fat-loss

The Most Effective Workout To Lose Fat And Keep It Off

Everybody Knows You Need To Lift Weights

Google "strength training and fat-loss" and you'll find a plethora of articles encouraging you to add heavy lifting to your weight-loss plan. And that's for good reason.

  • Building muscle increases your metabolic rate, helping you to burn more calories both in action, and at rest. 
  • Lifting weights improves your insulin sensitivity, helping your body make better use of blood sugar and avoid storing it as fat.
  • Strength efforts result in varying hormonal releases that all prompt your body to get better at using stored fas as fuel.

These are some pretty sweet benefits, right? There's even more pluses, but you get the idea. By getting strong, you're essentially optimizing the efficiency of your metabolism - defined by how your body makes, stores, and uses energy - which will result in also optimal physique benefits like...

  • better muscle definition which is totally sexy and
  • easier healthy weight maintenance i.e. you won't need to keep up with those insane amounts of cardio you've been doing to avoid big fluctuations

But What Kind Of Strength Training Is Best For Fat-loss?

Well, the best payoff really comes from sustained bouts of nearly maximal efforts(as opposed to actual max effort, HIIT, circuit training or bodybuilding). In laymen's terms, that translates to lifting pretty heavy weights for a decent amount of volume. This style of lifting will give your body the best shot of all those hormones like the catecholamines (epinepherine and norepinephrine), growth hormone, and testosterone. Yes, girl. Testosterone levels that are close to the high-end of the standard range are associated with leaner body composition in women too.

HOWEVER, the total-body, big lifts required for that kind of grinding effort we're looking for, are pretty complicated. And the technicality of said lifts, like front squats, deadlifts, and bench presses; can get in the way of your ability to safely get the rep count high enough for the intended result. My experienced gym-goers know what I mean here.

As time goes by, form starts to break down under these super heavy weights; and suddenly the costs of doing business, like loss of alignment and subsequent compensations and stress; are higher than the payoff. 

If you're new to lifting, you definitely don't want to practice your skills under such high pressure; not to mention risk. Constantly pushing past the edge (what's comfortably difficult) not only stunts your physique goals by inappropriately revving your nervous system, but also puts you at a higher predisposition for injury. Laying in bed, nursing a tweaked back is certainly no way to get the fat-loss results you desire.

Not to worry! When Self Magazine asked me to supply my number one fat-loss tip a while back, I gave them the best tool I've got. And it's the most effective and safe way to begin incorporating heavy lifting into your routine more often.

Enter The Heavy Carry

To introduce our secret weapon, I'll leave you with a comment one of my mentors, Charlie Weingroff, made that I never forgot. For reference, he’s a world renowned physical therapist with a reputation of being genius-level smart. He lives primarily in the rehab and strength and conditioning worlds. But, he said if he did ever take on a fat-loss client, he would simply give this person some heavy kettlebells and ask them to carry the weights up and down Broadway, where we worked. This was some sage advice.

What Is a Heavy Carry?

A carry is really just the action of picking up something really heavy, and simply holding it or walking with it. That’s it. Doesn't sound that spectacular, right? But what is profound about this simple exercise, is that it’s way less risky than say, barbelll back squat for twenty reps.

Carries solve that problem of complication we encounter with the technical lifts, allowing us to hit the heavy weight and high volume requirements we need to get the right training effect.

There are an infinite amount of carries that you can practice throughout your workout to make it fun and challenging. It’s all about getting creative with the way you hold the kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags, plates, whatever you got; and the kind of walking you choose to do or the static stance you hold. You can keep it super simple with a regular ole’ stroll as you bear hug a sand bag or plate. Or you can get as fancy as a heel-to-toe walk with one kettlebell in rack and the other at your side. In the photo below, I'm holding two kettlebells in that in-line half-kneel. Before you judge the difficulty of the work going on here, let me warn you; it's actually much tougher than it looks. 

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Create Your Own Carry Workout

Carry positions: single bell, double bell, over head, rack position, at your sides, bear hug(for sandbags and plates), baby carry, behind the back…

Static options: tall-kneeling, half-kneeling, half-kneeling in-line stance, half-kneeling with open hip, standing

Walking options: natural stroll, in-line, heel to toe, march

Combine any carry position and walk, switching it up as many times as you like. Some of my fave combos with bells are demonstrated in the video below. 

Start your carry conditioning with at least a 1:1.5 work to rest ratio. So if you're carrying for 30sec, break for at least 45sec. You can add work time or decrease rest time as you get stronger.

Choose weights that you cannot do much else with besides walking or holding (with good alignment, of course).

