Fitness Advice

The Facts about Fasted Cardio

 Many fitness professionals and fitness aficionados depend on fasted cardio to help them reach their goals, and take their fitness abilities to the next level. But for many people, who are just looking to get more fit, fasted cardio seems like such a foreign concept, or at least that is  how it seemed to me. When my trainer first suggested that I do fasted cardio, I was very hesitant because I wasn't sure that I would be able to do it.

For those of you who don't know, fasted cardio is when you wake up, and first thing in the morning before eating you do cardio. For me that seemed kind of dangerous. I have always eaten breakfast immediately after waking. I questioned if I would have the energy to exercise without eating? I gave it a try, and thankfully I didn't even notice that I had not eaten. Also, surprisingly I have become a fan of fasted cardio. I really look forward to it in the mornings, and best of all it has helped me burst through the plateau that I had been stuck on for what seemed like forever.

So the big question is, why does fasted cardio work? In simple terms, fasted cardio works because when you are exercising first thing in the morning the energy that is used during your cardio will come from the breaking down of fat that you already have. Since you have not eaten, this is your body's only available energy source. When you eat before your cardio, your body's first energy source will be the food that you have consumed. For this reason, fasted cardio is often used to lose those last few pounds that you just can't get rid of.

While expert opinions are still indecisive about whether or not fasted cardio is worth it or not, I really believe it is something that you have to try for yourself. Every body is different and each person's body will react differently. So I challenge you to give it a try and you may just be surprised what fasted cardio can do for you.

The Myth of Spot Reduction

Everyone has a body part that they think is the best. On the flip side, they also have the body part that they would probably sell their first born for in order to change (not really, but I have to throw some humor in here somewhere). The truth of the matter is, there is no such thing as spot reduction. You can’t focus on burning the fat from one body part. It just doesn’t work that way. To burn fat, you must burn it over the entire body through a combination of weight training (yes ladies, lifting weights!), cardio, and a healthy diet.

Doing just one of those three you will not produce changes. You must do a combination of them to see results. Fat cells are released by the body to be burned for energy, and unfortunately, you cannot choose which part of your body the fat comes from.

You also can’t focus on lifting for one body part in hopes that the fat will come off of it. Take your abs for example. You can do 1,000 crunches a day and still not have a visible “6 pack.” That comes from…you guessed it! Cardio, diet, and weight training. Many times the muscle you focus on when you try to spot train is so small that you aren’t doing your body a bit of good. When you try to target the larger muscles then you inevitably hit the smaller ones.

So the next time you hit the gym with every intention of focusing on one small muscle, work the whole body part instead. You’ll not only hit the area you’re trying to improve but you’ll increase your overall level of fitness!


How to Keep Going after the Honeymoon is over

You know how it goes. It is new and even though it may be challenging, it seems so doable. But then it hits you like a ton of bricks, the honeymoon is over. I know what you are thinking. Honeymoon? What does that have to do with fitness and a lifestyle change? Actually it has everything to do with it. For many people who decide to live a new fit life, the beginning can be quite rewarding. You see changes quickly, and you get the results needed to motivate you to continue. When the honeymoon is over the results aren't happening as quickly. It becomes difficult to continue. You are working as hard as you were before but with fewer results. The important thing is to keep going. I know it's easier said than done, but it can be done. I have a few tips to help you along your journey.

Have realistic expectations! Do not expect to run an eight minute mile after two weeks of training. Do not expect to lose 10 pounds every week. Do not expect to squat 300 pounds. Do some research and set realistic goals. At the same time, don't get discouraged if you don't achieve those results at first. If you are working hard, you will get there. Just give it time.

Do what you enjoy! I remember when I first started working out I heard that sprint intervals on the treadmill were the best form of cardio. Every workout session I would do my sprint intervals. I hated every minute of it. Then I noticed myself making excuses to get out of my sessions on the dreadmill. I finally decided that I would much rather do a form of cardio that I enjoyed than totally avoid cardio that I hate. In the end, no matter how effective it is, if I don't do it, it doesn't work.

Treat yourself! Don't be afraid to treat yourself every now and then. Keep in mind this is a lifestyle change, and the new habits that you are implementing need to be habits that you will actually be able to continue with. Don't set unrealistic expectations for yourself such as I will never eat chocolate again. If you want chocolate, eat it, and then get right back on track. Occasional treats can help you stay on track in the long run. I have a treat day every two weeks where I allow myself to eat something that I really want (usually pizza). After that meal, I jump right back on my plan. This treat fulfills my cravings, and also gives me something to work toward and look forward to.

Look for the changes! This may sound silly because you are probably thinking OF COURSE I am looking for changes. But what changes are you looking for? I give myself every opportunity to see what progress is being made. I do not limit myself to only looking at the number on the scale. I take measurements, and I take frequent progress pictures. I also keep track of the amount of weight I lift. This allows me to use all of these factors to determine the progress that I am making. While I may not always lose on the scale, I know if I really look, I will be able to find improvements in my body.

In the end the important thing is to keep working toward your goals. No matter how difficult it may be to reach them, it will be so worth it in the end. 

