bigstock_Woman_s_Abs_3888444I was reviewing the past year and the progress of my clients, both long term and short term. I can see three things affecting their success. Those who work on all three are doing the best. Those with two of the three are split: some progressing, some at a stand still. Those hitting just one area are struggling. Here are the areas to consider as you enter this new year, resolve to improve your fitness, and prepare for summer beach wear.

  • If you’re fat and want to lose it, you have to change your lifestyle.
  • If you’re weak and want to be strong, you have to change your lifestyle.
  • If you’re tired and want to have energy, you have to change your lifestyle.
  • The choices are yours. The consequences are yours.

You must sleep well

The first effect of partial sleep loss is an increase in the early evening levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevations of evening cortisol levels in chronic sleep loss are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, which makes us store more fat in our cells and is a risk factor for obesity and diabetes.

Also, ghrelin and leptin regulate our hunger and their production gets disrupted without sleep, leading to leptin resistance—meaning, we don’t get the message that we’re full because our cells learn to ignore the presence of the hormone (like with insulin resistance). Not getting enough sleep reduces fat cells’ ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin, which is crucial for regulating energy storage and use. And it’s a cycle. Insulin promotes the release of leptin, so if your fat cells are less insulin-sensitive, you will make less leptin. There are other hormones now coming to light involved in appetite regulation that sleep deprivation may affect and they promote hedonic eating.

You must eat enough nutrient-rich foods

Calorie restriction loses muscle mass (not your fat mass), causes sleep deprivation, and decreases your desire and ability to be active. Fat is easy to lose but muscle is hard to gain. You must increase your work (exercise) capacity. The better your work capacity, the better your fitness and the more lean you will be.

Those promoting weight loss often state that eating 3,500 fewer calories or burning them off exercising will result in a pound of weight loss. No. A growing body of evidence shows that the body’s metabolism can change when you lose weight and alter your exercise habits.

Cutting calories rarely works because that leads to fighting hunger. If you have to feel hungry to stay lean, you’re going to fail. The only way to lose and maintain weight loss is to eat enough that you’re full without eating foods that fatten. SIMPLE. Cut out sugar and as much grain as possible. Eat fat in the form of natural fats (meat, and vegetable fats not added oils). Sugar and grain are EMPTY and FATTENING calories and NEVER fill you up. Eat plenty of protein (preferably meat and fish and eggs) and lots of vegetables. Eat as much of these as you want. Watch out for hidden grains and fats in the form of added seed oils (corn, vegetable, soybean, safflower, canola, etc.) and sugar (corn syrup, sugar, honey, agave, etc) through breading, frying, and sauces. Natural oils and sugars (in meats and produce, for example) are fine.

You must lift heavy things frequently

Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases your metabolism and decreases fat.

Acute and chronic research shows that HIGH VOLUME (higher weight and sets/reps) resistance programs gain the greatest hormonal responses. Resistance exercise has been shown to dramatically affect hormonal responses in the body after training. These responses play a huge role not only in immediate tissue remodeling and growth, but as well as to long term strength. Resistance exercise protocols that stress large muscle mass (multi-joint exercises), are high in volume, and moderate to high intensity, give you the greatest hormonal elevations for optimal muscular fitness benefits because they function as both strength and cardio exercise. Weekly hours of cardio are unnecessary and even INHIBITS muscle gain and leads to weight gain or “skinny fat”.

Independent of weight loss (if, say, you’re working out regularly but not seeing the pounds drop), exercise lowers risk of diabetes and heart disease because it directly affects visceral fat  Strength training will help you lose visceral fat and reshape your body even if you never lose a pound.

walter-pull-upsWe have our new squat rack installed. The studio might get blown down in a tornado, but this rack ain’t going nowhere.

Along with the rack, we’ve added Olympic bars, bumper plates, and a bigger dumbbell rack. With this addition, we’re able to push our clients to new levels of pain–er strength. Our philosophy is to assist our clients with as many modalities as we find effective and can accommodate. Our focus is personal service: one-on-one training and small groups. Several clients have already outgrown (in a good way!) our studio bar weight.

And here’s a photo of Super Walter testing out the multi grip pull up bar from Rogue. All our new equipment is from Rogue, because, as I always say, nothing makes you tougher than working with cast iron. No, really, I always say that.

A friend turned me on to a new fitness app, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s from the 12 Minute Athlete website. The website offers free workouts and inspiration. Now, it offers an app.

The app is “12 Minute Athlete“. There’s a free version and one that costs $2.99. I highly recommend $2.99 app for anyone who has the self-discipline to do a short intense workout but would enjoy mixing it up. The app provides workouts of different lengths, with different exercises, in different orders, based on the equipment you want to use. Each exercise explains the technique, links to a video of it, and offers modifications.

