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Why You Need an Exercise Log - An exercise log has three primary functions: it should contain a pre-written daily workout or workout of the day (WOD, as CrossFitters say); it can be used to track training output per training session; and it’s a way to compare weekly and monthly training progress. Although a written exercise log (digital or physical) might seem too simple a tool to boost goal attainment on your fitness journey, there many uses for it that can lead to tangible results, regardless of your goal. For starters, exercise logs are a regular tool of professional coaches and personal trainers, who use them to plan and measure the progress of athletes or clients. If you lack the luxury of having a personal trainer or a coach, crafting and utilizing an exercise log can elevate you to an elite-level self-trained athlete. Below are six truths about exercise logs that support this claim. 1.       Focus on your workout, not on what to do next Always write your daily workout in advance, not at the gym before you get started. This gives you time to thoughtfully create your WOD, review your previous workouts, and research routines for your goal or find some inspiration to add variety. The more your WOD aligns with your goals and is composed of exercises you enjoy doing, always wanted to try, or need to do, the more likely you’ll be motivated to do follow through. Plus, the work involved in crafting a routine can create a sense of duty to carry it out. 2.       Make sense of the complexity of meeting training goals Tracking your training via an exercise log can be used to push you harder and prevent you from overtraining. As someone who once spent 8-hour days in the gym as a personal trainer, I can recall hearing gym members saying, “I think I’m going to train [this or that muscle group] today” or “I feel like doing [this or that workout] today.” If you truly want to reach a specific goal, you should never spontaneously decide what workout or exercise to do based on a random thought or feeling on a given day. This lack of planning will not only forestall progress, but increases the probability of overtraining or undertraining: neglecting to train some muscle groups or your whole body too infrequently. Many days at numerous gyms, I saw young women doing ab workouts day after day because they felt like training their abs again . . . and again . . . and again. They had no understanding that muscles require recovery days for development. Training favored muscle groups more often than other muscle groups can lead to muscle imbalances, which is an all-to-common pathway to injuries and a world of movement deficiencies as we age. In addition to ensuring you train your body fully, planning your workouts with an exercise log is based in science. Large muscle groups, like the glutes and quads, require more recovery days than smaller muscle groups, such as the triceps, biceps, and calves. I’ll summarize recommended recovery times for the abdominals and glutes as an example. Despite popular public-gym practice, the abdominals need time to recover and shouldn’t be trained every day. An every-other-day training routine with varying levels of intensity each training day is generally the most the abdominals require. In fact, in many cases, one can develop well-defined abs by training them for no more than 10 minutes per day, twice a week. Abs are made in the kitchen, not (solely) on the gym floor. And the all-beloved glutes, require more recovery time than the abs, as they are a large, complex muscle group. Two days per week of training the glutes should be the maximum, with one day per week being sufficient. If you train with no regard for adequate recovery periods, you can expect little to no gains, overtraining, undertraining, and/or injury. 3.       Make progress If your goal is to get stronger or to build muscle, progressive overload should be at the core of your training. Whether you are a weightlifter or a calisthenic athlete, you can use an exercise log to track and review your strength progressions from previous workouts. Doing this will inform you of how much resistance or leverage to add for the next workout. For a weight lifter, logging the amount of weight they lift every session can prevent them from forgetting what weight they left off on when it’s time to return to a specific exercise – let’s be real, in many training regimes, there are too many exercises and weights/progression levels to recall by naked memory. An exercise log can do that job for you. 4.       Prevent injury and regression An exercise log can prevent you from jumping up in weight too quickly, which can result in injury or a premature plateau caused by overtraining or overreaching (a state in which the body is stressed, caused by harsh training it is not prepared for). The visual accountability provided by the log can also keep you from the possible temptation of returning to a lower weight or lower progression level on days when you might not be as motivated. 5.       Use for every type of exercise Apart from tracking strength or muscle gains, logging flexibility, meditation, and cardiovascular exercise can also be beneficial. With cardio, for example, you can track the amount of time you trained and the type of exercise you did. If your goal is endurance, you can compare your training durations per session and make adjustments as needed. If your goal is speed, durations can also be useful to log to compare progress from training session to training session. For general cardiovascular health, knowing the exercise(s) and what intensity you performed at for a prior workout can keep you from doing the same activity all the time, for the same duration, and at the same intensity. When this common scenario is repeated often, your body will have no reason to make an adaption; meaning you will not see any further progress. With a daily exercise log, you can make sure you add variety and adjust intensity for every workout. 6.       Track your mood You can use an exercise log to jot down how you felt during a given workout. I find this useful because if I don’t feel well or if I lack energy one day, I’ll know for the next workout why my performance wasn’t in line with previous workouts. Of course, logging your mood during a workout is optional and might have little influence on the outcome of your goal(s). Still not convinced? Despite working out for nearly 20 years, I rarely train without an exercise log. Although I have no problem improvising, like mentioned earlier, there are too many poundages and progression levels in my overall training regime to recall by memory. My goals are ever-evolving; my body is never in a fixed state; and my daily workouts are rarely ever the same from week to week. I regularly change my individual exercises, set volume, set duration, or resistance level. My workouts without a pre-written WOD are often less productive than when I have them laid out in my exercise log. Based on my experience as a personal trainer and a trainee, attempting to reach a fitness goal without an exercise log can be chaotic and unsteady, leading to unremarkable results.  
Do You Need a Gym for an Effective Workout? – A Fit Mom’s Experience - As a young, broke mom, I worked out at home for five years before ever joining a gym. I developed a six-pack for the first time a month after giving birth to my son, and a few months later, my legs were toned for the first time. I had my first taste of muscle growth and progress with exercise. I developed so much strength and solid conditioning that when I joined the military a year later, I was awarded Top Female Physical Readiness Trainee and Warhawk. I created my own exercise schedule, starting at just three days per week, then I gradually moved up to doing something every day. My trainer was Fit TV, and my primary TV instructor was Cathe Friedrich, whom I can credit with the strengths I gained that led to my military fitness awards. Given those results, it took quite a bit of convincing from reading books by several professional coaches to encourage me to join a gym (based on my then-goal: muscle growth). After training at home for five years, being a personal trainer at various gyms for eight years, and working out at gyms for a decade, I know reaching your desired physique and performance goals can be achieved without a full-blown gym. I know many skilled, impressive, and well-built athletes who train at home gyms, some even train outdoors in the grass or utilize bars, wood planks, and other equipment at local playgrounds. The question isn’t whether you can effectively exercise without a gym, it is what kind of setup is required for you to effectively reach your goals. To help you best visualize the role your goals play in where you work out, this article is organized by general goals, focusing on the optimum setup for maximum results, based on my experience as a personal trainer and broke single mom with 18 straight years of dedication to health and fitness. Fat loss Fat loss exercise requires little to no equipment. In fact, I’ll go with the latter: fat loss requires zero equipment. Unlike exercising on a machine that provides momentum, such as a treadmill or elliptical, when propelling your body on the ground or on a floor, you get no assistance from the momentum of a machine. 100% of the force that moves your body comes from you, amounting to more caloric burn. Wasting time driving to a gym (in which you’re sitting down) and spending money on a gym membership simply to lose fat is a flawed approach. Instead, find an empty 6’x6’ space in your home or hit the pavement or grass; train immediately, with no travel time or money lost. You’ll also gain the bonus of high-caloric burn from using your own body’s resistance and strength, not the momentum from machines. Utilize the floor and pick up, hit, throw, drag, push, and pull objects. If being at home doesn’t motivate you, the outdoors is ideal for fat loss. It provides an abundance of space for the type of multi-joint, metabolic exercises that will maximize fat loss. Muscle Gain/Tone A gym with varying weights is ideal for the progressive overload required to stimulate muscle growth. It is possible to gain muscle at home, even with limited equipment, but muscle growth potential can vary by body type and genetics, and limited options for progressive overload can exasperate this. Assuming an appropriate diet with a caloric surplus has been implemented to aid in muscle growth, bodyweight exercise, for example, which is common with home workouts, can present limited opportunities for progressive overload for many people. This is because progressive overload in bodyweight training requires mastering the body in ways that aren’t as easily attainable as picking up a heavier weight. For example, advancing from a pike push-up on the floor to a freeform handstand push-up can require months and sometimes years of work. This is because the body must make many strength, balance, proprioception, stability, mobility, flexibility, and joint adjustments to enable someone to advance through each progression. That’s a lot of slow, mindful work that does not leave much room to focus on muscle gain, rather skill is emphasized. Beyond advanced bodyweight work, muscle growth and tone can still be achieved at home. The safest bet is equipping your home gym with gear such as bands, sandbags, and weights to ensure progressive overload can be executed regularly. Maintenance Save your money, train at home. When working to simply maintain your current body composition and fitness level, the primary benefit of the gym: loads of equipment, is most often unnecessary, unless maintaining your level of fitness involves access to a variety of equipment and weights. In which case, if you’d like to save money on a gym membership or enjoy the aforementioned perks of working out at home, perhaps consider investing in a home gym. The total cost can be cheaper than years of paying for a gym membership. Skills Home or the outdoors is sufficient for this goal. Of course, a gym can be used for varied equipment, but much of those pieces of equipment can be emulated outdoors or within your own home for skill work: bars, poles, walls, etc. Flexibility, Mobility, Functionality Save your money, train at home or outdoors. A gym is definitely not needed for optimal flexibility, mobility, or functionality. 500 years of ballet dancers acquiring extreme flexibility and mobility using little more than horizontal bars, walls, and floors confirms this. High flexibility and mobility translate to great physical functionality. Nuff said. The Verdict Currently, I’m rebuilding my home gym, spurred by COVID-19 lockdown orders. My goals are a mixture of functional strength, mobility, flexibility, gymnastics skills, and muscle retention/gain. I have a bare-minimum home gym setup. I purchased a yoga stand primarily for pull-up, muscle-up, and ring work that I have learned to use for leg exercises, and I’m creating new exercises as I go along. Because my goals involve muscle retention and building, I also plan to buy a few choice weights — that is, as soon as they’re available again owing to the COVID-19 exercise equipment shortage. Since March, when I returned to training 100% at home, I’ve finally been able to hold a handstand for longer than 10 seconds – and I’ve been working on handstands for three years! My splits have improved dramatically; my muscle-ups are finally getting somewhere; and my glutes are developing better than before, now that I can do publicly unacceptable glute exercises without shame. Although I love having access to the many heavy weights available at full-scale gyms, at home, I’m much more relaxed, at peace, and I have no judgers, onlookers, commentators, think-they-know-it-all-ers adding an air of negativity to my workout. Working out at home can be liberating, fun, and just as effective as training at a gym. When I work out at home, I can watch a movie and laugh out loud; I never forget my intra-workout drink (the kitchen is nearby); there are no haters, judgmental onlookers, or self-proclaimed know-it-alls critiquing me from a distance. Most of all, my focus is 100% on myself. So, no, a gym is not required to exercise effectively. People can work out anywhere. However, a lack of certain types of equipment can make it more difficult and inconvenient to reach some goals. Sure, many people advocate picking up random objects at home to use as weights, but that can be impractical and even dangerous because weights sold specifically for exercise are designed to be safe to grip and store away. If you’d like ideas on how to build your own home gym, read: “Best Home Gym Equipment for COVID-19 Self-Isolation.”
