Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Easy Breakfast

If you've never heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, where have you been hiding? Breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day. Yet, for some reason, many people don't regularly eat a good breakfast. According to the International Food Information Council more than half of Americans routinely skip breakfast! So why do so many people skip this vitally important meal?

So what is a good, healthy, and quick breakfast you can have during the week before work? If you like eggs, give this a shot. It takes about 12 minutes start to finish, and you can totally eat it in the car if you need to.

I know, because I had this today on my way to work.

Take a frying pan and splash a little olive oil into it. Sauté some garlic and mushrooms while browning some ground sausage. If you're so inclined, feel free to add any other veggies as well, ie peppers, onions, tomatoes, zukes, etc. When the sausage is ready, drain off any excess grease and add a couple of beaten eggs. As the eggs cook, stir the mixture a little bit so eggs cook through and sausage and veggies all mix with the eggs. When the eggs are cooked, top with some cheese of your choice (gorgonzola is sublime) and serve.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Schedules Change

It almost never fails. Just when you think you're getting into a good routine, finding time to exercise and eat healthy foods, somebody goes and throws a wrench into everything.

This is exactly what happened to me last week. In my case, my hours at my day job shifted a few hours back. So instead of getting home in time to walk the dog, run, and still have dinner almost ready when my wife got home, now my wife is routinely beating me home.

This type of scenario plays out for most of us from time to time. For many of you, your routine may have just taken a sharp turn now that your kids are starting back to school. Maybe you're starting a new job. Maybe something changed in your spouse or partner's life that has some ramifications as to how your day flows.

At the end of the day, though, you only have two choices. Alter your schedule so your priorities still fit into your new "routine", or let the new schedule win.

Hopefully you won't even consider the latter option.

In some cases, the new routine may even be a blessing. Switching things up from time to time can provide a new spark, or a breath of fresh air. Changing your routine allows you to see the things that really are important to you, like making time to exercise and prepare healthy foods. And without a little adversity from time to time, and my new schedule is full of adversity, we would stop growing as individuals.

So, even though a schedule interruption may be uncomfortable, from time to time it may just be the best thing for you.

As the month of August draws to a close, I challenge you to find a way to disrupt your routine. Whether you resolve to pack lunch everyday, get up and exercise before work, or decide to swear off pop for good, find something to do starting September 1st that may be a little uncomfortable.

You may just be surprised how much pushing yourself out of one rut will help you get out of many others.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Quantity Over Quality

As if we needed further evidence of modern man's (really modern America's) complete and utter cluelessness when it comes to food and nutrition, consider the following:

Would you be more likely to purchase:
  • a Mercedes or a Kia?
  • Abercrombie & Fitch or Wal-Mart brand?
  • iPhone or a flip-phone?
  • Grey Goose or Popov?
  • Organic or Non-Organic?
If the majority of people were being honest, they'd most likely choose the Mercedes, A&F, iPhone, and Grey Goose.  Why is that, considering all are remarkably more expensive?  While some would say you are paying for the name only, you could make a very good argument that the quality of the former far exceeds that of the latter.

Why, then, are people who choose to buy organic food considered either hippie-ish or snobby/elite because they choose to not buy the cheaper, non-organic food?  Why is quality so important in our stuff, but it is irrelevant when it comes to our food?

A lot of people I know genuinely do not understand why quality food is better for you.  Many think that there is little if any difference between a peach in a can and an organic peach straight from the tree.  Or they don't see the difference between a McDonald's burger made with feed lot beef and a homemade burger from a free range cow.

