Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm a trainer! Now what?

Some of you may know, I was laid off from my job in public relations and corporate communications this past spring. While I enjoyed my job, and felt I was pretty good at it, my position was relocated out of state and I was left to start over...again.

The PR / Journalism thing was good to me for the past 10+years, but I felt I was spinning my wheels and would never get anywhere. I wanted to move up and make a difference in my company, but that was not to be.

If there's one thing I have learned in my nearly 40 years on this earth, however, is that when one door opens, it's time to crawl through a window!

I ditched my corporate aspirations and decided I would re-enter the fitness industry. In a past life, in college and shortly beyond, I was a trainer and manager of a local fitness center. I enjoyed the work. The people were fun, motivated and energetic. Why did I ever leave? Looking back, I guess I felt with a fresh college degree in my hands (and one that was not health related), that I should put it to work.

I went to grad school and got an MA in Journalism, worked in PR in auto racing in Indiana for a bit before relocating back East to NJ where I have since held a string of communication-related jobs - none of which ever really took me anywhere.

So here I am, 20 years later I'm back in the fitness industry and I couldn't be happier. I now hold a personal trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and have started working part-time for a local personal training studio. I'm also looking for private clients in the area. I have access to two different gyms and a plethora of outdoor venues for training and I can't wait to get started.

Why train with me? I am experienced female weight lifter who knows that lifting heavy will NOT make me look like a man. At my best, I deadlift twice my weight and can do more pullups and chinups than most men at my gym.

Train with me and I will create a custom fitness plan to suit your personal goals. Whether you want to train weekly or work with me via email/online support, I have plans that will accommodate your needs.

Email Jenn at fiercefitfearless@gmail (dot) com for more information.

Until then, train hard and have fun!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Guest Post

I was recently contacted by a very nice guy at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance who asked if he could post a guest article on the importance of exercise in the fight against cancer. As a firm believer in the healing powers of proper nutrition and exercise, of course I said yes. So, without further delay, here is his take on the importance of exercise - specifically as it pertains to those fighting cancer.

Exercise - Cancer Treatment’s Secret Weapon
by David Haas

In addition to conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, the fight against cancer has a new weapon: working out. And while it’s well known that exercise is healthful for everybody, it plays an especially vital role in cancer treatment, with benefits ranging from improved stamina to a better body image.  Experts from the National Cancer Institute state that regular exercise at a level appropriate for a cancer patient’s condition can improve not only quality of life, but also ups the odds of surviving the disease.

Cancer and its treatments impose severe stresses on the body. Pain, fatigue, weight and appetite loss can make exercise the last thing on a cancer patient’s mind. But, oncologists and therapists say, for many people it should be one of the first things.  And although ‘exercise” may conjure images of vigorous aerobic workouts, the new recommendations for exercise during caner treatment emphasize that it’s movement of all kinds that makes the difference, whether it’s running a mile or stretching gently while in bed. The key is movement – activity that keeps limbs flexible and blood and oxygen flowing to the brain and body.

The role of exercise in cancer prevention has been well documented, with statistics showing that regular workouts can actually reduce the risk of cancers including breast and colon cancer.  But until recently its role in active cancer treatment and recovery has been less studied. Now, though, exercise that takes into account individual needs and concerns may be added to treatment plans for a variety of cancers. Strength training, aerobic exercise and stretching can all help cancer patients to feel better, move better and tolerate treatments more easily.

For individuals who have undergone surgery for breast cancer, weight training and stretching can stabilize and strengthen the shoulder and chest muscles. Aerobic exercise, which can be as simple as a daily walk or as intense as running, cycling or organized sports, oxygenates the blood, keeps blood vessels flexible and stimulates the immune system. Even those who are bedridden can benefit from gentle exercise such as raising and lowering the arms or lifting the feet. Stretching and flexibility workouts such as yoga or tai chi can keep joints working and muscles relaxed. This kind of exercise also incorporates meditation and mindfulness to help reduce stress and activate relaxation responses, with benefits for blood pressure and the immune system.  Individuals recovering from surgeries may find stretching helpful to strengthen healing muscles and tissues.

