Friday, September 26, 2008

A Guest Spot..

I did a guest post on Workoutmommy...check it out here:

Again, thank you so much, Lisa!

P.S. -- having issues with the link..if it won't open, cut and paste .. sorry! :-(

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When Exercise Doesn't Work

This is for those of you out there (and a few people I know as well) who are somewhat struggling in aspects of your workout programs. This is an article written a while back (and recently updated) by Dr. John Berardi, PhD, he's a nutrition expert..and the guy knows his stuff! It's a great read and still holds very's a bit long, but it's worth it:

When Exercise Doesn't Work, by John M Berardi, PhD, CSCS
This week I've got no fancy introduction. I've got no "journalistic hook." You see, I recently had an "ah ha" moment that I've simply got to share with you. And here it is... Exercise doesn't work.

Now that might sound shocking coming from a guy with big biceps and 8% body fat; from a guy that recommends lots of exercise, at least 5 hours per week.

So if this all seems incongruent, I guess I should qualify the statement above. I guess I should have probably said:
Exercise, ALONE, doesn't work.

My Wake-Up Call -- My coming to this realization wasn't an easy process.

I've been working with clients for over 15 years now and although I always knew that diet was an important part of the training equation, I also always harbored some subconscious notion that if I worked my clients hard enough, their lack of dietary effort would be overcome by my super-effective training programs.

Sure, I wanted them to eat well. But if they didn't (more like, wouldn't), somewhere deep inside it seemed ok. I figured in the battle of training vs. diet, training would win.

Now, I never said this aloud. However, somewhere I'm sure I felt it. So it wasn't until I was slapped in the face with some cold, hard, objective data that I realized how wrong I'd been.

The Texas Study -- These data came in the form of a study I recently worked on at the University of Texas.

In this study, nearly 100 initially sedentary participants either stayed sedentary (about half of them) OR began exercising (the other half). They exercisers were given a program to follow that added up to about 5 1/2 to 6 hours of activity per week and that lasted for a total of 12 weeks. The non-exercisers did nothing for the 12 weeks except show up for measurement sessions.

These individuals, as stated above, did no exercise before the study began. As a result of this sedentary lifestyle, they averaged between 35% and 40% body fat (according to DEXA scans).

Once the study began, the training group gathered together for 3 weight training sessions per week and 2 group exercise / interval sessions per week. All the training was designed by myself and overseen by a weightlifting coach and group exercise coach. So there was a pretty high level of quality control there.

Now, it's important to note that we didn't alter the participant's eating at all. And we did this on purpose. We wanted to test the effects of exercise alone - without diet. In other words, the question became:
"Without a dietary intervention, can exercise alone reshape a person's body?"

At the end of the 12 week study, we got our answer: "Not so much..."

That's right, when analyzing the data, I was shocked to find that even with 3+ hours of training per week with a weightlifting coach and 2+ hours of training per week with a body-weight circuit instructor didn't really work. The formerly sedentary participants didn't do much better than their couch-sitting counterparts.

That's right, without dietary control, 12 weeks of high intensity training produced a fairly disappointing 1% loss of body fat. In terms of raw data, the participants lost only 1 pound of fat and gained 2 pounds of lean vs. the placebo group.

Frankly, that sucks.

The Machete Perspective -- Now, imagine you're overweight (about 38% body fat) and you decide to take the plunge, to hire a personal trainer, and to get in shape for perhaps the first time in your life.

So, you decide to buy a training package, one that contains 60 sessions (5 sessions per week for 12 weeks). The cost, per session, is 50 bucks, the going rate. So you plunk down 3 grand and start your initial 12 week fitness journey.

You don't expect big just expect to start moving in the right direction. So you're patient. You attend all your training sessions, you get to know your trainer really well, spending over 60 hours with him or her. You stay off the scale, not wanting to jinx yourself.

Then, at the end of the 12 weeks, you weigh-in.

Body weight - You were overweight, obese in fact, to start with. Well, if you simply exercised (without changing your diet and following the protocol above) you now weigh one pound more!

About to go crazy, your trainer talks you down off the cliff. You probably gained a lot of muscle while losing a lot of fat, he or she says. So it's time to do a body comp test.

Fat weight - Ok, here's the moment of truth. You're sure there must have been some fat loss. Drumroll please...

If you followed the protocol from above, you're down one, uninspiring, unnoticable pound of fat.

"What the heck!? Can I NOW be pissed?"

Lean weight - Because you weigh one pound more, and lost one pound of fat, that means that your formerly sedentary butt put on 2 lbs of lean mass.

That's nice and all. But that wasn't the goal! You wanted to lose fat. This is when your anger kicks in.

So, you spent 3000 bucks and 60 hours working your ass off in the gym. And your ass didn't change one bit! Is it time to grab a machete and take that good for nothing trainer's head clean off?

It's Not A Fluke -- Now, when I first saw these data, I thought they were a fluke. I got the research team together on the phone and chewed them out. There must have been a data mix-up.

I mean, seriously, 12 weeks of hard training and only one pound of fat lost vs. no training at all. Was this some sort joke? Did they screw up the data collection? Did the research participants skip out on sessions? What was the deal?!?

Despite my insistence, there were no errors. The participants showed up. They trained hard. The data were collected properly. The participants just didn't progress. And, for the first time, I started asking the question honestly.
Can a solid training program alone get people into great shape?

Note I said "solid" training program. In the past I figured people weren't getting results because their training program was awful and perhaps so was their diet.

But, as a result of this new study, a study in which the training protocol was solid, the answer appeared to be no. A solid training program alone wasn't enough to get people into great shape.

Other Research Support -- With a new sense of purpose, I started digging around in the research. And I quickly found another recent study suggesting the exact same thing.

This study, published in the April 2008 issue of Nutrition and Metabolism, demonstrated that after 10 weeks of training (3 endurance sessions and 2 strength sessions per week - the flip flop of our study), 38 previously overweight, sedentary subjects also saw minimal changes in body composition with training.

Body Weight - In this study, neither the control (no exercise) group or the exercise group significantly changed their body weight. Both groups saw about a 0.6lb loss in body weight on average. But again, neither change was significant.

Fat Mass - When it came to fat mass, the exercise group lost 2.4lbs while the control group lost 0.9lbs. This means that the 50 exercise sessions lead to a mere 1.5lb fat loss vs doing nothing. Better than a kick in the teeth, I guess. But not all that stellar.

Lean Mass - The exercise group grained 1.7lbs of lean mass while the control group gained 0.2lbs of lean mass. This means that the 50 exercise sessions led to a 1.5lb gain in lean mass vs doing nothing at all. Again, not bad. But not great either.

Different vs. Important -- Sure, in both studies, the changes were "statistically significant." In other words, participants did lose more fat and gain more lean mass when training vs. not training. However, let's not confuse different with important. After all, these changes are small, really small. And I would suggest, unimportant.

I mean, come on now, people exercise to actually change their bodies in noticeable, measurable ways. They want to fit better into their clothes. They want to go from overweight to normal weight. They want to be able to walk up the stairs without getting winded. They want to lower their cholesterol.

In my estimation, and it might just be me, they're just not all that interested in dumping big dollars and lots of time into something that leads to a one pound fat loss. Seriously, that's not all that good.

The Lesson - No, It's Not To Stop Exercising!
At this point you might be wondering if it's my advice to stop exercising. Of course not! Exercise is critically important to looking better, feeling better, and performing better every single day. And don't you forget it!

However, my point is that exercise ALONE just doesn't cut it. What you really need is exercise PLUS a sound nutritional program. Now that's just what the doctor ordered.

Consider what happens when people actually eat well...

In our recent Precision Nutrition Body Transformation Challenge, the average fat loss for all of our participants was 1/2% (or 1lb) lost per week! Remember, in the studies above, they lost about 1 to 1.5lbs in 10-12 weeks!

That's almost at 10-fold increase in effectiveness when people added the Precision Nutrition plan to their training system.

Further, our finalists (the top performers) saw the following results:

Finalist #1 lost about 30lbs in 16 weeks – losing 23lbs of fat, or about 1.4lbs of fat per week.

Finalist #2 - lost about 16lbs in 16 weeks – losing 23lbs of fat, or about 1.4lbs of fat per week.

Finalist #3 - lost 37lbs in 16 weeks – losing 27lbs of fat, or about 1.7 lbs of fat per week.

Finalist #4 - lost 25lbs during 16 weeks – losing 35lbs of fat, or about 2.2lbs of fat per week.

