Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Have We, As Americans, Lost Our Focus??

Recently in national news, a man was carted away in an ambulance after suffering an apparent heart attack while eating a "Triple Bypass Burger" at a restaurant in Las Vegas called "Heart Attack Grill".  The "Triple Bypass burger" has 6,000 calories and is a 1.5 pound triple cheeseburger...and for an extra $2.77 you can add 15 slices of bacon.  This restaurant is known for "bypass" burgers and "flatliner" fries and offers free meals to anyone who weighs over 350 pounds.  Does anyone else see problems with this??  When do we start taking control for our actions and choices in life??

Obesity rates have been constantly on the rise over the past 20 years.  In 2010, no state had an obesity prevalence of less than 20% and 36 states (including Kentucky) had a prevalence of 25% or more.  When will people realize there is an obesity epidemic in the United States?  Children are less active, schools are cutting back on physical education classes, school administrators allow fast food chains to sell their food in cafeterias...when does it stop?  Americans offer many excuses and place blame everywhere except on themselves.  It's time for us to start making lifestyle changes by incorporating daily physical activity and proper nutrition into our lives.  It's not that difficult but it does take a little work.

Where do you begin?  First step is to admit there is a problem.  If you don't see there is a problem with your physical activity levels, nutrition, weight, and overall health, you will not be successful in your endeavors.  If you see a problem exists, it's time to make some changes.  Start small with easy changes to your daily routine.  Put the phone/iPad/computer away for a few hours and get outside and take a walk.  Replace at least one beverage with 16 ounces of water.  Reduce the number of restaurant visits in one week.  Change your dinner plate to a smaller one so you won't feel "obliged" to fill it up.  All of these ideas will help you get started.  Once you start to see improvements here, expand your horizons.  Join a local walking group, head into the gym to take a new group exercise class, sign up at the health department to participate in informational sessions to learn more about diabetes and weight management...the list is endless.

Don't wait for the scales to tip 300 pounds, don't wait for the chest pains to happen, don't wait to be on multiple medications to control blood pressure/heart rate/blood sugar, don't wait for the hospital visit...the time is now and the reason is because your life is valuable and your family would like for you to stick around for a while.  Take control of your life and your health because no one is going to do it for you.

Come in to PROMATx Health Club and talk with a fitness professional today to see what it will take to get your life back on track.  Don't it today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are You Ready for a Not-So-Fat Tuesday?

Today is Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, which is the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  To give you a little history lesson, today is the final day of the festivities known as Carnival.  Mardi Gras is celebrated in predominately Catholic locations around the world and even though many of us are more aware of the parties, costumes and beads associated with Mardi Gras, it actually has religious origins in the Catholic calendar as well as in the pre-Christian pagan celebrations.  Fat Tuesday was named because it was a time of extravagant feasting of rich goods such as meat or pancakes before the upcoming fast of Lent.

Now that you've had your mini-history lesson, let's look at how you can survive Mardi Gras without busting your waistline and all the hard work you've put into your body recently.  Although, to some of us, gobbling down a few beignets (French version of a doughnut) sounds good during Mardi Gras, I don't think it's a wise choice.  A beignet is basically a deep fried ball of yeast dough sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Some beignets are lower in fat and calories than a doughnut but is still not a recommended treat for everyday consumption.  So if you are looking for a few healthy food choices for Fat Tuesday check out these recipes.

Creole Shrimp Kabobs with CouscousCreole Shrimp Kabobs with Couscous
A fiery seafood meal with only 311 calories per serving.
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Get this Fat Tuesday recipe

Blackened Shrimp Po’ BoyBlackened Shrimp Po' Boy
This is a creamy, scrumptious way to serve seafood.
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Get this Fat Tuesday recipe

Easy Cajun Jambalaya
Easier version to make with under 500 calories per serving!!!
Serves: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Get this Fat Tuesday recipe

Finally, enjoy your Mardi Gras pancakes without the guilt.  Try this recipe for guilt-free Banana Applesauce Pancakes with only 61 calories per serving!!!

