Wednesday, August 24, 2016

7 Workout Myths Your Personal Trainer Is Tired of You Believing

Blast Back Fat With This At-Home Workout

There's something abundantly cruel about the human body sometimes. You can work out regularly, eat right, and limit your cheats to a glass of wine and not much else and you get the results you were hoping for. But sometimes, the body has a way of shocking you. Back fat, bra fat, or whatever else you'd like to call it often has a way of creeping up on you. Let's get you the info you need to tighten up that back!

The back muscles are comprised of the erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboid, and the teres major. Back strength is important for posture and everyday activities such as lifting, pulling, and carrying anything.

So what does back strength have to do with back fat? According to Harry Hanson, owner of the American Academy of Personal Training, "Building and strengthening the muscles of your back will make you the proud owner of a leaner, tighter torso." And not only that! When you have a stronger back, you're burning more fat overall. According to Hanson, "The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, even while at rest because adding more muscle increases the body's metabolism."

It's as easy as one, two, three (moves)! The following exercises work great together because you'll hit every area of the back when you combine them in a single workout.

Putting It All Together For a Complete Back Workout

Put the following exercises together for a back-fat-blasting workout! Before you jump into the moves, make sure to start with a warmup and dynamic stretching "to ready the muscles and to prevent injury," says certified personal trainer and owner of, Terry Asher. Now onto the workout!

Plank with Rows
3 Sets x 12 Reps (6 per arm, alternating)
Upper Back Lifts on a Swiss Ball
3 Sets x 12 Reps
Deadlifts with Weights
3 Sets x 12 Reps
Rest for 30-60 seconds in between sets

If you can perform this plan and be strict to form, you're well on your way to a fitter back! Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Just stick to the plan of completing this workout three non-consecutive days per week, you'll be on your way to a smoother, toned, and fat-free back faster than you know it.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

These 7 Breakfasts Are Perfectly Proportioned For Weight Loss

When you're on a mission to lose weight, it's essential to have a healthy breakfast. And we love the concept of counting macros and focusing on the quality of calories versus just the calorie number itself, so we consulted our macro-counting expert and nutrition coach Carrie McMahon to create the balance of those concepts: macro breakfasts for weight loss.

When you're counting macros for weight loss, Carrie has told us time and time again to focus on high protein, fibrous carbs, and healthy fats - with the exact proportions being a 20 percent fat, 45 percent carbohydrate, 35 percent protein split.

Counting that on your own can be challenging at first, so she pulled 7 of her favorite POPSUGAR Fitness breakfast recipes to showcase what those proportions look like in food form. No guesswork, no counting, just eating . . . and losing weight. Enjoy these tasty dishes all week long, using whole ingredients like eggs, oats, kale, and even dark chocolate!

from POPSUGAR Fitness

16 Healthy Recipes That Prove Pumpkin Pie For Breakfast Is a Great Idea

Let's stop pretending like we're actually going to wait until October to eat all things pumpkin and just get on with it now! While we're at it, let's also forget this silly notion that pumpkin is best served as dessert in pie form. These healthy recipes prove that pumpkin was made to be eaten for breakfast. From energizing smoothie bowls to piping-hot oatmeal, get excited.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Make a Splash With This Total-Body Mermaid Workout

Your mermaid dreams are coming true with this fun but challenging aquatic workout, inspired by the Mermaid Fitness class at the Hotel Del Coronado. Jump in the pool and prepare to work your whole body!

from POPSUGAR Fitness

You Only Need to Do 10 Reps of This Move to Totally Work Your Body

If you thought burpees were hard, do we have a treat for you today. The man maker burpee adds in free weights, and has been called "the hardest burpee in the world," as it has the power to totally transform your body in a short amount of time.

Do just 10 of these, and you'll be exhausted - it's a total timesaver, and you'll get a superpowerful workout. All you'll need is a set of hand weights and some space to move.

  • Start with a wide stance, toes slightly pointed out.
  • Lower into a deep squat, grabbing your free weights with your hands.
  • Walk or jump your feet back into plank position. Optional: do a push-up.
  • From plank position, begin your row: with your core tight and your glutes engaged, exhale, stabilizing your torso as you lift your right elbow to row. Feel your right scapula sliding toward your spine as you bend your elbow up toward the ceiling.
  • Keeping your neck long and energized, return the weight to the ground, and repeat the movement on your left side.
  • Jump your feet back in toward the hands, drop your hips toward the ground, and lift your chest.
  • In a squat, curl your weights into the chest, and stand.
  • Do an overhead press by extending your arms above your head, weights in hand. Carefully lower the weights to the starting position.
  • This completes one rep. Do one set of 10 reps.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

45 Lunches All Under 400 Calories and Perfect For Taking to Work

The last thing you want to deal with in the afternoon is a low-energy slump that comes from being too hungry or because you ate a heavy lunch that knocks you into a coma. These healthy lunch recipes are exactly what you need for hectic work days. Each meal is full of healthy protein, fiber, and carbs to keep you feeling satisfied, energized, and ready to take on the rest of the day. They're also filling enough to keep you full until dinner, but still manage to fall under the 400-calorie mark.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

So, You Just Ate a Sleeve of Oreos and 11 Reese's Cups . . . Now What?

As a sweets fan myself, I can fully admit that there have been moments in my life when I've polished off a pint of ice cream solo, housed a box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting, and inhaled half a sleeve of Oreos without even thinking twice about it. I'd like to think I live a healthy life and adhere to a pretty healthy diet, but we've all had our questionable moments, and it's fine, we're all fine, everything's going to be fine. Are you feeling me on this? Are you reading this with Oreo crumbs on your face, nodding with a mixture of regret and relief?

If you've had a lapse of judgment or just really indulged on a dessert marathon (I'm with you), there are things you can do to counteract your sugar binge. And if you're feeling a little sick, jittery, and wondering "what do I even do with myself now?" then don't fret - we consulted some dietitians to give you a step by step guide on how to get your body and brain back on track.

"When it comes to counteracting a sugar binge, there is unfortunately no magic food or step to resolve it," said Lisa Eberly, R.D. "The three main ingredients to combat a serious sugar binge are moving, water, and time." And while we're bummed about the "no magic food" part, we're relieved to know that there are steps we can take.


Let's sweat it out, right? Eberly explained to us how all this sugar is processed by the body, and how you can begin to balance things out again. Although movement is only the first step, it's totally necessary to get the detox going.

"When you ingest any kind of carb or sweet, it breaks down into glucose," said Eberly. "That glucose runs through your veins in the hopes of being taken up into the cells and used for energy." Got it. Sugar becomes glucose, glucose is the body's energy.

"This glucose - a fancy word for sugar - cruises through the blood until your muscle cells signal that they need some glucose to break down and use as energy." Hungry muscles want sugar! Use those muscles, and you'll be using up some of that excess sugar. Thanks, Oreos!

But if you're not using your muscles (read: working out, moving, etc.) then that energy is actually going to turn into fat (womp, womp). "If you eat a ton of sugar and then lounge on the couch, your muscles are like, 'Nah, no thanks.' And that glucose mulls around a bit and ultimately gets stored as fat," said Eberly.

"On the contrary, if you eat sugar and then go for a 10-minute walk, your muscles are like, 'Hey dude, thanks for the fuel,' and they soak that glucose up. This doesn't mean you need to hit up a SoulCycle class right after eating three cupcakes, it just means that if your body is moving, you're using glucose. Best practice would be a nice walk for 15 to 20 minutes to counteract a sugar binge."

And a reminder, there are WAY healthier ways to feed your muscles glucose - like in whole grain breads, potatoes, and even pasta.


Everyone we talked to suggested water as the best step. To break down why water is so crucial, Eberly explained the physiology with a metaphor many of us can relate to.

"Remember that glucose running through our blood? Well, let's pretend for a moment that our blood is a cocktail and sugar is alcohol. After a sugar binge, you'd imagine your body's cocktail would taste, well, strong. Now add a little bit of water to it. Better . . . Now add a ton of water. That's a weak cocktail."

"Drinking water will help to add volume to your blood, diluting the sugar," she said. "Additionally, water will help speed up the filtering of your blood, getting the sugar outta there. Lastly, most sugar binges have an accompanying headache, which water helps to prevent. Guzzle for a few hours following a binge; your body will thank you.

In addition to staying hydrated with H2O, nutrition coach Carrie McMahon suggests you "stick to as many whole foods as you can," and "try not to eat anything in a package, or anything pre-prepared." Her advice? "Stick to vegetables, meats, fruits, eggs, nuts, avocados, and whole grains . . . These foods are hydrating and fiber-filled, to ensure you get your body back to normal after a sugar rush."

Lara Felton, R.D., gave similar advice to McMahon, suggesting you "don't skip meals" (if you're hungry, you'll probably binge again!), but "cut calories" and "fill up on lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and vegetables."


"There's no magic pill or special food that will rid your body of sugar," said Eberly. "Water and moving will speed the process up, but being proactive is the best way to prevent the dreaded post-binge feeling."

She reminded us that "every bite of a sugary treat tastes the same." (Truuuue!) "So having three bites will taste the same as 20, with a much easier follow up. One way to keep yourself from bingeing is to eat sweets mindfully and intentionally."

That intentionality is essential to saving yourself from the effects of future binges. Ilana Muhlstein, R.D., told us to identify if there's anything in particular that caused the binge - what are your trigger foods? "Get clear on what triggered the binge, what you could have done to stop it sooner, and how it felt to lose that sense of control, so you don't repeat the act again."

Eberly stated that portion control is crucial going forward. "Going for the ice cream? Put it in a small bowl. Hand in the M&Ms? Take one handful and put away the bag. Big slice of chocolate cake? Put your fork down in between bites. These small steps toward mindfulness can help you not only eat less of your treats, but help you savor and appreciate them so much more."

Another tactic to preventing a future binge or stopping the onset of one: "Don't fall into the "all-or-nothing" mentality," said Felton. "This means, even if you 'fell off the wagon,' you don't need to go crazy. If you can step back, walk away from the food (or throw it away in the trash outside so you aren't tempted to go back for it) and distract yourself with another activity, you can reset your attention and focus from the sugar rush," she said.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

After Losing 100 Pounds, This Fit Mom Is Getting Real About Excess Skin

Why Training Your Tendons Is Important (and 11 Ways to Do It)

Tendon Strength FinalBuilding muscle is simple. Lift heavy things, rest, make sure you eat enough food, sleep, repeat. For a beginner, progress is linear and relatively sudden. You get quick feedback: your muscles get more defined, you look a little leaner, you can lift a little more each session, friends and co-workers notice and comment on the changes. New striations pop up, clothes fit differently, you feel more capable dealing with the physical world. You’re hungrier and heavier, yet still manage to drop belt sizes. All is well.

Muscle isn’t the only thing you’re impacting when you lift heavy things, though. You’re also imposing stress on your tendons and demanding an adaptive response. You’re training your tendons, too.

Yet because tendons receive less blood flow than muscle, and blood brings the nutrients and satellite cells used to repair and rebuild damaged tissue, they take a lot longer to respond to training than muscle. In one study, it took at least 2 months of training to induce structural changes in the Achilles’ tendon, including increases in collagen synthesis and collagen density. Other studies have found that it takes “weeks to months” of training to increase tendon stiffness. Meanwhile, we see structural changes to muscle tissue with just eight days of training.

This basic physiological fact shouldn’t impede our progress and tissue health, but it does.

Our bodies “expect” a lifetime of constant, varied movement. From a very early age, most humans throughout history were constantly active. They weren’t exercising or training, per se, but they were doing all the little movements all the time that prepare the body and prime the tendons to handle heavier, more intense loads and movements: bending and squatting and walking and twisting and climbing and playing and building. It was a mechanical world. The human body was a well-oiled machine, lubed and limber from daily use and well-prepared for occasional herculean efforts.

We don’t have that today. It’s the age of information. And though we spend most of our day in the digital realm, clacking away on keyboards and caressing touch screens, we retain the ancient need for physical training ingrained in our DNA. So we go from couch potato to budding powerlifter, from desk jockey to CrossFitter. But unlike our predecessors, we haven’t applied the lube of daily lifelong movement that makes those intense physical efforts safe. Everyone seems to be lifting weights nowadays, but few have the foundation of healthy, strong, durable connective tissue necessary for safe, effective training.

Just look at kids. The health of their connective tissue has three main advantages over adults:

They practice constant varied movement. They’re flopping down in distress because you turned the TV off. They’re climbing the bookcase, crawling like a dog, leaping like a frog, dancing to every bit of music they hear, jumping from objects twice their height.

They’re still young. Kids simply haven’t been alive long enough to accumulate the bad habits that characterize sedentary life and ruin our connective tissues. They aren’t broken yet.

Their connective tissue is highly vascular. Early connective tissue has a dense network of capillaries, meaning it receives ample blood flow. It regenerates quickly and has a faster response to stress. Mature tendons are mostly avascular and receive very little blood. To stay healthy and heal and respond to stress, they require diffusion of the synovial fluid filling our joints. Vascular blood flow is passive and subconscious; it’ll happen whether you move or will it to or not. Synovial fluid only diffuses through movement. You have to consciously move your joints to get the synovial fluid flowing.

So what can we do?

“Just move constantly like a six year old” is nice and all, but not everyone can crawl through the office, practice broad jumping across the board room, or run the stairwells with a software engineer on their back. Besides, we have a lot of catching up to do. More concerted, targeted efforts are required to overcome a lifetime of linear, limited movement and tons of sitting.

Before we make any decisions, let’s understand exactly what tendons do.

  1. They attach muscles to bones. It is through tendons that muscles transmit force and make movement possible. Contracting your muscles pulls on the tendons, which yanks on the bone, producing movement.
  2. Tendons also provide an elastic response, a stretch-shortening recoil effect that helps you jump, run, lift heavy things, and absorb impacts. Think of it like a rubber band.

Tendons have two primary properties that determine how they function:


The degree to which a tendon can withstand elongation and maintain form and function when placed under stress. Contrary to how we usually think about stiffness, a stiff tendon can help us transmit more force and be more stable in our movements. It takes a lot more force to get a stiff tendon to elongate, but they reward your efforts with a powerful recoil.

Stiff tendons are stiff. More elastic tendons are compliant. We need a mix of compliant and stiff tendons, depending on the tendon’s location and job.


The efficiency of the recoil response. If you waste a lot of energy in the rebound, you have high hysteresis. If your recoil is “snappy,” your tendons have low hysteresis. Low is better.

Other things matter, of course, like where the tendon “attaches” to the muscle. The farther it attaches from the axis of rotation, the stronger you’ll be (imagine holding the baseball bat in the center or the handle and trying to swing; which grip position will allow greater force?). Another is length; longer tendons have greater elastic potential than shorter ones, all else being equal. But that’s determined by genetics and out of our control.

What can you do to optimize these properties? There are some possibilities.

1. Eccentrics

Many studies indicate that eccentric exercises (lowering the weight) are an effective way to treat tendon injuries. In one trial, ex-runners in their early 40s with chronic Achilles’ tendonitis were split into two groups. One group had conventional therapy (NSAIDs, rest, physical therapy, orthotics), the other did eccentric exercises. Exercisers would do a calf raise (concentric) on the uninjured foot and slowly lower themselves on the injured foot (eccentric heel drop) for 3 sets of 15 reps, twice a day, every day, for 12 weeks. Once this got easy and pain-free, they were told to increase the resistance with weighted backpacks. After 12 weeks, all the ex-runners in the exercise group were able to resume running, while those in the conventional group had a 0% success rate and eventually needed surgery.

If heel dips can heal Achilles’ tendinopathy and single-leg decline eccentric squats can heal patellar tendinopathy, I’d wager that eccentric movements can strengthen already healthy tendons. Any tendon should respond to eccentrics. Downhill walking, slowly lowering oneself to the bottom pushup position, eccentric bicep or wrist curls; anything that places a load on the muscle-tendon complex while lengthening it should improve the involved tendons.

2. Plyometrics

Explosive movements utilizing the recoil response of the tendons can improve that response. In one study, 14 weeks of plyometrics (squat jumps, drop jumps, countermovement jumps, single and double-leg hedge jumps) reduced tendon hysteresis. The trained group had better, more efficient tendon recoil responses than the control group. Tendons didn’t get any bigger or longer; they just got more efficient at transmitting elastic energy. A previous 8-week plyometric study was unable to produce any changes in tendon function or hysteresis, so you need to give it adequate time to adapt.

3. Explosive isometrics

Explosive isometric training involves trying to perform an explosive movement against an immoveable force, like pushing a car with the parking break on, trying to throw a kick with your leg restrained by a belt, or placing your fist against the wall and trying to “punch” forward. In one study, explosive isometric calf training 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks was just as good as plyometric calf training at increasing calf tendon stiffness and jump height while being a lot safer and imposing less impact to the joints.

