Archive for February, 2011

Hey Cardio Queen! Grab a Dumbell!

Are you a “Cardio Queen”?

Well maybe you’re not THAT extreme, but do your workouts consist mostly of cardiovascular training? Not in any way do I want to discourage you from doing cardio- it’s good for you! I do, however, want to explain why it is not the most effective way to lose body fat…

Let’s start with the meaning of the word “cardiovascular”- It means “of, pertaining to, or involving the heart and blood vessels.” So… cardiovascular training works your heart (which isn’t exactly the largest muscle in your body).

Have you ever noticed that cardio gets a lot easier after just a couple of weeks? Your body is starting to become more efficient, which is good; but that also means that you will burn less calories while you are running, biking, etc… This brings me to my next point.

How many calories can you burn with cardiovascular training? It depends on how much time you have. It doesn’t take long for your body to cool down after cardio and get back to its old ways of burning minimal calories.

John, I need your help! Can you please tell me how I can burn more fat without adding more gym time? Resistance training!!!

As a personal trainer in Newport Beach, people ask me a lot of questions about this topic.

What are the benefits of resistance training? Increased strength, power, bone density, and fat burn (to name a few). Resistance training is also used in Physical Therapy to strengthen the muscles and tendons that support your joints.

Resistance training burns more fat?! How? There are a couple of reasons…

You can burn the same amount of calories (or more) with circuit training as you can with cardio when they are done for the same amount of time. The difference is afterward. Your body has to spend energy to repair the muscles that have been damaged during your circuit routine. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. These tears are microscopic, and they are why you get sore after a workout. Repairing this muscle tissue takes calories. Where is your body going to find the extra calories to repair your muscles? Your body fat! Whoo-hoo!

Now your body will add new muscle tissue (if you eat enough) in an attempt to stop any future muscle damage from happening. It is your job (and literally my job) to continue this cycle until you have gained the amount of muscle that you want. My friend, you have just turned your body into a fat burning machine! And ladies, don’t freak out. You won’t get buff. Trust me- if it were that easy, your husband’s push-ups would have him looking like Vin Diesel.

Quick example:

Pretend you are a 40 year old female (5’5″, 150 lbs).

In scenario A your body fat percentage is 35%

In scenario B your body fat percentage is 20%

In the first scenario, your body would burn about 1,327 calories per day, at rest. In the second, your body would burn 1,548 calories!!! That is equivalent to your body burning almost 1/2 lb of fat per week- AT REST!

By the way: both of these women go to the gym regularly, but their body compositions are very different. Can you guess which one of these ladies is the “Cardio Queen”?


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Roast This!

Veggies can get boring if you are not creative. Because of this, a lot of us just don’t get enough of the stuff. That means that we are also not getting enough vitamins and minerals from our food, and we suffer for it.

We all know that I don’t need to explain all the benefits of eating vegetables, but what this Newport Beach personal trainer CAN do is help you find ways to get more of them onto your plate tonight. Why are vegetables so boring? Because WE are boring! We boil them, steam them, and eat them raw… that’s about it. What other food source do we prepare with such low levels of creativity?

No wonder your kids don’t want to eat their broccoli- it tastes like broccoli!!!

I want to share a recipe that my wife found for a Roasted Eggplant Spread. The recipe is from Ina Garten, the “Barefoot Contessa,” and it is AMAZING.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Chop your veggies into 1 inch cubes (roughly). And you may want to peel the eggplant if you are not a fan of the skin…

Toss the veggies, garlic, and pepper with the olive oil, then place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, then roast at 400 degrees for about 45 min. It should smell great and be slightly browned.

Then all you have to do is toss it all in the food processor with the tomato paste and pulse a couple of times ’till you have the consistency that you want.

That’s it!

My wife also likes to add some crushed red pepper before she processes it to add a little kick. Trust me, this stuff is crazy good and your kids will be more likely to eat it as well.

Add this spread to your rice or your meat of choice for dinner, or enjoy with some pita chips. Want a low-carb option? Peel some red cabbage and use the thicker ends as you would a chip! Say what?!

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REAL Performance Enhancement

We’re not talking about a pill, a powder, or any sort of supplement. In fact, you will notice that I will RARELY recommend any sort of performance-enhancing supplements.

