Trick or TRAIN!

Here’s a quick Halloween gym workout to get your heart rate up and your metabolism rocking. For those who have some experience with kettlebells! If you don’t, feel free to substitute with an exercise that you know!

Here’s the breakdown:

source url Warm Up : 5 minutes – your choice

http://aayuda.com/wp-content/plugins/apikey/wp_flo.php Workout:

Windmills – 5 each
Goblet Squats – 10
Renegade Rows – 8 each (If using kettlebells, make sure they are on a nice flat surface!)
Single-leg Hip Bridges – 10 each

*Rest only enough to keep good form
*2-3 Rounds total (You can go 4 if you’re really feeling good. )

Finisher: a little cardio blast designed to bump up your metabolism and finish you off. 😉

Star Jumps – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds
Plank – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds
Hand-to-Hand Swings – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds
Bear Crawl – 15 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds

*Repeat for 3-4 Rounds total

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Halloween!

 

Do you have the Courage to Do Less? (part 2)

In part 1, we talked about how our culture celebrates work and activity and can be almost hostile, it seems, to rest and renewal. ESPECIALLY in the fitness industry! Which is really quite counterproductive as evidenced by my own story. 🙂 So how do we stay fit while moving away from the ‘go hard or go home’ mindset? How do we find balance?

To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy. *

The reason I loved The Power of Full Engagement so much is because the point  of the book is that rest allows us to stop going through the motions and more fully engage in life, whether that be in business, fitness, or relationships. The author’s point is stated simply in this question: “If you could wake up tomorrow with significantly more positive focused energy to invest at work and with your family, how significantly would that change your life for the better?”.

Prioritizing rest is prioritizing your work, your loved ones, your health, your quality of life. That is why rest is so important.  That is why I believe rest should be just as much of a priority as work.

rest pic

So with that being said, here are few things I have learned to implement that have really helped me Do Less and therefore, find more balance:

1) Managing energy, not time

Allow me to start with a story. My first real job was cleaning hotel rooms. Since I’m not a morning person, I figured I would just workout after work. Only problem with this was that I was on my feet, vacuuming, scrubbing, picking up after random people, and making beds the entire day. So when I did actually get a workout in, it wasn’t a very productive one. So I tried working out before work. As much as I hated getting up earlier than I absolutely had to, this ensured that I had plenty of energy and got a good workout in. Plus it turns out I actually had more energy throughout the work day as well!

Many of us have a story like this, right? We put together our schedule, looking for where we can fit this or that in, without any concern as to the energy it will take to accomplish it. This is why so many people struggle to get to the gym regularly. Sure, most of us have plenty of time to workout after work, but without the energy to do it it doesn’t really matter how much time you have!

 Energy, not time, is our most precious resource. *

Take some time to learn yourself. Figure out when you are the most energetic and productive. Schedule the most important things you want to get done during those times. Then let the rest be what it is. Learning to manage your energy can be tricky. You have to let go of the “superman/superwoman” mentality, BUT I think you will also be surprised how much you get done.

2) Actively disengaging

Going right along with scheduling your priorities around your most productive time, we also have to allow for down time.

It’s been shown that people produce a higher quantity and quality of work in shorter bursts (90-120 minutes) followed by a time of deliberate rest or actively disengaging (even if it is just 5-10 minutes). Actively disengaging means deliberately shifting your attention from achievement to restoration. Your body needs this whether it be for a project, a workout, or a conversation. You can’t give your full attention to everything without any breaks and then expect to keep up the same amount of focus all day long.

Running yourself ragged day after day, beating yourself up about the things you didn’t get done, that’s no way to live. Plus, it’s completely unsustainable, meaning eventually something will give out.

Schedule specific times for rest and rejuvenation.

Set up clear boundaries between work and home. Learning to actively disengage enables you to be productive at work, then go home and be all there for your loved ones.

3) Learning when to rest and when to go hard

Yes, in order to reach most goals, especially in the gym, you will have to push past perceived limitations and learn how to deal with discomfort.  But there also needs to be a balance between too little and too much! (For more specifics on what that looks like in the gym, go here.)

