Healthy Eating – Understanding Your Protein, Carb, and Fat Intake

Hey Angels and Alphas!

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re working toward a fitness goal.

Now I don’t need to be a fortune teller to tell you that, but let me elaborate a little bit.

Whether you’re in the gym all day and you’re tracking all your food down to the last calorie, or you’re just someone who likes being active and learning more about fitness and nutrition, there is a goal in front of you that has to do with keeping your body fit and healthy.

And it’s that goal that brought you here. To a blog post in which I’m going to dive deep into the essence and function of the three major macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Even though you know how important both exercise and nutrition are important when chasing a goal, I believe we can agree on two things:

No amount of dieting is going to balance out a lack of physical activity, and no amount of physical activity is going to offset a lousy diet.

So even though technically they’re equally important, I’m keeping the focus on nutrition for this post!

The reason I’m digging into this topic is that healthy eating is nowadays an extremely overcomplicated and misunderstood mess.

People are afraid of high protein and high-fat diets, and let’s not even get started on the carbohydrate hate floating around in the fitness world. (But we will get to it.)

That’s why today, I want to give you a new perspective on the topic of healthy eating.

Right now, I’m going to deconstruct proteins, carbs, and fats, so I can hopefully give you a better understanding of what your body truly wants and needs.

Once you know that, there’s going to be nothing else standing between you and a healthy, sustainable, goal-inspired diet.

Let’s get started!

1. Proteins

Proteins are essentially chains of linked small molecules called amino acids.

Protein is the second most abundant nutrient in our bodies (the first being water), and it provides our body with 4 calories of energy per gram.

While the fitness community has spent all their time bashing carbs and fats, proteins have become the most spoken-about nutrient among athletes, bodybuilders, and just about anyone who has ever stepped foot in a gym.

And that’s understandable!

Protein is like the glue that holds your body together. (And the body of every living creature for that matter).

When we eat protein, these amino acids split apart and get absorbed in the small intestines where they are rearranged and sent into the bloodstream. These newly reorganized proteins carry out most of our body functions.

There are twenty-two amino acids your body needs, but only nine of them cannot be produced by the body. That’s why if we want to achieve our healthiest, best-looking figure, prioritizing these nine essential amino acids is a must.

This is where your diet comes in!

The nine essential amino acids you must consume through food or supplements are; Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Tryptophan, Threonine, Valine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, and Methionine.

And honestly, it’s not even about eating a ton of protein – it’s about eating the right type of protein. Because without the right amount of each essential amino acid, your body will end up wasting the protein you intake by not consuming it properly and throwing it out.

Your body uses the calories from protein by utilizing them for energy, allowing them to carry out vital body functions, or just storing them as fat.

When you’re lacking carbohydrate or fat calories for fuel, your body is going to start using protein calories for energy. When you are sufficiently carb-ed up, your body is going to use protein calories to carry out specific functions like replacing old cells, building muscle tissue, and growing your hair and nails.

These amino acids are also directly responsible for your muscle growth and metabolic rate as they help the body produce hormones that regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
If your diet is low in essential amino acids, your body simply cannot carry out its protein-related functions!

There are foods out there that are known as complete proteins – they contain each of the nine essential amino acids. They include animal products like milk, fish, cheese, eggs, chicken, and beef, and a few plant-based ones such as quinoa, soybeans, and buckwheat.

Incomplete proteins are foods such as most plant products. They are the reason vegan/vegetarian diets often combine different incomplete proteins to fill the entire spectrum of essential amino acids they need to consume. Things such as grains and vegetables often complement beans and nuts in vegan diets.

Higher protein diets have been linked to better muscle development, faster and more productive recovery, stronger tendons, more gains in strength, weight loss, better sleep, and many more.

In short, all protein is good for you – but complete proteins are just awesome.

Addressing kidney problems…

Experts like to scare people away from high-protein diets by saying they cause all sorts of kidney related issues.

This, however, is not a concern for people who do not have preexisting kidney conditions. In the off chance that you do have one, your doctor has already told you a million times how much protein you need to be consuming.

But if you’re still worried, check out this study that concludes that the average training person should consume at least 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to get an advantage. Simply put, if you’re going to be overeating on any one macronutrient, protein is probably the safest choice.

Pro tip: Aim for an average of 2.5 grams of protein every day for every kilogram of your desired body weight.

2. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are made of sugar molecules that break down into smaller versions called glucose, glycogen, cellulose, and etc.

Carbs, just like protein, contain 4 calories of energy per gram.

And let me tell you – your body loves these little sugary molecules!

A lot of nutrition experts will tell you carbohydrates are your body’s favorite way of getting energy, but carbs play a much, much more profound role in our overall nutrition.

Look around!

Nowadays, every single diet seems to focus on carbs. (Especially weight-loss diets).

Carbohydrates have been demolished by the media and fitness personalities, and it looks like they’re competing with fats on which nutrient can get the worst reputation.

All jokes aside, carbohydrates are complicated.

Of course, some carbs are good for you! But when someone hears the word “carb,” they most often think about highly processed fast foods that are only called food because you can put them in your mouth. And yes, you can process any food over and over until it becomes unhealthy, but carbohydrates are taking the entire blame for the obesity epidemic, and that doesn’t do them justice.

It’s just that people love eating them!

For now, let’s take a look at the different types of carbohydrates, so you get an idea of what you need to be consuming more, and what you need to be consuming less of.

Carbohydrates are classified into two main categories: simple and complex.

There are also fibrous carbs that are found in fruits and veggies, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to discuss the carbs that have an actual impact on our weight. Carbs from veggies are unlikely to have an adverse effect on your figure.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are often super tasty. They include honey, syrup, table sugar, soda, cakes, cookies, beers, candy, and so on.

They are the carbs most often referred to as “bad carbs,” and should be avoided outside of cheat days and moments of weakness.

They provide an immediate boost in blood sugar, but that boost is short lived and leaves your body craving more of these carbs in order to sustain its blood sugar levels.

And that’s the problem!

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates include bread, cereals, pasta, oatmeal, beans, fruits, veggies, and many more.

The general belief in the fitness community is that complex carbs are better for you, but that isn’t always the case.

What makes complex carbs significantly different from simple carbs is the fact that they’re digested at a much slower rate. This slower pace of digestion provides your body with a stable, linear flow of energy whereas simple carbs give your body short bursts of it.

So it’s not really about the type of carb you eat. The only thing that matters is how quickly your body can break it down into glucose and turn it into energy, and how your blood sugar levels are going to react to it.

The best way we currently have to rate the quality of carbohydrates is via their glycemic index (GI).

The GI refers to precisely those two things – the speed at which foods break down for energy in your body, and how much they boost your blood sugar.

But although eating low-GI foods is better than eating high-GI foods, the end result isn’t going to be much different if you’re still consuming the same amounts of calories.

Simply put, complex carbs are a better option because they “burn” more slowly.

What you need to remember is that you need carbohydrates to stay healthy. Don’t let these fad diets keep you from loading up on carbs before an intense workout.

Even though low-carb diets have shown to provide some health benefits, few of them relate to weight loss and gym performance.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved this when they compared low-carb and high-carb diets in a study and concluded that there were no significant differences between the two when it came to muscle retention, fat loss, and your metabolism.

Pro tip: Determine your carb intake last. Prioritize fats and proteins. Remember: the right amount of bad carbs is always better than the wrong amount of good carbs.

3. Fats

Fats are fitness’ scapegoat.

This onslaught of bad media has people buying into the “low-fat” craze, thinking what they’re buying is actually healthy, just because the label says it’s “low-fat.”

But ironically, everywhere where fat consumption decreases, obesity rises.

The positive effects of fat are rarely brought up, and I think it’s time we change that!

I’m not going to go all “scientific” on you, but really…

Fats have 9 calories per gram – they give us more than twice the energy that proteins and carbs give us. This makes them a super-efficient energy source for the body.

Fat plays a vital role in the healthy functioning of our nervous system. Every neurochemical signal in your body (for example when your brain tells your arm to move) happens because of fat. They help men produce testosterone, and they keep our hearts and muscles healthy.

On top of that, fat has an impact on your blood pressure, blood clotting, and the inflammation going on inside your body.

It’s also more satiating than carbs and protein, it protects your organs, balances your core temperature, and even regulates hormone production.

To sum it all up, fat is necessary for the healthy and productive function of your entire physiology.

Right now, I want to share with you a little bit about the different types of fats, and why you should make an effort to include all of them in your diet. (Not trans fats though.)

Saturated Fat

Let me just start off with this – studies have linked high saturated fat consumption to heart disease, but the majority of these studies have been disproved when researches went back and looked at the entire data.

Because of these old, biased studies, the media and different health organizations started pointing the finger at saturated fats as the reason for a variety of health problems such as heart disease.

Data has come up that disproves their claims, but it’s often completely disregarded.

Just to give an example, research was done off the coast of New Zealand in an area called Tokelau. Residents there consumed a diet consisting of over 50% saturated fat, yet they top the world rankings in cardiovascular health. This, along with other cases and data, is entirely ignored by the media.

They’ll tell you all about the newest low-fat products, but will undermine the fact that even the chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard publicly stated that saturated fats are not the cause of obesity and heart disease.

Saturated fat is an excellent energy source for your body – not to mention, it’s extra satiating and keeps you full for a long time. Don’t let biased media and fitness personalities tell you that these types of foods are bad for you.

If saturated fat were bad for you, your body wouldn’t naturally store carbohydrates as saturated fat.

So if you’re not a vegetarian, stop running from red meat, eggs, and dairy!

Fun fact: research shows that diets high in saturated fats usually come with lower total calorie intake.

Monounsaturated Fat

Avocado lovers assemble!

Monounsaturated fats are most often found in high-fat fruits, nuts like almonds and cashews, butter, and olive oil.

They help your body deal with bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, and some researches even link them to fat loss.

Polyunsaturated Fat

Just like monounsaturated fats, these are labeled good fats and help your body lower bad cholesterol.

They’re found in salmon, fish oil, sunflower oil, quinoa, and more. They contain the famous EFAs – essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. They’re crucial to our physiology and can’t be produced by our own bodies, yet they’ve been largely processed out of the food we eat.

They’re called “essential fatty acids” for a reason. They’re known to improve heart health, support mental health, fight inflammation, decrease liver fat, promote bone health, and much more.

Make sure you’re getting enough of them.

Trans Fat

Trans fats are a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Honestly, nothing good can be said about them. Think deep-fried foods, French fries, pies, pizza, margarine, anything along those lines.

A lot of meats and animal products contain traces of trans fats, but the majority of trans fats we consume are chemically produced by a process called partial hydrogenation. I’m not going to go into the nasty details, but when it comes down to it, trans fats are a result of overprocessing our foods so they can stand on store shelves for a longer time.

If you’re serious about your diet and fitness goal (or just don’t like eating garbage) avoid trans fats.

Pro tip: Based on your individual preference and activity level, aim for 20 to 45% calories from fat.

Where does that leave us…

In this article, you learned everything you need to know about proteins, carbs, and fats.

All of their essential functions, how to differentiate between the good and the bad, and even the reputation they have in the fitness community.

If you’re looking to make a few adjustments in your diet, now is the time! Just by learning about the things you consume, you get a better understanding of how your own body works, and you’re already one step ahead of your diet.

So ditch the trans fats for their healthier alternatives, give a little more attention to those complete proteins, and keep an eye on those simple carbohydrates…

I guarantee you’ll see the changes immediately.

Sports Psychology Techniques for Better Performance

Hey Angels and Alphas!

Today, we’re talking about a topic that goes beyond the physical and into the world of sports psychology!

We all know fitness has a mental aspect to it, but it’s something we can never really give a concrete definition to. It’s like some athletes just naturally possess qualities that set them apart from the competition in a positive way, give them laser-like focus, and help them cope with setbacks.

And here, we’re talking about top level athletes. Athletes who know how valuable that mental aspect is, so they invest more of their time and energy toward understanding it and mastering it.

If you take a closer look at the athletes who focus on developing their mental qualities, we can see they are just as strong and confident outside the field as they are in it.

Whether you’re an athlete or not, you definitely know the feeling of developing these qualities – in the times when you genuinely learned from a mistake you made, overcome a setback, or dedicated your full focus and attention toward the goal you were chasing.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s in the gym or outside of it, everyone can benefit from the mental health training techniques that sports psychologists teach the world’s top athletes.

A stable and focused mind is always going to give you an edge in your approach – be it for a sport, a competition, or just your everyday life.

So, let’s begin by giving a definition to sports psychology – just so we know what we’re getting in to!

Once you have an understanding of this concept, you’ll see how easy and yet powerful it is to use sports psychology techniques to train your mind all the way until you reach your desired goal.

Let’s get started.

What is Sports Psychology?

The best definition I’ve heard for sports psychology is a branch of science aiming to learn more about the impact our mind has on our athletic ability in different sports.

This scientific approach toward understanding an enhancing your performance via your cognitive ability allows us to learn more about relevant topics such as motivation, focus, and mental imagery.

A lot of athletes hire professionals that study how psychology influences sports, exercises, and physical activity. They teach them how to get a mental edge in their sport, improve their motivation, help them cope with the pressure of competition, and guide them toward achieving their sporting and health goals – all through the power of mental training.

These sport psychologists don’t just work with professional and amateur athletes. They also work with regular people – those who want to feel more joy from exercise, those who have trouble sticking to a program, and even the people who are just trying to get through a plateau in the gym.

Regardless if you’re an athlete or not, there are psychological techniques you can use to improve your cognitive health and maximize your performance during physical activity.

Maybe you’ve reached a point where you’re not motivated enough to go to the gym, or you’ve completely stopped seeing progress toward your goal.

If that’s the case, then it’s pretty clear that something is going on in your subconscious that needs your attention. Athletes who are aware with the concepts of sport psychology have no problem sparking their motivation back up – they find it easy to see their “why” because they’ve practiced meditation, mental imagery, self-talk, and other cognitive training techniques.

And after all, if you want to do something significant, you have to give yourself a significant reason to do it. Through sports psychology, you can use the power of your mind to make that reason real to yourself through visualization and goal setting.

