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Friday, December 26, 2014

Right Weigh to Weigh in

How to make your weigh in accurate
Life is becoming complicated. Who would've thought there was a right way and a wrong way to do something as simple as weighing yourself?  As is often the case, there's more to this weighing-in than meets the eye.

If the only thing standing between you and physical perfection is the bathroom scale, you're about to discover that the little machine in the corner of your bathroom is no longer the enemy-that is, IF you follow these tips:


  • Weigh yourself only once a week-weighing yourself more often than  that, will make you crazy. When weighing multiple times a week, daily, or worst of all, multiple daily weigh-ins, craziness, is almost guaranteed. The scale reflects normal fluctuations in the amount of water retained in your body cavities, circulatory system and tissues (this is especially true for women, who must contend with monthly dipping and surging estrogen levels leading up to and/or during the menstrual cycle that encourage water retention.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

The #1 Way to Develop Sustained, All-Day Energy

I want THAT kind of energy
"I'm facing an energy crisis," my friend said, confessing she was on her third venti dark roast at 10:30 a.m. one recent Saturday morning. Familial obligations meant she'd blown off the gym for the past month. Her physique suffered, but so did her energy levels. A chicken-or-egg scenario resulted: She was too tired to hit the gym, but she lagged energy from hitting Dunkin Donuts rather than dead lifts.

Drinks, supplements, and all sorts of other concoctions promise boundless energy, but the real boost happens after you workout, and you can't put a price on that. You know the immediate rush after a good workout, but that same high-intensity workout can also create all-day energy.

To understand why a workout gives you energy when logic would suggest it costs energy to lift heavy, you need to understand the delicate give-and-take of how muscles use and create energy.

When you exercise, every organ either

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Return of Epsom Salts


Don't look now but you're soaking in it.

Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked my younger brother, sympathetically, as he lie on the couch; his back “out” again.  “Yes,” he said, “can you pick me up a big bag of Epsom salts?”   

I was impressed that my normally non-compliant brother, who I’ve had to practically beg to do the exercises I taught him to rehabilitate his back, would make the effort to run a bath.  But, I guess pain can be a powerful motivator. 

Many people still think of Epsom salts baths as the decidedly unsophisticated remedy Grandma used to ease her arthritis pain; and while most of the claims for Epsom salts as a cure for arthritis are anecdotal, I was pleased that my brother had discovered this old-school remedy for pain and detoxification.  

There has been a

Friday, December 5, 2014

7 Golden Rules to Gain Control Over the Holidays

Merry Stressmas!
“Don’t judge,” my client said, wandering into my office 15 minutes late. I certainly felt ready to: She had blown off our last two sessions, and truthfully I didn’t expect her to show today.

As she sat down, I noticed she carried a few extra pounds, which she attempted to stealthily conceal beneath a loose-fitting sleeveless Anthropologie dress. Yet my annoyance turned to sympathy as she hurriedly told me her story.

“My mom died earlier this year,” she began. “This was two weeks after I found out my boyfriend of three years was cheating on me. Look, I’ll spare you the pity story. Holidays this year have been brutal for me, a reminder of the pain this year held, and, well, I’ve assuaged my grief with a batch of peppermint bark brownies I baked for my daughter’s school sale.”

I knew what she was going through. I’ve been there, though I chose to drown my sorrows in endless lunges rather than food or alcohol. Regardless of our different approaches, beneath the holiday’s forced cheer lie

Friday, November 28, 2014

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Thanksgiving was wonderful; wasn't it?


But now, like everyone else, I've got a lot of leftovers. In the past, I would just continue the gluttony and "eat off" the leftover food (so as not to be wasteful, of course.) But those days are over. Anything I can't send home with the dinner guests in to-go containers is given a day or two and then....adios. And let's face it -no one wants YOUR leftovers because they have plenty of their own so you can't pawn them off on friends. 

I typically make a sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner (that even with the makeover I've  given it, is still pretty decadent.) Inevitably, I cook too many sweet potatoes to prepare this dish which means my leftovers now have leftovers.

Thankfully, I've got a solution for that! (Now you won't have to be wasteful.)