Best Home Gym Equipment for COVID-19 Lockdown & Beyond - Spurred into a fitness equipment shopping frenzy by COVID-19 self-isolation orders, I’ve narrowed down some of the best equipment to purchase for living room, garage, or bedroom fitness. I stopped training exclusively at home over 10 years ago, and I sold all my equipment back then. But now that all gyms have closed because of national stay-at-home orders, I’m forced to rebuild my home gym. Instead of getting a bunch of weights (because I was a bodybuilder the last time I had a home gym), I purchased a handful of choice fitness tools to support me as the functional athlete I am now. The primary equipment I ordered are Olympic rings and a foldable pull-up/muscle-up station I can do various bodyweight exercises on. Below are other affordable home gym options that won’t kill your living space by quantity or with bulk.  For convenience, I’ve categorized each piece of equipment by exercise goal. Strength Pull-up Stand Do pull-ups, muscle-ups, hanging ab exercises; attach rings and do ring movements. This indoor exercise stand enables you to do more than the traditional exercise stations at local gyms, which often don’t permit free movement to do muscle-ups, kipping, or aerial movements.   Olympic Rings Rings can help anyone build a strong, functional body with as little equipment as possible and are perfect if you have a tight budget or little room to setup a home gym.     Bands for Full-body Exercise Resistance bands are often underrated for their strength-building capabilities and are often relegated to warm-up and rehab movements. But resistance bands can be used to build muscle and strength. Various resistance levels enable you to incorporate progressive overload in your training with no need for a complete weight rack. Booty Bands   Stackable Weights With stackable weights, you can train your upper and lower body without consuming too much space in your home. The set pictured below is affordable and from the reputable brand Les Mills.Don Oliver BODYPUMP® WEIGHT SET WITH BAR Entry level bar and weight system for strength and cardio training. [More]Price: $130.00Buy NowBody Weights Maximize calorie burn by incorporating resistance to multi-joint movements or cardio. See some affordable options below that won’t take up more than a corner of space in your home. Ankle Weights Ankle / Wrist Weight Pair by Day 1 Fitness- 10 Weight Options – 0.5 to 10 lbs EACH, Set of 2, Adjustable Straps Weighted Vest Sand Bags Adjustable Sandbags with Filler Bags Stability A workout that incorporates stability and resistance builds strength and muscle, so you won’t have to worry about losing hard-earned muscle during however many COVID-19 stay-at-home orders we’re subjected to. Bosu Ball Stability Ball Exercise Ball (Multiple Sizes) for Fitness, Stability, Balance & Yoga – Workout Guide & Quick Pump Included Balance Board Flexibility Yoga Block + Mat Combo Stretch Helper Fat loss Rebounder Portable & Foldable Trampoline – 40″ in-Home Mini Rebounder with Adjustable Handrail Jump rope Battle rope (garage fitness, backyard fitness) Because businesses deemed “unessential” by world governments are closing, I suggest getting your home exercise equipment orders in as soon as possible. I just put in my order, and (fingers crossed) I should get my equipment later this week. I have a feeling many of us will be trying new exercises and gaining new skills due to our need to get creative to stay fit. I know I will be pushing myself. I wish you all the best of fitness during this strange period in our history.
Bodyweight Training: Save Money, Prevent Injuries, and Stay Fit for Life - Bodyweight training is surging in popularity. This trend can be seen in the form of the calisthenics fitness movement and is the foundation of CrossFit training. If you follow any fitness tags on IG, Snapchat, or TikTok, you’ve surely seen posts of people performing gravity-defying yoga stands or difficult strength and technique movements, like planches or muscle-ups. But outside of the amazing strength and skill of athletes shared on social media, anyone can undertake bodyweight training, and there are three solid reasons to do so: it costs nothing, its beneficial for all age groups and levels of fitness, and it can make you stronger than the muscle-isolating, aesthetically geared workouts prevalent in commercial gyms. If you have a tight budget, are lifelong fitness-minded, or are simply just alive, these perks of bodyweight training are difficult for other fitness programs to beat. The Logic of Bodyweight Exercise Bodyweight training has always been the foundation of a sound exercise regimen to build basic strength and stability before loading the body with external resistance, like free weights. This strategy, taught in personal training courses and to kinesiology students, prevents short-term injuries and reduces the formation of muscle imbalances that can lead to future injuries. The incremental methodology and synergistic elements that play into a well-made bodyweight routine, firmly place bodyweight training under the umbrella of functional training. Functional and bodyweight training are two complementary methods that lay a solid foundation for injury-free muscle and strength gains. Functional strength is more than how much weight a specific muscle can bear: it involves balance, flexibility, and coordination through whole-body movements. You will often meet people with a fitness model physique who still can’t accomplish much in the realm of functional movements, such as performing pull-ups or a strict-form deep squat. This common phenomenon is evidence that isolation routines in the weight room can make many people look athletically impressive, but their appearance is no reflection of their actual athletic abilities. Focusing on developing “mirror muscles” instead of developing all muscle groups equally, has little long-term practicality and is most often a ticking time bomb for injuries. Even though most of us want the “gym fit” look, functional strength is what we all actually need. Functional training focuses on the way humans move in day-to-day life and in athletic pursuits. Core areas of concern are establishing proper posture and correct movement habits prior to taking on complex exercise routines. If poor movement and posture fail to be corrected, dangerous movement patterns can carry over to a new routine and invite injury immediately or down the line. This is where functional and bodyweight training partners with each other. To address poor movement issues, functional training relies on building up bodyweight mobility and strength to develop core athletic movement sequences. Prevent Injuries Do you have a hunch at the base of your neck? Is one of your shoulders higher than the other? Do you have a hard time sitting on the floor? If you cannot easily squat to pick something up off the floor, bend over to touch your toes, or balance on one leg, these weaknesses should be corrected before engaging in weight-bearing exercises to avoid injury. Functional training can alleviate many forms of chronic pain and restore a full range of motion to the body. When taking on functional exercise, you should learn to assess your movement capabilities to ensure proper form and execution and also track your progress. If you lack experience with this, seek help from a professional trainer who specializes in functional movement and/or corrective exercise. Your training plan should be individualized to address and resolve your body’s specific weaknesses. How to Start Bodyweight Training The Alexander Technique is an ideal starting point for functional training. It cultivates mindfulness around the ways humans use their bodies in daily activities. The changes are subtle and incorporated into everyday life, so it is hard for some people to see it as a fitness activity. However, as you learn to align yourself properly your body will begin to build the strength and balance you didn’t even realize you were lacking. Five functional exercises that everyone should use to build their foundation are the squat, push-up, pull-up, row, and plank. These exercises alone can realign and build the entire body by developing stability, skill, and strength. If you are new to bodyweight training, it may take some time to master these basics. To overcome this introductory phase, spend fifteen to twenty minutes a day practicing the above five recommended exercises until the movements become natural. After mastering baseline bodyweight exercises, free weights can be incorporated into functional training routines to increase intensity and progressively overload muscles to build mass and improve strength. Dumbbells, kettlebells, battle ropes, and medicine balls are equipment commonly used to enhance the functional skill and strength initially gained with bodyweight movements. Final Word Bodyweight training is affordable, can be done anywhere, and is recommended for all fitness levels. Whereas, the muscle isolation-based weight training popular in many gyms and for physique competitions, increases the likeliness of developing muscle imbalances and often does. This reality is why aesthetically geared training should never be a starting point for an exercise regime or the base of anyone’s training scheme. Fitness professionals understand the risks of following physique-based training and are taught to design routines that develop a solid foundation in bodyweight skill and strength to create well-rounded, functional. But that’s not all, bodyweight training can still provide the strength challenges to build a muscular, aesthetically pleasing physique. Further Reading: “Rise of the Body-Weight Workout”: https://magazine.nasm.org/american-fitness-magazine/issues/jan-feb-2015/body-weight-training “7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day”: https://www.lifehack.org/292578/7-things-that-will-happen-when-you-do-planking-exercise-every-day
How Many Days a Week Should You Train Per Goal How Many Days/Week Should You Work Out? - Your body is a reflection of your habits. For results, you must expose yourself to the right exercises for your goal at a frequency that tells your body it’s time to adapt. In other words, shake up what your body is used to and introduce it to a new norm that it must condition itself to. That conditioning can come in the form of fat loss, muscle gain, increased strength, or learned skills – depending on how you train. Given this reality, it’s important to understand how many days of training are required to meet your fitness and body goals. Certified personal trainers often tell clients they need to dedicate at least three days per week to training to garner any hope of results. But, in reality, trainers know that number should be at least four days per week. The three-day prescription is a compromise with clients, who on average have fallen so out of regular exercise that telling them to train for half of the week can sound overwhelming. However, as written above: Your body is a reflection of your habits, and training three days out of seven days per week is less than half the physical exposure the body needs to fully adapt to a regime. Below are general guidelines for how many days per week one should train for maximum results per each goal in the form of split routines. What’s a Split Routine? A split routine is the opposite of a full-body training regime. In a split routine (or split training schedule), specific muscle groups are trained on separate days, as opposed to all muscle groups trained during one exercise session. The Benefit of Split Routines: Optimum Recovery Growth happens in recovery. The danger of full-body routines is overtraining; or exercising muscle groups that have not recovered adequately from being exercised previously. As a rule, small muscle groups (arms, calves, abs) require approximately 2-3 days of recovery or rest for optimal muscle growth and repair, and large muscle groups (back, legs, glutes) require between 4-7 days recovery. Rest or recovery does not mean zero physical activity, but the intensity of physical activity should be decreased. As such, many professional training routines include “light” and “heavy” training days or “Pre-hab” days, in which muscles are still exercised but at a low intensity or with a focus on function or flexibility, for example. Recommended Training Days Per Goal Goal: Fat Loss & Muscle Growth/Tone The Minimum: 4 Days/Wk Optimum: 5+ Days/Wk Four days of exercise offers enough stimulation for the body to begin making adaptions. This is the case for most people. Such is why a four-day training minimum is recommended over a three-day minimum from most trainers. Five days or more of training will help you lose fat faster than three days of exercise. Seven days of training per week, however, is often unnecessary. The body requires rest to avoid overtraining, prevent injury, and for muscles to recover and grow. A sound fat loss weekly training schedule should include a blend of cardio and strength training. Cardio liberates fat and increases caloric burn during exercise; similarly, stress placed on muscle during strength training causes elevated caloric burn, except caloric burn from strength exercise lasts for days after training. The process of repairing and building muscle is a calorie burner in itself. Goal: Skill The Minimum: 4 Days/Wk Optimum: 5+ Days/Wk Skill training involves learning how to manipulate the body in space, using only your bodyweight or tools and structures, like rings, bars, kettlebells, etc. Common skills are handstands, muscle-ups, pistol squats, and flips. To master these skills, the body must make many adaptions: increased proprioception, muscular conditioning – and in some cases, corrective exercises may need to be done to address muscle imbalances before certain skill exercises can be embarked on. Further, a trainee might have to develop their patience and concentration, because unlike typical cardiovascular exercise or strength training, skill training frequently involves holding specific positions for long periods or repeating difficult exercises again and again. And then there’s the necessity of developing a tolerance for the dizziness that often comes with body inversion, tumbling, and manipulation that must be practiced. Frequency is Key To successfully acquire skills like handstands and others, like learning to walk for the first time, the body needs frequent exposure to the movements and progressions leading up to mastering a skill. This why training at least 4 days per week is recommended, and up to 7 days of training is not uncommon. The difference between training 4 days per week versus seven is the intensity of training embarked on for your skill goals. If your skill days consist of bodyweight only at low volume (a few sets and a few reps each set), training 7 days per week will not pose a great overtraining risk. However, having differentiated training intensities, switching up muscle groups, and throwing in a recovery day or two each week is still wise.   