The Difference between toning and bulking up

January 27th, 2015

“The Harder the struggle the more Glorious the triumph”

Toning up VS. Bulking up

Some individuals think they can not lift weights or heavier weights in fear they will bulk up.  But what does “toned” really mean? And is it different from “bulking” up?

What Is Toning?

When most people say that they want to “tone up,” what they usually mean is that they want to become leaner. Basically, they want to lose fat, and add a little muscle definition—but not so much muscle mass that they look like a bodybuilder.
In the fitness world, there is no real definition for toning that is greatly recognized. Rather, toning is a term used to describe the end goal, which usually results from a combination of basic weight-lifting and fat-burning.

What about Bulking Up? 
Typically, men want to “bulk up” and women usually wish to avoid building big, bulky muscles. Although there is no strict definition, “bulking up” means adding a lot of muscle mass to the body and possibly (although not always) reducing one’s body fat, too. Bulking up hearkens images of bodybuilders and big football players—usually male and usually beefy!

Here are some myths about toning and bulking up.



Myth #1: Lifting light weights will tone your body and lifting heavy weights will bulk you up.

The Truth: I’m not sure who first pioneered this idea that heavy weights will bulk you up, but it has stuck over the years and erroneously makes many people—both men and women—afraid of lifting heavy weights. While there is some truth to the idea that lifting lighter weights for more reps does a better job of increasing the muscular endurance, lighter weights will not help you “tone” better than heavy weights. In fact, because heavier weights build the strength of your muscles (and the size to a small degree—no Hulk action here), thereby helping to increase your metabolism and burn fat, lifting heavier weights with fewer reps (8 to 12 on average) and working until you’re fatigued is more effective at helping you reach your toning goals than lifting lighter weights. Not to mention that it’s more time efficient, too!

Myth #2: Building muscle and bulking up are one in the same.

The Truth: If you’ve been avoiding weights because you think that building muscle means that you’ll bulk up, think again. When you lift weights that are challenging, you actually create micro-tears in the muscle fibers. These tears are then repaired by the body (this is where soreness comes from!) and in that process the muscle becomes stronger and a little bit bigger. However, because muscle tissue is more dense than fat, adding a little bit more muscle to your body and decreasing your fat actually makes you look leaner—not bigger. To really bulk up, you have to really work with that goal in mind. Bodybuilders spend hours and hours in the gym lifting extremely heavy weights, along with eating a very strict diet that promotes muscle gain. The average person’s workout and diet—especially a calorie-controlled diet—doesn’t’ result in the same effects.

Myth #3: Lifting light weights won’t help you get stronger.

The Truth: When it comes to lifting weights, the secret to really getting stronger isn’t about how much weight you’re lifting. Instead, it’s all about working your muscle to fatigue where you literally cannot lift the weight for another repetition. The August 2010 study from McMaster University that proved this found that even when subjects lifted lighter weights, they added as much muscle as those lifting heavy weights. However, the time it takes to reach fatigue with light weights is much longer than the time it takes to reach fatigue with heavier weights. So, if you’re like most people and extra time is a luxury, it makes more sense to go heavy and then go home!

Myth #4: Certain forms of exercise build long, lean muscles.

The Truth: Many forms of exercise claim to lengthen the muscles or develop “lean” muscles, not bulky ones. But here’s a truth that may be shocking to some: To put it another way, no form of exercise makes muscles “longer” because your muscles do not—and will not—respond to exercise by getting longer. It’s just not how they work. Muscles are a certain length because they attach to your bones. A wide variety of movements and exercises can help you strengthen your muscles without necessarily making them bigger. In fact, you can develop a lot of muscular strength without your muscles ever increasing in size (girth).

That said, exercises such as yoga, Pilates, dance and barre classes can help to increase your flexibility (improving your range of motion at certain joints) and your posture, which can give you the illusion of feeling and looking longer or taller. But lengthening? Not possible. Claims like these are just trying to appeal to people who fear bulking up.

So with that being said, get to lifting and use those muscles. Get to know your strength!!



