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The 7 Common Mistakes In Getting Results at Boot Camp
By Brian Calkins, Cincinnati Ohio Personal Fitness Trainer

I recently had a conversation with a lady who'd just completed her first boot camp. She was bouncing off the walls with a newfound energy level, a sense of euphoria, and was so excited to come into the studio for her post-camp evaluation since she was confident her body had changed significantly. After reviewing her numbers, however, her enthusiasm quickly turned into disappointment. "After 4 weeks of exercise, how could it possibly be that my body weight and measurements didn't go down?"

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common, not just at boot camp but in nearly every fitness environment where fat loss is a goal. I talk to a lot of people who "exercise and eat healthy" yet are not achieving the results they desire. As a result, some give up in frustration while others justify that, in spite of persistent lack of noticeable physical change, at least they are healthier. I agree! Movement is much better than stagnation and provides plenty of health, mental and emotional benefit. But if someone is investing their time (not to mention their money) into a fitness routine, why not get ALL of the desired results in return?

Below is a listing of the seven common mistakes people make when attempting to find the balance between eating right and exercising. After talking with our boot camp friend, she admitted to making several of these mistakes. I don't want you to be in the same boat at the end of your camp! With an understanding and elimination of these mistakes, you'll avoid the frustration of this lady and find yourself moving more rapidly toward achieving your fitness and weight loss goals during your boot camp experience.

Common Mistake #1: Consuming too much sugar (or refined carbohydrates)
Thanks to savvy marketing, the words "fat free" have compelled Americans to feast on cookies, cakes, ice creams, and pastries as our waistlines have grown larger. The number one ingredient in these foods is sugar and regular consumption is an excellent way to sabotage attempts at fat reduction.

See, when you ingest simple sugar, even if it's from a fat free Fig Newton, an energy or meal replacement bar, or glass of orange juice, all of that sugar gets absorbed into your bloodstream at once. For that moment, you have high blood sugar. Assuming that your pancreas is functioning well, it responds by producing additional insulin. And since there is a sensitive balance between the pancreas' production of insulin and glucagon, when insulin production increases the production of glucagon is reduced. Insulin is a "storage hormone" transporting sugars through the wall of the digestive tract and into the muscles and the liver. Glucagon is a "release hormone" allowing you to mobilize and thus burn stored fat. Therefore, when glucagon production declines (due to excess sugar consumption) you significantly slow your body's fat burning ability.

Refined carbohydrates, such as foods made with bleached and refined flour, are not much better. Normally your body does a fair amount of calorie burning work to digest complex whole grain carbs. However, if you're consuming carbs that have been bleached and processed there is very little thermic value and these foods are void of vital micro-nutrients making them "empty calories." Like sugar, these bleached and processed carbs quickly spike blood sugar and are easily converted into triglycerides and stored as fat.

Common Mistake #2: Failing to provide adequate challenge to the working muscles
In virtually every fitness environment there are people who are just going through the motions as they workout, allowing gravity and momentum to propel their weights up and down. We need to remember that to bring about positive physical change we need to continually find a new stimulus to provide progressive challenge. In other words, if your body is capable of handling a given workload without much challenge, your progress stops and your body ends up hitting the plateau.

If you perform 30 seconds of dumbbell curls, for example, with 8 pounds, and you are absolutely certain you're going to get to 30 seconds without breaking a sweat, that set will do very little to stimulate metabolic or strength improvements. Conversely, if you start with 8-pound dumbbells and they are initially challenging, and as the workload becomes easier you gradually increase the resistance level (to 10 pounds, 12 pounds, etc), you can facilitate very impressive change over time.

Common Mistake #3: Neglecting protein intake
When most people think of healthy foods they usually think of fruits and vegetables first. Next they think of whole grains. Often, though, people who exercise come up short on sufficient protein consumption. In the absence of adequate dietary protein your body can begin catabolizing (or breaking down) muscle tissue to free up stored amino acids. This loss of muscle is a long term detriment to metabolism and can result in the body becoming more efficient at storing fat. Remember to strive to include leaner proteins (chicken, turkey, seafood, legumes, low fat dairy) into your diet 5 times every day. Ideally you'll consume 20 grams of protein at each meal. If you find it difficult to eat sufficient protein, consider using a quality protein shake as a supplement.

