1. You have all the muscle fiber you will ever have by the time you’re in your early teens! You can make the fibers bigger (more toned) or they can shrink, but once damaged they cannot be replaced.
2. You have as many muscle fibers as the biggest body builder guy you can think of. His are just bigger. :)
3. The term ‘ripped’ is derived from the process that makes your muscles grow. When you hurt yourself, your body sends cells to repair the damage (like a scab). When you work your muscles, you cause tiny little tears (ripping them). Your body sends cells to help heal these tears, causing the formation of proteins which increase the size of your muscle. (This is why protein is so important for your muscles!) No pain, no gain. Literally.
4. Fast & slow twitch fibers do different things for your body. Fast twitch muscles are the ones you use for quick, short bursts of exercise or power (sprints, plyometrics etc.). Slow twitch fibers don’t produce much power, but are perfect for longer, endurance based activities (think long distance running). If you’re looking to train for endurance, think lighter weights & more reps. For power? Heavier weights & fewer reps.
5. Your muscles don’t have memory… they have efficiency. Every movement you make, your brain sends signals to the muscles involved to contract. As you repeat movements over and over, the communication between your brain & muscles becomes more efficient: you become more coordinated. That’s why riding a bike feels so natural after years, or why you get better at dance moves the more you practice them. This applies to your workouts too. Moves that require coordination will get easier with practice.
6. For once and for all, lifting weights will NOT make you bulky. Men gain muscle more easily because of their hormones; hormones women don’t have. Female body builders spend hours in the gym every day, training intensly & heavily (think using 100+lbs), often take supplements for size & eat very specifically for YEARS to get that look. Picking up a 10lb dumbbell will NOT make you bulky. Or a 25lb dumbbell. Or a 45lb barbell. Relax.
7. Where you’re likely to tone up first? Your shoulders. Women don’t have a lot of fat in that area, so you’ll see definition there first. Having wider shoulders will also make your waist appear smaller: a little trick from the supermodels.
8. There are NO muscles in your fingers! The muscles that move them are in your palm and mid-forearm: they are attached by tendons that run up to your fingers, making them move when the muscles contract (like a puppet).
When it comes to fitness gear and apparel, finding the right sports bra is kinda like finding the holy grail. Once you find the ‘perfect’ fit, you never want to let it go!
But if you’re like most women, you probably haven’t found the ‘perfect’ sports bra. And while it’s not necessary to spend a ton of moola, making sure the one you have fits is KEY to avoiding pain, discomfort and injury. Even if you’re an A-cup like me.
Wanted to address a few boobie fitness concerns as the questions keep piling up in my Ask!
Here are some of the BIGGEST fit-boobie quetions I get.
Q: Why do my boobs ache after my workout? Even if I’m wearing a decent bra?
In most cases, that decent bra might not be as good as you think, or it may be worn out. Fabric stretches over time and eventually all sports bras need to be replaced. Sadly, not all bras are designed for all kinds of movement. And with a surge of women ramping up their workout intensity, there’s a need for better support in general.
The number one cause of breast pain in fitness is poor support.
We’ve recently learned that during exercise, our breasts move not only up and down, but also side to side and forward and backward. Many sports bras, especially older models, don’t account for the forward and backward motion. Combine that with our tendency to wear the wrong fit for OUR breasts, and it’s a recipe for poor support and pain.
This latter motion (backward and forward) simply isn’t factored in by most sports bras, especially those with low support (no underwire and no extra fabric cups). D-cup breasts in a low-support bra can move a total of 3-5 inches up and down AND in & out during a sweat session.
That’s quite a workout!
If you’re bigger than a B-cup, choose a high support sports bra that has a cup for each breast. This style is way better at keeping the girls comfortably contained while you work out. Take your time and try on different styles for comfort. Most importantly, before you leave the store TEST them out by jumping up and down, and bending forwards and back. They should be well supported in all planes of motion (imagine burpees: they should support you in plank AND as you jump up at the end).
