Are you a Cardio Bunny?

You see it every evening at gyms across the country: dozens of people, a majority of them women, lined up on treadmill and ellipticals, going nowhere (literally and figuratively) as they zone out, read a book and/or stay glued to the TVs in front of them. Gym-goers spend countless hours performing steady-state cardio as a means of burning body fat and losing weight. Unfortunately, most of this time is wasted because this kind of low-intensity exercise is far from the most effective way of leaning out.

When most people think of weight loss, they associate it with sweating and believe that running and other forms of steady state cardio are the best way to produce the results they want. However, this may not be intense enough for someone looking to burn significant amounts of body fat. One may think the answer is to run harder for longer, but that may actually be more detrimental. Running not only pounds on your knees, joints, and back, but it can potentially cause the body to go into muscle-burning mode. At that point, your body is not burning the fat you want. Now, some people run for miles on end as a training regimen for their sport. I am not “knocking” runners or associating running as being detrimental to your health. However, if you are in the gym for the purpose of losing weight- running may not be your best option.

The key to torching fat and transforming your body is intensity. Weight training, when performed with sufficient volume, is as effective as anything at increasing metabolism and getting leaner. Using cardio to burn fat is fine, but it needs to be fast-paced and challenging. As a trainer, I recommend high-intensity interval training for cardio sessions.

Intervals are probably the best way to go about burning fat. Whether on a treadmill or in your neighborhood, you want to aim for a sprint of 30-60 seconds followed by a light jog or brisk walk for about 1-2 minutes. This spike in heart rate, then stabilization, then spike again, is what puts the body into a fat-burning/cardiovascular-conditioning mode instead of a muscle-deteriorating one.

TRY IT: For HIIT cardio sessions, follow 2:1 active rest-to-work ratio, making sure each work interval is done with all-out effort, regardless of the activity. It could be anything from sprinting outdoors to riding hard on a stationary bike to doing continuous burpees. Because of the high intensity, HIIT sessions shouldn’t last long, somewhere around 10-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level. Two or three of these workouts a week in addition to regular resistance training and a clean diet will ensure maximum fat burning!

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Carb-Conscious Chocolate Milk… say whaaaaat!?

Yes. Low-Carb or Carb-Conscious (catchy word, ain’t it?) Chocolate Milk. There is hope!

I’ll admit, I drink this tall glass of goodness almost every night. It’s a great fix for anyone who has a sweet-tooth and it’s super-duper easy to make!

What you’ll need:

  • Unsweetened Coconut or Almond Milk
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Stevia/Truvia or Splenda

Combine 1cup milk w. 1tbsp of cocoa powder & 2-3 packets of 0cal sweetener in a blender & whip it up! For a thicker shake- add ice cubes before blending.

What’s your favorite Low-Carb treat?

Not Another Cellulite Cream

 

Someone had mentioned dry brushing to me years ago. I laughed it off as another gimmick, or quick-fix fraud solution to rid stubborn cellulite. I mean, Lord knows, I’ve tried a million and one products (products, gels, supplements, creams, treatments, you name it) that promised to cure cellulite. I didn’t experience any long-term success with any of them.

1 week ago today, I was cleaning out my bathroom and came across an Bliss body brush that had come as a free gift with a cream that I had purchased a few years ago. I took it as a sign to do a little research on dry brushing.

DRY BRUSHING 101:

WHAT IS IT?

The practice, which involves scrubbing down your dry skin with a scratchy brush, sounds far from fun. But spa pros and enthusiasts alike swear by it and sing its praises for supposedly doing everything from exfoliating to reducing cellulite.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

For exfoliating, the explanation is simple. Gentle dry brushing will slough off dead, dry skin, improving its appearance and allowing it to hydrate more efficiently when moisturizer is applied afterward

For detoxifying, dry brushing is similar to massage. The light pressure against your skin and the direction in which you brush helps move lymph fluid into the lymph nodes so this waste can then be eliminated. Your body naturally does this, but dry brushing speeds up the process and at the same time boosts circulation, delivering oxygenated blood to the skin and other organs, which helps them do their jobs better.

