Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here's To Your Best Year Yet!

Every January, millions of people make some pretty big promises to themselves. This is the year they'll stop smoking; the year they'll learn to love their green veggies; the year they'll finally write that book or make that long-needed career change.

But by far, the most common New Year's resolution is the one in which we resolve to get into shape. We'll exercise every day, we'll join a gym and actually use it, and we'll burn calories until we whip our bodies back to where they were when we were 18. Every year, we start with the very best of intentions, and by February, we're right back to our old unhealthy habits.

Not this year. In 2009, I'm going to help you make your resolution stick, so that by March, you're on your way to your healthiest body ever. It all starts with a few small adjustments to the way you set out to make your changes.
  • Make your resolution realistic. No one is going to go from couch potato to marathoner in one fell swoop. If you aren't a regular exerciser now, you aren't immediately going to work out six days a week, and by vowing to do so you set yourself up for serious disappointment and ultimately, failure. Small steps set you on a path to long-term lifestyle changes; begin by making the commitment to exercise for 20 minutes a day, three days a week. Once that's become a part of your routine, build on it a little every few weeks.
  • Set small goals and then reward yourself each time you achieve one. Every five pounds lost earns you a special treat, whether that's a new CD downloaded to your iPod or a pedicure or a new game for your Wii. Just be careful of rewarding yourself with junk food, or you'll be undoing all your hard work.
  • Figure out what's behind your unhealthy habits. Do you turn to junk food for comfort? Why? Maybe counseling is in order, or maybe just a good long soul search, but identifying the issues that hold you back will help you move forward.
  • Get a support system! Tell people about your goals and ask them to hold you accountable. Join the HealthStyle Fitness Facebook group and find others who will support you on your journey. Click here to join the HSF Facebook Group!
  • Believe in yourself. You can do it.
  • Join a fitness program or hire a trainer. Boot camps, fitness makeovers and hiring a top notch personal trainer provides the motivation, accountability and gives you all the tools you need for success.
  • Make a list and check it twice. Write down the little things you need to do to accomplish your goals - squeeze in enough servings of fruits and veggies, walk for 20 minutes, get to your HealthStyle small group. Check them off as you complete them. At the end of the day all those little checkmarks will give you a great sense of accomplishment.

This is the year you're really going to do it. The team at HealthStyle will help you every step of the way. Happy New Year - and happy new you!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins - Cincinnati's HealthStyle Fitness, Inc

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sweat It Out

It seems as if everywhere we look these days, news of gloom and doom surrounds us. As the stock market continues to display volatility, housing prices go down, and the "experts" debate various bailout packages, our stress levels go up, creating the perfect storm for our physical, emotional and mental health. Add in the stress of the holiday season, and you've got a recipe for disaster. But there is good news to be found!

Did you know that the most effective stress-buster around is also all-natural, easy to find and very often free? It's true - and of course I'm talking about exercise. In addition to keeping your body firm and healthy, and helping you manage your weight, regular exercise is proven to foster an inner peace that will keep your stress level in check and counteract the damage it can do. Let's take a look at why exercise is more important than ever during these worrisome times.
  • You've certainly heard of the "runner's high" - that exhilarated feeling people get after a long, hard run. It's not a myth, and it's not just for runners. During exercise your body produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which foster a natural sense of well-being. It also decreases your cortisol, which is the hormone produced when your body reacts to stress. Cortisol is the culprit behind stress' many negative effects - anxiety, weight gain, elevated blood pressure and much more. You don't have to be a conditioned athlete to enjoy these benefits; even a good brisk walk will provide relief.
  • Exercise offers a healthy, natural outlet for your frustrations. What better way to release the tension than through a good, hard workout? Kettlebells, boot camps, running, working out with a friend and strength training all do the trick to knock out worry, aggravation and frustration.
  • Physical activity creates an opportunity to clear the mental cobwebs and the emotional baggage. Getting deep into your body during a workout will pull you out of your head, creating a Zen-like state that will continue well after your workout is finished. Getting out of your house or office and into a fitness setting gives you a fresh perspective and can set your thoughts on more positive focus. The mind and the body are incredibly closely connected - a healthy body goes a long way toward fostering emotional and mental health over the long term.
  • Interestingly, research shows that regular exercisers exhibit less physical response to stress. Now there's a positive thought!
  • Successful people exercise regularly. The renowned Dr. Ken Cooper has studied the impact of regular exercise on top executives for over 25 years. His research shows that CEOs who exercise consistently are significantly more productive, resistant to the demands of leadership and successful than their sedentary counterparts. More on Dr. Cooper's groundbreaking research in a future article.

So, while we cannot control the economy, we can absolutely control of our reaction to it. It's easy to forgo your exercise routine in favor of brooding or working longer hours, but doing so only exacerbates the effects of what you're already facing. Right now the economy is in wintertime. This gives each of us the perfect opportunity to focus our energy in laying a strong foundation for the arrival of spring - it will come. Learn a new skill, register for that seminar you've always wanted to attend, set some new empowering goals, take care of your body and you will reap a bountiful harvest when the economy turns around.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brian Featured in the Business Courier

Ask the CEO - Business Courier of Cincinnati
From The November 21, 2008 Issue

QUESTION: What’s the best advice you ever received, and whom did it come from?
Answer: Take action in spite of your fears. Although I’ve heard this many times, Ron Rosselot, a friend and client, shared this in a way that really made an impact.

Q: What kind of work environment do you try to create?
A: We strive to maintain a high-energy, positive and fun workplace. It’s critically important that our staff feels positive, upbeat and excited when working with clients who share our work environment.

Q: How do you approach your job differently than at the beginning of your career?
A: Early in my personal-training career I was primarily a technician, and business growth was based solely upon my ability to service clients. In those early days, I did everything from training clients to cleaning bathrooms. As I realized the limitations to my growth, I steadily transitioned into managerial and leadership roles. Today … I try to delegate everything that is not directly tied to growth.

Q: What’s the toughest decision you have ever had to make as the CEO?
A: The most difficult decision also has been the most rewarding. It has been to grow HealthStyle Fitness through hiring, training and managing trainers. I quickly admit, it was tough because I was thoroughly unprepared to be a leader and was forced to learn quickly on the job.

Q: What might someone from outside your industry be surprised to know?
A: Running a personal fitness-training business is not as glamorous as it may seem. We are a service-based business, and our staff work long and sometimes difficult hours to be available for our clients. I start my day at 2 a.m. Clients arrive as early as 5 a.m., and some don’t leave until 9 p.m. … An absolute love for fitness and people is a must to succeed in this industry.

Q: What’s the best advice you could give a new boss?
A: Create and operate a business based upon systems that cover everything from marketing, sales, human resources, management and leadership to working with clients. Without well-crafted systems, you and your business will be lost in chaos.

Q: What’s the best book you have ever read?
A: It’s a challenge to choose a single book. I would say the self-help book “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, has made a measurable impact on my ability to grow both professionally and personally.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here's To Your Best Thanksgiving Ever!

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. The day of "giving thanks" offers a great opportunity for reflection on all of the blessings in our lives, we get to share time with the people we love, and, of course, there's lots of tasty food to eat!

Speaking of blessings, I'm incredibly privileged to share my life with my wife, Carolyn, who is not only a wonderful spouse, but an incredible mom, friend and a tremendous support to our family. I am very blessed by my 21 year old son, Justin, and my 2-year old daughter, Kayla, who both keep me smiling and laughing every day and make me feel so honored to be their dad.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd like to share my annual ritual and hope it offers you the same energy, enthusiasm and connection to those you care deeply for.

1. Workout on Thanksgiving morning! There is nothing better than getting in a nice "turkey trot" the morning before the feast gets started. Better yet, engage the entire family and enjoy some "sweat time" together. Your mental, emotional and physical energy will soar and you'll feel less guilty when you do indulge in the big meal.

2. Have a "Burn the Bird" workout on Friday morning before you hit the malls! There's no better way to ramp up your energy, burn up some Thanksgiving calories and feel great again than a workout first thing Friday morning after the eating fest of the previous day.

3. Eat "healthy" before the big meal! Thanksgiving is often filled with lots of alcohol, appetizers and food. It's no secret that weight gain comes from taking in more calories than you burn off. If you eat a "healthy" snack or meal a few hours before the feast, you'll overeat a lot less when the relatives are going back for seconds and thirds.

