Category Archives: Q and A

Q and A: Good stretching Recommendations

Cause it just feels so good…

Q: Hi, I am a 64 year male with good health but not in great shape. I was hoping you could recommend a video on stretching to improve my flexibility. Something I could follow along with in the mornings. Thanks. -Patrick

A: Congrats on working on your flexibility- it is sorely overlooked for something that can have such a huge impact on your everyday life. This is something that drives me crazy: everyone needs to stretch, yet there aren’t many workouts or fitness classes devoted to 20+ minutes of good old fashioned stretching.

There are a ton of great DVDs you can try, but there are also a lot of free alternatives, like OnDemand if you have Comcast cable and on the Internet.

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Q and A: Any Light and Yummy Sammie Toppers?

Q: Hi! I am usually the one who opts for Subway sandwiches every weekend at malls when I find myself having not much appetite for other food. Can you recommend a low fat and sugar sauce that I can drizzle on my sandwiches besides my usual favorite, ketchup? -Maxis

A: Subway isn’t perfect, but it’s one of the fast/fast casual food places where I am comfortable eating and spending my money. Most of their offerings are light and relatively healthy, and you have the opportunity to stuff yourself full of veggies. But just like any other establishment, the extras are what will make or break your sammie.

There are a million low calorie dressings and sauces for sandwiches you can buy, but I’m not going to get into those because they are terrible little chemical cocktails that will actually lessen the nutrition of your sandwich. I’d choose full fat, high calorie real food over those any day.

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Q and A: Does Running Reduce Belly Fat?


Q: Enjoyed reading your column in the Seattle Times “Become A Runner One Step At A Time.” Good stuff. I have a general question: Can running actually reduce fat in the mid section? I’m a runner but having difficulty losing my “gut”!! Frustrating.- Steve

A: Thanks for reading, Steve!

This is a loaded question, so I needed more info.  Through follow up emailing I learned:

  • I don’t know how old Steve is, but in his email he made the comment he is “an old man… way old!”
  • Steve has worked with personal trainer at the very reputable Pro Sports in my area and was put on a very strict diet, where he lost weight and lowered his cholesterol significantly. (Awesome!)
  • Shortly afterward, he switched to another PT where the workouts were “solid, refreshing. I was feeling good, but not good about myself. I mean, here I am w/ flab that would fit nicely in a B-cup along w/ an ugly gut. I was eating really good. Eventually I left the gym. Now I need to get back in a gym. And, a pt.”

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Q and A: How to Sculpt Curvacious Calves

I got a question from the lovely Miss Dana Schultz asking for tips on training her calves “’cause my calves looks like an 80-year old woman’s. aka NEED SOME WORK.”

If anyone has ever called you chicken legs, you need to train your calves. If anyone has ever told you you have cankles, you need to train our calves. Strength training is the only way you can change the shape of your body- don’t like something? Change it by changing the shape of your muscles.

There are two muscles in the calf: the Soleus and the Gastrocnemius. You can tell the difference when you stretch them. If you stretch with your knee straight, you are hitting the Gastrocnemius , or the most superficial muscle that creates a knob in the back of the leg. If you stretch your calf with your leg bent, you are hitting the Soleus, a deeper muscle that runs underneath.

The thing with calves is that there aren’t very many ways to train them. Just do calf raises. You can do different variations, but the general effect is the same.

I always train my calves the same way, and I adopted it afterP90X. Work your calves with 3 different toe positions: pointing in, neutral, and pointed out to ensure all the muscles are hit. And use heavy weights- I use two 35 pound dumbbells.

Other variations are off of a step for a little more range of motion, or doing one leg at a time. The calves are integral in jumping, so plyometric training will shred them. Running and stairs are great ways to hit your calves, too.

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Do Trainers Have Free Reign in the Gym?

An interesting question was posed on DietsInReview asking if personal trainers have more right to the gym than members. (Full disclosure- this trainer sounds like a douche and I would probably complain myself.)

If you belong to a gym, you’ve no doubt seen trainers training clients on the floor amongst the rest of the masses. Trainers in box gyms use the same equipment and space as the rest of the members- but do paying clients get first dibs on the facility over regular members paying a lot less?

I’ve never had to deal with this because I trained in a private studio or in clients’ homes, but I did belong to a 24 Hour Fitness ages ago (Westwood Village, WHITE CENTER, REPRESENT! for any locals) and like any box gym it was always packed. I’m talking 20 minute cardio limit with a line forming behind you waiting for you to be done kind of packed. The trainers there had an affinity for resistance bands, lord knows why, and loved to have clients streeeeetch those bands the whole across the gym, winding through machines and clothes lining unsuspecting members while the client side lunged and woodchopped their embarrassed ass the length of the only walkway in the place.

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Q and A: What Do You Think of Fat People?

Q: By honest, what do you think of fat people? You have to look at them as weak right? -J.D.

A: To be honest, I try not to judge anyone, there is enough of that.

Just because I like to workout, know a lot about it, and have devoted my career to sharing that knowledge with others doesn’t mean I look down on others that don’t.  You can’t know something you’ve never been taught.

Fat people know how to diet. No one that is fat wants to be fat. Fat people know they are fat so they don’t need you, me, rude children or asshole teens to remind them they need to lose weight. Most have yo-yo dieted their whole lives. My job isn’t to teach people how to diet, it’s how to gain an appreciation for their body, and to treat it with the respect it deserves, because everyone deserves to be happy and healthy.

Read: What it’s like to be a fat person

Fat doesn’t read weak to me, but it does read “there is some issue here.” Generally, the weight is a symptom of something else going on internally. Everyone has an issue. Some people are drunks, some people are drug addicts, some people beat their wives, some people have an eating disorder, some people collect roadkill (I swear, I watched a My Strange Addiction on it) and some people are overweight. The unfortunate thing about being overweight is that you can’t hide it. You can’t be fat in secret, you can’t hide being fat and you can’t lie about being fat. Everyone that sees you knows your baggage right away- and judges your personality for it.

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Q and A: Is hCG a Big Load of B.S.?

Q: “Can you expose the hCG diet thing with the fury of a thousand suns? Don’t associate my name with the question por favor :P” – Name Not Associated

A: Usually reader questions come in a “What do you think of this?” format, where I will give a little background on the subject, then make fun of it, then tell you to make up your own mind cause I find that when people ask questions about diets or workout strategies they just want you to tell them it’s a great idea and get irritated when you tell them it’s a waste of time/money/is ineffective, etc.

This one told me what to do, so it makes my life a little easier.

Here’s a little background on the hCG diet in case you are unfamiliar with it:

The hCG diet uses daily injections or oral drops of a pregnancy hormone, in conjunction with a starvational level 500 calorie a day diet to drop weight. It typically lasts for 3 weeks and should be monitored by a health professional.

HCG stands for the hormone Human Choriogonadotropin, which is produced by women in the early stages of pregnancy. During pregnancy, this hormone signals the hypothalamus in the brain to start moving nutrients and fat to the placenta to feed your new bundle of joy, but when used as a weight loss program, it is the fat mobilization ability of the hormone that is said to facilitate weight loss. And, yes, men use this diet, too.

While the FDA has approved hCG shots for fertility purposes, there is no evidence the hCG diet can promote weight loss, and most results can be attributed to the measly amount of food you will be eating- not the shots themselves. It will, however, kill you. Maybe. Side effects include blood clots, depression, headaches and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in women. All of these symptoms were cited as common, and deadly, on hCG.

The diet portion is as follows: For the first two days of the injections or drops you are allowed to eat as much as you want of whatever you want. Well, if this isn’t the path to a balanced, healthy relationship with food, I don’t know what is. Then, following the third injection or shot, you must stick to 500 calories a day until 72 hours after the last dose. Sugars, sweet fruits, processed foods and heavy starches are strictly forboden.

Let’s go with common sense first: If you have the self control to starve yourself on 500 calories a day, do you really need to be pumping yourself full of a pregnancy hormone? Less is not better when it comes to calories. How about you just scale back on the calories a bit, to say 1,200-1,600 where you can get enough vitamins to survive and your metabolism won’t shut down on you because it thinks you are stuck in a cave with no food for the forseeable future and wants to keep you alive by holding onto as much stored fat as possible. Sounds a little more effective and a little less like torture, no?

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Q and A: How Hard is it to Become a Yoga Instructor?

Q: How hard is it to be a yoga instructor? – The Lovely Miss Alex Harper

Short answer: Not. You can call yourself one right now, if you wanted to.

Longer, less irritating answer:

The fitness certification industry is regulated, requiring a test to prove you know the basics. Group fitness instructors and personal trainers generally have to be certified to get hired for any type of real job, but it isn’t illegal to call yourself a personal trainer and accept money in exchange for telling someone to do pushups. You will just have to find clients yourself because no gym or studio will hire you and you’ll probably get sued when you kill someone and you won’t have insurance to protect you because you aren’t certified.

Yoga teachers, as it is a relatively new career, have even more lax standards. There is no requirement to be certified, and if you know what you’re talking about, a lot of places will hire you without one.

That being said, if you want to have any type of real career in the field and any credibility with clients whatsoever, you will an accredited program behind you, which for yoga is Yoga Alliance. In 1999, Yoga Alliance established a national Yoga Teachers’ Registry to recognize and promote yoga teachers with training that meets their minimum standards. If teachers meet these standards, they are eligible to register as Registered Yoga Teachers.

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Q and A: Is the Herbalife Diet Legit?

Hey lady have you ever done any research on the Herbalife diet? I started it, as a meal replacement plan twice a day but have read mixed reviews… any thoughts? I’m digging the shake for a meal thing just worried that there is too much sugar and it is quite expensive. Also, if Herbalife is bad, can you recommend protein meal supplements that are better? – R.B.

Oh, diets. VERY rarely am I going to say a diet is a good idea, especially one that asks you to replace fresh, whole foods with processed snacks or shakes. Most of the time, diets aren’t necessarily dangerous, but I don’t recommend them because they aren’t necessary. They aren’t worth the money, they don’t teach you how to properly eat or exercise after the diet is over and “diet” to me isn’t something you go on, it’s what you eat. As I like to say, “If you eat tennis ball fuzz and rocks, that’s your diet.”

Sometimes, though, people like to have a jump start. I get that. I do it myself sometimes. If I’ve had a few days of parties or eating out or what have you that leave me feeling junky, I’ll take a few days to cut out any extras and stick with fresh fruits and veggies and lean proteins to clean out my system and start fresh.

My biggest issue with diets, I guess, is that if you have the motivation and the ability to follow a strict diet, you are more than capable of holding yourself accountable to make smart choices, which, guess what? Is free! Learning how to properly fuel your body and which foods are beneficial for the results you are looking for gives you some flexibility, so you arent thrown into a tailspin the second you get invited to a party or out to dinner. Some diets do, in fact, offer you that flexibility, so let’s take at look at Herbalife and see how it stacks up.

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