BUT CAN IT REALLY REDUCE CELLULITE?

Because dry brushing helps eliminate toxins, many pros claim it can smooth those unsightly lumps and bumps for good. Dry brushing helps remove “stagnant toxins” thttps://wordpress.com/post/57265765/new/hat break down connective tissue, leading to cellulite.

WHERE DO I START?

First, you need to buy a dry brush. You’re going to need something with strong bristles, preferably derived from a natural source. Try this brush from Ecotools ($14.99 amazon.com)

Because dry brushing energizes and stimulates the body, most pros suggest doing it in the morning before you shower, but you can do it any time of day you prefer. Best advice I’ve seen: Brush towards your heart. Using long, upward strokes, start brushing your skin at your feet and work up your legs one at a time. Then move up your mid-section (front and back) and across your chest. Finish by brushing up your arms toward your armpits.

This diagram should help you visualize more clearly. The small black dots are where your lymph nodes are located. You want to brush in the direction of the nearest lymph nodes so that the toxins can be easily removed.

HOW DO I KNOW IF ITS WORKING?

Your skin should feel softer and smoother after just one session. Some people even say the detox and circulatory boost helps with digestive issues and skin problems such as acne; others claim to feel more energized, most likely a result of the increased blood flow. And, of course, you should see a diminish in cellulite.

 

I’ve personally started this process 1 week ago today. I feel that my cellulite has improved slightly. The whole process is entirely energizing and my skin feels smoother. I have also noticed a decrease in random razor bumps and ingrown hairs. YAY! I will continue this process and hopefully be able to post some KILLER before and after photos!

Fasted Cardio: Why it Works

If you’re a fitness junkie, chances are you’ve heard the term fasted cardio. Fasted cardio is the act of competing your cardiovascular exercise in the morning and on an empty stomach.

Can early morning fasted cardio help you lose fat faster than other cardio methods?

The answer is yes.

 

THE BASICS

The basic idea behind cardio on an empty stomach is that your body will be more likely to use its own fat stores as fuel instead of the food you just ate. This idea is simplified and a little misleading. Fasted cardio will help you burn more fat during your workouts, but the reason for why it works is a bit more complex.

 

FASTED CARDIO HELPS MOBILIZE FAT

First thing in the morning, after you’ve been fasting all night, your body’s natural hormones have the perfect profile to burn fat. After a good night’s rest, you have all of the following working for you:

  • Low Insulin Levels: After not eating for the last 8+ hours, our insulin levels are very low. This is good because fat cannot be mobilized in the presence of high insulin levels. With low insulin levels, your body is better able to release and transport fat to be oxidized.
  • Low Blood Sugar: Some people might think this is a bad thing, and it can be – if it ends up impairing your workout performance. However, if it doesn’t, low blood sugar forces your body to draw on fat reserves because there is not enough glucose to power your workout.
  • Higher Growth Hormone Levels: Your growth hormone (GH) levels will be higher while you are sleeping. All throughout the night your body is pulsing out GH. Come morning time, your levels will be lower, but they will be higher than at other times during the day. Growth hormone and insulin are antagonists. When one is high, the other is low. Since your insulin levels are low upon waking, your GH levels are higher. Growth hormone is highly catabolic to fat cells – ie it breaks down fat stores.

 

IN CONCLUSION:

Fasted cardio is beneficial to fat loss because of the state your metabolic environment is in. Those low blood sugar levels and low liver glycogen stores, resulting from a night without eating, forces your body to learn how to metabolize fat more efficiently. While anaerobic exercise uses glycogen/glucose for fuel, the point at which your body stops using fat and starts using glucose can be manipulated. Training on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is one of those ways.

 

(I do not suggest fasted cardio if your workouts are already suffering due to lack of energy, if you are not a morning person, or if you feel faint while working out an empty stomach.)

 

Try it out and post your comments below!

