Sitting the New Smoking?

It’s time to get up and start walking around!

..just sitting.

..just sitting.

Research shows that sitting for long periods of time is linked to a number of health risk factors including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

This certainly is a serious matter if you happen to be physically inactive and have a desk job.

From an evolutionary stand point, we were not made to sit for long periods of time. Our ancestors were hunters and gathers, not ‘sit in front of a computer all day’ kind of people.

Today’s demanding workforce has forced us to become much more sedentary than ever. According to the New York’s Times, we now sit for an average of 12-16 hours a day (50-70%). To put this into perspective, if you sleep anywhere between 6 to 8 hours and sit for the next 12 to 16 hours, you’ve only been active for a maximum of 6 of the 24 hours in your day! The same article points out how diabetes comes into play. It states, “When muscles don’t contract they require less fuel, and this surplus of fuel in the form of blood sugar accumulates in the bloodstream, contributing to diabetes risk and other health concerns.” (HOLY MOLY!)

My best advice is to get up every 20 minutes and move around. If you’re at work, take a quick break by walking to the water fountain, drop off mail, or stretch. If you find it hard to do this, set a timer on your phone or your calendar; it only takes a few days to form any habit. If you can, invest in fitness ball to sit on at work. From personal experience, I can tell you that I tend to sit less when I’m on my fitness ball at work. I’ve noticed that I stand up more when I use my ball than when I sit on my normal chair. When sitting on my ball, I’m constantly balancing myself thus recruiting more muscle activation.

Physioball aka Fitness Ball

Physioball aka Fitness Ball

At home, it’s equally important to stay active. Keep in mind that your days off of work are certainly not a hall pass for sitting around watching tv all day! The Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded, “Recreational sitting, as reflected by television/screen viewing time, is related to raised mortality and CVD risk…. inflammatory and metabolic risk factors partly explain this relationship.”

In conclusion, strive to stay active and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Add to your good health by staying active even on the weekends. Make it a point to stand up as much as you can, take walks, play outdoors or indoors, practice yoga, stretch, foam roll, or simply do housework. Whatever you decide to do, I can assure you that it will be better than sitting around!

References:
Stamatakis E, et al. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: Population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2011;57:292.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/get-up-get-out-dont-sit/

My Pixie Haircut

So I did it! I cut my long hair into a pixie cut!

It has been a drastic change, but I must confess that I have been thinking about it for some time now and I’m so glad I did it.

Now that my hair is this short, I feel great. Contrary to what had been culturally instilled in me, I didn’t change who I am or how people see me. I’m freed.

I realized that I spent too much time and energy on my hair. With work, working out, cooking/food prepping, and my friends/family, I just didn’t have time to tame my hair every day, which I would anyway and it would stress me out. So much wasted time!

I feel even more self-confident and self-empowered with my short hair. I don’t need my hair to cover up or to hide me. I am my own person, with or without long hair.

Since my short hair has inspired me so much, I can only advise that no matter what you do, try to find that something that scares you a little and just do it! The feeling is like no other.

My long hair

My long hair. Yep, it’s in a ponytail, and it’s still very long.

Before the hair choppin'

A little nervous before the hair choppin’

Scissors are in

Scissors are in

Stylin' it

Stylin’ it

End result

End result

p.s. If you have over 10″ of beautiful hair and want to donate it like I did, please do so for Locks of Love.

 

 

 

Abs

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Let’s talk abs. Everyone wants them, but not everyone gets them….

The first thing most women tell me is that they only want to lose the fat in their midsection. That they don’t care about the rest of the body, it’s all good, as long as they have a flat stomach.

Everywhere you go, there’s great emphasis on sporting six-pack abs.  It’s like abs are a synonym to fitness. From magazines to infomercials, I can assure you there’s a good looking couple with rock hard abs promoting “30 minutes for chiseled abs” or “the magical electric ab belt” or some type of baloney of that sort.

It’s no wonder that when one thinks of  being in ‘shape’ or ‘fit,’ we automatically think of a statuesque person with a six-pack bulging from their midsection. But is that reality? Certainly not, at least not mine.

