Working Your Core: Getting Lean

Image result for strong lean abdominals middle aged

There are varying degrees of difficulty that come with gaining core strength. Like exercising any muscle group, it is important to progress smartly.  The abdominal muscles are layered with slow twitch muscle fibers which mean they are best tailored for exercises that enhance the endurance within the muscle fibers. Typically when we train the actual center core we are training the rectus abdominis, external abdominal, internal abdominal oblique, and the transverse abdominus.


Core training in the last several decades has taken on new meaning. Training the core today means not just increasing the endurance and strength of the muscles just noted, but also includes such muscles as the lower back extensor muscles, latissimus dorsi muscles, gluteus medius and maximus, and the hip rotator muscles.

It is recommended that abdominal core training be executed last after working other muscle groups because it is instrumental in just about every move we make. If you are an advanced exerciser, and use mainly free weights then you know what I mean. Core stabilization is absolutely necessary for lifting heavy free weight so tiring the core out before the other muscle groups would be unwise as you will risk injuring your back.

Below are 3 abdominal core routines that I have clients practice once they are able to hold a plank for 1 minute.

Tough Girl/Boy I Challenge
20 ball crunches with feet wide
1 minute plank hold
Repeat above two exercises.

Standing torso oblique’s 20 reps each side
Plank forearms to up on hands and reverse. 5 reps up and down
Repeat above 2 exercises

Side raise on floor with legs extended and arm extended- hold 20 sec each side
Repeat on each side.

Week One Get Rid of The Squish in the Middle Tip:
Eliminate bread of any kind. Including whole grain bread!

Last Week’s Get Rid of the Squish in the Middle Tip:
Get you carbohydrates mainly from low glycemic fresh vegetables. Think 5 vegetables raw daily and 4 vegetables steamed daily. Roast vegetables sparingly.

This Week’s Get Rid of the Squish in the Middle Tip:
Eat Fat. Science tells us that fat keeps us satiated and burning fat. While sugar including carbohydrates like crackers and breads keeps most of us fat except the very athletic or high metabolism lucky ones.

When our blood sugar gets too high (hyperglycemia), our body releases extra insulin to counter it. And the first thing insulin wants to do is get our muscles to take that sugar up and use it for energy, but the unfortunate truth is that most people, and even those exercising an hour or longer a day eat far too many sugars and so insulin tells the body to store the excess sugar we have not used as fat. Fat acts differently though which brings me to this week’s get rid of the squish tip: Eat good fats that you find in nuts, seeds, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, and avocados.

Add these foods to your diet, and remove the sugars and breads.  In a few days time you will be feeling leaner.  Go to on why what you eat is more important in weight loss than calories.” .

Motivation in part is about seeing changes. Develop a mindset that , “I am in this as a way of life.” Notice the small changes in your mood, body composition, energy levels, mental clarity, sleep patterns, and general anxiety levels as you make small changes. Over the days, months and years you will see that it really is possible to get better with age. All my Best.

The Core: Why it’s Important


How to Get Your Core Lean

We all want a leaner looking waistline. That’s a good thing. Core development should be about aesthetics yes, but it’s also  about much more!  Last week’s article should have sparked several more motivational reasons for obtaining a stronger core.

Go to  to get up to date on how a functional strong core not only aesthetically enhances one’s body shape, but also improves daily living mobility in routine tasks such as gardening and picking up the grand kids, to better posture and balance, to improved back mobility and decreased back pain, to more power and agility in athletic play.

There’s a funny story I like to tell about the core. A 325 pound linebacker walks into a gym and after a warm up begins squatting with an 850 lb bar setting on top of his back. A new to the fitness scene guy walks into the gym that day, sees him squatting and wonders if he can do the same exercise as this 325 pound linebacker. “Smartly,” he realizes he should start with a “lighter weight” so he stacks the bar to 425 lbs and proceeds to go down into the squat position with the weight on his back. As he goes down to squat with the weight on his back, his whole body collapses to the floor. He looks up to see if he can get help, but no one is around. He loses consciousness for a brief moment and within seconds afterwards he observes that many of his friends are surrounding him saying, “What are you doing? You are crazy!”  Your big belly is not strong enough to lift that heavy weight! Not understanding, the new to the fitness scene guy looks at them totally confused and sighs, saying, “I was not trying to lift the weight with my belly! I was trying to lift it with my legs!” His friends rolling their eyes sigh, and grudgingly help him up.