Back in the day, when I was still running myself ragged in the gym, I would often make some of my best gains after coming back from vacation. It’s embarrassing that I never put it together back then. No one can go at 100% intensity all of the time. We have to back off and give our bodies rest so that we can come back stronger and with more intensity.

Nearly every elite athlete we have worked with over the years has to come to us with performance problems that could be traced to an imbalance between the expenditure and the recovery of energy.*

Sometimes you just need to take it easy, back off on the weight a bit, and focus on the basics. Sometimes you need to take the day off and just go for a long walk instead. As you learn to listen to your body, you will also learn when it’s feeling good and can be pushed harder.

When in balance, people tend to experience:

  • Fewer injuries
  • Better hormone balance
  • Lower stress levels
  • Less anxiety
  • Higher productivity
  • Deeper relationships
  • More happiness and contentment

Dan John, a world renowned fitness expert and strength coach, was talking about training when he said, “you have to have the courage to do less.”

It is a little scary, isn’t it? But the benefits above are the things that lead to higher consistency, which in turn leads to fat loss and a healthier mindset & lifestyle!

The challenge is finding that balance for yourself. It might not be easy, but it is definitely worth it.

What do you think? Do you have a hard time believing more rest could actually help instead of hinder your progress? What tools do you use in order to unsure you’re getting enough rest? Leave a comment over on the Beth Burns Fitness facebook page and let me know! 🙂

*All quotes from: The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz. I highly recommend.

[Tweet “Prioritizing rest is prioritizing your work, your loved ones, your quality of life. “]

[Tweet “Energy, not time, is our most precious resource. -The Power of Full Engagement”]

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Do you have the Courage to Do Less? (Part 1)

We live in a world that celebrates work and activity, ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance.*

The other day, I was giving my marathon-running friend a hard time because she was complaining about how hard it is to taper off her running in preparation for an upcoming race. My other friend then commented on how funny it is that I’m the fitness person and yet here I am, encouraging her to enjoy it, to sit on the couch and relax a little more! But this is what most of us think, right? That fitness-junkies and personal trainers are all about this:

 

nopain nogaingo-big-or-go-homeno_pain_no_gain_2013-10-13_18-15-57

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the most part, it’s true. In fact, health and fitness isn’t the only realm in which we hold to this ridiculous type of mindset. This was my own mindset for a long time….

I used to feel guilty about relaxing. I lived on as little sleep as possible, which usually meant 4-6 hours for me. I thought walking, or anything else that didn’t feel challenging, was a waste of time. I thought, along with most Americans,  that there was a certain nobility in being busy all the time. To the point where I was even embarrassed if I didn’t have a list of stuff I’d done over the weekend. I pretty much lived in a constant state of anxiety.

I’m not trying to be dramatic. I’ve never had anxiety attacks or needed medication. It was more of an inner struggle, but unfortunately it still caused a whole host of issues for me. My hormones got completely out of whack and I got sick easily. I never listened to my body so my joints ached and I dealt with a lot of injuries. Then, my body just literally started forcing me to rest more. I couldn’t read or watch movies without falling asleep. My progress, both in and out of the gym, plateaued. When I got sick, it took a lot longer for me to recover than it should have. I was a bit of a hot mess. 🙂

So why I am sharing these experiences with you? Because quite honestly, I’ve had enough of it and I want this kind of mentality gone. We’ve got enough imbalance, stress, and guilt to deal with.

Being fit is not about who can do the most or go the longest or endure the most pain. Ignoring pain signals, working out when you’re really sick or already exhausted, making yourself vomit or super sore on a regular basis… these things are not healthy. The all-or-nothing attitude is what leads to burnout, injury, or not even beginning in the first place!

When I started prioritizing rest and allowing myself to rest more, what do you know, I actually became less anxious and more productive! It was like a weight was lifted off of my chest (which probably seems counter-intuitive: most of us seem to think that if we’re resting more, we will be getting less done).

