Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Hey fit fam! 4th post of October! Whoo-hoo! I'm on a roll now! Lol! :) I have to give myself a small pat on the back because as you long time Confessions of a Fit Girl readers know, I'm not one of those bloggers who writes a blog everyday, or even every week for that matter, so this is an accomplishment.

So the topic of this post? METABOLISM. Question: Can you really boost it? Answer: In one word, YES. I was in a conversation the other day with two other people who were talking about about their metabolism changing since they hit 30, and how there's just nothing you can do about it. (One person just turned 30 this year and the other is in they're late 30s-almost 40.) I remained silent, not really wanting to give my opinion on the matter. But it did get me to thinking... are they wrong? Well... yes and no. Once you hit around the age of 30, on average, our metabolisms do tend to slow down. That's a fact that can't be disputed. But the rate of how much it slows down and/or how long it takes to slow down is completely up to you! I just turned 30 this year and my metabolism is faster now than it's ever been and if I continue on the current path that I'm on, it will only get faster! I predict I can keep the slowing metabolism monster for quite awhile, I'd say until around age 50 or 60. How you ask? Keep reading!

What is "Metabolism"? 

So before we begin, let's start out with a definition of what exactly "metabolism" is. Metabolism is the amount of energy (calories) your body burns to maintain itself. Whether you are eating, drinking, sleeping, cleaning, ... etc., your body is constantly burning calories to keep you going.

After you chew and swallow food, it goes to the stomach. Digestion and
Absorption occur. After the nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream
and travel to all cells of the body METABOLISM occurs.

Metabolism is affected by your body composition. By body composition, I mean the amount of muscle you have versus the amount of fat. Muscle uses more calories to maintain itself than fat. People who are more muscular (and have a lower percentage of body fat) are said to have a higher metabolism than others that are less muscular. For example, let's say you have two people who are the exact same height and weight. One exercises on a regular basis with weights, in addition to aerobic exercise, and has a low percentage of body fat. The other never exercises and has a higher percentage of body fat. The first person who exercises will have a higher metabolism than the second person. What this basically means is that person #1's body will use more calories to sustain itself than person #2.

Genetics also plays a roll. Everyone has a different bone structure and body type. It's not realistic to think that everyone can look like the Baywatch beauties or like Arnold Schwartzenagger. However, given your body type and genetic make-up, you can exercise (with weights and aerobically) to look the best that YOU can.

After the age of 30, your body gradually begins to lose it's muscle. If your activity level stays the same and the amount of calories you eat stay the same, you will gain weight because your metabolism has slowed down (you don't have as much muscle as you did in your 20's). If you exercise with weights and do some type of aerobic activity on a regular basis, you probably won't notice much of a change in your metabolism as you age at all! That's right I said it - AT ALL!

So the big question is...

How Do I Increase My Metabolism?

I answered the question of whether boosting your metabolism was possible earlier and of course the answer is yes, but HOW? It's simple: EXERCISE and STOP DIETING!

You can increase your muscle mass by doing some type of resistance work (i.e. - lifting weights, using exercise tubes, stretch bands, hand weights, kettlebells... etc.). You can also decrease your level of body fat by doing some type of aerobic exercise at least 3 days a week for longer than 20 minutes. By aerobic exercise, I mean an activity, such as walking, jogging, step aerobics, hi/low aerobics, biking, swimming... etc., that will increase your heart rate into its' target zone and keep it there for the duration of the exercise session.

You need to eat! Don't diet! I always recommend counting your calories and maintaining proper portion control, but other than that, just watch the types of foods you eat. Try to eat a diet that is lower in fat (check the labels on the foods that you buy). I have followed my own advice and done the same this year, with a cleaner diet and more weight training than ever before and have gotten some amazing results! A clean diet of healthy, low-fat foods, aerobics & weight training, and I swear you'll be looking in the mirror in around 6 months not even recognizing the person staring back at you! (And for all those who don't like to weight train or have their doubts, I know this is especially true for a lot of the ladies, check out my last blog where I talked about the benefits of weight training, "Weight Training: Yay or Nay? And Why.")

6 Ways To Rev Up Your Metabolism

1. Exercise is No. 1!
As I said before, EXERCISE! Working out builds muscle. Muscle speeds metabolism. As the body works more efficiently, it processes food faster and your appetite increases, so don't be surprised when you start feeling the need to eat something every 3 - 4 hours. This is totally normal. And don't worry, like I said before, don't diet! Feel free to grab a light snack whenever you truly feel the need. Working out and especially weight training, burns A LOT of calories! Calories are your body's energy and you need to replace it build a strong, healthy you. Men, being the more muscular sex, generally burn more calories than a woman of the same weight. Lucky them! (Unfair, I know, lol.)

2. Don't skip meals Like I said, you're probably going to feel the need to eat every 3-4 hours, maybe even every 2 hours if you had a really heavy (weight) lift day. Generally try to space meals 3-4 hours apart. That way you have enough energy throughout the day and you'll be free of the headaches, hunger pangs or mood swings you get when you're famished. Eating erratically signals the body to burn slower and conserve fat. The way to lose more fat than muscle is to follow a balanced nutrition and exercise plan which promotes an average weight loss rate of 1-2 pounds per week.

3. Food affects mood What you eat influences your metabolism and mood, making you either sluggish or energetic. Foods high in sugar, saturated fats, artificial sweeteners and low in water and fiber will slow digestion, can cause weight gain and leave you feeling like a couch potato.
Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, fresh herbs and spices provide the proteins, carbohydrates and fats that give you energy and even blood sugar levels. Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, fish-oils, seeds, nuts, soybeans) promote longer-lasting, stable energy levels. Lean proteins (fish, soy foods, white meat poultry, lean meats and low-fat dairy) offer essential proteins for better digestion and muscle building. By drinking 8 glasses of water each day, you will have better digestion (better emptying of the stomach and intestines, less gas, bloating, constipation... etc.), and staying hydrated also reduces headaches and fights fatigue. 

You should also get pleasure from eating. Even if adding a piece of dark chocolate is your wish, go for it, one square at a time, as it aids in happy brain chemistry and adds a natural bitter which aids digestion. Improving digestion this way also strengthens the liver, kidneys and lungs, all which facilitate a healthier metabolism.
As your metabolism increases, you'll feel more energetic, lighter — and hungrier. But don't worry. As digestion improves, the stomach empties more regularly and you feel thinner in the waistline and less full in the chest. People who have a faster metabolism have fewer food cravings and feel more in control of their eating.

4. Stay cool
Colder weather increases metabolism in order to keep the body warm. By keeping indoor temperatures cooler and exercising outdoors, you can also burn more calories. Now I'm not usually one for outdoor exercising, especially in the winter, but you can always keep your house a little cooler in the winter months as you exercise indoors. Helps with the metabolism and also lightens the heat bill! ;)

5. Don't get stuck in a rut
Some dieters get stuck at a certain weight. To keep your weight from plateauing, you must make small changes to keep your body from adapting to a routine of eating the same amount of calories. 
If you can't lose those last five pounds, try adding  a couple hundred calories more a day for two weeks and then return to a lesser amount. Sounds kinda' crazy, I know, to say to a dieter, eat more, but this has been show to work! Over time this strategy will allow you to increase the amount of calories you can eat and continue to lose weight. (Pretty sweet, huh?)
6. Be patient The key is to be persistent, have confidence and be PATIENT. It may take you some time to increase your metabolism — three months is a reasonable timeframe to expect to see changes. It took around that time for me, and as you continue to progress, your metabolism will follow suit, so hang in there! If you are having a hard time losing weight, you might consider having your metabolism tested by a professional nutritionist.

Soon you will feel healthier and stronger, and in time you will see the results of a toned, healthier body. Best of all, you will have a clearer understanding of what makes your body feel and work better, so you will be able to more effectively control your weight for years to come.