You might be asking yourselves how can someone who has a blog called “Confessions of a Fit Girl” possibly make such statement. Well I’m realist. That’s how.

I can tell you from personal experience, and from experience of many fitness competitors, that having abs is usually not an everyday thing. Although, most men are ‘blessed’ in that department, we women have a much harder time keeping that midsection trimmed and tight. But before I go on, let me break it to you, there is no such thing as “spot-reduction.” Meaning, you won’t lose the belly fat by doing ab crunches. Sorry!

Hang on for a moment; let’s think about this a little more. Do you really want abs? Is that something you personally desire? I’ve been told, by both men and women, that they think a full set of abs on a woman looks way too masculine. Others have said women with six-pack abs are very sexy (e.g. the woman from above). And some have shared their preference for a defined midsection-kind of an in-between….Seems like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

Abs are the product of strict clean eating, and for those freaks of nature, pure genetics. They are usually the last show up when dieting and the first to go away after a eating a heavy meal. Temperamental little things.

But, if having a six pack is something you really, really, want, I can only suggest clean eating for weeks on end. That means you won’t be eating cheat meals anymore. The reality is, the leaner you are the more prominent those abs are going to be. I wish I could say there was some magic pill or formula to get you that six pack abs, but there isn’t.

  1. Now to give those abs more definition, you have to work them. If you do a simple google search for ab workout, you’ll encounter a myriad of options. They’re all great. Just remember proper form-no excess extension of the neck when doing crunches/curl-ups! Research shows that because the abdominal fibers are mostly fast-twitch, you should try to overload them and do lower repetitions.
  2. Those abs won’t show up if you can’t manage your stress. “Oh shoot! Here’s another thing to stress about!” Reality is we live in a high-pressure world and the hormone, cortisol, thrives in this environment. Cortisol is released when you go through physical and mental stress, and it, unfortunately, shifts your body into “fat storing mode” right onto your belly area.
  3. You need fiber. I cannot stress enough the importance of this!  You need to eat at least 25-30 grams of fiber a day to reduce intestinal inflammation and visceral fat. And by the way, visceral fat is the worst type of fat anyone can possibly have. Basically it’s the fat that wraps around your organs and heightens the risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Really nasty stuff!
  4. Train your whole body. “What? What they heck, I just want abs!” Let’s think about this, when perform squats, Olympic lifts, deadlifts, and chin-ups, you use your abs…and you use them hardcore! You need your abs to stabilize your body when doing these types of exercises. In fact, you can do heavier loads if you consciously tighten your abs when you perform, for example, a squat.

So now that you have some prominent abs…

Make sure to condition them with some sprints. My favorite is 6-8 sets of 400m all out with a 4 minute rest or you can do 6-8 sets of 200m with a 2 minute rest.

Now, here’s my opinion in all this…

I appreciate abs. I think they look amazing on both men and women alike. Do I have a set of six pack abs? No, not always. Is that something I strive for? No, not really.

To tell you the truth, I hardly ever work out my abs- I simply don’t have time for it. I have to rationalize my time effectively between my family, working, lifting, conditioning/cardio, cooking, packing meals, socializing etc.

Ab work=

nobodytime

I consider sprinting the best ab workout ever. Basically you get more bang for your buck! I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m a firm believer of this.  I also do a lot of compound lifts. I love deadlifting and squatting and I eat clean 80-90% of the time. That itself is enough to keep my tummy flat and tight, and in the morning I have indentions on the sides of my abs. I’m happy with that, I need no more.

photo

Reliving the ab days…

Favorite Leg/Glute Workout

Show me some leggies

It’s been some time now that I’ve been wanting to share some of my personal workout routines.

Let’s just say that, by far, this one has been my favorite. This workout is a variation from a leg/glute workout plan by trainer and Glute Guru,  Bret Contreras. I must warn you!, this workout is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for the challenge- get ready!

But, before I go onto the workout details, I feel a big need to explain in more detail why this program has been my favorite so far.

