Monday, April 19, 2010

Healthy Weight: It's Not A Diet, It's A Lifestyle!

When it comes to weight loss, there's no lack of fad diets promising fast results. But such diets limit your nutritional intake, can be unhealthy, and tend to fail in the long run.

The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn't about short-term dietary changes. It's about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses.

Staying In Control Of Your Weight Contributes To Good Health Now And As You Age.

Assess Your Weight

If you've been thinking about your current weight, it may be because you've noticed a change in how your clothes fit. Or maybe you've been told by a health care professional that you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and that excessive weight could be a contributing factor. The first step is to assess whether or not your current weight is healthy.

How can I tell if I am at a healthy weight?

One way to begin to determine whether your weight is a healthy one is to calculate your "percent body fat". For most people, will be surprised at how much fat mass they actually carry versus the amount of lean muscle mass. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to determine your overall body fat percentage, but there's really no substitute for professional help. To get the very best reading and follow up, seek out a certified fitness professional and get a full fitness evaluation including body fat assessment and body circumference measurements. This will not only tell you where you're currently at physically, but you can use it to set measurable goals. Follow back up with the same fitness professional preferably
and get measured again 6-8 weeks later and see how you've progressed!

As you can see, by mentioning body circumference measurements, there's another way to assess your weight is to measure your waist size. Your waistline may be telling you that you have a higher risk of developing obesity-related conditions if you are:

o A man whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches
o A non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches

Excessive abdominal fat is serious because it places you at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. Individuals who have excessive abdominal fat should consult with their physicians or other health care providers to develop a plan for losing weight.

How To Measure Your Waist Size: To measure your waist size (circumference), place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug, but does not compress your skin, and is parallel to the floor. Relax, exhale, and measure your waist.

Losing Weight

What is healthy weight loss?

Healthy weight loss isn't just about a "diet" or "program". It's about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.

It's natural for anyone trying to lose weight to want to lose it very quickly. But evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off. To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in. Since one pound equals 3,500 calories, you need to reduce your daily caloric intake by 500-1000 calories to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Once you've achieved a healthy weight, by relying on healthful eating and physical activity most days of the week (about 60-90 minutes, moderate intensity), you are more likely to be successful at keeping the weight off over the long term. Losing weight is not easy, and it takes commitment.

Losing Weight Is Not Easy, And It Takes Commitment.

Preventing Weight Gain

To stay at a healthy weight, it's worth doing a little planning now. If you are overweight but aren't ready to lose weight, preventing further weight gain is a worthy goal.

As people age, their body composition gradually shifts - the proportion of muscle decreases and the proportion of fat increases. This shift slows their metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. In addition, some people become less physically active as they get older, increasing the risk of weight gain.

The good news is that weight gain can be prevented by choosing a lifestyle that includes good eating habits and daily physical activity. By avoiding weight gain, you avoid higher risks of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and some forms of cancer.

If your goal is to prevent weight gain, then you'll want to choose foods that supply you with the appropriate number of calories to maintain your weight. This number varies from person to person. It depends on many factors, including your height, weight, age, sex, and activity level.

Get Moving: In addition to a healthy eating plan, an active lifestyle will help you maintain your weight. By choosing to add more physical activity to your day, you'll increase the amount of calories your body burns. This makes it more likely you'll maintain your weight.

Self Monitoring: You may also find it helpful to weigh yourself on a regular basis. If you see a few pounds creeping on, take the time to examine your lifestyle. With these strategies, you make it more likely that you'll catch small weight gains more quickly.

Ask yourself:

o Has my activity level changed?
o Am I eating more than usual?

You may find it helpful to keep a food diary for a few days to make you more aware of your eating choices.

Balancing Calories

When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight for a lifetime, the bottom line is - calories count! Weight management is all about balance - balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses or "burns off".

A calorie is defined as a unit of energy supplied by food. A calorie is calorie regardless of its source. Whether you're eating carbohydrates, fats, sugars, or proteins, all of them contain calories

Caloric balance is like a scale. To remain in balance and maintain your body weight, the calories consumed (from foods) must be balanced by the calories used (in normal body functions, daily activities, and exercise).

If You Are... Your Caloric Balance Status Is...

Maintaining Your Weight "In Balance."

You are eating roughly the same number of calories that your body is using. Your weight will remain stable.

Gaining Weight "In Caloric Excess."

You are eating more calories than your body is using. You will store these extra calories as fat and you'll gain weight.

Losing Weight "In Caloric Deficit."

You are eating fewer calories than you are using. Your body is pulling from its fat storage cells for energy, so your weight is decreasing.

Healthy Eating For A Healthy Weight

A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let's begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan:

o Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat
milk and milk products
o Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
o Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and
added sugars
o Stays within your daily calorie needs

Hopefully you can take something from this and apply it this week to your current fitness (or lack there of) program.

M. Watkins

Click here for more information regarding Michael Watkins and Fitness Together's fitness programs available.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Client: ME...

Ok, so to change a few things up in my current fitness routine, I asked one of our fitness coaches here at FT, Mike D, to start training me a couple of times every week. Like most of my clients, I was starting to get stuck in a rut and wasn't finding amble time to be as consistent with my workouts as I was say a month ago. I knew that if I could just schedule them and have someone hold me accountable, then the problem would be solved... I mean, I never have an issue making a session with my training buddy, but it seems like I was able to stay overwhelmingly busy when it was "on my own" days.. which is exactly what I tell clients to not do! I had to remind myself: QUIT MAKING EXCUSES AND GET YOUR A$$ IN THE GYM!

So... I spoke with Mike D about my goals, current injuries, and how many sessions per week.... he took it from there.

And, to put it in Mike's words, "I'm livin' the American dream...." which was in exact reference to having this opportunity to throttle his boss!

Mikey killed me! It was exactly what I needed and was looking for in a workout. I felt like I was starting all over, but when I was done, and as I laid there in the floor, I was like "Damn, now that was a good workout!"

I'll keep tabs for future workouts with Mike as well as progress stats so you can see just how our guys here GET RESULTS!

Sometimes, it takes a little humility to get where you want to go. Pride only gets in the way sometimes, as I found out yesterday. If you need help, much like me (trainer) getting help/trained by another trainer, then my advice, seek it out. Don't let your foolish pride stop you from doing all you can to attain whatever goals you want to. Your turn.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some Rules Kid's Won't Learn in School

This list of "Some Rules Kid's Won't Learn in School" was first proposed by Charles J. Sykes. Although it never really appeared in his books on the subject, it has been a constant mass email and newspaper topic for over a decade.

I love this list because it's so true. And although it's meant to be directed to the youth of this world, I think it's a good reminder for us as adults to take a step back sometimes and just re-evaluate how we do things.

It reminds us that we are truly responsible for how we think, say, and do things in our life. It's easier to put the blame elsewhere, but when you look in the mirror you have to answer to only one person.

Here's the list: (NOTE: some of these are truly for the kids, but as you'll see in rule #12, if you're still smoking this day and age, c'mon man... give it up!)

"Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase, "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2: The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grand-parents had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

Rule No. 6: It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like a baby boomer.

Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4)

Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)

Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.

You're welcome."

Now, after reading this all I could think of is the scene below from Rocky Balboa.. so, of course I included it...

That's all folks...


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tea Benefits: Not Drinking It? You Should Be!

Energy drinks, fat burners, green tea capsules, why not just go to the source? It's convenient and cheaper! Green tea offers a ton of health benefits... Learn more.

The following is taken from an article by Kelly Gonzales.

Article Summary:

* Tea has been popular for thousands of years, and is the second most consumed
* One of the most studied teas for its amazing health benefits is green tea.
* Not only does green tea contain antioxidants, but it can also help protect
your teeth.

Energy drinks, fat burners, green tea capsules, why not just go to the source? It's convenient and cheaper! Green tea offers a ton of health benefits including disease-fighting antioxidants, assists in burning fat, and even protects your pearly whites, keeping you energized and looking your best.

Green Tea Offers A Ton Of Health Benefits.

The next time you're in line at Starbucks you may want to think about ordering tea instead of your usual coffee. With only 1/3 the amount of caffeine it may not be enough to perk up the avid coffee drinker, but tea offers numerous health benefits that will keep you going in the long run.

Tea has been popular for thousands of years all over the world. It is the second most consumed beverage behind water. Teas such as black, green, white, and oolong are made from the leaves of the evergreen tree camellia sinensis, which contains polyphenol antioxidants.

Antioxidants are important in a person's diet, because they rid the body of molecules called free radicals, which are a byproduct of cellular activity, pollution, and the natural aging process.

Free radicals are destructive within the body, because they harm DNA molecules and pave the way for illness and disease. High amounts of antioxidants can be found in fruits and vegetables and other plant based foods such as the dried leaves used to make brewed tea.

Green Tea Benefits

One of the most studied teas for its amazing health benefits is green tea. Green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols, such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant with cancer fighting powers.

Studies have shown it can aid in protection against various forms of cancer including esophageal, gastric, skin, ovarian, lung, and colon cancer. Studies have also shown that drinking 2-3 cups per day can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and decrease the risk of heart attack.

Not only does green tea contain immune boosting antioxidants, but it can also protect your teeth. Tea has bacteria killing properties to fight plaque, gum disease, and bad breath. Tea contains fluoride, which can protect against cavities.

Green tea has gotten a couple of knocks for it's fluoride content, despite the positive attributes, since too much fluoride can be bad for you. It is recommended that a person receive no more than 10/mg of fluoride per day. Loose leaf green tea only contains about 0.3 mg of fluoride, so unless you're drinking about 30 cups per day, don't worry.

Studies suggest that the polyphenols in green tea can help reduce and prevent rheumatoid arthritis. One study found that regular tea drinkers reported to have stronger bones and were less likely to develop arthritis. Those who drank tea regularly for 10 years or more had higher bone mineral density in their spines than non-tea drinkers.


Green tea is currently gaining more popularity due to studies that suggest it aids in weight loss. The combination of EGCG and caffeine in green tea work together to stimulate thermogenesis, heat production in the body. It increases fat oxidation and increases energy expenditure.

Although EGCG is capable of giving metabolism a boost, drinking a cup or two of green tea is not a weight loss remedy. A Japanese study shows that 5 cups of green tea per day only burns about 70 calories through thermogenesis. Drink your tea for all the health benefits, but keep in mind that you must always exercise and eat a well balanced diet for weight management.

There are tons of teas to choose from, but high quality loose leaf teas are the best. Brew your tea for 3-5 minutes to bring out the antioxidants. Add honey, milk, lemon or sugar to sweeten. Relax, sip, and enjoy. It's not milk, but this beverage does a body good.

Personally, I'm a coffee drinker.I have very long days and need a good cup of Joe to get me going in the morning. But if you're looking for a boost in metabolism as well as other mentioned health benefits- try a cup of tea every now and then and see if you notice a difference at all.

Don't forget to make today unforgettable,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Find Your "Why."

When you find your "why"- the singular reason, the motivating force behind your desire to re-claim your body and your health- then you have unshakable commitment- and your fitness success becomes a forgone conclusion.

Because when your "why" is strong enough, you will show up for your training sessions, every time- without fail. And, as Woody Allen says, "90% of success is just showing up!"

And here's something that is profound...


Nothing has the power to eliminate stress, anxiety and worry like commitment. Commitment sets you free- it liberates you. Because we all recognize, at some level, that commitment in inevitable if we truly want what we want. And it is precisely that commitment which empowers us to get what we want. Intention is where you start, the goal is where you finish- but it's your commitment that carries you through the race.

I hope that doesn't sound "hokey" to you... because it's not. Commitment is the cure. Because commitment produces action, and action produces results.

Committed to your health,
Michael Watkins

Owner, Fitness Together- Riverside

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Top 10 Fitness Tips For 2010

TOP 10 Fitness Tips to Stay on Track in 2010

1. Get real and be specific. Write down three or four realistic goals that you can stick to. For example, "I will try to lose one pound of body fat every week. I will walk for 30 minutes minimum five days a week." Avoid fantasy-land goals that will only frustrate you.

2. Get prepared. Throw away all the junk, the processed, and the "bingeable" foods now and replace them with fresh, whole foods like lots of water and veggies. Buy a new pair of walking shoes and find some clothes in your closet you feel comfortable to walk in. During a lifestyle change, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!

3. Get support. Whether it's your best friend, spouse, or pet, it helps to have some nonjudgmental and nurturing support when trying to lose weight, especially during trying times.

4. Make daily notes. Research has shown that keeping track of your daily exercise and food intake in a journal or notebook will increase the likelihood of success. Keep it simple, or if you're inspired, write a novel! The key is to hold yourself accountable.

5. Create a food-free reward system. How about a new workout outfit, pair of jeans, shoes -- or what the heck, even a spa treatment, shopping spree, or weekend getaway? You deserve this kind of treatment when you reach your goals.

