I 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.
RESULTS FOR EVERY AGE
With 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.
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!
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.
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!
Recently, 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?
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.
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.
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….
It 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
People 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.
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.
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.
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.
If 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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
Let’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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Want to lose weight while getting more fit? It’s all about three steps:
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.
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).
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.
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.
The 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).
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.
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.
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.
Healthy 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.
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.
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.
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.
While 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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
All 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:
Get in touch with yourself and nature, by paying attention to your posture, foot strike, breathing fresh air, and core stability.
Increases circulation which speeds muscle repair, and regeneration, increases disease fighting white blood cells/decreases cortisol, and heals the body. And, it feels great.
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.
Whatever you can afford to do… do it!
Veg (literally) out, watch a movie or TV–it’s ok.
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.
My 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Runners 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Throughout 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
Vanity 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.
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.
Put 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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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!
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.