The Benefits of Interval Training!

September 3rd, 2010 - Fitness News


If you know anything about fitness, you have probably heard the term “Interval Training” and/or the phrase “HIIT” before. If you don’t know what it is, or why it’s a great form of exercise to incorporate into your routine, I will be the first person to tell you what it is and why it works!

I know for me personally, interval training has been a great form of exercise because it’s quick, effective, and straight to the point! I started doing this type of training to replace some of my long drawn-out cardio sessions, and to get in shape for my wedding. Within weeks I noticed a higher level of endurance, and fat loss than I had ever noticed with hours of cardio.

Over a year later, I have kept interval training as a part of my fitness routine and usually do two 30 minute interval workouts a week, along with one steady-cardio session (like kickboxing, a walk, or run) and one to two weight training sessions a week! I have found that my body is much more toned, fit, and I have much more energy doing interval training in place of my long cardio sessions! I also have more time for other things in life, which is always important! :)

Thank You Interval Training!!! More Muscle...Less Workout Time!!!

Thank You Interval Training!!! More Muscle...Less Workout Time!!!

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Getting Fit for a Big Day!

July 30th, 2010 - Fitness News, True Beauty


For me..The biggest and best day of my life (so far) was my wedding day (not counting the day I gave Jesus my heart and life of course!) In fact, this topic came to my mind in particular, because my 1 year wedding anniversary is coming up this August 8th!

A lot of people asked me what I did to ‘get in shape’ for my wedding.  It surprised many people (even myself at times while I was going through it) when I said that I worked out less…and ate more….to get my body in terffific shape! In fact, I have continued this ‘approach’ on fitness/eating to this day, (which shows it is attainable, and realistic)…And haven’t gained back a pound, and have ‘toned’ up even more since that day!

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What’s the Deal with Weight Training!?!

April 29th, 2010 - Fitness News


For most people, (with an exception to the few ‘genetically blessed’) exercise must become a part of your everyday lifestyle if you desire to loose (or maintain) weight.  I think one of the biggest ‘mis-understandings’ when it comes to exercising for weight loss is that you must do ENDLESS amounts of cardio to burn off as many calories as possible! I know this to be true, because I too once thought cardio (for at least an hour a day) was the only way to trim down and stay slim! Well…I’ll just say it now…I WAS SO WRONG!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, doing cardio is an important element of weight loss, and it does have it’s benefits! However, it’s strength training that will help you not only loose weight, but will help you get the results that really LAST! I think the benefits of weight training (especially in women) are poorly understood, and are therefore greatly neglected.

It seems like everyone starts out their weight loss journey doing strictly cardio exercises. Which is a great place to start, and certainly better than no start at all! So, let’s start by discussing a few of the benefits of doing cardiovascular exercise, (which is any type of activity that gets your heart rate up.)

First and foremost, cardio gets your blood pumping through your arteries at a higher pace than normal, so it essentially prevents the ‘plaque’ (that leads to heart problems) from settling in your arteries, (aka helps keep your heart healthy!) Cardio also requires energy from your body, which means it requires calories, (aka it burns calories!)

Cardio usually works well at helping people ‘take off’ excess weight, but what usually ends up happening is people continue to do cardio (and maybe even become ‘cardio queens’ like I was) but eventually STOP loosing weight, and hit a plateau. This generally leads people to wonder what they are doing wrong…and so they do the next ‘logical’ thing which is cutting more calories. What people don’t realize is this combination is actually doing more harm than good!

You see, once your body ‘looses’ a certain amount of body fat, it will come to a HAULT in order to preserve homeostasis (aka a ‘comfy’ place for it to stay at).  In addition, once you have burned off a certain amount of body fat with cardio, your body will start to burn muscle in addition to fat. So, in order to prevent a weight loss plateau, and burning off muscle, you will need to incorporate strength training into your routine!

Now lets discuss the benefits of strength training!  First and foremost, strength training will build your muscles mass, which will in turn build your strength (hello…I can carry all 500 bags of my grocery’s inside no problem! ;)) Which is important if you would like to keep you body strong, and prevent injuries down the road!  Weight training also prevents osteoporosis, (which is a common problem for many women as they age), by building your bone density!

Building muscle also has the added bonus of appearing more ‘toned’ and strong! Also, women don’t have the testosterone to ‘bulk up’ like men do, so it’s not hormonally possible for a woman to get bulky muscles like a man can! I have much more I could say on this… but I would be going on far too long, so I encourage you to study it out for yourself if your still not sure!

Last but not least, here is the greatest part of weight training of all (if you ask me!) Muscle mass is ‘metabolically active tissue’ which means it uses energy to ‘survive’ in a sense, (which means it needs calories to be maintained). This means with every pound of muscle you build, you are burning  more calories when you are just sitting around! With cardio, you do burn calories while exercising, and you have a slightly higher ‘caloric burn’ a few hours after you are done.  However, with lifting weights, you will burn calories during your workout, and will continue to do so after you have stopped exercising for the day.

