You are going to need gym equipment for this boot camp workout. If you don't have a membership or don't have this gym equipment available, check out my at-home boot camp workout. Warm up for about five minutes before undertaking this workout. You're also going to need a stretch of floor to perform the second part of this routine. For example, you'll sprint to the end of that stretch and do another exercise coming back. Cool down should include stretching of muscles used.
I know there are numerous articles in existence dispelling the myths of clean eating; however, I also know that a great deal of the people promoting clean eating are foodies and fitness professionals. As a fitness professional, I feel it's my job to put my voice out there so that way the public can understand that fitness professionals are more educated than the myths some peddle.
Recently I read an article on VICE titled "The Unhealthy Truth Behind 'Wellness' and 'Clean Eating'" by Ruby Tandoh that argues against the term "clean eating" since it separates foods into the dichotomy of good/bad. Tandoh criticizes many diet fads, like a 'gluten-free' diet for people who don't have celiac disease, and emphasizes eating a variety of foods and enjoying those foods that we consume.
I remember that after recovering from my eating disorder, I almost enmeshed myself within the concept of "clean eating" since a few favorite bloggers of mine promoted it. I learned that clean eating simply meant eating as many whole foods as you could while minimizing highly processed foods. Despite this definition sounding reasonable, this isn't what clean eating is for many people. In fact, clean eating for many means buying into every healthy seeming fad diet, snubbing processed foods entirely, subscribing to certain food myths, like gluten is bad for you, no matter what; absorbing false science, like honey as a sweetner is somehow better than pure sugar; and harboring absolute distrust for legitimate scientific research that dispels many of their beliefs.
First, I want to dispel the myths of some of these food fads that float among the clean eating community as diets, lifestyles, and hashtags. I'll admit to finding the #cleaneating tag appealing for its popularity and ease of being noticed by tagging your stuff with it, but it is not a concept I believe in.
Let's take a look at the gluten-free craze that you see so often in grocery stores now. In fact, it's becoming increasingly difficult to buy products that aren't gluten-free. While many of the products I buy are, I don't buy them due to their lack of gluten. I buy them because they taste good--although cookies without gluten are what the Phantom Zone is to Clark Kent: tasteless and chalky and filled with emptiness.
Gluten, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, is "a general name for the proteins found in wheat...rye, barley, and triticale." So that's all gluten is. Gluten intolerance occurs because the body's immune system views gluten as a foreign invader and thus treats it as such, inevitably damaging the small intestines. This damage to the small intestines makes it much more difficult to absorb nutrients; thus, this is why people with celiac need to avoid gluten. People who are otherwise healthy don't.
The existence of gluten itself is not a cause for concern, either. All sorts of food intolerances exist, including--according to John Berardi and Ryan Andrews--fruits and vegetables! Yet, you will never see health foodists demonize fruits and vegetables because they are "pure" and "natural," whereas even whole-grain bread must be processed in order for bread to be made.
People with celiac clearly have to avoid gluten. Even people with basic wheat sensitivities might have to avoid gluten. But for the great majority of us, the gluten-free fad is not about catering to those who otherwise wouldn't be able to eat a box of Cheerios, but it's another fad to label something as healthy, charge more, and make money off the unfounded fears of gluten among the general population.
Another fad, and one I've talked about before, is the juicing fad, meant to rid the body of impurities and toxins. Now I myself love a good bottle of cold-pressed juice, but not because I'm on some juicing regimen. Juices by themselves are simply an enjoyable treat that should not be used to replace a serving of fruits or vegetables simply due to the general lack of fiber.
In any case, the juicing craze is downright irritating. You have companies shilling expensive juice cleanses that claim to "detox" the body, even though most of these cleanses never state what these toxins are and why we need to get rid of them manually. Just look up juice cleanses in Google to see my point about pricey cleansing systems.
Your kidneys, liver, and lymphatic system already do this detox work for you. According to Berardi and Andrews, your liver, for example, gets rid of excess amino acids by "converting them into glucose derivatives and free nitrogen for excretion." A healthy liver also naturally filters "toxins and drugs newly introduced into the body before blood is returned to the rest of the body."
