May 29, 2024

Add Function to your Fitness with Stairs

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Get Functional with Stairs!

Stair climbing is one of the most functional exercises. Think of how many times you may step up or step down during the day. Stair climbing strengthens your heart and lungs, your muscles, your balance, your agility and coordination.  Start slow and easy after a proper walking or range of motion warm up of 8-10 minutes. Form is important when climbing stairs for exercise. Keep your upper body straight up, with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips. Even though you’ll be looking down to insure safe stepping, focus on looking down with your eyes only rather than slouching your entire upper body forward and down. Ten stairs is a great repetition range to begin, followed by walking or marching in place to keep heart rate moderate during rest periods. Then, climb the next set of 10, and so on.  So whether you revisit the classic stair climber machine at your gym or find a flight of stairs in your community, consider adding function to your fitness with this exercise.


*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

Natural Metabolism Boosters by Angelena Riggs

Whether you are looking to burn fat or gain lean muscle follow these tips to naturally boost your metabolism.  Stay consistent and you will start to see the results in as little as 2 weeks.

Eat enough of the right foods- Focus on eating whole, nutrient dense food.  Make sure you are eating lean protein, plenty of veggies and fruits.  Steer clear of processed foods that offer no nutrients, they are bad for your waistline and metabolism.

Eat your breakfast- Start off your day right and eat a well rounded breakfast: eggs scrambled with your favorite veggies on a piece of sprouted grain toast and some fresh berries.  This sets you up for a successful day.  Also, down one glass of ice cold water before your first bite.

Eat throughout the day- Make sure you have 3 meals and at least two snacks planned for the day.  Eating at regular intervals, every 3-4 hours, keeps your metabolism burning and will ensure that your body doesn’t break down that hard earned muscle for energy.

Lift weights- Lifting weights helps to build lean muscle.  Lean muscle takes more energy to maintain than fat, and for every pound of lean muscle you build your body will rev up your metabolism to maintain that muscle.  Challenge yourself beyond those 3 and 5 pounds and watch your body change!

Add HIIT to your workouts- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is adding short bursts of high intensity moves, like sprints or jump squats to your low intensity steady state workouts, like weight lifting.  This gets your heart rate up and then forces your body to recover many times during your workout.  The benefits continue even after your workout is over, you burn more fat and calories for up to 24 hours.

Stay hydrated- At a minimum you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces.  For example a 150 pound woman should at least drink 75 ounces daily.  Add don’t forget to drink extra during your workouts!

Angelena is a mom, healthy living blogger at On Fire Fitness Healthy Living (, an NASM Certified Personal trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Her goal is to inspire others to take the steps to living a healthy lifestyle. Visit Angelena on Facebook and Twitter.

Healthy Weight Loss Tips by Angelena Riggs

One of the questions I get most frequently is…

“Why am I not losing weight?  I am doing everything right!”  There are many factors that go into the process of losing weight, in addition to exercising regularly. There are some things that you may be or not be doing that is affecting your weight loss progress. Remember that every person is different and will react to nutrition and exercise differently.

Here are the top reasons that you may not be losing weight:
1) Sleep.  Sleep is so important and you should aim to get at least 7 hours each night.  Try to wind down about an hour before your head hits the pillow, turn off all your electronic devices and do some reading or light yoga.

2) Stress.  When you are constantly stressed out your body produces the hormone cortisol which leads to belly fat gains, not exactly what you what.  Take some time each day to relax and recharge.  Try to free up your schedule and ask for help from family and friends.

3) You’re not eating enough or you’re eating too much.  It is important to know how many calories you should be consuming when you are trying to lose weight. Consult a nutrition Professional to help determine how many calories you need to reach your goals.

4) You’re eating too many processed “foods.” All calories are not created equal.  Ditch the processed foods for whole, real nutrient dense foods.  Make it a habit to eat these kinds of foods and you will love the way you look and feel!

All good things take time and hard work.  Remember that your weight loss is a journey and you are learning how to live healthy for the rest of your life.  Stay positive and you will get there!

Angelena is a mom, healthy living blogger at On Fire Fitness Healthy Living  (, a NASM Certified Personal trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.  Her goal is to inspire others to take the steps to living a healthy lifestyle. Visit Angelena on her blog, and via Facebook ( and Twitter (

Breaking a “No Fat” Mindset By Laura Maydak

Weight struggles may create somewhat of a “dietary fat phobia”, but it’s important not to let a low-fat mindset become a no-fat mindset.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend healthy adults consume 20 – 35% of their daily calories from fat.  These recommendations aren’t made without reason, so let’s focus on why we need fat in our diet – and how to choose the best sources.