For Fitness, Push Yourself

July 7th, 2014

For Fitness, Push Yourself



Intense exercise changes the body and muscles at a molecular level in ways that milder physical activity doesn’t match, according to an enlightening new study. Though the study was conducted in mice, the findings add to growing scientific evidence that to realize the greatest benefits from workouts, we probably need to push ourselves.

For some time, scientists and exercise experts have debated the merits of intensity in exercise. Everyone agrees, of course, that any exercise is more healthful than none. But beyond that baseline, is strenuous exercise somehow better, from a physiological standpoint, than a relative stroll?

There have been hints that it may be. Epidemiological studies of walkers, for instance, have found that those whose usual pace is brisk tend to live longer than those who move at a more leisurely rate, even if their overall energy expenditure is similar.

But how intense exercise might uniquely affect the body, especially below the surface at the cellular level, had remained unclear. That’s where scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida stepped in.

Already, these scientists had been studying the biochemistry of sympathetic nervous system reactions in mice. The sympathetic nervous system is that portion of the autonomic, or involuntary, nervous system that ignites the fight or flight response in animals, including people, when they are faced with peril or stress. In such a situation, the sympathetic nervous system prompts the release of catecholamines, biochemicals such as adrenaline and norepinephrine that set the heart racing, increase alertness and prime the muscles for getaway or battle.

At Scripps, the scientists had been focusing on catecholamines and their relationship with a protein found in both mice and people that is genetically activated during stress, called CRTC2. This protein, they discovered, affects the body’s use of blood sugar and fatty acids during moments of stress and seems to have an impact on health issues such as insulin resistance.

The researchers also began to wonder about the role of CRTC2 during exercise.

Scientists long have known that the sympathetic nervous system plays a part in exercise, particularly if the activity is intense. Strenuous exercise, the thinking went, acts as a kind of stress, prompting the fight or flight response and the release of catecholamines, which goose the cardiovascular system into high gear. And while these catecholamines were important in helping you to instantly fight or flee, it was generally thought they did not play an important role in the body’s longer-term response to exercise, including changes in muscle size and endurance. Intense exercise, in that case, would have no special or unique effects on the body beyond those that can be attained by easy exercise.

But the Scripps researchers were unconvinced. “It just didn’t make sense” that the catecholamines served so little purpose in the body’s overall response to exercise, said Michael Conkright, an assistant professor at Scripps, who, with his colleague Dr. Nelson Bruno and other collaborators, conducted the new research. So, for astudy published last month in The EMBO Journal, he and his collaborators decided to look deeper inside the bodies of exercising mice and, in particular, into what was going on with their CRTC2 proteins.

To do so, they first bred mice that were genetically programmed to produce far more of the CRTC2 protein than other mice. When these mice began a program of frequent, strenuous treadmill running, their endurance soared by 103 percent after two weeks, compared to an increase of only 8.5 percent in normal mice following the same exercise routine. The genetically modified animals also developed tighter, larger muscles than the other animals, and their bodies became far more efficient at releasing fat from muscles for use as fuel.

These differences all were the result of a sequence of events set off by catecholamines, the scientists found in closely examining mouse cells. When the CRTC2 protein received and read certain signals from the catecholamines, it would turn around and send a chemical message to genes in muscle cells that would set in motion processes resulting in larger, stronger muscles.

In other words, the catecholamines were involved in improving fitness after all.

What this finding means, Dr. Conkright said, is that “there is some truth to that idea of ‘no pain, no gain.’” Catecholamines are released only during exercise that the body perceives as stressful, he said, so without some physical strain, there are no catecholamines, no messages from them to the CRTC2 protein, and no signals from CRTC2 to the muscles. You will still see muscular adaptations, he added, if your exercise is light and induces no catecholamine release, but those changes may not be as pronounced or complete as they otherwise could have been.

The study also underscores the importance of periodically reassessing the intensity of your workouts, Dr. Conkright said, if you wish to continually improve your fitness. Once a routine is familiar, your sympathetic nervous system grows blasé, he said, holds back adrenaline and doesn’t alert the CRTC2 proteins, and few additional adaptations occur.

The good news is that “intensity is a completely relative concept,” Dr. Conkright said. If you are out of shape, an intense workout could be a brisk walk around the block. For a marathon runner, it would involve more sweat.