Some types of cancers, such as mesothelioma, colon and other upper body cancers, cause wasting and weight loss. Strength-building exercise can build back muscle, which supports the body, stimulates appetite, and creates a more positive body image. An added bonus is improved balance and coordination.

Experts from NCI caution that while exercise should be a part of cancer treatment, exercise regimens should be planned with the help of the care team or a physical therapist familiar with the special issues affecting cancer patients. Some treatments can leave patients nauseated and dehydrated, so care must be taken to keep hydrated during exercise.  Because some cancers are associated with muscle weakness, precautions to avoid falls may be especially important.Treatments for some cancers can also cause bone fragility, so vigorous exercise or high impact workouts may increase the risk for fractures.

Because exercise places extra demands on the body’s energy reserves, nutrition is also important. Cancer and its treatments can cause a loss of appetite or an inability to tolerate the healthy fats and carbohydrates needed to support the body during intense exercise, leading to fatigue and loss of stamina. Keeping well hydrated and nourished is essential for exercisers with cancer.

Exercise during cancer treatment gives patients a sense of control and normalcy, which contributes to overall quality of life as well as physical comfort.  Working out also encourages connections with others and a sense of community. Fitness can also be an important aspect of post-cancer survival. Many cancer survivors commit to regular exercise as a part of their ongoing wellness regimen, but experts urge some caution for these individuals as well since treatments may have some lasting effects such as bone weakness or balance and coordination problems.

For those coping with cancer and its treatments, exercise offers benefits for mind, body and spirit. Along with treatments, nutrition and emotional support, new research suggests that working out may be the newest weapon in the fight against this disease.

About the author:

David Haas is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. David often blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the Alliance, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer. You can read more of David's posts and find a ton of additional information by clicking here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

30-Day Consistency Counts Challenge Winners

“The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.” - Cecil B. De Mille

The face of determination.

The first FFF fitness challenge - the 30-Day Consistency Counts Challenge - was a tremendous success. Almost 100 women participated and nearly all gained strength and lost pounds and/or inches. I want to congratulate all who participated. I created this challenge after reading so many stories of women in the group second-guessing their methods after just a few days! I hope you all learned a bit about the importance of choosing one method for strength gains/weight loss and giving it a chance to work before f*cking with it.

Our Winner:

Sara Barrett
Start Weight: ~ 184 lbs, 32% BF
Goal: Cut and drop BF
Why: “I wanted to drop 20 lbs by July and started that goal since January and have made no progress. It's no longer about weight on the scale though, I just want to be less fat for my summer activities. New Goal: Entering the dating pool again in a bit so I gotta look sexy!”

End Weight: 176.4,
“I lost -9 lbs! Lost -2 inches from my waist and 1 from my hips!”

Sara has been selected as the winner of our first challenge due to her unwavering commitment, enthusiasm and dedication to sticking with her plan. She is always one of the first FFF members to chime in when others have questions or concerns and her terrific results were a great start to what will no doubt be a long healthy lifestyle! Way to go, Sara!

Challenge Cubs Honorable Mentions

Kirsty Gibson
Start Weight: 218.5 pounds
Goal: Lose body fat and build strength
Why?: “Going to Florida in September and I want to look awesome in shorts/dresses/bikinis.”

Weight 218.5lbs - 215.5lbs (3lb down)
2" above navel: 93cm - 89cm (4cm down)
Navel: 103cm - 99cm (4cm down)
2" below navel: 111cm - 108cm (3cm down)
Hips: 111.5cm - 108cm 2.5cm down)
Thigh right:          65.5cm - 64cm (1.5cm down)
Tight left: 65.5cm - 64cm (1.5cm down)

Kirsty is fighting hard to re-gain control of her body and we’re so proud of how well she did in the first challenge. While her numbers aren’t huge, she will no doubt continue dropping pounds and inches as she continues on her journey. Keep it up Kirsty! You’re doing GREAT!

Lauren Hadaway
Start Weight: ~152lb, BF: ~20.2% (19.9 and 20.4 readings within a few days of eachother)
Goal: body recomp, lose the muffin
Why: "It's something I've always strived for but never quite hit."