6. Buy a pedometer. A pedometer keeps track of how many steps you take daily. Wear it every day, around home, work, and while exercising. Your National Body Challenge goal is to increase your steps by 10,000 or more daily! Remember this: You'll burn roughly 100 to 125 calories by taking 2,500 steps (about one mile). The goal during the challenge is to burn 300 extra calories and to eat roughly 200 calories less in a day. This 500-calorie deficit is equivalent to one pound of body fat per week and a healthy boost to your self-esteem.

7. Don't skip breakfast. Research shows that the most successful "losers" never skip it. Try to keep it balanced with some protein, a healthy carb, and a small amount of fat. Here are some examples: an egg-white omelet with fresh berries and a piece of whole-wheat toast, or a skim milk shake with fruit and yogurt.

8. Have a mid-afternoon snack and nix the late-night eating.This will curb your appetite and provide fuel for your after-work walk or workout at the gym. Some great snack ideas include: reduced-fat peanut butter on a multi-grain cracker, a couple of pieces of low-fat string cheese and an apple, cottage cheese with pineapple, or try a low-fat cheese microwaved in a whole-wheat pita. Remember, if you eat a lot of excess calories after 8 p.m., you wear them the next morning. Put a stop to this by making sure you have a healthy dinner consisting of lean protein, veggies, and fruit.

9. Eliminate processed sugars. Processed sugars are carbs that have been stripped of their valuable nutrients. How can you identify these sugars? They are all white: table sugar, pasta, rice, and bread, and they're nothing but trouble, since they kick up your appetite for more of the same.

10. Strength training is very important. I've heard it 1,000 times, "I'm just going to do cardio and I'll lose weight." Well, yes at first you will. In fact, cardio workouts burn more calories at a given time than do strength training sessions. However, strength training sessions will suck up more calories throughout the day because your body will be continuing to recover from the muscle break down well after your session has ended. Furthermore, while cardiovascular workouts are ideal for improved heart health, they do nothing for bone density and muscle mass, both ideal for an aesthetic looking physique and overall wellness.

Hopefully you're able to update your current program with these tips. Or, for following the blog, go download free copies of my fitness reports (typically $72 value- yours free) at

Happy lifting.

Michael Watkins

Fitness Together- 97th and Riverside
918.392.FITT (3488)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is your last chance workout?

Do you watch the Biggest Loser?

Now, let me preface by saying I don't totally agree with everything portrayed on that show, but the life-changing transformations are impressive nonetheless. One of the highlights of the show for me is the of a Last Chance Workout. I love seeing peopled being pushed to their limits and beyond. But after seeing this over and again on every episode, I must admit that this workout has really started to wear out in significance but not importance in my opinion.

If you're unfamiliar with the show, the last chance workout is the workout performed the day of or just before the weigh in. This is the last chance participants have to burn every last calorie and ensure that the players have nothing left and are going to weigh as little as possible at the weigh in.

I have no idea how long the last chance workout is but it's the idea that is important. My buddy was telling me last night that he is really just going through the motions at the gym lately and is kind of discouraged with his overall progress. And it's true, we start working out really hard and then over time we become more fit and stop pushing ourselves so hard. This is a great reason why plateaus happen in weight loss as well as strength training.

The reason I bring this up is to try and motivate you to push harder. Think about you last few workouts at the gym. Where you on the verge of throwing up? Did you push yourself so hard that you had trouble showering and moving your arms and legs? Did you workout so hard that you were in tears in pain as you got into the car?

Well I know that this is very extreme. Nearly no one relishes pushing themselves that hard (not even me), but the thing to remember is how hard you worked out when you started your getting in shape journey.

So why not today when you go to workout do a last chance workout. Push yourself harder and longer than ever before. Once you get a tasted of a crazy hard workout you will realize just how far you have come, you will be doing a personal best and that is something that will bring you so much pride that you will want to do it again soon.

With the "NEW" year wearing off, almost half way through February- your motivation may begin to slip... Just remember why you started training in the first place. To be healthy, fit and improve your quality of life. Stay the course and you will succeed.

Finally, FIND YOUR MOTIVATION! Personally, I love movies. And nothing beats a sport movie in my book. I love the stories, trials, camaraderie, and motivation and will to succeed that is portrayed in these movies. The following clip is one that really gets my engine going and after watching I can't wait to hit the gym.

This one is of Mr. Rocky himself training for his next movie at age 62... tell me your too old to be in shape!

This clip is AWESOME regarding how life's a game of inches. Just like in fitness, everything you do will add up and will either aid you in your quest for a better life or derail you. You decide.

NOTE: the following clip does have some choice words- not too bad, but just FYI.

Train Harder.