The Diet Crazes Keto Paleo Low Carb….

By: Susan Arruda

THE CRAZES – KETO PALEO ATKINS …

As far as eating, consider what your priorities and lifestyle are and how sustainable you want your results to be. Bland and basic, or full of flavour with healthy variety. The approaches are different, although they both work.

It all depends on what you want and what is sustainable for your lifestyle and cravings, yes, we all have them. I am BIG on this point and it’s why I don’t advocate Keto, Paleo, Atkins etc.. because most of those measures are taken by people who are desperate to lose weight fast and stay lean… I have been on an ultra restrictive diet and I can tell you first hand, it is no way to live!!!

BUT… THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION…

When I ask women about how they eat, they often answer with some form of this fill in the blank answer: “I’m doing ________ right now.” As in, I’m doing Keto right now etc…

So WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP doing that?


I often say, “whatever you can’t sustain, you will not maintain!”
You’ll go right back into the vicious cycle and that “demon” sticking fat and cellulite I spoke of, often comes back with a vengeance and gets a fresh round at tormenting you.

SO WHAT IS THE ANSWER?

DO NOT “DIET,” is the answer. TRAIN WITH MASSIVE INTENSITY and yes, of course, eat clean, healthy foods, but not food jail. It must be livable and sustainable.

“CHEAT DAY”


Here is another Peeve! Just the words CHEAT DAY are wrong to me and from the get-go, set you up for a lack mentality and for failure. If you feel like you are in food jail and you have to cheat, you are doing something that will not last and you will beat yourself up with guilt and your fat stores will LOVE YOU!

Sure, have your cheat food or meal once a week, but don’t undo all the hard work you’ve achieved. Again, keeping it all in balance is a crucial key point.

On my meal plans, we have what I call a FREE DAY.

What’s that you may ask?

Got kids? Have a life? Want ice cream? Got a party, a function? Yes, you can still live and have a fit and lean body! You get the freedom to choose what you eat as long as you remain in the assigned calorie totals for the day.

My next message will be “Eat The Junk Lose The Weight?” I am going to take aim at so-called pre-workout concoctions, protein bars and I will give you now of my go-to easy to make pre or post-workout shake.

In strength,

Susan

The Truth About Doing a Fitness Show

By: Susan Arruda

Having goals with a timeline is extremely effective to compel you to push harder to achieve and make progress. A goal without a deadline date can often be just a wish for many; void of enough motivation to push yourself to achieve and push harder.

Look at this way: How many times have you heard of someone all of a sudden having a snap moment as they seemingly discover without warning, “Wow, I’ll be 30 this year”and I think I am going to run a marathon!”

All of this, usually without ever having run around the block, and often carrying a few pounds too many.

We all have our reasons, our seasons.

So, how about you?

Are you considering stepping under the hot stage lights, dropping a few thousand dollars in suits, clothing, coaching, tanning, posing in dental floss, over-smiling for hours on end, spending a few hundred dollars for this year’s federation fees and adhering to all the requirements, such as “regulation height” stripper shoes (I call them that because that is where I ultimately found them – at a stripper shop, lol),… maybe paying for some walking and posing sessions?

Hey, if you said yes to the above, the professional who coached my walking and posing is someone I should connect you with because she was awesome!!!

So, if you are okay with all of those investments, the NUMBER ONE THING TO CONSIDER IS:

On stage in 2006 – I call it my freedom year; the year I left my marriage of 18 years!

WHY?

Be VERY clear on why you want to do it.

If your reason is money, that’s the wrong reason!! There is no money, but you get to SPEND a lot of money to do it. You may also get bagfuls of crappy supplements AND a nifty shaker cup. I have several. Want one, lol?

MYTH – You get paid when you hit the stage, and surely you get paid when you win!

FACT – Ha! I had people actually say this to me. NOT! You usually get loads of sponsor products when you win, many of which are loaded with skeptical ingredients that I wouldn’t consume and yes, a trophy of sorts that ultimately becomes a dust collector, and yes, a commemorative ornament.

If it’s fame? Likely not happening. Depends on what you mean by fame. You may get an image in a magazine as a result of the show’s coverage, but it may be so small, that only you are aware of it!

“Gee Susan, look at you though! You are all over the internet and you even wound up in my Facebook and Instagram.”

Thanks, I appreciate many of the kind words and compliments I now receive!

Am I famous? Hmmmm…. I’m all over the internet, yes. I mean I’ve been posting my stuff for over 10 years now and somehow, I am lucky enough to even have you reading my emails.

But as far as shows making someone famous, let’s check the inventory:

With 6 titles, testimonials from A-list fitness photographers like David Ford in Status Fitness, writing to Fitness World:
“Susan Arruda presents a near perfect physique.” — Wow, on that beautiful compliment!!!

Being hand picked and pulled on stage by the likes of Tony Horton, the legendary P90X creator, or Tommy Europe, celeb TV trainer host of the last 10 Lb bootcamp and Bulging Brides, we have since become friends… —- A mega highlight and WOW moment in my fitness career!!!