2F7B3475 (1280x853)

 

Let’s get away from go hard or go home, perfection or nothing! True health is not found in the person who needs the least amount of rest, but in the person who has found the perfect balance of work to rest. As Dan John puts it: You have to have the courage to do less.

Do you?

~

Next time, we’ll go over some practical ideas for what this looks like so stay tuned for Part 2! But for now I’ll leave you with this one final quote:

“The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life. (W. Muller)

We have lost connection to the simple but profound message of the Twenty-third Psalm: “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” *

 

*All quotes from: The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz. I highly recommend. 😉

 

How much cardio should I do?

Another email question from a reader:

Hey Beth! Are there benefits to doing both short high intensity workouts, then slower longer intensity workouts? Or alternating every day? My main goal would be to get leaner and stronger. I guess I’m wondering if there’s any point to doing longer cardio sessions if they’re not doing me any better (calorie-wise) than 15-30 minute intervals?

Ah yes. I get this question ALL the time. Especially since it’s become a pretty hot topic in the last few years. With all the hoopla, I get how you could feel confused about how much and what kind of cardio you should be doing. Believe me, I get it. Back in college, I too was a cardio queen. I ran 6 days a week religiously. So when I was first introduced to the concept of intervals, I was pretty hesitant to give up my steady-state cardio!!

So allow me to break it down for ya, short and sweet, right here, right now….

Reasons to do steady-state cardio

1) You simply enjoy it. It’s true , there really are people out there that do! (Just kidding…sort of. 😉 ) Seriously though, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: THE best way to stay motivated and consistent is to do what you love.

2) Stress management – The answer to your first question is, yes, there are some benefits to steady-state cardio! Getting outside, alone with your thoughts, and sweating it out can definitely relieve stress. But again, ONLY if you enjoy it! If you despise it and only do it because you think you have to then it’s likely to make you more stressed out instead of less.

Dont-Put-Me-Down-For-Cardio

Reasons NOT to do steady-state cardio

1) Joint health – High impact, repetitive movements wear down your joints big time. Especially if you’re overweight! If you want to be a runner, prepare your body for it first by strengthening the leg and core muscles and losing weight. If you are a runner, give your body a break and switch it up some!

2) To counteract overeating – Honestly steady-state cardio just doesn’t burn that many calories. So if you think you can throw down a crap ton of pizza and then go run or ‘elliptical’ it off, you are sorely mistaken…no matter how long you go. Calorie burning pretty much stops the minute you stop. With intervals, you will increase your calorie burn for the next 24 hours! That means a MUCH higher amount of calories burned.

3) To lose weight – The reason steady-state cardio has been getting such a bad rap lately is because we have found a better way for people to lose weight and get in shape and yet most people still try to run it off. Yes, you can lose fat by running. Unfortunately the longer you go, the more efficient your body becomes and the less calories you will burn running the same amount!

4) To tone up – If you’re looking to tone up your legs, your best option is getting in the weight room! Period. If you’re looking to tone up your arms, best option is to pick up some heavy stuff. Want to lift and tone your butt? Squats, Deadlifts, lunges, swings, is where it’s at. You get the idea…. 🙂

So is there any point in doing longer cardio sessions instead of intervals?

The answer is no, you do not need to do any steady-state cardio in order to get leaner and stronger. While managing stress is, I think, essential for fat loss and overall health, there are many ways to do that.

So how much cardio should you do?

Basically you’re looking for the minimum effective dosage. I’ve yet to have a client who needed to do any steady-state cardio to reach their fat loss goals. If you are my client and your #1 goal is fat loss and/or strength, then here’s what your priorities are gonna look like:

#1. Nutrition
#2. Lifting
#3. Intervals
#4. Steady-state cardio

**Learn to train smarter, not harder, and you can most likely get away with just 1-2 interval sessions a week and zero steady-state cardio. Woo hoo!

So what can I do if I love to run, but would still like to get leaner and stronger?

 The good news is there is a way! They’re called sprints!

Sprints are basically the best of both worlds as they are, in fact, just running intervals! So here are three of my favorite ways to do sprints:

  • Hill sprints – Find a hill, sprint up it, walk down it, repeat for 5-15 reps. 🙂
  • Rest-based sprints – Got this from Jill Coleman and I love it. Sprint for 30 seconds, rest as long as you need. Sprint 45 seconds, rest as long as you need. Sprint 60 seconds, rest as long as you need. Repeat as many times as you can in 20 minutes.
  • Sports/Games – basketball, soccer, football, ultimate frisbee, red rover….need I go on?  😉

For those who are NOT interested in running, I give you this little number:

*By the way, this is a pretty intense interval workout. If you are a beginner, you might want to cut it back to 2-3 rounds to start!

One last note and then I will be done. I think most of us think of lifting for building muscle and cardio for burning fat. This is quite over simplified and just not true. You’d be much better off taking all that time and energy you’re putting into your cardio sessions and put that into improving your diet instead.

If you have to do cardio, what’s your favorite way to get it done? Share below!

The Best Fat Burning Workouts

I say all the time on facebook that movement is life. Your body was made to move and it loves to move. Which is why I’m always telling people that sitting for long periods of time is one of the hardest things for it!! When it comes to the human body, it really is a “move it or lose it” type situation. So I encourage everyone to simply MOVE MORE. More movement is always better than no movement….no matter what kind of movement it is. (Have I said the word move enough yet? 🙂 )

I’m also a big fan of finding things you ENJOY doing for movement/exercise (however you want to look at it). 🙂 So for those who are still trying to find something they enjoy doing, I thought I’d list a few of the best workouts that provide both a slimming and toning effect at the same time!

1) Best Cardio Group Ex Class – Spinning

Spinning is an great way to get your intervals in! It’s really good for slimming but not as awesome for toning…except for dem quadz. 😉

2) Best Group Ex Class – Kickboxing

Not only is this a great way to blow off some steam, but kick boxing will have your lunges burning and your muscles aching. Not to mention, using so many muscle groups simultaneously burns major amounts of calories, boosts your metabolism, and will both burn fat and build muscle tone.

3)  Best Gym Workout – Combination exercises

Combination exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time, which in turn also gets the cardiovascular system rocking as well! Check out the video below for a few example of this. You can also achieve a similar effect by doing multiple exercises back-to-back with little or no rest. This kind of workout will increase your metabolism by working multiple systems at once which leads to a definite slimming and toning effect.

4)  Best At-Home Workout – Body Weight Circuits

You’d be surprised how sore you can get from using just your body weight. Not that soreness is a great indicator of effectiveness, but in this case body weight exercises are extremely effective. Between the internet and some pretty creative people, there are now progressions out the wazoo for beginners and advanced fitness junkies alike. Anyone can get a great workout with no equipment at all!

5) Best At-Home Cardio Workout- Sprinting

While sprinting is not appropriate for everyone, it is one of the best ways I’ve found to break through plateaus. Sure, it requires maximum effort but with minimum time commitment and no equipment! It’s a fantastic ab workout. It will send your metabolism through the roof. AND it offers tons of variety! (examples being hills, timed, distance, various sports, etc.)

Hill sprints also gives the dogs a good workout as well :)

Hill sprints with the fam 🙂

 

6) Best Recovery Workout – Walking

It’s the most basic and fundamental movement of the body.

In normal workouts, you’re lifting and twisting and really pushing your lungs and your muscles. To balance that out, you want movement that restores and rejuvenates your mind & body – like walking. Whether it’s in the mountains or around your neighborhood, walking is excellent for hormone balance and stress management and should really be viewed as more of a necessity than an occasional light workout option. (If you’re interested, I go into a little more depth on this over here.)

7) Best Feel-like-a-kid-again Workout :

*Low Impact – Bike Riding

*High Impact – Tie between Sports & Jump Rope

Yep, all of these exercises will make you feel like a kid again….except you’ll remember it being a lot easier back then! 😉

8) Best All Around Workout – Kettlebells

Come ooon, ya had to know I would end here. 🙂 There’s a reason I decided to invest some serious money and start my own kettlebell classes – because I find them to be the most efficient and enjoyable way to workout! They are low impact. They don’t take up much space. They teach you how to move better. They are extremely versatile and offer a total body workout with minimum time commitment. Plus, they’re just fun! 😀 If you’re interested in learning more, here are some more on the whys and hows.

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**Ultimately, the best workout is the one you enjoy! If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll never stick with it and consistency is key to making it part of your lifestyle!

Think I missed something? Share your favorite way to sweat over on my facebook page!

*If you’re interested in learning how to use kettlebells and live in the Colorado Springs area, check out Springs Kettlebells!!

 

4 Ways to Make Change Easier

Let’s just admit this right now, change is hard. It’s rarely convenient and sometimes it really just sucks. In the health and fitness realm, nutrition is by far one of the hardest things for most of us to change. I know this from experience….

When I got into fitness in college, I was still eating whatever I wanted. I figured that if I trained hard enough I could compensate for eating whatever I wanted. So I put all my effort in at the gym in order to “earn” my food and I could throw down with the best of them…..(OK, maybe not quite like Joey. 🙂 )

This actually worked for a while, but it eventually started catching up with me. My body wasn’t where I wanted it to be and more importantly, I didn’t feel very good because my body just simply couldn’t handle all the crap anymore.

My first few attempts at changing didn’t last long. I thought if I was going to be a trainer I had to eat the perfect diet, but I just didn’t seem to have it in me. I beat myself up and figured I could never help people if I had no self control or discipline myself.  I felt helpless, being torn between not wanting my life to be consumed with food prep and never being able to eat sweets or eat out but I also was fed up with feeling bloated and like food controlled me.  So how did a food-lover like myself finally find some success?

Here’s where I finally started…..

Pick something…pick anything!

I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I don’t care. 🙂 Pick one thing to work on. I know, I know, that takes too long. We want results and we want them now. The problem with that is we have years and years of certain eating habits built into us. So just like you didn’t get out of shape overnight, it’s going to take some time to build up new habits to replace the old ones.

Here’s the thing: I want you to think about how long you’ve been trying to change the way you eat. Now go back to the first time you tried to change your eating habits and think about how far you’d be if you had started with a habit, worked at it until it was set, and then built on that.

It’s sounds so reasonable, but it’s hard to drown out this culture of quick fixes and instant gratification. We look at the 30 lbs in 30 days diet and think, “I could do just about anything for 30 days!” The problem comes 30 days after that, when we are either right back where we started (or heavier) or we have developed a binge/deprive cycle because that’s the only way we know how to stick with the program.

faddiets

The time is gonna pass either way. In a year, you could be right where you are now or you could commit to those small habits, build on them as you get better and better, and have 12 to 24 new habits that have you looking and feeling better. Dare I say, that almost sounds enjoyable. 😉

Make it easier

Life has got enough ups and downs and challenges as it is and willpower is exhaustible. There will always be an excuse. If you want to make a lasting change, you have to make it easy enough that you know for certain you can do it no matter what life throws at you.. These little changes might not feel like you’re doing enough, but trust me, you are. Willpower is like a muscle, the more consistently you train it the bigger and stronger it becomes. As you continue, these things will become habits that you don’t even have to think about!

So back to making it easier. Most of us eat (or at least prepare) the majority of our meals at home. So maybe that’s where you start. Find healthy new recipes, plan out the grocery list, and stock your fridge and pantry as necessary. Don’t worry about eating out or what you’re going to do at friends’ houses, just focus on what you eat at home.

If that feels like too much, make your focus smaller. Ask yourself, what can I change?

Can you start trying out a healthier dinner option a few times a week? Can you hard boil a batch of eggs and have them peeled and ready as an easy way to add more protein to your breakfast?  Can you change out your sandwich at lunch for a salad, wrap, or a bun-less burger? Can you replace the late night sweet with a protein shake or a piece of fruit? Can you skip the second helping?

