Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why your measurement results may not be what you expected as you build muscle

Consistency and reliability are the keys to making measurement results as accurate as possible. To help ensure this you were given a “checklist” when you first designed your dotFIT Me Program. Tips such as taking weight and body fat measurements at the same time of day and under the same conditions, using the same method and scale, and having the same person take the measurements each time helps to minimize fluctuations and maximize accuracy in the measurement process.

Following are some additional reasons that may contribute to “non-expected” measurement results:
  • Not following your recommended supplement plan
    • These recommendations were made to ensure the appropriate level of nutrients to maximize your lean body mass (LBM) gains
    • Proper supplementation can ensure feeding of new and current muscle while losing fat
    • Certain formulas can increase your training intensity and lead to greater muscle building stimulus
    • Certain formulas can enhance recovery or prevent overtraining or a plateau
  • Your resistance training program may not be appropriate
  • An incorrect body fat measurement may have been provided at your last measurement. If this is the case, take the measurement again to rule out any accidental errors
  • Different equipment was used to obtain the measurement
    • Consistency is key. Try to take measurements at the same time of day, in the same place using the same scale. Body fat measurements should be taken by the same person using the same method. This will eliminate any tester inconsistencies
    • We recommend the use of skin fold calipers for their use of anatomical landmarks and ability to track small changes in body composition
  • Some unforeseen factor(s) in your eating or lifestyle has affected your weight and body fat significantly today. Try again tomorrow to see if there’s any change. If not, follow the program’s feedback after each progress check to stay on track to your goal or set a new goal

If you’re tracking
weight only
  • You may be losing body fat while gaining muscle at close to an equal rate, leading to little change in weight. This is a good thing, so keep adding calories to your daily intake as suggested
  • A temporary water fluctuation may have skewed your weight

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When I’ve exercised a lot in the past, why do my legs seem to get lean much sooner than my abdomen?

Answer: Exercising a particular body part does not mean you will automatically lose a significant amount of fat from that area. This is a common myth called spot reducing. One may be genetically geared toward losing leg fat, while their goal is to have an abdomen like a washboard. Some studies suggest that high intensity exercise may shave a bit of fat from the working muscles, but if no calorie deficit exists, fat will just be stored in another area. The contrast here is that exercise induces small decreases of fat stores locally in working muscle, while genetics and stress hormones have a greater influence over where fat will be lost during a calorie deficit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When will the pounds start coming off?

Question:  I have been on the 90-day program for two weeks now and even though I’ve lost body fat, but I haven’t lost any weight. When will the pounds start coming off?

Answer:  It should happen soon. You must be adding muscle at a rate that equals your fat loss. If you’ve added resistance training, then this has allowed you to add some muscle (a good thing) but it is unlikely that it will continue at this rate, unless that’s your primary goal. If muscle gain were your primary goal, your diet and exercise would be designed accordingly. It is also possible that you could get away with eating less, so try reducing your calories by 250/day. This should slow the muscle growth and maximize your fat loss. Be sure that your workouts are appropriate for your fat loss goal. Intense workouts with a lot of sets can lead to muscle growth. Also, supplements such as creatine can increase muscle cell volume, leading to an increase in weight (but not fat).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tomato Asparagus Salad

1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
8 cups romaine lettuce, torn
1/3 cup low fat Italian salad dressing
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, shredded
Cook asparagus in boiling water 5-6 minutes or until crisp tender; plunge in ice water to cool and stop cooking. Divide lettuce between 6 plates, arrange asparagus and tomatoes on top and drizzle with Italian dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and chill 1 hour before serving.
Makes 6 Servings
Serving Size: 12 ounces

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why do Core Training?

The Basics of the Core
In fitness, "the core" is a term thrown around often and is a buzzword used to denote the abdominal muscles. We're told it is important and that we should have a strong one, but do you really know what the core is and what it does?