4. Volume-increasing exercises

Volume clearly matters. Just look at the beefy fingers of free climber Alex Honnold, who relies on them every day to support his bodyweight. Those aren’t big finger muscles. They’re thick cords of connective tissue. Pic not enough? In performance climbers with at least 15 years experience, the finger joints and tendons are 62-76% thicker than those of non-climbers. And a study showed that the extremely common crimp hold—where all five finger tips are used to hold a ledge—exerts incredible forces on the finger connective tissues, spurring adaptation. So if you’re up to the challenge, rock climbing (indoor or outdoor) is a great way to increase tendon volume.

5. Intensity-focused exercises

You have to actually stress the tendons. We see this in the eccentric decline squat study mentioned earlier, where decline squats (which place more stress on the patellar tendon) were more effective than flat squats (which place less stress on the patellar tendon) for fixing patellar tendinitis. In another study, women were placed on a controlled bodyweight squat program. They got stronger, their musculature improved, and their tendons grew more elastic, but they failed to improve tendon stiffness, increase tendon elastic storage capacity, or stem the age-related decline in tendon hysteresis. The resistance used and speed employed simply weren’t high enough to really target the connective tissue. A recent study confirms that to induce adaptive changes in tendon, you must apply stress that exceeds the habitual value of daily activities. So, while walking, gardening, and general puttering about is great for you, it’s probably not enough to coax an adaptive response out of your ailing tendons. You need to increase the magnitude of the applied stress through tinkering with volume, speed, resistance, range of motion, and the proportion of eccentric vs. concentric movement.

6. Full range of motion

Deeper, longer, farther is probably best. Consider the squat. An ass-to-grass front squat, where the hip crease drops below the knees, will stretch/stress the patellar tendon that attaches the quad to the shin bone to a greater extent than squatting to just above parallel.

7. Avoid pain, seek mild discomfort

Tendon discomfort is okay. Stress isn’t comfortable. Tendon pain is not and should be avoided. You want just enough discomfort to provoke a training stimulus, but not outright pain.

8. Daily practice

Think about—and train—your connective tissue every day. That could range from random sets of eccentric heel drops and static squat holds done throughout the day. I like Dan John’s “Easy Strength” program, where you basically pick a few movements to do each day—every day—with a fairly manageable weight. Front squat, Romanian deadlift, and pullups, for example. 2 sets of 5 reps each day for each exercise. Only add weight when it feels “too easy.”

9. Don’t rush; take it easy

Pick a load and stick to it until it gets easy. In a pair of incredible appearances on Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Podcast, Christopher Sommer of Gymnastic Bodies explains how he puts together a tendon-centric program for an athlete. He has them stick with the same weight for 8-12 weeks. The first few weeks are hard. The weight feels heavy. At 4 weeks, it’s a lot easier but still a challenge. At 8 weeks, you start feeling like it’s too easy. And that’s where the tendon-building magic happens. By 12 weeks, what felt tough when you started is now “baby weight.” Your muscles are stronger and your tendons have had enough time to build collagen density. You’re able to manhandle the weight without a problem.

Like I just mentioned above, another example is Dan John’s “Easy Strength,” which has you lift almost every day using light-moderate loads, only adding weight when 2 sets of 5 reps becomes really easy. You won’t see the rapid progression of Starting Strength, but it’ll also be easier on your body, prepare your tendons for higher loads, and remove the need for a gallon of milk a day.

10. Partial reps

Early 20th century strongman George Jowett developed a program for “strengthening the sinews” that involved partial reps of extremely heavy weights. He focused on the final 4-6 inches before lockout of the primary exercises, like bench press, overhead press, squat, and deadlift.

11. Massage and myofascial work

Massages can increase blood flow to the otherwise avascular tendons. Self myofascial release using foam rollers or lacrosse balls (or even the good ol’ elbow) is worth doing, too.

Building connective tissue strength isn’t just for preventing injuries. It will make you stronger, too. Every person aged 16 to 28 knows about “old man strength.” It’s that phenomenon of otherwise unimpressive looking old guys crushing your hand when shaking it, being immovable statues down low in pickup basketball games, and generally tossing you around like you were a child in any feat of strength. What explains it? It’s not the muscles (yours are bigger). It’s not the speed (you’re younger and faster). It’s gotta be the connective tissue made thick and strong from decades of hard living.

And so in real-world, full-body movements and compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, pullups, and gymnastics work, healthy and strong tendons increase performance. They make you stronger, more explosive, more powerful, and more resilient. They allow your big impressive muscles to actually express themselves and reach their full potential. A healthy tendon is a conduit for your muscle to express its power.

Muscles are cool and all, but don’t neglect the tendons. Feel the stretch and when you feel some weirdness in a tendon, back off. Throw in some eccentric movements and explosive isometrics. Practice hops and broad jumps. Do a joint mobility drill regularly, and consider adding a morning movement practice. Don’t feel guilty for not going hard all the time. Get really comfortable with the weight and the movements before increasing the intensity.

There’s more to the tendon story, but these are a few easily implementable suggestions for improving your tendons with physical training.

Thanks for reading, everyone. How do you train your tendons? Have you ever considered such a thing?

Shop Now

from Mark's Daily Apple

Tart Cherry Cider

This post is sponsored by The Cherry Marketing Institute.

Tart cherry cider 2

I look forward to fall every year. With the hint of briskness in the air, it gets me so excited for the holiday season. It’s a great chance to revamp your routine, tackle those remaining goals or resolutions, and get back in the swing of school routines.

With the impending busy season, it can make it trickier to stick to a healthy lifestyle. I thought I’d share some of my tips for getting the most out of your mornings and routines as the kiddos head back to school and things get a little more hectic.

-Wake up earlier to work out. I’ll have to admit, this one is tough for me. I used to be SO GOOD at waking up early to crush a morning workout, and now, I cling onto every last second of sleep that I can. I’m going to make a conscious effort this fall, because I’ve found that on the days I don’t teach, if I don’t get a morning workout, it doesn’t happen. A bonus for early workouts: I don’t realize what I’m doing until it’s almost over haha.

-Get more out of your workout time. Even though I’m admittedly terrible at waking up early for fitness, I am pretty good at crushing my workout in the time I do have.

Here are some of my tips for getting a more effective workout in less time:

Get to the gym with a plan. Know exactly what you’re going to do when you walk in the doors, so you don’t waste precious sweat time by trying to devise a plan on the spot. If you’re looking for ideas, check out my fitness page or Summer Shape Up!

Circuit train. While I do enjoy traditional hypertrophy training (3-4 sets with rest in between), it’s not the most time-effective strategy. Work in circuits or superset exercises to keep your body moving and your heart rate elevated. Rest in between circuits or supersets.

Add in cardio blasts. If you don’t have time for a traditional strength + cardio workout, intersperse heart-pounding cardio moves with your strength exercises. I like to do quick bodyweight squats, plyometrics, sprints or row intervals for 30 seconds to 1 minute in between strength exercises. 

Do little bits at home. You can absolutely split up your training into smaller bits throughout the day if it works better for your schedule. My favorite method: 10 minutes cardio, 10 minutes strength, 10 minutes core and flexibility.

Here’s a workout that you can split up into pieces if you need to:

A workout that you can split up into 3 10-minute segments depending on your schedule. Get in an intense cardio, strength and core workout!

A workout that you can split up into 3 10-minute segments depending on your schedule. Get in an intense cardio, strength and core workout!

-Maximize your recovery. If you recover properly in between training, it improves fitness gains, minimizes injury, and you’ll feel more energized for your next training session. Some of my favorite recovery tips:

Adopt a smart strength training split so you’re not working the same muscles on consecutive days. This will give the muscles enough time to recover and repair before you break them down again through strength training.

Alternate cardio intensities. Your heart is a muscle, and just like any other muscles in your body, you don’t want to work it to its max every day. Make sure that you have a balance of interval training, easy steady state, short cardio workouts, and longer endurance days in your weekly schedule.

Eat foods that will encourage recovery. One of my very favorites is Montmorency tart cherry juice.

Tart cherry juice

Some of the benefits:

Studies suggest that Montmorency tart cherry juice can reduce muscle soreness and weakness following intense strength training or a long distance run. A new study demonstrates the impact of Montmorency tart cherries on inflammation and oxidative stress after high-intensity cycling. Cyclists who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate before a three-day simulated race experienced less inflammation and oxidative stress compared to those who drank another beverage.

Montmorency tart cherries have a high amount of anthocyanins, which are beautiful in color and have been demonstrated to protect the body against inflammation and various diseases. They can help the body fight inflammation linked to arthritis and gout.