The ultimate problem is that somewhere people learned to shop for food on the basis of price alone, and have therefore paid literally no attention to the quality.  And here is the funniest part of this whole unbalanced equation.  When you buy the cheaper, less nutritious food, your body doesn't stay full as long when you are eating the same amount of food.  So you actually end up eating more and spending as much or more money on food than if you would have just bought the more nutritious organic food.  As an example, my typical breakfast includes two fried eggs and a piece of toast.  About this time last year, I started buying my eggs from a local farmer who raises chickens and sells free range eggs.  When I made the switch from store bought to free range and fresh, I noticed that I was able to go much longer before feeling hungry when still just eating the same two eggs and the same piece of toast.  In many cases, the eggs from the farmer were even smaller than those from the store.  However, the eggs from the farmer are literally packed with nutrients, whereas the store bought eggs have not near as much.  So instead of being ravenously hungry after just a couple of hours at work, I have a snack 3-4 hours into my day. 

The big food corporations have done a great job keeping the lid on the fact that the more processed a food is, the fewer nutrients it contains.  And since there are fewer nutrients, you are going to be hungry again sooner, and therefore eat more.  All of which means more profit for big food.

What big food can't stop, however, is people from stumbling upon the truth on their own, and then hopefully spreading the word.

So that's what I'm doing.  People, we are smack in the middle of a health crises in this country, the likes of which we have never seen before.  Yes, we do need to exercise more.  We are more sedentary than we have ever been.  But, even if you never increase your activity level, you CAN make a drastic change in your health simply by eating better.

So the next time you're at the grocery store or produce market, look for the organic seal.  Yes, you'll pay more for the higher quality foods, but when is the last time paying more for better quality has stopped you?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Accept What You Can't Control

When you're setting out on your plan to improve your health, there are a number of inevitable obstacles that you will encounter along the way. The trick to making yourself healthier for the rest of your life, as opposed to for the first two weeks of whatever program you are trying, is to accept that your training plan has limits and don't let those limits get you down.

As an example, I am currently training to run my second ever half marathon. The race is coming up in just about a month, and I'm not nearly as ready as I want to be. One of the big reasons I'm not closer to ready is completely out of my control--the summer weather. I live in Florida, and to train for a long race you need to log many miles. There have been a few times I've set out from home hoping to get 8-10 miles in, only to walk in the door 2 hours later after finishing 5-6. The summer heat and humidity really takes a lot of energy out of me when I run, and as long as I live here that won't change. So, instead of giving up on trying to get a new PR in this race because it's too hot to train like I want to, I keep grinding out as many miles a day as I can, and make sure to rest for a couple of days before trying a long run. Tomorrow I'm shooting for at least 10, so hopefully the weather will be slightly cooler and my body will cooperate.

Another road block to a healthy lifestyle is our body's need for rest after physical activity. This rest comes in two forms, one taking days off and one sleeping enough at night. Sleeping close to 8 hours a night is important because that is when the body does most of it's tissue repair. Sleeping enough at night helps your muscles get stronger and allows for you to be able to exercise longer and at a higher intensity. And sometimes, you just need to take a day off from working out to allow your muscles to rest as well. On these off days, however, it is still important for you to make sure that you are engaging in some moderate activity, but nothing that forces your body to work too hard.

Family, kids, pets, and work are all other things that tend to get in our way occasionally as we work towards improving our overall health. If you learn how to mange these distractions, and how to overcome them and stay on the active path, there is no doubt that you will begin to see the physical changes that you are hoping for.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Being Human

Today's blog is going to be short and sweet. 

Sometimes it seems like the world is moving faster and we are just standing still.  My schedule at work has been turned upside down, and I struggle to find time to get it all in.  So, when you find yourself in a situation like this, don't be afraid to take a deep breath and relax.  The important stuff will get taken care of, it always does.

This post may not be the most informative on matters of health and fitness, but maybe it offers something that gets lost in the shuffle of the daily race of life.  Sometimes, when you think things can't get any crazier, you just need to let go.  Not letting go causes the stress to build like crazy, and that is certainly not good for your health. 

So next time you feel like you can't get everything done that needs to get done, just stop and smell the roses for a few minutes.  Those moments of relaxation will allow the following times of insanity to be just a little bit more bearable. 