4. Write down 10 things you're thankful for! This is one of my favorite rituals because it's so powerful in directing how you feel. When you take a moment out of your busy and often hectic life to become quite and think of all the blessings in your life, you'll soon discover how rich you truly are. Once I get a few things I'm grateful for in my mind, I quickly discover many, many more things that I often forget that I'm incredibly appreciative about. This is a great way to start Thanksgiving!

5. Enjoy the food! Remember, Thanksgiving is only one day, so relax your "healthy" rules and enjoy the day. Remember, if you're exercising and eating right consistently, you can't get fat in a day!! And if you're looking for a Thanksgiving Survival Guide, click the link below to discover how you can eliminate 1500 calories on Thanksgiving and still enjoy great tasting food!

Click here for your Thanksgiving Survival Guide!

Thank you for being a part of my life!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins - Cincinnati's HealthStyle Fitness, Inc

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Healthy Gravy for the Big Meal...

Yesterday I shared a recipe for mashed sweet potatoes. Today, we're making over your gravy. Believe me when I say that I like real foods, and not some imitation junk that "you have to get used to" -- if you have to get used to a flavor, why eat it?!

So this gravy doesn't skimp on flavor, just on calories and fat. Typically 1/2 cup gravy adds another 100 or so calories and 5ish grams of fat. This doesn't sound like a lot, but remember yesterday, when we talked about the 4000 calories or so Thanksgiving often delivers. And if you thought homemade gravy was healthy, don't forget about all those drippings (which are at least 50% fat) that are used for flavor…

I’m not about taking your favorite foods away…remember, this is an option if you want to prepare a bit more healthy-friendly Thanksgiving meal. I’ll be in South Carolina with Carolyn’s (my wife) parents…and with their southern influence upon cooking, I’ll be consuming most of the bad stuff for that day, which admittedly tastes so good!! But we always have options…

Here goes:

1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

Make the gravy: Skim off the fat from the drippings -- this is easiest if you're pour the drippings into a measuring cup, put into the freezer, where the fat will rise to the top and you can skim it off. Add the drippings back into the roasting pan, with the apple cider, 1/2 cup chicken stock, vinegar and sage.

Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by 1/3. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes more. The gravy should not be thick, just slightly thicker than au jus. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Makes 1 1/2 cups gravy.

Double, triple, or quadruple the ingredients for larger parties.

This recipe has a great flavor, yet not as many calories or fat as "traditional" gravy (and it's a cinch to make)!

Another great way to get Thanksgiving started is to workout first thing in the morning. We have a group that is meeting to run or walk the Thanksgiving Day Race, a great way to create a calorie deficit before the big meal. If you would like to join in the fun and burn up some calories, send an email and we'll have Leigh organize a group walk/run that morning.

Click here to learn more about the 99th Annual Thanksgiving Day Race

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins - Cincinnati's HealthStyle Fitness, Inc

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Survival Guide

Okay, I got a great question over the weekend from a client who listened to the nutrition webcast Thursday of last week. She asked:

Q: I saw a commercial that said the average Thanksgiving meal would take 20 miles of running to burn off the calories. Is this true? How could it be? That would be equivalent to a whole month of working out.

A: Fantastic question, which starts off our Holiday Survival Guide this week. First of all, we burn A LOT more calories in a month of working compared to running 20 miles. Running works the heart rate, our training not only makes your heart work at intense levels, but also requires multiple muscles to work simultaneously against resistance. So, you burn A LOT more calories! And I hate to disappoint you and everyone else, but to be honest, an "average" Thanksgiving meal would actually be more like 40 miles of running...just to break even!!

Yes, it's true. It is suggested that on average, Americans consume approximately 4000 calories at the Thanksgiving table - between appetizers, dinner, dessert, alcohol, seconds, thirds, etc! You burn approximately 100 calories per mile when running (variables include pace and size of the runner), so that means 1 1/2 marathons later, you'll be at square one. See what we mean when we say you can easily "out eat your exercise?"

First, here's how to take Thanksgiving on head first. First, PLAN AHEAD!

Remember, Thanksgiving is always on the 4th Thursday in November, so don't tell us it "just snuck up on you" like we so often hear.

Planning ahead means getting some exercise in that morning! Plan to participate in the annual Thanksgiving Day Race (you can run or walk…or even a combination of both) before the big meal! I know several clients will be out there doing it next Thursday. You all can meet as a group and enjoy the great company. If you would like to join in the fun and burn up some calories, send an email and we'll have Leigh organize a group walk/run that morning.

Click here to learn more about the 99th Annual Thanksgiving Day Race

Next, think of a plan of attack. If you're cooking, check out some healthier recipes. Eating Well and Clean Eating both have great Thanksgiving menus to try - without sacrificing taste. And I’m not suggesting you have to eat Tofurky (well, unless you want that). Or you can try the recipe below for a healthier way to make a traditional dish (I’ll share a new dish each day this week to allow you to build a complete and healthy meal).

Now there are two schools of thought on Holiday eating. I’ve followed both approaches in my 20 years of striving to eat quality food consistently.

Healthy School of Thought 1: Simply understand that there are some holidays and special occasions where you’re going to “indulge” in the traditions and enjoy some food that you know isn’t the healthiest in the world. That’s okay! Provided you’re consistently exercising AND consistently eating quality foods, you can’t get fat in a day! Heck, you’ve earned the right to indulge at Thanksgiving!! I tend to favor this school of thought at this stage of my life. Click here to read “Calories and Weight Loss”.

Healthy School of Thought 2: Just simply modify your holiday meals by making them better choices. And if you decide to make these modifications, below is our first recipe for Thanksgiving dinner.

It's common for a lot of people to make Candied Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows – but the recipe below saves over 100 calories per serving when compared to "traditional" candied sweet potatoes, and if you also use it in place of the mashed potatoes, meaning you kill two birds with one stone, all in all, you just saved about 400 calories and 15-20 grams of fat. Not bad, huh? See, Thanksgiving CAN taste great and actually be pretty healthy.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled and cut into a large dice
1/4 cup buttermilk, warmed slightly
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

Steam the potatoes in a large covered pan fitted with a steamer basket until they are tender, about 8 minutes. In a large bowl mash the potatoes with the buttermilk and orange juice. Stir in the zest, salt, and nutmeg. Serve the potatoes topped with the butter, if desired.

Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins - Cincinnati's HealthStyle Fitness, Inc

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

5 Holiday Nutrition Tips

You surely have heard the media stories about weight gain during the holiday "season." What is the holiday "season" anyhow? Last I checked, Thanksgiving is one day, Christmas is 1 day, Kwanzaa is 7 days and Hanukah is 8. But there's this 6 week "season" that everyone refers to which prods them to throw their health & fitness right out the window!

It's craziness!

Sounds like a little planning is the key! Here's a tip to help -- Thanksgiving will again be on a Thursday this year, Christmas on December 25th.

There you have it - now I don't want to hear that they just "snuck up on you." :)

Think about this. If you have a goal to lose weight, you can start RIGHT NOW and by December 31, 2008 (nearly 6 weeks away), you can lose up to 12 lbs!! Or, on the flipside, you can gain the 3-7 lbs most Americans do during this time and then be behind the 8 ball come January 1st and working as hard as you can to make up for lost time. Which would you rather do?

Maybe your goal isn't to lose weight, but to run in an upcoming race. Cross training will only help improve your running and your health because of the different muscles used - and it's also a great way to break up the monotony.

So what can you do during this holiday season to maintain or improve upon what you've worked so diligently to achieve?

Of course, regular exercise is a great start.

Making time for it is the other important piece to the puzzle--time is tight, stress is high, and exercise usually goes right to the back burner. The no excuse hour is there for a reason.

Eating is the other side of the equation, which is weighted more heavily, particularly now with the parties, desserts, treats, family gatherings, etc.

These 5 tips will help you make smarter nutrition decisions:

1. Prepare your own dish if going to a party. This way you have complete control over what you're eating.
2. Plan ahead -- Pack meals ahead of time. Oh yeah, and schedule your exercise, like any other important appointment.
3. Always have fruit/veggies on hand. We can't eat enough of these healthy snacks and they also help fill you, so it's a win win for you.
4. Put the candy and nut dishes away. When food is out in plain sight, you'll eat it. Everyone will. We've seen it in research. We've seen it in the real world.
5. Enjoy the foods that are the greatest traditional foods rather than filling up on the everyday type items. If you can only get grandma's stuffing once a year, by all means eat it. But then pass on the store bought rolls you could have any old day of the week.
6. OK, OK -- I said 5, but I couldn't hold back. Get your exercise done in the morning so it's out of the way!

