemicals that are absorbed through the soil? These compounds are widely believed to cause conditions related to the central nervous system, as well as neurological disorders, infertility, ADHD and behavioral issues, etc. so you may be willing to chance it, but I recommend you begin transitioning to eating organic produce, or at least local, where you know it was picked fresh and seasonal. Conventional mega-farm growers grow in mass quantity, pick prematurely, spray with gases to slow ripening, and wait for the prices to sway in their favor–not the practice I want to support.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when being nutrition conscious, but the most important things to remember are: avoid highly processed foods, eat only humanely, sustainable raised animal products, and eat organic and local as much as possible. By doing this you will eliminate many factors that can slow your goals to achieving a healthy fit body, as well as many ailments such as inflammation and arthritis, and many sicknesses and diseases. While this all may appear daunting and difficult, don’t be discouraged. Take the challenge to learn more about the foods you eat, for both you and your families. Visit the local farmer’s markets, stop at roadside stands this summer, plant a garden, find local organic farms, buy your seafood off the docks, ask questions…yes, there will be an increase in your food budget, but the more consumers demand better foods, the more businesses will hear what we want and adapt their products. Just think about all the restaurants now that offer gluten free menus…consumers have power–so, let’s use our voice and also let our dollars speak for us as we patronize businesses who listen.

Fit For Life: 3 Steps To Losing Weight While Getting Fit

image
Want to lose weight while getting more fit? It’s all about three steps:

#1: Change Nutrition Habits
#2: Start Moving
#3: Progression on #1 and #2

Yes, these three steps are not glamorous, and not complicated, but they will take you where you want to be–which is fitter, and at an ideal weight–for you. To lose weight (and get fit), you need to start with both mental and physical toughness. Lastly, you need to set goals.

If you follow these three steps, you can expect to lose 2-3 pounds per week until you reach your ideal body weight. At that point you will look and feel so much better, it becomes effortless–and you have not only reached that weight goal, but you have established new habits–habits that you have now adopted towards a healthy way of living. I don’t believe in quick fixes, pills, packaged food, liquid diets, point system etc. I do believe in motivation, in wanting “it” badly, and in having the discipline to change for the better. Saying that, let’s start with the three steps.

Step #1: Change your nutrition habits.

For more people who are overweight, this will mean close to an overhaul of your nutrition program. First, we start by changing the quality of your foods. If you eat potato chips, we use organic corn chips. If you eat a commercial yogurt, we swap for an organic/biodynamic farm yogurt, with live cultures. We switch conventional vegetables and meats for organic. The reason we do this is that our bodies work more efficiently when we detox from elements such as cheap vegetable and canola oils, overly processed dairy, nitrates, corn syrup, soy, wheat, and other GMO fillers, as well as pesticides that cause major inflammation in the body. This step is by far more important than counting calories (which is the third progression after eliminating certain foods).

Step #2: Get moving.

Try to move more whenever you can. Take the stairs if you are only going a few flights, park further away from the door or where you are going, take a walk in your neighborhood, or during lunch time at work, etc. It is important to move to keep your system working properly to help blood flow to extremities, release endorphins, stimulate digestion, release free radicals, and improve sleep as well as burn calories and feel more energetic. This is your body’s jump-start for many of you if you have been sedentary too long. You do not have to join a gym or do anything too strenuous at this point. This is to get the body acclimated to movement. If you do too much, you could get excessively sore or injured, and that will only discourage you and give little incentive to follow through on your program. That’s why I believe in progressions. Start small, make attainable goals that you can reach, log your progress, and after a while, it will become almost automatic.

Step #3: Progression on #1 and #2

Focusing on exercise and nutrition are the only ways to lose weight and keep it off, but you will need to expand and make adjustments to your program when you reach plateaus. After a while your body adapts to the changes you are making, so we need to make progressions. Some examples of progressions for your eating plan–after you make the quality change, it’s time to eliminate more processed foods. Even though it says organic and gluten free, many of these foods are highly processed, and the less you eat the better. Make the transition to whole foods exclusively. The next thing to do when you reach a sticking point is calorie control. Everybody has different requirements and needs so you need to play with portion sizes. By this point you should have a good understanding of your body’s needs, and how it reacts to dietary changes, so make some adjustments. Progression in exercise is endless. You can move from mild to intense by adding heavier loads and training faster. Go from walking to strength training to super setting to metabolic training to sprinting, etc. This requires some common sense so you do not over do it. The best advice I can give on this one is to feel it out and listen to your body, train within your limits, but also push yourself. If still confused, hire a professional. Personal trainers can work with you on making your workout program adjust so your body doesn’t acclimate to it, and some trainers have the expertise to also work with you on your nutrition changes. Losing weight and getting fit might not be “easy”, but it is simple–1, 2, and 3.

