Fitness & Wellness

Defend Yourself AND Burn Calories

Defend Yourself AND Burn Calories

Boxing is a great way to learn how to defend yourself, while you burn calories. People come to our gym in Stamford, CT with one goal in mind. It’s either to learn how to box and the art of self-defense, or to shed those extra pounds. After they’ve worked out a while, they realize they get a bonus. Those who want to learn self-defense, get ripped and lose weight. Those who wanted to lose weight, find they love their new found skill and want to get better.

Boxing burns more calories than many other sports.

Those who decided to turn to boxing as their preferred weight loss technique do so because it’s an effective calorie burner. While running will help you burn calories, boxing can help you burn even more. Not only is it tough when you’re sparring, you have to prepare you body to box with warm up exercises like jumping rope, calisthenics and sparring putting a torch to calories in the process.

Unlike running, boxing builds muscle tissue.

One of the pitfalls of running, compared to boxing, is that it doesn’t discriminate from where the energy calories come. Running great distances actually burns muscle tissue and fat to produce the necessary energy. When you’re boxing, you’re building muscle tissue at the same time you’re expending energy. Since muscle tissue requires more calories for maintenance than fat tissue does, the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you’ll burn even at rest.

Boxing can provide the tools that can help you win, even when the fight isn’t on a level playing field.

In real life, there’s seldom a level playing field when it comes to self-defense. The attacker may be bigger, there may be more than one or he or she may have the element of surprise. Boxing can anyone defend themselves by providing the ability to hit a moving target by improving hand-eye coordination. It offers training in footwork that aids in avoiding an attacker or hitting them with a well-directed, well-timed blow. You develop the power to knock out with both hands using various techniques delivered at different angles and ranges. Boxing teaches you to fight with passion and aggression, being able to take a hit and use defensive moves to avoid them.

  • When you practice boxing, you boost both your anaerobic and aerobic capacity. That’s important for both burning calories and self-defense.
  • Unlike other forms of exercise to burn calories, you learn a skill and the knowledge that the skill can help you overcome an attacker, even if he or she is stronger than you.
  • Boxing gives you the confidence to face someone bigger than you and the courage to walk away from a less skilled harasser that you could wipe out in seconds.
  • That new confidence from achieving a fit body makes you look victorious and not like a victim at all. You’ll be far less likely to be attacked, since people who do that, at heart are cowards.

Working Out While Traveling

Working Out While Traveling

If you’re away from Stamford, CT, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve traveled to relatives, are enjoying yourself on a sandy beach or enduring a conference, it’s not a reason to let your efforts to be fit slide. While working out while traveling isn’t always easy, it’s not impossible either. You have to plan for it, rather than just hope there’s a way to make it happen. Just like sticking with a healthy diet is important every day, so is keeping up a schedule of regular workouts.

Consider taking a gym with you.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you really take a gym with you, but can mean taking some exercise equipment that’s particularly easy to carry and small. Consider resistance bands tucked nicely into your luggage. They’re light, small and great for working out in a small hotel or motel room. Jump ropes, core sliders and Monkey bars are all equipment that can fit in your suitcase or car without taking much more room than the now antiquated roadmap.

Grab an exercise mat and do some body weight exercises.

Of course, people were fit long before there were gyms everywhere. You don’t need a lot of machines to help you. Body weight exercises are a perfect workout and require no equipment, unless you want a mat for the floor…just in case the cleaning crew for your hotel room wasn’t nearly as thorough as it should have been. Part of the workout at the gym is bodyweight training, so you already know many of the exercises.

Check ahead and see if the hotel has a gym in it.

If you really insist on using traditional gym equipment, there’s no reason to panic. Many of the hotels and motels across the country offer gym use as part of their room cost. If you can’t find one that does, consider going aquatic. See if they have a pool and do some swimercising. It can be a nice change of pace and something the whole family can do together.

