Welcome to the Anytime Fitness Ask a Trainer Q & A page!

Have a query about health, fitness, nutrition, or well-being in general that you want an answer to?

Email what you need help with (the more detail, the better!) and it will be featured here and possibly in print within the Ask a Trainer column in the Winter Park/Maitland Observer!

Simply send your questions to Jasmin@truehealthtrifecta.com (subject: Ask a Trainer) and subscribe for updates to see if it is chosen to get posted and published!

Do you want to see the Ask a Trainer column in one of your town or city’s local newspapers? Email the editor with a link to www.LiveFitnessAnswers.com and have them contact us here.

I look forward to helping answer your health and fitness questions ;)

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August 2015: How can I naturally relieve severe cramps? + How do I get motivated and out of this rut?!

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Q.  I tend to get very bad cramps all the time. I can be going for a run, working out in an exercise class, or even asleep and woken up by a Charlie Horse! I have also always had a really tough time with severe menstrual cramps my whole life. Why do I struggle with this and is there anything to help? – Sheryl L.

A.  Sheryl, this is an incredibly common annoyance that is so easy to eliminate! I have helped a number of women (and men) rid themselves of constant cramping by narrowing down the possible causes and taking simple action. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of potential causes and solutions that I suggest you try in order to nip those cramps in the bud and make your body a happier place:

  1. HYDRATE! I know I am a broken record with this piece of advice, but so many health problems can be lessened or resolved by simply staying hydrated. Drinking water first thing in the morning is ideal, followed by the habit of drinking at least 16-oz. before each meal (plus more if you exercise, do manual labor, are out the summer heat, or any time you are thirsty). It is also important to eat hydrating foods – like vegetables, greens, and fruits. This provides your body with necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as the water needed to digest optimally and keep your body happy. Additionally, I suggest watching overt alcohol-intake or coffee drinking and overconsumption of dry or salty foods. All of these things can contribute to even more dehydration within your body, which can cause more cramps (especially if you are dehydrated in the first place)!
  2. TAKE A HIGH QUALITY MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENT! Magnesium is a vital mineral which is necessary for over two-hundred functions within the body. Magnesium deficiency happens to be one of the most common culprits of many health ailments people struggle with today – including headaches, unmanageable stress, constipation, insomnia, and muscle tension or cramping. If drinking more water doesn’t do the trick, I strongly suggest trying a high quality magnesium supplement to assist your cramping issues. Magnesium encourages relaxation within the body – including stress and muscle tension – and every client or friend of mine who has incorporated it into their routine has found relief from multiple ailments such as those mentioned above. I personally suggest Natural Calm magnesium powder each night before bed.
  3. TRY A QUICK HOME REMEDY! There are a couple of tried-and-true home remedies for severe, sudden cramps like Charlie Horses. One of which is to take a small spoonful of yellow mustard – yes, the condiment – at the onset of cramps. Within a minute or two, they will dissipate! Not a fan of mustard? Pickle juice has also been shown to work! Swig a tablespoon or two for immediate cramping relief. These options may not be the tastiest for many, but they do work. Why not keep a packet or two of yellow mustard in your nightstand just in case?

Try each of these out and I can promise you that relief with come sooner than you know it!

Q.  I need motivation. I have the hardest time getting up and going to the gym or working out. I always end up choosing foods I know are bad for me over the healthy ones. I just wish I knew the secret to starting off my day on the right foot, because I’m in a serious rut. Help? – Luther L.

A.  Hi Luther, I am so glad you opened up and reached out.

Here’s the thing: life ebbs and flows and ruts are inevitable. The best thing you can do is acknowledge and accept that you always have a choice. If your choice is to stay in bed rather than exercise, own that choice. If you choose “bad” foods over healthy ones, own that choice (but also realize that “bad” foods can contribute to feeling low or unhappy). If your choices are making you unhappy, change them. If you want to start your day off on the right foot, here is the secret: wake up and say “Today I will have a good day because I will choose to be healthy, happy, and treat myself with the loving care I deserve.”

To some, this may sound like new age affirmation wackiness, but let it! Along with EFT, which is an effective and powerful technique I use to coach clients through a number of issues (like unmotivated ruts), starting your day with a statement like the one above can make a world of difference in how you feel and the day you lead. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and that you have the power of choice. If you are unhappy with your current routine, lack of effort, company you keep, or inactivity, remember you have the power and choice to change the situation you’re in or change how you feel about it.

All in all, it’s about taking action. The first step is always the hardest, and change – especially consistency in change – is not easy, either. Change requires effort. But the results through that change are the most rewarding part that make them worthwhile. The thing about ruts is that they do not have to last if you don’t let them.

I encourage you to take the next 30 days to repeat the above affirmation in the mirror each morning, drink a big glass of water, and choose one thing – whether it is a healthy meal, movement through exercise, or five minutes of meditation – to do each day that aligns with your goals. By the end of the 30 days, I’d love to hear back from you and see what has changed and where you are with your motivation (as I’m sure other readers would, too). You can also stop into Anytime Fitness in Winter Park for extra motivation through personal training, getting in a great workout, or to simply say hello on your journey to wellness!

August 2015: My wrists and elbows ache! How can I prevent arthritis? + How do I get more fiber in my diet?

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Q.  My husband and I enjoy golfing often, but lately my elbows and wrists are feeling quite sore and achy. Both of my parents suffered from terrible arthritis and had unbearable, chronic pain. Despite this, I hope I can personally avoid such a diagnosis. Do you have exercise tips or other advice that may help prevent this, or is it inevitable due to genetics? – Terri S.