Or even established fitness personas that have written:

“Susan Arruda has sculpted her body into a PERFECT fitness physique and cleans up at every show she enters. She’s also as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside’” – Lyzabeth Lopez (What beautiful words from an influential fitness personality!)

All of that attention made no covers.

People nowhere near the shape I was in then, or in many cases, even now, getting fitness covers. Okay yes, that still baffles me at times, but I also understand how this game is played now and as a result, I am even less interested in playing it. (Thankfully, these were never reasons for me training hard, day in and day out, throughout my life.)

In case you missed it, yes, that was another one of my peeves. I warned you in email after email but you’re still here reading. God bless you 🙂 Yes, the fitness industry and all of its politics has jaded me and left a bad taste in my mouth.

I initially did it for my right reason at the time: To build my confidence and spurring much needed change, and serving as a positive distraction during a tumultuous time in my life. I was in a marriage that was disastrous and completely unfulfilling at the time, and my upbringing did nothing to build my self esteem!

Susan Arruda on stage 2009
On Stage 2009 – courtesy Simon Lau

IF NOT FAME, AND YOU ARE OKAY WITH THAT…

Perhaps more importantly, you need to be ready for the crash and letdown that happens after you have massacred yourself from 16 weeks out for the few seconds you will be on stage and that within hours of you coming offstage, the “transformation” will likely all go in a flash. For many, it is completely unsustainable, but for me, it was/is a lifestyle. You may not win first, second or even third place, so brace yourself for that possibility.

You need to be in a place mentally where you are completely okay with that, otherwise the downfall can be devastating (depression, withdrawal, anger and bitterness as I’ve known many to experience, and even did so myself). This is exactly why you need to do it for the right reasons; for you and not anyone else; a tool/event to help you achieve more in your fitness journey.

You will be left with a lot of beautiful memories and pictures of that “one time that I looked amazing.”

This happens if you live like there is an off-season, which there really isn’t in life if you want to look your best all the time. But yes, the gruelling training and strict eating plans most have to adhere to are very unsustainable. I’ve done my best to live like like there is no off-season; being fit and healthy knows no seasons and I believe you can too.

I will say this; when I used to compete, I always stayed within 5 Lb of contest weight, thanks to my intensity and consistency training style.

Realize that the more weight you gain, be it off-season or pregnancy, the dieting down process can result in stretch marks, not something many consider at the time. Pills and shortcuts will only get you so far and they usually come with a price to pay later on.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying don’t do it, but just be sure you are aware of the price you will pay for a few moments under the lights. Do it for the right reasons, and not for people approval!

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

When I won 6 fitness titles in 5 years, I went in to defend my title just one year after I had won double titles on the same stage.

There was maybe one other contender on stage without an inflated/enhanced physique…

I did not even get a second look.

Politics exist to some degree in sports and that is just the way it is. The results are often already decided before you have paid your registration fee or even started to diet, before you have racked up the bill for everything I wrote about at the beginning of this email!

Don’t expect “fair” so again, do it for your own reasons and know when you walk off stage that if you know in your heart that you looked like a contender and did your best, but they still did not call on you to raise your hand and change positions with another competitor for a better look at you, that you did not necessarily lose.

The system may have won in that case and those are two completely different things.

Know the difference and be at peace knowing that you did and you look your absolute best! Make a conscious decision to be your #1 biggest cheerleader!

That needs to be your driving force and reward, no matter what the outcome.

In strength,

Susan

Fat Burner Fakeout

By: Susan Arruda

FAT BURNERS

The shocking thing that 2 heavier women asked me…

I work out hard to get the results I’m after and I imagine you do as well.  What happens when you hit a wall or are stuck trying to get rid of the last few pounds holding on for dear life, despite the fact that you are exerting mega effort training and eating ‘clean?’

This is a very frustrating scenario and like many, I’ve experienced it.

In a desperate quest to lose weight, many people will turn to fat burners which is a mega slippery and dangerous slope!! That is already questionable at best, but an even more serious problem often arises when people turn to these simply because they don’t want to exercise at all and view this as a quick fix.

A fat burner is defined as an over-the-counter drug that claims to burn calories by increasing the rate of the body’s metabolism. Hey, it also mega increases your heart rate and when that happens and you’re at rest, that’s a problem!

SHOCKED

While working a trade show years ago, two heavy women approached the booth and asked if there were any fat burners they could purchase. I was shocked!!

😱 I knew fat burners should be a very last resort and to be used sparingly, say for a fitness show or a similar short-term “edge” goal of sorts!

When you are young, you feel invincible, and as a woman you might think reaching a magic weight will solve your unhappiness so you are always in search of better, leaner; at least I was.

Yes, I did try fat burners long before I hit the stage and realized quickly how dangerous they were. The body is brilliant at giving you warning signs but you also have to be smart enough to listen and exercise common sense; something I find not so common these days.