Now lets talk about how what your eating affects this whole equation!! When you are on a ‘diet’ or cutting calories, you will most likely lose muscle mass along with any fat you lose. This may cause your metabolism to slow down somewhat and you may find the pounds not coming off as fast as you would like (or plateau all together.) However by building your muscle, you are more likely to keep burning calories long term, with out a plateau effect!

As you continue to build up your endurance and can lift heavier weights you will continue to add more lean muscle mass, which in turn will burn more calories during the day. Another important thing about dieting is you also want to make sure you are eating ENOUGH calories to support your new muscle growth.

You need to be careful to start slowly and not move too fast when you start lifting weights. Lifting too much weight too fast can do more harm then good (remember, our bodies like homeostasis, and any drastic changes will cause your body to freak out and go into plateau mode!!!) :) Ok i’m being dramatic…But I would recommend seeking out advice from someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in weight lifting to help you out when you first start.

Now after RAVING about how awesome weight training is…I must add that weight training should not replace your cardio program, because as I discussed, there are many benefits in doing cardiovascular exercise as well. So, if you want the best results try mixing the two together. This should give you the positive benefits of both types of exercise!

If you have already ‘discovered’ the many benefits of adding weight training to your personal fitness routine, I’d love to hear about it!

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Striving for Six Pack Abs?!

April 23rd, 2010 - Fitness News, True Beauty


I read this post today on a fitness/health site ( and I thought WOW…I wish more women knew/understood this truth about having six pack abs! Basically, in order to have a ‘six pack’ you need to shed the fat that covers them, (you could have a 12 pack and it be covered with fat and they would never show through!) In order for a woman’s abs to show (in relation to a man’s version of a six pack), she must get down to exceptionally low body fat, (which when too low is not healthy in a woman). Now I’m not necessarily saying having a ‘six pack’ as a woman is ‘right’ OR ‘wrong’ and i’m sure there are cases when women are perfectly healthy (body fat wise) and have RIPPED abs…But I do think there are way too many mis-conceptions about abs out there, especially when it comes to women having them! :) So I thought i’d pass this along…and I’d love to know other people’s thoughts on this!! :)

Six-Pack Abs for Women: A Good Idea?
by James S. Fell Apr 23rd 2010

Earlier this week I wrote about the male six-pack and how difficult (and possibly unrealistic) it is to achieve for most men. Well, for women it’s even harder, and not as coveted, and not even all that healthy. And to make the whole thing even less attractive, ladies, if you want six-pack abs, then you can probably say goodbye to your breasts. Please don’t do that. Seriously, on behalf of literally hundreds of millions of men, don’t.

The fact is that women are designed to carry more body fat than men. It’s actually healthier for women to have higher levels of body fat. A 2000 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that a healthy body fat range for men under 40 years old was between eight and 19 percent, but that for women in the same age group it was in a higher range: from 21 to 33 percent.

To achieve abdominal definition, you are looking at getting down towards single digits of body fat percentage, which is considered to be way below the healthy fat range for a woman.

What’s more, it’s probably going to be even harder for you to do this than it will be for a man. Men have an increased ability to build muscle tissue, which allows more of their calories to be partitioned towards building lean body mass. Even more important is that women are specifically designed to retain more body fat, so your own body is going to fight you harder at losing it. Your body wants to keep fat reserves even more than a man’s body does. Evolution programmed you to be this way.

There is also the fact that abdominal definition on a woman can look kind of creepy.

I’m just one guy, and I don’t know if you care about my opinion, but I can tell you that I don’t like it when women get too lean. I like curves. I like some softness over the muscle. And as I mentioned, achieving abdominal definition makes breasts go away.

This is why so many female fitness models with rippling abs get breast implants. You can’t make your body lose fat only on your midsection, so you’ll end up sacrificing breast tissue as well.

My point is that you shouldn’t let the media dictate to you what is attractive or healthy. Just because some magazine has a ripped and implanted young model on the cover doesn’t mean it’s a realistic or even healthy ideal for you to pursue.

When it comes to fat loss, you can definitely get too much of a good thing.

James S. Fell is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a middle-aged family man with a desk job and not much free time, yet he’s able to keep in shape because he loves exercise and doesn’t mind eating healthy. He is the author of Body for Wife: The Family Guy’s Guide to Getting in Shape. His column for That’s focuses on weightlifting, running and exercise motivation.

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A Simple Formula for Weight Loss and Long-Term Maintenance

March 18th, 2010 - Fitness News


Weight loss comes down to a simple equation: Calories In Versus Calories Out!

Losing or maintaining weight is actually a simple mathematical equation that is often made more complicated than it needs to be. The bottom line is your weight is determined by how many calories you take in versus how many calories you put out.