A.  This is a great question which I am so glad you shared, Terri! Some people see golf as a leisurely sport and assume it would be difficult to take a toll on the body; but just because it involves more conversation and walking (or go-carting!) than say, soccer, doesn’t mean it can’t cause serious aches and pains!

First off, one of my favorite sayings that I repeat with clients regularly is that genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. Although there may be genetic factors that increase your susceptibility to something such as chronic arthritis, you may certainly be able to prevent such a severe misfortune by taking pro-active nutritional and physical steps.

Osteoarthritis, a painful degeneration of joint tissue and underlying bone, is prevalent in women as they get older. Luckily, there are a number of ways to both strengthen your body and slow down or prevent this fate. Keeping your body flexible and strength training are both incredible preventatives, as is maintaining a healthy weight and consuming an anti-inflammatory (think the opposite of the Standard American) diet. Even a light physical challenge, like regularly walking at a moderate pace, can contribute to maintaining joint tissue and increasing lean muscle. The old adage is true: Use it or Lose it!

Since you sound fairly active with your golf game, I suggest you take a deeper look into your nutritional regime. Do you eat a lot of yogurt, milk, or dairy in general? Although many may believe that such foods provide the calcium needed for strong bones, dairy has actually been shown to weaken bones by leaching them of calcium! Are you getting in hydrating and nourishing vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains? These are examples of anti-inflammatory foods that may provide relief for a number of ailments in your body, including achy joints.

Additionally, natural supplements like Glucosamine/Chondroitin with MSM work wonders for joint pain relief and are very easy to find in local health or vitamin stores.

Exercise-wise, I do suggest you build a strength-based exercise routine to teach your body new movements which challenge the joints to build new, strong tissue. Between that and golf, you will have a wonderfully well-rounded plan to encourage many more pain-free years! Don’t forget to contact the experienced trainers at Anytime Fitness in Winter Park where you can schedule a complimentary fitness assessment to get started!

Q.  My doctor says I need to get more fiber in my diet. I already take a powder supplement that I mix with water, is that not enough? Are there certain foods I should be eating that have more fiber, like fiber bran type cereal? – Charlie S.

A.  Charlie, you just brought up one of my favorite subjects regarding diet and nutrition. No, it’s not cereal – but the wonderfully important subject of fiber!

Fiber is a dietary necessity for a healthy lifestyle. Although you don’t specify why your doctor suggests you increase your fiber intake, my guess is going to be constipation, signs of digestive issues or inflammation like diverticulitis, or some other bowel-related trouble. Fiber does directly affect all of these things, but since health really starts in the gut, it also contributes to your overall wellness and bodily function.

There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Most whole, plant-based foods contain some of both (one of the reasons they are called “whole” foods). Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like consistency when mixed with water within your digestive tract while insoluble fiber cannot be broken down and travels through your system intact, providing the bulk to your stool. This is why it is especially important to chew your greens and veggies well since it is the only mechanical aspect of digestion those fibrous foods get!

Although cereals, supplements, and other dry foods seem like a good source of fiber (due to clever marketing amongst other things), the absolute best choice when it comes to increasing the fiber in your diet is by increasing whole, water-rich, plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. These foods are not only jam-packed with fiber, but also the water which directly works with fiber to provide the most fluidity within your system and benefit to your body. Additionally, these foods provide a host of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that your body needs to function at its best. Juicy and refreshing foods like greens, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), vegetables, and fruits, really are perfectly self-packaged foods from nature that work synergistically with your body to encourage utmost health from the inside out.

In a nutshell, Charlie, I strongly suggest that you pass on the fiber supplements and dry, bland cereal, and opt for a solid 8 cups of veggies or fruit a day. By incorporating a large, colorful salad to replace one regular meal and increasing your water intake throughout the day, you will quickly notice a huge difference in how you feel and function!

July 2015: Running hurts my joints and I can’t stand it! How else do I exercise? + How do I stay healthy at a 4th of July barbeque?

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Q.  I know that running is supposed to be great exercise, but the fact is, I’m just too old to be pounding up and down on my joints. What am I supposed to do if running is simply painful for me? I just don’t find it enjoyable or worth the pain. Thank you. – Marcus W.

A.  Marcus, I don’t blame you for not being a big fan of distance running. To be honest, I’ve never big the biggest fan of going for a jog, either – and I am a fitness professional! The important thing to know here is that running is simply one form of exercise in a sea of hundreds, if not thousands, of options within the pool of fitness activities.

One of the first things I tell my clients who expect to hear that they need to start running or jogging in order to lose unwanted fat is that they definitely don’t have to – and shouldn’t – turn to running, jogging, or cycling if their main goal is fat loss. This type of steady-state cardio can actually sabotage efforts in terms of losing fat and gaining or maintaining muscle (I bet you’re happy to hear that)!

EBFTL_ORL_ANDI_2014_754If someone just loves running, on the other hand, and sees it as their stress management or first choice in “me time” – then that is a different story. Managing stress is vital when it comes to living a healthy, happy lifestyle. Having an enjoyable form of stress relief not only helps calm and balance the mind, but works full circle to control stress hormones that can contribute to weight gain.

Begin by going for long walks, getting adequate sleep, staying hydrated with water, and eating wholesome fruits and vegetables. By consistently incorporating even one of these four simple pieces of advice, you should begin to notice a huge difference in how you look and feel in no time.

If you need better direction figuring out an exercise program that will work for you, I highly suggest finding a qualified personal trainer to help you get started. Feel free to start by stopping into Anytime Fitness in Winter Park for a complimentary assessment!

 

Q.  Every year, my family has a large barbeque to celebrate the 4th of July. There is always a lot of meat, hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, dips, pies, and cookies. I want to enjoy myself, but I also want to watch my health. What are my best options? – Patty S.

A.  Hi, Patty! Happy (early) 4th of July! You are not alone, as the majority of people celebrate this holiday with typical summer outdoor activities – including fireworks, family time, and of course, the almighty barbeque. Even though the picnic table may seem full of tasty choices, most of the popular barbeque foods not only leave you with greasy fingers, but feeling bloated and even sabotaging efforts you may have in place to improve your health through nutritional choices.

When it comes to social events that seem centered around food, such as the 4th of July, I always have these three pieces of advice:

  1. Bring your own healthy dish! Contribute to the spread of deliciousness while honoring your own dietary choices by bringing a dish of your own. If you know that there will be few options besides heavy meats as a main course and you prefer more plant-based eating, bring meatless burgers that are made from ingredients such as black beans and grains instead (they are becoming easier and easier to find at grocery stores). You can also make a light cornbread casserole, a fruit-filled side dish or dessert using berries or apples, hydrating salad with any vegetable your heart desires, or simply bring chopped up watermelon on skewers. Chances are, someone else will be grateful you brought a health-conscious dish to share, too!
  2. Eat something before the party! You will not only feel better by starting off your day with nutritious choices, but you won’t arrive to the festivities starving and ready to devour everything in sight. Consider it insurance for your nutritional bank. Before you leave the house, make yourself a fruit-and-greens filled smoothie, a large fruit or veggie salad, or a bowl of oatmeal with bananas, berries, coconut flakes, and some warm green tea on the side. Even if you do have a handful of chips or indulge in a larger-than-usual piece of cake, at least you know the first thing your body consumed that day was something that aligned with your healthy routine.
  3. The most important thing: Remember that what you are eating is not as important as who you are eating with! This is something I have become a broken record repeating, because it is a simple fact that many seem to forget. Relationships are the core of any social events, whether it is building new ones or growing the ones that already exist. Focus on actually spending time with your loved ones, making new friends, and partaking in the games or events that make the holiday such a fun event! If you find yourself sitting on the sidelines or hovering around the picnic table, make the choice to involve yourself in activities or strike up a conversation with a new face in the crowd.

I’m confident that by following the three guidelines above, you will not only adhere to a healthier nutrition and fitness lifestyle, but have an amazing time this 4th of July (and every holiday or social event – remember, these can apply to any social gathering where food is involved)!

June 2015: How do I combine exercises for a full-body workout? + Why isn’t the scale moving when I feel like I’m losing weight?!

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Q.  Sometimes I know I won’t get to the gym enough days during the week to single out each muscle group – like leg day, arm day, or back day. Are there exercises I can do that mix different muscles groups at once? Will I still see the same results or should I wait until I know I can get to the gym enough? – Carlos P.

A.  When striving for any goal in mind, it’s important to realize that there are always many different routes to get to the destination that is your achievement. In this case, realizing that you can attain the muscle and strength gain, fat loss, and health goals you aim for is possible through various different workout splits. Having a day for each muscle group definitely isn’t the only way to see results, which is why I say do not wait! You can absolutely get where you want to be by incorporating full-body strength training and the perfect time to start is now!

Motivational cheerleading aside, there are plenty of exercises you can do that combine numerous muscle groups at once. A great example is lunges with curls (as seen in the photo). After lunging with one leg, you can use dumbbells to curl and then press upwards (not shown) in order to strengthen legs, biceps, shoulders, and even core; all in one multifaceted exercise. Simply do the curl-press movement each time you bring your legs together after each lunge.

20150609_17051020150609_170518(0)An example of a full-body gym workout could be three sets of the described lunge/curl/press combos, doing 20 lunges each set; followed by three supersets of seated cable rows (also shown in photos) done back-to-back with triceps-dips; and finishing with a plank hold to engage the core, followed by a wall-sit to encourage realignment and posture.

Additionally, certain compound movements are ideal when it comes to total body conditioning and strengthening. Functional exercises that are popular in Crossfit-style workouts and powerlifting, like deadlifts, squats, and sled-drags (to name a few), are incredibly effective for increased muscle mass and fat loss. Incorporating such exercises two-to-three times a week is plenty; just make sure you seek out experienced coaching to ensure proper form and prevent injury.

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Q.  I have been working out consistently for a couple of months now. I wasn’t really heavy but I just felt soft and “skinny fat”. I kept hearing that weightlifting would help me lose weight, but when I weighed myself the other day I was exactly the same as before I started! I am so confused because my clothes have actually been getting looser and people have been noticing my progress, but why haven’t I actually lost any weight? – Carly M.

A.  Hi, Carly! This is perfect timing, because I recently shared a thorough blog post explaining exactly what is happening with your body and the scale! Here is an excerpt from the post, which you can read in its entirety (as well as see client progress photos) on TrueHealthTrifecta.com:

“In non-overweight clients, we gauge progress by waist size, overall inches lost (or gained, if muscle), clothing sizes, photos and body fat calculations. I solely obtain someone’s scale weight in order to calculate their body fat percentage.

Speaking of body fat, you may have heard that popular fitness phrase that “muscle weighs more than fat”. Well, I’m here to tell you muscle does not actually weigh more than fat does. Think about it: a pound is a pound regardless to what you’re weighing. Saying muscle weighs more than fat is like saying a pound of baseballs weighs more than a pound of feathers… when, really, they both weigh the same: a pound.

What the popular fitness quote is really trying relay is that muscle tissue is more compact – or denser – than fatty tissue; meaning it just takes up less space. So, for example, my client lost 3 lbs. of pure body fat while gaining 3 lbs. of muscle. That is why although her scale weight remained the same, she lost inches and now fits into a smaller dress size. Simply, her body composition is much leaner and more compact thanks to less fat and more muscle.

I hope that more clearly explains how even if your body weight may not change, you are still potentially making progress in the right direction (especially if you’re incorporating any strength training on your fitness journey).”

May 2015: What is Foam Rolling? + How do I increase my grip/hand strength?

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Q.  I’ve heard about foam rolling, but I don’t really understand what it does or why it is good to do. Can you explain more about it? – Arabella T.

A.  Hi, Arabella! This is such a great question, as many people have never even heard of the magic of foam rolling!

Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (which is a fancy way of saying self-massage) using a foam or rubber log-shaped tool. You’ve probably seen it at your gym or even in a physical therapy office, as they come in all shapes and sizes. The main benefit of foam rolling is to break down tissue and release trigger points in the muscle. By doing so, you can improve circulation within your body by increasing blood flow, reduce muscle tightness or pain, reduce your chance of injury by improving mobility, and even increase strength while bringing your muscles back to normal function. Remember: a healthy, elastic, and moveable body is a normal body – not the other way around!image0-1

Another great thing about foam rolling is that you can use it for both warm-up and cool down portions of your workout. You can even use it in many core-engaging movements to make it a workout on its own!

Here are a few key tips to ensure you are doing things properly. First, foam rolling should be done slowly. You need to take your time rolling over certain points and adhesions in order to get a deep compression. Second, don’t be surprised if it is painful. Similarly to deep tissue massage, it may “hurt so good” once you hit certain areas; in which case you want to pause and relax onto the tender spot for about 30 seconds before slowly continuing to roll back and forth. That said, if an area is too sensitive, then ease off onto surrounding muscles. It shouldn’t be a pain tolerance test, but it should be an effective means to bring your body back to optimal function.

I strongly suggest scheduling a session with one of the experienced trainers at Anytime Fitness in Winter Park to help show you exactly how to foam roll your way into feeling awesome!

 

Q.  I’ve noticed that the older I get, the weaker my hands seem to get. My grip gives out so easily during every day activities like raking leaves and using a can opener. What are the best ways to build hand and grip strength? – Daniel W.

A.  Daniel, I am so sorry to hear that you have noticed struggles during such routine tasks! Luckily, there are a few ways you can not only increase grip strength – but reinforce your wrists and build up your forearms in the process.

Here are my two top exercise-based tips that will help you feel strong again in no time.

Compound exercises without using straps or hooks: If Sansy1you have experience training, you have probably noticed that your grip always gives out first during back-focused exercises (especially if you are pulling heavier weight). How many times have you felt like you really could use heavier weight for Lat Pulldowns or Deadlifts… if your grip didn’t give out first? Typically, the first thing weightlifters will do is grab lifting straps or hooks when this happens. Although they do help to lift heavier weight by taking slack off your grip, this also puts unnecessary strain on the wrists. As a proponent of strength and function, I believe in building each component up as a collaborative chain. Meaning, if your grip isn’t allowing your back to pull a certain weight – allow your grip and wrists to build enough strength to where they do before defaulting to compensatory tools. This will encourage more balanced strength, help you avoid wrist injury, and build up grip strength!

Monkey Hangs (as seen in photo): This is one of my favorite, most effective exercises to build grip, wrist, forearm and back strength. It is also an ideal starting step for pull-up progressions. All you need is a pull-up bar, monkey bars, or even tree branch. Make sure it is tall enough to allow you to hang freely. Hold onto the bar with an overhand grip and avoid shrugging by engaging your lats (the large wide, lateral muscle of your back directly below your armpits). Then, as still as you can, just hang! Your goal should be to increase hanging time week to week. It’s much harder than it sounds, and an amazing grip-builder!

I hope those tips help you gain strength and confidence in your hands, as well as your daily activities. If you want to learn more ways to help, don’t hesitate to stop into Anytime Fitness for your free fitness consultation!

April 2015: Help, I need quick, easy, healthy breakfast ideas! and What is a Good Workout Split for Beginners?

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Q.  I know breakfast is supposed to be important, but I just don’t have time to make anything before work and always end up having a bowl of my kids’ cereal or going through a drive through. Can you suggest any easy, quick, and healthy breakfast ideas? – Sarah G.

A.  Hi, Sarah! This is a common pitfall with a lot of busy 9-5ers and parents. You may have heard that preparation is key, which is definitely true – especially when you have specific health and fitness goals. Understandably, though, not everyone is willing to whip up a gourmet veggie scramble for themselves while helping one kid find a shoe and the other pack their schoolwork!

Like you, I need my healthy morning meals to be fast and filling. If you do have a few minutes the night before, a delicious option is to prepare “overnight oats”. Grab a bowl and dump in ½ cup raw oats; 1-2 Tbsp. either ground flax seed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and/or nut butter; and about a cup of your milk of choice (I suggest unsweetened almond, coconut, or hemp milk). From there, get creative! Add in a handful of chopped nuts, a large sliced banana or strawberries, and/or a scoop of your favorite protein powder. You can even use cooked quinoa or buckwheat instead of the oats, or organic yogurt as a part of the liquid. Mix everything together, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight. By the time morning comes, the oats will have absorbed the liquid while all of the flavors will have married together for a thick, chilled, ready-to-eat bowl of delicousness!

Another great go-to option is the basic smoothie. All you need is one cup of frozen fruit (like berries), 1-2 Tbsp. of a healthy fat source (like chia seeds, ground flax seed, or nut butter), a scoop of your favorite protein powder, 8-12 oz. of liquid (like unsweetened almond milk or coconut water), and – optional but highly suggested – a handful of leafy greens, like spinach. Feel free to add cinnamon, extracts, or sweetener to your liking. Then just blend this all together in a single-serving travel blender (which are inexpensive and widely available) and enjoy it on your way to work! You won’t miss your drive-through a bit!

