I’ve heard some people call Nov-Dec “Eating Season” because of the holidays and the countless gatherings, social events, etc that tend to happen in this time
It seems like all we do is eat.
For two months – non stop
When I worked at a school, there was food around everywhere this time of year. In the Teachers Lounge, in the Office, in MY Office. Students would even bring me food.
The week before winter break the administration at the school used to walk to every staff member’s room with trays of cookies, pastries, and all kinds of tasty stuff.
You want to partake, but you don’t want to get off track with your training and nutrition goals.
This can be a stressful time for some. However, you can enjoy this time of year and still make progress towards your fitness goals.
A couple of quick tips to enjoy yourself and keep progressing through “Eating Season”:
✅ If you know you are going to a holiday function that evening, save up some of your daily calories for that gathering. Eat much lighter leading up to it then you might otherwise. do. Some people eat very little or even completely fast prior to a gathering. Either way, you will bank some calories that you can “spend” that night
✅Try eating some protein before you go to that function. Eating protein will take the edge off your hunger, and will probably keep you from overloading your plate too much.
✅Keep an eye on the alcohol consumption. I am not saying don’t have a drink, but the more you do drink, the more the “munchies” tend to set in, which means the more calories you will most likely consume.
✅Continue to be active – Schedules can get crazy this time of year, but its really important to keep working out – whether that is going to the gym, walking, running, biking, or even fitting in a quick workout at home, keep it up!
I think THE most important thing to do is,…. listen carefully,……
Let yourself enjoy this time of year WITHOUT feeling guilty about it. Period. Go to the party, try some of these strategies, enjoy yourself, and get back on track the next day. That’s all it takes. It’s simple.
The holidays can be stressful for a number of reasons – just don’t let you worrying about going to a party and how it will affect your progress, be one of them.
Keep everything in perspective – keep your goals in your sight.
Most importantly, enjoy the journey
Protein is a huge point of discussion in the fitness world. There is so much information out there it can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing.
Let’s simplify it all. Everything you need to know about protein right here.
What is Protein?
Protein is made up of amino acids which our body needs to function. Protein is considered a macronutrient – a nutrient that your body needs a lot of. The other two macronutrients your body needs are carbohydrates and fat. The term “Macros” refers to Protein, Carbohydrates and fats
Since there are macronutrients, there are also micronutrients. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals – nutrients that the body only needs small amounts of
Why is protein so important? Or in other words, how is Protein going to help me lose fat?
- Protein curbs hunger. It will keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time . You won’t be thinking about reaching for that bag of chips and will be saving calories. Fewer calories = weight loss
- Protein requires more energy to digest – you will burn more calories digesting protein than the other macronutrients.
- Protein is the foundation for building lean muscle. So why is building lean muscle so important – especially as we get older? When you are in a caloric deficit (consuming less calories than your body needs) your body will go to stored fat as its energy source (Good!!) But your body could also go to muscle mass for its energy source (Bad!!) Consuming adequate amounts of protein will help to preserve muscle mass and keep the body using stored fat as its energy source. Boom! The more muscle mass we have the more efficient our body becomes at burning calories. As we get older we tend to start losing muscle mass anyway, so protein plays a huge role in maintaining and adding to what we have
- If your goal is to get stronger and build lean muscle mass, protein is NOT an option – it is a requirement.
Other Reasons to Consume more Protein:
+Helps maintain bone mass which can = lower risk of osteoporosis
+Protein is not only an important building block for muscles and bones, but also for cartilage, and skin
+There are studies that show that protein can help lower blood pressure and LDL and Triglycerides (1)
+Can help your body with repairing injuries
How much Protein should I Consume?
There are a lot of varying factors, but as a general rule .7 – 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a great place to start. If you are very active and strength train a lot, maybe a little more. If your aren’t as active (yet 😉) maybe a little less.
If you have significant weight to lose, starting with 1.0 grams of protein per pound of desired body weight.
Consuming too much of anything can cause weight gain. Tracking your protein and calories is a great way to stay on top of it. Tracking is not as hard as you might think, and it is an effective way to meet you calorie and protein goals
Most people are falling short on protein intake – especially as they get older. If you were to just change one thing about your nutrition right now, track your protein, and get it to.7- 1.0 grams per pound of body weight. Just changing that you will notice:
✔️ You will stay fuller longer
✔️You will save on calories as a result which can = weight loss!!