You’ll find exercises tailored to your equipment: body weight only, box, dip bar, pull up bar, sandbag, medicine ball, jump rope, kettle bell. This is HIIT/CrossFit common equipment, but almost any home has what you need. You can buy any of this equipment at a department or sports store. You can also think of the sandbag and kettle bell as simply resistance/load of any kind, like dumbbells, books, filled water bottles–whatever you have. You can get a pull up bar for your doorway, sit on the floor and use the edge of a table, or use a playground bar at your local park. You can use your stairs in place of a box. Dip bars can be the arms of a sturdy chair.

You select duration, equipment, shake, click start, and a timer runs you through the complete workout. Simple and effective!



The diet wars are still going strong. Eat this for weight loss. This superfood will make you healthy. This food will cause cancer. This will cleanse your gut. Nutrition is a complex and relatively new science, and most of what is promulgated is meant to sell product not make you healthy.

One thing is becoming clear, however. Maintaining a healthy weight, good muscles, and working hormones is about getting enough protein. That might seem like a no-brainer to many of you, but many more of you will blow it off. You likely think you get enough–there’s protein in this thing I’m eating, right? How much, do you suppose? Not enough, I’m sure.

Since ancient times, there have been outliers who shunned mainstream diets, but it’s only very recently in history that the mainstream diet itself became one that avoided protein and fat. Our ancestors knew that protein and fat were the valuable macronutrients, extended at the table by the poor or during shortages with low-protein vegetables and grains. If you’re ever beyond civilization and need to rely on your own strength to find food, you would be wise to seek protein at every opportunity.

But in 21st century America, we don’t do that. And we are fat and sick.

How Much Protein?

Restricting calories, starches, or grains will help you lose weight. But it’s not that simple. You must be sure to get enough protein or you’ll not lose as much, and you WILL gain it back — due both to how your hormones are functioning and hunger. Tired of the yo-yo? Focus on protein!!

How much? AT LEAST .8 grams of protein for every kilogram you weigh. A person who weighs 160 pounds (73 kilograms) should be eating at least 58 grams of protein a day.

However, if you increase your protein, you’ll find even better and longer lasting results. Diets with 1.2g of protein per kilogram of weight “resulted in improved BW [body weight] maintenance in overweight individuals after BW loss and was related to beneficial changes in body composition, substrate oxidation, and satiety.” For the 160 pound person, that means at least 88g of protein every day.

A few serving examples: 1 egg has 6g, 1/2c tempeh 15g, 3oz tuna 25g, 3oz ground beef 22g, 1/2c black beans 7g, 1/2c whole wheat flour 8g. So if you’re relying on whole wheat and beans, you might think that’s plenty, and if not you can just eat more, right? Here’s a comparison: you can eat 1 pound of ground beef and get all your protein for the day at 1500 calories. Or you can eat 6 cups of whole wheat flour and get all your protein at 2700 calories. This is why we call grain “empty”: it gives you many calories that do not feed your body nutrients, just units of energy you don’t use.

Chances are, if you are not focusing on protein and choosing sources with a high percent of protein versus their other content, you’re not getting enough.

“Based on the comparison of a number of reliable studies, we conclude that a NPD [normal protein diet] of 0.8 g · kg BW [body weight] −1 . d−1 is sufficient for BW management, whereas a HPD [high protein diet] of 1.2 g · kg BW−1 . d−1 is necessary for preservation of REE [resting energy expenditure, i.e. resting metabolic rate] and a stronger initial sparing effect of FFM [fat-free mass, i.e. lean body mass] and lowering of DBP [diastolic blood pressure].”

Read the whole study:

Fit Young Female Athlete Lifting Heavy WeightsDon’t get caught up in how much weight you SHOULD be lifting or how many reps you SHOULD be doing. That’s wrong-headed. If you want to know what you SHOULD be doing to make your workout most worthwhile, you don’t have to look at anyone else.

Everyone of us has different strengths and weaknesses, different experience with exercise, and strong or weak days. So never rely on comparison with anyone else, no matter how similar you may see them or how much you want to match their fitness.

VT1 and VT2

I’ve written about these before, but it’s been awhile, and a discussion this morning with a client had me thinking about it again.

VT is the “ventilatory threshold,” meaning the line you cross with regard to how much air you’re breathing in and what that means about how hard your heart is working.

Below VT1. If you spend your workout at a comfort level where you can carry on a conversation (or, say, recite the alphabet), you’ll be exercising below the VT1 and be getting only minimal gains. Your heart rate will be around 40%-50% of your maximum. Great for easing emotional stress and some weight loss.

At VT1. If you’re sweating and can NOT carry on a conversation–but you CAN respond to questions and ask short questions–then you’re at VT1, and you’ll gain aerobic capacity and fat loss much faster. Your heart rate will be around 60%-70% of your maximum. Hour-long studio classes like Zumba and BodyCombat live here. Once conditioned, you can exercise in this range for hours.

VT1 > VT2. If you push yourself beyond VT1 to the point where you can’t even speak, you’re nearing VT2. Your heart rate will be around 80%-90% of your maximum. You won’t likely be able to sustain this intensity of exercise for a few minutes at a time until you’ve condition yourself with activities such as HIIT or Crossfit. Then, you’ll be able to continue for 20-30 minutes as you near VT2. At this level, it’s not just more calories but qualitatively different effects; you’ll get increased fat burn but also EPOC effect which will burn calories for hours afterward and stimulate human growth hormone and improve insulin sensitivity.

