One day I was at the gym on the StairMaster® and I saw this woman walk in front of me with the most beautiful, strong shoulders. I got off the StairMaster® and went up to her and said “You have beautiful shoulders”. She told me “Thank you, I do bikini body building competitions.” I was so interested that I got her number and we lifted the following week. I had lifted before then, but nothing like this. The next day I could hardly move my legs, sitting on the toilet hurt, and sleeping was uncomfortable. She inspired me to be a better version of myself. To be strong and confident, like she was. From that point forward, my life changed forever.
We all have those times when we think to ourselves, “I’m not (insert adjective here- smart, attractive, strong, thin) enough.” And while I like to think of myself as a very strong person, a recent experience really got me thinking about this whole business of self-doubt…
It’s been a year since I’ve weighed myself. Yep…an entire year.
You may recall an article I wrote last summer about weighing frequency, which went into detail about what the current literature supports for appropriate weighing frequency; including the physiological and psychological effects. At the end of that article I vowed not to weigh myself for an entire year in hopes of finding out what really makes me who I am (which is WAY more than just a number on the scale). I bet you’re curious to know how much I weigh now, right?
Oh Colorado how I’ve missed your beautiful scenery, fit-minded lifestyle, and most of all, really awesome people! Recently we were asked by Marissa of Barefootcolo.com to write a guest post for her blog followers. We think Marissa’s pretty damn cool (and super inspirational) so make sure to follow her on all her social media outlets for great fitness and health tips. Because we LOVE you all, we decided to share Chrissy’s post with all our Smart Fit Chicks followers as well. So here it is: 5 tips for improving self-esteem. ~KW
As many of our followers know, last summer Smart Fit Chicks did a crowdfunding project to raise money for the design and implementation of our after-school program for adolescent girls, called Smart Fit Girls. We are happy to announce that we’ve launched the pilot program and it’s off to a GREAT start!
We recently had a Facebook follower reach out with a great question we thought we’d address:
“I find that I learn better (read and retain more) and I perform better at work with consistent exercise. Ironically, my professional life has accelerated by devoting 1-2 hours in the gym and I FULLY believe it has to do with benefits of exercise. Am I crazy or is there a link?”
I grew up with dogs…nine of them to be exact (not all at the same time, although that would have been an adventure). Whether I was hugging my sheltie Danny, crying into his ball of fur about something mean my brother just said about me (sorry Matt), or chasing my dog Rueben across Clemson University after he jumped out of my sunroof while we were driving (yes this really happened). My life literally would not be the same without the dogs I’ve had, and currently have, in my life.
As you can tell, I’m somewhat of a “dog person”…and for good reason. In addition to their loving demeanor and ability to understand humans better than most other humans, dogs can actually make us healthier. Here’s why…
To weigh, or not to weigh, that is the question. Dorky introduction, but really…that’s what this article is all about. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me “how frequently should I weigh myself?”. I’ve always given the textbook answer of “find what works for you” or “everybody is different, so it depends”. Frustrating to hear, I’m sure. BUT…after reading some really interesting research articles, it seems my semi-vague answer is actually right (whoo hoo!). Based on the most recent literature, it appears that the effects (physical and psychological) of weighing oneself frequently is dependent on multiple factors.
One of the things I’ve been very interested in lately is something that many people have termed metabolic damage. Basically, this is the idea that by eating VERY low calorie diets (VLCD), a person can end up DESTROYING his/her metabolism. This has become of interest to me particularly after competing in my figure show back in August. After the competition (during which time I was on a relatively VLCD), I gained A LOT of weight back, VERY rapidly. Not only this, but once I started to try and diet again, it seemed that NO MATTER WHAT I tried, nothing was working. So, like any good Smart Fit Chick would do, I dug into the research to try and investigate whether this whole idea of “metabolic damage” was a real concept, or something I was using as an excuse for my weight gain.
Think back to your high school years. Think beyond the awful music, the reckless behaviors, and the young love. Specifically, think about how you perceived yourself at that time. Were you confident? Happy? Were you comfortable with who you were?
Last week, I shared my deepest, darkest secret with you all. I told you about ED, the terrible voice in my head that controls my eating and self-image… sometimes so much so, that I wonder how I’ve been this productive in my life.
As part of that post, I promised I’d continue to blog about him, about all that I’ve learned, how I view him, and what has helped me deal with him.
For those of you who know me well, you’re probably laughing right now, thinking “there goes Kellie again…ranting away”. And you’re right. However, this time I think my ranting may have a positive impact. You see, I could have easily titled this blog “rack your damn weights, you idiot”, but I didn’t. I’m being nice. You know why? As a director of a fitness facility, I’ve come to realize that there is a rather large segment of gym “goers” out there who don’t actually KNOW what is and is not normal behavior in the gym.
Hello SFC followers-
Today I’d like to give you a little update. For those of you who don’t know, I (Chrissy speaking) am competing in my first raw powerlifting meet in two weeks. What does this involve, you ask? Well, it involves doing a maximal lift on squat, bench press and deadlift. I’ve been training for this officially for about 6 weeks. I’ve been amazed to see the strength gains in this short time, thanks to programming by my good friend, Brian.
How many of you have found yourself spending countless repetitions on the ab/adductor machines (aka inner and outer thigh machines) in hopes of losing fat around your hips and upper thighs? Or maybe this sounds familiar: you want to get rid of your “jiggly back arm fat” (this has literally been said to me) so you do tons and tons of triceps work? This form of “training” is known as “spot reduction” training, and unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
HIIT– What is it? What does it do? How do you do it? Should you do it? If you are curious about any of these questions, read below.
1. What is it? HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is essentially a version of interval training, whereby you alternate short periods of nearly all-out exercise with longer, lower-intensity recovery periods.
2. What does it do? Well, studies have shown that performing anywhere from 4-12 weeks of HIIT has all sorts of beneficial effects on the body. Some of the more notable and widely accepted effects include increased VO2 max (a measure of aerobic capacity) and improvements in body composition (i.e., muscle gain and fat loss). Importantly, these effects are seen above and beyond traditional endurance training.
3. How do you do it? Well, it’s actually fairly simple (but let’s not confuse simple with easy). The nice thing is, it can be done using whatever aerobic exercise you choose (e.g., biking, road or stationary, elliptical, treadmill, stair master, or running outside). What you’ll do is warm-up, then alternate short, nearly all-out bursts of exercise with longer recovery periods, followed by a cool down. So, how long are the short and long periods? Well, there are really two types of HIIT you can perform. We’ll call one of them SIT (sprint interval training) and the other AIT (aerobic interval training). SIT involves bursts of all-out effort of approximately 30 seconds, followed by 2-5 minutes of lower intensity exercise. So, if you were doing this outside, you’d warmup by jogging for about 3 minutes, then do an all-out sprint for 30 seconds. Then, either walk or jog for another 2-5 minutes (depending on how long it takes until you feel recovered). AIT is different in that you perform longer bouts (about 4 minutes) of high-intensity exercise (as hard as you can go and maintain for the entire 4 minutes) and then back off for about the same amount of time. So if you were doing this on a spin bike, you’d warmup again, then up the intensity to about an 8.5-9 out of 10 for about 4 minutes. Then you’d back it off to about a 6-7 (out of 10) for about 4 minutes. Either way, studies suggest doing about 4-6 cycles of these will help you lose/maintain weight and improve your cardiovascular health.
4. Finally, should you do it?? Well, for those of us who are looking to reduce our body fat, or improve our aerobic fitness, it’s not a bad idea. Plus, could be a fun way to switch things up. Why else? As you can imagine, this tends to be a much faster way to improve your aerobic fitness. Some studies comparing steady state cardio (45 minutes) to SIT (3 minutes of ACTUAL sprinting, not including recovery time) have shown that just 3 working minutes of SIT results in greater body composition and aerobic fitness improvements compared to steady state. BUT, fair warning, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Nearly all-out bursts of highly intense exercise can result in burning (QUADS), cramping (SIDE), and crazy shortness of breath! As always, we recommend you consult with your doctor prior to engaging in any new exercise regimen.
Happy Friday everyone! I’m sure you all have fun, exciting plans for the weekend (go Broncos!), but,we want to remind you to Be the Best Version of You! There’s no doubt that you’ll be tempted to overeat or under exercise this weekend. How can you combat those urges? Pull up an old photo of yourself; one where you are healthy and happy. Post it where you’ll see it often, and use it as motivation and inspiration.
As an example, we’ve posted two photos of us during our competition. To answer your questions: no, we don’t look like this right now. Would it be nice to walk around this lean and tan all the time? Yes. BUT….I’m pretty sure our lower carb diet and sticky tans would ostracize us from all of our loved ones. Although we are currently living active and healthy lives, it’s nice to look back at photos when we were in our “prime”…just to give us an extra bit of motivation.
Are you motivated?
t’s Thanksgiving. One of the most celebrated holidays in American culture, and, for good reason. Most of us are off work, spending time with family and friends, and overindulging. Typically, this overindulgence is associated with the over consumption of foods, but if you think about it, most individuals “overindulge” in sedentary behavior too-particularly on Thanksgiving. These behaviors remind me of my favorite quote:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…we need not wait to see what others do.”
Many times in life, we allow our environment to change our behavior. Today, we challenge you to behave in a way that changes your environment. Be the person amongst your family and friends who initiates activity and healthy behaviors. Below are some fun ways to spend quality time with your loved ones while being active:
- Play a game. If you are lucky enough to live in warm weather (shout out to CA), bring the family outside for a game of touch football, 3 flies up, or to shoot some hoops. If you happen to be freezing, and therefore staying indoors, plug in the Wii or put on some great tunes and start your own dance party (you know you want to).
- Go for a walk or run. One of my favorite family traditions is getting up early Thanksgiving morning and participating in the Sacramento Run to Feed the Hungry race. Some of us run it, some of us walk it. Not interested in doing an organized race? That’s ok- just head outside before or after dinner and take a stroll with family or friends. Either way, it’s a wonderful way to bring everyone together.
- Clean the kitchen! You’d be amazed how many calories you can burn by staying in the kitchen after everyone eats and cleaning up (A 150 lb person burns over 150 calories per hour while washing dishes). Again-make this a family affair. Having the family help clean not only keeps them active (away from the couch) but it also allows for more time to socialize with one another.
- Play with your dog. If you have a dog, you know what it’s like to have them look up at you with those sad eyes, wishing you would play with them. So, rather than feeling bad and giving them a treat when they look at you like that (yes, we’ve all done that before), take them outside and throw the ball, go for walk, or simply stay inside and use their favorite toys to get everyone active.
Lastly, we’d just like to add how thankful we are to have such wonderful people around us. To our family, friends, and wonderful people who follow our blog, have a fantastic Thanksgiving. Remember, be the change you wish to see in this world!
We hear about it all the time, being overweight/obese puts you at risk for multiple chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (to name a few).
But, for some of us, these risks are not an immediate enough of a concern to really do something about it. We may think we’re immune to these problems, or that we have plenty of time to make changes. But the truth is, the damage we do to our bodies now by carrying around excess body weight can be permanent. And sometimes, once these processes have started in your body, there’s no turning back, and the damage continues to worsen. So, today I’d like to describe for you some of the things that are going on, both inside and out, when we carry around excess body fat.
To start, here is the (shortened) laundry list of things that are associated with excess body fat:
Heart attacks, cancer (specifically breast, lung, prostate, colon, ovarian, liver, pancreatic, kidney, stomach and others), asthma, sleep apnea, reproduction (specifically infertility- any of you ladies trying to become pregnant?), menstrual disorders, complications during pregnancy, birth defects, stretch marks (no one wants to deal with these!), hirsutism (if you don’t know what that one is, I’d look it up!), acid reflux, stroke, migraine (my primary deterrent), carpal tunnel disease, dementia, MS, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, buried penis (I realize many of you are female, but I’d check that one out anyway!), depression (specifically in women), low self-esteem, social stigma, arthritis (once this process starts, there’s not much going back), low back pain, and insulin resistance (this is bad for SO many reasons…in fact we’ll make a separate post dedicated solely to diabetes).
Whew…and that was the shortened list! When I look at that, I see more than a few things that resonate with me. Then when I add in a family history of multiple types of cancer and diabetes (putting me at an increased risk!) well that’s enough motivation for me to try REALLY hard to keep excess body fat off my frame.
Do you find yourself reading that list thinking “I definitely DON’T want to get __________”? Well, then my suggestion to you is to do what you can to either lose excess body fat, or simply prevent any unhealthy weight gain.
Need suggestions as to how to do that? That’s why we’re here. As always, feel free to email us at email@example.com with your questions/suggestions/ideas! We love to hear from you!
I’d like to start this out by having you all read an interesting article that came across my email. As many of you know, the population with whom I primarily work is children. More specifically, I measure their physical activity levels, and the lab where I work is trying to come up with novel ways to encourage more activity.
So go ahead and read this article…
Ok, now I want to know your thoughts.
This is a short (cursing removed) version of how my thought process went-
When are we going to start WAKING up and doing something about this?! It’s so unfair that children so young are already being setup for lifelong health and self-esteem issues at such a young age. The worst part is that most of the time, it’s through no fault of their own! Their WHOLE LIVES are going to be affected by something they had NO CONTROL OVER in the first place!!!
Ok, enough venting. Now here’s the difficult part. First of all, I wonder- Who is responsible? Is it parents? Fast food restaurants? Schools? Teachers, friends, family, society?
More, importantly, whose responsibility is it to change things? Yours? Mine? Parents? Teachers? Society? Do we all have a role to play in getting things to change? And HOW do we get things to change? Write letters to local school boards? Put a tax on junk food? Practice what we preach?
I am taking a fascinating class right now on diet and physical activity in a social ecological model. The take home message thus far- our behaviors are influenced not only on an individual level, but are also influenced by social, environmental and policy factors as well.
So, to get change to happen, ALL levels MUST get involved and be structured in a way that is conducive to making healthy behaviors last. If we’re talking about food in schools, for example, it would look something like this:
First, there is a policy in place that requires school lunch to include fresh fruit and a veggie everyday. Then, kids vote on which fruits and veggies to offer so they have a say in the decision. Kids are taught about the importance of healthy eating to fuel their bodies so they can play harder and longer. Then, teachers reinforce these behaviors through modeling. Teachers eat healthy foods for snack and lunch. They are active with the kids during recess, and encourage all kids to get moving. The school store starts selling healthy options as well. There is a no soda/energy drink/sweetened beverage policy, allowing only water and milk to be consumed during the school day. Class parties shift from cupcakes to make your own fruit and yogurt parfait, or away from food completely. Kids get to have a finger-paint party…or an extra recess. Again, the shift has to take place on the individual, social, environmental and policy level.
So, now I am curious…What do you think??? How do we go about changing other environments? How about your workplace? Your school? Your home?
Let us know your thoughts via facebook or leave a comment here:) You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chrissy- A (VERY FIRED UP) Smart Fit Chick
We’ve seen them before: falsely inflated promises by some fitness or nutrition company, claiming their product will change your life. Unfortunately, our industry is flooded with ill advice, often confusing consumers of what is actually healthy. So…how do you know what to listen to or trust?
First: Read the fine print. At the bottom of almost every advertisement, there are some important details consumers should read regarding the product. If you haven’t already heard, there is a new weight loss system called SENSA®, “which was designed to work with your sense of smell to help trigger Sensory Specific Satiety”. Although they claim “the scientific principle behind SENSA® is remarkably simple”, they don’t want you to know the fine print they legally have to include at the bottom of the advertisement: “Some Sensa users depicted lost more than 30.5lbs by using Sensa longer than 6 months and/or following a sensible diet and/or exercise regimen.” The key here being, “and/or”…which implies that all individuals who lost weight did so by increasing their activity levels and improving their diet…NOT through Sensa alone.
Second: Listen/read carefully. A recent commercial was released for 5 hour energy, where they claimed that “Of the 500 online and 2,500 in-person [physician interviews], over 73% said they would recommend a low calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements.” If you are like most people, and multitasking while watching TV, you may have missed the most important part of this statement: “who use energy supplements”. Of course the physicians are going to recommend the lower calorie option to their patients…figuring that if their patient is going to use energy supplements, at least they can buy the lower calorie options, making it a slightly “healthier” choice.
Third: Check their sources. Most companies have caught on and know that if they claim that their product is backed by research, they will be more profitable. You’ll commonly hear companies using catchy phrases such as “a recent university study showed”, which is unfortunately, a really good marketing tool. Most people will hear this and think, “if a University supports this product, I don’t see why I can’t”. The problem with most of those studies is the quality of the research. With a sample size of 10 and volunteers being made up of mostly young, healthy, college students, it’s hard to claim the results will be similar in other populations. Even worse, if a product doesn’t provide any research to support their claims, then that should tell you something (i.e. it may not be a good idea to use this product).
Fourth: Think critically. Simply put-if a product seems too good to be true, it probably is. The “shake weight” is a great, hilarious might I add, example of a product that is too good to be true. With claims such as “get results in just six minutes a day”, it’s no one people are interested in trying the product. Anytime a company offers a “quick fix”, the general public will be tempted to buy it. BUT….don’t be fooled. Good old fashioned weight lifting can give you the same results with half the embarrassment.
Hopefully we’ve given you a few tips on how to sift through the plethora of fitness information that you come across. If you’ve been following Smart Fit Chicks, you know that it is our mission to provide research based health and fitness information to the general public, with a particular focus on females. In other words, we want to help clear up an otherwise confusing field. With that said, any time you have a topic you’d like discussed or question you want answered, contact us-we’d love to hear from you!