So if you want to use these techniques to improve your performance in the gym (and out of it), hack your brain to be in a positive, focused state all the time, and set goals that motivate you instead of overwhelm you…

Here are four of the most effective cognitive training techniques sport psychologists use to help the world’s top athletes perform at their best!

Technique 1. Goal-setting and routine creation.

Goal setting is the strongest tool at your disposal. Your mind has given you the ability to make choices and decisions that better your life – and only you get to decide what bettering your life means. The top athletes in every sport are using complex strategies, plans, and routines to move closer and closer toward their goal – they aren’t just aimlessly practicing their craft.

A physique competitor might be adjusting their strategy to lean out more this season. A basketball player might be taking an extra hour working on their agility today. And a businesswoman might be practicing her skills by speaking in front of the mirror before every important meeting.

These are all examples of setting goals in the right way. Dynamically instead of statically. They’re all identifying their weaknesses, and adjusting their goal to work on improving their skills where they most need it.

Sports psychology research in the past two decades shows that setting goals the right way comes down to making them;

1. Challenging

Constantly tailor your goals to fit the sweet spot between challenging and reachable. Don’t expect to increase your squat every time you step in the gym. Setting goals too high will overwhelm and frustrate you while setting goals too low will not give you the necessary motivation to go out and achieve them. Be realistic and continuously come back and revisit your goal, adjusting it to fit that challenging/reachable sweet spot.

2. Measurable

Try to find a unit of measurement that helps you track your progress over time. In fitness, there’s variety – weight, macros, PRs, you name it. But in other sports, for example, it could be a goalkeeper daily saves, or a basketball player’s steals throughout a particular game.

3. Specific

If you know exactly what you have to do, doing it becomes easier. Athletes don’t get up in the morning saying “I want to perform better.” They wake up saying “Today, I’m working on this, this, and this.” If you have a specific, defined plan for what you need to do, you’ll naturally gravitate toward taking action.

4. Written down

A Harvard University study on habits and behavior concluded that tracking your progress and writing down your goals increases the chance of their attainment. Not to mention, a journal is an excellent source of motivation and helps you remember where you started.

Another great goal-setting technique is small-chunking. Basically, it means that you should be breaking down all your goals into small parts, making them more manageable, and then focusing on your next immediate target.

These small chunks of your overall goal create routines that you can follow all the way to success. These routines help you target your focus, prevent distractions, and spend your energy in a controlled matter.

They make the entire process of managing your growth and progress much more straightforward – they help you identify and learn from your mistakes while allowing you to focus on what you’re doing right and build up the confidence you need to do better next time.

But perhaps the most important part of successful goal-setting is not even about the outcome. It’s about the realization that you have to create your own process, and make it one you enjoy. When you’re focused on improving, things are in your control.

Outcomes though are something you can’t control. But if your focus is on the process and the small-chunked goals you set for yourself, your confidence and ability will keep improving even when the outcome isn’t what you wanted it to be.

Technique 2. Visualization and mental imagery.

All successful people practice visualization. They’re masters at seeing success in their mind, then turning it into reality.

Recent discoveries in neuroscience show us that just imagining ourselves performing an activity will activate the same regions in the brain as when we’re physically performing the task. Visualizing yourself practicing and/or winning is an excellent way to prepare yourself for what’s coming.

When an athlete is imagining scoring a goal, winning the belt, or finishing first, they’re building up the mental imagery necessary to perform that way in the real world.

When you’re exercising, use a variety of positive mental images to create feelings of power, happiness, and excitement, and then visualize them during your workout. Next time you’re doing a squat, imagine a gigantic magnet pulling the weight from your shoulders as you start moving up.

This type of visualization will help you build newfound ability and confidence in any area of your life you apply it to.

Here’s the expert advice on how to maximize the impact of your mental imagery!

1. Activate all of your senses.

When you’re imagining yourself, evoke as many as your senses as possible. Imagine what you’re hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touching, and feeling in that moment, and take a mental snapshot. The more senses you can activate, the more real the image becomes to you, and the more impact it will have on your psyche.

2. Involve a timeline.

When you’re visualizing yourself, do it from beginning to end. Don’t just imagine yourself winning. See yourself practicing, strategizing, exercising, focusing on your weaknesses, going out there, and earning your victory. Go through every emotion you can find and build your mental image piece by piece.

3. Use the first-person perspective.

Take that moment of you winning. Close your eyes, evoke all your senses, and experience it as if it was happening in front of your eyes right now.

* Watching video footage of yourself performing a task/exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen your mental imagery.

Technique 3. Positive self-talk.

Planned, specific, positive self-talk is something all successful people do – and with good reason.

It’s powerful! So much that depending on how you use it, it could make or break you.

If you’re in your head all day beating yourself up over past mistakes, doubting yourself, and spreading negativity like Nutella on bread, it’s going to be impossible for you to perform like you would when you’re “in the zone.”

Research done by the Association for Psychological Science confirms that the way athletes talk to themselves during training/competition makes a dramatic difference in their physiology and the way they perform!

So if you ever happen to beat yourself up over something you did (or didn’t), just remember that negative thinking is common. An inner critic lives in everybody.

But if we’re aware that these thoughts exist, we can slowly start replacing them with positive self-statements!

Here are three methods of self-talk you can try right now;

1. Motivate.

Research shows that motivational self-talk helps you perform tasks that require strength and endurance. It boosts your confidence, hypes you up, and allows you to create a loop of positive, inspiring, motivational thoughts.

2. Instruct.

Next time you’re doing a set, check in with your body and talk yourself through the entire range of motion of each repetition. In a situation like this, telling yourself to squat deeper or keep your feet aligned will be a better option than motivational self-talk like “I can do this.”

3. Use cue words.

Cue words are simple phrases or even noises that bring you back to a mental image or a focus point. Repeating words binds them inside your mind, and when you happen to hear them (or purposefully remember them), your physiology responds. Use that to your advantage when you want to redirect your focus.

Technique 4. Breathing and meditation.

The words psychology and meditation go hand-in-hand. In fact, meditation is psychology’s most well-researched tool. Countless studies have concluded that it helps you become more focused, reduces stress and anxiety, and promotes overall health and well-being.

Nowadays, most sports teams have scheduled meditation routines.

Mastering meditation helps you block out doubts, worries, and mistakes while blocking out the distractions around you. Meditation allows you to create a you-bubble in which the only things that exist are you and the object of your focus.

A basic way to meditate involves focusing on the sensations going on inside your body (like breathing) and ignoring everything else. With time, you learn how to sustain your focus for longer, and at that point, every distraction becomes a conscious choice.

While you’re paying attention to your breathing, you’re being fully present in the moment.

Control your breath to produce different psychological effects.

If you want to be calm and grounded, breathe deep.

If you want to be sharp and pumped up, energize the tempo of your breathing.

* And if you want to psyche your opponent out, breathe normally while they’re gasping for air…

Meditation and breathing are a powerful combination. You can use your breathing to create energy in your body, and through meditation, learn how to focus and target that energy anywhere you want.

But if you really want to feel the benefits of meditation, I suggest you do a little research so you can choose a method that you truly enjoy doing!

Where does that leave us?

To conclude, we can say there are a billion different ways athletes gain a psychological advantage in their field using sport psychology.

But the four techniques you learned today will serve as a perfect foundation for your mental training – it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, a gym goer, or just someone who likes going outdoors and being active.

If you practice and master these four techniques, pretty soon you’ll be able to;

• Set clearer goals.
• Control your mood.
• Control your focus.
• Avoid distractions.
• Create a positive thought-loop.
• Develop a better mind-body connection.

What do you think – if you’re able to learn and cultivate these things in your life, is any goal out of reach for you?

The Greatest Challenges Women Face When They Start Working Out (and how to overcome them!)

Ladies, let’s face it – in this society that’s built to impose norms on you, doing what you love and enjoy often ends up being difficult, overwhelming, and sometimes even painful.

Look how easy it has become for society to influence our decisions – if you’re a beginner in the gym, even a remark or question from a friend can stress you, put you inside your head, and make you doubt yourself and the journey you started.

When a woman enters the fitness community, she enters it with the desire to become a better version of herself, and more and more women are turning to the weight room instead of yoga or aerobic classes – and that’s a beautiful thing.

Working out doesn’t only help us reach our body’s full potential and look the best we could. In the gym, we also learn how to overcome obstacles and plateaus, and develop the mental resilience to break through the walls of society’s norms!

Honestly, nothing feels more rewarding than growing past your obstacles on the way to your journey’s pinnacle.

But some of the obstacles you face when you first enter the gym are going to be deadly – and if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you’ll end up immediately sending yourself back to the comfort of aerobics class and low-intensity cardio sessions.

The worst thing about being new at something is that you don’t even know what you’re doing wrong. And without knowing what the obstacle is, you can’t even hope to overcome it!

That’s why if you’re determined to get the body you want, you’re going to need some help along the way.

Today, we’re going to talk about the four biggest problems women face when they start their fitness journey.
We’re also going to take a look at the quick fixes you need in order to overcome these challenges, so you can lose the stress and be well on your way to bringing sexy back!

Let’s get started.

Problem 1: Not knowing where to start.

Solution: Set a goal and start mastering the basics.

If you don’t know where to begin, you’ve already begun.

We all know exercise has a ton of benefits. From fat loss and shredded abs to healthy hearts – there are plenty of logical reasons why everyone in the world should be exercising.

However, none of these are actually going to get you in the gym if you haven’t first figured out your personal motivation.

For some people, their motivation is to be better looking. For others, it’s the ability to run for miles and not get winded. And for some, it’s the feeling of getting up on the stage and winning a competition.

Motivation is only going to come as a byproduct of your vision or goal.

The vision you have for yourself in the future – one in which you’ve already achieved what you’re now setting out to achieve. This vision is going to be your motivation. If you’re new to the gym, imagine yourself reaching your full potential. How do you look? How do you feel? Describe it in as much detail as possible, and you’ll have no problem motivating yourself whenever you want to.

Take this vision you have for yourself, put a deadline on it, and boom, you’ve just set your goal.

And once you’ve set a goal, you can really get to work!

The whole problem with “not knowing where to start” isn’t that you lack information – it’s that you have so much of it that you’re overwhelmed by it.

When you’re new to the fitness community, the best advice anyone can give you in regards to achieving your goal is to stick to the basics.

With all the hype around weight lifting, everything has been made overly complicated and fancy. The truth is, beginners only need to focus on the high-quality basics if they want to build a solid foundation.
Take your goal, break it down into smaller ones, and start building up momentum. If your goal is to build strength and endurance, you should first focus on mastering basic exercises like the squat and the deadlift. If your goal is to lose weight, you should focus your attention on HIIT training, and tracking your macros.

Beauty lies in simplicity – and so do results. Therefore the best way to start your fitness journey is to find your “why,” set a goal, and then begin mastering the basics!

* Most gyms nowadays host introduction sessions with personal trainers, and they can get you acquainted with proper exercises, form, and technique if you tell them what your goal or routine is. Never be afraid to ask for guidance – everyone is usually very helpful.

Problem 2: Avoiding Weightlifting

Solution: Realize that no routine is complete without strength training.

Believe it or not, a lot of women still disregard all the benefits of strength training because of their fear of turning into the Incredible Hulk.

Social media has conditioned us to think that weights are the enemy, but in reality, your exercise routine would be incomplete if it didn’t include any resistance training!

Not only does weightlifting make our muscles and bones stronger, but it also provides us with a metabolic boost that lets us burn fat for hours after a workout!

In terms of our overall health, strength training helps us lose more weight, develop better posture, build core strength, and have better control of our body awareness.

But whether it’s in bodybuilding – where the goal is aesthetics, or in strength training – where the goal is to get stronger, the major misconception remains among most women in the community!

But let me tell you – the idea that you’re going to be gaining pounds and pounds of muscle just because you’re suddenly lifting weights is nothing but a delusion.

In reality, people who lift are generally leaner. Strength, conditioning, and nutrition experts all agree on this.

So grab those dumbbells, and let’s get to sculpting ourselves lean!

Problem 3: Undereating

Solution: Reverse-dieting and tracking macros.

Within the female fitness community, where the majority of the focus goes towards getting smaller and leaner, undereating is a topic that doesn’t get talked about enough.

To make that worse, a lot of the crazy diets floating around the mainstream have women consuming an extremely low amount of calories every day!

More and more women are also skipping out on meat, dairy, and other forms of complete protein due to their health choices.

To top that off, the media is always debating on whether carbs or fats are worse for our diets, essentially making water the only healthy choice left.

If your body is used to low-calorie diets, you’re probably coming into the gym with imbalanced hormones and low energy reserves.

So if you’re serious about making results, a reverse-diet is a must!

It doesn’t matter if you want to gain or lose weight. If you’re going to be exercising, your body is going to need more energy than usual.

Focusing on whole foods, complete proteins, slow-digesting carbohydrates, and healthy fats will help your body build up the nutrition it needs to grow in strength and endurance!

Start tracking the calories you consume every day. Slowly start limiting the number of processed foods in your diet, and start adding healthier alternatives. Add 100-200 calories to your daily intake every week until you reach a sustainable baseline.

And if you feel like tracking your diet is confusing or unnecessary, you can always hire a coach or dietologist that will help you with your reverse-dieting efforts!

Problem 4: Feeling Self-Conscious or Anxious

Solution: Focus on your body, not your surroundings. Listen to music. Work out with a friend. Realize that nobody was born with abs.

Picture your most muscular guy friend doing yoga – that’s kind of like how you feel in the weight room!

The gym is no stranger to making people feel self-conscious. It’s an environment where you’re supposed to focus on yourself and your form while you hear countless people talking, machines clanking, and weights slamming on the ground.

And with all the dumbbells, barbells, and heavy machines laying around, it’s understandable why a lot of gals feel intimidated when they first walk in.

But even though you have all this built up anxiety about looking inexperienced, or people staring at you, I promise you – all the angst, stress, and pressure in you are completely made up.
Everyone who has ever stepped foot in a gym has felt “out of place” the first time they were there.