Common Mistake #4: Failing to eat frequently enough
The typical American diet of a small breakfast, moderate lunch, large dinner, is more a result of habit than it is the result of careful evaluation of human performance and nutritional need. If we think of our metabolism as the rate at which we convert nutrients into fuel, or the speed with which your body burns through food, going five hours between meals is enough to send blood sugar plummeting and thus, create an intense craving for excessive calories when you finally do get to your next meal. Optimally, if the goal is a lean toned body, your body would be very happy to eat a small "meal" every 3 - 3½ hours. Again, if you struggle to get to food frequently enough, consider investing in quality meal replacement shake.

Common Mistake #5: Believing daily activity "counts" as exercise
So many people confuse yard work, cleaning the house, playing golf or shopping for exercise. I'm not saying there is no benefit to cutting the grass, but when engaging in the things that we do on a routine basis the process of adaptation has already taken place. It's important, regardless of what you do in the course of a day, to set aside some dedicated time to challenge the muscles against progressive resistance.

That doesn't mean back off on your activity. Of course physical activity will serve you well, but it's not an adequate substitute for focused exercise sessions devoted solely to improvements in body composition and in cardio respiratory function.

Common Mistake #6: Failing to ingest sufficient calories to maintain metabolism and supply fuel for activity
A 120 pound woman, at rest for a 24-hour period, would burn approximately 1200 calories just to keep her brain functioning, her heart beating, and her internal organs pursuing life-sustaining metabolic processes. Add in movement, exercise, stress, and work and caloric requirements further increase. The old and misleading adage, "eat less to weigh less," has sent dieters into too aggressive calorie deprivation.

Yes, to lose excess fat stores you have to have a small to moderate calorie deficiency (400 - 800 calories a day). Once you understand, however, that eating small meals frequently throughout the day will boost metabolism, making the body more efficient at utilizing calories and releasing fat, you'll quickly develop some improved eating habits. Ideally you'll divide your daily calories into 5 - 6 balanced meals allowing for optimal use of nutrients and a continuous stimulation of metabolic activity.

Common Mistake #7: Failing to schedule down time

Think of exercise as the stimulus that causes your body to make positive adaptations . . . as you rest. By "rest," I'm not only referring to sleep, although that should certainly be adequate if you want to see results. I'm also referring to the pursuit of a relaxing hobby, days off from work, visiting a park or a beach, or sitting at home enjoying some music.

There is a crucial balance between stress and recovery, and while positive stress (exercise) properly applied can lead to the body making exceptional progress, it will only do so if there is adequate "down time."

It might be helpful to realize that there are opposing forces at work, and if the balance isn't quite right, the results can be perilous. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and has been referred to as the "stress hormone." During periods of elevated stress, cortisol levels are increased. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which means it allows the body to cannibalize its own tissue. It does have an important purpose. The gradual breakdown of tissue allows you to continuously build new, healthy cells. Cortisol also makes certain that if the body's energy needs suddenly go up due to an extreme stress, there are plenty of amino acids floating around to be converted into glucose and used as fuel. We access those amino acids in a stress-induced state by breaking down muscle.

There are other hormones that are more geared toward enhancing positive response. Growth hormone has received much attention lately and people have come to believe it's a drug. It isn't a drug, but a human hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland and it plays a vital role in anabolism (tissue building) and protein synthesis as well as in keeping metabolic processes at optimal levels of performance.

Growth hormone production is increased when you rest, and further increased when you enter deep sleep. Without adequate rest and sleep a cortisol-dominant environment can prevent you from seeing the results you're working so hard to achieve.

So, keeping these 7 common mistakes in mind, your path toward a healthy, lean and highly energized body is now in reach. Eat supportive meals frequently (lean protein, starchy wholegrain carbs, and live fibrous carbs), exercise enough to provide challenge (use challenging weights at camp), maintain appropriate elevated hear rates (don't walk when you're capable of jogging, don't jog when you're capable of running… and never miss out on the suicide drills!!), and schedule in relaxation and recuperation time. With this common mistake checklist in place reshaping your body becomes a much more straight forward process.

Now let's get to it…see you in the morning!!
 

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