Fitness & Wellness

Is Soda Good For Bulking Up?

Is Soda Good For Bulking Up?

Many of my clients start out just wanting to get fit and end up wanting to develop that beach body everyone envies. It’s all part of feeling good about yourself when you start to see results. I’ve heard some crazy ideas about what to eat when bulking up, which even extend to some fallacies about using snack foods to help put on weight or soda. Everyone has different builds and metabolisms, but one thing is certain, if you’re human, your body is constantly changing with every change you make and year you add. My advice to those who want more bulk, “Remember, what you do today will affect your tomorrow.”

Soda seems a harmless way to add calories to add bulk, but what kind of bulk?

Whether it’s that box of Oreos, the Big Mac and fries or a simple can of soda, it has lots of calories you might think will add weight, but at what price? Sure, you’ll add weight, but most probably it will be fat and you’ll have to lose it later. So what is the point of doing it at all when you can eat clean and gain more muscle than fat. Consider options like peanut butter instead of soda. Make a smoothie. The point is to gain muscle, not just to gain weight and get big. You don’t need a gym to do the latter.

Soft drinks have added sugar and negative side effects.

There’s a lot of health hazards linked to soft drinks. The amount of sugar it contains should be the first red flag to signal you to eliminate it from your diet. The sodium benzoate in can cause reactions that include eczema and asthma and the phosphoric acid can lead to kidney problems and the leaching of calcium from bones. It’s been proven that both the sugar and acids dissolve tooth enamel, while other studies show the effects of the high-fructose corn syrup on the body. It increases the risk of heart disease and spikes insulin levels. Why would you choose soda for bulking when there are other healthier options?

During the bulking phase, you’ll consume more calories, but what you consume makes a difference in the cutting phase.

Competitive bodybuilders and those that want that beach body, aim to increase muscle mass, so they enter the bulking phase, but that extra fat has to be removed during the cutting phase. In both stages, a blend of carbs, fat and protein are necessary. Consuming 30-35% of your calories from protein, 55-60% from carbs and the balance from fat is approximately the proportion. Eating healthy foods is important no matter what phase you’re in if you want to have a better, healthier body. Avoiding added sugar is part of that, just like avoiding deep-fried food and alcohol is. Soda contains added sugar, including sports drinks.

  • If your plan was to drink soft drinks during the bulking phase and then switch to diet soft drinks during the cutting phase, think again. Recent studies show even soft drinks add visceral fat—belly fat.
  • Add whey protein to smoothies and a banana. The whey protein will provide the protein to build and repair muscles, while the banana adds calories.
  • You need healthy sources of protein to build and preserve muscles, such as fish, chicken, lean beef or turkey. Carbs keep your workout going and help decrease the breakdown of muscles. Choose fruit, rice and vegetables. Healthy fat, like in avocados and nuts help create hormones—like testosterone–to build muscle tissue.
  • While bulking up starts in the kitchen, what you do in the gym gets you the final results. Work with your trainer on a program that will help you build muscles.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

Should We Eat Like Our Cavemen Ancestors?

Should We Eat Like Our Cavemen Ancestors?

I hear all sorts of buzz about different types of diets at Habitat Health and Fitness in Winter Haven, FL. One of the more popular ones is the Paleolithic Diet. It’s a diet that would have us eat like our cavemen ancestors in the Paleolithic Era. That era was before man learned to farm, and is thought to be a more natural match genetically than today’s diet.

What can you eat on a Paleo diet?

Paleolithic diets were healthy. You don’t have to know very much about history to realized they ate no processed food or even created recipes that involved adding sugar. While man may have had used honey, based on cave wall drawings depicting bees swarming and honey collectors dating back as long as 40,000 years, almost all of the sugar in the paleo diet came from fresh fruit, which is still recommended today.

As a hunter-gatherer, early man had basic food choices.

Early man most likely survived on fish, vegetables including root vegetables, lean meat, nuts and seeds. Foods not allowed include: dairy, legumes and grains, salt, vegetable oil, processed food and refined sugar. Cutting out added sugar is definitely a plus, just as eating more fruit and vegetables, limiting processed food and even limiting salt. There’s only one potential situation where giving up salt entirely could be a problem and that’s if you’ve sweat to a point that you depleted electrolytes.

