Category: Fitness

Be The Best You Can Be

This article is dedicated to my life long friend and mentor Ronnie Gray Cash. My brother from another mother.

Years ago I had the good fortune of having an older mentor who took me under his wing and taught me some valuable lessons about life. Despite being functionally illiterate, Ronny was an extraordinary craftsman and artist. I learned a great deal while watching him turn random pieces of wood, metal scraps and such into fine art, all the while talking to me about living life to the fullest. Ronnie taught me to be the very best I could possibly be at anything and everything I should ever take up in life. Actually, his admonition was to always be the damn best at every endeavor I should take on. He taught me that anything worth while to take up in life was worth putting a 100% effort into. He taught me to never slack at anything, and I have lived my life trying to live up to the lessons he taught me. The ultimate irony being with this highly intelligent man was that he had quit school at a very young age, about 13, in order to work and help support his family.

The most mesmerizing masterpiece Ronnie ever crafted was his rendition of an old time masted warship that he worked on for sixteen years before calling it done. No detail from bow to stern was missed, not even down inside the ship where he had crafted miniature cannons out of brass that could actually be loaded with a small amount of black powder in order to shoot bb’s. The female figurehead he carved for the bow was so finely detailed you could have imagined a woman posing for it while he carved. Looking at the ships steering wheel, you could imagine crashing through high waves in an unruly ocean while heading off to fight battles for country or plunder. I could dream of climbing up the ropes of the main mast to the Crows Nest with a telescope in hand to watch for signs of land in the distance such as the slight haze variation of the horizon you see when land is still quite far away. I could imagine the joy sailors would feel after months at sea when they would spot a sparrow, as these birds would always lead you back to shore. These little birds are such a part of sea going lore that sailors will often have a pair of sparrows tattooed on their chests or back to remind them to always return to their homes when they could. After I became an actual sailor I never got sparrow tattoos, but I did return home when I could where I could sit and chew the fat with my mentor, my brother Ronnie, and still learn lessons of life from this wise man despite my having been around the globe aboard Navy ship a few times in real life.

A good portion of who I am today is a result of my brother Ronnie Gray Cash taking me under his wing when I was still a wild ass teenager that was having a difficult time navigating life.

Today, Ronnie is now 70 years old, and I will be 56 in just a few short weeks. I have had my ups and downs in life as a good many other people have. But, no matter how hard life has kicked me when I was down and out, I have always got up and fought my way back to the top.

I get agitated when people tell me “that’s easy for you to say” when I give advice to them. Life has not always been kind to me either.

But, I always get back up.

In 1997, 16 years after enlisting, I lost my career in the Navy when our government decided to draw down our numbers in the armed forces. I went into a deep funk for a few years. A depression combined with Post Traumatic Stress that I began to believe I could not kick. I gained a tremendous amount of weight, and was no where near being in good physical condition. It was Ronnie’s words from the past that woke me to the reality that I was becoming a weak man. I was a 250 pound bloated slob when I decided to clean up my diet and to get back into shape physically and mentally.

I dropped 90 pounds from 250 pounds to 160 pounds with a 30 inch waist. I began running again, which made me once again enjoy life. Soon, I cleaned up my weight set and began lifting again. Next came mountain biking. By 2008, I was 45 years old and in top physical condition again. I was eating clean, weight training three days per week and biking 60 to 70 miles as well.

Also in 2008 I found out I could return to military service in the Army Reserve National Guard and would likely be able to return as a Staff Sergeant. I did not believe this would be true, but went to have a chat with a recruiter anyhow. He informed me that with my physical condition and military history he could indeed bring me back in as a Staff Sergeant. He also informed that a part of coming back in at this time meant that I was sure to have a combat tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, possibly both. These terms were acceptable to me. I re-enlisted, went home and asked my loving wife what she would think if I told her I could get back into military service. She looked at me and said the obvious, she instinctively knew I had joined and gave me her full support in finishing my military career even if it meant combat deployments.

Shortly after I signed my re-enlistment papers I was shipped off to the Army’s Warrior Transition Course at Fort Sill Oklahoma. The Warrior Transition Course (WTC) is essentially Basic Training for Veterans returning to military duty. At WTC we went through almost all the training basic recruits endure with the exception of only a few areas being as we were not raw basic recruits. I was not only one of three Staff Sergeants returning to duty, I was also anywhere between 15 to 20 years older than the 255 other soldiers in my training evolution. Because of my rank, I was automatically assigned the position of Platoon Sergeant over 85 other soldiers. I took it all in stride despite having been a Navy guy with no experience with the Army culture. I took the position and did my best, and I was good.

As a Platoon Sergeant, I led our morning physical fitness training and formation runs. I was just shy of turning 46 years old, but I still was able to physically out perform many if not most of my soldiers in our morning calisthenics. During our formation runs, as with Ruck Marches, my place as Platoon Sergeant was at the front of the formation leading the way. Because of my position, there was not going to be any falling back in the runs or ruck marches. Our morning formation runs were 5 miles, I set the pace and we went hard. Anything less would have had me getting swarmed by the Drill Sergeants as they already could not believe a 45 year old former sailor had the nerve to join their beloved Army in a senior leadership position. The same was true with our timed ruck marches where we had to go from Point A to Point B while carrying 100 pounds of combat gear in a prescribed amount of time. As difficult as this was, I lead from the front as a good Platoon Sergeant is expected to do. There was no allowance for me to slack because of my age. I was a Staff Sergeant and had to carry myself as so. Lack of experience with the US Army did not matter, I had to learn on the go, and had to be damn good at improvising when I did not know some of the established procedures set by the Army, and the particular Cadre running the training. I had to be on top of my platoon from before sun up to well after sun down. As the Platoon Sergeant, I made it a point to arise, shave and be dressed in my uniform before my troops were out of their bunks. At night, I did not retire to my bunk until I was sure I had given my troops the opportunity to speak with me about any of their injuries and or concerns. A good Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) will always place the welfare of his troops before those of his own. This I did, I took my NCO Creed to heart. I was damn good at my position.

As Ronnie taught me in my youth, be the best at what you take on in life.

In August 2009, I suffered a very debilitating spinal injury which brought my life to a screeching halt. I herniated the disk at L5 S1, squeezed it like a jelly donut to the point it encapsulated my sciatic nerve which caused permanent damage and now a life time of chronic pain from my right butt cheek all the way down to my right foot. Not a day goes by that I do not have some degree of discomfort if not outright pain.

As a result of this spinal injury, I endured a series of three epidural spinal injections. What these are is the doctor uses fluoroscopic x-ray guidance to inject a dye and then a steroid into the epidural space in the hopes it will decrease inflammation and your pain. The injections did not work for me.

November 2009, I underwent spinal surgery where the herniated disk material was removed along with a bit of arthritis that most of us over the age of 40 have in our spines. This was followed by 2 months of physical therapy after I healed, yet I still suffered a great deal of pain. I returned to the doctor and was sent for an MRI where it was confirmed that my sciatic nerve had been damaged and also was now scarred over. I was doomed to a life time of pain, and was told to never return to heavy weight training again in my life.

I was not content to lay around and not resume living my life to the fullest possible. I figured I could live in pain and be inactive, or I could live in pain and still enjoy my life as best I can. I had a choice to make and chose the latter. I decided to resume living as I see fit, and have zero regrets. I embrace tough challenges in life whether it is under the barbell, on a difficult hiking trail or in any other endeavor. I do not accept mediocrity out of myself. I began lifting again with an empty barbell and worked my way up to squatting and deadlifting over 400 pounds which caused my doctor a great deal of concern to say the least. I also began eating upwards of 6000 calories a day to fuel the heavy lifting I had worked up to and gained enough weight and body fat to skew my blood lab numbers some and also to cause a elevation in my blood pressure. But, I had proved to myself that despite what is sometimes crippling pain, I could still live my life fully.

People say it is easy for me to say when I give advice about diet and physical fitness.

Yet, none of them were ever there to see how many tears I shed when working to regain my mobility to squat to a proper competition depth, or just in getting myself into a good starting position to pull a heavy deadlift without once again injuring my spine. No, none of these people have ever seen me cry in pain after a workout that was triggering horrible sciatic pain brought on by a simple impingement of the damaged nerve. None of these people were there to know what it was like for me to learn to walk normal again. After my injury, it took me a year to learn to not have my right foot pointing out at an acute angle and dragging when I walked. Every step was a conscious effort in making my right foot do what it was supposed to do pre-injury. None of these people ever seen the tears of pain this brought on either.

I have always had good nutritional knowledge despite not always using it in my past. However, when I decided to lose the weight I had put on after my injury while rebuilding my capacity to train once again with heavy weights, I put this knowledge into use. I took off 70 pounds and dropped to 9% body fat which I maintain through clean eating and exercise. People always ask for nutritional advice and what do I do to stay fit and trim, I get the same answer from them quite often when I tell them I do not ever eat added sugar or processed foods, nor do I eat in restaurants. And, I exercise vigorously on a regular basis no matter how the rest of my week may be going. I always make time for physical fitness. I treat it with the same importance as I do my job, it must be done even when I do not feel like doing it. Period.

That’s easy for you to say!

What I want to know is why do they think it is easy for me. Granted, it is now, but I too have had an addiction to simple sugar and carbohydrates. I too know what it is like to get those cravings for food so bad that I would become “hangry”.

What I do know is that adopting my methodology is not impossible for those who try. I am not that different from anyone else except for the fact I do not ever take the easy road in life and I believe that when you take a difficult task and work it long enough, it will soon become easy. My dietary habits of clean eating, measuring and weighing my foods comes easy. It is just what I do, it is my lifestyle and I guarantee I can cook a full meal quicker and cheaper than you can go through a fast food drive through and order utter crap to feed yourself and your family. While this may be acceptable on occasion, you are doing yourself and your family a huge disservice when you feed them in this manner on a regular basis.

Friends, Brenda Sue and myself are certified by American Fitness Professionals & Associates as Nutritional and Wellness consultants. Our certification process required many hours of intensive study in order to become certified. We take nutrition and fitness seriously, and love sharing information with you, our wonderful readers from around the world. We both live the life that we teach to others. We live this every day, and despite our certifications being in hand, we still study nutrition and fitness in order to bring you the best and most current information with no sugar coating or bull shit. We tell it like it is, and pull no punches. Our blog is unique in that no one else brings you this information from a male and female perspective. We are unique in that we address weight loss and management from a holistic, whole body and mind approach in order to best serve you. We do not only address a limited number of topics, we address every aspect of what it takes to achieve and maintain a healthy and fit body. We put out this blog as a labor of love to help others and have never charged for any of the information in our over 500 articles and recipes.

We live to be the best we can be. We want to help you to also live to be the best that you can be in health and wellness. We believe hard work and discipline actually makes life simpler rather than harder. This may take a little effort, but a life without chaos is easier any day, any time. We believe in planning our days, weeks and months. We believe in measuring our goals in exercise and fitness. I know that my weight remains within ounces of being the same from week to week, yet I still weigh myself every Saturday morning first thing as a form of accountability to myself. When I train with my weights, I log every weight used for each lift along with every rep of every set. After all, how can you judge success if there is no measure? Remember too, what gets measured gets done.

Be the best you can be my friends, thank you for reading and God bless.

Stay Fit

 

The Common School Of Thought

Since I am a power lifter, I frequently hear, “Aren’t you afraid of hurting yourself?” My response is simply, “No. I know that I will hurt myself if I DON’T do this.”

The Facts

As we age, we naturally lose muscle. Our metabolism slows. Our reflexes aren’t as fast. While this is a nightmare scenario, I can assure you that a whole lot of this is not inevitable. The “Fountain of Youth” is resistance training and/or High Intensity Interval Training. Truth is, I’m much more fit and healthy than I was at 21. At 21 I was not a power lifter. I ate poorly. I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch, just because I could. Today, at 64, I am the strongest and healthiest that I have ever been and in many ways, I look better. Hard exercise changes more than your body. It changes your face also because you flex those muscles just like all the rest when you push yourself hard. Your circulation increases and you are left with a glow that diffuses the light so that imperfections are less visible. I would not trade the body that I live in today for the body that I have had at any other age. I have hard exercise to thank for that, (and one hell of a trainer…;-D)

See Your Doctor Before Beginning ANY Exercise Routine!

Always see your physician to approve any exercise routine. These statements are my opinion and are intended to be used in accordance with your physician’s approval. If you are not inclined to lift weights, you might like check HIIT. It will push you to your limit and some of these workouts do use weights, which I personally always favor. Weight sculpts our bodies like nothing else can and I always want to be lean and sculpted.

Cardio?

There is a myth concerning strength training that it doesn’t serve as cardio. That may be true if you are wielding small amounts of weight in a way that does not stress you. As a power lifter, I can assure you, if you lift enough weight you will get some cardio. There are times that if I had any more cardio I’d need to take a serious break. I do try to wait 90 seconds between sets and in that time, my heart rate will begin to return to normal but I like to proceed before it’s quite there. I get all the cardio that I can stand.

