How To Create Healthy Habits…One By One!

 

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Is there a healthy habit you want to add to your life?  Maybe you get started on the right track and after a couple of days your efforts start to fade.  Every wonder how to go about adding that habit, and getting it to stick around? Here are a few steps to make that happen:

  1. Select only one habit to add per week and do it every day – Choose only one new habit to work on at a time. This will make it so you’ll be able to focus all your energy on that one habit, and only that one habit.  All to often, when we get the kick to start something new and healthy, we try to incorporate too many things at once and invariably nothing sticks around.
  2. Make sure to keep your new habit simple – Choose one new healthy habit for the week, but make sure to keep it simple and easy to accomplish.  At Epic Fitness, our clients call these their “I Will’s.”  What will you do today to make your life healthier? You can make it as simple as:
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep every night for a week
  • Drinking an extra glass of water each day.
  • Getting 20 minutes of some type of activity each day.  Something as simple as walking around the block works great here!
  1. Write down your “I Will” and specifically state WHAT you are going to do each day, and WHEN you will do it each day – This makes it measurable and you can say whether you were successful that day or not. Also choose the same time every day to complete this new healthy habit.
  2. Post your “I Will” publicly – Tell as many people as possible that you are trying to form a new habit and ask them to support you and remind you daily about your goal.
  3. Report on your progress daily to those same people you told your “I Will”

Remember: If you want to create a new healthy habit, SELECT, WRITE DOWN, POST and REPORT and always KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE! You are doing something to improve yourself. You will have some days where you miss the mark, but don’t let that stop you from reaching your “I WILL.”  Every day ask yourself, “How did I do today?” If you completed your “I WILL” that day, congratulations!  If you didn’t, start over again tomorrow.  These five steps will make a huge difference in helping you to create lasting lifestyle change!  Now, don’t wait until Monday, or the first of the month.  Start NOW!

Strength Training Does Not Make Women Bulk Up!

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Several weeks ago we had a female client comment that she didn’t want to finish her last set of a deadlift because she was worried she would “bulk up.”  At first we thought she was joking and then as we spoke to her about it,  we realized this was a real concern of hers. She expressed concern that if she continued lifting heavier weights she would bulk up like a man. The good news is, unless you are taking synthetic steroid’s or drugs to increase your testosterone levels you will NOT bulk up.  I am here to tell you why.

Concerns that women will bulk up from lifting is a very popular myth that exists despite the fact that women do not have the needed hormones (testosterone) to build large, bulky muscles.   The idea that women will bulk up from weight training is from the pictures of women on bodybuilding magazine covers. The majority of these women are more than likely taking a form of anabolic sterioids (synthetic testosterone) and are not a true representation of what happens to a women’s body with weight training.

“Muscle bulk is dependent largely upon testosterone production,” says Dr. Sue Pedersen, a specialist in endocrinology and metabolism in Calgary. “But no woman makes nearly as much testosterone as a man. It really is a hormonal issue. Men have an average of 15-20 times more testosterone than women.”

For post-menopausal women, whose testosterone levels are even lower, it’s even harder to develop muscular size, Dr. Pedersen explains, “And if you do gain some bulk it means you’re doing good things for your health. It’s beneficial from a weight management perspective as well.”

Dr. Pedersen explains that having extra muscle mass also helps with injury prevention because the added strength reduces your risk of accidents or falls. And even if you do fall, heavier weightlifting is proven to dramatically increase bone strength to reduce the risk of fractures.

“There are metabolic benefits as well. Heavier weightlifting improves insulin sensitivity so you’re less likely to get type two diabetes,” and it’s good for blood pressure control, she says.

Remember that muscle takes up much less space than fat in the body. When you add muscle, that helps you lose fat by improving metabolism.  Amazingly, one pound of muscle burns approximately 35-75 calories daily and stores 450 calories of energy. Conversely, body fat is a storehouse for calories. One pound of fat burns approximately 8 calories daily and stores 3500 calories of energy.  You can easily become a calorie burning machine just by resistance training and adding some lean muscle to your body!  This will help you become leaner and more defined. Weight training in women promotes strength, and with that will come changes in muscle structure and size.  Women also need to train with weights to promote positive development in the bones and connective tissues.  Strength training builds bone density and prevents osteoporosis and can even help build new bone, as mentioned above.