So, if you'll forgive me for ending this post here for the evening, I've got some sniffing to do.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just Do It

Face it folks, how many of us really look forward to working out every day?

This seemingly simple question isn't quite as superficial as it seems. Most active people, myself included, look forward to the IDEA of working out every day. We may look at a calendar and plan out our cardio and strength training days. Maybe you sign up for a yoga or pilates class as well.

Then, inevitably, the day of the workout gets here and it just seems like the last thing on Earth any of us would like to do.

So what do you do? Gut out a workout that you really have no desire to complete? Ideally, maybe. But maybe not. Doing the whole workout, when you have no desire to be there, can leave you with an awfully bad taste in your mouth. The kind of taste that might prevent you from hitting the gym or the pool or whatever you had planned the next time.

So should you just skip the workout entirely? Absolutely not.

Instead, you need to alter the workout but still do something. Maybe today you were supposed to do a P90x workout but you are just dragging. Well instead of ploy-x just do cardio x instead. Or instead of running take the dog and the kids for a longer walk than normal. If you're going to the gym, only do one or two sets of one or two exercises instead of your normal 4 sets of 6 exercises.

The key is to do something and listen to your body. Sometimes once you get started, your attitude will switch and you'll knock out the whole workout anyway. And sometimes your body is begging for a break of routine, but will respond positively to some light activity.

The trick to maintaining a healthy active lifestyle is to understand that to err and miss a workout is human. But to use one bad day or week as an excuse to quit working out is just that--quitting. You are literally giving up on yourself. And you deserve better from yourself than that.

So do a little something everyday, no matter how little that something is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Skip the Scale

A quick reminder today about the importance of ignoring the bathroom scale. If you're so inclined, I'd recommend getting rid of the scale. If that's not going to happen, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

1. Your weight fluctuates by as much as 3-5 pounds up or down per day. So the more you weigh yourself, the more likely you are to freak out because you retained a bit more water from one day to the next. If you're going to weigh yourself often, try to do it the same time of the day to lessen the odds of a big swing, but know that the swings will happen and they are normal.

2. Muscle weighs more than fat, so after working out for awhile you may actually gain weight. This can seem defeating, especially for those concerned with the reading of the scale. So if you are feeling yourself getting stronger, don't panic if the needle on the scale stops going down, or even goes up.

If you're not using a scale to measure your progress, how do you know if your hard work is paying off? The first way is really simple. Honestly assess how you are feeling. Do you have more energy? Do you feel stronger? Can you do more physical work than you used to be able to do? Then it's working.

Another way to tell that you're making progress is to assess how your clothes are fitting. Can you zip up your jeans without laying on the bed and holding your breath? Are you cinching your belt to a new loop? Are you in need of new clothes because your other clothes are too BIG? All are good signs that you are heading toward your goals.

One final way to gauge your progress is to just take a long, honest look in the mirror. A word of caution though, as the mirror is a slippery slope. When you use the mirror, you need to use it to see the progress you have made. This requires that you take off your critical glasses and put on your realistic ones. Are you getting a little more definition in you arms? Don't look for the jiggle that may still be there, but look at the muscle that is starting to emerge. Contract your abs and notice the start of a six-pack forming, even if right now it struggles to be a one-pack. Remember where you started from, and be happy with the progress you've made thus far. Then set new goals and work to eliminate the current trouble spots.

Remember that there are many ways to measure your fitness gains, and the number on the scale isn't the most important one. Even though our society tries to tell you how much you need to weigh to be "healthy," there are better measures.

As long as you are being active and working towards improving your health, ignore the scale and keep moving instead.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Personal Trainers are Helpful

When people think about hiring a personal trainer, one of the first reasons that they dismiss the notion is that it costs too much money. I'm inclined to agree with that logic when you're talking about the typical, in-gym personal trainer that is charging $30-$50 per 45 minute training session. However, if you're looking for a cheaper alternative that still provides plenty of benefits, allow me to explain why a DK FitSolutions plan may be the best thing for you and your health.

