Archive for the ‘Fitness Fact Articles’ Category
Many people are aware that squats can give you great glutes, wonderful toned legs, and an overall more beautiful physique. What most people don’t know is that squatting with inappropriate form can compromise your knees and back, making you prone to injuries. In my famous “Hundreds Workout,” squats are one of the main components. However, I would also like to share with people that they are not only important, but that it’s important to use proper form and technique. In addition, did you know that proper form can also help you get more toned abs? Read on…
There are five rules for the movement before, during and in completion of a proper squat.
- The proper squat is done while pressing through the heels (“toes up” is a good rule of thumb for beginners to associate the feeling of pressing all their weight through the heels).
- “Core Tight” before you start, after you start, all through the movement, and when you complete the set movement and are replacing the weight on the bar. Tightening the core is the foundation for this movement’s safety, because it reinforces all the mechanics in the body, as the core itself is the foundation (or it should be, anyhow, but most people don’t use their core, which is why they have back problems).
- “Chest up/Shoulders back” as you move! The proper squat starts with the core tight, torso tall, chest up, and shoulders back for proper form PRIOR TO BEGINNING THE MOVEMENT, and continuously through the movement.
- Make sure that your knees are not bent and leaned forward so much that your knees are NOT extended beyond parallel to your toes. A 90-degree angle, a right angle in other words, should be your target for your leg movement, dropping your butt back as you drop into the squat, with a goal of keeping your chest as high as possible.
- Inhale through your nose as you drop down into the squat and exhale through your mouth as you “explode up” out of the lowest point (the seated position) of the squat, returning to the standing up tall position.
The best way to begin learning proper form on most standing leg exercises is on the smith machine, which is a weight training machine that imitates a squat rack and a barbell, with the support that is needed to keep us from falling or putting undue stress on the joints. Remember to keep the core tight, chest up, shoulders back, as this combination supports the back. The smith machine is a very effective way to learn proper form of squats for beginners. Once you have learned the proper squat technique, it’s best to start off with very light weight (or even no weight at all), as you move forward by performing your own proper squat on the squat bar, free-weight style. It’s always great to have an experienced trainer or workout partner with you when you perform these exercises, so that they can be available to check your form, and support through spotting if necessary.
I have always struggled with keeping my legs and glutes firm, so I hope this article will help anyone out there with the same issues. Great tips are also available at siouxcountry.com for these and other great exercises. Be on the lookout- Workout videos will be returning to nitasworld.com! Meantime, you will see that I’ve linked this article to two other sites that share exercise videos for men & women. Be aware that there is always support available through chat threads online. You are never alone on the journey of fitness.
Be well, Be You, BE PHENOMENAL! You are Worth the Work!
-Nita Lee Marquez
A lot of people have asked me over the years how to get “legs of steel.” The fact is NOTHING will shred your legs up like doing these three things:
- eating lean (85% of the results you get in the gym come from your food intake- i.e., “diet”)
- combined with weight training for maximum output (going to failure, whether its with a moderate weight- not super light, or a heavy weight for sets of even 8, as long as you are going until you cannot do even one more full rep)
- sprinting (HIIT-high intensity interval training- see my other blog for detailed explanations of HIIT by clicking here)
First, you can learn more about lean eating, sprinting and weight training by researching on the internet, or checking out the dieting tips category in the nitasworld.com blog (click here). Of course, we talk a lot about clean eating and sprinting both in my book FIT FOR COMBAT with Nita Marquez, so ordering a copy for yourself to have on hand is not a bad idea for reference’s sake. It may be helpful for those of you who like hardcopy materials to scribble notes onto.
For the purposes of this article, we are talking about the hundreds workout, as I vowed to share my secret to keeping conditioned legs and glutes via spelling out the hundreds workout. My famous Hundreds workout is what works best for me in maximizing the effects of my leg workouts during all my year-round weight training regimens. It’s called the Hundreds Workout (you’ll understand why shortly- read on) and I do it once every week, in addition to my regular leg weight workouts. So, that amounts to two workouts for my legs alone on weights each week. If you’re a beginner, perhaps you should do the Hundreds Workout every other week, in addition to your regular weight training routine for legs. *Remember, the Hundreds Workout is a CONDITIONING WORKOUT- It is not intended to grow, develop, or reduce leg size. It is meant to condition the detail, for a more sculpted look of your legs that you can’t get through cardio or basic weight training for maximum output.