End Weight: ~152 (my weight flucuates all over the map daily. Hard to tell)
BF: ~19.7%. "I Don't trust the machine, but I can see more ab definition."
DL: 6x155 -> 5x190
Bench: 8x40 (dumbbells) -> 6x105 (barbell)
Squat: went from 135-> 125, but I don't think I was going parallel before. ATG now.
Glute Bridges: 8x135 -> 8x205
Chins: 5x -10lbs (assisted)   ->  4x +10lbs (added weight)
Taking Pics. Going for another month after tweaking some things.

Lauren’s experience proves the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. She made huge strength gains and lost inches while maintaining the same scale weight. This is a true indicator of lean mass gains and CNS training. Keep it up!

Erica Zbyszewski
Starting Weight: 153 lbs
Her goal: “Drop fat, build muscle, get strong, and be able to look at my (very white) legs and not see an ounce of cellulite. Also, lose some of the boob weight. It would be nice to be able to buy a normal cup-sized bra that doesn't cost a hundred dollars.”

Why: “I've never had muscles. I want to go to there.”

End Weight: Between 146.3 and 147 (loss of ~6+ lbs)
Erica lost inches and reports she is able to wear clothes that had been packed away long ago. Much of the cellulite is gone and her bra size went from 34 F to 32 DD.

“I LOVE lifting heavy and am so happy to have found this great support network.”

I wanted to recognize Erica for setting specific goals and achieving them. In just under 30 days she used consistency to lose approximately six pounds and is able to shop for bras in a regular store. (Only women would understand this one).

Den Mother Award
Though her cubs may not always like it,
the tough love of a mother can't be beat!
I created the Den Mother Award to recognize an FFF member who is always a positive influence on the rest of the members. Tanis Parenteau’s results speak for themselves (we’ve all seen the photos!), but her attitude is infections. I hope she is as inspiring to the rest of you as she is to me.

Tanis Parenteau
Start Weight: 136.5lbs, 18% bf
Goal: Cut -- going from lean to ripped
Why? “Giving myself a six pack for my 35th bday on May 27th

End Weight: 130.5lbs (couldn't get calipers done--trainer didn't show)
R bicep: -1.5cm
L bicep: -1.5cm (this is great, I carry fat in my tris!)
Waist: -1" (measured inches for this)
R thigh: -1.5cm
L thigh: -1.5cm

I'd like to ask each of those recognized here to comment on this with the method they used to make their gains/losses throughout this challenge so our readers can see that, while there are many methods to gain strength and lose fat, the one thing they all have in common is CONSISTENCY!

Stay tuned for new challenge announcement later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mirror, Mirror...Tell me the truth

The 30-Day FFF Consistency Counts Challenge starts today!

Despite the Challenge rule that you are only allowed to weigh in on Days 1, 15 and 30, I wanted to point out that the scale can sometimes be more of a negative influence on your psyche as you progress in your fitness journey.

Take me for example. In January of 2011, I was 130 lbs and pretty soft and I had no strength or muscle tone. Fast forward to August of 2011. I was down to my lowest weight in 15 years - 113 lbs. (picture below, left). While my progress was good and my weight was close to the goal I had set for myself (110 lbs), I did not look like I wanted to.

Today I weighed in at 123 lbs (photo bottom right), but I look leaner than I did 10 lbs lighter. The roundness of my belly is noticeably flatter, the cuts in my hip area and obliques are more defined and I am also significantly stronger.

When I began my IF journey more than a year ago, I thought I would weigh 110 lbs when I got lean and mean. Hah! It looks more like I'm recomping and may even top out closer to my original weight when all is said and done in another year or so, but I will look like an entirely different person.

The moral of the story - the scale can mess with your mind. If you are looking to be strong and lean, you have to be willing to accept the fact that you may weigh more than you thought you should.

August 2011, 113 lbs.
April 2012, 123 lbs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The F-Word

Learn why FRESH FRUIT will not make you fat at Fitnesssafari.