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Choosing the Best Type of Training

Choosing the Best Type of Training

“This type of training will help you develop the physique of a Greek God!”

As soon as you go online or open a magazine, you’ll probably see an article titled, “6 Moves You MUST Do For Six Pack Abs!” You’ll see this for  training chest, arms, and your booty too. But if there really were 6 magical moves that will completely transform your body, it wouldn’t be news would it? Wouldn’t we all know about them already?

The truth is, a lot of different types of training can get different people the same results. Crossfitters and bodybuilders can both have phenomenal physiques.. However, the training couldn’t be any more different. How can that be?

Well, arguably the most important aspect of any training regimen is progression. For Crossfit, that might mean more reps, or a common workout completed in a shorter amount of time. Their bodies progress by being able to do more, more efficiently.

For a bodybuilder, that progression comes from an increase in volume, via added sets, reps, or weight. Adding an extra set, or increasing the weight, increases the volume. So does being able to do more reps with the same amount of sets and weight.

Choosing the Right Fit

So we’ve established that you don’t need to do one certain type of workout to achieve your goals. Moving forward, how do we choose what method will work best for us? That’s easy! The type of programming that will work best for you is the type of training that you will adhere to on a consistent basis. It’s the type of workout that fits into your schedule and the kind that you won’t skip on a regular basis. Therefore, it should be FUN and something you look forward to!

Popular Training Methods

Bodybuilding

ZEE PUMP! As made famous by the great Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding is the art of building your body. It’s less about performance and lifting the heaviest weights and more about focusing on growing each individual body part. These plans are developed to increase volume and maximize the pump to create an optimum level of hypertrophy (muscle growth). The workout is typically split into one or two body parts per day. You typically perform this type of training 5 days per week.

Powerlifting

Powerlifting is for those of us who enjoy lifting crazy amounts of weight. It is centered around the big three lifts: Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift. These movements are performed twice each per week in most programs. The rest of the programming is built around specific accessory movements that will directly help you with one of the lifts. You typically perform this type of training 4-5 days per week.

Crossfit

You may have seen the Crossfit Games on television. It’s like the gym version of an obstacle course. You race through a certain number of reps for certain movements. This is probably the most diverse form of training, with variations in exercises from olympic lifts all the way to body weight movements and running. These are shorter workouts performed at an extremely high intensity. You typically perform this type of training 6 days per week.

Making Your Decision

These are just a few of the many different types of programs you can choose from. The most important concept is to make sure you are active and healthy. You can do that in a variety of ways. So the next time you see an article that starts with “YOU MUST”, just laugh and keep scrolling by. Find something you love, break a sweat, and do it on a regular basis!

 

As always, if you need help, we provide online health coaching! This consists of custom training and personalized macronutrient programming! When you sign up for a membership, you aren’t just paying for coaches, you’re becoming a member of our team! Join the Evolution!

 

Josh Scutnik

SD Evolution

The Nation’s Elite Training Team

Live Happy. Live Healthy. Evolve.

SHOULD YOU CALL IT QUITS ON YOUR DIET?

SHOULD YOU CALL IT QUITS ON YOUR DIET?

Think back to the last time you had to deal with a period of high level stress. Now, I don’t want you to think about what exactly was causing the stress, but more so about how it affected you. Most likely, it impacted your daily life to a certain extent depending on the level of stress you were experiencing. Many individuals use food as a coping mechanism when experiencing high amounts of stress. Maybe you turned to food as comfort, maybe you went the opposite direction and simply did not have an appetite for days at a time. Neither of those options are beneficial to your health nor your goals of weight loss. On the other side of the spectrum dieting can actually induce stress in your life. Low-calorie diets have been shown to increase cortisol production which is our major stress hormone. That along with counting calories and macros can be incredibly stressful for (SOME) individuals. This is why we stress that:

  1. Dieting (or fat loss) should be a phase. Dieting is not a lifestyle, and you should not be in a caloric deficit for the entire year. Spending some time at maintenance, or even massing (gaining weight with the focus of muscle-building) is recommended to not only give your body time to recover from dieting, but also give you a mental break which will ultimately reduce stress levels. If you do however come to the realization that your diet is adding too much stress to your life, it may be time to reassess your goals in order to go through a more productive fat-loss phase at a later time. 
  2. Make sure you are choosing a diet that is a good fit for YOU. Counting macros certainly has a time and place, but it is not for everyone. Maybe you need a more general approach to start, maybe you need a more structured meal plan to follow. Chances are, if you are severely struggling with dietary adherence, it may be time to reassess your methods and try something new. (If you need help figuring out what may be best for you, email us HERE– we can help!)