Fit For Life: Mastering The Squat

imageThe proper squat is a fundamental, and where I often begin with new clients. Are you ready to squat, and do it right?
The squat is a primal and functional movement that I believe everyone needs to be able to do, from teens to the elderly, and it should be done pain free (although if you have verified orthopedic damage, such as what would be seen on an MRI, you should refrain).

Knees in the way?

Knee pain may be keeping you from squatting both in the gym and in your daily activities, and that aching joint might be something other than a knee problem. Other factors such as poor ankle mobility, tight hamstrings/quads, bad posture or gait, can all contribute to “bad knees.”

Beginning with a good assessment, we can figure out why there is pain or inability, and address that–with the goal of progressing to a perfect squatting position. Of course, for those with cartilage issues and other structural injury, consulting a physician is a must.

Walk away from the weight belt

Have you been coached to wear weights around your waist when squatting or lifting? Wearing a weight belt to lift is like using a wheel chair when you don’t need it. If your lower back can’t handle the load you are lifting, you need to step back and reassess your workout. Think about this: if you never use your legs, how strong are they going to be? The same goes for the lower back. The only way to eliminate weakness is to make it stronger.

Core workouts are crucial here. I always balance abdominal work with lower back work, and train my clients to stabilize with the core when lifting heavy, not using a weight belt. When you stabilize you need to activate by breathing in and drawing your belly in, a weight belt makes you push out thus negating any activation in the abdominal wall, making it impossible for your core to get any stronger, so anytime you lift anything you pose the risk of injury. Not practical in my book.

The seated workout?

While we are on the subject of destabilization, I want to talk about how some people use single axis machines in the gym, supposedly for safety purposes. One of the main reasons my clients never use a seated single axis machine, is because you need to sit to use them. We wake up from a lying position, then sit to eat, use the bathroom, drive to work, at work, drive home, eat, and to watch television, or spend time on the computer. In my opinion that is too much sitting already, so you won’t sit to exercise with me. Besides, when do you really do anything strenuous, or exert yourself while seated? Never. So why train to be strong seated? When you lift something standing, your body lifts systemically. Your hips and legs act as a shock absorber to protect your spine from impact – not possible from a seated position. Your core and stabilizer muscles need to “turn on” to assist with the lift, allowing you to use a large network of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, however when seated, your core and stabilizers become sedated and inactive, only allowing you to use specific muscles to perform a lift. This leads to muscle imbalances and potential injury. So, get up and work out.

Fit For Life: Good Eating + Exercise Is Powerful Medicine

imageHealthy eating and exercise is powerful medicine.

When you treat obesity like a disease, so the burden on the healthcare system will be even more, it does little to fix this problem at the roots. I get this odd mental picture of someone standing under a bridge with a life preserver, instead of installing a curb and a guardrail before there is a crisis. We do need to address the root cause of the obesity problem, and it starts with awareness, education, and prevention. Once someone is obese, and their blood sugars are abnormally high, their respiratory systems are not functioning properly, and every movement is a struggle. One’s will power, discipline, desire, and sense of self worth diminishes, making it more difficult to stick with any health program.

Preventing weight gain from getting to this point should be our goal, particularly as we age.

Avoid getting to this point by becoming personally empowered with accurate information about how to eat and exercise. Of course, the government can play an important role in this regard. Helping with our product labeling, paying more attention to nutrition and exercise in the schools, and providing incentives to employers to promote health and wellness in the workplace are just a few action items that are beginning to happen and can increase. Helping the organic/biodynamic farmers so healthy eating becomes affordable and accessible to everyone, not just the few, is another top down program that will help, instead of giving subsidies, and tax breaks to large industrial farms and food manufacturers, who are partly responsible for our crisis to begin with.

The role of inflammation

Another big problem people face, one that can cause a chain reaction of effects on the human body, is inflammation. What are the causes of inflammation in the body? Some are food allergies, poor diet with lots of processed food, wheat and dairy, unbalanced hormones, chemical exposure, etc. Most cases of dietary caused inflammation can be alleviated by cutting down on wheat and dairy in our diet and doing some basic movement. How could changing our diets dramatically impact inflammation? Our foods have been denatured by processing to the point where the body treats them like foreign invaders, instead of useable nutrients, and the digestive tract goes into a fight or flight response, just like your immune system fighting a disease. Hence, fever and inflammation. Notice when you eat Chinese food you can’t get your ring off and your watch is tight? Or your feet swell in your shoes and your ankles look puffy? That’s inflammation. And it’s another place we can start to put our own good sense into our diet and reduce the damage being caused to our body every time the inflammation process sets up.

