Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why Isn't My Weight Loss Routine Working??

photo courtesy of lusi

During initial fitness consultations, the most requested goal is that of losing weight. There are very few people that walk through the door that want otherwise. Personal training for over 8 years, I’ve seen many who start off pretty good; they come to the gym on a consistent basis, they watch what they eat, they work hard, but then everything comes to a halt. What goes wrong? Is it the eating? Is it missing that one day at the gym, that turns into weeks and months missed? There are a number of reasons why, but today I will point out a few common reasons. Hopefully they will help you in your weight loss quest.

Reason 1--Skipping meals/Starving in order to lose weight

Life today is on the fast track. We eat on the run, we skip breakfast, and usually have a heavy dinner. This leads to a slower metabolism. It is very important to never skip breakfast. Literally, it is the most important meal of the day. Think of eating breakfast as BREAKING THE FAST.

Along with eating breakfast, you should add 4-5 more small meals per day, every 2 1/2-3 hours. Feeding your body constantly ensures an increase in metabolism over time and it helps the body to digest the food better. One key point to remember—skipping meals causes your body to flip on the survival mode, which means that it will store fat because it does not know when the next meal will come.

Reason 2--Overtraining

Our bodies are like fine machines that need caring. Going to the gym on a daily basis, continuously lifting weights, with no days of rest in between, can hinder your weight loss progress. Signs of overtraining include fatigue, insomnia, regular soreness, and injuries. Allowing your body to rest and recover is a vital part of achieving at any fitness routine.

Reason--3 Lack of Sleep

The recommended 6-8 hours of sleep is nothing new; we’ve all heard it before. Not only does that apply to non-exercisers, but it applies to those who exercise too. More importantly, those who exercise with the goal of losing weight should really try to get those hours in. Sleeping under 6 hours causes the levels of leptin to lower, which is a protein hormone that helps suppress your appetite. In turn, the ghrelin level is increased; a hormone that stimulates hunger.

So, to sum it up, your body needs at least 6 hours of sleep per night. Otherwise, your appetite will increase, counterattacking your goal of weight loss.

Reason 4--Lack of Water Intake

It may be hard to believe, but good old H2O lowers the amount of fat stored in the body. If you neglect your water intake, your kidneys start to chill out and get lazy; they end up giving their work to your liver, which is responsible for helping the body burn stored fat for energy. That means, if the liver is doing 2 jobs, it does neither 100%; its fat burning potential is decreased causing your body to store more fat.

**DRINK 8+ glasses of H2O per day!!!

Reason 5--Same Routine Syndrome

Anything that is repetitive gets boring after awhile. When it comes to exercise, I can tell you, doing the same thing WILL GET BORING. Plus, your body and muscles will adapt to the routine, hindering progress.

There are a few ways to change your routine; add different exercises for various body parts, increase the weight, the number of reps and/or sets, or increase/decrease the number of cardio days/weight training days.


As I said early on, there are many reasons why one’s weight loss program doesn’t work; I’ve only touched on a few, but I hope these tips help you in your journey to weight loss. Feel free to leave your comments, concerns, and questions in the comment area.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring is Here: Tips For Sticking To Your Workout

Ok everyone, spring is here and now it’s time to get back into your exercise routine. I know, it’s sunny and the breezy days have you longing to chill out on the patio of your favorite restaurant, while sipping something nice and cold, but you gotta get that workout in first. Here is a list of suggestions to help you stick to your routine:

1. Keep Track
-It always helps to have a visual reminder that you are staying on track. Grab your planner, print a calendar off the computer, or go to Staples or Office Depot and buy a dry eraser calendar, “X” off the days you exercise. If you see a week without “X’s”, you have some making up to do.

2. Recruit
-Why not recruit a friend who has similar fitness goals as you? Ask a friend or family member to join you in your efforts to get/stay in shape; someone who is organized and stays on track, which, in turn, will help both of you stick to your routine.

3. Commit to a Time
-Whether you get in an hour earlier, dash out on you lunch break, or go to the gym after work, making a time commitment is crucial to staying on task.

4. Always Have a Backup
-We all have days where going to the gym is the farthest thing from what we want to do. On those days, commit to working out at home. Pull out an aerobics video or jump rope and do a cardio workout; drop down and do pushups and crunches; add in squats and lunges too. Also, make a point to purchase a mat, a few sets of dumbbells and an exercise ball in order to get a workout in without going to the gym.

5. Fee Per Session
-If you have the extra resources, hire a personal fitness trainer. Some people are better at sticking to appointments, so knowing that someone is waiting for them and that they are on a time schedule, they will be more apt to go. Also, no one wants to waste money, and most personal trainers will charge clients for last minute cancellations.

6. Switch & Swap
-Routines get stale, which is one reason people lose interest. So, make sure to swap routines from time to time. If you belong to a gym, switch the weights for a swim; try some of the classes they offer. Instead of using the treadmill every visit, try an elliptical or a stairclimber. If you’re a jogger, try bike riding or roller blading. Changing up your routine will always keep you interested.

