I'm not sure if it's the fact that it's going to be 100 degrees all week or if it's just the thought of putting myself through Joe's Workout of the Week, but I'm craving something cold and refreshing!
Enjoy this summertime treat, refresh and relax! It's only 100 calories and filled with nutrients your body needs to get through the heat of summer.... or one of our group training classes.
2 to 3 cups watermelon in bite-sized chunks, seeds removed
2 small ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 to 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons prepared balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
On a large platter or individual plates, arrange watermelon, tomatoes and goat cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top with basil.
Per serving: 100 calories (60 from fat), 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 140mg sodium, 10g total carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 3g protein
Arena Fitness is a Personal and Group Training Facility in Encino, CA.
receipe courtsey of Whole Foods Markets
Warm Up with an 1500m Row or Run! Then finish it off with 1500 reps of my favorite exercise!
This week's challenge is to finish this entire workout under and hour. You heard it: under an hour! That includes the warmup, so get to work people, and start sweating! Your nutrtion is going to have to be on point for this one. Be smart, get lots of rest, and start preparing your meal plans, cos this one's going to be a big one!
GO BIG OR GO HOME!!!
WARMUP (1500m row or run)
- 100 Burpees
- 100 Pullups (Assisted)
- 100 Box jumps
- 100 Mountain Climbers (50 each side)
- 100 Jumping Jacks
- 100 Ab Twists (50 each side)
- 100 Body Weight Squats
- 100 Side kicks (50 each side)
- 100 Jumping lunges
- 100 Curls (50 each side) 25lbs for the Guys and 12lbs for the Ladies
- 100 Tricep Rope Extensions (No Rope? Try some High to Low Planks! 50 Each Side)
- 100 Lunges (50 each side)
- 100 Squat jumps
- 100 Flutter Kicks
- 100 Crunches
ALWAYS STRETCH AFTER WORKOUTS FOR AT LEAST 5-10 MINUTES DIRECTLY AFTER A TRAINING SESSION.
Be a Part of your own success story...
Arena Fitness is a Personal and Group Training Facility in Encino, CA.
New Age terminology and catch-phrases of the week grate on my nerves. When I hear people talking about their "Inner Child" or trainers proselytizing about "Functional Training" I unconsciously clench my teeth and squeeze my eyes shut and breathe deeply until my heart rate slows. The terms may have value, but they tend to be overused and underdeveloped and become fall-back phrases upon which people rely all too easily. Over the last several years, "The Box" has been a focus of attention; whether you're living inside of it and trying to get out of it, or trying not to think in a way that resides within it. It's usage has declined a bit recently, the term having fallen a bit out of vogue, but I still hear people talking about it and it drives me crazy because "The Box" isn't a bad thing. "The Box" is good. In fact, "The Box" is necessary. Let me explain.
In spite of my impatience with the term, I understand and appreciate the context behind the phrase, I really do. The meaning, originally, was valid; to encourage people to expand beyond perceived limits, unleash creative thinking, to be unconventional and daring, to risk and be unique. That's all good stuff. But the perpetual focus on those pursuits increasingly drove people to strive so hard to be unique that the sublime became the ridiculous. The limits were being pushed further and further, and the ideas became more and more outrageous until anything resembling traditional thinking was considered archaic, outdated and useless. This was evident especially in the fitness field, where it has become common practice for ridiculous workouts to be considered the best. Fitness experts were concerned about this phenomenon years ago when the term Functional Training first came out, because trainers started taking the notion of balance and stabilization and combining them with the increasing number of fitness products out there to design absurd training methods. Do you really need to be able to do a single leg squat on a BOSU while simultaneously doing a diagonal medicine ball chop? No, you don't. But the problem is that trainers began hijacking what was originally a valid concept and layering more and more absurdity on top of it until the term lost it's meaning. And to compound the problem, the ridiculous workouts were HARD, which made people think they were GOOD. Of course it's hard to do a single leg squat on a BOSU while simultaneiously doing a diagonal medicine ball chop, but is it NECESSARY? Just because it makes you sweat doesn't make the workout credible. Functional Training originally referred to the notion of doing movement patterns in the gym that replicated real-world movements so that you could become proficient at these movements and avoid risk out there in a three-dimensional world. But unless you're....what.... a hockey player (?) I can't see any reason to do a single leg squat on a BOSU while doing a diagonal med ball chop. It might be cool looking, it might be difficult, but is it really FUNCTIONAL for you and me?
So, while the notion of expanding your training (and your life?) outside of "The Box" was originally a good concept, it's time for us to put that concept in the drawer and get back INTO the box for a while. That's right. Get back IN, people, you've gone too far, and it's time to reign it back in.
What is "The Box," anyway? Did anyone take the time to define what we were trying to escape? Theoretically, The Box respresents our limitations, our self-imposed boundaries, playing it safe. But The Box, if it even exists, is not only a good thing, it's a NECESSARY thing. Hear me out.