If you’re a complete gym newb, you can’t expect to immediately tie your hair into a ponytail and start squatting 45s. It’s only natural that you feel a little uncomfortable.

But the only way you’re going to get the confidence you need to go… is by going!

When you’ve spent some time in the gym, you naturally get used to the atmosphere.

The only reason you’re getting self-conscious is that you’re letting your mind wander around, and you’re not focusing your attention on your next rep, set, or exercise.

That’s why gym regulars who follow routines just get in, finish their workout, and get out… because they’re focused on their body instead of their surroundings. And even those who have made fitness a lifestyle sometimes feel stress – so they bring a friend when they work out (or the next best thing, a pair of headphones).

Everyone in the gym is just like you – they just want to work out and better themselves.

Don’t let your self-consciousness get in the way of you achieving what you want. Don’t let little insecurities and temporary roadblocks keep you from living a prosperous, healthy life.

So don’t hesitate – get in there and do your thing!

To conclude…

Any of these sound familiar?

To me, all of them do.

In my experience, these are a few of the most dangerous roadblocks that come in front of a lady when she enters the fitness world.

But these roadblocks are different than injuries or plateaus.

They’re obstacles that keep you from unleashing both your physical and mental potential.

And while it’s true that going to the gym can be confusing and overwhelming at first…

You now know everything you need to know to eradicate these obstacles and start your journey toward a new, healthier, and better you!

The 4 Different Approaches to Strength Training (And why you need all of them)

Hey Angels and Alphas!

I while back, I did a blog post on the 4 different approaches to weight loss – exercise, nutrition, metabolism, and appetite suppression.

Today, we’re going to the other side of the spectrum!

We’re not going to talk about gaining weight per se, but weight training. It’s a topic so close to my heart (and so vital for your gains) that I decided to take the 4 approaches format and share with you my thoughts on the different approaches to strength training.

I’m sharing this with you because strength training is often misunderstood. “Training for strength” is not enough! Whether you realize it or not, you’re taking one of these four approaches while exercising, and I’m here to shine a light on them!

When you know what approach you’re taking, you can make the right decision for yourself based on what your goal is in the gym.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

The 4 “Approaches” to Strength Training;

It all starts with a simple realization. When you’re strength training, you’re either doing it to improve your muscular explosiveness, endurance, agility, or power output.

In this post, we’re not looking at individual types of strength training such as full-body workouts, push-pull splits, or hypertrophy training. We’re looking at the underlining goals that stand behind them.

For example, traditional full-body workouts achieve a balance between agility and endurance training, but won’t do much for your explosiveness and power unless you decide to put more emphasis on them.
This post will help you recognize where you need to put that emphasis to make your workout routine complete.

No surprises here – weight training makes you stronger. But different types of weight training produce vastly different results and give “stronger” a variety of different definitions.

While some types will help you increase your one-rep-max and squat a gazillion pounds, others will make you an unstoppable rep machine that doesn’t know the meaning of fatigue.

And some variations of strength training will do almost nothing for you in terms of strength and endurance gains, but they’ll still produce significant health benefits for you!

By learning all about the different approaches to strength training, you’ll be able to pick the one that tailors around the weight, goal, and look you’re going for in the gym while aiming to fill the gaps in your routine (if there are any).

Approach #1 – Strength Training for Explosiveness

You hear the word “explosiveness” floating around the fitness community, but what does it really mean?

When we’re taking a look at any motion-related metric, we have to realize we’re dealing with a value of change. If you analyze human movements mathematically, every motion will come down to using a unit of force at a unit of time.

You can then define explosiveness as the maximal amount of force you can produce in a minimal amount of time – the lengthening of your muscle throughout its range of motion by a quick acceleration through the shortening phase.

When you’re training for explosiveness, that’s where your focus is – the speed of the movement throughout its range of motion.

Your explosive strength is your ability to generate tension by contracting your muscles rapidly. It’s about increasing the quickness of muscle fiber contraction so you can produce higher levels of force and improve the resilience of your muscles and connective tissue.

How do I train with this approach?

With this type of training, you should focus on compound and single-joint movements while using progressively heavier weights. Barbell cleans, kettlebell swings, box jumps, they’re all types of explosiveness training!

Your rep range should be in the 1-6 zone. If you want the highest amount of muscle power output, strive for short, sharp, explosive reps. Keep the tempo as fast as possible when performing an exercise, and rest between 60 and 120 seconds after every set. (Based on how much weight you were working with).

Who is it for?

Muscle explosiveness is the type of training you’ll see most athletes doing. With it, you’re achieving a great balance of strength and cardiovascular ability.

It’s also the perfect option for those looking to lose weight while gaining strength. While you’re training for explosiveness, you’re keeping your blood rate high, and you’re also demanding more from your muscles. You’ll not only build mass and build more calories at rest, but the lower weight you use will allow even those new to strength training to see quick improvements in their physique!

Approach #2 – Strength Training for Endurance

Now, endurance training is a topic that we could talk about for days!

Here, we’re taking a look at how to strength train for endurance, and we’re not digging in endurance training as a whole (that’s a story for another time).

Events such as marathons, 10Ks, and obstacle courses are also perfect examples of times when muscle endurance matters more than muscle strength. However, most runners don’t incorporate strength training into their endurance routine.

But a lack of strength can hold back an endurance athlete. Just look at triathlon participants! They not only have the aerobic ability to endure long periods of cardio, but they also have the muscle endurance necessary to move a somewhat heavy bicycle for a hundred or more miles. They use strength endurance training, and for the same reason, triathlon athletes are usually way more muscular than marathon runners.

In science-y terms, your muscular endurance is your ability to hold a muscle contraction (or a level of applied force) for extended periods of time.

A lot of bodybuilders focus on incorporating high-intensity endurance training into their routine. This is because bodybuilding exercises strive to reach full muscle fatigue in order to stimulate growth.
This method relies on aerobic efficiency to supply the working muscles with oxygen and nutrients.

How do I train with this approach?

Strength training for endurance involves compound, bodyweight, and multi-joint exercises. They require less intensity on each rep, and the rep ranges vary between 12 and 20 reps performed at a slow, consistent tempo. Keep your rest intervals here low. Between 30 and 60 seconds.

Another variation of weight training for endurance are isometric exercises. They include holding a weight up in one position for a given amount of time (without going through the range of motion). This improves your stamina and makes you incredibly strong in the positions you hold.

Who is it for?

Muscle-endurance training is for those who want to achieve higher aerobic efficiency of the muscles they’re working, get leaner, and stimulate muscle growth as a bonus.

Gymnasts, triathlon runners, rock climbers, and bodybuilders all benefit from strength-endurance training. But the people who benefit the most out of it are the endurance athletes who are missing out on weight lifting as a whole! If that’s you, start incorporating weights into your routine as soon as possible.

Approach #3 – Strength Training for Agility

While explosiveness is your ability to generate tension rapidly, and your endurance is your ability to hold that tension, agility is all about controlling that tension.

Because traditional strength training strives to make you better at moving a heavy load through your full range of motion, many tasks that require quick reactions and rapid changes in your power output merely fall behind.

Generating and decelerating muscle force, making quick changes in velocity and direction, and improving your reaction time will all come as a result of strength-agility training.
Imagine a strongman event or a CrossFit game – where participants have to cruise through a variety of exercises and quickly adapt their bodies to the new stimulus. They have to learn to shift the force they’re generating from one point to the other, and they need incredibly resilient connective tissues to achieve that. That’s agility.

How do I train with this approach?
To strength train for agility, you can use a variety of free weights or cable machines with moderate intensity. Your focus should be on your ability to change the direction of your power output – train your knee extensors (quadriceps) and your hip extensors (hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and abductor magnus). Knee extensions, reverse Nordic curls, and hip thrusts are all great exercises options for this type of training.
The goal here is to develop awareness and control over your own body through changes of direction, so a specific rep count isn’t necessary. However, I suggest staying in the 8-12 rep range as a general rule of thumb. Keep your rest periods between 45-120 seconds.

Who is it for?

Muscle-agility training is perfect for anyone who wants to improve their mind-muscle connection, balance, and coordination while decreasing your chance of injury.

Pretty much any athlete can benefit from strength agility training. Footballers, basketball players, hockey, martial artists, CrossFit enthusiasts – they all value agility in different ways and they all need it to perform at their best.

Approach #4 – Strength Training for Power

So far we’ve looked at the speed of your lift, your ability to hold it, and your ability to control the tension you put on your muscles.

When it comes to power, we’re talking about the highest level of muscle force you can exert. This comes down to your ability to use your muscles (or muscle) to engage all motor units, and generate the maximal amount of tension against an external stimulus.

This type of training requires extreme internal body coordination and neuromuscular efficiency. Recently, it has exploded in popularity, and more and more gyms are becoming powerlifting-centered.
Tailoring your program for power training helps your body quickly adapt to a new stimulus (and therefore become stronger) while increasing the levels of muscle-building hormones in your body and improving your bones’ strength and density.

How do I train with this approach?

Strength training for power involves mostly compound movements using free weights or specific machines. Exercises include squats, deadlifts, snatches, and pretty much every exercise that incorporates more than one muscle group.

The rep ranges are kept as low as possible, in the 1-4 range, with the goal of consistently improving your one rep max. Rest here should be held between 2 and 4 minutes depending on weight, tempo, and intensity.
*The focus here isn’t on speed like it is in explosiveness training! Aiming to perform your reps as fast as possible may lead to injury because of the sheer amount of weight you’re lifting.

Who is it for?

This training goal is for those who are looking to become as strong as possible.

Powerlifters, bodybuilders, strongmen, and any athlete that wants to focus on exerting more force in a specific movement.

Putting it all together…

You can look at these approaches as four different training protocols – the four parts of your strength training. For your workout routine to be complete, you need to pay attention to all of them!
If you’re following one of the traditional routines such as full-body workouts and push/pull/legs, chances are your routine is missing one of these essential aspects.

When you started working out, you probably saw some rapid changes to your body. But after your body got used to this new stimulus, doing the same movements may have stopped that much-desired progress.

So if there’s one thing that I want you to get out of this post today, it’s this:
Just by changing your workouts to tailor around one of these approaches, you are going to fill the gaps in our workout routine quickly! And this might be just the stimulus your body needs to get on the gain train again.

Well, what are you waiting for? Hop on! Next destination – your goals.

Talk to you soon,
Ally

What’s the Best Time of Day to Work Out

Hey Angels & Alphas!

What time of day do you hit the gym?

To be honest, I’ve heard every possible answer to this question, but I still keep asking it. There’s something about it that lets us learn more about the person – I believe the perfect time for you to exercise is as much about personal preference as it is about your physiology.

For some people, finding time to work out is challenging enough, so they tend to focus on working out whenever they can fit it in their schedule.

But for those of us who freely choose when we can go to the gym, how do we make sure our physiology actively supports our fitness goal at that time of day?

Exercise has to feel good to be productive. If your muscles are too stressed at the end of the day, or too tight in the early morning, your workout efforts can fall behind.

Today, I want to take a more in-depth look into what science has to say about this – so you know what to expect, and you can make the right choice regarding when to go hit that gym session!

Let’s discover the benefits of each of the three individual choices – morning, evening, and night workouts.

Science says morning workouts are the best…

Well, sort of.

Let me just say – I love morning workouts. There’s just something about the luxury and tranquility of the early hours that allows you to focus on that deep, intimate connection with yourself and set the boundaries of your focus for that day.

However, I know very well that most people aren’t morning people… and that’s completely okay.

Anthony Hackney, a professor of Exercise and Sports Science at UNC, believes that morning workouts are the single best way to burn off stored fat. Your hormonal composition right after you get out of bed will be one that fully supports the goal of losing weight.

Mr. Hackney states that in the early hours of the morning, your hormones predispose you to better metabolism of fat.

In the morning, we naturally have elevated levels of cortisol and growth hormone (both involved in your metabolism). Therefore, the professor says that your body tends to draw its energy from your fat reserves. What happens next? Fat burning and weight loss!

Some research even concludes that early-morning exercise leads to appetite suppression throughout the day, another significant factor in weight loss. Not to mention, breaking a sweat before lunch has been shown to lead to better mental health, awareness, and productivity throughout the day.

A study in the Journal of Physiology found out that working out is a great way to shift your body’s circadian rhythm. Exercisers who started working out at 7 a.m. every morning quickly got used to doing it consistently. They got tired earlier in the evening, and this lead to them getting enough rest at night, waking up the next morning, and doing their next 7 a.m. workout. Another similar study also found out something similar – people who worked out at 7 a.m. every day reported having better and more soundly sleep.

And to top that off, check out this research that concludes that healthy habits are easier to develop in the early hours of the day!

It’s somehow more comfortable for us to keep our morning routine consistent. If you work out in the afternoon or evening, you might have all the responsibilities of the current day still on your mind. And if you’re hitting the gym after work, being present and paying full attention could be even more challenging.

So if you’re a morning person who’s all about the productive, get-it-done mindset, early workouts are probably your thing!

But for all the loyal fans of the “Snooze” button, we have other alternatives!

Afternoon workouts don’t fall behind!

Believe it or not, a lot of people hit the gym in the early hours of the day because of the countless CEOs and entrepreneurs who promote “squeezed early-morning workouts”, naturally associating it with their lifestyle of success.

It all sounds great, but for most people, those 5 a.m. workouts are just not going to cut it.

Back to the words of Mr. Hackney – he says that lunchtime training is the best choice for long, rigorous exercise routines.

Because you’ll have eaten a meal (or two) by the time you get to the gym, you’ll naturally give your performance a boost. While training in the morning is ideal for burning fat, working out later in the day will help you (supposedly) perform better.

Every time you eat, your blood sugar levels rise. Of course, if you’re going to be working out at a higher intensity, you need sugar in the form of blood glucose.

Check out this research – it suggests that your body adapts to your regular workout times. This means that if you hit the gym every day at 2 p.m., you’ll start performing at your best at 2 p.m. The idea that sticking to a particular workout window results in better performance isn’t new – but scheduling your workouts is way more complicated than just picking a time and heading for the gym.

