Question – What is the best strength training that complements a diet and jogging for losing weight?

Answer – Your question sounds like your goal is weight loss, not simply gaining strength or muscle size.

Assuming you have a good diet (low carb so that you don’t limit protein by limiting overall calories and so that you do limit the amount of insulin in your blood which is a building hormone and prevents burning fat) and assuming your jogging is not overdone (chronic aerobic exercise will actually cause muscle loss, “chronic” meaning low to moderate intensity that lasts too or long too frequently so that your body remains inflamed with cortisol), then strength training can help with weight loss through:
reducing visceral fat

  • building more muscle to increase your lean body mass and metabolism
  • making your muscles more insulin sensitive thus requiring your body to release less insulin
  • raising the levels of human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, and testosterone

You will want to work every muscle group 1–2 times each week, no more. Compound and plyometric exercises like squats, deadlifts, thrusters, renegade rows, box jumps, pull ups, push ups are best for achieving the hormone boosts mentioned above.

You can add on isolation exercises like curls, crunches, and calf raises if you have extra time.

There are so many ways to put these work outs together. 5 sets of 5 reps, 3 sets of 10 reps, repeating circuits, AMRAPS, etc. Find one online and try it (we have some posted here). No work out should last more than an hour. 30–45 mins 2/week is all you need. You should sweat, feel muscles burn during, get out of breath a few times. If not, increase the weight, but always use proper technique.

Additionally, you’ll need to find how you like to strength train. In other words, you need to be consistent, so what will keep you consistent? Will exercising alone or in a group keep you going? Will paying for a trainer keep you more accountable than working out at home? Or would you keep it up by working out for free in a park or rec center?

  • Weight loss is all about consistency. If it took you years to put weight on, then it will take you that long to remove it. Plus, you need to develop new lifestyle habits to keep it off.

Question – I’m on insulin and overweight, can sleeping fewer hours aid in weight loss?

Answer – Sleep is not a time when your body rests. Your body does things while you sleep that it can’t do when you’re awake, including recycling dead and dying cells. Researchers have recently discovered a hormone that is released only when you sleep and helps reduce inflammation. Sleep is an active time for your hormones even if not for your muscles.

Also, if you feel sleepy and don’t sleep, you will cause your body to release more cortisol. Chronic release of cortisol increases blood glucose and breaks down muscle while allowing fat to be stored. Lack of sleep is a stressor, and when it becomes chronic, is a common reason my clients stay fat even when they eat well.

Activity will reduce visceral fat, which is insulin sensitive, and surrounds your organs. But this isn’t the fat you see. Subcutaneous fat is the stuff you can grab, is more insulin resistant, and it responds to diet not activity.

If you’re Type II, talk to your doctor about reducing or getting off insulin through a low carb diet. Many doctors are becoming educated on the fact that taking insulin requires you to eat even more carbs only to maintain the medicine. If you don’t eat carbs, you don’t need insulin. Even if you’re Type I you can reduce your meds. Study after study is showing the value of diet vs medication. 

Wellness Challenge Teams – Buffs & Tuffs

personal training coralville health coachTwo teams are set for the Live Healthy Iowa Wellness Challenge. The goal is to move more. Our teams will be tracking their activity daily starting 1/23. Friendly competition, chances to win gift cards, a free magazine subscription, and a celebration at completion may help with that!

The Buffs – Mostly newer clients; are they dedicated to moving more? Captain Teresa, Irene, Cathy, Jen B.,Lauren, Brian, Kristi, Dave, Alex, Augustin

The Tuffs – This team is mostly long-time clients; can they keep up their active pace? Cap’n Robert, Patty, Meirav, Jen F., Weijing, Kimay, Brenda, Melanie, Kimmie, Havana.


Question – Will Weight Training Increase My Longevity if I’m a Man, 27, and Already Do Cardio?

Answer – Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases your metabolism and decreases fat. It also keeps you functional to resist accidents and recover more quickly from injuries.

gvt-coralville-iowa-personal-trainingResearch 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.

Insulin sensitivity rises. Human growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor rise. These are the things that start dwindling with age and that need an effort on your part to maintain. At 27, you don’t have to think about muscle tone and protein synthesis, but I guarantee by 40, if you’re not habituated to a strength-training program and focusing on how much protein you actually consume, you will see your muscle and your hormones diminishing. Lean body mass is one of the best predictors of longevity https://www.scientificamerican.c…

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 inhibit muscle gain, leading 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. Visceral fat increases inflammation leading to arteriosclerosis and heart disease. This fat is kept in check with exercise, not diet.

