5 All Time Worst Exercises – (What to Do Instead!)

5 All Time Worst Exercises – (What to Do Instead!)

Just as there is bad nutrition and good nutrition, unhealthy habits and healthy habits, there are bad exercises and beneficial exercises.  The worst exercises are not just bad, but can be dangerous. From watching workouts in gyms to videos online, we’ve seen our share of some of the worst exercises people can dream up.  Here, we’ve picked out some of our personal all-time worst exercises to avoid in order to reduce chances of injury and instead get the results you intended.

And the Losers Are…

1.  Sit-ups:  If these aren’t on the top of every fitness professional’s “never to perform” exercise list, they should be.  We’re not talking about proper abdominal crunches, but the old military style sit-ups where you bring your upper body completely off the floor towards your knees.  Besides doing little to nothing for your core, they push your curved spine against the floor which can cause injury to your back.  And, they work your hip flexors, which, frankly…why?  Most of our hip flexors are already overworked sitting in front of computers all day.

Do this instead…Plank.  Not only do these work your abdominals, but also your back and shoulders.  Proper form includes keeping your back flat, tucking the chin slightly and tightening your abs.

2.  Side Bends with Weights:  Proper side bends for stretching are great.  But, someone, somewhere, came up with this exercise with weights that supposedly was to strengthen the oblique muscles.  However, all this exercise does is put more stress on the low spine, which again can lead to injury.  Really want to work the obliques?

Do this instead…Wood Chopper.  This works both the oblique and transverse abdominal muscles—the ones that allow you to twist, swing a bat, golf club, etc.  This also has the added benefit of working your back and shoulders.  Proper form includes tightening your abs, avoiding arching your back, and using a weight that freely allows you to perform the exercise without stress on your shoulders.

3.  Lat Pull-downs Behind the Neck:  This is a common exercise seen in gyms anywhere, and carries with it a greater potential for injury to the spine, neck and rotator cuffs.  To avoid hitting your head with the bar, you have to extend your head forward.  This puts stress on your spine.  Additionally, the exercise forces your shoulders into an angle they aren’t really built for, which can lead to tearing your rotator cuffs. 

Do this instead…Lat Pull-Down to the Chest.  This is the correct form of the exercise.  Pull the bar down in front of you towards the chest.  Proper form includes keeping your feet flat on the floor and leaning slightly back.  Be sure when you release the bar doesn’t extend beyond your reach to avoid injury to the shoulders.

4.  Hip Abductor/Adductor Machine.  This piece of equipment appears in almost every gym.  You sit down and push your thighs in and out.  Sorry, but besides looking ridiculous, this works very few muscles and is a complete waste of precious exercise time.  It also puts stress on the spine, and unnecessarily tightens the IT (iliotibial) band which can lead to pain between the hip and knee.

Do this instead…Side Lunges.  Not only do these work the major muscles of the legs, but also the hip abductors and adductors due to the side to side movement.  Proper form includes keeping your spine straight, tightening your abs and keeping the bent knee from overshooting the toe.

5.  Hurdler’s Stretch.  We still see a lot of people doing this.  One leg is stretched in front and the other bent behind, which puts the bent knee in a very awkward position.  This puts a lot of stress on the knee and can cause pain and injury.

Do these instead…Basic hamstring, quad and hip flexor stretches.   These stretches will do everything the hurdler’s stretch was trying to do without the added risk of injury.  Proper form includes:  minimizing rounding your back in a hamstring stretch so as to avoid putting stress on the spine; avoiding overstretching the quad to where it causes pain; and whether seated or standing for a hip flexor stretch, avoid arching your back.

Most, if not all of these, were made popular during the early gym days.  They are tough, and they fit into the model of “no pain, no gain.”  However, they are not very effective, and worse, they are dangerous.  People have injured themselves doing these before.  Remember – pain does not equal gain, and often will slow down progress.  The key is to work at exercise in a smart and efficient way.  Challenge yourself, instead of hurting yourself.