✔️You find your “afternoon crashes” will go away
✔️Less late night snacking desire
What foods are high in Protein – A simple go-to list
Chicken Eggs Beans
Turkey Greek Yogurt Protein Shakes
Beef Cottage Cheese
-Protein is one of our body’s building blocks – it essential for our body to function
-Will help you stay fuller longer, will build muscles, and bones
-.7 – 1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight an amount to aim for
-Try tracking your calorie and protein intake to stay on track
Protein does not have to be confusing. Well planned protein and calorie goals along with following a well designed exercise program can make all the difference.
Still have questions? Shoot me an email : firstname.lastname@example.org
I just finished a 4 week Intermittent Fasting/Rapid Fat Loss program through my coach. Not only had I never done anything like this before in my whole life, I wasn’t sure what IF stood for!
Before I get into my journey, let me just put this out – my goal here is to tell you about my journey with IF, how it worked, and what I learned along the way.
What the hell is that?
Well, as I learned, IF is having specific windows of time where you can eat, and specific windows of time where you don’t eat. As was quickly pointed out to me, this doesn’t mean you can go on a 10 hour eating binge during your “eating window” and eat whatever and however much I wanted.
I was given specific calorie and protein goals that I was to meet for each day.
In simple terms, the explanation of what IF is: the body uses recently digested food for energy, and during your fasted state, there is no recently digested food to use, so your body is more likely to use fat stored in your body as its energy source, therefore potentially burning more fat. Who doesn’t like that?
The Rapid Fat Loss part of this was 2 weeks of alternating one super low calorie day with 2 days of increased calories (just low calorie as opposed to super low is how I differentiated this in my head).
The next obvious question is why. Why did I do this? I didn’t really have any weight loss/fat loss goals, so why would I even do this? After talking to my coach and learning more about this, I wanted to try this for 2 main reasons:
- To go through this process to see what it was like in hopes that I could better help others if they wanted to go through the process or a similar process
2. I wanted to see if I could “lean up” some more – get “cut”. In other words, I wanted to see what this could do to my body from an aesthetic point of view.
My Program In a nutshell:
- 4 Weeks – Alternating one Rapid Fat Loss week with an Intermittent Fasting Week
- Daily calorie and protein goals that would fluctuate
- During the IF week – eating window was between 10am-8pm
- Tracked Calories and protein every day – did not track carbs, fat
Here are the 5 things I learned about IF:
1, It’s not for Everyone
Make no mistake, this was hard – really hard. Between doing the math for calories and protein, being hungry on the low calorie days, and then trying to eat enough calories and protein on higher calorie days, this was not easy. Mindset is everything for this – I mean everything. You need to buy in 100%.
You will be hungry. I did not like being hungry, but guess what? I survived. I didn’t die. It’s ok to be hungry. Just think of it as your body at work.
2. You need to be organized
Or, at least I needed to be organized. When I made up my mind to do this, I decided to make a list of my protein “go-to’s” with the calories for each and the protein content for each. I also made a list of other foods I would incorporate and the calorie/protein content of those.
I kept my menu items pretty basic – didn’t want to have to think too much about what to eat. Not a lot of variety, but that worked for me. Kept it simple.
I historically have not been a “tracker” – I hated the thought of tracking calories and protein, and would get overwhelmed by that thought, but reluctantly, decided if this was going to work for me, I HAD to track.
I tracked everything in a master spreadsheet each day. This was huge, and nothing short of a miracle, as I am not a “spreadsheet girl” by any means, but it helped me see each day as it was unfolding, and I was able to quickly see my calorie and protein counts as I was progressing.
As a result of my planning and tracking efforts, I was able to enjoy a Happy Hour almost every week. I just planned ahead and built it in as a part of my daily calories.
Tracking wasn’t as hard as I had told myself it was going to be. It worked and helped me meet my calorie/protein goals every day.
3. Black coffee is not all THAT bad
I have never been a black coffee drinker. I like a splash of milk and even a bit of sweetener.
My Mom (who is the Black Coffee QUEEN) once told me that if you don’t drink your coffee black, you aren’t a “True” coffee drinker.
Well, Mom, I have joined the ranks.
On fasting days when I couldn’t eat before 10 am and I was up at 6 am, the only thing I could do is drink no calorie drinks until my eating window opened up. I needed my coffee, so a relationship was started.
I was actually pleasantly surprised. I think it depends on the type of coffee you get, but it worked for me!