Question – How do I lose belly fat as a 15 year old who started lifting weights 7 months ago?

teen-fitness-coralville-iowa-personal-trainingAnswer – Belly fat is about hormones. What I mean by that is insulin and cortisol are hormones that work to build and store fat rather than utilize and burn fat. If you have belly fat, you have too much or too frequent release of them in your body.

The visceral fat around your organs responds to exercise because it is insulin sensitive. This is the fat under your muscles and around your liver and heart. This is the dangerous kind that we gain throughout a sedentary life and will contribute more to inflammation and eventually heart attacks.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat you can grab and the kind we mostly talk about when we say we want to lose weight. It’s around the belly and back, thighs, neck, and arms. This fat is more insulin resistant and does not respond quickly to exercise. Losing subcutaneous fat is more about diet than exercise.


When you eat food with sweeteners and carbohydrates in them, your body has to release more insulin than usual to manage the digestion of those foods. Insulin removes the glucose (it’s a sugar) that your body makes through digesting these carb-heavy foods by storing them in fat cells.

Insulin is inflammatory: you want to use as little as possible. When it is in your blood frequently or for long periods, it causes problems in your arteries, liver, and kidneys. It also makes you fat, both from sheer calories (storing the unused glucose) BUT ALSO from how it prevents the hormones that utilize fat from working. This is the piece that the “calories-in-calories-out” theory fails to account for.

With insulin high your metabolism is in anabolic mode. It is building. Your body won’t break down your stores of fat for fuel or use the fat you eat while insulin is high because the presence of insulin blocks metabolic breakdown and forces metabolic build-up. Then, since every cell needs fuel every second, the presence of insulin forces your cells to rely only on glucose for fuel rather than fat. That means you crave and get hunger pains and eat frequently.

Most high-carb eaters eat something like 5-20 times a day (even a sip of soda here, a few crackers, a piece of candy, etc). This frequent eating means insulin is always high which means you are not breaking down your fat stores for fuel or using the fat you eat (for you even fat gets stored, as well, though for low-carb eaters the fat gets used), which means your body pushes you to provide it more and more fast carbs. It’s a spiraling cycle. Relying on carbs for your primary fuel has other disadvantages, but this post is about belly fat.


When you experience prolonged stress (whether emotional or physical), your body releases cortisol to manage the need for more energy.

Cortisol does sort of the opposite of insulin: it’s catabolic, a hormone that breaks down and mobilizes energy rather than stores it because it’s the hormone your body uses when you need to run from a predator or fight for your life. Your body doesn’t know the difference between the stress you feel from a test day versus the stress you feel from a lion about to eat you. Your body just mobilizes fuel so you can act!

Cortisol makes FAST fuel–that means glucose, not the triglycerides from your body fat that can be used to fuel you in ordinary circumstances (because fat burning is a more complicated and time-consuming process). So cortisol makes fast fuel from places that give it easy glucose: your muscles and your liver.

Cortisol breaks down muscle to get its glycogen stores and to provide amino acids to your liver which creates glucose through gluconeogenesis. While it’s mobilizing fuel for quick action, cortisol is also shutting down nonessential functions: the production of sex hormones, bone and muscle growth, and your immune system.
So you can see that having high insulin and high cortisol is a double whammy of bodily destruction. Insulin is anabolic and adding fat and cortisol is catabolic and destroying muscle.

Both hormones are necessary for healthy function, but we’re talking about living with chronically high amounts.

Both hormones can create resistance to itself, as well, meaning your body has to produce more and more to get the same response; this is why you want to use only as much as you need to remain sensitive to the work of these hormones. The way to keep them low is to keep carbohydrate foods both low and infrequent and to keep stress both low and infrequent.

BTW stress includes things like too little sleep and too much exercise–cortisol takes away your gains! Lifting at gym is where you break down your muscles. Running on the road is where you break down your muscles. They grow when you REST and SLEEP. If you have fat and you’re a low-carb eater and exercise regularly, adjust your sleep and stress and recovery time. It’s likely cortisol!

Getting High in 2017

You’ve probably heard of HIIT and interval training. They have been the big thing for a decade now — and for good reason. They have two advantages over the usual strength-training work outs:

  1. they take less time
  2. they push you to work harder

High Intensity is Important

Research has shown consistently that high-intensity exercise (metabolically challenging exercise that pushes your heart rate upwards of 80-90%) supplies benefits over moderate and lengthy work outs for: fat loss, increased growth hormone and insulin growth factor, increased insulin sensitivity, raised metabolism, improved cardiovascular fitness and cardiorespiration.

But what all the articles you’ve read don’t tell you is that very few of you are really doing high intensity. Just because the work out is called “HIIT” or “HIT” and you feel winded doesn’t mean you’re doing high intensity.