Yams go yummy with the smoky flavor of chipotle 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Missing Ingredient in Thanksgiving

Gratitude: the cornerstone of happiness
Rather than allow that second piece of pumpkin pie to become my undoing, I boosted my feel-good serotonin levels without that lingering sugar-guilt trip aftermath.

Let me explain. Last week I wrote that exercise provides a little cushion around the holidays when you’re going to indulge. I put that strategy into action last Christmas morning with a killer body-weight workout in my sister’s basement in Connecticut.

Invigorated, I looked forward to a delicious feast that, yes, included some well-earned carbs. I partook in the lavish dinner and then enjoyed a piece of pumpkin pie. Realizing I had built in some serious dietary cushion thanks to my morning workout (plus that pie was sooo good), I decided a second sliver might be in order.

That’s when I had an epiphany. In my family and probably yours,

Friday, November 14, 2014

10 Strategies to Keep Consistent Workouts During the Holidays

Can you really keep it going during the holidays?
“But it was their big one-day sale!” my client said, exasperated I appeared a little annoyed she had blown off our last session. “No way could I fit in our hour workout and hit Macy’s one-hour linen sale. I mean, come on, they had Ralph Lauren duvet covers 60 percent off!”

I gave my client a shocked What planet do you live on look and stood by my word: Not only was I upset she insouciantly blew off a session, I was charging her double for missing out. (See strategy number four.)

It wasn’t about the money. I was going to donate any “doubles” to a homeless war veterans fund anyway. My policy was based on making a commitment and sticking to it.

To my client, a Macy’s one-day sale (don’t they have those every day during the holidays?) became more important than getting lean, toned, and healthy. Her priorities had become out of whack, and I was hitting up her wallet to get them straight.

Still, I spared an ounce of pity here: The holidays can become a challenge as you

Monday, November 3, 2014

12 Pearls of Wisdom from a Recent Exercise and Cancer Conference

You CAN exercise while undergoing  cancer treatment
You know someone and so do I whose life has been dramatically cut short by cancer. I’ll make this short: protocols to prevent cancer or cancer recurrence often give short shift to exercise.

“We just don’t have time to discuss it,” doctors and specialists candidly tell me. That’s unfortunate. The American Cancer Society very conservatively recommends 20 minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking most days. That’s less time every week to reduce cancer risk or its complications than watching a sappy Lifetime Movie of the Week!

“More and smarter” becomes my mantra here. Walking provides a good foundation, but I also want to see patients incorporate burst training and weight resistance. I ambitiously want

Friday, October 31, 2014

Why I Don’t Want You to Keep that New Year’s Gym-Membership Resolution

Be flexible! You can take your workout anywhere
“I’d rather buy shoes anyway,” my friend said, showing me her new pair of Jimmy Choos. “Who needs the gym?”

Her epiphany came after a sobering budget check last January, when she realized she had spent over $900 for a gym membership in 2013 but used that membership maybe once a week. Factor in parking fees, commuting costs, plus gym necessities (read: lots of Lululemon attire), and she was spending quite a bit of money on something she hardly ever used.

I wanted to say she should have sucked it up and let that financial reality check get her ass to the gym more often, but I knew my friend better than that. Workouts just weren’t a big priority, and she would rather spend her Saturday afternoons browsing the Nordstrom Rack clearance sale than racking weights.

While I have minor gripes with gym ambiance, working out remains a huge priority for me. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying a strenuous, intense workout and the zillion

Friday, October 24, 2014

No More Excuses: Setting Up an Intelligently Designed At-Home Gym

Is at-home training a good idea?
“I’m trying to find a nice way to break up with you,” my client playfully said while texting her babysitter. Becoming pregnant three times over four years and then returning to work part-time left her little opportunity to fit in an hour workout, which as she frequently reminded me, became two hours once she drove to my gym and found a parking space.
More often than not, she blamed her babysitter for being late, arriving sleep-deprived, cranky, and chugging a venti blonde roast. If past clients provided any indication, eventually she would full-out blow off her workouts. Besides, she had a wealthy husband, so no loss if she skipped out.
Despite her insane schedule, a not-so-secret rumor floated around our gym that

