Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Resting Metabolic Rate

Here is the final blog entry from our guest blogger, Caitlin Massey.

It seems that the phrase "metabolic rate" is a common household term.  You know that keeping it high is the best way to lose unwanted weight and maintain a healthy weight, but do you know what the most effective means of doing that is?  There are many diets out there that claim they have the right combination of foods or a new "eastern secret" to speed up your metabolism, but the truth is most effective way to do this is through a high-activity level.  In a nut shell, your metabolism is the amount of calories it takes your body to create and break down cells, and the energy it takes for those cells to carry out their specific functions.  The rate at which this happens stays relatively constant and is contingent upon genetics, age, gender, body fat percentage, height, diet, body temperature, glands, and exercise.  Most of those factors we don't have much control over, but the ones that we have the most control over are diet, body fat percentage, and exercise.

As was mentioned before, there is no magic food that will raise your metabolism, but the amount of food you eat does have a significant effect on your metabolic rate.  Low calorie and starvation diets (diets consisting of less than 1200 calories per day) have been shown to DECREASE your metabolic rate by up to 30%.  Conversely, exercise and overall daily activity level have been shown to INCREASE your metabolism.  So what is the best kind of exercise?  Although it is tempting to plunk down on a piece of cardio equipment for an hour because the machine says you burn 500 calories, don't let that trick you into thinking you are doing yourself too many favors.  High-intensity interval training (cardiovascular and with weights) will do more good than steady-paced cardio alone. The reason is, with this type of training your body takes a longer period of time to recover (using more energy over a longer period of time) and you build muscle mass.  Fat uses no energy to sustain but muscle does so the more muscle mass you have the more energy you use at a resting state.  

Remember that your metabolism is the rate at which your cells build up, break down, and the more cells you break down in your workout (with strength training) the more cells you have to build back up post-workout.  Simultaneously adding in a cardiovascular component forces your body to do this under more stress, meaning it needs more energy to do the same work, burning more calories throughout the rest of the day.  So if you want to spike your metabolism fuel your body with the right amount of calories and maximize your workouts by cranking up the intensity!

Still seem a little confusing to you?  Talk with a degreed, certified fitness professional for more help.  Schedule an appointment with one of our trainers and get a feel for what a high-intensity, interval training workout feels like!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Prenatal Yoga

Here's another installation from our trainer-mom-to-be, Catilin Massey.

If you are pregnant and looking for a workout that is safe and beneficial for the baby, try doing some yoga.  Yoga is known for its benefits of improving flexibility, muscle tone, balance, and circulation, and lowering blood pressure.  All of these are good for your baby, but also good for prepping mom for delivery by strengthening muscles, loosening the joints, and reinforcing relaxation techniques.  Prenatal yoga classes are also a great way to meet and connect with other moms to build a supportive community.  Follow these tips for a safe and healthy yoga routine.
FIRST TRIMESTER:  If you are inexperienced with yoga, find an instructor or prenatal yoga class to ensure you are doing poses safely and effectively.
SECOND TRIMESTER:  Joints are beginning to loosen so be sure not to overstretch.  Be cautious with balance poses as your expanding belly will alter your sense of balance.  Sink into poses slowly to avoid injury.  Avoid laying flat on your back to keep blood flowing to baby.
THIRD TRIMESTER:  Use a chair or the wall to assist in balance and don't hold poses too long (1min or less).
  1. No lying on your back for more than a few minutes as this will restrict blood flow causing dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. 
  2. Skip advanced poses if you are unfamiliar with them, and in your third trimester skip them even if you are a pro. 
  3. Avoid core poses, deep bending, and twisting as you are more likely to tear muscles due to the hormones your body is releasing. 
  4. Lastly, absolutely NO Bikram or Hot Yoga as this is VERY dangerous for your current state and for baby!
If you still need assistance with prenatal exercise, come in to PROMATx Health Club and talk with one of our fitness professionals.  In the meantime, check out this video to get some good ideas for your yoga workout.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Measure It Out

Here's another blog entry from our guest blogger this month, Caitlin Massey.

