Swimsuit Season Is Here – Can You Stomach It?

Swimsuit Season Is Here – Can You Stomach It?

Everyone wants a flatter belly, especially when warmer weather dictates lighter clothing. When it comes time to hit the beach or pool, will you be ready to dive in? To even head in the direction of belly-baring status, you must first know thine enemy – your abdominal fat. Afterward, read on to see what you can do to help chisel a trimmer tummy.

Your abdominal fat is actually in two places or compartments – under the skin (subcutaneous) and intra-abdominal (visceral) fat. The former lies above the abdominal muscles, the latter beneath. In simple view, here’s what they look like:
It just takes a quick measurement to see how much fat you’ve got and to track changes. Waist circumference can’t pinpoint where fat lies, but this measurement does correlate with overall abdominal fat. Total waist measurement depends on your body frame size, so it’s better to look at waist to hip ratio which shows how your belly area compares to your hips.

How to measure your Waist-to-Hip ratio (either metric or customary):

1) Standing relaxed, with a flexible tape, measure waist at smallest area – or if this is not apparent, mid-way between the lowest rib and top of hip bone.

2) With feet and thighs together, measure hips at the widest portion of your buttock.

3) Divide waist measurement by hip measurement to get your ratio. The ratio should be less than 0.9 for men; less than 0.85 for women.

 

No matter your current physique, the following approaches may help you achieve obtaining a flatter belly.

Exercise

Greater physical activity is associated with lower waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. It’s no secret that moving muscles are the furnace for fat burning. Exercise is really essential in fat metabolism. Exercise burns fatty acids (in processes called lipolysis and oxidation), contributing to reduction in body fat. Aside from exercise aiding in fat-burning, a developing theory is that fat cells, including those in the abdomen, are temporarily ‘starved’ when blood flow is focused to moving muscles.

True, you can’t spot reduce, selectively dropping fat from only one area of the body. But new research indicates that certain types of exercise can reduce belly fat more than others. While the same level of calories are burned with each, anaerobic high-intensity intermittent training has been shown to produce greater abdominal fat reduction than continuous aerobic training.1

Diet

Energy

Calorie restriction (regardless of energy source) affects both visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. This is only true to an extent, as very low calorie diets end up with the losses of visceral fat regained weeks afterward. In fact, modest weight loss, even 5% body weight for overweight individuals, is enough to reduce visceral fat, regardless of method. One study showed that 4 different calorie-reduced diets were equally effective in reducing abdominal fat, with most loss coming from subcutaneous fat.2

Composition

A greater intake of fat and carbohydrates, typical of Western diets, is associated with higher waist circumference. Conversely, those following a Mediterranean style diet were less likely to gain abdominal fat over 10 years.3 This style reflects a focus on plant-based foods (like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains) with moderate protein intake, minimal animal fats, and a prominence of olive oil, all resulting in a low saturated fat intake. The bulk of research indicates conventional nutritionally-balanced plans are as effective as high protein diets in reducing abdominal fat.

Green Tea

Green tea (vs. black) is made with the youngest leaves, which have the most catechins. See our related article – Nutrition is Sprouting this Spring!

At a certain threshold, catechin compounds in green tea can impact abdominal fat. These compounds (prominently ECGC) may have affect the sympathetic nervous system in a way that influences fat distribution. It takes about the equivalent of 5 cups of tea, or 500 mg catechins, for an effect. Studies with significant finding used catechin-enhanced beverages.4,5 More is not better… consuming >800 mg ECGC in one sitting would be like slamming a gallon of green tea all at once, and instead of acting as an antioxidant (as it does at lower levels), you’d get pro-oxidant effects! Also, having smaller servings spread throughout the day is more effective than a single huge dose.

For the most catechins, look for quality packaging to ensure better storage with minimal exposure to oxygen, light and moisture. Also, don’t take highly concentrated EGCG green tea extracts or supplements while taking acetaminophen.

Posture

Though it won’t change your belly fat, adjusting your posture could improve the appearance of your midsection. Tilt your pelvis when standing so that your tailbone is in (pointed down, not out), as shown to the right.

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

References

1) Abdominal fat reducing outcome of exercise training: fat burning or hydrocarbon source redistribution?  Kuo CH and Harris MB. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 2016 Jul; 94(7):695-8.  doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2015-0425.

2) Effects of 4 weight-loss diets differing in fat, protein, and carbohydrate on fat mass, lean mass, visceral adipose tissue, and hepatic fat: results from the POUNDS LOST trial. De Souza RJ, et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012 Mar;95(3):614-25. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.026328.

3) Mediterranean diet impact on changes in abdominal fat and 10-year incidence of abdominal obesity in a Spanish population.  Funtikova AN, et al. British Journal of Nutrition. 2014 Apr 28; 111(8):1481-7.  doi: 10.1017/S0007114513003966.

4) Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults.

Maki KC, et al. Journal of Nutrition. 2009 Feb;139(2):264-70. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.098293.

5) Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition. Wang H, et al. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Apr; 18(4):773-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.256.

Augie: A Film by James Keach | LA Fitness Recap

Augie: A Film by James Keach | LA Fitness Recap

“You can either celebrate what you can do, or mourn what you can’t.”

Augie Nieto

Founder of Augie's Quest, Co-founder and CEO of Life Fitness, Chairman of Octane Fitness

Documentary-style filmmaking has a way of exposing some of the most heartfelt elements of the human condition. In that regard, the documentary film Augie does not disappoint. Augie is raw, emotional, and moving. Created by award-winning director James Keach, viewers are taken on a journey through the life of fitness entrepreneur and icon, Augie Nieto.

Augie, a legend who is often recognized and referred to on a first name basis, is the founder of Life Fitness, as well as the chairman of Octane Fitness. He is a man who let nothing stop him while on his pathway to success.  It seemed like Augie had it all – until he was diagnosed with ALS in 2006.

In an almost cruel and ironic twist of fate, Augie found himself suddenly battling a fatal neurological condition, which slowly weakened his muscles and impacted his body’s ability to move. However, Augie was determined not to just sit at the sidelines and let the disease win. Instead, he started a nonprofit called Augie’s Quest, which funds the ALS Therapy Development Institute and their efforts in finding a cure.

 

“The best gift I can give my wife and kids is to do something when you’re faced with adversity, and that’s a gift.”

Augie Nieto

Founder of Augie's Quest, Co-founder and CEO of Life Fitness, Chairman of Octane Fitness

Little is currently known about what triggers ALS, but scientists are working hard to better understand this disease and find methods to stop it. Those suffering from the disease start losing control of their voluntary muscle movement, but retain the functionality of their brain. There are two types of ALS: sporadic and familial. Sporadic is the most common and accounts for about 90% to 95% of all cases. This means it can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. As stated on the Augie’s Quest webpage, “ALS is not an incurable disease. It is an underfunded one.”1

Augie does a wonderful job of highlighting the charismatic personality and refreshing sense of humor that Augie carries with him while making the most out of his life. Augie’s upbeat demeanor acts as an inspiration by showing that no matter what we are faced with, a little humor can help us carry on. Aside from highlighting just Augie’s life, Augie introduces viewers to short interviews of others battling ALS. It is interesting to see the perspectives of both those diagnosed with the disease as well as how it affects the loved ones around them.

Augie is a love story. It is inspirational and educational. And it is the next must-see documentary on your watch list. Augie recently was screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival and will be released later this year. Find additional upcoming screenings here.

LA Fitness is proud to stand behind Augie and support his efforts in finding a cure for ALS. For over 6 years, LA Fitness has partnered with Augie’s Quest to help raise funds for a cure. Help LA Fitness in our efforts to support Augie’s Quest by donating here. To learn more, please visit http://lafitnesscares.com/.

Sources:

  1. “Fundraising.” Augie’s Quest. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2017.
  2. “About The Film.” Augie. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2017.

 


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11 Ways to Make Working Out More Fun

11 Ways to Make Working Out More Fun

Working out doesn’t have to feel like a chore! It’s true – you just have to find the right type of workout for YOU. We are all unique, which means our workouts should be too. Find what makes you happy and embrace it, so you can have fun while burning those pesky calories and feel good while you’re doing it!

1. Pick A Moving Buddy – As simple as this may seem, many people lack the companionship of a friend, spouse, or partner when it comes to working out. Having a workout buddy makes the routine much more fun and enjoyable, and statistics have shown that individuals who work out with a partner have a higher probability of reaching their personal fitness goals.1

Read more about the benefits of having a workout buddy here.

2. Try Something New – Remember when you were young and your mom would say, ‘How do you know you don’t like it, if you don’t try it?’ Get creative and try something different! Why not attempt a Zumba®, Aqua Fit or Group Fitness class? At LA Fitness, there are over 20 different types of Group Fitness classes offered*, so don’t limit yourself to just one – try them all!

Find available classes and locations here.

* Classes and amenities vary by location.

3. Be a Kid Again – Take a moment to think back… back to the days when it was all play. There was no such thing as “working out” – it was called having fun! How about challenging your friends to a game of H-O-R-S-E on the LA Fitness indoor basketball courts? It’s a perfect way to stay cool, while avoiding the hot sun. If you’re not a fan of basketball, try your hand at some indoor racquetball* for a thrilling, fast-paced game with friends.

