The easy way to health starts today

For all the people out there making excuses not to improve their health (we all find time for what’s important to us), today I want to focus on the people with the best of intentions who are making it harder than it has to be. I want to reach out to the amazing people who are making the effort, and make your lives a little easier.

To the person who wants to burn their fat off doing cardio before picking up weights to tone: Resistance and cardio go hand-in-hand and should be equally prioritized from the get-go. To get the most bang for your buck, do cardio within 24 hours of strength training. You’ll have after-burn from your strength training to add to the calories you burn while doing cardio. Plus, you need muscle to get your metabolism moving faster.

To the person who has always run, but it doesn’t seem to work like it use to: When you’re under 25, you keep your muscle mass whether you use it or not. Once you start to lose it, your metabolism slows down, and running doesn’t build muscle. Although running is great cardio, you need to add weights/resistance training as an adult in order to see the same results.

To the person waiting to plateau, or trying it on their own, before accessing more resources: If you can complete your journey faster by using all the tools out there for you at once, why not? Maintenance is way easier than initially reaching a goal. Take the easy road to the easy road. Besides, if you are fully capable of reaching your goals on your own, why are they constantly out of reach?

To the person cutting calories like crazy and not seeing results: If you don’t eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode and won’t let go of anything. You need fat, you need some carbs… you need to eat to lose weight.

Above all else, invest in yourself.

What do you spend on your hair? I know people who spend hundreds of dollars regularly on their hair, but think it’s wildly expensive to spend money on a personal trainer or nutrition plan. Why not spend money on the front end to make the best use of your time and energy? Healthcare is expensive; significantly more expensive than preventative maintenance. Unlike your hair, you don’t have to spend the same amount over and over again. Do it right once, and the upkeep becomes a tiny fraction of the initial investment.

What is your time worth? What is your health worth? What advice would you offer someone else in your situation? Keep that dedication, just make it more efficient.

Take those good intentions, and multiply them. You may find out you can eat more and workout less. Sounds nice, right?

Which comes first: weights or cardio?

You use to always hear that you should perform your cardio first to warm up before you hit the weights. Then, a few years back, the order got flipped. So, which is it? What order should you do your weights and cardio in to achieve the best results?

The shortest answer is that you should do weights first, but if you don’t understand why, then you aren’t setting yourself up for the highest level of success.

Why weights first?

In order to perform short bursts of energy in weight training, your body uses glycogen (carbs), so the idea is to burn off the glycogen so that you can move straight to burning more fat when you switch over to cardio.

Another reason to do weights first is to prevent injury. The thought behind that is, if you are tired from cardio, you won’t be as agile and conscientious during your weight training, which could be dangerous.

What to be aware of when performing weights before cardio

Even though I suggest starting with weights, that does mean you should skip your warm up. You should never walk right into the gym and lift your max. Obviously, if part of the reason to start with weights is to help prevent a weight training injury, there is more to it than simply swapping the order.

Warm up with light weights, perform some kettlebell swings, do jumping jacks or something else along those lines for 5-10 minutes so that you can safely perform a light stretch and prepare your body for the workout.

In the end, it’s all about your body.

If you are exclusively using light weights or performing a circuit training routine that mixes weights and cardio, you don’t need to worry about the order. You aren’t as likely to hurt yourself using light weights, and circuit training is a combination weight-cardio workout rather than a split order.

Above all else, as long as you’re working out, you’re doing great. If you’re covering both weights and cardio, and your method is working for you, then stick with it. If you’re not currently on an exercise plan, I hope this information fuels you to get off your rear and take that first step towards becoming a stronger, hotter version of yourself.

Why weight? How to really speed up your metabolism and burn off fat

Two exercise misconceptions are, 1) all you need to do to burn fat and lose weight is cardio, and 2) if you use weights you’re going to get bulky. I refer to these as misconceptions instead of as myths because they aren’t completely true or false.

Yes, you need to do cardio in order to help burn up fat; however, if all you’re doing is cardio, you’re not working out efficiently, and neither the mirror or the scale is going to show you what you hope to see.

Yes, if you do the same movement all the time, specific areas can grow bulkier than others; but, you would have to do A LOT of the same thing – which I don’t suggest anyway, and you would need to possess a lot of testosterone. So, ladies, you can stop worrying about becoming manly, because you’re missing the necessary hormone balance.

Your body needs iron, and I’m not talking about taking a supplement.

A few quick facts to get you pumped for pumping iron:

  • The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn while doing absolutely nothing. Muscle and metabolism go hand in hand.
  • Muscle is denser and takes up less room than fat. So, the scale might not change, but you’ll need smaller sizes in your clothes.
  • Skin lies much more nicely over muscle than over fat.
  • Your body remains a furnace for up to 72 hours after a good strength training session.
  • Your skeletal system responds to resistance training by building itself up to be stronger. (Final score: Body:1, Osteoporosis: 0)

Even though you can burn more calories during the period you are actually doing cardio, the continued afterburn from a weighted workout more than makes up for the initial difference.

So, why not make every workout a weighted one? Your muscles need time to recover. You can break your body into sections if you want to use weights more than every other day (i.e. Monday-legs, Tuesday-arms, Wednesday-core…), but cardio IS important too, so my recommendation is to mix it up with some of both by alternating days.

How much weight should I use if I just want to tone up? My advice is to use what you can, and change it up frequently. Do some sets of 12-15 reps with lighter weight; some where you can only manage 4-8 reps with heavier weight; and other exercises with only your own body as resistance.

Trust me, I spent many years sweating all over cardio equipment for hours at a time in fear of getting bulky. In all honesty, the only time I’ve ever been bulky was when I rowed, and that was because I did the same movement over and over, which caused my body to shift fat to the areas of muscle it thought needed a fast fuel source the most. (This was compounded by the fact that my meal plan at the time included a buffet with an endless supply of ice cream, not to mention late night pizzas and keg parties.)

Now, after lessons learned through experience and education, I can tell you that the best way to get the body you want is to get over the fear of getting bulky, and go try to show up some of the guys in the weight room at the gym. When you notice them looking at you, don’t get self-conscious. They’re checking you out because a girl in the weight room is hot, and you probably look like a bad ass. They’re much more likely to make fun of the prima donna on the elliptical trying desperately not to break a sweat or mess up her makeup.