The Lingo

For many new gym goers, the gym can be an intimidating place trying to learn how all the machines work and then there are all these terms that you start hearing. The following are some of the most common terms you might hear when weight training. It may also give you some ideas of how to mix up your routine.

Superset: A superset is when an individual does one lifting movement and then immediately does another movement for a different body part. Example: Push ups then right into squats.

Compound Sets: This is when one does two movements in a row for the same body part. Example: Leg curls right into stiff leg deadlifts.

Giant Sets: Giant sets are performed when an individual completes more than two movements in a row without rest. Example: Wide grip pulldowns, crunches, then squat jumps.

Concentric: This is the “positive” movement of the exercise. Example: the curling up when completing a dumbbell curl or the pressing down when completing and tricep pushdown.

Eccentric: This is the “negative” portion of the exercise. Example: straightening the arms after curling them in a bicep curl.

Isometric: There is no movement during and isometric exercise. Example: a plank or a wall sit.

1RM: This is an individual’s one rep max. This is the maximum amount of weight one can lift in a single repetition for a given exercise.

Drop sets: This is when an individual will take the amount of weight they are lifting and lower it by a percentage in order to complete more reps. Example: Bench press 100lbs for 10 reps then drop the weight 20% for 10 more reps.

Forced Reps: These are reps that require a spotter-someone to help watch your form and lift the weight for you if you can not. A forced rep would require the spotter to help the individual lift the weight once he/she feels they have reached failure in order to get more reps.

Plyometrics “plyos”: a type of exercise training that recruits the fast twitch muscle fibers the body uses for explosiveness and heavy lifting. Often times one thinks of jumping when it comes to plyos. Plyometrics can also be done for the upper body. Push ups, barbell curls, pull ups, push press and various other upper body movements can be done with the plyometric style.


There are a few things that I have learned during the past few years that have changed my life with regards to fitness and nutrition. One of the most important life changing ways of thinking for me is to eat consciously, especially when it comes to the bad calories and junk foods.

I guess I am somewhat of a control freak… just ask my husband. So when it comes to eating, I give myself a cheat day. As a stay at home mom, control is somewhat of a luxury, as most of my day is filled with the chaos of kids. I CAN control my food, however. So, I choose a day to cheat. Lately, it has been once or twice a month, but it can change as plans change. Sometimes it may be as often as once a week.

All week, I stick to eating healthy and eating about 1400 calories. I try not do not deviate at all, not even a bite, because I know that soon I can eat whatever I want.

Today was my cheat day. I love Costco Pizza, and I have been looking forward to it all week. So when I got to Costco this afternoon and ordered my pizza, I couldn’t wait to “dig in”. As I ate consciously and paid attention to every bite, I began to realize that this pizza had probably been sitting under the heat lamp for sometime. I asked myself, as I always do when I am cheating, is this the best pizza I have ever tasted? The answer was a clear NO… not even close. I had eaten at least half of it, but threw the other half away. There was no way I was going to waste my cheat day and all those bad calories on a mediocre slice of pizza.

If I am going to eat junk food or something truly decadent, it better be the absolute best thing I have tasted. I make it count, and I don’t regret it because I know that I really enjoyed what I have just consumed. The other day was not my cheat day, but my husband brought home a few slices of red velvet cake that one of his employees had made. I took one taste to see if it was worth saving for my cheat day. This cake was THE MOST AMAZING CAKE I have ever tasted… and I know cake!

I decided that I didn’t want to refrigerate it for a few days, because it would definitely lose that freshness. I ate all three slices right then and there. Best decision I have ever made. No regrets, no guilt. Now I just need to figure out how to get another one of those cakes!

Even if the cheat day strategy sounds crazy to you, and is not suited to your lifestyle, eating consciously must be a part of every diet. Don’t be the one who sits in front of the TV and polishes off a bag of Doritos, and then wonders where they all went.

If you are going to eat junk food, make sure it is out of pure indulgence and delight. Make sure it is your most favorite food that you may only get once and awhile, or you have a serious craving for something specific. However, if you start to eat and it isn’t absolutely delicious, don’t waste the calories on something that isn’t the best… i.e. old Costco Pizza, stale cookies, wilty french fries, overcooked anything. You get the point.

