Count Your Blessings, Not Calories!

picCrunching numbers instead of doing actual crunches, measuring every food up to the exact serving size, rounding up numbers, and reading more nutrition labels than you do books. All of these concepts contribute to what some consider the “catalyst to weight loss” that is, calorie counting. This topic is one that is really important to me and has taught me a huge lesson in regards to nutrition and I’m excited to give my two cents on the matter. At the same time, I can’t help but cringe a little bit while I gather info on extreme calorie counting because I made a lot of mistakes while I calorie counted to lose weight. Without further or do, I learned a lot from my personal experience so I wanted to share it with you all!

What happened after I calorie counted

I lost forty pounds. Let me be clear, that statement was not my successful weight loss testimony. For many reasons, one being that I should have lost only half of what I did.  I eventually began to lose muscle, go below the average BMI for my age group, and overall became obsessed with keeping track of what I ate each day. All of this resulting in needing to gain some weight back anyways!

Why calorie counting can be dangerous 

It all comes down to quality vs. quantity. Both quality and quantity should be put into consideration when constructing a healthy diet. However, quality is the half of the deal we sometimes ignore especially when calorie counting. For instance sure my granola bar, almonds, and Nutella sandwich (I’m cringing) fit in my daily calorie quota but a lot my food choices certainly weren’t the right calories. As Dr. Frank Lipman an internationally recognized expert in the field of integrative medicine states, “All calories are not created equal. Thinking that all calories are the same is an antiquated notion. Granted by definition calories represent units of energy provided by a particular food, but thinking they’re all alike is like saying a diamond and a rhinestone are the same because they both glitter. With Calories, as with diamonds, it’s the quality that matters most and enhances their value.”

Your body resorts to burning lean muscle tissue as a source of energy ideally when losing weight we would want our body to burn body fat not muscle. But when you put your body in crucial conditions, it will resort to any source of energy. Therefore it will pull from stored energy anywhere, this can be fat, muscle, or a combination of them both.

Nutrition deficiency Sure you can lose weight by eating packaged food that is labeled with your necessary calorie count. But if your diet is only composed of what has almost zero nutrients the processed food will create a chemical reaction in your body that will work against weight loss and good health. Following that, eating too much sugar results in an overproduction of insulin which promotes weight gain.

Can it be done right? Will it hurt you to be aware of how many calories are in your meal? Certainly not! Knowing the calorie amount can sometimes be utilized as a rough estimate or criteria for our daily food intake. However, the fault in calorie counting is the obsession and taking it to the extreme. Keeping a journal of your calories, or keeping a record of it in your phone will make you eventually addicted. In my case, it almost became a sort of game and every day was a chance to beat my record of how little calories I consumed that day.

Although I am not proud of my diet mistake, I’ve learned so much. Now I eat a lot of the right foods, and know better than to get sucked into the obsession of extreme calorie counting. Do not avoid foods like fruits, veggies and other produce that do not have a nutrition label on it, and when there is a nutrition label, read more than just the calorie amount! The best part of the alternative to calorie counting is that you can eat way more! As long as you are eating wholesome, natural foods, you can eat more and frequently throughout the day to keep your metabolism going. Eat right, not less and you’ll be on your way to a content, happy, and healthy life!

“It’s a good day to have a good day!”

-Alena Purpero ♡

Gladiator Assault Challenge

picGladiator Assault Challenge

All my life I’ve been pretty mediocre at sports. That’s probably not the best way to start a fitness blog, but it’s the truth. Everything I tried seemed to not be a fit for me, so I started running. Running is the ultimate body workout where I never have to worrying about getting hit in the head with a ball. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of friends and families get into not just running by themselves, but doing races. The color run, Tough Mudder, Glow Run, these are all races I’d like to do… but getting the courage to actually sign up took a lot longer then I expected.

Two weekends ago I finally completed my first 5k. No, it wasn’t a marathon, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? I chose to do the Gladiator Assault Challenge, which is by far not your average 5k.  With 30 military style obstacles interlaced into the run, there is something surprising around every corner.

