Tag: burn calories

Get Your Abs In The Kitchen!

I heard this line recently from an interview with a young woman who went from an obese teen, lost over 80 pounds, and is now getting ready to compete in the Ms. Texas competition. Love it! I also loved hearing her trainer chime in that weight loss is about 80% what goes in your mouth. I’ve always been conservative and said 70% of weight loss is diet but I believe for some it is higher. Sometimes I just need to hear it again to remind myself how important it is to focus on your diet if you’re trying to lose body fat. Here is my best description of why that is. A pound of fat is roughly 3500 extra calories you’ve stored that your body didn’t need in the past. (People who eat an extra 100 calories a day above what they need will gain 10 pounds in a year). If the average person works out 3x per week for 60 minutes they will likely burn about 1500 calories for the week. If diet stays the same you’re looking at about 1/3 of a pound drop. Dropping a pound in 3 weeks for most people is discouraging.

Best bet if you want to lose 1lb a week is to find an exercise you enjoy that you’ll continue with in the long-term AND start tracking what you’re eating. Just the act of tracking or writing down things will help you reduce the mindless eating and decide if the calories you’re eating are really worth it. Most women will be in a 1lb weight loss at about 1500-1800 calories a day and most men around 2000 calories a day.

Keep in mind that varying your calories from day to day can help you prevent a weight-loss plateau. If you find yourself hungrier on workout days, eat more. If exercise makes you hungrier the day after, eat more that day. Learn to use special occasions to your advantage by eating less the next day. It’s all about the average of calories at week’s end.

Another key point is that you need to eat breakfast. Something is better than nothing – a banana, yogurt, protein bar. If your metabolism doesn’t wake up it’s going to be hard to lose weight.

If you need some extra support, aka “accountability”, you’re welcome to contact me at kreed@sacdt.com. Often, a half hour session plus an additional follow-up is all you may need to get going in the right direction toward sustainable weight loss.

Rowing Machine: Using the Best Resistance Levels for Most Effective Workouts

Rowing Machine (ERG)Do you ever wonder what about the resistance levels for the Rowing Machines (aka: Ergs)? Do you set them to the highest level to get the hardest workout? Or do you set it to the lowest levels because you don’t want to work that hard? Let’s unpack this.

The most effective use of the erg is to replicate the actions and rhythms used to row on the water (even if you’ve never crewed before and don’t intend to.) To that end you want to set the resistance or Drag Factor to what you would experience in the water which for the average adult (male or female) is around 115. Generally, that is between 4.5 to 6.5 on the resistance setting; however, every machine varies so it’s a good idea to calibrate the drag factor each time you use the erg to work out. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Sit on the erg and prepare to start rowing.
  2. Turn on the Concept 2 computer by pressing the Main Menu button
  3. When the list of options appear, choose More Options
  4. Choose Display Drag Factor
  5. Start rowing as you normally do; when you get a consistent number adjust the resistance up or down to 105 – 125. (I am 6’ 5”, weigh 220 pounds and generally row at 120.)

The drag factor is designed to replicate the kind of boat you would be rowing. The smaller sleeker shells will have less drag in the water and will therefore glide further with less force applied by the oars. Big, old, and beat up shells (like what are used for beginning classes) will not glide through the water as fast or as far thus they will cause considerably more drag in the water. So when you are lifting that resistance lever to the highest level understand that what you are really doing is getting a slower and shorter recovery, or glide time. If you want to work on your power and strength focus instead on a long, even, and hard push with your legs, a smooth engaged lean back with your torso and an even clean pull with your arms. Then reverse that pattern two times slower on the recovery slide.

Rowing at the highest setting does not equate better strength training; it can promote poor technique which can lead to injury, especially in the back and shoulders. Conversely, rowing at the lowest setting can be a really useful tool for developing core control and stability. Many coaches will have their rowers do drills at the lowest setting to develop those areas.

The best way to develop your strength on an erg is to focus improving your stroke rates and times while increasing distances per stroke traveled. I will be getting into these details in future posts.

Trick or Treating is for Our Kids Right?!

