Thursday, July 16, 2015

Abs Workout At Your Level

Early on in my training career, I heard another personal trainer state that you are only as strong as your core. What he meant was that in the gym you have a bench that provides you lumbar support, but in everyday life you don't have a bench to support you when you lift something heavy.  Your core is the bench. Your biceps might be huge, but if you have a weak core you are at risk to injure yourself when you lift something cumbersome outside of the gym. I'm not knocking large biceps. If the sun's out, guns out! Just make sure you have the strong core to match. 

Allow me to elaborate on what the core actually entails. It's not just the rectus abdominus (the six-pack). The core is actually, as many would argue, everything except your limbs. Another way of looking at it is the core includes all the muscles that support your posture. This includes the abs, of course! However, we must not forget about the obliques, the transverse abdominus (underneath the six-pack, deeper towards the spine), the erector spinae (lower back), the glutes, the multifidi along the spine, the pecs, the traps, the rhomboids, the lats, and the shoulder girdle..... OH MY!

Without launching into an anatomy lesson, let me just skip to the moral of the story. Don't skip planks! The plank hold, when performed correctly, activates the core muscles. Keep those muscles activated throughout your strength training workouts to protect your back. If you do nothing else, then at least start doing planks! I will admit they are my nemesis. I do not enjoy them, but I still do them. They are necessary!

I have put together three "ab" videos so that you can choose the appropriate video based on your fitness level. I snuck some overall core work in there, too! All you need is an exercise mat, preferably a cushioned one. 

If you are a beginner, then start with level one. Go at your own pace, and take rest when you need it.

If level one doesn't challenge you, then move to level two. Remember that if it doesn't challenge you, then it doesn't change you.

If you have been working out regularly for awhile and need more of a challenge, then try level three. 

No matter what level you are at, please exercise caution. Listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, then don't do it. Don't try to work through lower back pain. If you are feeling fatigue or pain in your lower back, then modify as needed. Always protect your back. Don't try to progress too fast. The key is to be able to do these exercises with great precision and control. Consistency is vital to achieve results, and it is impossible to have consistency if you injure yourself.  Be patient and keep working!

As I mentioned earlier, abs can be made in your living room and uncovered in the kitchen. I'm excited to announce that I now offer meal planning. If you've already got a six pack, but you need help with your diet to uncover those rock-hard abs, then check out my meal planning options.  Contact me for a FREE consultation at

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Diet Tips for Local Dining

Garlic Grilled Cheese at the Eden Alley Cafe on the Plaza

I have found that one of the obstacles with calorie counting is that I like to eat at local restaurants that do not have that information available. Many of my clients face the same issue. I plan on being a foodie for life so how can I eat the fresh, local cuisine without crashing my diet? I actually started writing an e-mail to answer that question for a client before realizing it was turning into a blogpost! 

For dining out locally, I would suggest starting with a salad to load up on vegetables before your entree. Also, make sure you finish a full glass of water.  This will do a few things:

1. The fiber + H2O combo will help your stomach feel full.

2. If your blood sugar is low it will help it normalize before the calorie-packed entree arrives, so that you don't feel like you are starving.

3. If you haven't been good about getting your vegetables in during the day, then it will give you a big dose of them to make up for that.

4. The fat from the salad dressing will activate your CCK hormone (it takes 20 minutes, and tells your brain that you are full, and it is activated by fat).

Try to choose wisely for your entree. Look for lean cuts of meat like sirloin, filet mignon, pork loin, pork chops. Order fish or chicken breast, but be careful on sauces. Skip rich sauces that contain a lot of butter or cheese. When in doubt, ask your server. Pay attention to how menu items are prepared. Opt for items that are grilled, broiled, roasted, baked, steamed, poached, or braised. Try to stay away from fried foods. If something is sauteed, then ask your server what the item is sauteed in, butter, olive oil, etc. Ask for a lighter preparation if available.

Try to get in the habit of eating only half to 3/4 of your entree, and save the leftovers for lunch the following day. Sometimes this is difficult so you have stay mindful of your goals, and change your thought process. Replace the urge to clean your plate with the following mindset:

1. If it's so delicious that you want to finish it, then remind yourself how awesome it will be to have it again the next day. 

2. It will also save you the trouble of prepping your lunch. 

3. It's economical. You get your money's worth when you get two meals out of it for the price of one.

4. When you have no idea what the calorie content is of what your eating, you can still rest assured that by splitting the meal that you split the calories too.

5. Feeling bloated, stuffed, and (even worse) ashamed is no picnic. Eating lighter feels better physically and mentally. Knowing that you are working to accomplish your goal of eating healthy produces a positive mental outlook that transfers to better self-esteem.

Please share your nutrition/diet tips for dining out locally in the comments! Let's crush our goals together!

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On-site Personal Training & Nutrition Coaching in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I offer personal training at your home or work site. I also offer personalized online nutrition plans and corporate wellness programs. Contact me at with any questions.