I may have a few health care/wellness titles behind my name, but please remember, I am just like any other person out there trying to find the right recipe of physical, spiritual, and emotional self-care for my body, mind, and soul. I am constantly learning, growing, and making changes to my habitudes. I am always excited to see what lies ahead in regards to the challenges and changes I am facing. However, I do love the topic of health, fitness, and overall wellness. And, I love to learn more about it through people, study, research, seminars, and more. I will always try to use my expertise to assist you in your journey, and if I don’t know something, I will be the first to admit it and begin the quest to find some answers and solutions!
Every week I spend time answering emails and messages from habitude friends. I love keeping in touch and feeling connected to people in this way and feel privileged to help in any one’s journey the best I can! Today I thought I would share some great questions that have come my way as I am sure the asker of the question wasn’t the only one who was ever wondering it!
I have trouble concentrating. I am thinking nutrition may play a role as I don’t eat as well as I should. What are your thoughts on good morning nutrition and early afternoon for this situation?
I dug up a few trusted resources in regards to this question. This topic is very complex and difficult to pinpoint. Eating better (healthier, cleaner, less processed foods) is a very easy thing you could do to see if it helps. After first making some dietary changes, I would next wonder what your sleep is like, (Are you getting enough, is it restorative/undisturbed)? How much sugar/caffeine are you consuming? What are your stress levels like and are you exercising? Are you on any medications or supplements? (They can often have side effects of brain fog or difficulty concentrating.)
Food and Mood Connection-Mayo Clinic
Building From the Cell Level
Great article from Dr. Ann
5 Foods that improve concentration
I would tell him to start with something he thinks he can do and keep a diary to track how he is feeling and if he has noticed any changes. I think if you change several things at once it’s hard to know what was helpful if he does start to feel better. (ie: was it adding a protein filled breakfast, or was it that he cut soda out and started exercising?) Also, by just implementing one thing at a time, it seems more manageable.
And of course, I would send him off to the doctor just to be sure everything is ok.
Generally speaking, if he has decreased energy and concentration, try to increase fiber, protein, water, and exercise.
Investing in a good protein powder that he can tote along with him and fill up with water between classes might be easy and provide him with some valuable nutrients. Fruits and veggies for fiber are best. Smoothies would be great!
Nuts are a great snack for energy (be careful not to over consume because of the high-calorie content). Again easy and portable!
Many people get a little worried about low back pain. I think you are ok because you said it is “when” you are doing abs. This is just telling me that you are still working on strength in your core. Keep thinking of the core of wrapping all the way around, including your back. As much as you are working out with your functional training and focused core work, it really takes a while. I remember when I went to physical therapy a few years back for my neck and the PT was doing his initial exam. He needed to test my core strength. I was like, ok, I go this…I am a trainer! I was mortified. I failed miserably. It really changed the way I worked out and how much I worked the core into classes for everyone. My answer? Just keep at it, and the stronger you get, that pain should go away. Just be sure that you are not having acute pain, or pain any other time of the day. Work on some exercises that focus on using the entire core, and don’t forget to flip over and work the back and postural muscles! If the pain continues, I would definitely get a check-up with your Dr. and get a referral for PT!
Check out these exercises for some inspiration!
Here is a great core workout straight from P90X 3 that you can start right at home today!
I get burnt out really fast with legs. Especially with multiple reps and sets of squats. I’d like to improve my leg endurance and I would also like to increase the size of my leg muscles a little if I can. I started to do weighted squats and weighted lunges on leg days. Any other tips?
The key to address your leg question is to do a variety of leg exercises targeting all the leg muscles. (Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.)
When training, you really want to exhaust the legs from many different angles. Think lots of reps, different moves, picking the right weight where it is challenging but yet you can have proper form. It’s funny that you (a man) wants to gain some mass, and women usually want to decrease the size of their legs. As women, we like to store fat here and it’s tough to lose. However, a similar approach can be used for everyone! In building mass you will want to use heavier weights, but it is really about exhausting those limbs. Here are a few samples:
Get a Ripped Lower Body
Building Massive Legs– Make sure you read about the pyramid set and the drop set on this page.
Accelerated Series– Great for men and women! Notice all the variations in this workout!
My last piece of advice is to do some sprinting. (Think of the difference in body physique of an Olympic sprinter versus a marathoner.) You really don’t need much and you will be surprised at the gains in strength, endurance, and fat burning that can occur. Even just 10 minutes before or after you head to your group class will suffice perfectly. Try to do sprinting intervals on the treadmill running hard for 20, 30 , 40, and 60 seconds with breaks in between. Then come back down that pyramid. Attempting a couple times through, and/or a couple of times a week would be great. If/when that gets easier adjust your interval times making it more challenging. You can also adjust the incline grade on the treadmill which will rip you up…in a good way!! You can also try “rest-based training” which is great for fat burning. Sprint as long and hard as you can until you must take a break. (It may be 10 seconds, it may 2 minutes.) Then take a rest for as long as you need to until you can go again at that same intensity. If this is your only workout for the day, keep this pattern going for 20 minutes only. If you are tagging it onto another workout or class, just do the 10 minutes I mentioned earlier.
We have lots of running workouts here on the blog!
Oh, and you may venture into a spinning class to improve leg strength, endurance, and tone!
I have really been struggling with my weight! My goal was to lose 20 pounds. I am reaching out to you because I trust your good sense. I have not been able to find any exercise that has been hard enough to be productive, yet not so hard that I give up before I try. I am precariously close to being prediabetic and I am SO very unhappy with my body and the way it looks and feels. I would so appreciate any words of wisdom you could pass down!
There was a lot that went into answering this question, and back and forth correspondence to follow. Here was a summary of some of our first goals we agreed upon:
-I believe you should simply stay active for a bit and not fret about the “working out.” Start with walking several times a week, and getting up more from your sitting position at home and work. We can work on some formal workouts later.
-Get any and ALL trigger foods out of the house. Your partner needs to be supportive in this- especially at the beginning.
-Focus on eating a reasonable and well-rounded day with lots of veggies, low sugar fruits, lots of lean proteins, and a few complex carbs (brown rice, oats, sweet potato, etc…) You will have to play with the carbs a bit. Eat enough that you have energy and don’t feel grumpy or crash and crave, but don’t eat so many as you are having trouble losing. Everyone is different, you will have to find what works for you, and be willing to trial and error and really pay attention!
-I would also start a food journal. It is important to stick within your calorie budget, but remember it’s not just about the calories. You will want to pick quality foods. Work on making better choices. We all know this stuff: choose a doughnut at 225 calories, vs a chicken breast with 225 calories…different nutrition and many different results after eating them! Maybe even write down the moods you are experiencing in your diary-this can be very telling. Being honest with this is for your success. Don’t worry, you won’t have to track forever! Notice your hunger, energy, and cravings between meals. Are they up or are they in check? This can help us adjust your eating later on!
You can see that getting this individual started on the right path was NOT about a diet or fitness regimen. It is about cleaning up the diet for a few weeks and focusing on moving more. Once that became more of a habit, we moved into setting another realistic and obtainable goal together. Patience and consistency are key. Also, changing your goals to be health related rather than a certain size is key!
If I wanted to do some yoga, where would you suggest starting?
I understand how heading into a fitness class or yoga studio can be intimidating. I hope that doesn’t stop you from trying it, but my favorite at home yoga practice is by Tara Stiles. She has wonderful YouTube videos anywhere from 5-50 minutes. She makes yoga very approachable and I can take her anywhere as she is always on my phone! Also, yoga is what you make it. Sit down, be still, stretch, breathe, and create a mind-body awareness. Even 5 minutes of this, and you are practicing yoga! It doesn’t have to be formal and can be done anywhere!
I have been doing my new workout 3 times a week. I get sweaty, and I am a little sore. I also am walking and jogging on the other days. I am charting my food and exercise on livestrong.com and I am very honest about my food down to the ketchup. I have lost no weight and feel bigger. Maybe I need to pick something else?
This one deserves a post all of its own. However, I am going to answer it the best I can in summary for today! There is so much research and instruction out there telling us what to do to lose weight, and if you are like me it is overwhelming and confusing. The best answer is not one that you may like: be patient and consistent and press on! Food diaries will keep you honest if you are honest in entering your consumption. So many of us overestimate our calorie burn in a workout, and underestimate how much food we are actually consuming!
If you feel like you are doing everything right, and still not getting the resultsyou desire, it might be time for a change. Allow me to use myself as an example: (this portion of the post has been updated 2.5 years after I had my baby.)
Stress hormones were out of balance especially during this time-not good for fitness/wellness. Are you ever stressed?! Of course you are!
What I have been learning is that when we eat less and exercise more (as we are told to do), the body fights back in much the same way as if we were eating more and exercising less!! This is all due to our hormones as well as our diet and exercise regimens. In a nutshell, with extreme diet and exercise, our metabolic rate slows resulting in metabolic compensation. Our body is losing its sensitivity to the fat burning hormones. Again, there is so much to say about this, and I am still learning and understanding the science. However, to reset the body I would recommend taking a week or two where we actually eat less and exercise less. One of my hard-core clients did this starting on a Saturday and had lost 5.7 pounds by Wednesday. Granted, that may not all be fat loss (fat loss and weight loss are different), but the body is responding. She is taking long walks and being active throughout the week, as well as eating lean, clean, well-rounded meals 3 times a day, in addition to drinking lots of water and getting good sleep. This will do our system better than an extra hour on the treadmill! After some rest time, you will want to make sure you are working out smarter and harder–not longer. Also, eating enough is key! Don’t wreck your metabolism like I did. It takes a long time and effort to get the body back to homeostasis. How many times per day should YOU eat? That is something you will have to play with. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…whatever works for you, but you will have to check in with your hunger energy, and cravings between meals to know how much to eat, and what to adjust for optimal fat burning. Play detective!
These are just a few of the great questions you all send my way! Please always feel free to contact me with anything you may be dealing with in regards to your overall wellness. It is an honor and privilege that you would reach out to me, and I thoroughly enjoy the quest for answers!
Keep it comin’