Sources: www.msnbc.msn.com and "What is Metabolism and Why Is It Important?" by Lisa Balbach

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Weight Training: Yay Or Nay? And Why.

Hey fitness fanatics! It's me again! 3rd post of October! Can you believe it's mid-October already?!? I don't know about you, but for me, this year has just flown by! We've only got 2 more weeks until November and it will be Thanksgiving before you know it! Then Christmas, and then the new year... crazy, huh?
I hope all my posts this year have helped to motivate and encourage everyone to stay on the right track. I understand there are often bumps in the road (I'm not immune, check out my recent set back earlier this year), but the important thing is to realize that you're falling off course and get right back on the path of healthy living (i.e - exercising and eating healthy).

So, let's get straight to the topic of this post: Weight Training: Yay or Nay? Well, unless this is your very first Confessions of a Fit Girl post, you should already know my answer to that one: YAY OF COURSE! I'm definitely a fan of weight training and used it throughout my weight loss journey to help tone & lose inches as well as pounds. While in my heavy weight loss phase, I did more cardio than weight/strength training (which is what I recommend) but I always added in at least 2 days of weight/strength training. Now that I am maintaining I do around 3 days of heavy weight training a week, but often do workouts on my cardio days that incorporate weights as well.

See the muscle definition? ;) Lookin' fit & strong! Still got a long way to go!

So why weight training?
Well, to be honest, I never fully understood the true benefits of weight training until recently - and when I say recently I mean this year. Like I said before, I always added weight/strength training into my exercise routine, I knew the power it had to tone and help lose inches, but this year I've been doing more weight training than ever, using heavier weights than ever before, and I have had some amazing results! I can see true muscle definition! And at 126 lbs and a size 4, I've literally shrunk into a smaller version of myself than I ever thought possible! But what I am loving is that even at this small size, I still look lean and strong! And I owe it all to weight training! Now don't get me wrong, I've also been eating cleaner than ever before as well, and that has a lot to do with it. As I've often said before, losing weight - and inches - is 80% diet, 20% exercise. When you get both of them working together, you can achieve great things!

The Benefits
Yes, strength training will add definition to your muscles and give men and women alike more fit and toned bodies, but working out with weights does so much more.  

Take a look at 6 reasons to add weight training to your workout plan:

  1. Weight training protects bone health and muscle mass. After puberty, whether you are a man or a woman, you begin to lose about 1 percent of your bone and muscle strength every year. One of the best ways to stop, prevent, and even reverse bone and muscle loss is to add weight training to your workouts.

  2. Weight training makes you stronger and fitter. Weight training is also called resistance training because it involves strengthening and toning your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. There are two types of resistance training: 
  • Isometric resistance involves contracting your muscles against a non-moving object, such as against the floor in a push-up. 
  • Isotonic strength training involves contracting your muscles through a range of motion as in weight lifting.

    Both make you stronger and can get you into better shape. Remember that with weight training your muscles need time to recover, so it should only be done on alternate days. Always take some time to warm up and cool down after strength training. 
  1. Weight training helps you develop better body mechanics. Weight training has benefits that go well beyond the appearance of nicely toned muscles. Your balance and coordination will improve, as will your posture. More importantly, if you have poor flexibility and balance, weight training can reduce your risk of falling by as much as 40 percent, a crucial benefit, especially as you get older.

  2. Weight training plays a role in disease prevention. Studies have documented the many wellness benefits of weight/strength training. If you have arthritis, weight training can be as effective as medication in decreasing arthritis pain.Weight training can help post-menopausal women increase their bone density and reduce the risk of bone fractures. And for the 14 million Americans with type 2 diabetes, weight training along with other healthy lifestyle changes can help improve glucose control.

  3. Weight training boosts energy levels and improves your mood. Weight training will elevate your level of endorphins, which will make you feel great. As if that isn’t enough to convince you, weight training has also been shown to be a great antidepressant, to help you sleep better, and to improve your overall quality of life.

  4. Weight training translates to more calories burned. You burn calories during weight training, and your body continues to burn calories after weight training, a process called "physiologic homework." More calories are used to make and maintain muscle than fat, and in fact weight training can boost your metabolism by 15% — that can really jumpstart a weight loss plan.

Weight Training: How Much Is Enough?
You don't have to be in the weight room for 90 minutes a day to see results. For most people, short weight training sessions several times a week are more practical than are extended daily workouts. You can see significant improvement in your strength with just two or three 20- or 30-minute weight training sessions a week. That frequency also meets activity recommendations for healthy adults, which call for strength training at least twice a week — in addition to at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity.

Popular Weight Lifting Myths
If you've spent some time in a gym or if you told people you were into weight lifting, you've most likely received a lot advice on what you should and shouldn't do. But how much truth is there behind all those things they tell you?  

Here are the top 10 weight lifting myths debunked:

MYTH #1: Weight Lifting is Dangerous.
FACT: Machines have the reputation to be safer than free weights. But studies tell a different story.
  • Weight lifting does not produce more injuries compared to machines.
  • Weight lifting injury rates are lower than in any other sport.
Weight lifting is used for (p)rehabilitation because it can prevent and fix injuries. The only way you can injure yourself, is if you use bad technique or don't control your ego. Learn the proper technique from a trained professional, use your head and you'll be safe.

MYTH #2:Weight Lifting is Bad For Your Joints.

FACT: Weight lifting is less stressful on your joints than running: it involves controlled, non-impact movements. Weight lifting will increase the health of your joints by strengthening the muscles & ligaments that hold them together.
  • Squatters have healthier knees than non Squatters. Studies performed on top powerlifters confirm that their knees are in better health than those of the general population.
  • Several StrongLifts.com readers recovering from ACL injuries or who had persistent knee problems for years, reported that their knee pain went away forever after 2-3 months of doing squats.

MYTH #3: Weight Lifting Causes High Blood Pressure.

FACT: Your blood pressure increases when you lift heavy weights, but it returns to normal after finishing your set. That's how lifting improves your cardiovascular fitness. People who lift weights with the focus on strength training have lower blood pressures than people who don't exercise. Studies show that regular weight lifting lowers your systolic & diastolic blood pressure.

MYTH #4: Weight Lifting Makes You Bulky. 

FACT: Muscle is denser than fat. You'll look slimmer at the same body-weight if you increase your muscle mass. The huge guys in muscle magazines are usually supplementing. Many skinny guys train 6x/week but struggle to gain weight. Why? Because they aren't eating enough. Getting bulky means gaining weight. And to gain weight, you must eat more. Training hard only won't do the job.

MYTH #5: Weight Lifting Makes Women Bulky.

Example of a woman who has built
FACT:  Those extremely muscular women you can find in muscle magazines had to use steroids to get to that point. As a woman you can build muscle, get stronger and improve your physique, but you'll never build as much muscle mass as men can because you have lower testosterone levels. You'll always stay feminine unless you use steroids.

MYTH #6: Weight Lifting Stunts Growth. 

FACT: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Dave Draper, FACT: Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Michael Vick, etc. They all started lifting weights in their early teens and are +6′ /1m82 tall.
The only way weight lifting can stunt your growth is if you damage your growth plate by letting the bar fall on you. But if you use proper technique, you'll be safer than with Rugby or Soccer where collisions are common.

Myth #7: Weight Lifting Decreases Flexibility.

FACT: One of the realizations people who get into weight lifting have is how inflexible they are. Years of sedentary lifestyle may have tighten your hips, preventing you to squat correctly. Weight lifting will make you regain your flexibility and maintain it. Especially the squat will give your hip muscles a full stretch. But increasing your muscle mass or strength won't reduce your flexibility at all.

Myth #8: Muscle Turns to Fat If You Stop Weight Lifting. 

FACT: Muscle NEVER turns to fat. They're different tissues.

Myth #9: Weight Lifting Increases Waist Size.

FACT: This myth comes from looking at some power lifters in the heaviest classes. Their waist is big because they're fat. And they're fat is because they only care about getting stronger - not about nutrition.
Check power lifters in the lighter classes: they all have a small waist. Squats & deadlifts work your abs hard. Everyone who does these exercises for a couple of weeks reports losing several inches waist size.

Myth #10: Weight Lifting is Boring. 

FACT: It is if you go the gym without a plan, don't pay attention to what you do when lifting and don't get results. But it won't be boring if you have a plan, get results and focus on how your body moves during a lift.
Weight lifting is a technical & intellectual sport. You shouldn't have time to get bored since you have so many things to pay attention to during the lift. And the constant challenge to add weight is anything but boring!
The real fun though is when you start getting results! :) Hard work paying off is what will get you addicted.

So have I convinced you to start weight training, yet? Start out small and work your way up. For me, I started out only being able to squat with 10lb weights, now I'm up to 25 lbs! (That's 50 lbs in total, people!) I never thought I'd be able to lift that much, but with time and patience I advanced to a whole new level! And I ain't done, yet! So watch out! ;)

Sources: www.everydayhealth.com, www.mayoclinic.com, www.stronglifts.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Confessions Of A Fit Girl... " eBook IS HERE!!!

IT'S HERE!!! Confessions Of A Fit Girl... How I Lost Over 90 Pounds and Kept It Off! is officially available on Succeed At Fitness.com! Check it out on Succeed At Fitness' new store page! Thanks and enjoy! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Genetics and Weight Loss...

Hey fitness friends! ONLY 3 MORE DAYS UNTIL MY BOOK, CONFESSIONS OF A FIT GIRL... HOW I LOST OVER 90 POUNDS AND KEPT IT OFF! IS AVAILABLE!!!! Shameless plug, I know, but I had to get it out there! Lol! I'm super excited!!! And the buzz it's been getting so far has been great so I'm hoping & praying for success! :)

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's get straight to the subject of this post: genetics and weight loss... How much do genetics play a part in your overall weight loss success? Are they really a factor? This is something that has been on my mind for awhile now so I decided to write a blog post about my thoughts on the matter. So without reading any further, what are your thoughts? What's your opinion on the subject?

Genetics DO determine your body shape.
My opinion? While genetics play a minor role in your weight loss, they're never a deciding factor on how much weight you can or cannot lose. I'll give you an example, take myself for instance, I'm genetically a curvy woman, meaning I've always had more of an hourglass shape. No matter what size I've been or what number was on the scale, this has always been the case for me; my basic shape has remained the same. This is what you call genetics. Most of the women in my father's side of the family, whom I take after, who are also built this way, are very overweight. Since I was also heading down that road before I decided to take control and lose the weight, I always thought there was no way that I could ever be as small as I am now. This is the thinking that I think a lot of women (and men too!) fall into. But my opinion, unless you have some type of genetic disease or disorder that causes you to lose or gain substantial amounts of weight, genetics play no part on the amount of weight we gain or lose. That's right, you heard me. Now I know there are those who disagree with me, but let me explain.

While genetics may make it easier (i.e - someone with a very high metabolism who can eat almost anything, in large quantities even, and never gain weight) or harder (i.e - someone who comes from a bigger framed family; short & stout, curvy, pair shaped... etc.), genetics have no baring on your weight loss success or failure. It really all depends on you and how hard you're willing to work. The word "genetics" is not your free pass to explain why you're overweight. If I'm talking to you, please hear me when I say you've got to get that way of thinking out of your head! If you don't, whenever you come to a stumbling block in your weight loss journey, genetics will be your excuse, justifying in your mind a reason to just throw in the towel and give up.

My advice? Exercise, eat healthy, work hard and then see where you end up before pulling the genetics card out and throwing it on the table.