And, lastly, here are 5 healthy holiday gifts to ask for -- from stocking stuffers to more "serious" gifts.

1. A subscription to a favorite healthy cooking magazine.
2. A favorite exercise video.
3. Fruit baskets -- Edible Arrangements is a favorite of mine (these work wonders for offices or clients, too). http://www.ediblearrangements.com/
4. Exercise clothing -- nothing says I love you like giving/asking for clothing for someone to be active and take care of themselves in.
5. Adventure Boot Camp -- and nothing says I love you even more than a Gift Certificate to Adventure Boot Camp! If you'd like to "drop a hint" to your husband, boyfriend, partner, or friend, send the following link along:

Click Here for Adventure Boot Camp Gift Certificates!

Next week, I'll share some tips to make your Thanksgiving the best ever as well as send you an invitation for you to join us for a special "Burn the Bird" Boot Camp workout on Friday after Thanksgiving!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins - Cincinnati's HealthStyle Fitness, Inc

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calories and Fat Reduction

One pound of body fat is equivalent to approximately 3500 calories. So in order to lose a pound of fat, we need to create a calorie-deficit of 3500 calories over a period of a few days to a week.
We can do this by increasing our calorie expenditure, by reducing our calorie intake, or (best) by a combination of both.

Here are some examples:
  • Suppose you need 2000 calories a day, in order to maintain your present weight.
  • To lose one pound a week, you need to take in 1500 calories, or create a 500 calorie deficit.
  • Over 7 days, this adds up to 3500 calories.
  • The same result can be achieved by increasing your exercise by 400 calories/day, and reducing your calorie-intake by 100 calories/day.
  • That said, a combination of calorie-reduction and increased exercise makes weight loss easier to sustain and far more healthy.

The Cincinnati Fitness Guide To Calorie Content Of Food

There are roughly 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate or protein, but 9 calories per gram of dietary fat. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. So an obvious way of reducing your calorie intake is to reduce your consumption of foods which are high in fat, and drinks which are high in sugar (alcohol = sugar).

However, proper nutrition and healthy eating is a critically important factor in effective body fat loss. A nutritious eating plan boosts body fat reduction in various ways. First, our metabolism (the way we burn food) needs several minerals and vitamins to maintain its efficiency. Without these nutrients, our metabolism won't burn food efficiently and may slow down, causing a reduction in our rate of fat loss. Second, without adequate nutrition our digestive system may not be able to digest and process our food properly. As well as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber is also very beneficial for our gastrointestinal tract, and helps to avoid constipation and other indigestion-type complaints such as diverticulosis and IBS.

The worst type of foods from both a calorie and nutritional viewpoint are "empty calorie" foods. These are foods and drinks which contain very small amounts of nutrition but large amounts of calories, using up our calorie allowance without providing useful nutrients and energy. For anyone who is striving to reduce body fat, these empty calorie foods should be avoided. Examples of empty calorie food items include: sugary drinks, bleached, enriched, processed foods, and any foods with excess sugar content, including alcohol.

In addition, certain foods may be "calorie-dense". These foods are particularly high in fat-calories (eg. butter, mayonnaise, sausages, high-fat cheese), or they may contain an excessive amount of both fat and sugar (eg. many types of commercial popcorn, white flour muffins or other rich bread-snacks, candy). Obviously, these processed calorie-dense foods are not a good choice for someone who wants to lose excess stored body fat.

The best type of calorie-controlled eating plan contains foods from all food-groups (including essential fats), and aims to help you lose about two pounds of body fat per week max. It should be rich in high-fiber, whole grains, and should include lean protein and a moderate amount of good quality vegetable oils. For most women, a realistic energy intake is 1200-1600 calories per day, depending on age and energy expenditure.

The best program I’ve found to help track both the quantity and quality of calories (micronutrients and macronutrients), and your body's own energy expenditure, is the Body Bugg program. You can watch a demo here.

Regardless of the method, people who keep track of what they are eating are far more successful in their body fat reduction efforts.

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins - HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio 513-407-4665

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Harvard Study Helps You Get Fit

Harvard Business School has been studying the difference in success or failure for people of similar backgrounds for over 30 years. Their studies find that 3% of people are successful, 30% are moderately successful and 67% just exist. The significant difference for the 3% who are successful is that they have written down, specific goals. The 30% who are moderately successful have a general idea of where they are going but don't have formalized goals. The rest are happy to watch the world go by.

Here's the interesting part: The 3% who have written goals are more success as a group than the entire 97% who are either moderately successful or are just watching the world go by.
Even more interesting to me is that people in the 30% moderately successful category only need to put in a small effort to jump into the 3% group. The Harvard studies go on to report that the secret behind the extra little effort is developing habits and strategies that support the goals you set.

This same pattern holds true for people who decide to get fit. The top 3% are 100 percent committed to doing whatever it takes to be consistent with their exercise routine. They have established their goals in writing and take all the steps to achieve them. The 30% who are moderately success are still making progress, but sometimes feel stuck.

If you're in that 30% who are relatively consistent with your exercise and nutrition, you certainly have my admiration. And if you're are ready for the next level, here are the steps to get you into the top category of fitness success:

1. Put your goals in writing. Look at them twice each day. Where do you want to be in 6 months from now? How do you want your body to look and feel? Get very specific and write it down.

2. Visualize yourself in your ideal body. In your mind see yourself exactly how you want to look; feel what it's like to have an abundance of energy and vitality, free from excessive stress. Realize that our subconscious mind drives much of our behavior and it does not know the difference between something that is real and something that is vividly imagined. Whatever you picture in your mind and consistently think about drives your behaviors, actions and mindset, and ultimately your outcomes.

A great visualization technique is to invest 10 minutes every night, while lying in bed with your eyes closed, visualizing in detail how you want your body to look. Start from the ground up and focus your visualization on how you want your legs to look, and then move up to your hips and thighs. Focus attention on your midsection, then your chest arms and shoulders. Finally, visualize your new lean and vibrant face. See and feel how you want to look, act and feel as a healthy, fit, energized new person.

3. Get help! Unless you're a mechanic, you probably don't service your own car, just like you probably don't do your own taxes or perform surgery unless you're an accountant or physician. So, unless you have an exercise science degree, you stand to benefit substantially by going to see a qualified personal trainer. Beyond the obvious knowledge, trainers provide accountability, motivation, support, and are your partner in health and fitness keeping you on your path toward achieving your goals far more quickly than most of us can on our own.

So where are you? Which category do you find yourself today? Regardless, take a few simply actions today to get to that next level.

Have an awesome Tuesday!

Click here to watch how "Old School" training gets you fit Fast!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio 513-407-4665

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Are You Going Down with the Gloom and Doom?

Negativity sells. It must, as that's all we ever see when we open the paper or turn on the news.

  • Dow Falls Below 10,000
  • Gloves Come Off on the Campaign Trail
  • US Bank Failures Almost Certain to Increase Next Year
  • Are You Going Down with the Gloom and Doom?
Yes, my headline is negative too. But in my defense, I understand negativity sells better than positive headlines (unfortunately), and I wanted to compel you to read the positive steps we can take during challenging times.

Yes, economically we're in a challenging spot, yes politics can be an ugly game, but come on, all this negativity is to the brain like a steady dose of Big Macs is to the heart - very destructive! Seriously, how depressing is it to begin your day with these thoughts, images and perceptions?

It's Time We Take Control!

Why not focus on the fact that we have a tremendous economic system and it always has, and always will, rebound. We've had significant affluent times in the past and will experience tremendous growth again in the future. The market will rebound, as will housing and banking. And, we WILL learn valuable lessons from our current challenges to allow us to gain the wisdom to prevent similar challenges. We always do.

In the meantime, here's what we can do to stay mentally, emotionally and physically strong and fit:

1. Begin your day with positive thoughts, words and mental images. I know, some people may say this is hogwash, but all of the successful people I know feed their brains with positive information or affirmations each day. Simply establishing and visualizing your goals is a positive influx to your brain. Reading something inspirational works equally as well as does listening to a motivational or educational book on CD during your commute. Feed your mind the positive; guard your mind against negative thoughts as if you were protecting your house from a robber. Both can take everything you have.

2. Focus on making better nutrition choices. What we eat directly impacts our energy, emotions and mental outlook. Low fat proteins, whole grain carbs, and fruits and veggies optimally fuel our body and mind.

3. Get regular exercise. Hundreds of studies have reviewed the relationship between exercise and mental state. An article titled "The Influence of Exercise on Mental Health" published in the Sports Research Digest suggested that exercise decreases depression more than relaxation training or casual recreation, both regularly accepted treatments for depression, and suggests that exercise rivals that of psychotherapy. Regular exercise significantly stimulates our "feel-good" brain chemicals of serotonin and dopamine while keeping the stress hormone cortisol in balance.

On the contrary, if you don't feel "good," everything feels more difficult. Getting your workout in, eating healthy foods, or going for a walk or jog feel as if they are overwhelming tasks when you're not "up". These are those moments where you just have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and just do it. Shortly thereafter, the good feelings kick in.

Now more than ever, it's time we take control over how we feel. We can't control our politicians, our economy, the stock market or the price of gasoline. However, we always determine what we focus on in any moment in time. Focus on what you want, feed your mind with positives, strive for healthy nutrition and be consistent with your exercise. You'll feel mentally, emotionally and physically strong, confident and empowered to conquer any challenge that may come your way.

Take a moment to see how our friends get "Fired Up"!

Have a positive and productive Wednesday!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
HealthStyle Fitness, Inc.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do You Suffer from the Eye-Mouth Gap?

Updated September 29, 2008

Can't Figure out why you're gaining weight even though you're watching what you eat and have been exercising consistently for a while? Two recent studies shed some light.

According to the Berkeley Wellness Letter, the "eye-mouth gap", a term used to describe the common practice of underestimating the amount of food one eats, is prevalent among those trying to lose weight.

The idea is if you ask someone what they ate yesterday the odds are their caloric estimate will be off by a considerable amount. Studies show that up to 80% of the population underestimates their food intake. This includes lean and athletic people, too.

Researchers have found that when queried, many obese people remember eating only about half as much food as they actually consumed. A recent survey found that most adults underestimate their daily food consumption by about 800 calories. Considering that the standard adult diet is in the neighborhood of 2000 calories, these flawed estimates can add up to quite a few extra pounds and inches each year.

What's more, while people underestimate the amount of sugar, refined foods, and unhealthy fats they consume, people also tend to overestimate their daily intake of fruit, veggies, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. So we're consuming more calories than we realize, we're eating more junk food than we realize, and we're eating less healthy food than we realize.

There are a few possible reasons why a person might fail to grasp what (or how much) they are putting into their bodies. Explains the Wellness Letter:

Misreporting is seldom a deliberate deception, researchers believe. More likely, it's unconsciously done, perhaps in response to social or familial pressure, combined with wishful thinking. In addition, people don't know how much food they put on their plates. If you're trying to lose weight or improve your diet, don't trust your eyes.

In addition to underestimating how much we're eating, another recent study shows that Americans are overestimating the number of calories they burn during the day (exercising or performing everyday activity)! The overweight population is overestimating their calories burned per day by approximately 900 and normal weight people by 600. These two recent studies certainly explain our expanding waistlines.

Click here to watch the Liz Bonis segment on "Eye-Mouth Gap"

What can you do?

1. Be consistent in your workouts and make them progressive. Simply put, keep working diligently and change your routine frequently.

2. Track your calories. Doctors, fitness professionals and dietitians suggest health-conscious consumers track their meals to have a more accurate picture of what (and how much) they're actually eating. Use some method (the easier, the better) to keep count of how many calories you're consuming. If you want to lose weight, allow for a small caloric deficit on most days of the week - you should expend more energy than you take in by approximately 400 - 800 on caloric deficit days.

Clients at our studio have access to the industry's leading nutrition tracking software, Vitabot. And another great nutrition tool I've found to help track both the quantity and quality of calories is Meal Plans 101, created by dietitian Dr. Chris Mohr, PhD. Regardless of the method, people who keep track of what they are eating are far more successful in their fitness and body fat reduction efforts.

Click here to learn more about Meal Plans 101...

Okay, armed with this new awareness, let's get to it!!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian CalkinsCincinnati’s HealthStyle Fitness, INC

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"F" Should Stand for "Fit"

September 9, 2008

Recently, Greater Cincinnati took a bit of a beating when studies showed that Kentucky ranks seventh on the list of fattest states, with Ohio coming in at an also- unimpressive 17th. The fifth annual "F is for Fat" report, issued by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that 28.4 percent of adult Kentuckians are obese, as are 25.9 percent of Ohioans.

As a Cincinnati-based fitness professional, I'm not surprised by these statistics. After all, we live in the land of biscuits and gravy, goetta and five-way chili; long, cold winters and hot-as-blazes summers - none of which encourages healthy habits. If you take a look at the leanest state, Colorado, you'll see a very different picture: lean, healthy eating choices and abundant natural resources that encourage activities like hiking, walking, skiing and snowshoeing.

The good news is, every day I work with clients who have taken stock of their health and made the commitment to improve it by developing a healthier lifestyle that focuses on proper nutrition and regular exercise. You don't have to work with a personal trainer to get your body back on track; just a little common sense and ongoing tweaking to your habits will start you on the path to optimal health. Together, we can get Kentucky and Ohio off the "fat" list and onto the "fit" for good. Here's how you can start your path from couch potato to lean machine in manageable, easy steps.

  • Forget what the experts tell you. If you're sedentary, just do something, anything, to get off the couch and away from your desk. Walk to lunch; park further away from the office; order fresh fruit as a side instead of fries. Make one small change this week, another next week, and keep at it little by little.
  • Forget about "exercise." A treadmill isn't necessary. Think about physical activities you enjoyed as a kid and how you can incorporate them as an adult.
  • Use your walk to improve your mind. Download a book to your iPod and enjoy! Your walk will be done before you know it.
  • Think about WHY you want to improve your health. Want to make sure you're around to meet your grandchildren? Tired of feeling sluggish and exhausted? Research shows that people who know why they want to do something, and create a plan to achieve it, are 10 times more successful than those who don't.
  • Take 15 minutes of your lunch break for a brisk walk. Then take 15 more after dinner. This will reduce your appetite and can result in a 15-pound weight loss over the course of a year!
  • Keep at it! Research proves that sedentary people who exercise consistently for six months develop a psychological habit - you just might find you've become one of those people who love to exercise!

Give it just three months of your life. You can start any time, any place, but the key is to actually DO IT. At the end of those three months, you'll be leaner, have more energy, your mental state will have improved, your clothes will fit better and we will turn the tide to a healthier city. All it takes is one small step, followed by another.

And for those looking for a change of pace to your workout, check out this total functional workout that you can do anywhere! Click here to watch the TRX Suspension Trainer on FOX!

Alright Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, let's get to it!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian CalkinsCincinnati’s HealthStyle Fitness, INC

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fitness, Even without Weight Loss, Good for the Heart

From Local-12 Medical News Reporter, Liz Bonis

A new study of 40,000 women shows that even if women never drop an ounce--fitting in fitness seriously expands the capacity of your heart.

According to researchers in the study feeling better from a fitness work out may occur because exercise appears to combat dangerous compounds in the blood-normally released from fat cells.
This makes activities easier and significantly diminishes the risk of heart disease.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at more than 40,000 women. Those who exercised on a regular basis, regardless of what they weighed, were able to reduce heart disease risk by 18 percent.

During that time, women who exercised also reduced the risk of having a heart attack by two and half times.

Personal trainer Brian Calkins said the newest evidence also shows this heart benefit may happen in women even faster than it does in men, no matter what type of exercise.

“The heart adapts,” he said. ‘For a long time we were thinking that it was cardio exercise, now we are seeing the same thing with strength training. It will continue to help the heart improve.”
This heart benefit occurs in women of all ages and with as little as 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise most days of the week.

Click here to watch the video segment.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Link Between Fitness and Success...

It's no mystery to successful people that there is direct correlation between sound health & fitness and success in their career and personal lives. Take of moment to recall a successful person you know and they likely show up at the health club consistently, are part of a fitness boot camp program, work with a personal trainer, or get up a few minutes early for a heart elevating morning run. Successful people like to jump start their day with an abundance of energy and the feel-good endorphins that exercise offers. Recent studies identify the direct correlation between fitness and success.

Better ability to focus, improved confidence and enhanced ability to follow through were directly attributed to improved fitness levels according to a 2007 University of Georgia study. Further, a leading executive search company surveyed more than 1,300 executives who earn $100,000 or more annually. When asked to describe their perceptions of weight and work, 75 percent said good physical fitness is "critical for career success at the executive level." Seventeen percent, by contrast, said staying in shape is "a nice goal, but secondary to fiscal fitness."