Get this Fat Tuesday recipe

Remember, just because a holiday is centered around food, it is possible to make wise food choices.  Don't be afraid to try something new or better yet, try your hand in the kitchen making low-fat, low-calorie, high-taste foods!!  Still need some help making those food choices that won't bust your waistline?  Come in and talk with our nutrition specialist at PROMATx Health Club.  We are here to help!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Big Muscles, Big Burn: Increase the Efficiency of Your Workouts

Today's blog comes from one our PROMATx Health Club's personal trainer, Joseph Mattingly. Read on as he talks about getting the biggest bang for your buck in the gym!!

As a personal trainer, every day I see people wasting time in the gym and being overall inefficient with their time spent working out. For many people, squeezing time at the gym into their busy schedule is one of the biggest obstacles to weight-loss and overall fitness success. For the masses who have this problem, the following is a guide to achieving your fitness goals within a limited time frame. In this post is a suggested workout outline with tips, selected from anecdotal and scientific evidence, on how to achieve your fitness goals with limited time spent in the gym. I understand that there are different body types, workout preferences, and that equipment is not always available for use, therefore I have provided alternatives to each of the preferred lifts.

Getting Started
As soon as you walk into the gym, head to the cardio area and get in a quick 5-8 minute warm-up to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the fast paced, intense workout to come. This workout is ideally done 3 times a week for maximum benefit, with a day in between for muscle recovery. If you have the time, feel free to get some cardio and core work done on your recovery days. I would suggest 20-30 minutes of interval-style cardio and 4-6 sets of core work. Stretching afterwards is highly encouraged, especially for those who already have creaky joints, bad backs, shoulders etc.

The workout - “Big Muscles”
This workout is composed entirely of compound exercises involving multiple muscle groups being recruited at the same time. This allows for maximal efficiency, muscle recruitment and caloric burn. All of this combines to speed up your metabolism, both during and after the workout. You should never rest more than 90 seconds between sets or exercises, and preferably keep the rest periods to 60 seconds.

Circuit 1, done 2-3 times, preferably in this order 
  1. Bench Press - Barbell or Dumbbell.................................8-12 reps
  2. One Arm Rows – Dumbbell.........................................12-15 reps
  3. Squats or Leg Press.................................................15-20 reps
  4. Plank or Bicycle Crunches..........................................To failure
Circuit 2, done 2-3 times
  1. Shoulder Press (seated or standing) - Barbell or Dumbbells..........12–15 reps 
  2. Pulldowns or Pullups.......................................................10-12 reps 
  3. Lunges or Straight Leg Deadlifts.........................................15-20 reps or steps
  4. Leg Lifts or Cable/Dumbbell Twists.....................................To failure
If done with the appropriate intensity and focus, these two circuits should recruit virtually every major muscle in your body AND increase your metabolism and lean body mass. The 16 to 24 sets should be plenty of volume and should take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your pace. Done correctly and frequently, along with an appropriate diet and hydration, you should be on your way to a better body with less time spent at the gym.

Give this workout a try. If you still have questions or are unsure on how to perform some of these exercises, be sure to stop by PROMATx and talk with a fitness professional. Remember, we are your body transformation specialists!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When Is It OK To Skip Your Workout?

What???  Here you are, busting your tushy trying to get in shape, you are reading our blog and following our advice to keep I'm giving you a pass to skip your workout??  Sometimes it is necessary (and beneficial) to skip a workout.  Let's look a reasons when it really is alright to skip your fitness routine.

First and foremost, it is OK to skip your workout if you are sick.  If you are suffering from migraines, dizziness, diarrhea, or vomiting, please, please, please stay home.  If you are experiencing the common cold, first determine if you are "well enough" to exercise.  Is it the first 24 hours of symptoms?  Do everyone a favor and stay home and prevent spreading your germs.  If you are feeling well enough to exercise, check your resting heart rate.  If it is 95 or above at rest, you probably should stay home and skip your workout.  The outcome won't be good if you exercise with a high resting heart rate.

Now with the obvious reason out of the way, let's look at a few more situations when it's OK to drive past the gym and keep on going!  Are you experiencing joint pain?  This is a tricky one.  Take a moment to determine whether you have muscle soreness or joint pain.  Here's how do you do that.  Is there swelling?  Is the area warm or hot to the touch?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, most likely you have joint pain and it's time to stay home.  Remember, if you are experiencing pain for more than 2 weeks, it is time to seek medical intervention.  It is normal to experience muscle soreness after some workouts.  In this instance, exercise is actually going to help you. 

Here's another scenario.  What is your blood pressure and/or blood sugar looking like?  Is your blood pressure high today?  Skip the weight training (which has the tendency to raise blood pressure) and choose light cardio instead.  Blood sugar high?  By all means, get in the gym!!  Exercise can help get blood sugar under control.  If you are dealing with low blood sugar, try having something to eat.  If your levels settle down, get in the gym.  If it's still running low and/or you are experiencing dizziness, by all means, skip your workout.

Another reason to get a "hall pass" to your workout...what has your fitness routine looked like the past few days?  Have you been hitting it hard for the past 3-4 days straight with no break?  I give you permission to take a day off.  Remember, overtraining has its drawbacks...headaches, chronic muscle soreness, fatigue, injury...take a break and let your body recover.  Not quite sure you are ready to skip the gym entirely?  Try doing some light cardio...take a walk in your neighborhood, do some "window shopping" at the mall, go to the park and hit the fitness trail.  Your body (and mind) will thank you.

These are just a few reasons when it is OK to skip your workout.  Your body needs time to recover from illness and injury.  Take it easy and easy back into your exercise routine.  New to the exercise world?  Sometimes it's hard to determine when you should stay home.  Talk to your trainer and get their advice.  Not working with a trainer?  Seek the advice of a fitness professional at your gym.  Remember, while it is OK to skip a workout, please don't let one skip turn into a week off from your exercise plan. 

The trainers here at PROMATx Health Club are here to help.  We can not only help you kick up your fitness routine, but we can help guide you with decisions that affect your exercise goals.  Come in and talk to us today.  Put your plan into action, let us help you reach your goals!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reasons Why Your Workout Just Isn't Cutting It

You workout on a regular are at the gym 3-4 days per attend group exercise classes and sweat away your show up for all of your personal training appointments as scheduled.  So why aren't you seeing the results?  Weight loss shouldn't be this hard...should it?  Let's look at some reasons why you may not be seeing the results you expected.

You aren't working hard enough.

Is going to the gym a social event for you?  Is it time to catch up with your buddies and talk about the game last night?  Maybe you come in and have been doing the same exercises and are feeling "comfortable" with the routine.  Now is the time to kick it up a notch.  While it's OK to chat with your buddies at the gym, try to limit it to before or after your workout.  Keep your mind focused on the activity at hand.  Many times we fail to push ourselves to do exercises to failure.  Whether it's the fear of working that hard or just not knowing how your body will respond, you should attempt to push yourself with each workout.  Therefore, it's not how much weight you lift but how hard you push yourself.  Once you catch your breath, it's time to move on to the next exercise.

You are working out too hard.

What??  Didn't I just say you had to push yourself during your workouts?  Well it is possible to work too hard or "overtrain".  Are you in the gym 5-7 days a week?  Do you go "all-out" in every workout?  Do you take all the group exercise classes plus workout on your own?  You actually are doing your body more harm than good.  The body needs time to rest and repair itself and if you are always working out and not allowing the body any "down time", your body will rebel.  You may experience headaches, insomnia, exhaustion, even weight gain.  Although we love to see your faces in the gym, it is important to take a day or two off so you can get adequate rest.

You aren't eating enough.

OK, so now you think I've totally lost my mind.  If you haven't read our previous blog, "Are You Eating Enough", then take a moment to go back and read it.  Remember, you have to consume enough calories to meet the needs of basic body functions like breathing, standing, and moving, PLUS you need to have enough energy to do your workouts.  There's a fine line there and if you don't consume enough to meet those needs, where is your body going to get the energy from??  You guessed it, your muscle tissue.  You will actually break down muscle tissue so the body can use it for energy.  Ultimately resulting in weight loss but the WRONG kind of weight loss.  Remember, weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition.

You are spending too much time at the gym.

Stay with me folks...I have a good point to make!  Are you spending 1-2 hours in the gym?  Do you perform your strength routine, then hit the cardio machines?  Do you think longer workouts will help lose the fat and build the muscle you are looking for?  Probably not.  In a study published by the School of Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario, researchers compared effects of short, intense strength/cardio training with those of longer bouts of moderate exercise. In this study, both groups ran three times per week for six weeks. One group ran as hard as they could for 30 seconds and then rested for four minutes and repeated this three to five times for a total workout time of 18 to 27 minutes. The second group jogged for up to 60 minutes at a moderate pace.  Those in the sprint group saw their total body fat decrease by 12.4 percent, while the other runners lost less than half that much!  

So where do you go from here?  First, try doing more intense workouts for shorter durations.  For example, get your workout done in 30 minutes.  You'll tend to push yourself harder if you know you only have 30 minutes to get it done!  Next, take a look at your nutritional habits.  There are lots of great programs on the internet to track your food intake and calorie consumption/burn.  Check these out.  Remember, I've said it before and I'll say it again, we have a nutritional specialist on staff here at PROMATx Health Club.  We can help you with the dietary part of weight loss.  Don't try to fight it on your own!!  Finally, it's not quantity at the gym but more about quality.  I'm sure your significant other and family members would love to see you a little more often.  You don't have to live at the gym to lose weight and be healthy.  Just be smart and follow our advice.  It is possible to un-do what you have done to your body throughout the past years.

Come in and see us.  We'll guide you, we'll push you, we'll help you!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fuel for Your Winter Activities

Even though the weather here in Kentucky has been fairly mild this winter, we did have a little snow this morning.  So, keep in mind, it still is winter!  Today's blog is about winter (outdoor) activities and how to properly fuel your body.  I know, some of you are thinking I'm crazy for even suggesting you go outside and exercise in the winter.  Don't fret, it's not that bad if you take the proper precautions.  Whether you exercise indoors or out, proper fuel for your body can make your workout that much better.  

One thing we winter exercisers tend to forget is proper hydration.  Does your water intake go down when the temperature drops?  It's a natural tendency for this to occur.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a study comparing hydration status of athletes who skied or played football or soccer reported the skiers had the highest rate of chronic dehydration.  Before one competition, 11 of the 12 alpine skiers showed up dehydrated.  Why do we skimp in the winter?  One reason may be due to how many layers you have to wear during cold-weather exercise and the fact that the more you drink the more likely you'll have to go to the bathroom.  It's a pain to have to remove all those layers!!  Another reason could be due to cold weather dulling your thirst mechanism.  In all actuality, we can become dehydrated very quickly in colder climates.  Our body has to warm up the cold, dry air we breathe and therefore when we exhale we are releasing steam/vapor and decreasing the amount of water in our system.  A great way to stay hydrated during outdoor winter activities, is to have a hot sports drink in an insulated bottle and sip on that during your activity.  Ice cold water in winter will cool your body down fairly quickly and may cause the chills.

What about food?  What do you eat prior to participating in an outdoor event?  Because the temperature outside will be colder, you'll need to "pre-heat" your body with fuel.  Thirty to sixty minutes after you eat, your body generates about 10 percent more heat than when you have an empty stomach.  Hence, eating not only provides fuel but also increases heat production (warmth).  If you are going to be outdoors for an extended workout, be sure to stay warm throughout your workout.  As your body temperature decreases, you will actually feel hungry.  Why?  Your body will begin to burn more calories just trying to keep you warm.  Shivering can burn up to 400 calories per hour!  This depletes stored energy, thus making you hungry for more food.  Bring snacks with you such as energy bars, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate.  When you are finished with your workout, be sure to re-fuel your body with warm carbohydrates and a little protein.  Lentil soup, hot chocolate made with milk, oatmeal with nuts/fruit, and pasta with meatballs are all good winter post-workout foods.

Exercising outdoors can be invigorating as long as you are prepared.  Dress appropriately for the weather and your activity, hydrate your body throughout your workout, "pre-heat" your body before your workout and be sure to re-fuel afterwards.  Luckily we live in a fairly mild climate and winter activities aren't that bad.  Give it a may find you like exercising in the cooler weather.  

Still need help with fueling your body for winter activities?  Schedule an appointment with our nutrition specialist and get put on the right path to success!!  Come in to PROMATx today...your body (and your mind) will thank you!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kitchen Makeover

Did your eyes just get wide with excitement and did you have a little drool in the corner of your mouth when you read the title of today's blog?  Well, don't get too excited...I'm not talking about a major remodel in your kitchen.  What I am going to discuss is how you can makeover your kitchen to improve your odds with healthy eating and weight loss.

First, take a look at your kitchen.  Better yet, take a picture of all corners of your kitchen.  Look beyond the paint on the walls, the lighting, and the appliances.  Is your kitchen organized or do you get stressed just looking at a picture of your kitchen?  Organization is a major necessity to healthy eating.  Why aren't you in your kitchen more often?  Are you too busy to prepare healthy meals?  We all are busy but that's no excuse to NOT make your meals at home.  When you have an organized canvas to work with, food preparation becomes easier and more enjoyable.  You don't want to fight with looking through countless drawers and cupboards for tools.

Set aside some time to reorganize your cupboards, drawers and refrigerator.  Start in one section of the kitchen, pull everything out and check expiration dates.  Discard all expired exceptions!!  While you are checking out expiration dates, why not take a second and look at the food label.  Are you harboring overly-processed foods filled with additives and words you cannot pronounce?  Time to discard!!  Once you've cleaned out those unhealthy and old food items, take a moment to wipe the slate clean.  Wipe done cupboards/drawers/shelves and replace liners.  Now that you have a clean surface, replace items in an organized manner.  Group like-foods, bring frequently-used items to the front, label your shelves.  Organization makes your life easier.

The next step is to make sure your appliances are in working order.  Is that blender on your counter gathering dust?  Does that bread machine work?  If your appliances aren't working and cannot be repaired, get rid of them.  Now that you can find all the essential tools and foods, AND your appliances are in tip-top shape, it's time to get cooking!  Not sure where to start?  Hit the library and check out the cooking section.  There are plenty of options for cookbooks from vegetarian to clean-eating to bread making.  Take your pick!

Stay tuned for another blog entry on how to add healthier foods and gadgets to your kitchen.  Baby steps, though.  Your first step is to get that kitchen clean and organized.  It's not hard but it is a crucial step to getting healthy from the inside out.  Get your kitchen cleaned out and kick the clutter to the curb!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

National Wear Red Day

Today, February 3, 2012, is National Wear Red Day to help raise awareness about heart disease in women.  Did you know that heart disease is the #1 killer of American women?  Here are some more staggering statistics from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in four women in the U.S. die from heart disease as compared to one in 30 from breast cancer.  Around 80 percent of women ages 40-60 have one or more risk factors for heart disease.  Having multiple risk factors significantly increases your risk for heart disease because risk factors worsen each others effects.  According to NHLBI, only having one risk factor doubles your chance for developing heart disease.

Do you know what the controllable lifestyle factors are?  Check it out:
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
How many of those risk factors do you have?  Every one of the risk factors listed above are "controllable"...meaning with a little effort on your part, you can change your risk.  Click HERE to refer back to our previous blog on heart health.

It's time for you to step up and take control of your health.  Today is a good day to do just that.  Wear red today and raise your own awareness of heart disease.  Do it for it for the ladies you care about!

Don't forget to stop by PROMATx Health Club today to learn more about preventing heart disease.  We will have a lot of great information for you and you can talk with some of our trainers to see how they can help you reduce your risk for developing heart disease.  Come on in...your heart will thank you!!