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Ours is a society of instant gratification in so many ways. When it comes to fitness, however, you simply can’t come to a workout once or twice a week and expect to see rapid, big changes taking place in a month or two. It’s just not how the body responds.
If it took you 10 years to add those 20 extra pounds, I’m not saying it will take another ten to lose them. I am simply saying that fitness and weight loss depend on all kinds of factors and on small but significant changes that have nothing to do with the time I spend with you.
Body transformation requires developing healthy habits to replace unhealthy habits. You may feel overwhelmed with all the suggestions I make to improve your health and achieve a leaner body, but it truly is a matter of divide and conquer.
I am often asked why some of my clients get great results and others, even if they gain firmer arms or legs, don’t really look like they’ve been showing up at the workout studio. And I tell them the difference is what they do when I’m not around. It’s sessions on the treadmill or runs down the bike paths 2-3 times a week, what types of food they permit themselves to indulge in, and even giving up that nightly glass of wine.
Small changes made over time can add up to impressive results, but consistency is the key. Here are some starters for you to think about:
- Limit alcohol (even if it’s slowly dropping the number of drinks you have per week)
- Forget sugary drinks (even the zero-calorie ones) and replace them with water.
- Commit to at least two visits to my studio per week and schedule it as if it’s an important work meeting.
- Shift carb sources from processed to natural ones and fatty meats to lean ones.
- Add more vegetables and fruits to your diet.
- Supplement your strength training sessions with at least two cardio workouts per week. Start with 20 minute walk-runs and work yourself up to 40.
- There are reasons I ask you to do the exercises I assign you. If you balk at them, make sure it’s for a darned good reason, because it’s the ones you don’t want to do that your body probably need the most. Honestly — I am not your enemy.
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It’s time to report on the accomplishments, paradigm shifts and results regarding this year’s fitness challenge. While I held a similar challenge a year ago (when I was sharing gym space with other trainers) this year was the first I was able to more closely monitor the progress and individual stories of the success of the participants in my own private fitness studio. Nothing like having your own space .…
Realistically, a 6-week challenge is not designed to help you lose a ton of weight. Losing a healthy pound or pound-and-a-half a week is what one should expect, so if you lose more, it’s truly a bonus. What this fitness challenge did, however, was “quick start” the participants on a fitness journey making them capable of establishing new and healthy habits into their lives. That means most of them now regularly read food labels, analyzing every morsel they eat as if it were a pharmaceutical. This was accompanied by a very structured exercise and strength training regimen. That meant 3 workouts a week with me, and 2-3 cardio workouts on their own in between. If you’ve ever tried to keep up a fitness routine 5-6 days a week, you, more than anyone, knows how disciplined you must be. Exercise simply has to become a way of life.
But the way, eating fewer calories does not a healthy diet make. For instance, even if you cut out most of the sugar you eat, continuing to eat dairy (which turns in to sugar once metabolized) means you’re not making that much headway. Detoxing from sugar and dairy were among this group’s biggest challenges, along with cutting out alcohol. Why? My lovelies tend to enjoy their wine. This was truly a sacrifice for them, one of which I am extremely proud.
In order to get a better picture of what this experience was like for the 11 challengers, I asked a series of questions, including how I can be of even more help to them both during and after a fitness challenge like this. Here are some of their answers. I am heartened by their responses and pledge to keep improving the overall experience for them:
Did you reach the goals you set at the beginning of the challenge, and even if you did not, did you go a long way toward them? What were some of the more surprising results of this journey?
“I was able to reach 2/3 of the goals I set for myself. The only goal I have not yet accomplished is completing a half or full marathon. I will definitely achieve this goal before this summer 2018, though. In the very beginning of my journey I felt sluggish. I struggled with bilateral knee pain, lower back discomfort, I lacked strength and had zero stamina. Any attempt to exercise caused me to feel nauseated and sick. I started to grow impatient not seeing immediate results.
Late nights found me reading online articles, blogs, and sifting through forums on ways try to achieve quicker outcomes. Although these resources were helpful, there is just no easy way to do it. I knew I needed to stay consistent if I wanted to become a better version of myself. I worked out a full 5 days a week, trying my best to avoid all excuses. I also found it very important to incorporate rest in order prevent physical injuries. Although I have lost weight, gained some definition to my arms, stomach, and legs, I know I still have a long way to go!