The core region consists of the pelvis, hips, spine, and rib cage. Approximately 29 muscles make up the core musculature. These muscles are divided into two categories, depending on their primary function. The stabilization category is composed of small muscles positioned relatively close to the spine. These muscles include the transverses abdominis (our internal weight belt that when engaged, makes our waist line slimmer), multifidus (little muscles that attach vertebrae together and stabilize them), internal obliques, and diaphragm, to name a few. These muscles are responsible for stability of the spine and core region. The movement category comprises muscles that are more superficial (closer to the surface) in the core region. Muscles in this category include the rectus abdominus (the six-pack muscles), external obliques (rotational, side muscles), and erector spinae muscles (muscles that run the length of the spine on the back of our body). These muscles fall into this group because of their function in the movement of the spine and core region.

Why is the Core Important?
The core is critical to the integrity of our structure. A properly functioning core allows us to generate forces, accept forces, and stabilize forces that are placed on our structure in every activity we perform. In other words, if the core musculature is not working properly, our ability to control our structure and stabilize our spine is hindered, thus increasing the risk of injury. Consider these facts:

  • Low back pain affects nearly 80 percent of all adults.
  • 43 percent of work-related injuries are sprains and strains, with over 60 percent involving the core.
  • Men who spend over half their workday sitting in a car have a 300% increased chance of disc herniation.
After reviewing the above statistics, it becomes evident that, because of a sedentary lifestyle and a structure that is less than prepared to handle the stresses placed upon it, core training becomes a critical portion in a health and fitness program.

Core Training for Weight Loss

An efficiently functioning core can help firm both the entire abdominal region and the hip region (the glutes)—two problem areas for most people. While creating a stable and safe internal foundation for training, core training also burns more calories than traditional ab and back work. That is a definite plus for most exercisers, since weight loss is the number one reason people give for joining a health club!

Remember, we are teaching the small, deep muscles of the core to work properly so that, as you begin more complex exercises, such as crunches or back extensions, the spine is protected. Also, it is important to understand that core stabilization training helps the nervous system recruit muscles better, thereby increasing the amount of muscle fibers working, and, in turn, increasing the amount of work that can be done. Again, this equals more calories burned and better muscle definition!

Core Training for Hypertrophy (growth)

Core training is an important component in programs designed for hypertrophy. To grow, muscles need time under tension, increased load and volume, efficient muscle recruitment, proper nutrition intake, and rest. Because the core is where all movement begins, most exercisers are limited by their ability to stabilize, particularly at the spine. Remember, the core acts like an anchor for the arms and legs. If the anchor isn’t strong, the extremities will not be able to lift heavy loads.

Given that premise, people training for hypertrophy must make sure that the small muscles that protect the spine are working properly so as to control unwanted movement, and that the nervous system is communicating properly with the core muscles. Core training teaches the nervous system to recruit muscles in the proper synergy so movement is more efficient. However, one of the most important benefits of core training is the fact that, when muscles are recruited properly, the nervous system is recruiting more muscle fibers, thus allowing the body to lift heavier loads for longer periods of time, and creating hypertrophy in an increased number of muscle fibers.

Core Training for Increased Health
If you want to improve your health, you need to keep moving, which means you need to remain injury free. The bottom line is that, when exercisers get injured, they have a harder time reaching their goals, if they ever reach them at all. Injuries stop people from being able to work, play, or function. Core training works to increase movement efficiency by firing the small spinal and hip muscles to control unwanted movement during activities and protect the spine. This helps to avoid devastating obstacles such as injuries. Considering that about 80 percent of the population suffers from back pain or discomfort, it is important to create a solid muscular foundation to help exercisers perform their programs safely and efficiently.