What is The Point?
Our legs, our arms, our backs and our chest are only as strong as our core. Only when the core is strong can the body get stronger. We are limited by the strength of our core in further enhancing our muscular strength, our muscular power (women not excluded) and our general daily energy stores.

Making Sense
If you are one of my new clients, you probably have noticed that I am a big believer in using the machine weights for general body strengthening. Anyone new to fitness or who has been out of fitness for a year or two or longer, I place into my 12 week strengthening jump start strength machine program.  This program progressively conditions and strengthens all the major muscle groups of the body while simultaneously working the core muscles functionally.

Some trainers suggest that machines for strength training are non functional in building core stability because of the back support on most strength machines, but if we consider  that the core structures of the abdominal wall are being stressed just enough to manage the new weight then the core is actually being enhanced functionally as the weight increases.  By managing this aspect well, that is increasing the weight smartly and having the person stabilize the core as they press the weight, over the 12 week period of time, the client becomes stronger not just in the individual muscles but in the core stabilizing muscles as well.

Bottom Line
Don’t let all the information on strength training confuse you. Get into a solid 12 week program that includes 8-12 machines and progress it incrementally. The additional nuances of training with free weights and body weight can come later. Get your core strong by getting your muscles strong using the progressive overload technique and practicing core stabilization when lifting weights.  You may find additional information on a beginner’s strength program at There you will find a comprehensive program for beginners or for those people that have been out of the fitness realm recently.

Last Week’s Get Rid of The Squish in the Middle Tip:
Eliminate bread of any kind. Including whole grain bread!

This Week’s Get Rid of the Squish in the Middle Tip:
Get you carbohydrates mainly from low glycemic fresh vegetables. Think 5 vegetables raw daily and 4 vegetables steamed daily. Roast vegetables sparingly.

Next week, look for core conditioning for the more advanced fitness person including specific targeted exercises,  as well as an explanation on why you can have a strong core, but not visually see the results of all your hard work! One hint – it’s not about shedding abdominal fat through increased cardio training!

Boost Your Metabolism With HITT

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
Hi Everyone,
It’s Totally Tone Tuesday and it’s  the day we talk about strengthening, stretching, and balance!

High intensity interval training, also called HITT, is a specific type of interval training that in the past was practiced mainly by athletes at the highest level of sports. Today, it is implemented commonly by athletes and non athletes alike who desire obtaining the most, lean, athletic, and sinewy physiques that are “possible for them.”

Emphasis on, “possible for them”, is placed because it’s important to understand that we have innate body shapes that make becoming lean more easy, or more difficult,depending on genetic factors. There are three body types:
Body types are naturally lean and thin skinned. They will see quicker looking body fat results than the two other body types, mesomorphs and endomorphs.

Body types are characterized by dense musculature. They will see results less quickly than ectomorphs, but have greatest lean muscle looking potential.

Body types are characterized by softness and fatty areas throughout body. These individuals respond to high intensity interval training less quickly than ectomorphs and mesomorphs, but results of fat loss percentages are more pronounced than the former two groups.

The Truth of the Matter
Think you are an Endomorph? Think again! Go back to your childhood, and recall what body type you were at age 10. This is what you are today, even if you feel a little soft.

EPOC to Super Charge Metabolism
When you exercise using the high intensity interval system, your body consumes considerably more oxygen. And the more oxygen you expend, the more calories you burn. However this increased oxygen during exercise is not really what fuels what we all desire- a higher metabolic rate, it’s the after-burn, or what is called EPOC, and more descriptively, excess post exercise oxygen consumption that fuels our metabolism. It works like this. The more energy your body uses during training, the higher EPOC. EPOC works in increasing metabolism by telling our body to get back to balance or what is referred to as homeostasis.

