Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eat for Performance, Not Just Prevention

     It's easy to ask yourself where you don't want to be in life. The same question applies when we work out. It seems that too much of our energy today is devoted to preventing where we don't want to be, rather than just striving for where we should be. 
You don't have to be an elite athlete or simply in amazing shape to eat towards your fitness goals. When walking through the grocery store, there are so many food products that "prevent weight gain"or "prevent heart disease". Why do we have our heads geared toward such negative consequences? Have we as a society set the bar so low that we have to eat things just to prevent heart disease? Is heart disease now considered inevitable unless we fight against it? Our bodies don't naturally assume heart disease or even type II diabetes for that matter. We do all of the hard work ourselves to get there. 
     We will be much better off putting our energy into incorporating a healthy diet for a healthy lifestyle. Eating as a person in a "weight loss zone" trying to avoid obesity by drinking slim fast shakes and eating meal replacement bars is not the real solution. "Workout foods" are basically the bars and products which are manufactured by "south beach diet" or other large corporations that advertise through mediums such as food.  Why doesn't a banana have a label on it saying it's great for part of a post-work out snack? Or a piece of chicken that has a label about it's wonders in building lean body mass. It almost makes too much sense.
     Ok, so what's your first step when eating during your healthy life style? You have to work with your metabolism (the rate at which we burn food for energy). Your metabolism is sky high in the morning! As the day goes on the rate of our metabolism slows down... This means we burn calories from the food we eat at a slower rate. That being said, when is the best time to eat a bigger meal of the day? Oh, "In the morning" you say?!?! You guessed right (if you are wrong, just go along with it!), eating a bigger meal in the morning versus at night 
will allow our bodies to burn more calories efficiently. This results in a smaller chance of excess "un-burned" calories from our meal. This is wonderful because all of those un-burned calories turn into storage (a very nice way of saying fat). 
    The next thing to think about is eating small meals (that contain both protein and carbohydrates) around every 3 hours. Think of your metabolism as a bond fire. In order to keep the fire going you can't just throw a gigantic log in it, you have to consistently feed it small pieces of wood. The same thing goes for our meals, eating a really big meal, aka a gigantic log, slows the metabolism down. In order to keep our metabolisms burning at a faster rate we need to eat small meals so we can burn up those calories more efficiently. Consistent small meals also tell the body that it doesn't have to go into starvation mode and hold onto fat for survival. If you are one that waits every 6 or 7 hours to eat something, you are asking your body to store fat and prepare for starvation (it's like a self defense mechanism). 
    Now, as your body adapts to this and you begin to detail your goals and activity, your body is going to require a more specific nutrition routine. That's where all the fun starts! Good Luck!

wait!!.... and one more tip. Try the three hour rule. Every time you are about to eat a meal, ask yourself "What is my body doing in the next 3 hours?". If the answer is running a marathon, you may want to kick the calories up a little bit! However, if the answer is taking a nap followed by TV, dropping some of those calories may be best. Learning to eat in relation to our calorie expenditure can be very beneficial.

OK, Now Good Luck for real!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Who Knew Maps Can Help You Work Out?!?

Logging your workouts is a great way to measure your progress and plan for your future goals. I'm a big fan of writing down exercise routines in order to improve workout sessions. This works great in a gym environment because you can bring a pen and pad and go crazy logging in between sets. But what about when you exercise outside? I love running, and despite my injury at the moment, I always wanted to know how far each run was. Unlike a gym, I'm not going to bring a little notebook and log the details of my run while I'm in the middle of it. If I know where my mile markers are during my route I can see if I'm on pace or in need of readjustment.

Both myself and the Priority Fitness running group uses Map My Run to design a running route. This site is brilliant! To start, all you have to do is log in your coordinates (or just type your address). Once you are pinpointed on your map, click and drag the marker where ever you plan on running. The marker will document where you are running and also add up your mileage! Now you can actually know if that run in the park you've been doing for 10 years is the actual amount of miles you thought it was.

This site is extremely convenient if you want to stay on a certain pace. You can now identify the landmark of your "mile-markers". If you want to run an 8 minute mile, you'll know where you need to be every 8 minutes... Wonderful!

This site is also very useful if you are training for an event. Being that membership is free, you can create a personalized profile that saves all of your runs. Looking at your progress over the course of a whole training program is extremely beneficial. You can compare past training routines to new ones. This allows you to analyze your strong points and weak points. It can also help you understand how your body responds to different runs. The creativity is up to you!

... And for all of you cyclists and triathletes out there, these sites are just for you.. Map My Ride, Map My Tri

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Time Has Finally Come-- Your Park Workout!

Hey everybody, sorry about the "no-post" last week. Priority Fitness has had a very busy past couple of days. One of the reasons for being so busy is because we have started training outside in the wonderful weather of Prospect Park! The outdoors has been treating our running class great. We have been breezing through our training program and are psyched for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. The other outdoors workouts have been personal training sessions in the park . 

        It's been so uplifting to see the Prospect Park full of people again. Besides the trees and flowers getting ready to be in full bloom, we are too! In other words, more people are working out now and taking advantage of the outdoors. Picnics and BBQs are also an addition to nice weather, but how about a nice workout in the park before them?!?!

         I have designed a quick circuit training routine meant to be outside on some form of grass. The exercises require only  you and some effort.  Here are some links from one of my favorite websites Hyper Strike for the exercises.  The circuit is at the bottom of the page. 

Squat Thrusts

Jumping Jacks

Box Shuffles

Push Ups or Pike Press

Jumping Lunge (and with rotation)

Bear Crawl


Spider Crawl

Try each one of these exercises for either 45-90 seconds for 3-5 sets. The intensity is all based upon your effort and physical condition. Remember, every workout should be accompanied by a nice warmup, efficient cool down, and stretching.

Good Luck!!