Remember, we can’t neglect the internal muscles of the body. They need to be trained to stabilize the body, and then integrated to function in conjunction with the larger superficial muscles. This is how you can help to keep your body health and strong.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Weight Gain & Birth Control Pills

What's the connection, if any, between oral contraceptives and weight gain? This article will clarify what research shows.
The Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) or birth control pill belongs to a class of birth control compounds called hormonal contraceptives.  The basic science behind them is to interrupt the normal release of hormones in the female that lead to ovulation, or the release of an egg. If there is no egg released, no fertilization can occur. OCPs may also make periods milder, more regular and help control some conditions such as endometriosis. The overwhelming majority of women in the United States use OCPs at some point in their lives. Recently, a large-scale survey of women in America indicates that about 82 percent have used OCPs at some time between age 15 and 44 and at any given time about 20 percent of the women in this age range are using OCPs.   Between 20 and 60 percent of women will discontinue using OCPs because of side effects such as headaches, mood changes, and weight gain.   Many hormonal contraceptives list weight change as a side effect. This point of this article is to discuss OCPs and weight gain.

Weight gain - what the research says

There is a decent body of research suggesting most women will experience little to no weight gain from OCPs when compared to women using no hormonal control or other methods. Several such studies are described here:

•    A study using adolescents evaluated weight gain in OCPs users compared with those receiving depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera®).   It found no significant increase in the weight of OCP users, but those using the depot injection, however, did see some significant weight change. Weight gain and depot is discussed later.

•    In the O’Connell study mentioned above, no weight gain was attributed to OCPs or NuvaRing® for a period of three months.3

•     The majority of OCP users in a study designed to find out why women quit using OCPs did not gain weight. About 76 percent of the participants had no weight change or decreased and about 20 percent of the participants experienced some level of weight gain.2

•    Another study of adolescents grouped users by starting weight. Participants were then separated into groups using Depo, OCPs, or no hormonal contraceptives, but were also grouped into either nonobese or obese categories.  In this study, OCP use was associated with no weight gain in the obese category and a smaller increase in the healthy weight category than non-hormone users. In fact, the nonobese and obese girls not using hormones gained more weight (7 to 8 pounds in a year and a half) than either group of OCP users. Obese OCP users gained less than a half-pound and nonobese OCP users gained 6 lbs in the same period. 

The bottom line is that a large number of recent studies provide little evidence that using an OCP causes weight gain in either obese or nonobese women.

What about Depo?

Depot Medroxyprogesterone acetate is a different method of hormonal contraceptive. Users receive an injection every three months and take no pills. Several studies have shown a significant increase in body weight for users, which seems to be worse for heavier women in stark contrast to OCPs. One older study from 1995 compared groups of women using three types of contraceptive hormones and found negligible changes in body weight.  Thus, there may be a select group of women who have an easier time gaining weight than the average depot user. This group may represent women who are heavier at the start of depot use.

In a study comparing OCP users with Depot, the majority gained less than 5% of their original weight. A much larger number of users of Depot gained more than 10% of their starting weight. It appears that women who use birth control pills will experience minimal or no weight gain due to the pill and those who use Depot may be at greater risk of gaining weight. But remember – you can always prevent weight gain or lose weight by increasing your activity level (daily steps, short walks, exercise, etc.) and eating fewer calories.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

No Time for the Gym

With our busy lifestyles, how do we find the time to make it to the gym? In today’s world, this is a big problem. Finding that extra hour out of our day for a workout does not seem feasible when the kids need to be cared for, bills need to be paid, the dog needs a bath, the dinner needs to be cooked and the best TV shows start at 7. Honestly, is there ever enough time?

So, if it seems impossible to leave the house, why not do a workout at home? You do not necessarily need to go to a gym to reach your health-related goals. You can do a full body workout in the privacy in your own home by adding a few little exercises that will benefit you and give you the energy you need to make it through those stressful times. The only one who will take care of you is you; so why not get started now?

During the course of a day, you can add resistance training to your daily agenda. Below are some helpful exercising tips that can get to your goals without going to the gym or buying expensive machines.
Lunges (
view exercise)
Start by taking a step in front of you and then lowering your back knee towards the ground while your front knee bends as well. Make sure that both feet are pointed straight ahead and squeeze your glutes on the way up. Repeat this up to 15 times and then switch legs. As you begin to feel comfortable with this exercise, try to do them walking. This is a great exercise for the quadriceps and glute region.

Body Weight Squats (
view exercise)
Start by putting a chair behind you and then act as if you were going to sit down. You will then tap your glutes on the chair (do not sit all the way down) and then stand back up. You want to make sure that your feet are approximately hip width apart and they are pointed straight ahead. While you are rising back up from the squat, focus on squeezing the glutes and standing completely upright between each one that you perform. Begin doing approximately 15 of these and then add more reps and/or hold on to a gallon of milk or water (approximately 8 pounds) for extra resistance.

Isometric Body Weight Squats

Put your back up against the wall and lower yourself to a chair height position. Try to remain in this position for up to 25 seconds and then add more time as this gets easier (push yourself to hold this exercise for one complete minute). You can also add a gallon of milk or water in each hand for extra resistance. Repeat up to 5 times throughout your day.

If you want to include some “cardio” type exercises to burn more calories, try these:
Mountain Climbers Start in a push-up position. Feet should be hip width apart and hand should ideally be placed directly underneath your shoulders. Run in place for approximately 30 seconds, making sure your feet stay pointed straight forward and that your head does not drop down. As this gets easier, push yourself to a minute for each round. Repeat up to 3 times.

Squat Jumps (
view exercise)
Start in a squat position and then jump up and down. Try to realign yourself every time you hit the ground before going into the next jump. Make sure that your feet stay approximately hip width apart and that the feet stay pointed forward. Each landing should be silent. If you hear yourself land, try to focus on tightening your stomach and landing directly behind the ball of your foot. Repeat 15 times each.
StairsIf you have stairs in your home, walk or run them! Try to walk/run the stairs 3 times (single step) and then immediately skip a step for three rounds. Always run down the stairs without skipping a step just to make sure that you do not fall. The total should be performed 6 times, counting this as one “set.” Repeat each set up to three times throughout your day. Once this gets easier, you can add resistance (such as a laundry basket, gallon of water, or weights if you have them).


Arm Raises (view exercise - seen with weights, not necessary to begin)
Start by lifting your arms out to the side (with no bend in the elbow) and then slowly lower them back down to your body. You can also do this exercise with your arms straight in front of you. As you get comfortable with these exercises, you can then begin to combine them. Do approximately 15 repetitions and then repeat. For extra resistance, hold onto a soup can in each hand (approximately 1 pound each) and add more weight as needed.

Push-ups (
view exercise)
Start face down on the ground with your arms out to the side of your shoulders. Push yourself up and then slowly lower yourself towards the ground. Remain looking at the ground and keep your chin neutral at all times so you do not irritate your neck and keep your glutes squeezed throughout the exercise. Repeat approximately 15 times. If you cannot do this exercise on your feet, drop to your knees and perform the exercise. If you do decide that the knee position is better for you, keep feet in contact with the ground at all times.

One Arm Row (
view exercise - seen without external stabilization; couch or low table)
Start by putting your left knee and left hand on a firm surface (such as a couch or low table), making sure you keep your back in a leveled position. Hold on to a gallon of milk or water in your right hand and bring this arm up by the right side of your body (around your right ribcage area). Repeat 15 times and then switch sides.

While there are numerous exercises you can do at home, these are some ideas for you to try for a full body workout routine. If you do not have time to perform all of these daily, switch them up and incorporate one or two from the list above. Remember the key here is to get moving! Good luck and happy exercising!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kids get fit, rock out

Zumbatomic® classes are high-energy fitness-parties that offer real results. Packed with specially choreographed routines and the latest music, like hip-hop, reggaeton and cumbia, Zumbatomic classes increase focus and self-confidence, boost metabolism and improve coordination. More than just a great reason to head to the gym, Zumbatomic classes make getting fit a fun family experience too.