Learn what you can do, and take back your power.

Really learn what you can do about being overweight, or being too sedentary, or how to quit smoking, or drink less. Make a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle, and when you have success at them, make some more. Do what you can to dedicate yourself to health and wellness, prevention, and a natural lifestyle. I don’t believe that you can cure every condition and illness with nutrition and exercise, but I believe you can prevent many of our chronic diseases from setting up in the body this way, I truly do. If you adopt a healthy program before health issues start or before weight gain gets out of hand, you can go a long way to staying out of the medical system. Just think if we could catch a weight problem before it became obesity, before it became arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

We do have more power against disease than we think–we have our own knowledge, people, and resources to help us. In addition to obesity and all the complications it can cause, we can impact allergies, sexual dysfunction, asthma, depression, back and orthopedic problems, and the list goes on and on. We do know the prevention and lifestyle steps we can. We can go for a walk, start a regular exercise program, eat some green leafy vegetables like kale, and turmeric, whole eggs, cinnamon, etc., and so much more.

Take a step back.

To go forward, we can benefit by taking a step back. Learn how we were meant to eat, and how we were meant to move, to sleep, to rest, and rededicate ourselves to that. Not only for us as individuals, but for our children and our families so we can go forward healthier than we have been, smarter than the food companies, educated consumers, and more in control of own health costs and destiny.

Fit For Life: 5 Questions to Ask a Personal Trainer

imageWhile personal trainers used to be a luxury, we seem now to be everywhere! There are more than a quarter million personal trainers working in the US, and the field is expected to grow 25% by 2020. This means not only big numbers but also lots of variety: some train in Pilates, yoga, spinning, aerobic exercises such as Zumba, and dance aerobics. Most instructors teach in a class format with 20 or more people being put through the same movements. Then there are the personal trainers who are dedicated to your individual fitness goals. We’re seeing, as healthcare reforms come our way, an increasing personal need to be healthier, as well as corporate incentives and increasing employer concerns about the health of the employees who work for them, and those they want to hire.
As we see this career category mushroom, we also know that there are all kinds of certifications and training, and little regulation of the qualifications of those who put out a ‘personal trainer’ shingle. If you are interested in working with a personal trainer, I suggest you set up a time to interview them–most will give you a complimentary workout or assessment session. This is the time you can ask some questions and see the chemistry that happens between you and the trainer. Will this be a workable relationship? Do you feel comfortable and have a feeling of trust? Here are some other things you may want to ask before you select your personal trainer:

1. What kind of training do you have? Are you certified?

A good trainer should be continually seeking training, be networking with others in his/her field. You want to ask what that training is–what type of certifications does the trainer have? You might even ask when the last new class was that he/she attended. Moreover, does the trainer have a trainer, too? Many of the best trainers work with others in the field that we can learn from and will push us to our next levels. Ask them what kinds of clients they have. I work with teenagers with weight and body image issues, athletes trying to improve at their sport, the average healthy person, those with injuries to work around; and even the elderly who want to avoid falls and keep their independence. Do you see yourself in the mix of clients your trainer works with? And, lastly, ask about nutrition and if they work with clients on food intake and planning.

2. Do I have to join a gym?

Exercise & equipment changes over time–basics are still what work the best. There’s no magic bullet to get fit–no new piece of fancy or funky equipment. I find that simplicity works best, and sure, while it’s great to have high tech equipment to help with some of the move patterns, it doesn’t have to be complicated. I work with primal move patterns. So if you can afford a full gym membership, great, but it’s not absolutely necessary–and it’s not an excuse. Trainers should be able to work around this. Many of us rent space in smaller studios and gyms; we can do a workout outdoors, in your basement or garage, in a large room, and at a company site with small groups. Equipment is also something you want to ask about. Does your trainer have exercise balls, resistance bands, that sort of thing, to help you get started, if you aren’t joining a gym?

