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EXTREME FITNESS. SIMPLE EATING. SERIOUS RESULTS.

21 Day Fix EXTREME

Now there’s a program that makes losing weight so simple and easy to follow, you’ll never have to diet again! Introducing 21 Day Fix Extreme.

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What Is 21 Day Fix Extreme?

The original 21 Day Fix® was designed to make losing weight so simple . . . you never had to diet again. That’s why it became America’s #1 home fitness and nutrition program.

Now, Autumn Calabrese has created 21 Day Fix EXTREME, to get you seriously shredded in the shortest time possible. This breakthrough 21-day fitness and nutrition program combines simple portion control, clean eating, and extreme 30-minute workouts to help you finally get the lean, defined hardbody you’ve always wanted.

What makes 21 Day Fix EXTREME incredibly effective and unique?

You get seven EXTREME 30-minute workouts, one for each day of the week— so your mind never gets bored, and your body never adapts. The workouts feature a unique blend of steady-state aerobics, resistance training, and explosive power moves that target every muscle in the body—to help you get shredded fast.

For your nutrition, you’ll not only be practicing portion control—you’ll be eating ONLY clean foods. No treats. No cheats. No excuses. Plus, you’ll get Autumn’s all-new 21 Day Fix EXTREME recipes to help you achieve your very best results.

No other program has you eating this well and working this hard. But if you want a lean six-pack, cut arms, ripped shoulders, and toned legs . . . you have to take it up a notch. It’s going to take guts, intensity, and drive. But, it’s only 21 days.

You can do this.

Autumn Calabrese Is Your Personal Trainer

Autumn Calabrese is a celebrity fitness trainer, busy mom, and national-level bikini competitor. As creator of 21 Day Fix—the best-selling Beachbody® fitness program of 2014—this rising star in the fitness community has made a name for herself by helping people lose weight and get the bodies they’ve always wanted through simple portion control and working out consistently.

Holding personal training certificates from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA), she knows exactly what her clients need to eat and how they need to work out to achieve their best results. Autumn is the fitness specialist for ModernMom.com; she has appeared on the cover of Oxygen magazine; and her workouts have been featured in C magazine, LA Parent, The Palisadian- Post, and Daily Candy, as well as on TV shows like Home & Family.


EXTREME FITNESS. SIMPLE EATING. SERIOUS RESULTS.

How ‘Maxing Out’ Can Take Your Fitness to the Next Level

Max Out

 

Regardless of your fitness goals, the surest way to success is, ironically, failure.

That’s what research in recent years has revealed about the relationship between reps and results, which progress in sync with one another.

Momentary muscular fatigue—also known as training until failure or “maxing out”—simply demands performing movements until you can’t do them anymore. Rather than setting an arbitrary ceiling for yourself and hoping to, again arbitrarily, increase that ceiling over time, maxing out uses your body’s current capabilities to decide the variables (weight, reps, etc.), whether it’s high-intensity cardio, weight training or any combination of the two.

Once that ceiling is reached, you achieve failure, with the gains coming in the form of your body’s ability to go just a bit further the next time. “If you never fail at a set, you aren’t pushing hard enough,” says Steve Edwards, Vice President of Fitness and Nutrition at Beachbody.

But beyond a red-blooded sense of accomplishment, why is it important to press the limits? Edwards says, “Pushing towards failure is the only way to derive all of the benefits of a workout as it’s designed.” Most workouts, Edwards says, target energy systems, which, to be simplistic, are the physiological processes that facilitate the conversion of fuel into fitness. To make these systems more efficient—which is the very definition of fitness—Edwards says you’ve gotta fail.

“It’s the founding principle of all athletic training, or really, all physiological processes in the human body.”

insanity max

Turning it up to 11

Anaerobic activity (including interval and weight training) is designed around the body’s failure point in one of the aforementioned energy systems. In resistance training, this is represented by the amount of weight needed to fail at a given number of reps. In the case of cardiovascular workouts—most often interval training—this is represented by the use of body weight, speed, jumping and stopping to achieve failure.

“Training, philosophically, is about putting your body in environments that it’s not entirely adapted to,” says Dr. Marcus Elliott, Founder and Director of P3, a facility that applies scientific research to athletic performance. “Training to failure suggests taking your body as far as it can go. That is what your body responds to: being challenged.”

Resistance training has long been known to stimulate muscle growth, but recent research finds that there are diminishing returns to simply adding weight. A 2010 study commissioned by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council found that low-load, high-volume resistance exercise (i.e., less weight, more repetitions) is more effective at building muscle than high-weight, low-rep resistance training. The researchers determined that muscle growth is dependent not only on weight, but also the number of reps performed.

The result are greater strength, muscle endurance and, of course, mass. But the benefits aren’t limited solely to muscle development. “In addition to muscle adaptation,” says Elliott, “you also increase adaptive response to lactic acid,” the chemical that builds up in overworked muscles, creating that burning feeling. “When you take a workout to failure, you can become more efficient at utilizing lactate (lactic acid) as energy.”

Adapting to lactate means that, instead of gasping and vomiting during intense exercise, you breathe more easily. You also develop blood buffers, which help maintain a healthy blood pH and prevent nausea. “How that shows up in terms of fitness is if you’re climbing or on a run and the guy next to you is suffering and you’re not” explains Elliott.

While not all of the particulars explaining the effects of “maxing out” are clear, Dr. Francis Stephens at the UK’s University of Nottingham, says, “It likely has to do with metabolic and mechanical stress associated with fatigue within the muscle signaling for the adaptation.” Translation: burn it down.


30 minutes. INSANE results.

 

Fail, recover, repeat

A vital component here is rest (also known as recovery). The harder the workout, the more muscle fiber and neuron groupings—known as motor units—are recruited. Outside of long-distance running, most workouts target the moderate and high motor units. The more those units are recruited, the more recovery is required.

“This is why almost all training is broken into microcycles (weekly training schedule) and macrocycles (longer schedules) so that your recovery is properly balanced between your training,” says Edwards. That explains why weight training is staggered by muscle group and why very intensive training (plyometrics, et al) is done only once per week.

Edwards says there was a time when professionals were afraid to use programs like high intensity interval training (HIIT) with out-of-shape subjects. “This started changing in the early ’90s as studies began on highly deconditioned people and saw them respond much quicker to HIIT than traditional low-level aerobic work.” That means the only people to whom maxing out doesn’t apply are those with an injury or physical limitation that might prohibit it.

Still, Edwards advises that maxing out should constitute the bulk of training for most people. As he says trainers always say, “Failure is not an option.”

PiYo Diet: Get the excess fat off you!

Piyo Kickstart

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Piyo is the new sensation for those who look for a stunning figure now. Introduced by Chalene Johnson, this plan is keenly created to get the leaner and thinner body shape out from all ages and genders of people. Is it easy? Well, that’s what Chalene says. Just by inculcating good food habits and a 25 minutes workout in a day, you will be able to define your body in a way you have always wanted to. Isn’t it wonderful?

Why Piyo diet?

Piyo diet is more of a clean and computed way of your food intake. This is much defined so that you take what you need. You can even eat what you want but the quantity is something that really should be thought upon. The most exciting news is that, you do not have to spend half day in cooking these low fat foods. They are all ready tasty foods, which are going to work fantastic on your body.

What should I eat while I am on Piyo diet?

Almost anything you want, but just be careful of how much to eat. That’s the only check here, to get into a stunning figure of lean body, flat tummy and powerful abs and muscles.

It’s a basic rule that makes this program so effective that, portion eating always helps in flat tummy. This is how you make the portions.

· Breakfast

· AM Snack

· Lunch

· PM Snack

· Dinner

Another point to ensure is to start your day early and finish it early, for a good physique.

Here is a menu of Piyo diet for a week:

Breakfast:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

¼ cup of oat meal + cup of blueberries+ 2 Half Boiled eggs

Tuesday and Thursday

2 Eggs, 1 cup Spinach, 2 tb spoon Avacado.

AM Snacks:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Cucumbers, peppers (1 cup), 2 tb spoon Avacado

Tuesday and Thursday

Apple, 1 1/2 tbsp. of PB, Fat free yogurt ( 1 cup)

Lunch: 

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Shakeology plus almond milk Plus 1/2 banana

Tuesday and Thursday

Shakeology plus almond milk and 1/2 banana

PM Snack:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

1 cup broccoli, 1 cup carrots, 2 tbsp. hummus

Tuesday and Thursday

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cucumbers plus 1 tbsp. hummus

Dinner:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

4oz. seasoned chicken or tilapia and 10 asparagus or summer squash

Tuesday and Thursday

3 oz. Pork Tenderloin or Steak, 1/2 cup sweet potato, Eggplant

You can get creative during Saturdays and Sundays make your own recipes of low fat yet tasty food, to satisfy your taste buds. We are not aiming at starving in this plan but we are trying to limit our diet so that we can eat more often than more quantity. Eating more often in small quantities always helps in fastened metabolism. This is the best advantage of this program that you get all the benefits of a strict starving diet system but you actually fill yourself more times than ever. Isn’t that amazing?

You can use more green vegetables and low fat yogurt in case if you don’t feel full. Adding more vegetables and vitamin c fruits will give you more energy spontaneously and you will have the instant energy but not the stubborn fat. So go for it today, to feel the magic!

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Carbs: A Love Story

CarbsNosh On

You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman watching her weight who doesn’t think that carbs are evil. Between diet books like Grain Brain, Wheat Belly, and Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat, it’s no wonder we’re not only terrified of croissants, we’re also pretty sure we shouldn’t be eating whole wheat anything either. But here’s a secret the authors of those best sellers don’t want you to know: You need carbs. In fact, eliminating them could harm your health and make you miss out on one of the most effective ways to stay slim. “Carbs should make up the majority of your diet, especially if you’re active,” says Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RD, a sports dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We cut through the confusion so you can welcome back carbs with open (sculpted) arms.

What Are Carbs, Exactly?

They’re nutrients that break down into glucose, your body’s primary source of energy, and tons of foods contain them. “Carbs get a bad rap, but we need them to keep our brain working and our heart pumping,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, the author of The Miracle Carb Diet.

Not all carbs are created equal, however. Naturally occurring sugars like fructose in fruit and lactose in dairy, sugars that are added to foods, and refined grains such as white rice are broken down quickly by your body. That means they provide almost-instant energy, but it doesn’t last. And unless they’re bundled with other nutrients, like the fiber in an apple or the protein in yogurt, they’re basically empty calories. Other carbs, such as those found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes, take longer to digest, so you get a steadier supply of energy.

“Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread can be very high in calories,” Pritchett says. “But many foods that contain carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.” Others fall somewhere in between: Whole grains contain a lot of nutrients and calories, while low-fat dairy has a medium amount of both. The bottom line: Cut down on added sugar and refined grains and consider all other carbs fair game.

If Carbs Are So Great, Why Is Everyone on a Low-Carb Diet?

Well, it’s easy to overdo it on certain carbs. When you eat any type of carb, your body releases insulin to help you regulate an increase in blood sugar. But your system processes refined carbs so quickly that your blood sugar may dip, setting off an “eat more” signal in your brain.

The problem is, cutting out all carbs can hamper your weight-loss efforts, especially if you’re active. “They’re our primary energy source during exercise, and we can’t get to the same level of intensity if we’re carb depleted,” Pritchett says. She recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs, depending on how much cardio you do (aerobic activity requires more carbs than Pilates, for example). “You need 130 grams a day just for your brain to function, and active women should aim for between 200 and 300 grams,” she explains.

Skimp on carbs and you’ll also miss out on important nutrients, Zuckerbrot says. “Many of the vitamins and minerals we need come from fruits and vegetables, so cutting these out can lead to deficiencies.” And your mood could suffer, too: A yearlong study found that people on a low-carb diet reported feeling angrier and more depressed than those on a low-fat diet did.

Carbs: Decoded

Why Do I Crave Carbs When I’m Tired or Sad?

They provide the quickest blood sugar boost, and your brain knows that, says Wendy Bazilian, RD, a coauthor of The SuperFoodsRx Diet. They also help your body produce the hormone serotonin, which balances your emotions and gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling (hey, macaroni and cheese is called comfort food for a reason).

The good news: Just because it’s a craving doesn’t mean it’s bad. “High-fiber carbs can help increase serotonin without wrecking your diet,” Zuckerbrot says. Add healthy fats and protein and they’ll keep your blood sugar steady too.

Should I Eat Carbs Before My Workout?

To kill it at the gym, yes. Bazilian suggests eating half a piece of whole-grain toast or half a banana 45 to 60 minutes before your workout. “The idea is to provide your body with easily digestible energy far enough in advance that your workout isn’t interrupted by the digestion process,” she says. (There’s no need to nosh if you’re exercising for less than 60 minutes within a couple of hours after a meal and don’t feel hungry.)

If you have a marathon or triathlon coming up, carb loading can help you store extra fuel and fluid in your muscles, explains Kim Larson, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But don’t pig out on pasta the night before or you’ll feel weighed down during the main event. “You want to increase your carbohydrate intake by up to 100 grams a day — about an extra three servings — starting three days before the big event,” Larson says.

Could I Become Addicted to Carbs?

It’s possible. Recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that study subjects who drank a super-sugary milk shake showed increased activity in their nucleus accumbens, the “pleasure center” in the brain that regulates reward and addiction, four hours afterward. In other words, eating the wrong kind of carbs can become a vicious cycle, Bazilian explains, because your body gets a rush and then crashes, leaving you craving a fix.

Breaking the cycle can be hard, but it’s definitely not impossible. Instead of trying to cut out treats entirely (as if!), combine something sweet, like dark chocolate chips or dried apricots, with something containing healthy protein and fats — think roasted almonds or Greek yogurt — to balance the sugar and slow digestion.

And while the occasional handful of pretzels or side of steamed white rice won’t hurt you, make most of your grains whole.

Your Daily Bread

So what does the right amount of carbohydrates look like? Use this sample menu as a guide. It adds up to nearly 215 grams of carbs, about the ideal amount for an active woman who’s taking in 1,800 calories a day.

Breakfast (43g carbs): Whole wheat English muffin with 1 slice Swiss cheese and 1 egg scrambled with 1 cup spinach + 1/2 grapefruit

Lunch (72g carbs): Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cucumber + 6 ounces low-fat yogurt with 1/2 small peach, diced

Snack (15g carbs): Apple + low-fat string cheese

 

Dinner (51g carbs): 2 fish tacos made with corn tortillas, shredded cabbage and mango salsa + small side black beans

Dessert (32g carbs): 1/2 cup light ice cream with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

It’s All Good — Really

No carb is off-limits, but some are better than others. Here’s how much of each type you should be eating daily.

Starches and Whole Grains: 6 servings

  • 1/2 cup corn or peas
  • 1 potato
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas or lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown rice or whole-grain pasta
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread

 

Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings

  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup leafy greens
  • 12 baby carrots

 

Fruit: 3 to 4 servings

  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup berries

 

Dairy: 2 to 3 servings

  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 ounces reduced-fat cheddar

 

Refined grains: no more than 2 servings (count toward your starches)

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 1 plain bagel

 

Treats: no more than 1 serving

  • 2 squares dark chocolate
  • 1 small cookie

PiYo Workout: Don’t Buy It Until You Read This!

What is PiYo Workout?

piyo3

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As PiYo quickly gains popularity among the public, one question is being frequently asked; what is PiYo workout? The answer to this is quite simple. It is a low-impact, full-body, athletic workout brought to us by Chalene Johnson, directed at all individuals regardless of their age and fitness level.
PiYo combines Pilates, yoga and several dynamic exercises, to achieve a workout session that targets different muscles in the body. Each session lasts for between 25-45 minutes and is set to music, yet requires no weights or jumping motions. The overall aim of the workout is to develop strong, toned and lean muscles, build endurance, burn up fat and improve agility.

Below is a list of the 8 different workouts included:
1. Align- 46 minutes
2. Define: Upper body- 35 minutes
3. Define: Lower body- 25 minutes
4. Sweat- 35 minutes
5. Core- 30 minutes
6. Drench- 40 minutes
7. Strength intervals- 25 minutes
8. Sculpt- 30 minutes

When undertaking the aforementioned workouts, you should expect to exercise the following parts of your body.

LOWER BODY
1. PiYo lower body workouts target your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes, and purpose to define and tone these areas with the intention of giving you lean leg muscles.

CORE AND BACK
1. A powerful core, chiseled back and sculpted abs is the dream of every individual working out. That is why PiYo makes use of core workouts, which eliminate fat and build muscles on these areas of your body.

UPPER BODY
1. You can always pinpoint a person who works out by examining the condition of their arms, shoulders and triceps.
2. Upper body workouts aim to define these 3 features, through strengthening and stretching the muscles located on your torso.

WHOLE BODY
There are several PiYo workout exercises that cater to your body in its entirety.

1. To begin with we have the Align workout that aims to educate you on the fundamental techniques involved in the PiYo workout, with the aim of familiarizing your body with the techniques undertaken throughout the workout. The goal of Align is to give each individual the tools needed to take full advantage of the program.
2. We also have another full-body workout in the form of Sculpt. This intense workout helps you achieve greater muscle endurance and a faster metabolism through the use of differently paced exercises, and in the process reshapes your figure.
3. The drench workout is a sweat inducing endurance exercise session that involves each muscle in your body. What you attain out of this exercise is a reduction in your fat deposits and a quick increase in your metabolic rate.
4. We also have the sweat workout which should not be confused with the drench workout listed above. This traditional PiYo workout has a fast tempo, and makes use of dynamic conditioning, ab workouts, cardio yoga flows and body weight resistance strength training to achieve a chiseled physique.
5. Unlike the workouts listed above, the strength intervals workout is designed to tone your muscles and burn your calories in a short period of time. This is done by making use of fast paced dynamic exercises, as opposed to weights.

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6 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

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Diet Mistakes Causing Your Weight-Loss Plateau

Food journal? Check. Regular workouts? Yes, indeed. Enough fiber to keep an entire army regular? You got it. I know how to lose weight. I’ve been writing about the topic for more than a decade. That’s why it was so frustrating when the pounds clung to me like a codependent boyfriend, no matter how hard I tried. A lot of women have this problem, the experts tell me. “Body weight can fluctuate by up to five pounds on any given day, so the amount you shed can easily get lost,” says Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, the author of Why You Can’t Lose Weight. I combed through research and grilled diet gurus to pinpoint little-known reasons that your efforts — and mine — haven’t been showing up on the scale. Who knew?

You Don’t Drink Enough Water

We’ve all heard how important H2O is when it comes to shedding pounds. It helps to suppress appetite, so you’re less likely to overeat. But that’s not all: When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can’t function properly, so the body turns to the liver for additional support. Because the liver is working so hard, more of the fat you consume is stored rather than burned off.

What surprised me most, though, is that if you’re upping your fiber intake but not also hitting the bottle hard, things tend to get a wee bit, er, backed up. “It’s important to add fiber gradually and increase water intake at the same time. Otherwise, instead of helping with digestion, fiber may actually lead to constipation,” notes Anna-Lisa Finger, RD, a personal trainer for the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. I often consume nearly double the recommended 25 grams of fiber daily. Gulp.

Just how much water should I be drinking? “About one-half your body weight in ounces every day, especially if you’re exercising,” Dr. Smith says. So the eight-cups-a-day rule applies only to sedentary women who weigh 128 pounds (sure as hell not me!). “If you consume an aggressive amount of fiber, another eight to 16 ounces a day is a good idea,” Dr. Smith adds. H2OMG! That amount of liquid — for me, 12 cups a day, minimum — requires serious effort. I fill up with about a liter at each meal, and I’m a peeing machine.

You Skimp on Protein

Several studies show that high-protein diets result in more pounds shed, at least initially. Protein enhances the feeling of satiety and prevents your losing muscle as you lose fat. You also have dietary thermogenesis, which is the energy you burn to process and use the food you eat, on your side. “Your body expends more energy to metabolize protein than carbs or fat,” says Cari Coulter, RD, the program director for Wellspring Weight Loss Camp in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “So higher-protein diets make you burn slightly more calories.”

So how much protein do I need a day? “It depends on your weight, but most women should get 40 to 80 grams,” Dr. Smith says. To accomplish that, I have Greek yogurt (18 grams) or a couple of eggs (13 grams) for breakfast, and I eat a few ounces of lean poultry (25 grams) or fish (22 grams) or a heaping helping of black beans (15 grams) or lentils (18 grams) at lunch and dinner. I snack on a handful of raw almonds (6 grams). As a result, I feel fuller — sometimes so full I don’t even sneak a bite of my son’s ice cream (the way I used to whether I was hungry or not) — so it’s easier to keep daily calories in check.

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More Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

You Sit at a Desk All Day

I log a solid hour of exercise almost every day, but outside of that, my time is mostly spent sitting in front of a computer. Much to my dismay, research finds that dedicated workouts simply can’t compensate for being sedentary the rest of the time. According to one University of Missouri-Columbia study, sitting for just a few hours causes your body to stop making a fat-inhibiting enzyme called lipase. Getting up and walking for just two minutes during each of those hours burns an additional 59 calories a day, according to recent research from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Experts recommend setting a timer on the computer to remind you to move every hour, but what’s helped me is the Fitbit One ($100, fitbit.com). I keep this activity tracker clipped to my bra 24-7, and I won’t go to bed until I’ve logged 10,000 steps a day. To accomplish that, I heed some of those recommendations we’ve all heard a million times (“Take the stairs instead of the elevator,” “Park far away from the mall”). I even jog in place while brushing my teeth and watching TV. At first my husband and son laughed their skinny little butts off at me, but now seeing me hopping around the living room strikes them as normal. Walks are part of my family’s evening routine, and “How many steps do you have now?” has become the new “Are we there yet?” I’ve even given Fitbits to friends and family as gifts so we can see who takes the most steps. Move-more mission: accomplished.

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Your Numbers Are Off

I’ve always considered myself a math whiz, so I assumed that I had the whole calories-in, calories-out formula down pat. Here’s how I determined how many I should eat a day: I got my basal metabolic rate (BMR, or the amount of calories I need to maintain my weight) using the online calculator at fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/bmr, and I entered “moderate” for my activity level, because I exercise regularly. That gave me about 2,400 calories a day. Then I added whatever calories I burn during my workouts (usually about 500), according to my heart-rate monitor. That meant I could eat almost 3,000 calories a day without gaining a pound (or nearly 2,500 a day to lose a pound a week). Sure, it seemed high, but I had used a calculator. It had to be right!

Not so fast, Coulter says. “The BMR calculator already factors in the calories you burn with your workouts, so you shouldn’t add them in again,” she explains. Math club membership revoked! All this time I had thought my daily needs were 500 calories higher than they really were. No wonder I’d been maintaining instead of losing.

You Work Out Regularly

I know, I know. How can an exercise routine make you gain? For starters, people tend to eat more when they work out, either because they feel they’ve earned it or because they’re overestimating how much they’ve burned — or both. “This is especially true in the early stages of a fitness program, when your body is getting used to the decrease in calories consumed and the increase in calories burned,” Finger says. (Read: You’re freaking hungry.)

But here’s the real shocker: Working out can make you retain water. “To ensure that you don’t get dehydrated, the plasma in your bloodstream will store an extra two to four pounds of water,” explains Michele S. Olson, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. “You’ll always carry that extra water unless you become inactive; it’s not fat or muscle, but simply superhydration. It’s a good thing.” It’s also a good thing to keep chugging H2O, which can, counterintuitively, help minimize additional water retention. So I’ll take Olson’s advice and stay active, well-hydrated…and off the scale.

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You’re a Stress Case

I’m a lot like the lab rats — and humans — who turn to comfort food and pack on pounds when they’re under duress. “The stress hormone cortisol triggers the fight-or-flight response, which is an appetite stimulant,” Dr. Smith says. “In addition, it steps up the production of a certain brain chemical, neuropeptide Y, which increases cravings for carbohydrates.”

Even when I don’t give in to cravings, stress can stall my slim-down. “Too much cortisol slows metabolism,” Dr. Smith says. “Even worse, excessive stress causes fat to be stored in the abdominal area, where weight is harder to lose.” Ugh! I can practically feel my belly expanding every time I have a meltdown over something, including my weight-loss efforts.

Luckily, a lot of the things I’m doing to whittle my middle should also ease my angst. “Exercise reduces stress,” Dr. Smith notes. “Balanced, nutritious meals can repair the damage that stress does to the body, and a social support network also helps.” So my team of Fitbit-wearing friends and fam is helping me beat belly bloat in more ways than one.

Get Weight-Loss Results

Scale Serenity

It’s been three months since I embarked on this adventure, and I’ve lost 12 pounds — a solid pound a week. I’ve increased my water and protein intake, I move more throughout the day, and I’m trying to stress less. But one of the best things I’ve done has been — go figure — not weighing myself, at least for a little while, as Olson suggested. I was tempted in the beginning, but I stuck to my scale embargo for a month. Now I weigh in weekly, but the fluctuations don’t bother me. Really. Because I know I’m creating a daily calorie deficit, and I’ve found other ways to measure my progress (see “Beyond the Numbers,” below). I know the fat is coming off, no matter what the scale says. I feel enlightened — in more ways than one.

Beyond the Numbers

When the scale bums you out, here are three other ways to gauge your progress.

How do your clothes fit? Try on the same pair of jeans and shirt every six to eight weeks.

How do you feel? You should have more energy, sleep better, and feel less stressed.

How much can you do? Keep a workout log and track how much weight you can lift and how many miles you can walk or run.

 

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10 Popular Diet Tips to Ignore

people working out on treadmills

If you’ve ever tried to lose a few pounds, you’ve probably been inundated with diet tips. But take them all with a grain of salt—some advice may sound legit but can actually derail your diet. Here are 10 tips you don’t want to follow.

BAD ADVICE: Choose fat-free or sugar-free foods
BETTER ADVICE: Don’t believe the hype. “They usually use fat and sodium to replace sugar, and sugar to replace fat—or chemicals to replace both,” says Denis Faye, Beachbody’s nutrition expert. And Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and author of the upcoming book, The 1:1:1 Diet, adds, “Removing fat from a food makes it less satiating, so you ultimately may end up eating more.” Stick with the original versions, and watch your portions or better yet, eat more unprocessed foods.

BAD ADVICE: No cheating ever!
BETTER ADVICE: Relax your diet rules, and you’ll be more likely to stick it out long-term. “If 80% of your diet is tight, then 20% can be a party,” Faye says. “It keeps you from getting stressed—and stress is a huge obstacle in weight loss.” Just plan your splurges ahead of time so you’re not giving in to every temptation that crosses your plate.

BAD ADVICE: Stop snacking.
BETTER ADVICE: Choose snacks that offer a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats—like apples with peanut butter, or carrots with hummus. “A healthy snack can help maintain steady blood sugar levels, which keeps your appetite in check and your energy stable,” Batayneh says. Skipping a snack can cause your blood sugar to dip, leaving you moody and famished—and more likely to overeat at mealtime.

BAD ADVICE: Don’t eat fruit—it’s full of sugar.
BETTER ADVICE: Let fruit satisfy your sweet tooth. “Yes, fresh produce is full of sugar and carbs,” Faye says. “But sugar itself is not the enemy. Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals; it’s also rich in fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar. I’ve never met a human being who got fat because of bananas.” When you’re craving sugar, there’s no debate that a handful of grapes is healthier than a hot fudge sundae.

BAD ADVICE: If it’s organic, it’s good for you.
BETTER ADVICE: According to the USDA, organic food is produced without antibiotics, growth hormones, conventional pesticides, and synthetic ingredients.1 The problem is that many people assume organic foods are all low in calories, too, which isn’t necessarily true. Don’t get us wrong—we’d rather eat food that doesn’t resemble a science experiment. But, Faye cautions, “You need to use common sense. If it’s bad for you with conventional ingredients, it’s still bad for you when it’s organic.” A cookie is a cookie, no matter how all-natural it is.

BAD ADVICE: Calories in, calories out—it doesn’t matter what you eat.
BETTER ADVICE: What you’re eating matters. Compare a 100-calorie candy bar to 100 calories of avocado—the latter is packed with nutrients and has healthy fats and fiber to keep you full. Or compare 50 calories of spinach (about seven cups) to 50 calories of ice cream (about two tablespoons). To feel full when you’re cutting calories, look for foods loaded with water and fiber, like veggies or broth-based soups. Plus, “Hormones have a huge impact on our health. Junk food can trigger bad hormonal responses that, over time, can lead to all kinds of problems, including weight gain,” Faye says. Occasionally, someone will pop up in the news claiming they lost a ton of weight while eating nothing but Subway, Starbucks, or Snickers bars—but don’t put too much stock in those success stories. “When you go that route, you’re not educating yourself,” Faye says. “It’s like the teach-a-man-to-fish adage. If you give someone a gimmicky diet, they might lose weight for now; but provide them with knowledge, and they can be healthy for life.”

BAD ADVICE: Try XYZ Extreme Diet—it works for everyone!
BETTER ADVICE: Find a plan that works for you. Gender, age, genetics, metabolism, and lifestyle can all play a role in weight loss—so even if a fad diet has worked for others, that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same results. “There’s no single diet that works for everyone; our biochemical needs are different,” Faye says. Talk to a dietitian or nutrition consultant to find a long-term eating strategy that is tailor-fit to you.

BAD ADVICE: When in doubt, order the salad.
BETTER ADVICE: Choose your greens wisely. Leafy greens and vegetables may be virtuous, but not if they’re slathered in creamy dressing and topped with bacon, candied nuts, croutons, deli meats, or cheese. “Fatty fixings can add hundreds of calories to your meal, and sometimes contain more calories than that juicy burger!” Batayneh says. Salad can be a healthy choice, but order dressing on the side and limit the add-ons.

BAD ADVICE: Don’t exercise—it’ll only make you hungrier.
BETTER ADVICE: Get moving—an hour-long workout isn’t going to make you suck down calories like Michael Phelps. “Exercise isn’t just for losing weight—it improves your cardiovascular health and strengthens your bones,” Faye says. You might feel hungrier while recovering from a grueling workout, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to pack on pounds. “As long as you’re eating clean, your body is amazing at self-regulating,” Faye adds. “It should crave the calories you need to fuel your workouts, not to get fat.”

BAD ADVICE: Treat yourself for a job well done!
BETTER ADVICE: Rethink your reward system. After an intense workout, you may feel like you’ve earned a cocktail or cupcake. But splurging after every workout can quickly undo all your hard work. If you’ve been good all week, go ahead and grab a guilt-free beer on Friday. But, Faye says, “Don’t let every workout become a Pavlovian thing where you need to eat cake afterwards.” After all, the best reward for a killer workout is getting one step closer to the body you want.

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Autumn Calabrese’s Tips on How to Stop Making Excuses

Autumn Calabrese with portion containers

Autumn’s a petite Italian mom from Cleveland, but don’t underestimate the trainer behind the 21 Day Fix. This single mom with more than 10 years of personal training under her belt has gotten countless clients where they want to go—whether that meant losing ten pounds, a hundred pounds, or getting their body back after becoming a mom.

She’s in amazing shape now, but as a teenager, she struggled with her weight and still battles cravings, a tight schedule, and mornings when she just doesn’t feel like working out. Get ready to be inspired by the story of our newest trainer and find out how to stop making excuses and start seeing results.

 

Ok, let’s cut right to the chase. Have you always looked like a model?
No. When I was a teenager, I was that girl with frizzy hair and braces who got picked on all the time…I don’t want people to look at me and think, oh you don’t know, it’s so easy for you. Because there was a time when it wasn’t.

Autumn Calabrese Working Out

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When did that change?

I started dancing when I was in eighth grade. At first, it was one or two classes a week, but the next year my teacher wanted me competing, which meant I had to take a certain number of classes a week; the more classes I took, the more I wanted to take. Our teacher would talk to us about healthy eating and not drinking soda and that sort of thing so that we could give our best performances. I remember I cut soda out and three weeks after I did it, I walked into dance class one day and everyone stopped and was like, what the heck? They noticed it overnight. I lost five or six pounds, which on my frame, is a lot! But, they would never talk about you should be “this skinny” or say “you’re too fat.” I think that made a huge impact on how I work with people. My big philosophy is learning how to eat clean and enjoying everything in moderation.

 

How do your experiences as a teenager influence your training style?
I’m not the trainer that is going to scream at somebody and be like, do it, do it, do it. I’m never going to put someone down. I’m always going to be the cheerleader for you and encourage you to reach your goals. I’ve been there. I was the underdog.

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How did you get into personal training?
I came to Los Angeles wanting to act and dance. But, I have a bulging disc in my lower spine so I still couldn’t dance as much as I wanted to. I could book a commercial, but I could never book a tour. I could never be on Broadway because my back couldn’t handle that. I pursued acting and have my SAG card and did a commercial here and there, but I was waiting tables the whole time. I waited tables from the time I was 16 to the time I was 25, and was burnt out. I needed to figure out something else to do. I didn’t want to sit at a desk, but I didn’t want to teach dance either. I didn’t want to get burnt out on it. I looked into personal training certifications, got certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and started training. Then a couple years later, I became pre- and post-natal certified.

Autumn Calabrese Working Out

 

Speaking of which, you’re a mom. Was it hard for you to lose the baby weight after having your son?

There was a point when I hit a plateau and I was like, OK, this is a bummer, but I stopped making it about the weight and made it about challenging myself in other ways. Could I lift just a little bit heavier? If I was out for a run, could I run a little bit further or a little bit faster? Could I put the baby in the stroller and push him because that’s going to give me more resistance? The weight ended up coming off and I ended up five pounds lighter than before I got pregnant.

 

Did you try and stay fit when you were pregnant?
I worked out throughout my entire pregnancy. I was in the gym in the morning and went into labor that night. I still gained 36 pounds during my pregnancy and I had a C-section. My goal was to get the baby weight off in 12 weeks, but first I had to recover from the C-section, so it wasn’t like I could go back to working out the day I got home. But, the one thing I could do was go back to my healthy eating. I was breast-feeding so I made sure I was eating enough for myself and for him, but I made healthy choices. When I could get back to working out, I did.

 

Wasn’t that hard? How did you make the time?
This is the one time you’ll see the tougher side of me. I don’t have patience for excuses. I’ve had a C-section, I’ve had a hernia, and I have a bulging disc in my lower back. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked 12-hour days. And it wasn’t like I only worked out with my clients. I had to find time in between being a single mom. And I still do it. And you can too. You can either make excuses, or you can make results. How bad do you want it? What are you really willing to sacrifice? Yes, there are sacrifices. Yes, there are mornings I don’t want to go to the gym. There are times I’d rather eat chocolate cake than broccoli. But, at the end of the day, I love feeling good about myself. I love having energy to keep up with my son. I love when I put on my jeans and they fit or when I put on a tight dress and it looks good.

 

You’re making me want to work out right now. Where did the idea for the 21 Day Fix come from?
Autumn Calabrese Working OutI started working for Brooke Burke’s site Modern Mom and picked up some celebrity clients. Then two years ago, I had the “aha” moment that I needed to develop something for my clients where they’re going to understand the nutrition side. I was saying, eat three or four or five ounces of chicken. But no one wanted to go get the scale and measure it. I finally sat down with a nutritionist and started brainstorming. We broke down the food groups and came up with 13 different container sizes to fit them. One of my goals was to not eliminate food but teach you how to integrate foods without overdoing it. The goal isn’t to be perfect. The goal isn’t to not enjoy life. Everyone has to have a glass of wine at some point and a girl’s got to have a piece of chocolate. But, the goal is not to do it every single day.

America’s problem is we overeat everything…even the healthy stuff.

 

Not the lack of exercise?
It’s both, but I think at the end of the day, in terms of your weight, it’s more about what you eat. If you’re eating healthy and you’re in the right calorie zone, you should be at your proper weight. Exercise will improve your muscles, your flexibility, and your endurance, keep the weight down, and change the appearance of your body. But I see it all the time. Those people who go to the gym five to six days a week but don’t eat right are all still overweight. They look the same as they did three years ago. I think looking like you’re strong and fit looks better than skinny fat.

 

What is your cheat food?
I am usually a cookie or a chocolate person. But, I’ve gone so long now without it that when I have it, the sugar rush is too intense. I get headaches and feel nauseous. But, if it’s that time of the month, I want sweets and every so often a piece of pizza, though I don’t eat dairy anymore. But, to be perfectly honest, I don’t keep crap in my house. I know what my weaknesses are. I know if you catch me in a bad emotional state and there are Oreos in the house, I’m not eating one—I’m eating the entire row. I’ll feel sick later and I’ll make myself pay for it in the gym, but if it’s there, I’m going to eat it. And if it’s not there, I’m not going to get in the car, drive to the store, and buy it. So I might go to bed angry about it and be like, I wish I had some damn chocolate, but I’ll get over it.

 

OK, back to the containers. How do they help?
Autumn Calabrese Working OutWe kept them pretty simple. People don’t have time to cook gourmet meals, so I based a lot of it on how I had to prep for competition. At the very beginning, it was chicken and Mrs. Dash, 5 meals a day. I was like, OK, I can have turkey, I can have steak, I can have fish. I can buy all the different Mrs. Dash seasonings instead of the same one. Or I can make a stir-fry out of it, I use oil and Mrs. Dash flavors instead of soy sauce. I’ve gotten creative, but it takes time. In the beginning, it was like, the recipe says chicken, I’m making chicken.

 

Some people who might want to do the 21 Day Fix have a lot of weight to lose. Any thoughts on how they can get a good start and then stay motivated?
The biggest thing is to have a support system around you. Have that conversation where you say to your household: This is important to me. I’m trying to make a change. I’m not forcing you to do it, but I need your support. Please don’t try to push me to have things I’m not supposed to have. Or, if you’re the head of the household, you just say, This is what we’re doing. I think it’s important for parents to lead by example. But, at the end of the day, you have to make the commitment to yourself and the only person you have to report to is yourself. That’s a switch that you individually have to figure out how to turn on. Until you can, your weight is going to fluctuate up and down and you’ll find excuses. It’s 21 days. See where you get in 21 days. You may not be perfect. You might cheat. You might have setbacks. But you also can’t let those determine how the rest of the future looks. If you cheat, acknowledge it, figure out what triggered it, and get right back on the horse.

 

One of the things I loved about the 21 Day Fix was how awesome my legs and butt looked after three weeks. Why the emphasis on the lower body?
The biggest muscle groups are in the lower body, so that’s where you’ll get the biggest calorie burn. Second, it’s important to be balanced in your upper and lower body. And, finally, I’m a leg girl. I’m a dancer. I think strong, toned legs are sexy and appealing. And, a guy with scrawny legs? Come on! You’re out. Out! I shouldn’t be able to squat more than you.

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Lose belly fat

It takes an all-round, holistic approach to health to get a flat tummy

shiftign that muffin top and belly fat can be a real issue. If you fidn that you slim down quite easily and feel fit yet still struggle with that stubborn paunch, it might be time to approach your quest for a flat tum from a few different angles.

While tummy and core exercises like crunches, planks and leg raises will certainly help to define and tone the mid-section, they alone don’t eliminate the fat. So how can you melt away that layer of fat and reveal those abs underneath?

  • Sleep

Could having a flat belly be as easy as laying in bed? In a way, yes! Health coach and founder of Definitive Health, James Driscoll, emphasises the effect that hormones have on belly fat: ‘Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people make poorer food choices and crave high-energy, calorie-dense snacks in an attempt to boost energy levels,’ he explains. ‘Important hormones are released during deep sleep, too, which aid muscle repair, detoxify the body and increase fat burn; directly impacting your physique.’

Make sure you’re getting enough good-quality sleep – 8 hours at least. If you have trouble drifting off, set aside some time to unwind before bed. ‘Drink valerian tea, dim the lights and avoid electronics one hour before bed,’ advises James. ‘Develop an evening ritual that works for you.’

  • Eat
A healthy, balanced diet is crucial to keep belly fat at bay. Watching what you eat is just as important as how much you’re eating, so make sure you’re getting the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. ‘High-protein diets have been scientifically proven to promote greater fat loss and keep you feeling fuller for longer,’ says James. ‘Aim to eat 2 grams of protein a day per kilogram of bodyweight, and include protein with every meal. Steer clear of sugar, which switches fat burn off completely – stick to 50-70 grams of carbohydrates a day, choosing those that are low-GI such as quinoa and fibrous green vegetables. Avoid starchy carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and potatoes. Avocado, oily fish, nuts, coconut oil and hemp oil are good ideas for quality fat sources.’
  • Exercise

To torch the fat that’s hiding your toned tum, you need to adopt an intense fat-burning approach to exercise that targets the whole body, not just your stomach. Check out our workouts section for plenty of whole-body fat-burning routines.

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How to get rid of your muffin top

Got some extra weight hanging around your middle? Use our diet and exercise tips to beat that stubborn muffin top

That weight around your middle sure can be stubborn to shift. Anyone who’s tried to get rid of their muffin top can vouch for how difficult it is to get rid of. If you want to tackle your wobbly tum and sides, or just want to tone up your middle area, use these tips along with a healthy diet (think nutrient-dense veg, high-quality protein and LOTS of water) and you might be on to a winner…

Rounded tum:
Get good abs with… crunches and a clean diet!
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent at a 90o angle. Think of creating a concave stomach by pulling you belly button in towards your spine and then curl your truck up, keeping your head and neck tall and in line with your body. Keep pulling your navel in towards your spine during the whole movement. Do three sets of 25 reps.

Baby belly:
Target your baby belly with… the tummy tucker.
Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor and your hands on your abs. Take a deep breath in, exhale, and then draw your navel in to your spine, aiming to pull your belly button into the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Do one set of 5 reps, working up to 15.

Love handles:
Target love handles with… a one-legged plank hydrant.
Get into the plank with your hands on the floor. Pull one of your knees close to your chest then, without touching the floor, push your leg back out and up so it’s behind you at a 45o angle. Hold for two seconds, then bring the leg back into your chest. Do two sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Belly button fat:
Relieve stress and tone up with… the downward dog to plank sequence.
Start on all fours, with your wrists slightly in front of your shoulders. Separate your knees to hip-width apart and curl your toes under. Exhale, then lift your knees off the floor, reach your sit bones toward the ceiling, and straighten your legs in a downward dog position, pushing through your heels. Hold for five slow breaths. Inhale, then shift your weight forward into plank, with your core strong. Hold, then exhale and push into a downward dog. Do five rounds, holding each pose for around five breaths each but rest if you need to.Let Me COACH YOU for FREE!!

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