The same study that talked about 7 a.m. workouts states that working out between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. can also shift your body clock toward performing better in that time window – if you keep your goal in mind, that is.

An essential factor in the quality of your exercise is your body’s core temperature. Imagine someone who is shivering cold! Their muscles are likely stiff and inefficient, and they’re way more susceptible to injuries and sprains.

Your body temperature usually increases as the day goes on. This leads a lot of experts to believe that endurance and strength peak in the afternoon (when your body temperature is the highest) and your muscles become more flexible, your reaction time improves, and your blood pressure is kept low.

But probably the most critical factors in determining your optimal workout time are your hormone levels. If your goal is to build strength and muscle, you need testosterone, and your body will produce more testosterone during a late-afternoon workout than it will during an early-morning one.

Do you follow me so far?

Morning workouts are better for burning fat; afternoon workouts are better in terms of muscle performance.

All that’s left is…

Evening/night workouts have benefits too!

Convenience. For most people who work all day, this is the only practical way of squeezing a workout.

However, it can cause some problems.

The Journal of Physiology study I shared with you earlier found that 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. workouts delay your body clock! This means you’re not going to be going to bed anytime soon after a gym session.
But remember Mr Hackney? He’s not convinced!

He says that evening training shouldn’t interfere with your sleep patterns as long as you don’t immediately go to bed when you come home. He even suggests stress-relieving activities such as yoga to help you sleep better if you work out at night.

To top it all off, a few pieces of research out there suggest that nighttime workouts also set you up for weight loss by reducing the levels of hunger-stimulating hormones in the body.

Where does that leave us?

If you had to pick the best time to exercise, which would it be?

In the end, I feel like it’s essential that we create a realistic, consistent exercise schedule. And in order for it to be consistent, it has to be enjoyable.

Most people won’t enjoy getting up early for a workout, even though it has substantial weight-loss benefits. And the majority of people who are used to early-morning gym sessions just won’t feel right going to the gym at 8 p.m., even though they might have no other choice.

So the bottom line is; if working out in the morning is the best for your schedule, do it. If you’re goal is to lose weight, all the better! If working out in the afternoon/evening is more convenient, do it. An added bonus there could be slightly better performance.

Whether you choose to head for the gym as soon as your alarm goes off, or you wind-down with a workout after a long day at work, one indisputable fact remains true;

There’s no wrong time to exercise!

Your Checklist for Optimal Post-workout Recovery

Hey Angels & Alphas!

Every experienced trainer or physical therapist will tell you the same thing – in the gym, real progress happens only after you’ve finished your workout.

We’re talking about the time away from the gym – when you let your muscles rest, recover, and grow.

Post-workout recovery is a straight-forward concept, but I believe it’s somewhat overlooked nowadays.

All the latest trends in fitness point to a mindset of burning yourself out to achieve results. Especially with summer right around the corner, a lot of people are going as far as working out twice a day so they can push their bodies to the limit and get that desired “summer body”.

I say it’s time to relax and face the facts! (Hey, that rhymes.)

You’ve probably heard a lot about how important the recovery process is, but for most people, that’s not enough of a motivation to take actionable steps toward improving it.

But the fact is this – it doesn’t matter if you’re a gym-goer, a marathon runner, a dancer, or a professional athlete. During intense physical activity, you’re going to break down your muscle tissues, deplete your energy stores, and sweat out a lot of fluids!

I’d define your optimal recovery as the most effective and productive way for you to counter those effects. If you’re not giving your muscles enough water, nutrients, and time to rest, you’re going on the path toward overtraining.

Repairing your muscles, replenishing your energy, and restoring your body back to its normal state isn’t something you should have to think twice about.

Yet somehow, overtraining is encouraged by some of the most popular fitness gurus out there! That just goes to show how little some of these “experts” know about what’s right for you and what’s not. We’ve talked about how dangerous overtraining is before, but I can’t stress this enough…

If you’re not recovering correctly, you won’t achieve the results you want!

That’s not what I want for you.

For you, I’ve compiled this list of the three major components of the recovery process.

I created this as your personal post-workout checklist!

Anytime you’re feeling too sore, over-trained, stressed, tired, or unmotivated, you can come back to this post.

By doing this, you’ll instantly recognize which part of your workout rehabilitation is lacking, and you’ll know exactly what to do to fix it.

Then, you can focus your attention there and be back on track to your body goal in no time!

Without further ado, let’s look at the 3 essential components of optimal post-workout recovery.

Number #1 – Rest

Here’s your rest checklist! You can use to make sure you’re giving your muscles the adequate amount of rest they need to nourish, rebuild, and grow.

1. Prioritize sleep.

I don’t believe we need to spend too-too much time talking about sleep, but just know this; Lack of sleep increases your chance of injury, diminishes your performance, and ruins your chances of optimal recovery. Getting enough sleep has been proven to positively impact your motivation, focus, memory, muscle performance, accuracy, reaction time, and so much more. After all, while we sleep, our pituitary gland releases natural growth hormone! And growth hormone is a vital component of every major body function. However, I feel like I should point out that the quality of your sleep is more important than the quantity.

The best way to improve the quality of your sleep would be to develop a bedtime routine. This includes going to sleep at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning, as well as avoiding TV/phone screens before bed and using sleeping masks whenever possible. That being said, aim for a minimum of 6 hours of high-quality, undisturbed sleep every night!

2. Give your major muscle groups adequate recovery time between workouts.

Working out the same muscle group at a high intensity two days in a row is a huge no-no. Your regimen should be structured in a way that, regardless of which major muscle group you’re working, you’re giving yourself at least 36 hours of rest before hitting it hard again.

This is the same reason you see regular gym-goers train upper body one day, then lower body the next. Useful exercise splits give all major muscle groups 24-48 hours of recovery down between training sessions.

Taking this time will allow your muscle tissues to heal, and your body’s natural hormone levels to be fully restored and ready for your next workout.

3. Take days off – don’t work out every day.

Even if you’re giving all your muscle groups 36 hours of rest, working out every day isn’t productive. Stress, pressure, and muscle fatigue accumulate over time.
To guarantee your physical and mental well-being, pick a day of the week and dedicate it to full mind and body relaxation. Your rest days are your best days.

4. Don’t use caffeine to power through workouts.

If you’re feeling tired or sluggish, don’t just chug a coffee and head for the gym.

I agree there’s a difference between only feeling tired and not being able to perform physically…

But if it’s your body that’s exhausted (and not just your current emotional state), listen to it. As much as people want coffee to be the solution to their lack of energy, it isn’t. Rest is.

5. Active rest.

We can’t talk about recovery without mentioning active rest!

Active recovery is essentially the idea that you should perform light to moderate (25-50%) physical activity even on your days off.

The goal here is to stimulate your blood flow and supply your muscles and connective tissues with healthy nutrients.
Your aim isn’t to further damage the tissues. It’s to substantially aid the natural healing process.

Number #2 – Nutrition

Here’s your nutrition checklist! Use this to make sure your dietary habits are in line with the purpose of giving your muscles the nutrients they need to re-build themselves.

1. Have a post-workout meal, but don’t overeat.

Calories are energy!

They’re literally fuel for the body, and if you want it to grow and adapt to the stress of working out, you’re going to need food rich in macro and micronutrients. Especially after a workout, when your glycogen stores are depleted.

That’s why a post-workout meal is always a good idea. Consuming a healthy snack after crushing a gym session not only feels rewarding, but it’s also super productive.
You’re restoring your glycogen stores and giving your body the energy it needs to kick-start the muscle rebuilding process!

When it comes to choosing the right snack, keep it as light and nutrient-rich as possible. Liquid “foods” are most often preferred over heavy meals. One reason for that is bloating. The other reason is that foods high in fat or fiber slow down your nutrient absorption.

That’s why protein shakes easily became the most popular post-workout “meal”.

Speaking of protein…

2. Prioritize protein and BCAAs.

If you want to ensure you have an effective recovery process and that you’re getting the most out of your workout, and at the same time, you want to drink something sweet and delicious, BCAAs are your thing. We need these essential amino acids (found in protein) to help our body repair and rebuild our muscle tissues on a daily basis.

For years and years, experts have been talking about the importance of protein for muscle growth. That’s because amino acids account for two vital muscle recovery processes; maximizing protein synthesis and minimizing protein degradation.

Women need approx. 0.7-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight for muscle building and men usually go as high as 1 gram per pound of body weight.
So if you’re looking for a great way to reduce muscle soreness, promote muscle building, and get back in the gym faster, don’t forget to follow-up your workout with BCAAs or a protein-rich meal!

3. Stay well-hydrated.

I’m only going to lightly touch on this topic because it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Drinking water helps you replace lost electrolytes in the body and speeds up muscle recovery. Not to mention, being sore and dehydrated at the same time is definitely not a fun experience.

The only thing you have to keep in mind here is that you should balance your water intake – don’t consume vast amounts before or after your workout.

Instead, aim for a balanced water intake throughout the day to make sure you’re well-hydrated without risking bloating.

Number #3 – Recovery-aiding Essentials & Anti-Inflammatory Habits

If you’ve got your resting and nutrition habits in line, these methods will serve as the icing on your post-workout recovery cake!

1. Stretching

When you stretch and become more flexible, your muscular strength and endurance improve, but so does your ability to properly recover after each workout.

When you stretch, you release tension off your muscles and achieve a feeling of relaxation.

When your muscles aren’t tight and strained, they naturally recover (and perform) better.

Create a 5-10 minute post-workout stretching routine, and you’ll start feeling less sore and fatigued after you exercise – trust me.

2. Foam rolling

Foam rollers have skyrocketed in popularity in the last few years. Their ability to relieve tension and reduce muscle stress has made them a favorite among fitness and rehabilitation experts.
Most people value them for their pain-alleviating qualities, but the benefits of foam rolling extend way past physical recovery.

Foam rolling helps you stretch and hydrate the fascia, a thin layer of connective tissue that lies under the skin and covers every muscle in your body.

By doing this, you improve the circulation of blood throughout your entire body. This helps you flush toxins, oxygenate your blood, and “lubricate” your joints.

With the right foam rolling technique, you’ll not only recover faster, but you’ll also feel amazing too! Foam rolling helps me unwind and relax after a hard workout, and if that’s not vital to recovery, I don’t know what is!

3. Cold showers

Check out this study – it concludes that taking a cold shower or an ice bath after an intense training session will help you decrease lactic acid, essentially reducing muscle soreness and speeding up your recovery.

4. Saunas

When you’re in a hot sauna, your body releases what are called heat shock proteins. Studies have pointed out that these proteins directly improve protein synthesis and slow down muscle breakdown.
Even though this heat is technically a harmful stimulus for the body, this slowing down of muscle degradation increases your chances to grow and recover your muscles effectively after training.

If you’ve gone through an injury recently and can’t train, saunas are a great way to reduce muscle loss.

And plus, who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing sauna after a long day (or a really fatiguing workout?)

5. Epsom salt baths

Epsom salts were first extracted from seawater in 1618, in the British town of Epsom. They’re also known as Magnesium sulphate. Ever since fitness pros started adding them to their warm bath water, they’ve been linked to stress relief, improved circulation, better moods, and reduced swelling and soreness.

They’re absorbed through the skin, and they make for almost an instant muscle pain reliever. These minerals are more popular among women because female athletes have a higher physiological demand for magnesium.

If you love taking long hot baths and you want to improve your muscle recovery, do a little digging, and you’ll simply fall in love with them.

A word about self-myofascial release!

Even though self-myofascial release is most often related to foam rolling, I decided to take a moment to talk about it separately.

It’s not that much of a way to generally improve recovery as it is a way to target specific pain points or problematic movements related to past injuries.

It’s a form of manual therapy. It’s used by both fitness gurus and rehabilitation specialists to enhance myofascial (relates to the fascia we talked about earlier) mobility.

I do believe its effect on muscle soreness is rather minimal, but as I said, it’s an excellent way for those who have trouble with specific movements to enhance their range of motion, relieve pain, and ease a particular movement.

If you have a past injury and you have trouble recovering after working out, your problem might not be poor recovery.

It might be that you’ve just accumulated stress in a part of your body related to harmful exercise movement patterns.

Self-myofascial release can help you release that stress.

To wrap it all up…

No matter how many tips and strategies I give you to reduce muscle soreness, alleviate pain, and speed up your recovery, there are always going to be the two main components dictating how fast you’re able to bounce back after an intense workout.

These two main components are adequate rest and nutrition.

When these two are aligned, you’ll most likely have no trouble recovering after even the most taxing training sessions. But just in case, I decided to give you some actionable alternatives you can start using right away.

All of this – rest, sleep, nutrition, hydration, stretching, foam rolling, and every other possible post-workout recovery strategy…

It all matters only if you decide to make this one simple realization;

You should take your post-workout recovery as seriously as you do your training.

How Important is the Healthy Breakfast?

Three reasons why eating a healthy breakfast will help you transform your day!

Hey Angels, it’s Ally!

I got this question by e-mail recently and decided I should go a little in-depth…

One, so I could answer the question entirely, and two, so I could address this topic in front of all the people who go to the gym, yet skip breakfast every morning.

Have you ever heard the saying “the breakfast is the most important meal of the day”?

Of course you have, everybody has, but I today I want to answer the question “why”.

Why is breakfast so important?

Now… by the time breakfast rolls around, you’ve probably spent the last 6 to 10 hours in your comfy bed while your body has been using up all its precious resources.

This means that the first meal of the day is supposed to replenish these resources and give you an energetic jump-start you can use to attack the day!

Aside from giving you the energy to be productive and focus on your tasks, the proper breakfast also speeds up your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day.

Which means skipping it can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating.

And that’s a no-no!

When you wake up, your blood sugar is usually low, but your body needs it to make your muscles and brain work at their best.

I get it – many people skip the morning meal because they’re in a rush to get to where they need to be.

But let me tell you why those extra minutes aren’t worth it.

Here are the three reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day:

1. Energy Throughout the Day!

Breakfast is not only the most important meal but also the most often skipped – and that’s a shame!

The only reliable way to get the energy you need to dominate your day is to eat a morning meal packed of healthy nutrients.