You don't need expensive cleanses to aid in what your body does naturally. If you had to manually detox yourself, you'd be dead. Or this would mean that your liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system aren't working as they should. You would then need to see a doctor, not rely on an uneducated blogger's juice cleansing recommendations. Do we need foods to help them function properly? Of course we do! But when you do juicing because you think you're detoxing yourself, you're buying into false pseudoscience and wasting money when you can spend that money on a hearty helping of groceries more filling than juices.
Now let's discuss the "clean eating" term itself.
It's a vague term that has nothing to do with eating whole, nutritious foods and everything to do with fear-mongering and haling certain foods as superior over others. I am absolutely not suggesting it's okay to eat cake all day every day. What I'm suggesting is that such dessert foods should not be vilified because of their sugar or their fat content. Processed cookies filled with gluten are okay to eat if you have no issues tolerating such foods.
What clean eating ultimately does is it attempts to make you feel guilty for eating "unclean" foods. For a little bit after my eating disorder, I bought into the notion of empty calories. However, for someone recovering from an eating disorder, there is no such thing as empty calories. For impoverished areas with little access to food, there is no such thing as empty calories. For the family who can't afford all of these fancy foods these "clean eating" foodists peddle, there is no such thing as empty calories. Calories are calories, and we need them for our various bodily processes and functions. Whether you get those calories from a piece of cake or an apple, your body puts those calories to use. Of course, you don't want to replace apples with cake, and you do want to eat as many nutrient-dense foods as you can. What you want to avoid is labeling foods as good or bad. Sweets weren't invented to nourish your body. Sweets were invented as a means of enjoyment. So enjoy that piece of cake!
I am not trying to excuse poor eating habits, but what is laughable is that even when clean eating proponents post recipes of desserts, they're adamant about not including cane sugar due to its "empty calories." In fact, they're adamant about trying to make those desserts as healthy as possible in general. Instead, it's maple syrup or honey, simply because they have a few nutrients cane sugar doesn't have. The body, however, doesn't differ between the sugars of cane sugar and the sugars of maple syrup. They both digest roughly the same and will enter your bloodstream at roughly the same rate. The only difference is that maple syrup is ungodly expensive while cane sugar is affordable. Thus, the clean eating movement isolates low-income families, of which there are plenty of.
For my own diet, I do eat lots of fruits, nuts, veggies, and whole-grains, but I also indulge in a bowl of ice cream every day, topped with whip cream and whatever else I want on it--if ice cream is available, of course. I also indulge in granola bars and fig bars if they're available. And let's not forget the pancakes and maple syrup! I exercise daily as well and try to get in plenty of purposeful movement. Sure, when I cleaned my diet up to incorporate more whole foods I lost my desire to eat the many processed foods I used to; yet, I'm not going to demonize a chocolate chip cookie for being processed and try to shill some alternative to it.
Let's be honest here. Mashed bananas or whatever that recipe is could never replace a good bowl of ice cream. I'm certain it probably tastes good, but if you want ice cream, eat ice cream! Alternatives are not the same.
It's fine if you want to eat alternatives, especially if you have a food intolerance. But it's ridiculous to find a pricey alternative to many desserts on the market when eating a piece of cheesecake is not going to suddenly make the average person fat, sickly, or unhealthy.
Food should be about nourishment, but it should also be about enjoyment. We have the abundance, the choices, and the ability to enjoy food. Eat well, but it's okay to indulge in a bowl of ice cream without fervently seeking an alternative to it because you feel you need to eat healthy 24/7 lest something cataclysmic happen to you.
We ultimately need to be able to eat without guilt.
Berardi, John, and Andrews, Ryan (2016). The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Precision Nutrition.
I'm not sure what the public perception of personal trainers is. I'm assuming--and I could be wrong--that the perception is that trainers are only useful for writing out workout programs that make you sweat and ungodly sore the next day. People probably imagine us as drill sergeants yelling at you to get in one more push-up when you physically can't. And people probably think that all it takes to be a good trainer is simply knowing how to work out.
Of course, the realities of being a trainer are far from glamorous.
I knew that while I was studying for my certification that being a trainer wasn't going to be easy. In fact, before I even purchased my study materials, I considered foregoing the career entirely. For two weeks though I mulled over the idea before making my final decision that it's something I really wanted to do with my life. I was aware of the risk, and while things are rough right now, I'm grateful to be in a position where I do have the luxury of being a trainer.