You see, my legs grow quickly. They get bulky really, really, fast..and not in the good way. But guess what doesn’t grow proportionately to my legs?? My butt.  My tushy,  derriere, booty, butaay, glutes, whatever you want to call it, does not grow no matter how hard I was hitting my compound leg movements. There lies my frustration. I can do a thousand lunges, squats, deadlifts and nothing, nada! You see for most, the great majority that is, doing compound movements such as the infamous full squat, produce great, wait, not great, FANTASTIC results in the tushy area. But NOT me…ahhh damn you genetics!!

Ok I have to say that alongside this great workout, sprinting and stair running has definitely changed the shape of my legs and butt. Ever seen a sprinter’s lower body? Makes me say wanna say (with my index finer held high, of course), “Yep, I’ll take 1 of those to go, please.”  Losing body fat will make that booty and legs pop on its own. But, it’s also a great idea to help shape them with a good workout plan.

The following is a variation of a program by Bret Contreras. I say variation because some of the exercises are out of sequence, didn’t use all of the exercises he uses/I added some, my reps/sets are different and I improvised using the machines that are in my gym.

Since I’ve been on this plan, I’ve noticed major results in my posterior-chain (erector spinae group, hamstrings and glutes). I suggest to take a before workout picture of a side butt shot, and then one right after you complete this workout. You are sure to see a good pump!

I’m also going to include the weights I use just to give you an idea. BUT, keep in mind that you must cater to your own needs. Your weights are going to be different than mine. For example, in Full Squats the heaviest I can safely and with proper form, perform is around 80#, which is not a lot, but it’s a lot for me. Remember is not about EGO. It’s about doing ’em right! So be SMART and challenge yourself!!

Oh, oh, oh…do some dynamic stretching beforehand! Stretch out those hamstrings and quads really well!

Without further ado:

A.) Full Squats: 6-8 reps x 5-6 sets  (75# and may drop 5-10# throughout) 30 sec rest

B.) Hex-Bar Deadlift (my very favorite contraption ever!!)  4-6 reps x 5-6 sets (150-160#) 30sec rest

C.) Dumbbell High Step-Ups (I use this one) 12-15 per leg x 4-5 sets (10-12#) 30-45sec rest

D.) Weighted Hip Thrusts: 12-15reps x 5-6 sets (30-35 #) 30 sec rest

E.) Cable Single Legged Kick-Backs: 12-15 reps per leg x 5-6 sets (30-40#) 30 sec rest

F.) Weighted 45° Back Extension: 10-12 reps x 4-5 sets (25# plate) 30 sec rest

G.) Weighted Hip Bridges 8-10 reps x 4 sets (40-45#) 30sec rest

F.) Hip Abduction “Bad Girl Machine”: 12-15 reps x 3 sets (50#) 30sec rest

Now that you’ve successfully completed this awesome workout, go dip your lower body into some iced water! just kiddin’.. No, but, seriously you should, if you’re brave enough, you’re gonna need it!

Ice bath or not, you should definitely foam roll soon after and about 4-5 hours after that. Foam roll, foam roll, foam roll.

p.s. Please don’t hate if you can’t sit on the toilet for the next 3 days

Awesome Resistance Bands Workout

Bands for you, bands for me

Pick a flavor, any flavor

Let’s talk BANDS, resistance bands that is! They come in bright colors, they’re flexible, they look fun, and you think, “Oy the possibilities are endless with these babies!” You end up buying them, and then you’re like what the heck? how do I use this wiggly thing?

But oh my dears, those wiggly things are a great investment!

Resistance bands are great for toning and overall body strengthening. They allow your muscle fibers to elongate and to stay under tension throughout the concentric, when you shorten the muscle-such as when you curl your bicep, and eccentric movement, lowering movement-bicep curl when arm comes down  to the start position. Thus, it increases your strength. These bands are great for when you travel, are new to exercising, you become a new momma or if you are recovering from a light surgery. They are fairly inexpensive ($10-$20) and a super light weight/non-bulky. These things are muy fantastico!

Colors and their meanings:

Yellow-light resistance

Green-medium resistance

Red-medium to heavy

Blue-heavy resistance

Black–extra heavy resistance

If you are a newbie, I would suggest to start with a yellow. If you need more resistance you can always shorten the straps and that will add more resistance automatically. I suggest to keep rest periods short, very short. I’m talking about 30-60 seconds rest, kind of short. Start with 3 sets and work your way to 4 sets. I normally would suggest to pair up your exercises into super-sets, but because you’d need to set up the bands accordingly to each exercise, that just wouldn’t make too much sense. However, there are 2 exercises that are in a superset format (see Monday/Thurs: D1 and D2, Tuesday/Friday C1 and C2). And that is because the set up of the bands are about the same in both exercises. I recommend visuals to see where to place the bands, so YouTube it up beforehand.

Here is the breakdown:

Monday and Thursday:

A.) Resistance band Squats 12-15 reps x 3 sets, take 4 seconds to lower yourself (eccentric) and 2 seconds to come up (concentric). Rest 45 sec and repeat 2 more times.

B.) Resistance band Standing Good Mornings. ARCH your back a tad then start (NEVER round your back!) 3 seconds folding forward, 1 second retraction to upright. (you def need a video on this one). 8-10 reps x3 sets. Rest 45-60 sec.

C.) Resistance band Deadlift. Same goes here, DO NOT ROUND your back! Arch your back a tad, bring shoulder blades back, then you may begin with 3 seconds lowering, 2 seconds up. 10-12 reps x 3 set. Rest 45-60 seconds.

D1.) Resistance band Shoulder Press 6-8.Focus on holding it under tension. 3 second going up, 3 seconds down, pause 2 seconds at the bottom of the movement, then repeat for 6-8x. Rest 0.

D2.) Resistance band Lateral Raises. Same deal here, shoulders are stabilizers, and strengthen best when under tension. 2 seconds to ascend and 3 seconds to descend. 10-12 reps x 3 sets. Rest 45-60 seconds.

Tuesday/Friday:

A.)Resistance band Bench Press. (Alternative to a bench: Coffee table, exercise ball, floor). 3 sec to lower the band, 1 sec to push up it up. 10-12 reps x 3 sets. Rest 45-60 sec.

B.)Resistance band Rows (seated on floor). 2 seconds to pull, 4 seconds to retract. 12-15 reps x 3 sets, rest 45-60 seconds.

C1.) Resistance band Bicep Curls. Focus on squeezing your bicep at the top portion and slowly lower) 10-12reps x 3 sets. rest 0.
C2.) Resistance band Tricep Extensions 10-12reps x 3 sets. Rest 45 sec.

D.) Resistance band Upright Rows. 10-12reps x 3 sets. Focus on bringing the bands up to your collar-bone and lower within 4 seconds.

Drink a nice cold WHEY protein shake or eat a nice piece of fish/chicken/lean beef with a big ‘ol bowl of veggies right after and feel content!

Happy future workout days ahead! 

Motivation

With the weekend finally here (whoop whoop!)  I’ve  compiled a itty-bitty list of things to reflect on.  Feel free to add to the list and make it your own!

1. It’s never too late to start taking care of your body. Start today!
2. Patience is a virtue. It takes time so see changes in your body. Fat did NOT accumulate overnight, so you can’t expect to go away overnight (it would be great eh?)
3.Eat whole foods and avoid processed foods. It’ll make you feel oh-so-good in the insides. Oh, and you’ll be pooping it up in no time!
4. Keep moving. Even on day’s you take a break from the exercising , stay active. Go for a walk, hike, bike, yoga, Pilates, whatever rocks your boat! The point is to do something that is fun yet active.
5. Drink loads and loads of agua/h20/waterrrrrrr! How else is your body going to flush out toxins out of your body?? Rule of thumb: if your thirsty, you’re dehydrated. So drink up!
6. And finally–Never compare yourself to anyone. You are unique, and the only person you should want to be better than, is YOU. It’s great to have someone to aspire to, but understand that you will never look exactly like that person, you’ll look better, because you’ll be your very own version!… Ok, ok I know that sounds cheesy and all, but trust me, it’s true.

Hope you all have a happy Friday!

p.s. I’m gonna have me some sushi tonight! 😀

most importantly..

most importantly..