How To Eat Carbs and Still Lose Weight

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Carbs DO NOT make us fat or cause weight gain.

I know this goes against a lot of trendy information circulating in the fitness world, but there’s a lot of science to back this up!

Our bodies run on sugar and carbs, so when you consume a very low carb diet (also known as a ketogenic diet), it puts a lot of stress on your liver and kidneys to process all the protein and fat you’re consuming.  Our organs are meant to process primarily carbs, so a typical diet should consist of 50% carbs every day.

This is not a free pass to eat donuts all the time!

The quality of carbs you eat definitely matters.  Let’s take it back to school here for a minute.  There are two kinds of carbs, simple and complex.  All carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules, but the difference between simple and complex carbs is the number of molecules that join to form a carbohydrate.

Simple carbs are made of just a few molecules while complex carbs consist of hundreds or even thousands of sugar molecules.  This makes simple carbs quick and easy to digest.  Quicker digestion means you’ll get hungry faster, which means you’ll have to eat more frequently to feel full.  Complex carbs are harder to digest, so you’ll feel full longer and they’ll give you sustainable energy.

Why Complex Carbs

Complex carbohydrates are high in fiber and nutrients, which is an important reason to include them in your diet.  When you cut them from your diet, the lack of fiber can cause digestive problems, making it very difficult to go to the bathroom.  Not only that, excluding them from your diet also means you’re missing out on important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs.  

If you eat a very low carb diet, your liver and kidneys will be under stress, and this results in YOU being under stress.  You’ll feel tired, bloated, constipated and hungry.  

Complex Carbs to Eat

  • Green leafy veggies
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • Potatoes (sweet and white—eat the skins, too!)
  • Low glycemic fruits, like berries

Even though a ketogenic diet isn’t good for your body long term, cycling your carbs is an effective way to get the benefits of a low-carb diet without eliminating carbs.

Why Carb Cycling

Carb cycling is an intentional variation of carb intake throughout the week.  I recommend 2 low carb days every week, paired with high intensity cardio.  This helps you burn through any leftover glycogen (sugars) in the muscles so your body can burn fat.  This is exceptionally effective for fat loss, which also makes it exceptionally effective for weight loss.

This is one of the components I teach my clients in the FASTer Way To Fat Loss, and they’ve seen incredible results!  The best part is, I teach you how to incorporate it into your lifestyle so you can still enjoy desserts and even alcohol.

How To Carb Cycle

If you’d like to learn more about carb cycling and how to pair it with intermittent fasting, tracking your macronutrients, and performing highly effective exercise, then check out the FASTer Way To Fat Loss.  It’s truly the most effective program on the market!  You’ll spend 6 weeks with me online learning and implementing these strategies and you’ll see the best, most sustainable results you’ve ever had.  

Losing body fat isn’t difficult as long as you know the correct strategies to implement and follow the science behind them.  Carbs are an important part of your diet and critical to living your healthiest life.

My next round of FASTer Way To Fat Loss starts prep week on Monday, March 26. I would love to see you there!

My Top 3 Functional Exercises (that will help you look and feel great)

What is a functional exercise, anyway?

I consider a functional exercise to be one that works with a movement pattern that we use all the time, helps correct imbalances in that movement pattern, and builds strength. Other people may define that differently, but this is my definition. If it doesn't work with a common movement pattern, doesn't help correct imbalances, and doesn't build strength, it ain't functional.

And what is a common movement pattern?

A common movement pattern is one that we do as part of our basic daily lives. The big ones for me are:

  1. Sitting down and standing up. - We use this one often - getting out of bed, up from a seat, down and up from the toilet.
  2. Kneeling down and standing up, climbing up and down. - Also used often - kneeling down and standing up, climbing up and down stairs or ladders, getting in and out of SUVs.
  3. Pushing things away, or using upper body to help with 1 and 2. - Your upper body can help stop you from falling by pushing you away from the ground, help push things away from you, and help lift things.

My top 3 functional exercises

1. Squats

Squats are the workhorses of the workout world, They help us stand up from sitting, deep sustained squats help build collagen in the hip joints, they help tone our butts, calves, and thighs, and they work core stability. 

If your knees bother you, I recommend doing squats as sitting and standing, literally, with a chair behind you. Sit down and stand up, and repeat it several times. 