Inside "The Box" are the fundamentals, the boring stuff, the bedrock upon which everything else rests, the stuff you NEED to do and/or know.
- In business, The Box contains basic organizational skills, marketing and sales efforts, a clear and defined stated purpose or mission.
- In boxing, The Box contains the basics; the jab, cross, hook and uppercut, proper punching mechanics and footwork. Today's fighters almost unanimously live outside The Box, having abandoned the jab and basic defensive skills, relying instead on lead right hands and left hooks a la Roy Jones Jr.. (Note to boxers; you're not Roy Jones, Jr., get back into The Box and learn how to throw a jab for God's sake).
- In music, The Box contains scales, hand position, the basic ability to read and play notes. If you try to sit down and play like Vladimir Horowitz or Jimi Hendrix without knowing the basics, you will fail. A notable exception to this rule is Prince, who is the Roy Jones, Jr. of music. You, however, are not Prince, so don't even try.
- In personal training (private training or semi-private training), The Box contains basic, primal movement patterns; squats, lunges, pushing/pulling, stepping, bending, twisting. Sure, it's possible to use TRX straps to suspend all four limbs in the open air and then do a push up, but WHY would you do it? Suspension training is all the rage right now (that's practically all we saw at this year's IDEA and IHRSA fitness conventions) and some basic movements make sense, but unfortunately much of it is....stupid. You need to know how to do a garden variety squat on flat, dry land much more than you need to do a single leg lunge and reach using TRX straps or a BOSU. I know for certain you'll be getting up and down out of a chair at some point today, probably many times, but I'm equally certain you won't be reaching for your dropped wallet while you have one foot caught in a rope hanging from the ceiling. You need to become proficient at basic movement patterns in order for you function reasonably well in your life, which is why the Personal Training Box exists; so that you can squat, bend, reach, push, pull and step with relative efficiency. Focus on that before you focus on doing upside down sit ups on a trapeze.
Here's a good question: Why did we get "out of the box" to begin with?
- Progressive Overload - This is the concept of placing unfamiliar stress on your body to force it to adapt, i.e., get stronger, faster, etc., and it's a scientifically validated concept. I think that, in an attempt to assist the process of progressive overload, personal trainers began to search for more and more unusual approaches that would stimulate adaptation. Okay, that's an honest objective, but progressive overload is easily achieved without all the craziness.
- Pressure to be Unique and Unusual - Every trainer or fitness training studio strives to create a unique and unusual identity, to separate itself from it's competitors. Totally understandable. But simply being different isn't enough, you also have to employ sound scientific principles and make sense. After all, the group training world tried jump rope classes a while back. Sounded good. It wasn't. Also, there's this notion that the personal trainer who does a bunch of crazy, unorthodox stuff is a mad genius. Maybe. He also might be a tool.
- Entertainment Value - Gyms want to cater to the need in all of us to be entertained, to be distracted away from the notion that you're actually exercising. So they come up with gimmicks and fads. (Your Honor, I would like to submit Crunch Fitness as Exhibit A!)
- Balance Training and Functional Training - The importance of balance, stabilization and functional training burst onto the scene in the 90's. It is all valid, but the industry has taken these valid concepts and stretched them too thin.
- Exercise ADD - Personal Trainers are children in a sandbox, playing with toys and making stuff up. It's kind of a wonderful thing, but it gets out of hand sometimes.
I'm not saying you have to give up your trapeze training, your Yogilates, Piloxing or TRX suspension training. All those things are good, they have their purposes, they have their benefits, and they can be fun. But don't forget the fundamentals. I have my misgivings about Cross-Fit, but I appreciate the beautiful simplicity of it and it's resultant effectiveness. Don't make the mistake of thinking that, because it's simple in concept, it's simple in application. It's not. What I'm getting at is that you should never forsake your fundamentals; your squats, your lunges, your stepping, pressing and pulling movements, your running, hiking, swimming, biking abilities. All the fancy, tricky stuff won't do you a bit of good if you can't bend down to pick up your kid.
Jonathan Aluzas is the owner of Arena Fitness, a group exercise, personal training and semi private gym in Encino, California.
Recently, I have been very hungry. I mean, really very hungry. "Hangry", actually - you know, when you get so hungry that you get super cranky and want to punch someone in the face simply for being?
No? Just me?
Anyway, this was weird because last time I wasn't eating enough, I was just getting tired and sleepy. I had no idea why, because I was eating regularly, if not a lot, because the people around me did not deserve to get punched in the face. My BFF suggested I keep a food journal. I am really not a fan of food journals that act as calorie counters. It makes me crazy, which stresses me out, which means I am much more likely to snap and eat mac n cheese after I've already had dinner. But I decided to keep a food journal for a week and see what was going on with my diet. This is what I found out:
I do much better with food journals when I am detailed with my description instead of with calories. Amazing how that works. I was totally happy to write down "2 cups of strawberries" or "two pieces of pizza". It didn't give me the anxiety that counting calories on other sorts of food journals did, and allowed me to reach some conclusions about my eating.
Breakfast is not my biggest meal. As a result, I was eating bigger meals as the day went on. People who eat a bigger, more filling breakfast tend not to binge as much as the day moves on, and their metabolism tends to be higher than those who skip breakfast (after all, you've been fasting overnight).
I make really bad decisions when I'm drinking. A glance back at my food journal for the week shows that whenever I really go off the rails with my eating, it's because alcohol is involved. Every. Single. Time. Good to know, right?
I seem to overeat less when I have been drinking water. When I felt like I was still really hungry, I drank some water instead, and waited 15 minutes. About half of the time, the cravings abated. Water has all sorts of health benefits, but the most important one for me is that it can act as an appetite suppressant, since your body will look for water in food if you aren't drinking enough.
I am going to continue food journaling over the next month to see if I can't get my own observations into action. Of course, I have no idea why my hunger levels were spiking, so perhaps I will be able to get a better idea as I collect more and more food journal-y data. By noticing patterns in my eating, I can put myself in a position to succeed (and not want to punch random strangers in the face).
Arena Fitness is a Group and Personal Training Facility in Encino, CA.
Salsa: The super snack! This inexpensive, healthy food is one of our 5 skinny snacks you need on hand. It's incredibly low in calories and high in nutrients, making this the ideal topping for many of your meals.
makes about 2 cups
2 cups chopped tomatoes (or a combination of tomatoes and fresh peaches, nectarines, mangoes or grapes)
1/3 cup chopped yellow or white onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Put all ingredients into a bowl, toss well and serve chilled or at room temperature.
Per serving (about 1/2 cup): 25 calories (0 from fat), 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 6g total carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 1g protein
Arena Fitness is a group and fitness training facility in Encino, CA.
Need to train for an Adventure race? Try putting this workout into your weekly routine. Start with 8 minute miles and try to go faster each time you run.
1 mile run
50 Push Ups
1 mile run
1 mile run
50 Lunges (each side)
Cool down with 200 reps of your favorite abdominal exercises. Remember to stretch for 5-10 minutes after every workout. Train hard, but always train smart!
Be a part of your own success story...
Arena Fitness is a Group and Personal Training Facility in Encino, CA.
Name: Michelle Salvatore
Resume: Spartan Race Hurricane Heat 2011, lots of trail hikes with the Arena Fitness crew
Tour of Duty: 238 Visits, 175.25 Hours
Training Regimen: Semi Private Training twice a week plus at least two Group Training classes per week (usually Spartan Training or Total Body Conditioning)
She's little, but she packs a big punch! Especially in Extreme Training when she slips on the gloves and gives the heavy bag a beating (watch out; she fights from a southpaw stance!). This former New Yorker was a gymnast and cheerleader most of her life before coming to the West Coast, and is a sports producer, so she's been in and around athletics forever. She's always been a hard worker, but lately she's been KILLING IT! She has become the go-to-gal in a semi private personal training session when there's a new person (you just say; "Watch Michelle and do what she does!") which not only makes our job easier, but provides an example to which new clients can aspire. She suffered through the Spartan Race Hurricane Heat with us last November and is always waiting at the trail head at Caballero Canyon Trail when we set up a weekend hike. This girl has game, moxie and attitude, and we love her, so we're very proud to introduce your Beast of the Week, Michelle Salvatore!
Arena Fitness is a personal training, semi-private training and group fitness gym in Encino, Ca.
Today's blog post comes from guest blogger Kaitlyn Weiss, a CSCS-certified trainer and all around badass. Diet is a big deal when it comes to your weight loss - it can be more than half the battle! People often make the mistake of not eating before they jump in a personal training session ("I don't eat breakfast!") or not eating after they complete a group training class. What you eat changes based on your goals, so make sure you're fueling your body effectively! - Madeleine
The main objective with both pre and post-workout nutrition is to support the duration and intensity of the activity, individual physique and performance goals (taking body type in to account), and personal tolerance for certain types and amounts of foods in conjunction with the activity. With every workout, regardless of the type of activity, it is very important to prevent blood sugar from dropping, which can lead to nausea, fatigue, loss of energy and strength, etc. Two methods for handling this are as follows:
The High-carbohydrate Diet- eating a mod-high carbohydrate diet to maintain glycogen stores (carbohydrate stores) so that during activity, the body is able to maintain energy at the muscular level and maintain blood sugar levels (carbohydrates in the form of sugar in the blood stream that provide energy to many different vital organs).
Carbohydrates when needed- taking in carbohydrates right before and during exercise to maintain blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Instead of having this blood glucose level maintained by the body using its glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates), a shake or drink containing carbohydrates is taken in during the workout.