With that being said, dieting is HARD. Harder for some than others, but it is also important to recognize that you are essentially putting your body into starvation mode (on purpose) when in a fat-loss phase. Your body is going to want to fight you, you will probably experience hunger, and that is normal in this phase. There are however a lot of great ways to combat these issues and in our next blog we will be discussing our favorite dieting tips so stay tuned there!

Obviously we can’t just flip to the next page of our lives and be stress-free (wouldn’t that be nice?), but there are ways to minimize your stress levels and how you handle your overall stressors. There are a few steps you can take to address this and move forward as a calmer, more efficient individual. 

step 1Identify what is stressing you out. Sometimes this is obvious, other times there may be underlying issues that you simply did not realize are messing with your head. Lack of sleep, a big life change such as moving, a restrictive diet, workplace drama or even your marital status can all cause some level of stress. Realizing what it is that is causing you higher levels of stress than normal is just as important as drawing a line between what it is that you can control versus what is beyond controllable. Be old-fashioned and grab a pen/paper (or use the Notes app in your phone is you’re more tech-savvy) and literally jot down everything causing anxiety to you at the very moment. Put a star next to what you have control over and work from there to see how you are going to start managing them. As far as those un-starred items? Simply make it aware to yourself that these are far beyond your control, and let be what will be.

step 3Structure your day. This is something that has really been life-changing for me personally as I have grown from being the most unorganized, late, “hot mess” individual to someone who utilizes a daily planner to schedule time slots for just about everything that needs to be accomplished. When you design a structured day, you are ultimately referring back to step 1 and controlling everything that can possibly be controlled. I find this method great for those who get overwhelmed with the “small stuff”. This can be as simple as using a planner, or just taking a blank sheet of paper and jotting down your daily schedule, what needs to get done and when it needs to be done by. I schedule everything from packing my lunch for the next day, to some downtime to read, to my training, and since I have started acting on living an organized life, I have GREATLY reduced the amount of stress I was perceiving. Every Sunday, I take some time to either mentally or physically take note of the week ahead and what it will consist of so that way when things DO pop up, I can be as prepared as possible to address them.

step 34Practice mindfulness. I can’t preach this one enough. Set aside even just 5 minutes out of your day- maybe after you shower at night, before your morning coffee or right before you hit the pillow- to sit in silence and just ponder your life. I start by pointing out all of the positives I can think of that I have going for me at the moment. Small things such as getting to spend some time with a certain loved one that day, hitting a new PR in the gym, or even a really delicious meal you had earlier. Let the good consume your mind for a few minutes and you won’t believe how much less stressed you immediately feel. When you focus on the positive, you will continue to act, think and be positive. 

While stress will never go away completely, you can do everything in your power to learn how to handle it best for your body and mind that are healthy, productive and will ultimately make you happier while still allowing you to achieve your goals. 

Why we hate the scale…and you should too!

Why we hate the scale…and you should too!

scale

 

The dreaded scale. We’ve all been there, stepping on it for the first time in a while only to be disappointed with the numbers that flashes up. This square piece of metal sadly can have control over your attitude, self-esteem & overall emotions. It’s time to address why we care so much about those 3 numbers we see. What makes them so special?

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In reality, the scale is just measuring your relationship with gravity. Who realistically cares about that? If you are stepping on what we refer to as the “enemy”, chances are you are looking for one of two things: to see if you gained, or lost weight. Luckily, there are far superior ways to measure your progressions. These include:

Measurements: Grab a tape measure and track your progress by inches gained or lost. You are much more likely to see these numbers change than the scale. We have our clients measure their hips and waist at minimum, but you can even track your biceps, thighs & calves.

Skinfold Calipers: Most gyms or personal trainers offer body fat testing. The skin fold caliper looks similar to a pair of tongs with measurements on the side. How it works is it pinches the fat on your body that covers the muscle and is closest to the surface (subcutaneous fat) and reads a measurement. The instructor testing you will then proceed to calculate your level of body fat after a series of measurements on different parts of your body.

Progress Photos: Many people make fun of all of the fitness “gurus” on Instagram who post progress photos however this can be the BEST way to track your progress. When you’re seeing your own body every single day, you aren’t going to notice differences in your physique. Taking a photo before and weekly or bi-weekly as you go, then comparing each week to the first photo is a for sure way to see any change to your body, no matter how small!

 

The scale truly does not matter when it comes to reaching your goals unless of course you are competing in a sport where you have to fit in a certain weight class. The average person however should really not rely on the scale at all when trying to lose or even gain weight. Weighing yourself daily is not only pointless but may begin to drive you into a crazy obsession. We all fluctuate weight daily because you are consuming water and food. Sometimes I weigh almost 10 pounds more at night than I do in the morning! It is absolutely normal (especially females) to fluctuate weight thanks to our hormones which is why we constantly have clients who send me progress photos of AWESOME progress yet are discouraged because the scale didn’t budge. Fixating yourself on a numerical value seems even crazier when you are actually seeing progress in your photos or measurements. In fact, to prove this theory I personally weigh about 15 pounds heavier than I did 4 years ago, yet I am smaller, and more compact and definitely in the best shape I have ever been in.

TO SUM IT UP:

The scale is truly an insignificant way to measure success in your program. Use one of the other methods to track your progress, celebrate positive changes & start to love your body!

 

 

 

Why “clean” eating can do more damage than good

Why “clean” eating can do more damage than good

 

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I used to declare myself as a “clean” eater. Throughout most of my bikini competition prep this was my lifestyle. What exactly did being a clean eater entail to me? It meant consuming nothing but whole, nutrient-dense foods. No processed foods at all. I mainly ate chicken, tilapia, egg, spinach, asparagus, potatoes, rice & oatmeal. Every single day. I didn’t have ketchup on my eggs nor did I have salad dressing on my salads. Why? Because I deemed these things as “dirty” or bad foods. I ate the same thing every single day for months…..EXCEPT on cheat days.

I scheduled weekly cheat meals for myself once per week. This meant I could have absolutely anything my heart desired, which usually was pizza, ice cream or some kind of extravagant dessert. I would eat a HUGE meal probably worth my entire day in calories. Immediately after I would not only feel guilty, but I would be SO incredibly stomach sick. My stomach would blow up looking like I was 8 months pregnant, I would be in severe distress, and the next morning  I would wake up still puffy & miserable just to go back to my “clean” diet. Cheat meals were usually on Sundays, and every Monday I would promise myself that next week I would not put myself through that again. That it wasn’t worth it, yet every week I continued to do the same thing. Why? Because I was so DEPRIVED. Eating plain oats for breakfast everyday, and the same boring lunch of chicken and broccoli followed by dinner of tilapia and asparagus was not only as boring as it sounds, but I was driving myself into a deep, unhealthy diet & binge hole.

I missed enjoying my own 23rd birthday cake because it wasn’t clean. I brought tupperware to countless family parties enjoying foods that I grew up eating. I skipped weekends out with my friends because I didn’t want to even be around those unhealthy options I at the time frowned upon. For what? To look good in a bikini? That no one would see me in because I didn’t have a social life? It was time for a change.

I eased up on my eating habits upon moving to San Diego, however I kept those items as staples in my diet, along with intuitively eating choices that I once considered bad. Let’s face it, if you’re restricting certain foods like that and being “clean”, can you honestly say you are going to eat “clean” for the rest of your life? That you will NEVER have a cookie, ice cream or anything “off-limits” again? I don’t think so. Although I felt better mentally, and was enjoying myself more, I knew there was still improvement to be made. I had gained some weight since doing so, and I wanted to find a way to enjoy myself yet achieve the body I always desired. I worked so hard in the gym, so I know that my fitness was not the issue- it was my nutrition.