Besides excess perspiration, there are other things that might not be healthy.

Depending on the Paleolithic diet you follow, since there are different versions, a paleolithic diet might contain a higher amount of fatty and red meat. The results could be increased bad cholesterol—LDL. That increases the potential for bowel cancer, too. If you’re not consuming enough carbs, you’re depleting yourself of energy, causing the feeling of exhaustion. That can affect the quality of your workout. The elimination of grains and dairy creates a concern that it can cause a lack of fiber, B-vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and selenium.

  • There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting back to whole foods. Nutritionists encourage it. It’s one reason many people support the Paleolithic diet, but with the focus on ensuring all nutritional needs are met.
  • Going caveman can also be followed with working out like a caveman. Most people living in the Paleolithic era, only ran when someone or something chased them, moved heavy things and walked a lot.
  • While some studies show that the Paleo diet achieved better weight loss in the short run, compared to other diets like the Mediterranean diet, those diets caught up after 24 months. However, the Paleolithic diet showed a marked advantage for visceral fat loss—fat around the waist—the dangerous type.
  • The Caveman diet also proved superior to other types when it came to improving glucose tolerance, controlling blood pressure and appetite management.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

Healthy Snacks For The Car

Healthy Snacks For The Car

Clients in Lakeland, Florida say that road trips often throw off their healthy eating and exercise program. There are several ways to combat that problem. For exercise, stop every hour or two and simply walk or even do simple exercises. Plan the trip ahead to make stops at places that offer healthy food and take healthy snacks for the car. In fact, you might even map out a grocery or farmer’s market along the way. Preparing ahead of time is important. Snacks can help prevent you from overeating and making desperation stops at fast food chains.

Make sure you have a cooler for some of these healthier snacks.

String cheese is always a top choice for people on the road. Fresh vegetables and dip can fill you up and not out. Whether you choose to make your own dip or get little individual containers at the store, it will provide the crunch and munch that helps tackle your hunger and keep your hands and mouth occupied. Some of that road hunger does come from boredom. If you want a healthier dip option, make your own hummus. It contains B vitamins and protein. Dip strips of green or red pepper. Mini red, orange and yellow peppers can be stuffed with cheese, too.

Pop corn ahead of time and make individual bags of popcorn.

Popcorn provides that snack food type appeal, but is still good for you. Just make sure that it’s not the microwave type. Pack it in individual paper lunch snacks and sprinkle it with your favorite topping. You can use premade special popcorn toppings like cheddar cheese and bacon or sour cream and chives, or grab that Parmesan cheese out of the refrigerator and sprinkle it on liberally. If you go for something less exotic, try butter salt topping.

Fresh fruit or celery sticks and nut butter keep you feeling full longer.

While it’s tough to preassemble apples slathered in peanut butter, you can make celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins—ants on a log. Taking along a container of nut butter, whether peanut butter, almond or cashew and a knife to cut the fruit and a spoon to slather on the nut butter. Whole grain bread or healthy whole grain crackers also go well with nut butter.

  • Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raw nuts are also healthy and filling on the road. You’ll get protein and fiber, plus healthy fat that keeps you satisfied longer.
  • Those individual tuna servings come prepared to travel. Some even come with flavors like basil and sundried tomatoes.
  • If you have a cooler, hard boiled eggs are perfect for travel. Greek yogurt is also good and can be complemented with fresh berries.
  • Don’t forget to take plenty of water along. Skip the colas and even the fruit juice. Both add calories when you’re least likely to burn them. Water quenches your thirst without a single calorie.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

Is It Bad To Workout Every Day?

Is It Bad To Workout Every Day?

Will you get faster results if you workout every day? It all depends on what you consider a workout. If you’re lifting weights every day, STOP! You’ll actually be losing ground rather than gaining it. When you lift weights or do strength building exercises, it makes micro tears in the muscle that need time to heal. When they heal, they get bigger and stronger. If you don’t give that time to heal, which means you won’t get stronger and often go backward, getting weaker in the process.