When we wake up in the morning, our glucose stores are low, which means we have low energy. We need food to fuel ourselves up, and pancakes and burgers won’t do the job. What our bodies need in the morning is a meal that includes each of the three macronutrients: protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

The protein will provide us with sustainable energy because it takes longer to digest than carbohydrates. It would be best if you choose lean, low-fat, and nutritious foods such as eggs (or egg whites for those who watch their fat and cholesterol intake), peanut butter, and low-fat or fat-free dairy.

Fats are equally important, as long as you stick to good fats and avoid the unhealthy ones. Try to eat mono and polyunsaturated fats and avoid saturated (or worse, trans fats). You can sprinkle chopped almonds or walnuts over low-fat yoghurt or oatmeal. Also, use olive or canola oil in the pan when making eggs. Another alternative is low-fat milk and cheese.

Let’s not forget about carbohydrates. Every cell in our body relies on glucose for fuel, especially our brain cells. Carbohydrates provide quick fuel in the form of glucose so your cells can function properly. You can provide your body with carbohydrates in many ways!

Simple carbs include fructose, galactose, glucose and sucrose which are easily digestible and converted to energy. You can get these from foods like fruits, vegetables, and packaged foods which have added sugar. Regardless of what type of sugar you ingest, your body will convert it to glucose, and it will enter your cells to meet your body’s energy needs!

However, keep in mind that surpassing your daily sugar intake will force your body to store it as fat, resulting in weight gain. It’s not necessarily wrong to eat sugar in the morning, it all comes down to the quantity.

2. Concentration and Focus!

The calories you take in the morning provide resources that your brain uses throughout the day which elevates your short-term memory. However, according to the “Journal of Adolescent Health”, eating too many calories in the morning could harm your ability to concentrate.

Eating a heavy meal could leave you feeling drowsy and sluggish, making it more difficult to focus and remember important things. However, a meal which is too light in calories won’t provide your brain with enough fuel to function properly.

It would be best if you aim to take between 350 and 500 calories from your breakfast for the most benefit when trying to improve your learning retention and sharpening your focus.

The perfect morning meal should include a healthy mix of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat. This mix of nutrients will increase your memory and allow your brain to get the energy it needs to focus.

Carbohydrates are essential in the morning because they have the biggest impact on your long-term memory!

A research conducted by the University of Toronto found out that eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast increases performance on short and long-term memory tests among participants, regardless of whether or not they were active gym-goers.

3. Impact on Weight and Gym Performance!

One of the easiest and simplest ways to lose weight and fat is by eating breakfast!

Studies show that by eating a substantial meal in the morning and reducing your caloric intake at night (also known as front-loading), you may be able to lose more weight than by doing the reverse.

That’s because your body follows a daily cycle, usually divided into two 12-hour periods, which are dictated by daytime and nighttime.

Your body naturally uses its resources more efficiently in the morning than it does in the evening. This is known as your circadian rhythm or “internal clock”.

Eating breakfast helps your body work in its natural rhythm which supports your weight loss goals and improves your performance in the gym.

You may think that skipping breakfast will reduce your caloric intake, but researchers say otherwise. Skipping your morning meal makes you more prone to overeat later in the day, often leading to weight gain.

Nutritionists agree that eating breakfast is a great strategy to help you avoid overcompensating with high-calorie, less nutritious options later in the day!

Conclusion

So, did you change your mind about breakfast?

It’s a fact – having a healthy first meal in the morning is essential when you want to live a healthier, energetic, more productive life.

If you’re in a rush in the mornings, prepare your breakfast the night before or simply make one which is quick and easy – such as. Things such as eggs and oatmeal are a fast and healthy option that will get you energetic, focused, and full – at least until lunchtime!

Remember, having a small breakfast is always better than skipping it.

Talk to you soon,

Ally

Full-body Workouts or Split Training – Which is Better?

Honestly, people ask me this question so many times a day; it’s not even funny!

Since the dawn of time, men and women in the fitness community have all been searching for the best way to structure and schedule their workout routines in ways that will help them achieve their goal weight/physique faster.

For most people, it’s simply not enough to just lift weights and run a few miles on the treadmill.

Most people want the exact process, system, or solution that will get them to where they want in the fastest, most comfortable way possible!

And that’s okay! We’re all wired this way – our brains are always looking for the best (and most of the time this means easiest) solution to the problem we’re facing, so it’s only natural that we like to separate things in a binary way and choose the right path.

We’re either doing weightlifting or bodyweight, weights or cardio, isolation or compound movements, high-reps or low-reps, full-body or split training and so on.

Today, you’re going to learn all you need about full-body workouts and split training regimes so you can rid your routine of that binary, limited way of thinking.

As with all our binary-thinking tendencies, what’s truly “right” for you can only be determined after you have all the information.

Whether you’re entirely new to the gym or have been going there religiously, we’re all always looking for the “right” way to organize our regime.

Some people love going all-in, training their entire body, and busting a sweat every time they step in a gym. Others, on the other hand, prefer to maximize the attention they give to every single muscle.

For you to find the best possible routine that will help you achieve your goals faster, you need to know what you’re getting into down to the tiniest detail. You have to find out what best fits your schedule, fitness level, and the goals you set, and I’m here to help you do just that!

I’m going to list all the pros and cons of both types of training, so you’ll be able to sculpt and train your body just the way you want to.

Let’s get into it!

Full-body Training

A full-body workout means you are exercising your entire body and stimulating all of your major muscle groups in one session.

It’s an excellent option for people who engage in different sports or types of fitness besides resistance training. It’s perfect for beginners, and coaches often recommend that everyone who is new to the gym starts off with two weeks of full-body workouts as a way to “warm-up” the body before entering a split day routine. However, this doesn’t mean that full-body isn’t just as effective on its own.

It’s also the best option for those looking to lose a lot of weight.

In this type of training, you’re working on your body as a whole. Statistically, more women prefer this method.

Pros;

1. More energy expenditure – more calorie burn!

The first (and in my opinion most important) benefit of full-body workouts is that you’re maximizing the number of calories you burn every workout. This makes this method of training perfect for those looking to lose a significant amount of weight.

When you’re training your entire body in one session, you’re expending more energy than you otherwise would because all of the major muscles in your body are getting taxed.

A workout consisting of squats, deadlifts, dips, and shoulder presses will take more out of you than your regular old biceps/triceps days.

By working on all of your major muscle groups in one go, your body is naturally going to release more energy, resulting in way more burned calories!

On top of that, that session is going to be like a reality check for your whole body. All the glycogen depletion, muscle stress, and microtrauma you’ve just caused your body gives you the perfect opportunity to load up on rich nutrients and achieve a super-compensatory recovery!

2. Higher frequency per muscle group and overall body balance.

Bodybuilding is about frequency. The more times you stimulate a muscle to grow, the more it will grow. (granted you get enough rest)

If you’re working out full-body three days a week, that’s a frequency that will always keep your major muscle groups stimulated and growing! If you want to use training splits to hit all your muscles three times a week, you’ll likely be doing at least two workouts a day. Sort of impractical, if you ask me.

When you’re training full-body and putting the same amount of emphasis on all your muscles, you’ll be growing your body in a balanced, more natural way. Chances are you’re not going to worry about muscle and strength imbalances.

3. Helps you save time.

If you travel a lot or you’re always juggling a busy schedule and can’t dedicate more than 2 or 3 days a week for the gym, full-body training is for you. Even though workouts tend to be long, you’ll be saving time in the long run. The time and energy you need to go to and back from the gym are also a part of this equation.

In terms of saving time, going to the gym twice a week is always better than going to the gym 5-6 times a week, regardless of how much time you actually spend in there.

Cons;

  • Extremely taxing on energy.
  • Increasing the training volume is hard. – Adding more intensity and exercises over time without making your workout too long can be tricky.
  • Long workouts.
  • Higher chance of overtraining. – For some people, even training full-body three days a week is a lot. The added frequency in which you hit different muscle groups can easily lead to overtraining. Don’t train full-body two days in a row.

Split Training

Working out on a split means you’re separating your muscle groups into different workout days. This way, you can put more emphasis on specific muscles and reach intensity levels that you wouldn’t be able to achieve in a full-body workout.

For example, you can train your chest on day 1, back on day 2, legs on day 3 and so on. You can combine muscle groups into different split days, but the golden rule is working out the bigger muscle group first. (For example, do back and biceps instead of biceps and back.)

This higher intensity and focus on specific muscles naturally makes split training more appealing to men.

Pros;

1. Heavier weights.

And a lot of them!

Think about it – because full-body workouts tend to burn more calories and use up more energy, they’re a lot more fatiguing overall. But for those who want to develop strength in specific exercises like the squat or bench press, this overall fatigue is counterproductive.

Consider the fatigue caused to individual muscle groups when compound movements are performed. After 3 or 4 compound movements, it’ll be harder for you to lift as heavy as possible. If you’re working on strength and size, you have tax each muscle group enough to overload it and let it adapt. Unlike full-body regimes, split training allows you to control that fatigue, and perform your best on specific exercises.

2. Focus on individual muscle shaping and definition.

If you want to spend more time getting broader shoulders, you can.

If you want to spend more time getting stronger, leaner legs, you can do that too.

Training on a split gives you freedom! It allows you to choose for yourself which part of your body you want to work on and improve. You have full control over the development and definition of your physique.

And if you have only two muscle groups to worry about, instead of your entire body, you’re going to give more concentrated attention to those two, which will result in specific muscle overload and adaptation. Split-based training helps you prioritize.

3. Better recovery.

If you’re working out all muscles groups 1-2x a week, you’re giving your body enough time to recover and grow.

With full-body training, anything more than three workouts a week will burn you out and make you wish you went for a split routine. With split-based training, you are far less likely to overtrain.

4. Making changes is easy.

Switching up your workout and adding/removing new exercises is easy when you’re only targeting one muscle group instead of your whole body.

Making these types of adjustments in your training split is as easy as focusing on different body parts on different days – but you have to be responsible with all that freedom!

Cons;

  • Going to the gym 5-6 times a week.
  • Less calorie burn.
  • Possible muscle and strength imbalances. – just like we’ve seen with the gazillions of fitness models that are walking around with arms five times the size of their calves.

To wrap-up…

Full-body training is for the beginners who want to set a great foundation, for those who want to focus on cardio and weight loss, for those who don’t have as much time to work out, and for the advanced lifters who want to push themselves to the absolute max.

Split routine training is for fitness models, bodybuilders, and advanced lifters. It’s for those who need that extra degree of control over the development of their own body and those who don’t mind going to the gym 5-6 times a week.

I want you to stay away from that binary way of thinking (this vs. this) and realize that different periods of your life are going to require different versions of you.

Today, you might be completely comfortable with your split.

Tomorrow, the full-body training option might seem more viable.

That’s why in this post I wanted to lay out all the information in front of you so that you can make the right decision for yourself.

It’s a fact that both of these methods offer great benefits, so don’t let your coach or anyone else downright tell you what’s best for you in your situation.

So I urge you, regardless of where you’re at in your fitness journey, try both of these for a week, see which one you like best, then stick to it until you’re sculpted sexy!

The Most Common Gym Injuries (and how to stay safe)

Hey Angels, it’s Ally!

When was the last time you experienced a workout injury?

I’m asking you this because injuries happen when we least expect them – and today, I’ll give you the ultimate preparation for them, by teaching you how to see them coming.

If you’re a regular gym-goer, you’re probably already aware of all the setbacks an injury can cause. What you might not be completely aware of is that in the society we live in today, media is bombarding us with information about fitness, and mantras that repeatedly reinforce the belief that we always need to push harder and reach beyond our limit.

Even though I support the belief of continuous struggle toward growth, but the continuous exposure to this “no pain, no gain” attitude has done nothing but hurt athletes in the long-run.

Today, we’re talking about workout injuries. I believe this is one of the most important topics a fitness enthusiast needs to learn about – if you want to guarantee yourself a long, healthy, and productive fitness journey, knowing how to avoid, prevent, and treat a workout injury is nothing short of a necessity.

Even small injuries like a sprained ankle or abnormal muscle strains, if ignored and not treated, have a higher chance of happening again and becoming a big problem in the long-run.

You’re going to learn about the most common injuries that occur in the gym, how to see them coming, and what you should (and shouldn’t) do to make sure you’re training safely and productively.

Let’s get started.

Here are the four most common gym injuries, and how to stay safe from each one!

1. Back Strains – according to statistics, this is the number one most likely injury for the regular gym-goer! The majority of people develop weak back muscles due to long hours of sitting at school, work, and home, and when the time comes to put heavy stress on the back, people tend to overextend and put on a load they can’t handle.

Even a sudden, sharp twinge in your lower back is a sufficient sign that you’re probably putting too much stress on it. Squats or deadlifts are two of the most common and basic exercises, yet they wreak havoc on your lower back if you’re not using proper form. Twisting motions, sideway bends, and heavy loads strain your lower back.

To stay safe, you need to learn how to maintain a neutral back. To do that, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your spine should touch the floor under your lower back, and this posture allows the natural curve of your back to absorb stressful exercise.

Especially if you’re new to weight lifting, get your form correct first. Beginners should first try the leg press or hip sled before moving on to squats. If you’re unsure of your form, ask a qualified personal trainer.

By lifting with your legs and not your back, you can gradually strengthen your back muscles with lower intensity exercise!

2. Shoulder Strains – your shoulder joints have a wide range of motion. This easily allows for injuries that are related to heavy loads, poor posture, and bad form.

Four main muscles – the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis comprise the rotator cuff, surrounding and stabilizing your shoulder joint.

Dislocating your shoulder or damaging your rotator cuff can be detrimental to your fitness journey. If at any point in your workout you feel shoulder pain – don’t push through it. If you feel pain when trying to reach behind you, this may be a sign of a strain of the rotator cuff. It typically results from repetitive overhead activity. Athletes like basketball players or swimmers should definitely stay away from heavy movements like military presses in the long-run.

To stay safe, let your shoulders rest and strengthen your rotator cuff muscles as part of your upper-body routine. By using good posture, avoiding heavy overhead exercises, and staying away from behind the neck lat pulldowns, you’ll put less stress on your shoulders and promote a balanced, gradual, productive growth process.