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Paradoxical Lie Your Favorite Magazine Perpetuates

Self love vs self denial
I noticed immediately she spoke in fluffy, New Age-y aphorisms. “I love and accept my body no matter what,” my 20-something client told me about five minutes into our conversation, somewhat defensively. Every other sentence felt lifted from those self help-y Lululemon bags.
“That’s where I feel confused,” she finally said, in a rare, genuine, unscripted moment. “If I’m supposed to practice self-love, why do I feel like crap when I look at my body in the mirror? Why is it so hard to marry those two ideas?”
As she recounted a recent Saturday night date she almost canceled, I felt her confusion and wanted to give her a hug. I also wanted to give her a solid kick in the pants.
Women’s magazines flirt endlessly with

Friday, October 10, 2014

New Study Elucidates How Exercise Alleviates Depression

Exercise can help-even when you're sad
I’ll never forget the 30-something woman who spoke that Saturday afternoon. Many years ago, I attended a weekend fitness conference and felt frustrated as speaker after speaker droned on with textbook, cookie-cutter information. They lacked inspiration and practical advice, and by Saturday lunch I felt ready to bolt.

Was I glad I didn’t: This dynamic, engaging speaker gave a moving testimonial about how for years she could hardly get off the couch to do anything. Her doctor cycled her through every anti-depressant possible. They all initially seemed effective but soon lost their edge. Acupuncture, nutrient therapy, meditation: You name the complementary therapy and she had tried it to alleviate depression.

“Lifting heavy was my

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why You Can Eat Chocolate Every Day (with a Few Caveats)

Give me chocolate or give me death
“Honestly, it felt like an orgasm in my mouth,” my coworker candidly said. “I’ve never felt something so intense and bitter and, well, sensual.”

She was describing a recent visit to Paris, where an off-the-beaten-path detour led her to a tiny corner store, “just like out of the movies!” There she chose two squares of dark chocolate, one with ground hazelnuts and one plain, using broken French and then pointing when the shopkeeper did not understand her.

“Truthfully, I wasn’t having the best day,” she continued. “My boyfriend and I had a fight. He went to the Louvre while I chose to wander. Dramatic though it may sound, those few chocolate-filled moments instantly brightened my mood, invigorating me and challenging me to get out of my comfort zone. And, not for nothing, my boyfriend and I had the best sex that night.”

My coworker needn’t sell me about chocolate’s benefits. “Give me chocolate or give me death” has long been my mantra, and I’ve sung its benefits on my (what else?) chocolate page, where every month I feature a top-of-the-line chocolatier.

Chocolate Helps You Feel Better
I can’t account for the sex, but

Friday, September 26, 2014

8 Strategies to Solve the Energy Crisis


Energy: your most precious commodity
“I thought we were going to work on that habit,” I said half jokingly, pointing to my client’s venti Starbucks she absentmindedly swigged while texting someone as she walked into my office.

I immediately regretted my mock-bitchy tone as I sympathetically eyed her haggard, worn-out expression. I even half-bought her I’m too tired to work out spiel because indeed, she looked that fatigued.

She wasn’t alone. Frazzled from pile-it-on-higher jobs, difficult relationships, and the zillion other demands life throws at us constantly, many clients appear running on empty as they determinedly show up for workouts even if their adrenals could use the rest. Welcome to the 2014 energy crisis: Good for coffee shops, not so good for you.

“Ultimately everything comes down to

Saturday, September 20, 2014

5 Steps to Break Any Fat Loss Plateau

Beyond the basics
“My most challenging one took over three months of trial-and-error before we pinpointed her issue,” I said, stabbing a black olive with my toothpick as I sipped a glass of pinot noir.
“What was the needle mover?” someone asked. The entire table remained riveted to hear my answer. “Hashimoto’s,” I replied. “Pulling gluten did wonders, and she went on to work with a thyroid specialist.”

Audible aahs! and a “Wow” filled the table.

Yes, nutrition and fitness professionals remain complete dorks even when we're having a dinner-and-drinks girls' night out. We talk about non-industry related things, but for some reason we always work back to our professions because we're that passionate about what we do.