You can train every day if you alternate.

Some people spend one day on legs and the next on the upper torso. Others devote a day to endurance, one to strength training and one to flexibility training and then restart the cycle. Doing some type of physical activity every day won’t hurt, and will help if you’re trying to lose weight. However, repeating the same workout, same level of intensity or focusing on the same muscle group each day isn’t necessarily healthy and won’t be your best option in the long run.

To vary intensity levels, try HIIT—high intensity interval training—-on one day and extended walking on the next.

You can’t force your body to get fit quicker than it’s able. It all takes time. Have a schedule that combines both the gym and activities outside the gym. For instance, take a walk through the park or ride a bike as an alternative to a tough workout. It gives your body time to heal, plus provides circulation so it speeds the process.

Make sure you get all types of workouts.

While some people focus on building muscles and others focus on aerobic training, they’re both wrong. You need both types of training, plus balance and flexibility training. Without flexibility training, you’re more prone to injury when you’re lifting weights. All types of training are important to be truly fit. You can combine types of training or focus on each on different days.

  • When you’re working out hard, don’t go home and lay on the couch the rest of the night. After your workout, continue with activities you’d normally do.
  • It’s okay to train every day, especially when you do it the same time each day. It helps you get into the habit. Just don’t do the same type of exercise each day or make each day intense.
  • Doing some type of training every day can actually help relieve stress and keep your body moving with ease. The older you are, the more likely you’ll lose gains with too many days between workouts.
  • If you choose to do strength training every day, do short, easy sessions. Don’t push yourself too hard. If you have a particularly intense workout, take it easy the next day.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

Is Regular Exercise That Important?

Is Regular Exercise That Important?

People who come to Habitat Fit in Lakeland, Florida, know the importance of regular exercise. It’s a keystone to fitness, right along with a healthy diet. It isn’t healthy to workout hard once every month or so and remain inactive the rest of the time. For good health, any exercise, irregular or not, is better than doing nothing at all. However, to reach your fitness goal, you need consistency.

Weight loss and toned muscles require regular exercise.

If you skip working out frequently, you’ll lose many of the benefits that come with exercise. The loss starts with your metabolism, but eventually affects your strength, endurance and flexibility. Consistency improves all three. You build on the previous gains, so when you workout regularly, the more consistent you are, the better your fitness foundation. The concept for consistent exercise is progressive overload. You work your body to its maximum and that maximum increases the longer you do it.

Regular exercise does more than tone your body and help you lose weight.

A program of regular exercise promotes heart health by normalizing cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and boosting your circulation. It can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the potential of metabolic disease. Your mood will improve and so will your cognitive functions. Exercise helps build bones, while it strengthens muscles and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. It helps lower the risk of some types of cancer, improves sleep, increases your lifespan and can even improve your sex life.

If you miss a few workouts, don’t give up.

If you’ve started a workout program, but your life demands have reduced the amount of time you can spend working out, don’t quit. Even if you can’t make it to the gym three times a week or workout for an hour a day, even short, infrequent workouts can help. According to an article in the journal published by the American Heart Association called Circulation. While two hours and thirty minutes of moderate exercise every week had a far lower risk of heart disease, you’ll still benefit from a little exercise every week. So, exercise any chance you get to achieve heart health, but for the best results, a program of regular exercise is important.

  • You can ensure you stick with your program of regular exercise by making it an important appointment on your schedule. Scheduling exercise at a specific time each day can make it a habit.
  • You don’t have to do all your exercise in the gym. Living an active lifestyle is important, too. Enjoying the fun, yet active things in life is what exercise is all about and also what gives you more energy to do those things.
  • While all types of exercise is good, having a well rounded program that offers strength, endurance and flexibility training is necessary for good health and true fitness.
  • We offer three free fat burning workouts at Habitat Health and Fitness. You get an opportunity to experience the exhilaration getting fit can bring.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

Best Workouts For Beginners

Best Workouts For Beginners

If you’ve made it your new goal to get fit, you probably want to find the best possible program to achieve that goal. Finding workouts for beginners can help solve that problem, but you still have to identify how much you should push yourself and how many repetitions to do. It’s one reason people love having the services of a personal trainer, to help them through that phase of exercise. However, if you’re working out on your own, don’t push yourself too much the first few days. Spend more time focusing on the right form than how much you can lift, how long you can workout and how many reps you can do. You’ll be glad you did.

You need a combination of exercises that provide endurance, strength, balance and flexibility training.

No matter what your level of fitness or experience with exercise programs, you need a balance of all types of workouts. Endurance exercises are also known as cardio workouts. It keeps you heart healthy. Strength training builds muscles and protects your bones, while flexibility training protects your muscles. Balance training helps protect you from falls. Running, rowing and biking are three types of cardio workouts. Flexibility training increases your range of motion and include all types of stretching. Most people identify strength training with weights, but you can use body weight, resistance bands and kettlebells. Many of the core exercises improve your balance, as well as strengthening the body in the process.

Always include a warm-up and a cool-down.

Before you start any workout, make sure you include warm-up exercises to prepare your body. The type of warm-up you do depends on the part of body you’re working out. Jumping rope, arm circles and lunges are appropriate, depending on the body area you’ll be working. Simply walking it off or stretching can be a good cool-down exercise.

Start with a workout program that doesn’t require equipment if you’re doing it at home.

Bodyweight exercises are the best types of workouts for anyone that isn’t working out in the gym. The weight of your body is all the equipment you’ll need. Start with your warmup and move onto the actual workout. Start with a program that has squats, push-ups, lunges, a plank and jumping jacks. You can do strength training by using empty plastic bottles filled with water or sand for strength training. Focus on form initially and don’t push yourself the first few days, but slowly increase the number of repetitions and shorten the recovery time between exercises.

  • Before you start your workout program, set a goal, then create a path to achieve it.You need to be able to measure your success, so record your progress, weight and measurements before you start and periodically once you’ve begun.
  • If you haven’t worked out in years, are older or have medical conditions, always check with your health care professional before starting a workout program.
  • Create a workout schedule. When you have it scheduled, like any other appointment, you’re more apt to do it. If you workout in the morning, lay your clothes out the night before as extra incentive.
  • If you’re still confused and want more help, we offer three workouts free that will help you get into the grove and get started immediately. Habitat Health and Fitness also offers low cost group programs to get you started on the right path and help you stay on it, too.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

Smoothies And Spandex

Smoothies And Spandex

If you expect your visit to the gym to be filled with gorgeous fit people all wearing the latest Spandex workout clothes and drinking exotic smoothies, you’ll really be surprised when you come to Habitat Health and Fitness. Some people avoid going to the gym because they think they have to dress and look a certain way. That’s just not true here. You do have to be dressed for comfort and movement, but there are no fashion police here. All our clients are focused on their fitness and dress comfortably and ready for action.

A workout program is to help you achieve your highest level of fitness and be your best.

Our focus is on your goals, whether it’s improving your fitness level or losing weight. There’s no lounging around the gym and spending time at the juice bar. People are here to get the best possible results, not for a fashion show or lunch. Everyone wears clothes that help them workout comfortably. We pride ourselves on helping our clients achieve their best and it doesn’t matter whether they’re wearing the latest Spandex gym wear or a t-shirt and comfortable shorts.

What’s really important is how you feel and sometimes clothing makes a difference.

While wearing the latest fashion isn’t necessary or even encouraged, having comfortable running or cross training shoes, a supportive sports bra, tee or tank and comfortable shorts that let you move with ease. If the material is breathable, moisture wicking and lightweight, it’s suitable for working out and will keep you comfortable. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about fashion, but the ability to move providing support without chaffing, tugging or tightness.

Smoothies can help you lose weight and can be part of your fitness program, just not at the gym.