*Nita Marquez Hundreds Workout:
25 Leg Extensions x 4
25 Leg Curls x 4
25 Hip Abductors x 4
25 Hip Adductors x 4
25 Squats x 4
25 Calf Raises x 4
Do a moderate weight that you don’t have to reduce throughout the workout, so that you can complete the whole set without a “drop-set” style of training. Yet you want it to be heavy enough so that you can still feel it burning excessively by the 15th rep, making it difficult to finish the last ten reps of each set.
That’s it. By the time you’re done with my Hundreds Workout, you should feel exhausted, and ready to hit the jacuzzi, which won’t be a bad idea. The hot water and jets can be helpful to loosen up the muscles after this massive thrashing & conditioning workout you’ve just done. Always remember to have a fast-assimilating protein after your workout! If you’re unsure of what to buy, check out the store here to see some protein shakes I recommend. Of course you can always research online, too, checking out blogs & threads at siouxcountry.com.
Best of luck leaning out those legs, friends & fit moms! Be Well, Be You, BE PHENOMENAL! You are Worth the Work!
-Nita Lee Marquez
I have been in the fitness industry since 1998, and in that time, I have taken baby steps at some points, and leaped strides in others. Knowing that I grew up with weight struggles and many addictive behaviors, many people have asked me what has been most difficult for me to change in living more fit over the years. To that, I always say that the food has been the biggest challenge to overcome, but overcome it, I have! If I can change from a processed and fast food lifestyle to living fit with my three beautiful children, I know anyone is capable of it.
There are steps, not always big steps, that can create big change. Here are some great tips for a quick change in both your physical appearance as well as your energy levels:
1) Drink at least a gallon of water daily
You don’t have to drink it all at once! Just carry around a liter bottle and drink & refill it 4 times, and that will be an easier way to manage your intake.
Start with 1-2 liters daily, and gradually increase from there. Trust me, you will crave more, the more you drink, if you drink water in these amounts consistently.
The more water you drink, the more you will pee, most definitely, but you will flush out toxic build-up, thereby increasing your energy levels!
2) Pull the high-sodium foods
Traditionally known amongst fitness experts and nutritionists, we say that one “cheat” day per week makes sense. You won’t cause much damage that one day, and eventually, you may not even want as much “junk” on your cheat day as you have starting out.
High sodium foods include:
- canned foods (unless noted as “no salt added” – even the “low-sodium” soups and canned foods still have a lot of sodium if you’re someone who is trying to manage their weight or blood pressure).
- processed foods, like frozen tv dinners, burritos, pizzas, even Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and Nutri-System have TONS of sodium in their meal packets and frozen meals.
- packaged foods, like anything out of a bag or a box, tends to have a higher than desired sodium content.
- jarred foods, like pickles, salsas or anything else that is out of the jar, ready-to-eat
- condiments & sauces, like ketchup, bbq sauces, dressings, even mayonnaise has a lot of sodium most of the time!
- dairy, like milk, yogurt, some ice creams, butter, fake butter
I’m certainly not saying that you should completely cut these foods out of your diet, but if you are trying to manage weight or blood pressure, most often some of the excess weight can be dropped by pulling sodium and drinking more water. This is due to the fact that the first 8-20 pounds of weightloss on everyone tends to be water weight, and if you can just cut back on these foods that cause the water-retention, while drinking more water, you can usually lose that water weight quickly. The less junk you eat with sodium, the less water you’ll hold, and the less water you hold, the less lethargic you will feel.
These foods are simply something that you can, in baby steps, begin to cut back on and eventually eliminate, and the water is simply a rule of thumb that you can work up to, from the suggested 1-2 liters daily. The health tips can remedy blood pressure issues, weight management challenges, energy levels, skincare issues, and bloated stomachs. Try it, and feel free to post to this blog or email me at nitasworld.com.
That’s my tip for today! Remember to Be Well, Be You, BE PHENOMENAL! You are Worth the Work!
-Nita Lee Marquez
One of the things I have found to be tried and true in the life of training to be a Fit Mom, is that I can fit my kids into my fitness NO MATTER what age they are. The other thing I found to be tried and true fact is that you can do anything you want, but you can’t all of it right now, a common disappointment to those of us who want to rush it all and do it all, like the commonly over-achieving Fit Mom tends to attempt to do.
Fit Moms have a nack for balancing tons at once- we are the ultimate multi-taskers. We don’t need to be reminded to go to the gym, or to take care of our children, to balance checks, pay bills, stay motivated to work hard, or things that we are known for our brilliant management of.