Key Functions of Fat:
•      Digestion, absorption, and utilization of fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients (who knew that consuming fat with fruits and vegetables was so important?)
•      Delayed gastric emptying, making us feel fuller longer (meaning fat can be good for weight loss)
•      Providing a concentrated source of energy
•      Proper cell functioning
•      Hormone production
•      Regulation of body temperature
•      Cushioning of organs and bones
•      Providing flavor and texture to food

Types of Fat
The “Good” – Unsaturated fats
- Monounsaturated fat
•      Benefits: may lower total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides when substituted for saturated fats
•      Sources: olive oil and other vegetable oils, nuts and nut butters (especially peanut), avocado

- Polyunsaturated fat
•      Omega-6 benefits: may lower LDL cholesterol when substituted for saturated fats
•      Omega-6 sources: corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, nuts, seeds
•      Omega-3 benefits: may lower triglycerides when substituted for saturated fats
•      Omega-3 sources: Fatty fish (such as salmon), flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts

The “Bad” – Saturated and trans fats

Note the word “substituted” – adding unsaturated fats to an already high-fat diet is not beneficial.  If you’re unsure of a food’s fat content, read the nutrition facts panel to see the amount of saturated, unsaturated, and total fat per serving.

Smart Swaps
•      Guacamole instead of cheese-based dip
•      Nut butter in place of cream cheese on toast
•      Replace high-saturated fat condiments on sandwiches with avocado
•      Use vegetable oil instead of butter to sauté
•      Substitute avocado for butter or shortening while baking (1:1); vegetable oil may also be used (ratio is a little less than 1:1)
•      Choose fatty fish instead of red meat

Laura Maydak has a B.S. in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh, and is currently a graduate student in the school’s Coordinated Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics program on her way to become a registered dietitian.  Aside from school, she is an avid runner, fitness enthusiast, and wanna-be chef.  Connect with Laura on twitter (@lmaydak) for motivation and tips for living your healthiest, happiest life – all given with a healthy dose of humor.

How to Boost your Metabolism by Helen Agresti, RD


Boost your metabolism with these easy tips:

1.  Say good morning to your body. Drink at least 8 oz. of water when you wake up.  Water purifies the body and makes for a more favorable environment for nutrients to be absorbed.

2.  Eat a well-balanced breakfast. Your first meal of the day should include protein, carbohydrate, and fiber. Keep variety and timing a priority. We don’t eat the same thing for dinner every night. Why do we eat the same thing for breakfast everyday?  Give your metabolism a boost by eating within an hour and a half of waking up.

3.  Make time for lunch. Fueling our engines every 3-4 hrs with real food is essential to our metabolism. We’d never allow our cars to run on the wrong type of gas or on empty. Avoid convenience foods and map out your healthy meals and snacks.

4.  Distribute your calories evenly throughout the day. Waiting until the evening hours to consume the majority of your calorie needs increases insulin levels, promotes fat storage, and results in weight gain. By the end of the day, our metabolism slows down and doesn’t burn calories as efficiently.

5.  Add some spice. Cayenne pepper, ginger, and dark mustard are just a few of the many spices that kick the metabolism into high gear. Their thermogenic effect naturally raises the metabolism and can burn up to 50 calories per meal.

6.  Increase your lean body mass. We have the ability to increase our lean body mass.  Incorporate weight or resistance training into your workout routine 2-3 times per week. The more LBM you have the higher your metabolism is at rest.

7.  Sleep well. Not getting enough sleep will slow down our metabolism. It can lead to a ravenous cycle of overeating. When we’re tired we don’t want to cook which leads to poor food choices. Try to sleep 7-8 hours a night. In turn, this will increase your leptin hormone level which communicates with the brain when you’re appetite is satisfied.


Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti and on the web

Running: How much is too much? By Charlene Ragsdale

As we begin running, we are faced with the choice when/if/how to increase our mileage. While it may seem to be an easy choice, it isn’t. The choice to increase mileage should not be done carelessly. Safety first! Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned athlete, start with two thoughts:
1. Your current fitness level
2.  Define your goals

Accessing your current fitness level is critical. A newbie runner cannot and should not attempt to run a 10 mile run, in their first week. However, a seasoned athlete may be able to do so. Running should be goal focused. You may want to lose weight, gain fitness or train for a race. Speak with those of whom you value their time and experience to find out more about what it takes to achieve your goals.

When the time comes to increase your mileage:

There is a general rule of thumb: Increase your mileage per week by 10% and train at that distance for 3-4 weeks.  Then, increase it some more. Overdoing the mileage can and often will lead to fatigue, burn out and even injury. Know your body limitations!

When increasing your mileage, know why you are doing so. Again, keep your eye on the goal. Increasing your weekly mileage by 5 miles can be mentally exhausting. Focus on the long term goal and when the times get tough, remember that goal. As you increase your mileage, be sure to pay attention to how your body (and mind) are adjusting. If you are becoming overtly fatigued or drained, back down on the miles.

Above all else, have fun. Increasing your mileage should be a great gauge for your training and will provide inspiration to keep running.

Charlene Ragsdale is a RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist and member of the USATF Master’s All-American Team. She can often be seen at on the podium as a frequent Age Division & Overall Winner in several distances. She lives with her Chef husband, two sons and two dogs in Las Vegas, NV. You can follow her at her blog:

Worst Weight Loss Advice by Danielle Prestejohn

Admit it, at some point in time we’ve all fallen suspect to the lure of some fabulous new diet or weight loss tip. Maybe it was to stop snacking at night, eating mini meals, or swapping half of your grains for vegetables. Regardless of whether they’ve worked, you’ve likely tried or at least thought about it. Let’s be honest some of these tips actually work wonders, and others not so much.

Here is a collection of some of what I consider to be the world’s worst weight loss advice. Dieters Beware!  

Low fat diets. Luckily we are slowly moving away from this trend. Eat a diet low in fat and you will be hungry, cranky, and likely not absorbing key vitamins you need to thrive. Fat does not make us fat; instead it protects our major organs, absorbs certain vitamins, and helps our bodies to function. Worst of all are the “health” foods geared at dieters that are far from healthy. Beware of fat free cookies, candy, and snack foods. It’s not healthy and will not lead to weight loss, even if it’s low fat.

100 calorie packs. Limiting your food to 100 calories does not make it a weight loss food. Packaged, processed, and packed full of not so good for you ingredients, 100-calorie packs are simply a marketing gimmick for dieters. You will not lose weight snacking on these. Most are high in carbohydrates and devoid of fats and protein meaning you will burn them off quickly and be hungry again in 20 minutes. Eating 3-100 calorie packs does not equal a healthy snack.

No carb diets. I say no carb as opposed to low carb. Some people thrive on a lower carbohydrate diet that is still full of fruits and vegetables and that is fine. What are not okay are diets that promote an extremely low number of carbohydrates, we’re talking less than 60 grams. This is a quick way to lose energy fast, and put your body into ketosis, which can potentially do some serious damage to your kidneys. The only reason people see initial success with low carb diets is because they lose water weight. Carbohydrates store water in our bodies while fats and protein do not. This means the second you start eating carbohydrates again; your weight will come back.

Skipping meals. Skipping meals is not an effective way to lose weight. You will slow your metabolism and end up hungrier in the long run, likely eating more at your next meal.

Very low calorie diets. I’m not talking about Very Low Calorie Diets, which are considered to be diets consisting of 800 calories or less, are monitored by medical professionals and are designed for those who are obese with serious health problems. I’m talking about the diets that dip below 1200 calories a day. These diets are not only incredibly difficult to follow, but they are also unsafe. Follow a really low calorie diet and you can expect the not so pleasant side effects of low energy, fatigue, a slowed metabolism, potential heart problems, and dehydration.

This article is written by Danielle Prestejohn, M.S. applied nutrition. Sign up for Danielle’s free guide to ditching the diets and ditching the misery via  For more information go to and

Weight Loss Do’s and Don’ts by Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN

Four Infallible Weight Loss Dos & Don’ts

Plan Ahead - In the game of life, when we have a plan we are more successful. So, why would it be any different when it comes to weight loss? Meal planning gives us the opportunity to make healthy choices before life gets in our way (which it often does.) When we are already hungry, our judgment becomes clouded, often leading us to opt for what’s convenient instead of healthy. Planning ahead takes this out of the equation, which allows us to make smarter decisions that won’t leave us feeling guilty and dis-empowered. Need added incentive to plan ahead? Meal planning has also been found to decrease stress and save money.

Be Mindful - Eating mindfully means being aware of why, what and how much we are eating. Begin by asking, “Am I really hungry?” It sounds simple, but it is an effective way to avoid emotional eating, eating out of boredom and grazing (for example, snacking throughout the day.) During meals, focus on the meal. Turn off the TV. Put away your phone. Close the laptop. Studies show that when we take the time to chew, taste and savor our food, we naturally eat less and enjoy more.

Eat Your Calories, Don’t Drink Them - Sugary drinks have been a hot topic over the past year and rightly so. Eating and drinking are two different sensations. Calories from drinks, including fresh juice, add up very quickly, yet do nothing to curb our appetite. By swapping out juice and soda for sugar-free drinks, we can cut out hundreds of unwanted calories. As with eating, we must enjoy what we are drinking for the change to stick. To add flavor, but not calories try infusing water with fruits, vegetables or even ginger.

Don’t Skip Meals– Despite popular belief, we need to eat to lose weight. Skipping meals slows our metabolism, causing our body to hold on tight to every calorie we put in our mouth. This is often referred to as “starvation mode.”  Eating three meals and two to three snacks picks up our metabolism, facilitating weight loss. Meal skipping also leads to poor decision making, fast eating and larger portions. Three weight loss no-nos. If we never skip meals, we never get to the point of “starving,” enabling us to make smarter choices and control our portion sizes.

Lori Rosenthal, MS, RD, CDN
Bariatric Dietitian
Department of Surgery
Montefiore Medical Center
Follow Lori on Twitter via @LoRoRD

Fat Loss Questions, Answered! By Mary Miriani

We all know that exercise is good for us and generally why (helps us lose and maintain weight, keep our heart healthy, beats stress and feels good). But what happens inside the body that makes exercise so healthy?  

Why do I have to work hard enough to breathe heavy in order to lose weight?

Respiration (breathing) obtains oxygen which the body uses to release energy from the food you eat and moves gaseous wastes (carbon dioxide) from the body. Exercise that feels like an effort helps you increase the amount of oxygen that your lungs can hold and use (called VO2max.)  The more oxygen you get in, the more efficiently you will use the energy (calories) in the food you eat and release energy in the food you have stored (in your muscles and fat.)

What is the right amount of time to work out in order to lose weight?

The answer depends on how hard you are willing and able to work. The latest guidelines suggest that people exercise for 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week at moderate intensity(able to talk but not converse.) There are many ways to accumulate 150 minutes of exercise each week –all 150 minutes at once on one day (not recommended for most), 2 days of 60 minutes and 1 of 30 minutes, 5 days of 30 minutes each, etc. However, for weight loss you need to work a little harder and/or longer. You must do enough exercise, not only to burn calories, but to burn off the excess calories stored in fat. What that means is that you must perform cardiovascular exercise where you are breathing hard (but can still say a phrase or two) a minimum of 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each time. If you are just starting out or have any medical issues, fitness professionals recommend obtaining a doctor’s clearance before beginning. Also, consider opting for exercising for 45 to 60 minutes 5 days a week at a lower intensity. Choose activities that you enjoy and varying the exercise from time to time, such as walking one day and maybe biking another. Keep in mind, that whatever you choose, different activities will burn different amounts of calories in the same time frame.

How does my body actually lose weight?

It is easy and correct to say that weight loss is the result of eating fewer calories than you burn, however for most of us trying to lose weight, it does not feel that simple. Be clear if you want to lose weight or lose a size in clothing. It is possible to lose a size and not lose any weight at all, or even gain some weight. Muscle takes up less space in the body for the same weight than fat does. The body actually burns only calories when you exercise. Where it gets those calories from depends how much you eat.  If you ate a lot of calories, then it will burn the calories contained in blood glucose, and glycogen (stored glucose in the muscles.) Our bodies are efficient and will get energy in the easiest way possible using the metabolic path with the least amount of steps to turn calories into energy first.  After approximately 20 minutes of exercise, the body will start to burn calories stored in fat.  However, if you overeat, those fat cells will not shrink when the calories stored in them are burned. They will store the new excess calories. That is why you must control the amount of calories you consume. Think about portion control, and normal portions are generally 3 to 4 times smaller than seen on an American plate. Use small plates!

By Mary Miriani; BA Exercise Science; ACSM Health/Fitness Specialist. Contact her via email,