The most surprising result for me was losing an extra 4 pounds. Prior to this 6-week challenge, one of my biggest concern was my stubborn abdominal fat. Even exercising 3-4 times a week alone was not enough. During the 3rd week out of the challenge, I saw fat starting to disappear in all the right places. I found that clean eating and exercise are truly the two most powerful ingredients in gaining muscle, losing weight, and achieving a healthier lifestyle.” ~ C.N
“I did increase my flexibility, but I did not reach my goal of being able to touch my toes. I worked hard toward my goal and got closer to it, however. I tried to stretch more and practiced yoga at least once a week during the challenge to help me reach that goal. I did reach my goal of eating better. I really wasn't expecting to lose any more weight, but lost 5 pounds anyway, along with 2 inches around my waist. That in itself was huge for me, since this is the body part that concerns me most. I have always felt insecure about my mid-section since having 3 children. The most surprising results of all this included how good I felt after eating well and eating clean. I was able to keep bloating and allergies at bay by not eating processed foods. This all made it easier to lose weight.” ~H.C
“I haven’t reached my goal as of yet. However, with all the tools, training and guidance that Tiara has given me, I am determined to get there. I realized how much the foods you eat make a difference in how you look and feel. I didn't know how much sodium fast foods really contained. This was the real eye opener for me. Good food choices make a huge difference in how you look and feel. .” ~A.M
“I may not have met my all my goals, but I made a lot of progress toward them. This was a big change for me. At the beginning of the challenge I had sugar withdrawals. I honestly did not think I would dream of eating Oreos and cookies, but I did! I got past that within the first week and during that time actually started to enjoy eating real foods (not processed food or quick snacks). The most surprising results of this journey were feeling more awake and energized. ~A.H.
Was there anything about this experience you would like to see improved on my part as your trainer?
~“You are a terrific trainer. The only thing I would find helpful is adding pictures in your recipe manual….”
~“No, you have been an inspiration to all of us and without your training, support and guidance I don't think I would look as good as I feel I look now….”
~“I think you’re an amazing trainer. You truly care about each and everyone of your clients. You take the time to get to know us on a personal level. You motivate people in a way that only you can. My only suggestion might be to help us have “accountability buddies” to help people new to this process so we can support one another in a more personal way.”
~”Food is my biggest challenge. I think perhaps having more group talks about what everyone a cooking at home or what they for their on-the-go meals could us more ideas. But in the end, loved everything about it.”
~”None that I can think of. You were on top with all the info and emails!”
In the end, a total of 78 pounds were lost, along with 66 inches. You can’t sneeze at that! I look forward to implementing many of these suggestions to improve next year’s challenge and am so proud of this year’s group, most of whom have now made habits out of better eating and more workouts during the week when they are not here under my thumb.
Following are a collection of photos from the challenge reception I held at my fitness studio, where we invited makeup artists, photographers, and a caterer to make the celebration even more special. Many thanks and credit go makeup artists Breezy Welderman and Summer Mcmellen, who did an outstanding job as you can see in the photos, and photographers Michael and Debbie Torres, who captured all those looks of accomplishment on my challengers' faces..
Fitness is always a journey and never a destination, since it’s something you must continue to embrace for a lifetime. Happy spring to you all, and keep up the excellent work!
As we close out January and stop saying "Happy New Year," I am thrilled so many of you are taking your fitness challenge seriously. It would be great if going for the gold six months from now becomes as important as it is to you now (I hope it does!) but I suppose any new year tends to be a real catalyst for change.
Apart from proper eating, the biggest challenge most of my clients face has nothing to do with showing up for their workouts with me. While it’s true I can be the taskmaster, you all seem to know going into this that once you show up, you’re basically mine for an hour and in order to get out of here and into the cool morning air, you pretty much have to do everything I ask. The biggest hurdle, then, is getting that cardio workout in 2-3 times per week. After all, I don’t have you running around a parking lot or subject you to a rowing machine for more than a few minutes at a time.
Perhaps if you looked at the cardio element of your weekly commitment differently even during weeks you find it hard to get to the gym, moving more every day (in addition to our workouts together) will simply mean less time sitting — a way to automatically lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and an early demise. While intense exercise is good for us, 30 minutes to an hour of cardio doesn’t completely erase the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. But it can make big difference.