During the Halloween season we either have our own kids to take trick or treating or will have kids knocking at our doors dressed is scary costumes. This usually means our kids coming home with pillow cases full of candy and/or stocking up on candy to hand out to the cute little goblins. Inevitably this leads to us trying out our favorite candies because of their smaller size we do not worry too much about the calories (even if you eat 20) and their high saturated fats; there is so much around at this time of year that it is hard to avoid. Here are some Halloween candy tips to get you through our sweetest holiday without gaining any weight:

  • Don’t have the candy bowl in sight, if we can see it, our mouth usually wants to eat it.
  • Eat properly before you indulge, don’t come home from work and snack on candy because it’s there, do make a healthy snack first.
  • Purchase candies that you don’t like, that way if temptation sneaks up on us, there is no reason to indulge. These usually include gummy textured candies and sour candies.
  • Buy hard candies such as suckers, its takes more time to eat one and are usually lower in calories.
  • If you must indulge, look for old fashion candies which are usually made of cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.
  • If you must have your chocolate, take a look at the list below and choose ahead of time the one that you want to burn off the extra calories at the gym later (so choose the one with the lowest calories).

Here are the calories for some Halloween candies:

  • Butterfinger – Fun Size 1 bar= 100 calories
  • Hershey Chocolate Bar – Fun Size 1 bar=90 calories/ 5grams of fat
  • M&M’s – Fun Pack 1 bags=90 calories
  • Milky Way – 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • Almond Joy – 1 snack size bar = 90 calories
  • Snicker’s – Fun Size 1 bars=80 calories
  • Reese’s Cup – 1 cup=80 calories
  • Twix – Fun Size 1 bar= 80 calories
  • Milky Way – Fun Size 1 bars=75 calories
  • York Peppermint Pattie – 1 pattie=70 calories
  • Nestle’s Crunch – Fun Size 1 bars=70 calories
  • Tootsie Pop – 1 pop = 60 calories
  • SweetTarts – 1 treat size pkg. = 50 calories
  • Kit Kat – Fun Size 1 bars=50 calories
  • Twizzlers – 1 treat size pkg= 45 calories
  • Peanut M&M’s – Fun Pack 1 bags=40 calories
  • Milk Duds – 1 treat size box = 40 calories
  • Tootsie Roll – 1 small roll = 13 calories

Nutrition 101

What is a Calorie?
Calories are not something to be avoided! They are simply a measurement of the amount of energy stored in food. We mainly consume calories in the form of macronutrients, which are also known as carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Each macronutrient has a different caloric density.

What is a Macronutrient?
The 3 main macronuteints we consume are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. They provide your body with its structure and the biological fuel necessary to live!

• Carbohydrates are our primary source of fuel. They are stored in our muscles and liver for ready and available energy. (See Focus on Carbohydrates for more information)

• Proteins make up the bulk of our structure. They are used for building muscle, bone and enzymes. Proteins make up 17% of our body weight! (See Focus on Protein for more information)

• Fats provide energy during endurance exercise and between meals. They also insulate your body and protect your bones and organs. Unsaturated fats decrease the risk of heart disease and can assist in growth development and brain function (omega-3). (See Focus on Fats for more information)

Where does Fiber fit in?
Fiber, though not a macronutrient, causes you to stay full longer, lowers blood cholesterol, decreases heart disease and type-2 diabetes, and maintains a healthy digestive system. The recommended daily intake is 38g for males and 25g for females. (See Focus on Fiber for more information)

What is a Micronutrient?
Micronutrients are substances we only need in small amounts, but without them our bodies cannot function. Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, and calcium are among the many micronutrients that enable our bodies to produce enzymes and hormones necessary for growth and development.

What is Caloric Density?
Caloric Density refers to the amount of calories packed into 1 gram of a macronutrient. Here is the calorie breakdown of 1 gram of carbohydrate, protein, and fat:
• Carbohydrate – 4 calories / 1 gram
• Protein – 4 calories / 1 gram
• Fat – 9 calories / 1 gram

For example, a piece of whole wheat bread has 13g of carbohydrates, 3g of protein, and 1g of fat. This piece of bread amounts to 73 calories. Here’s how we got it: [(13g carbohydrates x 4kcal) + (3g protein x 4kcal) + (1g fat x 9kcal) = 73kcals]

How do I divvy up my calories?
It is always up for debate what percentage of calories should come from each major macronutrient. Percentages can vary according to level and intensity of physical activity. Here is a general guideline for how to break up your calories into carbohydrates, protein, and fat:

• 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates (No more than 25% coming from added sugars)
• 15-25% of calories should come from protein
• 30% of calories should come from fat (Saturated fats: 10% of total calories)

If I had to choose…

I get asked all the time by my clients…”On the days I’m not training with you should I just be doing cardio? How many days a week should I do cardio compared to lifting? Won’t I burn more calories doing cardio than lifting?”