>VT2. Those who push past the VT2 range do so for mere minutes and are likely increasing athletic performance. Past VT2 is the 100%+ range of your heart rate.

Your Workout

It’s YOUR workout! Focus on what your breathing and heart rate are doing at each workout. You may hit 80% when someone else is at 50% and chatting away. If you try to match what others are doing, you’re not accounting for the differences in day, diet, sleep, size, and other factors that influence our workouts every day.


This is a terrific infographic. Use it to move step-by-step into the fitness level you want. Focus on all three parts: diet, exercise, sleep!

The only thing I don’t like here is how they use “carbs” to mean empty carbohydrates, like grains and starches. Carbs include vegetables and fruits, but they are not the enemy. Vegetables and fruits are nutrient rich, so think of eating “good carb” not “low carb”.


As winter sets in, you may feel the blues arrive. Here are some ways to boost your mood by boosting your serotonin levels!

10. Avoid the fast track to happiness: don’t eat sugar or empty carbs for the quick high.
9. Don’t avoid carbs entirely; they help you manage tryptophan.
8. Eat protein for the tryptophan.
7. Eat fat to help your hormones.
6. Take a fish oil supplement to help your hormones and brain.
5. Exercise to feel good.
4. Avoid the stimulant cycle of sugar, caffeine, alcohol.
3. Sleep right.
2. Investigate supplements wisely.
1. Boost other hormones like oxytocin “the cuddle hormone”.

Read more at Mark’s Daily Apple.

personal training coralvilleFinding it hard to get to the gym? Need motivation or just a little push to get started? Like variety? Here’s your answer!

Below are 5 workouts. Do the same workout on the same day each week and record how many reps or time to score your progress. You don’t need equipment and each should take just 10-15 mins.

1. LADDER – Do for 2 min, rest 30 sec. Repeat 5 times

n x Burpee + 10 mountain climbers
n+1 x Burpee (add 1 burpee each round) + 10 mountain climbers

2. EMOM – 10 min every minute on the minute do 15 reps of an exercise. Rest the remainder of the minute. At minute 6 start the set over for 10 exercises in 10 minutes

Squat jumps
Tricep push-ups
Sumo squats
Butterfly sit-ups

3. AMRAP – Do as many reps as possible cycling through the set for 5 mins. Record total reps of all exercises combined. Rest 3 mins. Repeat set for second total reps.

10 side climbers
20 box jumps (stair, bench)
20 butterfly sit-ups

4. FOR TIME – Do all exercises and record time to complete

20 squat jumps
20 push-ups
100 butterfly sit-ups

5. DO EACH – 1 min each exercise followed by 20 sec rest and move to next exercise. Rest 2 mins after set and repeat set.

Dips (bench, stair, table edge)
Jumping Jacks

We’re having our second health fair! If you made it to our first in July, you may want to get an update to see how your eating and exercise have improved your body metrics. If this is your first, get your benchmark for future metrics.

Spots are limited to 20 people. You must reserve and prepay. 

WHAT: A Health Fair. Discover how fit and healthy you are and what you can do to maintain or improve your fitness. You’ll get two readings: 1) Body Composition Analysis, which measures lean muscle, fat, and hydration levels. 2) Skin Carotenoid Score, which measures your antioxidant levels.
WHERE: New Moon Fitness Studio 1749 Parkway Dr Coralville IA
WHEN: October 4, 2014 (Saturday) 9am-12pm. 10-minute time slot reservations required. You can sign up online.
WHY: Being healthy and fit isn’t just about the scale. It’s about body fat and lean muscle ratio and about how well you eat and hold onto antioxidants. You’ll find out how you’re doing and how you can maintain or improve your levels. Measurements and explanations take 10-15 minutes. You’ll have charts & other goodies to take home.
COST: $40. Pre-payment is required.



SCORE-BODY-COMPOSITION-LOGOTwo people who weigh the same can have a very different body composition — that is, have a very different amount of muscle and fat. Muscle is the major driver of your metabolic rate and important for weight management, but most people who lose weight will lose both muscle and fat. That makes it harder to lose weight and easier to regain it. Muscle decreases as you get older, so even though your weight is steady, you may actually have more fat. Without measuring your muscle and fat, you cannot gauge your true progress. MORE INFO:



PHARMENEX-LOGOBy measuring the stable level of carotenoid antioxidants in your skin and generating your Skin Carotenoid Score, the Scanner provides a more accurate and reliable biomarker of your overall antioxidant health status than other methods of measuring antioxidants. Based on Nobel Prize winning science the BioPhotonic S3 Scanner is the only patented instrument that in 30 seconds conducts a live non-invasive tissue measurement and provides an immediate personal antioxidant assessment. MORE INFO: