Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Look, Feel and Perform Your BEST this Spring & Summer

Everyone joins Adventure Boot Camp in May.  It's always our biggest session of the year. 

It's a ton of fun getting outside after being indoors with cabin fever all winter long. 

And everyone wants to look their best as the warm temps arrive for good.  Unfortunately, too many wait until the warm weather arrives before "getting in shape". 

Thankfully you and I know that there's not a season for fitness, it's a year round pursuit, and a life-long commitment.   You get it, you're not gonna be "starting" or "restarting" a health/fitness regime in May ... you've been on the path, so you're well ahead of the majority.

So this is more of a Spring Clean-up, a review of sort, of what to do to Look, Feel and Perform at your best this spring and summer ....

10 Tips to Look, Feel and Perform Your BEST this Spring & Summer

1) Efficient Exercise

Intensity of your workout is more important than duration. It doesn't matter if you are looking for muscle tone or fat loss, long workouts are inefficient and actually can be counterproductive.  When exercising, make it count. Break a sweat, feel that burning sensation in your muscles, use heavy weight, and get breathless.  We did just that today!

2) You Cannot Tone Without Lifting Weights

A common term we hear all the time is "toning".  What too many people still don't realize is to create a "toned" look, we need to be lifting heavy weights with short rest periods.

3) Don't Overdo Cardio

Walk into any fitness facility and women (some guys too) are lined up across the treadmills, while the men are grunting at each other on the bench press. Yes, this is a generalization, but if you've been to the gym you've seen this too. Excessive amounts of cardio leads to an overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which is a significant contribution to storing belly fat.  Cardiovascular is a good thing, for sure.  But it shouldn't be excessive if a lean body is your goal.

4) Sprints

Sprinting is a great way to build a lean, healthy and strong body.  The degree & amount of time the muscle is activated and under tension is a major factor of muscle function and improvement.  And there is no exercise that generates more force and muscle activation (especially in your core!) than sprints (you got a BUNCH of those in today).  Sprinting is a great way to build the outer portion of your abs.  

5) De-stress

Easier said than done, right?  Stress is commonplace as we strive to get it all done, and oftentimes with minimal sleep.  You've heard this from me before ... to look, feel and perform at your best, it's essential to take the time to de-stress at points throughout your day.  When chronically stressed, you'll carry more body fat, even while following a "perfect" diet and exercise regimen. To de-stress: Mediate, laugh, read, walk, pray, find quite time, or anything you find relaxing and rejuvenating.

6) Sleep & Nap

Sleeping is your body's "reset" button.  When you're sleep deprived your decisions are compromised, your focus is lacking, energy is low, and cravings for sweet and fatty foods are heightened. On days in which you are unable to get your Z's, taking naps go a long way in resetting your stress hormone levels.

7) Use the Less Than 10 Label Rule

The "Less Than 10 Label Rule" is a cool trick to use when looking at nutrition labels.

  • What you do is take the total amount of carbohydrates, subtract out the amount of fiber, and then subtract out the amount of protein (all shown on a food label). You want that number to be less than 10.  The lower, the better.
  • Carbs (-) Fiber (-) Protein = < 10
  • This is a good reference guide because foods that score lower than 10 will keep your hunger, energy, and cravings in check for an extended period of time, which is essential for fat loss!

8) Use Cocoa

We touched on this last week ... this "magic supplement" has been around for many centuries. The Mayans and Aztecs even believed this plant could impart immortality. Now, we're not talking about Snickers, chocolate bars of Thin Mints here, but rather 100% raw organic cocoa powder. This can be found at your local grocery, Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  Organic options are best. 

Benefits of cocoa include:

  • Shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure
  • Full of antioxidants
  • Has antidepressant effects and has been shown to helps the body release its own opium-like compounds, called the endorphins, and also boosts levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine (helping you feel balanced, and mentally good)
  • Cocoa is a rich source of many nutritive minerals, most importantly magnesium.  Magnesium, along with zinc and vitamin B6, are depleted micronutrients when under stress.
  • Increases focus and energy
  • Is an aphrodisiac in that it increases pleasures of the brain (I didn't know this 8 years ago, otherwise I would have shared that with Nancy James :).

Cocoa usage:  Mix 1 tablespoon with hot water and drink it like hot cocoa. Sweeten with stevia or Splenda if desired.  Or add it to a smoothie.

9) Decrease Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol causes dehydration, compromises liver function, & impairs brain function.  Yeah, we all know that.  But here's the deal - when your body burns fat it naturally produces what is called acetate. When you drink excess alcohol, there is an excess of acetate in your body which signals your body that it's burning fat, so it doesn't have to do it anymore. When you drink, you literally cannot burn fat at the biochemical level.  To look, feel and perform at your best, limit alcohol to the weekends, or special occasions. 

10) Eat Naked

What?!  Eat naked, Brian?  Well, hopefully you're intrigued.  Click here for more

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
NSCA-CPT, ACE

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4700 Smith Road Suite C, Cincinnati, OH 45212 | 513-407-4665, x-105 | www.CincinnatiFitness.com

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