“But the point is to get out of your body’s comfort zone,” Dr. Conkright, “because it does look like there are unique consequences when you do.”



Put Some Spring into your Fitness Routine!

April 14th, 2014

Put Some Spring in your Fitness Routine
Lori Withrow, B.S. Exercise Science

Spring has sprung! It’s time to throw back the curtains, open the windows, clear the
house of winter clutter, and pack away the sweatshirts in exchange for short sleeves.
It’s also a great time to clean up your fitness routine. After months of stale gym air and
temperatures to cold for outdoor exercise, our bodies and mental health are begging for
some spring! Here are few tips to get you started.!

spring running

1. Consider throwing away worn-out workout clothes and replacing them with
breathable, wick fabrics. If you’ve been hitting the gym all winter, chances are you’re
also due for a new pair of shoes. Not only will you look great in your new gear, but you’ll
feel great too.
2. Try breaking up your routine with outdoor exercises like tennis, golf, hiking or kicking
the soccer ball around the yard with your kids. Remember, all activity counts! Plus,
varying your workouts can help improve performance and reduce risk of overuse
injuries. By doing a variety of different activities, such as running, weight training, hiking,
bootcamp classes or biking, you limit the stress on one specific muscle group because
different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.

3. Add jumping rope to your workout and you can burn around 208 calories in just 20
minutes. Include other exercises like walking lunges, sprints, and jumping jacks, and
you’ve got yourself a circuit program you can do right in your backyard. You can also
include wrist and ankle weights to your daily routine. The resistance will help strengthen
and tone up arm and leg muscles.

4. By drinking about two liters of water a day, and 17 ounces about two hours before
activity, you can avoid muscle cramping and fatigue. If you’re headed outdoors for
activity, take water with you. Keep in mind, the more you sweat, the more fluids you
need to replace!!

5. Add positive goals to your fitness routine such as a 5k, or mini triathlon. It will make
you feel better and also give a purpose to your training other than just reaching a certain
weight or size. Another fun option is to enlist a group of friends to join your quest. Try
researching some of your local fun runs and obstacle courses (such as the warrior
dash, color run and the foam fest)that are becoming so popular these days. Having a
group of people to train with is way more fun and encouraging then going stag.

6. Remember, slow but steady wins the race. Try to get some activity at least 3-4 times
per week, but adjust your intensity based on activity you’ve had over the winter. If you
haven’t done much, it will take a few weeks to establish a good fitness base. If you’re
taking your exercise from indoor to outdoor, remember a 2 mile run on the treadmill is
going to feel different then a 2 mile run outside. Start small, and work up.

7. Keep in mind, spring training is a time for refreshing, light-hearted exercise. So relax
and enjoy your activity. Consider a sports massage to pamper yourself, while alleviating
toxins and speeding up muscle recovery. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!!


Heart Smart!!

February 10th, 2014

Pop quiz: Can you name the most important muscle in your body? Nope, it’s not your abs, hamstrings or triceps. It’s your heart!


The human heart is an amazing muscle, capable of pumping about five quarts of blood throughout the body every minute—that’s approximately 2,000 gallons of blood each day! In fact, the average heart beats about 100,000 times each day, too, which is why it’s so important to have a strong and healthy heart.

And just like you can exercise to build strength in your skeletal muscles, you can—and should—also train your heart to become stronger, healthier and more efficient at doing its job. The right workout plan is like strength-training for your heart, which helps it pump more blood with less effort.

The Facts
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) nearly 70% of Americans don’t get enough exercise, yet inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is caused by deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the inner lining of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. This build-up makes the arteries narrowed or blocked, and when oxygen-rich blood can’t reach the heart, the result is chest pain or a heart attack. Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle and lead to heart failure.

While CAD is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, the good news is that lifestyle changes—like exercise!—can help prevent or treat CAD in most people.

How to Exercise for a Healthy Heart
Fortunately, it doesn’t take hours in the gym to reap the heart-healthy benefits of exercise. As little as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, most days of the week can substantially reduce your risk of heart disease, enhance your mental well-being, help you manage your weight, and improve your blood pressure and blood lipid (cholesterol) profiles.