Mayo Clinic Testimonial

According to Daniel V. Gaz, of the Mayo Clinic, [1] “how do you stop the loss of muscle mass and increase it instead? It’s simple-lift weights!” I have been asked if it’s possible to get 6-pack abs in your 60’s. Yes. The 6-pack is already there. If it wasn’t, you couldn’t stand up. What we have to do is burn the fat off of them and build the muscles up. As the fat melts away, the 6-pack will be revealed. If we build those muscles, the 6-pack will be more obvious and we won’t have to be Bones Jones skinny for it to be seen.

Magical Muscle

Skinny is not healthy. Lean and strong is what your body thrives on. Muscle not only enables us to move, it also helps with digestion, breathing and posture. Building and maintaining muscle is quite possibly the biggest favor that you can do for yourself. I have noticed that when my muscles are strong, they take stress off of my joints. I don’t have the bone and joint problems that many people think are “normal” with aging. Muscle is a natural shock absorber so the impact from falls or just everyday activities will travel through muscle before it impacts bones and joints. I have taken falls that would have seriously injured some folks with no after-effects.

Embrace Hard

If you are in your 20’s, you may get away with “Easy” for a while but I implore you, with your Doctor’s permission, learn to embrace “Hard”. Later in life you will be a completely different person. I work with people 40 years younger than me who come get me when they need help with the heavy lifting. I am glad to assist them. I also take those times to teach them some of the basic body mechanics involved in lifting so that they will have longevity in their profession. We are medical and sometimes our strength is absolutely critical.

The Big Question

Is it more difficult to strengthen your body now or to allow yourself to deteriorate until you have skeletal and other medical issues related to inactivity and atrophy? I don’t do atrophy. I have never accepted that as a normal thing. I see that as a result of apathy, or laziness or sometimes as ignorance. We have to care and be willing to work to create the body that we want to live in. Do you want to spend your time taking care of your body or running from doctor to doctor trying to get it patched up? There are physical ailments that befall us that are not due to our actions or negligence but, so much suffering can be avoided. So much good can be done. The difference in old and broke down and advanced chronological years in awesome shape is world’s apart. I ask you today, what will your choice be? ;-*

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stay-fit-at-any-age/art-20270840

You CAN Do This!

                                                                                     
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels
 

DON”T QUIT!

The Tools

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and the ability to spring back into shape, or elasticity. That does not mean that you do not struggle. It does not mean that you never want to quit or that you never get “bent out of shape”. It means that even though you do, you put yourself back together and proceed with your plan of action, always pressing towards your goal.

The Skills

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that resilience can be cultivated. (1) It is a learned behavior for most people. It doesn’t just happen. It’s cultivated over time with specific behavioral modifications. Resilience creates “The Phoenix” personality, someone who will recreate themselves and rise from the ashes. A 1- positive attitude, 2- optimism, 3-the ability to regulate emotions and 4- the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback all help to create this state of strength and growth. Research indicates that a positive outlook helps to buffer the effects of stress on the brain. Once the stress is defused, our ability to think can be restored and we can choose the best path of action. Resilience is usually a result of “doing the work”. It doesn’t just happen. We have to want it and work for it. The result is reaching our goals and having a measure of peace of mind in even the most difficult circumstances because we have learned how to control our thoughts.

Application 1

In weight management, resilience is critical. The idea that a “diet” is a temporary state of deprivation is possibly the most destructive factor in crushing good intentions. Without resilience, cravings seem like an impossible obstacle to overcome. The resilient person has the ability to look forward to the goal, realize that this moment of misery is just that, a moment, and move on. In the interim, we reset our minds to focus on the big picture, not just one dark spot, and the beauty of the masterpiece that will be revealed has the ability to obliterate most of the present pain. It’s not an easy task but it’s well worth the effort.

Application 2

In any fitness program resilience is the deciding factor of success or failure. There is never an end to fitness. It is a chosen lifestyle filled with victories and falling short of what we want to achieve. Without resilience we will throw in the towel when those six pack abs don’t show up on our predetermined schedule. The resilient person toughs it out, struggles through the workouts, falls short, sets new personal records and keeps moving towards the goal which is a lifetime of strength and good health brought about by working for it day in and day out without an end in sight.

Methods

The ability to see the temporary factors that affect our performance, and success or failure, is important. If we view these things as temporary and fixable we are much more likely to make adjustments and go on with our plans. If we believe that we performed poorly because we are inept or unable to accomplish the task, we may stall and eventually stop or even lose progress. Perspective is key to our resilience. One “fail” at the barbell or one gained pound, or so…, does not mean that we can’t do it. It means that THIS time we didn’t do it and we need to set about to discover WHY. To say that we just couldn’t is never an adequate response. Dissect the “failure”, fix it as much as possible and move on.

Assimilation of “Failure”

Failure is part of growth. Even plants do this. If a blade of grass encounters a sidewalk, it just looks for the crack. It didn’t fail. It had a temporary setback. Trees that are blown almost to the ground in a storm may grow up twisted but they don’t just die because their first attempt to be the tallest tree on the block failed. They keep growing and become a strong and beautiful work of art.

Resilience Models

 David, the Author of David’s Way is the best example of resilience that I have ever known. He has had debilitating spinal injuries that would have destroyed most people. Instead, he is incredibly strong and healthy and accomplishes more in an hour than most people accomplish in a day. I have had my own struggles, including having my life turned wrong side out by the direct hit from three tornadoes within mere minutes March 19. 2018. When we have trauma and setbacks in our lives, the only proper response is “Full speed ahead!” Anything else makes us a victim of circumstances. I am a tornado, cancer, divorce, raising an autistic son , child of an anorexic mother, puritanical upbringing survivor, NOT a tornado, or whatever, victim. NEVER refer to yourself as a victim of anything. If you survived it, you are a survivor.

Full Speed Ahead

When you feel the wind pick up, gather your forces and put your survival plan into place. Shelter, but when the winds still hit, hold on. Don’t wait for the storm to end before you start fighting back. Fight IN the storm. Fight for your health. Fight for your mind. Fight for your loved ones. Fight for your life. Never stop. Don’t Quit. Even if you get a direct hit, or two, come out of that shelter and create a brand new life. The old one is gone and it doesn’t really matter. You have to work with what you have today. So, if you feel like a failure or if you’ve had setbacks, know this, you are not alone. There are many people who fail repeatedly. They’re called Winners and Leaders. I believe that Winston Churchill summed it up, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” No one succeeds the first time, every time. Just keep getting up and you will get there. Only runners can win the race.

(1) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/resilience

No Access to a Gym?

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

So I have folks ask me all the time what they can do to get toned while either not having access to a gym, or maybe they just do not want to go with my preferred route of getting after it with a barbell. Well, I have some good word for you. You do not have to have anything fancy at your disposal and you do not have to lift weights to get a good toned body Everything you need is right at your disposal and will cost you little to nothing.

Folks, in the military it is not practical to PT your unit in a gym full of equipment so we would rise early and PT with calisthenics followed by a run. Access to equipment not required. When I worked as a Correctional Officer, we had inmates who also had no access to equipment such as when they were in lock down. What would they do? Calisthenics, I have seen inmates who were in lock down for months at a time that were still specimens of physical fitness because they used their body weight and still had means to improvise weights. One improvisation being the use of a plastic trash bag filled with water and then wrapped in a blanket to use as a weight for for curling and pressing. There are always things at your disposal for resistance training in almost any circumstance. Try saving a couple of 1 gallon milk jugs and fill them with water for a couple of ten pound weights, or close to it anyhow. You can always find something if you open your eyes to what is around you.

You do not need fancy or heavy equipment in order to lose weight and to improve your strength, appearance and over all health. All you need is the will to do so. Here is an example of a workout you can do that will be effective in getting you strong and fit. This will tone your body well, as long as you also eat right. Remember, while it is not necessarily impossible to out exercise a bad diet, it is difficult to do over an extended period of time.

Put on a good pair of sneakers and get yourself into some comfortable work out clothing and do the following at least four to five mornings a week. Give yourself a couple rest days either with two days in a row or separated. However works best with your schedule. I have not been one to workout early in the morning since retiring from the military, but if you do, then it is out of the way for the rest of the day. You can do this routine in an hour and get great results.

Spend a couple minutes stretching your muscles and getting loose and then;

  1. Push Ups, shoot for 30 or as many as you can in one set. Take yourself to failure when you r arms can no longer push your weight. Make it hurt.
  2. Jumping Jacks, perform 50 of these to get your heart rate up.
  3. Bent Knee Crunches, Do 25 to 30
  4. Diamond Push Ups, again aim for 30 reps or push until your muscles are burning.
  5. Jumping Jacks, for another 50
  6. Reverse Crunches for 25 reps
  7. Wide Arm Push Ups, Again, go until the lactic acid burns
  8. Jumping Jacks for another 50
  9. Sit Ups, for 25 to 30 reps
  10. Burpees, go for 30 reps or as many as you can get
  11. Run, go out and run for a minimum of 30 minutes. If you can not run 30 minutes, then run as long as you can and push it a little further every day you exercise. Even if the added distance is just to the next telephone pole.

If you do this simple exercise routine, you will build physical strength and cardiovascular endurance. Your body will become fit and toned. This exercise routine is tough to do at first, but you have to push through that first week and it will get simpler every day. Do not give yourself much if any rest time between exercises. Go straight from one to the next. If you can not do it all at first, just do the best you can to get at least a little of each exercise until you can.

I recommend this be done before breakfast in the morning, but you can do this routine anytime you want. Ensure you stay well hydrated and as with any strenuous exercise, make sure to consume protein shortly after you finish working out. A good protein shake following exercise can be as refreshing as it is good for the body.

Always consult your doctor before beginning any new physical fitness program.

Fitness Triad

What is the Fitness Triad and why should you care? Any guesses? Unless you are a present or former seasoned athlete, you likely do not have any depth of understanding of how much you do not know that which you do not know. If there is a single thing that I think can without failure, be pinpointed with folks failures with weight loss and physical fitness programs, it is a lack of knowledge. When it comes to failing a weight loss and or physical fitness program, a lack of knowledge is going to kill your loss or gains no matter how much effort you expend in the gym., The only caveat to this, is there are some people who are outliers who do well in spite of themselves.

The Fitness Triad is akin to a three legged stool. All three legs must be equal in length for the stool to be stable. The Fitness Triad is Exercise, Nutrition and Rest for recovery. All three elements have equal roles in your progress with exercise of any kind. There are no exceptions to this rule, ever. Exercise, Nutrition and Rest all share equal importance.

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I will address exercise first. Friends, if you are new to exercise, especially if you are obviously out of shape, please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen. You do not want to find out the hard way that you have developed an unknown condition that could possibly make exercise dangerous for you to do without easing into it.

Next, understand that not being obese is not necessarily a sign that you are in shape. You could very well be within your healthy weight range, yet be what is referred to as skinny fat. You probably know the type even if you do not recognize this term. This is the individual who has a soft body despite being thin. Skinny fat can be worse than outright obesity as skinny folks assume that because their weight is not high, they are in good health. Nothing could be further from the truth. Having served in two separate branches of the Armed Forces, Navy and Army, I have seen skinny fat folks get in physical trouble during their basic training as they are just not physically ready for the demands of the training.

Weight training, specifically Power Lifting is my exercise of choice for me personally. I also like to go out and take very brisk walks at about a 3.7 mph hour pace for anywhere between 5 1/2 to 7 miles at least twice, sometimes three times per week. I lift three days per week, and walk on my non lifting days. Your choice of exercise is totally individual for what works for you, how ever, know that unless it is elevating your heart rate, it is really not doing much for you. While it is certainly better than sitting on the couch eating bon bons, without an elevated heart rate, the benefit is greatly reduced. If you are going for weight loss, you need your heart rate up at least an average of twenty minutes in order to burn through your glycogen stores before your body begins to burn fat as fuel. You really need to get through the glycogen stores!

There are much too many types of exercise to address all, so I am going to limit this mainly to strength training and cardiovascular exercise. No matter which route you take, be kind to your body and buy the best shoe that you can afford for the exercise of choice. You want shoes that will provide you stability and support. Even weight training has special training shoes which have a harder sole with a heel rise. The harder sole gives you a more solid foundation when you are doing lifts that require standing such as Squats, Dead Lifts and Over Head Presses etc. Shoes for your cardio need to fit well and have proper arch support to prevent painful conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis and blisters.

If you are new to either strength training and or cardio, my next advise is to get yourself on a set program in order to know what to do, and in order to track your progress. There are many apps out there you can download to your phone for free. You really will benefit more by doing this and placing trust in programs that have been put together by experts that have already learned the hard lessons you really do not want to have to learn yourself. This can help prevent burnout and injury too. Again, you may not know what it is you do not know. For running apps, there are a few good ones out there such as C25K, or Couch To 5 K. It is an excellent program that will move you from walking to running 5K or 3 miles in a methodical manner of progress.

Starting Strength by Coach Mark Rippetoe is a great app for beginning strength trainers, male or female,young or old alike. There is another app that is quite similar and is a bit of a rip off of Starting Strength called Strong Lifts. These are two quality programs based on five sets of five repetitions for compound body lifts; Squats, Dead Lifts, Bench Press, Barbell Rows, and Over Head Press. The beauty of using these program apps is you do not need to think about which weights to use or the set/rep scheme. The apps do it for you. Next, is you will have a definite measurable progress to gauge your success on. For any ladies who think these sound too difficult, I am currently coaching my co-author Brenda in Starting Strength. Brenda is 61 years young, just in case you might think age is a limiting factor beside gender. Both Starting Strength and Strong Lifts, begins you with very little weight in order for you to learn the proper form for each lift before progressing to heavier weights. Read Brenda’s journey with the iron in Iron Maiden parts One and Two.