3. How important is it to have a one on one experience with a personal trainer? Can’t I just go to a group class?

I teach group classes, such as spinning, but before you get started on an aggressive plan to be fit, you need that one-on-one time with someone trained and someone who is focusing just on you, and your uniqueness. Again, the quality of the trainer is important. Some trainers do high-risk moves, but I don’t believe in doing those. You shouldn’t start lifting weight with a weak core. That’s like firing a cannon in a canoe. Once you find someone trained who knows the mechanics of the body, understands good technique, and good form, I recommend a conservative approach. First–do no harm, is my motto. The importance of the one-on-one training is that you will not get a standardized program–do 3 of these and 4 of those and a sheet to mark it off as you go around the gym–but an individual plan, formed after a personal assessment taking into consideration any unique issues such as mobility difficulties, injuries, age, etc.–and your personal goals–fitness, weight loss, etc.

4. Is my trainer asking me about what I eat?

The first thing I recommend is to clean up your diet. I always say ‘you can’t out exercise a bad diet’–so, to do that, you need to know what you are eating. Keeping a four-day log of your food can really be eye opening. Trainers should be talking to you about what you are eating, your alcohol intake, and your water intake. What types of food are you eating? Is it a fast food rich diet? Are you eating a lot of preservatives and foods that are not natural? Again, the best nutrition plan is a simple one. Without looking at this you don’t know what fuel you are putting in your body–is it empty calories? Non-nutritional calories? Does your trainer know about nutrition and incorporate that into your sessions? Will your trainer help you by going to the supermarket with you–helping even to clear out your kitchen cabinets? Fitness doesn’t begin and end in the gym. If you have better nutrition, you will feel better, and be better motivated for exercise, too.

5. Is this going to take forever?

No, it shouldn’t take forever. However, lifelong fitness is a way of life. For goals such as weight loss, for instance, I always say–it will take you just 24 hours. 24 hours? Yes, but that is 2 hours a week for 12 weeks–I’ll have you losing 2-3 lbs. a week, safely, and if you need to lose more we’ll just continue until you come to your best weight. Same goes for strength training, or increasing flexibility. In 12 weeks, I’ll have you moving better, with improved posture, and you’ll build and improve muscle mass. So, no, your goal shouldn’t take forever–but lifelong fitness is a forever thing that after awhile becomes just a regular part of your day. I also talk about my “3-hour goal” program. Every 3 hours, throughout your day, do something healthy for you. Have a glass of water, take a short walk, look up a healthy recipe for dinner, check out a gym membership, have a healthy snack, park your car the furthest from your appointment and walk. Little things you can do throughout the day. And don’t forget to step away from the things that stress you in life. Lastly, and very importantly, get some rest.

A last word: discipline. That’s what all good trainers want in their clients. We want you to be successful–after all, your success is ours, too. We can give you the roadmap, but we can only do so much. We ask you to bring the discipline. With that, your goals are attainable and the partnership between you and your personal trainer will be a win-win relationship.

Fit For Life: Why Rest Will Make You More Fit

imageAll this talk about doing, now I want to stress the importance of UNdoing. While I believe that every time you work out you need to bring it on hard, and train like a warrior, preparing to fight gladiators; but on the flip side, your body must be able to withstand the punishment, and only two things insure that: rest and nutrition (hydration falls in the category of nutrition).

It is impossible to train with 100% intensity if you are injured, sore, unmotivated, or fatigued. Over training elevates cortisol, that sympathetic fight or flight hormone, and elevated cortisol over long bouts of time, causes your body to enter defense mode making it tougher to burn fat, and it slows down healing, impairs digestion, metabolism and mental function. So you work yourself hard, without attention to rest and recovery, you can end up with a negative result–not a good result, for all your blood, sweat, and tears.

Other problems associated with over training include recurrent injuries like tendinitis, stress fractures, adrenal fatigue, and chronic fatigue, amenorrhea, or absence of menstrual periods in women, constant muscle & joint soreness, regression (not making any gains in the gym or on the field), exhaustion, illness caused by a weakened immune system, and irritability.

Take a day off from strenuous physical activity every three workouts, or as necessary. I know there are lots of workout fanatics out there who will say you don’t need to do this, that only working out constantly will get results; but we also need to exercise some common sense, and pay attention to our bodies. Just like when you feel hunger pangs, you eat, so when you feel overly exhausted and sore, rest. This is perhaps what makes me different from an average personal trainer, because it’s where my holistic training comes into play. My advice–train hard and rest easy. As with many things in life, it’s all about balance.

You want to do something that makes you feel good, and relax. If you say intense exercise relaxes you, you are not doing it right. No, doing yoga, correctly, isn’t a “break”. Some yoga classes are as tough as any other workout.

So, as I’ve given advice on exercise–here are my suggestions on rest and rejuvenation:

Take a meditative walk, leave your phone and music behind.