1. Paying a little money may actually help motivate you to workout more. If you're paying for a service, you might as well use it, right? And according to Women's Health Magazine, spending some money on a personal trainer is the number one way to stay dedicated to working out.

2. Personal trainers help prevent your routine from going stale. A good personal trainer will accept your feedback about what things you like and dislike, and design programs that will meet your goals without being monotonous.

3. A good personal trainer will give you new exercises and moves that will challenge you in a different way than what you've been doing. Sure, doing squats/leg presses are great ways to tone your legs and burn calories, but have you ever tried the Bulgarian split squat or around the clock lunges? Variety in the gym is a good thing, and personal trainers can help provide that.

4. Personal trainers can also provide you with a sense of accountability. I am fully willing to check up with you daily, if need be, to make sure you're sticking with your plan. For some folks, knowing that someone is going to call or send an email asking about their workout is the best tool to make sure they actually get to the gym or do their at-home workout for the day.

5. At DK FitSolutions, we not only work with you to improve your fitness, but we also work with you to help improve your diet. What you eat plays such a huge role in how you look and feel, and so many personal trainers are slow to address the foods you eat. While we in no way try to impose a strict caloric limit nor forbid certain foods, we strive to make you more aware of the food choices that you make and how those choices effect your overall health.

There are more benefits than just these five examples of why DK FitSolutions would be a great choice for you to help improve your health. Why not give us an opportunity to prove what we can do?

Visit for more information on how to let us help you. You've got nothing to lose.

And remember, whatever your health or fitness problem, we have a solution!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Water Works

Everyone knows that we need water to survive.

The human body is between 60 and 70% water, and as a person becomes dehydrated, the body's systems have to work much harder to function. A human will likely die in 3-5 days if he or she doesn't have any water to drink.

So, we need water to live. No one argues that. How much water we need, however, is a point of contention. Another point of contention is what exactly counts as "water". Does juice count? What about pop? Coffee?

The standard amount of recommended water a person should have daily is 64 ounces, or a half a gallon. For some people, drinking a half a gallon of water a day is no big deal. For the rest of us, however, getting to our daily quota is rather difficult.

While there is no argument from health professionals that water is the best option, there are other options that still count toward your 64 ounces. Virtually any liquid counts, but some non-water choices are much better than others. Coffee and tea, without creams and sugars, are good options to help you get to your daily allotment. While coffee and tea both have caffeine in them, new research has showed that caffeine doesn't dehydrate you as we used to believe. Coffee and tea also have the added benefit of being packed with antioxidants, so not only do they add flavor to your water, but they also provide beneficial enzymes to the body.

While caffeine is no longer considered a dehydrator, pop does not end up on the list of good alternatives for water. Simply put, regular soda is so full of sugar and calories that removing them from your diet is a great benefit to your health. Diet sodas aren't any better either, because the artificial sweeteners can cause long term problems to your health. Also, mounting evidence is showing that diet drinks actually encourage more sugar consumption throughout the day. So while you aren't getting the calorie bomb with your diet pop, you're much better off long term staying away from them.

Juice and sports drinks are another thing to avoid. While marketers have lauded them as healthy options, especially as alternatives to pop machines in schools, they pack a huge sugar punch as well. Sports drinks do have some salts and can be seen as beneficial during high intensity, long duration exercises, but they aren't good for just drinking throughout the day. Most store bought juices are only 10-20% juice, the rest is HFCS and water, so don't consider them a good option for meeting your goal either.

At the end of the day, water is far and away your best option. An occasional glass of juice or bottle of Gatorade probably won't have much of an impact on your waistline, just make sure you make them the exception instead of the rule.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Grow Your Own

Whether you live on the farm or a third floor walk-up, growing your own food is a fun way to improve your health and save money on your grocery bill.