I stumbled upon Flexible Dieting via Instagram during my “clean” obsessed stage and obviously thought it was crazy. These girls were eating things like pop tarts, Oreos & ice cream and had amazingly strong, beautiful bodies. I didn’t get it. So I did more research, found Dr. Layne Norton aka BioLayne who not only explained the benefits of Flexible Dieting, but Reverse Dieting. With science as proof…I was finally convinced.

My journey with Flexible Dieting began about 2 months ago now. I have lost 10lbs, decreased my body fat percentage and I enjoy my favorite foods every single day in moderation. I have ketchup on my eggs, use salad dressing and although about 80% of my diet is still nutrient-dense, I don’t restrict any type of food. I perform short cardio sessions twice per week when last year at this time I was doing cardio multiple times per day. I have reverse dieted up to almost 2,000 calories after consuming a little over 1,000 during my contest prep. It took me 6 months to reverse diet and I am still going.I can honestly say that I will NEVER go back to clean eating. I did not have a healthy relationship with food and was borderline developing an eating disorder called Orthorexia which is defined as “an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.” With it being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I wanted to share my story of my relationship with food with you, in hopes that you will share it with someone you know who may be going through a similar situation.

Interested in hearing more? Here’s some commonly asked questions about Flexible Dieting.

What is it?

I would define flexible dieting as a simple, effective way to get the body you want with little effort and the least anxiety. It is a scientific approach to nutrition and allows you to find a system that works for you while achieving your goals. There are no rigid rules, but just a relaxed guideline to help you achieve this lifestyle. It is a balanced take on nutrition based on what your body needs to fuel you through your day.

 

What it isn’t…

Flexible dieting is NOT eating as much junk as you want all day long. It is not a fad diet where you cut major food groups or nutrients. It does not label food as “good, “bad”, “healthy”, “unhealthy”, “clean” or “dirty”. This is not a quick fix diet, 30 day challenge, detox, cleanse or temporary. Once adapted this “diet” (I don’t even like using that word) can be a lifestyle.

 

Who is flexible dieting best for?

Everyone. Whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain your current weight, or put on muscle and growth, flexible dieting can be altered throughout your entire life as your goals change. It is solely based on your current weight and activity level. It can also be used to maintain your weight by reverse dieting or slowly adding in calories at a pace that will not result in weight gain. What’s the point of that? Well you get to eat more food, without gaining weight because you are increasing your metabolism. What sounds better than that?

 

The science behind it…

Flexible dieting is based on your overall caloric intake and your macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat). Every single person requires a different amount of macros because everyone is different. For example, the business man who works a 9-5 desk job only to go home and sit on the couch does not require as much energy as a personal trainer who is on their feet, demonstrating exercises and working out all day, therefore they require different macros. Using MyFitnessPal, I have my clients track their daily intake in the form of grams. This may seem daunting at first but after a week or so it actually becomes second nature.

 

But what if I don’t have time to prep meals?

The beauty of flexible dieting is just that…it’s flexible. If you forget your lunch one day, it’s not the end of the world if you pick something up on the go, because as long as you adjust the serving size to fit your macros- your “diet” is not ruined. You are NEVER cheating. Cheat meals are no longer necessary since you get to indulge in your favorite foods daily in moderation. Example? When I used to eat clean, I would plan weekly cheat meals and have an all out BINGE fest. The result? I would gain weight back and have a miserable stomach ache. Since switching to a flexible diet, I have an Oreo or two every day, Pop Tarts before my workouts and don’t gain a single pound because I never go over my macros. And if you go out to dinner? Fear no more! I used to be so stressed when going out with friends- so much that I once stopped going out all together. Now I just plan ahead if I know what restaurant I’m going to. I check out their menu online and see what my options are.I’ve never been in a predicament where it didn’t work out.

 

What’s the best part about this “diet”?