You Can Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!

Yes, you heard me right.  I’m (Therese) giving you permission to eat that piece of cake, or chocolate, or cookie, or pizza, or, well, fried anything.  This probably sounds hypocritical since I’ve written about substituting such foods for healthier options.  And yeah, okay, it kind of does.  But, let me explain…Words Matter. 

What Happens When You’re Told Not to Do Something?  

Don’t, not, and no are some of the strongest words in any language.  Growing up, I’m sure most of us heard things like, “Don’t touch that,” “Don’t do that,” “This [whatever] is not for you,” “No, you can’t have that.”  When we hear the words don’t, not, and no, the brain focuses on that “thing” we aren’t supposed to touch, do, have, etc.  And it ends up being all we can think about.  

There’s a reason I’m telling this story. 

How many times have you been told to stay away from that metaphorical piece of cake?  The same thing happens that is described above.  When we are told NOT to eat “something,” that “something” is ALL we think about.  And that “something” is usually a food we crave for whatever reason, maybe associated with comfort, happy moments, or triggered by sight or smell. 

Now, I’m certainly not advocating going on a binge of eating junk food.  Neither am I saying to totally eliminate them from your diet so they never touch your lips again.  What I am saying is that you can allow for small or occasional indulgences, rather than completely denying yourself.  But, it requires some strategy so that 80 to 90 percent of the time you are eating a good, clean, healthy diet.

Strategies for Cheating (Cheat Meal and item…)

Here are a few cheating strategies so you keep your diet on track and avoid psychological guilt or feelings of failure while losing or maintaining weight.

  • Schedule a cheat meal.  Plan a favorite dinner of pizza, burger and fries, etc.  Refrain from doing this too frequently—1x/week max.  The more cheat meals that are eaten, the longer it can take to reach a weight loss goal.
  • Schedule a cheat day.  Plan only 1 day/month to eat whatever you like that day.  Avoid this strategy if it tends to cause a lingering return to unhealthy eating beyond the one day.  Also, after the cheat day be sure to eliminate those items from your kitchen.
  • Have one small “treat” during the day.  This could be one small scoop of ice cream after dinner, or a piece of chocolate midday, etc.  The key word here is small.  Additionally, only keep 1-2 of these items in your kitchen at a time and allow them to run out before another purchase.

The overall idea is to allow yourself to modestly indulge, which may help stick to an otherwise healthy diet.  The win here is that the cravings won’t control you anymore.  Rather, you control the cravings.  There is power in that!

TV & Junk Food: Are They Related?

I don’t know, maybe I was just burned out a bit from working too hard and needed a break, but yesterday was one of those lazy days for me.  I decided enough was enough and I was just going to relax for the day.  Now we all need those relaxation days to recharge.  But, on this particular day, I was glued to the TV.  And, for some reason, I took more notice of the many food commercials that we are bombarded with. 

It Made Me Wonder if TV Led to More Eating, and Junk Food in Particular.

To be completely transparent, some of what I have to say on this subject is based on my own experience, and some on research.  First, my own experience…

What I Know to Be True for Myself

I fight my food demons like I know a lot of others do.  Growing up, there were always sugary desserts and candies on hand.  While that’s another story in itself, suffice it to say, while we had to eat dinner at the table, dessert was served later in front of the TV.  I took this same practice into adulthood for many years.  Unconsciously, I associated relaxing in front of the TV with treat time.  During my own weight loss journey, it was one of the habits I became aware of that were contributing to my overweight.  (If you want to know what I did…I slowly began substituting for a healthier snack.

Back to Those TV Commercials.

To be fair, not all those food commercials I noticed yesterday promoted bad foods.  Some were certainly healthy.  But, on seeing them, even though I wasn’t hungry, it made me want to eat.  In sight, in mind, so to speak.  So, my natural tendency was to hit the kitchen and forage for food.  That meant extra calories I was consuming, healthy food or not.