 

Ad from a trade show I was working

MY EXPERIENCE WITH FAT BURNERS WAS NOT A POSITIVE ONE AT ALL!

Whenever you take anything that warns you to not exceed taking it beyond a certain amount of time, I’m immediately skeptical because I know that ‘whatever you cannot sustain, you will not maintain.”

I can’t recall how long I took them in my younger years but I distinctly recall the costly negative effects. Trouble falling asleep at night, tremors, soaring resting HR and the oxymoron of it all; I would take them and feel exhausted, which is exactly the opposite effect of the claims of more energy and the increased energy I was looking for! That’s a warning sign in itself!

I would feel anxious and get tremors and my heart rate would soar and it would interfere with my ability to sleep and at times, I had even experienced nausea! All signs of trouble/danger. Not a good way to live! More serious side effects include high blood pressure, diarrhea, strokes, seizures, and even death!!! YIKES!

BURNER BACKFIRE

Fat burners can burn out your adrenal receptors causing adrenal fatigue which basically brings burning to a grinding halt! 😱 This is the opposite reason of why you’re taking them in the first place! The road back to adrenal recovery can be very slow!

Fat burners pose some dangerous risks because they are not regulated by the FDA. The sole purpose of the manufacturer is to make money at any cost. Not all products are created safely and it is up to the consumer to become educated and to research any product they are unsure of.

Caveat emptor – Bottom line is buyer beware! You need to do your research and don’t overdo these products because your body will simply become less responsive to the changes it is supposed to bring you naturally. Then what?

NEVER, EVER START WITH A FAT BURNER

Too much of a good thing eventually backfires! In moderation, fat burners can be an effective tool to help you reach your goals. I only recommend taking them if you are getting ready to step on stage or you’re really stuck and need a kick end (not a kick start) to reach your fat loss timed goal. 

It should never be the first thing you turn to for weight/fat loss, but instead, be your final go-to, and only after you’ve done everything else, meaning training and diet, and natural means.

For everyday life, I recommend training with intensity, the right food combinations, and using both of these in optimal synergy to create an ideal scenario for your body to burn maximum fat naturally.

There are a lot of natural and different methods  to do this, many of which are implemented in the SHIFT food plans in my 30 Days of Intensity.  When to eat, how much, what types of carbs are ok, carb tapering, optimal calories, intermittent fasting, etc…

It is not necessarily as simple as eat less and move more, as many weight loss programs claim. There is some number crunching and food science that needs to happen in the food dept.

What are some natural fat burners? I have a free download for you! Just click the link at the bottom of this email to grab it.

PS

I highly recommend you get your thyroid checked and blood work done. Even a small deficiency in essential minerals and vitamins can have a profound effect on your metabolism. Don’t be afraid to get a second and even third opinion. Not all naturopaths and doctors are created equally.

In my next message I will write without a filter about the hypocrisy of the fitness industry. It affects women of all fitness and weight levels; but if you have ever thought about doing a fitness show, this is a must read!

In strength,

Susan

Eat The Junk and Still Get Lean?

By: Susan Arruda

Hey there! Thank you for connecting with me again!

Do you care about clean eating?

It’s a legit question and it can be answered a couple of ways:

1. I just want results and I’ll eat whatever, as long as I get what I’m after.
OR
2. I want results, but I do care if what I’m eating is healthy or not.

A SCENARIO

Go to the gym, consume a protein shake or a pre/post workout concoction. It has the “perfect” nutritional profile, etc.. but one look at the ingredients list and you need a pharmacology degree to understand what you are eating. There may be a picture of a cupcake or some “delicious vanilla flavour” on it.

Do you/should you care?

I think you should and here is why:

Most of those products carry questionable ingredients and some type of artificial sweetener: Sucralose, Aspartame, Splenda and yes, even Stevia. The fact is, there are varying grades and safe upper intake limits and side effects that exist.

The side effects of these artificial sugars don’t show up right away, often later, and after repeated use. Inflammation, calcium depletion leading to arthritis and joint issues are documented cases, memory loss issues and all kinds of studies can be found that say something is safe or not safe.

It all depends on who is paying for the article and why it’s being written.

The same issues are present when ingredients like carrageenan show up all over otherwise healthy foods, like almond milk as well as calcium propionate, linked to migraine headaches and a litany of other side effects; the latter shows up in just about every pita or bread product you pick up.


I have a short fact sheet about carrageenan. If you’d like it, just click to download it at the end of this email.


BIG REVEAL:
Most protein bars have more junk in them than a Snicker’s bar!

WHAT TO DO
Unless you are ready to read ingredients and decide if what you are eating is worth it, stay away from pre-made bars and beverages. These are “food products,” not real foods.

GO NATURAL! 
Use “real” whole foods and MYO/make your own.
Plan ahead – Know what you are going to need and have it ready to go.

  • Here’s my EASY MAKE – PRE or POST WORKOUT SNACK
  • 1/2 – 1 Banana or apple, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Peanut butter/any nut butter
Sprinkle flax seeds/meal or hemp hearts
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Put it all on a slice of ‘healthy’ toasted bread.