In my opinion, it’s stress free. I used to get such bad anxiety about eating bad foods. I would feel so guilty. With this lifestyle worrying about what I’m eating is no longer an option and since this is 100% science-based, I lost 10 pounds within the first month of trying it out. Now I am maintaining weight but my body composition continues to change. I am down body fat and more “cut”..and actually putting ON muscle. It literally feels like magic!

 

How can you get started?

For those of you unaware, my boyfriend Josh & I run a personal training  business called SD Evolution. We offer online training as well as macro programs now. We support this method so much that the majority of our clients are currently on a flexible dieting program and having extreme success. To purchase your own plan under the guidance of Josh & I as your coaches, head to our website http://www.sd-evolution.com. Click Services, then personal training and you will see the Online Training section. Each plan is a one-time fee of $75 where you will get your calculated macronutrients, lists of nutrient-dense foods to fill the majority of your day with, instructions how to track your macros, as well as weekly check-ins for up to 12 weeks with us to make sure you are on the right track. We believe that we can help you transform not only your body but your relationship with food and have dedicated our lives to helping others do just that. Are you ready to join the Evolution?

 

~Alessandra

FitnessTeam@sd-evolution.com

Meet our featured client of the week: Tiffany!

Meet our featured client of the week: Tiffany!

What I love about my job as a personal trainer is watching my clients progress and motivating them to learn to LOVE their bodies and how they perform. Josh & I have both always been very active. I was a competitive dancer my entire life while Josh was a multi-sport athlete. With my Mom owning a fitness studio, it was kind of in my blood to live a healthy lifestyle. With that being said, I know that is not the case for everyone, which is one of the reasons why I became a personal trainer- to inspire people to enjoy fitness as much as I always have. While this is more challenging with some clients more than others, our first client of the week, Tiffany made my job incredibly easy!

Tiffany pics

Tiffany Duncan is a wife, mother of three boys and one of our fitness warriors at SD Evolution. Tiffany is 43 years old and what we like to call a “SuperMom“. She began training exclusively with Alessandra in September of 2014 and in just 6 months has gained strength not only physically , but mentally.Her passion and devotion to exercising and living a healthy lifestyle is inspiring…and that’s an understatement!

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After 6 months of learning the basics, acquiring great form and increasing her fitness level, Tiffany is ready for the next step. With a fat loss goal in mind, we have Tiffany on a Macro-based diet. What does this mean exactly? We have calculated her specific macronutrients for her body based on her age, gender, height, weight and current activity level which is 5 days per week. She trains with Alessandra twice per week currently and also participates in strength based classes at her local gym.

Tiffany’s goals for the next couple of months are to decrease her body fat percentage as mentioned, however with all clients we like to set goals that aren’t necessarily aesthetic as well. This could be anything from increasing your mile run time, increasing the weight of your squat, or even build the confidence to walk into the weight room!

Tiffany’s fitness-specific goal is to increase her upper body strength. She has never been able to do a pull-up or a perfect push-up (although her form has gotten a lot better since September!) so with those two specific athletic goals in mind we will get to work!

When working together we have Tiffany using the Power Amp xXx Flex Fast Cables from HumanX Gear which are available here—> HumanXGear’s Website. These resistance cables are so versatile- the amount of exercises you can perform with them is infinite which is why they are one of our favorite tools from HumanX Gear.  Since Tiffany wants to focus on upper body strength, we are going to be focusing on a variety of exercises including cable presses and rows to focus on the chest and upper back, cable curls and extensions to focus on the arms, lateral raises, front raises, band pull-aparts and upright rows to focus on the Deltoids or shoulders as well as a variety of partner exercises.

cables

We will keep you posted on Tiffany’s progress and show you what tools we are using to help her reach her goals!

 

Stay tuned!