  • Choose to go on foot whenever you can. Walking is still a great form of exercise and a full day of walking will wear you out in ways you’ve never imagined.
  • Opt for an active vacation if you have a choice. While walking and sightseeing are a great idea for exercise, consider rock climbing, surfing and bicycling, just to name a few options. The more active you are on your vacation, the less you have to worry about getting in that gym style workout.
  • Pay just as close attention to what you eat as how or when you workout. Keep it healthy on a vacation, there’s often loads of choices. You’ll notice the difference in how you feel almost immediately when you opt for unhealthy ones.
  • Stay hydrated. That’s the best tip of all. Keep bottled water on hand every minute of your trip away. If you’re going for business, just make sure you’re hydrated before and after a workout.

Is Yoga Good For Weight Loss

Is Yoga Good For Weight Loss

I’m always glad to hear when people try different types of workouts. Variety is the spice of life and also a reason many people opt for boxing at our Stamford, CT gym. Yoga provides other help for weight loss, while still burning calories, just fewer than those of regular workouts. The classes are often longer than other types of workouts, so it’s not as intense of a workout, yet a calorie burning experience. There are forms of yoga that are extremely grueling, like Bikram or Vinyasa Flow yoga that burn between 477 and 594 calories an hour.

Yoga can make you more aware of your body and its needs.

Yoga promotes and inward focus. It can help you be more aware of not only your body, but also its needs. It often helps people become more self-aware of what they’re eating and how it affects their body, whether or not they’re really hungry and if they’ve satisfied that hunger. This is helpful for those who were raised as members of the plate cleaner’s club or feel the need to eat because the clock says it’s time, even if they are not hungry. That in itself is a huge help for weight loss.

Yoga can help you eat slower.

There’s a lot to be said about how fast or slow people eat and the effect it has on their weight. Eating slower gives the body time to signal the brain that it’s time to stop eating. Yoga makes people more mindful of eat bite, often slowing the eating process and enjoying the flavor of each bite. In this way, it allows the brain to catch up with the body and experience satiation before the overeating occurs. That’s a huge aid to weight loss.

Yoga can help you deal with stress.

Stress is often a common factor in overeating. It can lead you to seek out sugary treats, simple carbs and high calorie foods that are often comfort foods. Yoga is a big help when it comes to dealing with stress. Many of the breathing techniques can be used on the spot when stress occurs, nipping it in the bud immediately, rather than waiting to work off the stress at the gym later.

  • No matter what form of exercise you choose, whether it’s boxing, traditional workouts, yoga or a combination of those, doing it on a consistent basis is what gets the best results.
  • Yoga is complementary to boxing. It’s the thoughtful mental quiet and flexibility training that can add to the flexibility training and strength training of boxing. Doing both enhances different aspects of your fitness program.
  • To use only yoga as a weight loss program, you need to find a class that is challenging and one that makes your heart rate increase if you want the most for your workout time.
  • No matter what exercise program you select, it has to be combined with a healthy diet for weight loss to occur.

The Importance Of Protein Plus Fiber

The Importance Of Protein Plus Fiber

If you’ve been eating healthy, you know that protein is an important addition to your diet. Fiber is too. However, eating protein plus fiber can be a real boon to weight loss. Whether you’re eating the two together in a main meal or as a snack, you’ll feel fuller, even if the calorie count is far lower than other meals or snacks. That feeling of satiety can help you shed extra pounds without feeling deprived and makes it far easier to shed pounds.

A diet high in protein is proven to help weight loss.

There were studies on the best way to lose weight comparing a diet high in protein or one high in fiber. While fiber was very good for people with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, protein won out when it came to losing the most pounds. The reason was the boost the metabolism that protein offered. A diet high in protein also filled you up and that feeling of fullness lasted longer. Protein also increases thermogenesis, that’s the heat your body makes. It takes calories to do that, so you’ll boost your metabolism with protein.

So what does fiber do for weight loss?

Fiber also makes you feel fuller. The body can’t digest it, so it provides bulk and takes up space in the stomach. Since you can’t digest fiber, there’s no calories coming from it. There are two types of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk, while soluble fiber does, too, but it does it differently. It absorbs liquid, turns to a gel and that gel makes you feel fuller, while slowing down digestion and releasing energy more slowly.

Why do them in combination?