What Some Research Says

In 2018, Cancer Research UK1 [United Kingdom], conducted a survey of teens between 11 and 19 years of age to assess if there was an association between TV streaming and ads on diets.  More specifically, on junk food and sugary drink consumption.  They discovered that teens who regularly streamed shows containing ads “were more than twice as likely (139%) to drink fizzy drinks compared to someone with low advert exposure from streaming TV, and 65% more likely to eat more ready meals than those who streamed less TV.”

In another study, researchers looked into whether eating while watching TV increased the number of calories consumed relative to eating with no TV2.  The participants were women.  Interestingly, everyone ate more with TV.  If the show was a favorite, or one they were familiar with, the food intake was even greater.

I always like to leave with a bottom line.  After working with clients and my own experience, one of the ways to combat TV and food intake is to be mindful of it.  The more mindful we are of what we are doing, the more we can move to modify it in a healthier way.

1Cancer Research UK. “Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180115184342.htm.

2Braude, L., & Stevenson, R. J., 2014. Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. “Watching television while eating increases energy intake. Examining the mechanisms in female participants.” Appetite. Vol. 76, pp 9-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.01.005.

Why Today’s Technology Is Messing With You

I don’t know about you, but growing up my mother was constantly telling me to “sit up straight,” or “stand up straight!”  Being a kid, I just assumed she thought I was purposely showing I didn’t care and was being lazy.  I mean why else was she always on me?  (That’s a rhetorical question! LOL.)

Granted, maybe we did not, nor our mothers, know at the time why having good posture was important, especially if we weren’t entering beauty pageants or impressing others with our great physique.  But, it turns out she actually might have had our backs on this one!

We’ve all heard it by now—sitting is the new smoking.  However, there is more to it than just being sedentary and out of shape leading to unwanted health problems.  In reality, something more is happening here.

Enter Today’s Technology

In today’s tech society, we spend countless hours staring down at our cell phones and peering forward at our computers.  We sit hunched over in cafes or walk through crowds with our heads down, oblivious to the heavy weight that puts on our neck and shoulders.  With time and age, we get more and more slumped over, developing what I like to call bird neck (head and neck extended forward like we are pecking at someone’s hand).

You probably thought that was simply age, right!?

Why Is This Bad…Besides the Way It Looks?

Our bodies adapt to the position(s) we constantly put it in.  This causes some muscles to be overactive and others underactive.  Because of this, we can more easily injure muscles that are weak (underactive), and feel tightness in other muscles (the overactive ones).  In the case we are talking about here, with time we begin experiencing pain in our neck, back, and shoulders.

Okay, So What Do I Do with This Information?

Besides taking more frequent breaks from staring at that computer and down at the cell phone, here are some simple exercises you can do to combat that rounded back and/or forward head (remember the bird neck).

Rounded back:

·  Bent over Rows to strengthen the back.  Yes, I said bent – but not in the slouched over sense!  Rather bent slightly forward from the hip.

·  Chest Stretch to loosen tight pectoral muscles pulling inward.

Forward head:

·  Head Retraction (keeping head level, tuck your chin which will draw head directly backwards).  You might not like the look of wrinkling under the chin, but that says you’re doing it right!

So, next time you find yourself scrolling too long through Facebook, or working too long at the computer, take a few minutes to get up and stretch out the chest and neck.  And add those back rows to your exercise routine (watching your head position).  You’ll make your mother, and your body, proud!

Are Carbs the Reason Behind Weight Gain?

The poor carbohydrate, it gets such a bad rap!  Now, before you roll your eyes, or remind me of all the stories about people losing weight by cutting out carbs, hear me out on the subject…

Can drastically cutting carbohydrates help to lose weight?  Sure, just like other diets, cutting out a bigger source of calories than you take in can mean successfully losing weight.  But are carbs the reason behind weight gain as so many have implied?  Not really, and here is why.

Wait…first I want to digress and take a look at the carbohydrate and why it is so important to our diet.  (For more on this, read our ebook on the 7 Myths About Weight Loss and the Top Proven Strategies to Overcome Them.)

The Mighty Carb

Put simply, when we consume carbohydrates our bodies break them down into glucose.   Glucose really has one major role and that is to supply energy for our body.  It is the body’s primary fuel for most of its cells.  It is highly important to the brain, red blood cells, nervous system, and for those pregnant – the fetus and placenta.  In fact, virtually the only fuel used by your brain is glucose! 

To be quite succinct, without enough carbs to make enough glucose, our energy levels wane, brain function slows, and our nervous system and ability to fight disease gets impaired.

But you’d rather burn more fat than carbs you say! 

Well, the fact is that when fat is burned for a source of energy, it needs a small amount of glucose to break it down.  So, you need carbs to make glucose to burn fat. 

There is a ton of misinformation out there that fat and protein can easily be used as a source of energy – directly, they cannot.  The ultimate fuel source is glucose (more specifically glycogen).  The process of converting fat and protein to glycogen is a costly process for your body, and degrades muscle in the process.  Finally, muscles are made of protein, but built by carbs (and resistance!)

Okay back to carbs being the cause of weight gain

Let’s be honest, carbs are not the bad ones here.  Good sources of carbs provide excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and dietary fiber that our body needs to stay healthy and lower the risk of disease.  High nutrient foods with carbs include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Legumes

Even the bad carbs in small amounts aren’t necessarily the culprits of weight gain, though certainly they need to be limited.  You know what they are…candy, sugary desserts, sodas, etc.

Barring a medical problem, weight gain is an accumulation, over time, of eating too much…period.  The “wrong foods” make this worse as they are usually higher calorie.  Couple that with a sedentary lifestyle — not getting enough exercise/movement — and of course any food can cause issues.  So, let’s stop blaming carbs and be sure we are eating a healthy balanced diet and getting an adequate amount of exercise. 

All this said, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of the total amount of calories you eat each day. These are essential to your diet!

Caffeine – Friend or Foe?

Many of us love that first cup of coffee or tea in the morning.  It smells good, gives us a boost to get the day going, wakes the brain, and may be associated with one of the most relaxing moments we have during the day.  And to go without it – well that just starts the day out wrong!  

Caffeine has an addictive effect.  But before thinking you are a drug addict, consuming low to moderate amounts of caffeine does not pose a problem for most healthy people.  However, as with any consumable, caffeine has both benefits and drawbacks, and may not be for everyone.  

Let’s take a look at what caffeine does in the body, the benefits it can have to improving performance, and when to use caution consuming it.

Why There Is an Almost Instant Boost

Caffeine is a stimulant.  It’s absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and is quickly metabolized by the liver.  Within 15 minutes caffeine begins circulating in the bloodstream, and within 45 minutes 99% percent of it is absorbed.  It easily crosses nerve and cell membranes and into the brain.  As a result, caffeine can make you feel more physically and mentally energized.

Typical caffeine sources

  • 8oz Coffee (95-200mg)
  • 1oz Espresso (40-75mg)
  • 12oz Cola (30-47mg)
  • 8oz Green Tea (24-40mg)
  • 8oz Black Tea (14-61mg)
  • 1oz Bittersweet Chocolate (25mg)

Caffeine and exercise performance

The use of caffeine in athletes has been shown to improve their performance by decreasing reaction time and lengthening time to exhaustion.1  Additionally, athletes consuming caffeine an hour before resistance training, researchers found that the athletes could perform more repetitions, and the muscle soreness that developed in the following days decreased (known as DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).2  The optimal amount of caffeine consumed was found to be between 3-6 mg per kg of body weight (pounds divided by 2.2).  So, what does this mean for everyone else?