So how much cardio is enough? Experts recommend 150 minutes per week (30 minutes five days a week) which includes our workouts together. Whether you pick 30 continuous minutes of activity or 3 ten-minute sessions, however, there is more than one way to get more active between workouts with me.
- Are there stairs in your building? I found it fascinatng that researchers discovered that while the rate of caloric expenditure was greater when taking two steps at the time, the burn over an entire flight of stairs was higher when taking them one at a time. Being out breath, of course, is normal either way…
- How about moving your meetings? No, not rescheduling them. I mean setting up walking meetings, chatting with a coworker as you walk around the block with them. Even walking for 15 minutes burns up 66 calories, while sitting for that same length of time uses up only 28. Mobile meetings can also strengthen work relationships as well as improve health and boost creativity. Actors playing spies and politicians do it in movies to make the context look more interesting, so why not do it for your health?
- Think of the ring tone on your smart phone as an excuse to stand up. Every time you take a call, stand or walk to another part of the office, if possible. Better yet, create your own standing desk by stacking books or investing in an inexpensive contraption to help you occasionally work standing up. People may think you’re nuts, but they’re not occupying your body nor looking for a way to burn more calories.
- You KNOW you need to drink more water. And the more water you drink, the more trips you make to the bathroom. If you are not a natural water-drinker, find a way to flavor your water that makes it more palatable (lemon, cucumbers, etc.)
On Your Own …
- You don’t have to get gussied up and go our to a club to dance, You can crank up the music on your home speakers and dance for a solid 30 minutes. Like nobody’s watching…
- Go on a cheap date with a partner, a neighbor or a friend to burn calories. Long walks with a little running thrown in. Bike to your favorite frozen yogurt hangout or even the movie theater and then walk or bike home. Or take up thy racket and hit a ball or two, even if it’s up against a building. The scramble is good for you.
- There are tons of computer-generated fitness games called “energames” put out by Xbox or Wii FitPlus. Find the ones that get your heart pumping!
Getting Places ….
- You don’t HAVE to sit there and wait for your flight or your connecting flight. You can walk around the terminal, rolling your carry-on behind you to burn up a few more calories. Pack a pair of sneakers or just wear them to the airport. Airports are now interesting places to explore, with museums, displays and great little shops — as l long as you pay no attention to the smell of cinnamon rolls wafting past you.
- Europeans do it all the time. Americans, not so much. Walking or biking to work. Most of us can’t picture ourselves doing this, but you gotta try it sometime just to be able to say you did it, right? The wealth of biking trails and dedicated pedestrian room on streets these days make it much less dangerous that it used to me. Map out a special route for yourself.
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Not a lot of time to write lately, but I do have more photos of my brand spanking new fitness studio. Come take a peek even if you don't have a workout scheduled! It still smells NEW, all the the equipment was hand-selected by ME, and the light in this space is incredible! I don't even have to turn on the overhead lights during the day! Here are more photos:
Hard to contain my excitement. See you at my new "boutique" gym soon!Read More
When we think of making progress, so many of us oversimplify our perception of it. Just as career success is not linear, success in wight loss does not follow a straight line. Some days and weeks you may lose, while during others you may gain a little bit. And there is nothing wrong. Weight loss is a process, and our bodies are not simply machines that can be calibrated to result in a certain number on the scale each day.
It’s important to realize that the number of the scale is not a precise measurement of your weight — at least no more so than your checking account balance is an accurate snapshot of your wealth on any given day. Weight, like your account, is a dynamic entity in constant flux, with deposits flowing in and bill payments flowing out. A glance at it at any moment in time is not a static truth. If you consider your average account balance each week or perhaps for the month, so you should look at your weight loss picture for that same week. While it’s important to notice trends (like maybe you’re spending too much?), think about how long it took you to get to where you are right now weight-wise. It didn’t happen overnight.
Some of my clients can get fixated on the scale’s number, whether it’s at home or when being weighed at my gym. If the number is down, they’re thrilled. If it’s up, they’re bummed. And yet, that number is representative of hundreds of thousands of moments in a week -- times during which time their body is:
· storing fat and burning it
· retaining excess fluid
· recently fed
· relatively empty of waste or close to eliminating it
While the scale measurement may be the most convenient indicator we have about directional trends in body mass, it’s never the precise truth. When I ask my clients about their daily or weekly weight range, a rolling average of those numbers tends to be a more useful indicator of upward or downward trends than any single scale measurement in my office.
