Food, Health

How Garlic Can Help With Weight Loss

Too much garlic may give you bad breath, but its myriad of health benefits far outweigh those smelly side effects — not to mention the possible vampire protection you’ll have. But vampire jokes aside, research has found garlic to be effective in preventing and treating high blood pressure, reducing risks of dementia and heart attack, and successfully killing tumors and cancer cells. But another positive health benefit to garlic is that it may help you reach your weight loss goals too.

Can Garlic Help You Lose Weight?

Grown in abundance, inexpensive to buy, and easy to find in grocery stores (usually in the same aisle as potatoes and onions) it’s not difficult to add more of the bulb to your healthy diet. My mother-in-law talks about a time in England when garlic was seen as an exotic food from the east, and thus difficult to find everywhere. But lucky for you and me, garlic is now readily available via Amazon too.

I’m sure by this point you are asking, “That’s great that it’s so easy to find and fit into my diet, but get to the point Sunny… How does garlic ACTUALLY help you lose weight?”

Well, Garlic won’t help you drop 10 lbs overnight, but it does provide you with health benefits that aid with the steps you are already taking to lose weight (hello healthy diet and exercise!)

In fact, here are 5 different ways in which garlic can aid in losing those extra pounds and even help you maintain a healthy body weight. Continue reading “How Garlic Can Help With Weight Loss”

Informational

Weight Loss: Exercise vs. A Healthy Diet

Are you trying to lose weight with just exercise alone? Do you have a soda addiction but figure it’s not as bad as smoking or other vices since you can just exercise the ‘bad’ calories away? Unfortunately new research looking at the weight management approach of calories in versus calories out tells us that this is really not the case — you really can’t outrun a bad diet.

Diet Trumps Exercise for Weight Loss

The 2015 study published in the journal Current Biology suggests that too little physical activity can make you unhealthy but too much of it drives your body to make big adjustments to adapt, leading to weight loss plateaus. The authors  of the study point to the need to focus on diet, especially when it comes to weight loss and weight management.

Below is a great video that pretty much sums up exactly what the research says:

How to Make a Healthy Diet Fit Your Life

I’m all about eating yummy desserts and not restraining myself when it comes to birthday parties or get togethers — so what do I do when I want to indulge and still maintain my healthy weight? That’s easy, I create myself a meal plan that includes all the food groups, I stick to whole, plant based nutrition as the base, and allot 20% of what I eat to other foods (mostly homemade) that curb my cravings.

In fact I do this for my clients as well. I create meal plans that fit with clients’ tastes, allergies or intolerances and daily life. I just ask that clients exercise 2-3 days a week as a bare minimum, and that they take the time to prepare the majority of their meals at home (I’m not a fan of processed, pre-packaged foods.)

Nutrition Matters: Macros

I also work with my clients to start understanding their macronutrient intake. By macronutrient I mean the fats, carbs and proteins they eat on a day to day basis. Counting calories doesn’t tell you much, as this March 2015 study published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition tells us, instead, knowing exactly how each food helps to fuel your metabolism and your day is what you need to know.

Continue reading “Weight Loss: Exercise vs. A Healthy Diet”

Informational

Freedom From The Norm: How An Online Trainer And Coach Works

Online-Fitness-TrainerSome people just don’t like working with a personal trainer. They may like the idea of having someone to consult with, or the added motivation a trainer provides, but they’re just not into making or keeping tight one hour appointments at the gym or having someone yell— “gimme just 1 more rep!” —into their ear.

I don’t blame them. I’m a certified personal trainer, and even I don’t like forcing my clients into a rigid schedule, where they dread coming to see me.

Like my clients, I much prefer a flexible schedule. This is why all of my packages are offered online. Many of my clients are busy professionals, some with kids, some without. Time is precious to them and they don’t always have the luxury of dropping into workout classes at a set time.

How Online Strength & Nutrition Guideance Works

  • I provide you with a series of online questionnaires
  • You fill out the online forms and send back to me
  • I obtain all the necessary information I need (such as your goals, weight, height, fitness level, stress levels, fitness and nutritional likes, dislikes, allergies, injuries, concerns, etc.)
  • I create a customized personal training program and macronutrient focused meal plan for you

Strength and Conditioning

What most people need is a customized plan that gives detailed information on what exercises to do, on what days. Sometimes exercises will include machines or weight resistance, other times it may be body weight exercises or plyometrics. Everything fits together to target your specific goals and keep your body on your toes.