You’ll get the benefit of both. Some foods are not only high in fiber, they’re also high in protein, so you don’t have to create odd combinations or work very hard to get the best results. One study shows that protein from plant sources is an excellent way to increase protein intake. Plant sources include nuts, seeds and whole grains. Luckily these are also high in fiber, so you get both of these potent weight loss food sources in one food.

  • The increased protein and fiber means blood sugar levels remain more stable, so there’s fewer sudden spikes, followed by huge dips. That can prevent those sugar cravings that occur when you crash.
  • If you’re exercising while you’re trying to shed pounds, the protein will help you boost your muscle development. The more muscle you have, the easier it is to lose weight, since muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain.
  • Some simple snacks that combine fiber and protein include eating an apple with nut butter, a handful of nuts, Greek yogurt with berries or a slice of cheese stuffed in a celery stick.
  • Based on your weight and level of activity, you need approximately 46 to 56 grams of protein each day and 25 to 35 grams of fiber.

Do You Have A Healthy Gut

Do You Have A Healthy Gut

If you’re like many of my clients here in Stamford, CT, you want to do what it takes to stay fit and healthy. You exercise regularly and eat a well balanced whole food diet, plus get adequate hydration and a good night’s sleep. There’s a lot of talk lately about the benefits of having a healthy gut to supplement a fitness program. Luckily, many of the things my clients are already doing are part of the program to assure a healthy digestive and elimination system.

What is good gut health?

You may think you’re alone in life, but guess what, you’re walking around with groups of microbes living inside you. You have trillions of microorganisms living inside you or around you. One estimate of the amount is about 100 trillion. If they all huddled together on a scale, there’s an estimate that bacteria could weigh a pound or two. In the gut alone there are between 300 and 1,000 different species with about 30 to 40 species making up the bulk of the microbes. The bacteria help digest food and make certain nutrients during digestion and makes them available to their human host available. Without gut bacteria, no matter how much you ate, you’d die of malnutrition.

Signs of an unhealthy gut vary.

There are various studies that link poor gut health to autoimmune disease, mood disorders, mental health issues, cancer, skin conditions, general health issues and food intolerance. Sleep disorders can be linked to an unhealthy gut and unintentional weight changes, both gaining and losing, without changing overall diet. If you’re a sugar addict, it’s not only the cause of poor gut health, it’s also a result. Eating sugar can create an imbalance that leads to cravings for sugar. Of course, digestive issues are always a leading issue with poor gut health.

Taking probiotics may help, but there other things you can do, too.

The problem with taking probiotics, is that you don’t always know what bacteria you need and which you’re missing. However, eating fermented food like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt (with live cultures) helps. Studies show high fiber foods do, too. Garlic and onion also may be beneficial, just as collagen boosting foods, like bone broth and mushrooms.

  • Lower your stress level with exercise or meditation and breathing exercises. You’ll benefit your body in a number of ways besides just dealing with stress. Stress takes its toll on all parts of the body, including the gut.
  • Get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated. Just like eating sugar leads to sugar cravings, getting inadequate sleep can lead to poor gut health and insomnia. Staying hydrated boosts gut health.
  • Avoid highly processed foods and stick with whole foods with lots of fiber. Many studies show that fiber can help boost beneficial bacteria in your gut.
  • Eat slowly and chew, chew, chew. The slower you eat and the more digestion that takes place in your mouth, the less digestive disturbances you’ll have. That can lead you on the road to better gut health.

Should You Remove Salt From Your Diet

Should You Remove Salt From Your Diet

Whether it’s bloating and swelling that makes you remove salt from your diet or high blood pressure or other coronary scare, just donating your salt shakers to a non profit charitable organization or hiding them in the cupboard won’t be enough. It’s not the salt itself that’s your enemy but the sodium in the salt. If you eat processed food, you’re getting most of your sodium from it, rather than the salt you add to the food.

Today’s processed foods are high in salt.