Conversely, if you’re skill training involves a lot of ring work, weights, and plyometric movements, training at such an intensity 7 days per week is unwise. Muscles worked at high intensity need rest for growth so you can come back stronger. As written above, “growth comes with recovery.” This is again where light/heavy days come in. Many trainees who do strenuous skill training have, for example, two heavy days per week, two light days per week, and one-to-two active rest days, e.g., stretching and pre-hab (e.g., band exercises, mobility exercises, etc.). Goal: Maintenance The Minimum: 3-4 Days/Wk No optimum amount of training days per week is necessary for this goal; just train at least 3-4 days per week. Of course, training beyond four days per week Is fine in a maintenance period. So long as good nutrition is followed, three-to-four days per week of exercise works well for most people desiring to simply maintain a specific level of fitness and body composition. Sample Week of Training for Each Goal Above Note: Although each sample schedule of training is written for one week in the same month, that does not mean one should follow the entire calendar of training days. Each week is meant to be viewed as a window into just one type of training: fat loss, muscle gain/tone, skill, or maintenance – separately. It is not recommended that all forms of training be embarked upon exactly as pictured, as each week is formulated for a different goal. Last Word Not all goals, fitness levels, and body types are equal. Therefore, while 3-4 days of training per week might be sufficient for maintaining one fitness level, it might not be for another. For general good health and fitness, however, the above guidelines for the above-listed goals are effective for most trainees. Interesting Video from a Neuroscientist About How Exercise Improves the Brain, and How Often She Recommends Training Additional Reading: “How Often Should You Work Out,” Healthline.com: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-often-should-you-work-out#4 “How Many Times Should I Exercise Per Week?” Livestrong.com: https://www.livestrong.com/article/503173-how-many-times-should-i-exercise/c “This Is How Many Times Per Week You Need To Workout To See Results,” WomensHealth.com: https://www.womenshealth.com.au/how-many-times-per-week-should-you-workout
Shop Now - Original Baby Foot Skin Peel Baby Foot Exfoliating Foot Peel Review - As a busy, working single mom and college student, I can’t always make it to a spa, much less afford it. I’m all about in-home beauty treatments, and foot peels are a treatment I keep up with. I discovered the Baby Foot exfoliating foot peel via a video review on my PopSugar Roku channel. I watched the video, was stunned by the results, and I bought my first Baby Foot package. After the peel, my feet were as smooth as a baby’s, literally, for about three months. I became addicted to the softness of my feet, and now I do an in-home foot peel every three months. Watch PopSugar’s Review of The Baby Foot Exfoliating Foot Peel The Baby Foot peel is not the only product of its kind on the market. I personally prefer Lavinso’s foot exfoliation peel because, unlike the Baby Foot brand, each package comes with two pairs of exfoliating packets, which means I’m covered for six months. My only complaint against Lavinso’s product is that the plastic packets that hold the formula do not form around the ankle very well. So, I’m basically restricted to one spot on my sofa for the 60-minute processing of the product. Also, the peel formula did not reach the top of my feet, as the Baby Foot product does in the PopSugar review video. However, overall, I’m very pleased with Lavinso’s product, and I understand why it is an Amazon Choice item. I have yet to try Sephora’s foot peel and other brands. Scroll down for various, popular in-home foot peel products under $20. Baby Foot                   Lavinso                 Sephora               AsaVea               Bangbreak               Shop More Foot Peels
Home workout videos Not Ready for a Public Gym? No Problem. - Believe it or not, you don’t have to join a gym to get in shape and stay that way. Before I joined a gym, I exercised in my living room every day for five years. I never wanted membership at a public gym. I can be myself at home and even goof around, which makes for a more enjoyable workout. I also tend to train harder in privacy (grunting and ugly faces of strain are allowed). At a gym, since it’s a public place, some people, like myself, find it uncomfortable, and time doesn’t necessarily make this go away. Thankfully, a public gym membership is optional for many goals. If you simply want to improve your health, get lean, get toned, have a swimmer’s build, etc… you can attain that at home. Best of all, home training is often the cheapest option, and if you’re a broke single parent, that might be a deciding factor in not joining a gym. Below are some excellent home workout video series, online video courses, and books that are effective and informative to guide your goals. The trainers and coaches below will work you out, while teaching you about the exercise, so you know what you’re doing and why. For General Fitness – $0 PopSugar Fitness – $0 Top trainers from elite fitness studios head the free — yes, free — exercise classes in the PopSugar fitness library. So long as you have internet, a computer or Roku, AppleTV, an Amazon Fire Stick, or any other video streaming service, you should be able to gain access to PopSugar and its free, on-demand fitness videos. Workout selections vary from the relative low intensity of a  yoga routine, like the Get Long and Lean With CorePower Yoga workout, to the high-intensity of a Tabata-Style HIIT Workout. Many exercise styles are available for whatever your goal or mood is. If I’m feeling lazy or wiped out from a week of high-intensity strength workouts, I’ll finish the week with the Bring the Heat With This Country Dance Workout.  Sport Fitness Advisor – “No hype. No bullshit. Just the facts.” – $0 Sport Fitness Advisor is a true example of utilizing knowledge as power. Led by accredited practictioners of sports science, the website offers visitors the information to become knowledgable, self-trained athletes. While their website is listed under “General Fitness” for this post, it actually offers knowledge and work plans across the sport’s spectrum, from strength training to flexibility to circuit training and more. In keeping with the idea of informing visitiors, Sport Fitness Advisor also offers information on nutrition and body composition. As BrokeSingleMomFitness.com advocates, taking the time to learn at least the basics of exercise and nutrition can fortify you against training routines and nutrition programs that are unsustainable or unhealthy. For Every Goal Bodybuilding.com All Access – $   Finally, Bodybuilding.com entered the home workout, on-demand exercise video market, and they offer training for many goals: powerlifting, calisthenics, fat loss, and, of course, bodybuilding. All the work is done for you, from mapping out your weekly workout schedule to exercise progressions. And, only the best, most reputable trainers are chosen to head each program. For a Body Built by Calisthenic Strength (Specialized Fitness) $-$$ Body Bible – $ By British Olympic Gymnast, Nile Wilson: Learn gymnastics at any age in your home. The main equipment you need is your body, so this course is cheap in that sense. Price options can also be affordable, ranging from $7-$20. The British pound is the currency the course is offered in. However, in the world of the internet, that’s hardly a barrier. Remember, Nile is an Olympian! Sample video   Gymnastic Bodies (Gymfit) – $$ Getting fancy now. Learn gymnastics in your living room, at your pace, with this online course library created by elite gymnastics coach, Coach Sommers. This course is tailored like the gymnastics routines a first-time gymnast would follow at a local gymnastics studio. No corners are cut, no skill is skipped over, and no gains should be missed with this diligent course. The catch is, courses are between $99-$500. Sample video Overcoming Gravity – $ This book was written and compiled by coach and former gymnast, Steve Low. Like taking notes? Better yet, like having words you can reference to aid you on your bodyweight strength or gymnastics goals? Overcoming Gravity is an excellent choice — and a cheap one compared with the hundreds of dollars you can potentially spend on the Gymnastic Bodies and Body Bible online courses. This book is currently $45 on Amazon, and cheaper, used copies can be found. Complete Calisthenics – $ Here is another book that is a hell of a lot cheaper than purchasing one of the two above online gymnastics courses. I have not read it yet, but it is nearly 5-star rated. The current purchase price is $16 on Amazon, and can be bought cheaper used.   For Flexibility & Tone – $$ Amazon Instant Video Yoga Options The videos below are free to you all year long if you’re an Amazon Prime member. Membership is currently $119/year. Sample video Article initially published on May 5, 2015 - Updated and republished on June 7, 2018
Women’s Beginner Upper Body Strength Workout - Exercise Type: Strength/Resistance Level: Beginner Goal: Muscle development & endurance Baseline set & rep schemes for strength exercise: 8-10 reps – This rep range stimulates muscle growth if performed with a challenging weight. To maximize muscle stimulation, lift a weight or choose a resistance level that is challenging enough that you’re physically unable to perform more than 8-10 reps. 12-15 reps – This rep range builds muscle endurance. Lift a weight or choose a resistance level that enables you to perform at least 12reps. Any reps above 25 are often unnecessary but depend on your physique and performance goals. Reps to failure – Perform an exercise until your form suffers or until performing a rep feels physically impossible. Rest periods for strength: During resting periods between sets, shake out exercised muscles to flush built-up lactic acid. This will help you continue a workout with more-or-less fresh muscles. 60-second rest periods are recommended for each exercise detailed below. This is enough time to recover so you can push hard each set, but short enough to keep the muscles warm. For muscle growth and/or strength, a general recommendation is to have a between-set resting period of at least 60 seconds. This is because growth comes from maximal effort. If your muscles don’t recover every set, your performance can dwindle along with potential gains. The warm-up Total time: approx. 5 minutes 3-minute jog around the gym or on a treadmill set to a challenging incline or decline 1-2 minutes of dynamic stretches: 20 Forward and rear arm circles, followed by 20 seconds of shoulder dislocates with a band or lightweight bar Dips on parallel bars For absolute beginners: 3 sets of 4-6 reps For more experienced trainees: 3 sets to failure Many people do dips in a manner that isn’t “functional,” meaning their movement pattern is unnatural for the human body. When doing dips, always use parallel bars or two surfaces that enable your body to dip down directly between your arms. Using a chair or bench dips puts strain on your shoulders in an unnatural movement pattern that can lead to shoulder injury. See the images below.   Dumbbell shoulder press For muscle growth: 3 sets of 8-10 reps For muscle endurance and tone: 3 sets of 12-15 reps   Dumbbell rows For muscle growth: 3 sets of 8-10 reps For muscle endurance and tone: 3 sets of 12-15 reps Tricep overhead extensions Try using cables for this exercise. If you use dumbbells and bodyweight for the above exercises, using cables will give the body more diversity of resistance. The first exercise, dips, is a bodyweight movement that trains small and large muscle groups simultaneously. The use of dumbbells in the two exercises proceeding the dips places focus on large muscle groups. Doing tricep extensions with cables will again train large and small muscle groups together, but under constant resistance, AKA constant tension, which creates the added benefit of muscle endurance. For muscle growth: 3 sets of 8-10 reps For muscle endurance and tone: 3 sets of 12-15 reps   You’re done! Now stretch the muscles you worked. Total stretch time: Approx. 5-10 minutes or longer to increase your flexibility.