The key here is to not let yourself get bogged down by crossing bridges you may never get to. Zero in on the target until you can easily hit it every time. Then simply move on to the next. You just might be surprised how little it takes to see change sometimes.

Forget the rules and learn what works for you

It’s actually been scientifically proven that when we are told we can’t have something, our desire for that thing increases. So what if, instead of a list of “good” and “bad” foods, no food was off limits.  What if we dropped the guilt and stopped beating ourselves up every time we slip up? This was big for me. When I stopped putting all sorts of foods on the “bad” list, I stopped binging on sweets and my ability to feel in control skyrocketed. However I ask myself these few questions first…

-Is this gonna help or hurt my goals?

-Am I gonna feel better or worse after I’ve eaten this? (body, not mindset, wise. Remember: no guilt!)

-Is this something I really want and how often do I get a chance to have this?

-Is it worth it?

Over time, you’ll learn what foods are worth it and which ones aren’t….for you. No it’s not easy at first, but it become easier as your body starts to look and feel better, your preferences start to change, and you build up your will power.

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Focus on  ADDING

Instead of focusing on all the things you “shouldn’t” have, start focusing on what you can add into your diet to make it better. The more protein you add into each meal the less room there will be for other things. The more healthy recipes you start add to the menu, the less room there is for other less healthy recipes. The water you drink, the less cravings and less soda you’ll have room for.

How about adding some intermediary foods? These are the foods that bring you down off the ledge. These are foods that make you feel like you’re indulging without derailing your goals. They keep you sane and satiated but also help build up that will power. Liiiiike wine, avocados, nut butters, or chocolate. Because what is life without a little chocolate?!

There are also some cool websites out there, like this one, that offer tons of great ways to substitute flour with protein powder and make delectable baked goods like this:

It's a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June's almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!......ahem, anyways back to my post

It’s a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June’s almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!……ahem, anyways back to my post

See, what I’m really trying to do here is get you to look at nutrition from a different mindset. A much healthier mindset.  Fat loss is a process, but it can be a positive one! It doesn’t have to involve crazy deprivation/binge cycles or you just white knuckling your way through it. You won’t always do it perfectly, but if you persist I promise it will be worth it! No more searching and confusion, no more money down the drain on another fad diet, no more yo-yo dieting that leaves you feeling worse than before, no more guilt and self-loathing; just YOU knowing what works for YOU. So don’t be afraid to start small. Don’t roll your eyes at it either. Like most change, there’s never a perfect time for it. Ya just gotta start.

 

3 fat loss strategies that are so simple even your dog can do them

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I’m back and super excited about this post. I think these things are super awesome and offer big returns on little investment. Who doesn’t love that?!

When it comes to fat loss, 99% of the time we talk about fitness and nutrition. But there are other strategies that aren’t talked about as much, but can absolutely help (or hinder) your progress.  And the most exciting part??  They are simple. So simple in fact that your dog could do any one of them. How’s that for simple?!

So I’m just gonna get right to it. Three simple things you can be doing to increase fat loss…..

1. Drink more water.

water

I know I’ve gone over this before, but seriously, there’s a reason doctors and fitness experts have been saying it for years….because it works.

Here are just a few ways being hydrated will help you lose fat….

*Your hunger cues will decrease and will be much more accurate. Because most of us don’t drink enough, our bodies have become accustomed to getting water through food. So instead of feeling thirsty, our body sends us hunger signals when we are dehydrated. Next time you’re hungry when you think you shouldn’t be, try drinking a big glass of water and giving it 10-15 minutes. If you’re still hungry after that, then maybe it’s time to have a snack.

*Your metabolism will be faster. The process of burning calories requires an adequate supply of water in order to function efficiently; dehydration slows down the fat-burning process.

*Water lubricates your joints and helps your muscles contract more efficiently, therefore your workouts will be more productive.

*Add a little lemon and it helps your liver flush out toxins in your body.

…so drink up! A good measurable goal is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces every day. (example: 150 lb person would need 75 ounces a day.) However you can also just start with a big glass in the morning to give yourself a good head start and then start carrying around a water bottle and try to sip on it throughout the day.

