Fitness & Wellness

How Can I Know I'm In Ketosis?

How Can I Know I’m In Ketosis?

One of the most popular diets today is the keto diet. It forces the body to switch from using glucose to burning fat. That causes the increase in ketones in your blood. They’re the energy source for the brain when limited glucose is available and created by the liver. Ketosis indicates the diet is working, so you need to know when you’ve achieved it. Here are some signs to help you.

Test your blood for more ketones.

Probably the most reliable way is to test the blood for ketones. That requires you to prick your finger and a special kit that can be expensive. Since excess ketones leave the body as acetone in the urine and breath a breath analyzer, is a second choice. The most often used and cheapest way is to test the urine. The urine strips aren’t as accurate, but they are less expensive and give you a good idea of how much progress you’re making.

Your breath smells odd and not in a good way.

The breath analyzer indicates ketones, which are acetones, are being expelled. A good friend or family member can do the same thing. The release of acetones makes your breath smell like a combination of nail polish remover and rot. It’s a side effect of ketosis. No matter how much you brush your teeth or gargle, the smell lingers. Don’t quit brushing more often or attempting to eliminate it by chewing sugar-free gum or gargling. Those still help a bit.

Losing weight is one of the most positive ways to know you’re in ketosis.

You went on the keto diet and noticed that you shed far more weight than expected in the first few weeks. Rejoice! The diet is working and your body is in ketosis. You won’t have such fast weight loss after that, since the loss is mostly water weight but your weight will consistently drop. It will just be slower. The upside is that it will be true fat loss.

  • After you start the keto diet, you may notice you’re not as hungry as you might normally be. Some believe it’s due to the increase of protein and change that causes diminished hunger hormones.
  • You might feel exhausted initially. Fatigue can affect physical and mental performance. It’s all about switching from using carbs to burning fat for energy. Once your body adjusts, your energy level returns.
  • The keto-flu includes both brain fog and digestive issues. The feeling of being sick is common when first starting a low-carb diet. It takes a few days for the brain to adjust to burning ketones. Since you’re eating less fiber, digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation occur.
  • The good news is once your body adjusts, you’ll be more focused and have improved brain functioning. You’ll have more stable sugar levels. If you initially had insomnia, it disappears after a few weeks.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

Is Stretching Really That Important?

Is Stretching Really That Important?

If you never stretch, you won’t have the flexibility to protect it from injury. Stretching performs many different functions. It can wake up sleeping muscles after a night’s rest and get the blood flowing to ready them for the day. It can also help relax tight muscles after a hard day. There are many different types of stretching, but one truth that permeates all forms of stretching is that it plays an important role in every exercise program and daily living.

Get your body ready for the day with a yawn and a stretch.

After a long slumber, your body temperature is lower, and your muscles are completely relaxed. A good stretch in the morning and yawn can change all that. It’s a natural reaction to increase circulation and prepare the muscles for the day’s work. Yawning increases oxygen intake to add to the preparation. Animals do both, too. A stretch before becoming active warms the muscles and prepares them for use. That can help prevent muscle injury.

Achieve better posture by stretching.

Poor posture throughout the day can cause health issues. Conditions like headaches, difficulty breathing, heartburn, incontinence, and constipation are known to be caused by poor posture. Poor posture can cause other, less common, physical issues, too. TMJ is just one of those. Traditional workouts for building strength can help improve posture, but stretching is also important. Stretching increases the range of motion and lets you extend muscles so your body aligns properly.

A pulled muscle can put you out of commission for weeks or months.

If you workout, stretching should play a vital role in that workout. It should also be part of everyone’s daily life, since pulled muscles don’t always occur at the gym. A person may bend down to tie a shoe or pick up the baby and pull a muscle in their back. Tripping, even if it’s minor, can cause muscle injury. Stretching increases your range of motion and oxygenation of the blood, which can prevent lactic acid buildup after exercise.

  • Stretching provides a transition from sedentary to active. It helps acclimate the heart and prepare it for a workout so there’s no sudden spike in blood pressure.
  • There are several types of stretching, but the two most often used are dynamic and static. Static is a stretch-and-hold type of movement, such as toe-touches, and dynamic involves movement, like lunges.
  • If you have a sedentary job, you need to stretch and walk around every 55 minutes. The stretching will help prevent or relieve any back pain and both will improve overall health.
  • Stretching before a strength-building workout can help build muscles faster. It allows a fuller extension of the muscles during the workout and allows you to work muscles on all planes.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

The Best Plant-Based Protein

The Best Plant-Based Protein

If you’re like many people in Houston, TX, who have switched to a plant-based diet, you’re having a problem identifying a good plant-based protein or how to introduce vitamin B12 into your diet. For vegans, adding nutritional yeast or fortified products are good ways to include B-12. The answer isn’t as simple for plant-based protein. There are far more options and some require combinations to create the best amino acid balance.

Before getting into the best plant-based protein choice, you need to understand protein.

Protein is one of the three macronutrients. It’s created from 20 amino acids. The body can produce all but nine of those. Those are the essential amino acids. They include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, lysine, methionine, and valine. When a food with protein contains all essential amino acids, like animal products do, it’s considered a complete protein. Few plant-based proteins are complete proteins and must be combined to ensure the diet contains all essential amino acids. You don’t have to eat them at once for a complete protein. You can consume several types of amino acids throughout the day.

A few plant-based options are complete proteins, like soy and quinoa.

There’s a wide variety of soy products on the market. Soy is one of the better quality complete plant-based proteins available. A cup of chopped tempeh has 34 grams of protein. A half-cup of raw firm tofu has 21.8 grams of protein and the same amount of edamame has 7 grams of protein. Quinoa is another complete protein source that can be used in place of rice. If it’s not a staple for those choosing plant-based options, it should be. It has a long shelf life and has 8 grams of protein per cooked cup.

Hemp seeds and chia seeds are complete proteins and make good supplements.

Hemp seeds contain complete protein. Three tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds contain 10 grams of complete protein. That’s about 1/6 the amount required daily amount. You can use it to increase protein intake by sprinkling it on salads, adding it to oatmeal, or incorporating it in other ways into your diet. Two tablespoons of chia seeds provide five grams of protein—1/12th the DV. Like hemp seed, you can use it to supplement your protein intake.

Pistachios are a great snack and an excellent way to increase protein in your diet. A one ounce serving provides 6 grams of protein. They’re a delicious snack that will increase your protein intake.

Combine two plant-based incomplete proteins to get a complete protein. Beans and rice and peanut butter on whole wheat are a few combinations.

Plant-based protein sources are often inexpensive. Many have a long shelf life, making it good to store for emergencies. Lentils, beans, rice, quinoa, nuts and nut butter, and nutritional yeast are a few examples.

High-protein breads, like Ezekiel bread, provide a source of protein. Coat it with peanut butter and it’s a high-protein meal or snack.


Tips To Motivate Yourself To Workout

Tips To Motivate Yourself To Workout

Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to workout. There’s always something to do in Houston, TX, that can divert your attention from exercise. The same thing is true of every city and municipality in the country. Whether it’s a busy schedule or just dreading the workout, it can end an exercise program very quickly.

One way to motivate yourself is to remember why you started working out in the first place.

Was it a glance in the mirror that made you wince or how tight your favorite outfit was? Sometimes, it’s not about looks but having stamina to keep up with others. A health scare is another motivating factor. Write down your reason for starting your program and post it where you can see it. When you’re tempted to skip a workout, that subtle reminder can help. Visualize accomplishing your goal or have pictures or posters that represent that visual.

Take a picture of yourself before you start your workout.

Every two weeks put on the same clothing and take a picture in the same spot. Changes are slow, and seeing the changes is very motivating. By taking pictures every two weeks, you can see the changes. If you’ve worked out for several months, comparing the before with a recent photo is eye-opening and dramatic. Those changes can spark pride and make you glad you started exercising.

Trainers get results. Holding you accountable is one reason.

If you’re working out at home and don’t have a trainer, you can get some of the benefits of a trainer by having a workout partner. When you workout with a trainer, you know the trainer is waiting for you at the gym, giving you more impetus to go. Like a trainer, the workout partner can do that and push you harder when you’re not putting forth enough effort. A workout buddy can provide friendly competition, too.

  • Be consistent and make your workout a habit. Put your workout in your schedule as you would any appointment. Doing it the same time each day makes it a habit, which is harder to break.
  • Change your mind. If you dread working out, it makes it harder to start. Find reasons to love your workout. Focus on how you feel, how it will feel to accomplish your goal or the new control you have over your muscles.
  • Track your progress and make it a game. Write down every workout, the number of reps, and how hard it was to do. Record your weight, endurance, or any way you measure your success.
  • You might not see changes in your body immediately, but you will notice changes in your energy level in the first few weeks. Look for every change and write it down or make a mental note about your improvement.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

Foods That Are Good For Your Gut Health

Foods That Are Good For Your Gut Health

If you’re not getting the nutrients you need, your body won’t function properly, affecting your overall health. Your gut is responsible for most of the digestive processes and the food you consume can either be bad or good for it. A diet high in sugar creates many problems, from too few beneficial microbes to inflammation. A compromised gut means compromised health. If you’re taking gas relievers or antacids after each meal, it’s time to switch your diet.

Introduce probiotic food into your diet.

What are probiotic foods? They are foods with beneficial microbes. A healthy microbiome—the collection of microbes in your gut—means better health throughout the body. A lot of things can affect the balance of microbes in the gut, creating an unhealthy environment. Medications, stress, a poor diet, and lack of exercise are a few. Probiotics replenish the beneficial bacteria. Probiotic foods are fermented foods that contain live cultures. It includes kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, some types of cheese, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Add foods that are high in fiber to your diet.

Food high in soluble fiber is prebiotic. The soluble fiber in the food improves the population of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract by providing food for them. The result is short-chain fatty acids that aid in mucus production, boost immunity, and deal with inflammation. Food high in soluble fiber includes beans, avocados, Brussels sprouts, apples, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. The other type of fiber, insoluble fiber, provides bulk to the stool, prevents blood sugar spikes, and hemorrhoids, and keeps food moving through the tract. Consuming nuts, whole grain products, and apple peels can boost insoluble fiber intake.

A diet high in plant-based food, but low in added sugar can be a big benefit to gut health.

A diet high in sugar boosts the population of yeast and other pathogens. As the colony of bad microbes grows, cravings for more sugar increase, causing more inflammation and weight gain. It can cause malnutrition, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, cancer, and mental health conditions. Skip the candy bar and eat fresh fruit. Cut back on red meat and replace it with vegetable protein sources. It takes longer to digest meat, which can create digestive issues.

  • Consume food high in collagen to heal the gut. Collagen regulates stomach acid and heals leaky gut, IBS, and inflammation. You can boost collagen by adding bone broth or protein-rich foods to your diet.
  • Gut health also benefits from additional vitamin C, zinc, and copper. Citrus fruit, bell peppers, cheese, nuts, organ meat, and cocoa powder can increase the intake of at least one of those nutrients.
  • Apples are excellent for gut health. They improve digestion, plus provide pectin to increase the beneficial bacteria, reduce the risk of acid reflux, boost weight loss, and aid hair and nail growth.
  • Antibiotics kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria. If you have to take an antibiotic, consume fermented food an hour before taking the antibiotic or an hour after taking it to protect gut health.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

Healthy Rewards After A Workout

Healthy Rewards After A Workout

You know that looking and feeling great will be the ultimate reward for working out and eating healthily, but that takes a long time. In the meantime, you need healthy rewards to congratulate yourself for making it through a tough workout or going to the gym when you felt like staying home. Pizza, beer or hot fudge sundaes are definitely inappropriate, so what is a good option? It has to be in line with your fitness goals and also be something you enjoy.

Sometimes just recording your success is enough.

One reason tracking your workout is so important is that it can drive you to do better each time. If your best workout involved 6 sets of each exercise and you had a tough time, then celebrate when you make it to 7 sets. Give yourself an overall score after each workout. Compete against yourself. The reward is often knowing you accomplished something you couldn’t do previously.

If you need more than just the accomplishment, find something you want that is frivolous.

Not everyone is driven by gold stars and a sense of accomplishment. It’s why they pay you when you go to work, instead of just giving stickers. Find something super lavish that’s not in your normal range of extravagance. Maybe it’s a special shampoo, comfortable, upscale casual wear, or an expensive pair of shoes. Every time you complete a particularly grueling workout, give yourself permission to use the object you chose. If you’re achieving your goals regularly, you’ll have that shampoo gone in no time or those shoes well broken in.

Treat yourself to dinner.

Do you hate cooking, then find a place to buy healthy meals and take yourself and/or your family out to dinner instead of cooking. If you love cooking, have special recipes ready and buy what you need at a local farmers’ market. Indulge yourself with recipes that you’d save for special occasions. You are the special occasion of the day.

  • Only you know what drives you. Some people hate running, but find it tolerable if they’re running toward a destination. In that case, the reward is arriving at the destination.
  • If what you want is way out of line with your budget, pay yourself to workout and then use the money you’ve saved. Put a few dollars in a jar every time you hit a goal or worked hard. It won’t take long to treat yourself to something expensive.
  • Take “me” time. Carve out an hour and let yourself enjoy it, doing whatever you want. You can plan ahead and if you don’t hit a goal, choose a task to do that you’ve been neglecting and do it instead.
  • Make your next workout something you love to do. You don’t have to go to the gym, go dancing instead and dance to every song. Take a day at the pool and do pool calisthenics. Have fun and get fit at the same time.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

How To Train For A Marathon

How To Train For A Marathon

There are a variety of marathons near Houston, TX, this year, as well as other races. A marathon is one of the most grueling races at 42 kilometers—26.2 miles. You don’t go from living a sedentary lifestyle to running a 26.2-mile race overnight. You have to train for a marathon. Sometimes, the training is in the gym and sometimes it’s out running. It’s all about building endurance and knowing your limits first. If your last running experience was playing dodgeball in grade school, you have a long way to go. Take it slowly.

Test your limits.

Start by getting a physical or checking with your healthcare professional, since a marathon is especially grueling. The less fit you are, the more important it is. You have a goal, running a marathon, but which marathon and when? If you’ve never exercised, start slowly and plan for a marathon as far as a year in the future. Beginners can start with a 20-minute walk/run routine, where you run for as little as 15 seconds and then walk for a minute to catch your breath, returning to running. As you get fitter, extend the running period and shorten the recovery time. Once you can run a full 20 minutes, it’s time to start training for your marathon.

Build your mileage.

Marathons are grueling for a reason….they’re really long! Once you can run 20 minutes straight, start working on your mileage. Work out 3-5 times a week, with at least one long run every 7-10 days. Many runners use Fartlek techniques that constantly vary pace throughout the run. Instead of going at high-intensity and recovery, you go at close to high-intensity speed, medium, low speed, and everywhere in between the three, but never slow down to recovery pace, always keeping your heart rate slightly higher. Run on various types of terrain.

Build up your distance.

Alter the way you increase your distance run. Start by increasing your long run by a mile every week or two. If you’re running 10 miles, the next distance run, go 11 miles, then 12 miles. Instead of going 13 miles the next distance session, revert to 10 miles, and the following session, increase it to 13. Don’t worry about your pace on the distance run, but distance. Rest on the days you’re not running. It should be active rest, like swimming, calisthenics, or yoga.

  • Focus on sleep. Sleep allows the body to heal and produce HGH—human growth hormone. HGH aids in muscle repair.
  • Hydration is important. Get a hydration pack or belt. If you don’t want to carry the water, create a path that goes past water sources, like fountains. Drink lots of water before any long run.
  • You have to feed your body right to be your best. Eat a healthy diet throughout training. The night before a long run, or the marathon itself, make your meal rich in carbs and carry energy packs or fruit during long runs.
  • If running a marathon is your goal, personal training can help. Our small group in-person training is also another good option.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

Meal Planning Supplies You Can't Live Without

Meal Planning Supplies You Can’t Live Without

If you want to start meal planning as a way to get fitter, save money and make life easier once you start, you need to get the meal planning supplies. Meal planning starts by writing down your meals on any type of paper or creating a calendar on your computer and filling in the blanks with the meals you’re serving that week with a space to include the grocery list. Some people opt for actual meal planning online programs that can vary in price. They come with meal plans, a grocery list and recipes.

You need a place to store the meals you planned.

Those handy microwavable containers for individual servings. Most people like bento boxes with separated areas. You need enough for a week’s worth of meals. If you cook your meals on the weekend, two meals will be served immediately, so you just need five per person. If you’re making food, you’ll be using it every day, like overnight oats, glass mason jars are also important. They provide a tight seal to keep that food fresh longer.

An instant pot and slow cooker are also good options.

Cooking several meals at once can be far too much for any stove, so you need help. Supplementing with countertop cookers like an instant pot can help you do that. Most instant pots do the jobs of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, yogurt maker, steamer or rice cooker. If you cook for a large family, having a slow cooker in addition to the instant pot is also a good idea. Just like the instant pot helps relieve the pressure of cooking too many things on the stove, adding a slow cooker can do the same.

If you’re packing future meals in plastic freezer bags, you can save money by getting reusable ones.

If you’re doing meal planning and use plastic freezer bags, you’ll end up spending a lot of money and throwing away a lot of used plastic bags. Instead, consider getting reusable plastic freezer safe storage bags. Get ones that are BPA-free, freezer-safe and safe to use in the microwave, in boiling water and ovens, as long as the temperature is less than 425 degrees. These are particularly good since sometimes you forget to put the frozen sauce or soup and need to thaw it quickly and that requires heat. If it’s not suitable for the microwave, you have to destroy the bag to remove the frozen contents.

  • A good vegetable slicer can make it easier to use fresh veggies without the hassle of chopping. If your meals are a lot like mine, a lot of your time is spent slicing and dicing, which makes slicing in bulk faster.
  • A food processor can help you save money and turn those leftover fruits and veggies into a quick smoothie. However, they’re also good for chopping garlic, grinding nuts and turning chicken into bits for chicken salad.
  • Basic kitchen utensils like a cutting board, measuring spoons, measuring cup and a high-quality, sharp knife. You’ll need microwavable containers, a set of pots and pans and a roasting pan.
  • An immersible blender is also a good investment. You can use it directly in the pot while you’re cooking. It has unlimited capacity and is perfect for everything from soup to salad dressing.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

Make Working Out A Habit This Year

Make Working Out A Habit This Year

When I talk with clients in Houston, TX, I find that the ones that are most successful at sticking with a fitness program tend to make working out a habit. Most of us think of negative habits, like smoking, binge-watching videos or TV or leaving dirty dishes on the floor, but habits can be good, too. If you make it a habit to eat healthy meals or exercise at a certain time every morning, you’ll be just as apt to do it as you would a bad habit. Most of the time, you automatically do it or it’s uncomfortable when you don’t.

Working out is essential for a healthy life.

Your workout doesn’t have to be formal. It’s all about living an active, varied lifestyle. You need flexibility, strength, endurance and balance training throughout life. If you’re active, moving furniture, dancing, playing basketball or riding bikes might be part of the way to do it, but it even an active lifestyle doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get all types of exercise or work all parts of the body. A program of exercise does. If you don’t get all the types of training or work on all parts of the body, it can leave you vulnerable.

Start by scheduling your workout.

Just like any appointment, you’ll be more apt to keep that appointment with yourself when it’s on your schedule. You’ll also start to associate that time with your workout. Have you ever switched jobs or had your job schedule change and found yourself driving to your old workplace instead of your new one, or driving to work when you meant to go to the grocery? It happens. Just like establishing any habit, whether it’s eating healthy food or going to work, once it’s a normal part of your daily life, you don’t even have to think about it, you just do it.

Don’t try to do it all at once.

If you haven’t worked out for a while, or ever, you need to monitor yourself and start slower. Instead of pushing yourself to do an astronomical amount of reps, cut back on the reps and focus on form for the first few weeks. The proper form is one of the most important parts of any workout routine. Slowly add repetitions and sets as you go. Don’t risk injury by pushing too hard.

  • You can follow our online services for a workout that’s created to bring success. Schedule time for personal training, small group or bootcamp training to create a scheduled workout and create a habit.
  • Make working out a habit by being prepared for the next day’s workout. Pack your gym bag or have your workout clothes laid out. If you have the bag next to the door, you won’t forget it.
  • Workout with a friend. Working out with a friend means you’ll be held accountable for showing up. It’s one reason personal trainers have such great success. They hold clients accountable.
  • Track your progress. Tracking your progress means writing down your workout, including the number of reps. Make notes on how hard or easy the workout felt and how you increased difficulty as you went. Winners keep score.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness

Strength Training After Having A Baby

Strength Training After Having A Baby

A lot has changed over the years. Women are no longer subject to weeks of bedrest after having a baby and even the present rule of waiting to exercise for six weeks after childbirth has its exceptions. If you’ve exercised throughout your pregnancy, you may be able to start even sooner. That doesn’t include women who had complications or a C-section. You may be able to start strength training before the six weeks’ time, but before you start any exercise program, check with your health care professional.

Moderation is the key.

Whether you exercised before you had your baby or not, start slowly. Your body is undergoing some dramatic changes, with muscles and skin being stretched to the limit. Your ligaments and joints are also looser, so there’s more chance of injury. Start with something simple and productive. Walk with your baby in your arms. Lifting the baby also provides great strength training. The baby is the weight of many small weights you’d use in the gym to begin strength training. Even better, as you get stronger, your baby also gets heavier and more challenging to carry.

Core strength and pelvic floor strength are extremely important.

Laying on your back with thighs at a 90 degree angle to the floor, knees bent and parallel or at an almost 90 to 105 degree angle to your thighs. If you want, baby on your tummy, do toe taps while bonding with your bundle of joy. Lower one leg and tap the floor with your toes then raise that leg and lower the other, also tapping. Repeat.

Walking, doing pelvic tilts and some yoga can help strengthen your body.

A pelvic tilt can be done in a number of ways, standing, sitting or lying on the floor. It’s a matter of moving your back so you have it straight, taking the normal curve out of the spin, then returning back to normal position. It’s almost a rocking forward and backward of the hips. Doing simple yoga positions, like child position, cat/cow, mountain pose and goddess pose can build strength without putting too much stress.

  • If you were actively doing strength training before the baby was born, don’t expect to start where you left off. You need to go slowly but will find you’ll be back to your previous level quickly.
  • When you first start working out, don’t use weights. Focus more on form than on repetitions or how much weight you can lift. Always work to strengthen the pelvic and core areas first.
  • In the first six weeks, avoid barbells or weights. Lifting your baby’s body weight will be enough to help build or maintain strength. When you’re ready for more strenuous workouts, consider getting inexpensive resistance bands.
  • Focus on posture and avoid high impact workouts. Your abdominal muscles and pelvic muscles have been through a lot and aren’t ready yet. Focus on improving your posture, which changed during pregnancy due to weight shift.

For more information, contact us today at Reggie C. Fitness