I admit it, I happen to have a “thing” for beef jerkey. A friend knew that and gave me a huge container of it, without considering my passion for whole foods…or maybe he did and thought it was funny. I ate half the container before my family came home. When my daughter found out, she said in a sarcastic voice, “Why didn’t you just open a bottle of soy sauce and drink it? Or grab a tablespoon of salt?” She’s right jerkey has soy and soy sauce is loaded with salt. There are other foods that you might not guess have high amounts of sodium. Cottage cheese, flaky croissants, salad dressing and some breakfast cereals.

It’s time to start reading labels.

Check the nutritional facts on the labels and boxes of food before you purchase. For instance, you might think that Raisin Bran is a healthier choice over Frosted Mini Wheats. Frosted Mini Wheats contains sugar, after all. A mixture of raisins and bran, well, how could that not be healthy? It even sounds healthy. Guess which one is loaded with sodium and which one isn’t. The Raisin Bran has an amazing 262mg sodium in just one cup, while the Frosted Mini Wheats contains just 5mg for the same amount. Since the recommended daily allowance is 2,300 mg, the Raisin Bran is more than 1/10th your recommended daily amount.

What does sodium do to make your blood pressure rise.

Sodium attracts water, which is why you get thirsty after a salty meal. If you have a lot of sodium in your blood, it causes blood volume to increase and blood pressure to rise. Your heart has to work hard to pump the blood when that happens. The increased force also causes arteries and organs like the brain, kidneys and eyes to be damaged.

  • Take the guesswork out of shopping and even the reading by using whole foods, not processed foods.
  • Drain and rinse canned foods before you heat them if they contain sodium in the liquid.
  • Eat more potassium to counteract the effects of sodium.
  • Food that contains higher amounts of potassium include bananas, carrot juice, pomegranate juice, sweet potatoes, spinach, potatoes, white beans and tomatoes.

Are Shorter Workouts Better

Are Shorter Workouts Better

If you find you can’t always make it to the gym, except on the weekends, you don’t have to let your fitness program suffer. You can opt to do several shorter workouts throughout the day to boost your results and turn that weekend warrior workout to just an hour at the gym, not a half day. Workouts can be as short as five to ten minutes and still get results.

Some special short workouts are designed to supplement a program of regular exercise.

A workout called the nitric oxide dump was created to release nitric oxide, which boosts the mitochondria—the cell’s energy source—can be done in four minutes. However, you need to do it three times a day, but make sure there are two hours between sessions. It’s not meant as a substitute for exercise, just a complement to it. There are some ten minute workouts that are done three times a day that can replace a longer workout if you’re short on time.

Expect effective short workouts to include at least a minute of high intensity exercise.

A McMaster University professor of kinesiology did a study where he used 27 normally sedentary men. He divided them into three groups of nine. One group did a 50-minute cycling routine that included a warm-up followed by a 45 minute moderate cycling session. The second group did a workout that included three sets of two minutes of low-intensity pedaling then a 20 second full all-out high intensity session. The last three minutes were slower, to allow the stationary rider to cool down. That meant that they rode at a moderate pace for 9 minutes with just one minute of intense pedaling. The third group was the control group and didn’t do any exercise. At the end of 12 weeks, health markers showed that both groups that exercised improved their health in about the same amount. Of course, those who were sedentary didn’t improve at all.

The devil is in the details.

While the study used 27 sedentary men, people who opt to go to the gym, normally aren’t sedentary. Their body has adjusted to moderate exercise. Can they reap the benefit of just ten minutes? In most cases, there still are benefits, but not as much as working out at high intensity for twenty minutes, like circuit training provides. How can 15 to 20 minutes of intense constant exercise provide so the same benefit as an hour at the gym? There’s little or no down time with this type of exercise program. No chit-chat, no moseying around to see who else is there, just solid work. Take out all the distractions and that hour turns into 15 to 20 minutes of grueling work.