4. Protein is King
Keeping up with protein intake is what makes this whole thing work. I wanted to continue to get stronger, and gain lean muscle throughout this process, and making sure I was getting enough protein was the only way it was going to happen. 130 grams of protein minimum (1g per pound of my body weight) seemed like a ton, and I thought that was going to be difficult.
The list of protein dense go-to foods came in handy and helped me plan out what I was going to eat to get to that 130g minimum goal. Most days I surpassed that goal by a good amount – only on one day did I not meet my protein goal, and that was when I was traveling.
Here is the basic list of foods that I used:
|Eggs – cooked, hardboiled||Spinach|
|Protein Shake||Brussel Sprouts|
Some other protein foods were added in along the way, but those in the chart were primarily what I built menus off of. Not a lot of variety for sure, but I purposefully kept this simple.
The difference in how my body looks today I attribute to my consistent protein intake. The protein also helped ward off hunger on the lower calorie days.
5. Energy Levels Change – Affected Everything
My energy level was crazy high throughout, and I have been a ton more productive as a result
To me, having increased energy seemed counterintuitive. The less “fuel” on board I had, the less energy I should have is how I thought about it.
But the reality was that my body was using less energy to digest and metabolize foods (fasted state) so more energy for me!
My strength kept climbing as well. I had one of the best months of strength training that I have ever had. And that is even with recovering from a bought of tendonitis in my elbow.
I have slept much better this month, which was huge. I also didn’t experience ANY afternoon “crashes” where my energy level would tank.
My body has changed – a lot. I have lost weight – have no idea how much – didn’t go into this concerned about weight so didn’t weigh myself before – wish I had. My guess is I have lost 8-10 pounds.
I didn’t have an “official” before picture, but the picture on the left was taken just before I started, and the picture on the right was taken on my last day of IF. They aren’t the same pose, but you can definitely see differences. I know you can’t see the abs on the left, but trust me, they weren’t there like they are on the right – not even close.
I have also lost fat – I can tell by using the good old “scientific method” of how clothes fit and how I feel (the BEST method in my opinion)- Clothes fit GREAT and I feel GREAT. Doesn’t get any better than that!
- I CAN manipulate my nutrition and see the results!! Being able to do this is so EMPOWERING. Especially for someone who is 56 years old. It tells me that its not too late to change what you don’t like about how you look or how you feel.
- I need to keep better track of my protein intake while in maintenance mode. I was falling terribly short, and meeting my protein goals every day has made such a huge difference.
- You don’t have to just accept that “this is the way it is” with regards to how you look or feel. Put in the work, and you can do anything!!
Mindset is EVERYTHING. This was hard – really hard at times, and without 100% buy-in and determination, I wouldn’t have made it.
And finally, even though it was not easy, and it took some organization and planning, IF was a great experience and worked well for me. It may be the perfect nutrition tool for you, or it may not be the right tool for you. If you do try IF, drop me an email and let me know how it goes!
Here’s to you and your continued strength!
Lunges -The Good, The Potential Bad, and the Fix
I love lunges. I love teaching people how to lunge. And I really love seeing people’s faces when they do lunges correctly!
Why are lunges so good anyway?
Lunges are one of the best single leg exercises to build strength, muscle, and therefore burn fat. Unilateral exercises (single leg) also help build stability and control. Here are some other reasons:
-Activates your glutes – who doesn’t like that?
-Helps improve balance
-Works core stability
-Works Hip Flexor Flexibility
However, Lunges, if not done correctly, can wreak havoc on your knees.
So, how do I do lunges?
I like to start people on reverse lunges. Reverse lunges help keep the front leg/knee /heel in a strong position.
1. Start with feet together – take a step back – it may take a few tries to find that sweet spot for your perfect distance back. Make sure your front heel is planted firmly into the ground, and you are up on your back toes (as opposed to your back foot being flat)
2. Come down into that firmly planted front heel by bending the front knee, while also bending that back knee and sending it towards the ground. Add a slight forward lean (only slight) to help solidify that front heel into the ground.
3. Press down through the front heel to bring the back leg forward to the starting position – You will feel your glutes light up.
Is balance an issue?
If balance is an issue, take your step back a little bit wider as opposed to straight back. A wider base gives you more stability. You can also lightly place your hand on something for a little extra stability – no death grips though. 😁
Moving Forward….. Literally….
Once reverse lunges are solid, time to try them forward. The problem with forward lunges, is momentum tends to take you out of that front heel, which can translate into a lot of stress on your knees.