Often I hear ladies say they want to strength train, but do not want to bulk up. They then proceed to lift weights using light weights and very high reps in order to tone. This is not what you want to do if you do not want to bulk. Light weights for high reps results in sarcoplasmic hypertrophy which results in bulk if you keep after it. What this means is you cause microscopic tears in the muscle which result in inflammation which causes fluid retention in those muscles and the end result is bulkier muscles. The only thing to keep in mind though, is if you are female, your body does not produce the testosterone to get truly bulky as a man will.

Lastly, on cardio and strength training. Be sure to ease into your routines and always without fail, ensure your form is proper for the exercise. There is even proper form for running in that your stride can hurt you if it is not right. And for heavens sake, do not over do it when you are not ready, and sometimes even if you think you are. An example of what poor form can do for you, combined with over doing it would come from push ups or bench press. Flaring your elbows out during either movement can cause painful impingement of your your shoulder girdle. And, you can end up with painful tears or strains to the connective tissues besides the muscle tissue. Another problem of over doing it, which results in these injuries, is you will end up with muscular imbalances where the strength in a pulling muscle might exceed the pushing strength of the mirror muscle which will result in injury. Injuries like this can not only be painful, they can also be permanent.

Getting to the next leg of the Fitness Triad is Nutrition. You must eat enough calories to fuel your exercise without getting yourself fat,or fatter. You bet, I meant those words. You can not out exercise a shitty diet, or not for long anyhow. Conversely, you must eat enough to not allow your body to go into starvation mode which will only serve to slow your metabolism and stop your weight loss in its tracks if you are seeking to lose weight. You must eat enough to fuel your body. And, I strongly recommend you eat only whole and healthy foods which are high in protein, low in carbs, and are not processed meals or contain any sugar. You can join My Fitness Pal for free and find out your base metabolic rate and caloric needs for your specific goals and body type. I promise that even if you only consume 16-1800 calories of whole high protein low carb meals, you will find it difficult to eat this many calories unless you are really physically active all the time. As it is, I aim for 2500 calories a day and find it hard to eat all this even with heavy weight training 3 days per week and power walking 2 to 3 days a week for 5 1/2 to 7 miles at a time. Again, I am going to stress the need that you MUST eat enough whole healthy foods to fuel your fitness regimen. Eat that protein to repair your muscles and connective tissues.

The next and final leg of the Fitness Triad is rest. Your body must have rest in order to recover. When you sleep, your body repairs itself from the strains you put on it during your exercise routine. And it is not just your muscles which need recovery, your central nervous system does as well. If you train every day with no recovery days, you will soon burn out. More is not always better. Repeat, More is not always better. Got that? More is not always better. When you over train and your central nervous system gets fatigued, you may never see it coming. You will be progressing quite nicely. Feeling stronger than ever in your strength or cardiovascular training. Then one day you get up and may feel as if you have the flu, yet you are not puking nor do you have a fever. Your body just hurts and your feel fatigued all over. And the fatigue can last from a day to in my worse episode a few years back, a solid month.

In summary, remember that if you are new to exercise, get a check out from your physician. Wear proper shoes and clothing for the environment. Be sure to learn from the experts rather than going it on your own. Learn from their mistakes, not your own. Eat clean, and eat enough. Zero sugar and zero processed foods. Make sure that you get proper rest between exercise sessions. These three legs to the Triad are all equally important to your physical fitness my friends. Lastly, not matter what you do, make it fun. Enjoy the great outdoors as often as you can. A little sun shine will always help to chase the blues away.

Dual Action Exercise Bikes

Picture from ebay

I came into possession of a Pro-Form XP Whirlwind 320 exercise bike earlier this year when my brother in law my wife and I had been caring for in our home passed away. This article is not meant to be a review on the Pro-Form exercise bike as I have not used it long enough to give a true comment on what I think of it’s quality. My intent is solely to discuss the benefits of exercising with these types of exercise bikes overall. I will do a review on the Pro-Form model once I know how it holds up after heavy use.

I have never been a fan of these exercise bikes simply because every one of them I have ever began to use felt like a clunky piece of junk. I had a cheaper one already before Howard passed away. And to put it bluntly, it is a better device to hang clean clothes on than anything to which you can get a good exercise session on. I should really drag it outside to the street for the trashmen to carry away one day.

Royalty free from Pixabay.com

Besides weight training, I love to get in good cardio exercise through hiking and running. However, with the closing of parks due to COVID 19, and the ever changing weather, it can be difficult to stay on track with outside cardiovascular activity. The obvious answer to inclement weather and closed parks is to either exercise in a gym or at home. Gym memberships can get expensive, but home workouts are free and far more convenient than driving to a local gym. With my full time job, and the other conditions I mentioned, I have not done anything other than all that I do with my strength training in my home gym. But one day, I decided I would give Howards exercise bike a try and found that I actually like it. So far, the Pro-Form has felt smooth and ergonomic to my body. It feels to be a quality piece of equipment despite only rating 3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. But I like what all the movement does for my body enough that I will buy a better quality exercise bike of this type when or if this one actually wears out on me.

What I like about these exercise bikes.

I like that these bikes can be used by almost anyone, whether you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned athlete, you can get in a good fat burning and cardiovascular training session. These bikes will give you full body, low impact exercise that can be done at what ever intensity level you are capable of performing.

I believe in making the most efficient use of my time when working out. I am not a big fan of doing single muscle group workouts when I can do exercises that are far more superior in that they work multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Face it, the majority of us are not professional body builders who need to concentrate on single muscles.

Most of us only need to focus on functional strength and fitness for a healthy body.

I love that not only are we working our legs and cardiovascular system, we are also working out our upper body. Exercise bikes with stationary handles do not allow for this. With the moveable handles, you are working your arms in more than one direction as well the dynamic movements are working the core muscles and abs too. These bikes are an efficient and effective way to burn calories and body fat while strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles. For those of you who are out of shape and maybe overweight too, these dual action exercise bikes place less stress on your joints, while still providing you with an excellent aerobic workout.

Dual action exercise bikes improve the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body. This, in turn, can benefit your health in a number of ways, including:

improved memory and brain functioning

lower blood pressure

better sleep

improved blood sugar levels

a stronger immune system

better mood

lower stress levels

more energy

Your first attempt at cycling might make you feel pressure on your muscles and joints, but as you stick to routine exercise, you will discover everyday cycling and physical activities become easier and easier. The capacity of your muscles and cardiovascular system will increase. Regular cycling at a healthy level can lessen the probability of falls, improve muscle health, and heighten the coordination and balance of muscles and joints for elderly people. You risk of type 2 diabetes becomes reduced when your muscles are healthier and more efficient at taking up glucose.

