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Month: September 2014

Want abs? Skip the crunches and try this.

Want abs? Skip the crunches and try this.

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Whether you’re a guy or a girl looking to get in shape, it is almost guaranteed one of your goals is to “get abs”. The interesting thing here is you probably already have them, they’re just hiding under a little bit of fat. You can train your abs every day for the rest of your life and never see them. No matter how many crunches, side-ups, reverse crunches, mountain climbers or bicycles you do- those exercises alone unfortunately won’t be giving you the shredded look you desire. Now sure, these core exercises are important and definitely help, however there are much more efficient ways to strengthen the core, and build your six pack.

I was definitely one of those girls spending at least 30 minutes of my workout laying on the ground in my local gym doing ab exercise after ab exercise but it wasn’t until I incorporated compound strength movements like the Back Squat, Deadlift and Pull-up until my core not only got stronger but developed that “toned” look most individuals strive for. Compound movements build up total body strength including the core by using more than one muscle group. This is more challenging for your body therefore more calories are burned. Not only are you strengthening your body but you are blasting fat at the same time. When you incorporate weight lifting into your workout routine, you are putting stress on your body that it is not used to: a challenge for your mind AND body.

Not only do these movements build core strength, they build confidence. To me, there is no better feeling than knowing your body is able to lift such a heavy amount of weight. Whether you are new to lifting or have been doing it for a while, being able to continue to add weight each week provides such a feeling of empowerment.

One product I find that helps me especially with my squats is my Harbinger Foam Core Belt. Now I know what you’re thinking, only those big, macho guys in the gym wear those belts around their waist to throw their weights around. First of all, tell me this doesn’t look cute….

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and ALSO weight lifting belts provide lower back support, keep your form correct and reduce stress on your spine when lifting heavy weight. I feel so much more secure and I am able to lift so much heavier when I wear my belt. I have a super flexible spine so for example when I squat, I tend to hyperextend my back. Wearing my belt keeps my spine in alignment and thankfully prevents me from getting injured. Harbinger makes many different kinds of belts so find the one that fits best for you! (www.harbingerfitness.com) and as always don’t hesitate to email me with questions! (FitnessTeam@sd-evolution.com)

Getting under that bar can be intimidating or even scary for some at first but I challenge you to step out of that comfort zone, build your core and challenge your mind.

Need help incorporating this into your routine? Need a new goal? Sign-up for our personalized training and meal plans!  contact FitnessTeam@sd-evolution.com for more information.

Micronutrients- How to get through the day without a gallon of coffee!

Micronutrients- How to get through the day without a gallon of coffee!

We’ve done a recent blog on Alessandra’s favorite vegetables, but we wanted to take that a step further and really break down the idea of “micronutrients”. These nutrients can cure what ails us on a daily basis, as well as keep us away from those serious diseases, like cancer, down the road. Do you often find yourself dragging through the day and wish there was a way you could keep yourself energized without 4 cups of coffee? Do serious diseases run in your family? Well micronutrients will help you in both categories. The honest truth is that if you make it a habit to incorporate what we are about to tell you into your daily routine, you WILL lead a happier, healthier, and much more energized life.

If you’re involved in a fitness regimen and also track what you’re eating, then chances are you’ve heard of macronutrients. Those are the “big three” in the nutrition world- protein, fats, and carbohydrates. But you may not know much about micronutrients. Micronutrients are our vitamins and minerals. While these aren’t the focus of calories in vs. calories out, they are still very important. Many of us, myself included, overlook these critical elements in our diets because we are overly focused on the macros for weight gain or weight loss. So we overlook this vital element of our diets.

Micronutrients are critical to good health. Deficiencies can cause very serious health problems. And in our day and age deficiencies are extremely common due to the consistently lacking quality of food that is put in front of us. So it is up to us to seek out better choices that have more quality micronutrients. They aren’t called “micro” nutrients because they are less important, but because we need less of them as opposed to the macronutrients. Included are vitamins A, C, E, D, K, as well as the B’s, as well as minerals selenium, fluoride, copper, zinc, and sodium.