First off, I want to point out that the workout routines I use should not be tried by beginners. The above workout is a HIIT routine I did this past Saturday and is most certainly something I would not recommend for the deconditioned individual. I got my start with ballet five years ago and started consistently lifting weights a year ago; thus, you have to condition your body slowly and gently. Do not ever compromise form for the sake of getting in more reps or lifting more weight than you can handle. If you are unfamiliar with exercise or unfamiliar with how to create a personalized routine, you will most definitely benefit from a personal trainer. Even just a couple of sessions can go a long way into making sure you exercise both safely and effectively.
To start, I do split routines, generally triceps/chest, biceps/shoulders/back, legs all on their own, and abs thrown in with one of my split routines (or abs and HIIT). I work abs 3x a week and throw in HIIT twice a week with one of my split routines: in between where I would usually rest, I throw in some cardio, like butt kickers. If I'm not doing a HIIT routine on a day I'm doing a split session, I usually get in 15 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill at the end of my workout--and stretching the muscle groups I used. I either do HIIT workouts on my own or use a group exercise class to get in some vigorous aerobics exercise. When I can, I'll replace a HIIT routine with a ballet class--though I haven't been able to do ballet lately.
When I'm working out, I generally rest 90 seconds between sets, although sometimes I will go up to 2 minutes, especially if it's my chest. I generally get in 3-5 sets with 5-12 repetitions, depending on how heavy I'm lifting. The heavier you lift, the less repetitions you'll do. For example, I generally do 5 repetitions for my bench press and 12 per leg with weighted lunges. This repetition range is enough to cause muscle damage, and hence growth and repair. To ensure I don't plateau, I'll mix up my routine, like adding in breakdown training. And of course I ensure that one of my HIIT routines has me lifting lighter weights for higher reps.
Before and after my workouts, I make sure to consume a decent meal of both carbohydrates and protein.
Besides my sample HIIT routine, here is a sample routine I use when working out my chest and triceps:
Overall, I do my heavy weight training five days out of the week, light cardio one day, and I have one complete rest day.
What are your workout routines like?
Genetics play a massive role in how well your workout can go. Unfortunately for some people, no matter how hard they work out, how well they eat, or how well they sleep, they simply aren't achieving the results they set out for. Mike Bracko in "Sucess in Our Genes--And Smart Programming" writes that "it's possible that these [people] have a genetic makeup that resists traditional exercise programs."
So if you're one of those people who cannot get results with a traditional workout program, then you absolutely need to restructure your workout program in a way that differs from what works for people who are able to easily respond to any type of workout.
Genotype is the biggest determinant of a person's response to exercise. In fact, genotype plays such a large role that some people have an adverse reaction to cardio! Bouchard et. al. in a 2012 HERITAGE study noted that an adverse response to exercise occurred in individuals that negatively affected their systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, fasting HDL cholesterol levels, and insulin. The HERITAGE study concludes that "some people had adverse reactions to regular cardio exercise, though the causes were unknown." However, do not let this finding discourage you from working out. Even people limited by their genes can still find success with the correct programming that falls outside of traditional workout guidelines.
What must occur in order for non-responders to become responders is to actually add intensity to cardio. If you're the type who doesn't respond well to exercise, continuously running five miles and then bumping it up to six miles because you didn't see results with five miles isn't going to do much. For example, you can replace that five mile run with cardio intervals. In fact, Bracko points out that "cardio with intervals does more for VO2max than continuous exercise, particularly if the intervals are of longer duration." I personally prefer doing nontraditional forms of cardio since I find regular cardio pretty boring. I love HIIT routines, and while I make my own routines now, I heavily utilized Fitness Blender for many of my past routines. They have workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced exercisers.
If you are just starting out, here are a few steps you can follow to gradually build up your stamina in order to handle HIIT training:
Overall, if regular exercise is not getting you results, adding duration and intensity to your program should ultimately give you that boost you need. I'd also advise trying a few group classes, like yoga or Pilates. If you have any specific questions about what you can do to better your current routine, feel free to contact me on my contact page.
Bracko, M. (2016). "Success in Our Genes--And Smart Programming." Idea Fitness Journal, 40-7.
I've been in the fitness industry for about four months now, having spent three months in one gym then moving to another to start my job as a personal trainer. While these two gyms function very differently, one being extremely sales oriented and another being more members oriented, the common theme is that people sign up for a gym membership in droves in January, but then a couple of months later, that boom in membership dies down. The obvious reason is that come January, everyone starts some sort of New Year's Resolution, and most of the resolutions involve shedding weight that was gained over Christmas. Unfortunately, many people are unable to stay motivated at the gym simply because they do not have the tools to remain motivated. So I'm going to provide you with the tools that you need.