There are many versions of squats - front squats, plie squats, jump squats, pistol squats, Bulgarian split squats (which is also, arguably, a lunge)....

In Pilates we have footwork, standing footwork, the standing 2x4 work, sitting down and standing up from the mat, the russian squats (with pistol squat variation) on the reformer and with arm springs, the centering exercise on the ped-o-pul, seated leg pumping on the chairs, and the wall sit.

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2. Lunges

Kneeling down and standing up, climbing up and down stairs, climbing up and down ladders, and even getting in and out of an SUV involve lunging. I would start with walking lunges, then back lunges, side lunges, and then more complex moves like the curtsy lunge. A step up and down is another version of lunging. And lunges strengthen your core and tone your thighs, calves, and butts. 

In Pilates we have many lunges! Standing arm weight lunge series and arm spring lunge series, the splits on the reformer (especially Russian splits), going up front and side plus mountain climber on the chairs.

3. Push Ups

Since push ups involve plank (front support) with a controlled pushing and scapular stability and mobility, they are perfect for building core and upper body strength in a way needed to help us break a fall or push away from someone or something. Combined with the first two, we have the ability to push ourselves up from the ground to one knee and actually stand up. 

Push ups are also very amenable to modifications and variations. You can make them easier by separating your feet, bending knees, elevating your upper body, or shortening your range of motion. You can also easily make push ups harder by bringing feet together, straightening legs, elevating feet, or increasing range of motion. You can also alter hand/elbow positions to target triceps or chest more.

In Pilates we have Push ups on everything. Mat push ups, reformer push ups, and chair push ups, just to name a few.

I did a Facebook Live video about this topic yesterday. You can watch that here.

FASTer Way To Fat Loss features functional exercises 

If you are looking for a fat loss program that works through whole foods, functional exercise, and cutting edge nutrition and workout strategies, FASTer Way To Fat Loss is for you. This is, hands down, the best program on the market for a healthier you.

And if you are reading this on 2/25, it is the final call for my group that starts Week 1 tomorrow - Register Now. 

If you are reading this after 2/25, registration is open for the group starting 3/19.

Register for FASTer Way To Fat Loss here.

In and Up Diastasis Repair also features functional exercises

Moms need to sit and stand, kneel and stand, and climb around with their little ones. They also need to stabilize their spines and torsos to lift heavy children and play around.

For Moms with Diastasis Recti, all of these movements can be hard. My In and Up Diastasis Repair Program features functional exercises presented in a gradual way that will help heal your diastasis without surgery.

Register now for the In and Up group that starts tomorrow, 2/26!

Why You Aren't Losing Fat (the answer will surprise you)

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1. Your body will hold onto fat if it thinks you are starving

Fat storage is a main way that our body holds onto energy for later. While most of us know that our bodies store excess calories as fat, you may not realize that if you eat too little, your body will hold onto that stored fat as long as it can, in case you start to starve.

To get your body to let go of that stored fat, you must give it all the calories and nourishment it needs. You can use a free app (I like My Fitness Pal) to plug in your height, weight, and activity level to see how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight, as well as lose weight.

2. Your body will keep fat if you are eating all the time

As many of you may know, I am huge proponent of Intermittent Fasting (IF) as part of an all-over weight and fat loss strategy. I used to eat all the time. Small snacks starting with an early breakfast to "start my metabolism" and eating every 3-4 hours from there. And no matter how how much I exercised, or how low my calories, I didn't lose fat.

Why? Because I was never in digestive rest, where our bodies really do use the nutrients we are eating, as well as repair and restore for the next day. I now practice a 16/8 IF schedule, where I eat 8 hours out of the day. This takes some planning, as I need to fit in all my calories and nutrients within that 8 hour window. But it saves me having to deal with snacks and packing food all day!

3. If you are always hungry, you are not eating enough!

A few of my friends shared with me that they "tried Intermittent Fasting" but stopped because they were so hungry. This is most often due to not eating enough in your eating window, and to not getting the right balance of nutrients.

For example, I need to eat 1950 calories per day to maintain my weight. So when I break my fast, I start with a protein shake (especially if I am running around). Then a large salad with chicken, avocado, nuts, some fruit, and an oil & vinegar-based dressing. For supper I will have another large meal, say some steak, rice or potatoes, and lots of vegetables. Then for dessert I will often have berries with greek yogurt or cultured cottage cheese and a few dark chocolate chips.

When I eat less, or don't get all my nutrients in (enough protein, carbs, and fat), I wake up hungry. For more information about Intermittent Fasting and being hungry, watch this video on my Facebook page.

And, if you are ready to get healthy and start losing fat now, my next FASTer Way To Fat Loss group starts prep week on Monday 2/19. Registration is open now! Click here to register.

Deep Core Strength Shown to Prevent Back Pain

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People Feel & Function Better When They Do Pilates

We in Pilates have been talking about back pain and exercise for decades. And while a whole host of anecdotal evidence does point to the deep core strengthening of Pilates as a huge help in preventing and treating back pain, the scientific evidence has been scant.

The connection between Pilates and less back pain is clear to me. It seems obvious to me that if you strengthen pelvic and shoulder stability, and strengthen deepest as well as more superficial layers of muscle, you are in a better position to withstand higher impact activities without fear of back injury and pain.

And, guess what? Not only is it clear to me, it's true!

A new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and published in the Journal of Biomechanics, examines what may cause chronic back pain in runners and what exercises may help. Basically, runners with weak deep core muscles are at higher risk of developing low back pain. "[W]eak deep core muscles force more superficial muscles like the abs to work harder and reach fatigue faster. When those superficial muscles are doing the work the deep core should be doing, there are often painful consequences."

It is not the six-pack that matters, but what is underneath it. And that is what we teach in Pilates!

Back Pain and the Opioid Epidemic

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Some Facts on Back Pain:

I was reading some statistics today on back pain, especially on the connection between back pain and the current opioid crisis we are having here in the US. Things are really quite scary! 

1. Almost Everyone Experiences Bad Back Pain

Yes, that's right, 80% of Americans experience back pain, and of those, 70% have bad enough pain that they go to the doctor. Statistically, more women than men seek treatment (which given my own experience with my husband, is not surprising, as he hates to go the doctor).

2. Back Pain Is One Of the Most Expensive Health Problems

Lower back pain alone accounts for 2-3% of all doctor visits. While that percentage seems low, it is higher than visits for allergies and the common cold! Between physicians, PTs, and pharmacies, the cost adds up to about $30 billion per year!

3. Treatment Costs Go Up, but Outcomes Haven't Improved

Most disturbing is the fact that as treatment costs go up, patient outcomes stay exactly the same. Why?

Because the costs are mostly for pain medications, which include fentanyl (which killed Prince) and Oxycontin (which most recently killed Tom Petty). And pain medications don't fix your back pain, they just numb you and turn you into an addict.

What Can You Do About Back Pain?

If the medical establishment is not helping people with back pain, and is in fact contributing to the opioid problem by simply giving people pain pills, what else can you do? Just suffer? As you might imagine, I have some ideas.

1. You Gotta Move!

One thing that we know improves peoples' back pain is properly done exercise to maintain appropriate spine positioning and posture. The less we sit, the more we move, and the more we move well, the better we feel. 

2. You Need To Chill Sometimes

There is a stress component to back pain, no doubt about it. We overwork and overworry. Take a bath, do a meditation class, take some deep breaths. But spend some time unplugged and relax!

3. Strengthen Your Deep Abdominal and Back Muscles 

Recent studies show that deep core strength helps us stabilize our spines both in movement and against load. In my humble opinion, Pilates is one of the best exercise modalities for this. 

Back Pain Resources 

1. Free Back Pain Resources

I have two free videos for you. The first is about how to stabilize your back and pelvis:

and the second is about Pilates Fundamentals to Eliminate Lower Back Pain:

2. Low-cost Resources

All of my Pilates Audios will help you reduce or alleviate lower back pain. They are 30 minute Pilates exercise routines that, if done regularly, really will help your back pain. Price? $20 each for something you can use daily, and easily travel with.

Click here to check out Pilates Audios

3. Higher-cost Resources

My two top resources for back pain are the Pilates for Back Pain eCourse and an Online Private Lesson.

The $97 eCourse is a comprehensive guide to using the full PIlates mat repertoire to eliminate your back pain, including an ebook with photos, audio workouts, and explanatory videos that break everything down for you. Weeks of content!

Click here for more about Pilates for Back Pain eCourse

An online private with me will allow me to see how you move and give you more specific recommendations for your particular back pain issue. A 55 minute session, which includes the video for you to watch and re-use, is $120 (Pilates pro discounts and package pricing available.

Click here to book an Online Pilates session

Any questions? Contact me and I will help you out!

 

Stop doing crunches if you want to flatten your stomach!

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That’s right.  Stop doing crunches if you want to flatten your stomach!

Sounds a little crazy, but it’s true!  

If you’ve already read the 5 Dos and Don’ts, then you know crunches are the LAST thing you want to do for your “baby pooch.”

Sounds counterintuitive, right?

Let me explain.  If you’re dealing with ab separation, you need to encourage your muscles to come in and up.  When you do crunches, you’re pushing your muscles down and out– the opposite of a flattening effect!

The problem is, if you hire a personal trainer to help you tighten your tummy, I can almost guarantee they won’t know the proper procedures for Diastasis Recti (DR).  Most people simply aren’t educated about it.  What’s more, you need to take a slow, gentle approach because your body is still healing.  

You wouldn’t hit it hard in the gym right after surgery because you need to allow your body time to heal.  Well, you’re still healing from having your baby, so be careful and gentle with your body.  If you choose to work with a trainer, make sure they are qualified to deal with DR.

If you want to start the healing process safely and naturally with a qualified expert, I’m happy to tell you about my new program called In And Up!

In And Up is specifically designed to guide you through the process of healing your Diastasis Recti at home. No surgery. No gym time.

This six-week online program will give you the guidance you need to heal, and I’ll be with you every step of the way through our private Facebook group! Click below for more info and to register.

Join me for the next round of in and up!

Registration will close soon, so don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Pelvic Floor Health and Why So Many Adults Pee Our Pants

Am I really writing one of my last blog posts of 2017 about urinary incontinence? Yes, I am!

I was at CVS the other day, and happened to run through the underwear protection aisle (I lump all pad products, whether they be for menstrual blood or urine, together as underwear protection). Since my hysterectomy 21 years ago, I haven't needed to frequent that aisle, so I hadn't quite noticed the proliferation of new products geared to adults with urinary incontinence.

I mean, there were more products of the adult diaper variety than of the maxi pad variety.

Or, to be perfectly blunt, more adults are accidentally peeing their pants now then they were 20 years ago. And that should be of concern.

I. Your Pelvic Floor Is Part of Your Core

With all the discussions of core strength and debates over bracing vs. scooping in the fitness and Pilates worlds, you would think that all trainers are intimately acquainted with the basic structure of the "core". You would be wrong!

And with all of the adult diaper-type pads and pull-ups, you would think that people would be concerned that their pelvic floors are clearly not working. But no, we seem to just accept it and add more products to our weekly pharmacy spend.

II. Not All Core Exercises or Programs Are Good for Your Pelvic Floor

There is the rub! If you bear down too much doing any exercise, including ab work, you will be straining your pelvic floor muscles, not strengthening them. This includes sit ups, planks, and bridges, as well as yoga and Pilates exercises.

And heavy weight training, CrossFit or Olympic-style, almost always causes pelvic floor strain from inhaling and bearing down. Peeing while lifting, in some circles, is actually considered a badge of honor. 

III. Having A Baby Weakens Your Pelvic Floor

Why, oh why will obstetricians not discuss this? Even a perfectly healthy and easy vaginal birth will affect your pelvic floor, and a more difficult birth or very heavy baby will mess with you even with a cesarean.

But if you are still leaking urine a year later, that is a problem. Proper breathing and engagement of the pelvic floor in specific exercises will help. My In and Up! diastasis recti program is also great for Pelvic Floor strengthening independent of DR. 

A Final Note on Urinary Incontinence...

Peeing your pants is really not OK for grownups who are otherwise healthy. It really isn't! While Kegels are always useful, it also importance to work your pelvic floor while moving in varied positions, so you can learn to hold it in when you sneeze, run, pick up something heavy (including a child), and stand up. You ultimately need to work supine, prone, on your sides, sitting, and standing to increase functional pelvic floor strength.

Click here for more on breathing and your core.

Click here for more about Diastasis Recti, pelvic floor, and Pilates.

If you find yourself spending extra money on pads and special underwear to absorb leaking urine, I invite you to try my In and Up! program. Whether or not you have a diastasis, it will help!

The next round starts January 22. I would love to see you there!