Micronutrients ensure proper functions of your body’s systems. Some quick hits on what some minerals do individually:

  • Sodium: maintain proper fluid balance; help fluids pass through cell walls; regulate pH levels in your blood
  • Manganese: promote bone formation and energy production; helps your body metabolize macronutrients
  • Iron: helps produce red blood cells
  • Iodine: helps your thyroid gland function; helps metabolize fats; promotes energy production and growth
  • Magnesium: helps your heart maintain a normal rhythm; helps convert glucose into energy; necessary for the metabolizing of calcium and vitamin C

So how do we get more of these into our diets? Daily multivitamins are not enough to do the trick alone, but can help as a supplement to a good diet. A better way? I guarantee you’ve heard it before. Eat the rainbow! No, I don’t mean skittles unfortunately. Choose a wide variety of fruits and veggies to incorporate into your meals. Bright fruits and veggies, as well as deep, leafy greens are what you want to shoot for.

Here’s a quick list of some vitamins and their common sources:

  • Vitamin A: Green, orange, deep yellow veggies; deep yellow, orange fruits
  • Vitamin D: Skim milk, salmon, tuna, eggs, sunlight
  • Vitamin E: Almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, red bell pepper
  • Vitamin K: Kale, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kiwi, blueberries
  • Vitamin B2: Dark and leafy green veggies
  • Vitamin B3: Nuts, seeds
  • Vitamin B6: Grains, spinach, bananas, prunes, watermelon
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, strawberries, green/red peppers, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes

These aren’t the only ways of getting your micronutrients in, but it’s a very good start. So next question, how many should we be eating every day? The answer depends on your age, gender, and activity level, but to make it easy, try to take in a serving at each meal.

If you can do this on a regular basis, I guarantee you will feel better, look better, and even have better workouts. We are all looking for that perfect body but these are the basics that are going to help us feel good and stay healthy so that we can focus on building that cover-ready physique as opposed to fighting off vicious disease. Don’t take your health for granted. Start now and live a long happy life!

Artificial Sweeteners: Why they are not the answer for weightloss or to curb sugar cravings

Artificial Sweeteners: Why they are not the answer for weightloss or to curb sugar cravings

We’ve all seen and maybe have used these products before:

artifical sweeteners diet coke sugar free gum

The one thing these products all have in common is the catchy phrase, “Sugar Free”. Sounds awesome right? A low or zero-calorie product, with no sugar…it must be healthy!

That is not only so SO wrong but these products are the latest threat to our nation’s Obesity and Diabetic epidemic. Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine have recently published (via The Journal of Physiology) that “the pleasure we get from eating sweet things comes from the amount of energy we expect to gain from it.” Basically your (very smart) brain can recognize these sugar imposters and in turn cause you to continue craving sugar when it doesn’t receive that burst of energy after consuming your favorite “innocent” sugar-free products. Since you aren’t getting that energy burst, you may in fact end up consuming more calories LATER than the individual who chose sugar in the first place.

I know I’m not the only person who has opted for a low-calorie option at breakfast time to then rationalize my decision later that night by saying, “Oh I ate well today, let me indulge in this bowl of ice cream or chocolate chip cookie.”  What would have happened if I had a more filling healthy breakfast and skipped the coffee with Splenda, or sugar-free gum to “fight the cravings” ? I guarantee I would have been less inclined to pick up that cookie because I was full and satisfied my metabolism instead of trying to trick it.

So what you’re saying is to eliminate all sugar AND artificial sweeteners from my diet?

Definitely not! Your brain needs sugar to function but that doesn’t mean go stuff your kitchen cabinets with M&M’s, Sour Patch Kids and Oreos. While there is no percent daily value set by the FDA for sugar, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. To compare, one can of coke has 35g of sugar! So where can you get your sugar from? Here’s some suggestions:

  • Fruits- Apples, Bananas, Pineapples and Prunes all contain sugar yet also contain powerful antioxidants and fiber.
  • Yogurt- I am a huge fan of Greek Yogurt due to its high calcium and of course probiotics!
  • Vegetables- Believe it or not carrots and beets both include sugar and are a great snack option.
  • Agave Nectar- From the Agave plant, this is a natural source of sugar and a great alternative to artifical sweeteners.

So there you have it! After doing some research on my own I have decided to eliminate gum and artifical sugars from my diet in hopes of increasing my health. Since I already consume some of the healthy carriers of sugar as listed above, I will still provide fuel to my brain and avoid tricking my body! Our bodies are the only place we have to live, it’s about time we start treating them respectfully. Will you think twice about pouring that Splenda into your coffee or buying that pack of “Sugarless” gum now?

~Alessandra

As always feel free to email any questions to fitnessteam@sd-evolution.com!

**Disclaimer: I am not a certified Nutritionist or Dietician however I pride myself on spreading the healthy lifestyle and speak from experience as a certified health fitness specialist with a degree in Exercise Science.

Women: Put your fears of becoming “BULKY” behind you

Women: Put your fears of becoming “BULKY” behind you

Although there has been a rise of the amount of women participating in weight lifting, Crossfit and other activities that used to be labeled as “manly”, I still find many females coming to me with the fear of becoming “bulky” by lifting a dumbbell over the weight of 8 pounds. What many people don’t understand is gaining such a large amount of muscle mass is not an easy concept especially for a woman.

Transforming your body into this:

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is not something that you can achieve by lifting heavy weights alone. These women who you see compete in bodybuilding are most likely taking Anabolic Steroids due to the fact that women in general have less testosterone than men and in turn that limits our muscle growth potential. This combined with an extensive diet plan (having a surplus of calories to feed the muscle) as well as lots and lots of time (this stuff doesn’t happen overnight!) are all contributors to the “bulky” women seen in fitness competitions.

For your average female trying to “tone up” by spending hours a day on cardio machines followed by 30 minutes doing ab work then MAYBE picking up a 5lb dumbbell for bicep curls, I can honestly tell you from experience that there are more efficient (and more fun) ways to build your dream body. It is true that I used to be that girl that I just described. A carb-loving, cardio bunny who thought she knew what she was doing in the gym. I did not see results, I did not enjoy working out and I certainly was not pleased with my body.

When I switched my major to Exercise Science I then learned a lot of what I stay true to today. Including the following:

  • Lifting heavy weights increases muscle mass which in turn burns more fat during and AFTER exercise.
  • Lifting heavy weights allows me to eat more (of the proper foods) to fuel my body.
  • Lifting heavy weights gives me that “toned” look most women strive for aka beautiful CURVES. Embrace them.
  • Lifting heavy weights increases bone health. Decrease your risk for Osteoperosis!
  • Lifting heavy weights increases confidence, happiness and overall energy.

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This photo was taken of me at my first NPC Bikini Competition. After 3 months of dedicating my life to lifting heavy weights, eating clean, building my confidence and most importantly enjoying every aspect of it. Challenge yourself to a new workout goal. You won’t NEED an hour of cardio every day if you substitute lifting heavy weights and most importantly you will be on your way to a happier, healthier version of you.

Happy Monday and go pick up something heavy!

Need help? Not sure what to do in the gym? SD Evolution offers meal and training programs personalized to you, your gym and your goals. Contact us at FitnessTeam@sd-evolution.com for more info or visit the “Services” page at www.sd-evolution.com. We are here to help!

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

The pumpkin obsession continues. After stopping into Target today to get rope for our Bootcamp banner (Obviously I knew we would be walking out with more than rope…come on it’s Target) and having a freak out in the middle of the aisle upon discovering Pumpkin spice and Apple Pie gum, I decided to come home and make breakfast for dinner. Instead of my usual protein pancakes I decided to add some Fall flavor to them by using some Pumpkin Purée I got last week at Trader Joe’s. After being skeptical about the outcome I was excited to see they came out delicious. Here’s the recipe:

pumpkin Protein Pancakes
~ 1/4C Pumpkin Purée
~1/4C Old Fashioned Oats
~1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein
~1/2 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
~1/2 tsp Baking Powder
~1/4C Liquid Egg Whites

Mix all ingredients well in a blender. Bring skillet to medium heat and pour batter as big as you would like your pancakes. (I made them about 3 inches across and got 3 pancakes). Cook for about 1 minute per side.
To top them I combined 1/4 scoop whey with a little bit of Almond Milk to create a vanilla cream topping.

Let me know how you like this delicious fall treat!

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-Alessandra

Functional Training- Circuit included!

Functional Training- Circuit included!

Functional Training is a concept that incorporates exercises that will help you with your every day life into a workout program. While these should be staples in any routine, they are actually most often overlooked in favor of other, more appealing exercises. If you are a guy ages 18-35, chances are that you are focused on getting big and ripped via the bench press, pullups, curls, and squats (hopefully). And if you are a woman in that same age range, your “go-to’s” are probably squats, leg presses, booty blasters, and cardio. Not to say that these aren’t great tools in sculpting your body, but you need to be more well-versed.

Functional Training can actually help with all of those things anyway. So what exactly do you do for functional training? Well, let’s think about things we do every day. We walk, bend over, pick things up, carry things, sit in our cars or at our desks for extended periods of time, etc… You get the picture. So how do we better prepare our bodies for the rigors of every day stress? It all starts with core. Your core, or more specifically, your lumbo-pelvic hip complex, is your body’s stabilization system. Strengthening it is not only good for you, but it will help you with those other lifts as well. You see, everything starts with your core. You may be able to lay on a bench and press a heavily-loaded bar over your head, but what happens as soon as you stand up? How do you translate this strength into something useful? Well, if you aren’t strengthening your core, then there is no translation. You just became really good at laying down and pressing a bar, that’s it. However, if you put some effort into functional training additions to your routine, this strength can be translated into functional strength (strength that will help you in your every life).

Let’s say it’s chest day and you just finished a set on the bench.. Add in a superset with a band press or a cable press. If you are using a band, wrap it around a pole or column or whatever is at your disposal, take a step out to apply resistance, and press forward. You will notice right away that the band pulls you back and you will probably lose your balance. Reset, this time tighten your core and sturdy your base. Press out and let it back in in a slow and controlled manner. You shouldn’t get pulled back this time, and your are strengthening your core as you build your chest! It’s that simple.

There are plenty of other simple functional exercises that won’t add too much time, but should be welcome additions to your routine!

If you are an athlete, you absolutely need functional training or you’re wasting your time in the gym. Pumping out heavy sets is one very small part of what you need to do. To get all of that hard work to translate to the field, you need a middle-man converting your gains into athleticism. Again, functional training comes to the rescue.

Let’s say you are a running back.. Leg strength is obviously a critical component of your training. But how do you beat your opponent? Do you have a squatting competition on the field or do you need to find a way to run past him/through him? Again, squats are very important to help build leg strength. A great addition would be box side jumps. Set a box about 12-18 inches tall based on your height. Place one foot on the box and jump as high as you can. Explode through that foot and land on your opposite foot. Continue side to side back and forth for about 30 seconds to start. This is a quad-dominant plyometric exercise that builds speed if done regularly.

Functional Training isn’t just for bodybuilders and athletes. The rest of the population can find a use for it too. Remember this stuff is used to convert our workouts into strength and stability that is useful to us in other aspects of our lives. It helps us with balance and stabilization, which is not only beneficial to us klutz’s but also extremely important as we get older and naturally lose that ability we all take for granted. A strong core also prevents injury. It reduces lower back pain and keeps our bodies moving in their natural movement patterns. Driving and sitting at a desk for long hours puts our body in an unnatural, slouched position. Core strengthening will pull everything back into it’s proper place, as well as help to relieve any pain associated with these things.

You can take many of the exercises you are already doing and make them functional exercises by doing them away from a machine. Take the same motion and find an unsupported way of doing it. Body-weight exercises are a great example of this. Here is an example of a good functional training circuit to give you some ideas and get you started!

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Alessandra’s Top 5 Favorite Vegetables and WHY your body needs them

Alessandra’s Top 5 Favorite Vegetables and WHY your body needs them

Growing up I HATED vegetables (along with every other child in America). It wasn’t until my Senior year of college when I started to eat healthy and actually eat vegetables. The fact that I actually enjoyed them came as a shocker to my entire family and even was surprising to myself but I can thank my Dad aka “Chef Frank” for not only making them for me but flavoring them to be healthy and delicious.

Straight from the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) here is why you should be consuming your fruits and vegetables daily:

CDC Fruits and veggies

Today, I consume about 3 cups of veggies per day: I can’t get enough! Not only are they a key component to my clean eating lifestyle, but they regulate my digestive system and most important keep me full between meals. Now I know 3 cups of vegetables sounds like a lot but when you get creative with preparing them, 3 cups really isn’t a lot at all!

Now I know what your next question is….

“How many fruits/veggies per day is the right amount for me?”

Luckily technology is here to help us! While on the CDC website I also discovered a calculator that uses your age, gender, and physical activity level to determine the right amount of daily intake for your body. It is SO important to understand that no individual has the same body. Many clients come to me telling me about their “friend who is on the Paleo diet” or a low-carb diet and lost 35 pounds. My response? Good for them, but you probably won’t have the same results. You are an individual therefore, you need to treat your body as an individual. There is no cookie-cutter diet plan that will guarantee weight-loss for all (although that would be AWESOME and fix the current Obesity epidemic) so you need to figure out what works for you.

Vegetable Daily Intake Calculator

Now that you know how many servings you should be eating per day, let’s talk about our favorite types of veggies!

Top 5 veggies

Although these are what I consider my “Fab Five”, I do eat numerous other types of veggies regularly including Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, and Kale!

You have all of the tools to incorporate vegetables into your daily routine….so what are you waiting for?? Get to cooking!

~Alessandra

Clean Eating Pumpkin Oat Cookies

Clean Eating Pumpkin Oat Cookies

Fall is upon us (although the it doesn’t feel like it in San Diego) so I decided to whip up some of my favorite pumpkin recipes! The first I wanted to share is Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies! These are totally guilt-free and perfect for an on-the-go snack.

Recipe

*Pre-heat oven to 350.

-1/2C Pumpkin Purée
-1 Egg
-1/2C Oats
-1/2 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
-1/2 tsp Baking Soda
-1/2C Natural Peanut Butter
-1 Packet Stevia or 2 tbsp Honey
-Add in choice of nuts, carob chips or raisins if desired!

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Spoon and drop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 min or until light brown.

Let us know how you like them!
~Alessandra

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The SD Evolution

The SD Evolution

JCS Fitness and Fit Girl Moves were the two names we created to start each of our fitness ventures. It wasn’t until recently that we came up with the idea to combine these two entities into one. We had intended to take our time building a new brand together as we networked with people in this new area (San Diego). We were talking on the drive into work at the corporate gym we were employed at, about how good this was going to be and how we needed to make sure we didn’t take the foot off the gas pedal with this. It was only the beginning of an idea, but we knew it was going to be something great. We love what we do, don’t get us wrong, but there was something different about this idea. It created a new level of excitement that we haven’t had in a while. The whole thing just felt right.

Then the irony came… Within an hour of walking in the door at work, we were told that we could not continue with what we were doing. Another club manager had reported what we were doing to the HR department and they deemed it in violation of a non-compete clause. They told us that it needed to be ended immediately or we would no longer be allowed to work there.

So we were at a cross-road. Do we keep the security of working for someone else, or take a leap and begin the dream that we both were so excited to chase. We both knew what we wanted to do, but were we ready? California is an expensive place to live.. What about bills, food (which Josh eats A LOT of), and the every day expenses? What if this failed?

You see, that’s the beauty of taking a leap. It’s exciting- you have no idea what’s going to happen next but you are excited to take that chance and take an idea as far as you can. Life isn’t about staying in your comfort zone. You need to take chances to be successful. Risks are always involved with that, and you have to ask yourself if the reward is going to outweigh the risk. In this instance, we believe it is. How long can you put off chasing a dream? We decided that staying there would just be buying more time. Therefore, we decided to work towards our own dreams instead of chasing someone else’s.

Later that day, we spent countless hours building a new website, creating social media accounts, and building a plan to move forward full force with SD Evolution and everything that we were going to offer. They may not have realized it that day, but they presented us with a choice that turned into a life-altering decision. They assumed that we would squash the entire idea and go back to work the next day. Well, we didn’t. We took that as even more motivation to put into our project.

With the immediate support from our friends and family, our confidence is extremely high. We know that this will work. With our combined skill-sets and talents, we have all the tools to be successful. So we’d like to take this time to thank you guys. Whether you’re one of our friends, family, or just somebody who checked out one of our pages and are reading this blog… Thank you.

Stay tuned to watch the evolution continue!