Getting back to homeostasis takes energy though, and this energy burns calories for several hours if not days afterward. That’s why hard working athletes who consume thousands of calories still find it difficult to sustain their weights. Their bodies are calorie burning machines even when they are at rest. How would you like to have even a fraction of their speedy metabolisms? You can.

To Get Started Now On EPOC

Take whatever cardio exercise you are doing and take yourself out of your comfort zone for a few seconds to upwards of a minute or two depending on your fitness level.

You can walk/run faster if your typical cardiovascular exercise is walking/jogging. You can go faster and or add more resistance if your typical cardiovascular exercise is biking. You can increase your incline and or resistance if your typical cardiovascular exercise is the  the elliptical trainer/rowing machine and etc. You get the picture. The key in all of this as you take yourself out of your comfort zone is to expect an increased heart rate. When we do this, our heart becomes not only stronger but we burn so much more energy. Keep it low key in the beginning as it’s important to see how our skeletal and muscular systems respond to the increased demands. Injury chances increase if we do not smartly progress to more intense interval training.

If you want a more formalized progressive approach to achieving an increased metabolism through EPOC, join my Movement is Life Program.  It’s a comprehensive progressive cardio program individualized specifically for you. There’s no personal training sessions to attend, and everything is done online at your convenience and your own pace. Call, email or text for further information. This plan includes texting, telephone calls or emails as needed to help you along.

Congratulations to the Following 30 Days To Lean Most recent member’s accomplishments:

Megan – down 24 pounds in 60 days! Congratulations Megan!

Mary – down 8.5 pounds in 30 days! Congratulations Mary!

Ann – down 14 pounds in 30 Days! Congratulations Ann!

Lynne – down 23 pounds in 90 days! Congratulations Lynne!

Congratulations to too many members to list members, that have taken both 30 Days to Lean programs, and continue lose weight and gain health momentum!

Kate says, ” the great thing about this program is that there are so many recipes and weekly menus that even when you finish the plans, you can continue losing weight by mixing and matching the recipes. I’ve lost a total of 39 pounds, and 11 of these pounds came after I finished with Kim.”


Does Increased Muscle Size Really Increase Metabolism?

Image result for lifting weightsImage result for lifting weights 


A few years ago I wrote an article for Old City Life Magazine titled, “Why Women and Men Both Need to Focus On Muscle.” I have it posted on my blog now and you can find it on the link at the end of this article. Read it for an overview on why muscle is uber important as we age.

The article points to the need for more intense muscular strength training versus cardiovascular training as a means to increases the metabolic processes of our bodies. Cardiovascular training, although beneficial for our heart muscle, plays little role in furthering our fat burning capacity beyond the time we are actually experiencing the cardio activity.

Most lower to medium intensity cardiovascular activities simply burn calories at the time we are engaging in the activity, whether it is running, swimming, biking, elliptical training or etc. There is some EPOC, or called “Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption” after the exercise which means our bodies continue to use an accelerated amount of calories post exercise, however, EPOC is limited.

If you are wondering why you feel so good after a cardiovascular workout, there is no question, cardiovascular activity gets the endorphins running sky high! Continue cardio training for good mental and heart health as well as increased energy expenditure, but consider that for weight reduction and aesthetics, even an hour a day of cardio is not enough to change the resting metabolic rate needed to make weight loss easier and the body more tightened and tone. For that process to occur, a 24 hour improved metabolic rate through strength training utilizing specific and targeted muscle groups should be implemented several times a week.

Build a Better Metabolism- Fact or Fiction

Health professionals, including trainers, often overstate the increased resting metabolic rate of strength training. In a recent comprehensive research review, Donnelly and colleagues (2003) note that the majority of peer-reviewed resistance training studies (lasting 8–52 weeks) show increases of 2.2–4.5 lb of muscle mass.

These researchers suggest that an increase of 4.5 lb of muscle mass would probably increase resting metabolic rate by about 50- 75 kcal per day. Although this small change is not nearly as much as some professionals may suggest, it does help close the gap between energy intake and energy expenditure.