*Classes and amenities vary by location.

Do you feel like taking the workout outdoors? Dust off the old rollerblades, go ice skating, or throw a ball around, and embrace your inner child! All in the name of (fitness) fun.

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Did You Know?

30 minutes of playing competitive basketball can burn between approx. 285-575 calories.2

30 minutes of playing competitive racquetball can burn between approx. 360-955 calories.3

30 minutes of ice skating can burn approx. 250 calories.4

4. Turn It into a Game – Get in some easy cardio by engaging in fun activities like group scavenger hunts, “fun” runs, LA Fitness Club Leagues or a race to see who can hit the most miles on the treadmill in the shortest amount of time.

Join an LA Fitness Club League today!

5. Fitness Apps – Have you downloaded the LA Fitness mobile app yet? If not, download it here for quick access to club locations, Group Fitness class schedules, court and bike reservations, Pro Results® Personal Training and much more! While you’re at it, search the mobile app market to find some fitness applications that do everything from helping track your heartrate, to measuring nutrition intake. Some even offer rewards for staying active!

If you’re looking for a more fun and interactive app, some act as fitness games and interact with the way you move. This may help you track progress and encourage you to get healthier, while still having fun.

6. Treat Yourself – If you complete your exercise for the day, give yourself a little reward. Maybe a fresh bowl of berries will do the trick, or a cup full of popcorn. However, be careful not to overindulge in anything too extreme that will counteract your hard work out.

7. Shake It Off – Move! Shake! Twist! Dance! Try Hip Hop, Kickbox Cardio, Latin Heat or Zumba® to get your cardio in, all while having fun in a laid-back fashion. It’s slimming made simple, as you dance your way into shape and feed off the high energy of those around you. Read more about what these dance-oriented LA Fitness Group Fitness lasses consist of here.

8. Distract Yourself – Watch your favorite movie or television show while exercising on a bike, elliptical, stairs, treadmill, etc. If you’d rather not be tied to a screen, try listening to an audiobook or podcast. You will be amazed at how much this can help distract from the fact that you’re working out.

9. Train for Something You’re Excited About – Maybe you want to be in better shape for a bike tour across wine country, or perhaps you want to get ready to conquer hiking the trail to Machu Picchu. Training for an event can help you stay excited and focused on your goals. Think of something that excites you, and use it as your motivation to stay focused.

10. Do Something Good for Someone Else – Sign up for a neighborhood cleanup, help paint homes in surrounding communities, assist a friend in achieving their fitness goal, or join a volunteer organization to help those in need. Not only are you participating in a great cause, but you’re staying active all while helping others in both positive and life-changing ways.

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

Booker T. Washington

American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States

11. Sometimes the Right Music Can Make or Break You – Do you ever find yourself rocking out to your favorite song while sitting in traffic? Try creating a fun playlist, featuring your favorite mixes to help make your workout more enjoyable.

Comment below with how YOU make exercising fun!

Sources:

  1. Administrator. “Benefits of Having a Workout Partner.” FitnessHealth. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.
  2. Averkamp, Stephanie. “How Many Calories Do I Burn Playing Basketball?” FitnessforWeightLoss.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
  3. Averkamp, Stephanie. “How Many Calories Do I Burn Playing Racquetball?” FitnessforWeightLoss.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
  4. Averkamp, Stephanie. “How Many Calories Do I Burn Ice Skating?” FitnessforWeightLoss.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
  5. Robinson, Kara Mayer. “How Hiking Is Good for Body and Mind.” WebMD. WebMD, 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

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Member Spotlight | Mini and Mighty

Member Spotlight | Mini and Mighty

“Everyone starts somewhere. It is important to do your personal best and not let your size, age, or anything that may appear as a barrier stop you from achieving your goals.”

Rachel M.

LA Fitness Member

Mini and Mighty

It’s said that some of the best things in life come in small packages – and that describes Rachel M. perfectly. Known by her friends and family as “Mighty Mouse,” this 4’9” powerhouse has become an inspiration to fellow LA Fitness members in her hometown of Valencia, CA. However, she wasn’t always this way.

Growing up, Rachel suffered from multiple health complications that caused her to dread physical activity. She didn’t enjoy P.E. and ended up on teams by default; oftentimes being the last one “picked” for team events. It would usually take Rachel 10 minutes to run a mile, with breaks in between to stop and use her inhaler. She reflected back on a moment she will never forget, when one of her coaches had to give her a piggyback ride because she could not complete the run on her own. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of a series of troubling events Rachel faced.

Next thing she knew, Rachel was hospitalized in the ICU with severe pneumonia. While she was admitted, she was told that she was pre-diabetic and had hyperlipidemia. Rachel had previously undergone cataract surgery and suffered from retinal detachment and spondylolisthesis – all at a young age. She knew she had to do something to change the harmful direction her health had taken.