In the beginning I became known as

Friday, September 12, 2014

“I’m Doing Everything Correctly but…” 12 Overlooked Obstacles that Create Fat Loss Plateaus

Break on through!
“I’m stuck,” she wearily said, taking a huge sip of hazelnut Dunkin Donuts. “I’m doing everything you say. I mean, come on: Look at that journal! I’m not cheating. I’m working my butt off. And nothing’s happening.”

If I had a hundred dollars for every time a client complained they’d hit a plateau, I could comfortably retire in a Maui cottage overlooking the sea. Okay, maybe not Maui; Florida. Still, I could retire.

I began my business teaching frustrated, overworked clients how to break fitness plateaus. Many folks simply needed to mix things up. A few needed to workout differently; others needed to do less but more intense exercise.

At some point, many also struggled with weight loss plateaus. These people did everything correctly, yet the scales wouldn’t budge. When you put in a certain effort, you expect results. Despite herculean effort, these people weren’t getting those results and, needless to say, they became frustrated.

From experience, I know they

Friday, September 5, 2014

Once You Go Wild, You Can Never Go Back


Online salmon? When it's this good....why not?
I finally had to discreetly spit a bite onto my napkin. I’ve never been a big fish eater, and the salmon my cousin served for dinner that evening didn’t win me over. Even though she insisted it was fresh, I found a bone in one bite, I was pretty sure it was farm-raised, and wow, was it fishy.

My anti-fish stance changed at a recent conference. No, some rock-star chef didn’t whip up a fabulous miso-glazed salmon dish that converted me. Believe it or not, boxed fish made me a seafood lover.

Now, to fish lovers, that might be akin to saying boxed pinot noir won over a wine snob. (Although I hear boxed wine has become more upscale! But I digress.)

You see, Wild Things was at this conference. No, not the late-90s movie starring Matt Dillon and Neve Campbell; Wild Things Seafood is an online company that delivers high-quality seafood, poultry, and beef to your door.

If that sounds a little, um, fishy (come on, you know I couldn’t get through this blog without one bad joke), I wasn’t initially sold either.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Don’t Expect any Miracles: The Hyperbolic Allure of Weight Loss Supplements

There is no magic pill
I could hear the noise down the hall and dread overcame me. As she walked into my office, she plopped down a giant tote bag and I heard what I jokingly call the death rattle: A massive supplement stock which, no doubt, she wanted me to go through during our initial consultation.

Hyperbolic promises underlie the weight-loss supplement industry. You know the claims: Swallow these capsules and lose 10 pounds in three days. Gain massive muscle with this nutrient cocktail.

And we buy those claims with their often-useless products.

I’m not judging. I’ve done it too. Even intelligent people and healthcare professionals occasionally fall sway to some Dr. Oz

Saturday, August 23, 2014

12 Strategies to Accelerate Fat Loss

Do it right to do it fast
“I know you’re going to say do it slow and steady,” my client began, certain I would dismiss her inquiry about dumping 15 pounds quickly for an upcoming high school reunion.

Guess again. Newer studies validate what I’ve found for years: Done correctly, you can get rid excess fat quickly. 

I say fat, not weight, because you want to shed fat while building muscle. Theoretically, that could make you weigh more. You need a scale that measures lean mass (muscle) and fat to know how and what you’re losing.

Rapid fat loss gets a bad rep because many people do it stupidly. They go on semi-starvation diets or nonsensical cleanses. They spend fortunes on some crazy new supplement that a certain celebrity swore helped her lose 10 pounds in three days. They spend hours on the elliptical machine reading their favorite weekly gossip magazine thinking they’re melting away those pounds.

We can all agree: Those are not healthy ways to lose weight quickly. You’ll probably shed a few pounds doing these things – notice I said pounds and weight, not necessarily fat – but your metabolism quickly comes to a halt as it adjusts. High stress levels and adrenal burnout are among the many problems over-exercising and under-eating can create.

You’ll also become miserable. To “reward” yourself for your herculean efforts, you’ll head to your nearest dessert place and gobble down 3,000 calories of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fat.