Although these numbers may not appear so impressive, where the real payoff exists is in how we prevent premature atrophying of the muscles. By training our muscles with increasingly heavier weights/maintenance weights, each year we prevent the downward spiral of decreased metabolism due in great part to decreased muscle mass.  What appears as a minimal benefit in resting metabolic from increasing muscle mass (50-75kcal daily), is actually quite significant as each year passes and one does not strength train.

To help gain better clarity consider that research indicates after age 25 years of age, a 2-3% reduction in metabolic rate is predictable and due in large part to the reduction in muscle mass due to a sedentary lifestyle.  Even a minimal 1% yearly reduction of muscle mass per year (versus the typical 2-3% of most under-exercised people) enhances the metabolic resting rate as compared to the non exercisers. Clearly, over the years this 1% adds up exponentially and is a positive contributing factor to aging less rapidly.

BodySmartWay Programs

As many of you know, each year as we head into the holidays, I creat new programs for you that I feel will jump start you into a better lifestyle as we head into the new year

In upcoming articles look for holiday packages that may appeal to you and get you excited for another new year to come. Below is my 1st offering of the season.

A BodySmartWay Gift: Call/See Me By October 29th. Begin When You Are Ready. I can take only 3 people.

–          Once monthly strength training for 70 minutes with structured guidance and individualization for 12 months.

–          Once monthly typed plan.

Holiday Special Fee $995.00. Package as a gift to a loved one or friend and you receive 1 hourly personal training sessions complimentary.

  • This program is best designed for someone that is not a novice to strength training and has had some training. Not recommended to newbies unfamiliar to strength training.This program is suited for those that desire new ways of strength training, or would like to laser focus on specific muscle groups in an organized systematic way – example: one new program monthly for abdominal exercises, one new program monthly to strengthen upper legs and knees, one new program monthly to laser focus on back strengthening and posture and etc.Not recommended for people who want more accountability or have major health issues.

If you do not live in the area, look for upcoming online specials this holiday season.

All My Best,


BodySmartWay Links:

Why Men and Women Both Need to Focus on Muscle.

How To Begin a Bone and Muscle Strengthening Program

Why am I Training?

Did You Ever Wonder…Why Oh Why Am I Training?

Why Are You Training?

This is the question: “What are we training for?” Are we training for increased muscle mass? More energy? Better body definition? Weight loss? Better bone densiity? Decreased injury risk? Decrease disease probability in later years? Or even just to look great?

By knowing the answer to this question, not only do you set the stage for training correctly, but you set the stage psychologically when you have a real reason for working out.

Ask yourself why you are training physically in the gym or elsewhere? Once you are clear on your reasons for training, then a program can be implemented that makes sense for you.

Since many of  my clients train for higher energy,better body tone, and decreased chance of premature aging,  I will assume that many of my readers also desire this.

Below are several tips for increasing your daily energy, improving your overall body tone, and decreasing premature aging of the body, specifically  through weight training.  Science tells us that gaining energy can best be achieved by gaining physical muscular strength. Below are some other key finding for those of you who desire a more robust 2015.

Strength is Life – Get Strong

1. We gain strength best through quality of effort.

Insight – a new person to fitness can exercise with high quality. Your starting weights do not matter. Only effort matters. Solid effort means increased strength.

2. Strength training in the higher weight range( for that person-everyone is different) tones the body.

Insight – Strength training with higher weights and less reps takes less time too letting us go about our day.

3. Strength training in the higher weight and lower rep range keeps us from getting bulky.

Insight – this seems counter intuitive but is true. Body builders bulk up using lighter( although they may not seem lighter to many observers) weights, tons of reps and tons of sets. By the way, they are not as strong as they look, but stronger than most people.

4. It is not necessary to go to absolute fatigue in a muscle to gain the energy benefits.

Insight– we just have to work a little hard. Too many people overdo exercise in their desire for energy. Rest between exercise is important.

5. Increasing your weights is absolutely necessary to gain strength that gives you energy throughout the day.

Insight – be smart in increasing your weight amount. Too soon and you risk injury and not soon enough, you become stagnant, not feeling and seeing  the results you desire.