Most coaches and individuals prefer the second method as the first can more easily lead to excess fat gain and a decreased ability by the body to handle carbohydrates in the future. Though the second option is preferred, the following guide can help in making the decision as to what will work best for different individuals:
Pre-/Post-workout Nutrition and Timing by Body Type and Goal
Muscle gain or endurance sport
1 carb/prot shake immediately before
1 carb/prot shake during
1 carb/prot drink immediately after
Optimal physique or support for sport
Eat normally 1-2 hours before
1 carb/prot shake during
1 carb/prot shake immediately after
Fat loss or strength, support for sport
Eat normally 1-2 hours before
1 carb/prot shake during or right at the end
Eat normally 1-2 hours after
How much water do you drink?
Water is the most effective weapon in losing weight for several reasons:
It's a natural appetite suppressant. It curbs hunger pains because it takes up room in your stomach causing you to feel full.
It has 0 calories. Imagine how many calories you'll save if you drink water instead of sugary drinks! Start passing on high calorie beverages and reach for a refreshing glass of H2O.
Water helps lower blood pressure and reduces your risk of heart disease. When your body is dehydrated, it constricts the blood vessels so that the rate of water loss is reduced. This raises your blood pressure, which in turn, means your heart is working harder than it should.
You'll combat belly bloat and lose weight at the same time, so make sure you hydrate after your group training or personal training sessions! My challenge to you: try drinking a gallon of water each day this week! Post your results on our Facebook page!
Be a part of your own success story.
Warm Up 1-3 Mile Run
5- Pull Ups
15- Deep Squats
Cool Down 1-3 Mile Run
During your warm up you should be watching your mile time splits. Make sure you start of slow and increase your pace for every mile after. Decreasing you mile time even by 5 seconds can help increase cardiovascular strength and endurance. Blast into your strength exercises immediately after. During your cool down start with your best possible time and pace down every mile after. Train hard and train smart. Have a great week and start off right.
Be a part of your own success story...
Arena Fitness is a personal training, semi private training and group training fitness facility in Encino, California.
Long before the data began pouring in about the staggering increase in child obesity I began noticing that kids just seemed fatter and more out of shape than they used to be. It was just an observation, but seemed terribly obvious to me (it was one of those things that, when studies came out, I thought "Good lord, someone actually paid for a study on this? You can look around for FREE and come to the same conclusion!").
In recent years I've noticed a cultural shift in our children. They don't move. They just don'tmove. When I was a kid, everyone played sports, and everyone played multiple sports. There was no down time, we'd just transition from one uniform to another as the year went on. Everyone climbed trees and played tag, everyone played Danish or dodge ball at recess. Keeping us inside on rainy days was cruel and unusual punishment and usually ended with us being ejected into the wet outdoors just to shut us up, even if it meant having a kid come home covered in mud. Even the heavy kids were active, they were just, well, larger. It seems that the minority of today's kids play organized sports and even fewer are active on their own accord.
When we were kids they used to have to drag us in by the hair when the sun went down. My brother and I would be in the cul-de-sac playing baseball in the complete darkness, unable to see the ball, swinging wildly into the blackness but screaming "One more inning, Mom!" when she'd come to the front door to yell at us to come in for dinner. And then, after we pounded down some Rice-a-Roni and Mackerel patties (the most disgusting meal on Earth and one about which I still consider contacting Child Protective Services) we'd run back out the front door for a game of ditch or Army with the neighbor kids. Now, it seems like you have to take a baseball bat to a kid to get him OUT the front door. So, instead of looking at this issue through a filter of my own prejudices and yearnings for days of yore, let's take a look at the agreed-upon facts:
1. Kids are fat and getting fatter.
This goes beyond observation to accepted fact. In the last generation, obesity rates have more than doubled for children 2-5 years old and ages 6-11 years old and, even worse, have more than tripled for kids ages 12-19 years old.
2. And they're getter fatter and fatter because?
So, why the sudden change? I'm sure there are profit-motive driven vultures out there who would have you believe it is due to carbs, or hormones in chicken or sugar or something, but the answers are, as always, much simpler:
- Less physical fitness - 1 in 3 high school youth do not engage in vigorous physical activity. That's right, 33% of all high school kids don't do ANY reasonable physical activity and less than 30% have gym or P.E. class. LESS THAN 30% OF KIDS DON'T HAVE P.E. IN SCHOOL! How is this acceptable? (Why is it that whenever bureaucrats take the red pen to school programs, art programs and physical fitness, two of the most important developmental activities, are the first to go?)
- More calories - Obese children tend to eat larger portions and crappier food, which, compounded with less physical activity, results in weight gain.
- Technology, designed to simplify lives, is living up to it's purpose. In fact, it's simplifying kids' lives so much that they don't have to move, think or act creatively. Cool. Fact: Kids who spend more time watching television and playing video games are at a higher risk of becoming overweight.
- Rarely, a medical condition will contribute to obesity, and there is research being conducted to see if environmental factors play a role and blah blah blah. But, seriously, it's the extra calories and the sedentary lifestyles, people.
3. And the obese kid becomes the obese adult. Isn't that nice?
It's true. Statistics show that obese children are likely to become obese adults.
