May 28

Exercise: Are your easy workouts too HARD? Are your hard workouts too EASY? This is an important one to get right!

dumbbellsI am inspired to write this post by a forum I saw today on exercise intensity: Short and Sweet or Slow and Steady? I think this a great topic that is not given enough thought in the average person’s training plan. Ideally, for both optimal health and weight loss, you do both! The reality of the situation for most people is that our easy workouts are too hard, and our hard workouts are too easy! We tend towards middle of the road intensity every time, and in doing this our gains become stagnant and we stop seeing real physical and performance improvements!

What should an easy day look like?

An easy day should be really easy. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t feel like you are really working out at all. Your heart rate should stay under 130 beats per minute, and you should stay away from strenuous activities like weightlifting. Walking, gentle yoga, or a slow and easy bike ride are some examples of what an easy day workout looks like. When your heart rate stays nice and low, your body burns stored fat and you won’t experience increased appetite. A large part of fat loss is attributed to easy workouts! A gentle increase in blood flow to your muscles helps them to recover better than a complete rest day, but it’s not enough to stress them and prevent recovery.

When your easy day turns into a moderate workout because you made the effort to go to the gym, or maybe because you just feel the need to feel the burn, or maybe you’re tempted to burn more calories. Whatever the reason may be, you’re doing more harm than good! If a walk turns into a jog or you decide to bike some hills instead of sticking to the flats or you lift weights, your not giving your muscles the chance to recover. Then when it’s time for your hard workout your muscles aren’t able to perform at that high intensity level because they still haven’t recovered! Now your hard day has turned into a medium day as well and you’re on your way to getting stuck in moderate intensity exercise no mans land!

How hard should a hard day be?

A critical point to this program is that your hard days have to break beyond the medium no mans land barrier as well. It’s not enough to go through the motions in the weight room or go for a jog. You need to push yourself and it’s not supposed to be EASY! If you’re lifting weights you should be lifting heavy, performing 8-12 reps and those last couple reps should feel really hard. If they don’t, lift more weight! Squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, snatches, dumbbell rows, kettlebell swings, push ups, pull ups and planks are a few of my favorite strengthening exercises. It’s ok to take breaks between exercises if you need to. It’s better to take a break and follow through with the intensity than to try to power through and fizzle out. Interval sprinting or biking is another great way to do a hard workout. When you are sprinting go ALL out! Maintain the sprint for 10-30 seconds and then slow down to walk or gentle spin until you catch your breath. Repeat for 4-8 sprints. You will be reaching 80-95% of your max heart rate at points during your hard workout!

Remember to warm up before your hard workouts. Get the blood flowing and heat up your body for 5-10 minutes before jumping into the workout. Give yourself 5-10 minutes to cool down and stretch at the end of your high intensity workout as well!

Why the hard day/easy day combo works for weight loss and optimal health

Easy days are awesome because your body burns stored fat to fuel these activities and because of this you’re not experiencing the increased appetite you would with moderate exercise. Easy days get your blood flowing and your body heals and restores itself you so you look awesome and feel awesome! In our society these walks, hikes, gentle yoga sessions, or slow bike rides are unfortunately dismissed as too easy or for not burning enough calories. But the reality is that easy exercise is the foundation of an optimal fat loss fitness pyramid. Grab a friend or a dog or just yourself and get some nature time every day!

Hard days are awesome because these are the days that the fitness gains occur, and the metabolic benefits go far beyond the 300 calories you would burn on a treadmill during a moderate workout. High intensity exercise is what gets you strong and gets you looking lean! But you can only train at your limit if your body is recovered and trying to incorporate high intensity training for the average person more than 2-3 times a week is too much. When you try to do too much, you’re workouts will fall in the fitness no mans land of medium intensity blase. That being said, you may need to work up to high intensity exercise depending on the level of fitness you start at. Lifting heavy weights, circuit training, and sprinting are 3 types high intensity exercise that I incorporate into my hard training days. And the day after a hard day? Easy does it! I let my body tell me when I want to go hard, and when I want to take it easy.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far!

Do you alternate hard and easy days? What do your workouts look like?

May 23

Philosophy of my approach to life and weight loss

Food, fitness, and spirituality are inseparable aspects of a healthy lifestyle. To reach your weight loss goals, you might succeed with only mastering the food philosophy, but to truly lead a life of health, happiness, and vitality, you must master all 3!

Food Philosophypaleo diet

  • Body composition is 80% diet. Diet is HUGE!
  • Animals and vegetables have been the foundation of the human for thousands of years and should be the foundation of your diet for weight loss, optimal health, clear skin, and emotional balance! The power of food cannot be underestimated!
  • Eat whole foods that nourish your body and don’t eat foods that make you sick. If it needs to have an ingredient list, intake is best limited.
  • Eat 3 meals a day and snacks if you need them. Ultimately you should eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full, but it may take time to become in tune with these senses.
  • Do not fear fats! When used properly, as a part of a more frugal carbohydrate diet, they train your body to better burn fat.
  • Grains ultimately fuel the body the same way that sugar fuels the body. They cause insulin spikes, inflammation, and contain antinutrients that prevent your body from absorbing vitamins and minerals. It’s best not to eat them, even in their whole form.
  • Sugar and all carbohydrates cause insulin spikes and inflammation and should be handled with care. This macronutrient should come mainly from vegetables, some fruits, and nuts. It’s time to rethink the traditional food pyramid for our waistlines and our general health!
  • Every meal and snack should contain some protein, some fat, and a small amount of carbohydrates. The balance of these macronutrients provides the most balanced energy and keeps us satisfied without leading to physiological reasons to overeat.

Fitness Philosophy

  • Body composition is 80% diet. Fitness is important, but you can’t exercise off a bad diet!kettlebell
  • Lift heavy weights to become strong! You’ll increase your metabolism and your confidence.
  • Walking is the new running. Walking and other forms of slow cardio are superior cardio for weight loss. They allow the body to burn energy almost entirely from fat stores and do not increase appetite like jogging or more cardio intensive biking. See if you can walk for 4 hours a week! Squeeze in a 10 minute evening walk and 20 minute lunch break walk daily and you’re already almost there.
  • Short bursts of HIGH intensity exercise once or maybe twice a week will accelerate your body composition transformation. If you’re exerting yourself for more than a minute without resting between, it’s probably a) too long and b) not as intense as it otherwise could be. Think sprinting!
  • Get outside with friends whenever you can. When you make fitness fun, it is no longer a chore, but becomes a cherished moment.

Spiritual Philosophy

  • Losing weight alone cannot make you happy. Emotional balance takes work just like zeneverything else
  • Be present in each moment of your life as often as you can.
  • I am not my mind. I am not my job. I am not my health, or my fitness, or my relationship or any of these things. Neither are you! Distance yourself from negative self talk by becoming an observer of your mind
  • Cultivate a regular meditation practice to center yourself. If you meditate regularly, it will become a useful tool for you in stressful situations
  • Be grateful for your life and your body and your spirit and your health! Even on difficult days, finding and naming the pieces of your life that you are blessed with will bring a profound happiness to your heart!

Thank you for reading if you’ve even made it this far! I know it’s a lot, but I want to share how important I feel it is to look at all aspects of wellness to get the best results. What’s your philosophy?

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