3 Rules to Push-Up Mastery - A proper push-up (knees off the floor) is a basic upper body exercise. But for many, the movement is strenuous and difficult to learn. Women especially often struggle with how taxing the exercise can be. But, believe me, performing a correct, no-knees push-up has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with discipline and dedication. Follow the rules below for progressions from beginner to push-up master, and soon you’ll be doing advanced push-ups with ease.   Rule 1: Get off your knees Doing push-ups on your knees creates an unnatural movement pattern that makes it difficult to transition to proper, off-the-knees push-ups. Get off your knees, tighten your abs, breathe out on the way down, and feel your arms working. Taking the proper position will create the stimuli necessary to strengthen your arms and master the movement. If you need a modification on your way to performing a push-up without your knees, a wall, a bar, or a bench are excellent choices. If using a wall, bar, or bench, be sure to lower the angle every week until you can do a push-up on the ground.   Rule 2: Be dedicated I started working on push-ups when I was seventeen, and I tried to practice daily. My progress stagnated if I took a day or two off during this early-exposure period. I had more strain when I returned to the exercise. This occurs when exposure to an exercise is cut off soon after being introduced, and the body returns to what it’s most accustomed to: not doing the new exercise. To prevent regression when beginning push-ups, don’t do the exercise only when you have the energy to do it or for less than three times per week. If you do so, you may find yourself never mastering the movement. Practice daily, and try to commit to 20 or more push-up attempts per day, cumulatively, and you’ll be a push-up pro before long.   Rule 3: Set a time limit to mastery Set a one or two-month limit to achieve proper push-ups. If you do several push-ups per day every day, you will no doubt have the exercise mastered in one month. If cannot practice push-ups a little every day, for whatever reason, expose your body to the exercise at least three times per week (20+ reps per day or per workout). At a three-day per week rate, you can master a proper push-up in two to three months. BONUS RULE: Set higher push-up goals Don’t stop at basic push-ups. Aim for mastery of push-up variations, such as side-to-side, plyo, staggered, and pike push-ups. If you set an advanced push-up goal before attempting basic push-ups, you might master the basic movement faster because you will see it as a starting point, rather than an endpoint; a basic push-up becomes something you have to overcome before you can even get to the interesting stuff. I incorporate this logic with all my fitness goals, and it’s often a fast-track to learning a plethora of advanced exercises. As with other bodyweight strength exercises, proficiency at push-ups requires muscle adaptation, which takes time. Adaption is brought on by exposure, consistency, and repetition. The speed in which you master push-ups is dependent on your level of dedication. If you follow the above simple rules, you’ll be on your way to push-up mastery in little time. Did this article help you? Let me know.  
Muscle Fibers 101 & Goal-specific Training - Our bodies are composed of three types of skeletal muscle fibers: (1) Type I: slow-twitch, high endurance capacity; (2) Type IIa: fast-twitch, large, powerful, medium endurance capacity; and (3) Type IIb: fast-twitch, large, powerful, and easy-to-fatigue (sometimes called fight-or-flight muscle fibers). Your muscle fiber composition ratio is dependent on a muscle’s function, your age, your genetics, and – something you have control over: exercise type. See the table below for a quick reference of the three muscle fiber types. Small screen? Hold and scroll right. 👉🏽 Characteristic Slow-Twitch Type I Fast-Twitch Type IIA Fast-Twitch Type IIX or IIB Activities Marathons, distance running, swimming, cycling, power walking, endurance training Powerlifting, sprinting, jumping, strength and agility training Powerlifting, sprinting, jumping, strength and agility training Muscle Fiber Size Small Large Large Force Production Low High Very High Resistance to Fatigue Slow Quick Very Quick Contraction Speed Slow Quick Very Quick Mitochondria High Medium Low Capillaries High Medium Low Myoglobin High Medium Low ATPase Level Low Medium High Oxidative Capacity High Medium Low Table created by National Association of Sports Medicine, NASM.org. Genetics We are not permanently assigned dominance or weakness in one muscle fiber type, nor is everyone born with an even distribution of all three. Someone born with a higher ratio of Type I muscle to Type IIa muscle can be better suited for endurance sports, while someone born with the opposite ratio, can be better suited for strength and power sports. However, professional athletes who are born with a predominance of one muscle fiber type over another also engage in sport-specific training to enhance their gifts. The form of training you engage in can create a body that is optimized for strength and power training or for endurance. As shown in the above chart, you don’t have to be genetically gifted to build a specialized body – or a generalized body for that matter; you just have to be mindful about the type of training you engage in. Age & body composition I always say: I do regenerative training, not degenerative training. To those who year in and year out try to get me to engage in marathons: I don’t do marathons because I’m informed about muscle fiber types, how they can influence aging, speed, agility, and body composition. As we age, slow-twitch, slimmer, less powerful Type I muscle dominates our bodies, while at the same time, we lose larger, quicker, more powerful Type II muscle. Knowing this, one might wonder why anyone would intentionally contribute to that degenerative process by dedicating themselves to activities that further encourage the dominance of slow-twitch muscle that comes with aging. Marathons require dedication to be done well, but so too does building a quick, muscular, metabolically efficient body. Making the conversion in either direction is not a fast or painless process, and sacrifices and compromises have to be made. You can’t build mass and power and hope to have greater endurance capacity; you can’t spend hours running and hope to be an excellent powerlifter as a result – the aerobic capacities, ATP replenishment windows, contraction speeds, etc., simply aren’t interchangeable. This is called sport specificity and can fall under the general umbrella of “athletic training,” specialized training for mastering a specific sport or activity. As we age, slow-twitch, slimmer, less powerful Type I muscle dominates our bodies; while at the same time, we lose larger, quicker, more powerful Type II muscle. My Training For a person who has specialized in fast-twitch muscle development for the past 18 years, I would have to sacrifice my fast-twitch training to develop the endurance capacity to perform well in a marathon. That means losing the metabolic efficiency my Type IIa muscle gives me along with losing power, speed, agility, and strength. Further, I’ll lose the physique I spent years crafting. I won’t be destroying my hard-earned muscle because a marathoner believes marathons are the best form of exercise or some great challenge. Marathons – and most endurance exercises – are simply repetitive motion. When it comes to marathons, it’s putting one foot in front of the other. The reason many people focus on running to be fit is because it’s a low-learning curve activity; far less challenging than developing a strength programming routine to improve your lifts six months down the line or a gymnastics strength program in which you learn how to perform handstands, muscle-ups, or even pull-ups. But that’s just the start of the low-learning curve of endurance training. The primary ease to running is the body doesn’t have to learn anything new. Unlike having to train your core, wrists, breathing, and proprioception for months before being capable of performing a single handstand, running is something most of us can do a year or two after birth. Does this mean there aren’t some lessons runners can learn about good form: no, but many never learn proper running form either way, let’s be honest. This only further contributes to the degenerative effects of that form of exercise, i.e., posterior chain breakdown, muscle imbalances, joint issues. Running is a simple activity to take up and perform well in, as it’s as simple as developing a tolerance for repeating the same motion over and over again. I won’t even get into the issues with single-direction repetitive motion because it necessitates its own post. Ultimately, I beg to differ with marathon enthusiasts claims; marathons are not an ultimate form of exercise. Rather, they are simply very accessible to the general populace and, therefore, more people have experience with that type of challenge than with activities that test overall physical capability and functionality via multi-directional, multi-joint movements, and metabolic training. Regarding single-direction endurance cardio, anything is challenging if it’s repeated hundreds and thousands of times. The question is: is that challenge worth the repercussions, and will you gain the capabilities and physique you desire from it? For me, definitely not. Been there, informed myself out of that. Now it’s time to cover my bases by stating: for us non-pro-athletes who don’t need to be specialists, it’s important to avoid training that is too lopsided in one direction: fast-twitch or slow-twitch. Instead, we should strive to be closer to well-rounded for long-term overall fitness. However, it is unrealistic to believe you can master every sport because your body will adapt to the training loads, durations, pace, etc., of activities you do most. As such, switching from fast-twitch to slow-twitch activities after specializing in either one, will take time. You will have to choose a side or be a generalist. While focusing on being as functional, strong, and flexible as my schedule and life allows, I emphasize training my fast-twitch muscle. I’m pleased with my metabolically efficient and larger muscles vs when I fell for endurance-training misconceptions before I became a certified trainer. After which, I learned to train in ways that enable me to develop the body and abilities that inspire and motivate me. When it comes to lifelong fitness, inspiration and motivation are imperative. On the other hand, following the crowd because the crowd says you should do what they’re all doing, can lead you into the type of training that is unmotivating, uninspiring, and unable to deliver the results and grant the abilities you most desire. Get informed. Sources "Fast-Twitch Vs. Slow-Twitch Muscle Fiber Types - NASM." https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/fast-twitch-vs-slow-twitch. "Here’s What Proper Running Form Actually Is - SELF." 02 Apr. 2019, https://www.self.com/story/what-proper-running-form-actually-is. "Multi-Directional Strength: Why You Need It, How to Get It ...." 28 Sept. 2016, https://www.stack.com/a/multi-directional-strength-why-you-need-it-how-to-get-it. "Running Injuries Health Center - Sports-health | Trusted ...." https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/running-injuries. "Stop Loading and Start Exploding: Power Training for ...." 26 Sept. 2017, https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/6572/stop-loading-and-start-exploding-power-training-for-powerful-aging/.            