The race took started on top of a ski hill. Yes, on top of a ski hill. At the top, there was a DJ and loud music playing to pump you up and get you going. When the horns went off, myself and 50 other people in my heat headed down the hill and into the woods. Right off the bat we were met with a pile of mud that we had to crawl through while a military official sprayed us down with a hose. It was at this point I realized that this run was going to be a dirty dirty 5k. We climbed up wooden structures, over rope walls, through mud up to our ears, and under barbed wire. We jumped through fire, ran off a 15-foot structure into a lake, and crawled through black tubes. This race was intense.

Although the race was nothing I’d ever experienced before, the whole time I was more excited to complete an obstacle than worry about getting dirty. With each challenge, I felt stronger and more confident than the last one. I kept thinking, if I can complete this I can complete anything. After running up and down the ski hill countless of times, the race finally came to a finish. There to greet our muddy and soaking wet bodies were loud music and volunteer workers handing out beer and fruit. They also had a gear tent where you could buy different t-shirts and athletic gear at the finish line. The weather that day was in the high 50s, so after running a race in mud and water, our main mission was to dry off and change clothes. Once dry, we ate a banana, finished our beer and headed out. Although the weather didn’t allow us to stick around for very long after the race, with our participant medal in hand we marched proudly to the car.

Over all I think that the experience of doing a mud run is something you cannot describe. It is dirty and challenging, but once in the moment all that is going through your mind is “I can do this.” I felt more accomplished after running those 3 miles than I did running any of my runs over the last year. If you are someone who wants to start challenging yourself to a race more intense than just running, I strongly recommend a mud run. There are plenty of different options to try out!pic 2

Another recommendation is running the race with a buddy. Not only does it keep the race fun, but also having someone there to help push you along the way makes the whole race seem easier. Plus you can laugh at each other as you’re trudging through mud.

If you have any more questions or comments about the Gladiator Assualt Challenge check out their website!

Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.

Mary Marren

Why you can’t Skip Leg Day

pic for blogIf you’re anything like me, then the one day of the week that you resent is leg day. It is an essential day in the workout routine for many more reasons then people, including me before researching this, know. Personally, I knew of some of the benefits, but really researching this topic has made me realize even more how important it is to make sure you incorporate leg day into your workouts. Lets go over the obvious ones first.

You don’t want to look like the guy who has a huge upper body and chicken legs. Seriously, you don’t want to be that guy or girl. Having a well-balanced body not only looks great, but also has many benefits that we’ll go over.

You get better abs by lifting legs. You use a lot more core than you think while doing leg workouts. There are people who never have to do specific abs workouts and can still have abs better than most because doing large compound lifts such as; squats, dead lifts, and Olympic lifts engage huge numbers of core muscles that can’t even be touched with doing abs workouts.

Your upper body gets stronger. By working your lower body, you are increasing your balance, your bench press, explosiveness and upper body as a whole. You can’t have a tree without a trunk, and people don’t realize how important it is for you to have a base with your workouts.  A tree without its trunk would topple over and the same goes for you. When trying to stand and do too heavy of curls you can topple over and this makes you more injury prone. Also, when you are benching you should plant your feet and drive with your legs and if you don’t have enough leg strength you can strain your quadriceps.

You burn large amount of calories. Because you are working such big muscles your heart rate raises higher than most other lifts and that causes you to burn a high amount of calories. You also most likely will sweat a good amount, and therefore increase the lean muscle mass in your legs, which will increase your metabolism.

Many back problems start with your lower body. Having uneven or non-existent lower body muscles is the root for a lot of posture and back problems. Weak glutes put more work on the lower back and hamstrings, leading to tight hip flexors that pull on the lumbar spine creating an anterior pelvic tilt, protruding the abdomen. The Williams Center has personal trainers who specialize on finding where your muscles are lacking and can help you fix problems like these.

Even though leg day may not be the most fun or ideal day of the week, it is one that we all have to power though. If you don’t believe me, do a simple Google search of why you shouldn’t skip legs day. The reasons are endless. If you need some simple exercises to start out with here are a few.