If you've got plenty of land where you live, the process is pretty easy. Put some seeds in the ground, put some compost or mulch down, add water and let nature take over. But city dwellers are often at a loss when it comes to growing veggies. Many types of plants have varieties that can grow in pots, and by positioning them on a balcony they will grow and produce healthy, delicious vegetables to add to salads or just to snack on. If you live in a northern climate, put the plants near a south facing window or under a grow light and you'll have some fresh veggies throughout the winter.

Fresh herbs are another option to grow on your own, and many herbs do well growing on a counter, window sill, or shelf in most parts of the country. And let me just tell you, a fresh sprig of rosemary or basil adds a lot flavor and nutrition to just about any dish you create.

One word of pause, however, before you rush to the garden store and buy a bunch of seeds. Remember that not all crops are able to grow in all climates, and not all things are capable of producing indoors. Vegetables that need pollinators obviously don't work indoors, and some plants need more room to grow than most pots provide. But if you want to grow some nutritious and delicious crops, there are options available to you no matter where you live.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Gym Required

There is a thought floating around that says you can't lose weight and get fit unless you have a gym membership and spend hours a day at said gym.

I'm here to tell you that this couldn't be farther from the truth. While there are certain advantages to working out a gym, there are enough other ways to accomplish the same goal working out at home with little or no equipment required.

How can this be possible?

Simple--body weight exercises. By simply using the resistance God gave you, you can work up a sweat and shed pounds at home doing many of the same exercises you'd do at the gym with a few minor modifications.

Don't believe me? I guarantee I can have you sweaty and out of breath in less than 20 minutes and that you'll be sore for a day or two following the workout. And with the hundreds of different exercises that can be done using nothing but your own body weight, it would be easy to create a program that would never get stale and continue to challenge you as your health improves.

Care to give this idea a try? Go to, click on the individuals programs tab and sign up. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Good Reads

In case the dog days of summer are getting to you, allow me to offer you a couple of great book ideas to help bide you some time while lounging by the pool or soaking up the A/C.

"Real Food"--Nina Planck: Great read that will really open your eyes to the fact that so much of our daily caloric intake in the modern diet is, in fact, not real food. Real food doesn't come from the drive-thru or the frozen entreé aisle, it comes from the ground and from the farmer. This book may have done more to shape my views on nutrition than any other source.

"In Defense of Food"--Michael Pollan: This book explores the relationship we have with food, and the fact that you need to have certain types of food in a healthy diet. It does a great job stressing the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and how you can still enjoy meat products in a way that is healthy to both the environment and our bodies. Another great book by Michael Pollan is "The Omnivore's Dilemma".

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"--Barbara Kingsolver: I actually just started this book today, so I can't give you a great endorsement of the entire book. The friends that I have that have read it, love it. The book chronicles the life of a family that lives an entire year eating basically nothing but foods that are produced locally. Most of the food they eat they grow themselves, while the rest is purchased at local farmer's markets or direct from the farmers. So far, the book seems pretty good.

"What's Gotten Into Us?"--McKay Jenkins: If you want a book that may in fact scare the bejesus out of you, look no further. This book talks about all of the environmental and product toxins that we live with in our modern world, and looks at the shortfalls of our government agencies that try to protect us. About 1/4 of the way into this book, I felt like I was Neo after he swallows the pill. I almost wish I could unlearn what I read, but the knowledge will certainly make me more mindful about the products we use that literally are poison. For example, do you know we still use Agent Orange in the year 2011? I guarantee my neighborhood is teeming with it, and I bet yours is too.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy some of these books. If there are any books you've read recently that you think I'd enjoy, leave me a comment and I'll be sure to add it to my list.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Did You Get Your Full 8 Last Night?

Everybody knows that sleeping is a necessary component of our daily routines. Most people are aware that it is recommended that we get 8 hours of sleep every night. While this is the recommendation, there are very few people (excluding my wife) who make it a routine habit to get a solid 8 hours every night. Is it any wonder, then, that we are a nation completely addicted to our Starbucks runs? However, besides just helping you to stay more alert a good night's sleep has some other important benefits to your health. Among them:

1. Sleep helps your brain process the information you received today and commit more things to memory. Turns out those college cram sessions weren't so good after all.

2. Sleep helps your body regulate its metabolism and burn calories more efficiently. Want to loose a little more weight, give your body more sleep.

3. Sleep helps improve your immune system. But getting plenty of rest your immune system has a chance to recharge and battle all of the pathogens that you are exposed to on a daily basis.

There are countless other ways that sleeping enough at night helps improve your health.

So, while 8 hours a night may mean you miss out on a little tv (just DVR the Daily Show), your body will appreciate it in the long term.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting the New You Off the Couch

In case you've missed the first three parts to creating a new you, you can find them here (Part I, Part II, Part III)  As a quick refresher, in Part I you were implored to make the decision for yourself to become a healthier person.  In Part II, we looked at how important it is that you cook the majority of your own meals.  And Part III looked at how to navigate the grocery store shopping for the healthiest items.  Today, Part 4 is going to contradict the excuses you use to not get off the couch and get active. 

The first excuse to look at is the most tired and overused excuse in the book.  Ask most people that don't exercise why they are not active, and the majority will tell you that they just don't have time.  Can anyone say "Shenanigans"?  If you are super busy for a day or two, this excuse might work.  But to say that you are always too busy is a load of crap.  If you were to take a look at how you use your time, you may find that you have more time to exercise than you think.  For example, how much time do you spend on Facebook and Twitter?  Checking e-mail?  Playing Farmville?  While all of these things may SEEM important, none of them are more important than taking positive steps towards improving your health.  Other time wasters that we are notorious for include playing video games and watching TV.  If we are honest with ourselves, playing that game of Madden or watching another re-run of Seinfeld or the Kardashians really isn't a good reason for not exercising. 

Another reason that many people like to give for not exercising is that they are too tired.  On the surface, this sounds like a semi-legitimate reason.  Exercising requires exerting physical energy, and if you are tired you are already running low on energy.  The funny thing about exercise, though, is that the physiologic effects of exercise actually make you more alert and give you more energy.  I don't know how many times at work I'd be struggling to stay awake no matter how much coffee I've had.  However, if I walk around for a few minutes, maybe do a few squats or push-ups, I usually am focused and alert for hours afterward.  So when you get home from work, don't let yourself get sucked in to the "I'm too tired" routine, change clothes and do something.  Even if you only have a few minutes to jog around the block, you'd be surprised how much more energy you'll have and how much better you'll feel than if you don't do anything at all.

The last of the most common excuses that I get for why people don't exercise is that they are sore after they are done.  This excuse is funny to me, because when you talk to people that work out a lot they love that feeling of sore muscles and dead legs.  When you haven't done much physical activity in a while, any big change in exercise habits cause microscopic damage to your muscles.  Even when you've been active for years, if you stress the muscles enough, this damage occurs.  The soreness that you get after the workout comes from the process of your body repairing the tissue.  Ultimately, this soreness that you feel is the actual process of your body getting stronger.  The more consistently you exercise, the better your body will be at repairing itself, and the shorter the duration of your discomfort. 

These are just three of the most common excuses that I've heard from people trying to explain why they don't exercise.  There are dozens of others, and none of them are good enough reasons to not be doing something to improve your health.  While modern medicine has gotten increasingly better and solving medical issues, there is nothing better at improving your health than preventing whatever injury or illness to begin with.  So get moving!

Got a good excuse for why you aren't getting enough exercise on a regular basis?  Leave me a comment with the best you've got and I'll give you a better reason to start exercising today.

Need help determining what you need to do to improve your health and take control of your fitness?  Visit for more information on how I can help, or e-mail me at and I'll be happy to answer any questions that you may have. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Alternative Exercise

Everybody knows that getting a certain amount of exercise daily is a good thing. The problem is that too many people have a hard time "finding time" to exercise.