Don’t know how to use the equipment at your gym properly? No problem, I send you videos, photos and descriptions if that’s an issue. All workout plans keep in mind your fitness level, load, intensity, frequency and the various equipment you may or may not have available to you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these plans. Everything is tailored to your needs.

Nutritional Counseling

My clients aren’t into fad diets, instead they want to eat real food, with the correct portion sizes for their activity needs and fitness levels, while losing body fat and gaining muscle in all the right places. I calculate your macros, and give you a workable schedule of suggested meals and recipes that fit those macros (that’s the hardest part for most people) and fit your daily life. Continue reading “Freedom From The Norm: How An Online Trainer And Coach Works”

Health

The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions

JumpForJoyAcidRefluxIf you have ever experienced heartburn, you’ll know that it is no joke. It’s not just annoying, but it’s actually quite a dangerous signal of your overall health.

Many years ago, I had heartburn that persisted over a few weeks and when I told my doctor about it she just waved it off and said that it was probably too much acidic foods and that she would prescribe me some medication for Acid Reflux. The medication worked, but as soon as I came off of it, the heart burn came right back. That was quite some time ago, nowadays I know a lot more about Acid Reflux and indigestion, and the types of foods and diets that bring about heartburn.

Most often, it’s not just one meal or food that does it, instead it is a series of meals and bad habits that create an acidic environment in the body by dropping the body’s natural pH balance to below 7.35. Acid forming foods are definitely a culprit, but most people don’t realize that it is not acidic fruits and foods like lemons, tomatoes and sauerkraut that disturb the alkaline balance of the body, but instead it is “acid-forming foods” such as processed foods and packaged goods that cause acidosis in the body and subsequent harm.

A low pH and acidic environment within the body is the perfect growing conditions for a bacteria called the Helico Pylori Bacteria (a.k.a H. Pylori) which inhabits the stomach and the esophagus. H.Pylori stimulates cells in the stomach to produce excessive amounts of gastric or hydrochloric acid which can make their way back and up into the esophogus causing “Heartburn” or Gastro-Esophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD). Doctors usually prescribe a heavy dose of antibiotics for H.Pylori, but since the antibiotics themselves can often do a lot of harm, eating the right foods can re-balance the gut to create an alkaline environment (not allowing the H.Pylori to thrive). I can honestly say that just by switching to whole foods and cooking at home, I have been able to experience better overall health, prevent heartburn and not take any medications whatsoever, which literally has me jumping for joy!

As for Acid Reflux medication, those just mask symptoms and can often have many side effects as well. My doctor should not have waved off my heartburn as if it were no big deal. It’s great that she recognized food could be a source of the problem, but she should have elaborated on what foods were actually “acid-forming” to the body and also advised me to see a nutritionist.

Preventing heartburn can be a way of preventing bigger problems down the road and since there are already lots of lists out there to help alleviate heartburn once you have it, I have instead created a list that will help balance your gut flora and keep you from experiencing heartburn in the first place.

5 ways to clean up your diet and keep heartburn at bay:

Continue reading “The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions”

Food

Reputation Re-haul: 5 Fattening Foods That Are Actually Good For You

Good-For-You-Foods-With-A-Bad-RepEveryday, there is someone out there that is unnecessarily avoiding certain foods. They don’t have an allergy and they don’t dislike the food, but in the name of weight loss or health, they are choosing to discriminate against them.

Blogs, news outlets and media figures like Dr. Oz are busy using scare tactics about perfectly-good-for-you foods, and with far fetched promises of shedding 20 pounds in a week. Some processed foods are marketed as “healthy” but they are far from it (see one of my previous posts) while other foods are given a bad reputation, sometimes based on studies that are simply taken out of context. Well I’m here to tell you that unless you have a real food allergy or intolerance, you shouldn’t be avoiding these whole foods based on what the uninformed word is on the street.

Below is a list of 5 foods that you may be avoiding unnecessarily, when in fact they are super good for you!

Continue reading “Reputation Re-haul: 5 Fattening Foods That Are Actually Good For You”

Exercises

Snow Free Winter Activities

Winter_Activities_Batting_CageSome people love winter because they can finally take advantage of all the winter sports that cold weather offers. Skiing, skating, snowboarding… all sports that I would LOVE to love, but I’m too busy trying to keep warm. So what’s an active, adult with a probable case of ADHD  to do in the dreaded cold? I’ve decided to create my own “winter” activities.

I’m not just talking about going to the gym or a group fitness class on the daily (those are year-round activities), I’m talking about making the special effort to find an indoor arena to take advantage of a warm spot to play, jump and move around. I’m personally juggling a lot of different things right now, so I don’t have time to join a league or take part in sports that need the time commitment of other people. Instead, I’m always looking for activities that I can drop in on without a lot of planning or too many participants. This is where my need for lists comes into play. I’ve put together a little list of three indoor activities you can find in most major cities that offer a lot of bang for your buck. To make the cut, the activity needs to be fun, keep me fit and burn some calories while I’m at it. So here I present you with my little list of three:

Indoor sports and activities for the non-team player:

  1. Trampolining: Jumping against gravity works the heart muscle. This cardiovascular activity increases heart rate and pulse rate, and can increase bone density as well. Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park, also claims that trampolining tones up your glandular system, especially your thyroid glands, and improves digestion.
    • Approximate Calories Burned: 300-500 calories per hour.
  2. Batting Cages: Swinging the bat means that you get to workout your core (think obliques), butt, back (your lats), chest and forearms.
    • Approximate Calories Burned: 150-300 calories per hour
  3. Driving Range: Like the batting cage, all the twisting, turning and hitting works to sculpt your core muscles, back, chest, arms and shoulders. Basically using all those muscles that you don’t get to workout when slouching in front of the computer at work.
    • Approximate Calories Burned: 100-300 calories per hour

I have a couple other indoor sports in mind that I’ve been dying to try out, but for a bit of suspense and anticipation, I’ll keep you posted on those. Winter is super long in Chicago, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to try out some other indoor sports to report back to you with. Till then, keep warm and try something new, you may just learn to love winter if you don’t already.

To being Positively Strong, all year long,

Sunny

Uncategorized

Maximizing Weight Loss Goals

Progress-weightlossMeet my client Ali. She has been following my online coaching plan for the last two and a half months, and I am so happy to be working with her. She follows my strength and conditioning program to a T, and also eats according to her Macros (I calculate her macro-nutrient intake based on her goals and provide her with a flexible monthly meal plan).  In the past couple of months we have been working on body re-composition and muscle gain. She has experienced some weight loss, even though our focus has been on eating more and putting on muscle. Losing inches and body fat have been nice byproducts of the muscles she has been adding to her frame.

She is looking great, and from her feedback, she is enjoying the process. She definitely eats way more than she used to, and is only doing one day of cardio (I have her doing just 25 minutes) and weight training 3 times a week (she was working out about 6 times a week before working with me).

The nice thing about working with Ali is that she really pays attention to good form and follows the meal plan properly. She has cut out processed sugar and also trusts me enough to not want drastic dieting measures to just lose pounds. I could have had her drop pounds very quickly, but I didn’t want her to be miserable and skinny fat. Muscle definition helps build curves in the right places, and I wanted to give Ali the tools to live a healthier lifestyle in the long run. I wanted her to gain muscle so that she could burn fat even at rest, and I wanted her to be able to eat real food, full of nutrients and vitamins.

I find that a person has to be mentally ready to follow a healthier lifestyle plan. Most often people want to lose weight fast, and don’t actually want to put in the time for preparing healthy meals or don’t want to cut out some of the excess in their lives. They want the process to be easy, and unless they truly come to terms with some of the work that a healthy lifestyle entails, it is hard to see the kind of success that Ali is getting after 2 months. Losing weight and gaining muscle is not complicated, it just depends on how much you are willing to put into it. I can promise you, I give my one hundred percent to make the plan customized to your needs and easy to follow, but you have to be the one who wants it bad enough to put in the work.

Once you decide you want it, the sky is the limit!