On the go?
Swap the toasted bread out and wrap the ingredients in a pita instead… hopefully, without calcium propionate!

All I am saying is that the fitness industry often sells the promise of results, without caring about the impact on your health.

Also if you have ever read the ingredients on any of the Weight Watchers or Atkins food products you are dealing with some of the unhealthiest junk ever created.

Take the time to feed yourself clean!

400 calories of a junky protein bar do not have the same effect as sprouted bread, avocado, nut butter and hemp seeds.

I will talk to you again Friday when I take on a wild subject. 

Here’s a hint; years ago I was working a fitness trade show and 2 women who said they were much heavier than they wanted to be asked me for one thing that stunned me.

We have all thought about it and even done it. I will get into why it’s generally a very bad idea as well as when you might consider it.

Thank you for reading!
Susan

The Worst Things You Can Do When Trying To Lean Out Your Body Quickly

Diet to 1200 calories, or 1800 calories? Keep your carbs very low… does any of this sound familiar? That 1200 number that floats around as being your optimal daily calorie intake for weight loss; is it really??

 

How about “starve,” does that ring a bell? 

 

Your body has a calorie range based on its BMR Basal Metabolic Rate that defines where you will gain or lose weight. This is why all of the meal plans I include in my programs are based on your individual BMR.

 

If you consistently fall below the minimum limit your body needs to sustain basic functions, you will repeatedly cause some undeniably negative results:

 

1 – You will not lose weight. If the scale moves at all, it will be muscle you are losing. Of course, muscle is lean metabolically active tissue, so that is a massive backfire as far as losing fat.

 

2 – You will not build any muscle. Ouch, see point #1. Worse, you will continue to workout, maybe even harder to try and “push through”… See point #3 

 

3 – Your energy will be non-existent.  Your mood will crash and you will HATE dieting and develop a particular fear of carbs. Also, forget results; not happening!

 

“Lord, take me now, that is no way to live!”

 

What is even scarier? Through years of talking to women, I have discovered that for a shocking number of you, as in 80%, this is your “normal.”

 

Mood swings? Yeah. Add PMS? Oh, negative BONUS! As you enter your 40’s, toss in some hormone havoc for added “excitement” and need I say more?

 

Constantly starving yourself like this is the enemy. Eventually, you will binge and then you will feel even worse and then maybe do it all over again.

 

HOW MANY CALORIES?

 

If I asked you how many calories you eat and you were to answer me off the top of your head, would you know? What’s that number? 1200? Lower? 1800? Higher? Which is the right one for you?  I am not asking you to count calories, I never have. 

 

If I ever needed to “dial it in” for a show, I had someone else do it for me because 

A: I hate it and B:  I had no idea what to do with the information anyway because it is quite scientific. That is another thing the meal plans in my programs do; everything for you.

 

If your day looks like this:

 

Breakfast, maybe. If at all; a slice of toast, a teaspoon of peanut butter and half a banana. Maybe even “healthier” a protein shake (which may potentially be full of unhealthy additives) with some kind of powder in it. Seriously?

 

Lunch. When; 7 hours later? What; a “low carb salad?”

 

Dinner. Going healthy! Dry as the desert chicken, steamed broccoli, no butter of course, just a squeeze of lemon, and a thumb-size baked potato.

 

Where are we by now on our total? MAYBE 1000 calories? And you got this idea from where; My Fitness Pal, Weight Watchers or some other diet fad like Keto, Paleo? How on earth can you function or train with any consistency without ever breaking out of this cycle?

 

In my next message, I am going to tell you how I ate, especially when I was younger in my 30’s and early 40’s and it will probably STUN you! I will also tell you a bit about how I keep it all in check now in my 50’s.

 

If you did figure out your calorie totals for a typical day and want to share that with me, just hit reply to this email. It would help if you include your weight and age as well. 

 

With poise and power, talk soon,

Susan

2 Things I’ve Always Done to Stay Lean

Hello, Susan here!

Last time I wrote, I mentioned there are at least 2 non-negotiable practices that have kept me fit, lean and defined for over 35 years. I’m going to share those with you right now.

CONSISTENCY and INTENSITY – Remember that I also wrote about defining these differently than many people might.

CONSISTENCY
I do not take more than one day off per week unless there is a very solid reason, such as my body “telling me” I need rest and am feeling really run down. That is a voice that is not heard much in your 20’s and maybe even 30’s, but it speaks more now in my 50’s than it ever has. Given that, I cannot recall the last time I took more than 2 days off in a row.

Come on, let’s be honest, when we blow off a workout we feel crappy about it and a little guilty later. We often think as the day passes, you know, I could have/should have trained after all.

WHAT IS YOUR “VERY SOLID REASON?”

When I say a “very solid reason” that does not include –

  • I don’t feel like it
  • I don’t have time
  • I’m not feeling motivated
  • It’s that time of the month
  • I have the kids etc…

Those are not reasons, those are excuses! Ouch, I know. Get up before the kids; that’s what I did in many cases. Whatever you plan and prioritize, gets done!