We focus on getting you fit and healthy. While smoothies as part of a healthy eating program can be part of that, when you come to Habitat Health and Fitness, it’s all about getting the best workout and maximizing your time at the gym. Fitness classes are meant to get you in shape and that’s what you’ll spend your time doing here. We focus on exercise, not lounging.

  • If you want a smoothie after a workout, you can make one at home by putting whole fruit in the blender with some Greek yogurt. You won’t have the added sugar and still get the fiber you’d get from eating the whole fruit.
  • There’s nothing wrong with looking your best at the gym, but if you can, workout before you put on your makeup or remove it before you start. Otherwise, you’ll find it dripping off your chin at the end of the workout.
  • If you’re going to buy new gym clothes, look for those that provide wicking and breathability. They’ll keep you more comfortable. Never wear clothing that binds. It can cause chaffing. Focus on good shoes and a good sports bra first.
  • If you’re still concerned on what to wear, come in for the three free workouts. You’ll find people who dress a variety of ways and are more focused on their form than their clothing. It’s the way a gym should be.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness

Flex For Fun

Flex For Fun

I love watching the people in the team and small group classes in Lakeland, Florida. While you’ll sometimes see a bit of dread on the participants faces when they have to start something new, most of the time you’ll find they enjoy themselves, even when the workout is hard. The people in the group classes and even those who come to me for personal training, find it’s more enjoyable when you’re working out with someone else. You might say working out with a partner or in a group will make you flex for fun, while you’re building endurance, flexibility and strength.

One of the benefits to group training or having a trainer or a workout partner is accountability.

Just knowing you’ll be meeting a group, a workout partner or a trainer will get you to the gym when you’d rather stay at home. When someone is waiting for, that makes you accountable to them to arrive. Even when you exercise, if there are others watching, you’ll be more apt to put more effort into the workout. Sometimes, there’s even friendly competition that drives people on to achieving more. You’ll put more effort into the workout, so you’ll get more out of it. After all, who wants to be the person who quits first.

A workout group is less expensive than private sessions.

Whether you opt for small group training or team training, you’ll pay less than you would if you worked out with a personal trainer. That’s because everyone shares the cost of the trainer’s time. Even though you don’t get continuous one-on-one time, you get the oversight of a personalized trainer, a program created for your fitness level, and instruction on how to do each exercise correctly. Our trainers even modify workouts to accommodate injuries and special needs.

You’ll laugh and build friendships.

People don’t come to the group sessions to make friends. They come to get fit. Friendships are just a bonus. Today, there’s a lot of competition for good jobs and that causes some people to focus their energy on their job, with very little left for social life after work. The reason they do it boils down to a busy schedule and little time for socializing. Group workouts, provide a bit of social outlet, while focusing on staying fit. People often make friends with other busy people, form relationships—even if it’s just at the gym—and have a real personal connection when they workout in a group.

  • Our workouts are fun and also quick. You don’t have to spend all day to have the workout you need to look and feel better. Taking just 45 minutes out of your day will help you melt fat and get fit.
  • Our trainers have the knowledge to provide workouts that make the most of the time you have. You’ll get faster results by doing the training you need.
  • There’s something for everyone. You don’t have to be fit to enjoy a workout with the group, even if someone in your group is super fit. Everyone works at his or her own fitness level. The only person you’ll be competing with is yourself.
  • Come take our three workout challenge. At Habitat Health and Fitness, we offer 3 free workouts to get you started. You’ll feel how great it is to get moving and learn how you can get in shape faster, without costing you one cent.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness

How To Reward Yourself After A Tough Workout

How To Reward Yourself After A Tough Workout

When I train clients in Lakeland, FL, I always tell them they should have goals set and when they reach them, enjoy all the benefits like a smaller clothing size or more energy. Sometimes, you need something in between to keep you or a way to reward yourself after a tough workout. One way is to avoid that problem by doing an activity you love. You can workout hard with weights one day and give yourself the reward of swimming as your next day’s workout. That’s not always possible, so finding a reward for those tough times is important.

Do you have a favorite pastime you don’t do often?