Exercise, Training, or Ritual - Are you exercising, training, or performing rituals? You might consider the first two to be synonymous and the third, esoteric and totally foreign. However, I would argue that the first two are similar but distinct, and a lot of people might unintentionally be engaged in the third. Either way, I would argue that each are valuable and can play a role in your fitness journey, IF you know which is which. Exercise Exercise can be defined as “bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness.”[1] But the devil is in the details, or lack thereof. What exactly is “physical fitness”, is there a general standard that can be applied? Is it the Presidential Physical Fitness Test? Is it the Army’s Basic Training Physical Fitness Test? Or is it just being a little stronger or having just a bit more endurance than you used to? Likewise, we can imagine a large number of activities that would fall within this broad definition. Did you take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator? Did you park a little farther from the store entrance? Take an after-lunch stroll around the neighborhood? You did? Congratulations! You exercised! Exercise is great and should be encouraged. After exercising, and experiencing the benefits of exercise, you may develop some “exercise-related” goals: lose some weight, perform a full-range pull-up, run a mile, etc. Whatever your goals are, you are going to have to figure out a way to achieve them– which I believe, brings us to training. Training Training is defined as “the skill, knowledge or experience acquired by one that trains.”[2] Here, the trainee is obtaining more than physical fitness, they are also acquiring information they can apply towards their goals. When most people hear the word training, they probably imagine a high-level athlete of some kind, which is not wrong, but the same mind-set can be utilized by the Average Joe or Jane as well. The major benefit of training is that it narrows your focus to one or a few measurable goals: you want to get faster, leaner, stronger. Another benefit is it will make you start to think about other factors that affect your performance, factors like sleep, nutrition, and recovery. When you are serious about training, you will think twice about late nights out and those extra cheat meals because they are not part of the plan. The easiest way to keep track of all these things is a training journal, this can be as simple as a notebook or full-on Excel spreadsheet. A training journal provides the data you need to determine if you are progressing towards your goals and gives you the ability to tweak specific aspects of your training when necessary. Proper training is like the GPS to your goals; you might be able to get there without it, but it might take you way longer than expected. Ritual And last but not least, “ritual.” A ritual is defined as “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a precise manner.”[3] For purposes of our discussion, I would say a ritual is something you do because it provides some benefit, real or imagined. Do you swear by cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach? Do you believe in anabolic windows and loading your creatine with grape juice, of course? Do you have a magic exercise or number of reps and sets? If so, you might be caught up in ritual; however, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Serge Nubret, one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, stop reading and go look him up, reportedly did 2,000 sit ups every day and attributed his trim waist and overall health to this practice, even though we all know that abs are built in the kitchen. Herschel Walker, whatever you think of him of these days, famously did at least 1,000 pushups every day. Now, is there any physiological evidence that thousands of reps are better than a more traditional rep scheme, 3×10-12? No, at least none that I could find. However, the real, more interesting question is: Is there a psychological benefit, a placebo effect? There must be, otherwise why would we do it? Or maybe it is the idea that you are working harder than the other guy? Moreover, is that psychological benefit worth the risk of injury? Logically, the answer should be no because an injury can totally derail your progress. So where does that leave us? Exercise is great and should be something everyone strives to include in their lives, whatever form it takes. If you identify some fitness-related goals, developing and adhering to a training regime is probably your best bet to actually achieve those goals. And rituals, as long as they are not harmful, can give you the psychological boost to get up and get moving, even on those days when you might not want to. Sources [1] Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “exercise,” accessed January 28, 2021, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exercise. [2] Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “training,” accessed January 28, 2021, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/training. [3] Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “ritual,” accessed January 28, 2021, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ritual.
Understanding and Manipulating Macronutrients - Our bodies require three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These nutritional categories are further subdivided based on variations in composition and nutritional content. Through understanding these variations, you can adjust your choices to better fuel and recover from workouts and improve your overall health. Calories per gram/macronutrient: Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram Proteins: 4 calories per gram Fats: 9 calories per gram Each macronutrient plays a specific role to aid in healthy bodily functions. This is why eliminating an entire macronutrient category (such as carbohydrates) from your diet can lead to serious health risks. The more you understand the role and function of each macronutrient and its sources, the less likely you will fall prey to lopsided dieting strategies that call for eliminating an entire food category. Oftentimes, these diet strategies carry such stress and health repercussions that they are unsustainable. Instead, focus on “nutrition” not “dieting.” Nutrition means providing your body with what it requires. Optimal nutrition means providing your body with specific nutrients when it needs it, translating to less caloric storage and more caloric burn. This approach involves being selective with sources from each macronutrient, rather than dismissing an entire food group. Types of Macros Carbohydrates Simple carbs – Simple carbohydrates can be processed, like white sugar and white bread, but they can also come from natural sources, e.g., fruits and milk. Like the overall category of carbohydrates, not all simple carbohydrates are created equal. The degree of insulin elevation (glucose released into the bloodstream) varies by food source. For example, fruit, which contains fructose, induces a lower blood-insulin rise than white sugar, which is sucrose. Additionally, fruit contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. All are beneficial to your health; that cannot be said for some other sources of simple carbohydrates, like candy and other processed foods. Glucose from simple carbohydrates quickly reach the bloodstream because they aren’t as nutrient and structurally dense as complex carbs. The slower glucose is released into your bloodstream, the more opportunity your body has to burn it, even during times of low physical activity. This is why many diets promoting good health recommend unprocessed carbohydrates, since unprocessed carbohydrates are slow releasers of glucose. This slow glucose release, also makes complex carbohydrates more satiating than simple carbohydrates. However, simple carbohydrates can play a key role in fueling a workout and particularly in exercise recovery. The fast-glucose-releasing nature of simple carbohydrates make them ideal for refueling after a strenuous workout, which kickstarts recovery when combined with a fast-releasing protein, like a protein shake. Complex carbs – Unprocessed, whole grain, whole wheat, starchy vegetables. If you’ve heard of these, you then know how to identify a complex carbohydrate. The previous paragraph introduced this category of carbohydrates. Because of their chemical structure and nutrient density, they digest more slowly than simple carbohydrates. And because of their satiating nature and the fact that our bodies store their glucose throughout the day, they are an excellent choice for all-day energy and for fueling high-intensity and strenuous workouts. Fibrous carbs – Non-starchy, plant-based vegetables that are rich in fiber, e.g., leafy greens, tomato, celery, cabbage, etc. Because calories from fibrous carbohydrates are not stored by the body in the same way as simple and complex carbohydrates, fibrous carbohydrates can be eaten any time of day, with no need to fear fat gain. However, there is an unideal time to consume these carbs: after strenuous exercise. Fibrous carbohydrates can slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream from your post-workout drink (mentioned above), which unfavorable for recovery. Protein Protein develops our bodies. It builds and repairs tissues and protects lean body mass (muscle mass). Protein is made of amino acids. Amino acids are broken down into two categories: non-essential and essential. Non-essential amino acids aren’t required to be consumed through diet because our bodies can actually make them on its own. Essential amino acids, on the other hand, must be gained through our diet. Protein-rich foods that hold all our essential amino acids include meat, poultry, fish, egg, milk, cheese, and/or other types of animal by-product. This doesn’t mean you have to eat animal products to be healthy, but you should be mindful about what you eat to ensure you receive essential amino acids. It’ll take some planning and dedication, but you can get all the essential amino acids by combining a variety of plant protein sources. Fats Fat stores energy, cushions organs, creates hormones, absorbs fat-soluble vitamins, and maintains cell membrane integrity. There are three primary categories of fat: saturated, unsaturated, and trans. Saturated fat – In large amounts, this type of fat increases our cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal sources, e.g., beef, pork, poultry with skin, lard, cream, butter, full fat cheese and other dairy products. Be technical, not general. Saturated fat is a primary reason meat gets a bad rap as being poor for our health, leading some to banish meat from their diets. Technically, the type of meat you select is the heart of the problem. As with carbohydrates, not all sources of meat are equal. The leaner the source, the lower the health risk from saturated fat. Further, there is a difference between the fat quality in land animals versus fish: saturated fat versus unsaturated fat. Additionally, organic, free-range meat reduces other health risks related to GMOs and other purportedly dangerous farming practices. Be technically minded when it comes to selecting – or perhaps, misguidedly, eliminating – whole sources of protein. The fact is, meat offers unmatched benefits for our muscles, body processes, and primarily, our brains. Unsaturated Fat – Known as “healthy” or “good” fats because they can decrease our risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fat is further subdivided into mono and polyunsaturated fats. Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats that can be produced in the body; however, they can still be beneficial to one’s health. Omegas-3 and -6 are polyunsaturated fats that must be obtained from food sources. Unsaturated fats can come from plant and animal sources: nuts, vegetable oils, and fatty fish to name a few. Trans Fat – Should be eliminated from our diets. A majority of trans fat comes from a process called hydrogenation: the addition of hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats. Trans fats are found in shortening, margarine, baked goods, doughs, and, of course, fried foods. Putting it together: Incorporating a macronutrient split The recommended daily allocation of carbs, protein, and fat one consumes is generally referred to as a “macronutrient split” or “macronutrient ratio.” The USDA recommends the following general macronutrient split: Carbohydrates: 45-65% Protein: 10-35% Fat: 20-35% Manipulating macros for fat loss, muscle gain, or maintenance Macros can be manipulated in your favor, enabling you to lose fat, gain muscle, or maintain a desired body composition. Follow the three rules below to manipulate macros in your favor. Adhere to a specific macronutrient ratio based on your goal: Consistency = results Note: The below macronutrient percentages are guidelines. It is unrealistic to believe you can hit any macronutrient ratio perfectly every day. Simply aim for a recommended ratio based on your goal: muscle gain, fat loss, or maintenance. And, feel free to experiment with percentages for a few weeks at a time. Consistency is key. The more consistent you are with your food sources and portions from each macronutrient, the more likely you are to regularly hit close to your desired ratio. Baseline Ratios – Goal: maintenance: 50-55% – 30 – 15-20% Often reduced to 50-30-20 Fat Loss Ratios: 40% – 30-40% – 20-30% Often reduced to 40-40-20 Ratios to Avoid: extremely low or extremely high percentages of any macronutrient: A carb intake below 30% and above 60% per day; a protein intake above 40% and below 20% per day; a fat intake below 15% and above 25% per day Don’t consciously add fat calories, they should fall into place naturally. Because fat is 9 calories/gram versus 4 calories/gram for carbs and protein, fat calories add up quickly. Still, it is not uncommon for an athlete to take an omega 3, 6, and/or 9 supplement(s) for fat loss, heart health, or performance (healthy fat contributes to healthy muscle receptors). The most safely manipulatable macro is the carbohydrate. Because carbs are stored by the body throughout the day, they don’t need to be eaten repeatedly as the day goes on. To prevent excess calories storage from carb sources, decrease your carb intake as the day goes on. For a moderate fat loss goal or to maintain a current body composition, it is recommended to eliminate starches by 5pm. For a major fat loss goal, one can eliminate starches after lunchtime, around 12pm. In general, the most effective and efficient use of starches is early in the day and around times of activity, coupled with limiting (or eliminating) starches in the evening. Conclusion Knowledge is power. Knowing the role of each macronutrient can prevent you from falling for diet regimes that lead to hitting a brick wall. Eating as nature intended by nourishing yourself from all three macronutrient groups, prevents ailments and can help keep you lean. Being selective should be part of your strategy to fuel your body appropriately for your goal(s). If you know what macronutrient sources to eat and what times are most optimal to eat them, reaching your goal(s) can be stress-free and thus sustainable for life. TAKEAWAY: Remember: be technical, not general. There are different types and qualities of carbohydrates: Starchy Fibrous Potatoes Rice Pasta Cereals More… Various high-fiber vegetables More…   There are different types and qualities of protein: Biological Value Chart Eggs Hydrolyzed whey protein Fish Beef Chicken Soy Peanuts Casein 100 100 82 80 79 74 68 68 Reference: supplementcentre.com There are different types and qualities of fat: Unsaturated Sources Saturated Sources Avocados Nuts (most) Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oils Seeds Fish Flax seeds More… Meat from land animals Cheese Ice cream Cookies Fast food More… Reference: harvard.edu   Sources Berrazaga, Insaf, et al. “The Role of the Anabolic Properties of Plant- versus Animal-Based Protein Sources in Supporting Muscle Mass Maintenance: A Critical Review.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 8, 7 Aug. 2019, p. 1825, 10.3390/nu11081825. Brown, PhD, RD, Mary Jane. “Animal vs Plant Protein - What’s the Difference?” Healthline, 17 June 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/animal-vs-plant-protein#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021. Dupont, Doug. “Carbs and Protein: Do We Need Both after a Workout?” Breaking Muscle, breakingmuscle.com/fuel/carbs-and-protein-do-we-need-both-after-a-workout Korn, Leslie. “A Little-Known Cause of Depression.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 26 July 2020, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rhythms-recovery/202007/little-known-cause-depression. Marty, et al. “Natural and Added Sugars: Two Sides of the Same Coin.” Science in the News, 5 Oct. 2015, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/natural-and-added-sugars-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/. Streit, MS, RDN, LD, Lizzie. “38 Foods That Contain Almost Zero Calories.” Healthline, 11 June 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/zero-calorie-foods. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.    
It’s Tonic Time: Herbal Tonics for Health + Wellness - I am a huge fan of herbal tonics! Tonics are ancient medicines that can be traced back several millennia. If you search the internet, you might find that many sites make a common claim that tonics originated in specific areas of the world, which might very well be true. However, in my research into medicine passed down from ancestors and the ancient ones globally, I learned that tonics existed in many cultures and regions across the entire planet. They just weren’t always known as “tonics.” An herbal tonic is created from a variety of herbs that can prevent, restore, and invigorate all of our body systems. Although our bodies are home to various biological systems, it is important to be aware that even though they are individual systems, they work in synergy. Tonic herbs are specifically selected for their ability to tone and invigorate systems throughout the body. Tonics present a preventative approach to health, meaning they keep our entire body running strong, thus helping to prevent ailments from developing. Some tonics provide energy-boosting properties, while others boost our immune system. Whether you want a full-body cleanse or to increase your body’s natural defenses, tonics are an effective way to attain both. Energizing Tonics or Qi Tonics: Increase our body’s natural energy production The herbs used in energy tonics are selected because they help the body function in the best possible way to increase natural vitality. Energy tonics are believed to naturally enhance the absorption of nutrients within the gut, which helps turn food into energy and stimulate blood flow. We don’t just require energy to work or exercise, our entire body needs energy to function properly. This includes supporting our immune system, which defends our body from illness and/or injury. I prefer to make my own tonics for a few reasons, one being that I can make more for less, and another is so I KNOW what’s going in it! If you’re not into the DIY route, you can find energizing tonics at health food stores and online. I’ll go a little more in depth on how to prepare a tonic toward the end of this article, so keep reading. Recommendations: Some incredible energizing herbs one can add to a homemade tonic are American Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Schisandra, Rhodiola Root, Holy Basil or Tulsi, and Maca. Blood Tonics: Provide nourishment to the blood Blood tonics help the body utilize nutrients that are essential for optimal functioning systems. Blood tonics are incredibly beneficial for people who work out or at least for those who get regular exercise; this is because they help build muscle and naturally increase energy. Our blood provides nourishment to all the tissues in the body, and distributes nutrients, hormones and immune cells throughout.  Blood tonics are especially beneficial for people with low iron. These tonics can support the growth and glow of our hair, skin, and nails. Blood tonics are also incredible for promoting strong sensory organs. Sensory organs are our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Our body naturally cleanses our blood thanks to our liver and kidneys, which are responsible for the detox process by way of removing waste or toxins from our blood. Blood tonics also aid in the removal of waste and toxins. Recommendations: Holy Basil, Ginger, Green Tea, Hibiscus, and Dandelion are all great herbs for blood tonics. As are grapefruit, garlic, cranberries, and several other foods. Note: Blood tonics should be used with caution. Avoid taking excessive amounts of these products because they can damage the kidneys and liver. You know what they say about having too much of a good thing! Cold & Flu Tonics: Perfect for the cold and flu season I strongly believe in preventative medicine and preventative practices. One of my all-time favorite tonics or herbal remedies during the cold and flu season is Fire Cider. A few years ago, I spent a couple of months up in North Dakota, where I was privileged to meet an Indigenous Healer who shared her knowledge of Fire Cider with me. It’s called Fire Cider for a reason: there’s some spice to it. You can use it to ease cold and flu symptoms, but you can also take a couple of teaspoons daily to maintain strong health to avoid a cold or flu. Recommendations: Lemon, Ginger, Honey, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), Cinnamon, and Turmeric are all incredible options for cold and flu tonics.  The Fire Cider recipe is hands down, a great option, which is why I provided the recipe below! Making an Herbal Tonic Tonics can be made rather quickly; however, they require at least ten hours to steep to ensure all the medicinal and healing properties seep out into the fluid.  Step 1: The ratio of water to herbs is about 3 cups of water to 1 cup of dried herbs. I’d recommend adding honey as a sweetener, as it is both delicious and beneficial. If you’re using multiple herbs, simply be sure to adjust them so they equal one cup. Also, be sure and do any research regarding the herbs and plants you want to use. Some herbs are far more potent than others. For instance, ginger is really potent; therefore, you wouldn’t need as much of it as you would something like chamomile. Step 2: Toss your dried ingredients into a mason jar, bring your water to a boil, and pour the water into the jar. Sometimes I like to add some fresh slices of orange or lemon, which is delicious and nutritious. You can also add them right in with the herbs.  Step 3: After your water is added, close the jar tightly, and leave the mixture steeping for about 10 hours. Step 4: After the steeping is complete, strain your tonic into a clean and sterile jar and discard the leftover plant matter into the compost bin. Store your herbal tonic in the refrigerator and try to use it within the next couple of days. Some tonics will last longer because they have natural preservatives such as honey or ACV. Depending on the type of tonic you’d like to make, recipes will vary, as will the dosage, so as advised above, be sure to look into what you’re putting into your body before you do it. There are so many great recipes available to try, do you have any favorites? Drop us a line and let us know what tonics you enjoy and how they help! Safe & Happy Healing!! Some links above are connected to affiliate commission accounts. All products featured are handpicked to match the recommendations in this post.
7 Ways to Revamp Mental Clarity - “It’s a lack of clarity that causes chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal”  Steve Maraboli wrote in Life, the Truth, and Being Free and the quote seems fitting. Under the sustained pressure and stress of our busy, modern lives, our minds can get congested, leading to a hazy and sometimes dazed feeling. Having a cloudy perception can lead to daily mishaps. I know I’m not the only person to start a pot of coffee only to return disappointed after realizing I never added the coffee grounds. But apart from the seemingly harmless inconveniences a lack of mental clarity can cause, it can also lead to unfortunate disasters. Focus, short-term memory, response times, decision-making, and mental abilities in general can be negatively impacted, which is why I want to share different ways you can revamp your mental state. 7 Revamping Tips & Techniques 1. Space & Time “Me time” is an essential part of self-care, and an essential component of self-care is hitting all levels of “me time”: mental, physical, and emotional. In my opinion, it’s good to try and take a little time for yourself daily, even if it’s only a few minutes to reground and reboot. It’s also rewarding to make a day of it! The result can feel like a deep tissue massage for your brain rather than for your body. Action Step: Engaging in meditation, yoga, light exercise, crafts, and refocusing exercises can be effective ways to gain mental clarity.  2. Check Your Gut Health & Detox The gut-brain axis is basically the information highway on which the gut and brain communicate with each other. Our gut talks to our brain and vice versa. If we have gut health issues, we might feel depressed, confused, irritable, and experience several other mental and emotional issues as well. Every now and then, our tummy needs a refreshing flush, and delicious detox tea is a great choice.  Action Step: Drinking a detox tea will help the body remove toxins and acts as a diuretic, which helps the kidneys rid the body of excess fluid. Ridding the body of toxins improves our overall health and well-being. 3. Daily Meditation & Yoga When meditation and yoga are practiced regularly, they act as preventative medicine for the body and the brain. Something I love about both of these practices is that they are so very versatile. Whether it’s seeking mental clarity or boosting your core energy, there’s a meditation or yoga exercise that can help. Action Step: Find the forms and styles of meditation and yoga that meet your specific needs. 4. Aromatherapy Aromatherapy uses aromatic substances or materials such as essential oils, plants, flowers, and spices for whole-body health and healing. Diffusers, candles, specific perfumes or body oil, and essential oil diffuser necklaces are all great ways to encourage mental clarity and therapeutic healing. Some oils and scents naturally calm the nerves and ease anxiety. Different scents spur different senses, emotions, and stimuli to react, which is incredible. Studies show the palliative effect aromatherapy can have on depressive symptoms. Depression can lead to and be caused by a lack of mental clarity, which is another reason to practice whole-body healing. Action Step: If you have the space and time to unwind, light some candles or use an essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy. Nice bubble baths with aromatic scents work well too. For on-the-go aromatherapy check out some of the essential oil diffuser necklaces. 5. Breathing Techniques Breathing is 100% free and can be done anywhere, unless, of course, you’re under water without a breathing apparatus. Breathing techniques are an important part of yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and to calm and clear away mental clutter. Various studies and research shows just how much breath-control can impact your mental and physical well-being. Action Step: To calm the mind, inhale slowly through the nose, hold for a few seconds, and then gradually exhale out of your mouth. Repeat this technique four times and see how you feel. Don’t breathe too fast, hard, or hold the breath in for too long otherwise you may feel slightly dizzy. 6. Brain Food Here’s some food for thought, adjusting your diet and eating habits can positively impact your brain health. Omega-3s, B-vitamins, and antioxidants enhance cognitive functions. According to Harvard Health Publishing, research shows us that the same foods that are good for your brain are also good for your heart and blood vessels. These foods include leafy greens, berries, fatty fish like salmon, tea, coffee, and walnuts.  Action Step: Add some of the above-named food groups to your diet or find supplements that will give you the same benefits.  7. Journaling Journals can be a helpful tool for all sorts of things, including getting some mental clarity. You can simply make journal entries daily to help unwind from all of the thoughts of that day. You can also do some free writing or as some call it “brain dumping.” This is where order and structure don’t matter at all. Action Step: Simply begin writing every thought that comes to you, let them flow out onto the paper, even the unfinished thoughts. Avoid searching for any order or sense just go with the flow for about ten minutes. Once you’re done take a look at what you have. It might seem like useless information, and if that’s the case, it should no longer burden your mind by adding to the fog. Mental clarity can help you remember the little things and also help you in dire times of need. Clear away the unnecessary. Rest, rejuvenate, reassess, and restore! Some links above are connected to affiliate commission accounts. All products featured are handpicked to match the recommendations in this post.
Cycling Will Not Make You Physically Fit - As cycling explodes in popularity, reflected by Peloton’s IPO, SoulCycle’s intended IPO, and Amazon semi-joining in, it’s important to know that cycling in itself does not build a well-rounded body. In fact, it does the opposite. Cycling is an example of exercises that break the body down, rather than build it up. And this is not primarily because of the endurance aspect, as not all cycling workouts are high duration, especially not those held in corporate gym cycling studios. The degenerative risks associated with cycling are built into the movement pattern itself. Improper Form Any experienced personal trainer and, certainly, any decent physical therapist should be able to ascertain with little difficulty the posture challenges and muscle imbalance-inducing risks inherent in cycling form. When many people think about exercise, they focus on results, not the method. Fat loss is the primary goal of many adults. A such, when they select an activity, the focus is caloric burn. Often forgotten or not even registered on the minds of most of us is the importance of good posture and muscle balance or synergy. While cycling, the body is hinged forward, shortening the hip flexors and over lengthening the back at the same time; the quads are used predominantly over other muscle groups, such as the glutes, lower back, and upper back. One issue becomes very apparent: unequal stress on muscle groups (muscle imbalance). Muscle balance and synergy are not just important to safely and proficiently play a sport, but for functional movement throughout everyday life. Tight hip flexors can create ongoing posture issues and can disrupt something as everyday as your walking gait. I understand cycling for transportation, but biomechanically, it’s confounding how it has become such a marketed form of exercise to gain physical fitness when it so blatantly runs contrary to what physical fitness actually means. Physical fitness is the ability to execute full-body movement, by way of good mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular ability, and muscle synergy. “Physical fitness is one’s ability to execute daily activities with optimal performance, endurance, and strength with the management of disease, fatigue, and stress and reduced sedentary behavior.” – Nerissa Campbell, Stefanie De Jesus, Harry Prapavessis. “Physical Fitness.” Springer academic publishing The definition of physical fitness can be more narrowly defined based on a specific sport, but generally speaking, physical fitness describes a body free of mechanical limitations. Cycling form, on the other hand, forces muscle imbalances, which leads to mechanical limitations, e.g., tight hip flexors, poor posture, limited lateral strength and range. The words, “reduced sedentary behavior,” in the above definition from Springer directly point to cycling form. Cycling involves sitting. Sitting is poor for posture, never mind the cardiovascular benefits the activity offers. This benefit-drawback entanglement is akin to when someone believes they are being proactive about their physical fitness when they select a stability ball chair over a standing desk. A standing desk addresses posture, core engagement, and blood circulation. A stability ball addresses upper body posture and core stability, not blood circulation or body mechanics from the waist down. As with traditional chairs – and cycling – tight hip flexors can be borne from prolonged sitting on a stability ball. Questionable Functionality Beyond being a form of transportation, cycling is not functional in the kinesiological sense: it will not aid in full-body control and movement through space; it will not enhance your ability to squat down, lift objects, and have enhanced flexibility or mobility. In other words, beyond cardiovascular capacity and quad lactate tolerance, cycling will not improve your ability to perform everyday activities or act in different emergency situations. Worse, prolonged sitting in a position that tightens the hip flexors and overarches the back, will serve to create a tighter and less mobile body the longer the activity is carried out – on a daily or yearly timescale. Cycling offers simple calorie burn by way of repetitive movement, along with an endurance high, and a community of zealot-like enthusiasts. None of which offer overall physical ability, never mind functional fitness. If caloric burn is the goal, strength training, which can burn calories for days after a workout, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are smarter alternatives to reaching high caloric burn, and those activities are regenerative (build the body up), versus degenerative (break the body down) because they are multi-joint, muscle-building movements that increase growth hormone levels.* Danger in High Accessibility Repetitive motion activities like cycling and running, are highly accessible, meaning there is a low learning threshold for the body: putting one foot in front of the other or pushing pedals forward over and over again. Other exercise forms, such as strength training, yoga, and other skills-based exercise cannot be so readily adopted. In fact, some exercises are not achievable without sometimes years of practice, e.g., a freeform handstand push-up or a Destroyer of the Universe pose. So, once an easily accessible, repetitive stress exercise is adopted, the average person with the goal of fat loss often thinks, “if I just repeat this movement over and over again I’ll burn such and such amount of calories.” And, unfortunately, that’s often the extent of thinking involved. Mechanics, however, matter if one desires true physical fitness and functional ability. If your goal is lifelong fitness, a shortcut to maintaining and reaching that goal with little difficulty is to focus on exercise programs and nutrition techniques that are regenerative, not degenerative. Sort out what activities are too narrowly focused on one or only a few aspects of fitness, e.g., strength, but not cardiovascular health; flexibility, but not strength; cardiovascular health, but not mobility, flexibility, or full-body strength – that’s the pitfall of cycling. Instead, emphasize exercises that train muscles to work synergistically, rather than exercises that overload only specific muscle groups. Also follow a nutrition program that supports a variety of food options from different food groups that can be adhered to without unreasonable standards or guidelines.   Again, cycling is not functional, but like running, its low learning curve attracts many. A logical alternative to focusing on a single sport that can lead to possible detrimental effects on the body is to cross-train, which helps develop full-body functionality. For more information on functional fitness that can build the body up in any age group and maintain a functional, agile, strong, flexible, and mobile body, click the image below and also research functional exercise on your own. If you still desire to engage in cycling after reading this post, there are solutions to lessen the built-in negative effects it can have on your body. The article, “Sitting, Cycling Posture and Back Problems,” describes the posture and muscle-imbalance risks inherent in cycling and offers mitigation exercises that can be undertaken in addition to cycling. Sources “Exercise Library.” FunctionalMovement.com. https://www.functionalmovement.com/exercises *"Growth Hormone – Raising Exercises.” Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition. https://www.caasn.com/growth-hormone-raising-exercises.html#:~:text=Studies%20have%20shown%20that%20even,production%20is%20progressive%20weight%20training. “IT Band injuries and cycling: what you need to know.” Thomas McDaniel. https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/fitness-and-training/it-band-injuries-and-cycling-what-you-need-to-know/ “Physical Fitness.” Nerissa Campbell, Stefanie De Jesus, Harry Prapavessis. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-1005-9_1167 “What Functional Training Is and Why It's Important.” Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T. https://www.self.com/story/what-functional-training-is-why-its-important “What is Physical Fitness.” CHARLES CORBIN & GUY LE MASURIER. https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/what-is-physical-fitness  
EndyMed Laser Treatment Review - Earlier this year, I underwent six EndyMed sessions at a reputable medspa in my area. During a prior consultation with an aesthetic technician, I told her I had concerns about the scar across my eyebrow, which was self-inflicted from piercing myself as a teenager; it was a cool idea then, not so much now. That permanent reminder of reckless teenage boredom has caused me to constantly wear hairstyles that cover the unsightly scar tissue. We went over different options including microneedling, which I heard horror stories about from a friend, and other procedures such as surgically removing the scar — the most costly option of them all. Finally, she took a moment to think and suggested EndyMed. She said in addition to reducing my scar, the procedure would also tighten my skin if I opted to treat my entire face. Although currently in my mid-thirties, I haven’t seen any major facial signs of aging, I was curious to see what my face would look like tighter. The price, broken into six separate treatments of $150 (a discounted rate), wasn’t too bad either, so I went with it. What is EndyMed? Claimed to be safer than Botox at reducing wrinkles and promoted as an alternative to the surgical facelift, EndyMed is a new radio frequency laser technology that tightens the skin by heating the dermis to induce collagen production. Tightening is stated to occur to a small degree immediately after a treatment, with fully realized results within a week to weeks thereafter. Results last longer than Botox: 18 months to two years versus approximately three to six months for Botox. At the medspa I visited, I was told the primary benefit Botox has over EndyMed is immediate results, as a week or so for EndyMed might be too long for some. EndyMed, however, offers an extra benefit that Botox does not: natural-looking results. For those who might be wondering, Botox can be used for scar treatment in addition to wrinkle reduction and prevention, but it carries more severe risks than EndyMed. This post summarizes my experience after receiving a full cycle of facial EndyMed treatments. Six cycles were recommended to me; although, up to ten cycles can be recommended for other patients. “EndyMed® treatments are designed for the treatment of wrinkles, specifically to tighten and lift sagging skin on the face and neck, including the forehead, cheeks, under the chin, and neck. EndyMed® is also specially formulated to use on delicate, sensitive, and hard-to-treat areas around the eyes and mouth.” – Dr. Ayala Plastic Surgery, San Antonio, TX     Cost Speed of Results Duration of Results $200 – $2,600* Immediate or weeks* 18 months to 2 years** Scar treatment can be permanent.***   The Procedure The duration of the procedure is around 45 minutes. The laser releases a heat sensation on the skin that can border on intense burning. The technician adjusts the laser intensity, or heat level, based on what areas of the face are being targeted and feedback from the patient. Delicate areas of the face, such as around the lips, cannot bear the same temperature level as the cheek area, for example. Every time I had the procedure, the sensation of burning occurred at least a few times, but it did not leave redness or a burn on my skin — This can vary per patient. The technician informed me that any burning can affect the skin for up to roughly one week. Different types of lasers can be used. I’ve had the procedure with a small laser and a large laser; I prefer the larger laser. Each technician who treated me used a distinct technique of operating the laser. Of the two technicians I worked with, one woman moved around my face quickly in small circles, while the other traversed my face more slowly, in a languid circular or contouring motion. I found the latter to be more effective at producing noticeable results. Note: Patients are advised to cease the use of any complexion correction products, such as skin brighteners with hydroquinone, for about a week prior to the EndyMed procedure. Such products might be in common use for women who undergo the procedure, as such products are also used for anti-aging to combat melasma. According to the technician who consulted me for EndyMed treatment, continued use of skin brightening products while undergoing EndyMed can potentially cause skin discoloration. Side Effects The technician went over the side effects with me, and I found them to be minor and less risky than Botox side effects or any of the other side effects related to other scar removal options she suggested. Due to the heat emitted from the laser, some patients may experience temporary reddening, swelling, and/or flaking of their skin. More seriously, the radio frequency laser itself can interfere with medical devices, such as pacemakers. For a more detailed list of possible side effects, read Real Self’s review of EndyMed. Results Following the first treatment, I was told to expect a tightening sensation of my skin over the next couple of days, and a visible reduction in scarring and fine lines. After my first procedure, within a week the fine lines in my nasolabial area and on my forehead vanished. I didn’t notice it right