 

Alessandra & Josh

Why I ditched my Heart Rate Monitor

Why I ditched my Heart Rate Monitor

HRM

In college when I became serious about my fitness journey for the first time, I invested in a cute, bright pink Polar Heart Rate Monitor to help keep track not only of my heart rate but of how many calories I was burning during my workouts. It soon became my best friend, if not part of my body- I rarely took off my new accessory. It was a great feeling to be working hard in the gym and SEEING how hard I was working on my watch. I remember feeling so proud of myself the first time I saw the numbers reach over 1,000. That feeling of accomplishment was what I proceeded to strive for every time I stepped foot in the gym. In fact, my workouts started to revolve around my watch. If I wasn’t burning enough calories, I would work out until I reached the goal I had set for myself in my head. I was constantly looking down at my watch during the two hours I would spend training.

Years went by and I started to lift heavy (watch stayed on), I started to train for half-marathons (watch stayed on), and trained for a bikini competition (watch definitely stayed on). This past summer when I moved to San Diego, I bought a bike and having that as my main form of transportation, I realized how obsessed I had become with tracking my calories. I couldn’t swing one foot over my bike without starting that watch up. One day while getting ready for a long internship day, I decided to leave my watch home. I biked to work freely, jumped in a class at Fitness Quest 10, and even did my own training later on that day- all free of the watch. So what happened?? Did I die without it? Did my workout suck? Actually….it was the opposite. I had one of the best workouts I have had in a very long time, I was happier, and most importantly, I felt free. I was no longer depending on technology. I was focused on my workout instead of a silly number and honestly, I think I was able to get a better workout without it.

Since that very day, my watch has been sitting in my drawer of my nightstand. I am in the best shape of my life, the strongest I have ever been, and most importantly the happiest. Why should we depend on caloric burn to make us feel better about ourselves? If you’re smart about your training, your workouts will be beneficial to your goals. Technology is an amazing thing especially for the fitness industry as it continues to grow, however too much of a good thing can certainly turn into a bad thing. If you find yourself frequently depending on your heart rate monitor and can’t remember a workout without it- I challenge you to a “naked” workout. Ditch the watch on your next run, lift or whatever your choice of exercise may be. Just allow your body to move, embrace your strength & who knows, you may not ever turn back!

 “Be stubborn about your goals, yet flexible about your methods.”

 

~Alessandra

10 Ways to Beat the Holiday Bulge: Part 1

10 Ways to Beat the Holiday Bulge: Part 1

Thanksgiving & Christmas have always been my favorite time of the year. This is the first time I will be away from my family for Thanksgiving but I could not be more excited to fly home to CT for 10 days for Christmas! Some of my best memories involve stuffing our Italian faces for Thanksgiving (3 or 4 courses usually!), baking Christmas cookies with my family, and of course enjoying my Grandmama’s world-famous Lasagna while eating Papa’s “Ta-ta’s” aka creamy mashed potatoes for dessert. I know I am the not only one who revolves the holidays around food so with the holidays vastly approaching (although it still feels like summer in San Diego!), I thought it would be a great idea to share simple ways you can stay healthy & happy this holiday season while still enjoying yourself.

The holidays are a time of happiness, sharing & caring. So why not care about something that allows you to be YOU every single day? Your BODY.

Here are 10 steps to a healthier, happier holiday

 

