Get Results Quicker

Before I start working with a new client, I take time to inquire about my client’s goals, time commitment, and capabilities.  Saying to me, “I want to lose weight but it doesn’t matter when” is as noncommittal as saying, “Someday I’d like to fly a kite”.  Together we develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals which I use to create a routine that I (as any personal trainer) dream will be adhered to, impeccably.

I want to highlight that in order to avoid a body plateau, every fitness routine should be varied and incorporate a mix of endurance, strength and power exercises to achieve best results. Endurance training is aerobic training for the long haul. We are talking about the ability to walk for extended periods of time, run middle or long distance, cycle or swim for more than thirty minutes at a time. Having the stamina to keep up with life starts right here. Keep in mind endurance training for sport or performance is different and more rigorous, but practically speaking, endurance training needs to be a part of everyone’s fitness routine to develop a healthy heart in the long term.

Functional movements such as squatting, lifting, lunging and rotating are some simple daily activities that can bring a lot of pain to thousands of people every day. How many times have I heard someone say to me, ‘Oh I can’t squat because I have bad knees’!  However, when these muscle groups are strengthened, you can enable yourself to live a greater quality of life. Consider the grandmother who is strong enough to lift her grandbaby. The ‘one less trip to the car’ to get groceries. We’ve all done that, you load up your arms with grocery bags because no matter what you will NOT be returning for a second trip. So rather than relying upon grocery shopping trips to build muscle, let’s start adding strength training (also referred to as resistance or load training) into your routine. Strength training can be done 2-3 times per week. I recommend splitting your routine with large muscles one day, (chest, full leg, back, shoulders) and small muscles the other day (biceps, triceps, core). Depending on your fitness level, you can modify repetitions and weights, but a general starting point is 2-3 sets and 8-12 reps. Perfect your bodyweight form before you add load. Consult with a personal trainer to ensure your form is correct to prevent injury.

I also incorporate power (anaerobic training), which is the product of strength and speed. Power gives us the ability to bicep curl quickly and with resistance. Muscles love power because they are metabolic – they are working all the time. Muscles like to be stretched. Power is also vertical jumping or lifting very heavy weights quickly. It’s the mojo that enables you to cross a street four lane intersection before the light changes. Power prevents you from falling, or tripping, when you catch yourself quickly.  Power is also a great adrenaline rush.

All of the best exercise in the world is of no value unless it is coupled with clean nutrition. Get 95-110 grams of protein per day, drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day, and eat as fresh and from the source as possible.  By varying your workout routine with elements of cardio, strength, power and rest, you will be on your way to avoiding plateau and developing your body into the best shape for YOU.

 

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Simulated hill workout

Vacation is over, school starts for my boys, time to get back into a more structured routine. Back to school is also a great time to press ‘reset’ in your fitness routine, or if you are looking to change things up, here is one of my favorite ‘back on track’ workouts. It’s brutal, so be sure you are in a good fitness shape to take it on.

Here’s how it works. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds (Rest 30 seconds), then each one for 45 seconds (Rest 45 seconds), then 60 seconds (Rest 60 seconds). Come down the hill, so that means 45 seconds each, then 30 seconds each. Want to go back up the hill? From 45 seconds, go back up to 60 seconds each, then come back down.

  • Jump rope
  • Squat jump
  • Band row
  • Mountain climbers
  • Split jumps
  • Pushups

Always listen to your body. If you do it, let me know how you liked it!

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Getting Back on Track in 5

We all fall off the fitness wagon. Don’t despair, just get back on.

Perhaps you just finished the blessed month of Ramadan, congratulations! Hopefully you had a great month of fasting and were able to reap all the spiritual and physical benefits of fasting for 30 days. Fasting can certainly be difficult on the body, and whether or not you kept active during the day, here is how you can get yourself back on track.

1. Start your day with apple cider vinegar – use organic, raw and unpasteurized! (Bragg’s)

bragg-apple-cider-vinegar1

  • Boosts your metabolism
  • Neutralizes the pH of your body
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved stamina & energy
  • Decreased restless leg syndrome symptoms with increased potassium
  • How to drink it: mix 1 tbsp with 6-8 oz of water or apple juice.

 

2. Ease back into exercise and strength training.

  • If you are getting back into running and are easily able to run, then great! Otherwise, consider a run walk strategy given that your endurance may have been compromised.
  • Move first thing in the morning. Whether its a quick yoga sequence, 10-15 minutes of jumping jacks, crunches and pushups, or a jog, get moving for 20-30 minutes every day.

3. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Add fruit slices or mint leaves to jazz it up if needed.

4. Craving carbs? Choose complex carbs. Add protein.

  • Hummus with veggies
  • Apple slices with a nut butter
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder

5. Eat lean, clean and green! The days of eating late and ‘whatever you want’ are over, so get back into eating a well-balanced meal! I ate bits of superfood greens throughout Ramadan. Each single calorie tab is loaded with 64% protein!

Enter the code "RunAyesha" for 25% off
Enter the code “RunAyesha” for 25% off

If you are interested in purchasing a sample of Energy Bits, head over here.

 

 

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Be Fit for Ramadan

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By Ayesha Akhtar, MPH, CPT

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous. (Surah Al-Baqarah: Verse183)

With Ramadan approaching in just a few short weeks, many of you, like myself, are wondering how to maintain a level of fitness throughout the month of Ramadan, so as not to lose endurance and muscle tone (neither are completely true). Fear not! There are several habits you can adopt throughout your day, and can maybe even enhance the spiritual aspect of fasting by giving you a little extra energy here and there. I’ve share below some of my own lessons learned. Feel free to share your own!

For my readers who are not familiar with the logistics of Ramadan, allow me to share. Fasting for 30 days during the month of Ramadan (one month on the lunar calendar) is one of the five main pillars of Islam. This year, Ramadan begins at the end of June. Physically and mentally able Muslims (there are several exemptions) will fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food, water, smoking, and sex during those times. At sunset, it is tradition to break fast with a date, which is essentially a superfood, water and the company of others. It is such a beautiful time of togetherness and camaraderie. Many faiths participate in fasting on some level. The first few days are tough, then your body gets into a groove, the last 10 days are hard, knowing the end is near. It is a time for physical cleansing, and spiritual resetting. Many will attend the Mosque for prayers more often than, others prefer to stay at home. We end the month of Ramadan with Eid ul Fitr, a celebration lasting three days, with gift giving galore!  Continue reading Be Fit for Ramadan

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Weight Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number | Shauna Harrison

Weight Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number | Shauna Harrison.

I stumbled upon this great post speaking to the need to dissociate from the numbers that often women (and men) are tethered to. Physical fitness allows us the opportunity to be stronger, more lean, more flexible, more aware, alert and mobile. Love the positive images of this girl – and she’s a public health girl, too!

Catch her on Instagram — she started the #sweataday revolution!

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The Mind, The Muscle, The Mantra

The mantra is quite possibly the best secret weapon you could have during a race. The more thought you put into it, the more meaning it carries, and the more profound the results. For myself, so much of racing and mid distance running is buried in the conversation I have with myself on the pavement. In my last race, I had a slight pain in my left ankle (dorsal flexion) starting around mile 1 and lasted for about 2 miles. I had to brainwash my mind to believe it did not exist and that indeed my leg muscles would be perfectly capable of running painlessly to the end, and with a PR. (You can read how that ended up for me). Continue reading The Mind, The Muscle, The Mantra

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