So we agree: If you’re committed to burning fat quickly, you’ll do it intelligently. Deprivation, misery, and alternately starving with binging have no place here.

At the same time, don’t kid yourself it will be easy. As I often tell clients, you’ve got to do the work to get the results. If fast fat loss were that easy, we could all be 10 pounds lighter next week, and we all know that isn’t going to happen.

I said commit earlier. Do it. Don’t oscillate. (Yes, the drill sergeant in me is coming out here.) Write down your goals, read them every morning, and know that while I can’t monitor you 24/7, I will be keeping a virtual eye on you the whole time! You’ve got to be serious about this or it won’t work. You’ll dismiss me as another expert who failed you, and I’m not having that. 

Okay, here we go.

1.      Write down everything. My first rule for accelerated fat loss has nothing to do with food and everything about success. One study found people who wrote everything down lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. Your body is becoming a science experiment here. You’re learning what works and what doesn’t, and the best way to do that involves tracking every bite you eat.

2.     3 meals a day, no snacks. Constantly grazing becomes a surefire way to keep insulin levels cranked up, locking your fat-cell doors. Substantial, healthy meals (more on what constitutes that in a minute) should keep you full for at least four and preferably up to six hours. If you’re hungry three hours after lunch, you didn’t do lunch correctly. Look at your food journal and figure out what you did wrong. Have a glass of water and perhaps a fiber supplement to curb your appetite.

3.     Drink lots of water and green tea. Preferably drink half your body weight in water ounces. Experts debate whether green tea could count towards that water quota. I say just drink it period and stop worrying. Don’t drink so much liquid you dilute your nutrients and limit liquids during meals, when too much could dilute stomach enzymes that break down protein.

4.     Poop a lot. Gradually increasing your fiber intake to 50 grams (don’t do this all at once), magnesium/ vitamin C powder before bedtime, and fiber-rich foods like avocado and legumes can all keep things moving down there. If you’re not pooping at least once daily, try more hardcore remedies like herbal laxatives (sparingly) or liquid magnesium citrate found at your drugstore.

5.     Sleep a lot. My friend JJ Virgin wrote a blog detailing seven fat-regulating hormones that become out of whack with too little sleep. I could write a whole blog about sleep. Wait, I already did… Aim for eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.

6.     Get clean, lean protein at every meal. Aim for 20 – 25 grams at every meal. Wild fish, grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and pasture-raised eggs are top high-quality protein sources. Vegans and vegetarians will focus on foods like legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu (sparingly), quinoa, and plant-based protein powders. A scoop or two of whey post-workout can also provide optimal protein.

7.     Work in a little healthy fat. This isn’t the time to show the world that good fats won’t make you fat by eating a steak drowning in butter or dousing your salad in half a cup of olive oil. If you want a ketogenic diet, you’ve come to the wrong place.

8.     Focus on the right carbs. Leafy and cruciferous veggies become your best friends during fast fat loss. Asparagus in particular can have a helpful diuretic effect. This is not a low-carb diet, so focus on smart carbs in small amounts like legumes and quinoa. If you feel dizzy, light headed, disoriented, unusually lethargic, nauseous, or irritable, you probably went too low carb. Experiment with small amounts of starchy carbs pre-workout like gluten-free brown rice. Post-workout, pair that whey protein with sweet potatoes or another starchy high-glucose carb. Find your carb threshold, but don't become terrified of this important macronutrient.

9.     Drink coffee before or during (but not after) your workout. Do you need another reason to get your Starbucks fix? Coffee’s thermogenic benefits will improve your workout and speed metabolism. After a workout, caffeine can keep cortisol jacked up, so switch to decaf green tea.

10.  Supplement smartly. A high-quality multi, fish oil, and a probiotic should be among your supplement staples anyway. Beyond that, Thorne’s Amino Acid Complex is my magic bullet for fast fat loss. Take it in the morning, 20 minutes before your workout, and last thing before bed. 

      You’ll find numerous supplements promising fast fat loss.  Approach them with suspicious caution and know most fat loss benefits come from diet and exercise.

11.   Control stress levels. Chronic stress can seriously stall fat loss. Create a serenity plan. Walking for 60-90 minutes at a moderately slow pace, take an Epsom salts bath, play with your dog or kids, get a massage, meditation, and do yoga. 