3. ACL/PCL & Knee Injuries – this refers to Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) – injuries especially common in women. These are injuries of the knee ligament and are also common in athletes that play any sports that involve jumping, rapid changes in direction, or intense running.

If you’ve ever experienced sudden knee pain, swelling, a feeling of looseness, or an inability to put any weight on your knee without pain, this is a situation that calls for medical attention. If ignored, it can take you off your feet for months, and even require surgery.

Pain related to running and putting on pressure on the knees is also known as “runner’s knee”. It occurs when the bones in the lower leg are not lined up correctly, which causes an abnormal tension between the kneecap and the thigh bone – causing pain and possibly even tears in the ligaments.

To keep your knees healthy, incorporate exercises that strengthen the quadriceps and hip flexors. Seated and lying leg raises, butterfly stretches, bridges and lunges can help strengthen your quads and hips, easing the tension you put on your knees.

4. Pectoral Injuries – if you’re one of the women who enjoy a heavy bench press now and then, pectoral injuries are something you should seriously consider. Losing control of a dumbbell or barbell at the wrong moment can lead to what feels like a tearing sensation, and the chest and upper arm often turn black and blue. If you experience a pec tear, you should immediately see an orthopedic surgeon to determine if the injury needs surgery.

Feeling stress in your pectorals when working out can be a sign that you need to give your chest muscles more rest.

To stay safe, make sure that the weight you put on your bar is not only one that you can lift, but one that you can control.

So far, we’ve looked at the most common types of injuries relating to weight lifting.

We’ve analyzed what they are, why they happen, and how to stay safe from their setbacks!

After taking a look at the specifics, I want to say a few words about the general idea of healthy, productive training.

Staying away from injuries is a critical factor to your fitness longevity, and if for example, you’ve had knee problems in the past, you at least know what to look for – you know where the risk is.

But if you’re trying to get the fundamental knowledge on how to stay safe from injury, here are my top four tips to not only avoid but prevent injury.

First, always start with a warm-up. The Harvard Special Health Report concluded that warming up your body pumps nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to your muscles and speeds up your heart rate. Getting blood to the muscles helps them more amenable to stress and change, which will help you avoid workout injuries.

Second, put your focus on your weaker muscles. Adding strength training and core work to your routine will help you maintain a balanced development. If your muscles are adequately proportioned and your core is fit, your body won’t wear down or have to compensate for certain movements!

Third, eating a balanced diet and hydration. We can’t not mention this. What you eat and drink is crucial to your workout. Not only will the right carbohydrates give you energy, but they’ll replenish your glycogen stores and promote better recovery. Protein after a workout is just as important, helping you repair the muscles you just put stress on.

And finally… listen to your body.

To conclude, I want to summarize by saying this – the truth is your body will give you all the signals you need to back off at the right time.

If you see no progress in certain areas, if you feel like you have less control of the weight you’re working with, if your knee is feeling achy, if your shoulders feel a little loose, if your soreness lasts for more than the usual 24-48 hours, or if you’re just plain tired…

Then it’s time to realize that long-term progress is what you’re genuinely after and that it’s better to take a week or two off when you see the symptoms of an injury, as opposed to overtraining and trying to push forward as much as possible.

I believe the majority of workout injuries can be prevented with proper rest and recovery.

So that’s why I’m bringing your attention to this today…

If you have even the slightest feeling that your body is telling you to stop and back off for a bit, listen to it.

Because when it comes down to it…

Those periods of complete rest and recollection on your routine are when you truly grow and move forward in your fitness journey.

Don’t skip them in the name of the “no pain, no gain” attitude.

It’s not worth it.

The Importance of Flexibility in Physical Fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas, do you remember the five main fitness components?

I’m talking about cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, body composition, muscular strength, and muscular endurance.

Out of these five, which one do you think gets overlooked the most in the fitness community?

You guessed it – flexibility!

Most weightlifters disregard flexibility because of their lengthy routines. Some people argue it has no benefit for the heavy lifters, and some deny it even exists!

But jokes aside, we have to address this topic. After all, what we’re all after is physical fitness – this means more than going to the gym three to five times a week. It means more than lifting weights and doing cardio. Physical fitness means feeling free in your own body, and flexibility is just that.

Today, I want to talk about what flexibility is, what it isn’t, and give you an overview of all the benefits you get for those extra five minutes of stretching at the end/start of your workout.

Let’s begin!

What is flexibility, and what does it truly mean to be “flexible”?

Flexibility is the ability to move your joints effectively through their complete range of motion – the level of tissue extensibility that a muscle group has. Every muscle group has a different level of flexibility and range of motion, but you can always improve them with the right training, even at an older age.

Having flexible joints is crucial when it comes to living a healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

As one of the leading components of fitness, it plays a monumental role in productive physical activity. If you’re a football or basketball player, flexibility plays a huge part of your overall fitness profile. And in activities as gymnastics, it’s honestly the most important physical attribute.

By stretching and training your body to become more flexible, you allow your body to perform deeper movements while building more strength and stability.

To become “flexible” and reap the performance benefits, you need to have a balanced routine of static and dynamic flexibility training. Static training aims to develop muscle elasticity and joint mobility and improve overall flexibility, while dynamic training is all about the full range of motion of your muscles during daily activities such as sports.

Due to being so neglected in the weightlifting community, flexibility remains misunderstood by most people.

We often believe flexible people are those who can bend down and touch their toes, or squat to the ground, and even though that’s true, flexibility goes beyond the ability to do a single stretch.

When you improve your overall flexibility, your muscles and joints will have a higher range of motion, you’ll be able to perform tasks with ease, and your body will feel more balanced and comfortable while you’re going about your daily activities!

Challenge: bend over and touch your toes to test how loose/tight your hamstrings are.

How do we train to become more flexible?

There are three factors you need to consider when training for flexibility: muscle length, muscle elasticity, and joint structure. While genetics are going to be the main deciding factor in the formation of your joint structure, you can still improve your muscle length and elasticity through exercise and physical activity.

There are a few different types of stretching you can do to improve flexibility, but the best way, of course, will be a balance of all three.

  1. Static stretching means moving into a position that lengthens your target muscle, then holding that position for up to a minute. – exercises include the standing hamstring stretch, the triceps stretch, and the figure four stretch.
  2. Dynamic stretching means moving in and out of a position that lengthens your target muscle, also known as ballistic stretching. This stretching often involves using subtle bouncing movements to put pressure on and off the tissue. – exercises include the leg crossover, the page turn, and the spinal twist lunge.
  3. Active stretching, also known as isolated stretching. It refers to moving your joints through the complete range of motion of the muscle, holding the stretch briefly, then going back to square one and repeating. This stretching method is the most famous among athletes for fixing muscle imbalances and preventing injury. – exercises include the quad stretch, the psoas stretch, and the IT band stretch.

All three of these types of stretching are essential, but you don’t need to do them for hours and hours to reap their benefits. You don’t need a special class or machine. Stretching is something you can do pretty much anywhere. You can just put on a YouTube video about stretching exercises and have everything you need to become more flexible!

However, the best approach you can take is to create a stretching program that focuses on your individual needs and imbalances and incorporate it into your regular routine. Similar programs start with a series of stretches that warm you up and lengthen the muscles all around your body, improving joint mobility and range of motion, and preparing you for more intense exercise.

To improve flexibility, all you really need is 5 or 10 minutes a day.

Another workout method that might help is cross training – this refers to a few different cardio and strength exercises such as lunges or swimming strokes.

Lunges will strengthen your quad on one leg, and lengthen your hip joint on the other. Swimmers often have super flexible upper backs and torsos because proper swimming strokes effectively stretch these muscle groups.

Note: You should perform flexibility training after a proper joint warm-up – it’s the only way productive stretching can take place.

The benefits of flexibility!

Aside from gym performance, flexibility is a crucial part of everyday activities and has a positive effect on your overall well-being. Even getting up out of bed and carrying around groceries becomes more natural for someone who’s flexible.

This added level of physical freedom is why flexibility training is so crucial – not only will it help you handle all your physical tasks with more ease, but it’s truly a necessary part of everyone’s life (especially when you consider that your level of flexibility tends to decline as you grow older.)

Do you think you only get better posture, less joint pain, and more freedom in your own body?

Think again!

The list of benefits goes way beyond that, but I’ve managed to bring it down to the big three…

1. Reaching peak performance.

To reach your full potential in the gym, you must utilize the full capacity of your muscles so you can exhibit all your strength and power. You need to work on muscle length and mobility because tight and stiff muscles aren’t going to provide all the explosiveness you need for intense exercise.

If your biceps are tight, you’re not going to be able to perform the full range of motion of a curl. If your hip flexors are tight, you’re not going to be able to extend fully while running. Flexibility changes that – it enhances movement and mobility.

Flexibility will also improve your strength in the gym because having flexible muscles will help you adequately distribute tension along the muscle group, and your joints will become strong and mobile enough to support your movements.

Once you increase your flexibility, you essentially allow your body to move and perform more effectively.

2. Improving physical and mental well-being.

One thing you have to realize is that flexibility improves not only muscular strength and endurance but also your ability to perform aerobic training. Full range of motion is vital for fluid movements such as swimming and sprinting.

It also decreases soreness, especially in athletes who work out at a much higher intensity level.

And it’s not only physical fitness! Stretching helps you relax and enables you to take tension off your body. Taking the strain off leads to not only better physical performance, but more mental toughness. By stretching and opening up your body, you’re guaranteed to get a feeling of relaxation that calms your state of mind. It’s a way to unwind.

A focus on muscular pliability also improves your posture and allows for proper body and joint alignment, aiding in the correction of muscular imbalances.

3. Less pain, fewer injuries.

To top it all off, flexibility is also a massive factor in injury prevention.

It’s no wonder stretching exercises are such a big part of injury rehabilitation, sport-specific preparation, and post-workout recovery.

The more flexible you become, the more you’ll be able to withstand physical stress. Ridding the body of muscle imbalances (by strengthening underperforming muscles and stretching the tight ones) will also reduce your chance of getting injured.

When your muscles become looser, you’ll also feel less pain and aching around your joints.

To conclude…

The key benefits of flexibility are:

  • Better performance in daily activities
  • Better joint health
  • Better posture and muscle balance
  • Better gym/sport performance
  • Muscle cramp prevention
  • Pain and injury prevention
  • Relaxation and stress relief

Now if this doesn’t sound like a good list of benefits, I don’t know what does!

If you’re someone who is serious about working out, you can’t miss out on one of the major fitness components.

It’s undoubtedly one of the most overlooked parts of fitness, and it’s going to bring a massive benefit to anyone who chooses to incorporate it into their routine!

Flexibility is more important now than ever before – don’t let it take a back seat to big biceps and rock hard abs!

The Benefits of Lifting Heavy for Women

Many people like to think that heavy weightlifting and bodybuilding, in general, is a guy’s thing. The general advice is that women shouldn’t engage in it, because they will become “bulky”.

They can train gymnastics, swimming, and other sports but not weight training. There is still a negative stigma in society about women who engage in heavy weightlifting.

Shucks! We’re here to prove them wrong.

I’m happy to say more and more women start training with weights and competing in bodybuilding competitions. I adore that fact, and I’m here to give you eight reasons why weightlifting is a no longer man-exclusive sport.

I will be talking about what benefits can women get from weight lifting and why should every woman engage in some type of resistance training.

Let’s get right into it.

1. You’ll Burn More Fat

The Turfs University did a study which separated overweight women in two groups. One group engaged in weight training twice a week, resulting in lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle in the process. The other group, which only dieted without weight training, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat but gained no muscle in the process.

There is a simple fact which can explain these results – when you do an intense weight-training program, your metabolism is elevated, and you continue to burn fat for several hours after you have finished your workout.

If you do a regular cardio exercise, you’ll stop burning fat shortly after you have finished your session.

2. You’ll Build Your Ideal Shape

Whether you want to look great in a dress, rock a bathing suit on summer vacation, or to have shapely arms in a tank top, weight training is the best way you can do that. It’s not only the best but also the fastest way you can reach your aesthetic goals. To achieve these goals, you should train with progressively heavier weights.

Some of you may think “But my goal is to lose fat”. It doesn’t matter. If you commit to losing fat by doing a lot of cardio and bring your fat percentage down into the teens (which is very lean for a woman), you won’t like what you see. You’ll have little to no muscle to work with on this body fat level, and you’ll be a skinny girl with no curves to be seen.

It’s essential for you to understand that your muscles will give you your desired shape. So if you want to be lean and look great in whatever dress you rock, lifting weights is the way to go.

It would be best if you aim to do at least three sessions a week for better results.

3. You’ll Strengthen Your Bones

As we age, our estrogen levels drop and this lead to postmenopausal women to be prone to osteoporosis. Estrogen is the chemical which is responsible for bone building.

Numerous studies show a positive correlation between resistance training and bone density.  When your bones feel your muscles pulling, bone growth is stimulated. Women who lift weights regularly can have an increase in bone density and offset the bone loss.

4. You’ll Be In a Better Mood!

Women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men, yet most of these women don’t do anything to combat these feelings. When training, your body releases norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin which will help you achieve a sense of well-being. Weight training also leads to an increase in energy, better and higher-quality sleep, and a feeling of accomplishment and control.

5. Higher Life Expectancy!

Women who spend time in the weight room are typically active for more extended periods. That’s because weight training strengthens your muscles and improves your bone density. The upper-body strength helps you combat postural issues which can lead to back and shoulder issues. An increased hip and leg strength aid in mobility and balance.

So if you want to look and feel better for the rest of your lives, you better start hitting the heavy weights!

6. You’ll Improve Your Posture

In our everyday lives, nothing is abused more than our posture. Sitting all day at work and having bad walking patterns lead to many problems with our posture and most importantly, injuries. Proper posture will prevent that and help you have better power transfer in athletics.

You can combat a bad posture by strengthening your body. Exercises such as rows and scapular retraction (a move where you squeeze your shoulder blades back and together) help you enhance your postural muscles. Core strengthening also helps with improved posture by strengthening the entire torso area. Resistance training will also help you improve weak muscles which affect your posture.

7. You’ll Speed Up Your Metabolism

The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. As we age, we lose muscle at increasing rates, especially after the age of 40. If you have never done resistance training and you die, up to 25% of the weight loss may be muscle loss. If you start training with weight and combine it with dieting, you can preserve and even rebuild your muscle fibres. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.

8. You’ll Get Stronger And Be More Confident

If you have never lifted weights in your life, your everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags and picking up heavy suitcases must be challenging as hell. If you start hitting the gym, however, more frequently you’ll have an increase in functional fitness and will have no problem doing all of those things.

Researches show that regular weight training can make you 50% stronger in only six months. Being stronger and having more power is very empowering feeling. It will not only improve your physical activities but also will build emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence. It also builds character as to build muscle long-term you have to be dedicated and disciplined.

Conclusion

As you can see, weight lifting has a tremendous amount of benefits for women! We feel and look better when we train with weights, and our overall quality of life improves. You should realise by now, that weightlifting is not exclusive to women or men, but it’s for everybody who wants to improve their lives!

Whether you want to look good, build muscle or even compete as a competitor, heavy weight training is one of the best things you can do not only for yourself but also for the people around you. Remember, if you improve yourself, you can help others grow, and that is all that matters.

Autoimmune Diseases

How to identify, treat, and stay fit with an autoimmune disorder.

The United States is currently experiencing an autoimmune disease epidemic.

With over 60 million affected Americans today, the statistics show autoimmunity has increased threefold over the last half-century.

It’s ranked the third leading chronic illness in the US, behind heart disease and cancer, accounting for over $100 billion (with a b) in annual healthcare costs.

Autoimmune diseases aren’t a specific, labeled group of conditions that are easy to identify. More than 80 different autoimmune disorders exist. Their symptoms often overlap, making them hard to even diagnose.

Today, we’re taking a deep dive into what they are, how we can better our condition, and how we can make working out a beneficial and healthy part of our lifestyle, even with an autoimmune disease.

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

First of all, no matter what type of autoimmune disease you have, they all start in one place – your immune system.

Your body’s immune system is a complex network of cells and organs which protect your body against foreign substances, bacteria, cancer cells, transplant tissue, and so on.

The primary purpose here is to keep your body healthy and to keep these foreign invaders out.

To do that, your immune system produces antibodies which, when released, attack these invaders until they’re good and gone.

An autoimmune disease is when that same immune system begins producing antibodies that attack your body’s own tissue, instead of fighting infections.

This often happens in response to certain triggers, which is why treatment for autoimmune diseases focuses on reducing the activity of your immune system.

As I said above, there are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and a lot of them have really similar symptoms.

This makes diagnosing them a long, frustrating, and stressful process, both for you, and your doctor.

Blood tests that search out autoantibodies in your body can help doctors diagnose these conditions with precision.

Often, the first symptoms are things such as fatigue, fevers, muscle aches, and inflammation which causes redness in specific body areas, heat, pain, and swelling.

These diseases often get worse in their so-called flare-up period, and in certain periods, the symptoms may get better or even disappear. That period is called a remission.

Of course, treatment depends on the type of disease you have, but in most cases, the primary goal is to help your body reduce inflammation.

Your doctor might even prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs that reduce your immune system’s response!

Here are some of the more common autoimmune diseases, and what they entail:

  • Type 1 diabetes – destroying cells in your pancreas
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – joint inflammation (and the surrounding tissue)
  • Celiac sprue disease – a gluten reaction that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine
  • Scleroderma – a connective tissue disease that causes changes in muscles, blood vessels, organs, and the skin
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus – affects skin, kidneys, brain, and other organs
  • Psoriasis – a condition that causes redness, irritation, and flaky, silver-white patches on the skin
  • Vitiligo – white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases – a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine
  • Addison’s disease – insufficient adrenal hormone
  • Graves’ disease – overactive thyroid gland

If you suffer from any of these conditions, chances are you already know about it.

But for those in the early stages of development, it’s essential for you to know the symptoms that come along with autoimmune diseases, so you can start treating them immediately and make small changes to your daily and fitness routine that will help you ease your condition.

Symptoms and Treatments

When it comes to the early symptoms of autoimmune diseases, a lot of them are very similar, and they include:

  • Muscle pains
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Numbness in the hands and feet
  • Hair loss
  • Fevers
  • Swelling, redness, and skin irritations

Individual diseases can also have their own unique symptoms. For example, type 1 diabetes causes extreme thirst, weight loss, and fatigue. Inflammatory bowel syndrome causes bloating and nasty belly aches.

And with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, the flare-up and remission periods in which the symptoms come and go are clear to identify.

So, when should you see a doctor?

Aside from your usual check-ups with your health provider, recognizing any of these symptoms that occur on a regular (or on-and-off) basis is a good reason to get yourself tested.

Different specialists treat different types of autoimmune diseases, but all of them should be able to identify your symptoms and point you in the right direction.

  • Endocrinologists treat conditions of the glands like Graves’ and Addison’s disease.
  • Rheumatologists treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and any joint-related issues.
  • Gastroenterologists treat diseases such as celiac, Crohn’s disease, and problems with the GI tract.
  • Dermatologists can help you treat any skin condition (like psoriasis) related to autoimmune issues.

Treatments can’t cure autoimmune diseases, but bringing down inflammation and controlling your immune system’s response to your triggers is vital for your quality of life and well-being.

Of course, every condition will have different complications when it comes to changes in your lifestyle.

One thing we know for sure – fitness and working out are both crucial for the people who want to live and overall healthy lifestyle.

So now, let’s look at how we can help our bodies and use fitness as a powerful tool to help us stay fit despite our condition.

Using Fitness to Improve Lifestyle and Better our Condition

It’s a fact – 2 in 3 adults in America are considered overweight or obese. This pandemic results in a lot of health issues for the general population – such as autoimmune diseases, endocrine dysfunction, diabetes, cancer, stroke, dyspnea, disabilities, and the list goes on.

For the people who suffer from an autoimmune disease or any other chronic pain issue for that matter, exercise can be both a blessing and a curse.

We all know moving is essential to our well-being, but too much of it can cause a reaction in your body that will create a flare-up in your condition, and put you in harm’s way.

What people don’t tell you is that exercise WILL help you manage your symptoms and flare-ups.

Your body was designed to exercise! It can withstand heavy loads, aerobic work, and endurance training, and this results in incredibly beneficial physiological adaptations that increase your body’s efficiency on so many levels.

Autoimmune diseases and chronic pain conditions feed off of inflammation, and if you’re working out right, and eating right, this lifestyle will help you reduce the inflammation (and the pain it causes) in your body.

On top of all that, the right workout routine will essentially “teach” your body to adapt to a particular pain response, which can help you get through the sometimes painful daily activities. Your body needs to leave its comfort zone, and learn that being uncomfortable in an otherwise safe environment will teach you how to handle your symptoms appropriately.

In my practice as a coach, I’ve seen people transform regardless of their condition using the right method I’m about to share with you right now.

If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, your workout should primarily focus on adapting your body and building a base of strength and flexibility.

A number of medical studies have found that exercising in that manner has positive effects on reducing the symptoms of such disorders, including the chronic pain and fatigue that they sometimes come with.

Both short-term and long-term exercise programs have shown remarkable results.

On the other side of the coin, research has also shown that physical and psychological stress can aggravate your symptoms. Exercise often increases cortisol levels, which causes stress to the body.

So, there’s only one challenge in front of us – finding a workout program that creases enough work to get you fit and healthy, without overworking your body and risking a flare-up.

As you can see, both the benefits and the potential risks of exercising are not to be ignored.

You have to find a way to balance both of them if you want to live a healthier lifestyle, look better, and go about your life worry-free.

To conclude…

I can say that symptoms of autoimmune disorders are NOT to be ignored, and they sometimes come and go over time.

In my practice, I’ve found that two schools of thought exist among people with such disorders.

For those who can (but don’t do it) exercise is viewed as a dull, tedious, pointless waste of time.

But for those that do take the time, exercise is therapy. For them, it’s a required part of their day, helping them develop emotional and physical strength, and helping them manage their symptoms, inflammation, and stress, so they can be insured they live a life of optimal health.

I hope this blog post was educational and gave you some perspective on the benefits of working out with such a disorder.

I want you to know I’m always looking for ways to help, and if you need an expert you can trust on this matter, feel free to book your free consultation call.

How To Stop Binge Eating

How we can identify the binge eating disorder, overpower it, and break free from it.

Now, don’t get me wrong – treating yourself is not a bad thing.

If you’re dedicated to your fitness goals, you’re working hard, and you’re (for the most part) on your diet, a little cheat meal or cheat day every so often works wonders to keep your motivation going strong.

But sometimes, we lose control.

And a huge problem for most people lies in not recognizing a little disorder called the Binge eating disorder (or BED).

It can turn your cheat meal into a cheat day, that cheat day into a cheat week, and next thing you know, the only thing considered cheating on your diet would be eating a salad.

That’s not what we’re going for.

Today, I want to take a look at this (extremely) common disorder, and show you what you can do to identify it, and stop it in its tracks, once and for all.

The binge eating disorder or BED is characterized as regularly and compulsively eating large amounts of food, rapidly at the point of pain or discomfort. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the USA as it affects 3-5% of the general population with 3,5% of women and 2% of men being affected.

Don’t get me wrong – we all have moments in which we eat a just a little more than necessary, but BED is much more severe than that.

People with this condition have the feeling that they are out of control while eating. They often overeat and do it too quickly, even when they aren’t feeling hungry. Because of this behavior, it’s likely that they eat alone and feel shame, guilt, and embarrassment about their condition.

There is a difference between BED and bulimia, as people with bulimia will try to “undo” the effects of binge eating by vomiting or using laxatives. People with BED may vow to stop their emotional eating, but the shame and stress make them binge again and again.

Millions of people suffer from BED. A large portion of them are obese, but that isn’t always an effective indicator when identifying the binge eater.

After all, BED can affect everyone no matter the age, race, gender or body type.

If left untreated and uncontrolled, this little overeating habit can even be life-threatening.

So… what exactly causes it?

What Are The Causes of B.E.D?

The unhealthy relationship between food and people with BED is part of a much larger and significant problem – mental and emotional issues.

The exact cause of this disorder is unknown but most likely can be attributed to a combination of psychological, behavioral, and environmental influences.

Statistics show that you’re more likely to develop BED if you have:

  • Family history – If you have parent or siblings with an eating disorder, the risk for you to develop one is much higher.
  • Psychological issues or negative self-worth – Certain thought patterns are closely associated with BED, including depression, anger, anxiety, and negative feelings about yourself, your body, and your accomplishments.
  • A history of restricting calories – people who have this disorder can differ in body types, but most of the times they have repeatedly tried dieting.
  • Traumatic experiences – people with post-traumatic stress disorder can often develop BED as a form of an escape from the pain.
  • Personal problems – having issues with your closest people can lead to binge-eating behavior.
  • Been fat shamed or bullied – many people diagnosed with BED report having a long personal history of dieting for those exact reasons.

As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of these causes have nothing to do with body type, workout history, or actual food preferences.

They’re psychological – certain bad experiences and associations that worsen the relationship between the binge eater and their favorite tasty foods, and make him or her develop continuous, uncontrolled cravings.

If you’re finding yourself in any of these causes, you might potentially be experiencing the symptoms of BED, without even knowing it!

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms and Behaviors

Someone who has BED displays clear and specific signs and symptoms that easily help us indicate their condition. Some of them include:

  • Eating unusually large quantities of food when you are not hungry, or when you are full
  • Eating faster than normal
  • Eating until you feel uncomfortable
  • Feeling embarrassment, shame, depression, disgust, or guilt about binge eating
  • Eating alone or in secret so that others cannot see you binge eat
  • Feeling “out of control” when you are eating, like you cannot stop

You may also experience certain physical complications as symptoms of BED, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type II diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea

And some of the psychological conditions linked with BED include:

  1. Feeling bad about yourself, your body, or your life
  2. Poor quality of life
  3. Problems functioning at work, in your personal life, or while socializing
  4. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse disorder

Even though BED symptoms and behaviors are easy to spot, successfully addressing it will require a mix of therapeutic approaches.

It would be best if you had a team of mental health providers, medical providers, and nutritional experts which can help guide you toward a safe and effective treatment.

If left untreated…

BED comes with many health risks including physical, emotional and social. Up to 50% of people with this condition are obese.

This disorder is a high-risk factor for gaining weight and becoming overweight – the reason for this is obviously the increased calorie intake during these “binging episodes”.

Obesity on its own comes with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

What’s worse is, studies show people with BED having a higher risk of developing these health problems compared to obese people of the same weight who don’t have BED.

Other problems associated with this condition are having difficulty sleeping, chronic pain, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome.

In women, the condition leads to higher risk of fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and development of polycystic ovary syndrome.

People with BED also experience difficulty socializing as 13% of them say they can’t even function properly in social settings.

So as we can see, ignoring these binge eating episodes is NOT an option.

If the symptoms of this disorder are left untreated, complications are guaranteed.

And that’s not what I want for you.

So how do we take care of this harmful disorder, and make sure it doesn’t come back?

Simple… you fight it from within.

Treating, overcoming, and moving forward.

If you even suspect that you’ve recently experienced a BED episode, it’s best that you immediately seek medical attention. BED is a disorder which requires proper diagnoses and medical treatment.

If it’s left untreated, it can get worse, and in some extreme cases, it can become life-threatening.

It would be helpful before the doctor’s appointment, to make a list of symptoms which you are experiencing.

You can include personal information like your family’s history of eating disorders, stress, recent life changes, and a typical day of eating.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your emotions and thoughts even if they don’t seem related to binge eating – it’s essential to give your provider a clear picture.

Your doctor will ask you questions about your daily food intake, your mindset about it, how quickly you eat, and so on. If you want to stop BED, you have to be honest and open up about the emotions you have suppressed.

You may want to consider having a conversation with your doctor about if he had worked with similar patients before, how he approaches the treatment, and what he sees as the primary goal for your recovery.

