What’s the bare minimum I can do and still get results?

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Everyone is busy and has priorities that range all over. It’s one of the things that makes us everyday people. We’re not fitness bots (not even me) and we don’t spend our days and night consumed with ideas of how we can get shredded, right? Even though my life is about fitness to a massive degree, I too have other priorities that constantly demand my attention. So, the million dollar question: what is the bare minimum we can do and still get results?

Enter: the 7-minute workout. So, this isn’t new, but absolutely worth a revisit. In May 2013, the American College of Sports Medicine released a 12 exercise workout using only your body weight, chair, and a wall. The workout is based on the science of high intensity workouts which has repeatedly shown to be even more beneficial than long, steady state workouts and in far less time. The 7-minute workout fulfills the basic requirements for high intensity effort. It’s like combining a long run and a strength training routine together.

There a couple requirements for this format to work. For one, it happens in intervals of all out effort mixed with periods of rest. In the original protocol, this means working hard at each exercise for 30 seconds followed by a 10 second rest. Secondly, you must focus on exercises that emphasize the large muscle groups and alternate between areas of the body, so a particular order is important. Overall, it should be a difficult 7 minutes, but it is only 7 minutes and you’re done.

What are the benefits of doing high intensity interval training (HIIT)?

1) Fast results: Many studies have shows you can get better results in 15 well planned minutes of interval training 3 days a week than jogging on the treadmill for an hour.

2) Burn more fat. You will burn less calories overall doing short HIIT workouts than running on a treadmill, for example, but you will lose more fat over time because of the increase in what we call EPOC (excess post-oxygen consumption) and because of the different energy systems usage when you do high intensity versus low intensity work.

3) Increased metabolism and anti-aging. Because of the increase in EPOC and human growth hormone production that high intensity work stimulates, your metabolism can be increased for 90 minutes to 24 hours after your workout and the HGH has anti-aging benefits. Your body will also be rebuilding your muscles in accordance with how much stimulus (damage) they received during a workout. The harder the workout (usually) the greater this effect.

4) Increased endurance. HIIT workouts have been shown to increase your muscle’s concentrations of mitochondria which oxidize glucose and stored fat for energy, so the more mitochondria you have, the easier it is for you to fuel endurance activities. The more mitochondria you have, the fitter you are and combining strength training with cardio has been shown to increase mitochondria more than either by itself.

5) Decreased appetite. Steady state training (running for an hour, for example) has been shown to increase appetite whereas HIIT has been shown to decrease it for hours afterwards.

6) Keep muscle and lose fat. In many ways, goals of losing fat and gaining muscle are in opposition with each other. It’s very difficult to maintain muscle while losing fat. Steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, but HIIT preserves it while also burning fat. If you see the body of a competitive sprinter versus a competitive marathoner you can see the difference.

7) Improved insulin sensitivity. Too much sugar in your diet causes cells to be less responsive to insulin. This can eventually lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and many other health problems. Doing HIIT drastically increases insulin sensitivity and helps to reverse this process.

Convinced? 

Here’s what the original workout looks like:
 
Now, some of these exercises are not accessible to everyone. Luckily, since the idea of the 7-minute workout has been around awhile, there are now a few versions, so everyone can find one that works for them. There are multiple free apps available that can lead you through the workout with built in timers and animations to make it very easy. If you have an Amazon Alexa you can enable the 7-minute workout skill and it will lead you through it as well.

I’ve got an app on my phone (simply called 7 Minute Workout) that has easy, medium and hard 30-day 7-minute workout plans. I’ve been following the hard plan whenever I want to do a quicker workout than what I usually have planned (because my energy levels are super low or it’s gotten later than I realized, but I still want to work out).

How do I find a version that works for me?