Conscious Eating: mentally choosing what and how much food you eat and being in a conscious state, right before, during, and right after you eat.

Kids Can’t Eat What is Not There

The last few months I have noticed a down hill spiral of eating habits in our house. Breakfasts and snacks became a free for all of low nutrient, high fat, high calorie foods. (Lunches were packed healthy, and dinners became the only really healthy meal that the kids would eat at home) I was guilty of buying too many snacky foods, which became the kids first choice. This of course led to lots of battles.

I decided to throw out every snack food that was unhealthy and replace everything with healthy choices. Not a single unhealthy snack left in our house. But, I did tell the kids that they can have one day a week where they can choose a treat.

It is going on three weeks now, and the kids have not complained once about their snacks and food options. I am kind of surprised, as I thought for sure I would hear a lot of whining about nothing “good to eat”. The best part is that the kids are chowing on all the healthy stuff and loving it.

Kids, especially younger ones, will eat mostly what’s available at home. That’s why it’s important to control the supply lines — the foods that you serve for meals and have on hand for snacks. Kids can’t eat what is not there. A side bonus is that you will not be tempted by your kids snacks.

Here are some basic tips that are great for kids but also for parents:

1. Work fruits and vegetables into the daily routine, aiming for the goal of at least five servings a day. Be sure you serve fruit or vegetables at every meal.

2. Make it easy for kids to choose healthy snacks by keeping fruits and vegetables on hand and ready to eat. Other good snacks that my kids love include low-fat yogurt blended with some low fat milk to make a shake/smoothie, peanut butter and capples or celery, or whole-grain crackers and cheese.

3. Serve lean meats and other good sources of protein, such as fish, eggs, beans, and nuts.Choose whole-grain breads and cereals so kids get more fiber. Don’t be fooled by kids’ cereal marketing. Read the ingredients.

4. Limit fat intake by avoiding deep-fried foods and choosing healthier cooking methods, such as broiling, grilling, roasting, and steaming. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products.

5. Limit fast food and low-nutrient snacks, such as chips and candy. But don’t completely ban their favorite snacks. Instead, make them a special treat, so kids don’t feel deprived.

6. Limit sugary drinks, such as soda, juice, and fruit-flavored drinks. Serve water and low-fat milk instead


A healthy body works more efficiently, and here is the best part…a healthy body loses weight more easily and more efficiently than an unhealthy body.

This is why nutrition is so important for weight management as well as general health. There is a definite difference between a healthy diet and a weight loss diet. However, if you want to take baby steps, start on a healthy diet and don’t worry about calorie counting. You will actually feel fuller because of the healthy foods your are eating, so your calories will naturally be lower. Once you get in the habit of healthy eating and you make a conscious effort to reduce your calories, the weight will fly off.

It’s worth remembering that 20 minerals, 13 vitamins and fiber (none of which contain any calories) are essential for health. Their presence or absence can also change the rate at which energy is produced or calories burned. When foods cannot be metabolised properly because they lack the necessary minerals and vitamins, their energy becomes unavailable to our body and is stored as fat until we get the necessary minerals and vitamins at some later time. In the meantime we feel hungry and eat more. This too turns into fat unless minerals and vitamins are also provided.

When you choose NutrientDense Foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, oily fish, oats, beans, nuts and seeds, and avoid wasting your daily calorie allowance on “empty-calorie-foods” (which contain calories but no nutrition), like regular sodas, alcohol, sweets and candy, you will get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet which creates a healthy body which makes weight loss easier.

A Snack for Every Taste Bud

I was fortunate to be contacted by a rep for glenny’s . Truthfully, I had never heard of the company before, but I am always willing to try products and write about it on my blog.

glenny’s started back in 1979, and this is their pitch…”glenny’s low-fat, low-calorie, and high-fiber snacks are the perfect choice for any diet. They are specially formulated to provide you with energy and nutrition you need between meals. Simply put, our nutritious and delicious snacks will keep you satisfied, so you can eat less between meals, and stick to your diet plan! We offer a variety of snacks each with your enjoyment and nutrition needs in mind.”