Fitness is more than a New Year's Resolution. It's an actual lifestyle change, one that you need to stick with in the long-term.
Before you even step foot in a gym, you need to write down your goals, and the best way to do that is to follow the SMART goals template.
You want to be as specific as possible when setting your goals, and setting SMART goals is exactly how you can do it. AND WRITE THEM DOWN! Writing down your goals ensures that you'll keep on top of them.
Now that you've got your SMART goals written down, you've got to find ways to stay motivated. You absolutely need to write them down. There is no exception to this. This will allow you to refer to your goals every day. Referring to your goals can help encourage you when you otherwise feel discouraged.
While you're at the gym, there are several things you can do to keep yourself motivated.
Here's a boot camp workout for those already in shape and looking to add some variety and fun to their workout routines. Feel free to add or change equipment as desired! Rest for 2 minutes between the circuit, abs, and final tabata round.
(Warm-up and cool-down not included.)
Brian Wansink in his article titled "Food-Related Behavior Change Made Easy: Replace Clients' Mindless Eating With Eating Solutions for Everyday Life" writes that "the solution to mindless eating is not mindful eating--our lives are just too crazy and our willpower's too wimpy. Instead, the solution is to tweak our homes, workplaces, schools, restaurant dining and grocery shopping so we mindlessly eat less instead of more."
Many people struggle with mindless eating behaviors since we are surrounded by an abundance of food with endless choices of which foods we'd like to consume. As a result, it is incredibly easy to overeat, especially on foods that don't keep you full as long versus foods that do.
For myself, it was a journey to change my eating behaviors. Before my eating disorder, I mindlessly ate whatever I felt like. Oftentimes this included junk food with some fruit thrown in. Then there were days when there wasn't much in the kitchen, and so I consumed less. It was probably those days that balanced out the days where I consumed primarily junk. After all, I have never been overweight or even struggled with having more fat mass than lean mass. When I developed anorexia, obviously my eating behaviors took a horrendous turn, with severe calorie restriction, calorie counting, and avoiding all but low-calorie foods. It was during my recovery that I decided to clean up my eating habits for good--and not revert to the way they were pre-eating disorder.
What generally happens during eating disorder recovery is visits to a registered dietitian. Now I'm not saying that you absolutely need to see an RD because I think they're the only ones who can help and you can't possibly do it on your own. I'm simply relaying my journey over how I finally fixed my eating behaviors.
I knew during recovery that I couldn't go back to the way I ate before I developed anorexia. I knew too much about calories and what could happen if I overate. Yet, I didn't want to have to worry about going over my RDI (recommended dietary intake) in terms of caloric intake. I didn't want to have to worry about a piece of cake adding excess fat. This in itself was a journey that, even when I gained back a healthy amount of weight, I still struggled with. Now I'm much better about it; I primarily keep healthy foods at home and exercise enough that any excess calories can be worked off then. So I enjoy ice cream daily.
Changing your eating habits is a process, not something that you can do in one day. If you're a big junk food eater, as I was, don't expect to quit that junk food cold turkey. Taper off the amount of junk food you eat until it's a habit to eat far more healthy foods than junk foods. This lifestyle change is all about developing healthy eating habits. And a habit can only become a habit through continual work and prevention that ensures there are little relapses.
Here are a few ways in which you can go about the process of changing how you eat:
Wansink, B. (2016). "Food-Related Behavior Change Made Easy: Replace Clients' Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life." IDEA Fitness Journal, 29-33.
I recently left my job as a fitness consultant/personal training intern. To provide some background for this decision, this is how I originally charted my future: I was going to work full-time as a consultant while using this business to help launch my part-time career as a trainer. That was the ideal for me then because my consultant job provided a salary plus commission, plus an opportunity to shadow a personal trainer. It was a win-win situation for me. I sell memberships, monitor the front desk, and occasionally shadow a trainer and sometimes train his clients. But I eventually learned that plans aren't permanent. Sometimes you have to re-write your entire future--and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The manager who hired me got the ax 2 weeks before I quit (he was the sixth one in the two years that gym had been there). We got a district manager who ramped up the expectations for our little gym a month and half before I quit. It was when we got a district manager that I started sweating bullets. The expectations were a bit unreasonable considering we weren't being given any resources to meet those. But the manager who hired me was still there. so I kept on doing what I'd always been doing. It was only when he was let go and the new manager came on board did I decide I needed to do something about my situation.