Get in touch with yourself and nature, by paying attention to your posture, foot strike, breathing fresh air, and core stability.

Massage.

Increases circulation which speeds muscle repair, and regeneration, increases disease fighting white blood cells/decreases cortisol, and heals the body. And, it feels great.

Sleep eight hours.

This is tough for some, but you need to make the effort. The benefits of sleep are enormous, including mood elevation and mental alertness. Many of our bodies’ major restorative functions like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep. Sleep also lowers adenosine levels in your system. Adenosine levels are thought to lead our perception of being tired. Sleep improves memory, is said to help us live longer, curbs inflammation, spurs creativity, improves performance, sharpens attention, lowers stress, and lowers depression.

Spa day.

Whatever you can afford to do… do it!

Lay in the grass/hammock and take a nap.

Sit around the house.

Veg (literally) out, watch a movie or TV–it’s ok.

R-elax
E-njoy yourself
S-leep
T-rain harder

Although I’m not an advocate of pharmaceuticals, look at exercise like medication, too much is an overdose, too little is not effective, you need to find the proper dose–and balance between exercise and rest–for maximum success.

Fit For Life: 6 Ways You Might Be Overdoing It

imageMy biggest philosophy and approach is to keep it simple. There is so much confusion in the fitness industry, and so many good–and bad–pieces of advice and theories. Here are some quotes I hear from people on a regular basis, and my responses to them. With proper training technique and guidance based on research, education, and a whole lot of common sense, you can have a workout program that is holistic for your body, healthy for you, and will accomplish your long-term goals. It will become a way of life, not a dreaded “have to” that you begin finding ways to avoid, and not a compulsion that you “must do” and overdo.

“I do hundreds of crunches every day.”

Rarely do I have clients do crunches because when you flex and bend something repeatedly on the same plane, it will get weaker and eventually break. It’s not good for the spine or the posterior spinal stabilizers. It also creates an imbalance by making the rectus abdominal stronger than the spinal stabilizers. And thinking “simply” again, how functional is it to move repeatedly within such a short range of motion?

“I’m going on a no-carb diet.”

I don’t subscribe to this method for weight loss or general health. Based on research that your brain and muscles function on glycogen, I feel that eliminating all carbohydrates puts you at a disadvantage for endurance and muscle recovery. This is especially true after a workout and when your glucose levels are low. I do, however, believe in limiting your carbs to quality sources, such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and legumes. These carbs are fibrous carbs, and are much lower on the glycemic index than processed grains.

“I need to lose weight before I start lifting.”

Doing that would actually slow down the process of weight loss. Here’s why: strength training speeds your metabolism. While lifting weights you burn calories by contracting your muscles. Lean muscle tissue burns more calories at rest. Thus by lifting weights you are burning calories while performing the activity which leads to muscle mass which leads to a faster metabolism.

“I had an egg white omelet.”

But you threw away the part of the egg with the most nutrients. An organic, free-range egg is loaded with beneficial fats and proteins and other healthy compounds such as Vitamin D and numerous amino acids. The whole egg is also considered an anti-inflammation food. The white by itself contains about 3 grams of protein and the yolk has 4 grams of protein. So you are throwing away more than half the nutritional value for the money you spend on good quality eggs. Eat the yolks–you won’t get fat–and they taste great.

“I had a great workout, got sick, and can’t walk today.”

I was talking to someone the other day and this is what he said to me–really? This is not an indication of a great workout. Going to the gym, running, cycling or whatever activities you do, you are doing to promote health and fitness. Throwing up after a workout doesn’t seem healthy to me. Tearing your body down to the point where you can’t walk the next day or are in severe pain isn’t the right fit for life approach, either. I train myself and my clients hard but not to the point of being incapacitated for two days or vomiting. I want you to feel mobile and invigorated after a workout. You will sweat, shake, and be out of breath, but never in debilitating pain or sick.

“I work out and I do cardio every day.”

To all you workout folks that are having trouble attaining your goals, just step back and reassess your situation. It doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need to work out and do cardio every day. You don’t even need to join a gym. And let’s talk about rest–real rest–rest that rejuvenates the body–rest your body cannot do its best work without–stay tuned for my column next week on rest–and, as always, if you have a question for me, leave it on my Facebook page or comment here, below.

Fit For Life: How To Make That Run Less Painful

runners_360_303Runners claim there is no better feeling than the runners’ high. However, when you look at the expression on someone’s face that is running, 90% of the time I see pain, agony, and misery, along with poor form and posture. I study movement patterns all day long by people watching and I notice symptoms such as knock knees, forward head tilt, excessive ankle pronation/supination, etc.