  1. When doing your holiday baking, swap unhealthy oils, butter & more for healthier options! You won’t taste the difference, I promise. Here’s my conversion chart.                healthy baking subs
  2. Practice portion control. We tend to over-eat by consuming extra large portions of our meals. Fill your dish with a balanced combination of protein, carbs & fats then skip out on seconds. There will always be more leftovers later, no need to stuff your stomach to capacity now.
  3. Indulge in your favorite dessert…in moderation. Cookies, cookies & more cookies. My house is filled with hundreds for the entire month of December! Pick a couple of your favorite and call it a day. No need to pig-out on every single dessert in the room.
  4. If you’re hosting a get-together at your own home, guess what? YOU control what types of food you serve. Opt for healthier options of your favorite meals. A healthy sweet potato dish will be just as tasty as one full of unnecessary fats, sugars & sweets. Do your research and check out my Pinterest Board for some ideas (Healthy Recipes)
  5. Make sure you continue to stay hydrated! It is so easy to skip this healthy tip especially when the weather gets cold! This will help flush out toxins and decrease the bloat from the treats you do enjoy.
  6. Fill your plate with equal to or more veggies than whatever else is on it. Many (including myself) tend to jump right to the potatoes, bread, turkey, ham and lasagna leaving no room for our favorite green friends. Don’t skimp on the greens as this will help with digestion.
  7. Get a workout in before the big feast! Head outdoors for a run, hit the gym if it’s open or find an open area in your house to get some plyos in. A 30 minute sweat sesh will make you feel energized and your holiday dinner can be a great refuel!
  8. Take it easy on the alcohol! Since your body can’t metabolize alcohol, everything else you consume while enjoying a drink or two gets put “on hold” until the alcohol is out of your body. Hello easy way to gain fat! Limit yourself to 1-2 drinks and try to avoid those sugary cocktails!
  9. Take a walk post-meal! Ever since I can remember after each round of Thanksgiving dinner my family would go for a walk around my Grandmother’s neighborhood. Not only is this great for digestion (as opposed to getting sucked into the couch) but you will feel so much better!
  10. Finally, don’t get too caught up in the holiday hustle. This is a time you should enjoy with your loved ones so if you end up having a few extra cookies, or too much lasagna…don’t hate yourself for it! You are human AND you know a great personal training company…hint hint 😉 www.sd-evolution.com for training plans!

With these thoughts kept in mind throughout the next two months, you can avoid extra weight-gain, holiday blues & that sick to your stomach feeling after consuming too much.

Remember, life is all about a healthy balance. Find what works for you!

~Alessandra

The Ultimate Guide to Chia & Flax Seed

The Ultimate Guide to Chia & Flax Seed

Yesterday was a total recovery day for me. I spent the evening re-aligning my goals, planning my weekly meals, & of course grocery shopping! I decided to look back on my logs in MyFitnessPal (I have been faithfully keeping track of my workouts and nutrition for a year now!) to see how much my goals have changed. I definitely am fully adapted and happy with clean eating while enjoying my weekly treats. My body has never felt better however I noticed two items that since moving to San Diego I have somehow forgotten about: Chia & Flax Seed.

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My Mom is a personal trainer back in CT so at home I had all of these healthy items readily available without really thinking about it. I used to consume both of these superfoods daily and to be honest, I was only NOW realizing how much of a difference they made in my life. I’m sure you’ve heard of both of these power foods before, but do you really know what they are? Do you know how they can benefit you? Most importantly, do you know how to incorporate them into your daily routine?

Lucky for you I am bringing you the ultimate guide to Chia Seeds & Flax Seed!

Before I tell you what to do with them, it’s SO important to know what exactly each of these dietary staples are.

The Chia Seed is actually a flowering plant from the mint family. (Fun fact: remember the Chia Pet?? Yup that grows from a Chia seed!) Chia means “strength” and contains healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrate & protein. They are an unprocessed whole-grain that the body is able to absorb.

The Flaxseed on the other hand cannot be digested by the human body in its full form so it much be purchased “ground” or done at home before consuming. Also rich in Omega-3’s, both seeds are great sources of fiber.

How can you benefit from taking Chia & Flax daily?

  • Feel fuller longer. Due to the fiber content (both soluble and insoluble), consuming these with a meal will help keep you feeling full and decrease blood sugar spikes.
  • Healthy skin & hair- thanks to the Omega-3’s!
  • Antioxidants- both are full of antioxidants while Flaxseed has more than any other whole food including blueberries!

Although these seeds are tiny, there is no doubt they are a superfood and can be added into the diet in so many ways! Here are my favorite ways to incorporate them:

  • Sprinkle on your  oats, cereal, yogurt or vegetables.
  • Blend in a protein shake or dissolve in a glass of water.
  • Bake in absolutely ANY treat for added nutritional value.

The options are endless when looking for ways to add Chia & Flax into your diet. One serving of each per day is recommended to benefit from these two power foods. I challenge you to pick some up from your local grocery store this week as one easy step to living a healthy lifestyle!

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step in your life.”

 

Happy hump day everyone! Only two more days to a well-deserved weekend 🙂

 

~Alessandra

 

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:

nobulk1

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!