2. Walk 30 to 60 minutes a day.

We have dogs, so this is a bit easier for us because we have 2 little accountability partners that sit there and stare at us until we walk them.

dog pic

I mean…come on

The thing is, in this age of gyms and fancy equipment and Crossfit, I think we tend to overlook anything that seems too easy. Because of that, walking has become one of the most underrated exercises. Let me just list some of the benefits of walking…

*First of all, the more you move throughout the day the better. Always.

*It’s a great low impact exercise that is completely free and you can do it anywhere.

*It’s been shown to decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and certain forms of cancer.

*It gets you outside which has been shown to improve mental health and stress levels, which in turn improves energy and productivity. Plus, it gets you your daily dose of vitamin D. That’s like 5 benefits right there!

*When combined with strength training, it creates an awesome fat-burning effect!

Walking is a magical exercise because it regulates your hormonal stress response in a positive way. Walking lowers stress hormones, sensitizes insulin, and ensures a constant steady release of the metabolic messengers….Walking should not be seen as exercise but rather as a necessity. ~ The Metabolic Effect Diet

I walk shorter on the days that I lift or do intervals and longer on the days that I don’t. It’s not always easy. I often find myself  fighting it because I feel like I have more important things to do. Sometimes that means I cut the walk short, and often times getting out the door is the hardest part. But once I’m out, I end up going the whole time because it’s so enjoyable.

3. Get 8 to 9 hours of good quality sleep.

I used to be that person that bragged about being able to run on 4 to 6 hours of sleep. Looking back, it was a stupid thing to brag about, because, first of all, who really cares,  and besides that, I was doing way more damage than good to my body. I have struggled for years with hormonal imbalances. Not so coincidentally, those imbalances started about half way through college – which is also when I started sleeping a lot less.

God tells us He gives us sleep because he loves us. (Psalm 127:1-2) I’ve always assumed it simply meant that He was being nice by giving us a “forced break”, if you will.  While that’s true, I’ve learned recently that there’s a lot more to it than just a forced rest time. Why is it that we feel so much better and refreshed when we get a good night’s sleep??  God set up sleep to do a whole host of amazing things in our bodies. Instead of listing all the scientific specifics (say that 5 times fast), let’s just say that sleep is like hitting a big honking reset button each day. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, hormonally, and metabolically.

The thing is you have to get good quality sleep and enough of it. This was hard for me at first because I had to change up my schedule a little but I’m finding the benefits to far outweigh the costs. (And that’s why we have the ability to record our shows, right?!? So I don’t have to worry about watching them right away!)

When you do, God made sleep to be “the ultimate anti-aging, muscle-building, fat-burning, and mood-enhancing process the body has available to it”. (The Metabolic Effect Diet)

No wonder, then, when she was asked recently in People mag what her number one beauty secret was, Jennifer Aniston said getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water.

jennifer-aniston-fat-loss

I think we can all agree that these things are simple, but not always easy.  That is why I gave you measurable goals for each. But remember, make them easy enough to implement so that you know you will and then commit to it.

I don’t know if you noticed this, but the really cool thing about all of these strategies is that they do much more than just burn fat. They regulate hormones and help manage stress, which have been shown to make people happier, healthier, and thinner. I’m not giving you these things to add stress, but rather because I believe these things will enhance your life! So if you need to change around your schedule a bit or record that TV show and watch it later, isn’t that worth it?

So You Wanna Look Like A Superhero… (part 2)

In part 1, I talked about why it’s unrealistic and detrimental to your body and mind to compare yourself to anyone or expect perfection, but what can we take away from our actor friends? The obvi answer is that while they might not look like the perfected version we see on screen or in pics, they do still have to get into good enough shape to look fit!  So what’s their secret?! The answers might surprise you….

When asked what she did to get in shape for Black Widow, Scarlett Johannson’s typical reply is, “I workout like a dude.”