Q.  I just joined a gym and am not sure how to split up my workouts. Should I do upper body one day, lower body the next? Should I just circuit around all of the machines every time? Do I even need to train legs if I mainly want my arms and chest to grow? I hate seeming like I’m lost in my busy gym and appreciate any help! – Richard S.

A.  Thanks for writing, Richard! Allow me to get something out of the way first – YES, you definitely DO need to incorporate your legs within your training program! Not only is strengthening legs vital towards a balanced physique and strong core, but legs are a big part of compound movements that would benefit your progress. When you train legs, you increase human growth hormone (HGH) within your body by around 40%. This actually encourages optimal muscle growth everywhere – including your entire upper body, chest, and arms! Needless to say, there is no question that incorporating exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg press, and hip thrusts (just to name a few) will provide the best results when it comes to total body muscle gain.

When it comes to a workout split, it really depends on your goals and how many days a week you are able to get in at the gym. For example, if you want to strength train five days a week, a full-body split may not be the best idea. You may want to start off with a push/pull split – which means alternating pushing movement days (chest, shoulders, triceps) with pulling days (back, biceps). Legs would have their own day. This would look like: Monday – Chest/Triceps, Tuesday – Legs (Squats), Wednesday – Back/Biceps, Thursday – Shoulders/Abs, Friday – Legs (Deadlifts).

This is just one example of the many different options regarding a workout split. If you are seeking more a personalized plan and training, I strongly suggest setting up a consultation and assessment with a qualified personal trainer who can help you get started. Anytime Fitness in Winter Park offers a complimentary training session to all new members and clients, so stop in or give them a call today!

March 2015: Is it too late to start exercising or lifting weights, and how do I pick the right trainer? + Does weight loss tea really work?

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Q. I am 64 years old and have never been to a gym or lifted weights before. I’m honestly worried it’s a little too late for me to get started, and even more worried that I will hurt myself trying (or that a trainer will push me too hard). How can I make sure I make the right choice with exercises or a trainer to become healthier while avoiding injury? – Samuel T.

A. Samuel, first thing’s first: it is never too late to get started! Secondly, kudos to you for seeking better fitness and longevity by incorporating exercise, because it really does make an amazing difference!

Along with proper nutrition and stress management, exercise (specifically, strength training) is incredibly important when it comes to a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. As we age, our metabolism slows down; and the only way to increase your resting metabolic rate (or how many calories your body burns at rest) is by increasing – and maintaining – lean muscle mass.

I highly suggest seeking out an experienced, knowledgeable personal trainer, such as those at Anytime Fitness in Winter Park, to help get you started. An experienced trainer will ensure you practice proper form, gauge the best intensity for you, and show you useful, effective exercises. When choosing a trainer, I actually encourage shopping around. You will ideally spend 2-3 hours a week with your trainer, and will build a close relationship in the process. Take advantage of complimentary consultations to learn more about your potential trainer and make sure that they not only know their stuff – but that you feel comfortable and confident in them as a person (as well as the benefits they have to offer you). A legitimate trainer should not push you too hard – but motivate you, while prioritizing injury prevention and safety. The right trainer should also listen to you, your goals, and your concerns, and provide the support you need in order to achieve those goals (while challenging you to surpass them).

Getting started with a trainer is an exciting step towards reaching your optimal health, as you will soon find! You can look forward to becoming stronger – both physically and mentally – as well as experiencing improved mood, better sleep, a healthier physique, and a longer life. By the way, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly… I would be honored to coach you through this next youthful chapter of your life!

Q. Friends of mine are raving about a new weight-loss tea that is supposed to help shed extra pounds, which I thought sounded too good to be true… but one of them has lost nearly ten pounds in a week! Do you think this tea really works and that it can help me lose weight, too? – Lorena Z.

A. Hi, Lorena! Let me just say, this is becoming quite the popular question with clients lately – namely, women over 35. There will always be a new “miracle weight-loss” product on the market. From pills, to teas, to powders, to shots, to gum, to lollipops, to odd fad diets… you name it, it’s out there! And, as you’ve recently found, they all claim to be the magical, golden ticket to finally reach your perfect dream body.

The thing is, most of these are a short-term quick fix when it comes to weight loss. Why? Because these kinds of gimmicks do not educate people on changing their lifestyle or nutrition habits – the things that usually got them the extra weight in the first place. Without considering such factors, it is very difficult to experience sustainable results. This is why most people who try such teas, pills, and the like, tend to put on the weight they lost and then some shortly after stopping the product.

Now, as for your friend losing nearly ten pounds in a week – that is certainly a great catalyst of motivation (regardless to if it was mostly excess water weight, which is likely the case)! Hopefully, she uses that boost to begin eating healthier, exercising, or improving her lifestyle in addition to drinking the tea – because taking action by doing so would encourage a sequence of events towards sustainable weight-loss.

I suggest you save yourself a few dollars and work towards your weight-loss in a way that will make results last. Pick up a new habit and stick to it consistently: incorporate more leafy greens into your diet, have a big glass of water every morning, and go for a long walk at least three times a week. You will see the pounds slip away – without any magic gimmicks – and won’t be dependent on any special teas to boot. (P.S. Tea, in general, is great! Pick your favorite herbal tea and drink it daily as your own personal “magic” boost!)