You can check out some of the apps out there or if you would like to make your own version of this workout for yourself, it’s really not too hard. You just need 1-3 exercises in the cardio, lower body, upper body, and core groups for a total of 4-12 exercises. The order is important so it should look like this:

1) Cardio exercise
2) Lower body exercise
3) Upper body exercise
4) Core exercise
5) Cardio exercise
6) Lower body exercise
7) Upper body exercise
8) Core exercise
9) Cardio exercise
10) Lower body exercise
11) Upper body exercise
12) Core exercise

If you would like to, you may select only 1 exercise in each category and repeat it 3 times. Remember that each exercise should be a challenge to you and you should be working as hard as you’re comfortable for 30 seconds for each exercise. If you’re just starting out, have 15 seconds of rest between each exercise, if you’re more confident and fit then do 10 seconds of rest between exercises, and if you’re a little masochistic, do only 5 seconds of rest between each exercise.

So, if I was to make a 7-minute workout based on the exercises in Every Day Fitness for Everyday People: Level One, it would look something like this:

1) High March
2) Bodyweight Squats
3) Elevated Wide Grip Push-Up (using a counter or wall)
4) Cat/Cow
5) Butt Kicks
6) Side Leg Lifts (alternating)
7) Walnut Crushers
8) Modified Windmill
9) Side to Side Leg Sweeps
10) Glute Bridge
11) Thumbs Up
12) Basic Crunch

This would be a great starting version of this workout. Of course, if any of these didn’t particularly work for you, you could substitute them with another exercise from the same category.

I love a lot of things about this workout method in general. It is still a great workout, it’s easy to do nearly anywhere since it’s all bodyweight exercises, it works the whole body, and best of all, it’s short enough that no matter what, you can talk yourself into it. I often will do the basic 7-minute workout two or three times as a 14 or 21 minute workout so I can still get it done in a short period of time, but also feel doubly (or triply) sure that I got enough stimulus to encourage growth. 

That’s my two cents for today folks! Click below to visit all my social media sites, buy my book, or puruse my website 🙂 

Stay well!     
~Cassandra
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL MY LINKS IN ONE PLACE!

The cost of maintenance

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I hear a lot about how expensive personal training and fitness related costs are and that people wish they could afford it but can’t. So I decided to do some research and throw some math your way.

All the figures below have been researched and shown to be what the average American spends. You can calculate your own expenses I’m sure, but I think you can get the idea.

Average annual cost of mortgage: $12,732 ($1,061 per month)

Average annual cost of home maintenance: $6,000 ($500 per month)

Average annual cost of insurance premium (for Florida): $2,280 ($190 per month)

This means the average Floridian pays something like $1,751 per month just for a place to live (doesn’t include utilities and the like). I am willing to bet that for some of you, this is even higher.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “we have to have a home!”. Sure, of course, I’m not saying we don’t. But the point is, if you’re willing to pay that kind of money on bricks and mortar, what would you be willing to pay for your body? Your very life?

Ok, cars. We need cars too right? Can’t ride bikes everywhere! What do they cost?

Average annual car payment: $5,040 ($420 per month)

Average annual cost of car use, insurance, and maintenance: $9,122 ($760 per month)

So again, to have a car, maintain it, fill it with gas, insure it, and get that oil changed is going to cost you something like $1,180 dollars a month here in America. I hear the cries of protest, but I’m merely pointing out that it’s a huge chunk of change for a transportation method that you’re lucky lasts 10 years. Any guesses how long your body will last?

So what are some other things we spend on every year?

Coffee: $1,092 per year

Alcohol: $435 per year

Clothing: $1,721 per year

Health Care: $3,126 per year (just for coverage)

Entertainment: $2,693 per year

Eating away from home: $2,619 per year

Tobacco: $380 per year

There are lots of other less tangible costs to not maintaining your health, like time off work, life satisfaction, freedom, mobility, being able to tie your shoes without trouble, and so on. The CDC says that per capita health expenditures in 2010 were $8,402 that year.

Now before you think I’m just pointing all this out to depress you, I come with hope! The thing is, it doesn’t have to be like this and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.