  • Boosting your activity throughout the day can be beneficial, too. Instead of taking the elevator, run up a flight of stairs and walk up the rest to your office. Walk briskly for twenty seconds, then back to normal. Make your daily life part of your workout.
  • One study shows that sitting longer than an hour can wipe out many of the benefits of a program of regular exercise. If you work at a sedentary job, get out and move around every 50 minutes.
  • Boxing is the ultimate in HIIT. Your sparring at moderate or low intensity much of the time, but periodically go at top speed and then back to moderate to low intensity.
  • Never use lack of time for an excuse to miss a workout. Doing something, even for a few minutes, is far better than skipping exercise entirely.

Workouts For Fat Loss After 40

Workouts For Fat Loss After 40

I’m constantly asked about special workouts for fat loss after 40 and I always respond that the workouts that build muscle tissue and burn fat work no matter what your age. I love boxing as a workout for fat loss because it provides total body conditioning. You’re working more than just one muscle group at a time, which burns more calories than isolate exercises, such as body twists, leg extensions and etc. The more muscles you move, the better the workout for fat loss.

You can’t exercise away a bad diet.

No matter how long you workout in the gym, how strenuous the exercise or how frequently you go, you simply can’t offset a bad diet with exercise. You have to do a full 20 minute kettlebell workout, one of the best calorie burners, to work off one jelly donut. Throw in a burger, fries and soft drink and you’d be at the gym all day to work off that heavy lunch. Eating healthy meals that are rich in nutrients but lower in calories is part of the weight loss program. YOU MUST CHANGE BAD EATING HABITS AND LEARN NEW ONES TO LOSE WEIGHT. It’s the combination of healthy eating and regular exercise that does the trick.

Strength training is the primo workout to lose weight.

You want more muscle tissue to help you maintain weight loss, but diet alone won’t do it. Aerobic exercises actually use both muscle and fat tissue for fuel, so they won’t provide the long term help you seek to not only take off pounds, but keep them from returning. Strength training is proven to burn fat tissue while building muscle tissue. The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories your body burns even when you’re not exercising. While cardio burns more calories while you’re doing it, strength training provides after burn. The muscles continue to burn calories up to 24 hours after the workout.

Create a workout schedule and healthy eating plan and stick with it.

It’s really not magic. Creating a plan to workout three times a week and eating healthier whole foods is simple. Sticking to the plan, well, that’s a different point. I have a client that started out extremely out of shape and not ready for a tough workout. He read an article called the nitric oxide dump, where you do ten each of four simple exercises, squats, tin soldier, jumping jacks without the jump and air pullups, three times a day at least two hours apart. He did it for one month. He could cope with the four minutes. He next added weights and then came to the gym. He wasn’t prepared at first to devote a full hour at a time, but doing something, got him ready for the big workout.

  • Start increasing your activity every day to burn fat. Go for walks, park further from the store, take the stairs. These mini daily life workouts help to burn fat.
  • Never do strength training two days in a row. Your muscles need time to recuperate.
  • Put on some gloves and shadow box. If you can’t go to the gym, throw some punches at home. The exercise will help your body and releasing that aggression will help both your body and your mind.
  • HIIT workouts burn tons of calories. Since they are nothing more than working your hardest for a minute or two and then backing down the effort to moderate for several minutes, it’s a great deal like boxing. It’s just another reason boxing burns fat.

Strength Training For Beginners

Strength Training For Beginners

You’d be amazed at how many people focus just on aerobic exercise and ignore strength training, fearing they’ll bulk up and look like the Incredible Hulk. It isn’t that simple or everyone would become a body builder. There’s a good reason to start a course of strength training for beginners if it’s not already part of your workout program. Strength training helps build muscle tissue, protects bone density, helps you lose weight faster and helps prevent injury. In fact, strength training is known to be as effective for reducing or even reversing bone loss as some medications for osteoporosis.

Strength training can be done with weights, but also with no equipment at all.

When you think of strength training, most people envision free weights, such as dumbbells, weight machines, barbells or kettlebells, but there are other ways to achieve a great workout without those. Resistance bands are one. These are like huge rubber bands that provide resistance when you stretch them. They have some advantages, like being easy to store, relatively inexpensive, light and versatile. You can even do body weight exercises for strength, such as chin ups, push-ups and squats.

You can start at home if you don’t have access to a gym.

Of course, I always believe you benefit from having the expertise of a personal trainer, but some people don’t have a gym close to them or prefer starting on their own because they’re a bit intimidated by a gym or trainer. I believe that no matter where you start, getting started is the top priority. You can do circuit body weight exercises that not only will build your muscles, but give you a good cardio workout. The circuit could be a combination of squats, push ups, walking lunges, dumbbell rows, a plank and jumping jacks.

Base your repetitions on your fitness level.

One nice thing about those particular exercises is that you can modify them based on how fit you are. You can start with 10 to 20 squats and as you get fitter, either increase the number or if you’re at 20, modify the squat by either raising your arms or putting your hands behind your head. The same is true for every exercise on the list. If you can’t do ten regular push-ups, do five and work up. If one is impossible, do knee bent push-ups. The deeper you lunge for walking lunges, the harder. Do up to ten on each leg. Dumbbell rows don’t need to use dumbbells, but plastic detergent bottles, gallon milk jugs or even a large can. The amount of time you hold the plank should vary by your fitness level. Work up to 20 seconds. If you can’t do a full jumping jack, start with just the arms and then work up to 30 full body ones.

  • Do the circuit of exercises, take a 30 second breather and repeat two more times for a good workout.
  • Once you master this program and can do it with ease, you’re no longer a beginner. The first time you do all the exercises in a modified form to make them harder, you’ve moved to the next level.
  • Don’t forget to warm up first before you exercise. Running in place, riding a stationary bike, swinging arms and legs as you march in place or whatever it takes to get the blood flowing is good.
  • Never do strength training two days in a row. Your body needs time to recuperate.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

There’s been a lot of talk about losing weight with intermittent fasting and the information can be quite confusing. Intermittent fasting has to do with when you eat. It is a pattern where you eat little or nothing for a specific time, followed by a period of normal intake of food on a consistent basis. You can choose three different types of intermittent fasting. Whole day fasting is one or two days with no or minimum caloric intake, Alternate day fasting means you fast for a day, followed by eating normally the next day and then begin the cycle again. Time restricted fasting is often the most popular. You fast for 16 to 20 hours, then eat the other 4 to 8 hours of the day.

There’s some research that shows intermittent fasting can improve health and help you lose weight.

If you’re a lab animal, rejoice! Most of the studies have been on mice and other lab animals that show fasting can extend life, slow aging and reduce disease. However, for those of us that aren’t rodents, the information is inconclusive. There simply are broad human studies on the topic, but there are some. The studies that have been completed point to health benefits, such as reduced oxidative stress, improved biomarkers and protecting memory. There is a call to do studies on how intermittent fasting can help improve cardio health and brain health.

Intermittent fasting helps shed pounds.

According to two studies, you might be able to lose weight easier with a program of intermittent fasting. One study had overweight subjects with asthma alternate and eat only 20 percent of their normal caloric intake on one day and their normal intake the next. Not only did the subjects lose 8% of bodyweight, their asthma improved and they also had other health benefits. Another study of overweight younger women also showed improved weight loss and reduced insulin sensitivity plus other healthy changes.

There are changes at the cellular level.

Your body continues to adapt to the conditions it faces. Fasting, even for as short as 16 hours, urges your body to make changes. The fasting triggers processes for cell repair, while also making changes to various hormone levels to unlock the fat stores. Insulin levels in the blood drop, HGH—human growth hormone—increases as much as five times and it triggers changes in the genes that help protect the body from disease and improve longevity.

  • Using intermittent fasting, you’ll reduce the amount you eat. If you narrow your food intake to a 4 or 8 hour window, it makes it harder to intake as many calories.
  • You’ll lose more belly fat with intermittent fasting. One study showed it reduced waist circumference by 4-7% and another showed it caused less muscle loss than traditional low calorie diets.
  • The big plus to this type of eating pattern is the lowering of insulin levels, increased HGH levels and noradrenaline. That helps break down fat for energy and boosts your metabolism.
  • No matter what type of intermittent fasting you use, you still need to consume your normal caloric intake on the days you eat. It won’t work if you gorge yourself on the days or times you eat.