How To Engage Your Core

Engage Your Core

Protecting The Lower Back

You have probably heard the term “engage your core” as it pertains to performing a specific exercise or movement. But what does that really mean? Many people mistakenly equate engaging the core with sucking in the stomach. However, this is the opposite of what you want to do and is potentially dangerous as it actually de-stabilizes the core and disrupts proper breathing.

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Fasted Cardio For Fat Loss?

Fasted Cardio

The Fasted Cardio Debate

The jury is still out on whether or not fasted cardio is ideal for burning body fat. The short answer is…it’s complicated. There is research to support that your body can burn up to 20% more fat following a fasted bout of cardio in the morning. This is due to the fact that when you sleep, you are in a fasted state and your body conserves your carb stores. Exercising first thing in the morning when your body is depleted of calories and carb stores forces it to look elsewhere for energy to burn as fuel. If you guessed fat stores, you are correct. However, we also know that your body breaks down amino acids into glucose while you sleep. This means that fasted cardio potentially forces the body to pull from both your fat stores and your amino acids for energy, which can have a negative effect if building and maintaining muscle is your top priority since the body may catabolize some of your hard earned muscle along with some body fat.

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How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?

Rest Break

Timing Your Rest Breaks

Different fitness goals require different periods of rest time between sets. Always time your breaks with a stopwatch or a timer.

For fat loss, circuit workouts and metabolic conditioning with 30 seconds or less between exercises are great for maximum calorie burn. Programs like P90X and Insanity use these formats that keep you moving and keep your heart rate up.

For muscle gain, 60-90 seconds rest between sets is a good guideline to follow for a typical format of 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

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Is Fruit Juice Bad For You?

Avoid Fruit Juice

Fruit Juice vs. Whole Fruit

When most people see the word “fruit”, they think “healthy”. This is true if we are talking about the whole fruit. Whole fruit has a natural layer of fiber that slows down the absorption of sugar. However, drinking fruit juice is actually one of the quickest ways to put on extra pounds. In fact, a single serving of fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as three and a half donuts and about 150 calories. The lack of fiber and high concentration of sugar you get from fruit juice causes blood sugar levels to quickly spike. This is the feeling you get when you experience a “sugar high”, a quick burst of energy. This spike then triggers the release of the hormone insulin to help the body bring those levels back down. In a nutshell, elevated insulin levels cause the body to store fat. In addition, when blood sugar levels come back down you experience the inevitable “sugar crash” which can sometimes cause hunger pangs, sluggishness, and irritability. Furthermore, when extra carbs are not used as energy they are stored as body fat.

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Correct Form And Full Range Of Motion

Full Range Of Motion

The Importance Of Correct Form And Range Of Motion

One of the major benefits of exercise is that it keeps us active and able to perform daily physical tasks without injury. For example, if you know how to deadlift correctly, then you understand the correct way to pick up and put down heavy objects such as furniture without throwing your back out. However, far too often I see people performing exercises in the gym with terrible form using way too much weight. This is dangerous. Technique should always be the primary focus. Using correct form and a full range of motion will ensure that you are building strength throughout the entire movement. In addition, studies show that resistance training with a full range of motion can improve joint and muscle function, increase stability and joint strength, and decrease the likelihood of injury to a joint.

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How To Track And Assess Your Fitness Progress

Fitness Progress Tracking

If You Are Not Assessing, You Are Just Guessing

Tracking your progress is an important part of staying on track with your fitness goals. Keeping a food log, workout log, taking “before and after” photos, recording body weight, body fat, circumference measurements, and personal records (PR’s) are all great ways to keep you on track and moving in the right direction.

When first starting a program, you may not see much movement on the scale. Do not get discouraged. It is likely that you are gaining a little muscle and shedding a little body fat. This is the initial phase we all go through when our bodies are adapting to new stimuli. Stick with it.

When tracking body weight, weighing yourself every single day can sometimes do more harm than good. Your body weight fluctuates daily and at different times based on things like fluid, sodium consumption, and undigested food. Minor daily fluctuations on the scale can be discouraging to a person’s weight loss efforts. Instead, weigh yourself once a week in the morning on an empty stomach, wearing minimal or no clothing, using the same scale. Different scales will skew your readings so the scale needs to stay consistent.

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Bacon Crusted Quiche

Bacon Crusted Quiche

BACON CRUSTED QUICHE

Yield: 6 Servings      Prep Time: 25 Minutes     Total Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups sliced yellow squash (2 small or 1 very large)        3/4 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (2 small or 1 very large)                 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large orange bell pepper, chopped (or any color)                        8 strips turkey bacon
2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped                                                    2/3 cup shredded cheese
1 Tablespoon ground thyme (or fresh chopped)                             3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                                      3 large egg whites
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

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Quinoa Chicken Chili

Quinoa Chicken Chili

Crock Pot Slow Cooker Recipe For Quinoa Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed                                                            1 large bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes                                          1 tsp minced onion
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies                 1 tsp garlic
2 (16 oz) can black bean                                                     1 tsp cumin
1 (15 oz) corn, drained                                                        1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 1/2-3 cup chicken stock                                                    1 tsp chili powder
2 large chicken breasts

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“Dry January” Fitness Challenge

January Fitness Challenge

“Dry January” Fitness Challenge

Happy New Year Everyone!

Coming off of the holiday season, I have had a handful of requests for a January fitness challenge to help ring in the New Year and get people back on track. While this challenge may not pertain to some, I believe it will be a tough but achievable challenge for many. There are two options to the “Dry January” Fitness Challenge and the rules are pretty cut and…well….dry.

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Butternut Sage Chicken Stew

Butternut Sage Chicken Stew

Crock Pot Slow Cooker Recipe For Butternut Sage Chicken Stew

Ingredients:
2 bone-in chicken breasts                             ½ T smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
½ C (dry) freekeh                                          ½ T rosemary
1 large carrot                                                 1 t garlic, minced salt and pepper to taste
2 celery stalks                                               ½ C dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 medium-sized yellow onion                        1½ C low-sodium chicken broth
½ C butternut squash, cubed                        ½ C water
2 T fresh sage leaves, chopped

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