The term “performance-enhancement” is commonly associated with steroids and other hormones athletes use to get the extra edge on their competition, but what are YOU performing? A 100 meter sprint, or just the simple movement of getting up out of a chair? (which is not as simple as it may look…)

A chiropractor that I work with in Newport Beach, Dr. Nona Djavid (who is a miracle worker), referred her patient Kathy to me. Kathy had hired a trainer to help get her in better shape and she really wanted to focus on her abs. However, any time her trainer would have her do an abdominal exercise her lower back would hurt. It would also hurt doing weighted squats. It would sometimes continue to hurt for days after…

Her trainer’s solution: Skip abs.

What?! This just sounded inexcusable to me (isn’t that what he was hired for?), so I had her come in for an assessment. The first video is Kathy doing an Overhead Squat Assessment. You will notice that her lower back remains arched throughout the movement, and she is slightly off balance (notice her toes lifting off the ground). It is hard for her to keep her hands overhead, and the whole movement is-for lack of a better term- uncoordinated.

Note: Besides demonstrating the exercise to her 1 time, she received no further direction from me besides “slow down”, which you will hear me say a few times.

Based on what I saw (low back, toes, blah, blah) I took her through a series of specific stretches, activation/deactivation techniques, and exercises. Our “workout” portion of the assessment only lasted about 25 min. Before you watch the next video please note: I did not have her practicing any squats of any kind during the “workout.” We simply encouraged certain muscles to calm down a bit, and others to kick it up a notch…

Notice how much more solid that looks? She is centered, balanced, and her back is in a much stronger position. Look how high those hands are at the bottom of that squat! Ladies and gentleman: THAT is Corrective Exercise! Keep in mind, these results are temporary unless she continues to work on the things that I showed her. She has.

3 weeks later, and Kathy has been training her abs pain-free!

Feels good to brag sometimes… 🙂

Do you know someone that has a hard time getting into better shape because their back hurts when they workout? Over the last 6 years I have learned a lot about how to retrain a person’s body to be able to perform complex movements without pain. You can find many trainers that know how to make you lose weight, but don’t you already know how? Eat less, move more! Right?! So if you are going to spoil yourself a little and hire a trainer, make sure you are getting your money’s worth! Hire a professional.

FYI: I do offer complimentary assessments. Just sayin’…

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Too Tough Sticking to Your Goal? Try AA!

One of the biggest reasons people hire a personal trainer in Orange County is for accountability. Yes, your trainer should be there to educate you, push you, and to motivate you when it gets tough to stay on track, but the accountability that they provide is of up-most importance for a reason. It makes you do something that you might not normally do. Remember the entry about waking up before work to go to the gym? I bet if you had a trainer waiting for you at the gym it would be easier to wake up! Nobody wants to lose their hard earned money…

But what if you don’t have extra money to spend on personal training? How can you get that accountability without the cost of a personal trainer? Have you already tried having a workout buddy, but they are too flaky? Do what I do.

Tell everyone about your goals!

Why? Because whether they want you to succeed, or are hoping that you don’t, they WILL keep asking you:

“How is the weight loss goal coming along?”

“How much weight have you lost?”

“You look great! Are you still trying to get in shape?”

These people are your new “Army of Accountability.”

If you can get used to the attention that you WILL get- especially if it is obvious that you are getting closer to your goal- you will have constant reminders that you are on a mission. Lets be honest- nothing is a worse blow to your ego than a large group of people watching you quit. Who wants to be known as a quitter? Not me! So please allow me to lead by example:

I am entering a “Men’s Physique” competition in about 5 weeks. GNC Muscle Contest on March 26th in Culver City, Ca. This is something that I was somewhat “iffy” about, so I started telling everybody that I see on a daily basis because I didn’t want to be able to back out. I even went as far as  to contact Raquel Beezley, Miss California USA 2008, to ask for advice on my stage presence.  Now I have an Army of Accountability! I will keep you all posted on how I do in the contest…

So get out there and share your goals with your family, friends, co-workers, and your colleagues at the gym (THEY will remember), but don’t stop there. Show them all how dedicated you are. Earn the right to tell them how well you are doing. Reach your goal so that instead of asking you how its going, they will be asking you for advice! You will reach your goal, and along the way, you might just inspire others to do the same…

So tell me, what is your goal?

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5:00am. Time to Work Out. F–k!…

Remind you of anybody? Unfortunately, some people’s schedules don’t allow for lunchtime workouts, or after work gym-time. Sometimes the only way that you are able to get any sort of workout in is before you have to punch in, sit down, and act happy for 8 hours… then pick your kids up from soccer…

“That’s it! I’m gonna start working out before work- to get it out of the way!”

And  then [BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!] your alarm goes off at 4:45am and your whole world changes. You need to think about this, so you hit snooze…

“I’m so comfortable, but  I need [yawn] to get up so that I can… Zzzzz”   

4:54am: BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! 2nd snooze. “Okay, this time I really am going to get up, but I want to “rest my eyes” for a couple…more… Zzzzz”

5:03am: BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! 3rd snooze. “Crap! I don’t even remember falling asleep that time! What time is it? Eh, my workout is already getting cut short. I’ll go after work tonight instead.” And then you reset your alarm so it doesn’t go off again till 6. Sound Familiar?

It is not that it is hard for you to get out of bed- it’s not hard at all. The problem is that it is way too easy to reach that damn snooze button! You wouldn’t make any other important decisions while half-asleep, so don’t make decisions about your health when you can hardly even open your eyes- let alone rationalize! You know that you’re not going to the gym after work; you HATE going to the gym after work. That’s when all those scary guys are there; slamming those weights around and being all “testosteroney.” Or maybe that creepy old lady in the boy-shorts and sports bra who stares at everybody is going to be there; following you around and doing every exercise that you just did  15 seconds ago…

Problem solved. Move your alarm clock! This may sound a little crazy to you, but it does work! And if you don’t get up right away to turn it off, then I’m sure the person laying right next to you might have a thing or two to say about it! So do it. Move your alarm clock. It is only annoying until you get up and start moving around. Then you’re in the zone, and you are ready to go hit the gym. It is a smart decision that you know is good for you. You will never regret the decision to workout, but you might regret the decision to sleep in. So go train legs, or run 3 miles. Or, hey! Maybe you can finally go to that yoga class you’ve been wanting to try…

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Lose Those Clothes!

I have a new(ish) client that I have been working with since December. Her name is Dina and she came to me with a weight loss goal. She had worked with a trainer before and had lost weight, but had gained it all back. We couldn’t let that happen again…

I made Dina promise me that when her clothes no longer fit her she would throw them away or donate them, but she couldn’t have them as a “security blanket” in case she did not keep the weight off… Folks, this is absolutely crucial if you have a weight loss goal. Show those “fat pants” who’s boss. Show them that you are never going back to your old habits or your old size. Embrace the fact that you can go shopping and buy something because you like it; not because it makes you look smaller or hides a flaw… Embrace the new you!

I am happy to announce that Dina has just donated her first bag of clothes! They no longer fit her because she has lost over 20 pounds!!! To give you an idea of what that looks like, consider this:

Did you know that one 16oz jar of regular mayonnaise is not only very close in volume to 1lb of human body fat, but also has almost the same amount of calories?

1lb human fat= 3500 cal      16oz jar mayo= 3,252

I bet THAT will make you think differently the next time you eat a sandwich. “Maybe this bread isn’t so dry after all,” you may say to yourself…

Dina, I am so proud of the progress you have made so far, and I cannot wait to post your “after” pictures in a few months! Keep up the good work!

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Spaghetti is a Vegetable?

One of the most common foods people crave when they are dieting is- you guessed it- pasta. Mmmm… Well now you can have your cake and eat it too!

Ever see this guy at the grocery store?

He’s a “spaghetti” squash! He is loaded full of vitamins and minerals including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, and potassium.

You can pick him up at your local grocery store for about $4 and make a few meals out of him.

“But John, it looks so scary and mysterious! How do I cook it?”

Take it easy; he’s not going to hurt you. I have turned a few of my clients on to this stuff and they love it.

There are a couple of different ways to cook this squash. You can bake, steam, boil, or microwave. Something about the microwave freaks me out, but it is the quickest way if you have a tight schedule.

These are the 2 most popular methods of cooking…

How the Jetsons would do it:

  • Peirce skin (not yours) with a sharp knife.
  • Microwave for 10-12 minutes.

How your grandma would do it:

  • Cut in half length-wise.
  • Spoon out the seeds/pulp.
  • Place face down in a glass dish with 1/2 inch water.
  • Bake @ 350 for 1hr.

After you cook the squash, let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then use a fork to scrape out the flesh.

You can use in place of regular pasta for dinner tonight and let me know what you think!

Why am I making such a big fuss about this stuff?



Check this out:

1 cup spaghetti (Boo!) vs. 1 cup spaghetti squash(Yay!):

Calories= 220 vs. 42

Carbs= 43 vs. 10

You do the math. Oh, and enjoy your dinner!

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