Xo,

PF

 

PLANK IT OUT: The Best Core Exercise

Abdominal crunches do not flatten your mid-section. Knowing this has probably just freed up 10-minutes of your workout time. PLANK IT OUT for those 10-minutes and strengthen your core while working multiple muscle groups at once!

Abdominal crunches activate the well-known rectus abdominis muscle, also known as the six-pack (if its definition is visible through the overlying body fat and skin). You can work this muscle to absolute fatigue but nothing is going to happen to the body fat that is layered on top of it (I like to refer to this as the ‘blanket’). Your body can’t take that ‘blanket’ and transform it into more six-pack muscle, nor does it use this ‘blanket’ as fat for fuel for the exercise. Spot reduction is probably the most famous fitness myth, yet we cling to it with great optimism. For some reason, we hope that if we keep trying to spot reduce, or keep doing those 100-crunches a day, it may eventually work. It won’t, so change your focus. Cut the boring crunches out of your workout and expend your energy elsewhere.

FIRST & FOREMOST- DO YOUR CARDIO. Aerobic exercise elevates and maintains your heart-rate in an effective target zone over a period of time (calculate your fat burn zone by first finding your max heart rate *220-your age* then multiple this number by 60%-70% *max HR x .6-.7* The resulting number is what your heart rate should be within to burn body fat). After about 20-30 minutes (every body is different) your body switches from using carbohydrates to fat as fuel, since fat is a better fuel source. Now you are in your fat-burning zone for the rest of your aerobic workout. Burning body fat will allow you to see more muscle mass, and will remove some of the stubborn ‘blanket’.

SECONDLY, STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE. The muscles of your core are deeper and more important than just the rectus abdominis. Your core is your foundation of strength. These muscles connect the upper and lower body, and, like a chain, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Core muscles keep your spine and pelvis in proper alignment while you work and play, providing stamina and preventing injury so you can work and play harder.

If you’re still attached to the idea of spot reduction, know that core strength can affect the appearance of your waistline. Strong muscles in your core, as well as other key upper and lower body muscles, enable better posture when standing and sitting, giving the illusion of a trimmer tummy. Strengthening your core also ignites your ‘inner corset’ pulling you into a beautiful hourglass figure!

As a Personal Trainer, I personally believe that PLANKS ARE HIGHLY UNDERRATED.   Any backlash or boredom regarding planks is probably the result of doing them incorrectly. A lot of people think it’s an easy exercise, so they don’t keep their pelvis in a neutral position (it’s either too high or too low). They also don’t keep their shoulders aligned and retracted, allowing the shoulder blades to wing up, and don’t fully engage the transverse abdominus and glutes at the same time. So how do you know if you’re doing them wrong? If you’re feeling the burn in your lower back and arms and not through your core, glutes, and quads.

PLANK IT OUT PROPERLY (Now that’s a mouthful!):

  • Assume the plank, or “pre push-up” position.
  • Make sure your hands are placed shoulder-width apart and in line with your shoulders.
  • Make sure your feet are hip-width apart.
  • Make sure your spine is in a neutral position (no peaks or pikes with your booty!)
  • Make sure you are contracting your core, your glutes, and your quads.
  • Always keep your neck/head neutral (think of keeping your spine in a straight line)

The FUN thing about planks is that there are so many VARIATIONS and so many different positions you can do to isolate different muscles! But I think that deserves it’s own post!

PLANK IT OUT, you won’t be disappointed with the results… I promise!

😉

Xo,

PF

 

 

 

Maximize Your Workout Results!

 

I tried the NEW E&E Energy and Endurance Pre-workout Formula by Beachbody this morning and I was pleasantly surprised. I am feeling powered up! I even had energy to spare at the end of my 2-hour gym session! This product is incredible, and gave me sustained energy without the shakiness and jitters that you may experience from other pre-workout supplements.

As you know, even athletes like us can feel too tired to workout has hard as we would like. :p NEW E&E Energy and Endurance is a powerful pre-workout supplement scientifically formulated to improve your energy, endurance, strength, and focus, helping you maximize every minute of your workout.