While previous recommendations have focused mainly on cardio (aerobic) conditioning for heart health, new guidelines developed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the AHA also take into account higher levels of intensity and the benefits that strength training offers your heart, too. These recommendations are for healthy adults under the age of 65 who want to improve heart health, prevent heart disease, and increase overall well-being.

Cardio (aerobic) exercise guidelines: Perform moderately-intense cardio exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If weight-loss is your goal as well, bump this number up to 60 to 90 minutes at a moderate intensity. Moderate intensity is defined by ACSM as a target heart rate range of 55%-59% of your maximum heart rate—about at the pace where you break a sweat but are still able to carry a conversation.


Perform vigorously cardio for 20 minutes a day, three days a week. According to ACSM, a vigorous intensity is at 70%-89% of your maximum heart rate, which is an aggressive pace where you can only get a few words out at a time.

Strength training guidelines: Do 8-10 strength-training exercises with 8-12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

No matter how much you work out now, you can improve your heart health with a combination of cardio and strength exercises. The important thing is to just get moving!

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople fitness experts and certified personal trainers, Jen Mueller and Nicole Nichols.

American College of Sports Medicine. “Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines,” accessed March 2011.

American Heart Association. “Physical Activity: AHA Scientific Position,” accessed March 2011.




Fit for the Holidays!!!

December 4th, 2013

“Today I will do my best!!  Today, I will try my best to make choices that are healthy and make me feel good. Today, I will work on my goal!!”


Rachel Canen

Manager, CoachMeFit- Ann Arbor

A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer

holiday pic


The holidays can be a time of year where you get overwhelmed with getting gifts for others, having the family over or going over to your families. The importance of getting a workout in can be on the bottom of the list. If a hidden camera were placed in your refrigerator, pantry, or cupboard during the holiday season, you’d notice a significant growth in the amounts of foods that are low in nutrients but high in calories, such as meats with heavy sauces, candies and chocolates, or gift baskets with processed, packaged foods that are coated in oils. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these foods, but out-of-sight is out-of-mind and in-sight is, well, you get the idea!

Here’s a little secret: your body can be relatively bulletproof to forming fat from food if you exercise before you eat.  The key is to keep moving, be active throughout the day!!Having a solid plan in place, even if you veer off track a little, is a great strategy to stay healthy through the season. Moving your body first thing in the morning sets the day right and helps your body stay stress-free during this busy season.

 Remember this time of year is all about enjoying yourself with friends and family.  Definitely don’t deprive yourself of the things you love most about the season. Just be sure to stay on track during the days before and after the party. When you stick to a healthy lifestyle and stay consistent, you have wiggle room for a little indulgence here and there.

So don’t get discouraged just thinking about making time to workout during the holidays! Think about how great you will feel after the holidays because you carried on your normal fitness routine. Make a goal for yourself that you can reach. With the right attitude and hard work, you will accomplish your goal!!



It can be Tricky to NOT Treat yourself!!!

October 29th, 2013





“Eating crappy food isn’t a reward — it’s a punishment.”

It can be very tempting to eat just one or two Snicker bars after the kids come back from Trick-Or-Treating. The problem with that is one or two at a time turn into 10 to 20 in an hour. Most people are unaware with how many calories are in a “fun size” candy bar or a tiny pack of M&Ms.  Here is an idea of how many calories are in certain pieces of candy:

M&Ms, plain, Fun size (18 g) – 88 calories and 12 g carb

M&Ms, peanut, Fun size (18 g) – 93 calories and 11 g carb

Miniature Bars (Milky Way, Snickers, Twix, 3 Muskateers) – average 38 calories and 5 g carb each bar

Tootsie Rolls

  • Small bar – 50 calories and 10 g carb
  • Midgee – 23 calories and 7 g carb
  • Mini-Midgees – 11 calories and 2 g carbs

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

  • Miniature (about 9 grams each) – 44 calories and 5 g carb per cup
  • Snack size (17 g) – 88 calories and 10 g carb
  • Snack size (21 g) – 100 calories and 12 g carb
  • White, Snack size (21 g) – 100 calories and 11 g carb

Kit Kat, Fun size (14 g) – 73 calories and 9 g carb

Snickers Bars, Fun size (17 g) – 80 calories and 10 g carb

Twix, Snack size (10 g) – 50 calories and 7 g carb

Milk Duds Snack size (12 g) – 54 calories and 9 g carb

Smarties Candy, Roll – 25 calories and 6 g carb

halloween 13


We have to get the idea we can workout in order to indulge in junk food or candy out of our heads. We work out to lower our chances of having health issues, control our weight gain, build strength and to overall feel better.

Here are just a few benefits to working out:


Most people lose 10% of their aerobic capacity each year after the age of 30. However, regular exercise can actually make you more aerobically fit as you get older. Working out also improves skin and muscle tone, increases flexibility and reduces the risk of many age-related diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke.


As you get older, your bones lose density (mass), your joints become stiffer and less flexible, and your lean body mass decreases. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to slow or prevent muscle, joint and bone problems. A moderate to vigorous workout program can help you maintain strength and flexibility into your golden years.


Many studies have proven that people who work out on a regular basis have better memory, reaction time and concentration than their sedentary counterparts. And it doesn’t take much: walking for 45 minutes three times a week is enough to improve your degree of mental sharpness. Aerobic activity stimulates the middle-frontal and superior parietal regions of the brain, which are associated with attention and keeping goals in mind.


Exercising reduces stress and anxiety by diminishing electrical activity in tense muscles as soon as you finish your workout, which makes you less hyperactive and jittery. In addition, your body releases more endorphins for an hour and a half to two hours after your workout, which boosts your mood and promotes relaxation. Another benefit of physical activity is that it provides you with the motivation to improve your diet, and proper nutrition reduces stress. There is even evidence that regular exercise can aid in treating clinical depression.


The best reason of all to work out regularly is that it reduces your risk of many serious and potentially deadly diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, colon cancer, breast cancer, stroke, heart attack, and arthritis.

Really focus on working out for the right reasons and be sure to not let your temptations set you back. Ask yourself, is it really worth it to eat a candy bar or two??


CLIENTS….NOW THROUGH 12/31/2013 YOU WILL RECEIVE 2 FREE SESSIONS IF YOU REFER SOMEONE AND HAVE THEM SIGN UP FOR A PACKAGE OF 20!!!! Help a friend or family member get on the right track for a happier, healthier life!!




More Exercise Less Stress

September 3rd, 2013

Causes of Stress
Stress is an every day occurrence for most people. There are exams to be written, deadlines to keep, rush hour traffic to negotiate and so on. Most of these so called “external” factors that cause stress can’t be avoided. If they can’t be avoided, then exposure to stress needs to be managed by avoiding situations that will cause stress as much as possible. Limit the risk, so to speak. If that can’t be done, then manage the body’s reaction to stress so as to handle stress and anxiety better.
Coping with stress and the effects of stress need not be complicated or expensive. A simple program of regular exercise is all it takes to reduce stress related health problems. Exercise can even eliminate some of the so called “internal” causes of stress, which are related to one’s frame of mind and outlook on life.



How Exercise Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Exercise essentially burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the system. Endorphins are morphine-like hormones that are responsible for the feeling of elation, or well being that distance runners get from running. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these give a feeling of safety and security that contributes to off-setting some of the “internal” causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk.
To benefit from exercise, it needs to be regular. Exercise needs to be part of a daily routine. Instead of working during lunch, why not take the time to go for a brisk walk, a run or work out at a gym? Exercise will reduce stress and reducing stress can increase productivity.
Since exercise reduces stress chemically, it can also have a meditative effect during sustained cardiovascular work outs. The rhythmic running on the open road or treadmill can relax and clear the mind. Clearing the mind allows for a fresh approach to perplexing and stressful problems.
Regular exercise also impacts on the way you feel about yourself. For example, if clothes fit comfortably and your body is toned due to regular exercise, you feel good about yourself. If you feel good about yourself, your self confidence is given a boost and stress due to feelings of inadequacy is reduced as a result. It will not only make you healthier but regular exercise will also cut down on stress and anxiety and their associated symptoms.
As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
Exercise helps your body systems practice interacting with each other, in a healthy way. This directly leads to a better overall response to stress.
More Energy
“More than 90% of the studies showed the same thing: Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise,” says O’Connor. “It’s a very consistent effect.”
The results show that regular exercise increases energy and reduces fatigue.
The average effect was greater than the improvement from using stimulant medications, including ones used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Researchers say nearly every group studied — from healthy adults, to cancer patients, and those with chronic conditions including diabetes and heart disease — benefited from exercise.


Better Sleep
Lack of sleep often leads to a vicious cycle. You become more stressed and anxious during the day, which means it’s even harder to sleep at night. Exercise not only helps break that cycle, but can lead to a positive cycle instead. When you sleep well, you’ll have more energy in the day and be more productive.
The time is now.  Get up.  Get moving and create a less stressed, more energized you!!!


A little goes a long way

August 8th, 2013
Rachel Canen
Manager, CoachMeFit Ann Arbor
A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer
In this day and age time is something many just don’t have enough of.  For some, exercise just doesn’t make the cut when it comes to “must haves” or “must dos”. Careers, children, and school are things one just can’t sacrifice.  However, it is imperative to get SOME exercise.  In recent studies, research has shown that people getting nominal yet frequent exercise live longer, have more active minds, age at a slower rate, and are healthier than those that don’t get any at all.  These studies even go one step further to point out that those exercising more intensely for longer periods will need more recuperation time.  Unfortunately, the respite these people will require will be detrimental to their physical and mental well-being.

Easy ways to remain active without losing time:

1.  Go for short walks-with kids or dog

2.  Park far away from the stores frequented-this small amount counts!

3.  Walk up stairs as opposed to taking the elevator

4.  Crunches during commercials

Many people believe only excessive amounts of exercise help you to lose weight, but the truth is: Just a little bit of exercise goes a long way. A recent study by the American Heart Association finds that a little physical activity performed on a regular basis may also reduce the risk of heart disease – just another reason to get the body moving for a quick workout.


You don’t have to give up on your weight loss goals because you don’t have the time to workout everyday. There are many activities you can do in a short amount of time that are just as effective as a lengthy session.

Take a 10-minute stroll around the block. It may not seem like vigorous work, but it still burns calories and helps your body release stored energy. Rather jog? Great. You’ll get your exercise done in half the time!

Do a few sit-ups before bed. Even if the whole day flies by without fitting in a workout, you can still get a few ab exercises in before crawling into bed. If you have a staircase in your home you can also take a few trips up-and-down the stairwell before laying your body down to rest.

You can even get a little bit of exercise-time in when you’re home watching television. Ditch the couch and get down on the floor for a few side-leg lifts while catching up on your favorite series’.

If you have access to the gym take advantage of your gaps of free time. You’re not obligated to spend two hours at the gym to get in a good workout; all you need is 20-30 minutes of cardio to get your heart rate up. Or, lift a few weights, circle around the jump rope several times and be on your way. Health and fitness is about the effort and determination rather than the actual clocked hours.


The heat is on…enjoy summer, safely!

July 3rd, 2013

Summer is here, which means more time to be outdoors–for exercise! Go out and enjoy your run, some outdoor yoga, or a brisk walk. These are the longest days of the year…soak it up!


5 Tips for Running in the Heat

Cool down before your workout
Olympic athletes actually wear special cooling vests before training in hot and steamy conditions, which helps to lower their risk for overheating. But you don’t have to go to that extreme to get a similar effect, says Gibson. Fifteen to 20 minutes before your run, take a quick rinse in the shower under cold water, or simply rinse your hands in cool water immediately before heading out the door. Alternatively, you could whip up a DIY slushy by blending ice (either on its own or combined with a bit of a sports drink) and drink it before heading out.

Drink up
Ideally, you should start hydrating one hour before you hit the road, says Gibson. The key is to not just chug a bunch of liquid at once, but to allow it to slowly absorb into your system. That means taking small, frequent sips—not gulping down a cup of water right before you lace up. And keep drinking while you’re out there—you need more fluid in the heat since you lose more of it through your sweat, says Gibson. Everyone’s fluid intake needs are different, but it’s easy to figure out what yours are: Weigh yourself before and after your next run. If you lose more than two percent of your body weight, bump up your fluid intake by ½ cup during your next workout.

Replace electrolytes
What you eat before, during, and after your workout is one thing that shouldn’t change much, says Gibson. But your body does chew through more carbs on a sweaty run than it would on a cooler day. A sports drink can help you maintain your energy levels and replace electrolytes lost through sweating. “Normally, I’d recommend sipping a sports drink (or a 1:1 solution of sports drink to water) only during runs lasting 60-plus minutes,” says Gibson. “But since the heat puts more stress on your body, it’s smart to do this for shorter runs in these temps too.”

Think cool thoughts
Imagine that you’re in another, much colder, location (think: a mountain resort in the winter). Use mental imagery and really imagine the environment and think about how the cool, crisp air feels against your skin. “Your mind is super powerful, and you can use it to convince your body to feel a certain way or do a certain thing,” says Cogan. “Talking yourself into feeling cooler isn’t going to change the fact that your body is hot and must work to cool down, but it can make you feel less uncomfortable and more motivated to keep running.”

Give it a positive spin
Replace thoughts like “Ugh, I hate the heat” with more positive affirmations such as “The heat is just part of the experience—the good part is that it’s working my muscles even harder than normal.” “Find some way to make it a positive for yourself, even if you don’t totally buy it,” says Cogan. This is one case where “fake it until you make it” definitely applies.

…And don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Running–or any activity–in the heat can feel great, as long as you take care of yourself.

What are you waiting for?


Living in motion

June 4th, 2013



Jen Rowley, A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer
Manager of CoachMeFit Ann Arbor

The alarm goes off like, well, an alarm! And your day begins: wake up, take a shower, get dressed, grab some breakfast, wake the kids, get them out the door, and then off to work. You work until the last second of the day and then it is off to– take a deep breath– get the kids, start homework, drive them to sports, make dinner, make sure kids are clean and in bed. Ok, now it’s time for your workout. Wait! It’s 9 p.m. and you are still multi-tasking dinner/email/laundry just to stay one step ahead. Sound familiar?

Most parents I know try to jam as many things into a day (and, lets face it, night) as humanly possible.  There never seems to be enough time in a day to get all of the work and chores done, while still making time for fun!

In life, we wear different hats and we have different responsibilities, many of which require divided time and attention, but it is important to remember there’s really no such thing as effective multitasking. If you check your email while having a phone conference or an in-person meeting, something will fall through the cracks. You’ll be forced to re-read or ask someone to repeat themselves.

A new study suggests many parents are guilty of multitasking behind the wheel as well. The results show about 90 percent of parents surveyed reported technology-related multitasking while driving their children in the past month, such as talking on the phone, texting or changing a DVD or CD. Be safe–nothing is so important that it cannot wait until you have put your car in park!

time to workout

You know fitness is important for your health and well-being. And you want to get more active, but your days are a blur of work, household chores, errands, and time with family and friends. Setting aside enough time to sleep — let alone exercise — can be tough.

So how can you find time for fitness? The key is to be flexible and make fitness a way of life. And remember all physical activity — not just formal exercise programs — adds up to a healthier you. Brisk walking builds cardiovascular fitness and strengthens muscles in the glutes, thighs, hips, and core. Research also shows that doing it regularly can even reduce the risk for heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as running. Aim for 10,000 steps (nearly five miles) a day–and the bonus? You will burn an extra 500 calories a day, about a one-pound weight-loss per week!

exercise with family

  • Wake up early. Get up 30 minutes earlier than you normally do and use the extra time to walk on your treadmill or take a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
  • Involve the whole family. Take group walks before or after dinner. Play catch. Ride your bikes. It’s best to build up to about 30 minutes of continuous activity, but you can exercise in shorter bursts, too.
  • Start a lunchtime walking group. The regular routine and the support of your co-workers may help you stick with the program.
  • Put it on the calendar. Schedule physical activity as you would any other appointment during the day. Don’t change your exercise plans for every interruption that comes along. “Not enough time” is the number one excuse for skipping exercise!
  • Take it on the road. If you travel for work, plan ahead. Bring your jump-rope or choose a hotel that has fitness facilities. Have your trainer put together a work-out that you can do in your room or in the hotel gym. When you have that on your iphone or ipad, you will be more likely to follow through with the workout!  If you’re stuck in an airport waiting for a plane, grab your bags and take a walk.