Well let’s just dive in to these questions…
When my clients aren’t training with me I always suggest they do lifting on their own. After training, clients gain the knowledge of how to build efficient and effective lifting routines. Will they work as hard on their own as they do with me, probably not (many reasons for that but one major one is not having someone, anyone else, to be accountable to)? But that’s okay. They know how hard they can work and they know if they are totally sandbagging it. So my answer is always, you need to be doing some sort of lifting/body weight exercises. Why is that? Most of the members that choose to train want to do so for changes in body composition, fat loss mainly. The best way to achieve that is through weight lifting. If you are using a good format and productive exercises, every time you lift it should feel like cardio. That’s the best part about an effective weightlifting program, once you are done with your 30-60 minute workout you should feel like you just did cardio and that you really couldn’t manage much more physically. If you go bee-bopping out of the weight room and then go down to do another hour of cardio on a bike, elliptical, treadmill, etc than you obviously didn’t put enough effort into your lifting.

The idea is:

  • that you stress yourself enough with the amount of weight to gain muscle fiber size (thus increasing your metabolism and looking more “defined”)
  • you stress yourself enough through the type of lifts (double jointed, arms and legs at the same time
  • complex exercises moving in all planes of direction)
  • and you stress yourself enough with the pace (super setting, adding in sprint cardio between lifts, keeping rest to a minimum, etc.) to really keep your heart rate up

If you are just sitting around on benches, wandering around the weight room, or using light weights for basic movements (bicep curls) then you are not keeping your heart rate up and you are not stressing your muscles enough to make serious gains in body composition changes. So the magical answer is, do more lifting! Maybe on your “off days” you do short cardio sprints or intervals combined with body weight movements to full range of motion (push-ups, box jumps, squats, lunge jumps, box dips, etc). Long cardio is for the birds. You can spend an hour on the bike and burn 500 calories and be done with it or you can spend 30 minutes running stairs, jump roping, squatting, and throwing around a medicine ball; and burn the same amount of calories and then some because the exertion from lifting will continue to burn calories throughout the day! No brainer!

I do cardio when I want to “rest.” I’ve been known to get on the Stepmill and do intervals for a good 40 minutes. I like to do that when I’m too lazy to lift, when I am too sore to lift, or when I just want an easy day. I get on my machine or run and push myself but I find it much easier than pushing myself through my typical weightlifting workout. You know you are working out hard in the weight room when you feel like running stairs or sprinting on the Versa Climber is an easier workout. So if you want a “break” by all means do some cardio. But if you choose to do so, make it count. Don’t go over 45 minutes (if you can you probably aren’t working hard enough) and if you hit it that long make sure you aren’t sandbagging it! Don’t go easy on yourself, do intervals, do sprints, do a machine you aren’t great at. Lastly, if you choose cardio don’t get used to it, you only “need” to do cardio 2 times a week to get heart health and some mix up to your routine.

As I touched on earlier, you will burn way more calories with a good weightlifting routine than you will by doing cardio. There are a few reasons for that but the main one being that by taxing your muscles you are actually putting small tears in the muscle to then be filled back in and repaired with Amino Acids (proteins) and that process takes extra calories. Not only that but the more muscle fibers you have (not to say you need to look like Hulk Hogan) the more calories it takes every day to contract them and to maintain them so in general you will be burning more calories every day just having more muscles. That increase in metabolism will be with you every day, helping you lose weight. Also, when you are performing a good weight routine you will not only be using muscles but will also be using your cardiovascular system and so really its two birds with one stone. You get to build muscle, you get to burn calories contracting so many muscles at one time, and you get to burn calories keeping your heart rate up. So when it comes down to it, working hard with the weights will be way more calorie efficient than doing cardio, even if it is hard cardio.

It’s hard not to get sucked into the idea of sweating and running for 10 miles and seeing the calorie count on the machine when you are done. It’s hard to turn your back on the many years you’ve heard that the only way to lose weight is to become a “Cardio Queen.” Those days are over like the days of the Thigh Master. It’s time to get with it and find out how much better you could be doing in the gym by getting yourself up to the weight room and really working at it!