February 2015: Protein Requirements for Seniors and Advice for Arthritic Back & Shoulders

Q. Hello! I am a semi-active woman going on 78 years old. I’ve heard that getting enough protein in my diet is important. Can you tell me how much protein I should eat every day? – Bonnie

A.  Hi, Bonnie! This is a great question and surely a common concern. To set up a proper foundation nutritionally, it is important to realize and accept that our metabolism (and, therefore, caloric need) declines as we get older. The body slows down, muscles and bones deteriorate, and the stomach produces less acid (which is why I always recommend taking a small shot of Apple Cider Vinegar before any antacid if you tend to suffer from indigestion). This means that the body requires less total food in order to function at its best, or at all. Now, although there isn’t a surefire way to reverse this act of nature that comes with age, I strongly believe that in order to achieve optimal health, everyone’s goal should be to work with your body instead of against it.

There have been studies showing the benefits of increased protein in the diets of women 70 and older; however, most of the studies do not consider what the protein replaces in the diet. In other words, whole food protein sources will show more benefit over a refined, highly processed cupcake any day! In order to feel your best, I would first and foremost focus on listening to your body and eating only what you need and to avoid overeating. Choose high fiber, water-rich foods like vegetables, fruit, and starches to make up the majority of your diet as these are easily digestible and nutrient dense. As for protein specifications, if you are getting 2-4 servings of about 3 ounces (a little smaller than the palm of your hand) a day, depending on your size, that should be plenty! Remember, there is also protein in your fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds that do add up along with your eggs and lean meats. I hope this helps!

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Q.  I suffer from bad arthritis and pain in my back and shoulders. Should I exercise? If so, what should I be doing? – John F.

A.  Hi, John! Arthritis certainly seems to be one of the first signs of aging that frustrates many people daily, especially seniors. Before exercise, I would make sure you are staying properly hydrated by drinking water and eating water-rich foods (such as those mentioned in the last question)! Doing so encourages your body to function at its best, and that includes lubricating the joints and tendons to avoid tension or stiffness. Sunshine, or vitamin D, also plays a huge factor in pain relief, bone and cartilage strength, and overall wellness. If you cannot get out in the sun during peak hours for 15-20 minutes at least three days a week with a good 80% of your body exposed (the more the better), another option is to take a quality Vitamin D3 supplement – especially during the winter months. Just make sure it is D3, which is natural, and not D2, which is synthetic. Both D3 and a quality Glucosamine Chondroitin/MSM supplement are the most effective for any joint or bone-based aches and pains, and act pretty quickly in most individuals, as well.

Trigger point therapy is also incredibly useful to alleviate body discomforts. By releasing the deep fascia, or connective tissue underneath the muscle, a world of relief can be experienced in every part of the body; including neck, jaw, hands, back, hips, feet, and shoulders. The best part is, a knowledgeable massage therapist should not only be able to work out your kinks, but show you how you can do trigger point therapy on yourself whenever you need it.

Movement and exercise is also beneficial by keeping your joints strong, active and loosened. Although you want to be careful pushing heavy weights on your own (and even avoid overhead, weight-bearing exercises depending on the state of your arthritis), setting up a few sessions with an experienced personal trainer is a great, safe start to feel better with one-on-one coaching. Anytime Fitness in Winter Park offers introductory fitness consultations for people just like you, so don’t forget to schedule a visit to get started!

Holiday 2014 Edition: How do I keep up with my fitness during holiday travels?

Q.   I’ll be traveling over the holidays to visit my kids in the Mid-West and due to the frigid winter weather, I don’t make it to the gym as often as I’d like. What are some things that I can do to increase my heart rate when I don’t have access to some of the equipment I enjoy using at the gym? –Evelyn C.

A.   Happy (early) Holidays, Evelyn! First of all, kudos to you for prioritizing your health and fitness while spending time with family during the holidays! Since snowy Mid-West weather (and cabin fever) is a big shift from the milder Florida winter, exercise is even more important because of its ability to increase serotonin, aka the “happy chemical”, associated with a positive mood and a feeling of well-being. Just because you don’t have access to equipment doesn’t mean you will have to forego a great workout. As a matter of fact, you may be surprised at how much more intense your exercise can be when switching things up by using your own body-weight! A small example of effective moves you can try are squats, lunges, pushups, incline pushups on a counter-top, climbing stairs (if the house has them), doing step-ups and tricep dips on a stable chair or low table, Pilates- or Yoga-based core movements, or even simply jogging in place while watching the holiday parade. If you feel the need for an extra challenge (or just want to keep your family guessing), pick up some canned vegetables, a frozen turkey, a heavy purse, your grandbaby, or anything else you can find to use as free weights. The key is to get creative and have fun with it! Also, don’t forget that as an Anytime Fitness gym member you have 24-hour access to any and all of the 2,500 facilities around the world… So, if you do miss your routine with the machines and manage to get out of the house, definitely look up the nearest Anytime Fitness wherever you may be. Big holiday hugs to you and your family!

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October 2014: High Cardio Trick-or-Treating and Core Exercises for Inner-Ear (Vertigo) Issues

Q.     I’m taking my grandkids trick-or-treating on Halloween and want to combine it with my exercise. I’m afraid that just going house to house won’t help me get my heart rate up enough. What some things I can do to help get my heart rate up while taking them trick-or-treating? – Doris H.

A.     Happy Halloween, Doris! First of all, kudos to you for staying active with your grandkids and striving to keep up with them during the hyper-active, sugar-filled holidays! You already seem to have a majority of suburban communities beat by taking advantage of the opportunity to use your legs rather than acting as a taxi cab for stops (something that has, unfortunately, seemed to become more popular more recently). Since trick-or-treating typically takes a couple of hours and involves a lot of stop-and-go, walking on its own is a great low-impact, stress-reducing choice of transportation. Another fun option would be riding a bicycle. And, considering the kids may snack on some candy as they go along, you will likely sporadically get your heart rate up as is just making sure they don’t run into the street as they go from house to house! In all seriousness, I would get your high intensity workout in earlier in the day (keeping it short and alternating between intensity intervals, like high effort sprinting on an elliptical machine for 20 seconds followed by slower, recovery strides for 40 seconds – and repeating that 10 times). I’m sure you agree that enjoying the time you spend with your grandchildren takes priority over anything else, and this way you could do just that without worrying about missing your workout for the day. This is all, of course, unless you are willing to take the latter option: dressing up as a kangaroo and jumping on a pogo stick all night. Not only will your heart rate be through the roof, but you will surely be the coolest (and most fit) grandma on the block!

Q.     I need to keep my core strong, but because of an inner ear issue I have a hard time keeping my balance as I get up from floor exercises, like crunches. What are some exercises that I can do for my core that don’t require me to get on the floor or require a lot of head movement? – Nada C.

A.   You are correct in believing that maintaining core strength is a very important part of overall fitness and longevity! Fortunately for you, plain old crunches are actually one of the less beneficial exercises when it comes to strengthening your core. As I’ve shared in a past Q&A, the core is much more than your abs and can be considered everything from your knees all the way to your neck – especially the posterior, or back side, of your body. This includes hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. My favorite, go-to exercise for this is a standing movement called The Founder (shown in photos), which activates your entire true core by using your stabilizing muscles in a holding pattern. The movement is also amazing to alleviate back pain, improve posture, and elongate the spine. When it comes to your inner ear and equilibrium issues whenever you rise up from lying down, a very useful movement to know is the Epley Maneuver. This is a well-known treatment for vertigo and dizziness involving specific head movements that you can easily learn and do yourself at home. I highly suggest looking it up and trying it for yourself, or finding an experienced health & fitness professional who is knowledgeable about both core strengthening and natural, body-based remedies! (P.S. Unless you have already been diagnosed with an inner ear issue, a good idea would be to get your vision checked as a possible culprit for your imbalanced feeling, too!)

September 2014: What are the best booty-building and shaping exercises?

Q.    What are the best exercises to build and shape the booty? – Leo A.

A.    This is a great question, as I hold the importance of booty-focused strength training very highly with my clients! The booty, or gluteus muscle group, is the true powerhouse of the body. Although most people consider the core as being solely the abdominal region, it actually consists of everything from your neck to your knees. It is vital to properly activate and strengthen this entire posterior chain, especially the glutes, in order to maintain good posture, avoid aches and pains (like that of the lower back), improve mobility, and increase overall wellbeing and longevity. The aesthetic bonus of all the above benefits is being the owner of a healthy, round, perky booty!

When it comes to your caboose, there are three different muscles that make up the area: the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle of the body), the gluteus medius (towards the hips), and the gluteus minimus (the smallest of the three). If you really want to shape up a twerk-worthy rear, it’s important to hit each group from a different angle. Squats, which mainly work the glute maximus, are a prime compound movement and should be a staple in any strength-training routine. My absolute favorite glute exercise, however, is hip thrusts. While squats practice more vertical power (jumping), hip thrusts make you drive that glute power horizontally (sprinting). Have you ever heard of the workout “pump” achieved through lifting weights that leaves your muscles looking full and tight? Well, the hip thrust movement does the same thing for your booty. That is, it will leave them feeling fuller, perkier, and “pumped” after even one set of this concentrated exercise! Great variations I suggest are barbell-weighted or single-legged, both with a solid contraction at the peak of the movement. Of course, always aim for progression by adding weight or slowing tempo to keep your muscles challenged.

In order to achieve optimal roundness and conditioning, it is key to work the hips and target both the glute medius and minimus. Lateral movements are often put on the back burner when they are not only effective in shaping the rear, but in strengthening the lower back and entire core! The best body-weight exercise to provide this benefit is laying straight-legged lateral raises, or the bent-legged version called “clams”. Both seem inconspicuous and admittedly look like something you may see in a spandex-laden aerobic video circa 1992, but trust me when I say you will feel the burn and see the difference these hip-focused exercises make once you incorporate them into your routine. If you have access to an abductor machine or heavy resistance bands, these are also great alternatives to complete your butt-building.

To sum it up: if you want to grow or shape up a quality posterior, get down with deep squats, start practicing heavy hip thrusts, and work those hips with lateral movements! Implementing these exercises in your routine will surely do the booty-full trick!

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August 2014 – Lose Fat, Gain Health, Improve Fitness: 4 Steps You Need to Know

Are you over all of the diet fads and ready to learn some simple steps to take charge of your health and fitness? Here are 4 tried-and-true ways.

  1. Take Advantage of Free Resources

There is a vast amount of readily available information regarding health, fitness, weight-loss, strength-gain, nutrition, and more. One website to visit is blog.anytimefitness.com, which shares frequent posts that are easy on the “science speak” to give you useful and interesting information quickly. The website also encourages readers to chime in, ask questions, and be interactive; even including a section for personal stories of success to not only teach, but motivate.

 

  1. Don’t Go “All-or-Nothing”

You don’t have to radically work out or cut out foods to get results! One of the best ways to ensure success is to set yourself up to succeed from the start. Start with small, habitual changes (nutrition-wise, it can be drinking a glass of water every morning; for exercise, simply doing 10 pushups every day) instead of “going all out” with drastic changes that differ too much from your current routine. Setting a realistic schedule with the minimal amount of work required for change is the best way to create something sustainable. Studies have shown that by adding just two new habits at once, the success rate drops by nearly 50%. Don’t be a statistic, be patient, and start with one new habit at a time for maintainable progress.

 

  1. Be Held Accountable

One of the main reasons many people struggle to get started is a lack of accountability or social support. If you can’t find a work-out buddy, aren’t the best self-motivator, or simply seek knowledgeable direction to help rev things into gear, a qualified personal trainer can be the secret sauce for you. Locally, the best option is to take advantage of the Get Fit Winter Park Program in our city’s Anytime Fitness gym. This free fitness assessment and personal training session, which is only available until September 30, is sure to be the kick-start that you or someone you know needs in order to gain a healthier and more active lifestyle.

 

  1. Lead by Example

There is a wonderful saying: the best way to learn is to teach. By doing all of the above, making deliberate efforts, and ultimately making continuous progress, you will not only achieve the goals you have in mind for yourself… but also find that you will inspire others to do the same. There is no greater domino effect than one that encourages positivity, growth, progress, and success. In a society that is seemingly grasping for straws when it comes to improving health and wellness, the best thing you can do is start for yourself. Motivation is contagious, and I’ll bet that all someone close to you needs to get going themselves is to see you on your way. After all, what’s better than taking the steps to reach your own goals while being the inspiration for others to do the same?

 

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June 2014 – Crunches for belly fat, carb crashing, cardio before lifting?

Q.        I do a ton of crunches, but I’m not losing my belly fat. What should I do differently? Brian G. 

A.     If your primary goal is to lose a significant amount of belly fat, crunches are the last thing you want to do!

First of all, training a muscle builds (or at least maintains) the muscle. This is why it isn’t uncommon for people just starting out on their fitness journey – going from ab machine to crunches and back again – to actually notice their pants getting a little tighter (especially if nutrition isn’t on point)!

Secondly, the more lean muscle you have overall, the higher your metabolic rate will be; the higher your metabolic rate is, the more fat you will burn at rest including, but not limited to, that belly.

In a nutshell, do yourself a huge favor and trade those cute little crunches for compound strength-training! Not only will incorporating movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, and chin-ups condition your entire body by working the large muscle groups, but also you will get more calorie-burning bang for your buck both during and after your workout. Just make sure you have an experienced coach or trainer help you get started with proper form if you are new to these kinds of exercises. (Keep in mind; complementing nutrition is certainly vital to ensure optimal fat loss!)

P.S. Ladies, this applies to you, too!

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 Q.  I’ve recently cut carbs out of my diet, but I end up tired and in a bad mood as the day goes on. How do I avoid crashing? – Emily F.

A.   Oh boy, the carb debate. First of all, there is no legitimate reason to demonize and permanently avoid any single macronutrient from your diet – especially if your goal is sustainable fat loss. Completely cutting out a food group is not only difficult to maintain long-term, but it can lead to yo-yo dieting and an anxious relationship with food in general (not to mention, an eventual binge-fest of said food down the road).

Many times, restrictive dieters will eventually find that they end up craving crazy processed foods they never even craved in the first place (Oreos, anyone?). This is usually followed by drowning their sorrows in an entire box of cookies after a particularly stressful event or day at work. Ask yourself this, what’s worse: having no energy, feeling emotional, and then uncontrollably stuffing your face with a high-sugar, high-fat, processed food only to feel guilty and discouraged afterwards… Or enjoying fruit for breakfast, a huge salad with lunch, and oven-baked potato wedges with dinner while progressing towards your fitness goals?

Your body naturally runs on glucose, something that carbohydrates specifically provide. As a major advocate of listening to your body for true holistic fitness and balance, I strongly suggest bringing those glorious carbs back into your routine and simply focusing on making better choices. Vegetables, fruits, and potatoes are great options; not only because they are whole foods, but also because they are full of nutrients, fiber, and have high water content! Especially in the scorching Florida summers, making sure you are hydrated is key (dehydration is the main culprit of headaches, migraines, poor digestion, and low energy). Why not kill two nutritional birds with one juicy stone by eating your water?

It is also important to remind yourself that certain food groups are not necessarily “bad”. Food doesn’t have moral value and any diet promoting complete constraint from one macronutrient group is not realistic or sustainable for most people. Not all carbs are created equal when it comes down to it, and although the more beneficial options (yum, sweet potato) are more obvious than the unfavorable choices (yum, Cadbury Egg), there is still a time and place for everything.

Do yourself a favor and re-introduce those better options back into your diet. Your body, mind, workouts, and loved ones will thank you.

P.S. Each gram of carbohydrate attracts about 3 grams of water, which is why quick water-weight-loss (read: not fat-loss, which is what you want) occurs when you stop eating them; keep this in mind and allow your body to adjust and balance out once you add them back in.

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Q. How often should I be doing cardio and should I do it before or after I lift? – Amanda D.

A. How often you should do cardio depends on a few things, including your overall goals (are you aiming to build endurance or training for a race or event, trying to lose fat, and/or trying to gain lean muscle?) and current fitness. In a nutshell, if your goal is to tighten up, increase your metabolism, build strength, and a whole slew of additional benefits, it’s always best to prioritize strength-training over cardio.

If you want to distinctly separate your lifting and your cardio (as in, bodybuilding style free-weight training and then typical gym cardio on a machine like the treadmill or elliptical), it is always best to lift first. This way, all of your energy goes towards pushing the weight and building strength; whereas, if you were to do cardio first, it would deplete your glycogen stores (energy) and take away from any lifting session. Plus, since you will ideally be pretty depleted of carb-based energy once your lifting session is over, your body will be more apt to tap into fat stores if you do cardio afterwards (just make sure to keep it at a moderate to low intensity).

So, to break it down simply, if your goal is to maintain or build muscle while losing fat:

  • If you want to lift weights/strength-train and do cardio in one workout session, lift first!
  • Ideally, try to separate the cardio and lifting into two completely separate sessions (whether that be different days, or at least different times of day).
  • A great option to kill two birds with one stone is by incorporating high-intensity, strength-training routines like this one; get total body conditioning and cardio done at the same time!