I kept my fitness in check pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, then while raising 2 kids, and a good chunk of that was as a single mom, having a full-time job, and no, not as a trainer. I even managed to do 2 shows in one year and compete over the course of 6 years and thankfully, win.

This level of consistency has been going on for over 30 years. Please don’t think I’m hoping you’ll be impressed, that’s not it. I’m hoping you are encouraged enough to know you can get your body in check and even to another level, despite what you allow to get in your way, first of all – you. Don’t be the biggest obstacle in your way.

I hope you can pump your confidence up a bit and think, “If Susan can do it and keep doing it, despite less than perfect circumstances with a 50+-year-old body that sometimes says, oh just give up, then I can take action and stay consistent too!”

But the action you take has to have some serious INTENSITY!

INTENSITY, that’s the other NON NEGOTIABLE

Most of the women I have met focus with great intensity, to the point of obsession on calories, the scale and dieting instead of putting that same kind of intensity into training; the right kind of training.

If you like to take a spin class, that is excellent. However, if you do that 5 days per week and don’t weight train, you are only going to get so far with how you want your body to look.

FACT: Weight training is the number one best method of reshaping and sculpting your body.

Maybe you are intense about inputting all of the calories and macros into your tracking app and tied to that thing like it’s your diet solution, the way you will succeed. You look at it like you would a bank account at the end of the month when the rent is due; this is how much I have left, I better not go over.

Did you know that most of the nutritional values in those apps are wrong?

They are usually entered as customized by the user. That’s why you might see 1 “serving” of almonds showing up as both 120 and 800 calories. It is not consistently accurate.

Not only that… the law allows for a 20% margin of error in government food labels!

WHAT DO I CALL INTENSE? Let me break down what happens on any given day of training at this stage of life.

HOW LONG?
It depends on a bunch of things, but generally, 60 minutes at least is what I need right now.

WHAT DO I DO?
Again, depends on a bunch of things. Is that voice speaking up saying – “Susan, watch that shoulder, don’t push through it,” so I make adjustments.

Here is a KEY; during my workout time, I am non stop. The focus is on maintaining muscle while training for everyday life, flexibility and maximum fat loss.

My cardio generally happens as I weight train and I implement cross-training; please don’t confuse that with CrossFit, these are completely different and not interchangeable.

As a result, my heart rate remains elevated throughout my entire workout and often while I have resistance training going on at the same time. I train to my edge which means I can’t tell you what rep range that is because it can change on the fly, but I prefer to go the route of the RPE scale – Rate of Perceived Exertion.

If you don’t have one of those, you can click at the bottom of this email to download a PDF of the RPE I use.

In short, if you are 10-15 minutes in and you are not feeling the RPE at 7 or higher, you are not working hard enough. Don’t just count the reps on the fitness program you are following. FEEL what you are doing!

There is so much more I want to tell you, but I am going to wrap it up for now. Remember to download the RPE if you need to and again, hit reply on this email if you have any questions.

In my next message, I’ll be writing about THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO WHEN TRYING TO LEAN OUT YOUR BODY QUICKLY.

So many women are doing this for HOURS and DAYS at a time and when I see them in the gym, their bodies are not changing. What’s just as sad is that it’s usually some trainer who told them to do it because it’s all they know.

That’s gotta stop!

Thanks for sharing some time with me, now go get to your workout if you haven’t already! 🙂
Susan

My Favourite Foundational Exercises – 7 Sensational Standards

7 exercises you MUST do for optimal strength, symmetry and balance.

Symmetry and balance in overall physical development is so important in building an aesthetically appealing body with an edge and there are definitely some key foundational building exercises that you must include in your training and some important concepts to keep in mind.  Overall strength is best developed through the execution of compound movements, which are exercises that involve more than one muscle group as well as multiple joints. 

These compound exercises also serve to benefit us functionally in the execution of movements in our everyday life. Performing any exercise first requires vital basic knowledge such as knowing what muscles are directly involved and how to properly execute the movement, where you should be feeling it, knowing the crucial difference between good and bad pain, locking the core to protect the back, and knowing when to abort the exercise altogether, if necessary.

There’s a lot to consider and simply getting to the gym and winging it, can get you seriously hurt. Do your homework or better yet, hire a reputable Personal Trainer until you develop the knowledge and confidence to go it alone. 

Here are those 7 fundamental and foundational MUST DO exercises:

Let’s start with the #1 exercise you MUST perform and execute with exceptional form, and that is the SQUAT! 

The SQUAT is a must! It is a functional movement that uses large muscles that are involved in everyday function and sports. The squat simply mimics the movement of sitting down and getting up out of a chair.  It is an excellent exercise for building core and overall strength. It involves total muscle recruitment of the legs, gluteals, uses your back, core, and so many stabilizing smaller muscles, and because so many muscle groups are involved, this makes for a mega high calorie burning exercise!  