If you would like to know more about how to design an effective weightlifting routine contact Adriana Brown. *Also note that if you are training for a distance sport (marathon, triathlon, etc) that while long cardio is obviously part of your training the weightlifting should also be a huge part of your training! It’s important to keep strong and powerful for injury prevention, joint health, and the next time you face that killer hill at mile 20 it will be a piece of cake if you have the leg muscles and power to push yourself!

Basic Gymnastics Workouts, No Spandex Singlets Necessary

When you think of gymnastics maybe you think of little girls doing flips or young men doing the pummel horse. Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you see it as something that is specialized and not for you. But I’m here to tell you this is not the case. The great thing about adding in basic gymnastic exercises is that you get to test your strength, range of motion, balance, stability, and core strength. You need little to no equipment and you get to be creative and use your body as a weight. Some amazing basic movements you can try are;

  1. The gymnastic push-up. This is a variation of the push up, finger tips face back towards your toes and hands move from directly under your shoulders to a new position closer to your hips. This allows you to build strength while at the same time increasing wrist flexibility, shoulder stability, and core strength. The closer you can get your hands to your waist the harder it is.
  2. Pistols also known as a one legged front squat. In this exercise the goal is to lower yourself down all the way to a full squat position (butt to heel) while keeping your foot flat, spine extended, and all the while keeping the other leg fully extended in front of you. This exercise is great for balance, increasing range of motion in your ankle, knees, and hips, increase of strength in the quad muscles, and can really elevate your heart rate. If you can’t get to full depth or can’t descend to the bottom position without the heel coming up you can use the TRX for assistance.
  3. Handstands. If you think this exercise has nothing to do with your goals of strength and looking good you couldn’t be more wrong. A handstand is a great tool for opening up your shoulders, using your core for stability, increasing balance, and of course improving your full body strength. I recommend starting against a wall plant hands no more than 2 inches away from the wall, making sure to press out of your shoulders, keep your toes pointed, keep your hips tight and core engaged, and keep the top of your head pointed towards the floor. There are many variations and other ways to increase the difficulty of this exercise before you move away from using the wall.
  4. Ab roll-ups. In this full body exercise you will be focusing on using your abs to generate force and power, this is not your basic crunch! Starting on your back pull your knees into your chest (using your abs) and then throw your feet down to the floor and finish the movement by using that force and speed to stand up. The main keys here are to keep your abs engaged, use the power from your tuck, and make sure to stand up with your hips down and chest up (think a good full range of motion squat, don’t dump your chest forward or round your back). To make it easier use a medicine ball to add more weight and increase speed and to make it harder keep your hands on your chest and don’t let your arms punch forward.

In addition to these body weight exercises there are endless basic exercises you can perform on gymnastic rings, everything from ring dips to pull ups to skin the cats and back levers. Learning the basics of gymnastics can open a new door to more fun and challenging workouts and can help you make leaps and bounds towards increasing core and joint strength. Seems that Mary Lou Retton really knew what she was talking about. Be strong, be powerful, learn how to move your body through a full range of motion, and finally you can use that chalk!

Losing Weight Safely

It is safe to say that a majority of our population today is looking to lose weight, but most are unsure of how to go about doing so. Whether it may be a few pounds or 30, most are striving to get to a place where they are comfortable, confident and healthy. Unfortunately, this leaves many turning to fad diets and/or extreme exercise measures to drop the pounds quick. While you may lose weight initially, you are actually doing yourself more harm than good. There is no supplement, no magical device and no “fad diet” to help you lose weight. The safest and best way is tried and true…through nutrition and caloric expenditure.

Many gym goers believe that weight loss is 80% what you do in the gym and 20% of what you put in your mouth. This is the first mistake many people make. If you would like to see any substantial change in your physique, nutrition is one of the most important factors to the equation. Getting your nutrition under control should be your top priority, followed by your daily exercise.

Weight loss is an equation, we burn a certain number of calories per day based on our metabolic rates. Calories come in through the fuel we feed ourselves and calories are expended either through exercise or everyday functions and daily living. The goal in this equation is to consistently make a big enough deficit in our caloric intake/output to then yield a lower number on your scale. Sound confusing? Well by numbers it is actually much easier than you think!

The first thing we need to find is your RMR* (resting metabolic rate) or how many calories your body burns in a day. You also have to determine what rate you would like to lose weight, I would recommend to achieve safe and permanent weight loss stick to .5-2lbs per week, meaning you need to create a deficit in calories through diet, exercise or both and consistently stick to that deficit.

So, since 1lb=3500 calories…

  • To lose .5lbs/wk you must make a deficit of 250 cals/day
  • To lose 1lb/wk you must make a deficit of 500 cals/day
  • To lose 2lbs/wk you must make a deficit of 1000 cals/day

Take and utilize the following example to jump start your own weight loss!
So let’s say I want to lose 2lbs per week and my RMR=2300 cals/day. I would need to make a 1000 calorie deficit per day in order to stay consistent with my weight loss. Cutting 1000 calories out of our diet would be a bold task, the safest way to make this deficit is to cut back on food intake while also supplementing with exercise.

On days that I exercise I will strive to burn at least 400 calories (which is equal to about 40 minutes of moderate intensity exercise) this will allow me to only have to cut 600 calories out of my diet.

After taking my RMR I have found that I expend approximately 2300 calories per day.
Our equation would look something like this…

  • RMR=2300 cals so to create a 1000 calorie deficit I must subtract 400 cals(from exercise)-600 cals(through diet) to equal 1000 calories expended.
  • So now that we have our deficit we can determine how many calories we should eat per day. We do this by taking our RMR and subtracting our 600 calories we will cut out of our diet to contribute to the deficit.
    • RMR=2300 cals-600 cals(through diet)=1700 calories total to consume/day.

On days that I do not exercise I have to be cautious to still maintain a deficit making it a little more difficult if I wanted to stick to my 1000 calorie deficit. This would mean I would have to limit my intake to 1300 calories on those days; although you may choose to consume slightly more as long as you stay within a deficit you should not gain weight.

Getting a grip on your nutrition will not only help yield promising results but will also give yourself a sense of empowerment knowing that you are in control of your results. You might find that the simple act of being aware of how much is going in and what effort is being expended will make you feel better in its own. Now granted there are a number of other factors that can go into weight loss, this is one of the safest tools you can use when it comes to planning out your weight loss safely and remember it is always a good idea to speak to a physician first before you begin any weight loss program! If you have any questions on how to set up an RMR test or how to get started on your weight loss program please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Christine Moore at 206-443-1111 x292.

Easy Outside Workout Tips

The sun is finally out and you are bursting at the seams to get out there and exercise. But you are torn because you don’t want to give up your weightlifting hour, or your time on the elliptical but you aren’t a runner and walking doesn’t really seem like much of a workout. But it’s Seattle, there is finally Vitamin D to absorb and you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Well I have the answer for you, it’s called HILLS!

You can walk/run/bike/lunge/skip/go backwards up any hill and if you push yourself with speed or by wearing a weight vest I can assure you it will be a workout. Find the hilliest part of your neighborhood. Find a new area of town you want to see (a hilly one of course) and start at the bottom and work your way up. I personally enjoy hill repeats on a nice sunny day. If I don’t feel like putting miles in running I will simply find a steep incline or a mildly long incline and run up it. If it’s short I’ll do it 10-20 times if it’s long or I’m going up two or more blocks I might only do 5-10 repeats. The goal is always to keep moving, the down is the rest so enjoy it while it lasts. As soon as you get back to the bottom it’s time to sprint/walk/ride etc back up again.

If this sounds like fun but you are looking for a little more diversity try adding in stairs to your workout. Queen Anne has TONS of them (as do MANY other areas of town), add them to a run, add them to a walk, just go out and get up some stairs! You can repeat as many times as you like, go as fast or as slow as you like, use your body weight or added weight, whatever strikes your fancy. The goal is to push yourself just like you would in the gym but be able to be outside and enjoy the roses.

Lastly if you don’t feel too weird about being that guy doing squats, push-ups, park bench jumps on your trail run adding in the body weight exercises to your cardio is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Tired of running/walking and you still have 3 more miles to go? Take a “break” and do 20 squats, 20 push-ups, 20 floor to ceilings, and or 20 tuck jumps. Take the gym outside and enjoy our few months sunshine!