Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hustle. Rest. Repeat.

In a world that encourages you to "just do it" - with no excuses, while going hard, after hustling (and before grinding), a rest day can feel like giving up. Years ago, I supported the notion of working out seven days a week.  I was convinced that every workout had to be as difficult, if not more so, than the previous.  Over time, physical stress accumulated and the outcome was a herniated disc. Since then, I have found balance at the gym and in life.  Some days I feel my strongest after completing a couple of pull-ups.  Other days, all I need is a set of dumbbells, my XBAR and some warm weather to feel on top of the world after completing a backyard bootcamp. 

When you avoid listening to your body, your body will speak up.  Usually, in ways that stop you in your tracks--literally and figuratively.  The following are examples of what can happen when you over train and under restore.
  • Injury
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Excessive weight loss or weight gain
  • Mental fog
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Loss of energy
  • Muscle aches and pains that do not go away
If you're running your body like you run a business, ask yourself "what's my bottom line?"  Is the risk of working 24/7, 365 days a year worth the reward?  What are you gaining by pulling all nighters and pushing deadlines? 

The Fuel Your Fitness Method embraces activity, nutrition and restoration.  Dedicate at least one day per week to restoration.  This might mean staying in bed until 11am.  Or taking a yoga class.  Restoration is meant to calm the body and calm the mind.  Avoid doing anything that requires a great deal of energy.
Over time you will discover the balance between pushing yourself and knowing when to back off.  Embracing restoration will improve your self awareness and your ability to listen to your body. The next time you think about going hard...ask yourself if what you really need is to go home. 

Feedback? Suggestions? Comment below. I'd love to know your favorite way to restore.  For more information about online and in-person training programs, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

3 Components of Fitness Success

As we continually strive to increase our strength, lose fat and improve our physique, we work hard to develop healthy habits we can maintain.  Going to the gym and avoiding the drive-thru can help us achieve our fitness goals.  However, it takes more than eating better and exercising to see results.  Take the following three components into consideration and be mindful of each.

1.  Nutrition.  Let's focus on "having"  diet, rather than "being on" on diet.  Your diet should be nutrient dense and in alignment with your goals and lifestyle.  When it comes to weight loss and bodybuilding, I prioritize protein.  Protein (chicken, egg, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whey powders) helps build and sustain muscle.  The more muscle you have, the more efficient your body is at burning fat.  From there, I focus on complex carbs (sweet potatoes, oatmeal, grains, vegetables).  Keep processed foods and sugar to a minimum.  They spike your insulin levels which can leave you feeling hungry shortly after you eat.  Consistently high insulin levels have also been tied to obesity and other diseases.  Healthy fats are also integral to a balanced diet.  By including fats (peanuts, coconut oil, nut butter, olive oil) in your diet, you will also ensure satiety.  Click here for a full list of the Fuel Your Fitness grocery list.

2.  Activity.  When it comes to training, I like to encourage "peaks and valleys."  You might not do a kick-a$$ interval routine 7 days a week, but some HIIT mixed with strength training, stretching, jogging and bodyweight strength work provides the variety your body, and mind, needs.  Cardio is important for losing fat and improving for maintaining muscle mass and burning fat 24/7.  The more muscle you have the more efficient your body is at burning calories throughout the day.  Also, remember to stretch!
3.  Rest.  If working out is good for me, I might as well do more of it, right?  Well, yes and no.  If you go from 2 weekly workouts to 5, great!  If you go from 2 weekly workouts to 7, not so great!  While it depends on the type of training you are doing, it is not advisable to log endless hours at the gym day after day.  Our bodies adapt physically to the pressure we place on them.  However, if your stress level (physical and emotional) is high and the hours you sleep are low, this could delay (or inhibit) your progress.
Be patient.  Your fitness program should be attainable and sustainable. All good things take time.  For information about the Fuel Your Fitness Method, click here.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

8 Reasons You Should be Using Resistance Bands

What comes to mind when you hear the word "resistance"?  If you're anything like me you may think "unwilling to change."  "Hesitant."

In this context, resistance might keep you in your comfort zone.  It is difficult for most of us to break through resistance and discover what happens when we step outside of the norm.

Most of the time, it's during these moments of breakthrough when we discover how strong and capable we are.  Emotionally, mentally AND physically.  Physical resistance, in the form of strength training, can take place with body weight movements, dumbbells and resistance (elastic) bands.

Whether you are looking to begin a fitness program, break through a plateau or are ready for a new challenge, resistance bands can provide a solution.  There are several reasons why you should consider introducing them to your routine.

  1. Improve your health.  You can increase the strength of your muscles and your bone density with resistance training.  This will lead to an increase of growth factors in your body, some of which promote the growth factors of neurons that will benefit your brain as well. Training with resistance bands can also increase stamina, flexibility and range of motion.
  2. Improve your stability.  With elastic resistance, your body is able to perform more functional movements that mimic both daily activities and sport specific movements.  Unlike free weights, elastic bands do not rely on gravity to provide resistance (Jim Stoppani, PhD).
  3. Lose fat.  Strength training can increase your muscle mass, which can contribute to fat loss.  Lean muscle, even at rest, burns more calories than body fat.  Therefore, by increasing the amount of muscle you have, your body will become more efficient at decreasing body fat.
  4. Change your routine, change your body.  Your body quickly adapts to routine movements.  Resistance bands can be used alone or alternated with body weight or dumbbell movements for results that stimulate the body and prevent boredom.   One advantage of resistance bands over free weights is linear variable resistance.  Meaning, as the range of motion of the exercise increases, the resistance provided by the elastic band also increases (Jim Stoppani, PhD).
  5. You can complete a FULL BODY workout using resistance bands.  The options are endless.  Resistance bands can be done with body weight (think squats, lunges, arm curls, shoulder presses).  And they can also be done when anchored to a wall or other object, allowing you to perform wood chop movements, incline chest presses, core rotations and more.
  6. Resistance bands are portable and affordable.  Too busy to get to the gym?  Prefer to workout outdoors?  Whether you're tied down by emails or kiddie carpools, the convenience of taking resistance bands with you means fewer excuses to skip your workout.  Waiting for tee-ball practice to end?  Set up stations in the field and complete a cardio-strength circuit using resistance bands.  One of my favorite ways to train using resistance bands is with the XBAR.  Learn more about the XBAR here and save 10% on your entire purchase with code MEGANLINGE.  Shipping is free.  There are several varieties of resistance loops, figure 8s and other bands here from Power Systems.
    The XBAR Fitness system comes with three levels of resistance bands.
  7. Easy to store.  Unlike that treadmill which has become a second closet, resistance bands require very little storage space.  They are light weight and can easily be stashed in a suitcase, duffel bag or home gym.
  8. They accommodate all fitness levels. As you progress, so can the intensity of your resistance band workout. The thickness of a resistance band will determine how difficult it is to move through a given range of motion.  The thicker the band, the more challenging it will be.  You can also adjust the intensity by giving the band more or less slack (one foot on the band for arm curls can be intensified by standing on the band with two feet.  From there, bring the feet wider for the most difficult option).  You can even use more than one band at a time for increased challenge. 
Keep in mind that the most successful fitness program is the one you can adhere to and enjoy doing.  Experiment.  Try new products.  Try new routines.  And if you need guidance, reach out to me. For more information about online and in-person training programs, visit the Fuel Your Fitness Method page or contact me at  How do you implement resistance bands into your routine? Comment below and let me know.