Well it's Monday again.  I do hope you had a great weekend.  Today I won't waste your time with a lot of verbiage and build up.  Let's just get right into it.

The first article I want to share with you is about how the American past time has gotten completely out of control.  What past time am I referring to. . . . . snacking.  One of the main causes it seems, is that so many of us eat on the go. These days, it seems there are not as many of the old family dinners many of us grew up with. In fact in my household for many years it was required that we all make time to sit down and have a meal as a family.  It was an excellent opportunity to not only assure a good meal was being consumed, but it was also a good time to be a "family".  We are all so busy much of the time we don't make time to actually sit down and eat as often as we used to, whether it's by ourselves, with family or friends.

Believe me this is rather eye-opening. The American Diet Then and Now


The second article was just too outrageous to not include today.  It's basically a review of how ridiculously high in calories some of the foods are at your local dinner and fast food joint.  There is actually a shake that is listed, from a rather popular food establishment, that is over 2,000 calories and contains more than 3 days worth of Saturated fat, in just one 24 oz. serving.  OUCH!

Definitely worth the read, if for no other reason than to see if any of your own favorites are on the list.  Top 8 Calorie Heavy Meals


Okay.

So let's say the above 2 articles don't really apply to you.  But at the same time you're really not where you want to be physically. Maybe you want to be a bit leaner.  Perhaps you have just have a few pounds left to get you to your goal.  I think this next one will do just the trick to get you over that little hump and seeing the results you want.  Getting Lean -- Fine Tuned, Raw, and Real

So now you have the info:

Get On Track and Stay On Track!
  TGIF!

Hope you've had a great week.  I thought it was time to get back to some good old fashioned exercise examples.  Remember, part of staying motivated and part of breaking through plateaus quickly, is exercise variety.  The more you can challenge your body effectively, the more you will continue to progress and transform. 

So since the warmer weather is upon us, it's time to kick it up a notch.  I'm sure you're familiar with the all too common lunge.  Great exercise for shaping the butt, building hip and glute strength, and it's one of the basic movements the human body is supposed to be able to do effectively.

Well, here's little a twist to add to it.  I think you'll find it's a heck of a lot harder than it looks.  Provides a great core challenge as well as good kick in the butt!

Check back with me in two weeks for another exercise to put in your own training locker.  The more movements you have, the more you stay motivated and making progress.

I know I tend to go on and on about the big marketing machine.  How they are not working towards our healthful improvement, but are in fact leading us astray on many occasions. 

Remember how I frequently comment that they are in business to sell products not improve your overall health.  Check out this article.  It's well worth the read and has some serious surprises regarding what foods claim to be healthy and are not.

Foods With Health Benefits, or So They Say

I don't know about you, but that article was quite a wake-up call about the concerns we all should have about marketing and what they claim.

Switching gears a bit, have you heard about the rising amount of people with Gluten allergies?  You may be affected and don't even know it.  Check out this article to get more info on how you can help yourself.

Belly Fat Caused by Glutens and Gluten Allergies

And lastly, let me share some quick and ready to use tips on how to decrease high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

7 Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure, Bad Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels

3 more ways to help you and/or someone you know -- Get On Track and Stay On Track!
I've posted a great deal of what I consider excellent info over the past year.  But I have to tell you this is probably one of the most important posts to date.

Building on last weeks article "Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back", here are 6 more no-no's for training at the gym.

You can train to look and function better without putting yourself in danger.
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Walking into the gym and expecting a great workout is like walking into the supermarket and expecting a gourmet meal. The basic ingredients are there, but like they say in the infomercials, results may vary. With working out, as with cooking, a little bit of smarts, dedication, creativity and knowledge will make all the difference between perfect pasta and a gelatinous ball of mush.

For this list of no-no exercises, we consulted Stuart McGill, PhD, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario; Nicholas DiNubile, MD, author of FrameWork: Your 7-Step Program for Healthy Muscles, Bones, and Joints; and trainer Vern Gambetta, author of Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning.

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1. Seated Leg Extension
What it's supposed to do: Train the quadriceps. What it actually does: It strengthens a motion your legs aren't actually designed to do, and can put undue strain on the ligaments and tendons surrounding the kneecaps.