However, it’s important to our health that we remember the soothers in life, as these are the things that will keep us capable of our most awesome of awesomeness for the long term, while also helping us stay sane and even happy. After all, happiness is the whole point of living, right? The two main things we fit moms tend to neglect, but can stand to pay more attention to are:
- Rest- Sleep is necessary for our bodies (muscles and organs) to recouperate, and that recouperation is when our recovery from usage takes place. Sleeping 6-8 hours nightly is often difficult for us to force ourselves to do. When people don’t sleep enough, we burn out our health, and lose our patience easier. Keeping it all together for the long term requires proper sleep. For without proper recovery, we can cause health risks and moodiness that make it impossible to enjoy our lives.
“Sleep deprivation has been proven to lead to… weight gain… increases in inuslin resistance (which leads to diabetes)…” says Dr. Ann E. Rogers, who has studied the effects of sleep with test subject groups and individuals.
- Affection- Being adored, adoring ourselves, and adoring others amps the “yippee” chemicals in our brain. Whoever said a cocktail was the only way to wind down and smile at the end of a long day? Taking the time to hold our children, our companions, or our friends & family for long embraces actually stimulates the secretion of endorphines, which lead our brains and bodies to experience joy. ASU’s Associate Professor, Kory Floyd, has studied the effects of affection extensively. People’s organ capabilities, blood pressure, weight management, and overall health can be managed better with affectionate behavior.
“Affection can be a simple, non-pharmaceutical, cheap way to reduce stress.” Floyd has found that there are direct associations between being an affectionate person and a lower risk of depression and stress.
Thus we see that no matter how healthy we eat, how much we exercise, how much we extend to our children, and no matter how many tasks of responsibility we cover in our daily lives, we could be actually limiting ourselves, and our years, if we are not taking care to rest and embrace on a daily basis as well! Sleep and Love, life’s combo remedy to help longevity!
Enjoy & Empower! Be PHENOMENAL! You are Worth the Work!
It’s easy to stay active and fit when the weather’s warm. If you’re like many people, you probably spent much of the last few months swimming, biking, running, hiking, playing in the yard with your children, or savoring a nightly walk. But while warm weather may stick around for a bit longer, autumn has begun, and winter’s colder temperatures and shorter days are on the horizon. This is the time to think about how to maintain your exercise motivation beyond into the colder months.
The Harvard University School of Public Health states that exercise helps keep us physically healthy and even helps you cope with stress and bad moods. This is extra important in the fall and winter, when many people suffer from colds, flus and even seasonal depression. However, cold weather, early nightfall, and changes in your schedule can be barriers to keeping up your exercise routine. But these things don’t have to get in your way. Here are some tips for sticking to a fitness regimen as the seasons change:
* Move your workout indoors. An investment in some home gym equipment, such as treadmills and ellipticals, can make the difference between sticking to your exercise routine and skipping it altogether. Home equipment makes exercise convenient and weather-proof.
* Hit the ice. If you like to exercise outside, ice skating is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get exercise even when it’s cold and snowy outside.
* Try snowshoes. Once a solid snowfall has arrived, snowshoeing is an ideal way to enjoy the outdoors and get a great workout to boot. It’s simple, fairly inexpensive and gives your heart, lungs, glutes and legs an incredible workout. If you don’t own them, you can rent snowshoes at many park districts and outdoor-sports shops.
* Enjoy the ski slopes or trails. Skiing–especially cross-country skiing–is a full-body workout. Many towns maintain local trails or hills for skiers to enjoy the snow and get fit at the same time. You can often rent skis if you don’t own them.
* Consider winter running or walking. You don’t have to give up your beloved outdoor walking or running once winter comes. Plenty of runners and walkers do so all year long. Just be sure to dress for the weather, avoid icy areas and make yourself visible with reflective clothing and clip-on lights if you run or walk after dark.
Do you need some extra motivation? These strategies can help you get and stay motivated when your mood is flagging:
* Change your time. In the winter, it may be too dark for your liking to run or walk outside in the evening. Try switching to early morning or lunch hour workouts instead.
* Find a workout buddy. A friend can provide social interaction, motivation and encouragement. In addition, if you’re nervous about exercising outside in waning light, a workout buddy provides added security.
Resolve to stay fit and active, even as autumn brings cooler temperatures and winter arrives on its heels. You’ll be healthier and happier.
Jim Rollince is a member of the creating writing department of Gym Source
He enjoys writing about Fitness, Nutrition, and many other related topics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Believe it or not, cellulite is not a result of just being fat or flabby. Cellulite is a major stress to most women, because we are the only ones who really get cellulite. The dimply, loose, cottage cheese appearance of those areas of cellulite are not even caused just by age.
The reality is that cellulite is a result of the bands of connective tissue in a woman’s body running in a different direction than our skin. By nature that skin can stretch, disconnect and collect fat more readily than a man’s body. Some people think it’s a matter of the nature of things, and that maybe God himself made us to collect fat more easily for the purposes of carrying life within us. Whereas, a man’s connective tissue runs more along with the skin, allowing for better binding from the skin to the connective tissue, which in nature would directly affect their bodies support to muscularity, rather than fat storage. Some would say that it’s because by nature men were intended to be hunter gatherers. Who knows?? The bottom line is they don’t get cellulite.
In the fact that men are generally more muscular, and traditionally are hunter gatherers, I wonder if there may be some truth to the lifetime(s) of conditioning that you see in people whose bodies don’t typically carry cellulite. What I’ve noticed over the years for myself, as opposed to the women in my family, is that because I cross train (weight training combined with running, hiking, plyometrics, and dance/gymnastics) and eat a high protein diet, I have conditioned my body for a more muscular toned look. Whereas the women in my family are all very beautiful and soft-skinned, and they all retained their youth quite well through the aging process, they still struggle tremendously with cellulite. Since I’m genetically pre-disposed to cellulite (yes, the cellulite is going to happen, but how bad it can get is often contingent to our genetics), I still fight it, but the fact is because I weight train, I am constantly working the muscles for conditioning, so I appear to have very little cellulite in comparison to my genetic precedents.
Cellulite is a result of the direction of connective tissue in a woman’s body. You cannot change the direction of your connective tissue, as it will always run opposite the skin. Nothing will ever change that we can get cellulite. Also, you cannot alter the genetic ancestry you possess within your family’s lines. If the women have tons of cellulite, you are inheriting that genetic code. However, there are things you can do to condition the genetic code you have toward cellulite, and I know because I have done it myself.
If you weight train, you increase connective tissue activity so that it does not worsen, but can get better with age through constant conditioning. In this case, it’s a lifestyle to workout daily, not an option. That’s the reality. In addition to weight training, you have to do other things to exercise so that you are stimulating collagen production (which also aids in skin health and the ability to visibly reduce cellulite). If you get your body used to doing the exact same things with the muscles all the time, then the lack of versatility causes complacency within our muscles and connective tissue. Thus you must always be changing activities, mixing and matching, along with your weight training (which should be your core focus if you want to reduce cellulite).
Cardio and interval training help your body in the fat burning and high-calorie burning department, and they enhance weight training on whatever level you do any of this. Thus, what I have learned for myself is that running, sprinting, dancing, plyometrics (jumping and explosive and agility training), hiking, step mill, stairmaster, elliptical, and hanging out walking at events with my kiddos, have all been really effective. Effectively, all of the aforementioned activities coinciding with weight training have helped me to condition my genetic code in such a way that I don’t struggle as much with cellulite as the women in my family, and I’ve struggled even less with the war on cellulite as I have gotten older (I’m now 39).
On top of the collagen and the connective tissue activity stimulation, some other ways that women can avoid cellulite with cross training is through the ongoing stimulation of better circulation. The better the bloodflow, the better your skin and muscles. Also, working the explosive fast-twitch fibers of the muscles creates a more conditioned appearance and can also support your efforts to reduce cellulite’s gross appearance. In addition, with good diet, you can decrease the amount of subcutaneous water retention. When you retain water from poor diet (too many processed foods or too much sodium or dehydration) or you’re too inactive, your body will retain water and fill those open cellulite pockets between the connective tissue and the muscle.
The exercise cross-training is key, but also diet has a very hearty role in the reduction of cellulite. Higher protein diets rich in leafy greens and raw foods tend to stimulate all the same things mentioned above: circulation, collagen, less water retention, better digestion (so as not to retain excessive toxins), overall glow of the skin and muscular nourishment. It’s as important to eat healthy as it is to exercise when it comes to reducing cellulite. As well, it’s as important to drink lots of water as it is to eat healthy and cross-train. Too little water causes dehydration, and dehydration causes water retention, which causes more dimples in cellulite.
Weight training combined with cardio, interval training (you can find articles on interval training right here at nitasworld.com!), plyometrics, running, sprinting, elliptical, step mill, stair masters, dancing, and whatever other effective high-fat-burning exercises are the foundation for cellulite reduction. Couple this activity regimen with high protein and leafy greens and lots of water (a gallon a day is rule of thumb) and you will reduce cellulite!
Remember you can’t get rid of cellulite, but you can condition your body to have less of it with this lifestyle. That’s why you rarely see cellulite on competitive physique athletes. Those who live the lifestyle look sculpted and toned year round.
I believe that my lifestyle has altered this for me and I continue to smoothen the areas of my skin that seem to be camping areas for cellulite. Though I will continue to be at war with cellulite because of my body’s inherent predisposition to cellulite by virtue of the natural direction of my connective tissue, I see that my active lifestyle continues to change and improve the appearance of my body, and I love living fit because of it! Additionally, I feel better, happier with my appearance, and more confident and energized.
Now one last thing I tell everyone, BE HAPPY. Joy can help reduce the amount of cortisol (the body’s toxic product of stress) we manufacture. Cortisol manages to make us hold toxins, stifle digestion, retain excess water, and overall, it leads us into an easier cellular breakdown (which causes aging AND cellulite- yuk!). So the final key to cellulite reduction, and quite possibly more important than cellulite reduction- SMILE! Be Well, Be You, BE PHENOMENAL! You are Worth the Work!
-Nita Lee Marquez
A lot of fitness links and articles are highlighting fitness recipes. Well, I’m all for the healthy food, but what Fit Moms have time to cook meals that require long prep time? Not me, and nor do a lot of America’s Hottest Fit Moms. As Fit Moms (and Fit Dads) or fitness enthusiasts in general, we all have TONS of responsibilities beyond our fitness endeavors. We want to be fit, but we want to take thorough care of our responsibilities, especially those responsibilities we love and cherish, like our children. That being the case, those of us with families who care about living the fitness lifestyle, well, we have a need to live our fitness in a family-first fitness fashion. And the career people who haven’t had families yet, we are still building our dreams, so who has time for lengthy meals that require lots of prep and a long sit-down at the table?
The family-first and career-driven fitness enthusiasts give me many reasons to share easy and fast healthy recipes with you. Since I built America’s Hottest Fit Mom™ as the fitness brand that represents Fitness Empowerment for Everyone, I feel this compelling need to be sure to address everyone, as well as the Fit Moms in all the articles, and also, I want to be sure to tailor everything in a way that it is going to help anyone who views the videos and reads to articles. Just like our lifestyle is fast paced as Fit Moms (and Fit Dads), we have a need for quick, easy, hi-protein/lo-fat/lo-glycemic-carb/lo-sodium recipes. Just as we don’t have time to prepare food, it is necessary to present those recipes and steps in a fast fashion so you can learn how to make the foods within 3 minutes, too! It wouldn’t make much sense to do a 30-minute video on 3-minute meals.
Now, I am going to share my own America’s Hottest Fit Mom™ Fit Tips and 3-minute Recipes via video. I’m no camera woman, so don’t go expecting Martha Stewart-esque production quality. These 3-Minute recipes are going to be done with my web cam Just like I need my life- Simplified! Here’s the first one. We would love it if you joined our group on Facebook and became a member so we can answer your questions, helping you become a Fit Mom (or Dad), or just getting you more fit in general.
Remember, America’s Hottest Fit Mom™ means Fitness Empowerment for Everyone!
In our group, you’ll learn how to live more fit in a very time-efficient and pragmatic fashion. Parents know that this is absolutely necessary for being fit and raising a family. America’s Hottest Fit Moms™ Facebook Group is for anyone, as well as Fit Moms or Dads out there! Anyone wanting to learn more about living the fitness lifestyle in a way that makes sense, join the Nitasworld.com Mailing list and join our Facebook Group Now! All of America’s Hottest Fit Moms are here to empower ourselves while we empower others!
see an easy lo-fat/lo-carb/lo-sodium/hi-protein meal here!
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Get Fit. Stay Fit. You are Worth the Work!
There is a species of gym-goer that must be addressed, and this article is meant for exactly that person. Is that person you? Are you a mom who has tried to be fit mom, a man who has tried the fitness workout of the week in your muscle mag, or that chick that diets and cardios herself like crazy to be the ultimate fit chick?