The most problematic issue with today’s runners is excessive heel strike. This is due to the excessive padding and elevated cushion heel in today’s high-tech running shoes. By wearing this type of shoe, you inhibit proprioception (your body’s sense of its own position, balance and movement). Seventy percent of that feedback comes from pressure receptors, mostly located in the feet, resulting in reduced sensory feedback, and therefore limits the quality of movement and core stability. Due to this and poor posture, 80% of runners suffers injury every year when they practice poor form. On a repetitive basis, you compound dysfunction and probability of injury.

So my question is, why do it when it hurts, and most are not very good at it? And to top it off, the people that are actually good at it with ease of stride and perfect form look thin and frail. Long steady bouts of this type of exercise actually downsizes your heart capacity making it economize its power so you can go longer. You never push your heart to utilize its reserve capacity, therefore never making it stronger only more efficient. I suggest running sprints or doing high intensity interval training. It’s more fun, less chance for injury, and you will get in better shape. Look at a sprinter’s body if you don’t believe me. They are aesthetically much more appealing than most marathoners. I am not telling people that love to run to stop, just follow my philosophy: if it hurts, stop doing it.

Five Questions With: Matt Espeut

By Richard Asinof
Contributing Writer

photo-274

The business of being healthy has moved from the gym to the workplace. Having a productive and healthy workforce often translates into improvements in the company’s bottom line, in reduced health care costs and in a happier workforce.

Providence Business News asked Matt Espeut, the owner of Fitness Profiles, a personal trainer and nutritional consultant, to share his recommendations for workplace wellness, personal fitness and better nutrition.

 

PBN:

What are the components you recommend for a successful workplace wellness campaign?

ESPEUT:

For wellness campaigns to be successful in the workplace, the commitment and participation from company leadership goes a long way to long-term acceptance by employees.

Leading by example is key – from the top down. Make the workplace a healthy environment – this includes healthy choices in vending machines, use of a workout room either during work hours, or after the workday is completed.

Companies can offer to pay part of employees’ fitness programs, or offer incentives for accomplishments – a cash incentive, a parking place, gift certificates for local businesses, and don’t forget that important recognition before fellow employees.

Wellness campaigns help employees jump start their own fitness and health programs – and they also help employers have strong, cohesive, and happy teams of employees. Make it fun! You’ll reap the rewards.

 

PBN:

What are the techniques you recommend to maintain a balance in the design of an exercise or strengthening regiment?

ESPEUT:

I first seek to do no harm – which means assessing the individual to help with injury prevention and movement skills.

For employees doing repetitive motion work or physical labor, my exercise regime builds on the movements people are making in their day-to-day work: how to strengthen the lower back, how to bend, and how to stretch and reach.

Then I incorporate dynamic stretching and progress into body weight resistance exercises.

The last step is strength and metabolic training. I’m not a big proponent of intense cardio – you can jump on an elliptical machine or a treadmill and work up a sweat – and you still haven’t done anything to be more fit.

The best cardio is done like sprints – intervals of short bursts or cardio as part of your full workout.

 

PBN:

How important is nutrition as part of wellness? How does a change in diet fit in with personal health?

ESPEUT:

You can’t exercise out a bad diet. Eighty percent of any wellness program is the food you eat. People need education to get back to basics. You need to be aware of what has happened to our food supply, and why low-fat foods aren’t good for you – and why sugar is more important to be concerned about than natural fats.

People need to eat whole foods, natural foods, not necessarily organic, but that’s a good guide for someone who doesn’t know how to choose. I like to tell people – if the food you are eating would not have been found on your grandparents’ plates, then don’t eat it.

 

PBN:

Team exercise programs, such as Shape Up RI, have enjoyed an initial success. Do you think that these programs will have staying power in the workplace?

ESPEUT:

Shape Up’s concept of building team competition and working together as a team is a positive use of peer pressure and peer support.

Creating contests and team-building exercises, and having fun together can go a long way to creating the motivational mindset for success in a wellness program and in behavioral modification – i.e., stopping smoking, eating better, exercising, etc.

Shape Up and employee-based programs have shown us what is possible – now we need to dig deeper, as employers should be more highly motivated in helping their employees have optimal health.

 

PBN:

How important is it to be comfortable with your own body image?

ESPEUT:

Let me reframe the question. It’s important to feel comfortable with how we feel and how healthy we are; it’s not just being comfortable with how we look.

Eating disorders are a big concern among some of our young people, which is a psychological issue.

I find it interesting that the rates of obesity have skyrocketed right along with the rates of serious eating disorders. I know that once my clients are feeling good about the way they look, that good body image helps with maintaining their program – looking good – and feeling good, too.

Matt Espeut’s Fit For Life: Fit at Forty

mattespeutsmile_180_225Throughout my 30s all I heard from my non-fitness friends was, “Wait until you turn 40! It’s all downhill from here.” But I had friends in their 40s who were running marathons, competing in body building competitions, and challenging me at mountain biking. Well, here I am, now – at the age of 44. I’m fitter, faster, more mobile, and the healthiest I’ve ever been. Maybe not as strong as I was, but I am a lot lighter, too.
Why is this? For one, I have another 10 years of knowledge, experience and muscle maturity. I also have better eating habits.

The 20s

Let’s look at the 20s—that usually youth-driven, full-of-adrenaline person. If they are training, more often than not, it’s for reasons other than being healthy and fit. I was a bouncer in a nightclub, so I wanted to look big and intimidating, so I packed in pasta and pancakes and trained with reckless abandon, including lifting heavy weights.

The 30s

Those in their 30s are outwardly focused—concerned with family and career, often working ridiculous hours, eating lots of less than optimal food, including fast food, getting minimal rest, and chasing the American dream. It can be a time when you are putting your own health low on the priority scale. Missing workouts more than making them, if even working out at all.

The 40s

So, then you hit your 40s. You probably are looking at 10 years or more of your kids’ leftovers—the mac & cheese, those chicken fingers… you’re looking at them right around your mid-section. Add to that a couple of drinks a day hitting your liver, experiencing lower libido, and adrenal fatigue in your blood. Your kids are in school, and are getting more self-sufficient. So, you look at your life and make the decision to get your fit life back—now—or to start, for the very first time. I promise it’s not too late to be 40, fit and in fantastic shape.

Start with these tips:

Eat better. Avoid man-made processed foods. Make the effort to prepare your meals for the day. Eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks to ensure your metabolism keeps burning all day.

Move more. Anything helps—stretching, walking. Strength training with proper technique builds muscle and helps fight flab.

Relax more. Your body REQUIRES it for repair and rejuvenation. Get massages, 8 hours of sleep, etc.

Although not necessary, it might help to have a trainer in some capacity who can keep you on target and moving forward.

It’s your time—now! You’ll reap the rewards long into the years ahead, reducing disease risk, preventing injuries, and looking great, too. Approach the years ahead in your best shape ever.

Matt Espeut’s Fit For Life: Great Abs Now

abs_360_288I heard one of my mentors give this great analogy: if you lift weights or strength train with a weak core, it’s like firing a cannon from a canoe. Think about it! Or, I say, it’s like building a fortress on sandbags.

I see it daily: Guys in the gym killing themselves for an hour, then get on some “ab” machine, or do a few minutes of crunches and then go home. Sure, they can look great, from a distance. But when you look closer you notice the forward head tilt, the weight belts, the rounded shoulders, etc. These guys are guaranteed to acquire back pain due to the lack of core strength and stability.

If you are a golfer or waiter with lower back pain, it’s usually due to instability of the core.

Having a strong core requires two things:

  • Proper nutrition
  • Proper training technique

When your mid-section is properly conditioned, you not only look better—you stand taller, lift heavier weights (if that is part of your goal), and perform your daily activities better and with less injury. All core routines should consist of abdominal and lower back training using movements in a multi plainer range of motion.

Again, set your goals—and regardless of what they are—bulking up, having less injuries and strain, looking great, or being in your best condition, remember, it’s all about THE CORE – regardless of what else you do.

Matt Espeut’s Fit For Life: Get Michelle Obama Arms

photo-272Vanity can motivate… but health should be your dedication.
In April, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons released its cosmetic and reconstructive surgery statistics. $11 billion was spent in the US last year on cosmetic procedures alone. But here’s the shocker – 15,457 patients (98% women) had liposuction on their arms. An upper arm-lift starts with an incision from the armpit to the elbow. Twelve years ago, only 300 women in the entire country opted for this – that’s a 4,378% increase. Poll data shows we are paying close attention to the arms of entertainers, newscasters, and yes, our icon of health and fitness – First Lady Michelle Obama.

Our genes leave us with different areas for excess fat to accumulate, and for some women, that is the upper arm. But choosing surgery and a visible scar over doing your very best in the gym and with good nutrition, is just crazy. Any woman – any person – can tone and firm to acceptable, and admirable levels.

