Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

Love It!

Posted: June 26, 2013 in Fat Loss, Health
Tags: , , , , , ,
Image Source:
Image Source:

Image Source:

I have clients, friends, family and passersby coming to me everyday in a frantic search for truth and self-discovery. They contemplate whether or not it is even possible to look as stunningly beautiful as Kate or as devishly handsome as Pitt. They want a simple answer: YES or NO!? Well the answer, as formulaic and cliche as it may sound is: It depends.

Everyone’s genetic potential is vastly different. From the Pear to the Apple to the enviously desireable Hourglass, each bodytype is predisposed by genetics, much like eye color and hair type. You cannot do anything about this, but what I like to drill into their self-doubting psyches is that you can always, ALWAYS, look the best you possibly can. And this “best” is always within reach. Some may need to work just a bit harder than others.

What most people do not understand or choose to not see, is that fitness must be looked upon much like a marathon. Pacing oneself and looking at the big picture is important, but also taking one mile or goal at a time is crucial to any wellness plan’s success. Planning for a 30 lb loss within 3-4 months is a worthy goal to aspire to but can quickly become overwhelming when the loss doesn’t come as quickly as Dr. Oz promised it would. But breaking that goal into small increments of a few lbs per week or focusing on moving that belt loop just one hole over can do wonders for overall success.

I personally find the latter aim to be the most effective. Weight loss can be a tricky balancing act between water retention, muscle gain/fat loss, and clothing sizes, so it is best to look at how well your clothes fits to truly gauge your program’s success. If you look better and you have been told many times that you do, yet your weight seems to stay the same, don’t worry, you are doing absolutely fantastic.

What I want every self-doubter and naysayer to know at the end of the day is that  you must learn to love what the gym can do for you, to yearn not dread your next session. I ask that not only you learn to love what results you can reap but also begin appreciating the feel of your tired muscles, to hold dear the idea of feeling stronger each and every time you step into your workout place of choice, to feel a passion for your newfound diet. As sad as it is for me to admit, if you do not learn to love the fit lifestyle, you will always revert back to the start.

So please ask questions, get answers, and feed off this new life and I gaurantee you will never be more satisfied.

Happy Lifting,

Alejandro Lopez CSCS



P.S. E-mail me at with any questions or leave comments at the end of this article.



Go Green! No, I am not advocating being carbon- neutral, I am requesting, nay, urging that you give green tea extract a whirl if you want to lose an extra pound or two of unsightly fat. Though drinking the actual tea has its many benefits, you would have to consume dozens of cups a day to reach the fat burning dosage you could easily find in a few pills a day. Just make sure that when choosing the perfect pill,they contain a proven amount of EGCG, a polyphenol that is the prime mover of those stubborn fat cells in your body.

Also, caffeine and EGCG work very well synergistically to combat fat throughout the day, so take both throughout the day with meals for a killer combo.

Note: It is vital that you take the appropriate dosage of each for your given bodyweight, no more and no less, to achieve the perfect combination of safety and results.

Instead of steady-state, regular ol’ cardio try HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. It is basically a cycle session composed of a sprint for about thirty seconds to a minute followed by 30 seconds of very low intensity cardio for a total of 10-20min. This can be accomplished by running, cycling, or any other  form of cardiovascular exercise. Studies have shown that, as a whole, HIIT burns more calories and tends to build muscle faster than normal cardio. So HIIT it up!

Get Fishy with it! Try hard to consume your fish oil every day for overall health, fitness, and even weight loss! Make sure that the soft-gels you purchase contain a hefty amount of EPA/DHA as these are the omega-3 fatty acids that produce the benefit.

You enter the gym on National Chest Day (Mondays for just about every resistance training male) and you bolt straight for the lone bench, conspicuously left alone by every pec-fiend around you. It is yours now and you have the plan of all plans. You start with a warm up set of flat-bench barbell chest presses then progressively overload for the next few working sets, reaching for a higher max weight for given reps than last week. You proceed to Incline then Decline with the same idea, rounding out the workout with high rep sets (12-15) of pec-deck or flies. This has been your holy grail of logistic training and you wouldn’t change it for the world. The problem is that you chest, tris, and delts are also stubborn to change and you wonder why o’ why is this happening.

Well the reason is not consistency, because you have demonstrated this to a tremendous degree, but stagnation. Basically, you have been doing the same thing for too long and the progressive overload technique(increasing intensity through higher reps for a given weight or higher weight for a given rep as the weeks progress) which is sound and always a favorite has begun to express itself in diminishing returns. So you may be gaining marginal strength every workout or two but the massive gains in strength and size brought about by your favorite aforementioned technique are just not there anymore. You need a change…..badly!

This is where intensity techniques come into play. From supersets, to dropsets, to negative isometrics and everything in between you have a plethora of methods for busting through that plateau that has plagued you for what seems like a milennia. For the purpose of brevity, let’s focus on supersets.

The concept of supersets is simple; correct execution, difficult. Basically, the goal of super-setting is to string one set directly behind another with little to no rest so as to elicit greater adaptation and growth. So if your focus for the day is chest you can follow a solid set of flat-bench with dips. Two for the price of one. You ramp up intensity and you shorten your time in the gym. Your muscles will work harder and remain under tension for longer. Just make sure you maintain proper form throughout.

The reason a well-executed super-set tends to supercharge your goals is simple. When you get to the point in a set where you cannot move the bar or dumbell even a quarter of an inch higher, you can further tax the muscle by engaging in another set of the same muscle group with a lighter weight or just different motor function (Flat bench which targets whole chest then incline which targets upper-chest and deltoids). This ramps ups intensity, sending signals to your brain demanding a need to release more growth-hormone to compensate for the trashing your muscles received.

Super-sets can be accomplished through a few methods: One muscle group suppersetting (see above), antagonistic (opposite muscle groups like chest then back or biceps then triceps, non-relating muscle groups (like quads then biceps) and Big muscle/small muscle super-sets (Chest then triceps or back then biceps).

All are valid and contribute to different results. One muscle group supersets contribute to intensely straining one muscle group; antagonistic supersets reduce time in gym, allow for heftier gym sessions targetting more than one muscle group; non-relating muscle groups supersets allow you to toss in sets of non-relating muscle groups for weak-point training and higher growth-hormone production (the more groups you train, the more growth hormone is released) ;and Big muscle/small muscle super-sets function similarly to the one-group method.

 There is no shortage of techniques to better your physique and these are just a few. Play the field thoroughly and find what works best for you. But remember, consistency did benefit you before and will continue to do so as long as you never, ever stagnate. Change is good but work hard at your new style until you see those diminishing returns.

We are in an ever-changing world, evidenced in the year 2012 more so than any years past. We landed a rover on Mars, and unprecedented feat to say the least, and we are developing a never before seen (well, aside from science fiction games, novels, and movies) aircraft that can speed from Tokyo to France in less than two hours! But nothing is more revolutionary, more life-changing, more ground-breaking than………….Carb Cycling!

Ok, I may have exaggerated for a pronounced effect, but this idea is still cool, though not at all new. Without going too far into the scientificy approach to the dieting system ( as you can find tons of articles on the internet), I will first discuss the basic tenants of the idea, then segue  into how this idea can benefit you new dads, moms, and busy, working youngsters.

As I stated previously, this method is not new nor is it all too revolutionary. It is one method among many to lose those stubborn pounds around your chest and midsection that you just can’t tick away no matter how many damn sets you do. or pack on that quality, lean muscle that has eluded you for all these months or even years! Let’s begin with the basics:

Your days of the week are going to be divided into three different diet patterns all based around the manipulation of your carbohydrate intake. They are High, Low, and Moderate or Medium. Dependant upon your body weight, you will consume a certain amount of carbs within each of the three “cycles.”

Now let’s be real here , no one reading this has the time to nitpick each and every gram to “maximize” your fat loss or muscle gain nor does anyone really want to partake in this form of madness (except you anal people out there!  You know who you are). Therefore I am going to make this easy for you.