E&E Energy and Endurance can:

  • Help you burn more calories and fat to get ripped faster
  • Help you maximize muscle performance to build muscle faster

I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop taking a pre-workout supplement because it made me too shaky, made my ears itch, or even worse… was pulled off store shelves. Thankfully, E&E Energy and Endurance contains NO artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives (that made my ears itchy, don’t laugh!) and absolutely NO high-risk or untested ingredients!

CLICK THE BANNER ABOVE TO GET YOURS TODAY!

🙂

Get ready to MAXIMIZE your workouts!

Xo,

PF

Cardio Bordeom? Switch It Up With Zumba Fitness

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91 percent of people who start a fitness regime- even those with the best intentions- bail early, before the habit has even taken hold. 61 percent throw in the barely used towel within the first 7 days.

Why are people giving up? Well the reasons are universal: job pressures and family commitments. BUT at the top of the list: painfully long workout sessions that are boring.

A majority of people have suffered from workout boredom. It is difficult to find the motivation to get on that same piece of Cardio equipment and do the same old workout, day after day after day. That is why I strongly suggest mixing up your Cardio plan. Throw in some group fitness classes every once in a awhile. My favorite suggestion? Zumba Fitness classes.

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If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ve surely seen fellow gym-goers shake their booty in the group fitness studio or seen the latest infomercials on TV. Zumba, a Latin-inspired-calorie-burning-dance-fitness-party, has become an international phenomenon. With over 12 million booty shakers in 125 countries, what keeps people coming back? Let’s take a deeper look:

  1. The Music- The fun, fast-paced Latin and top 40 beats put you in a good mood. You could start a class in the worst mood and by the end, you will leave with a smile on your face. The music is energetic, up-beat, and it keeps you motivated. People really let go when they do Zumba- they smile and laugh and they sing right along with the music.
  2. The Dancing- “There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them,” yes, it indeed is. I’m sure you can agree that something about dancing and moving to music makes us happy.
  3. The Stress Relief- A combination of the music, the dancing, the freeing of your mind– makes Zumba an amazing stress reliever. It’s a getaway.
  4. The Calorie Burn- Believe it or not, a 1-hour Zumba class burns an average of 800 calories. In fact, you can burn anywhere from 500 to well beyond 1,000 calories depending on your fitness level. Amazing? Yes.
  5. The TOTAL Body Workout- Zumba is a total body workout. You’ll feel it, everywhere, the day after you attend a class. Zumba gives your core an intense workout creating killer abs, while also increasing long, lean muscle growth in your arms and legs.
  6. The Body Shaping Results- Zumba is work. It isn’t a patty-cake program. You sweat, a lot.  But, in turn, Zumba will provide you with amazing results! Ask around. (A young woman in my class shared with me that she has lost over 200lbs with Zumba!)
  7. The Mental Clarity- Zumba improves mental clarity. Zumba releases your inhibitions and frees your mind. Zumba provides a mini mental vacation while working your body.
  8. The Improved Coordination- Zumba is accredited with improving coordination. It won’t turn you into a prima ballerina but Zumba sure helps your body function better.
  9. The Fun- Sometimes workouts can feel like punishments, Zumba is fun! You forget you’re actually working out when you do it. Even if you’re feeling lazy that day, after a few minutes of Zumba… your motivation is snapped back into place!
  10. The Nonjudgemental Atmosphere- The gym can seem competitive. Zumba classes aren’t. They provide a fun, energetic, and nonjudgemental atmosphere. Everyone is in the same boat- they’re there to workout and have a good time!

Yes. I am a Licensed Zumba Instructor. So maybe you believe that I have a somewhat biased opinion towards Zumba Fitness. But I can tell you, long before I ever dreamed of getting my Zumba License… I was a young, shy, girl who was just bored with her cardio regime.

(Visit http://www.zumba.com/en-US to find a class in your area.)

XOXO,

Primadonna Fitness