12.  Measure and track. Don’t become a slave to the scales. Weigh yourself twice a week and use a tape measure once a week. A pair of favorite jeans becomes the easiest way for many clients to know they’re losing.

Bonus points: Fat cells hoard toxins. When you release fat, you also release toxins. One way to dump them is via sweat. If a trip to the desert in August is out of your budget, consider sweating at the gym (most have steam rooms) and use a far infrared sauna.
“How Long Before I See Results?”
My client asked me and you’re probably wondering yourself.
You’ll drop mostly water weight your first week, so that will account for serious loss. (I’ve had clients lose up to 10 pounds that first week!) Once you stabilize, you’ll lose about half a pound (or more) each day you stick with this plan. We’ll talk about plateau busters and how to maintain lasting fat loss in future blogs. 
What About Exercise?
I didn’t discuss exercise here because I want you to primarily focus on diet. But of course, you should exercise.
Short, intense exercise guarantees you’ll burn more calories at rest after your workout. Ideally you’ll combine high-intensity resistance training with short, intense cardio bursts. Work your whole body each workout three or four times per week unless you’re staying sore. If that’s the case, drop your intensity for a few days.
Lift as heavy as possible, as fast as possible, with strict form, keeping your heart rate up the whole time. You’ll know when you need to stop and rest during the workout.
What Would You Add Here?
Nearly everyone I’ve met has a secret strategy to burn fat safely and quickly. Spill it! Share yours below or on my Facebook fan page.
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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at www.Jinifit.com© 2014 Jinifit, Inc.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Take Off that Halo: Why the Anti-Soy Brigade Drive me Nuts

Is there no joy in soy?
“Why are you recommending soy-based products when you told me before to stop eating tofu pad Thai?” my client asked – okay, more like demanded, sure she’d caught me in the heels of an egregious contradiction. She smugly pointed to a supplement label that said in fine print: “Contains ingredients derived from soy (phytosomes)."

Especially for vegans and vegetarians adverse to whey and too stuck in their narrow-minded agenda to try other plant-based proteins, soy reigns supreme. I watch fitness folks scarf down soy-based protein bars, powders, and disgusting-looking soy Frankenfoods, all the while believing they’re being healthy.

Then I get the opposite spectrum like this uber-paranoid client. I explained to her phytosomes are a type of phospholipid or fat that help your body better absorb nutrients in this product. Even the most soy-sensitive individuals can tolerate phytosomes because soy protein - not fat – creates most allergies and sensitivities.

My reasoning fell on deaf ears. My client remained convinced soy was

Friday, August 8, 2014

Skinny to Strong Starts on Your Plate: 7 Strategies to Gain Smartly

Being skinny is no fun either
“I went the Dunkin Donuts route, but I didn’t get the results I wanted,” my client joked as he filled out the paperwork before our first training session.

I know what you’re thinking: Donuts and fat loss don’t go together. My client, a 26-year-old PhD student, proved an anomaly to my typical twenty-something who landed his first job and accumulated 15 extra pounds through stress and sitting all day.

Nope, this guy had struggled his whole life to gain weight. He was the scrawny – dare I say wimpy – kid you might have picked on in elementary school, and he appeared determined to change his physique.

Problem was, he had gone about it entirely wrong – living off pizza, beer, and Dunkin Donuts for a few months – and had quite the spare tire to show for it.

Now, before you reply, “Jeez, I wish I had his problem,” let me tell you why

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Beginner’s Guide to Working Insulin to Your Advantage

Not abdominally gifted? No problem.
“Why are you recommending a drink that will make me fat?” my client asked out of nowhere. During our proceeding session, she wondered what post-workout fuel I suggested.

“I love a professional-quality whey paired with a healthy carb source,” I replied, noting the protein brand I use.

After that session, my client took the “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing” cliché to its extreme and did a PubMed search about whey. She found one study that argued whey could raise insulin as much as white bread.  

“Everyone knows insulin is your fat-storing hormone and that you always want to keep it low,”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ouch! Why Am I Paying For My Workout 2 Days Later?

It's OK to be sore; just not destroyed
“What on earth did you do to me Friday?” my client texted. As my boyfriend and I dove into our traditional Sunday night Chinese takeout, I felt my cell phone vibrate. I don’t usually take weekend calls from clients, but she and I had been friends for years so I felt obligated to answer.

“It started this afternoon,” she began dramatically when I called her back. “I felt a dull, aching pain and stiffness in my upper arms. I think I might have torn a muscle or two and might need to see a doctor. Everything just hurts. Why is this happening now, when I have a first date tonight?”

I recalled that past Friday’s workout, where I introduced pull-ups and a few other eccentric exercises into my client’s already-intense routine. We had been training for months, so I felt confident she could handle those more advanced exercises even as I warned her the aftermath would hurt.

Friday, July 11, 2014

7 Strategies to Solve the Calorie Debate


To count or not to count?
“I barely made it under my calorie quota yesterday, but I succeeded!” my client proudly said, handing me a very itemized daily food journal providing total calories, macronutrients, and certain micronutrients. 

I knew just how detailed the $10-a-month website that itemized these foods could be, and all those numbers made my head spin. “Just eat real food and stop counting,” I replied, perhaps appearing a little snappy dismissing her journal.

For what felt like eons, I had made “Calories count, but hormones count more” my clients’ mantra. Why wasn’t this woman obediently heading my hard-earned advice?

Except more recently, something changed. I’ve been carrying about five refuse-to-vacate pounds around my midsection for a while. You would never know it unless you saw me naked, and, well, you’re not going to see me naked. Regardless, as a fitness expert, those extra pounds felt unacceptable.

Never one to leave any stone unturned, I addressed food intolerances. I

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Doctor Makes House Calls Again, But It Isn’t Cheap

Concierge medicine brought to you by our healthcare crisis
Thirty minutes into my scheduled appointment, I walked up to the receptionist, busily immersed in computer solitaire, and asked how much longer before I saw my doctor. She appeared accustomed to this request and brushed me off with a standard “Just a few more minutes” reply.

Trouble was, I’d allowed myself plenty of time for the doctor and then scheduled a client (to, uh, pay for that specialist visit).

I was ready to reschedule my client when an assistant called me into the back. Once my doctor actually saw me, he hurriedly perused my files and brushed off my request for specific tests. I think I even got a How dare you question a doctor’s authority! stare.

Clearly, my doctor had these things timed: No more than 15 minutes per patient.

When I mentioned I had been having some trouble sleeping, he promptly

Friday, June 27, 2014

Can Snacking Help or Hinder Fat Loss & Muscle Building?

Boring apple picture
The Paleo nut butter cookies became my undoing. My first bite felt totally innocent and in-control. I simply wanted to be polite and sample my coworker’s newest healthy dessert, knowing full well I would like but not love it.

Even though I’m a chocolate girl, dang was that cookie good. So good in fact that one polite bite gave way to the whole cookie, and I found myself semi-consciously reaching for a second.

I wasn’t hungry. I ate a chicken Caesar salad with half an avocado just two hours before. Yet here I was, shoveling down cookies like I was trying to win a Coney Island hot dog-eating contest.

On my drive home that night, I pondered why I’d reached for that second cookie. What I learned revealed why so many of us habitually snack. Hint: Hunger isn’t among those reasons.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The 2 Post-Workout Fundamentals for Recovery and Repair

How to re-hydrate...the right way
My friend caught my expression and gave me a Let’s get Jini out of here before she becomes unleashed look. I only use professional-brand formulations, and rarely do I shop at supplement chain stores.

Today was one of those rare exceptions. We were headed for Saturday shopping at The Grove, I had my protein powder in a bag for a quick afternoon refuel, but dang!, I forgot my shaker cup.

As we browsed the aisles looking for shaker cups while some creepy 20-something bro-speak sales “dude” followed us around, my friend mentioned recently experiencing post-workout cramping. “It mostly hits me at night on my right arm,” she said, “but when it does… Whoa, the pain, and it keeps me up for hours.”

She needed an electrolyte formula. That’s when the trouble started