For years and years you have been told by many fitness articles, hot fit workout pictures, instructional workout videos, and so on, not to be that gal/guy who will work out hard, but not smart. You are taught to grind out workouts, but never really made to understand a pragmatic approach to your personal fitness to make any progress. The saving grace of that gal/guy is that she/he does workout hard and keeps at it. Being that gal prevents people from ballooning up to a bloated version of no energy, saving us from our own DNA, yet, it does not teach us how to be optimal with even less work than the “that gal/guy approach.”
The gyms of the world are not only filled with that gal/guy, the gyms of our world, especially in American fitness culture, they are filled with the blood and money-sucking fitness vampires whose biggest concern is customer retention rather than your best and most practical approach to fitness. Their advice is more of a strategy most often delivered with the intention of giving you the most impractical approach to fitness advancement, so that you will be chasing your tail and ever-spending as you chase your quest for the better physique. On top of it, society is telling us women, “Hey, if you’re too muscular, you’re too manly.” Hence, “that gal” syndrome ensues.
That girl says “I don’t want to get too muscular.” The key word being “too.”
What that girl (which describes 90% of the women who own gym memberships) doesn’t realize is that muscle burns fat, and you won’t gain it doing 2 hours of cardio every day. I’ll return to this point and complete it shortly, but keep it in mind and read on.
First off, when you go to a gym, the sales people are not trainers, and the trainers are salespeople. Remember that. Most especially in corporate fitness facilities, you will see this business model because it is the foundation and driving force of fitness industry revenues in a gym. Gyms are businesses, and the people who run them have to do good business to keep up with the competition.
Now I’m not saying you should view corporate gyms with a paranoid perspective of conspiracy, but what I am saying is that it is important to learn to think for yourself when it comes to advancement of your own personal fitness. It is important as fitness consumers to stay informed on not only the latest or oldest tried and true technologies, but it is just as important to improve with what TRULY works for each of us individually. Everyone is different, but yes, there are some rules of thumb for everyone in fitness that are universal. As well, you will notice that those universal fitness truths are contrary to a lot of the workouts that we are instructed to do in the “business” of fitness.
Again, fitness industry business moguls are not the enemy. They are what they are. We need to be responsible fitness consumers and practitioners and actually learn what works for us and work smarter to get there. For instance, men, there is more to life than that pompous trainer who insults you during workouts happens to state. Ladies, no, there is no such thing as a woman being “gross” or “masculine” because she has muscle.
In fact, when women see me in a fitted dress, they all compliment the way I look. No woman likes having cellulite or flabby arms. Women love backless clothes and pretty dresses, but we loathe back rolls and bra roll fat hanging over.
We want to be fit moms, fit chicks, fit hotties. We all want something like this. It’s inviting, energizing and we live a fuller, more expressed life in a fit state. We have the energy to.
When you have a leaner physique (yes, with muscle) you do not struggle with these things. Muscle on women is good, “too much” muscle is unattractive, but yes, again I’ll say it, muscle on women is good.
There is a great response to that girl. “If you ever get leaner than you want, or more muscular than you want, that is an easy problem to solve. Eat more fat and carbs, cut back on the training a bit.”
The “I don’t want to get too muscular” line is a psychological defense mechanism to justify training and dieting half-assed. It is a method of self sabotage- an excuse to fail and a reason to do it the way that the magazines and fitness DVD’s instruct us to. For whatever reason, we are afraid of thinking for ourselves and taking the alternative routes to test what is best for us.
That girl likes working out. She enjoys going to the gym. She would like to look like a fitness model or just a lot better than she appears now, but she is not sure how to do it or even if she can do it. So, she constructs an internal monologue, “I want to be in-shape, in better shape than most women, but I don’t want to get too muscular.”
The fear is not in becoming too muscular, the fear is aimed from and at a disappointment in herself. But, if she makes it okay to fail, if she makes okay to not achieve her goals, then she will not be disappointed in herself. Sound twisted? It is, and it’s confusing. It’s so bamboozling that we just give up altogether whereupon we can escape back to our so, so health with the reasoning that justifies it. On top of that, we can feel better doing it like our co-workers who bring bagels to work and drink beer after work. We can get “comfortable” again, sitting in the bowels of mediocrity and non-compelling drive that requires us to think more. After it is said and heard enough times, it becomes true.
To overcome the psychological self sabotage, you must be honest. I looked at pictures of the top fitness models when I was a chubby girl, and I had to be honest with myself at some point. I was capable of being that fit, but I was just not willing to do what it took to achieve it. That admission of my fitness mindset freed me to achieve a lesser goal, and I then could realize, “Ok, I am being mediocre about my health. I feel like crap, and I am actually willing to half-ass it here, not think for myself, and just sit with my own lame energy.”