If you need some time to get used to the idea of working for a stronger, healthier body, take a little bit of time to digest the following “Ways to maximize health and fitness goals” that I ask from all of my clients:

Continue reading “Maximizing Weight Loss Goals”

Uncategorized

The Answer to Losing Weight

Losing_WeightOne of the most common phrases I hear is “I want to lose weight”. The answer I want to give back is usually quite long and drawn out, so I thought I would write a short response here and let everyone know that the phrase I’d really like to hear instead is “I want to lose Body Fat”. People new to fitness would presume that those two phrases are one and the same, but today I would like to make a big stink about how losing weight is nothing the same as losing body fat! I’d shout it from rooftops if I could (or in the case of today’s photo, from the high steps of Spain’s ancient forts) but alas shouting it into the blog world will have to suffice.

When someone says that they want to lose weight, it is in actuality a very vague goal. They get so focused on seeing that number on the scale drop that they start cutting calories and loading up on the cardio. They don’t think about the fact that they are probably losing muscle mass, water or stored glycogen and even metabolic waste first before they actually start losing a substantial amount of body fat.

Don’t focus on that Scale

Everyone says it, “Muscle weighs more than fat” but that’s actually not true.

5 lbs of muscle and 5 lbs of fat are both equal in weight, it’s just that fat takes up more room in your body. Fat is all fluffy and gooey and free form, while each muscle comes in a set shape that takes up less space and feels hard to the touch. That is why you can see dimpling below the surface of the skin when there is more fatty tissue present than muscle.

In reality, a 135lb person who has more muscle and a lower body fat percentage can look leaner and thinner than a 135lb person with a higher body fat percentage.

muscle_vs_fat

The Real Answer to Losing Weight Continue reading “The Answer to Losing Weight”

Uncategorized

Breaking The Mold: Your Image Does Not Define You

working_out_body_imageHey you.

Do whatever you want. Really. Be anything you want to be… Anything. You. Want.

Don’t conform to the image that others perceive you as having, unless you have worked hard to project that certain image, but even then the chances are high that what they perceive and what you perceive are two completely different things. That’s just how it is, no two people can truly think alike, it’s not human nature, so again, just do whatever you want.

For instance, doesn’t it seem so silly that people assume if you have blonde hair, that you must somehow not value knowledge and learning? Or if you grew up overweight, and had bad grades in gym class, that you are destined to forever hate all types of physical activity. Maybe you had a bad gym teacher, maybe you were being bullied at that time in that class, or that your life experiences hadn’t shown you the importance of being healthy yet. Whatever the reason, now you can be whomever you choose to be.

Often others can’t handle this and they don’t know what to do with themselves when they realize you have broken out of the mold they had you in. That is not your problem. Your only task is to be happy, to pursue happiness and be happy with yourself. Simple right?

Lesson’s from my Hair Dresser

A few months ago, I was sitting in my hair dresser’s chair and he told me that he had been doing some construction on his home. My hair dresser is a very sweet man that works magic on thick, coarse hair like mine. He spends all day long talking cut and color, perms and highlights, while going home to his wife and raising his two sons, tending to his vegetable garden, using power tools to build a new addition to his home and watching soccer with a cold beer in hand. Continue reading “Breaking The Mold: Your Image Does Not Define You”

Uncategorized

Goal Setting: Far Stretch From Reality?

FitnessGoals At the beginning of my fitness journey, before I had any formal education on health and fitness, I had a photo (cut out of a magazine) of young Gisele Bundchen hanging by my desk. While doing homework I would glance over to Gisele’s picture and study her long, thin legs, her bony, protruding shoulders and angular features on her face. I would promise myself that I would go for a run and hit the gym everyday, that I would look like her by summer and vow to eat healthy, cut sugar and that the only snacks I would consume would be carrots and celery sticks.

I’ve always had a dedicated spirit and would push hard at the gym, watched what I ate, but no matter what, my body never ended up looking like Gisele’s. Instead my legs would add muscle, get shapelier and though my stomach would get flatter and flatter, my hips would not budge an inch. What was I doing wrong?

Actually I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but what I should have been doing is setting realistic goals to my body type and lifestyle. I’m only 5 foot 5 and I’ve always had thick legs and wide hips, so the photo of 5 foot 11 Gisele Bundchen was not an attainable goal for me. If I had chosen to tack up a photo of lovely Jennifer Lopez and aimed for her body shape, then it would have been a more realistic goal and I would have been able to stay motivated for longer periods of time.

Being fit and healthy comes in all shapes and sizes. Continue reading “Goal Setting: Far Stretch From Reality?”