Functional exercise is a term that gets thrown around loosely – it’s hard to know exactly what a person means when they say they practice functional fitness. In my case, the term functional exercise conjured up triggering images of balancing on one leg on a BOSU ball while performing a shoulder press for a long time. It wasn’t until I came to better understand what functional fitness is at its core that I began to appreciate why it can be so beneficial to those practicing it when done well.
Cryotherapy is a blanket term for any type of “super-cooling” to the body. Applying an ice pack to a localized area to reduce inflammation is a form of cryotherapy. Whole body cryotherapy is a relatively new method of cooling the entire body by entering a chamber cooled to temperatures as low as -200°F to -300°F while wearing minimal clothing for two to four minutes. The whole body cryotherapy trend has exploded across the country, touted as a method of therapy able to decrease inflammation, help with muscle pain post exercise, and treat medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Numerous whole body cryotherapy clinics claim it can be used to expedite weight loss – a claim that could create a multi-billion dollar industry if proven to be true. At an average cost of $70.00 per session, I would want to be absolutely sure the treatment will result in the weight loss I hoped for. Here’s a breakdown of the latest arguments both for and against using whole body cryotherapy for weight loss.
Use of the term “clean eating” needs to stop. I’ll tell you why.
The term “clean eating” itself is heavily ambiguous. Does it imply that you wash your food? What foods are considered “dirty”? While we’re at it, what constitutes as a processed food and what doesn’t? The exact meaning of “clean eating” differs depending on who you ask; that’s probably the biggest gripe I have against the term.
Caffeine is everywhere - coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even some medications. It is so widespread and affordable compared to other supplements that it’s no wonder it’s a popular go-to performance enhancer for athletes. The question remains - how effective of a performance enhancer is caffeine really, how much would I have to drink, and can it help me lose weight?
I think we can all agree that dieting sucks. Dieting doesn’t lead to long term change; it instead leads to binge eating, cravings, and a whole lot of negative self talk. There is substantive research showing that dieting is a predictor is weight gain, not weight loss as the fitness industry would love for us to believe. In a society overcome with dieting propaganda, it’s difficult to know what course of action to take when trying to obtain long term wellness. The intuitive eating movement is attempting to overcome this dieting barrier to actually help people reach their ultimate health goals and maintain them.
IIFYM, or If It Fits Your Macros, is a new fad diet based off of “flexible eating”. “Macros” stands for the three macronutrients, carbohydrate, protein, and fat. IIFYM gives a total calorie intake recommendation and breaks it down into what percent of total calories should come from each macronutrient category.
When you lose weight, where does the fat go? Most people would say that when you exercise, you “burn” the fat. So does the fat simply burn away? This can’t conceivably be the answer, as adipose tissue has mass.
How much physical activity do I need? This is a question I have continuously received throughout my career as a personal trainer, and it is a loaded one. The honest answer is that it depends. If we were to get really specific, how much daily physical activity you need is dependent on what your goals are and your current fitness level. Although the exact level is different for every person, there are helpful, research based physical activity guidelines available to make answering this question much easier for the everyday public.
The ketogenic diet has hit the internet with a vengeance, replacing paleo as this years favorite fad diet. Both fitness enthusiasts and the everyday person alike have been turning to keto as a way to lose weight and get their eating back on track. Ketogenic marketing is wrapped in a powerful narrative claiming that keto can adapt your body to lose fat 24/7 and help boost brain function, but how much of this narrative is actually aligned with the truth?
Moderate alcohol consumption has not been significantly associated with weight gain in the overall population. In cases where moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with weight gain, it has been found that those who drink are more likely to choose unhealthy, fatty foods while intoxicated compared to those who are sober. This brings up the question of whether the weight gain these individuals experience is due to the excess calories from the alcohol, the fatty food, or both.
The time old question I undoubtedly get asked again and again is “should I use free weights or machines when I lift? Which is better?” Neither free weights nor machines are good or bad - they are just different. Whether or not you choose a dumbbell chest press over a machine chest press depends entirely on what your goals are and what you are trying to ultimately accomplish. Here are a few general guidelines as to whether machines or free weights are for you.
Is personal training worth it? This can be a difficult question to answer from a consumer’s standpoint, because when you purchase personal training, you essentially purchase a promise. You buy personal training with the hope that it will ultimately get you to your goals. Personal training often comes with a high cost and time commitment, so is the risk really worth the reward?
Creatine is the most researched athletic performance supplement on the market to date - it is also touted as the most controversial. We can be sure that creatine will remain at the forefront of sports supplementation, so how exactly does creatine supplementation work and what are the benefits?
Dozens of newcomers flood into gyms in their neighborhood every year around January 1st to begin their new lease on life and finally lose the extra weight they’ve been meaning to lose for years. Over the next 4-6 weeks, the cardio machines and group ex classes are packed, until it slowly dies back down to the gym regulars nearing the beginning of March. Out of every 100 people who sign up for a gym membership, only about 3 continue to go consistently one year later. The first three months of starting a new program are the most difficult to stay engaged. My belief is that most people get discouraged shortly after starting, because they are not seeing the results they were hoping for at all. If you have ever gained weight after starting an exercise program, you are not alone. Most people gain weight when they begin exercising before they lose weight. Not only is this discouraging, but it leads many to believe that something is inherently wrong with them, and that they will never be able to shed the pounds. I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you, and there are several reasons as to why you’re not losing weight when you exercise.