A call to arms

So, this week – with the help of my friend, Torey van Ahnen, I’m offering you a plan just for your arms. Note that Torey is not “ripped” or “bulked up” – something women are often fearful of. She has a long lean arm – and it matches the rest of her body, which is healthy and firm.

photo-273Put vanity to work for you – is it that sleeveless dress? But dedicate yourself to health as a goal. And remember, a great looking body doesn’t come with exercise alone – you can’t be working out in a gym, and then driving through a fast food restaurant – good nutrition is essential.
Your arm has Triceps, a three headed muscle that covers the posterior 3/5 of your upper arm, primarily used for pushing moves; and Biceps, a double headed muscle that covers the anterior 2/5 of your upper arm, primarily used for pulling movements. Both act as either an agonist or antagonist during elbow flexion and extension. This means that one is moving while the other is stabilizing.

There are 3 good exercises for triceps – the cable push down, the lying press or skull crusher, and dumbbell kickbacks. These are my go to exercises because they stress the triceps in different planes of motion.

For biceps, since the elbow bends only one way I generally pick these exercises. I vary curl patterns with either dumbbells, a fixed bar or cable curls. Perform three working sets for each exercise. Use weight heavy enough to do 8-15 reps per arm, but not too much that you can’t perform 8 clean perfect reps. Do not over train arms because they are used in just about every other upper body exercise.

Matt Espeut’s Fit For Life: Are You Skinny-Fat?

If you are a woman, size 4, and your arms and legs jiggle, because your skin is hanging off the bone, you may be Skinny-Fat.

Here are some reasons why this might be the case.

  • You’re doing too much cardio
  • You’re not getting enough rest
  • You’re not doing enough strength training
  • You’re depriving yourself/cutting calories

All exercise programs revolve around functional, primal movement patterns that build strength, balance, and stamina. You want to work the body using multi-directional movements, using bodyweight/resistance and metabolic training methods to promote complete function and posture alignment.

I believe in training that is done sensibly, rigorously and efficiently. I don’t believe in what is known as “beat downs,” and there isn’t intimidation and screaming happening among the best personal trainers and in the quality programs. But I will make sure you don’t do an exercise without proper form, because it’s wasteful, doesn’t accomplish anything, and you can be hurt.

A simplified solution

  • Lay off the cardio and let your body heal. Stop wasting valuable nutrients– your body needs to gain muscle.
  • Strength training and building muscle will make you toned, fit, and more appealing.
  • Eat the proper amount of nutrients. You cannot build muscle without the proper raw materials.
  • Rest. Your body cannot utilize nutrients and repair damaged cells without sleep.
  • Drink quality water and hydrate your body.

Women often fear the bulk buildup and want a feminine look.  Building lean, long muscles is the goal for the average woman who wants to make sure her figure is fit and firm, never flabby.

Your workout should bring out your best, leave you feeling better when you leave, and anxious to return.

Next week we will talk about getting those Michelle Obama arms! It’s spring, and summer is right around the corner. The latest fashions are all about sleeveless–and we’ll get you fit and toned in no time!

If you have a question about personal training or a particular fitness concern, write matt@fitnessprofiles.net. I will answer each one personally, and post them on my Facebook page, too! Fitness starts with good communication with your trainer, so let’s talk!

Matt Espeut’s Fit For Life: Are You Fit or Foolish?

photo-271Do you log hours and hours of cardio per week?

Are you eating nonfat processed foods?

Are you sore for days after exercising?

Do you train to total exhaustion?

Are you starving yourself?

Wasting money on gimmicks?

This is most people’s interpretation of fitness. If you are doing these things and not making any gains or feeling worse, sore or relying on painkillers and anti-inflammatories to make it through the day, it’s time to change.

The answer is as simple as eating quality whole foods and doing the proper amount of exercise. Fact: You cannot out exercise a bad diet. Eating processed foods whether they are low fat or not will actually make you fatter because most of these foods are higher on the glycemic index causing a rapid fluctuation in blood sugar, thus making your body store fat, rather than burn fat.

Strength training is the key to any fitness regime. When you build muscle you burn more calories – period.

First, decide on your personal goals – Lose weight? Improve at golf? Play with your children/grandchidren? Look better at the beach? Second, Give yourself enough time to achieve goals. Third, seek advice from a qualified professional.

Fitness: It’s a noun! The condition of being physically fit and healthy. The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular task or role.

Matt Espeut’s Interview on WARL

Listen to the interview

Contact Get in Touch

  • Service Area: Providence, RI
  • Phone: 401 301-6354
  • Email: Matt@FitnessProfiles.net