Q: Do I need to wear a sports bra if i’m a B-cup?
You might hear a lot about willpower, and some of you might believe that your ability (or inability) to stay away from bad food choices depends solely on how strong (or weak) your willpower is.
That, my friends, is bullshit.
While it’s true that some of us have more discipline than others, we are not superheroes. We are not buddhist monks. We are not masochists. Well, maybe some of you. But most of us are just people. And people are fallible. Real. We shouldn’t be expected to be on guard 24 hours a day without cracking at least a few times. And we shouldn’t feel badly about ourselves for doing so.
I’ve learned how to resist bad foods in short spurts. I can opt for the salad, instead of the fries most days. I can buy an apple instead of a chocolate bar. I know that when I’m tired, my cravings can take over, so I fill myself up with healthy on-the-go foods so I won’t cave in. But at 11pm, when my body wants something sweet, you best be padlocking the freezer if there’s ice cream in there.
It’s not just ice cream though. Bagels, butter, bacon, chocolate, chips etc. If those items are in my house, I will eat them. In fact, if they are there, they’re all I want to eat. My shiny apples look like crap next to them sometimes. That refreshing salad doesn’t feel nearly as right of a choice as it did when I made it. So I eat them. And eat them. Most ‘bad’ items don’t make it past a few days in my pantry: items, that if eaten in moderation should last me weeks.
So how do I stay away from processed, sugary, high calorie, low nutrition foods?
I keep them the hell away from my kitchen!
My secret is not willpower. It’s knowing myself and preparing myself. I don’t do well in environments where I have to deny myself: where I have to constantly choose healthy over unhealthy in the spur of the moment. I have limited amounts of willpower and it saps my energy. I do better when the ONLY choice is a healthy choice.
Studies show that putting ourselves in a cycle where we ‘feel’ deprived (where we feel as though we can’t have what’s within reach) is likely to lead to failure. We only have a certain amount of energy we can spend feeling deprived and having to make decisions. After that, we tend to go crazy, eating everything in sight. And, if you’re like most people, you feel guilty after. When you feel guilty, you feel off track. When you’re off track, it feels like your efforts have been in vain. When those efforts don’t ‘count’, eating those foods doesn’t feel so bad. You feel as though you’ve already failed, so what’s the harm in a complete sabotage?
We put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We need to make life easier on ourselves instead.
Cellulite is a result of the body’s natural fat storage structure. It is not a disorder, or ‘toxins’ trapped in the fat, or the result of not eating ‘cleanly’ enough, or not doing the right exercises. It is simply the way our bodies are made.
Plenty of people will tell you that it IS those things, and that if you buy their product you can rid yourself of this ‘unsightly blemish’, but the REALITY is that 90% of women have cellulite, and it is normal, and that the only way to get ‘rid’ of it is to lose all your body fat.
And that would kill you.
Fit Tip: Smelling ammonia after/during your workout? Feedback from your body: you don’t have enough carbohydrates in the bank to fuel your workout. The smell is the result of muscle cannibalization: you breathe out the fumes (other people can’t smell it usually: no worries).
If it happens every now and then, try to think about what you had before your workout and make adjustments. If it happens ALL the time, your diet may be too high protein, and too little carb in general: you need more carbs to support the level of training you’re doing, or on days you workout. Sweet potatoes, fruit, yogurt etc.
Workouts over 60 minutes should have a wee re-fuel break: I HATE to say ‘sports’ drink, but I’ll list it as an option (read the labels for chemical yuckness). Smoothies, juices, quick nibbles are also good if you plan on hitting it longer than an hour, and are usually easy on the way ‘down’. Around 60 minutes, the body starts to release hormones to store fat, and if you’ve run out of ‘juice’, it’ll turn to your muscles for energy. Yup. It eats them up.
While low carb diets work for weight loss, if you’re training INTENSELY, you need to make sure you’re eating enough to support it. The body runs on glucose & fat for workout energy, but when it runs out all it has is precious muscle to feed it. No good, right? :)
Chichi’s Tip Of The Day!
Myth: body love is something that comes as a direct result of body change. The only way to love your body is to change what you hate about it. When you have the body you see in your head, you’ll stop feeling insecure, stop feeling bad about yourself, and stop comparing yourself to others.
False. False. FALSE.
Truth time: Loving your body isn’t a process that requires changing the physical. It’s ALL about a change in attitude.
Body love isn’t all or nothing: getting to a place of peace with your body doesn’t happen overnight, nor should body peace/love imply that you’ll never have negative thoughts, not so hot moments or unwavering confidence. Body love is a process, a journey and a progression. It’s something that you invest in, work on and try to get better at with time.
Spring has sprung and this girl is taking advantage! The bulk of my workouts are OUTSIDE during these months: playgrounds, parks, parking lots, the canal, the mountain - the city becomes my ‘gym’. I’m on my 5th ‘outsy’ in a week, and feeling oh, sooooo good. Just the thing I needed. :)
Working out outside has MANY perks: it’s free, fresh and you can do something different everyday. Unlike working out at home or at the gym, you’re free to explore the world and play without confinement or limitations. It can be a lot of fun (and a great mood booster), but despite all it’s awesomeness, there are a few drawbacks to getting sweaty on the go. If you’re smart, they are fairly easy to overcome with a wee bit of planning.
When it comes to getting sweaty outside, here are a few takeaways, tips, tricks and ideas that I’ve accumulated over the last few years!
9 SWEAT OUTSIDE Tips
1. Don’t ditch your old, dirty yoga mats! Old mats are the bomb. Your brand new, gorgeous, super expensive yoga mat WILL get dirty on the go. Save it for fancy yoga class, and bring old ratty-tat-mat with you to the park. (Towels & blankets work too, or you can buy a cheaper mat for your outdoor adventures for around $15-$25 bucks).
2. Not all parks are lean, clean havens. When doing work on the ground, take a quick look and make sure you’re not about to put your hands in glass, trash, dog poop, little rocks etc. I always have sanitizer & bandaids with me: you never know when you’ll need them and I don’t want to have to slow down if I can help it. I also like to wear gloves when working out outdoors: less mess, a little padding and yeah, they make me feel bad ass. You can opt for a fancy pair of workout lifting gloves, or inexpensive, plain cut off, cotton winter mini-gloves.
3. Bring water (duh) and a snack (double duh). Make sure to eat before, but have something ready to nosh on if you’re doing a long workout (if you have to stop for a snack when you’re already hungry, chances are it won’t be as good for you). I like bananas, carrots, protein bars, and even sometimes a small turkey/chicken wrap.
Fitness and body odor. Oh boy.
Hey, it happens, right? To be expected? Part of the game?
While the VAST majority of people go to great lengths to minimize their own stink at the gym, sometimes you have to deal with those who could use a little Body Odor 101. And it can be VERY uncomfortable to have that conversation whether you’re a friend, trainer, instructor or just another regular at the gym.
Thought I’d shed a few tidbits about what I’ve learned about B.O., hygeine, how to tell if YOU smell and how to tell someone else they smell… when you REALLY don’t want to.
Dealing With Body Odor As A Trainer
First off, being a personal trainer is AWESOME. I get to watch people get stronger, faster & more confident. I get to see change first hand and teach people new things. I get to be a part of someone’s transformation, and I love being able to witness the speed bumps and triumphs along the way.
But there are downsides to being a trainer. And one of them is dealing with other people’s odor. 99% of the time, it’s cool. I don’t mind it and it doesn’t even faze me. Most of the time, I don’t even notice or think about it. But that other 1% of the time? I sometimes feel a little nauseous. And uncomfortable. And awkward.
I’m sorry if that offends you. But it’s true. And every, single trainer or instructor out there will tell you that it’s one of the MOST uncomfortable topics when it comes to training someone for the first time.