How You’re Being Cheated

Sure, you’re doing that 30-second interval and getting breathless now-and-then. But you take too much rest time to recover or cut back on the weight or speed of your next interval, or you just take the whole work out rather easy.

Very few of us can really push ourselves into the realm that these high-intensity research studies are talking about. Achieving high intensity is what I describe as discomfort but many of us will call painful: it’s when you gasp and can’t speak, muscles burn, and sweat stings your eyes.

When was the last time that happened to you in the gym?

Performing high-intensity level exercise takes practice and desire. It also takes good planning, meaning you need multiple rest days between.

A proper high-intensity work out will leave your muscles and liver depleted of glycogen and require days to reload. Until your glycogen stores are refueled, you’ll likely feel sluggish and weak. Muscle soreness may or may not be part of the deal. As to how much rest you need, it all depends on how conditioned and how young you are.

Getting High with Integrated Concurrent Exercise

So, how can you achieve high intensity? The most direct way is to really push yourself. When you have a 30-second interval, you do your exercise — whatever it is — at sprinting speed. You don’t conserve your energy. You don’t pace yourself. You don’t choose a light weight.

How many of us truly do that?

Another method is integrated concurrent exercise (ICE), which beats every other mode of training for achieving fitness markers quickly.

You’ve probably heard the age-old controversy about whether you should do aerobic or strength exercise first for the best results: doing both modes, one after the other, is called serial concurrent exercise. Some trainers say you should run for 30 minutes and then lift, or do the modes on different days.

Well, doing serial training in any order and any style (interval or sets or circuits) is not as effective as integrating the two modes. That is: one interval of strength followed by one interval of cardio will achieve faster fat loss and EPOC — the hallmarks of high intensity.

The reason is how the different modes allow some modal rest while also pushing heart rate higher step-by-step. For example, sets of heavy squats followed by an aerobic interval with rower reduces stress on your legs, but not entirely, while making your heart now work harder. On the other hand, 30-180 seconds of running followed by floor press means you’ll gain some aerobic rest, but your heart rate will remain higher than it would going to a chest lift after a leg lift.

integrated-concurrent-personal-training-coralville-coachOur clients have found they really like the variety and challenge this work out offers.

For 2017, we’ll be focusing on ICE routines. Currently our groups are at the German Volume Training interim. I’ve posted here the work outs we’ll perform the next three weeks. If you’d like more info on our group-only membership, text Teresa at 319-325-4000.

Here’s What We’re Doing

You can download the PDFs we use for the next three weeks below to use in your gym or at home. These are high-intensity work outs. Good technique and modifications should be made per individual and these may be too intense for deconditioned adults. You are responsible for exercising within your limits.

ICE Strength Work Out – 45 minutes with 4 strength exercises focused on muscle group.

ICE Power Work Out  – 45 minutes with 4 explosive power exercises focused on plyometrics.

ICE Rounds Work Out – 35 minutes with 2 compound exercises focused on whole body.

Read the research here.

Join Us For Live Healthy Iowa

We have teams for the Live Healthy Iowa Challenge starting the end of January 2017. If you’re a client or a former client of NMF, consider joining us for this challenge. We’re subsidizing your entry fee. Contact Teresa at 319-325-4000.

live-healthy-iowa-challenge-coralville-iowa-personal-training-1Team members will receive a t-shirt, a magazine, chances for prizes, and a log in to add their activity each week for ten weeks. The system also has links to your Fitbit and MapMyRun/Walk/Fitness apps.

A lot of businesses in Iowa, including New Moon Fitness,  are creating teams to encourage both activity and weight loss. We’re tracking only activity, not food and weight loss, because we simply want everyone to move more!

NMF is subsidizing our clients and their family members at 50%. That means you pay us $10 and we pay your $20 entry fee.  We’ll use the collected money for a Challenge member-only party and drawing at the end of the ten weeks.  Contact Teresa by 1/8/2017.

About Live Healthy Iowa

Live Healthy Iowa is a program of the Iowa Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization located in Ames, Iowa. The program was created as a strategic health initiative to address the state’s growing obesity problem.  Live Healthy Iowa brings together friends, families, businesses and communities in team-based wellness challenges designed to promote positive lifestyle change.

Since 2002, Live Healthy Iowa has helped more than 324,000 participants shed over one million pounds and log nearly 630 million minutes of physical activity through its annual 10 Week Wellness Challenge.

The goal of Live Healthy Iowa is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation!

Within Live Healthy Iowa are various challenges, providing Iowans with the tools and resources to make strides toward achieving this goal.