Caffeine and the average exerciser – Benefits and Concerns

For us non-athletes, a bit of caffeine (1-2 cups of coffee for example) before working out may give us that boost of energy to increase aerobic exercise and resistance training repetitions.  Always go slow and steady when adding anything new.

For pregnant and nursing women, and for those with heart issues, stomach issues, high blood pressure, sleep problems, etc., caffeine beyond small amounts is not recommended and should be determined in consultation with a doctor.

1 Goldstein, E. R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D., Kreider, R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., & … Antonio, J. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition71-15.

2 Hurley, C.F., Hatfield, D.L., Riebe, D.A. (2013) The effect of caffeine ingestion on delayed onset muscle soreness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27(11)3101-3109.

Understanding the Keto Diet

One of the more recent popular diets has been the Keto (Ketogenic) diet.  As with any diet, it could help people successfully lose weight.  But before jumping on the train headed to Weightlossville, it’s important to understand what the diet is, the foods it includes, the foods it avoids, the benefits and risks or concerns of the diet.

It’s even more important to determine if this diet is right for you by speaking with your doctor and a registered dietitian, as opposed to those without any formal nutrition science and medical training.

What is the Keto Diet?

It may surprise you, but the keto diet is actually over 80 years old.  It has been used in clinical settings for the treatment of epilepsy in children.  It has gained popularity in the general population of people trying to lose weight.  

The keto diet is a high-fat diet that severely reduces carbohydrate intake.  (Sound familiar to Atkins!?  It is different, but…)  This allows the liver to produce ketone bodies, which then are used as the main fuel source of burning energy in the body over glucose.  This puts the body into a state called ketosis.  It’s important to note that a ketogenic diet does not necessarily result in more fat loss over a non-ketogenic diet.1

Problem #1 – while your body will use ketone bodies as fuel regardless of how it happened, the process by burning anything other than glucose is extremely inefficient.  In most cases, the extra work is actually damaging as it first burns muscle, not fat.  This later will result in you burning less calories at rest – making weight loss harder.

About 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrate make up the keto diet.  The diet provides enough protein for growth.  However, the amount of carbohydrates is inadequate for the body’s metabolic needs.  And fat is relatively inefficient to burn (and very calorie dense!)

Foods of the Keto Diet

  • Meat (red meat, bacon, sausage, ham, turkey, chicken)
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, anchovies, sardines, mackerel)
  • Full-fat dairy foods (eggs, butter, cream, unprocessed cheese)
  • Low carb vegetables (such as leafy greens, peppers, celery, asparagus, cucumbers)
  • Avocados
  • Healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado)
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • Seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, etc.)

Foods not included in the Keto Diet

  • Fruits
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Grains
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar (including sugary foods and drinks)
  • Milk

Let’s repeat one thing again – FRUITS are excluded.  These are very vitamin and mineral rich, and while yes they have natural sugars and need moderation, they are part of any well balanced diet.

Potential Benefits of a Keto Diet

  • Fast weight loss
  • Lower blood glucose levels
  • May decrease inflammation
  • May benefit patients with type 2 diabetes

Potential Risks/Concerns of staying on a Keto Diet for long periods

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies 
  • Constipation
  • Lack of healthy gut flora (the ‘good bacteria’)
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Loss of lean body mass
  • Increase in LDL cholesterol
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Lack of energy

What’s The bottom line?

A well-formulated keto diet may be beneficial for weight loss in the short term, and may be safe assuming it includes whole foods and provides adequate amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  However, the lack of several key foods and the loss of a major nutrient group (carbohydrates) can be dangerous and does not add enough benefit for many to offset the risk.  Always seek the advice of a doctor and registered dietitian to determine if a keto diet is good for you.

In the long term, having a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and unprocessed foods, is not only easier to maintain, but also provides more needed nutrients for optimal health.

1Johnston C., Tjonn S., Swan P., White A., Hutchins H., Sears B. (2006). Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 83, Issue 5, 1 May 2006, Pages 1055-1061.