What I do not like about dual action exercise bikes.

Image from Nathan Copley from Pixabay

There is a plethora of junk dual action exercise bikes to be found on the market.

You get what you pay for.

If you purchase an inexpensive exercise bike, it will end up being set out with your trash or disposed of in a dumpster at some point unless you really like it to hang clean clothing from. If you buy a cheap exercise bike, it will feel clunky, and not ergonomic to your body. You will find that with heavy use, the cheap models will wear out on you or they will break. Often the cost of replacement parts can be high enough to warrant just buying a new piece of equipment. Sometimes, by trying to save money up front, we wind up spending more at a later point in time. Be sure before buying one, you give it a good test ride in a store, or read up on customer reviews. You will not be sorry if you are selective in your purchase.

As we always advise, be sure to first be cleared by your doctor before beginning any type of exercise. Sometimes we can have underlying conditions that we only learn of when we begin an exercise regimen.

Save your hard earned money and follow us here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness.

We are free of charge to everyone as we truly want to help you to successfully lose those unwanted pounds and for you to keep them off. We can also now be found on Facebook @ David’s Way to Health and Fitness, Sugar Free Living!

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Women and Strength Training

Photo by Luciano Ottoni, Pixabay

I want to address the topic of strength training and women in this article and hopefully clear up a few misconceptions. Over the last few years, I have had several women ask me about how they should best approach resistance training and they are about always surprised when I recommend they train with the exact same exercises as a man would do, the only difference being the amount of weight used as a starting point.

Women who regularly train with weights can improve their health, develop a healthier self esteem with a higher degree of self confidence, reduce their risk of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis and they can enhance their athletic capabilities. In the past, some women have questioned the value of strength training and have even avoided it because of social stigmas, and or the fear of getting too big.

You might even believe that training with a barbell is too hard for a woman to attempt.

Current evidence clearly displays that women are perfectly capable of tolerating and adapting to the stresses of strength training, and the benefits of doing so are quite substantial. An excellent example of how strength training benefits women, even those who are older, is our very own Brenda Sue whom I have been training via online videos for the last year and a half. Brenda Sue asked me for weight training advice and I took her on as a trainee. Despite being a 62 year old female, I began her on the same training program I would any young man, only at a lighter starting weight. Her strength gains have been remarkable to say the least, and it is incredible how much it has improved every other area of her life through being stronger physically and mentally. These qualities bring on a higher sense of self confidence which simply makes the tasks we face every day seem much easier. Brenda Sue has learned that if she can rise back up from a heavy squat, then she can tackle anything else that comes her way.

Sex differences, body size and composition.

Obviously because of differences in strength between men and women, some approaches to strength training might need to vary by a small degree. That being said, there are many men who are weaker than many women when they begin strength training too so this is not as large an issue as some might believe.

Before puberty, there are essentially no differences in height, weight and body size between boys and girls. As the children begin going through puberty, the differences between boys and girls becomes more evident primarily because of hormonal changes. During puberty the production of estrogen in girls increases fat deposition and the development of breasts. Whereas testosterone in boys increases bone formation and protein synthesis. Though estrogen also stimulates bone growth, boys have a longer growth period, and thereby adult men tend to achieve greater stature than women. On average, women tend to have more body fat and less muscle than men. Women also tend to weigh less than men, yet require a higher amount of body fat for good health than a man requires. Anthropometric measurements of adults indicate that men have broader shoulders relative to their hips and women tend to have broader hips relative to their waists and shoulders. The broader shoulders of men can support more muscle tissue and can also provide a mechanical advantage for muscles acting at the shoulder. Yet, again I still maintain there not be weight training programs that have to be different solely because of the differences in the sexes as our anatomies and physiology is not that different. We might have a difference in our build, yet we have the exact same muscle groups, our cardiovascular systems are also the same. Women prove every day they are just as capable of performing the same physical tasks as men. In a world where my fellow men feel they need to prove their manliness, I will tell you straight up that I would rather work with a woman who can physically pull their load than with a weak man who cannot. This was true both when I was in the military and during my period as a maximum security correctional officer.

Strength and power output.

When comparing training induced changes in muscular strength between men and women, it is important to distinguish between absolute and relative measures. In terms of absolute strength, women generally have about two thirds the strength of men. The absolute lower body strength of women is generally closer to male values, as compared to the absolute values for upper body strength. Gender related differences in body composition. anthropometric characteristics, and fat free mass distribution can partly explain these differences.

When compared on a relative basis, gender related differences in muscular strength are greatly reduced. Because the average man and woman differ considerably in body size, it is useful to compare gender differences in strength relative to body weight, fat free mass and muscle cross sectional area. When expressed relative to body weight, the lower body strength of women is similar to that of men, while their upper body strength is still somewhat less. If comparisons are made to fat free mass, differences in strength between men and women tend to disappear. It is interesting that but there is data that suggests that eccentric strength may be more similar between men and women than concentric strength when compared to relative fat free mass.

When strength is expressed relative to muscle cross sectional area, no significant difference exits between genders, which indicates that muscle quality is not gender specific. Granted that the muscle fibers in men and women are also similar in fiber type distribution and histochemical characteristics, never the less men tend to have larger muscle fiber cross sectional area than women. Notwithstanding the importance of these observations, we need to remember that there is a wide range of strength abilities and that in some cases differences between two women may in fact be greater than the difference between a man and woman.

In terms of absolute strength, women are generally weaker than men because of their lower quantity of muscle. When compared relative to muscle cross sectional area, no differences in strength exists between genders, which indicates that muscle quality is not gender specific.

Strength training for women.

Despite gender related differences, men and women respond to resistance training in similar ways from pre-training baselines. Although the magnitude of change in selected variables may differ to some degree, the overall value of resistance exercise for women extends far beyond an increase muscular strength and includes favorable changes in other important measures of health and fitness.

Being as the physiological characteristics of muscle between the genders are the same, there is no sensible reason why weight training programs for women need to be any different from that of men. In fact, because the muscle groups involved are the same for men and women, resistance programs should be designed to improve the performance of the muscles involved regardless of gender. It is a misconception that weight training programs for women should be any different from those of men. It is also a misconception that women lose flexibility and become bulky from weight training. The only difference required between weight training programs for men and women is generally the amount of weight used for a given lift.

Ladies next time you balk at the idea of strength training, consider female Olympic athletes such as gymnasts who are able to perform 40 pull ups and competitive female weight lifters who can lift over two times their body weight. These outstanding female athletes display what is possible through strength training. For another excellent example of what is possible when a woman commits herself to “Life under the Iron”, take a good hard look at our own Brenda Sue for inspiration. This little lady is 62 years old, weighs about 135 pounds, and can deadlift 190 pounds, and will soon surpass 200. Brenda Sue has become strong without becoming bulky, her health and level of fitness are that of a twenty something, her self esteem and confidence levels are at an all time high.

I will place this topic on our new forum where you can comment or ask either of us questions. I am positive Brenda Sue will share some of her fitness secrets with you there. Lets get the forum up and rolling!

10 Holiday Fitness Hacks

Tis “The Season”!!!

Chocolate and gumdrops and brunches, OH MY!!! This time of year can be a health and fitness disaster unless you take control. It’s simply not logical to think that you can indulge every craving for 5 months and suddenly change track. If you give in to those cravings from September through most of January, you won’t be able to fight them the rest of the year. During this time is when people are less likely to adhere to their exercise routine due to changes in schedules. Changes in diet also contribute to lethargy and you don’t “feel” like exercising. A box of chocolate covered cherries will make you so nauseated and drowsy that exercise falls to the bottom of your to-do list, but there are ways to avoid this pitfall of the whirlwind of activity and food that accompanies these dark Winter days.

  • Plan-Never go to an event “blind”. Carry healthy snacks in your car, purse or pockets. If you are going to a gathering where you can take food, take what you need to eat. If you like sweets, look at our recipes and make a sugar-free dessert just for you. There will be plenty of the sugar-filled variety for those who are not health minded. I made this Sugar-Free Chocolate Sheet Cake last night . I made it with dark cocoa and it’s dark, sweet and rich. I made mine with a 9×13 pan instead of the 10×15 and I baked it until a knife inserted in the center came out clean. It’s ooey-gooey, sticky and chocolate. This was mine from last night.

  • Don’t go around hungry! (and don’t grab a candy bar to alleviate hunger, regardless of what the commercial says…)-Stay full of good, nutritionally sound, whole foods and you won’t be overwhelmed by Holiday offerings. Have a hearty snack before every occasion that revolves around food.

  • Get plenty of sleep.-Many of us get sleep deprived during this season with all the decorating, shopping and partying that goes on. Make sleep a priority now more than ever because sleep deprivation can cause excess hunger and carbohydrate cravings for quick energy.

  • Get plenty of protein.- Protein keeps your energy up and helps improve your level of alertness. While carbs give you quick energy, protein gives you sustained energy. You are less likely to have an energy crash at the mall doughnut shop if you eat enough protein. David has an excellent article called Protein Supplements that discusses protein needs in detail.

  • Throw it out of the house!- DON”T keep food around you that is a problem. I have a pretty good remedy for foods that I don’t need whenever they turn up in my house. I open the container, empty it in the garbage and douse it liberally with Dawn dishwashing liquid…works every time. I know someone who frequently tosses offending foods out the window when someone gives him foods that he doesn’t need to eat while he’s on a business trip…quite efficient.

  • DON’T BUY IT!!! I have ran experiments over the course of years concerning the seasonal feeding frenzy. What I have discovered is that if I buy it, I will eat it. Don’t lie to yourself. You are not buying those chips for “the kids”. You’re just buying chips. STOP IT!

  • Wear fitted clothes ALL SEASON. Yep, all the time, especially when you’re grocery shopping, cooking or eating. I promise you that you won’t eat as much in tight jeans as you will in stretchy, slouchy sweat pants.

  • Look at yourself without clothes in a full length mirror every day. I think that’s all that I need to say here…

  • Eat breakfast-You will be more satisfied and have fewer cravings and more energy all day. Have protein, fiber and complex carbs. If you skip breakfast you will feel like you can eat like a maniac all day. That won’t work.

  • Exercise-(with your doctor’s approval) When you are crunched for time, you can still slip in a quick walk. If you’re house bound, find a workout video on You Tube, buy some dumb bells that you can use or some elastic bands. If you want to exercise, get creative. There’s always a way if you are sincere.

 

Preparing Your Summer Bathing Suit Body

Photo credit Pasja1000, free stock photo, Pixabay

Every New Years Eve, we hear people talking about needing to get their body ready for the summer so they can wear their bathing suits without any fear of body shaming. I get it, besides looking good at the beach, it can be difficult to hide a pudgy body when the weather is too hot to wear baggy sweat shirts and such.

Hint: those baggy clothes actually do not hide a thing!

Photo credit Gerd Altman, free photo stock, Pixabay

If being able to wear the swimwear of your choice to the beach next summer is actually important to you, then why wait until after the first of the year to begin working on it? From today, you have about 28 weeks to begin working on that summer body in order to be ready by June. If you need to lose 28 to 30 pounds to be ready, you might be okay if you begin working at it today. But the truth is, you are still at the bottom of a hill and behind the curve for next summer if you have 30 or more pounds to lose in order to feel as if you are going to look good at the beach or swimming pool.

Photo credit AndrasBarta, free stock photo Pixabay

Why do you have a difficult climb ahead of you?

A healthy rate of body fat loss is only 1 pound per week unless you are morbidly obese. If you need to lose 30 pounds of body fat by the summer you might make that goal, but that does not necessarily mean you are actually going to look good when you reach that magic number on the scale. You know, that number which will transform you into whatever your imagination today is leading you to believe it will be. And trust me when I say that as important as a healthy diet is, a diet alone is not going to get you there. You are going to need to perform exercises that will minimally preserve your lean muscle, but more importantly, you really should consider exercise that is going to build on the lean muscle you have. Otherwise you might be setting yourself up for a body that is at the weight you desire, yet you still might look awful with loose skin all over your body.

When you get fat, your skin expands to hold in extra adipose tissue. The skin stretches out, gets damaged, and loses some, or even a great deal of its elasticity. When you lose the fat, the skin can become saggy, like someone let the air out of your love handles or lower belly. While this is not particularly a good look, it is still far more healthy than being over weight and it doesn’t happen to everyone who loses weight, but sadly, for some it occurs even with relatively minor fat loss. Usually you see it in those who lose roughly 100 pounds or more, but some people may notice a little sag losing just 40 pounds or so. Short of a surgical procedure, you may never be able to fully get rid of your saggy skin, but you can minimize how bad it looks through muscle building exercises.

Loose skin cannot be dieted off, trained off, or drugged off.

No matter where you shop, whether in a brick and mortar store or online, there is a huge plethora of products on the market claiming to get rid of loose skin, or that promise to at least reduce the appearance of loose skin. Most of these bunk products just contain local diuretics, others contain hopeful sounding things like collagen or elastin, but all that basically means is temporary water loss and skin that “feels” tighter but really isn’t.

No cream or noninvasive laser or light therapy is going to make a few inches of your body’s largest organ disappear!

If you truly desire a nice looking body, then this is something you need to work at all year through good nutrition and exercise. The belief you can begin working at a good body on January 1 and be ready for summer is foolish thinking. When it comes to your body and your health, quit waiting on the perfect moment to begin working on it.

The perfect moment is in your past!

The next perfect moment is right now!

You are always going to encounter obstacles and less than perfect conditions in life. This is a truth for all of us, not just you. Get started now if you have not already.

You need to believe in yourself and that you can do something positive for yourself.

You may not see positive results right away, but that doesn’t mean you’re failing. For most people, it can take a good amount of time to unravel years of bad habits and forge new ones. This is why you should work on your body and health year round instead of trying to play a futile game of catch up in time for the summer.

You have to be proactive about your well being, all the time!  Learning to love your body and yourself is a long process when you have never done it. However taking care of your health and fitness are worth every minute of the day that you invest into it.

Save your hard earned money and follow us here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness.

We are free of charge to everyone as we truly want to help you to successfully lose those unwanted pounds and for you to keep them off. We can also now be found on Facebook @ David’s Way to Health and Fitness, Sugar Free Living!

Stop by and give us a like and a follow!

 

Spot Fat Reduction and Toning

Photo credit Tumiso, free stock photo, Pixabay

Sometimes, I really wish the topics of spot weight reduction and toning would just die on the vine and never be heard about again. These topics will often be posed with the question ;

How can I reduce my belly fat and tone my arms?

Well, here is you how you do spot reduction and toning:

Stand straight and tall, click your heels together three times, then hold your nose with your left hand while pointing at the sun with your right, and then execute three counter clockwise pirouettes. And don’t forget to  do 100 sit ups and 100 dumbbell triceps kickbacks each day until you are satisfied with your results. If that works out for you, be sure to let me know so I can quit my work of research, study and writing for you.

In other words, spot reduction and toning are not really possible for you.

I get it, your tummy has developed a little pudge, and your arms have become soft and you just want to look a little better since after all, you still have an otherwise nice figure. Almost everyone would like to change certain parts of their body at some time or other. I need to address this in as real a manner as possible – if your tummy has a little bulge to it and your arms are now soft, you need to know that your body fat is too high everywhere, not just those specific areas. You need to make lifestyle changes that will impact your entire body, not just a couple of areas where you believe you need improvement.

Weight gain is quite frustrating  for most people, while weight loss can also seem to be an impossible endeavor. Many people will often seek out easier alternatives than adopting healthy and permanent changes to their diet or increasing their activity levels.

Spot reduction is promoted as a way to quickly reduce fat in problematic areas. This method appeals to the belief that working the muscles in problem areas is the best way to burn the fat in that specific spot. Yet, fat loss doesn’t work that way, and there is very little scientific evidence to back this claim. To understand why spot reduction is not effective, it is important to understand how the body burns fat.

How Your Body Burns fat

When you are burning off body fat, you are doing so all over your body. You will notice the fat loss first in places where you were more lean, yet the rate of fat loss between your arms and belly are still going at the same rate.  The reality is, the more body fat you carry, the more patient you are going to need to be in achieving desirable results from your weight loss endeavor.

 In order to get rid of belly fat, you have to work to get rid of arm fat, back fat, neck fat, thigh fat, and finger fat too. It all comes and goes together. There is no easy way out, and it does take work to get there. The fat in your cells is found in the form of triglycerides, which are stored fats that the body can use for energy. Before they can be burned for energy, triglycerides must be broken down into smaller sections called free fatty acids and glycerol, which are able to enter the bloodstream. During exercise, the free fatty acids and glycerol used as fuel come from everywhere in your body, not specifically from the area that is being exercised. This is a basic fact for each and every one of us no matter what some people who promote spot reduction might tell you as you hand over your hard earned cash.

But I can Spot Tone Right?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Well, of course you can spot tone. And you might as well whistle your favorite show tune while doing so for all that is worth. Remember, as I said above, if you have a pudgy belly and soft arms, then your overall body fat is too high everywhere, not just those specific areas. You could build up your upper arms with curls and triceps kick backs,  but what are you going to do for the rest of your body? What are going to do about the muscle and strength imbalances that will come from trying to spot tone? Do you even believe this would be a good look when you have one area of your body looking firm while the rest is still soft?

Do you only care about what others see when you are dressed?

Or, do you care more about what you see in the mirror when you are undressed?

If you care more about the former, you might want to check your priorities!

Spot reduction or toning is not the best use of your time, many evidenced-based methods can help you lose fat and tone your entire body which is not only a better look, it is a more healthy choice for your body. Workouts and exercises that engage your body as a whole have been shown to be most effective at shedding pounds and getting a fit and trim appearance. If you are going to commit to achieving a healthy, fit and trim body, then make intelligent choices in what actually works best to get there.

Whole-body exercises: Instead of focusing on one area of the body, whole-body exercise like burpees have been shown to burn more calories and lead to more fat loss than targeted muscle toning exercises.

Combining exercises: Combining resistance training and cardiovascular exercise has been shown to be more effective at shedding pounds than just focusing on one type of exercise.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT involves short periods of intense activity immediately followed by a recovery period. Studies show HIIT may be more effective at burning fat than steady-state cardio.

Cardiovascular exercise: Cardio, such as running and cycling, uses large muscle groups and has been proven to be effective at torching calories.

But the key for any exercise to work for you is in consuming a healthy diet! You cannot out exercise a poor diet my friends. It is a solid fact of life that when you choose unhealthy foods or overeating, these factors can, and will, quickly undo all your hard work in the gym. There have been a great many studies which have shown that exercise alone is not effective for weight loss unless a conscious effort is made to control calorie intake and make healthy food choices. I can tell you this is a truth from my own personal experience.

Following a healthy meal plan and creating a calorie deficit is crucial for weight loss. Cutting out added sugars entirely and limiting processed foods, while consuming more protein and fiber and practicing portion control are all evidence-based ways to lose weight and achieve a fit and trim body.

Many people want a quick and easy way to lose fat, especially in troublesome areas like the hips, belly, arms and thighs and will seek out shortcuts to try to get there. Shortcuts never work in the long run no matter who you are. Placing your focus on working towards a healthier, more toned body overall is far more beneficial than attempting to lose fat in one particular area.  My friends, with plenty of hard work and full dedication in both the gym and kitchen, you can and will, achieve your goals.

Save your hard earned money and follow us here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness.

We are free of charge to everyone as we truly want to help you to successfully lose those unwanted pounds and for you to keep them off. We can also now be found on Facebook @ David’s Way to Health and Fitness, Sugar Free Living!

Stop by and give us a like and a follow!