What they fail to realize, however, is that just because you're not on a treadmill or pumping iron, you can still be exercising. Chase your kids around in the backyard or go splash around at the beach. That's exercise. Take the dog for a walk or spend some time working on the lawn. Exercise. Don't drive around the parking lot looking for the closest parking spot. Park out in BFE and walk into the store. Then when you come out with the cart, take the time to walk the cart back to the corral. Exercise.

There are literally dozens of ways to get the exercise you need on a daily basis, and many of them don't require a significant time investment.

Now get off the computer, and do something to get your exercise in for the day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Worst Breakfast

What is the absolute worst thing you can have for breakfast? Doughnuts and some fancy coffee drink from Dunkin? A McGriddle meal from McDonalds? A grand slam from Denny's? Or my personal favorite, the three egg special from Fat Jacks?

Perhaps, surprisingly, none of these calorie and fat bombs would qualify as the worst breakfast you can eat. That distinction goes to something much smaller: nothing.

Breakfast has long been called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. When you wake up in the morning, your body is literally in starvation mode. If you don't get some fuel into your body soon after waking up, your metabolic fire will go out and the amount of calories you burn throughout the day will be significantly reduced.

Now this doesn't give you the green light to go through the drive-thru every morning, but please make sure you get something before you leave for work in the morning. Whether it's eggs and toast or just a banana with your coffee, something is better than nothing. And you really need to have something.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Best Ab Exercise

Today's quick tip deals with working on getting those nice looking abs for whatever is left of summer swimsuit season, which depending on where you live could be almost over or still have no end in sight.

While popular perception has long been that doing lots of ab exercises (crunches, sit ups, etc) is the only way to work the muscles needed to craft the sought after six-pack, as with most cases of conventional wisdom, that may not be the whole story. Most ab exercises are contraction based, meaning that as you perform the exercise the muscles are contracting. However, because the main function of your abdominal group is not a contraction movement, working those muscles using primarily contraction exercises is not the most efficient way to see improvements.

Your abs are stability muscles that connect your upper and lower body and allow the entire body to function as a unit. As stabilizers, the best way to work them is in a stabilizing or rotational manner. Therefore, front and side planks are two great ways to really tone your abs. Doing exercises on a stability ball, or just trying to sit on one for portions of the day, also works your core muscles. Twists and chops are good options as well.

Of course, the biggest factor in determining how good your abs look really has nothing to do with what kind of ab exercises you do. But that's another topic for another day....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On-Line Personal Training:How It Works

Anyone who has spent much time in many of the big time national gyms has probably been approached by a personal trainer who is interested in helping you reach your fitness goals. For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume that any and all personal trainers hired by these gyms have the knowledge and professionalism to help you reach your goals, though that may not always be the case. In any event, after talking with the personal trainer you may decide that he or she may in fact be able to help you reach your goals. Inevitably, the conversation is going to shift to what it would cost to hire this person to help you achieve your fitness goals. Depending on where you live and exactly which gym you frequent, the cost associated with hiring the personal trainer may shock you enough that you are no longer interested in what they have to provide. It would not be uncommon at all for a personal trainer to charge $20-$50 (or more) per 45 minute session. If you're a little scared of that price, you're not alone. But don't think that just because you can't spend $100 dollars or more a week on a personal trainer you can't afford to have one, you just need to take a second and think outside of the box.

A good on-line personal trainer provides you with most of the same things an in-person personal trainer provides at a fraction of the cost. In my program,months small monthly rate, you'll get customized training plans suited to you and your goals based on what activities you like to do. Don't like running? No problem. I'll never have you on a treadmill or pounding pavement again. Your program will be updated every 4-6 weeks typically, but if you need a change after a week or two, we can switch it up then. Literally everything a personal trainer provides we can provide, except we aren't there to talk to you between sets. If you can motivate yourself to get to the gym (or to just workout in your living room) I will provide you with the tools you need to live a healthier life.