Begin this exercise in front of a mirror in order to monitor correct execution and start with no added weight. Position yourself in front of a chair or bench and simply stand up and sit down focusing on using the legs and keeping your chest lifted, while remaining tall through the upper body. Strive to keep your back straight/flat and avoid leaning forward during the movement.

Think about dropping down and sitting on the chair by bending your knees and it also helps to envision a cup of water on your head to illustrate staying tall and keeping the back straight, not rounded. Progress to where you’re dropping down, but not quite sitting on the chair and then finally, add weight. Hold dumbbells in each hand, held at your sides or position a bar behind your upper back/shoulders/neck area and practice the squat as described above, beginning with the chair/bench option.

Adding static holds is also an excellent way to add challenge and strength. This static hold at the bottom of the squat position especially serves as an essential skill for women where public washrooms are concerned.;-)  Ladies, I know you’re hip to what I’m talking about! 

PUSH-UPS require no equipment and are an excellent overall upper body strength building exercise involving the chest, arms, shoulders, back and core. Practice them first against a wall on an incline and then progress to doing them on the floor from the knees with the abs and core engaged, incorporating the draw-in and keeping the back flat.

The movement requires you to lower the body down towards the floor and lift the body back up using the arms only while keeping the back and legs straight. Use a mirror (look sideways, not up) to monitor your alignment.

The PULL-UP/CHIN-UP is a more advanced movement requiring strength in the back, arms, shoulders and core and being able to perform at least one without assistance should be considered essential. It’s your body and you should be able to lift it, should you ever be in a life or death situation!

Pulling your body weight up with relative ease should be a goal to strive for. The pull-up (palms down with a grip wider than shoulder-distance apart) is also great for improving grip strength. Because it’s an advanced move, you need to start with progressions. The best way to work at developing strength for this exercise is by either using an assisted pull up machine, a pull-down machine, having someone spot/assist you, using a band-assist, and/or the simplest; start at the top of the move with a static hold and as slowly as possible, let yourself down to the bottom hanging position while staying in scapular retraction

This puts the focus on the eccentric/lowering portion of the movement, which is a very effective method for building strength. Another great reason for learning the pull-up and developing the latissimus dorsi muscle is it’s an exceptional exercise for developing that wide ‘V’ shape in your back, which helps to give you the appearance of a smaller waist!  

Another favourite upper body resistance exercise is the PARALLEL BAR DIPS. You may come across an apparatus at an outdoor playground that is similar.  This exercise, again, requires being able to lower and lift your own bodyweight and is a great upper body strength developer that involves the shoulders, chest, back, arms and core.

Start the move with simple static holds and then progress to lowering yourself just an inch and finally until you can lower down to where your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle; never more than that, as it is counter-productive and puts far too much stress on the shoulder joint and the focus is to target the muscles without trauma to the shoulder girdle.

The general rule of thumb is that you want to isolate and challenge the muscle without over-stressing the joint (the reason scapular retraction is so important to learn how to execute). Beginning with chair dips is also helpful as a starting exercise to doing the parallel bar dips.  

Performing and perfecting the basic ABDOMINAL CRUNCH movement is vital for strengthening the midsection/core and providing low back protection as your deep abdominal muscle layers are connected to the lower back and they’re involved in all movements. Do it right and keep your neck out of the move as much as possible.  INSERT Do this, not that abdominal crunch

LUNGES mimic the movement of taking a giant step forward and are excellent butt shapers. The key with performing lunges correctly and avoiding knee injury is to lower the body using the legs while being conscious of the angle of your knee.

Take a step forward and lower your body position by dropping your weight down without leaning forward, keeping your shoulders lined up over your hips, back flat and upright and keeping the knee of the forward stepping leg in line with your ankle (or slightly behind), but not allowing your knee to extend past your toes. Angles are important for keeping joints safe.

If you’re just starting out, begin with a stationary lunge (having the back leg closer to the forward leg makes it easier to balance) and no weight and master that before progressing to a forward stepping lunge. The lunge requires balance and careful monitoring of body alignment.  It ranks high as one of the most incorrectly executed exercises and consequently, can lead to serious knee trauma over time.

SIDE LATERAL RAISE
Although the side lateral raise is considered an isolated movement (involves only one muscle and joint), it is a wonderful exercise for adding shape and definition to the shoulders and happens to be one of my favourite shoulder shaping exercises. It helps to give your shoulders that nice rounded shape (what shoulder pads in the fashion world during the 80’s used to provide). Development of the shoulder muscles can also help give the illusion of a smaller waist; woohoo! 

At the onset of my training journey, I recall many of these exercises as not being big favourites of mine, but tackling your weak areas can turn things around and eventually transform them into areas of strength, and then of course, you won’t dislike them anymore! Tackle them with fervour and prioritize your weak areas.

Be sure to regularly incorporate all these foundational movements in your workouts and strive to build a symmetrical physique.

The beautiful thing about resistance training is that you can literally sculpt and shape your body to look the way you want, which reminds me of the Michelangelo quote, “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”  

Lift that iron and build the body of your dreams!

How You Are Killing Your Metabolism Pt 2

Last time, we talked about ways that are killing your metabolism. I wrote about never really having counted calories or macros (or nearly never) and promised I’d talk about how I was eating in my 30’s 40’s and now 50’s.

In a word: ANYTHING and EVERYTHING – ok, 2 words… it’s dense, as in a calorically dense subject.

Well, in my 20’s and 30’s, although I thought I ate fairly decently (or so I thought), I did eat pretty much whatever I wanted and carbs were my downfall, and not exactly the healthiest of carbs either. Bakery bought large bran muffins with caramel sauce and walnuts, Krispy Kreme, cookies… Bring it on! 

My calorie counts were likely over 6,000 daily, I’m estimating because that brief time I did count, they were over 3,000 and I actually felt I was making a conscientious effort while doing that.😳

I had no idea how much protein I was eating, but I can guess that I was eating well over 80% carbs. I did not give diet advice to ANYONE and many thought: “she must eat super clean.” I’ll take it!  But no, not true then, and to a different degree, still not true now.

Despite those 6000 calorie days, I was an “anatomy chart” ripped. In fact, most of the images you see of me at that level of definition were taken when I was eating mega thousands of calories into my 30’s/early 40’s, which is why I thought it important to include current images of me as well.

From then until now, there is no hiding in my videos. What you see now in anything I shoot is the result of 35 years of weight training. There are angles the camera gets where I wanna tear myself to shreds because I do not like the way I look and no doubt, I am my biggest critic, still striving for my absolute best despite the aging struggles.

However, as far as still being able to rock a bikini, prioritizing resistance training has saved me! Cardio? We will get to that in a future email, let’s focus on how I was able to eat like that and stay ripped.

A BUNCH OF FACTORS AT PLAY.

YOUTH. This is probably THE key factor. I gotta add, I also trained relentlessly and consistently, and still do!  Precious mass, as we go on in life, decreases, especially as females. The BMR we discussed in our last chat, changes and especially takes a hit during menopause. In my most popular 30 day program, I have seen BMR’s of women ranging from their 20’s and into their 60’s and the totals are apart by a factor of hundreds, even over a thousand.

Which brings up an ASTOUNDING point…which I must emphasize… Ok, let’s call this a peeve, it’s that strong. There are other peeves to come, stay tuned.  But for now…

HERE IS possibly the MOST RIDICULOUS advice the fitness industry is giving you, regardless of your age 20-60 and up!

HOW on earth can a diet program tell a woman in her 20’s to eat a certain amount of calories and that it makes sense to tell a woman in her 50’s to eat, or even train the same? That is ridiculous! But that is the diet industry at work.

NO INJURIES – If you have been training for any extended length of time and consistently, there is no question you are dealing with at least one injury, “tweak” or worse.  There are things I was doing 25 years ago that are downright foolish to try now in my 50’s. However, I can still do many of them, but I am wiser in considering, “does the benefit outweigh the risk?”

NEVER, EVER ELIMINATING a FOOD GROUP.

Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, no no and NO! WHY? I will get into that in the days ahead, it’s another loaded subject.

In my 50’s. I’m still defined, I still eat across all food groups and, here is one thing about me many do not know or assume I do little of; I LOVE TO BAKE and yes, EAT what I bake! I do bake healthy though, and it needs to taste good!

If I wanted to do a show, which I do not, I could diet down and get super specific. I included this pic of me just before my 50th birthday to show you what is possible. I am still training like I am stepping on stage tomorrow because I am a SUPER motivated person, just like you, right?

Ok, wait, that last sentence? Yeah, I lied a little. No, these days motivation is a word that rhymes with the title of a rap song I am thinking of writing called; temptation for resignation, but I don’t. Let me be real; yes, there are discouraging moments BUT I persist and push through. If I didn’t, I sure could not be here encouraging you to do the same!

The truth is, I have a love-hate relationship with fitness these days. No question, it is definitely a vital component of my lifestyle and always will be. Sure, I have days of feeling frustrated, no thanks to hormone havoc, injuries and setbacks, but quitting is simply not an option!

Finally, there is one more point or two, and I will go deeper into these in my next message, but to not completely cliff hang you (I hate when that happens while watching Better Call Saul or something, lol), I can say it is about consistency and intensity! However, I can also say with certainty that coming up on 4 decades of training, I do not define either one of those words like the majority perhaps does.

Fact is, if you want maximum results, you need to dial in and become focused on the consistency and intensity component as well. That is why you are here, right? For a higher standard for yourself, not to compete or compare with others, but to become the best and most desirable version of you possible, for you, first and foremost.

I will go deeper into those in my next message.

Do you have an epic binge story (I sure do!) that you want to share with me, or any confusing points about eating? Go ahead and hit reply, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for sharing some time with me, now be sure to get to your training if you haven’t already;-)

Susan

Talk soon!

With poise and power, 

Susan

How You Are Killing Your Metabolism Pt 1

Diet down to 1200 calories or 1800 calories? Keep your carbs very low… Does any of this sound familiar? That 1200 number that floats around as being your optimal daily calorie intake for weight loss; is it really??

How about “starve,” does that ring a bell? 

Your body has a calorie range based on your personal BMR/Basal Metabolic Rate that defines where you will gain or lose weight. This number indicates the minimum calories your body needs to adequately function. This is why all of the meal plans I include in my programs are based on your individual BMR.

If you consistently fall below the minimum limit your body needs to sustain basic functions, you will repeatedly cause some undeniable negative results:

1 – You will not lose weight.  If the scale moves at all, it will likely be muscle you are losing.  Of course, muscle is lean metabolically active tissue, so that is a massive backfire as far as losing fat. 

2 – You will not build any muscle.
Ouch, see point #1. Worse, you will continue to workout, maybe even harder to try and “push through”… See point #3 

3 – Your energy will be non-existent.  Your mood will crash and you will HATE dieting and develop a particular fear of carbs. Also, forget results; not happening!

“Lord, take me now, that is no way to live!”

What is even scarier? Through years of talking to women, I have discovered that for a shocking number of you, as in 80%, this is your “normal.”

Mood swings? Yeah. Add PMS? Oh, negative BONUS! As you enter your 40’s & 50’s toss in some menopause hormone havoc for added “excitement” and need I say more?

Constantly starving yourself like this is the enemy.  Eventually, you will binge and then you will feel even worse and then maybe do it all over again.

HOW MANY CALORIES?

If I asked you how many calories you eat and you were to answer me off the top of your head, would you know? What’s that number? 1200? Lower? 1800? Higher? Which is the right one for you?  I am not asking you to count calories, I never have (okay, maybe once when I was in my early 20’s). 

If I ever needed to “dial it in” for a show, I had someone else do it for me because…

A: I hate it and B:  I had no idea what to do with the information anyway because it is quite scientific. That is another thing the meal plans in my programs do; everything for you!

If your day looks like this:

Breakfast, maybe. If at all; a slice of toast, a teaspoon of peanut butter and half a banana. Maybe even “healthier” a protein shake (which may potentially be full of unhealthy additives) with some kind of powder in it. Seriously?

Lunch. When; 7 hours later? What; a “low carb salad?”

Dinner. Going healthy! Dry as the desert chicken, steamed broccoli, no butter, of course, just a squeeze of lemon, and a thumb-size baked potato.

Where are we by now on our total? MAYBE 1000 calories? And you got this idea from where… My Fitness Pal, Weight Watchers or some other diet fad like Keto, Paleo?  How on earth can you function or train with any consistency without ever breaking out of this cycle?

In my next message, I am going to tell you how I ate, especially when I was younger in my 30’s and early 40’s and it will probably STUN you! I will also tell you a bit about how I keep it all in check now in my 50’s.

If you did figure out your calorie totals for a typical day and want to share that with me, just send me an email or leave a comment below.
It would help if you include your weight and age as well. 

Talk soon!

With poise and power, 

Susan

What is Carrageenan? – The chemical hiding in your organic (and non-organic) foods.

If you’ve ever purchased store-bought almond or coconut milk, you may have noticed an ingredient called Carrageenan on the carton. This hard-to-pronounce little additive is the reason I make my own homemade almond milk and homemade coconut milk, but it seems that there is a lot of confusion when it comes to this little known ingredient.

What is Carrageenan?

According to the Google:
“Carrageenans or carrageenins are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds. They are widely used in the food industry, for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties.”

Edible seaweeds, like kelp and Nori, right? – Not so much…

The problem with Carrageenan

It is important to note that Carrageenan is not digestible and has no nutritional value. It is often used because it thickens and emulsifies products and it is often found even in organic and “natural” products.

It may seem that a simple product derived from seaweed should be non-menacing, and I wish it were. This article explains some of the potential problems:

“Although derived from a natural source, carrageenan appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: “Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. She says the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Her previous work showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, and she’s involved with ongoing research funded through the National Institutes of Health that is investigating carrageenan’s effect on ulcerative colitis and other diseases like diabetes.

The concern over food-grade carrageenan isn’t new. Beginning in the 1960s, researchers started linking the ingredient to gastrointestinal disease in lab animals, including ulcerative colitis, intestinal lesions, and colon cancer.”

Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine is one of the leading researchers in the field of digestive health sheds some interesting light on the topic:

“Dr. Tobacman said that her research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.

Dr. Tobacman also told the board that in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. And she reported further that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes.”

The Bottom Line

There is evidence that it can be harmful, especially if consumed regularly.
Many people report reacting strongly to Carrageenan with symptoms like digestive troubles, skin rashes, and other health problems.
The research is shaky on whether carrageenan is a carcinogen or not, but I’m yet to see any research touting its health benefits. Our family avoids it for this reason, especially as it is just used for thickening products and does not serve a nutritional purpose.

Katie  – The Wellness Mama Cookbook