The single most important thing to remember about weight loss is that weight is a behavior, not a number and not all the variables affecting it are under your direct control. It can be extremely demoralizing to set a numerical weight as your goal and not be fully equipped to achieve it – and I’m not talking about effort here. I’m referring to dozens of other factors that can serve as roadblocks – such as hereditary factors, health issues such as hormone imbalances, food allergies, etc. Making a commitment to the things you can control is half the battle, however – such as committing to two or three workouts with me and three or four more exercise sessions on your own. In my experience, individuals who make commitments like these and stick to them always lose weight. I can’t think of a single exception.
People love to throw the word “metabolism” around but few know what it actually means. Metabolism refers to the amount of energy (in calories) your body requires to complete all of the physical and chemical processes necessary to life, such as transporting oxygen to cells, removing waste from the body, maintaining adequate body temperature, contracting involuntary muscles and producing proteins and hormones. The “metabolic rate”, then, adjusts dynamically in response to a long list of influencers: your age; body composition; exercise; body temperature; illness and stress; whether you’re chronically well-fed or chronically malnourished; various hormone levels; and possibly even the type of bacteria residing in your gut.
Want to know the truth about your metabolic rate? What makes it adjust is a moving target. I can have clients who eat the same foods day in and day out and still lose weight erratically -- 4 to 5 pounds in one week, followed by a few weeks of plateau, after which time another small chunk of weight comes off. In rare but frustrating cases, a patient’s food journal suggests they’re producing a calorie deficit that should result in a loss… but the scale doesn’t budge. So we’ll make other adjustments that we have control over and experiment with them to get a result. Perhaps that’s more cardio. Perhaps it’s more sleep. Sometimes it’s even increasing the intake of certain types of foods. Hitting a plateau is frustrating, but it’s not a prison sentence – just a setback.
When you do hit one of those periods when no matter what you do, the number on the scale doesn’t budge, instead of kicking your car tire, think of time how your changing body is telling you --- just as your muscles require heavier weights or more reps to challenge them -- that you need to change things up a bit to get to your weight loss goal. I’ll help you with those changes all I can, but as long as your goal is an achievable (and reasonable) one, the important thing is to never lose sight of it.
By now, those of you who come to me for training have noticed a rhythm and consistency in your workouts, even though I try to change things up with every visit. What is not always discussed, however, is how some muscle groups work with others during the same workout as well as the science behind what I do.
For instance, a leg workout can also include muscles that strengthen the lower back, as well as important aspects of balance and flexibility as you age. Upper body takes all kind of smaller muscles into account. And some exercises, like planking, work abs, arms, and legs all at once. Here is a brief rundown:
· Your muscles vary in size from large groups such as your chest and back to smaller groups such as your shoulders and arms, which assist many of the larger groups during your exercises.
· Your chest, shoulders, and triceps as well as the back of your upper arms gain strength when you push a weight away from your body. For example, your shoulders contract when you press a weight overhead, but your shoulders and triceps assist during chest exercises.
· The back, biceps, the front of the upper arm, and forearms are strengthened when you perform pulling movements. For example, a pull-up in which you hang by your hands and pull your body weight toward the sky uses your back, biceps and forearms. Your biceps and forearms assist in most of your back strengthening movements and these three muscles combine to offer resistance training.
· You’ll notice that I often train your chest, back, shoulders and arms on one day and your legs and core on another day. This allows your upper body a day of rest while you strengthen the lower body and the vice versa.
We often chitchat about all manner of topics while I work you out, but there is one very important thing I want you to know: there is NEVER a question I can’t answer or find an answer to when it comes to fitness. Muscle groups and how they work are part of the beauty and wonder that inspired me to become a trainer, so no question is too simple! I love it when a client questions what is happening as she works out – or why certain body parts on her are changing and how they will continue to change as she gets more fit. Want to know why your midsection isn’t getting any smaller even though the rest of you is appearing more toned? I can answer that one -- just ask! Sometimes it has nothing to do with exercise and everything to do with the food you eat and how much (if any) alcohol you imbibe.