Most women know they should exercise during their pregnancy for both their own health and the health of their baby, but it is not nearly as clear as to which types of exercise are safe. The safety of resistance training is a major question, particularly for women who are already regularly active and would like to keep up with their routine as much as possible. Fortunately, resistance training during pregnancy can not only be safe, but also help to manage common aches/pains and prepare for labor/delivery.
When it comes to building muscle, there are a lot of factors that come into play. You have the basics: rep ranges, total sets, rest periods, technique, and exercise choice. However, there is one variable that often gets neglected, if not forgotten about altogether.
The amount of time you actually spend lifting weights.
As a fitness professional, one of the major misconceptions I commonly battle is the wildly popular idea that if a little is good, more must be better. One of my favorite quotes from movement guru Grey Cook is, “More is not better; better is better.” It is a motto I strive to live by in my fitness world as well as my personal life.
Lack of sleep can have a counterintuitive effect on living a full, healthy lifestyle. It is not news that sleep deprivation is associated with obesity, and some of the reasons as to why are obvious. A greater number of hours awake equate to a greater number of hours where you’re able to open the fridge. Additionally, the typical sleep deprived 9 to 5-er repeatedly lives the old adage of planning on going to the gym right after work, but by the time they get to the end of their shift, they are so exhausted they can barely manage to make themselves dinner and get to bed. We all know that sleep is important, but it is much more intricately involved in hunger and obesity than is seen at face value.
Soy may be the most controversial plant based protein, constantly competing for first place with gluten. Depending on who you ask, soy is either regarded as a heart healthy, plant based source of protein with healthy fats and minerals that everyone needs, or a carcinogen that may lead to infertility. Discussion surrounding soy can become heated and complex, so I decided to investigate the connection between soy intake and breast cancer and fertility.
Anterior pelvic tilt is a condition characterized by the pelvis being tilted forward so that the front part of the pelvis is lower than the back. This causes the stomach and buttocks to protrude. Anterior pelvic tilt can cause a number of symptoms and should be corrected in order to avoid chronic pain.
A common question we get asked is how many reps is best when you’re resistance training. Unfortunately there isn’t a black and white answer. It truly depends on what your training goal is. There are three main goals people have when they resistance train, muscle strength, hypertrophy (muscle size) or muscle endurance. For each of these different goals the amount of exercises, repetitions and weights you should use change.
Most people know that the three primary macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. When asked which of the three is most commonly consumed grossly over the recommended amount in the typical American diet, the vast majority of people will answer either carbs or fat. I am not surprised by this, as Americans have been bombarded with marketing demonizing both carbs and fat for several decades. In reality, the most commonly over consumed macronutrient in America is protein. Americans are protein obsessed. Given that our protein consumption is so high, it is helpful to know how our bodies process protein, what happens to the excess protein we eat, and the resulting consequences.
Feeling soreness after a hitting the gym is a natural part of any workout routine. Injury, on the other hand, is far more serious and may require attention/treatment from a medical professional. Usually if you tried a new workout that your body was not familiar with, it’s likely that you will experience some level of soreness even if you’re physically fit. Pain however, doesn’t always lead to gains—and pain definitely isn’t needed in order to see gains. Either way, sometimes that pain can mean you’re actually injured. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle for the long haul.
Foam rolling is a form of SMR, or self-myofascial release. SMR is a fancy technical term for the act of self-massaging muscles to release muscle tension. It has become the go-to for gym goers across the country as a way to increase flexibility, prevent muscle soreness, increase athletic performance, decrease back pain, and even cure cellulite. These claims all sound incredible, but what exactly is happening when you foam roll and what benefits can you actually expect to see?
It’s easy to be misled by food marketing terms, with their vague definitions and easily misinterpreted wording. It can be difficult for shoppers to know when the claims made by food labels actually mean what they appear to, or when they are purposefully misleading to draw in health conscious consumers. Listed below are just a few of the most common food marketing terms defined and debunked.
Despite declining sales in sugary beverages such as soda and juice over the last decade, the US sports drink market is safe and here to stay. The sports drink market of $852.0 million in 2017 is projected to grow to $1,135.2 million by the end of 2023 at a CAGR of 4.3%. The market is overwhelmingly dominated by Gatorade, having 77% market share, with PowerAde in second with only 20% share. The millennial generation seems to drive the sports drink market exponentially with their interest in fitness and willingness to pay for health products. On the surface, sports drinks seem to provide the optimal method of quenching thirst with their convenient capacity to both re-hydrate and replenish electrolytes lost through sweat during a tough workout, however, a question lies in whether Gatorade’s clever marketing schemes demonizing thirst provide an accurate picture of when sports drinks are helpful in optimizing health and performance, and when they are just a waste of money.
After a tough workout, you’ll most likely have blown through your stored muscle glycogen and torn up your muscles. Therefore, the goal of post workout meals are recovery. The American College of Sports Medicine and the International Society for Sports Medicine recommend your post workout fuel consist of three main components: