Tag Archives: Weight loss

Tabata Time


Tabata training is perfect for those who never seem to have enough time in the day but still want to make space for fitness in their lives. It’s also a great tool for losing weight without losing muscle.

It works because unlike regular exercise that makes your body go into a steady state (adjusting to the workload by conserving energy – aka calories), Tabata training keeps your body working hard to adjust to the bouts of intensity, thereby increasing the caloric expenditure.

What is Tabata training?
Tabata training, based on the research of Izumi Tabata; a former researcher at Japan’s National institute of Fitness and Sports. He observed two groups of athletes to determine the results of moderate intensity versus high intensity. He found that high intensity training had the benefit of training both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. While there are many variations on this type of training, a true Tabata is four minutes of a single exercise with 20 seconds ultra intensity followed by a ten second recovery period. This is not something you would do every day, but once – a few times a week as it takes a lot of energy.

How do I get started?
One Tabata round is four minutes of a single exercise with 20 seconds at your max intensity followed by a 10 second recovery period.  Exercises using compound muscle groups are best (squats, lunge to press, etc) but any exercise including walking, running, or cycling are also effective.

Pick an exercise then warm up for at least three minutes.  Set your timer for 8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Do the selected exercise to failure for 20 seconds then rest for ten seconds. Repeat this process until the four minutes are up. Your goal is to put just as much intensity into the last set as you did in the first set. *Keep a towel and a bottle of water nearby. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be sweating pretty quickly!

Example Exercises:
Box squats
Full squats
Dynamic squats
Lunge, knee tuck
*any of the above with or without weights depending on your fitness level
Walkover push ups
Plank suicides

Safety First:
You should only do an exercise that you are comfortable with and that you can complete in correct form for the full four minutes. Because this training is based on intensity, you don’t have to get fancy, you just need to be clear with your movements.  Remember, you are trying to go as intensely as you can for 20 seconds eight times. If you find that you are losing form or pooping out midway, you may consider changing the exercise.

If you’re new to fitness you can walk as quickly as you can and then walk very slowly for each round or squat on a bench or box.

Apps for your phone:
Tabata Pro – Tabata Timer 
HIIT Interval Training Timer
Tabata Timer

Online Tabata Clock – Workout Timer – Interval Timer

If you like to exercise outside but don’t want to use your phone as a timer, this little gadget works really well and clips easily to your clothes:
Gymboss Interval Timer

If you have questions about this type of training, leave your question in the comments section 🙂

One Size Does Not Fit All

With all the information out there about what you should eat, what exercises you should do, what doctors you should go to, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. Most people will tell you that their way is the best way, but that’s not true. Everyone is a little different, so what works for your friend might not work for you.

As with all health-related matters, you need to know your own body and be your own advocate. That means you might have to try a few things before you find the right fit. Below is a list of various fitness plans that are out now. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start to see what  resonates with you. Just remember, when it comes to losing or gaining weight, getting a stronger body, or getting to the next level, there is no quick fix or magic pill. Like anything else in life, you are going to get out of it what you put into it. Whichever plan(s) you go with, make sure to check in with your physician first to see if you have any conditions that might conflict with your chosen fitness program.

Yoga: A discipline that originated in ancient India which includes breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures. It is widely practiced for health and relaxation but is also great for gaining flexibility and stability in the body. Read more.

Bar Method: Is an interval training program that mixes isometric moves, dance conditioning and the science of physical therapy to create a strong, lean body. It is an hour-long, non-impact program that anyone can participate in. One potential drawback  is the cost factor, so keep that in mind if your budget is tight. Read more.

Pilates: A body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility, long, lean muscles, and strength and endurance in the body. It focuses on the core muscles and the idea of stability. All exercises have modifications that can make a workout safe and challenging for a person at any level. Like the bar-method it is a non-impact practice with a higher ticket price. Read more.

CrossFit: This is a core strength and conditioning program that is not specialized per person. It attempts to optimize physical competence in ten fitness domains. Every participant is encouraged to do the same Workout Of the Day with adjusted weight loads and intensity depending on their fitness level. Results can be seen quickly, but injury risk is high if you are not aware of your limits. Read More

Boot Camp: Modeled after military boot camps, this is a form of group exercise that combines calisthenic and body weight exercises with cardiovascular, interval and strength training. One large component is the camaraderie that is built  to motivate and  push each other to higher levels of fitness. While this type of program is cost effective, you need to make sure to pay attention to your limits and not push to injury.

Beach Body: Is a suite of in home workout materials that are primarily aimed at burning fat, though some are for strength gains as well. This program does offer results, but a lifestyle change is needed. This may not be suitable for those who need someone to push them or are not good at following movements.

TRXUtilizes a portable training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s bodyweight to execute exercises that can be scaled for anyone to reach their goals. It is based on the principle that the body is an interconnected chain of muscles and uses movements that challenge the entire body in every plane of motion. Read More.

After you have taken a look at these different work out methods, take a moment to think about your goals and your body type. Do you want a certain kind of body? Do you want more energy? Less sick days? Do you have past or current injuries? After you figure out your top goals, it will be easier to figure out which program mix is right for you.

Staying on Track


Photo by IVM

Many people who want to lose weight are motivated to stay consistent with their workouts and healthy eating, but when they go out with friends or travel, they find it difficult to stay on track. Truth is, we all get minor setbacks anytime we are reaching for a goal. The best way to keep moving forward is to acknowledge these slips, learn from them, and continue progressing.

That being said, here are a few tips to stay on track whenever you’ve got a full social calendar or trip ahead of you.

1. Plan ahead

At the beginning of the week take a look at your schedule and add in work out times that make sense for that weeks activities. If you are going out of town make sure to plan out your exercise. Get up a little earlier and go for a walk or run, find a local gym that you can access, or look up a no-equipment workout that you can knock out in 30 minutes. *And don’t forget to pack the proper clothes and shoes.

2. Set some limits

It’s hard to set drink limits when you hand over a piece of plastic to the bartender, but when you have cash in hand, it’s less likely you’ll go overboard. Determine a drink limit for yourself and then withdraw a set amount of cash from the ATM. Only use the cash you’ve taken out…no more ATM trips.

3. Be food ready

Most healthy eating plans get derailed at happy hour so be sure to have a plan of attack. Checking out the menu online before you go will give you a better chance of picking out a healthy option. If there aren’t any, you can make sure to grab a quick (healthy) snack on your way there.

If you are traveling to a place where there are limited healthy options, bring a couple of portable healthy snacks with you – low fat string cheese, trail mix, nuts, granola, etc.

Work Smart, Eat Smart

Photo by IVM

I often deal with clients wanting to lose or gain weight who, while very consistent with their workouts, just can’t seem to reach their goals. The truth is, nine times out of ten they are not eating properly to meet their goals.

So let’s make it very simple…if you want to gain weight, you have to eat more calories, if you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. You can get a general idea of how many calories you should have a day based on your gender, age, physical activity and goals here.

For those wanting to lose weight, keep in mind that 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat. If you want to lose a pound a week, you must create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. However, keep in mind that if you are including resistance or strength training into your workout, you are also building muscle which burns more calories than fat. Therefore, you will have to add more calories to your count over time to support your body’s basic needs. And just so we’re all on the same page, eating less than the recommended amount of calories for your body’s basic needs leads to a whole mess of problems, so make sure not to go under your baseline needs for everyday functioning.

For those wanting to gain weight, you will need to add more calories to your current diet using calorie rich food and weight gainers.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how much you should be eating to get to your fitness goals, you can start to make small changes to get to the caloric intake that is right for you. Take a look at the nutrition labels as you choose your food and adjust portion sizes accordingly for your needs. You don’t have to be a calorie counter to reach your ideal weight, but you should have a basic understanding of where you are so you can get to where you want to be.  

*For those of you who want to track your calories more thoroughly, you can check out myfitnesspal.com (which is also available as an app) or get a wearable device that tracks your activity and helps you manage your caloric intake such as the BodyBugg or GoWear Fit.