Posts Tagged ‘Fat loss’

Hey guys!  Been busy as usual so here’s what I had time for today:

5 Rounds

Using a barbell with moderate to heavy weight, DBs, and a KB:

15 BB Deadlifts
1 BB Hang Clean
5 BB Push Press
15 BB Bent over Rows
10 DB Push Jerks
10 Single arm KB High Pulls
15 KB Overhead Tricep Extensions
15 minutes bike before and 10 after

Enjoy!

Calories DO Count!

Posted: November 5, 2014 in Fitness, Nutrition
Tags: , ,

I had a conversation with an individual just the other day.  We were discussing nutrition and fat loss.  I asked her how many calories per day she was eating.  She had no idea.  Her answer was “Well, I’m really good.  I eat really healthy and I’ve just started gluten-free” (Insert head smack here).  My response was “Ok, but how MUCH food do you eat?  Do you have a general idea of how many calories you’re taking in?”.  *Crickets*  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this same conversation.

My point here is not to make fun of any particular dieting scheme.  I have nothing against gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, etc. etc. etc.  My personal philosophy is to not adhere to one particular “diet plan”.  I don’t believe there is a need to cut anything out unless you have an intolerance or sensitivity to it.  Putting that aside, my point is CALORIES DO COUNT!

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but even if you eat too much healthy food, you are going to gain weight.  I used to be an incessant calorie counter – weighing, measuring, etc. down to the last gram.  It can certainly be a tedious task, but I do recommend it to people that have no idea about portion size.  I’m not saying that you need to do it forever, but at least for a few weeks until you get the hang of “eye-balling” proper portion size.  If you enjoy counting calories or tracking macros, go for it!  It certainly does work and it’s something I’ll do when I’m in contest prep mode.

Now, for the other side of things…how the heck do you know how much you’re burning while exercising?  You can’t go by the calorie count on machines when doing cardio because I have found that more often than not, they OVERestimate your calorie burn.  There are several formulas that you can look up to get an estimate but remember, it is just an estimate.  As for weight-training, calories burned of course are going to depend on your intensity, duration of workout, whether or not you’re doing circuit training, and several other factors.  Again, you can get an estimate by searching online.  Here’s what I do:  I’ve invested in a heart rate monitor (one with a chest strap for continuous monitoring).  This will be a bit more accurate for cardio exercise versus resistance training but I find that it works VERY well.  The chest strap can take a little getting used to but I think it’s worth it.  I know there are newer technologies out there that don’t require a chest strap, but I haven’t gotten the chance to test any of those out.

If you don’t have or want to use a heart rate monitor, you can get an estimate of your total calorie burn including exercise using this calculator: http://scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/    Follow the plan for a few weeks and assess…losing weight?  Great!  Keep going…  Not losing weight?  That’s ok, you may need to re-adjust your calories, pay closer attention to your portion sizes, etc.

This post is just a reminder…when in doubt, go back to the basics.  Calories in, calories out!  It does matter!  This may need to be another post but…don’t forget, you need to make sure you’re eating enough to support the amount of exercise you’re doing…sometimes the problem is the opposite, not eating enough!

I cannot believe that it’s August already!  I’ll admit, I’m a bit happy about it too.  It’s been a long summer so far and my girls and I have been spending MUCH too much time together. With that aside, there’s also less than a month left until my vacation 😀

My sponsor, Top Secret Nutrition, has been really upping the ante with some of their newest products that have recently hit the market.  I have tried just about every one of them and have yet to be disappointed.  In this blog, I’m going to discuss what my current supplement stack looks like for the remainder of my fat loss phase before I hit the beach…and maybe, just maybe, a competition in the fall…

My standard supps that I take pretty much year-round include the Whey Protein, Active Extreme Multivitamin, Fish Oil & CLA with Lipase, Advanced Joint Support, and Red Palm Oil.  These are my “must-have” health essentials.

My workout stack includes Pump Igniter and Creavar pre-workout for resistance training or Cardio Igniter prior to cardio/conditioning.  I sip BCAA Hyperblend during my training.  Post-workout is usually a Whey Protein shake unless I have a whole-food meal instead.

For fat loss, Top Secret Nutrition has added a ton of new products to their line.  My current fat loss stack includes Ab Igniter once or twice a day with the newest Garcinia Cambogia chews as needed a couple times throughout the day to help with cravings and appetite (I have a big one!).  I’ll also cycle between some of the other products as well: the Garcinia Boost and Raz-Lean Energy shots are my other favorites!

Be sure to check out all their amazing products at topsecretnutrition.com or if you already use some of them, tell me your favorites and why.  Happy August everyone!

In this week’s blog, I want to discuss one of the newest fat loss supplements from Top Secret Nutrition.  I have had the opportunity to use the new stimulant-based thermogenic Ab Igniter.  I am certainly no stranger to fat burners having sampled many in the last few years during competition prep.  I have used both stimulant-based and non-stimulant-based and they both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Anyway, back to Ab Igniter…

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First off, all the ingredients and amounts are clearly laid out on the label – I love it when I know exactly what I’m getting and how much.  This formula includes many of the most popular and researched fat loss ingredients on the market today including Garcinia Cambogia, Green Coffee Extract, Green Tea Extract, Caffeine, Raspberry Ketones, and Yohimbe to name a few.

Ok, so what did these ingredients do in “real life”?  Anyone who knows me, knows I have an appetite…if it looks good, smells good, and ain’t moving too fast, I’ll eat it…well, maybe.  But, this product really did curb my crazy appetite.  I’m usually starving by mid-morning, but after taking this product, that certainly wasn’t the case.  The energy from this product was also good.  I felt a pretty clean energy without any jitters and it lasted for a good part of the morning.  I usually took a second dose in the early afternoon to carry me through the rest of my day.  For those of you that are sensitive to caffeine, I would certainly recommend starting with only one capsule.  My end dose was 2 capsules twice a day and that was perfect for me.  Ok, confession time – my diet was not always the best while using this product and I still managed to lose some fat: win-win!  The Garcinia is supposed to slow fat accumulation so maybe that was it?!

I have seen some good results but will take a little time off before starting a second bottle 🙂  In a nutshell, if you’re looking for some clean energy and appetite suppression while trying to reach your fat loss goals, I definitely recommend Ab Igniter!

There really is no need to spend hours at the gym.  Sometimes I don’t even get to the gym…I’ve created quite the home gym over the last few years and to me, spending money on key pieces of equipment makes me much happier than spending money on shoes and handbags (don’t get me wrong, I love those too)…

Monday was a super-busy day for me (as usual) between work, family, dinner, softball games, etc.  I had just over one hour during a break in the action to squeeze a workout in at home.  I saved a few minutes afterwards for a shower…you’re welcome.. 😉

I used an adjustable dumbbell set and a few kettlebells (but you can used dumbbells for the entire workout if you want):

I performed all the exercises in the order listed, took a 1 minute break after the end of the circuit, and completed 4 total circuits.  I did a quick light aerobic warm-up for about 5 minutes:

  • Dumbbell Curl to Overhead Press x 15 reps
  • Heavy Kettlebell Swings x 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks x 15 reps
  • Renegade Row x 10 reps each side
  • Unilateral Bent-Over Row with Kettlebell x 15 reps each
  • Burpees x 10 reps
  • Reverse Lunges x 10 reps each
  • Russian Twist x 20 reps
  • Unilateral Floor Bridge x 15 reps each
  • Plank with Alternate Leg Lifts x 10 reps each
  • Kettlebell Deadlift x 15 reps
  • Unilateral Kettlebell Thruster x 10 reps each
  • 3-way Delt Raises x 10 reps each (Front, Lateral, and Bent-Over)

That completes 1 cycle.  Rest for about a minute to grab some water and catch your breath and then go again!  This type of workout gives you the best of both worlds (as long as you use a weight that is challenging).  Not only are you stimulating each major muscle group, but your heart-rate remains elevated for the entire hour for that fat-blasting effect.  I try to do a workout like this about once per week in between my other “standard” weightlifting routines.  If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!

 

If you know me fairly well, you know that I dread cardio…but for many, including myself, it is an essential part of a fat-loss program.  As I’ve said before, the order of importance for a proper fat-loss program is 1.  NUTRITION, 2.  Resistance Training, and (a distant 3rd…) 3.  Cardio.  While doing some form of steady state cardio can and often should be included in a program, in my opinion, it should NOT be the primary method you use for fat loss (unless of course recommended by your healthcare provider).

I prefer many other methods including HIIT, CardioAcceleration (you’ll be familiar with this if you’ve read any of Jim Stoppani’s work), and complexes and other “finishers”.  I’ve previously written a blog on Barbell Complexes for fat loss and you can read it here:  https://fitgirlkris.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/barbell-complexes-for-strength-conditioning-and-fat-loss/ .  There is a huge variety of other “finishers” that you can tack onto the end of a resistance workout to aid in fat loss without ever setting foot near a treadmill.  These forms of cardio can be included 3-4 times per week depending on your overall intensity and need for rest (the other days you can add in a little bit of steady state cardio if you want to).  Don’t forget your Top Secret Nutrition Cardio Igniter!

So, here is what I’m planning to do to finish off my next workout (or in place of it if I’m unable to get to the gym)…who’s with me?  It should only add about 10-15 minutes to your total workout time (you’ll need 1 heavy Kettlebell and 2 moderate weight Kettlebells):

  • 2-arm KB swings (using the heaviest KB you can handle) x 20 reps
  • KB Thrusters (using the 2 moderate weight KBs) x 20 reps
  • Sumo KB High Pull (using 1 or 2 moderate weight KB(s)) x 20 reps
  • KB Renegade Row x 20 reps

Perform these 4 exercises in a row with no rest.  Rest for 60-90 seconds.  Repeat for 2-4 cycles (depending on how intense your weight-training routine was).  This can also be performed as a stand-alone routine on days you are short on time but want to do something (ahem…that will be me this week because my kids are on Spring Break)…have fun!

Who doesn’t love a good cheat meal?  I know I do!  Although it can be something to look forward to when you’re in the middle of a diet or weight loss program, it can easily get you into a lot of trouble.  I hate to break it to you, but cheat meals aren’t necessary for everyone.  If you have quite a bit of weight to lose or if you’re coming off a “bulk”, “building phase”, or even maintenance, there really is no physiological reason for you to have a cheat meal.  But, in this stage of the game, there certainly is a mental benefit.  Starting a diet is hard…maintaining it is even harder.  Having a favorite meal to look forward to or a trip to a restaurant can certainly help you get through the diet grind.  A cheat meal or “reefed” can be much more important physiologically if you’ve been in a deficit for a long time or you’re extremely lean (but I’ll leave that for another blog).

Ok, so here’s the issue.  If you’ve spent all week with your diet on point, with a reasonable deficit, one tremendous meal can 100% erase your entire week…especially if you’re on the smaller side (sorry ladies).  I’ll admit, I hate counting calories but as I’ve said before, calories do count.  I’ve been trying to do a slow cut for a couple of weeks now.  My daily deficit is set around 300-400 calories, so my weekly deficit should be 2100-2800 calories if I do it right.  This should equate to just over 1/2 pound of weight loss per week (which is on the slower side, but I have found that I maintain much more lean mass when I aim for under 1 lb/week of weight loss).  So, what happens if I go out to eat with my family and have a cheat meal of 2 slices of pizza and 2 glasses of wine?  Depending on the pizza and the type of wine, that can add up to almost 1000 calories!  Subtract that from my weekly deficit and it has significantly slowed or even halted my fat loss…not good!

Here’s where planning can help out.  I recommend that you don’t necessarily look at your calories on a daily basis, but on a weekly basis.  This is where technology can be a huge help.  Websites and apps like My Fitness Pal or Lose It! can help you track your input.  You can look back over the course of the week and see how you did.  If you hit your goal everyday (meaning you didn’t go over or under your calorie/macro goal), I wouldn’t recommend having a cheat meal of 1000 calories.  On the other hand, if you’ve been slightly under your goal each day of the week, you have some “free” calories to play with.  For example, if I were under 100 calories each day of the week for 6 days in a row, I have about 600 extra calories to play with on a night out with my family.  So, I can either have the pizza OR the wine and still be on track for my estimated weekly weight loss.  Win!

This isn’t to make you completely crazy with numbers…but do try to have a decent estimate if you don’t keep track.  If you know you’ve been under your goal (or if you managed to squeeze in extra workouts during the week), it’s probably safe to say you can give yourself a reasonable treat!

Well, I’m tired of 2 things:  I’m tired of winter and all this snow and I’m tired of my winter “fluff”!  Although I don’t have any specific competition plans yet, I’m at that point where it is time to shift gears.  I love being able to eat a ton of food and I love feeling super strong in the gym.  What I DON’T love is not fitting into my clothes…now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider myself “fat” by any means but it’s time to drop a bit of fluff in preparation for the warmer months (I think they’re coming, I hope they’re coming).

I’m going to document my journey for several reasons:  To keep me accountable, to fill you guys in on what my personal fat loss plans look like and how they can change from week to week/month to month, and to remind myself on tough days why I “do what I do”.

So, here goes.  I will call today my official start:  Day 1.  So, what do I do on Day 1?  Nothing too different than I do any other day except build a small calorie deficit into my plan and work a bit of cardio in.  So, today, I am being a bit more conscious of certain food choices, I won’t always “eat when I’m hungry”, and I will drop about 200-300 calories from my daily plan.  That’s about it; nothing too exciting and nothing too drastic.  Although it isn’t necessary to eat a certain number of meals, I like to eat more frequent meals when I’m trying to lose fat.  I won’t cut any food groups, I won’t drastically drop my carbs, and I won’t do more than 20-30 minutes of cardio at a time.  I’ll follow a plan for about 2 weeks before making any major changes…my rule of thumb, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

I’m starting this journey at 130 pounds.  I don’t generally weigh myself or do body-fat measurements during my “building season”.  I just concentrate on my strength, how I look in the mirror, and how I am feeling overall.  I will take more measurements this week so that I have some starting numbers.

My supplement stack will also change at this point.  For now, I have recently added Top Secret Nutrition’s Probiotic Weight Loss product twice a day.  2 things I’ve noticed right off the bat with taking this product:  a moderate suppression of my appetite and overall less bloating.  I will keep you updated on all my supplements, training, and diet changes as I progress.

Ready, set, go!

Carb-Cycling

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Fitness, Nutrition
Tags: , ,

It’s about that time again…cutting season.  Spring is approaching (Dear God I hope so because I don’t think I can stand any more single digit temperatures or any more snow!).  Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’m going to write a little post on my thoughts about carb-cycling for any of you that are interested…wink, wink (you know who you are! ;-))

Carb-cycling:  What is it?  Who is it for?  How do I implement it?

Carb-cycling at the basic level is rotating your carb intake each day to include low carb, moderate carb, and high carb days.  Just like any other meal plan, there are countless ways to do it.  You can have 5 low carb days and 2 high carb days or 2 low, 3 medium, and 2 high carb days…and so on…At this stage, I’m usually consuming 6 meals per day but you can use this with any meal frequency plan.  This type of “zig-zag” carbohydrate intake helps to fuel your system, aid in fat loss, and help preserve muscle.  I’m not going to get into the scientific aspect of it (you can google it and read all the details you want).  My purpose is to share my insight on when and how to use this approach (and how I’ve successfully used it in the past).

So, who is it for and how do I do it?  I personally think that carb-cycling is the most beneficial when used to break a plateau in a fat-loss program or for the final few weeks of contest dieting.  This is where I found the most benefit.  Anyone can use it at any time, but I like to “save” it when I need a little kick-start to my fat loss program.  As I’ve said before, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to fat loss.  I personally believe that one should follow a balanced program of adequate protein, carbs, and fat as long as it is working for you (even if it is slower than you like!).  If you think you have quite a bit of fat to lose, wait to add carb-cycling.  If you’re near your goal and need a jump-start, give it a go.

The dreaded plateau…yes, we’ve all been there.  You’re doing everything right:  not missing your workouts, nutrition is on point, you’re getting adequate rest, and using smart supplementation.  Instead of adding ridiculous amounts of cardio or dropping calories too low, here is where I’ll start to implement a carb-cycling approach.  I prefer the 2 low, 3 moderate, and 2 high carb days when starting out.  I will generally reserve the higher carb days for intense training days (legs or back) and try to keep my carb intake higher around my training times (before and after my workouts).  Again, this is IN GENERAL!  I have eaten carbs at different times (eeek…even before bed!) – you have to find what is going to fit your training schedule and lifestyle (i.e.  if you train later in the afternoon or at night, eating carbs late at night is completely fine IMHO).

Is there a specific time I should do this for?  Maybe…(helpful, aren’t I?  ;-))  Again, a general time frame of as little as 2-3 weeks, several months, or more.  It all depends on what your goals are.  You can’t really tell if something is working unless you do it for at least 2 weeks.  So, if you’ve hit a plateau and want to give it a try, aim to do it for at least 2 weeks to see if it is working.  If not, change the variables, switch out a higher carb day for an additional low or medium one.  Just don’t change too many variables at once.

In terms of how long to use it for, think “big picture”…is this a sustainable way of eating for you?  I’ll be honest, I HATE low carb days…I turn into a cranky idiot (now, where did I put those car keys….oh yeah, they’re in my hand….ahem…).  I also find that if I do too many low carb days for too long, I start to lose muscle.  So personally, if I’m cycling with 3 or more low carb days per week, I’ll maintain that for no longer than 4 weeks.  If I’m following a general plan according to training (high carbs on brutal training days, moderate carbs on less intense days, and lower carb on rest or cardio days) I can follow it longer-term.

There you have it…carb-cycling is just another tool that you can use on your journey to your ideal physique.  If you have any questions, please feel free to add them in the comments or hit me up on my FB page (www.facebook.com/KristineLoockWnbfPro)!

Why is losing fat so darn hard?  The concept seems easy enough…to lose fat we must consume less calories than we are expending, right?  Well, yes and no.  Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.  I know some people who would argue that it is, but we must consider many things when trying to attain our best physique.  Will we lose weight on a steady diet of donuts as long as our calories are low enough.  I guess we would but our bodies would be poorly nourished wouldn’t they?  And could we lose weight without exercise…sure, but what would we look like?  My point here is that there needs to be a balance between nutrition, exercise, and rest.  There’s not too much we can do about our genetics, but we can certainly control the other three factors.  I’m going to list a few important things to consider when embarking on a weight-loss journey:

  • If you have a great deal of weight to lose and are relatively untrained, it IS possible to gain lean mass and lose fat at the same time.  If you have a good amount of weight training under your belt, it’s not going to be the same.  Here is where I suggest picking a primary goal.  Too many people bounce back and forth between “bulking” and “cutting” to make any real changes in their physique.  If your goal is fat loss, structure your training and nutrition accordingly.  What I mean is, you are going to need to be in a caloric deficit to lose fat and your training should be geared towards maintaining the lean mass you already have.  And when thinking about lengths of cutting/bulking cycles, think months, not weeks.
  • Please, please, please…don’t overdo the cardio!  Cardio should be used as a supplement to a sound nutrition and resistance training plan.  I’m not saying ‘don’t do cardio’, I’m just saying don’t do 2 hours of cardio a day!  Enough said.
  • Another common mistake is dropping calories too low.  Less is NOT more especially if you are training intensely.  You need enough calories to support your metabolism and training.  Not only that, it can set you up for binge-eating.
  • Don’t quit if you’re not seeing the scale move.  Too many people put too much emphasis on the numbers of the scale.  If the numbers aren’t going down (or God forbid they go up!), they get frustrated or depressed and give up.  Throw out your scale if you must!  Many factors can change your weight over the course of a week or even the course of a day!  Water weight from an increase in carb or sodium intake, hormonal changes, and yes, even your bathroom habits can alter that number!  My advice? Look in the mirror, take progress pictures, and take measurements.  We can all usually tell when our clothes are fitting better.  These are MUCH more important than a silly number.
  • Be patient!  Healthy and long-lasting weight/fat loss is going to take time!  Don’t fall for any ridiculous plans that promise a 10 pound loss in 2 weeks (unless of course you’re truly obese).  It IS possible to drop weight too fast:  it can be unhealthy and you can lose your hard-earned lean mass. Rapid fat-loss plans are impossible to sustain and once you stop the plan, you can actually become fatter (if you did lose lean mass and then gain more weight back).  An average person should aim to lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week.  A person who is already fairly lean, 1/2 to 1 pound per week.
  • Modify your training/nutrition AS NEEDED.  Don’t make changes to your program if it’s still working!  Plateaus are inevitable…nutrition and/or training will need to be modified at some point.  Don’t change just for the sake of change and don’t make too many adjustments at once.
  • Use refeeds for your body and your mind if you are following a low-carb program!  Dieting is tough.  We may feel deprived, tired, cranky or all of the above.  Refeeds (or increasing your calories and carbohydrates but maintaining lower fat) can help replenish muscle glycogen (and performance), may help restore leptin levels (a hormone that helps control hunger), and can certainly have a positive effect on our mood!  Refeeds are more important as your bodyfat levels become lower (think:  losing those last 5-10 pounds).
  • Write it down:  studies show that keeping a food journal can greatly increase your chance of success.  It keeps you accountable and can be a real eye-opener if you’ve never tracked your food intake before.  This also goes for watching portion size!  Too much healthy food is still too much!

I could probably babble on, but I’ll sum it up really quickly!  Be patient, train hard, eat right, sleep well, and you’ll be sure to lose…um, win.  I mean… you’re gonna look great!