A better exercise: One-legged body-weight squats. Lift one leg up and bend the opposite knee, dipping as far as you can, with control, while flexing at the hip, knee, and ankle. Use a rail for support until you develop requisite leg strength and balance. Aim for five to 10 reps on each leg. (If you are susceptible to knee pain, do the Bulgarian split squat instead, resting the top of one foot on a bench positioned two to three feet behind you. Descend until your thigh is parallel to the ground and then stand back up. Do five to 10 reps per leg.)

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2. Seated Lat Pull-Down (Behind the Neck)
What it's supposed to do: Train lats, upper back, and biceps. What it actually does: Unless you have very flexible shoulders, it's difficult to do correctly, so it can cause pinching in the shoulder joint and damage the rotator cuff.

A better exercise: Incline pull-ups. Place a bar in the squat rack at waist height, grab the bar with both hands, and hang from the bar with your feet stretched out in front of you. Keep your torso stiff, and pull your chest to the bar 10 to 15 times. To make it harder, lower the bar; to make it easier, raise the bar.

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3. Seated Hip Abductor Machine
What it's supposed to do: Train outer thighs. What it actually does: Because you are seated, it trains a movement that has no functional use. If done with excessive weight and jerky technique, it can put undue pressure on the spine.

A better exercise: Place a heavy, short, looped resistance band around your legs (at your ankles); sidestep out 20 paces and back with control. This is much harder than it sounds.

 

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4. Seated Leg Press
What it's supposed to do: Train quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. What it actually does: It often forces the spine to flex without engaging any of the necessary stabilization muscles of the hips, glutes, shoulders, and lower back.

A better exercise: Body-weight squats. Focus on descending with control as far as you can without rounding your lower back. Aim for 15 to 20 for a set and increase sets as you develop strength.

http://a323.yahoofs.com/phugc/mo9oEvqSq0mn/photos/5289806919787ef592430c0709e79cd9/mr_305b855eeef492.jpg?ug_____DSEWx2UVs

5. Squats Using Smith Machine
What it's supposed to do: Train chest, biceps, and legs. What it actually does: The alignment of the machine—the bar is attached to a vertical sliding track—makes for linear, not natural, arched movements. This puts stress on the knees, shoulders, and lower back.

A better exercise: Body-weight or weighted squats. See "Seated Leg Press" above.

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6. Roman Chair Back Extension
What it's supposed to do: Train spinal erectors. What it actually does: Repeatedly flexing the back while it's supporting weight places pressure on the spine and increases the risk of damaging your disks.

A better exercise: The bird-dog. Crouch on all fours, extend your right arm forward, and extend left leg backward. Do 10 seven-second reps, and then switch to the opposite side.

___________________________________________________________________________

So the next time you decide to do a certain exercise or machine just because someone else does it and happens to have a nice body -- think again.  Chances are their genetics have more to do with how they look and not the dangerous exercise they've chosen.  If you have a question, send me an email.  I'd be happy to help.

Just a few days ago, while waiting for my client to arrive, I watched a guy with low body fat (think lean), proceed to do his ab routine.  He did the typical knee raises, crunches on knees using the cable, and a few others that are too difficult to effectively explain here.  Let's just say it was an extensive routine, full of complicated and high level core movements. 

But you know what?

Almost each and every ab/core movement he chose, he performed incorrectly.  I was honestly concerned whether he was going to literally injure his spine throughout the entire routine.

Now, please understand I'm not being pompous or arrogant.  The movements, by the way he was executing them, were literally putting his spine in danger.  He maintained little to no stabilization in his mid section while performing each of his movements, and when he became tired (fatigued) his form became even worse.

Of course I commented respectively, "That's quite a core routine you have laid out for yourself.  Those are some really advanced core movements".  Beaming he responded, "Yeah, I just saw it in (fitness name omitted) magazine.  They said it will give me a great core in a few weeks". 

This is the exact kind of the thing that burns my you know what!

There are progressions to every movement/exercise.  There is a starting level, and numerous levels in between leading to the more advance versions (simple versions to more complex versions).  As in life, the goal is to start simply and slowly progress upward to more challenging forms and versions. 

Why?

So you don't injure yourself.  Do any movement, no matter how easy it seems, the wrong way long enough, and you will get injured.  Just because someone has a 6-pack does not mean they know how to train their core properly.  Having great genetics or good nutrition habits is what makes you lean. It doesn't dictate the quality of your core training.

And for goodness sakes, just because it's in a magazine doesn't make it the right way to train.  Magazine articles are written to help sell magazines.  Not necessarily to properly instruct you on the progressions of a certain movement/exercise.  Be clear, it's to sell magazines.

I want each of you to succeed in having a strong stable core.  And believe me when I tell you, you can't do it, build a strong core, if you're injured.

Start your core training movements utilizing the floor as your initial support surface.  Then try moving to do single leg versions of something like hip raises, for instance.  Then you would progress to a Swiss Ball, as this would provide even more challenge to your stability.  From there you could move to suspension straps, etc.  Now realize the above is merely a suggested guide as to how to properly progress your core training forward and not hurt yourself in the process.

It's more about how they function -- not just how they look.

Check out today's progression.

I have to be honest with you.  I was asked NOT TO share this information with you.  I was told that this should be something that only clients that come to see me should receive.  I was told that, "It's information that the average person isn't going to appreciate without the guidance of regular visits to you or their nutrition counselor".

Well, I do tend to be a bit hard headed so what the heck.

I don't know where the idea came from, and honestly don't really care. But plain and simple, if you skip meals you will gain weight. 

Why?

Well if you've been following my posts this month, you know that going longer than 2.5-3.5 hours between meals is a recipe for disaster when it comes to your metabolism.  Your body needs to feed on a regular basis if it's going to keep burning stored calories (think fat) and maintain you lean tissue (think muscle).

Why?

Because the human body was built to survive.  Your ancestors out survived the dinosaurs for many reasons, one of which is that your body will slow down your metabolism when it receives insufficient calories on a regular basis (think skipping meals).  In that way you burn less energy and thus the survival of the species is ensured.

Now granted, most of us are not on the verge of starvation nor is the population anywhere near being threatened for it's survival.  But your body doesn't know this.  It has survived for thousands of years using this type of survival mechanism and it's worked just fine.

Unless of course you're trying to lose weight.  Skipping meals in fact tells your body to not let go of any excess calories (think don't burn fat).  Whereas eating every 2.5-3.5 hours sends the message to your body that it does not need to store extra calories for survival because you will give it the nutrients it needs consistently.

Now some people have had a hard time believing me.  While others have had a hard time wrapping their brain around such a concept.  So I thought it would be a good idea to share this TOP SECRET information.

Check out the link below.  I think you'll be surprised at how well the diagram explains the process.  And by all means, the next time someone tells you they don't eat breakfast because they're not hungry, just smile and hand them this diagram or email them this link.


I think it's safe to say you've officially run out of excuses for missing meals.

Reasons or Results --
Had some technical difficulties yesterday.  Can you say no internet or cable?  Thank goodness they came and fixed it quickly.

Now on to the business at hand.

This month I'm sharing with you core exercises using the Swiss Ball.  The purpose of the Swiss Ball, if you're not familiar with it, is to add increased instability.  By adding increased instability to your training, you increase the functioning and efficiency of your core musculature.

And as you all already know, a strong core is one of the most important aspects of being fit.  You can't truly call yourself in-shape if your core doesn't function properly.  Because to be quite honest, all movement first comes from the core.  It stabilizes your body just prior to any movement you do.  And if it's weak, other muscles take over a job they are not meant to do.  Now of course we all know what happens when you use the wrong tool for a job -- in this case possible injury. 

So don't skip the important exercises.  Train the muscles that matter as well as the muscles you can see.



I'll have another one for you next week.

Last month after sharing with you some very challenging exercise on the suspension straps, I promised to provide you with some new movements for core that you can do on the Swiss Ball.

Actually, as I'm sure you already know, getting results and providing an effective workout for my clients is all about understanding progressions.  Meaning understanding how to go from simple to complex with any given movement/exercise.  Unfortunately most people go for the most "interesting"-- usually meaning the more difficult progression of an exercise.  Probably because it looks so impressive to observe. However you have to understand that it is probably being done by someone who has already put in the time doing the previous progressions.


Not following the order of easy to difficult is a good way to get injured.

In regards to the core, start off doing your movements from the ground (obviously a very stable surface).  Then proceed to a more challenging version of the exercise by moving to the Swiss Ball (which provides some instability and increased challenge), then consider using the suspension straps after mastering the previous movements.  That way you don't risk injury and can be sure you will keep making progress as well as keeping your routine interesting.

So by example, this is what a good challenging progression would look like (in the second video I show you all 3 options):








Now it's important for you to understand that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of progressions that could be followed.  This is just an example of one way to do it (from the ground, to the Swiss ball, to the wheel, and then of course the suspension straps).  The key is to not allow your ego to get ahead of your skills -- that's a recipe for injury.

Bottom line is to keep moving forward challenging yourself with different movements and types of equipment so that you can keep motivated and making progress.

Be sure to check back in with me next week for another new movement for core using the Swiss Ball.

Feb
28
2011
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I realize it may be hard to believe, but we are just about to begin March.  Which means the first quarter is almost over. 

Stay with me here. 

Which means the first 3 months of the year are almost over.  How's your body transformation -- project, resolution, promise, or whatever you're calling it going?

You know you could just start off by having a good breakfast to start getting back on track.

I don't know how it happens, but for some reason breakfast seems to be the most difficult meal to get most people to eat consistently.  I've heard all the excuses from "I don't have time", to "I don't eat eggs", to "I'm really not that hungry in the morning". Trust me if you've been sleeping for 6-8 hours or more, your body is hungry -- even if you don't feel like eating. 
However, if you keep that pattern up, of not eating breakfast, you encourage your body to store calories as body fat.

Why?

Because if you continue to tell your body it will be underfed the amount of calories it needs (which is what you do when you skip breakfast), it will do what it was made to do -- survive.  Thus it will store calories and slow your metabolism down, so that it can conserve energy (think a slow metabolism makes it extremely difficult to lose weight).

So whether you're working to get lean and ripped for summer, or just wanted to get rid of a few pounds, breakfast is the most efficient way to do that no matter how you slice it.

Being committed to your success, I'm going to make this super easy for those of you who consistently skip breakfast for any reason.  Below you'll find some easy recipes to get the right food in your stomach, and still get you to work on time.

Remember, when you eat a proper breakfast consistently you start your metabolism off right.  Meaning, you send the message to your body not to store calories because you will be feeding it the nutrients it needs consistently.

I'm sure you can find at least one option below that will suit your tastes and time schedule.

Don't find an excuse.  Find the solution.







Check back with me next week and I will share with you some lunch options to help keep you on track and reaching your goals.
Well this is the last exercise for the series on different movements you can do on the suspension straps (Jungle Gym XT). Of course there are literally hundreds of movements you can do on the straps, but as the month comes to a close I want to move on to share some new movements using the Swiss Ball.

Yes, I do realize that I say it all the time. 

Core fitness is 70-80% of being truly fit

The truth is, you can't perform to near your capability or avoid injury as well if your core is not fit and functional.  And I'm not just talking about being lean and having a 6-pack to show off.  Heck, that's just a matter of having a great metabolism and/or sticking to a good nutrition program.  No, having a 6-pack to show off has nothing to do with how well your core functions.

The funny thing is no matter what your sport, a strong and stable core is the basis of all movement.  Ask someone with back or hip pain how important is a strong and stable core.  And for those of you stuck at a desk all day long it's even more important. 

Why?

Because you're stuck at a desk all day long in a seated position. Your core is literally shut off for most of the day.  Muscles function better the more you use them.  Kind of like your brain.  The more you exercise virtually any muscle, the better it will function and ideally the longer it will last.

Thus the importance of exercising a minimum of 4-5 times per week.  Your body, your hormones, your mind and your spirit need that challenge to continue to function at their best.  Like your brain, if you don't exercise it regularly it goes bad a lot sooner than you realize.  Trust me on that one.

But I digress.

Today, I wanted to share with you one more version of the core exercise commonly known as plank.  In this version you are forced to have a strong and stable core as it relates to each side of your body independently, not just when both legs are there to support you.  It's a great next step after you've mastered last weeks example.

Remember, check back in with me each Friday next month where I will be sharing some core exercises using the Swiss Ball.