The average gym membership costs a mere $55 a month. The problem with this is that you need some competency in how to use the gym or else what do you do when you get there? The other down side is that according to Freakonomics, most people overestimate how much they’ll use their gym memberships by 70%, throwing most of their money down the tube for nothing. If you’re motivated and have some guidance though you could call it a day with the gym membership for a steal at $660 per annum.

One of the most tried and true ways of getting the most for your money is to hire a personal trainer. The average per session cost for a trainer is $50 but can range from $15 to $100 per session. Supposing you found a trainer for $50 per session and trained twice a week for three months until you felt competent to continue on your own then you would have spent $1,200 to keep yourself healthy for those three months (supposing they offer no discounts which they probably do) and for however long you’re able to continue on your own. Those three months could last a lifetime.

Even if they don’t. Let’s assume you decide to see a trainer all year because you just don’t do it on your own. So that’s about $5,200 per year or $430 a month or so (again assuming no discounts) to ensure better health, prevent and treat diseases, adding more muscle mass, losing fat, increasing longevity, and literally changing your body and life.

A final thought. Investing in your body is a purchase that is 100% beneficial to you. You fully feel the effects of that investment and enjoy the benefits in many ways, both tangible and not, 24/7 for your whole life. A home or a car or any other sort of investment is only a certain percentage beneficial to you. You live there or drive it, but lots of people profit from you  having that house or car and you’re not there or using it every minute of the day, so what percent of your investment are you really getting? You’re in your body 24/7. What is that worth to you?

Lots of purchases we make are nonessential. Eating out, entertainment, refinishing the kitchen cupboards because that shade of white just won’t do, buying the ultra luxury interior package in the brand new car, and on and on. These things are pleasurable, but do not give you the return in investment that a healthy body and a sound mind do.

I think Jim Rohn said it best though:
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

What do you think?

Fitness Age

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I know, taboo question to some, but how old are you? Ok, now how old are you really.  What I mean is, does the condition of your body reflect your age? Is your body functioning at a level below your actual age or is it older than you think?

Thankfully, we do not have to speculate about this. A team of researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology figured out a way to calculate your fitness age.

The calculator can be found here:

http://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max

You will need:
-your age
-your height
-your weight
-your maximum heart rate (calculator available on the website)
-how often you exercise
-how long do you exercise
-how hard do you exercise
-waistline measurement
-resting pulse (beats per minute, best taken in the morning)

and ta da! They will calculate your fitness age. Easy peasy! Give it a try and leave a comment with your actual age and your fitness age 🙂

This link explains the test a little more:
http://cergntnu.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/how-to-understand-our-fitness-calculator/

Five Healthy Snacks that Keep You Full

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Hello, Fit With Cassandra Family member!

I am honored to announce that I was asked to contribute to an article for the Florida Today about five healthy snacks that keep us feeling full and satisfied. I’m not sure yet when and where this will appear but figured you all deserved the inside track. Here is what I wrote (plus some elaboration since I don’t have a word count here)  🙂

My background: During my six years as an undergraduate I majored in Exercise Science and Alternative Medicine and minored in Nutrition. I have completed numerous courses in health, wellness, nutrition, exercise, outdoor recreation, and many other courses of near relation. I completed the three day intensive workshop for personal trainers with the American College of Sports Medicine and passed their rigorous exam with flying colors 3 years ago now. Since then, I’ve continued to soak up every possible bit of information regarding the healthy building and maintenance of the human body and to put it to as best use as possible to my personal training and group fitness clients.

My food philosophy: I feel strongly that the best nutrition comes from whole, real foods and that the best diet strategy is to make small and sustainable changes in our eating habits. I also encourage a realistic approach to food since no one is going to be perfect all of the time (there will always be family holidays, birthdays, and parties to throw us off). I highly recommend the 80/20 approach to eating (or some maintainable variation thereof), which states that you eat exactly what you should 80% of the time and give yourself a break with the other 20%. That translates to one ‘cheat day’ every week or one small ‘cheat’ meal every day.