We are better off staying in the game of fitness for a lifetime, so if this means being a little conservative with exercise and progressing less slowly than you would like, then simply deal with it and forget the bravado that we all carry when it comes to sticking to the plan exactly. You are going to reap the benefits this year.  Just promise yourself to get started. Yes get started, but be easy on yourself. This means that you are wise to consider  you will not be perfect in implementing your plan, but you are even wiser to consider that using a few missed training sessions as an excuse to stop training is not a viable option. Let this year be the beginning of  strong!

All My Best,

How to Vacation Without Mentally, Physically, and Emotionally Tormenting Yourself About Eating and Drinking.

imagesGBDUD2F6Below is a question asked by a 30 Days to Lean member who lost 11.5 pounds! She was getting ready to go on vacation in beautiful Mexico and needed some advice short of me telling her “no margaritas and no beer for you!”


Part of the beauty of the 30 Days to Lean Program is that the process of immersing oneself in a lifestyle for a period of time, makes, as one 30 Day member said, you smarter. “Not only do you intuitively start seeking out healthy foods, “but you crave bad foods less”  Matthew, Maryellen, Sue, Rick.


What are some tips for going on vacation in Mexico short of not being able to have a few beers or margaritas?”

My Answer:

I am going to take the liberty of reframing this question and hope you don’t mind:

” How can I continue to be healthy without mentally, physically and emotionally tormenting myself?”

Here’s the thing, you must embrace key ideas, just like you have embraced key ideas with implementing the 30 Days to Lean plan.

It has been my experience that the vast majority of people know a great deal about losing weight, getting fit and making healthier choices. But they still struggle with following through- and really putting all the pieces together in a sustainable way. Hopefully the 30 Days to Lean plan has helped you put the pieces together in a way that makes sense and is sustainable.

What you need to do on vacation is to begin learning how to vacation and have the absolute best time, while feeling well mentally, physically, and emotionally, not just while on vacation but in the aftermath of arriving home. We all want to come back from vacation feeling good and not worn out because we ate and drank poorly or didn’t exercise. I think everyone would agree with this.

If you haven’t vacationed since changing your diet/lifestyle then this will be a great time for you to practice key behavior concepts. Like the 30 day plan, you will not be a pro at first so give yourself a break. In the meantime, know that as you vacation more with health in mind, it’s get easier  to  soak up feel good vacation mode, while not feeling like you are depriving yourself.

These are the key concepts I want you to focus on before you leave and while on vacation. Note that I am not giving specifics on what to eat and what not to eat. You will figure out in time, what works for you so I will not even suggest what you should and should not have.

Here are the key concepts:

  1. Exercise is great for weight maintenance ( not for weight loss – but for maintenance) so enjoy movement you love to do while on vacation like walking, biking, swimming or other feel good activity for you.

2. Know that it will be easier to lose weight while on vacation because your mind, body, and soul are at ease.  Take advantage of little stress and chill out. That margarita, hammock, and a good book may not be such a bad idea in Mexico!

  1. Know that your stress hormones are balanced more fully while on vacation so your desire for sugar, bad fats, and carbohydrates are naturally reduced. Just make sure you eat 3 meals daily and do not let your blood sugar get too low. Ask yourself if you really need a dessert each night, or if it is just something we are trained by society to think we should do?
  2. Take advantage of the great opportunity to sleep while on vacation. Sleep as you know helps us to lose weight. So enjoy every bit of it, and with no guilt.
  3. Consider vacation as a time to get into a rhythm of deepening daily gratitude. Gratitude for what we have helps us to naturally consider taking care of our own bodies by not overindulging in food or drink.
  4. Consider using vacation time as reflective time and be thankful for how far you have come in developing better eating habits. Studies show that those that capitalize on how far they have come are more apt to continue good habits.
  5. If there are foods you want to try but they seem off the plan, consider that while you are on vacation the goal should be weight maintenance. So foods off limit are just fine – eat smaller portions, and make some tradeoffs as you go about your days never worrying and having faith that you will come back home feeling and looking great!
  6. Lastly, before you depart for vacation, consider thinking about how you want to feel when you arrive back home. Then make minor adjustments in your eating and drinking while vacationing capitalizing on the above key points.

Hope this helps!  Have a margarita for me! Happy travels.