Change was coming.
Now I don't want anyone mistakenly believing that I'm averse to change. I'm not. After all, before this job, I was at a job where I went through three managers, each manager being about a year in length. Yet, when the morale at the gym is so low because management is unnecessarily unstable, your job loses its perks (like my job shadowing opportunity), and you know you just can't handle the constant stress of sales, it's time to jump ship. So a week before I left, I applied at a local YMCA based on a friend's tip. And luckily I got the job.
Now I realize this leaves me in a precarious position. The money I'll make will be based entirely on how hard I hustle to build up a full list of clients who keep coming back for more. Even so, I'm in a privileged position that allows me to do this, as my fiance has a full-time job and can support the both of us while I build up my personal training business both inside and outside the gym.
I had to take this chance. The first day with the new boss had me sitting in a purgatory of perpetual misery. This was by no means the new boss's fault. In fact, we left on amicable terms and I still chat with him when I work out at the gym (I love that little gym; it has become another home for me). He was simply implementing what the district manager told him to implement. Yet, how sales-y the job was growing terrified me to the core. It left me feeling nauseated knowing that each day at my job was not guaranteed, that I was now just another number, that I was only valuable based on my numbers and not how helpful I actually was to the members.
There was no longer a desire to be there. I was left feeling both hopeless and helpless. This isn't the job I signed up for. This had become an entirely different job; it was time to move on.
Now did I know I was going to have to jump ship when my manager got let go? Not really. I wanted to give this new manager a chance along with all the changes being made. They ultimately did not mesh well with me. However, when my friend told me the local YMCA was hiring, I knew I had to submit my resume before I lost my opportunity since they weren't hiring three months prior. Joe Cannon, someone I consider a mentor, told me the YMCA was a great place for trainers starting out, which is why I knew I had to apply.
I was surprised I got the job considering they preferred at least a year of experience (I only had 3 months), and I had to submit my resume online. In fact, I was surprised I got an interview BECAUSE I had to submit my resume online. The last time I went through a major job search I sent out over 40 applications online and heard back from only two places. So can you blame me for having trust issues?
In any case, this little story of mine highlights how necessary it is to take action. When you're at a point in your life where you feel miserable and fed up with your situation, where you feel trapped, helpless, and hopeless; where your future plans have been derailed; and where you wonder what tomorrow's going to bring, you need to rethink your plans and then take action. If you absolutely hate your job, and all you can do is complain about hating it, it's time to seek out new opportunities, even if you think you can't do anything else.
When I decided that I no longer wanted to be some big-shot editor at a publishing house or a journalist or even an English teacher, I felt lost, wondering just what on Earth I was going to do with my English degree. I had originally planned on doing some freelance editing and tutoring, but being purely freelance wasn't palatable for me. I was then trying to get a promotion back when I was a marketing trainee. That, of course, didn't pan out.
It took life experience, trial and error, being curious and asking questions, and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming, to finally figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And even then I wasn't sure if I could do it, but the only way I could do it is if I tried.
I didn't let my fears and insecurities hold me back. After all, I couldn't imagine a life of drudgery, of ceaseless minimum-wage work, and then showing up to my class reunion and having nothing to show in my professional life except a job that never gave me a raise. This is how I seriously thought. I always kept thinking, 'Is this a life I'd be proud to talk about at my class reunion?' You can ask yourself a similar question. If the answer is no, take action to make it a yes!
Quit making excuses. Work within your limits and make stuff happen. Take risks, even if they're financial risks. I've taken plenty of those in order to reach my dream of being certified as a trainer. And I'm still taking risks. I have to rely purely on myself to make that money.
Have you ever been in a situation where you've had to take action? Are you in a situation but don't know how to take action? Let me know!
ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, nutrition coach, young adult author, moody ballerina.
I help people perform without pain.
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The views expressed on this blog are entirely my own. Any advice I offer is not to be taken as medical advice. If you think you have contraindications to exercise, please see your physician before implementing any sample workout plans I present on this blog.
All images are either my own, from Canva, or Creative Commons