A few words about filling foods: Foods that satisfy hunger are often high in protein, fiber, fat, and/or water content. These foods digest slowly to keep you fuller for longer and send messages to your brain that you’re full (by chemical means or by activating stretch receptors in your stomach). That being said, here are my five recommended snacks that help keep us feeling full and satisfied:

1) Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt contains double the protein and half the sugar of other yogurts so you get more satiety for your caloric buck.  Add in raspberries for extra fiber or sliced almonds for extra fiber, healthy fat, and protein.  Not only will you feel full, but you’ll maintain bone density and get healthy probiotics, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. Numerous studies show that one of the constants in people that lose weight and keep it off is the presence of yogurt in their diet.

2) Eggs – Few foods stack up to the nutritional concentration of eggs. Not only are they full of vitamins and minerals, but the balanced protein and fat in eggs helps you feel full and satisfied.  Resist the temptation to throw out the yolk since that’s where most of the nutrition is! Because exposing the yolk to high heat denatures some of the protein content, try not to always eat them scrambled but opt for hard boiled or poached preparations.

3) Bean or Lentil Soup – Rich in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, beans and lentils are nutritional superstars. Plus, they keep you feeling full, are easy on the wallet, and are very versatile. Select a clear broth-based, lower sodium bean or lentil soup to stay full for hours.

4) Apples – Chewing sends satiation signals to your brain, helping you feel fuller while eating less. Foods like apples require more chewing and slow down your eating, allowing your stomach time to feel full. Plus they’re high in fiber and contain pectin which slows digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness. Not to mention that an apple a day has now been proven to keep the statins away!

5) Water – This one may seem surprising, but dehydration is often misinterpreted as hunger. Drinking water also activates stretch receptors in the stomach that signal it is full. I recommend drinking  a glass of water before each meal and sipping on it throughout the day to stay fuller as well as reap the many benefits of staying hydrated.

I hope enjoyed today’s post! As ever, please contact me any time, whoever you are if you have any questions or comments and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook! 🙂

Cassandra Wyzik
Click here for all my links <3

Foot Striking Patterns

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You may have never put an ounce of thought into it, but how your foot hits the ground when you walk or run has a lot to do with your performance and the likelihood of becoming injured over time. Basically, there are three foot striking scenarios:

FootStrikePattern

 

 

Heel Striking: This is a very common way for people to land on their feet is by striking heel first, then rolling down to toes. This is widely considered to be very detrimental to performance and to joints (especially knees). This striking pattern is a lot like hitting the brakes with every step. By doing this you are momentarily stopping forward momentum until the rest of you catches up. This method of foot striking is mostly blamed on wearing thick shoes. If you ran like this barefoot, it would hurt very badly, but with a nice cushy sole underneath your heel, you can do it just fine…for now.

Notice the difference in this picture where the first child is wearing shoes and the second one isn’t. Notice the graph on the left where you can see a dip in momentum where the heel strikes.

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This foot strike doesn’t incorporate your plantar fascia (the bottom of your foot) very much, leaving that to become weak and over-stressed easily over time. It also sends a lot of shock to your heels, potentially causing heel spurs, and to your knees, shocking them into hyper-extension with every step.

Midfoot Striking: Not landing flat foot, but landing behind the balls of the feet. This gives your ankles a chance to help take some of the pressure off your knees and absorb some shock. When you land further on the front of your foot, your foot lands closer to your center of gravity, preventing over-striding (extending beyond your center of gravity).

FootStrikeCloseCOG

Contacting the ground underneath your body keeps you from putting on the brakes with every step and keeps your momentum forward, keeps shock off the knees, and gets your plantar fascia working.

Just look at this beautiful example:

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Forefoot Striking: Landing on the balls of the feet. Again, similar situation with mid-foot striking.

 

 

 

 

barefoot-running-011

The ability for the foot to absorb impact is called impact transient. In the heel strike you see it quite profoundly:

Fig1b

 

 

 

 

In the mid and fore-foot strike it is nearly absent entirely:
Fig1c

Basically though, most experts agree that avoiding over-striding is one of the most important things you can do. Take smaller steps right underneath your body and your feet and knees will naturally correct themselves. Also, landing softly on your feet, however you strike, is of the utmost importance. Your feet should never, ever slap down. You should always be in control of your feet.

If you’re adjusting your stride or foot slapping, you will get tired faster because you will be using more effort to walk or run, but that’s the whole point. The patterns of movement that cause injury are generally caused by doing it the ‘easy’ way instead of the proper way. Start slowly at first until your body gets stronger, and it will, and not only will you be injury proofing yourself, you will get stronger and faster as a result.

Apps and Fitness

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There are so many apps out there for smart phone users to help make living a fit and well lifestyle easier. I’m going to introduce just a few faves real quick:

RunKeeper http://runkeeper.com/ – great for tracking your speed/distance/time while running, biking, walking, boating, you name it. It’s great if you’re looking to keep a certain pace, go a certain distance, or just want to keep track of what you’ve been doing. You can select to follow a running plan (and they’re legit, I’ve checked them out) to train for a race and set goals for yourself, like a certain number of miles in a month. It even connects you to other RunKeeper users and connects to your Facebook so you can post about your activities for some additional accountability.

MyFitnessPal http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ – If you’ve ever talked to me about nutrition I’ve probably told you about this app. I just love it! It’s user friendly, tracks calories in/out, what percentages of your diet is carbs/protein/fat, and gives you a nutrition panel that tells you what you need/have gotten/have left to get. It shows you a graph of the week and how you’re doing in relation to your calorie goal, has a huge database for easy inputs of food and exercise, and so much more. Love it! If you don’t know what your diet looks like, it’s time you found out.

Zombies Run! https://www.zombiesrungame.com/ – If you like to run, or even if you don’t but want to, and if you’re into zombies, this is so fun. This really well done app immerses you in a post zombie apocalyptic world where you listen to radio type broadcasts of what’s going on around you as you run. With every run, you’re on a mission and hear more of the story of the people around you and the lives they’re living and lived before the outbreak. While you’re running, zombies sometimes start to catch up, urging you to run faster until you outrun them. It’s pretty fun and entertaining.  A 30 minute run goes by really fast with this app.

HabitRPG https://habitrpg.com/static/front – I admit, I just found out about this today, but it looks fun and I’ll be giving it a try. It’s an app meant to help you form good habits through rewards and tracks your to do lists for you. I’ll write more about it when I give it a try, but it seemed too cool not to include here.

You Are Your Own Gym – I am a huge fan of using only body weight whenever possible to exercise, so this one’s for me and those like me in that respect. It’s based on the book by Mark Lauren of the same name, a former member of special ops. All exercises are body weight only and you can select workout programs or build your own using a variety of highly effective formats, like stappers and pyramids. It’s awesome. If you like body weight and want a good challenger, here it is!

I will continue to add to this list, but these are enough to definitely get  most of you started with some technology for making your life a little easier and better, if you’re into that kind of thing 😉

Happy T.G.I.F.!

Cassandra Wyzik
Fit With Cassandra Private Fitness Studio
1359 Highway A1A Satellite Beach, FL
504-717-5378
http://www.FitWithCassandra.com
http://www.Facebook.com/FitWithCassandra

Group Classes Website Update

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Greetings my fit-spirational folks!

I have updated the group classes page on my website so that each group class gets its very own page, as they should. I hope to amass some pictures of these classes in action to add later (with everyone’s permission of course) and to add more information about each as needed. The link is here:

http://www.fitwithcassandra.com/groupclasses.html

Please check it out and let me know what you think 🙂

Onward and upward!

Love, Cassandra

New Blog!

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So my website comes with a blog, but it’s not very snazzy and I can’t easily share it with anyone, so I’m going to try doing it through Word Press and see what happens 🙂 I’m hoping that in this format I can reach more people more easily and spread the good word on fitness, wellness, and health 🙂