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By Gina Cousineau
As a nutrition expert and trained chef, you might think I am outside of my scope of practice when I tell you my goal is to save my clients’ lives, not only one plate at a time, but also through teaching them how to advocate for their health.
Unfortunately, as I have written about previously, our health care system doesn’t have the checks and balances necessary to prevent your needs from falling through the cracks. This, paired with an individual’s desire to wish away their ailments, really sets us up for increased disability and shortened lifespans.
Trained in integrative and functional nutrition, I consider myself an interventional health care practitioner, who works in conjunction with your medical providers to help you champion for your own well-being.
All prospective clients tell me they know what to do; they just don’t do it. And while I understand change is painfully difficult, if you were offered baby steps to move toward improving your health and longevity, would you consider it?
I believe your answer would be a resounding “yes.”
I always start with the question to prospective clients of “what is your goal?” If weight loss is your end-all, then feed the multibillion-dollar diet industry and choose one. Fact is, and you already know this from personal experience, you will lose the weight (or at least some of it), but you will not be able to keep it off.
So, instead, let’s consider changing that goal to “health gain” and allow the scale to move in your desired direction as a perk, not a priority. This small shift in your mindset can really help you focus on making more healthful and wholesome changes in the kitchen, as well as with your activities of daily living.
No restrictive and punitive diets, and no killing yourself in the gym; just imagine.
Daily, I shake my head as individuals tell me they believe they can “out-train that bad diet.” They can’t. Your fancy coffee drink takes 10 minutes to consume, and few of you can train hard enough in an hour to balance just those calories.
While the nutrition space of late is pushing mindful and intuitive eating, I personally believe that there is nothing instinctual about your eating as an adult.
Starting next month, I will launch a series of live webinars, recorded for your convenience, focusing on advocating for your health and reducing your risk of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, colorectal cancers, and more.
While nutrition and fitness will be part of the conversation, preventative care will lead the way.
Because I only have one opportunity a month to influence your well-being, I have decided to offer my loyal readers, along with these webinars, the opportunity to participate in a complimentary 50-minute private session, in-person in my home office in San Clemente or via Zoom.
While I hope to get in as many of you as possible over the next few months, your fully completed application will dictate which of you will be chosen.
Within this application, you are able to share your family health history, as well as your own story, and these details provided prior to our meeting, will allow for a fruitful and comprehensive opportunity for you to help yourself advocate for a long, healthy, independent, joyful life.
Simply go to mamagslifestyle.com and register in the pop-up in the center of the page. Indicate which paper you found us in, as only readers will have this opportunity to meet with Mama G.
Gina Cousineau is a local nutrition expert who specializes in weight loss and helping her clients improve their health. As a trained chef with her BS in Dietetics and MS in Integrative and Functional Nutrition, her goal is to help her clients enjoy every morsel they consume, learning how to move with ease in the kitchen while using their “food as medicine.” Subscribe to her weekly newsletter for complimentary cooking classes, recipes, webinars and more at mamagslifestyle.com, or reach her at [email protected] and 949.842.9975.
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With so many different exercise routines and types of workouts, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to get started. You may wonder what the best workout schedule is, what types of exercise you should include and how often you should be doing them.
I will start by saying, some exercise is better than nothing! I never want people to feel discouraged to even start because they feel like they can’t commit to a certain number of days per week or a certain length workout each day. Even a 10-minute walk around the block is making steps in the right direction — so do what you can, when you can!
For those people with a general goal of improving their health and fitness, incorporating different types of exercise on a consistent basis, and reaching a moderate-intensity during those workouts, will provide the best results. Being regularly active boasts a wide variety of health benefits that include managing weight, reducing the risk of disease, strengthening bones, improving brain health, and improving a person’s ability to perform daily activities.
As a personal trainer, many of my clients enlist me to create the best workout schedule for their lifestyle and their goals. While this is customized to each person, there are a few basic guidelines that I follow.
How often should I exercise?
The CDC recommends 4-5 days of exercise a week to improve overall health and fitness. The recommend length is at least 30 minutes daily, though some exercise is better than none.
Depending on your personal goals, gym accessibility and what kind of exercise you enjoy doing (i.e. running, weight lifting, Pilates), your workout schedule may look different from someone else’s. But this is the workout schedule I generally recommend to improve overall health and fitness.
As a certified personal trainer, yoga and Pilates instructor, I recommend that my clients exercise five days a week, dividing the workouts as follows:
How much cardio you should be doing depends on your goals. If your goal is to lose weight, participating in at least two days of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or another aerobic activity (like spinning, swimming or fast walking) is what I recommend for my weight-loss clients.
These vigorous activities increase calorie burn. Though most lower-intensity cardio sessions will only increase calorie burn during the activity itself and maybe a little afterward, HIIT workouts lead to the “after-burn effect.” This means that not only are you burning calories during the workout, but for hours after your workout session.
How many strength-training days should I do each week?
I recommend that my clients strength train three days a week. Not only does research show that strength training help reduce overall body mass and fat, but research also shows it can improve your body image. Many of my clients report feeling stronger and more confident after a single strength-training session because they have find a sense of accomplishment in strengthening their bodies. Other clients have found that after adding in strength training, their bodies begin to release weight and they finally see the number on the scale start to go down.