Once I admitted it, my journey began. I was actually thinking for myself right then, rather than being a rat following the scent of cheese only to find out it was a foam object set in a trap. Our lack of thought allows us to live in illusions and maintain a level of complacency that will never allow us to be progressive in our health and fitness. We continue relying on the masses (which are driven by philosophies that will have us chasing our tail), and we do the 2 hours of cardio a day and a bunch of aerobics classes, and then we are dumbfounded at our lack of progress, so we eat more, and eventually, we work out less, and ultimately we get worse.
The root of this psychological defense mechanism is the fear of failure. Because we are often afraid to fail, we set an incredibly high standard, determine it cannot be reached, come up with excuses it cannot be reached and don’t even try. The only way to change this is to think for ourselves. Try learning to adapt to your own individual fitness needs by measuring your body’s response to certain workouts. If you want to get more fit, live longer and play with your grandkids in the park without breaking a hip, the key to your best fitness is in thinking for yourself. Study, Do, Observe your body’s response, and Progress accordingly.
Be well, Be You, BE PHENOMENAL.
-Nita Lee Marquez
Fitness Empowerment Author
Miss National Fitness
IFBB Pro Fitness Athlete
Proud Mother of Three
Bodybuilders don’t run, and nor do obese people. But I’m not a bodybuilder, or an obese person. I’m a fitness chick, a fit mom, and a fitness personality. My goals are obviously different from a bodybuilder’s goals, and definitely, I have a different lifestyle choice than a person whose main goals involve constant fulfillment of my taste-bud compulsions.
At this stage in my life, my goal is always to become truly fit and achieve prime longevity. As one point in my career as a fitness competitor, I was running a lot and lifting weights with an extremely high carb, high protein diet, and only then I was starting to resemble a bodybuilder. People who didn’t know better thought I was one.
But you know what kind of fit physique athletes have a lot of muscle, and are really lean, with Olympic level stamina and power? Women’s Fitness competitors.
They run. They run a lot. They do weekly sprints, middle-distance, plyometrics anything that will get their heart to the bursting point.
And if these women can carry body-toned muscle around, while running and with the power and stamina to do our fitness routines—well they are worth at least probing into the minds of. Where I learned about my own fitness interval training from was from my ex-husband, who was basically my trainer before I met my trainer of 13 years, Tim Sparkes, at Die Hard Gym in Arizona. My ex-husband was a former track and football star in high school and college.
What I learned from my ex-husband is that I was doing my running all wrong. First of all, I jogged, and I did so very lazily. I loathed the cardio work, so I dragged myself through it. It didn’t matter that I was a fit mom, a fit chick, or a fitness athlete in training. I was thinking about my cardio conditioning the wrong way, as most of us do for the first few years of our fitness quests.
Just about every fitness center has some serious runners as members. These “fitness” people log 20 to 40 miles a week and are in great cardio vascular condition—but most of them look remarkably average. They do not have much muscle and many of them are skinny fat. Sure they have strong hearts, but some of them store more body fat and subcutaneous water than the person who is walking into a gym for the first time. These runners are not in poor health, but their shape is generally not of the optimal fitness aesthetic grade considering the fitness workload they are undergoing. I believe in running, I do. I also like working out smarter, and distance running for fitness is definitely the harder path, if you’re trying to look better and even feel better.
The best explanation for this phenomena may be controversial, but the facts are right in front of us. Cardiovascular exercise DOES NOT WORK to lose body fat long term, period!!
Why is this? Let’s take a hypothetical individual: Female, 30 years old, 145 pounds, sedentary. She decides she wants to be fit and “get toned” (keep in mind, everyone has a different idea of this word, so it’s subjective). So she takes up running on the treadmill for an hour a day 5 days/week. Nothing else in her life changes, her diet and lifestyle remain the same. In the first week she loses 5 pounds. If she maintained her consistency 5 days a week, would she lose 250 pounds this year? Of course not, and why is this?
Firstly cardiovascular activity is very efficient at chewing up muscle tissue, the steps are as follows:
1. Conversion from fast twitch muscle fiber to slow twitch muscle fiber, by
acquiring mitochondria and relinquishing contractile protein. Smaller fiber, less
2. Excessive Cortisol released in response to the damage to the fiber as a result of the exercise. Cortisol acts as a natural analgesic, but severely hampers protein synthesis and muscle repair. It also damages the immune system, and ultimately will contribute to all of our deaths – so I’m not sure why anyone would do anything that would accelerate this process.