Having 5-6 smaller meals per day helps to balance out your blood sugar and exercising on a regular basis (which should include strength training to maintain and develop lean muscle mass) also helps boost your metabolism. The key is to find the proper balance of these two for you depending on if you would like to lose or maintain your weight! (I can help you find the right balance to help you reach your goals with Dashing Dish Health Coaching!)

How do I know how many calories i’m taking in!?

I think it is important to mention that a great way to keep track of calories in versus out (especially at first) is by writing down everything you eat (yes even that single fry you took off someone’s plate). This will get you in the habit of being more aware of the calories you are actually taking in… (and you may be surprised)!

It will also give you a good idea of areas you can cut back if need be. This does not have to be a long term thing.. but tracking what you are eating for even 2 days may be enough to make you aware of food labels, and open your eyes to any empty calories you may be consuming. It could also highlight any ‘emotional’ eating that you may be doing, like eating at night out of boredom for example.

Let me state, that in my opinion, this should only be short term, in order to gain knowledge on how and what you are eating, NOT a life long thing (which would be hard to maintain and could become unhealthy in the other direction).

  • If you are unsure about the amount of calories in certain foods, calorie king is a great free resource. It allows you to search just about any food, and gives you the the calories and nutritional content.

How do I maintain my weight?
There is no other way to say this, but if you want to reach and maintain a healthy weight permanently, you have to improve your eating and exercise habits permanently. Many people make the mistake of reaching a certain weight, and then go back to their old lifestyle.

People should instead focus on creating new health habits for the rest of their life. This is why learning to eat healthy foods that still taste great and finding a method of fitness that you enjoy is so important, because you really CAN maintain that for the rest of your life!

Why can’t I lose more than 1lb a week safely?

It is important to eat enough to fuel your body, which means not eating less than 1,200 calories per day. This is because severely restricting calories causes the body to break down lean tissue mass, robbing the body of muscle and bone.

Unfortunately, when people are trying to looe weight too quickly, they might look at the scale and see the numbers are dropping, but what they don’t realize is they are not losing body fat at all! They are generally either loosing water weight, or if they are on an extremely low-calorie diet, they are loosing lean tissue, which is why this type of weight loss never lasts… and usually backfires.

This leads me to my final point…It takes time to put on weight, so it will take time to take it off properly! So be patient, do it the right way, and get results that last a lifetime! :)

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Making Fitness Fun

March 12th, 2010 - Fitness News


I grew up being probably the most ‘un-athletic’ person in the world.  Envision a sports ball of any kind flying in the air and there I am running and covering my head for shelter.  I thought I was destined to HATE anything fitness related for the rest of my life.  That all changed when I was forced to take an aerobics class in order to graduate from high school.

It was in this aerobics class that we did a variety of workouts from kickboxing to hip-hop dancing.  I learned that if you find the ‘thing’ that works for you, it really can be fun and even take your mind off the fact that you are working out!

Personally, I LOVE kickboxing…and here is where I need to go on a bit of a tangent about one type of kickboxing in specific.  The best kickboxing out there is called Turbo Kick (aka Turbo Jam) created by the wonderful Chalene Johnson.  She has created a kickboxing workout that is paired with amazing music and high energy ‘choreographed’ kickboxing routines.  You can either get the workout DVDs, which can be found at or  Or, another option is a to join a group class.  Many people have been trained to do turbo kick at fitness clubs all over the US… so check out your local fitness clubs to see if they hold any turbo kick classes in your local gym!

This particular kickboxing workout is great because it is always changing rounds so you never get bored.  The music, well it’s simply amazing… It is current and is really motivating. The best part is that your mind is always so busy learning the moves and you’re having so much fun dancing that you never notice your working out! Oh and did I mention it burns like 500 calories an hour!?  So what I’m saying is… if you have never tried it… try it! You wont regret it! It has changed the way I look at working out…and I’m clearly not the only one.  It has a pretty big following! (Just YouTube turbo kick and you can see for yourself!)

Anyways, off my tangent… there are also many other ways of getting fit and it doesn’t have to involve treadmills or flying balls of any sort! ;) Just find what ‘works’ for you, and go for it!

In addition, I would advise to switch things up as often as possible (maybe even a few times a week). I mean think about it… who wants to do the SAME thing every day!? It gets boring, and your body gets bored (i.e.: plateau)! So for example, I do kickboxing 1-2 times a week, a bootcamp class at a gym 3 times a week (AFS in Ann Arbor Michigan: {}, which is also an AMAZING workout that got me toned and ready for my wedding!) and maybe take an hour long walk with my sister once a week!

The point is, a workout should NOT be boring or something you dread and if it is… find something new!  Be bold about it!  Go with some friends, try drop-in work out classes, and buy some workout DVDs ({} is a great place to find them and preview them). Do whatever you can to get out of your comfort zone!  You never know… you might try something once and fall in love like I did with turbo jam!

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