Finalist #5 - lost 37lbs during 16 weeks – losing 31lbs of fat, or about 1.9lbs of fat.

Note: each of our finalists followed one of the training programs available in the PN Member's Resource Section (member's only) and our nutritional guidelines outlined in the Precision Nutrition System.

Also consider the research study discussed above, the one published in Nutrition and Metabolism.

In this study, there was actually a 3rd group. And this group, in addition to exercising, supplemented each day with 2 nutrient-dense meal replacement supplements. Each supplement contained 300 calories, 5g fat, 25g carbs, and 40g protein and a host of vitamins and minerals. And while the exercise-only group saw small fat losses and muscle gains, the exercise plus supplement group, was a different story.

Body Weight - The exercise+supplement group lost 4lbs of total body weight. This compared to the 0.6lbs lost in the exercise alone group.

Fat Mass - The exercise+supplement group also lost 6lbs of total body fat. This compared to the 2.4lbs lost in the exercise alone group.

Lean Mass - The exercise+supplement group gained about 1.8lbs of total lean body mass. This compared to the 1.7lb gained in the exercise alone group.

So, as you can see, even something as simple as adding a high quality protein drink or MRP can improve fat loss vs. exercise alone.

But, again, nothing is as effective as following a solid nutrition program while exercising properly.

You can train as hard as you want. However, without some attention to your nutritional intake, you simply can't expect inspiring, noticeable results.
To get your nutrition program straight, click here... PRECISION NUTRITION

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spot Reduction ..I Don't Think So

Spot just doesn’t exist folks. I don't know how many times I've had someone tell me, I want to work my abs, I need some extra ab work, can't I do some ab work, etc... I hear those things all time..mostly about the abs, but the thighs and butt do get an honorable mention in there too. It's a hard to battle to wage, and it's a frequent one. Nobody wants to believe that doing 100 crunches a day isn't going to give them washboard abs. I try and give my clients mostly compound exercises to do. I figure, let's work the most efficient way we can in any given session. I do throw in some isolation work, but that's not really what I'm basing their workouts around. Your abs are made by your grocery list—what you put in that cart will make all the difference. . If you shop wisely, eat smart and exercise, you'll get those much desired 2-, 4-, or 6-packs that everyone so covets. If you exercise until you're ready to drop, but don't eat properly, you'll forever be wanting. Also, if you are considering making an equipment purchase, at 2:00 a.m. from your local cable channel, to help you in this quest, chances are you'll regret it. If it looks like a gimmick, and sounds like a gimmick, well, it probably is a gimmick. To get the washboard abs we all have lurking in our midsection, you have get rid of the fat that is covering them. To get the cuts that make those abs look so pretty, well you have to exercise. The pros you see gracing the covers and insides of magazines and doing competitions worked their tails off to get their abs to look like that. They are a cut above most in that they know how to manipulate their diets to time those abs to (hopefully) come in the day of the competition or the photo shoot. So, can you get 'abs'--yup you it easy..not necessarily so. It won't happen overnight, or even over a few nights, but it can happen. If you want it bad enough, you can make anything happen. So I'm sorry if I've dispelled some things for you here, but that is the sad truth.

P.S. Oh, that picture top, right is of Maggie Diubaldo. Her abs are what I aspire to. She's an incredible looking woman. I know what needs to be done, and I am working on it! 2- of the 6- are in place..the other 4 are pending my eating patterns. :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Skipping Allowed

While this might sound similar to one of my previous posts, it really has a whole separate meaning in the scheme of things. My other post talked about being prepared..this post is more about following through..

This was culled from something Jillian Michaels (The Biggest Loser Trainer) recently posted..I'm borrowing it because it's so very true and something I 'remind' my clients of all the time.

Skip breakfast? Think again. Not hungry for dinner? Not so fast. Not only does skipping meals slow your metabolism but it can lead to overeating, because when you do eat, you're overly hungry. There are a ton of theories out there about when and how often you should eat to maximize your weight-loss results. Believe me, I've heard 'em all, and I'm here to give you the real skinny.

When you're trying to get to your weight-loss goals, it is essential to maintain blood sugar levels to prevent energy crashes and appetite cravings that could throw you off course. In all my years of experience, I've found the most effective way to do this is to eat every four hours, without skipping a single meal or snack.

I can't tell you how often people still think the best way to lose weight is to not eat. Well that is so far from the truth it should be on the Moon! You have to keep your body fueled--if you don't, it starts to think you are starving it and it pulls from other resources to keep it going. Know which resource that is?? -- it's your muscle--not the excess fat you are trying to get rid of, nope, just the muscle you've been busting your chops trying to get. You gotta eat's that easy. You need to keep that metabolism running round the clock. If you want to lose weight, keep that metabolism running, keep to a workout plan, and your road to success just got a whole lot shorter.

Please don't will only make you more hungry and more likely to binge. Once you do that, you start to beat yourself up and things tend to keep spiraling downward. Don't do that to yourself, you're so much better than that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Recap of Valerie Waters' Red Carpet Ready Club Launch

Last night I took part in a live chat given by trainer Valerie Waters. Val launched her new Red Carpet Ready expanded (i.e. a whole lot of new stuff--more exercises, recipes, video, etc..) version of her Red Carpet Ready exercise/diet program. I spoke of Red Carpet Ready ("RCR") in a previous post, but just to reiterate, RCR is the workout program that she uses with her celebrity clients. She's now updated the program and made it usable for everyone else out there who doesn't have the celebrity income, but still wants to look good enough to hit the 'Red Carpet'. Val spoke at length and answered questions which people posted live, and she also had her guests answering questions as well. Her guests were some of her celebrity clients and they were quite enjoyable to watch. Gals, while these women do lead far different lives than most of us, they were no different when it came to their body image. They struggle and have to work at it just like you and I do. It was enlightening to see them in an ordinary situation for the time they were there. Val's other guests were 'experts' in various fields of fitness/health. I totally enjoyed listening to their particular expertise and all the tips they offered up. As someone trying to expand her knowledge in this industry, I sucked up as much as I could while they were speaking. Great, great info.

If you've been struggling with your own program and are looking for something to try, I would consider this. It's a body-friendly, easy-to-follow program that gives great results if followed correctly. I have incorporated a lot of RCR into my own program and also use the Valslides on myself and my clients as well. Those little buggers give a lot of bang for their buck. Check it out here Red Carpet Ready, it could be the fix you are looking for.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How Clean Are You???

I've been talking to my clients a lot about their diet these past few weeks. It seems that while Summer brings out bathing suits and smaller pieces of clothing, everyone's been eating and drinking bigger portions of everything. I'm not sure what the thinking behind it has been, but a lot of folks have gotten very slack with their diets. You would think that with being able to be outside more, you'd get more activity into your day..but maybe that's the problem. Are we justifying eating more because we feel we are doing more? We all have to remember one thing--even though we are getting out, being active, and getting in our scheduled workouts, diet is still a major player in our fitness routine. Don't ever forget that your diet is likely 90% of the success/failure ratio to any fitness plan you are undertaking. If you eat clean and exercise, you are going to win this battle--if you exercise seven days a week, eat clean Monday - Friday, but then feel entitled to go hog wild every Saturday/Sunday, you are going to lose. One client actually told me that since she screwed up at breakfast, she just figured she'd blown the whole day and continued to eat, eat, eat. I told her, okay, you blew it with the donut this morning--you should have jumped right back on the wagon and 'restarted' your plan for that day. Don't ever fall into that rut of thinking if you eat something 'bad' the day is ruined. I tell my clients that preparation is the key. You need to plan out your shopping and meals ahead of time. If you're not prepared, that's when you are mostly likely to grab the closest thing be it healthy or not. From just listening to everyone talk, it seems the mid-day food is the're at work, you are running the kids around, you are going from store to store, etc...; oh, and you've packed nothing for yourself to eat. If you know you are going to be in your car running for hours, pack something..if you are going to work, bring your lunch (and think of all the money you are saving). Look at it this way:
You don't 'plan' to go to the gym and not pack your workout clothing, right? You don't 'plan' a night out with friends and not book a babysitter, right? Your kids have their [sport of choice here] practice two or three times a week--well you know ahead of time that at such and such a time, you will be driving them to/from that practice, right?
Well, why would you decide to finally do something awesome for yourself like starting to exercise and eat right and not 'plan' what you're going to eat?

Please, please stop sabotaging yourself and all your hard work. Just think about it... 'food' for thought here folks (sorry, bad pun intended). It's not that difficult and it makes all the difference in the world to reaching your goals. And most of all, isn't the end result so worth it?

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Bulldog Review..

Finally -- The

Well, the review is in! Got the bolt issue worked out, and gave the new Bulldog Kettlebell a try. Just to reiterate from my prior post, the Bulldog Kettlebell is an adjustable weight Kettlebell. For those of you that have purchased Kettlebells in the past, you know they are not inexpensive, and I looked at this product as being very efficient in that respect. Well here are my thoughts on it: I love how it feels. The kettle is made of steel, not iron like most are. I was skeptical at first, but I really like it--it has a nice clearcoat finish and I have to say, it looks cool! The grip is perfect (not crazy about the skinny-handled kettlebells--this is a 'fatter' handle). Also, the fact that it's steel and not iron makes it smooth. I did not need any chalk for this kettle. It moved well in my hand throughout the whole range of motion. It's 8 lbs when empty and I had a 10-lb bag of steel shot to fill it with. Herein lies the only possible issue I have with this. The company doesn't give you anything to transfer the shot into the kettle with and that was a little tricky--my funnel kept clogging up but I got it. Oh, I had never seen steel shot before and I will tell you that it travels fast and far when spilled! Also, I think changing the weight will be tricky--I mean, if I add more shot, or take some out, how exactly do I know where I'm at weight-wise. I mean, the weight I use to clean and press is much different than the weight I use for swings; and yes I realize I could keep a scale handy, but especially if I'm training someone, I typically don't have time to waste on that issue. I'm going to contact the Company today and ask them if they have some tips about that. Maybe I'm missing something really easy here, but we'll see what they have to say.

My bottom line so far is that I'm keeping it and will use it. Once I figure out the weight issue, this is definitely a more cost-efficient purchase than buying individual kettlebells are. Add to that that I really like the size and feel of it, so I think it's a thumbs up in my book. If you're interested in checking it out, Art of Strength is who I purchased it through.

And remember, this is just my two cents..everyone has their own lifting preferences and likes and dislikes. This was a product that intrigued me and I just had to check it out. I'm happy I did! If there's anyone else out there who has tried this, I'm curious to hear what you think as well.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Why Do I Run???

It all started back in my teens. That was my first foray into the world of exercise. I think I just decided to give it a try one day and I discovered I was good at it. I'm not a sprinter, but I'm a good distance runner, and I run at a good pace. It turned into something that I always kept coming back to. I went with all the workout trends as they came and went, but running was always there, somewhere, in the mix of things. Back then I did it purely for exercise and burning calories to rid my body of the fat I thought I had back then. These days I run for (i) the challenge it creates for me, and (ii) the mental clarity it gives me.

I'll start with the challenge part first. Back in the winter of '01, I took my kids on clear, sunny, but snowy day out with a friend and her kids for a day of sledding. Well, the four kids were laughing and having a great time and my friend and I decided we wanted in on some of that as well. Well, trying to be like my daughter I stood on the sled and went down the hill like that (snowboarding was just becoming 'the' thing back then) and I did great. It was second run that took me out-I picked up too much speed and put my foot out to slow myself down and bam! My foot planted in the snow, but the rest of me kept going. Cut to the chase--I have an ankle held together by plates on each side, multiple screws and I believe 3 or so pins. Therein lies my running challenge--my orthopedic surgeon told me I would never run again. I'm stubborn, so prove him wrong I did and still do--as often my crazy life permits too!

Re the mental clarity, well it does just that. It clears my head of everthing that clogs it up. I tend to take a lot of things to heart. I agonize over things beyond my control, I take on more than I can and should, and I tend to let things that shouldn't get to me, get to me. When I go out for a run, I can put a lot of things into perspective. I'm by myself, it's my time and I can run the wudda/cudda/shudda's and why/why nots of everything through my head. Most of the time when I finish I feel much better about situations that really troubled me or had me down when I started. I don't know why this is, but it works for me. A lot of people ridicule the 'runner's high' that people claim to get. I, for one, totally get it. The feeling you get following a great run is a stimulant for your body.

I could go on and on about this, but I'm curious to hear other people's point of view on this. Why do you run? What does it do for you?