What and how much to lift – 
Don’t be afraid to lift with heavier weights.  You can ease your way into it slowly, but start trying to lift heavier weights in the lower repetition ranges.  Using large, multi-joint exercises (squatting, deadlifting and lunging variations) in the 6-12 rep range is going to develop more muscular size and strength.   When you start to get into the  1-5 rep range this will develop more maximal strength and some size.  Don’t be afraid of the word “size”, because your lower testosterone levels (compared to a man’s) means it’s going to be a slow and challenging process to build appreciable muscle volume.

It’s important to note that when lifting in these lower repetition ranges at the end of a set you should be able to lift another rep or two with perfect form and technique. The weight has to be heavy enough so you will need to take a rest period of 60-90 seconds. The heavier the weight, and the fewer amount of reps, the longer the rest period between sets needs to be.

Think of some of the things that you do on a daily basis that will be much improved when you start a regular resistance training program.  You can lift children up easier, open your own jars, shovel more snow, pick up heavy furniture — there are myriad everyday benefits from training your muscles towards getting more out of them.

To learn more about the programs we develop, especially for women check it out at http://epicfitness.biz/what-we-do/

Enjoy being confident and strong in a body with lean muscle attached to it!  Your body will thank you.

 

Fit Tip Friday – Post Workout Nutrition

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Whether you are a strength training athlete or an endurance athlete, your post workout meal is essential to recovery and will help you to perform at your best each and every time you workout!  Any exercise you perform essentially tears down old muscle in order to rebuild better or more functional muscle. Exercise breaks down the carbohydrate stores (glycogen) and muscle protein structures in your body. Then, your immune system is forced to come in to clean up the mess you made. This is called remodeling.

While this process is very complex, this rebuilding or remodeling of muscle only takes place if the muscles are provided the correct materials. That is why the post-exercise period is not a time to be taken lightly. Remember you invested a significant amount of time working out, or breaking down your muscle and you want to make sure your body repairs itself to be better adapted for future demands.

To remodel your muscle post-workout you need to give your body the raw materials it needs, namely protein and carbohydrates.

Your post workout fuel should be rich in protein and carbohydrates, but also fat free. Eating essential fats during this period can slow down the digestion and absorption of your carbohydrates and proteins. Your post workout meal should promote the most rapid recovery of carbohydrates and protein to your depleted muscles.

Timing your post workout meal is another crucial factor. You should consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. Your muscles are primed for nutrient uptake at that time or “the window of opportunity”.   As time passes after your workout this window gradually closes and you diminish your chances of promoting full recovery.   Research has shown that consuming a post-workout meal immediately to 30 minutes after working out is superior to consuming more than 1 hour later.

So what should you eat?  We suggest that a light, easily digestible protein like egg whites, chicken or salmon would be ideal.  Along with a carb-dense vegetable or a low sugar fruit for your carbohydrate.  Sometimes, however this is hard to travel with when you are going to the gym.  That is why consuming a liquid form of nutrition containing rapidly digesting carbohydrates and proteins has become so popular after training.  Some great examples of post-workout fuel are the following:

  • A protein shake and banana
  • A hard boiled egg and a carb dense vegetable (yam, sweet potato, beets, or even butternut squash) 
  • Chicken breast with any of the above carbohydrate choices

According to Precision Nutrition, look for something with at least 20 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour of workout time. The second you drop that last dumbbell or step off your bike, you should be refueling your body.

Make sure to save your workout recovery drink for after weight training, interval, and endurance training lasting 45 minutes or longer. Casual exercise like walking the dog, or riding your bike to the park doesn’t require a workout recovery drink.

Meal planning and preparation is always key here.  The more prepared you are to fuel after your workout, the more return you will get on your investment (your body) and the more beneficial your next workout will be!

 

 

Fit Tip Friday – Pre-Workout Nutrition

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We get asked all the time, “What is the best thing to eat before I come in to the gym?”  Most people don’t know what to do, so they just end up skipping a meal and then feel horrible by the time their workout is over.  Just like your car, if your fuel tank in running low or on empty your performance will suffer at the gym and you will end up stuck on the side of the road in a ditch and completely out of gas!

Here are a few quick and easy ideas you can start to add into your pre-workout nutrition right away to see some great changes in how you feel in the gym before, during and after your workout.  Keep it simple, this is not rocket science!  Your body needs a good source of an easily digestible carbohydrate in order to fuel your muscles with glycogen (the stored carbohydrate in the muscle).  It also isn’t a bad thing to have a little bit of protein pre-workout since you will be breaking down muscle during your workout.  A little bit of fat is ok too, depending on the duration of your exercise.

Make sure to fuel correctly one hour to 30 minutes before your workout. If you don’t, you will fight low blood sugar leading to fatigue, light headedness and a lack luster training session.

What works best depends on the individual, so experiment with different foods, quantities and timing. A few great pre-workout meals would include :

  • A Banana with 2 tablespoons almond butter or ½ cup of greek yogurt
  • Oatmeal – about 1 cup with a handful of berries
  • A slice of wholegrain bread – and a hard boiled egg
  • A fruit and whey protein smoothie – easily digested and source of good carbohydrates and protein

Try one of these combinations before your next workout, and I guarantee you will feel better during your workout and will perform better!

Next time we will make sure to cover post-workout nutrition and how it differs from pre-workout nutrition.  Stay tuned!

 

Diets Dont Work

With obesity and diabetes rates in America at epidemic levels, you would think this would simply scare people into changing their poor eating habits.  Yet, the bottom line is that Americans are drawn to the fast fix, the convenience of drive-thru’s, the quick pizza delivery, the microwave meals and the ease of processed foods.

With the craziness of our everyday lives, it is no wonder we gravitate towards the easy fix, but in the end we are depriving ourselves of a healthy body and a healthy life.  So, what are some of the lies we tell ourselves that stop us from changing our poor habits:

  • “I can deprive myself and just not eat today.”
  • The ” I’ll start Monday and binge this weekend.”
  • “I actually believe I am eating healthy…fried chicken is healthy, right?”
  • “I didn’t have time today to prepare anything, I’ll just grab something quick on the go, but it is just this once.”

Healthy living is about creating healthy habits and just like your old habits, they don’t happen overnight.  Habits take time to become ingrained, and small progressive changes over a period of time lead to long term success. Fad diets and diets in general don’t work!

Here are a few habits that you can start doing TODAY that will improve your health:

Always eat a healthy breakfast: Breakfast literally means breaking your body’s overnight fast. Eating breakfast yields several healthy benefits, including improved concentration and increased energy. Eating a healthy breakfast also aids in weight management by helping to avert cravings and ravenous hunger before lunch. In addition, breakfast will actually raise your metabolism and helps build lean muscle.

Consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep each night:  According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, getting 7-9 hours of nightly sleep will repair your body, keep your heart healthy, reduce stress, improve memory, regulate the hormones that affect your appetite and reduce mood disorders as well as reducing your chance of getting Type 2 diabetes.

Eat a protein source at every meal- never eat a carb alone:  Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar, telling your body to go into fat storage mode. Protein blunts this increase in your blood sugar keeping you in a stable fat burning mode.  Have a good source of protein every time you sit down to eat. From a handful of almonds with an apple, to a grilled chicken breast with a grilled vegetable. This may seem like an easy habit to conquer, but remember to do it every time!

So what are you willing to start doing today?  Making changes are never easy.  Start with ONE HABIT to conquer each week and recognize that maybe you aren’t exactly where you’d like to be right now and that’s OK.   Remember the first step is always the hardest, but the most important towards improving your overall health and being mindful of changing your habits!

DIETS DON’T WORK, HEALTHY HABITS DO!