Is The 21 Day Fix a Fitness Hero or a Fitness Villain?

Well said…love his writing style.

Excelsior Fitness

hero or villianThis post is the first of a new series on my blog that I am calling Hero or Villain. These posts will be no-BS assessments of various diets, workouts, equipment, trends, and what-nots that capture the popular fitness imagination because they are supposed to be our heroes by saving us from our troubles and woes. But you can’t just strap on a shiny cape and call yourself a hero.  Real heroes deliver on their promises and help us out.  Villains deceive us and damage our health and fitness. It’s that simple. I have no vested interest in any of the products I will review. I am only interested in your health and fitness.

All of a sudden I’ve been inundated with clients asking the same single question: “Jason,” they ask, “what is the meaning of life?”Well, if that was actually their question, I would simply answer, “42” (…look it…

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You asked: Cardio versus strength training for fat loss

I am not sure if you have heard, but you do not need to run to be thin. But cardio, more accurately aerobic exercise, is often promoted as THE BEST STRATEGY for weight loss. Aerobic exercises are touted as:

  • Burning more calories in a shorter period of time.
  • Cheap, all you need is a pair of shoes and ground to walk all.
  • Supposedly higher fat burning.
  • And more.

The truth is that long duration, aerobic activities are not the most effective, efficient strategies for fat loss.

I could tell you all the benefits of strength training. But you can Google that and come up with some pretty respectable answers. What I want to tell you are a few reasons  WHY strength training is better than aerobic exercise for fat loss and weight maintenance.

EPOC

After exercise , the body continues to need oxygen at a higher rate than before the exercise began. This sustained oxygen consumption is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Because of this, the body continues to expend energy after exercise and therefore burn calories. Research shows that EPOC is greater after resistance training than it is after aerobic exercises – likely as a result of greater intensity and disruption to the body’s homeostasis.

While you may burn more calories during 30 minutes of aerobic training than you will with 30 minutes of strength training (not always the case!), you will burn more calories in the hours following strength training than you will in the hours following aerobic training because of EPOC.

MORAL: Strength training ultimately burns more calories than aerobic training.

Muscle burns calories – fat does not

I know you have heard it, “Muscle burns more calories than fat.” I hate this phrase – because it implies that fat would burn some amount of calories. It does not!

CLICK HERE to read the rest of this post.

Want to see results from only working out 3-5 hours a week? It’s possible! I have done it and so have many of my clients.

Like what you read? I’ve moved my blog! Please visit me at Better By Becca for more content.

Giving gifts of sentimental value

It is the time of year for gift giving. I have always been a sentimental gift giver. At times this has been well received. At other times this has been scoffed at. I continue to do it because it feels awesome – to both give and receive sentimental gifts.

Last Christmas I wrote about how my family has always been one of giving and receiving homemade gifts. This has always been fun. So much thought and meaning goes into these! This season, I am reminded of a dear, dear friend who gifted me with amazingly valuable gifts.

This friend and mentor gave me a shoulder to lean in when times were tough – and I offered her the same in return. A retired teacher, she taught me a great deal about teaching, relationships, and life. One gift was a musical Christmas ornament – which plays Silent Night, my favorite. As I pulled this ornament out of its box today, I was reminded of the wonderful gift of her friendship!

Our friendship was one of the best gifts I have ever received!

One day, she placed a small velvet pouch in my palm and said, “you cannot refuse this as my gift to you.” Puzzled, I opened the pouch and found this beautiful gold pendent with diamonds and a pearl. She said, “The pearl represents all of the pains, sorrows, and turmoils that make you the beautiful woman you are. The diamonds represent each of the unimaginable accomplishments you will achieve.” I am not one to cry, but I teared up.

While this gift is monetarily valuable, the meaning behind it makes it a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime.

What are some of the valuable and most sentimental gifts you have received?

Like what you read? Please visit be at Better By Becca!

Personal training is expensive!

People spend triple on their cable than they are willing to spend on fitness!

I’ve been thinking about the cost of personal and small group training.

Is it too expensive?

No.

Not really.

I was recently asked for my recommendation – she was willing to spend $30/month for a gym with classes and kickboxing. I had no solid recommendations – as those facilities do not offer programs that I would generally recommend. I offered some guidelines for what to ask, such as are the instructors certified?, but I didn’t have much to say.

Prioritized spending

The average American spends $86 per month on cable (does not include internet or phone).

Fifty-six percent of Americans have a smartphone – average cost is $200 for the phone (with a 2-year contract) and $71 a month – versus $36 per month for those “dumb” phones (from the CTIA Wireless Association).

The average American adult spends $2295 a year on alcohol.

Read 10 Things Americans Waste Money On.

A little perspective

Compare this to what she is willing to spend on fitness.

$30 x 12 months = $360 a year.

Wow.

$852 or more a year for a cell phone. $2296 a year for alcohol. A measly $360 a year for fitness.

This makes me sad.

Life costs money

Please do not get me wrong, I do realize personal training can be expensive. That is why I choose to offer different levels of service. Small group training and classes make fitness more affordable. As to not be a hypocrite, let me be honest with you.

Do I have a smartphone? Yes. And I could probably do without, but it would make some of my business dealings more difficult.

Do I have cable? No. I do not even own a television.

Do I buy alcohol? Rarely. I do not have an iPad or tablet. I rarely eat out – eating healthy at home saves money and calories.

My frivolous spending is limited to coffee (black, no fru-fru drinks) and the occasional pair of shoes (which I have to be able to wear for work).

The bottomline

I am not saying that everyone can afford personal training and should hire a personal trainer. There are many individuals out there who truly cannot afford it. I am just sharing a little perspective.

Think about where you spend your hard-earned money – is this spending improving the quality of your life?

And as always, if you are working with or thinking about working with a trainer, make sure he or she is a qualified professional.

Like what you read? Please visit me at Better By Becca!

Exercise & Pregnancy

I have been asked  to address the subject of exercise and pregnancy. The truth is, I do not have anything brilliant to say. There are many medical and professional organizations who have outlined exercise prescription during pregnancy. Unfortunately, some of the advice becomes well known and widely accepted – while other pieces of advice seem to be overlooked.

What we know

We know that the supine (back down, face up) position is not safe after the first trimester – the risk of venous obstruction is too great. What does that mean? The fetus will not be fed and nourished.

We know that pregnant women should not perform the Valsalva maneuver. An instructor or trainer will not name this as the next exercise to perform. It is something that individuals do unconsciously – and sometimes consciously – during exercise. Oversimplified, it is holding your breathe under strain – and this is common during isometric exercises such as planks or wall sits. To learn more about the Valsalva maneuver, click here.

We know that pregnant women should avoid contact sports, or any any activity that could cause loss of balance or trauma to the mother or fetus.

Often overlooked

There are numerous precautions regarding exercise and pregnancy that are too often overlooked.

For example, the thermoregulatory control. Pregnant women need an increased awareness of the ambient air temperature, humidity, etc. because the pregnant body is less efficient at temperature control.

High-intensity exercise should be avoided. In part because of the less efficient thermoregulation. In part because of the stress it puts on the mothers cardiorespiratory system. If it is putting stress on mom, it is putting stress on baby!

Pregnant women tend to have greater ligament elasticity – a result of the change in hormones (just like females have different elasticity during different portions of their cycles). This increases the risk of injury, such as hyperextension of the joint.

Pregnant women must be cautious with weight- and load-bearing exercise. This could include anything from running and jumping to squatting and overhead pressing. Because the weight distribution is different, there is added stress to the spine (e.g.,common to experience lower back pain). If not careful, exercises could increase lumbar lordosis and cause temporary or long-term conditions.

The basics

Here are the guiding principles regarding exercise during pregnancy:

photo

The bottomline

If you have been active for months and years leading up to pregnancy – then you can maintain a much higher activity and intensity level than a woman who has not. There are certain positions that all pregnant woman should avoid – not because pregnancy is an illness, but for the safety and health of the unborn child. Some exercises are dangerous and extremely difficult to perform correctly when you have a baby belly!

NOTE: This is not intended to be an exhaustive article. I have linked to some key resources below. If you are pregnant, always talk to your doctor and consider working with a qualified fitness professional. Be informed. Be smart. And keep you and your baby safe!

Like what you read? Please comment and share below and visit me at Better By Becca.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724598/pdf/v037p00006.pdf

http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/exerciseduringpregnancy.pdf

ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, Edition 8

McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2010). Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance (7th Ed.). Lippencott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia.

Take a second glance: Images of female athletes

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Howard Schatz’s images of female athletes have re-emerged and gone viral. The images – intending to display the varying array of body types – are bothersome to me. Perhaps because of my own insecurities. But also because I know the way that our minds work: we compare.

Check out both images and the Huffington Post article here.

Let me lead you through a second glance.

I am an athlete

No, I do not train for a sport, but I am an athlete – training for life. I immediately scanned the sports – looking for those athletes that I could most relate with and I compared my body to theirs. I am often asked if I am a swimmer – so I scanned for the swimmers and compared my shoulders, my legs, and my torso to theirs. Nope, I do not look like them. While I am not in ‘ peak physical condition’ as the disclaimer says these athletes are, I cannot help but compare. That is what we do! We compare. We judge (we know we shouldn’t but we do). And we ultimately beat ourselves up. I train so hard, and dang!

Now, I did not beat myself up. I could see the flaws in the images…so it made it easy for me to keep from traveling down that dangerous slope of negative self-talk and self-criticism.

I will share one significant flaw – hopefully to keep you from seeing this as a true representation and to prevent you from allowing yourself to compare and spiral into a dangerous place of despair.

The images are not to scale

Unfortunately – and I noticed this almost immediately – the photos are not to scale. The images are presented in a manner that inherently leads us to compare the athletes to one another. Yet, the 5’5″ golfer stands taller than the 5’8.5″ bodybuilder.

It is a trick!

Minor? Maybe. But tricky, tricky, tricky!

That is just one example, if you look at the heights of these athletes, that screams of the deception.

The bottomline

The intentions are good. And yes, the bodies of athletes vary significantly. All human bodies vary significantly. But I feel that the presentation is flawed and deceiving.

I have heard several clients and friends talking about this ‘artwork.’ Some are disappointed by the lack of clothing. Some are truly amazed by the differences.

Me? I am disappointed and bothered.

What do YOU think and feel about these images?

Like what you read? Please comment and share below and visit me at www.betterbybecca.net.

Want a flat belly? Do more squats

Requests seem to come to me in cycles. One person mentioned wanting to do more abs and earn a flatter, thinner midsection and now everyone is mentioning this to me. My latest automatic response is that we should do more squats.

Many have said, “I think I should do more abs, don’t you?”

No. I don’t.

Reason 1: Ab exercises burn very few calories.

In order to burn fat and lose weight – whether it be in your belly, thighs, or butt – you need to burn calories. Traditional ab exercises burn very few calories in essence because they focus on small muscles. If anything, if you only focus on abs, your midsection may grow – because you DO build muscle.

Reason 2: Core conditioning is built into every workout.

At least it is built into every one of my workouts (I cannot say the same of all workouts and trainers out there). If you have every worked with me, you have heard me talk about this. I build core training and conditioning into the workout – more efficient and functional.

Why squats?

Squats are one of the biggest calorie burners – at least for the general exerciser. Squats require your large leg and butt muscles to work – making them a huge calorie burner. And you need to burn calories to burn fat! And because you cannot spot reduce for weight loss, you want to burn more calories to reduce the girth of your midsection.

Truth be told: Abs are made in the kitchen

You may have heard this, and it is true. Abs are made in the kitchen – even moreso for women. A large portion of midsection weight can be attributed to what you put in your mouth. While another portion of this is related to hormones (a woman in a particular time of fertility will have more fat, protecting the womb as a safe home for a fetus), eating what I refer to as CRAP will find itself attached to your midsection (as well as other areas).

Carbonated drinks
Refined grains and sugars
Artificial flavors
Processed foods

The bottomline

Doing more ab exercises will not lead to a flatter belly. I know, this is not necessarily intuitive, but trust me! Have I ever led you wrong?

Eat well and burn more calories – through strength training and effective aerobic exercise.

Doing all the right things and not getting the results you desire? Let’s chat and fine-tune your plan.

Like what you read? Please visit my new blog at Better By Becca.

The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos

I could not say it better myself. Love, love, LOVE this post

Reembody

The Reembody blog, up to this point, has been a thoughtful exploration of human movement, a subject about which I am extremely passionate.

Today, however, I’m mad and I’m going to tell you why.

I have been planning a blog post for a while on fitness misinformation, and it was originally going to be the same kind of thoughtful deconstruction found in my other installments. But then I read this and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever found in my newsfeed: so beautiful, in fact, that the rest of the health and fitness propaganda floating around Facebook like turds in a pool started to really, really piss me off.

So thoughtful deconstruction has been postponed for another day. Instead, we’re going to take a good look at a few of those turds and get pissed off together because, when someone preys upon your insecurities in an effort…

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