away, but once I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Half a year later, those lines are still gone. Again, the results are supposed to last for about 2 years. For $150, I’d say that’s an excellent deal. I didn’t continue the procedures on the schedule recommended, which was once every three weeks. Instead, my being a single mom, I waited till I had the money. So, I underwent the procedure about every four to five weeks until I completed all six rounds of treatment. Although the scar above my eyebrow isn’t completely gone, after the first treatment, it was noticeably smoother to the touch, whereas it was once very tough and protruded from my skin. The second result I experienced was the disappearance of fine lines on my nasolabial area and forehead. However, unfortunately, I did not experience any skin tightening nor, at least, any sensation of skin tightening, as I was told to expect. That does not mean this treatment doesn’t work for skin tightening. I might perhaps be too young to have a noticeable reduction of collagen in order for the collagen-promoting powers of EndyMed to be more pronounced. On the other hand, I recommended EndyMed to a friend within my age group who experienced both a tightening sensation and a visible tightening of her skin, so this result can be dependent on one’s specific physiology. See before and after photos from various EndyMed patients. For the wrinkle-busting powers alone, EndyMed is going to be part of my anti-aging skin plan. Although I might not need the treatment for skin tightening at this time in my life, next year I will probably continue treatment on my scar until, hopefully, it becomes barely apparent. Perhaps a few years down the line, I’ll use EndyMed again for my overall face. Outside of my own experience with the treatment, EndyMed appears to be a great, new technology that will likely improve. It even has its own stock ticker. I’d like to see where this technology goes, as it’s an excellent alternative to the risks that come with Botox and the expense of various scar treatments. If you are curious about trying EndyMed, browse the clinic locator on the EndyMed website. If you have already tried EndyMed, please leave a comment below of your experience with the technology. Sources *Real Self: https://www.realself.com/endymed-3deep **Medical Aesthetics HV: https://www.medicalaestheticshv.com/endymed-3deep-kingston-new-york#:~:text=Typically%20results%20can%20last%2018,which%20includes%20sunblock%20every%20day! ***Dr. Doris Day on Wendy Williams: https://youtu.be/EI64qxD763I?t=69
Interview w/ Army Master of Fitness Marcus Wallace - Army SGT. First Class and Master Fitness Instructor Marcus Wallace will be partnering with Broke Single Mom Fitness to share exercises and nutrition advice with BSMF website visitors and social media followers. SGT. Wallace has years of experience as an athlete and trainer. Before joining the Army, he played basketball in college and became a 6-time MVP. Later, after receiving injuries in his basketball career, the appeal of Army fitness inspired him to become a soldier. His exceptional athleticism singled him out among other soldiers and he was selected to become a trainer. Today, he is a Master Fitness Instructor and a member of Fire Team Whiskey, a program to help soldiers improve their fitness levels. When not helping other soldiers excel in strength and overall fitness, he is making videos to help civilians reach their fitness goals through a low-equipment, hybrid approach to fitness: functional exercise, bodybuilding, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Tabata, and other techniques to increase strength, conditioning, mobility, and agility. Because of his accomplishments as an athlete and master fitness instructor, Marcus has been featured in Muscle & Strength Magazine online and various military publications.
I Tried F45 Training - After 18 years of being my own personal trainer, I needed to change things up, challenge myself, and possibly learn new skills, so I tried F45 Training’s 3-day trial. I once relegated group exercise to the realm of those who crave external motivation or peer accountability to show up and workout. My old feelings toward group exercise are perfectly summed up in the introduction of “The Cold Hard Truth About F45 Training” from Dmarge.com, in which the author writes, “I’ve always thought group fitness is a cop-out. Pre-planned intensity and structure may be great for those with no motivation (or the army), but it’s not for me.” Likewise, I viewed some high-intensity/high-volume group exercise training, such as CrossFit, as more focused on rep count and competition than proper form, injury prevention, and the primary stated goal of this site: lifelong fitness. Before trying F45, Dmarge’s writer viewed the gym as a “mecca of sports injuries and over-enthusiasm.” Although I agreed with his statements about group exercise and I see some group fitness training techniques and cultures as injury-inducing, I didn’t perceive F45 as a threat to my physical safety. I could see by the pacing of the trainees and structure of the classrooms in F45 videos that the competition-centric, sustained-high-intensity-at-any-cost training seen in many CrossFit videos, for example, were absent from F45 videos. That’s what encouraged me to look deeper. What is F45? F45 is an Australian-formed gym that stands for functional training in 45 minutes, or “Functional 45.” Functional exercise is about teaching your body how to maximize movement through space in everyday scenarios or in ways to enhance athletic movement for a specific sport. Free movement, free weights, and a body unbounded by machines is functional training, and functional exercise fortifies the body against injuries by promoting muscle synergy, mobility, flexibility, and stability. For the past five years, functional training has been the core of my lifelong fitness strategy. I elected to try F45 versus other functional exercise gyms in my area and other popular supposed functional gyms like CrossFit, because in watching F45 class videos, the training appeared to be focused on proper execution, not competition or rep count. After trying several classes, I found that to be the case. Instructors demonstrate correct form prior to every session, offer modifications, and navigate the floor to correct the form of trainees during classes. They also have a policy of training at your own pace. The Workouts F45 offers different strength and cardio splits, each have a specific name, such as The Piston, Varsity, and Athletica. Based on my trial period at the gym, I gathered that the foundation of F45’s routines is variety, intensity, and duration. Variety is for never doing the same workout twice, at least, not the exact same full-length workout. While you might do a burpee on more than one training day, you shouldn’t expect to do a burpee as part of the same order of exercises from a previous routine. Intensity is for challenging yourself. F45 offers heart-rate monitors to help trainees track whether they are hitting their target heart rate. Those numbers are posted on a screen for visual feedback, and some trainees might gain motivation from comparing their heart rate to others. Duration is for the length of set and rest periods. This is a core portion of any training program, as it can increase or decrease the intensity of any workout. At F45, to maximize caloric burn and training intensity, workouts have short rest periods between exercises; in other words, it’s circuit training. For the cardio sessions I attended, intra-set rest periods were as short as – get this, 5 seconds – yes, 5 seconds. Talk about not flushing out lactic acid build-up or allowing ATP replenishment for proper muscle contraction.  The below quote from the article “Rest Periods Between Sets” by the International Sports Sciences Association summarizes this point. “Due to the short rest interval between sets, strength gains are less than optimal with circuit training (30 to 50% less) when compared to traditional strength training.” – International Sports Sciences Association F45 workouts are pre-made; I’m guessing from the headquarters of the F45 franchise. There are a variety of exercises per class, up to 13 in my experience at the gym, performed at three to four sets for 45 seconds each exercise. During my trial, the rest between sets varied from 5 seconds to 30 seconds, depending on whether the workout was strength or cardio. Exercises ranged from basic movements, like push-ups, to somewhat advanced movements, such as bosu ball goblet squats. Pros F45’s trainers are in shape, knowledgeable, and energetic; the gym phone app is informative and makes reserving a spot in a class easy; the facility is to-the-point: nothing but what is needed per training session. Lastly, they offer nutrition plans and ready-made meals. Cons The set/rest durations run contrary to my training, which focuses on balancing recovery and intensity so I can output as close to 100% each set, thus promoting proper form and maximum muscle recruitment. This well-known and academically recommended training scheme built my body from skinny and shapeless to muscular and strong. However, over time, my focus on muscle-protecting set/rep schemes has caused me to lose focus on conditioning, and knowing the human body greatly benefits from cross-training via exposure to different stimuli, in a moment of madness (partly spurred by COVID cabin fever), I extended my F45 trial to a few weeks of paid classes, signing up for the “2x A Week” training plan. Cost Signing up for the gym was a moment of madness not only because I was aware that the training recovery time might be incompatible with my solo training days, but also because the gym is pretty expensive: $27 per week — yup, that’s per week — for the “2x A Week” package. All current rates for my state, Texas, are below. F45 Training Rates – Aug 2020 – TX, USA Unlimited $40 per week 2x A Week $27 per week Class Passes $170 for 10 classes valid for 3 months $300 for 20 classes valid for 6 months $400 for 30 classes valid for 6 months Month-to-Month $45 per week I would not recommend those rates to anyone practicing lifelong fitness on a budget or affordable fitness. However, the rates are comparable to other niche gyms, like Crossfit. Jack of all Trades, Master of None Remember P90X? — The intense training program that enticed a lot of people about a decade ago? In 2007, while working as a trainer, I tried P90X to give my clients an opinion of the program and challenge myself. P90X, F45, and other exercise programs that focus on high volume to achieve caloric burn are not programs for those hoping to advance in exercise technique. This is because performance is degraded by the rapid pace. When performance is deteriorated, technique inevitably drops, and the focus shifts to survival — lasting the full set duration. With F45’s current training schemes, your best-performing set will always be the first set of every exercise; after that, it’s all downhill due to lactic acid build-up and limited ATP replenishment time. Further, because all F45 routines are full-body, recovery days from strength training outside of F45 training can be interrupted – and were for me. F45 reminds me of P90X and other training programs people are drawn to for how intense they look rather than for their long-term practicality. My conclusion of F45 Training is the same as for P90X – I’ll get to that in a moment. To become a certified personal trainer, I learned about how inadequate rest between sets can stifle training output and thus hamper gains. Like P90X, F45’s set/rest lengths simply don’t permit maximal effort for every set or adequate per-set recovery. Further, the program is designed for caloric burn, not skills or technique development. For example, stretching, an integral skill that is part of true fitness, was absent from the majority of the workouts I tried. My Verdict F45’s training style (due to abbreviated rest periods) is not a smart choice for long-term training; the training intensity is impractical for everyday exercise, and it would be folly to hope to gain new skills through the program. Wait, that verdict does not mean I’m completely against P90X or F45 training styles. High-intensity-based workouts are excellent for fat loss and stress testing the body to gauge conditioning, agility, cardiovascular capacity, and, according to the International Sports Sciences Association, elevate growth hormone levels. “High volume, short rest period training has also been found to increase human growth hormone levels when compared to training with longer rest periods.” – International Sports Sciences Association I won’t lie, learning where my cardio capacity stood was beneficial and the workouts were energizing. But I could not follow the “2x A Week” plan without interfering with my skill- and strength-based workouts, which I value more than –and worked too hard for– to lose on account of keeping up with a group of strangers. So while I would not recommend F45 Training for lifelong fitness, muscle growth and maintenance, or skill development, I recommend finding ways to test your overall physical capacity by periodically (a few weeks out of the year) increasing the intensity of your training. One shortcut to achieving this could be putting your body through the F45 test, as I have. Have you tried F45 Training or CrossFit? If so, please leave a comment about your experience below.




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