3. It has been shown that high volume cardiovascular exercise can completely deplete satellite cells in muscle fiber, which means no new fiber can grow or existing fiber be repaired, and as we age, we have a natural propensity to lose muscle as well as bone density. Muscle helps our metabolism and enhances bone density.
4. Growth Hormone levels decline with high volume cardiovascular exercise, which also hampers the repair process. Low growth hormone also accelerates aging.
5. To sum it up, you can’t train all day, and you can’t stop eating, but you can always build a bit more muscle, so quit the cardio and concentrate on the weight lifting.
Secondly, after all these details about how cardio fitness training eats up muscle, you must know that the first week of ANY fitness program, and likely the first month even, you will lose weight with rapid results. That’s water weight dropping off because you are actually getting off of your butt. That’s not the “weight” you are losing, it’s the water. You are not really getting more fit, but your body is filtering out a bit so that it can set a better foundation for you to start getting fit.
Your weight-loss will look more like 8-12 pounds monthly if you’re doing it right and if you expect it to stay off. If you’re an athlete or you’re training for an athletic event, your body requires more training than average, and more extreme dieting than average, but that’s not average for a person who is just trying to lose weight and just starting to get fit.
That was a very strong argument for not doing cardio. But I need to be able to keep up with kids, work, training clients, caring for my household, and still having stamina in the gym. Cardio conditioning is a must for me. Plus, I need strength and power.
The solution was to train like a professional female fitness athlete—specifically, one that always wins the fitness routine portion of the contest. And what does the fitness athlete woman do? Sprints.
For women who run, but they want a great physique:
With high-intensity interval training you “sprint” on any cardio exercise for short bursts that go for less than two minutes, and then you slow to moderate, and sometimes even low-intensity pace for a short burst. You want to go high intensity to kick your heart rate way up, and then you drop the intensity to less your body rest, while not giving your heart rate enough time to drop out beneath a fat-burning zone. If you do this for short bursts of time, you don’t give your heart rate a chance to drop severely, and therein, you are able to keep your body burning fat, burning calories, and staying hard at work, even though you won’t feel like you’re working hard while your body recovers during your lower-paced durations.
Like cardio, this too can strengthen your heart, and keep you from feeling sluggish. On the other hand, in comparison to cardio, interval training burns fat for longer periods of time. You will burn fat for up to 13 hours post-workout with intervals, whereas with cardio at a constant moderate rate will only burn fat efficiently for up to 2 hours post workout. So, why would you spend more time and burn less fat, much less want to gamble the possibility of kicking out cortisol? This is why many fitness professionals who know what they are doing will not recommend long dull high, low or medium-intensity periods of cardio.
The best way to gain cardio conditioning and maintain muscle is to do what all fat-burning physique athletes does—sprints.
As sprinting becomes the core of your cardio conditioning program and distance running becomes the ‘functional’ training, so you do it for form, awareness, and monitoring. It’s a means for measurement when needed, but it’s not necessary for the actual progress.
When I started doing sprints in the morning for my cardio, my strength gains in the gym accelerated a little bit and I started to get leaner without really trying, and my husband noticed an extreme difference in how my body was responsive to my diet and weight training. My lines and cuts in my muscles showed up and they never had before I started sprinting. My workouts were more exhilarating and I could produce more within them because my fitness level and stamina was increased through sprinting.
Now I was able to get more in my fitness routines, I could run with my daughter in her stroller for better bursts so I wasn’t gasping for air. I was stronger than I would ever need to be on the fitness stage or in the gym. I had burst speed and explosiveness and I had the stamina and endurance to keep up with any of the guys at the gym.
So, I am not advising the novice to average fitness person to sprint, but I am encouraging those of you who run– just try this for 6 weeks and see how rapidly and extremely your fitness levels, your energy, your stamina, and your physique changes. See how lean you get and watch a sculpted physique appear that you never knew you had.
As for the fitness enthusiast who is new to the world of fitness and fit physique training, try intervals, we have more blogs on the Fat Burning Workouts categories to your left here in the blog at nitasworld.com. Check it out. Be well, Be You, BE PHENOMENAL! You are worth the work!
-Nita Lee Marquez
America’s Hottest Fit Mom ™
Fitness Empowerment Author
Miss National Fitness
Proud Mother of Three