Before

After

 

Small Changes, Big Results

Both of Rachel’s parents were members of LA Fitness and were constantly trying to persuade her to join them at the gym. But working out felt like work at the time, which made Rachel skeptical about giving it a go. However, she was determined not to rely on daily medication while only in her 20s, so she joined her mom for a cycle class.

In that first class, she could not last five minutes without having to use her inhaler. However, as she continued with cycling, she became stronger and stronger with each class, until she could complete a full class. As time went by, working out and focusing on health and fitness became her new passion.   This had great results, as she was slowly taken off all of her medications.

She credits being a member of LA Fitness as a huge part of her fitness journey. She would tell herself, “You’re stronger than you think,” “You could do anything for a minute”, and “You’ve got this.” She shared that fellow LA Fitness members would encourage her, and believed in her so much, that she began to believe in herself.

A Closer Look at Labels 

Along with working out, Rachel started paying close attention to food labels and ingredients. Now she incorporates proteins (chicken, ground turkey, egg whites, lean ground beef), carbs (sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa), healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil), and greens into most of her meals. She enjoys snacking on nuts, veggies with hummus, and brown rice cakes with almond butter. Rachel enjoys foods that have minimal ingredients, and she tries to stay away from processed foods, or foods with additives and colors.

Where is Rachel now? 

Rachel hopes to inspire others through fitness and enjoys meeting people at the gym who share goals similar to hers. She continues to strive for her personal best, by increasing her rep counts, developing better endurance and lifting heavier than before. Her focus on fitness is inspired by her goal to stay out of the hospital, off medication, and to be living proof of Shakespeare’s quote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

“Don’t compare yourself to others. You’re as strong as you think. Celebrate baby steps. Progress is progress. Believe in yourself. Believe in others such that they believe in themselves. Empower. See someone that inspires you? Let them know. Pay it forward.”

Rachel M.

LA Fitness Member

Results will vary. Rachel M.’s story reflects an exceptional result, which does not apply to the average person, and is not representative of or a guarantee that you or anyone else will achieve the same or similar results. Do not attempt to change your diet, fitness routine, or any other activity related to your health without first obtaining the advice of a medical professional.


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The Benefits of Living an Active Lifestyle

The Benefits of Living an Active Lifestyle

May 1st marks the start of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month!

Are you game enough to join in on the fun?

Leading an active lifestyle can help inspire those around you to become more active as well. Encourage the family to take a walk together after dinner or get in some pre-work pushups in the AM (read How Early Morning Workouts Can Impact Your Day here). The more your body moves the less likely you are to develop health issues further down the line. And the great thing about choosing to live an active lifestyle is that you can start at any age!

Let’s Get Physical 

For adults, physical activity can help lower the risk of many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and heart disease.1 And for the more seasoned adults out there, engaging in physical activities like balance and muscle-strengthening activities can help lower the risk of falls and improve cognitive function.2

But aside from the benefits explained above, exercising – even in short increments – helps provide our bodies with energy! We’ve all experienced that mid-afternoon drop in energy level, but a quick little walk around the office could help with that tired feeling.

Where to Start 

So, how can you celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month? Well, a few quick tricks can be as simple as organizing an afternoon lunch walk with colleagues, choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking further away from your work location in order to get a few extra steps in.

One of the main things to remember is that staying in shape doesn’t have to be a chore – remember childhood days full of play?  If sports are your passion why not consider joining an LA Fitness Club Leagues team? It’s a great way to keep fit while having fun! With basketball, volleyball, and racquetball leagues offered, there are plenty of options to choose from (not to mention, LA Fitness is the largest provider of racquetball courts in North America!).

 

Did You Know? 

According to the American Heart Association, moderate activity can help reduce the risk of stroke by about 20 percent, and that number jumps to about 27 percent in individuals who are highly active.3 Exercise also helps promote better sleep (just be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime or you may have a hard time settling down).

However you choose to stay active is up to you! Try out different activities until you find one you enjoy. Oftentimes that will trick our minds into shifting focus from working out to simply having fun, all while burning calories.

So, what are some of YOUR fitness goals for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month? We would love to hear them!

Have an inspirational fitness success story? Share it with us by sending an email to blog@fitnessintl.com.

Sources:

  1. “Benefits of Physical Activity.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 22 June 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. <https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/phys/benefits>.
  2. “Physical Activity and Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04 June 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm>.
  3. “Physical Activity Improves Quality of Life.” Physical Activity Improves Quality of Life. American Heart Association, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/StartWalking/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp#.WNwCL4WcGUl>.

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