4. And obese adults become:
Sick. Then dead. Asthma, diabetes, gallstones, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver problems, menstrual problems, sleep disorders, high cholesterol, bone and joint problems, cancer, osteoarthritis and social and psychological problem.
5. But here's the one that makes me want to cry:
Obese teens are as likely to die young as heavy smokers. Did you catch that? I had to do a double and triple-take when I first saw the article. If you allow your child to become obese he is as likely to die young as is a heavy smoker. Here it is:
So, what do we do with all of this gut-wrenching information? Because, certainly, the purpose of this post isn't to simply yell fire in a crowded theater. This isn't about making fun of overweight kids. This isn't about blaming the kids at all, this is about taking a look at where lack of leadership and parenting are setting precedents that result in behavior that is unhealthy for our children. Kids do not parent themselves.
This isn't about appearance. I don't care about the aesthetics of obese kids except to the extent that it causes social isolation and confidence/identity issues for the child. This is about health. Creating an environment of permissiveness devoid of boundaries does not honor the value of the child.
But we have to assess the problem before determining the proper approach to solution. Now that we're aware of the severity of the problem, it's time to create a solution.
Jonathan Aluzas is the owner of Arena Fitness, a personal training, semi private training and group training fitness facility in Encino, California.
In truth, there are probably dozens of health and fitness facts you need to know. But I'm always raving about hiring a personal trainer and learning how to exercise regularly, so I've probably overwhelmed you by now. Let's keep it simple for once. Today I want to focus on three items that have recently jumped out at me and I think are worthy of attention because they either apply to virtually ALL of us, or to a huge segment of the population.
And this isn't "how to get great abs" or "get that beach body you've always wanted" kind of stuff. These are things that have a significant impact in your life. They are, quite literally, life or death kinds of things.
1. Sitting on your ass can kill you
This is true. Not joking. A new study by BMJ Open, an online journal, shows that sitting down for more than three hours a day can shave a person's life expectancy by two years. Two Years! And here's the really scary part: This is true even if you are a physically active person who refrains from dangerous habits like smoking! That's me! I'm not used to hearing that my lifestyle can shorten my years on Earth, so this made me bolt upright in my chair (note that I was sitting at the time).
How the hell do you not sit for three hours a day? My God, I'm on my feet a lot for my job, I exercise, walk my dogs, work in the garden, but I still spend at least three hours on the couch or at my desk every day doing work, reading, etc.. The researchers recommend doing as many activities as you can standing, because, in part, sitting creates blood glucose management problems. Research it if you want the particulars, but the main thing to remember is that being a lump on the couch can cut your life short.
2. Pepsi and apple juice are making you and your kids fat
"Soda and other sugary drinks are the number one source of calories in our diet and the only individual food that's actually directly linked to obesity."
Margo Wooten, DSc - Director, Nutrition Policy - Center for Science in the Public Interest
Here's the deal; if you drink soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, flavored waters and sports drinks, you're asking for trouble. If you allow your children to drink it, you need to stop NOW! Childhood obesity has tripled in the last generation and this is the #1 reason why. There is no nutritional value in sweetened drinks, and virtually NO DIFFERENCE between soda and fruit juice when it comes to sugar and calorie content. Why? Because when you juice a fruit you remove all of the good stuff (fiber, mostly) and leave traces of vitamins and loads of sugar. Why not just have your kid EAT his fruit instead?
This is a big deal. Parents, you need to get that crap out of the house! Especially if your children are already overweight or borderline overweight.
3. Calcium supplements may blow your heart out
What? I thought women needed calcium? They do, but it turns out that not all calcium is the same. A recent study in Germany suggests that while dietary calcium (calcium derived from your normal diet) may lower your risk of heart attack by 31%, calcium supplements may increase it by 86%.
When calcium is taken in the form of a supplement, it increases rapidly in the blood and may cause calcification of the arteries, which can result in cardiovascular events like heart attack. (Source: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/23/science/la-sci-sn-calcium-heart-disease-20120523)
For more information on good sources of natural calcium and how to increase calcium absorption, click HERE.
For the record, one of the best ways to increase calcium storage and bone density is to do weight-bearing exercise every day (walking, running, strength training, group training classes, personal training, etc., I had to mention it).
As I said before, there are many things you must keep in mind when considering your general health, but if you can at least master these three first, you'll be on good ground.
Jonathan Aluzas is the owner of Arena Fitness, a personal training, semi private training and group exercise facility in Encino, Ca.
One of the things I've learned since I started working at Arena is that when someone learns you work at a gym, more often than not, they're going to ask for advice. They want advice on what to eat, what to do, how to do it, how often to do it, what they should wear, whatever. I've found that people tend to be disappointed when I tell them, "Well, you should eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, and make a habit of exercising every day." Because, after all, losing weight is as easy burning more calories than you take in.
Thanks to programs like My Fitness Pal, it's easier than ever to count your calories and make sure that you're not completely ruining your efforts in your group training or personal training with your diet. Your diet is what will make or break this whole thing. But lately, I've been running across people who have become...a little bit screwy, shall we say, on the whole counting calories thing.
If you're trying to eat healthy, you absolutely should be looking at the nutritional information of your food if it's available. But if you're looking at serving size and calorie amount and stopping there, you're not doing yourself any favors. You see, not all calories are created equal. The word "calorie" simply indicates the amount of energy that is required to increase the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1 degree Celcius. It has nothing to do with how healthy the food is for you, how long it's going to keep you feeling full, and how quickly your body is going to burn through it.
This why reading the rest of the nutritional information is important. If something is 150 calories but takes 90 of those calories from fat, that's probably not the best choice you can make. If you are making a choice between two things that are calorically equal, take the food with more stuff: fiber, protein, vitamins, antioxidents. These things will not only help keep you healthy, but they'll keep your body running, which is something I think people tend to forget.
Your body burns a certain amount of calories just existing, and you need to make sure that you fuel your body to be able to continue the laborious processes of mitosis, digestion, breathing, and pumping blood everywhere. If you go over your calorie count by a banana, your body will not go, "WELP, that was 90 calories extra, so I will now make 90 calories worth of fat. Enjoy taking doing stairs for 15 minutes to burn that off, sucka!" It will not say, "Oh no, I was avoiding sugar, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!"
No. No one was ever made worse off by eating a banana (unless they are allergic to bananas, in which case, don't eat a banana). A banana is extremely high in potassium, which your body needs to lower blood pressure and promote good cardiovascular health, as well as fiber and a whole host of other awesome benefits and nutritious substances. This also goes for carbohydrates, which people have decided are the worst things ever, apparently. A banana, like most fruit, has carbohydrates, and this is a good thing, because remember how I was saying that your body burns calories to run itself? It primarily gets that energy from carbs. Now, when you eat too many carbs, that's when you run into a problem. So instead of avoiding all carbs ever, just avoid the white bread or those chips served before your meal when you eat out.
All I'm saying is that when you eat less crap - fast-food, fatty cheeses like cheddar, processed food, and food with added preservatives and additives - you'll be taking in better calories. The nutritional info above is for a serving of black eyed peas. It's 200 calories, yes, but check out the information: only 8 of those calories are from fat, it has a whopping 13 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fiber! The protein and the fiber will ensure that you feel "full" for longer, which can limit the amount of calories you spend snacking. The same 200 calories, by the way, could get you half of a Jack in the Box cheeseburger, almost all of a donut, or an entire avocado, and I don't think you're going to be full for very long just eating that.
At the end of the day, you should be striving for your diet to be sustainable. You can count calories and work your tail off in the gym, but if you still get most of your calories from places like Del Taco (despite getting less calories), you're probably not going to enjoy your hardwon weight loss success for very long. Switching crappy calories for good calories, though, will help ensure that your overall health and fitness level will stay high instead of crashing back down to earth when you decide that you can't live off of grapefruit halves and ice cubes any longer.
Is the summer heat getting you down? Jump into a group training class, then cool off with this refreshing, fitness recipe of the week.
Creamy Cucumber Soup
Servings: 4 servings, about 1 cup each
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumbers, divided
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 to 4 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 3/4 cups cucumber slices, broth, salt, pepper and cayenne; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer until the cucumbers are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Transfer the soup to a blender. Add avocado and parsley; blend on low speed until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Pour into a serving bowl and stir in yogurt. Chop the remaining 1/4 cup cucumber slices. Serve the soup warm or refrigerate and serve it chilled. Just before serving, garnish with the chopped cucumber and more chopped parsley, if desired.
Calories 173, Total Fat 12 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Monounsaturated Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 2 mg, Sodium 494 mg, Carbohydrate 15 g, Fiber 5 g, Protein 4 g, Potassium 544 mg. Daily Values: Vitamin C 30%. Exchanges: Vegetable 1, Fat 2.
Warmup with a mile run.
50 Squat Jumps
Cool down with static stretching and Self-Myofascial Release Techniques after every workout. Be safe and always train smart. Fitness doesn't have to be complicated, and you don't necessarily have to have a personal trainer or group fitness trainer (though it doesn't hurt) or even a gym membership to get in shape.
Be a part of your own success story...
Joe Garcia is the owner of Arena Fitness, a personal training, semi private training and group exercise facility in Encino, Ca.
I am a horrible trainer. And, as a guy who has led somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 training sessions and classes over the years, that’s a hard thing to admit.
Oh, I can give YOU a great training session, that's no problem! I’m not the world's greatest trainer, but I’m good at my job, I'm a professional, so those people who suffered through those many thousands of training sessions and classes got their money’s worth. But when I’m operating as MY OWN personal trainer I absolutely suck, and unless you are one of those rare, almost nonexistent people in the world who can effectively design, implement and maintain a systematic and progressive training protocol for yourself, you’re not so good either. (Note: In the picture to the right in which I'm red-faced, sweaty and delirious; I didn't train myself).
If you're that guy who shows up at the gym and works out five days a week you deserve credit. Your intentions are good, your effort is admirable and your resolve is to be commended. But, believe me, if you're operating as your own personal trainer, your training program is in trouble. Don't get bent out of shape, it has nothing to do with experience. If it did, I’d be awesome at training myself (I, however, am not). It has nothing to do with knowledge, either, because even the trainer with the most encyclopedic archive of training wisdom flails when he trains himself. It has to do with human nature, with behavior, and most of our behavior does not lend itself to being the best choice for overseeing our own training program.
First of all, we’re hard-wired to seek out comfort and avoid pain and misery. Effective fitness training, and by "effective," I mean progressive, challenging, Holy Shit training, seeks out and embraces the things that will be most stressful and difficult for us so that we are forced, physiologically, to adapt, get stronger and more fit. Anything less than that does not honor the inarguable laws of physiology and progressive overload, and is….well…pretty much a waste of time. We don’t dive into the most difficult stuff, we avoid it. We do the pec-deck instead of ballistic push ups and burpees, seated bicep curls instead of squats and box jumps, and crunches instead of planks. We do what we LIKE, what we’re comfortable and familiar with, not what we hate but know will best serve us. We do the useless stuff because it's easy, focuses on the body parts we want to emphasize, and lulls us into thinking we're actually working out. (Note to reader: There is a difference between "training" and "working out," but that's a conversation for another time). This sort of weak-ass "training" leads to Chicken Legs, guys who are "all-show-and-no-go" (they look good, but can't run up a flight of stairs without having to take a standing eight-count), and the use of the "inner and outer thigh machine" (perhaps the most egregious fraud ever perpetrated upon the female gym population).
Second, we will sell ourselves out in a New York minute if no one else is watching. We go into the gym planning on doing four circuits of exercises and do two. We start hitting the heavy bag, all pumped up and swearing to do 12 rounds, but kind of slink away after 6 and do crunches and curls instead. We stroll on the treadmill for 8 minutes, do a set of push ups and, because no one is watching, we LEAVE. Admit it. You've done it! There have been a million times that we have cut our workouts short because we could. If there had been a personal trainer or no-nonsense training partner present during our workout, we would have stepped it up and pushed ourselves much harder, because we don't like to look bad! But there wasn’t anyone there, and because no one was watching, we sold ourselves out. We can deal with self-loathing as long as it's in private.
Third, we’ll do the same things over and over because we like the familiarity. Sure, that may include a variety of exercises, but no TRUE variation. If someone else was calling the shots, we’d be running up hills, carrying sandbags on the treadmill, doing cleans until we literally couldn’t hold the bar anymore and we’d keep hitting that heavy bag until the bile rose up in our throats because someone else was in charge of the word "STOP." But, left to our own devices, we will loiter, then disappear. And we won't even feel that bad about it because no one was there to witness our shamelessness!
Before you say, "Look, man, I don't have a thousand extra dollars a month to pay for a personal trainer," stop. That's not what this is about. Most of us don't have a thousand dollars a month for a trainer. This isn't about money, this isn't even about personal training per se. This is about finding a way to put someone else in charge of at least part of your training program. You need to NOT be the one calling the shots all the time, or your training program will suck. Let's think creatively.
If you can hire a private trainer, great, go for it. Even if you only do it once a week or once every few weeks, just to remain honest and make sure you’re exposing yourself to someone else’s perspective once in a while. That's a great and obvious (and costly) option, but if you have the wherewithal to do it, do it. Or, try semi-private training or small group personal training, it’s more cost-effective and equal in benefit to private training.
Jump into a group training class. Group exercise is great because it’s structured, rigorous, and the group dynamic pushes you to push yourself. Try a bootcamp class, mat Pilates, yoga, Spartan Training Camp, some sort of Total Body Conditioning circuit or kickboxing. Most boutique studios have options for a single class or a small package of classes. You can throw this into the mix sometimes.
Check out YouTube for exercise videos and work out in your living room. You don’t need to spend money to get a great workout, the magic of the internet can bring awesome workouts right to your front door. Look at pictures on Pinterest that outline people's workouts, or fitness pages on Facebook. You can look up popular fitness blogs through Google, follow Twitter feeds, sign up for MyFitnessPal with some friends and hold each other accountable to healthy eating! Fitness networking through social media is really simple and effective these days.
Cut a workout out of Shape or Men’s Fitness magazine and do it.
Sign up for www.meetup.com and find out when groups of people in your area are getting together to run, hike, cycle, whatever.
Find a friend who likes to train and train with him or her. You design the workouts one week, he or she designs them the next. Or, even if you don’t train WITH them, just exchange workouts and do them on your own.
The point is, you are not your best option as a personal trainer. Just own it. But you don’t have to be. You just have to be willing to seek out better options, and your training options are limited only by your creativity and commitment.
Every trainer I know has a trainer, or takes other people’s group fitness classes. And they know what it takes to progress in training. If they are willing to do it, and they're the experts, why wouldn't you be?
There are exceptions to every rule. Every once in a while I'll come across someone who is so driven and so dedicated, they train themselves as intensely as they would if they were being trained. Those people, though rare, do exist. But you're not one of them. Neither am I. And that's okay.
Jonathan Aluzas is the owner of Arena Fitness, a personal training, semi private training and group fitness training facility in Encino, California.
Name: Rochelle Handy
Workout Regimen: Twice weekly semi-private training sessions, Spartan Training Camp, and flipping tires like matchsticks!
Arena Tour of Duty: 890 Visits, 638 Hours!!!
This honor is long overdue. This Mama Beast has been with us for 7 lovely years!! Not only does she do personal training with her own children, she's become a mother figure to so many of our clients, as well. She's always pushing herself, her kids and her workout buddies to the max. If you've had the pleasure of training with Rochelle, then you know how she destroys her workouts! She can flip an 150 tire in her sleep...while dancing!! She recently started tracking her diet as well as stepping up her workouts with Spartan Training and has lost 20lbs! There's no slowing down this one. She's in beast mode!
It's our honor and extreme pleasure to present to you your Beast of the Week, Rochelle Handy!
Arena Fitness is a personal training, semi private training and group exercise facility in Encino, Ca.
Since the school year has ended, I've been watching a lot of TLC and their fashion shows, like "What Not To Wear" and "Say Yes To The Dress". Beacuse I have zero fashion sense, I find these shows fascinating and often informative, because I still dress like I did ten years ago. Anyway, I started noticing a running thread throughout the shows: person loses weight, person wants to get new clothing to celebrate, person is devestated when a certain size doesn't fit or doesn't look good.
It made me realize that while there are a lot of resources for losing weight - motivation, tips, workouts, nutrition guides, whatever - there aren't many for what happens afterwards. Perhaps that's because the whole thing is intended to be a journey rather than a destination, lifelong and sustainable. This, of course, all depends on why you want to get in shape or lose weight in the first place. While it may not be the main reason to lose weight, one of the obvious side benefits of getting in shape is looking better, too. But no one tells you how to deal with this when you get there.
I suffer from this problem. After losing about 40 pounds through diet and exercise, I was excited to go try on new clothes because my old wardrobe didn't even come close to fitting me. But when I got into the fitting room, I was extremely disappointed. I wanted to feel skinny and I wanted to look skinny. But I definitely didn't feel that way looking at myself in the mirror. It made me want to cry - I had accomplished so much yet I felt like when it finally came to the point where it was put to the test (my looking skinny), I failed utterly. I mean, while I started to lose weight to look better, it wasn't long until I was doing it so I could just kick some major ass like running in an obstacle course.
This is where my TLC marathoning has come to the rescue. Several shows drive the point home that it truly is not about the size of the clothing but about looking and (more importantly) feeling your best. This means buying a pair of jeans that fit, rather than making a big deal about a certain size and trying to squeeze into them and making myself look bigger than I actually am. Allow me to blow your mind - clothing sizes are completely arbitrary. They aren't the same from manufacturer to manufacturer - and they aren't even consistent within a brand. Not all body types are flattered by the same cut, either, and your accomplishments are not negated just because you don't look great in a certain piece of clothing.
In the end, all you can do is be proud of your accomplishment - losing weight is not an easy task - and remember that there is more to all of that then fitting into a medium or a smaller size.
If you're looking for a turkey/chicken burger full of flavor and nutrients, look no further than Rachel Ray's Spanakopita Burger! Try this as a healthy, guilt-free burger for the 4th of July. I bet it will cause fireworks!
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
To one side, add a little extra-virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of butter.
When butter melts, add the chopped garlic and chopped red onion and cook 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl to cool.
Return pan to heat.
Squeeze all the water out of the thawed spinach.
Separate the spinach as you add it to the bowl with cool onions, garlic and season with 1 teaspoon of oregano.
Add in feta crumbles then chicken or turkey, grill seasoning and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Mix and form into 4 patties, 1-inch thick.
Raise heat on pan to medium-high.
Add patties and cook 6 minutes on each side.
50 Box Jumps
40 Push Ups
30 Squat Jumps
20 Sit Ups or Toe 2 Bars (Find a bar to hang from)
If you're a Jiu Jitsu guy like myself, find a friend and spar for 6 minutes in between your exercises! Set an interval timer up for 6 Minutes of Sparring and 2 minutes of rest so that you can do your exercises. Whatever rest time you have left is your time for you to rest before you have to spar again. You should get at least 5 rounds of Sparring in. ONLY DO THE EXERCISES ONCE EACH IF YOU DECIDE TO SPAR WITH A FRIEND!
No friend to spar with? That's ok, throw in some Kickboxing rounds and have yourself a great workout!
Be a part of your own success story...