So use your hour with me wisely and pick my brain at any time. I live and breathe what I do with a passion and I adore offering you all the information you could possibly handle (and some you may not want to hear) as your trainer. Let’s make 2017 the year you make those goals!
We are all getting another year older, whether we want to or not. Some of you come to me with dreams of getting buff, participating in marathons and competitions, and simply looking amazing, and I am always happy to help you on that journey. But what about aging? My 40-50+ clients are especially aware of how age robs you of muscle, balance, and flexibility and adds unwanted pounds unless you regularly strength train, exercise and watch your diet. Let’s study a few reasons why it’s important to (1) start a regular exercise regimen as soon as you can and make it a habit, and (2) exercise becomes ever MORE important as you age.
Truth be told, there is little that gives away age more readily than size. Why? We expect older adults to be heavier -- period. I have one client who admits that each succeeding decade of her life added 10 lbs. She was 120 in her 20s, in the 130s in her 30s, 140+ in her 40s, etc. And she admitted to me that while she loves the idea of aging gracefully, she simply could not accept having the extra weight, wearing a size not commensurate with her height, and the diminishing of balance and flexibility. She is on her way to getting where she feels she should be, but confides that it's a constant struggle. She was never much one for exercise until now and realizes it won't happen overnight.
So why do we (well, most of us) get “puffier” as we age? As I mentioned, we lose muscle tone and it’s muscle that burns fat. If you look at a woman who is 70 years old and compare her to what her body was like at 25 years of age -- even though her weight may be exactly the same -- she had more percentage of muscle in her body when she was 25 than she did when she turned 70. You see it all the time. A skinny woman can have flabby underarms. A slender guy can have a spare tire. Muscles stop supporting posture without having been challenged and maintained and you see people as early as their 50s beginning to hunch over a bit or even see the signs of "dowager's hump" in women. It's not an accident. It's aging without attention.
When we were younger and our muscle cells got damaged, they quickly repaired themselves. According to UCLA researcher and geriatrician Jonathan Wanagat, we still don’t know why muscles literally shrink as we age, but there are a number of theories. In an NPR report, he cites, "I think one of the ones that have become increasingly interesting and popular is the idea that the stem cells in the muscle are not able to respond to damage or to aging the way they did when we were younger.” He goes on to say that if damaged muscle cells aren't repaired, they tend to whittle away and die. Contributing factors are the decrease in growth hormone, testosterone and estrogen levels.
To top is all off, the muscle cells we're left with are sort of worn out, according to Cheryl Phillips, president of the American Geriatrics Society. "If you think of muscles as being the energy powerhouse of our body, that's where most of our calories are burned. And when we talk about metabolism, what we're really talking about is how efficiently those powerhouse cells — the muscle cells of our body — burn the energy we bring in."
What has not changed: energy is delivered to the body in the form of calories, but if you keep your caloric intake exactly the same as you get older, says Phillips, those unburned calories end up as fat. That's where exercise comes in. Wanagat says countless studies have shown that exercise — even among individuals in their 80s, simply works. It actually helps the muscle cells get not only bigger, but also stronger. "We aren't sure exactly how exercise makes muscles stronger, but we know that when we measure the grip strength of the hands or feet, grip is strongest just after exercise, even among people in their 80s and 90s. So weightlifting at any age offers low risk and great benefit,” he says.
A UCLA study found that people over age 75 are likely to have chronic joint problems because joints are less able to tolerate the strain and stress of movement. Building joint and muscle strength can defend against that. If you are past 50, you WILL be sore after workouts, but people in their 30s get sore too. Don’t let it discourage you, because you are doing your body a favor, both now and for the future, with each lunge, leg press, and plank you do, no matter what your age.
I didn’t write this to depress you - I wrote it to jump-start you! Proper food intake is more than three-quarters of the reason some of you exercise religiously but don’t see the 6-pack abs hiding under the layer of fat on top. But age can also creep up and rob you of muscle tone and you won’t feel a thing, even if you’ve never been overweight.
It can actually get scary -- take it from those who know. One day you'll just notice you can't lift yourself out of the pool with your upper body strength. Or you'll go on a hike and find you can't take large mountain stair-steps as easily as you once did. The time to think about all this is now – not 10 years from now. The unalterable fact is that exercise can keep you young in more ways than you can even think about in the present moment.