An effective treatment plan may include assistance from a variety of medical specialist, health and wellness experts, and mental health practitioners. That’s because everybody has his unique signs and symptoms.

This “team” of specialists can help you stop binging by addressing the underlying influences and unhealthy habits.

Working with these kinds of people will motivate you to reduce your food intake, make healthy long-term changes, and ultimately overcome BED.

Aside from the obvious, the best way to treat this disorder is to think of it as something emotional rather than physical.

If you realize the underlying cause of your problem, you’re one step closer to solving it by yourself.

Different types of therapy can be incredibly beneficial for disorders such as this one.

And if you find it difficult to be honest with yourself, and you feel like you might need a little help, these are the therapy types that I recommend:

  • Psychotherapy – a trained therapist will work with you to figure out the root cause of your binge-eating episodes and help you overcome them.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – this is one-on-one therapeutic counseling which treats mental disorders, including depression. A cognitive behavioral therapist may allow you to express your thoughts and feeling, helping you rethink the way you think about yourself, your body, and your accomplishments.
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy – this is a short-term treatment which focuses on the way people interact with others. An interpersonal psychotherapist can help you address any social or communication issues which encourage you to eat a.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – this form of cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients remove self-harming behaviors and negative thinking. If you undergo this therapy, you can learn how to solve problems better, cope with stress and regulate anxiety.
  • Group or Family Therapy – social support is a crucial component of overcoming BED. It’s essential for your family to be able to talk about your condition and its effects on you, especially if you’re not the only person in the family experiencing these episodes.

As with every such disorder, it’s completely treatable!

If you suffer from B.E.D, it’s vital for you to realize that recovery is a journey of treatment, healing, and personal growth.

It’s not about buying what’s on the prescription.

It’s about being patient, taking care of yourself, and choosing the right way to treat yourself.

I want you to live your life healthier, and happier than you’ve ever been.

You shouldn’t think (not even for a second) that your disorder defines your future.

We all grow and experience changes, and sometimes a few bad experiences can leave us hurting for a long time, without even realizing it.

Remember – your journey of health, fitness, and balance starts when you decide it does. No disorder, doctor, or number on a scale can tell you otherwise.

As we learned, B.E.D is psychological – it’s a result of your past experiences, decisions, and environment.

But the good news is…

It ends exactly when you decide it does.

The Benefits of Lifting Heavy for Women

Many people like to think that heavy weightlifting and bodybuilding, in general, is a guy’s thing. The general advice is that women shouldn’t engage in it, because they will become “bulky”.

They can train gymnastics, swimming, and other sports but not weight training. There is still a negative stigma in society about women who engage in heavy weightlifting.

Shucks! We’re here to prove them wrong.

I’m happy to say more and more women start training with weights and competing in bodybuilding competitions. I adore that fact, and I’m here to give you eight reasons why weightlifting is a no longer man-exclusive sport.

I will be talking about what benefits can women get from weight lifting and why should every woman engage in some type of resistance training.

Let’s get right into it.

1. You’ll Burn More Fat

The Turfs University did a study which separated overweight women in two groups. One group engaged in weight training twice a week, resulting in lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle in the process. The other group, which only dieted without weight training, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat but gained no muscle in the process.

There is a simple fact which can explain these results – when you do an intense weight-training program, your metabolism is elevated, and you continue to burn fat for several hours after you have finished your workout.

If you do a regular cardio exercise, you’ll stop burning fat shortly after you have finished your session.

2. You’ll Build Your Ideal Shape

Whether you want to look great in a dress, rock a bathing suit on summer vacation, or to have shapely arms in a tank top, weight training is the best way you can do that. It’s not only the best but also the fastest way you can reach your aesthetic goals. To achieve these goals, you should train with progressively heavier weights.

Some of you may think “But my goal is to lose fat”. It doesn’t matter. If you commit to losing fat by doing a lot of cardio and bring your fat percentage down into the teens (which is very lean for a woman), you won’t like what you see. You’ll have little to no muscle to work with on this body fat level, and you’ll be a skinny girl with no curves to be seen.

It’s essential for you to understand that your muscles will give you your desired shape. So if you want to be lean and look great in whatever dress you rock, lifting weights is the way to go.

It would be best if you aim to do at least three sessions a week for better results.

3. You’ll Strengthen Your Bones

As we age, our estrogen levels drop and this lead to postmenopausal women to be prone to osteoporosis. Estrogen is the chemical which is responsible for bone building.

Numerous studies show a positive correlation between resistance training and bone density. When your bones feel your muscles pulling, bone growth is stimulated. Women who lift weights regularly can have an increase in bone density and offset the bone loss.

4. You’ll Be In a Better Mood!

Women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men, yet most of these women don’t do anything to combat these feelings. When training, your body releases norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin which will help you achieve a sense of well-being. Weight training also leads to an increase in energy, better and higher-quality sleep, and a feeling of accomplishment and control.

5. Higher Life Expectancy!

Women who spend time in the weight room are typically active for more extended periods. That’s because weight training strengthens your muscles and improves your bone density. The upper-body strength helps you combat postural issues which can lead to back and shoulder issues. An increased hip and leg strength aid in mobility and balance.

So if you want to look and feel better for the rest of your lives, you better start hitting the heavy weights!

6. You’ll Improve Your Posture

In our everyday lives, nothing is abused more than our posture. Sitting all day at work and having bad walking patterns lead to many problems with our posture and most importantly, injuries. Proper posture will prevent that and help you have better power transfer in athletics.

You can combat a bad posture by strengthening your body. Exercises such as rows and scapular retraction (a move where you squeeze your shoulder blades back and together) help you enhance your postural muscles. Core strengthening also helps with improved posture by strengthening the entire torso area. Resistance training will also help you improve weak muscles which affect your posture.

7. You’ll Speed Up Your Metabolism

The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. As we age, we lose muscle at increasing rates, especially after the age of 40. If you have never done resistance training and you die, up to 25% of the weight loss may be muscle loss. If you start training with weight and combine it with dieting, you can preserve and even rebuild your muscle fibres. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.

8. You’ll Get Stronger And Be More Confident

If you have never lifted weights in your life, your everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags and picking up heavy suitcases must be challenging as hell. If you start hitting the gym, however, more frequently you’ll have an increase in functional fitness and will have no problem doing all of those things.

Researches show that regular weight training can make you 50% stronger in only six months. Being stronger and having more power is very empowering feeling. It will not only improve your physical activities but also will build emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence. It also builds character as to build muscle long-term you have to be dedicated and disciplined.

Conclusion

As you can see, weight lifting has a tremendous amount of benefits for women! We feel and look better when we train with weights, and our overall quality of life improves. You should realise by now, that weightlifting is not exclusive to women or men, but it’s for everybody who wants to improve their lives!

Whether you want to look good, build muscle or even compete as a competitor, heavy weight training is one of the best things you can do not only for yourself but also for the people around you. Remember, if you improve yourself, you can help others grow, and that is all that matters.

Competition Prep Process

Do you want to get on stage as a competitor and be in the best shape of your life?

If you’re already competing or just aspiring to step on stage for the first time, you’re probably trying to reach that perfect balance of being in great shape, looking stunning on and off stage, and actually enjoying the process while staying healthy.

Let me first say, I have amazing respect for anyone who has the commitment to compete in a fitness competition, be it bikini or bodybuilding.

I know how tough the process is and that’s why today I want to share with you my tips and tactics so you can avoid all these mistakes other women in the industry make.

When you decide you’re going to be in a competition, the first and most essential thing is making a commitment that you’re going to go through with it to the end.

So, you want to compete as a female fitness or bikini competitor?

Sometimes you can already be in shape when you decide you’re going to do a competition.

The fact is this – knowing where you’re at now can help you manage your expectations and set clear goals.

We’ll talk about diet and training further, but for now we’ll emphasize how important it is to take your time with this and be patient.

Unless you stay lean year-round, what will work best for you is slow and steady dieting first, then the competition prep.

Always be aware of the competitions you want to do, but don’t lock anything in.

When you’re closer to the needed stage shape you can easily choose a date, make a plan, and work on the specific things you need in order to reach first place.

If you’re in shape and you’re just wondering about it, but you have a strong work ethic and like new experiences – definitely go for it.

After you decide what show you want to do, all you have to do is see what the requirements are. Every organization can have different ways of judging and criteria. Submit your form, take any drug tests, put together your posing routines and let’s do this!

Pre-competition Diet

Being 12 weeks out from a show is a wonderful feeling.

First things first, if you’re not an expert on diet and nutrition, this is the point where you can hire someone to help you with this. Most people assume you already know everything if you’re someone who competes in a lot of shows.

That simply not true! It’s okay to seek help from experts and trainers on whatever area you might be lacking.

So, the 12 week point is when you eliminate all junk food from your diet. Focus on drinking more water, and eating a lot of meals each consisting of some form of protein, carbs, and a little fat. Make sure to track every calorie you take in and tailor your daily plans around that. Limit all sugary foods, candy and desserts to a minimum.

A question I get asked a lot is… what about carbs? It’s different for everyone really!

Do you tend to store fat easily? Are you sensitive to carbohydrates? If you are, keep your carbs similar or equal to your protein.

Do you tend to stay skinny? If you have a fast metabolism and it’s hard for you to gain a lot of weight, add some carbs to your diet but keep the protein high.

Make a plan for yourself based on your characteristics, and if you follow the first week perfectly, you’ll have no problem going through to the end, I promise!

By being consistent with your intake, you can figure out what you need more (and less) of. Listen to your body. Not having enough energy means you need more calories.

Manage your macronutrient ratio. Even though low carb diets are popular among women, but it’s not a good strategy here. The contest prep is a lot easier and predictable when you’re taking in carbs. The only downside – your hunger and energy levels will vary, but you’ll still be leaner in the end.

For protein, don’t set it higher than 1.3g/lbs of bodyweight and start with 1g/lbs while carbs and calories are still high. Too much protein (1.5g/lbs+) leads to poorer digestion and more water retention/bloating.

For calories, the average is 14-17x your bodyweight depending on your frame and activity level.

We won’t go into food choices in detail, but this is what you should be eating for the most part: meat like fish and chicken, eggs, low-fat dairy, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and oatmeal.

These foods will be the most convenient and delicious options when you’re prepping for a contest.

To get an idea of how to balance calories, you won’t really be dropping calories for more than 150-200kcals per week, more like 100kcals. It depends how much cardio you’re doing, but make sure you’re adding training instead of removing food next time you feel like you need an adjustment.

Pre-competition Training & Cardio

Okay, so your diet is on point now, you go in the gym and you’re ready to build that dream body!

See, a lot of new competitors get lied to. They’re being told that in order to get leaned out, you need to increase reps and decrease weight – for a fat-burning workout.

This will indeed increase your heart rate and get you to burn calories, but a lot of your hard-earned muscle will go away with it. When your goal is to lean out and keep your muscle, that’s not a good way to go.

Training should be the same. Continue using your routine, it doesn’t matter what split or range it is. Keep the weights as heavy as you can through your prep period. Keep in mind it can be difficult doing that when your energy levels and strength drop on a caloric deficit.

The proper route is increasing the intensity. Any type of workout can become a high-intensity workout. Decrease rest periods, negatives, do super-sets, drop-sets, and you’re good.

Your heart rate should really go up, you should be sweating, and your muscle will definitely be burning!

In terms of your overall training strategy, many factors come into the equation of the best training plan will be for you.

Too many of us would rather do more, in the effort of quicker results. This doesn’t work effectively and it will devastating long-term for you, as your body is a very intricate system of other smaller systems.

You rock up to the gym and know exactly how you have to train and what you need to eat and do to get the most out of your body.

Making it so much easier to just follow through and get the job done, especially when you know what your weak points are and you can work on them.

A big part of your will most likely be cardio.

Cardio… is only sometimes a must. It’s often time done WAY too early, and too often. This is something that you should avoid at all costs as it will give your body the stimulus it needs to change without overdoing it.

Also, you need to understand whether you respond better to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or slow, long stretches of cardio for fat loss. The right adjustments will help you get better results.

Unless you have tried it out you won’t know.

If you are doing cardio, without knowing your training history, I can only give you points of reference you can test for yourself and see how you feel.

You can start with 3 30-minute sessions a week and move from there.

If you’re dropping your calories but not losing fat, or you feel like your cardio isn’t enough, feel free to add a few minutes every session! But if you’re maintaining a balanced progress while only doing those 3 30-minute sessions, you’re good to go!

Keep your cardio to sprint intervals, tempo intervals, and long duration moderate intensity sessions!

You can progress from 3 cardio sessions per week all the way up to a maximum of 4-6 if you feel like it’s necessary.

It’s really important to watch out for the intensity and overtraining – especially on a caloric deficit.

A word on hiring coaches…

It’s really a big help to have someone look from the outside in and give you honest feedback.

Here’s the thing, if you’re hiring a coach…

…Pick one coach, and listen ONLY to their advice.

Once you have the right training plan and you’re following through with your diet, you should have no problem going on that stage, being your best self, and rocking it!

Post Competition

It doesn’t matter if you won or not, it’s an amazing learning experience.

Let me just tell you first, post-competition diets are a thing.

You don’t want to look great on comp day, have an incredible time, and then happily binge cheat meals…

Rapid fat and weight gain post comp is something you must avoid.

Firstly, realize that the race isn’t over once you walk off stage.

Your body can very quickly gain fat, and this is especially true when you have prepped incorrectly and your bodies systems and the hormonal environment is screaming for help.

Post comp rebound is common, but it doesn’t have to happen for you. And this is where the term ‘reverse diet’ comes in.

Slowly adding back more food into your diet and taking away exercise will leave you with a highly functioning metabolism, happy hormone levels, and great look.

All of this information might be a little overwhelming.

And I know… competing for the first time can be scary, but it is well worth it.

Stick to the plan, stay motivated and don’t be afraid to lean on others when you are struggling.

You will make a lot of mistakes the first time but don’t beat yourself up, learn from them and be better the next time.

And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself and be proud of all that you have accomplished.

Good luck and happy competing!

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