Biggest mistake people make: coming down into the lunge before the front heel is planted into the ground. Here’s the fix:
Think of a forward lunge as a 4 step process:
1. Take a step forward
2. BEFORE coming down into the lunge, shift your weight back into your front heel
3. Go down into that firmly placed front heel with a very slight forward lean to solidify weight over that heel
4. Push up from that front heel to bring your back leg to the starting position. Try not to propel yourself by pushing off the back leg. If you don’t feel that in your glutes, you are probably pushing off the back foot.
Have bad knees? Lunges still don’t feel right for you? There are modifications for you too!!
1.Stationary split squats (lunges)
These are good because you don’t have to take that step forward or back which can cause a wobbly knee. Get into the stance, come down into the lunge (left) and come up (right). Go back down/back up.
2. Forward leaning Anterior Lunge Thanks to Nick Tumminello for this great modification!
These have even less stress on the knee! By leaning over, keeping your back straight(left), the front leg is still loaded, but their is not as much stress on the knee. Push off the front heel and end up in starting position. These can be performed stationary or they can travel forward.
Everyone can lunge!!
Try working lunges into your workouts! Start with just body weight , and gradually add load.
Have any questions? Send me an email (email@example.com) or leave a question in the comment section
I Have No Idea What To Do When I Get To The Gym……
You head to the gym and you are ready to hit it hard.
You walk in the door, totally pumped up to workout
You start looking around, stop dead in your tracks
You have no idea where to start/what to do.
You can’t remember much of anything that you did in your last training session
You watched some things on youtube, but can’t remember a single one of them right now.
After spending a good deal of time trying to recall or come up with a game plan, you get on the elliptical. And there you stay…..
Has this or something similar ever happened to you? You have no idea what to do ?
It is almost overwhelming.
Have no fear – its not as complicated as you might think..
Build Your Own Circuit(s)
First of all, what is a circuit anyway?
A circuit is a series of exercises put together that are performed one right after another with little to no rest until the last exercise in the circuit. Circuits can be based on repetitions or time or both.
There are many ways to construct circuits but for now we are going to focus on a basic formula.
Basic Circuit Formula:
1. Upper Body Exercise
2. Lower Body Exercise
3. Core Exercise
4. Cardio Interval
Now, plug in some exercises :
1. Upper Body exercise – push ups 8-12 Reps or 1 min
2. Lower body exercise – Goblet squats 8-12 reps or 1 min
3. Core exercise – Plank with a DB shift 8-12 reps ea side or 1 min
4. Cardio interval – jumping rope 1 min
5. Rest 1 min
Perform exercise #1, #2, #3 #4 and then rest (#5)
Really pressed for time? You can add even more intensity to your workout, combine the upper and lower body exercises. This more advanced three-part circuit formula is more demanding by combining an upper body and lower body exercise. It will definitely challenge your cardiovascular system as well.
1. Upper and Lower Body Exercise
2. Core Exercise
3. Cardio Interval
1. Upper and lower body exercise – DB Thrusters 8-12 reps or 1 min
2. Core Exercise -Spiderman planks 8-12 reps ea side or 1 min
3. Cardio interval – Rowing – 1 min
4. Rest 1 min
What Exercises should I use?
Keep them simple – simple works.
There are many MANY different exercises you can use – here is a simple list just to get you started:
Lower Body: Squats (and variations), Deadlifts (and variations) lunges, Step Ups
Upper Body: Push ups, Bench Press, Chin Ups (can be band or machine assist )Rows, Overhead press, Biceps, Triceps
Core: Planks (and variations), stability ball roll outs, Reverse curls, Pallof Press
Cardio Interval: Running, rowing, Cycling, High knees, anything to spike the heart rate
- Always have a plan before you go to your gym. Always. You will be way more productive.
2. Don’t over-complicate things. Keep it simple.
3. Determine how much time you have to work out that day
4. Construct your circuits, get to the gym and go kill it!!
Any Questions? Shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
People assume I was an athlete growing up because I am a trainer now. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I did not work out, did not eat “healthy” or even thought about either of those things growing up.
I was a musician – that was my talent and that was my focus. In college I was a music education major and the only working out I did was walking from one class to another. I got my first teaching job in Culpepper, VA and while there dabbled in “aerobics classes” – and I am talking Aerobics from the early 80’s – you can probably get the visual….
After getting married, I put on a lot of weight. I was totally ashamed. I hated to shop for clothes – especially buying jeans – nothing ever fit right. you know,….ok in the waist and super tight in the hips. It was one frustration after another. I bought clothes as large as I could get away with because I felt horrible about how I looked
I ended up going to Jenny Craig (which was pretty new back then) and actually lost almost 50 pounds. But over time, I ultimately gained a good deal of it back.