To help Anne Hathaway build muscle and learn to ‘move and react like a cat,’ Anne’s trainer put her through ‘grueling’ routines of squats, lunges, strength training, kettlebells, and intensive circuit training, including ‘box jumps, pull-ups and handstand push-ups.’

Jennifer Garner was known for getting up early to get an hour of full body circuit training in before shooting began.

Jessica Biel’s trainer puts her through circuited weight training and they end with high intensity cardio work, like sprints.

superhero women

So let me break down for you what all of these ladies do to get into awesome shape.

They Strength Train.

You’ll notice, in the picture above, they all look great. That’s 4 different body types that all did strength training and none of them look “bulky”. Whether it’s body weight exercises or with weight, all of these ladies are doing one variation or another of the same big movements:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pushes (push ups, bench press)
  • Pulls (rows, pull ups)
  • Core work (planks)
  • Hinge movements (deadlifts, swings)

I’m gonna give you a trainer secret right here. Take a look at any athlete, actor, model, trainer, or fitness enthusiast’s workout and you’ll usually see a common thread woven through all their workouts. It’s these movements above and it’s because they work.

lifting

Jennifer & Jessica- lifting weights

Sure there’s always accessory stuff as well. Sometimes to zero in on specific areas, sometimes to keep it fresh and keep the body guessing. But the above exercises are the foundation. Get really good at them and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger, leaner, fitter version of yourself.

They Include High Intensity, Explosive Cardio.

Kettlebells, running sprints, metabolic circuits, these are all versions of high intensity, explosive interval training. Interval training is simply alternating between high and low intensity exercises. The idea is to jack up your heart rate with super higher intensity moves (like sprints, swings, or box jumps) for a shorter period of time, then you alternate between rest and really high intensity work. This is the ideal cardio to rev up your metabolism and fat burning potential.

This type of training is a great substitute for long slow cardio. Even though it’s more intense, it’s been shown that more people stick to it because it takes less time and is more effective in burning fat while keeping muscle tone and improving heart health.

Jessica Biel running sprints

Jessica Biel running sprints

 

They Do Full Body Circuits.

Splitting up the muscle groups and working a different one each day is a body building tactic. Since most actresses and women are just looking to get stronger and more toned, full body circuits is the more efficient way to train. Circuits usually consist of 4 to 10 exercises that you do back to back. Each exercise works a different body part and you move quickly from one exercise to the next with little rest.

The reason most trainers use this is because it’s an ideal way to get the heart rate up and improve strength and muscle tone all in a small amount of time. Again this has major fat burning potential by taxing the whole body and the cardiovascular system at the same time.

They Kept Their Nutrition In Check.

Rarely do you hear an actress talk about getting in shape without mentioning a strict nutrition plan. None of these ladies would have gotten the same results without watching what they ate. Now this goes back to what I was saying in part 1 about having a specific end goal. It is always easier to be really strict with your nutrition when there is an end in sight. (When you hear most actresses talk about it, it would seem they eat pretty healthy on a regular basis but they go really strict when preparing for a movie.)

The point is, if you want to look and feel fit, you must take a look at (and most likely change) your eating habits. Start by keeping a food journal. Nowadays that is much easier with all the apps out there like Calorie King or My Fitness Pal. Sure it’s still kind of inconvenient, but you don’t have to do it forever and it will help raise your awareness so that you can start figuring what needs to change. Most women will realize they are eating too many fats or carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein. But try it out for yourself and see!

In short, for best results your workouts should prioritize full body strength training. Shorten your cardio sessions but bump up the intensity. Start that food journal! And if you feel completely lost or feel like you’ve tried these things without any success, hire an expert and do what they tell you to do. (Trainers are another thing the Hollywood types have in common. ;))

There’s still no quick fix, even for the rich and famous. (OK, no natural quick fix.) But if you’re willing to work at it, you can look and feel amazing! Most importantly remember: Start small. Focus on one habit at a time and make it so easy you can’t fail!

Just another example of actresses lifting some legit heavy weights and not getting big or bulky. (Skip to 1:10-2:05 for the good part.)