Best Exercises to Build Gorgeous Shoulders

female in gym clothesBeautiful shoulders don’t happen by accident but you always notice when people have them! They make dresses and tank tops look a million times better. In fact, nicely built shoulders are coveted so much that back in the 80s, clothing was outfitted with shoulder pads! If you know, you know. But, you don’t need shoulder pads to reach new heights with your shoulders.

Frequency matters. If you’re trying to build any body part, you need to concentrate on it a little more than other parts. In fact, you may need to replace some exercises for a while to make room for shoulder ones. The good news is the shoulder complex is closely connected to your triceps and upper back so you will see carryover in those two areas by default. To grow a body part, I recommend touching it about three to four days a week, using heavy weights, as well as lighter ones.

Here’s what that might look like for you:

Monday – barbell overhead press heavy with low reps (6 – 8)

Tuesday – dumbbell front raises, dumbbell side lateral raises, dumbbell rear delt raises, performed as a tri-set with light weights and high reps (15-20)

Wednesday – rest

Thursday – dumbbell Arnold press, cable face pulls, cable side lateral raises with medium reps (10-12)

Friday – plank up/downs, pushups as a finisher for your workout so high reps (10-20)

As you can see, each workout day (of a four day program) would include those shoulder exercises. Replace other upper body exercises, if necessary so as not to overdo it. I usually replace chest press with overhead press and limit my arm exercises slightly. Keep in mind, tricep movements have tremendous carryover to shoulders so don’t sleep on those!

The Importance of Mobility

A word about mobility here. Many of us spend a lot of time hunched over these days–over the phone, over the computer, riding in the car– and that can have detrimental effects on our shoulder complex. If you have rounded shoulders or feel soreness or tightness in your upper back, neck, and shoulders, be sure to concentrate on mobility movements, too. You can incorporate those into a warmup. Things like arm circles, halos, wall circles, and wall slides are great ways to keep your shoulders healthy and moving the way they are intended to move. You can’t overdo mobility. For some of my clients, I program daily mobility sessions and they definitely make a difference!

Looking for a custom program that emphasizes shoulder development? Message me below!

 

Easy Lunch Ideas for Working Women on the Run

Find yourself grabbing fast food or skipping lunch day after day because, well, meetings, work, and more work? It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are three lunch ideas that you can easily fit into a hectic day, keeping you full and healthy.

Bento Box – Popular with school-aged children, bento boxes can also be great for grown-ups. Put together any combination of yummy foods, choosing a protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Include fruit or veggies, and you have a complete meal. Here are some combinations to consider:

Tuna salad, celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins, triscuits with cheddar cheese, blueberries

Diced chicken (buy it frozen), almonds, carrot sticks with hummus, hard boiled egg, pita or bagel chips

Salmon, salad greens, strawberries, pistachios, avocado

These don’t have to be heated so it’s perfect when you need something quick.

Sandwich System – This is what I do for my kids but it can work for grownups, too. Start with a healthy sandwich. Peanut butter and jelly works! But, whatever you like is fine. Tuna salad, egg salad, deli meat with cheese, lettuce and tomato, anything! Then add a fruit, vegetable, and healthy chips. If you have a sweet tooth a small piece of dark chocolate does the trick. You can also include a protein drink to add protein and nutrients to the meal.

Super Salad – You can’t go wrong with a salad. Start with greens, and add anything you like! Make sure to include a protein, such as egg, chicken, salmon, or tuna. Healthy fats are good choices, too, such as avocado or nuts. Go easy on the dressing and you’ve got yourself a healthy, quick lunch. If salad doesn’t fill you up, have yogurt or a banana on hand, too, to top it off.

Eat Your Way Through Thanksgiving

Did you know that you can eat all the food on Thanksgiving and still maintain your health and fitness goals? It all takes a little planning and you can gobble the turkey without any regrets.

People are used to cutting calories to lose weight but did you know that you can also increase your calories to help build muscle? It’s called reverse dieting. The idea is that your body needs the right fuel to grow muscle. Increasing protein and eating whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs, and fats while increasing resistance training will help your body build muscle.

Here’s how you do it:

This week, add 100 calories to your diet, mostly in protein, and make sure you resistance train at least three days, full body with compound exercises. Do lower reps with heavier weight and focus on getting stronger and lifting as much as you can with good form.

Next week add 100 more calories, and make sure you progress your lifts by adding a bit more weight to each exercise.

The week of Thanksgiving, maintain your calories (so about 200 more than you were eating before), and on the day of Thanksgiving enjoy your meal! Don’t feel guilty about anything and make sure you don’t eat until you want to throw up!

Then after Thanksgiving, go back to your calories pre-November and get back on your meal plan. Change up your workout plan to increase reps and maybe do a split routine where you do push/pull or focus on different body parts. Make sure to add some cardio, too. You will find that the muscle you built will stay on but you will lose some fat, leaving behind a more sculpted look!

Who knew that turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing could lead to fitness gains? If you’re smart about it you can have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too.

How to Power Through the Holiday Season

The holiday season is almost here. Actually, if you step into some stores these days, it’s already here! But, I digress. Most of us go completely crazy once November rolls around. Between holiday shopping, preparing for visiting with relatives, traveling, wrapping things up at work, attending all the parties, and cooking/baking, it can be challenging to keep up with your fitness routine and healthy eating. But, it’s not impossible. Here are my top three tips to help you get through the season without losing your workout time and/or gaining weight:

  1. Adjust Your Workouts. You don’t always have to do the most. If you are used to working out three or four times a week for an hour each time, change it up! Did you know just 15 to 20 minutes a day 5 or 6 times a week is enough? Think about it. If you do three, full-body workouts a week, one hour each, that’s three hours of lifting. If you do 20 minutes a day for 6 days, that’s two hours! And, if you choose your training wisely you can keep your muscle without a lot of effort. Pick one lower and one upper body compound exercise and do four sets of 10. Add in a short walk and you’re set.
  2. Prioritize protein. Make sure you are meeting your protein goal, which is .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Basically, if you choose your protein first with each meal and snack and make sure it’s a healthy portion, you will meet this goal. Protein is satiating and it helps preserve muscle.
  3. Plan to party. If you’re headed to a party, plan ahead. Eat a small, healthy, high protein meal before you go. When you arrive, choose your food wisely. Not that you can’t eat the fun stuff, just don’t go crazy! Eat the veggies and dip first and don’t go crazy on the portion sizes. If you are drinking alcohol, make sure you drink water in between. Life happens. Don’t feel you have to deprive yourself of fun. Just be smart about it!

These three tips will take you far as we close out 2022. If you need a bit more accountability, hit up a nutrition coach or trainer. They can help you make good choices and keep you honest. Don’t wait for the new year to decide to build healthy habits… get a head start! You will sail through the holiday season feeling and looking great!

Why Less is More When it Comes to Resistance Training

Did you know that there is a such thing as too much resistance training? It’s true. It’s tempting to think that the more you do, the faster and larger your muscles will grow but that’s not the case. Here’s the thing. When you lift weights, you put stress on your body, especially when you lift for strength. When your body is stressed, it has a hard time growing and thriving because it’s doing all it can to mitigate the stress. If you are a busy working parent, or if you have a demanding job on your feet all day, you’re already putting a ton of stress on your body. Adding to it could actually sabotage not only your gains but also your diet.

When we are stressed, we tend to make poor food choices. We don’t sleep as well either, which also can lead to overeating. It’s a vicious cycle! So, what should you do? Find the right balance for your body and your situation. You want to do the least amount to illicit the greatest gain. For most people which general health and fitness goals, that’s two to three days of weight training a week, usually full body style, with two to three days of moderate cardio. Prioritize protein and whole foods, and get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This should be a good baseline for you to start with. If you find you are very tired, sore, or hungry all the time, adjust as needed.

Here’s an example of my training/nutrition protocol for inspiration:

Monday – full body training

Tuesday – 15 minute band circuit and 20 minute Peloton low-impact ride

Wednesday – full body training

Thursday – 15 minute band circuit and 15 minute Peloton HIIT ride

Friday – full body training

Saturday – 30-minute Peloton low-impact ride

Sunday – REST

I sleep 7 to 7 1/2 hours a night, going to bed at 9:30 or 10 p.m. and waking up at 5 a.m. to workout. I try to do a mile walk at least once a day, twice if I’m really lucky!

As far as food, I eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight so around 100g a day. I prioritize healthy carbs and fats and try to have a fruit or vegetable with every meal. I drink 48 ounces of water a day.

For me, this is working but I’m working on adding meditation. I need to further decrease the stress of working and remembering all the things for my family! No one is perfect and everyone is a work in progress!

 

Time-Saving Meal Prep Tips

People often ask me how I have time to meal prep each week. Well, first of all–full disclosure–I don’t exactly prep ALL my meals! But, I do manage to prep breakfast and lunch most weeks and I plan out dinners. How do I fit that all in? Here’s my process:

  1. Thursday evening: While the girls are at piano lessons, I sit in the car and plan out dinners for the week. I review our calendar for the upcoming week to determine which nights need to be crockpot meals and which ones I’ll have time to cook. I never cook anything that takes more than 30 or 40 minutes on weeknight because we just don’t have that kind of time! As I decide on dinners, I add the recipe links to the Google calendar and copy and paste the ingredients into a Word doc or onto my grocery shopping notepad. I choose dinners based on the ingredients we have, plus I try to use a variety of proteins to keep things interesting and varied. I also choose a lunch prep for the week. Sometimes I have the same thing for four days. Sometimes, I plan to have dinner leftovers or sandwiches. I add those ingredients to my list, too.
  2. Thursday evening or Friday: I do my grocery shopping online either early in the morning or during my lunch hour at work, and have it delivered Friday evening. In addition to the dinner ingredients, I get the staples, stuff for my son’s lunch, and other various items the kids like to eat during the week.
  3. Sunday: I prep my breakfast and lunch (if I’m making something). I usually do it in the afternoon and I make sure it’s something I can do in under an hour. Breakfast is usually overnight oats, or instant pot steel cut oats, chia pudding, or egg muffins.
  4. Weeknights: I try to prep some items the night before, especially crockpot meals. For example, if I’m having stew, I’ll cut up the veggies the night before so all I have to do is dump it in the crockpot the next morning.

All told, meal prepping takes me a total of 2 and a half hours in a week. Because I’m already sitting in the car for an hour, the planning doesn’t cut into anything else. Sundays are sometimes a drag to meal prep but I always feel better after I do it and it keeps me eating well throughout the week. While I’m cooking dinner each evening, I pack lunch for the next day. Since my girls eat at school, and my husband eats at home, I just have to pack my son’s lunch and my own from whatever I have prepped.

This system works well for me. My biggest advice to busy moms or working ladies who want to prep? Fit it in to your schedule rather than try to make it a standalone thing you have to do. And online grocery shopping is where it’s at! Happy meal prepping!

 

Ways to Make Walking Work for You

Did you know that walking is the best form of exercise? Think about it. You don’t need equipment to do it. Most people can and do walk. It’s low impact and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Yet, many people don’t take advantage of the benefits of a daily walk. I used to work with a woman who adopted a puppy. From the very first day, she walked that dog morning and night. At the same time she gave up drinking soda. Just those two actions led to her losing weight! And she felt better. Just getting outside and moving improved her mood and gave her purpose. Looking to try this walking thing out yourself? Here are some ways to help you build the habit.

  1. Attach your daily walk to something else you do each day. Consider walking before or after breakfast or after dinner. You already eat, and walking after a meal helps with digestion, so it’s a win-win.
  2. Walk with a partner. Walking with a family member, neighbor, or friend helps keep you accountable and you have an opportunity to connect with other people, which is always a good thing for our mental health. Plus, it makes the time go by more quickly!
  3. Get a dog! Having a dog is a great way to make sure you walk. After all, the dog needs the exercise so it’s a built-in way for you to get some steps in, too.
  4. Buy a tracker or use your phone. Tracking steps gives you a goal to work toward and helps with accountability. Two 15 minute walks a day is about 7,000 steps, which is what experts say we need each day to stay healthy.
  5. Find new places to walk. Get creative with this one. You can decide to walk every street in your neighborhood, for example, or try a new route. If you’re feeling adventurous get in the car and drive to a new location. Even just doing a block at a time is a way to make it new and different.
  6. Listen to something you like. Whether it’s music, a podcast, or an audiobook, listening while you walk can help make those steps go by. In fact, when I have something great in my ear, I often walk farther than I expect to go.
  7. Invest in a great pair of walking sneakers. In fact, go one step further and make sure you have comfortable clothing for whatever season it may be. Being comfortable allows you to walk in any weather and fresh air is good for the body and soul!

I am a daily walker and have been for a long time. Since the pandemic started, I’ve done one to two walks daily. It’s a lot of steps! But, getting out in the morning helps wake me up and set purpose for the day and walking in the evening winds down the day nicely. I go with my dog but I also have joined a neighbor, my husband, and each of my kids at times. I love my walks. Try it! I bet you will enjoy them, too.

 

How to Eat More Protein

If you are or have been my client you know that my first piece of nutrition is advice is “eat more protein.” Everyone should aim for .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, a 135-pound woman needs about 120 to 135 grams of protein a day. If you are like most people, you find this to be a challenge! Never fear… here are three tips to help you meet your daily protein goal, helping you lose weight and gain muscle in the process (if you are watching calories and exercising consistently, that is).

Aim for at least 20 to 30 grams of protein in each meal and/or snack. If 120 grams is your goal, four meals of 30 grams each will get you there! Foods that have that much include:

4-6 ounces of chicken
4-6 ounces of tuna
4-6 ounces of beef
4-6 ounces of ground turkey
If you don’t eat meat, you can try:
1/2 to 1 cup of cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups of lentils
1 1/2 cups of tofu
Container of Greek yogurt

Eat your protein first.

This tip is especially important for when you go out to eat! When you sit down to a meal, eat the protein first. This way you won’t fill up on, say, bread or something else before you can get to the main part of your meal! Protein needs to be paired with fat and carbs to be optimally absorbed in your body so make sure you eat a balanced meal. Stir fry recipes are a great way to go.

Consider whey protein powder and/or collagen peptide supplements. Protein powder is a great way to meet your target intake and truthfully most people do need it to get there. I have a shake nearly ever day, sometimes just mixed with water after a workout and other times mixed with a banana, almond milk, nut butter or berries. There is nothing wrong with using protein powder to reach your goals. There are plenty of brands on the market, including plant-based and dairy or gluten free versions. Pick some up and use it at the end of the day, if you need a little bit more.

A Simple Weight Loss Formula

Weight loss doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, there are a few things that, if you do them consistently, you WILL see change.

  1. Eat enough protein – so many people don’t eat enough protein. If you are trying to build or sustain muscle, especially as you age, you should get .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you are significantly overweight, aim for .6 grams per pound. Is that more than you are used to eating? If you’re like most Americans, it probably is! Try to incrementally increase your protein intake by making sure you get at least 20 grams per meal, then work your way up from there either from eating a few ounces more of meat or adding a snack or extra meal. You might be wondering why this is a weight loss approach, if I’m advising you to eat MORE? Protein is satiating, meaning it fills you up. You won’t have room to eat all the junk. Give it a try!
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables – these are not only healthy but filling, too. Plus, you need fiber and micronutrients that they provide.
  3. Eat less processed foods – concentrating on real, whole foods instead of those that come from a box is essential for helping you lose weight. Processed foods can be anywhere from 300 to 500 calories and they often are high in fat and carbohydrates, too, including sugar. Eliminating them can go a long way.
  4. Increase resistance training, decrease cardio – the more muscle your body has, the more it can burn naturally on its own all day long. Instead of doing endless cardio, set a step goal for yourself. I aim for 7 to 8 thousand steps a day. Then, make sure you are lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises at least three times per week to build and maintain muscle.

Try these four things and let me know how it goes! I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised!

Why BMI is Bogus

The Body Mass Index has been around a long time. It’s still the number one tool physicians use to determine whether patients are at a healthy weight. This is a problem. Because it’s not accurate! It’s a 200-year-old mathematical formula created for a specific purpose. Since then, its use has been called into question as studies show it’s not the best way to measure body size.

A Belgian named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet created the BMI formula in the early 19th century. He was a mathematician, not a physician. He produced the formula to give a quick and easy way to measure the degree of obesity of the general population to assist the government in allocating resources. It wasn’t tested and fails to account for waist size, bone structure, muscle mass, and more.

This is a huge problem because often insurance companies will charge more for someone who has a higher BMI, even though that person could be a healthy, fit individual who happens to carry a lot more muscle on their frame. It’s also not helpful for smaller individuals whose health markers are all positive; they just happen to be petite.

So, what should we use to determine obesity? Waist to height ratio is emerging as one of the best ways and it’s an easy formula. All you need to do is measure your waist, just below your belly button. Divide that number (in centimeters) by your height (also in centimeters) and voila! Women want a number below .49 and men below .52. Basically, you want your waist to be no more than half your height.

Ditch the Scale

You may be wondering how weight fits into this. Well, it’s complicated. Your weight is determined by your muscle mass and fat mass. People who have more muscle weigh more because, well, muscle weighs more. Women also have a challenging time tracking weight due to the the fluctuations in their weight caused by hormones and the menstrual cycle. Plus, just because you thought you looked hot in your 20s when you weighed 130 pounds doesn’t mean you’ll look hot today at that same weight. Bodies change, muscle mass decreases with age and that 130 might not be healthy for you anymore.

Recommendations

I recommend the following, if you are trying to determine a healthy weight for yourself.

  1. Calculate your waist to height ratio. If it’s high, you know you need to lose a few pounds.
  2. Weigh yourself on a scale that also shows body fat percentage. While that number may not be entirely accurate, it will show trend over time and help you determine if your interventions (e.g. building muscle, eating fewer calories) are moving the body fat percentage down, and the lean mass up.
  3. Take a photo of yourself from the front, side, and back. This is your “before.” Every four weeks, take the same photos again, preferably with the same clothing on. See if you look different.
  4. Pay attention to how your clothes fit. Are they looser? Fitting differently around the lower body? These are indicators of shape changing or muscle being added and fat being lost in all the right places.

Achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight requires consistent exercise and healthy nutrition. If you need help in either or both of these areas, drop your name and email below! I’m happy to help!