7. Pump Up the Volume
-If there is one thing that will help with motivation during a workout or even preparing for a workout, it’s music. Keeping a fresh playlist in your Ipod or a freshly made Cd in your Cd player will help you stay motivated and help keep your mind off the time.

8. How About a Treat?
-No one says you can’t reward yourself. After a grueling week of working a 9-5, in addition to making it to the gym for your routine workouts, be sure to treat yourself for a job well done; perhaps a pedicure, a night out on the town, or a meal at your favorite restaurant.

I hope these suggestions help you. If there are any you’d like to add or suggest, let us know at the Trainer's Corner.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Rest For the Weary

Insomnia is a serious problem that so many of us over look. For more than 10 years I've worked for a couple of closed head injury rehabilitation centers. Most off my clients lived in the center because of a TBI they received in a car accident. Alot accidents were caused because of a someone driving under the influence but a few of my clients fell asleep at the wheel. One client admitted to having over 5 accidents before the big one that left him paralyzed. Now this very independent and ambitious man needed to be fed, clothed and diapered by a staff of workers. This did not seem to slow him down. Although he had very limited use of his hand and arms he  become an advocate for the disabled. Yes he was an incredibly inspiring man; still that doesn't erase the numerous and daily challeneges he faced just to fuction physically and emotionally. He was upbeat for the most part but this was not the life he choose for himself, but his choices in life lead him to this life and he found that difficult to forgive. He'd gotten into an accident that totaled his beloved sports car but walked away without a scratch. His family pleaded for him to slow down, to stop working 80 hour a week but he thought he was invincible and had to learn the hard way. A week later he was in a hospital bed fighting for his life.

When he told me that story I was humbled. At the time I was working two full time jobs with a daily 3 hour commute. On top of that I've struggled with insomnia since I was a teenager so even when I was at home there was no guarantee that I would be able to fall asleep. If that wasn't enough I've had numerous roommates throughout the years; working midnights and having 3-4 roommates made it difficult to maintain and environment conducive to sleeping during the day. In a weird way my insomnia paid off, my body never wanted to sleep and so it was easy to push myself. For almost 15 years I slept on average 10-15 hours a week. It was great: I could work a lot of over time, workout 2 or more hours a day, socialize with friends when I wasn't working and take as many credits in school as possible. My life seemed balanced and full of fun… at least for a while.

Then my grades started to suffer. Work become more demanding and I had less time to study and go to the library as I entered into my junior year in college. Later that year I was academically dismissed and I lost my eligibility to financial aid. So I registered in a community college and went from working 60 hours to 80 hours a week. Eventually I quit school altogether. Still I was a  young and energetic workaholic. I loved my clients even if they did not love me. A lot of people with closed head injuries suffer a number behavioral problems so it was not unusual for me to be threatened, hit, or spit on. In fact I almost considered it a good day if I only got cussed out. My job was challenging but I loved it; there were more heartwarming and inspiring moments then there were negative ones. Most of my clients worked really hard to regain the control that they'd lost so even if they had a bad day it could not cover up their brilliance.

After 8 years of an insane schedule I was starting to get a little burned out. My body was letting me know that sleep was no longer an option, it was a requirement. Being tired all the time was starting to affect every area of your life. Now I recognize that when I'm tired I over react easily, have trouble concentrating or retaining info, my grammar and math skills go out the window, I feel depressed or act goofy, and I have trouble making dicerning or quick decisions. I could go on but to be honest it is not fun to talk about. I have since left my job. Hubby hated hearing about my dangerous encounters at work and worrying about my commute; studies show that a fatigues person is just as bad as a drunk driver. I become aware of that fact when I'd started dosing off at the wheel. Can you imagine working with people whose lives were permanently altered because of a car accident and later that day catching yourself speeding with my eyes closed? I can't  express the intensity of the guilt and fear I was felt at that time.

Now that I'm at home fulltime I sleep everyday but still have difficulty getting more than 6 hours. I am grateful for the change of pace but believe permenanet damage has been done. I'm not the same sharp, energetic, or fun loving person I use to be. My grammar skills, my ability focus and my health have all suffered. Even now I still feel like I'm in a constant fog with moments of clarity.

The moral of the story is it's not okay to sleep 5 or less a day? I know that there are a lot of important things that must be done, but one of the first things on your list should be to attend to your needs. So many people struggle with sleep disorders and just accept it instead of making a commitment to make changes in their life to fix it. Not everything works for everybody, but you must try and try again until you find what works for you. Getting enough sleep everyday will not only improve your health but it might also save someone's life.

Lupe Performs With Jill Scott on David Letterman

Does anyone else struggle with sleep deprivation? What helps you to catch some  ZZZZZZZZs?

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