Why Too Much HIIT Is Killing Your Progress

...And How You Can Incorporate Intense Training For Maximum Results

HIIT workouts are EVERYWHERE. From Barry’s on the east coast to Orange Theory on the West Coast. Think those combo treadmill/dumbbell workouts are it though? Soul Cycle and Flywheel are the HIIT of cycling. In most cases, your neighborhood hot yoga class is probably an HIIT workout more than it is an ancient mobility practice. The magazines and the Instagram fit-pros pretty much deal in nothing else. And oh yes, Crossfit is an HIIT workout too. 

There are multiple reasons to explain why  HIIT training has become the new go-to workout. But, they aren't what you might think.

HIIT training is (on first glance) accessible. It’s what we call in the industry low-barrier-of-entry. Don't be fooled, though. That does not mean that the workouts are easy. Decidedly the opposite is true. What it means to boutique fitness is that instructors can pack a class in a relatively small space with dozens of bodies and minimal equipment. And similarly for the IG stars and fitness editors, they can provide a workout that followers can perform in their living rooms without registering for a class. 

HIIT also fits our deeply engrained ideas of what an effective workout is. We believe that training should be ALWAYS be hard. It should leave you feeling spent, sweaty, and sore, right? This assumption is not true. But HIIT checks all those boxes we’re tempted to tick. 

But wait! Isn’t HIIT so popular because it’s good for fat-loss???

Well, yes. Of course it can be. But any new and novel training style will result in initially favorable fat-loss. And HIIT certainly has it’s place as PART of a well rounded fitness regimen. But as most things go, too much of anything is too much. 

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And that too much - that high level of intense acute stress can turn into chronic stress that threatens your health and sabotages your success.

Now anecdotally, you may have already come to this conclusion on your own without knowing exactly why. You want to lose fat but no matter how much you increase your effort, you seem to have plateaued. And you’re supposed to be getting strong, but in fact you’re realizing more aches and pains than when you started.

So why does progress seem to reverse when you’re working out hard? And how can you incorporate HIIT into your program with favorable results? Those successful studies on the multitude of benefits must have some merit, yes?

Well, I went to my friend Justin to get some clarity on this very complicated and potentially frustrating issue. Justin Janoska is a clinical nutritionist and coach who helps women facing autoimmune disorders turn their lives around. He is an expert when it comes to hormones. And that’s what we spent much of our time chatting about.

It All Depends On Stress And Hormones

You see, different types of workouts elicit different hormonal responses. And workouts that are super stressful, just like life situations that are super stressful, temporarily cause a spike in cortisol. This acute elevation isn’t bad as you might have heard. Chronically elevated cortisol is a problem though.  It’s persistent and prolonged bouts of stress that result in excess cortisol and subsequent belly fat buildup.

“Hormones dictate your ability to lose weight before calories can even be spoken about,” says Justin. “If abnormal cortisol and thyroid hormones levels are present, no amount of caloric restriction or deficit will push the needle.”

This is why consistent under-eating and frequent hard workouts may have little or no effect on your ability to make physique progress. 

What’s even more startling is that this particular kind of hormone dyregulation can result in digestive havoc and induce cognitive changes in your brain - i.e. giving you problems like IBS, depression, and a multitude of autoimmune disorders that seem unrelated.

“It literally puts the kabosh on any chance of weight loss because the body is too preoccupied with overcoming the challenges. Bionergetically, its shifting towards immune function and inflammation, which is costly in energy requirement.” says Justin. Think of it like going into fight or flight-mode. Basic body functions gets under prioritized as your body struggles to adapt.

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Too little cortisol is not good either. Your training program should provide the RIGHT amount of stress, an appropriate challenge that your body can adapt to. But without any stimulus, there can be no prompted change either.

How To Incorporate HIIT Correctly

You can totally avoid the negative health effects of chronically elevated stress hormones, and find your own RIGHT amount of HIIT for the positive results you’ve read about, if you follow these simple but important guidelines.

1. Realize that HIIT is one course of the meal that is your personal fitness plan.

 And if you want to get really specific with your metaphors, consider it dessert. It’s the “use sparingly”, indulgent treat of the fitness pyramid and should be treated as such. Your training plan should be grounded in mobility and highlighted by focused strength and rhythmic cardiovascular sessions. But that doesn’t mean that Barry’s class you love to take with all your friends and your favorite instructor doesn’t belong. Fitness should be fun. Simply try scaling back to just 1 or 2 times per week.

Monitor your body’s response.

It can be difficult to know if you're pushing too hard. But you can ask yourself these guided questions: Do you feel at least 80% recovered at the beginning of each new interval? Is your heart rate back to normal by the time you get to the subway or your car? Do you sleep well that night and wake up feeling rested? Just these simple questions can start a really good inner dialogue, which Justin says is key for figuring out what works for you.