At the end of the day, there is no denying that Americans are as unhealthy now as they have ever been. Many people want to take steps to get healthier, but don't know how. There are professionals out there that can give you the tools you need to improve your health, but too many have priced themselves too high for many people to afford. But the tide is changing. With the growth of the internet, more services can be delivered to you at a price you can afford, and rock solid personal training advice is no exception.

Please visit for more details about how we can work together to improve your health. Get in touch with me through the website or leave a comment on here, and the new you will be on the way.

And remember, no matter what your health goals are, we have the solution that will help you achieve them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Running in the Rain

As I'm sitting in the office looking out the window, sunny Florida is looking awfully rainy today. While there are a multitude of reasons to wish I wasn't working today, the fact that I'm missing a chance to get a good run in while the temperature and humidity are down is chief among them.

If you have the opportunity to get in a good rain-run this summer, I urge you to take it. You need to make sure to bring some water with you, though. Remember you are still sweating and need to rehydrate, even though temps are a bit lower and the rain is coming down.

Enjoy your time exercising outdoors this summer, and take advantage of a rainy day when the opportunity arrives. I promise, you won't regret it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer Exercise

No matter where you live, the summer heat is on us.  This year, most of the country is experiencing stifling heat, and if you are exercising outdoors, some extra precautions must be taken to avoid heat issues.

First and foremost, you must stay hydrated.  The summer heat takes a lot out of your body, and if you aren't putting water into your system before, during, and after exercise, you are asking for trouble.  A rule of thumb is to weigh yourself before you exercise and again when you are finished.  For every pound you've dropped, you need to drink 16 oz. of water to replace what you've sweated out.  Whether you weigh yourself or not, make sure you are drinking plenty of cool water when you finish your exercise session.

While staying hydrated gets the vast majority of attention, eating a healthy diet is also important if you are going to be exercising in the extreme heat.  A balanced diet will help your body do what it needs to do to keep you moving.  While the water is important for cooling you in the heat, good food gives your body systems the energy needed to function in and extreme heat environment.  Fruit and veggies also give your body the nutrients needed to repair the tissues after exercise.

Know that the heat can effect your performance.  My runs this summer have hardly been good, and it's hard to see much improvement in my long runs right now.  When I go out, I can usually get in about 3 good miles before the heat gets the best of me.  While it's frustrating to not see much progress, as the weather cools and summer turns to fall, the improvements will come.  So keep at it this summer, and reap the rewards in the future.

For what is left of this summer, please work out safe.  Heat illness is preventable, and being safe is up to you.  Make sure you're eating properly, drinking plenty of fluids, and keeping your goals realistic and you'll be ahead of the pack as the weather starts to cool.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dietary Hiccups

As a health and fitness professional, I take living a healthy lifestyle pretty seriously. I try to eat as much local and organic food as possible, and try to make physical activity a regular component of my daily routine.

In an attempt at being completely honest though, I have to say that I am human. Ergo, I am not perfect. The other day I had a major food slip-up.

Allow me to explain.

On Tuesday, for whatever reason, I wasn't feeling it when I got home from work. My wife was out of town, and after walking the dog I had no desire to make something legit for dinner. So, I pulled a frozen pizza out of the freezer and put it in the oven. 15 minutes later, dinner was served. After cutting it up, I ate what I thought would be my dinner. Then, I went back for more. Then, I just finished the whole dang thing. I sat on the couch, feeling full and completely unsatisfied. Then I went to the freezer for a bowl of ice cream.

Needless to say, when I went to bed that night I wasn't feeling the greatest. But yesterday, I was back to eating a better array of foods and have noticed no real differences in how I've felt except for the time right after gorging on Tuesday night.

So what is the point of this story? Simple. Eating a "perfect" diet all of the time is impossible. Sometimes life gets in the way of ideal, and that's O.K. The trick is to only screw up for one meal or one day once in awhile. If you eat well for most of the time, a bad choice or two won't derail your progress. Keep going forward and you'll see progress. I promise.