Decision Making = Success

Do you remember a time when you had a big decision to make and you just didn’t know what the right way to go was?  And, you just didn’t do anything and let whatever happen?

Of course, we’ve all done that before.  And in not making a decision, well, we’ve actually made one.  We’ve let fate, or whatever one might call it, make the decision for us.  In essence, we’ve given control over to someone or something else.

It’s human nature to mull over difficult decisions.  Humans want to weigh cost/benefit, even if just subconsciously.  Our expansive brain power allows us to analyze a situation and logically work out the next move, kind of like a game of chess.  This of course, is a good thing. However, sometimes it gets in the way of us taking action, any action, and just correcting it if we have to.

The most successful people, and you can name anyone from Richard Branson to Oprah Winfrey, make decisions, make them quick, and course correct if they have to.  In essence, they make a decision, then make it right, to achieve a successful outcome.

So, what’s stopping YOU from success?  What’s stopping you from getting in shape, losing weight, or simply improving your health?  Make a decision to do something, start something that will move you towards whatever goals you have.  If you want to be more fit, healthier, or lose weight, make a decision and take some action to get yourself there.

Let’s look at some tips to help with that decision making.

First, examine any excuses you might have for not taking action.  One of the most common is, no time.  Be honest with yourself.  Do you really not have the time?  Because if it’s something you really need to do than time is irrelevant.  At some point the time has to be taken to do it anyway.  Will your life be less busy in the future?  A simple tip is to start by just making a little time for what needs to be done, say 15 minutes each day, and build up from there.  Before you know it, you will have made significant progress.

The second most common reason for not taking action is no money.  Again, be honest with yourself.  Is there really no money for it?  How important is what you need to do?  If money were no object, would it be important, would you do it?  If the answer is yes, then consider these tips:

  • First, set the intent that you are going to find the money to do it. This helps shift your mindset so it is working for you, instead of against you.
  • Examine your finances to see where money may be wasted and target those dollars to help fund what you need.
  • Sell something that you no longer need or has been unused for a while to put toward it.
  • Much like the time commitment, start small. See if you can fund what you want by spreading the payments out over time.  Many businesses seem to be willing to do this more and more.  Or start your own fund to pay for it by saving your spare change.

Remember, be as creative as you like.

Second, consider the benefits of what your decision would bring over the risks of doing nothing.  Use this simple tip of making a list of the benefits of acting and the risks of inaction.  If the benefits outweigh the risks than make the decision to act—take the very first step you have to set your decision in motion.

Third, consider the future rather than your situation right now.  What would you like your future to look like?  Is the decision facing you in line with your goals for the future?  A simple tip is to write down your perfect future related to the choices in front of you.  If the decision to act on something fits into that future, say yes and take that first leap of faith.

In truth, “we rarely regret the things we did, only the things we didn’t do”.  So, start making decisions and then make them right.

Follow us on Facebook as we often put motivation tips and strategies along with great fitness and health tips.  We also offer complimentary strategy sessions to help you uncover strategies to improving your health and fitness.

Decision making is about taking action.  So…make a decision, then make it right.

Is a Personal Trainer Right for Me? (part 1)

Is a Personal Trainer Right for Me & What to Ask (Part 1)

Working with a personal trainer can have tremendous benefits to reaching your health and fitness goals.  What often happens, however, is that the client feels they don’t get what they need and the trainer feels frustration because they couldn’t help them, leaving everyone with a less than happy experience.  Before working with a personal trainer, or not, first consider why you should or shouldn’t’ use one, and if you do, what you need to know.

When you should work with a personal trainer

You should work with a personal trainer if you have a specific goal in mind.  In that way, the trainer can help set up a program specifically designed to get the results you want.  For instance, say you want to run a half-marathon.  The trainer can put together an exercise program that includes specific running drills to help improve the efficiency of your running gait, as well as build your cardiovascular endurance, and strength and power through resistance and plyometric exercises.  This program would be geared towards getting you in shape and building the endurance and power needed to sustain the run.

If you are looking to lose 20 pounds, then the trainer can build a program designed to increase your cardiovascular function, and strengthen and build muscle mass in order to help you burn fat and carbs at a higher rate.  In our customized workout plans, for example, we conduct an assessment and goal list with clients like you so the workouts help you achieve your specific goal AND so they work for where you presently are.

When you shouldn’t work with a trainer 

At the risk of sounding rather harsh, avoid working with a personal trainer if you don’t plan on:

  • doing what they ask you to do,
  • following up with exercising on your own,
  • keeping session appointments, or
  • arriving on time for session appointments.

At the same time, avoid working with a personal trainer who doesn’t:

  • show up for your session appointments,
  • show up on time for your session appointments,
  • always seems ill-prepared for your sessions, or
  • shows more interest in what is happening in the gym or on their phone than with you.

Why spend all that time and money on a personal trainer if you are not committed to take their advice and do what is expected, or if they are not committed to helping you reach your goals?  Lastly, a good personal trainer will plan for your session ahead of time and will help you work out a good routine for the days you don’t see her/him.

Can a personal trainer help with nutrition?

 While a trainer can make some general nutrition recommendations, they cannot, and should not, design specific diets and meal planning unique to your needs.  This type of expertise is done by registered dieticians, which are licensed individuals in every state, have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, have residency/internship requirements and testing, plus continuing education requirements.  Therefore, if you are looking for a nutrition program designed specifically for you and your goals, you need to seek the advice of a registered dietician, ideally one that works with what your goals are (i.e., sports performance, weight loss, etc.)

In Part 2, we’ll take a look at the questions to ask before deciding to work with a personal trainer.  In this way, you can choose one that best fits your fitness needs and goals. Click here for Part 2.

Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 2)

Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 2)

In Part 1, we took a look at how much exercise is enough.  Take a moment to read “Exercise and Fat Burning – Demystified (Part 1)“, if you haven’t already.

Now let’s look at the last two questions, how hard do I have to work out to burn fat, and do I even have to exercise to lose weight.

How hard do I have to work out to burn fat? 

Just because you work out hard doesn’t mean you burn more fat.  And, just because you workout at a lower intensity, doesn’t mean you don’t burn fat.  In fact, have you heard you can work out at a lower intensity and burn more fat?  Confusing?  Let’s explain.

If you exercise at a low intensity level, a higher percentage of the energy expended in your body actually does comes from fat.  But, the total energy expended is low, therefore, you don’t burn that much fat.

On the flip side, if you exercise at higher intensity levels, a lower percentage of energy expended in your body comes from fat.  The higher percentage comes from carbs.  But, the total energy expended in your body is higher, therefore, combined, you burn both more fat and carbs.

So, to answer the question, you are better off working at higher intensities because your total energy expended, while low from fat, is higher from a combination of fat and carbs.

Do I even have to exercise to lose weight?

The truth is, you don’t have to exercise to lose weight.  In fact, what and how much you eat has more to do with it than exercise.  However, there is a real downside to leaving off exercise.

When weight is lost without exercise, it’s usually muscle that is lost.  And, should you gain back this weight, you’ve gained back fat.  Have you ever known someone who lost a lot of weight quickly and their skin looks saggy or they have a “sunken” look?  This is not unusual if a person loses weight quickly without exercising.  Building muscle through exercise, while dieting, decreases the potential of looking like that.

The Bottom Line…

That is, exercise will build stronger muscles, which burn more calories, even at rest.  And, you can lose weight faster by combining exercise and eating less calories, creating a bigger deficit between the calories consumed and the calories burned.

Take some action now – you’ll find more of the common myths on weight loss, and facts behind them, in our complimentary ebook “7 Myths About Weight Loss, and the Top Proven Strategies to Overcome Them!

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