Stay conservative.

This can be tough if the prescribed parameters from the instructor are extreme to begin with. And that added pressure of class competition and having your results displayed on a huge screen can also tempt you to screw it and go beast mode. But, don’t be afraid to be that girl doing something different(this is bigger if advice too). I always recommend my lovelies begin at a 1:2 work:rest ratio. So if you have 30 second bouts of burpees, break 60 seconds. This will also allow you to crush the pace and keep the intensity high. When you can no longer recover in 60 seconds, take a longer break, switch things up, or call it.

Monitor the intensity of other stressors.

Like your emotions, job, relationships, finances, etc. Stress is stress. If the intensity in these other areas of your life is high, you may not need to add additional fuel to the fire by ending the workout in a puddle of your own sweat and starting the next day too  gassed and stiff to be productive. What’s the cost? What’s the benefit? If the benefit isn’t higher, find a less intense outlet to move your body and blow off steam. Resume when conditions improve. 

And most importantly, remember that fat-loss and fitness are about working WITH your body, not against it. 

Ready to try something new? For just

Five Tips For Managing Stress And Winning at Fat Loss

Managing stress is hard. And when the hits are piling up on you as the week goes on, it can feel like there’s literally no end in sight. Worse, it can also feel totally hopeless, like theres no way you could possibly manage the barrage of obstacles, work crisis, and relationship issues that are sure to come at you.

But alongside proper sleep, nutrition, and fitness; dealing with this stuff—and handling it all gracefully—is just as important for hitting your fat-loss and muscle-building goals. Not some, but ALL of these factors play a role in balancing our hormones and helping our bodies to run most optimally. And that's really what physique goals are all about: making things run nice.

So, while there’s no real quick fix to dealing with stress; and you’re totally right girl, you cannot control all of the things that the universe has in store for you; there’s definitely some proactive steps you can take that will not only give you quick relief and a little more center, but also help you become more mindful of the relationship between your body and your mind. So that down line, you get learn to get better at responding to the beautiful mess that is life, rather than succumbing to it.

I know, I know. If you’re like me when I’m feeling bratty, trapped, sorry for myself, and even defensive of my stress; you’re already thinking “this is just the way it is right now.” That’s one of my favorite excuses for shirking off the responsibility of self-care as well. You're not alone. The body and mind naturally resist change. 

But trust me. You can change your mind. YOU have the power to make it better in this very moment. And I bet you’ll feel a whole lot less stressed when you start making progress on your fitness goals again.

Uh-huh, girl. I went there. So, save yourself some time and misery. Let’s get to feeling better, so that we may also look better, shall we?  

This particular post is about some quick interventions that can serve as catalysts for turning your thoughts around when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed. So that you have space in your brain for long term improvements that we’ll discuss later on.

Do a Quick Movement Flow

Your brain holds a map of your entire body. And the more you move, the more clear that map is. But when you dont move, that map gets blurry and so does your perspective. All the negative sensations like irritation, pain, and anxiety become amplified and stress can become increased. One of the easiest ways to decrease threat and calm yourself down is to move! And you don’t need a full on workout to send your brain those good vibes it craves. Making some shoulder and neck circles at your desk every hour helps. Getting on the floor for a quick side plank or a shin box can totally turn things around. A little bit of movement here and there will dial down your nervous system and put your body in a more advantageous state to make progress on your goals.

 

Go For a Walk

Walking is one of the best activities for alleviating stress. Walking is movement, so you will absolutely benefit from all those good vibes we talked about in the previous paragraph and improve your mood. But walking also helps improve digestive function. The quality of your thoughts relies heavily on the quality of your gut. If you can improve your metabolism, you can improve your response to stressful situations. Not to mention, you can ensure that you expend as much energy as you absorb, which is key for weight-loss and weight maintenance.

 

Call a Friend

Go for that walk, and call up a friend to go with you. That stress ball gets infinitely larger when we imagine that we are alone or that we are the only ones who have to deal with whatever it is that’s going on. But, the truth is, you’re never alone unless you choose to be. And EVERYONE has their own struggles. Just like we are meant to move, we as humans are also meant to be highly social. Blowing off some steam doing positive activities with someone who knows you and supports you can completely shift your perspective and help you get back to focusing on crushing your life and fitness goals.

 

Zone Out

There’s tons of pressure from your boss and social media hustle culture to be super focused and on your grind all day long. But, there’s a reason you are driven to scroll through instagram or pull up a game window behind your actual work. The brain fatigues just like any other muscle in your body. And while I encourage you to instead use this time to get away from all the screens, make sure it feels just as mindless. I like to grab a book for a few minutes or wash the dishes. For real. But, you can simply use the yoga practice of finding a drishti gaze and literally try to stare off into space as far as you can, even if there’s a wall two feet from you. Look past it. Zone out. And then get back to business when you’re ready with greater productivity.

 

Focus On Your Breath

Breathing is something that happens whether we try or not. But if we can think about it consciously for just a few minutes throughout the day, we can guide the whole unconscious side of it in a better direction. Shallow breathing, mouth breathing, chest breathing—all the ways breath can go wrong—these inefficient strategies can send your thoughts in the wrong direction. But, a few good breaths—with focus on expanding the sides of your ribcage and belly— can bring you back to center, Sit tall, lay on your belly, or throw your feet up the wall. Get your spine nice and long(the surest way to neutral) and try to elongate your exhales, and the pause between the exhale and the inhale, as long as you can. Around 8 seconds is a good goal to shoot for. Be sure to inhale through your nose and blow air out through pursed lips. Two rounds of 5 breaths can calm your body and help you think and act from a more positive place. 

 

Be Proactive

Maybe you have some other strategies that work really well for you already. Maybe only a few of these will resonate with you. The point is, you’ve got to know and trust that you have the power to change your mind at any time, and it's a simple as taking one small action with the decisive intention of feeling better. 

Looking for more advice to look and feel your best? Getting your nutrition and fitness dialed in is one of the most important ways to both manage stress and make progress on your fat-loss goals. Don’t know where to start? Message me today to learn more about distance coaching and how it helps my clients find confidence and clarity. 

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The Sophisticated Way To Tackle the Holidays

It's my favorite time of year!

The windows at Saks. Choosing gifts for my loved ones. Cuddling up on the couch with my siblings to watch Christmas movies. Getting together with old friends. The good cheer from strangers on the street.

I love it all.

And let us not forget the holiday parties and traditional meals!

Don't even talk to me about Paleo this or that. I have a list for Saturday's Thanksgiving shopping and the first item on it is butter. The second is vodka.

I'm going to keep this post short, because we're all about to be very short on time; and for very good reason.

Do yourself a favor. Don't go overboard in the gym. Don't restrict yourself. And don't look on the upcoming temptations to indulge, with any kind of dread. 

Stay consistent with your fitness. Give your body what it needs to feel good. And be present in the moment. 

These practices are easier said than done. So, I'm going to give you my top tips for tackling the holidays like the cool and confident chick you are the rest of the year.

Because truthfully, a couple of cookies won't kill you, but a month of spiked cortisol from stressing over every little bite and workout might.

Prioritize Protein

If you've been through my Sophisticated Eats challenge, you know this is basically rule #1 for me. Protein helps you keep up with your physique goals and will also keep you more satisfied and full throughout the day. Translation: you won't want to eat the whole pumpkin pie, just a piece.

Get Those Greens

If you're going to eating less than stellar, planning ahead to ensure you get your greens every day will help you make the most of your nutrition through digestion, and keep your tummy happy at the same time.

Do Your Own Baking And Cooking

This one has a way bigger impact than you can imagine. Food is about sharing. Through it, we share culture and experience. Cook with family. Share recipes with coworkers. Throw a potluck with friends instead of meeting at a restaurant. Connect your brain to the process to create mindfulness. How we think about food is powerful stuff. Plus, by preparing your own dishes, you're likely avoiding excess preservatives and other gunk that can challenge your digestive system.

Stay The Course

Business as usual in the gym. There is no need to punish yourself with workouts. It's that kind of extreme behavior that sabotages our success. Start a progressive program now. Something that will keep you motivated to stay on track and empowered to fight the guilt that keeps us on the treadmill until last call. 

Don't have a program?

I'm hosting a FREE Holiday Challenge to help keep you fit through December. 25 days of workouts, plus more helpful tips. Don't have a gym? With two weights -- dumbbells of kettlebells -- and a pair of running shoes, you can do these workouts anywhere.

Plus, I'll be hosting some Facebook LIVE sessions to walk you through the program and teach you the moves. Come one. Let's beat the holidays together.

SIGN UP NOW!

Running Is Not Making You Fat

…but maybe the way you're going about it is

Running is getting a bad name. Lean body-builders are bragging about their cardio-free routines. Righteous personal trainers are telling magazines that running makes you fat. And fitness brands are selling t-shirt with slogans like “I don’t run” everywhere you look.

This is getting out of hand. Running is my oldest fitness friend. Coaching track was really my entrance into the fitness industry. Like a true friend, running has supported me through so much life stress. And running has helped me get back to the fighting weight that makes me happy. I can’t have these people talking about him this way.