How to Hit it Hard With HIIT


When I first started working out I remember spending hour after hour doing cardio. I eventually made it to the point where I could go a whole hour on the elliptical and not even break a sweat. While I was proud of this accomplishment, I got bored and wasn't really seeing the results I wanted to see. I began to research and realized that there are actually methods to doing cardio. Really? That seemed so silly to me. After all 60 minutes of cardio is 60 minutes of cardio, right? WRONG!!! All along I had been doing steady state cardio. From my research and cardio experimentation I realized that I can actually be more efficient with my cardio workouts by implementing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short)

So the big question is What is HIIT?

In simple terms it is alternating intervals of high intensity and low intensity in your workout which results in your heart rate going up and then coming back down.

There are a few things that you should remember when planning a HIIT session. You should always include a warm-up session before your workout and a cool down session afterward. When you are planning your intervals where you are alternating between working at your full capacity and giving it all you got (feel like you are dying but can keep going) and working at about half capacity (you are comfortable but still feel like you are working). You should have your high intensity intervals last about twice as long as the lower intensity intervals. For the most part a HIIT session should last no more than 30 minutes.

Here is what a typical HIIT session on the treadmill looks like for me. As a non runner, this workout absolutely exhausts me.

2 minute warm up walking at a comfortable pace

Repeat the following for 7 repetitions

1 minute running at 4.5 mph

2 minutes running at 6 mph

2 minute cool down walking at a comfortable pace

While I will be the first person to admit that HIIT really is a lot more physically demanding than steady state cardio, I personally have found that I can burn as many calories in 25 minutes doing HIIT as I can in 45 minutes doing steady state cardio. As a busy mom of 2, who works a full time job, that alone is a win for me.  

Forget the Resolutions; Here are some goals you can actually stick to

As the new year rolls around the buzz has already started about all of the resolutions that people are going to make.  I can already see the people flocking to the gym to sign up for what is going to be their year. I have been one of these people too. In the past, every year I would set a resolution to lose weight and, guess what, it never happened.  The sad part is, after the month of January, many of these resolutions are long gone and the people seem to lose sight of the result that they are working toward. I attribute this to the fact that many times, people (myself included) set resolutions, that are much too lofty for them to reach in a reasonable period of time. When they do not see immediate results, it becomes really hard for them to continue.  

What most people don't realize (and what I have had to learn) is that in order to turn your life around it is about making small changes over time. I say for this year, we throw out the resolutions, those never work anyways, and set goals for the new year. So this year, for all of those who wish to live a healthier lifestyle, I am proposing the following goals for the new year.  If you follow these it is almost certain that you will end the coming year a healthier person.

1. Eat more real food!! While this may sound silly, since we are all eating real food everyday, real food refers to food that is for the most part unprocessed.  I challenge you to throw out the microwaveable meals and boxed dinners and fill your diet with things such as fruits, vegetables, fresh dairy, and fresh meats.  In the end remember this simple rule: If your food can go bad, it is good for you, if it can't go bad, it's not good for you

2. Drink more water!! This is definitely one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Many people have a negative misconception about water because they think that drinking too much water will make them hold water weight, when actually it is just the opposite.  When our bodies are not receiving a sufficient amount of water, they start to hold water, to help prevent dehydration.  So keeping your body fully hydrated will let your body get rid of the water that it is holding on to, and also help clean out toxins in the body. 

3. Exercise more!! Many people think that in order to start exercising you have to jump into an elaborate workout regimen.  You just need to come up with a work out schedule that you can and will stick to. For many people, something as simple as adding a walk to their daily routine would do them a world of good.  It is about analyzing your current workouts and thinking about how you can take it to the next level.  For me I am adding an extra HIIT cardio session each week.  For one of my friends, who does not usually work out, she is going to use her new exercise bike as much as she can.  The key is to challenge yourself at what ever level you are currently at.  If you are challenging yourself you WILL see results.  

4. Praise yourself more!! I really think that many people fail to meet their goals because they just give up. I have been there, and been to a point where I feel so negative about my current situation that I just don't see the point in continuing. Now that I have tried to move past that negativity, Each day I try to find something that I can compliment myself on. I don't make this up, each day I am always able to find something about myself that I am really proud of. While this may be hard sometimes, it is about looking past all of the negatives you may feel about yourself and realizing that you do have wonderful attributes.  I promise if you try hard enough, you will find that you actually love many things about yourself

On a final note, as you are setting your goals for the new year, remember that you will not reach your goals over night, you may fall off the horse, but you must be sure to jump right back on. You can meet your goals, you can be successful. So give yourself the chance to do so!!!

How to stay on track when you are the only one on track

We have all been there. For some of us it is our daily reality. If we are planning on living a healthy life, there comes a time when we finally have to succumb to the fact that not everyone else has the same healthy ambitions that we do. That is when the struggle begins. It is so easy to stay on track when your family or friends are following a similar program as you. The true test is whether or not you can stay on track when everyone else is off track. This does not have to be a test that you fail. Here are my top tips to help you stay on track with a healthy diet, when you are surrounded by people and food who aren't that healthy.