You can check out more details about this power-packed fruit here.

Here is a fall-appropriate recipe I created using tart cherry juice.

Tart cherry cider

The deep red hue has always reminded me of mulled wine, and I thought the tart cherry juice would be fantastic with some fall spices. Since tart cherry juice also helps with sleep, this autumn-esque drink is perfect to sip, snuggled up and winding down from the day. Olivia took one sip and said, “It tastes like Christmas.” It totally does.

Tart cherry cider 3


Tart Cherry Cider
2016-08-23 15:59:32
Serves 2
A delicious and warming mug of spiced tart cherry juice. It tastes exactly like mulled wine, minus the alcohol. Try it for the anti-inflammatory and sleep-promoting benefits!
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
  1. 16 oz tart cherry juice
  2. 1 teaspoon orange zest
  3. Juice of 1/2 an orange (slice the rest and reserve)
  4. 1 teaspoon whole dried cloves
  5. 4 star anise
  6. 2 cinnamon sticks
  7. 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  8. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  9. 1 generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  1. In a saucepan on medium heat, bring all of the ingredients to a simmer (including the orange slices). Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Strain and serve immediately.
The Fitnessista


Let me know if you give it a try! 



 This post is sponsored by my friends at the Cherry Marketing Institute. Thank you so much for your support of this blog. I truly appreciate it.

from The Fitnessista

Why You Can’t Just Smash Your Muscles for Better Squats: Part Deux

Written by: Kevin Cann

In my last article I explained how our tight muscles are a defense mechanism to provide us stability when we have lost optimal control of joint movement. We find the instability, we correct it, and the tightness will go away.

Just smashing our tissues may help for temporary relief due to some increased blood flow, but we will have to continuously do this to get relief if we do not identify the instability. In order to identify the instability we need to have a thorough assessment performed by a professional that understands the human movement system.

One of our elite lifters here at Total Performance sports is a perfect example of what I am talking about. She has been experiencing lower back pain in the area of her QL and the top of her glutes in conjunction with some tightness in her mid-back that she feels is having a negative effect on her squats.

She had tried multiple things to loosen up her mid-back with no avail. She was performing a lot of soft tissue work that was just not helping the matter. The fact that she had tried this and it did not work makes my job a lot easier because I can write off smashing the tight tissue as a means to fix this issue. This is not an exact science and often times you try something only to realize that it did not work. This is why we are constantly assessing and re-assessing.

The first part of any assessment should be learning a little bit about the person and their lifestyle. I happen to be familiar with this individual so that helps quite a bit. She just finished law school and studying for the bar exam. She spent far more time sitting down with her face buried in a computer or book then she has in a very long time.

This is valuable to know because we all know the problems that prolonged sitting can cause. One of her other complaints was that she feels she cannot turn her glutes on. Sitting down all day long does have a tendency to send our glutes on vacation and it can also change the shape of our spine.

With that said, it is much too early to draw the conclusion that her issue with her glutes is from sitting down. All I have done is ask a few questions. I need to see her move around for me to make a better guess as to what her issue is.

I have a specific assessment that I use and it includes pieces of the FMS and SFMA. I assessed her cervical spine range of motion, single leg stance ability, her ability to touch her toes, her multi-segmental extension (backbend), shoulder internal and external rotation, as well as t-spine rotation while standing.

She moves pretty well for a 74kg lifter that deadlifts over 450lbs. I assessed her hip ROM as well as strength and compared the two sides. Nothing very telling yet.

We continued the assessment by checking her active straight leg raise, which was symmetrical and adequate. It got interesting from the next assessment. I checked her t-spine rotation in the quadruped position with her shoulder in external rotation. There was far less range of motion here than there was when she was standing.

What changed between the standing t-spine rotation test and the quadruped version? The quadruped version requires much more shoulder stability. She had adequate t-spine mobility with her arms in the most stable position, down by her side, but far less when we got into the quadruped position.

Remember what I had said earlier that all tightness is a loss of stability somewhere. If we cannot stabilize our shoulder joint appropriately our mid-back will tighten us around our shoulder blades to provide us with that stability so we do not get hurt.

I gave her a couple of exercises to see how this would help. The first is a twist on the classic windshield wiper exercise. She laid on her back and squeezed a foam roller between her thighs while her hips were flexed past 90 degrees. She held a kettlebell over her shoulder with her elbow locked and her shoulder stacked. Maintaining this shoulder position she rotated her knees to the opposite side of the hand holding the kettlebell. She touched the knees on the ground and returned to that start. It is key to breathe through this exercise.

After we performed a few of these she said that it felt a little better. From there I wanted to re-establish appropriate communication of our posterior oblique system. Rolling patterns are great for this however; I wanted to improve this function while forcing shoulder stabilization. We performed a few kettlebell armbars in each direction and the tightness went away.

Our job is not done at this point. These are minimally loaded exercises being performed while she is laying on her back. I want to see her perform some loaded movements as part of my assessment. I prefer to see the movement that causes the most pain.

I watched her squat and noticed that she loses her packed neck when she comes out of the hole. This can also lead to tightness in the mid-back. We want our cervical spine to be stable. If it is mobile through the squat we will lose mobility in our thoracic spine to give us that stability that we need.

Her lack of stability in both the shoulder and the neck are leading to tightness in the mid-back. In order for that tightness to go away we need to fix both scenarios. As she performs her exercises and works on keeping the chin tucked during the squat, the mid-back will be able to relax and go back to being more mobile. Once we have corrected the stability issues we can add in some soft tissue work to help offset the increased sitting that she has been experiencing on a day to day basis.

This is why having a thorough assessment is important. Often times people will just feel tight and rollout those tight tissues, feel better, and think everything is ok. Only to find that those muscles just tighten right back up. All tightness is a lack of stability somewhere. Find that instability, correct it, and your soft tissue work will be much more effective.

from The Paleo Diet - Robb Wolf on Pale...

Do These 7 Moves to Help Tighten and Tone Arms

Welcome to the definitive guide to strengthening and toning your arms. These moves will work every muscle group of the arms, meaning you'll have strong and svelte biceps, triceps, and shoulders. All you need to do is grab a set of weights and be ready to work. Tip: as these moves become easier, be sure to increase the size of the weights you are using.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Overcome Your Fear of Working Out With These 2 Simple Tips

Starting a new workout - or starting exercise in general - can be scary. When I first started my own fitness journey, I was nearly paralyzed by fear. The general anxiety: "What if I fail?" The self-consciousness: "What if I'm so bad and everyone is judging me?" and "I'm going to be the slowest runner, that's so embarrassing." Then, the fear of injury: "What if I hurt myself because I'm so physically inept I can't keep up in class?"

So how do we overcome this fear and get on our way to being healthy and strong? To get some expert insight, I asked a woman who has had to overcome some seriously scary obstacles - think back flips on ice skates, flying through the air on silk ribbons, tumbling, headstands on horses . . . getting the picture?

Ashley Vargas is no stranger to tackling terrifying feats and embracing bravery. The star circus performer and aerialist with Ringling Brothers has been taking on new challenges since she was in college, where she learned to figure skate and eventually started training with an "equestrian bareback-riding family from Italy" who did stunt work on horses.

From there, Ashley started doing trick riding, before joining The Greatest Show on Earth, where she's been a part of a crossbow act, has ridden horses, performs on ice skates, and does aerial work (sometimes aerial work WITH ice skating). She does a little bit of everything when it comes to the stunt performing - she's been learning to walk the wire and do trapeze stunts - and it's a wonder to behold (I got to see her in action shortly after our interview).

To me, every one of the performances that she listed sounded like they'd scare the absolute sh*t out of me if I were to attempt them. I can barely ride a horse sitting down, let alone try to do a headstand on its back while it was moving!

So I asked her, since these incredible physical stunts and activities are so scary, how does she get past that when she's trying something new? Two factors weigh into Ashley's fearless attitude: fun and trust.

Have Fun

"You want to have that rush of adrenaline . . . of fun," she said. Evaluate how much fun you're going to have in that activity - sort of like a cost-benefit analysis. Is it more fun than scary? If so, focus on the fun part to get past the fear. As Ashley began to add more physical activities to her performance repertoire, she concentrated on how much fun it was going to be.

Is your new activity going to be more scary than fun? An example of this: if you have a serious fear of heights, acroyoga might not be the most fun activity for you and you'll probably want to skip it and pick an activity that feels a little safer.

Bottom line: find an activity that looks really fun to you, whether it's swimming, dancing, or maybe even acroyoga (assuming you're not afraid of heights)! The idea of having fun with your activity will get you past the initial hurdle, which eventually will open the door to even more activities.


Ashley also makes sure that when she's trying something new and daring, she has a safety net. "I put a lot of trust in my coaches," she said. "You have to stop thinking about what you can and cannot do, and put your trust in what the coach or trainer is saying."

The takeaway I got from this is that we can trust our trainers and instructors in the gym or in class. Personally, I remember my first few yoga classes ever, in which the instructor wanted me to try Crow Pose. Thinking "There's no effing way that's happening" got in my way, but once I started trusting the instructor who was saying, "It's all in your mind, you can do this," I easily hopped into Crow. Did I fall a few times? Sure. But that's all part of it. Ashley agrees: "If you fall, no big deal, just get back up!" Trust your trainer, and trust yourself.

Focusing on fun and having a trainer or instructor you can trust can help you overcome what's setting you back and eradicate the limitations that are inhibiting your ability to live your best life and be your healthiest self.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

12 Impossibly Easy Oatmeal Hacks That Can Help With Weight Loss

There are many reasons oatmeal is one of the best foods for weight loss: it can decrease cholesterol and help you drop pounds, it keeps you full, it helps with digestion, and it keeps your blood sugar levels steady.

So let's make weight loss even easier by looking at ways to hack your standard oatmeal. We've rounded up some of the best tricks and tips to keep you on your oatmeal A game, losing or maintaining weight, and feeling good.

  1. Add a boost of filling protein with chickpeas. More protein, more satiety, less chance of snacking later.
  2. Add chia seeds to debloat, up protein, and boost digestion.
  3. Add hemp seeds to increase the protein even more while keeping it low-carb.
  4. Make it the night before as overnight oats. No morning cook time!
  5. Mix in some protein powder for a nutritional boost. Protein oats!
  6. Layer in nut butter for a filling, tasty twist.
  7. Make multiple servings of overnight oats on a meal prep day to eat right all week.
  8. Make it in a slow cooker. It's a warm version of overnight oats with zero cook time in the morning.
  9. Control portions with smaller mason jars to help you lose weight.
  10. Try different flavor combinations to keep things fresh so you're not tempted to binge on something else.
  11. Make big batches of it and freeze it to reheat on the fly in the morning.
  12. Choose steel-cut oats - they have a lower glycemic index and can keep your blood sugar even more stable than rolled oats.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

When you’re at a life turning point

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially with our upcoming move back to Valdosta. 

LOU 7662

(Photo by the incredible Lou Mora. I’ll share more in our staycation recap post!)

When we first moved to Valdosta, I was at a major transitional and turning point. I was a new wife in the squadron, and had very little knowledge of how it all worked. I was also in a new spot with my job. I worked retail and taught dance classes throughout the end of high school and college, and when we moved to North Carolina and then Valdosta, I had a hard time finding a job associated with my degree (Finance). I was offered a decent-paying retail management position at a department store before we moved to Georgia, and decided to go for it.

Needless to say, that didn’t end up working out. I rarely saw the Pilot because the hours were long and our schedules often conflicted, and I got burned out pretty quickly. During the end of my time there, I started to research teaching group fitness classes and got my certification. When I quit my job, I was teaching fitness classes and started training clients.

I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but knew I wanted it to involve sharing health and fitness with others, and from there, the blog was born. It’s funny how things can come out of such a transitional time. I remember crying in the kitchen to the Pilot because I didn’t know what to do with my life and I missed all of my family and friends. 

Now that we’re going back, I can’t help but feel a little pit in my stomach despite the fact that this time will be completely different. I have a job that I love so much and can take with me wherever we go (yay blog!), and we still have friends and connections in the area. We have two little lovebugs who keep me very busy, and we’re going to have a blast exploring our new place.  I CAN’T WAIT to take some Orlando and Jacksonville road trips with the fam! 

I’ve considered different teaching possibilities, but will likely wait until we get there to see what I decide to do. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally dip my feet into the yoga teaching pool. Even with all there is to think about and look forward to, it’s definitely a time of uncertainty.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the things that helped me with that first transitional time. I would love to hear any of your tips, too, for fellow reader friends who might be moving, switching jobs, or experiencing some changes this fall season.

-Talk it out. Talking to anyone who would lend an ear helped me so much. I think this is such a great way to determine potential ideas and solutions for when you feel *stuck.* Even though the Pilot chuckled a little when I said I was first starting a blog (he just wanted me to stop buying things online haha), he always listened to me vent and helped explore solutions. I am a huge advocate for therapy, too, so seek out a therapist near you. Mine always helps me come up with an action plan when I feel overwhelmed.

-Do something you really love. Make time for a hobby or something you enjoy. This is random, but since Meg brought over her ukulele, I suddenly want to learn how to play it. I might take a few lessons this fall just for kicks. You know I’ll be singing some Hamilton ukulele jams haha.

-Get fresh air. Whenever I feel blah, stuck or overwhelmed, fresh air works wonders. Right now I’m making a conscious effort to walk the dogs regularly, which is good for them, and good for all of us! I always feel more centered when we get more.

-Explore as many options as possible but don’t drive yourself crazy. I find that it helps me to narrow things down and focus on the things I can do and control right now. Everything else will have to wait until it makes sense. For now, all I can really do is browse houses, think about moving strategy, and try to plan for our short stay in Tucson. 

-Trust in the process. This is definitely one of those “easier said than done” type things, but I found that sometimes when change is on the horizon, the best thing I can do is focus on right now. I tend to get two steps ahead of myself, so if I bring myself to the present moment, I realize that everything really is ok.

So tell me, friends: anyone else with some big changes or turning points on the horizon? What helps you when you feel stuck or overwhelmed?


from The Fitnessista

5 No-Equipment Moves You Can Do Anywhere

Sometimes you just can't make it to the gym. Or you can't find your weights. Or the internet is down and you can't access your exercise video streaming service. If you're looking for excuses to skip a workout, you generally don't have to look very far. You would never do such a thing, though, right? Right?! Which is exactly why we've rounded up five of our favorite equipment-free moves so you can squeeze in a workout no matter where you are and what gear is (or isn't) available.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

15 Deliciously Healthy Apple Recipes For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert

The adage says an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but we think the new phrase should be "an apple a day keeps the weight loss at bay." Might not have the same ring to it, but you get the gist! Apples are actually a great weight loss booster, and they're super versatile, allowing you to incorporate them into tons of recipes.

These apple dishes are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert - we've got everything from baked goods to salads to tasty smoothies for you to try. Enjoy!

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Swap Out Your Protein Smoothie For Quinoa Vanilla Pudding

Quinoa combines with coconut milk and fresh passion fruit to create a protein-packed pudding parfait bursting with tropical flavors. The one-pot recipe is simple to make and can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

You Can't Unsee These Ridiculously Hot Pictures of Zac Efron's Shirtless Workouts

Under most circumstances, a guy posting shirtless gym selfies might come off as a little annoying. But Zac Efron could post ab-baring workout pictures all day and we're pretty sure it would generate zero complaints.

With abs that are truly a wonder to witness, Zac has so generously graced us with the fruits of his labor: a cornucopia for the eye, really. Let's cut to the chase, though: BEHOLD.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

5 Ways Chia Seeds Will Help You Lose Weight

We love them for their superfood qualities, but did you know that chia seeds are also great for weight loss? From fighting fat to lowering your chances of overeating, there are several ways in which chia seeds contribute to a slimmer, healthier you. Take a look at these benefits, and start adding chia into your own weight-loss program.

  • High in protein. More protein makes you feel fuller longer, so you'll have less desire to snack in excess or overeat. More protein also contributes to lean muscle mass, which will help with your exercise regimen, too.
  • Lots of fiber. You probably know by now that fiber aids in digestion; this means you'll be less bloated thanks to your body being more regular.
  • Low carb. Each ounce of chia seeds only has 12 grams of carbohydrates, meaning your body will have less fat stored per serving consumed.
  • Major de-stressor. Chia seeds are great for your mood. The seeds are high in serotonin-releasing tryptophan and magnesium, as well as depression-fighting omega 3s. Less stress = less cortisol. Cortisol causes fat to cling to your belly, so you definitely want lower levels.
  • High in healthy fats. Good fats can burn body fat. They're also pivotal in creating a sense of satiety (making you feel full), just like protein, so you're less inclined to overeat and more likely to feel satisfied with your food.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Should You Wear a Fitness Tracker?

Should You Track Your Fitness in-lineFor a nation of supposedly obese, lazy, and sedentary layabouts, American consumers sure are interested in tracking their daily activity levels. In 2015, they bought 13.4 million dedicated activity trackers, up 50% from the previous year, and spent almost $1.5 billion on the devices. That’s in addition to the hundreds of millions of smartphones in circulation that also track your daily steps, sleep quality and duration, and calorie expenditure. From FitBit to Jawbone to Apple Watch to dozens of others, the wearable fitness-tracking gadget industry is growing quickly. Venture capital has responded, pouring billions into the wearable industry.

Are they worth it?

It depends. According to some data, about a third of users stop using their devices within six months of getting them. Then again, “most people” don’t know the difference between polyunsaturated and saturated fat. “Most people” don’t care enough to watch their carb intake, or pay a little extra for grass-fed beef, or eat a Big Ass Salad every day. These statistics collate yet ignore individual data points. If you decided to pick up a FitBit or a Jawbone or an Apple Watch, the only data point that matters is yours. Most people might stop using their wearable after a couple months. You might keep wearing it.

Are they accurate?

According to research from December of last year, they aren’t very accurate at tracking data beyond step count. Researchers analyzed 22 studies exploring the ability of FitBit and Jawbone (the two most popular trackers) to accurately track, sleep, steps, calories burned, distance, and physical activity. They were both good at counting steps, but missed the boat on almost everything else.

They overestimated sleep duration. Overall, accelerometer-based sleep-tracking wearables compared poorly to established medical devices for tracking sleep, like polysomnography (used in sleep studies) and actigraphs.

They underestimated distance traveled at high speeds and overestimated distance traveled at low speeds.

One study found that the FitBit accelerometer was fairly accurate when assessing physical activity; others found that both the Fitbit’s and the Jawbone’s were not.

Both tracker brands underestimated and overestimated calories burnt, depending on the study.

A 2016 study looked at four different brands—FitBit Charge HR, Apple Watch, Mio Alpha, and Samsung Gear S—of wrist trackers and found that while heart rate tracking was accurate, energy expenditure tracking was not.

Another 2016 study found that while most trackers are accurate with step tracking over flat ground, step tracking on stairs is less accurate, and distance tracking on stairs is overestimated by at least 45%.

That said, these aren’t huge hits against wearables. Raw step count and resting HR are the most important features of today’s fitness trackers, as they allow you to track:

Daily activity. Are you moving frequently at a slow pace? Are you hitting the 10k step mark? Walking is the foundation of good physical, mental, and psychological health. It’s fundamental to our species—we’re walkers.

Heart rate zone. If you’re at all interested in becoming a fat-burning beast, spending a lot of time in the aerobic heart rate zone (180 minus age) will get you there, and a HR monitor can help you figure out what it looks and feels like.

The million dollar question: do they encourage more activity?

Surprisingly, few researchers have even explored this fundamental question: whether fitness trackers increase activity. What exists isn’t very encouraging.

A 2015 study gave overweight middle aged women either a standard pedometer (counts steps and distance) or a wearable fitness tracker. Both groups were coached to take 10,000 steps a day and engage in moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes a week. After four weeks, the pedometer group saw no improvement. The fitness tracker group was little better, only increasing weekly activity by 38 minutes. No one reached 10,000 steps a day.

Anecdotes of how wearing a tracker changed this person’s fitness and helped them lose a dozen pounds and lose that baby weight abound, and I’m hesitant to discount them. If tracking your activity really does encourage you, then it works. For you. And since this thing we call society consists of millions of subjective realities traipsing about, each crafting a separate narrative, “for you” is the only relevant qualifier.

Okay, all that aside, most of the downsides I’ve discussed derive from limitations of the technology. Wearables are still young. Future tech will improve, and I’m confident that within 5-10 years we’ll have consumer-level devices that accurately track sleep, calorie expenditure, metabolic rate, fat-vs-sugar-burning ratio, and dozens of other biomarkers. It’s only a matter of time.

But there’s another potential downside, one that has little to do with the accuracy of the technology or the technology itself. It’s how we silly humans exalt numbers over feelings, objectivity over subjectivity.

This has its advantages. When we can track it, people who otherwise might not put in the effort suddenly care about getting enough steps each day. Put something down on paper/in an app and it becomes real. You care more about what you can quantify. You pay closer attention to your steps per day, and aim for more each day, when you’re getting real time feedback, your friends are getting notifications when you hit your goals, your wrist is buzzing with excitement over your 10,000th step. When you’re wearing a fitness tracker, getting 10,000 steps doesn’t just make you healthier, it makes you happier. And health-seeking behaviors only become second-nature when we can derive intrinsic value—happiness, in this case—from their pursuit.

This all sounds great, Sisson. What’s the downside? Once you start quantifying your physical activity, activity you don’t track loses value.

If you forget your wearable, you lose your steps. If your exercise session won’t show up on your daily wrap-up, if, God forbid, your FitBit friends won’t see all the walking you did today, you may be less likely to do it. Especially if you’re only walking to pad your stats.

It’s like the tree falling in the forest. Did you really take that walk to the grocery store if your FitBit wasn’t there to record the steps? Did you actually reach the fat-burning aerobic zone in your long easy run if you forgot to wear the heart rate monitor?

Are you walking so much because you like the small hit of dopamine that floods your brain every time you get another thousand, or do you actually enjoy ambling around? Is your motivation truly intrinsic?

Before the trackers, steps taken were lost to the past. You’d step, and shift your weight, and it was over. Gone. You might recall where you walked and what you saw and whom you were with, but you didn’t have any real notion of how many steps you’d taken. The thought to count them never even entered your mind. You could, but it’d be laborious and frankly ridiculous to count your steps in your head.

You know. You know now. But your FitBit friends don’t. And before long—a week or two, maybe—you’ll have forgotten all about it. If that scares you, there may be a problem.

Maybe I’m old school. Maybe I don’t get it. Maybe I’m a Luddite (who just so happens to run a successful online business). But I’m far more interested in fine-tuning my intuition than relying on technology to tell me how healthy I’m being. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use them.

If you want to use one, just do it right:

Wear it on the same spot. You can wear it on your lapel, your hip, your wrist, or your ankle as long as you wear it there every time. The more consistent you are, the more accurate the device will be.

Be accurate when entering your personal data. To give you accurate data, the tracker needs to know your real height and weight. If your weight changes, update it.

Calibrate your step length. Some wearables allow you to calibrate your true step length when you start using the device. Doing so will improve the accuracy of distance tracking.

Stop moving when taking your heart rate. Most consumer wrist-wearables are unable to accurately track heart rate when you’re in motion. To get an accurate reading, stop exercising and rest for 5-10 seconds before checking your HR.

Focus on trends, not absolute numbers. If what the device says about last night’s sleep corresponds to how you feel about last night’s sleep, it has value. If it conflicts—if you feel great despite getting poor marks on your tracker—it’s probably inaccurate. But that makes you wonder: if you’re only using the tracker to confirm your subjective impressions, how valuable is the tracker? Just use your intuition.

Remind yourself every morning that you are a privileged rich person who’s probably already rail-thin. The added weight of your guilt will increase your heart rate and calories burned.

Most importantly, use your fitness tracker to enhance and inform your intuition, not replace it.

This wasn’t intended to be a review of all the available fitness trackers. It was a quick review of the evidence for and against along with my personal take on the technology.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with wearables down below. What worked? What didn’t? What did you gain from wearing a fitness tracker? What have you lost?

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Shop Now

from Mark's Daily Apple

Total body + Tabata Workout

Hi friends! How’s the morning going? Hope you’re having a wonderful day. Thank you so much to all of you who have submitted applications for the part-time position. I added a little update to what the position’s tasks, but they will vary on a weekly basis depending on what’s going on. I will be so thankful to have an extra set of hands with the behind-the-scenes tasks, especially for days like yesterday when I have a babysitter for a few hours, and my dentist appointment ends up taking up the entire block of time. Cool, bro.

I taught a sweaty Spin class,

Spin it to win it

and we had an awesome Lemon-Thyme Chicken dinner from the Fed and Fit cookbook. I picked this up last week and I’m so excited to try out some new dinner recipes! While I feel like I could (and usually do) eat the same 5 things for breakfast and lunch each day, I have to switch it up for dinners for the sake of the fam. I’m always looking for new ideas, unless I can make it a Blue Apron week haha. 

Fed and fit

(I LOVE her red dress on the cover. So gorgeous)

This morning, I’m sharing a workout that I originally created as part of Summer Shape Up. It combines one of my favorite strategies for building lean muscle and burning calories quickly. I also think these types of workouts are the most fun: you’re always moving, sweaty, and it’s over before you know it. You can use the weights portion as a bit of *recovery* before jumping back into the Tabata blasts.

Something to keep in mind: Tabata workouts are an advanced form of training. If you’re beginning your fitness journey or just getting back in the swing of things, you can do 4 minutes of brisk walking or jogging instead. It will still elevate your heart rate in between sets.

Total body tabata blast

Here’s the workout if you’d like to give it a try! Pin it for the next time you need a little gym inspiration. 

Combine compound strength exercises with calorie-torching Tabata intervals for an effective and sweaty workout! Pin this for the next time you need gym inspiration :)

Combine compound strength exercises with calorie-torching Tabata intervals for an effective and sweaty workout! Pin this for the next time you need gym inspiration 🙂

Tabata workout

Form cues:

Curl to press: challenge yourself with the weights! Make sure to keep your chest lifted and exhale as you press the weights overhead. Keep your weight in your heels as you squat, and think about sinking your booty down and back. 

Curtsy lunge to side lift: as you exhale, lift the back leg out to the side. Really think about squeezing your glutes to lift your leg. Make sure that you take a nice big step back and to the side for your curtsy lunge. 

Row to triceps extension: squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your elbows close to your torso. Keep your back flat, and exhale as you press the weights back. As you press the weights back, think about really squeezing your triceps to lift your arms.

Reverse lunge to front kick: use your core to lift your leg and flex your foot to press it away from you. Keep your chest lifted and torso upright as you lunge. Finish on one side before switching to the other side.

For the Tabata intervals, feel free to remove the jump from any of these exercises for a low-impact variation. If you are a beginner or if you’re pregnant, skip the Tabatas. Complete 4 minutes of power walking instead.  

Have an amazing morning!

What’s your favorite exercise to get your heart rate up? How often do you interval train in your routine? Any awesome dinner recipes lately??



PS New post up on PBB here about supplements to take daily!

from The Fitnessista

Episode 332 – Dr. Drew Ramsey – Healthy Nutrition

Nothing but Treats Here! Vegan Halloween Candy You Can Find Just About Anywhere

10 Basic Staples You Should Always Keep in Your Dorm Mini Fridge

You've got your closet organizers, your under-bed storage, your new bedding, and all your favorite pictures printed: your dorm is set. But have you stocked your mini fridge?

College is typically the first time you get to make all your own dietary choices (whoo, no parents!), and while unlimited pizza in the dining halls is an alluring option (we've all been there), you want to make sure your dorm and fridge are stocked with some healthy staples - read: no Top Ramen. This way, you'll be able to snack smarter, stay fuller, fuel your body better, and be your healthiest self.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

5 Inspiring Examples of Black Girl Awesomeness from the 2016 Olympics

Claressa, Jenny, Simone, and many, many, more, all showing the world their skill, their talent, and just how incredible they are as role models and inspiration.

The post 5 Inspiring Examples of Black Girl Awesomeness from the 2016 Olympics appeared first on A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss.

from A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

These Were the 5 Most-Talked About Moments of the Olympics

The Olympics were full of broken records, heartwarming moments, and inspiration. From Michael Phelps breaking a 2,000-year-old record to Usain Bolt's unforgettable finish-line smile, the Olympics were also inspirational Instagram material. According to the social network's own statistics, these were the top five moments from the Games that users interacted with most. If you're looking for the most liked photos from the Olympics, we've got you covered as well.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

7 Reasons You Gain Weight Overnight and What You Can Do About It

You hit the gym superhard yesterday. You stuck to your diet like a saint. Then, you wake up and step on the scale, just knowing you are going to see that magic number you were hoping for . . . only to be disappointed when you've actually gained a few pounds.

As a nutritionist, I always tell my clients not to weigh themselves more than once a week because it is so easy to let a number get in your head and ruin your whole day. It's literally impossible (well, almost impossible) to gain three pounds of fat overnight. You would have to eat 10,500 extra calories in one day - that's almost 20 Big Macs!

Still think you really gained three pounds overnight? Here are seven reasons to explain why you did and why that weight won't stick around permanently.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Watch Olympians React With Pure Joy as They Realize They've Medaled

Make healthy a habit


Workouts, healthy recipes, and weight-loss tips delivered to your inbox.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

We Tried All 7 Flavors of Halo Top Low-Calorie, High-Protein Ice Cream . . . and Here's How It Went

Holy sweetness, you guys. We finally got to try Halo Top ice cream - the protein-rich, low-sugar, low-carb, low-fat frozen goodness that we've had our eye on for months - and it didn't disappoint.

A quick nutritional breakdown of Halo Top flavors: an entire pint has between 240 and 280 calories, depending on the flavor, with each flavor offering 24 grams of protein per pint. By comparison, a pint of vanilla Haagen Dazs ice cream has 1,000 calories (not joking) - same with Ben & Jerry's.

In each serving of Halo Top, you'll get 6 grams of protein per serving, 20 percent of your daily fiber intake, and only 4 or 5 grams of sugar. In Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry's, you'll get 4 grams of protein, zero fiber, and about 20 grams of sugar.

We've tried healthy ice creams before, and to be perfectly honest, sometimes they just don't live up to the real thing; you're left unsatisfied and a little annoyed you didn't just let yourself have a scoop of regular ice cream. NOT the case with Halo Top, which for all intents and purposes, is just like regular ice cream. Here's how we know . . .

We may or may not have left out the fact that this ice cream was "healthy ice cream" when we invited POPSUGAR employees for a Friday treat in the kitchen. Unsuspecting colleagues came in to scoop up a little of each flavor and see which was their favorite, but they didn't pay much attention to the labels calling out the fact that they were relatively low-calorie and a good source of protein.

The result? When they found out, they were shocked. There was a whole lot of "Love!" and "Delicious!" and "Yummy!" in our taste test notes. Let's look at the definitive ranking of all seven flavors.

Vanilla Bean

Truly the cream of the crop. The VB flavor of Halo Top is the first perfect score we've seen on a Fitness taste test. With 5s all around, Vanilla Bean was said to be "smooth and not too sweet." Highlights included: "LOVE!! Healthy?! For real?!" "On. Point." "Perfection; I could marry this ice cream, it's that perfect and dependable." For a lifelong relationship with an ice cream you can count on, definitely grab the Vanilla Bean flavor of Halo Top.

Birthday Cake

We had been waiting to try this flavor for ages, as it was a bit tough to find in store. The funfetti style of rainbow chips gave it a touch of nostalgia, and the flavor definitely delivered. "Tastes like bday cake," "tastes like yellow cake batter," "really good texture for a low cal ice cream," and "sweet God," were among the best reviews. Those who didn't prefer this flavor said it was too sweet for their preference, which was great, because it allowed the rest of us to finish the pint.

Mint Chip

Mint Chip received high scores, but perplexingly did not live up to the latter half of its name. "Love the mintiness! Wish there were more chips," said one reviewer. "Creamy & delicious – what no crunchy chips?" said another. "I mean, it's really delicious but where TF are the chips?!" chimed in a third. This pattern went on. Perhaps if Halo Top had simply named this flavor "Mint" and left it at that, it'd have scored higher. Seems to be a bit of false advertising in the chip department, but overall, the flavor was well received by every single taste tester, and never scored below 4 points.


Even though the jury is a bit out for our dear Strawberry flavor, it still ranked nearly 4 stars, which is particularly high for any taste test. "Really tasty" and "Creamy! Yummy!" were countered by "Yummy but odd aftertaste," and "the taste is so unclear to me." Overall, it's probably the best healthy strawberry ice cream you'll find at the store, and would probably make an awesome milkshake.


As far as chocolate ice creams go, this one got pretty great reviews. Although some reviewers commented that it's "not as good as vanilla," people noted that it was "delicious" and "silky smooth." Most reviews did, however, note an "odd" or "peculiar" aftertaste.

Chocolate Mocha Chip

The downfall of Chocolate Mocha Chip, or CMC as we'll call it, was not the flavor - it was the texture. Whereas the other flavors seemed to have more of a silky smoothness, CMC had a bit of a "powdery," "dry," "strange, crumbly" texture. In fact, all reviews noted the great flavor, but odd texture. Definitely not the worst we've tried.

Lemon Cake

To be quite honest, I'm a little surprised that Lemon Cake came in last, but when every flavor is truly delicious, someone has to take last place, you know? The worst reviews said "Just OK" and "meep . . . eh" (whatever that means). The best reviews were several "yummy"s, "best one," and "tastes just like lemon and cake!!!"

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Women With Bigger Busts Will Rejoice Over Serena Williams's Instagram Announcement

These Tiny Olympic Gymnasts Love Taking Pictures With Supertall Athletes

For gymnasts, being short is totally an advantage. These powerfully petite young women catapult their bodies into the air for tucks, turns, tumbles, and twists, so any excess height might inhibit their ability to get the rotations and height they need to get the gold.

As such, they totally embrace their height and love taking pictures with athletes from other sports - particularly basketball and volleyball - and put them on Instagram and Twitter. The disparity is a wonder to behold. Check it out.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

3-Move Circuit From BBG's Kayla Itsines For Tight and Toned Arms

We're big fans of Aussie trainer and founder of the Sweat With Kayla app Kayla Itsines, and we're delighted to share this arm workout she created for POPSUGAR. Press play to see the exercises, then read below for additional instruction and tips.

Directions For Arm Circuit Workout

Start a timer for seven minutes and aim to complete the exercises in the below circuit as many times as you can before your timer goes off. While you're aiming to complete each exercise as quickly as possible, it is important that you maintain proper technique throughout.

Snap Push-Ups

Place a step horizontally in front of you. Place both hands on the step slightly further than shoulder width apart and both feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position. Whilst maintaining a straight back and stabilizing through your abdominals, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the step until your arms form a 90-degree angle. Push through your chest and extend your arms to lift your body back into starting position. Jump both of your feet in towards the step, ensuring that your feet remain shoulder width apart. Keeping your body weight on your hands, kick both of your feet backwards into starting position. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

Tip: Ensure that your feet remain shoulder width apart as you jump them in towards your hands.

Negative Triceps Dip

Start seated on a bench. Position your hands on the edge of the bench under your glutes and directly below your shoulders. Ensure that your fingers are facing forward. Shift your glutes forward off of the bench. This is your starting position. Taking a full three seconds, slowly lower your body by bending at the elbow until you create a 90-degree angle with your arms. Ensure that your shoulders, elbows, and wrists remain in line with one another at all times. Taking one second, push through the heel of your hand and quickly extend your arms to return to starting position. Avoid using your legs to assist you and always try and maintain an upright position. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

Tip: Avoid hunching and maintain an upright posture ("proud chest") throughout the movement.


Start by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) on the floor and extending both of your legs behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. This is called a plank position. Release your right forearm and place your right hand firmly on the floor directly below your right shoulder. Push up onto your right hand, followed immediately by your left in the same pattern. Ensure that you brace through your abdominals to prevent your hips from swaying. Return to plank position by releasing your right hand and lowering onto your forearm, before doing the same with your left hand. Repeat this exercise, starting with your left hand. Continue alternating between right and left for the specified number of repetitions.

Tip: Keep your shoulders in line with your hands. Engage your core to prevent your hips from swaying.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Dear Mark: Does Cupping Work?; Do I Need More Protein?

Welcome! If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, increase energy levels or just generally look and feel healthier you've come to the right place.

Here's where to start:

  1. Visit the Start Here and Primal Blueprint 101 pages to learn more about the Primal lifestyle.
  2. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to receive an eBook called Primal Blueprint Fitness and more - all for free.
  3. Cut to the chase by visiting There you'll find books, food, and the best supplements on the planet to help you take control of your health for life.

Thanks for visiting!

Cupping In-LineFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a couple questions from readers. The first one concerns cupping, the controversial therapy used by dozens of Olympians, including most notably Michael Phelps. What does it do, if anything? How does it work, if it even works? And then I discuss the need for increased protein intake in the context of losing lean mass. We want to lose fat, not lean, remember, and there’s evidence that increasing your protein intake can preserve lean muscle. Especially when you’re exercising a ton and eating low-carb.

Let’s go:

Dear Mark,

While watching the Olympics I have seen many athletes with these red circular spots on their bodies that they are calling “cupping.” What is “cupping” and does it work? Thanks Mark!

Grok on!

David R.

Cupping is the use of a vacuum seal to pull on a person’s skin, breaking capillaries and drawing blood to the surface. This creates the distinctively large round red or purple mark seen on many Olympic athletes this year. It’s an ancient treatment.

In the ancient Mediterranean, coastal healers would lower patients into octopus cages to be ravaged by the animal’s suction cups. It was inexact, more art than science, but it was effective. Around the turn of the 19th century, urban plumbers often doubled as medicine men, using their plungers to draw diseased blood up to the surface. During the 50s, door-to-door vacuum salesmen applied intense suction to cure housewives of their mania. The early 90s saw angsty suburban youths searching for kicks in between Nirvana record releases use swimming pool suction hoses to feel alive and boost skateboarding performance. And what is the hickey but an anti-inflammatory treatment between teen sweethearts?

Does it actually have any benefits?

One undeniable benefit of cupping is that it throws the supra-rationalist skeptics over at blogs like Science Based Medicine into an absolute tizzy of righteous indignation. How dare Michael Phelps use his influence to promote “pseudoscience” to millions of impressionable young fans? By flagrantly flaunting his cupping circles, Phelps has raised an armada of future Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. I’ll bet as many kids are now practicing acupuncture on each other with Grandma’s sewing kit as there are kids joining the swim team. For shame, Phelps.

According to a trainer with the US Swim Team, cupping has nothing to do with “chi” or “life force” or anything metaphysical. It’s simply another way to treat adhesions and knots in the fascial tissue surrounding and supporting an athlete’s musculature. I’ve discussed fascia before (and will do in the near future). It’s like foam rolling only in reverse. Instead of trying to finagle apart gummed up tissues through compression, cupping seeks to pull gummed up fascia off of muscle using decompression.

Furthermore, the athletes receiving the treatment aren’t just lying there. They’re moving the affected tissues through their full range of motion as the cupping is applied. This helps restore healthy movement patterns and tissue health. Another big advantage, according to the trainer, is that cupping works quickly. What might take weeks using conventional forms of physical therapy and myofascial release takes just five to ten minutes with cupping.

“This is just sports lore,” you might say. There aren’t any solid RCTs supporting his claims, just anecdotes and case studies. But it’s not like this is some weirdo in your yoga class making wild claims. The sporting world gets to a lot of this stuff before “science” does. They’re more willing to try stuff that sounds a little crazy if it could help their athletes get an edge. Sometimes they strike gold, sometimes they fail. The cream tends to rise to the top.

And it’s not like there isn’t any support in the literature. Dry cupping has been shown to improve pain, stiffness, mobility, and general symptoms in patients with knee osteoarthritis, and in patients with chronic neck pain, dry cupping improved both subjective and objective measurements of pain.

I think it may very well work.

Hi Mark,

My personal trainer measures my fat by doing the 7 site skinfold test. While I lost 1.7% fat last month, he also noticed that I lost 2.4 pounds of lean mass. (Does this mean loss of actual muscle?) I’m eating primally and very low-carb, and I’m doing sprinting, reasonable cardio (biking to and from work every day, about 80 minutes total) and lots of bodyweight exercises and lifting weights. Do you have any suggestions for how I can prevent further loss of muscle? I feel like I’m eating a decent amount of protein every day (3.5 scoops of Primal Fuel in the mornings, usually three eggs in my lunch with veggies, and maybe 4-5 oz of protein with dinner) but maybe I need to eat more?

Thanks for all that you do!!


3.5 scoops of Primal Fuel is 35 grams of protein.

3 eggs gives you 18 grams of protein.

4-5 ounces of meat gives you about 35 grams of protein, depending on the cut and amount of fat on the meat.

That’s around 88 grams of protein. It’s not low and I’d need to know your body weight, but given the amount of physical activity you’re doing and the fact that you seem to be dieting, you should probably eat more.

Very low-carb and low-calorie on top of high physical activity increases protein needs. Otherwise, you may breakdown muscle tissue for amino acids to convert into any glucose you require. We see this in the research into elite gymnasts on ketogenic diets who manage to maintain physical performance and lean mass while losing body fat. They aren’t eating the type of 90% fat keto diets you’d use for kids with epilepsy. They’re eating very low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein (around 200 grams a day) keto diets. And in the latest CrossFit keto study, ketogenic athletes performed well and only lost a little lean mass while eating a 1500 calorie a day ketogenic diet, but they had to increase their protein intake by 15% to do it. And they still lost some lean mass.

Anytime you lose lean mass, up the protein. It’s just a safe practice that usually helps, and never hurts.

Try another egg and 4 more ounces of meat. Tell me how that goes for you.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

from Mark's Daily Apple