A sample weekly workout plan
I usually recommend adding Pilates core work to strength-training days and yoga and/or stretching to the cardio days.
However, if you are crunched for time, you can perform cardio and strength training in the same day. Just keep in mind that it’s best for your muscles to not do the same strength-training workout two days in a row because the muscles need time to rest and repair. You can do cardio, core work and stretching every day!
This sample workout plan gives you an idea of what a week of well-balanced workouts may look like, including strength training, cardio, yoga and rest days.
Monday: Strength training (full body) with Pilates abs and yoga stretching
Tuesday: Cardio HIIT Session (20-30 minutes) or long walk/swim
Wednesday: Strength training (full body) & with Pilates abs and yoga stretching
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: Strength training (full body) with Pilates abs and yoga stretching
Saturday: Cardio HIIT session (20-30 minutes) or long walk/swim
Sunday: Rest day
Stephanie Mansour is a contributing health and fitness writer for TODAY. She is a certified personal trainer, yoga and Pilates instructor and weight-loss coach for women. She hosts “Step It Up with Steph” on PBS. Join her complimentary health and weight-loss challenge and follow her for daily inspiration on Instagram and in her new app.
Let's talk about different forms of motivation. As a person looking to get motivated to lose weight, you should first ask yourself, "Can I motivate myself? If I cannot afford a personal trainer can I still get the job done?" Some people - those who are motivated by something or have completely made a decision to motivate themselves -- can use this motivation to get to a point where they're making good decisions about their eating habits, losing weight, and reaching their goals. On the other hand, there are people looking to lose weight who are not in a particular state of mind to motivate themselves.
The question is, Do you need a personal trainer to motivate you? I cannot answer that question for you directly, just as I can't take your journey to health and fitness for you. But I can tell you this: in my opinion you can lose weight without a personal trainer. And you can even lose weight without dieting. I'll give you tips on how to succeed in self-motivating to weight loss, and discuss if and how a trainer can be useful in the process.
You Can 'Do It Yourself'
Self-motivating can be very difficult. We have created a society which seems to be very needy. This manifests in the realm of health and fitness as the belief that we have to hire a personal trainer and go to a gym in order to accomplish our health goals. But personal trainers are just another tool to assist you in your weight loss; hiring a personal trainer does not determine whether you're going to lose weight or reach your goals. I know a lot of personal trainers who have obese clients start a weight loss process and after they lose five or 10 pounds they set them loose.
Those clients are still obese. I know personal trainers working with clients to get them stronger but they end up gaining weight because of the muscles they build. In the grand scheme of things, this is a positive development because muscle burns more calories than fat, but the clients cannot control what they are doing outside of the gym-- self-motivating to change their diets - so they do not lose weight. The good news is that the inverse is also true: you CAN lose weight without a personal trainer. If you structure the way you make changes in your life properly, you can do the job of losing weight and getting fit yourself.
To do this, you will have to understand certain aspects of fitness and nutrition. Given the public health crisis of obesity in our society, there are enormous amounts of information on how not to be obese available to you -- on the Internet and in libraries and bookstores -- that you should take full advantage of. Gather resources and information about the human body, food plans, workouts, training regimens, and dietary supplements to help you work towards reaching your fitness goals. I also recommend looking in the self-help section of the bookstore to see what speaks to you.
This can help you change your mind about other negative habits in your life so there is a complete metamorphosis, not just of the body but of the mind as well. This is what ultimately determines your success - how far you can go to alter your mind. This is why personal trainers do not guarantee weight loss, because they cannot live in your head. What can guarantee that you reach your goal is altering your state of mind so that you think differently about health and fitness, about your weight loss. Even better, eventually you will not have to think about it at all. Health and fitness and training can and will become second nature, just like waking up and brushing your teeth.
You Can Do It at Home
As we think about health and fitness being second nature, let's also consider the necessity of a gym or fitness facility to reach our fitness goals. As with the 'need' for a personal trainer, there is no need to pay a monthly fee to enter a place where there is equipment, other people, or sometimes distractions in order to reach our fitness goals and become healthier people.
Just being active and doing more than you did in order to become obese or gain the weight will start the process of reversing your obesity or shedding pounds. So if you do not have a gym or fitness facility, what do you or where do you go for exercise? Well, places you can get a good workout may be in your own home, like a spare bedroom, basement, or garage.
Find a spot where you can lay out a couple of mats, put up a small television, get a few free weights, and some workout videos. Add some fresh plants and make sure you have nice lighting and upbeat colors to make it an inviting personal workout space. Over time, setting up your own workout space will cost you considerably less than the gym membership that you going to be paying for even when you're not going to the gym.
You can also go outside in the sunshine and nature to get some vitamin D and fresh air. In the spring, summer, and fall your training may happen at a park or lake or some other outdoor venue. In the winter this may be a little bit more difficult, but you will have your personal workout space to retreat to, where you can continue to stretch, do push-ups, sit-ups and free squats in order to keep your body in motion to burn fat and continue weight loss. None of these suggestions requires you going to a fitness facility. They don't require you to put out a great deal of money to become healthy.
What it does require is that you build a resistance to failure and the negative voices in your head and create within yourself the aptitude for self-motivation. This means you will have to take on the burden of being able to motivate yourself. In essence you will have to become your own personal trainer.