The theory behind the practice is that by cycling your carbs, you body’s metabolism will not stall as it tends to do during a long fast from carbs (30 days or more), and your body will be better equipped to maintain the muscle it already has because it is being refueled or “refed” every few days or so on those high carb days. Oh, and the most important part, you get to eat however much you like for 1-2 days during the week so your mind doesn’t explode! Let’s begin!

According to the FDA, a person should arbitrarily consume around 2,000 calories per day regardless of age, sex, frame, or weight (Crazy! I know!) but i digress; 1,200 of these calories should, in theory, be obtained from carb sources such as bread, rice, vegetables, and fruits (your body’s primary source of fuel and greedy desire). That is around 300g of carbs as each gram of carb contains 4 calories. So, basically, the FDA recommends that 60% or our daily sustenance be derived from these nasty, fattening carbs that we hear so much about. That is a whole lot and does not leave enough room for protein (which translates roughly to  “in the lead” or “primary” signaling its great importance to organic life) or dietary fats(secret: some fat actually helps you lose weight!). But the other macronutrients are topics for another day.

The reason I bring up the FDA’s version of proper nutrition is to illustrate the exaggerated need for carbs. Don’t misunderstand me, carbs are fantastic for fueling everything from a cloudy mind to tired muscles and there is no substitute for their brand of power, but the sheer amount of carbs recommended by this agency is astronomical and does not reflect the actual energy expenditure that the average American produces. Basically, we don’t need that many carbs because most of our time is spent either in a desk or in front of the television. There are times throughout the day where carb intake is optimal and where the bulk consumption should be taken. But enough introduction; let’s get into the nitty and the gritty of this concept.

Let’s begin with the low or no carb day. You will consume anywhere from 3-6 meals evenly spaced throughout the day, composed primarily of proteins and dietary fats to make up for the reduction in carb intake. Protein sources should be derived primarily from whole food sources such as chicken, tuna, eggs, turkey, milk among other sources, the rest obtained from protein powders and the like. Your dietary fats should come from sources such as nuts and nut butters, healthy oils, and fatty fish such as salmon. Carb intake should be reserved (if at all consumed these two days) for the very early morning and after a good workout when your glycogen, or carb stores, in your muscles are depleted and should be refilled.  These should be composed of whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, vegetables and the more fibrous of fruits. Now, as I stated earlier, we have busy lives and counting calories is one hell most of us would like to avoid. So skip that part, eat a lot of protein and don’t overdo the fats and you should be well on your way to fitness!

Now that we have the foundation laid out and we know what to eat, let’s discuss the other two sections: the moderate (medium) days and the high carb days. For the moderate day we must maintain our decorum so as to not undo the previous no/low carb cycle and take the carb intake easy. For breakfast you can have your whole grain bagel and your low-fat cream cheese (throw in an egg or two for good measure) and for lunch you can have your nice, juicy piece of chicken and that small hill of brown rice. But eating more carbs means that you need to workout that day. Carbs are a source of energy for the body and should be burned off accordingly or they tend to be stored as fat. After your hard workout (I know you can break a hefty sweat!) you can consume your “white” carbs without too much consequence because your muscles have no sugar left. These include white bread, white rice, and other sugars. You are well on your way now!

The high carb day is fairly self-explanatory, just eat more carbs and burn them off that same day! On one of those days for one or two of those meals, go splurge. Eat whatever you want because you deserve it and your brain needs it. This ensures your adherence to the diet and is the beauty of this plan. You know that in three or four days you are going to tear up that piece of cake or scarf down that juicy fattening burger and it makes eating that plain ol’ chicken today much easier!

So that’s pretty much it. You can schedule your week in several different ways, for example: Mon-Tues: Low/No carb,  Wed/Thurs/Fri: Moderate, Sat/Sun: High. My tip is to schedule whatever works best for you, just make sure you get in the three cycles. You may have lunch meetings with clients on Tuesdays and Wednesday so you may want to have your High carb days then or you need to take out all of your weekly frustrations out on mountains of food during the weekend so you splurge on Sat/Sun. Don’t worry if you slip up a couple of times, that is what keeps us sane. Just make sure you jump right back onto the fit train come the next day. Good Eatings!