It's no secret that portion sizes are growing larger and larger, but studies have shown that they have enlarged between two and five times what they should be!  Cornell University studies conclude that the average calorie count per serving has increased 63% in the last 70 years.  It's no wonder that American's average weight has also increased along with it.  If you are trying to shed a few pounds or are stuck on a plateau, take a look at your portions.  Larger size bowls and plates often skew our idea of what a proper serving is, so be sure to read the label for the serving size of the food you are eating.  If your cereal says 1 serving is ¾ cup, measure it out before you put it in the bowl to get an accurate understanding of the energy you are consuming.  Also don't assume that just because something is small it doesn't have many calories.  Measure and count it out!  Even underestimating your calories by 100 per meal/snack can break your weight loss efforts (100 calories x 3 meals and 2 snacks = a 500 calorie underestimation which is 1lb a week!).  Also, try to avoid drinking your calories.  The University of Kansas Medical Center has concluded that consuming liquid calories is correlated to post-meal hunger.  This is because getting calories from solid food versus liquids reduces ghrelin (your hunger-producing hormone), meaning your desire to eat will be less intense which typically results in smaller portion sizes.  So get meticulous (at least for a while until you can spot the correct portion sizes you should be consuming) and start seeing better results!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Girl" Push-ups vs "Guy" Push-ups

As a trainer, one of the terms that bugs me the most is when someone calls a modified push-up a "girl" push-up.  Let me tell you firsthand there are A LOT of guys who cannot do a full push-up and must start at a modified push-up.  On the flip side, I know plenty of women who can do a full push-up (a.k.a "guy" push-up).  They are not happy when you call it a "girl" push-up and neither am I!! So what really is the strength difference between a modified push-up (performed on the knees) versus a full push-up (performed on the toes)?  Well I am going to highlight a study that looked at the strength difference.

In the study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research  "The effect of position on the percentage of body mass supported during traditional and modified push-up variants" by Suprak, (2011), the authors looked at the amount of strength during the "up" phase (push up off of the ground) versus the "down" phase (lowering body back down towards ground) in both a modified and a full push-up.  The subjects were 28 highly strength-trained males.  Strength was measured as a percentage of body mass lifted.  In a nutshell, here are the results:

So in other words, if you weigh 150 pounds and you perform the modified push-up you would be lifting:

  • ~80 pounds in the up phase and
  • ~93 pounds in the down phase of the push-up.
 If you were to perform a full pushup you would be lifting:
  • ~108 pounds in the up phase and
  • ~113 pounds in the down phase of the push-up.
As you can see from the chart above you actually lift more of your body weight in the down phase of the push-up.  So if you are training your upper body for strength improvements, try holding the push-up in lowering phase.  

The next time you are talking about push-ups to your friends, be sure to call it either a full or modified push-up, not "girl" or "guy" push-ups.  Because you never know who you are talking to or who is around you when you joke about how easy "girl" push-ups are!!  I know some women who could probably kick your behind when it comes to full push-ups! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Kids and Fitness

This month's guest blogger is our very own, soon-to-be-mom, Caitlin Massey.  This is the first of her blogs this month and today it is dedicated to all the parents out there.

Are you a parent?  If so listen up.  Health and fitness are quickly becoming nonexistent in our kid's lives.  Between sitting all day in class, fewer schools valuing PE, rushing from here to there and grabbing whatever meal you can find on the side of the road, and a technological society kids are quickly learning that health and fitness is not important. It's no surprise that 1 in 3 American adolescents are obese and by 2020, 75% of the American population will be overweight.  It is estimated that the obesity epidemic adds 40 billion in health care costs per year.  Ouch!  And that number will only grow as inflation and the obesity rates increase.  

It's time to take action and your kids need you to step up and lead by example.  Take a look at the above list of contributing factors to the childhood obesity rate (sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, fast paced lifestyle).  Any of those ring a bell?  You teach your kids about health everyday with the decisions YOU make.  That means you can change their future and protect your kids from weight-related chronic illness, poor self esteem, lower levels of concentration, and the ongoing "battle with the bulge".  Here are a few ideas you can start with to get your kids active and teach them a healthy lifestyle from an early age.
  1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE.  Your kids watch what you do and what you eat.  The first place to start changing your kid's habits is by changing your own.
  2. FIND OUT WHAT YOUR CHILD LIKES.  Kids don't exercise like we do. They don't see the long-term benefits and initially don't care about improving their health.  But they do like to have fun!  The more fun you can inject in exercise, the harder, faster, and more frequently they will participate in it.  So find a way to make a game out of it.
  3. TAKE CHARGE.  You are the parent so exert your right to be.  Limit TV and computer time and make sure your child eats their veggies before leaving the table.
  4. CHORES.  Any sort of physical activity will get their muscles moving...and make less work for you!  Have your kids help with vacuuming, sweeping, or yard work.  Not only will it get them up, it will also instill good work ethics and values.
  5. GO OUTSIDE.  Let them move while enjoying the great outdoors to build an appreciation for outdoor activities.  The greater this appreciation the less they will be tied to a computer or video game.
  6. KEEP IT POSITIVE.  If exercise is fun, it is never a chore.  Be sure to keep the emphasis off weight and on being active or being the best they can be.  If exercise is viewed negatively or as something at which they can fail kids will avoid it.  The goal is to not only teach healthy habits but to instill them in a positive way so physical activity will never be something they dread.