One thing I know is that any time I’m ‘dieting’ or trying a new eating strategy, it’s nice to have snacky foods to munch on from time to time.

I received a big box of glenny’s snacks, and everyone in my family was ready to dive right in. Before we opened the snacks, I had my daughter create a spread sheet of sorts, so that any time someone took a taste of one of the snacks, their opinion had to be recorded. Not entirely scientific, but this plan worked for us. Even when my kids had friends over, they wouldn’t let them try a glenny’s unless they promised of an honest critique.

I will start with the Stars of the Show:

  1. The two best were Soy Crisp Barbeque and Soy Crisp Ranch. The adults loved the barbeque, and the kids wanted to make sure they got the ranch packed in their lunches, which in our house is a big deal.



  2. Next on the super yummy list was the Soy Chips Aged Yellow Cheddar. It received high marks and “delicious” from kids and adults. They were packed with cheddar flavor.
  3. The brownies were amazing. They tasted EXACTLY like a moist, chocolaty brownie. How is this only 100 calories? Best of all, it was a good size brownie. Not just a bite.
  4. My kids LOVE rice crispy treats, so when I gave them the glenny’s version, I was apprehensive. They are kind of Rice Cereal Treat aficionados. Glenny’s passed with flying colors. The texture wasn’t as dense, and it seemed a little sweeter, but all and all it was a great substitute.
  5. Another one of my favorites was the Whole Fruit and Nut Bars. If you like dried fruit, you will love this bar. It’s a dried fruit palooza packed with flavor. I wish the bar was slightly bigger, though.

    Fruit and Nut

    Fruit and Nut

Now for the Runner ups:

  1. The Easy Peasy barbeque had a much milder bbq flavor than the Soy Crisp, so this may be a good alternative for those who don’t like that ‘in your face’ barbeque flavor. One comment my husband had was that the chip should at least be a barbeque color.
  2. The Easy Peasy Parmesan and Olive Oil was a good cracker, but the flavor was a little too mild for most of us.


And the not so great flavors:

  1. Any of the Sea Salt versions were just plain blah. Not bad, but no taste to speak of.
  2. The Easy Peasy Chili Lime was kind of weird. The lime flavor hit first but tasted more like lime soap. This part was not good. But then the chili flavor hit with a POW of heat. This part was good, but very spicy.
  3. The Quinoa and Kale options were all graded bland at best.

So, there you have it. The thing I really like about glenny’s is that there is something for everyone and every taste bud. In addition, my family does not have any restrictions when it comes to diet. But for those families that do need to carefully select ingredients, glenny’s offers a wide range of “XXX Free” foods.

Keepin It Simple – 4 Easy Ways to Stay on Track in 2015

keep it simple

Happy New Year! and Happy New Year Resolutions! What will it be this year? Losing weight, gaining health, getting fit, building muscle, exercise more, eat less. Whatever your goals, one of the best strategies for success is  to Keep It Simple.

Here are my four favorite tips for any health and fitness related goals –

1.  Don’t Stress Out!  Stressing out about “how bad” you ate over the last 4 days, or how little you exercised is NOT going to help you lose the weight.  Nope, in fact, stress can make you hold onto more fat and pounds.  So stop it!  Move forward and don’t look back at what you did or didn’t do last week or weekend.

2.  Exercise with intensity!  Workout hard!  It doesn’t have to be long, it just needs to be intense.  And who wants to spend hours exercising anyway? I was so busy with kids this week, I only got 10-20 minute at the gym each day. I made sure my intensity was maxed out, and I feel like I got a good, all be it short, workout.

3.  Drink water like it’s your job!  Yes, down that water to flush out what you are retaining from any over-indulgent eating.  Salt, alcohol, and excess sugar can lead to a lot of bloat, so drink your water to flush it out! Who cares if you go to the bathroom 12 times a day?

4.  Just eat sensibly.  Eat your lean proteins, high fiber foods, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats.  It won’t take many days to see the changes.

Roll Back The Years With Healthy Teeth


I am pleased to have Darla Scheidt, Marketing Director at Grove Dental Associates, as my guest poster again. Need a New Year’s Resolution? How about looking younger with a brighter, whiter smile. Whiter teeth are just a few steps away. Read on for great tips from Darla….

A smile might be worth a thousand words, but a smile that shows dingy, stained or chipped teeth can convey a message that you might not want to send. Your smile is one of the first things people notice when they meet you for the first time — and first impressions are formed very quickly. If you instantly want to impress others with your youthful look and your fantastic smile, you’re going to want to make sure your teeth are white, bright and healthy-looking!

 YOUR TEETH CAN REVEAL YOUR TRUE AGE. No matter how much money you spend on anti-wrinkle cream, vitamins and even cosmetic surgery, your true age can easily be revealed by the look of your teeth. Over the course of your lifetime, your teeth may gradually become stained, dull or chipped. Not only can your teeth add years to your appearance, they can also cause others to believe that you neglect your oral health. This can lead to embarrassment and might cause you to refrain from smiling.

If your teeth are showing the inevitable signs of aging, it’s time to figure out how to roll back the years by establishing oral health practices and doing what is necessary to restore your white, sparkly and beautiful teeth. You will look years younger and you will undoubtedly feel more vibrant.


START WITH DAILY BRUSHING AND FLOSSIING. The absolute most important thing you can do for your teeth is brush and floss them every day. Believe it or not, many people neglect this simple routine practice — even though brushing and flossing only takes a few minutes. Whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush is not as important as making sure your teeth are brushed every morning and every evening. Daily flossing is just as essential to maintain the health of your teeth.

 MAKE SURE TO RINSE YOUR MOUTH WITH WATER AFTER EATING AND DRINKING. After you drink a cup of coffee or red wine, or after you eat any type of food that can cause staining, make sure you rinse your mouth with water. (If you can brush your teeth after eating or drinking, that’s even better!) When you rinse your mouth, you minimize the risk of staining your teeth. Rinsing is also a good way to prevent tooth decay.

VISIT YOUR DENTIST TWICE A YEAR FOR A PROFESSIONAL CLEANING AND ORAL EVALUATION. Dental professionals recommend that you have a professional teeth cleaning and oral evaluation twice a year. A professional cleaning allows a dental hygienist to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, and also includes a polishing treatment. During your bi-annual dental visit, a dentist will examine your teeth and gums and ensure that everything is healthy. If a dental problem is discovered, it’s important to have it fixed as quickly as possible in order to prevent additional problems.

 HAVE YOUR TEETH WHITENED. If your teeth have a yellow, brown, blue or purple hue, you may be able to whiten your teeth with an over-the-counter teeth whitening system. If an at-home whitening system is not effective, most dentists offer teeth whitening services in their office. Such procedures are usually quick and painless.


CONSIDER OTHER COSMETIC DENTAL PROCEDURES. Your dentist has the ability to improve the appearance of your teeth with various cosmetic dental procedures. Some of the most common include porcelain dental veneers, tooth bonding, crowns, bridges, dental implants and more. Make sure to ask your dentist about the available dental procedures that will work best for you.

Remember, your teeth and your smile are a focal point on your face. Therefore, you want to make sure your teeth look as youthful as possible so that you convey a healthy and vibrant appearance. Make people underestimate your age by keeping your teeth bright and shining.



Author Bio:

Darla Scheidt is the Marketing Director at Grove Dental Associates. Grove Dental is a successful multi-office, multi-specialty group dental practice in the Chicago western suburbs.  With four offices, more than 30 doctors and having been in practice for more than 40 years, they have been able to stay on the cutting edge of dentistry to better serve each one of their patients.



The Flex Belt – Friend or Foe?

I have never been aCAM00244c big fan of fitness equipment fads. I go with the tried and true free weights and running through my neighborhood. With that said, when I was contacted by The Flex Belt representative to try out the company’s product, how could I resist. I get a free Flex Belt to try, and then I just have to write an honest review.