Soon thereafter I joined a gym and just took some classes. They were a lot of fun and there was a social component, so that kept me going back. I was watching one of the trainers work with people and thought “I want to work with him” and I did. David was my very first strength trainer. I loved it. I loved how it made me feel, and more importantly how it was making me look. The change had begun.
We moved to a different area and I joined another gym. I started with a different trainer, and he pushed me even more and worked on the nutrition piece which was the game changer for me. I began loving working out and getting strong. I could see the results and others could as well.
I loved it so much I decided to get certified as a trainer myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and started training people only part time as I was a school counselor full time. Things were going well….
Then I entered my fifties….life started to take some not-so-great turns (as it always can). I watched as my Dad’s health declined – a gradual decline at first then it picked up speed like he was in the Daytona 500. Caring for two elderly parents is no easy task on a good day, but that was what was in front of me. That was in addition to being a full time school counselor, a part time trainer, and the chief operating officer of my high school son’s crazy band schedule which included being the race director of a large 5K/10K road race to benefit the band.
I still tried to workout, but honestly, my focus was on everyone else – my parents, my son, my husband, my students, and my clients – not myself. Stress was at a record high, I was not eating as well as I should have been, and I definitely was not sleeping as well as I should have been. My Dad passed away, and I was at an all-time low. Didn’t realize it at the time, but I didn’t really care about much of anything except my family, and trying to keep my mom going who was by herself for the first time in her life. But I kept telling myself, this is how it is, nothing I can do….
Even so, I thought I was working out enough, I thought I was eating “healthy”, and I ultimately thought it was all a losing battle.
Boy was I wrong.
And all the while this was going on, my body started to change again – and not for the better. I had gained weight, especially in that dreaded mid-section and hip area that most women around my age complain of. I convinced myself that there was nothing I could do about it – it was “that time of your life” where Mother Nature rages WWIII on your body. I was just going to have to accept it and move on… Once again I was wrong.
I joined a new gym closer to my house thinking this was the answer. A new gym = a new me, but I still wasn’t very motivated. I was given several free PT sessions as a new member, and thought, “whatever… I am already a trainer – don’t need them”, but they talked me into it. I was matched up with a trainer named Ryan, and that’s when things started to turn around.
Ryan and I clicked. …. He took me over to the squat rack and there it all began. After a few months, the fire was lit again, and I started working super hard but most importantly, I started caring again. I was motivated and it felt great. When I wasn’t training with him, I was in the gym myself putting in the work myself. Over the course of several months, I dropped 25 pounds.
Fast Forward 18 months, I have retired from the school system, I am growing my online training business, and I have a training business set up with Ryan at my former school. I look back at that tough time and realized just how far in the hole I was. You never really know how deep in the hole you are until you are out of it looking back in.
I wanted to take another step in my fitness journey, so I contacted Jordan Syatt who I had been following, and who was recommended to me by a friend/colleague. Jordan decided to take me on as one of his one on one online training clients, and off we went. I was terrified. I had never done anything quite like this before, and like everything else, wanted to make sure I did it well. I had a TON of questions for Jordan at every turn at the beginning, and he patiently answered all of them. I kept plugging away and worked my ass off. I have been training with Jordan now for almost 6 months. The changes are nothing short of miraculous.
I have gotten so much stronger and have finally conquered being able to do chin ups which is something that has alluded me for years. But the most amazing change has been my mindset. My mindset about everything – training myself, training other people, and most importantly how I feel about myself.
So much of training revolves around a person’s mindset, and mine has totally changed. Not only am I stronger, but I am more confident, I am smarter, and I am in the best place I think I have ever been in my life.
The moral of my story is that it is never too late to achieve your fitness goals – or any goal for that matter. I am now 56 years old.
It takes hard work, but it can be done. Put in the work and you will see the changes start to happen. It will be SO worth it. I guarantee it. Don’t let anything get in the way of your goals. Nothing. Not one thing. I didn’t. YOU CAN DO THIS!!
Hi Everyone! Welcome to my website Susan Niebergall Fitness! This is where you can learn about my online coaching program, get valuable fitness and nutrition information , and hear about my visits to James Madison Univ to visit my college freshman, my coffee addiction, and a whole lot of other fun stuff! Hope you will be a frequent visitor!