Question – Is it bad to stop weight training if I don’t enjoy it?

senior-fitness-coralville-iowa-personal-trainingAnswer – While it’s important to find exercise you enjoy because that’s exercise you’ll actually do, I don’t think it’s wise to forgo weight training entirely.  You don’t have to lift iron in a gym setting, but for health, fitness, and longevity you should continue to lift heavy things.

You need to challenge your muscles with progressive overload (increasing weight as you get used to current weight). The benefits to body composition, hormone balance, and aging through strength training beats everything else.

Do body weight exercises or full body activities that use strength and explosive power, like rock climbing or hiking or boxing, if that is more appealing. Aerobic activity alone, like running or swimming, will actually break down muscle. Alternatively, strength training IS aerobic training: it increases mitochondria just like aerobic, but aerobic doesn’t grow muscle size or add more muscle fiber.

Maintaining lean body mass is impossible as we age without plenty of protein and lifting heavy things to maintain and even grow that muscle, no matter what our age. And we need lean body mass, because it’s one of the best predictors of longevity and recovery from accident and illness.

Visceral fat is the kind around your organs and it responds best to exercise, while the subcutaneous fat everyone is concerned with is a matter of diet. But it’s the visceral fat that is most dangerous.

So find some kind of activity that puts stress on your muscles to grow. Your heart and everything else in your body will thank you.

Starting Our Fifth Year in Coralville

I re-certified for my third iteration with the American Council on Exercise. That’s six years that I’ll be certified with ACE. I started my training career years before by certifying through the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America. AFAA had a hands-on training workshop I took in southern Iowa. After that I pursued licensing with several Les Mills programs that took me to Florida and Chicago.

Certification CECs this year focused on behavioral coaching and metabolic training. There’s so much good stuff to learn!

Here at NMF we have supplied many kinds of programs for different ages, abilities, and locales. Some worked well for our clients and for us. As with most experiences, I have honed in on what I enjoy doing most and do more of that.

personal training coralville coachMany of you may know I was a web programmer/database developer/graphic designer in my previous life.  After my own journey from obesity, I decided I could not sit at a desk for 8-10 hours every day. My story is on the Teresa page if you’re curious to learn more.

It’s been a challenging and fun journey — and one not over by a long shot. See, that’s the thing that amazes me. As a programmer, I was  a job hopper. The longest I stayed anywhere was two years, and most positions were a year or less. I usually felt I mastered what I wanted to learn and moved on to a new challenge. It was always about the new thing. There was only so much I could do at one job before I started doing the same thing over-and-over.

But this training gig is different. It keeps me constantly challenged with new learning and new people. It’s creative, as well, as I design new work outs based on my research and clients’ needs. New equipment makes its way into the studio, too, after considerable research. And then the challenge is organization! We’re a tiny studio with LOTS of fantastic equipment.

So, I will be here with you for awhile more. Sharing this journey with you is a great privilege.


Did You Get New Goals or Just a New Gadget?

personal training coralville coachI believe anything that helps you with mindfulness about your habits and motivates you toward wellness is good. That includes the myriad trackers, games, and online fitness plans many of us received for Christmas.

Maybe you have a new Fitbit. Now what? You can start working to meet the goals suggested — like 10,000 steps a day, 7+ hours sleep, movement each hour, 8 glasses of water. All positive steps for most of us.

Maybe you can play a game of wii dodgeball. Or you can follow along with a class on your exercise subscription service. You can load the new dance DVD and sweat. All good options for your week.

If your goals include diet change, maybe you received a paleo recipe app. Maybe you started a Weight Watchers tracking program. Maybe you have new kitchen electronics to steam, grill, dehydrate. All excellent choices!

Most of us will take a few steps on the new path and stumble. Some of us will pick ourselves up and stay on this path, increasing our activity, while others will just call it quits and take the easy exit to the nearest highway. What can keep us plugging along when our lifestyles are set to inhibit activity?

It takes more than a gadget and a few steps. It takes a plan. Wellness is a spectrum, and we can all be on the positive end of it with help. That means fleshing out what your goals are, understanding the process that will achieve them, and integrating that process into your life. That may take an actual person — a coach and trainer who can help to make sense of the hundreds of choices and conflicting claims.

Games and gadgets combined with a real commitment to self-betterment can help you get into shape. But a trainer can answer questions, provide assessments, and clarify choices.

For an interesting comparison, check out this post on Popular Mechanics:

How many gadgets does it take to get one man into shape? PM Senior Editor Glenn Derene sought the answer, working out with a barrage of fitness gizmos and comparing the digital experience to a human one—exercising with a real-live personal trainer.

15 Gadgets vs 1 Personal Trainer

Personal & Small Group Training | Coralville IA

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