So, we all have those things that we hold to be true, and two of my biggies (when it comes to fitness) are that 6 pack abs are made in the kitchen more so than the gym. Of course it’s important to work out your abdominals to build those muscles, but unless you have a healthy diet and lose some of your abdominal fat, all that ab work will never show itself. Secondly, I don’t feel like I have had a great workout unless I am sore the next day. This second one may or may not be scientifically true, but in my mind it’s true for me.

So here are the pros and cons –


1. It’s easy to use once all the pads are in place. Don’t get intimidated by the pads… they are a bit sticky. Be sure to read the directions.

2. There are so many intensity levels of muscle contraction, it seems unlikely to get maxed out or outgrow the belt’s scope for a strong ab workout. The belt has longevity of usefulness.


4. I can wear it around the house while playing with the kids, cooking dinner, chores, or whatever.

5. It comes with a convenient carry case.

6. I don’t have to take time at the gym to work abs, and it works all abdominal muscles, so there is no need to do three different exercises to get this result. .. which translates to a shorter work out or more time for other muscles groups.


CAM00243CAM00248 CAM00247




1. It’s a bit pricey.

2. The directions indicate that if you have a belly button ring, you must take it out. This may or may not be an issue for ring wearers.

3. The belt is set up for only one individual to wear… can’t be shared with other family members.

4. I haven’t had to replace them yet, but additional gel pads must be ordered – (the belt includes the first set)


So, The Flex Belt claims that it will stimulate all your major stomach muscles at the same time providing you with the perfect abdominal contraction – that means your upper abs, the lower abs and even your obliques are going to get worked from The Flex Belt… and it does all the work for you. From what I have experienced this claim holds true. Will it give you a six pack abs? It may, but you won’t see that six pack reveal itself unless (or until) you also have a diet that contributes to shedding belly fat. Will I continue to use my Flex Belt… YES!

For additional information on The Flex Belt, check out this link!

Big Props for the Park -6 Exercises Using a Park Bench

In honor of the start of fall, I want to give props to the park bench.
Here are a few ideas to get a great workout without having to go any farther than your neighborhood park:
1. Bench jumps
  • Start by squaring up your shoulders to the bench and slightly bending your knees.
  • With both legs, jump up onto the bench and try to land in the same position from which you started.
  • Jump back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Try to do three sets of 10 jumps to get started.







2. Incline push-ups

  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the bench, and put your feet back into a plank position.
  • As you do a push-up, make sure to keep your back and neck in line with each other to prevent any strain on your neck.
  • Reverse your position for a more challenging option.













3. Bulgarian split squats

  • Start by facing away from the bench.
  • Move your left foot back and lift it up onto the bench with your right foot still underneath you.
  • Slowly bend your right leg into a 90-degree angle. “Avoid bringing your knee over your toe and turning your hips,” said Kensie Noble, senior in kinesiology and president of Alliance for Health and Fitness Professionals Club.
  • Come back up to your starting position. That’s one rep. Try to finish two sets of 10 on each leg.








4. Step-ups

  • Face the bench with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put your right foot onto the bench.
  • As you come to the top, drive your left knee into your chest before stepping back down.
  • Do 10 reps on each leg for three rounds.








5. Side Step-ups

  • Stand parallel to the bench
  • Using your inside leg, step up onto the bench and drive the opposite knee upward.
  • Do 10 step-ups on each leg for three rounds.

6. Tricep Dips

  • Sit on the bench and position your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the seat.
  • With your legs extended out in front of you, scoot your butt off the seat so that your hands are the only thing touching the bench.
  • While keeping your back straight and close to the bench, use your arms to slowly lower yourself until your elbows are around a 90-degree angle.
  • Press down into the bench to raise yourself back to the starting position.
  • That’s one rep. Try to complete two sets of 15.







With all of these exercises, make sure that you are using good form to prevent injuries. Put some headphones in or grab a friend, and go enjoy the great outdoors.

The Do and Don’ts for Avoiding Exercise Burnout

images[1]Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. Thanks Wikipedia!

We all experience burnout whether it’s at work, home, with family, friends, diet, and even exercise, maybe especially exercise.

Consider how many gym memberships purchased in January go unused in July, or how all you can think about is a cheeseburger two weeks into a new diet plan. Burnout can happen over years or in a matter of days.

Certain habits or lack of certain habits will accelerate the burnout process.


So if you don’t want to suffer from exercise burnout….

DO NOT Wing It

Failing to plan is planning to fail, as the saying goes, and creating lofty, long-term goals without establishing checkpoints along the way is failing to plan. Shoot for the moon, but include intermediate and short-term goals to assure that you remain on track to achieve your long-term goals.


Long-term goal: I will finish a marathon this year.

Intermediate goal: I will finish a half marathon within the next six months.

Short-term goal: Within the next week, I will jog three times for a minimum of 10 minutes each run.

Writing goals down (on paper, using a smart phone app or online software program) is an absolute must.

DO NOT Forget to Self-Assess

Your goal-setting process should include assessing weak links in the chain and how to address them. Using the example above of planning to finish a marathon, short-term goals could include completing some form of a fitness test, such as a one-mile run for time, gait analysis, nutrition consultation, body composition analysis, etc.


Short-term Goal No. 2: Within the next two weeks, I will complete a one-mile run for time to assess my current fitness status.

Intermediate goals should re-evaluate these tests every few weeks to validate your exercise regimen and determine what tweaks you may need to make. Modifying goals along the way (to account for “life”) is a  key to achievement and  sustained motivation. Altering your long-term goals can also be critical; for example, switching from the full marathon to the half marathon two weeks before a race is better than not showing up at all.

DO NOT Skimp on Sleep

Research suggests those who sleep less than six hours per night are at greater risk for burnout. Too little sleep can cause fatigue, impaired mental function and increased sensitivity to stress, as well as decreased motivation and physical performance. In a busy world, we seem to prioritize so much at the expense of ZZZs. There are usually enough excused to go around for not exercising, don’t add “too tired” to the list.

DO Take Time to Truly Relax

Multiple experts agree that a key to avoiding burnout from your job is being able to turn off work when you get home. Likewise, tuning out from exercise from time to time is essential to maintaining a long-term fitness program. Expert coaches suggest taking at least one day per week completely off from structured exercise and including another day or two of restorative activities (yoga, hikes, naps and Sunday football couch potato-ing all count as restoration). Every few months, take an entire week off, and just relax.

DO Find a Sport You Enjoy

Some people hate running – I would not suggest a marathon training program for those individuals. The key to longevity of an activity or fitness program is enjoyment; sometimes you must ignore what your friends are doing or the most popular class at your gym, and simply do what makes you happy. If it makes you sweat and also makes you smile, it’s the right activity for you. I still have a Groupon for 4 Pilate’s classes hanging over my head, because my friends think Pilate’s is great…. I am a gym rat and always will be.

DO NOT Overdo It

A fine line exists between what fitness experts call over-reaching and over-training. Over-reaching involves applying the overload principle to exercise, i.e. increasing the intensity, duration and/or frequency of exercise to create positive stress on your body that will gradually result in fitness gains. When over-reaching, you should feel tired and sore, but two to three days of adequate recovery should cure that.

Over-training occurs when the increase in physical activity is too much and recovery is insufficient. It can involve loss of sleep, lethargy, injury and a lack of fitness gains despite an increased workload. When in doubt, listen to your body – go hard when you feel good, and rest up when you feel overworked.

DO NOT Live for Repetition

Imposing the exact same stress demand on our bodies habitually does not result in positive gains. Doing the same activities each day or the same exercise routine will lead to a physical plateau and eventual mental burnout. Not to mention it gets really boring! Even if you’re a creature of habit, add variety to your favorite activity… it may be a change of scenery, faster or slower run times, switching up the free weights for machines, taking a Zumba class instead of Yoga, or whatever.. A change of pace and scenery may keep your muscles honest and your mind fresh.

The path toward burnout is can be averted. Self-assessment, goal planning, adequate sleep and recovery, variety and, most importantly, enjoyment can keep you pointed in the direction of lifelong fitness and goal accomplishment.

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