The founder and CEO of that executive search firm said, "Good physical fitness is critical to success as an executive in today's work world. The days of a little extra padding being a sign of maturity and success are gone.'' When asked about obesity, 75% of executives said that being overweight is a "serious career impediment."

Do these responses reflect our obsession with weight loss and mirror the constant barrage of skinny images in popular culture? Probably not. Rather, there is a very strong link between improved fitness and increase productivity, enhanced ability to solve problems, superior stamina & energy, not to mention reduced stress and fatigue, all leading to better job performance.

It goes well beyond looking good. Fit people tend to have better eating habits and miss fewer days at work due to a higher resistance to illness. And with competition continually increasing in every industry, companies are now rewarding employees and managers who miss less work and produce more.

A study by Jim McKenna, a British researcher, showed that after exercising participants returned to work more tolerant of themselves and more forgiving of their colleagues. The study goes on to conclude that “work performance was consistently higher, time management skills improved, as did mental sharpness”.

All it takes is investing 3 – 4 sessions a week, 30-60 minutes each, to experience these benefits. Combine strength training and cardiovascular exercise, along with sound nutrition to rev up your mental sharpness, enhance your productivity, elevate your mood, better manage stress and simply feel good. As your fitness level increases, likely your position on the ladder of success will too!

Have a GREAT Thursday...and keep your positive momentum going!!

Brian CalkinsCincinnati’s HealthStyle Fitness, INC

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Success Lessons from The Beijing Olympics

With each Olympics hundreds of amazingly inspirational stories come to the forefront to astound and warm the hearts of even the non-athletes amongst us.

Certainly Michael Phelps' achievements provided a phenomenal and a heartwarming story of work ethic, desire, motivation and humility. Eight gold medals and all those records. Amazing! Hey, just the quantity of what he eats for breakfast is amazing!

But we also got to see Dara Torres win her twelfth Olympic medal!Beijing was her 5th Olympics and she was 41 years old!!!

She is also the oldest American swimmer to qualify for the Olympics and the first to make five teams.I think the, "I am too old," excuse just got booted out the window.

I'm always fascinated with these extraordinary athletes - and now with a child, I'm curious what Dara does to stay focused and motivated over the span of five Olympics?

The most common challenge people talk about when they request coaching is "staying motivated."

"I need a coach to hold me accountable," they admit.

Dara Torres has a coach, of course. All great athletes and successful people achieve their greatest heights through having a coach, mentor or significant role model.

"I mean, I know what to do, I just don't do it," they continue.

There's a wonderful story about a young man who wanted an interview with a famous guru. When they met, the man asked, "How can I find wisdom?" Without a word, the guru led the young man to a nearby lake and pushed his head under water. After the man thrashed and fought for a moment, the guru let him up, where he immediately gasped for air. The guru then said, "When you desire wisdom as badly as you wanted that breath of air, you'll find it."

Isn't that the truth? When we are motivated, NOTHING can stand in our way!

1. Be clear! You can hit almost any target if you define it and put a time line on it. WHAT do you want and WHEN is it going to be done?

2. Have an action plan. WHAT are you going to do? WHAT are the action steps? "Baby-steps" seem to feel easier and are often more fun than "giant leaps." It's relatively hard to stay motivated over 6 months to lose 25 - 50 pounds, but it's easy to shoot for losing 5 pounds this month. Have a clear, do-able and action-able plan. Then, take one step after another.

3. Surround yourself with positives. Zig Ziglar made a wonderful observation that "people complain motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does a shower. That's why I recommend both every day."

You've got to read, listen to audio programs, talk with positive people and surround yourself with things that energize you! We live in a "bad news world." It wears everyone down! Put down the paper, turn off the TV and surround yourself with mental input that energizes you!

4. The "Breakfast of Champions." With no intended disrespect to Wheaties, we need to re- commit to our most important priorities, goals and plans every single day. Personally, on those days that I begin my morning with about 20 minutes of focus on my major priorities I'm 10 times more focused and motivated. On those days I get sidetracked early on and forget to review my goals, the day just seems to "get away from me."

In the rush of our busy day, minor "crises" will beat strategic and focused action every time and little productivity is achieved. Start every day by reviewing and re-affirming your most important goals and objectives.

5. Have lots of cheerleaders! I think this may be the most important, easiest, and most-often over- looked. Recruit friends, family and support networks to hold you accountable. Teach them to support and encourage you. Pick their brains for good ideas, and report back to them regularly. With a good team of cheerleaders, you can accomplish anything!

Have an awesome Tuesday!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 513-407-4665, x-105

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The 7 Keys to Take Charge of Your Metabolism

We hear the word "Metabolism" frequently in the advertising of fitness or weight loss products. Ads promise to "speed up your metabolism" by using this device or by taking that supplement. Today, let's clear up some misconceptions regarding metabolism and empower you to take charge of your own, without having to purchase a product!

Factors which influence metabolism include genetics, age, gender, activity level, nutrition timing and body composition. Although we cannot change our parents, age or gender, we do have control over the majority of the factors of metabolism.

1. Work All of the Muscles of Your Body! As we increase our lean muscle tissue, we burn more calories throughout the day, both during activity and at rest. You don't have to look like a bodybuilder to elevate your metabolism through adding lean, toned and shapely muscle tissue.

2. Eat Small Meals Frequently! To stoke your metabolism you need to fuel your body (in other words, you need to eat!) every 3 to 4 hours with a balanced intake of lean proteins, whole grain and fibrous carbohydrates. Going too long between meals will substantially drop your blood glucose, reduce your body's ability to use calories efficiently and lead to food cravings.

3. Increase Your Non-Exercise Activity! Let's face it; we are a terribly sedentary society that desperately needs to get moving. Instead of circling the parking lot vying for the closest parking space, walk a little farther. In lieu of using the elevator take the steps. Take a brisk walk in the evening with a friend, spouse or child before eating dinner - it'll burn some calories, suppress your appetite, and elevate metabolism a bit.

4. Vary Your Cardio! Some days you'll do a moderate intensity, steady state cardio session for 30 minutes. Other days you'll perform 20 minutes of staggered cardio intervals in a ratio of 3 minutes steady state, 1 minute sprints. And sometimes you'll go for 45 minutes at a lower level of intensity. Vary your cardiovascular routine to continue providing adaptation to your heart and lungs, improving your ability to deliver nutrients and oxygen to all of the cells of your body and to optimally elevate your metabolism.

5. Drink Water, Not Calories! Studies show that when you are well hydrated you consume fewer calories. Similarly, when you consume calories from solid food, your brain effectively registers appetite satiation and reduces hunger. But when you consume calories from liquids, your appetite isn't satisfied so you end up eating more. In a culture of 800-calorie Big Gulps and 580-calorie White Chocolate Mochas, pick water as your beverage of choice.

6. Chill Out! We live in a highly "stressed out" over stimulated world. Too much stress leads to significant increases in the hormone cortisol, which in turn causes your body to store extra fat. To counteract the demands of society, schedule a 20 minute daily power nap during your lunch hour, learn meditation and visualization relaxation skills or listen to calming music. Exercise is one of the most effective stress reducers and, of course, it's already on the list for elevating metabolism. Regardless, take regular breaks from the maddening word in which we live today.

7. Take Responsibility! If we are to make changes, we must start by accepting full responsibility for where we are. No one else is to blame for your current circumstances - not your parents, spouse, co- workers or past experiences. You are where you are today because of decisions you've made in the past. You have complete control over what goes in your mouth and how much exercise and movement you achieve each day. So start where you are today and begin to integrate habits that will allow you a more enjoyable, productive, healthier and fitter life.

Okay, let's get to it!!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

HealthStyle Fitness Inc. 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 513-407-4665

Monday, August 11, 2008

Importance of Staying Well Hydrated...

Summertime is the perfect time of the year to take your fitness routine outside. Fresh air, open skies, and a variety of scenery make for an enjoyable exercise experience. But as the temperature begins to rise, it’s critically important to make sure your hydration levels allow for a productive and healthy workout.

Yes, I know, there’s nothing sexy about drinking water. But realize that it’s impossible for your body to lose excess fat if you’re not drinking enough. Your body is made up of over 70% water, making consuming it in sufficient quantities a crucial, yet simple component to achieving your fitness and/or weight loss goals.

Water plays several key roles during exercise and the fat loss process. Any time you burn stored body fat for fuel, waste by- products are created and introduced into your blood stream. By simply drinking a bottle of water during your workout you begin the process of flushing out and removing excess waste by-products.

Also, water promotes a thermogenic state, which essentially increases your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism, the more calories and fat your body has the potential to use effectively throughout the day.

Water plays a very important role in muscular contractions as well. Without the right water balance, your muscles simply cannot contract at normal intensity levels, leading to poor performance and a decrease in the effectiveness of your workouts.

For example, a drop in body water volume of a mere 1% can cause a reduction in performance of over 10%. That means you’ll have to exert yourself much harder during a workout to achieve the same results had you been sufficiently hydrated.

And finally, water helps reduce the soreness you feel after an intense bout of exercise. Muscular contractions (like those you experience during exercise) stimulate the release of a chemical called hydroxyproline from the connective tissues and muscle cells. This chemical is very irritating to the nerve endings and is the direct cause of delayed onset muscle soreness (the soreness you feel the day or two after you workout). Your body will naturally bind this chemical and remove it, if well hydrated, both during and after exercise, and will speed the process of recovery dramatically.

How Much Water?

While the old, but unsubstantiated rule of 8 glasses per day has held up just fine, multiplying your weight by the number .55 would provide a more accurate estimate of the number of ounces of water an exerciser should consume in a day. If you're in a hot environment all day, for example working outdoors, you should make a concerted effort to increase that number a bit further. I suggest you always have water with you. A bottle of spring water should be fine. Sipping it throughout the day, even if you are not experiencing thirst, can act as a valuable step in making sure you’re well hydrated.

Okay, armed with this information, let’s get to it!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins NSCA-CPT, ACE
phone: 513-407-4665

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wow does time fly!

I've officially been writing a fitness newsletter for 8 years now. Sometimes I've been very consistent, sending an article weekly or bi-weekly. Other times I've gone a couple of months between newsletters. My goal over the past year has been to send an article (hopefully of value) no less than every other week.

And now you can help me out.... I'm going to continue writing a new article no less than once every two weeks. But I thought, hey, who better than the reader of this newsletter to tell me what to write about.

So, here's your chance to submit your most pressing question about fitness or nutrition. As the questions come in I'll prioritize them and answer them, week by week. And when the last question is finally answered, I'll send everyone a pdf copy of the book we create together as a token of appreciation for your readership.

Please send your most pressing fitness or nutrition question to: newsletter@healthstylefitness.com.

Thank you for your help and input!

Okay, on to this week's article...

Strength Training - How Much Weight Should I Use?

Proper weight selection is an often overlooked variable in most people's fitness routines. Some well intentioned exercise enthusiasts crank through exercise after exercise without sufficiently challenging their muscles. Others are too aggressive in their weight selection, or they use too much too soon.

There is a very good rule of thumb to follow when choosing the proper amount of weight - and it's this:

Set one of a resistance training exercise should be a warm up set, using a light to moderate weight level. This allows your joints, connective tissue, and muscle tissue additional blood flow in preparation for more work. Your second set should be a heavier weight level, allowing the muscles to tire just a bit. Then the sets that follow set two should be preformed to momentary muscle failure (MMF).

Momentary muscle failure simply means that we are asking the muscles to perform a certain number of repetitions, in strict form, to a point where the muscles cannot continue to create additional movement. Nearing the end of a predetermined given number of reps, you'll reach the point where the muscles start to become challenged and you really "feel it" in that muscle. That's the point of muscle fatigue - the target muscle or muscle group is getting tired. But you've got to keep going past fatigue to a point of "failure" as the whole idea is to ask the muscle to do more than it's capable of doing at a given stage.

So let's say that you've performed a fourth repetition and you're feeling that muscle fatigue. Then you move on to repetition number five. And now you're trying and trying and - you got it! You did repetition number five - in strict form, of course! Great! But, that's not a point of failure yet - simply because you achieved it. So now you're going to attempt to do repetition number six - in strict form. And on this rep you are trying and trying and trying and - Whew! You just can't do it. Some people may have a tendency at this point to cheat, to throw in other body parts, or to somehow use momentum to get the weight to the place you're trying to get to. DON'T! That's the worst thing you can do! Because when you reach that point of momentary muscle failure, that is the stimulus - you are asking the muscle to do something that it's not capable of doing. And when it reaches that point of failure, stop! Now you've reached strict muscle failure. That's when the muscle responds by getting a little more toned and a little stronger.

This concept is critical for adding lean muscle tissue (not bulky muscle) that allows the body to function at optimal capacity. And remember, the development of lean tissue enhances the body's ability to use stored body fat as energy.

Momentary muscle failure can occur at 6 reps, 10 reps, 20 reps, or for 30 seconds, for example. There's not a magical number or time period of repetitions. MMF at lower reps tends to stimulate the enhancement of fast twitch muscle fibers (explosive fibers); MMF at higher repetitions will stimulate the slower twitch muscle fibers (endurance fibers).

A qualified trainer will coach you through these concepts. If MMF sounds scary, it's not. You'll be able to follow it - it's definitely not as hard as it might sound, but it's a critical component to developing lean muscle tissue and improving your health, fitness & body.

Alright, armed with an understanding of MMF, let's get to it!

Have a great Thursday!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins - HealthStyle Fitness, Inc.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What To Do When Fat Loss is Slow...

In order to lose excess body fat, we need to combine (1) eating in a manner that allows the body to reduce fat while maintaining daily energy requirements, (2) a blend of steady state and interval cardio training and (3) a consistent pursuit of developing lean muscle tissue. There are a lot of details that we could expound upon, but for this article, let’s assume we’re on the right track with our nutrition and exercise.

Some people drop the pounds relatively quickly when they incorporate proper eating and exercise. Others seem to lose more slowly. Hey, we need to face reality; we’re all different and will respond differently to the same lifestyle changes.

But just because we might “lose” slower than our friend or spouse, we need to remember that we ARE making progress. Almost everyone focuses primarily on the aesthetic change – how you look. In addition to how your body looks, eating right and consistent exercise improves your energy, reduces your stress and back pain, improves your mental outlook. There are way too many benefits for this short article (to read the benefits known by science click here).

But since nearly everyone who starts a healthy nutrition and fitness program wants to look better (and I don’t blame you), here’s what we need to know.

We store body fat in essentially 3 places – under the skin (subcutaneous fat), within our muscles (intramuscular fat), and around our organs (visceral fat). Although research isn’t yet 100% definitive, studies suggest that we tend to lose fat first in muscle. Although fat loss is fat loss, sometimes a new exerciser becomes disappointed when the fat that she can pinch and pull (subcutaneous) doesn’t seem to be decreasing. And when you combine that with a lack of perceived dropping of pounds on the scale (go to Throw Away Your Scale), she’s ready to give up after only a few weeks of exercise. Don’t quit. You’re on the right track. As the intramuscular fat reduces, the subcutaneous fat (under the skin) reduction will follow.

If you perceive you’re not losing, change your standard of measurement. Body composition is the gold standard in terms of measuring change over time. Taking circumference measurements can also give you a relative good gauge of your progress. You’re clothing will fit better in due time.

Instead of focusing on the numbers (lost), focus on the behaviors that ultimately lead to your ideal body shape and all the wonderful benefits of great health and fitness. For example, if you have four workouts planned for the week, allow that to be your gauge of progress rather than a scale number or other measurement. Consistent follow through using the right approach will surely allow you to achieve your goals.

And remember, this article makes the assumption you are doing everything right from a nutrition and exercise standpoint. With all the misinformation that abounds on fitness and nutrition, it’s not a bad idea to check yourself against the pitfalls that sometimes well intentioned exercise enthusiasts fall prey to – to review these click here.

Okay, armed with this information, let’s get to it!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 513-407-4665 Cincinnati Fitness

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Secret To Getting Rid of Your Trouble Spots

By Brian Calkins, Cincinnati Ohio Personal Fitness Trainer

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by clients, friends and people looking to improve their bodies is… "How do I get rid of this?" And “this” might be the excess body fat around the middle, the back of the arms, the glutes, inner or outer thighs, etc.

I'll let you in on a secret: The answer is the same for any body part, but no one seems to know that you simply cannot reduce an area by doing more and more exercise for that area.

In an attempt to clear up the myth of spot reduction, here are the keys to strengthening and shaping your muscles, enhancing your heart and lung function and burning off excess stubborn body fat, including your trouble spots.

You need a regular routine of resistance training and aerobic exercise. Your program should be progressively challenging, and changed on a frequent basis, like every 3 – 4 weeks. The challenging part simply means that you must exercise at an intensity that takes you just beyond what your muscles (and heart and lungs) are capable of doing today. When you ask your muscles to do more than they are capable, they in turn respond by becoming stronger and more efficient, leading to a leaner, healthier physique.

What does a challenging workout feel like? It can be as simple as performing one more repetition on a resistance training exercise. You never want to stop your strength training movement until the target muscles reach momentary failure while maintaining proper form (no cheating to allow for additional reps!). I watch so many well-intentioned exercise enthusiasts, working out 3-5 times every week, who just go through the motions. Remember, our body as a whole and our muscles specifically, only respond to the effort and stimulus that we provide. Little stimulus equals little results. Always workout in a safe manner, but make sure you challenge your muscles sufficiently.

Another vital factor to stimulate changes in your body, and thus the reduction in your trouble spots, is to change your routine frequently. Ideally you’ll dedicate 3-4 weeks cycling the focus of your exercise between adding lean muscle tissue (lower reps), shaping those muscles (higher reps) and then burning the fat stores around the muscles (emphases on supersets, functional training and fast pace circuit training exercise). The key is this: Before the body adapts to any given routine you’ll introduce a new stimulus to bring about additional positive change while preventing you from reaching the plateau.

From a cardiovascular exercise standpoint, we’ll make it simple. You need to elevate your heart rate into YOUR appropriate target heart zone. Everybody’s exercise heart rate is different and based on your age and existing fitness level. If you’re performing at too low or high an intensity level, you end up frustrated with your results. To have your target heart rate zones determined for you, visit the target heart rate formula on my site here: www.briancalkins.com/HeartRate.htm.

And the final piece of the puzzle to target and rid yourself, once and for all, of your stubborn areas, is to eat right!

And of course, we’ve heard the words “eat right” or some version thereof about one hundred times this week alone! Eat right simply means to put the right fuel and building material into the body at regular intervals allowing your body to optimally use the macronutrient substrates . . . and then . . . to refuel again.

Translated into English - eat frequently, and in every meal get a mix of natural complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and essential fats. These are meals that raise your metabolic thermostat to allow for optimal body fat reduction.

Even more simply, strive to eat a lean protein (chicken breast), a starchy complex natural carbohydrate (whole grains), and a fibrous carbohydrate (whole fruits and vegetables) every 3 - 4 hours, or as close to that as is comfortably possible. Avoid or minimize simple sugars, saturated and hydrogenated fats, and get your meals from a variety of sources all found in the perimeter of your favorite grocery store.

And remember, there isn't anything in a bottle that will make up for the absence of supportive meals. If you can't get to a meal, you can use a meal replacement powder that contains those components mentioned above.

So, in summary, when you apply appropriate resistance and cardiovascular training, your body will make changes. It will reduce body fat stores, increase muscle tone, and get better at delivering oxygen to your tissues – all in an effort to make you look, perform and feel better than you probably have in years!

If your workouts have gotten a little boring, mix them up. Add some resistance; increase your speed of cardio. Do SOMETHING different. Join a fitness boot camp program, the latest Gravity Group fitness program, commit to the Total Fitness Makeover, learn new exercises, try something fitness related that looks like fun. Most importantly, give your body a reason to change and it will. The rules are the same for any trouble spot you want to work off.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The 5K is Saturday...

Our first milestone arrives on Saturday! Congrats for laying the groundwork over the past 7+ weeks as you are now ready for the 5K.

If you’re running on Saturday, you can register online (registration deadline is Wednesday!!) Please let me know that you are running so we can all start together as a team and share in the post-race festivities. Click here to register for Fairfax Day 5K

Next week we’ll add some mileage to our Saturday run as we kick off the preparation for our next milestone, the 10K. But first, let’s savor the 5K on Saturday!!

Below is our schedule for the week...

Tuesday - Run 30 min
Thursday - Run 30 min
Saturday - Fairfax 5K Run
Sunday - Celebrate!!

See many of you at Crossroads tomorrow at 6:30am...

Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

If You've Struggled to Change, New Method Leads to Success!

I just finished reading a fascinating book called Change Or Die that sheds new light on the process of long-term, successful change. The book begins by discussing why historically 9 out of 10 people fail to change a belief, mindset or habit in spite of the fact that NOT changing will cause someone's life to end soon - or a lot sooner than it had to end.

According to the book's author, Alan Deutschman, if for example someone was sedentary, consumed a diet high in fat and cholesterol, smoked and lived a life full of stress, that person had just a 10 percent chance of success in changing these behaviors, even after he knew these behaviors were killing him. After the first few pages, I was shocked, discouraged and ready to do away with the book.

But quickly the book explains why the failure to change has been so high and shares new findings that clearly demonstrate that change is not only possible, but sustainable for the long term using a new approach to motivation.

Here's the old school approach to change:

  1. Find - Find the facts or source of the problem first, before trying to change a behavior or habit
  2. Facts - The facts should be compelling enough to motivate change
  3. Fear - Authority dictates the change based on fear
  4. Denial - We stay in denial in an effort to protect ourselves from the reality that we're in need of change

So using the old school, fear-based model of change, a patient has a heart attack and his doctor advises him that due to eating high fatty food and being sedentary, he'll die soon if his behavior is not modified. The patient is prescribed a drug, told to "exercise and eat right" and sent on his way. After a period of some behavior modification, 9 out of 10 stop following the treatment, including taking the heart medicine. Following through on the doctor's advice confirms that something is wrong with the heart patient, thus denial leads to lack of compliance.

The new school of motivation and lasting change:

  1. Relate - You are not alone in your struggle to improve your lifestyle (change your eating habits, lose weight, lower your stress, reduce risk of disease) and you connect with others who you can relate to for support and guidance in the change process
  2. Repeat - Keep working and reinforcing your new behaviors with support from your connections
  3. Reframe - look at the situation in a whole new light until you can internalize the change and it becomes part of you

Using the new concept of lasting change, a person relies on a team of professionals, such as doctors, dietitians, personal trainers and change experts, as well as peer support groups that can relate to the challenges at hand. With the proper guidance, new behaviors are repeated and reinforced until they replace old, undesired patterns. Perfection is never expected and a reframing process allows for continued focus on the positive until the new lifestyle is fully engrained.

If you've ever struggled to change a behavior, belief, mindset or a situation in your life, I heartily recommend you read this book. It will give you the framework with which to change your life!

By the way, the next Adventure Boot Camp for Women starts next week. If you're looking to make changes in your health, fitness and body, use the link below - there are just a few spaces available in the next camp.

Click Here for Adventure Boot Camp for Women!

Have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 513-407-4665 www.CincinnatiFitness.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Your Scale Doesn't Work!

And When You Step on it, You Won't Be Happy...

As you begin (or continue with) an exercise and healthy eating program in an effort to lose weight your, don't step on the scale for at least a month. In contrast to what we've been conditioned to believe, the scale is a lousy way to measure changes with the body.

And regardless how many times I encourage people to "stay off the scale", they always jump on to see how much progress they've made in the past day, week or month. What's worse, if we aren't happy with what the number reads, we become deflated, and many times give up. Don't do it. Don't weight yourself; the scale will not give you an accurate measurement of the improvement you're making.

Your scale can only tell you how much you weigh in total, but it just simply cannot tell you if you've lost body fat. And on the journey of developing a lean, toned, energized, highly functional and healthy body, you're going to add some necessary things to your body that the scale will record as "gains" in weight.

The following will add to the reading your scale gives you and are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY if you want a body that looks and feels great and functions at optimal capacity:

  1. Connective tissue - specifically, tendons and ligaments. Connective tissue adapts through resistance training to allow you to function at higher levels, and it will not adversely affect your body's appearance in any way.
  2. Muscle tissue - As you add lean muscle tissue to your body, you'll burn more calories and stored body fat during exercise as well as throughout the day doing normal activity. And the additional muscle tissue allows your body to look and feel firm and toned.
  3. Glycogen - when you consume whole grain carbohydrates you're body will store glycogen (the reserve fuel that gets converted into glucose, the body's primary source of energy). And with each gram of additional glycogen, your body stores several grams of water along with it. This is a very beneficial process, but it will add to what your scale reads.
  4. Blood Volume - as we become increasingly fit, we add blood volume.

In addition to these positive gains in weight, your scale can vary as much as 3-6% on any given day based on digestive contents and your hydration level.

Here's how you can determine real progress:

  1. Answer the following questions: Do I have more energy? Are my clothes fitting more loosely? Have others commented that I'm "looking good"? Am I starting to like what I see in the mirror?
  2. Measure your body composition - discover how much of you is made up of body fat versus lean body mass. All the methods of measuring body composition are subject to some error, but if you stick to the same method and tester, you'll find that change over time is reliable.
  3. If you're up for it, take a picture of yourself before you start your fitness and fat loss program. You don't even have to look at the photo (yet). Save it for later. After a few months of exercise, take a look at the difference between the old and new you.

It's ironic that the increases in connective tissue, lean muscle tissue, glycogen and blood volume - the things that are crucial to improving how your body looks, feels and functions - can be the same things that initially make you think you're making no progress.

Toss your scale into the trash can. It's truly useless.

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
HealthStyle Fitness, Inc.
Cincinnati Fitness Programs

Friday, June 13, 2008

Are The Last 10 Pounds Impossible to Take Off?

June 13, 2008


A former client who lost over 100 pounds called me last week frustrated. After changing his eating habits, incorporating exercise, substantially improving his health and energy and in his words, "feeling physically and emotionally better than he had in his entire life", he was stuck.

Most people would be thrilled to have lost so much weight and be feeling so good, so why is he frustrated? Well, he's struggling to take off those last 10-15 pounds, even though he continues to eat healthy and exercises almost every day.

He asked me if somehow it was impossible to lose those last remaining stubborn pounds of excess body fat. He read somewhere that our bodies "cling to fat" and after a certain age we all "add 2 pounds per year, regardless what we do".

There's a lot of inaccurate information on fitness and weight loss today.

The Answer is Simple, But Not Always Easy When we purposely reduce our caloric intake and begin to lose weight, our metabolism has the propensity to slow down (becoming more energy efficient) in order to maintain our body weight at reduced caloric levels.

This is not to imply that we should overeat. We just need to understand how the body responds to long term eating behaviors.

The body has a tendency to hold onto fat much more aggressively in people that are more lean (within 10- 15 pounds of their goal), than in overweight or obese people.

This is good news for those that need to lose a lot of weight, but means that it becomes a little more challenging for those with just a few more pounds to lose.

So What Do We Do?

Remember when you first started exercising? A particular exercise sequence or workout routine was challenging, it may have even felt overwhelming and exhausting to complete. Then after performing that specific regimen for some time your body became accustomed to it and things got easier. Well, now that it's easier, you are actually limiting progress if you aren't creating a new level of challenge and stimulation. Your body no longer has a reason to change.


  • Reduce your calories even more aggressively (assuming you already have a small to moderate calorie deficit most days of the week)
  • Increase your exercise duration. It's a common mistake to go longer especially at the cost of intensity
  • Give up


  • Continue to eat small, balanced meals frequently, combining low fat proteins, whole grains, whole fruits and veggies
  • Create a new level of intensity in your workouts. If you've been working out for awhile, give your body a new stimulation. As soon as your body gets accustomed to a routine, change it up substantially before the body stops changing.
  • Give your new routine some time. It takes a little longer now that you have less weight to lose, but with consistent effort you will get there!

Is This Challenging? You bet! And this is why the myth of the last few stubborn pounds exists. It takes time, intensity, focus and consistent desire. A new level of intensity may not be for everyone. Personally I'm thrilled my client lost over 100 pounds, but he really wanted to go to the level! Only you can decide if the next level is appropriate for you.

Remember, when it comes to fitness and weight loss, change is good, especially in intensity. Stagnancy produces stagnant results.

Okay, now let's get to it!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 513-407-4665, x-105 http://www.CincinnatiFitness.com/

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer is Here! The Importance of Staying Well Hydrated

Summertime is the perfect time of the year to take your fitness routine outside. Fresh air, open skies, and a variety of scenery make for an enjoyable exercise experience. But as the temperature begins to rise, it’s critically important to make sure your hydration levels allow for a productive and healthy workout.

Yes, I know, there’s nothing sexy about drinking water. But realize that it’s impossible for your body to lose excess fat if you’re not drinking enough. Your body is made up of over 70% water, making consuming it in sufficient quantities a crucial, yet simple component to achieving your fitness and/or weight loss goals.

Water plays several key roles during exercise and the fat loss process. Any time you burn stored body fat for fuel, waste by- products are created and introduced into your blood stream. By simply drinking a bottle of water during your workout you begin the process of flushing out and removing excess waste by-products.

Water is also very important for muscular contractions. Without the right water balance, your muscles can’t contract at normal intensity levels, leading to poor performance and a decrease in the effectiveness of your workouts.

For example, a drop in body water volume of a mere 1% can cause a reduction in performance of over 10%. That means you’ll have to exert yourself much harder during a workout to achieve the same results had you been sufficiently hydrated.

Also, water promotes a thermogenic state, which essentially increases your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism, the more calories and fat your body has the potential to use effectively throughout the day.

And finally, water helps reduce the soreness you feel after an intense bout of exercise. Muscular contractions (like those you experience during exercise) stimulate the release of a chemical called hydroxyproline from the connective tissues and muscle cells. This chemical is very irritating to the nerve endings and is the direct cause of delayed onset muscle soreness (the soreness you feel the day or two after you workout). Your body will naturally bind this chemical and remove it, if well hydrated, both during and after exercise, and will speed the process of recovery dramatically.

How Much Water?

While the old, but unsubstantiated rule of 8 glasses per day has held up just fine, multiplying your weight by the number .55 would provide a more accurate estimate of the number of ounces of water an exerciser should consume in a day. If you're in a hot environment all day, for example working outdoors, you should make a concerted effort to increase that number a bit further. I suggest you always have water with you. A bottle of spring water should be fine. Sipping it throughout the day, even if you are not experiencing thirst, can act as a valuable step in making sure you’re well hydrated.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Personal Trainer's Aren't Perfect!

The Worst Shape of My Life...

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE Cincinnati, Ohio

Have you ever gotten out of bed with the feeling that you may well be the most out of shape person in the world?

I have.

I was 19 years old, a sophomore in college and had been finished with competitive soccer for 18 months. During that period I ate a lot of food, studied hard, took lots of naps and didn't move very much. I put on 45 pounds of pure fat and felt horrible.

And then one day out of desperation I went for a jog around the block. It was tough; I was winded and unsure if I was going to make it. It was a far cry from my lean soccer playing days.
But something happened just after completing that modest jog. I felt tremendous. My energy level soared, my outlook on life was enhanced and the world seemed crisper - I felt alive. And I made a secrete promise to myself to bring exercise back into my life forever - never again will I feel tired, stressed out, moody, fat and lethargic.

Now almost 20 years after that experience, exercise is not only a regular part of my personal life, it's my passionate livelihood. But the reality of exercising and eating healthier foods consistently is that it's not always easy. In the 20 years since being 45 pounds overweight, I've had various levels of commitment to my health and fitness. I've ranged from fanatically focused to just going through the motions to maintain reasonable health and bodyweight. And recently I did put on 5 pounds during my wife's pregnancy. (Empathy weight, I suppose).

But through it all, exercise remains one of my top priorities. I fondly remember the days when I could train hard for 2 hours, but today I prefer to work hard for an hour and use the second hour to be with my young daughter. And with this shift in priorities my most enjoyable workout involves exercise that includes my daughter in some way.

Staying fit and healthy is a choice. We all have legitimate reasons to put off exercise, but we also have many more powerful reasons why we must exercise. Exercise allows us to be more productive, more vibrant, work more effectively, focus more clearly, have a better mental outlook, just to name a few. Develop your own compelling reasons why you make consistent exercise and quality nutrition consumption a part of who you are.

Below are some fun exercise ideas to help get you moving, in spite of the reasons we can't:

  • Dance to your favorite music in your living room. Invite your spouse and the kids to join in!
  • Pretend you're playing the biggest game of your life in your favorite sport - and play hard for 30 minutes!
  • Join a boot camp, or other group fitness program. They are a lot of fun and get you in shape fast.
  • Go in the backyard and play vigorously with your kids and the whole family gets a workout.
  • If you have kids under the age of four, put them in a jogging stroller and get in short jog before dinner.
  • Join a power walking, jogging or running group - Cincinnati Running.

And just because you're no longer 14 doesn't mean you cannot go swimming, ride a bike, or play your favorite sport! Tennis, racquetball, soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, even golfing without the cart, are all great ways to get your exercise in.
If you have a reason not to exercise, I have the solution.

Click here to eliminate any excuse you have for not exercising!