Giving yourself a reward can be as simple as enjoying a walk in the park or more involved like a night out complete with a movie and a meal at your local restaurant that offers healthy options. If you have a favorite series on Netflix or other video options, create a program where you get to watch one or two episodes every time you have a great workout. Don’t cheat and watch more than one or two or give yourself permission to watch the series when you don’t workout. You can even choose to only watch it while you workout, to provide more incentive.

Track your progress or tell a friend.

Having a workout buddy is a great idea, but even if you don’t, you can have an after-workout friend. That person doesn’t have to live close to you and could even be someone you met online. The only thing that’s important is that you both have goals you want to meet and you both understand how important it is to get a little rewarding praise along the way. After a tough workout, share your success with that friend and wait for the “atta’ boys.”

Take some time for yourself to do absolutely nothing.

This could be the biggest reward for anyone that’s juggling a job, whether at home or otherwise, a family, fitness goals and everything else a busy life entails. You might think that this is easy, but it’s one reward that’s really tough. You tend to be energized after a tough workout. Doing nothing doesn’t mean just sitting and staring out the window, although that might be what you want to do. It might be taking a nap or just having a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop.

  • Save up points that equal free moments for a big bonus. Give yourself points for every workout and when you get enough points, do something big for yourself. Half the fun is the contest to get there.
  • Take a nice nap. Don’t worry about making supper or whether the house is clean. Lay down and enjoy the rest you deserve.
  • Spend extra time with your kids, friends or family. There’s nothing better than enjoying time with the people you love. Schedule a time for play after a tough workout.
  • At Habitat Health and Fitness, we offer both group and individual personal training. Some of our clients workout in the small group training and reward themselves with a few private sessions.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

No Equipment Workouts

No Equipment Workouts

I appreciate our faithful clients to come to Habitat Health and Fitness and put the design of their workout in our hands, going through each guide workout with intensity and passion. However, even the most committed client has occasions when they can’t make it to the gym and need no equipment workouts to fill in the gaps until they can. Here’s a few workouts that you can do in a hotel room or your living room, virtually anywhere you have privacy and time.

Try a quick workout using calisthenics and body weight exercises.

People have been exercising for centuries without equipment. The exercises done in military boot camps start with those types of workouts using calisthenics and bodyweight exercises. If you want a total body workout, start with reverse lunges that work the thighs and hips. Do six reps on each side and move on to lateral split squats, also doing 6 reps on each side. Ten pushups are next followed by 10 hip bridges and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.

Dr Zach Bush created a four minute workout you can do three times a day.

This four minute workout is also called a nitric oxide dump. Nitric oxide opens up the blood vessels by relaxing the inner muscles of the vessels and allows increased circulation and more nutrients and oxygen throughout the system. This workout also works 16 different muscle groups. It starts with five to fifteen squats, jumping jack arm motions for the same number of reps, outstretched arm circles and finally overhead presses. Do four sets of this combination three times throughout the day. If you’re fit, do the highest number of repetitions and those less fit start with the lower amount.

Get back to the basics.

There’s nothing better than good old push-ups or lunges. If you want to maximize your workout time, get a combo of four bodyweight exercises you can do in a circuit training style. Repeat the combination for five to ten sets. One sample is 10-push-ups, 20 crunches, 10 Supermans and 10 body weight squats. If you’re in good shape and these don’t provide the challenge you hoped for, ask your trainer for some variations to make them more difficult.

  • Turn a simple walk to a HIIT workout. HIIT—high intensity interval training—can get you into shape faster than other styles of working out. By varying the speed and intensity, you can even make walking more challenging.
  • You don’t have to have official equipment to get a workout. If you have plastic detergent bottles or gallon milk jugs, you have a replacement for kettlebells or weights when they’re filled with sand or water.
  • Planks and other yoga poses also provide great workouts when you don’t have access to the gym. Learning a few of these can add variety to your workout program and provide exercises when you’re miles away from the gym.
  • At Habitat for Health and Fitness, our personal trainers are ready to help you with a program that travels with you, no matter where you go. Come in and our three free fat-burning workouts for a sampling of the benefits we offer.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness