Myth Buster: “Weight Loss”


As 2017 approaches, “Losing Weight” remains to be the number #1 New Year’s Resolution among Americans. As a NASM-certified “Weight Loss Specialist”, let me go over 3 of the most common diet misconceptions that I come across with my clients on a daily basis.

Myth #1: The Best Way to Lose Weight is to Eat Very Few Calories. FALSE!    

Body weight is determined by energy intake (calories consumed) and energy expenditure (calories spent). The only way to lose weight is by creating a “calorie deficit”: consuming fewer calories than you expend. However, your body’s main objective is to survive. So, if your calorie intake is too low, the body will perceive this as an emergency, and go into starvation mode. It will accommodate itself by holding onto your stored body fat (because it has no idea when it will be fed again!) and your metabolism will slow down to conserve its energy stores. You will eventually reach a plateau, and stop losing weight. Plus, you will probably gain it all back (and sometimes, more) when you start eating “normal” again. What you need is a balanced diet with the right amount of nutrients (macronutrients: carbs, protein, fat ~ micronutrients: vitamins, minerals) that your body needs to “function properly” while still placing you in a calorie deficit (more calories burned than consumed). No fad diets please!

Myth #2: Low-Fat or Non-Fat Foods are Safe to Eat. FALSE!   

Most of the processed low-fat or nonfat foods contain added sugar, flour or starch thickeners to improve flavor and texture after the fat is removed; and therefore, have just as many calories as the full-fat version of the same food, if not more. Always check the serving size (they are usually less than what you’re used to eating) and read the Nutrition Facts Label on the packaging to find out how many calories are in one serving.

Myth #3: A Lot of Cardio is The Best Way to Lose Body Fat. FALSE!   

Excessive cardio will strip your muscle mass; and once you begin stripping muscle tissue, your body becomes less efficient at burning body fat. Muscle is a metabolically active organism which means that it stimulates the metabolism. For each pound of muscle you put on your body, you will burn up to 50 additional calories per day. If you strip muscle tissue with excessive cardio, all you accomplish is sabotaging your efforts to efficiently reduce body fat. What you need in order to accomplish your weight loss goal is to combine the proper amount of “cardiovascular exercise” with efficient “weight training” and a “clean diet”.  Consistency is key. Just keep going, and results will follow, eventually…




Top 8 Exercises to Tone Your Thighs (without ever leaving the house!)


The summer may be over, but the fitness is year-round! Just because you don’t have to wear a swimsuit anytime soon doesn’t mean you should stop taking good care of your body. It is not just for cosmetic reasons either. The countless health benefits of regular physical activity range from boosting your mood and increasing your energy level, to decreasing your stress and reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases. Even with our hectic lives and busy schedules, we should still make an effort to find 30-minutes/day to be physically active.

Here is an easy-to-do, at-home workout routine to get strong hips, toned thighs and powerful legs which are key for any aerobic/cardiovascular exercise. All you need is yourself and some motivation!

Walking Squats


How to do it: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees, hinge your hips backwards and lower your body into a squat until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and knees behind your toes. Hold this squat position and ‘walk’ to the left, stepping out with your left foot, and then your right (never let your feet come closer than hip width apart as you ‘walk’). Repeat 10-15 times on each side.

Switch Lunges


How to do it: Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on the back of your head. Step forward with your right leg, and lower your body to 90 degrees at both knees. Don’t step out too far. Keep your weight on your heels, and keep your knees behind your toes. As you push your right foot off the floor and back to the starting position, bring your feet quickly together, switch to your left foot and step forward into a lunge. Repeat 15-20 times on each side.

Reverse Lunge with Rear-Leg Raise


How to do it: Start standing with your feet together. Step back with your right foot and bend at both knees making a 90 degree angle. As soon as you stand back up, lift your right leg up in the air until it is parallel to the floor. Lower your right foot back to the ground and return to starting position. Repeat 15-20 times on that side and switch to the other leg.

 Lateral Lunge to Curtsy Lunge


How to do it: Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on hips. Step out to the right and shift your body weight over your right leg, squatting to a 90 degree angle at the right knee. Try to sit down with your butt, keeping your back as upright as possible. As you push off and bring your right leg back to center,step it behind you and to the left so your thighs cross, bending both knees as if you were curtsying. Repeat 15-20 times on each side.

Single-Leg Glute Bridge


How to do it: Lie face up with knees bent and feet flat, next to each other. Extend arms by sides, palms facing down. Lift your right foot up, extend your right leg and keep it in-line with your left knee. Press your left foot on the floor, raise your hips up into a bridge position and lower hips to the floor. Repeat 15-20 times on that side and switch to the other leg.

Fire Hydrants


How to do it: Start on all fours, knees directly under your hips, and hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your back straight. Keeping your knee bent, raise your right leg out to the side, until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your pelvis stable. Slowly lower your leg back to starting position. Repeat 20-25 times on that side and switch to the other leg.



How to do it: Lie on your side. Rest your head on your arm or hand. Bend hips to approximately 45 degrees and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Make sure one hip is lying above the other. You should now be well aligned, your feet should be in line with your back. Raise the upper leg upwards while keeping your feet in contact with one another and bring it down to the starting position. Repeat 20 times and switch to the other side. If done correctly, you should feel the muscles around the back of the hip bone working hard.

Lying Side Leg Raises


How to do it: Lie on your right side, rest your head on your right arm, and place your left hand on the floor in front of your chest. Your legs should be straight with your right leg on top of your left leg. Without moving any other part of your body, slowly raise your left leg as high as you can. Pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat 25-30 times on that side and switch to the other leg.



Let’s first get our facts straight…

Myth #1: I Will Never Have Six-Pack Abs…

Fact: We All Have Six-Pack Abs! But the question is whether we can “see” them or not; because they are buried under layers of body fat. In other words, if your body fat percentage is not low enough, you won’t be able to see what you’re packing underneath.

So, you want to show off your abs? Then, you need to train your abdominal muscles like any other muscle; and also burn off the excess fat with a low-calorie diet and a consistent work-out regimen that incorporates a solid dose of cardio into your strength training routine.

Myth #2: We Can Lose Belly Fat by Doing Lots of Abdominal Exercises…

Fact: We Can NOT Spot-Reduce Fat! “Spot-reduction” is the attempt to remove fat from a “specific area” of the body by performing exercises that target that spot. So if you have belly fat, exercising the ab muscles will make that fat go away, right? Wrong!

Many people start working out with specific goals of making their arms/hips/abs look better; and they become discouraged when they cannot see rock-hard abs from doing a million sit ups, or toned thighs from doing a million squats. Why? Because, we cannot target a specific area for fat loss. While exercising the muscle may increase endurance or strength, it won’t burn off the fat in that area. The fat comes off wherever it chooses. That place can be your stomach, or it can be your arms or thighs. Therefore, in order to lose stomach fat, you’ll have to lose body fat all over; and the healthiest way to do that is with consistent exercise (cardio & strength training) combined with a healthy diet.

My 10 Favorite Ab Exercises for a Stronger Core:

Please remember to maintain a “proper form” during all exercises.

a)         Protect your back. Do not raise your upper body so far that you pull your lower back off the floor. Avoid excessive arching of the back.

b)         Keep your abdominals tight and pull your belly button in as if you were trying to touch your belly button to your spine.

c)         Remember to breathe. Do not hold your breath since this can increase blood pressure. Instead, inhale between each repetition and exhale as you perform the movement.

d)         Start out slow and gradually increase your range of motion.











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V situp-2   V situp-1



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January Is Almost Over, Have You “Broken” Your New Year’s Resolution Yet??? Here are the Solutions to our 5 Most Common Mistakes…

Promises, Promises…

It’s a fact: 36% of us break our New Year’s resolutions by the end of January (University of Scranton – Journal of Clinical Psychology). And guess what is the most popular New Year’s resolution in America? It is “losing weight”. Here is a quick look at five common mistakes we make when setting our fitness goals and the solutions to turn these goals into reality…

1)    Mistake-1:  An “All-or-Nothing” Mind-set You are fully determined to make this work, you want to be 100% perfect with your training and nutrition; but then you miss a workout or two, or you eat that slice of pizza. Now what? You feel like you’ve failed completely, so you quit…

 (Re)Solution-1: Enforce The 80/20 Rule Stick to your plan 80% of the time, and you’ll be successful. The key is avoiding “self-blame”. Stop beating yourself up for taking the day off, or enjoying that piece of chocolate. It’s okay. Just get back on track the next day and pick up where you left off.

 2)    Mistake-2: Poor Planning, Unspecific Goals “I want to get in shape” or “I want to lose weight” are way too general goals to be realized. Make the general, specific.

 (Re)Solution-2: Identify the “Why?” Set yourself a healthy goal that has nothing to do with the number on the scale. What does “getting in shape” mean to you?” Does it mean being able to play with your kids or run with your dog, and not get exhausted? Or, does it mean finishing a half-marathon 6 months from now? Once you know your “why”, it will trigger your internal determination and become the basis for everything you do to “get in shape”. Don’t forget to remind yourself of that “why” when you feel like giving up.

3)    Mistake-3: Letting Psychological Barriers Take Over “I don’t have time this week, I will start on Monday”, “I don’t know how to use those machines, I’ll look stupid”, “I’m so out-of-shape that people will stare at me”, “I can’t keep up with everyone in that spin class”…Of all the barriers to exercise, the psychological ones are the hardest to overcome. Don’t let fear and anxiety get in your way.


Convince Your “Mind” It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them. Your fitness goals will not be achieved, and your problems will not be solved unless you take action. Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done. It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction.

Think of “Past Successes” To get yourself in the right mindset, remember the times that you have achieved a goal. All the skills that you have used to achieve that goal (whether it was related to your school life, career, or your parenting) are transferrable to any fitness goal that you want to achieve today. Once you know you have the skill-set and know-how to “succeed”, you’ll have more confidence in yourself to keep going.

Think Beyond the Gym If you’re dragging your feet every time you’re headed to the gym, it’s time to start thinking beyond the spin class. Options are endless. Walk more, jog with your dog in the park, train at home with a workout DVD, dance, skip the elevator and take the stairs, go on a weekend hike with your family, play sports with your kids.…you get the idea. Just keep moving.

 4)    Mistake-4:  “I Am On a Diet Until…” There is a wedding, high-school reunion, or another important event coming, and you’ve set a goal of losing 5-10-20 pounds. Then, the big day comes and goes, and you consider that chapter of your life closed…

(Re)Solution-4: Make the Short-Term, Long-Term The reason a “diet” doesn’t work is because there’s an “end-date”. So, go ahead and turn that short-term diet into a long-term goal of “building a healthier lifestyle”. The chances are you will keep that weight off for good.

 5)    Mistake-5: Ignoring Small Victories Finishing a half-marathon next spring or getting a bikini-body by summer time could feel so far in the future that your motivation may wane sooner than you think. It is important to remind yourself that every mile, every inch, every pound counts. Each step is one step closer to your goal.

 (Re)Solution-5: Reward Yourself Small victories are worth celebrating too. So go ahead and spoil yourself for that extra mile… you deserve it:-)




What Is “HIIT”?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is any workout that alternates between “high intensity work with maximum effort” followed by periods of “lower intensity work”. It is basically a way of doing cardio which involves going at a “very high pace” for a while, and then going back to a “normal pace” so that you can recover, and then repeating.

An example would be, running for 1-minute at high intensity (Level 9 on a difficulty scale of 1-10) followed by a 1-minute walk/jog at lower intensity (Level 4-5). A good rule of thumb is if you can still “carry on a conversation” during the high-intensity part, then you’re probably not going hard enough.

Why Is 30-Minutes Of HIIT Better Than 60-Minutes of Steady-Pace Cardio?

Burns More Fat:  A high-intensity workout puts your body into an “oxygen deficit” which basically means that your body has to breathe very hard to catch up to the level of intensity that is placed on it. Your body and heart are forced to work more in order to bring your heart rate back to its normal levels, and you need to burn more calories to do so. That’s why a 30-minute HIIT session is so much more efficient than a 60-minute steady-pace cardio; because it optimizes your calorie expenditure and promotes fat burn by boosting your metabolism and helping your body oxidize fats and carbohydrates at a much faster pace.

You Keep Burning Calories “After” Your Workout: High-Intensity Interval Training cranks up your metabolism and increases your “Resting Metabolic Rate” for up to 24-38 hours following your workout. This metabolic disturbance (also known as the “after-burn effect”) will help you keep burning calories post-exercise. As mentioned above, HIIT puts our body into an “oxygen deficit”, because our oxygen uptake during the exercise is NOT proportional to the heat expenditure. To help restore the body to a “resting state” and adapt it to the exercise just performed, our body uses EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) which means that it has to keep working  (more energy = more calories burned) even after your cardio session ends.

Time-efficient: HIIT is ideal for a busy schedule. While most people are trying to lose fat by jogging on the treadmill at low-intensity for 45-60 minutes, you can be done in 20 minutes and still burn more fat.

Healthier Heart: According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of HIIT improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of steady-pace endurance training.


Aim for 3 cardio sessions per week.

Always WARM UP before your cardio session to increase the blood flow and loosen up your muscles & connective tissues, and COOL DOWN at the end of your session to gradually bring your heart rate back down.

Week 1:  20 minutes; 20 seconds ON (high-intensity) / 40 seconds OFF (low-intensity)

Week 2: 20 minutes; 30 seconds ON / 30 seconds OFF

Week 3: 20 minutes; 45 seconds ON / 30 seconds OFF

Week 4: 20 minutes; 60 seconds ON / 60 seconds OFF

Week 5: 20 minutes; 60 seconds ON / 45 seconds OFF

Week 6: 20 minutes; 60 seconds ON / 30 seconds OFF

HIIT is not easy, but it is efficient and worth the try. If you want physique-changing results, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and HIIT will do just that.  Don’t forget, if your workout doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t really change you.

Myths vs Facts – 2: “Strength training makes women big and bulky”

FACT or MYTH : ” Lifting weights will make a woman look like a man!”

 Fact #1: Women who lift weights will look LEAN and TONED, not big.

Ladies, relax… lifting weights will not make you bulky.That is such a big misconception and nothing could be further from the truth. Naturally, women don’t have the amount of testosterone necessary to build big muscles.  Even men (who have about 15 to 20 times more testosterone than women) have a hard time gaining big muscles which is why steroids and other muscle-enhancing drugs are so popular. Those female bodybuilders on the covers of fitness magazines are all chemically altered, that’s why they look like men!

However, a woman can still appear larger if she is increasing her lean muscle mass, but not decreasing her body-fat percentage at the same time. The difference between a “toned” look and a “bulky” look usually depends on how much “excess fat” you have on your body. The “toned” appearance comes from decreasing your body-fat percentage and removing the fat that is covering a well-developed muscle. Therefore, a clean  diet combined with a smart dose of cardiovascular exercise and strength training is your ticket to a leaner and stronger body.

So, go ahead and hit the weight-room ladies! You can thank me later…:-)

Myths vs. Facts – 1: “Your weight can fool you!”

FACT or MYTH : “If you’re gaining weight, you’re getting fatter!”


 Fact #1: “Don’t let your weight fool you, the number on the scale can be misleading!”

As I constantly remind my clients, “being lighter doesn’t always mean you are fitter,” or gaining weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The number on the scale says nothing about your body composition and it can’t tell you how much of your weight is muscle, fat, bone, or water. A petite but more muscular person may weigh more than a bigger person with more fat.


Your fitness goal shouldn’t be to just lose weight. Your fitness goal should be to change your body composition by increasing your lean muscle mass and decreasing your body fat percentage.


As you start weight training, you will build more muscle mass and gain muscle strength. Keep in mind that muscle has a greater density and takes up less space than fat. So, your weight may initially go up even though your body fat percentage is decreasing and you are getting leaner. You can weigh more while your clothes fit looser! Don’t let the number on the scale fool you. If you’re eating a clean, healthy diet and keeping up with your workouts, the extra pounds will eventually come off as your body’s metabolic rate gradually increases. Consistency is key; just keep moving and results will follow!