-Yesterday you said tomorrow

Eric Hess

Who do you run for?

Do you ever think while running outside, on a treadmill, riding a bike, rollerblading, etc., about how lucky you are that you have the ability to perform that activity? Sometimes we even say “go do that for me” because we are too lazy to perform activities ourselves. Can you imagine wanting to go for a run and not being able to. Not being of time, work, or for lack of motivation, but because you were PHYSICALLY unable to?

pictureHave you ever heard of the “Who I Run 4” program? It is a program where you sign up to dedicate your workouts to individuals that aren’t physically able to perform the activity themselves. They become your “Buddy”, someone you have never met, but will instantly start sharing a bond with. Here is how you can get involved:

  1. Join the Facebook group I Run For Michael at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/irunformichael
  2. Send a friend request to the matchmaker page  so we can contact you to connect you with someone!!
  3. Fill out one of the two forms below to be matched

▪       If you are a runner and want to be matched with someone please CLICK HERE and fill out the form.

▪       If you would like for your special needs child/adult to be matched with a runner CLICK HERE and fill out the form.

  1. Wait PATIENTLY to be matched with your buddy!

 

Some of the members of the Warhawk Fitness Family (past and present) have already been matched with their Buddy and here is what the program means to them:

“I believe a lot times that I take for granted that I have the ability and the ease to do so much, such as working out. As someone who works in the fitness field, this organization opened my eyes to the number of people who may not have the physical ability to do what I do on a daily basis. By being matched with a buddy, you create a relationship with a family who helps educate and motivate you as well. My buddy has what is call CDKL5 and it is a chromosomal defect, which has left her unable to walk, and/or speak, and she also suffers from seizures. By being matched, I feel my workouts now have a greater purpose. Knowing that I have the physical capabilities to do something that she can not, makes me want to help her live the experience through me. Being matched has made me realize that there are days I may not want to do something, and I then think about the constant struggles she endures and that pushes me to get up and work harder for her.” –Stephanie Punda

“I think it’s great to be paired with my buddy, Harlum who is 9 and is diagnosed with a disability without a name, which affects him mentally and physically. It’s referred to as SWAN (syndrome without a name) disability. I think the most rewarding part is having him know that others out there look up to him for the way he deals with his everyday challenges that you and I take for granted. The constant reminder of how fortunate I am to be healthy and be independent is a great way to gather extra motivation for not only the gym, but with all aspects of life.” –Jared Ward

“I joined the IR4 movement because it’s a chance to be part of something bigger.  Working out is something I love to do in order to better myself, and when I found it I can help others and give someone else strength through my workouts I realized it was a great fit!  IR4 is a great organization that helps you create a unique bond with someone who you would not have met otherwise.  Being a part of this, I hope to gain a broader perspective on life and appreciate what I have.  Most importantly I hope to help my buddy work through whatever battles they are struggling with. It’s great to hear from them on good days, but when harder days do come I hope that my support goes a long way for them and their family.” –Renee Lenda

“The IRun4 program is a great opportunity for exercise enthusiasts to dedicate their work outs towards someone in need. Sometimes we take for granted the ability to work out, play sports, or even walk to class. IRun4 is a program that changes your perspective on exercise and in life. I was paired with a 3-year-old boy from the UK who has GDD, Autism, hypermobility, and is non-verbal. I get to communicate with his mother on a daily basis and see some of his struggles and greatest moments. At the beginning of this adventure, I thought I would be doing something good for another person, but didn’t realize the good it would be doing for me. I am truly inspired by Ethan and his family’s persistence and grace and I highly recommend anyone who runs or works out to think about signing up for a buddy.” –Julia DiMonte

Never take for granted the abilities that you have. Instead, dedicate your abilities to those that don’t have the same opportunities as you! Follow the steps above to begin the journey to being paired with your buddy. Not only will you be creating a healthier you, but also you will be making a difference in someone else’s life.

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”

~Kenzi Weidman