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Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 - Shane Doll

Have you ever found yourself completely stuck with not seeing fat loss even though you ramped up additional cardio and stayed strict to a low-calorie diet?

If so you’re far from being alone.

While it may seem to defy logic that more calorie burning from additional cardiovascular exercise wouldn’t lead to increased fat loss, you may be surprised.

The idea that “more is better” when it comes to calorie cutting and cardio isn’t always true, and I’ve got a perfect example to share with you today that demonstrates it.

I’m going to share with you an actual account from a client of mine that experienced a frustrating plateau when she elected to increase cardio in attempts to speed up fat loss. As not to reveal the identity of my client and we’ll just refer to her as “Annie” from here on out.

You may be able to relate her story as there are a lot of “Annie’s” out there trying to painstakingly grind their way to a better body with little food and lots of exercise. You guys pay attention to this as well since the same thing can happen to you, although females tend to bog down the most from this practice. However, you should watch the best commercial tradmill 2020 to keep motivated.

Annie’s story, the backdrop…

Annie, as we’ll call her, came to me for coaching in attempts to lose some excess body fat and tone up. She’s a perfect example of a woman in her late forties who’s by no means “overweight,” but would like to see a flat stomach and a more toned physique.

Like a lot of women over forty she simply started noticing a change in her body over the years that she wasn’t happy about.

I think it’s important to reiterate that we’re not talking about an individual with a significant amount of body fat to lose in the first place.

This is an important detail because the closer one is to their ideal body weight, the less likely it is that really low calories and lots of cardio will work very effectively.

We all know of someone who lost a lot of weight, 30, 50, 100 pounds or more by drastically cutting calories and exercising vigorously. There’s no denying this can work, but understand there are distinct metabolic differences between someone with an extra 30-50 lbs of fat or more to lose and someone with 10-20 lbs or less.

I’m not going to go into all the details on these differences in this post, but let me just say for now that the more weight someone has to lose the more leeway they have with calorie restriction and doing lots of exercise.

You see there’s always going to be some degree of metabolic down-regulation that occurs any time there’s prolonged caloric restriction or excessive expenditure with exercise. The difference is with someone who’s really overweight, their rate of fat loss is faster than the rate of metabolism down-regulation.

The opposite can be true when someone closer to their ideal body weight tries to use the same strategy.

Ok, let’s get back to “Annie’s” story.

So Annie, started training with me 2 x week doing burst training resistance workouts and also completing a couple of strength training workouts on her own. So we’ve got 3-4 x per week with resistance training, more than enough to promote lean muscle development and fat loss with the right supportive nutrition.

I had her complete a resting metabolic rate assessment and created a nutrition strategy to meet her unique caloric requirements.

Progress was made early on and then fat loss was stopped cold.

After talking with Annie and reviewing her food journals, here’s what I found…

She was regularly eating under the calorie range we initially established after her metabolic profile assessment and had started to do some additional exercise at calisthenics gym Melbourne with their  fitness classes during the week.

The rationale was simple enough, eat less and exercise more, that’s got to be better right?

We’ll the numbers from her InBody body composition assessment told a different story.

For the record, I think that body composition assessments are one of the most valuable tools at a coach’s disposal. Regardless of the current belief system the individual has regarding what “should” work, the numbers don’t lie.

Bottom line, eating less and exercising more wasn’t working.

We had a heart to heart talk and I explained to her why it wasn’t working. That her body had adjusted to the increased restriction/expenditure and responded in the only way it knew how. To preserve life, conserve energy, avoid starvation.

In short, down-regulate metabolism, decrease thyroid production, lower body temperature, and hold on to body fat reserves.

The following was my exact suggestion that I provided her…Exercise less and eat more!

What are you nuts? This is somehow going to trigger the body to start burning fat again? Yep, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

I told her to cut out the cardio classes and just focus on her resistance training ONLY. Not that cardio can’t be effective for fat loss, it most certainly is, but when there’s metabolic slowdown the first thing I throw out is the cardio.

Secondly, I wanted her to slowly begin increasing calorie consumption, in particular focusing on eating more protein and starch carbohydrates with post-workout meals.

I won’t get into all the details on the numbers and specifics, but as you can probably imagine there was some initial doubt on Annie’s part all this would work.

Well I’ll let you see for yourself. There are two screen captures below of the actual InBody body composition reports that were completed almost exactly one month apart.

The first one is from when my client was doing the extra cardio classes and keeping calories and carbs low. The second one is a month later after discontinuing the cardio, focusing on resistance training, and eating more calories and carbs.

Date: 2-27-14
Weight: 139.6
Lean Body Mass: 101.4
Body Fat Mass: 38.11
Total Body Water: 74.5

Date: 3-25-14
Weight: 139.6
Lean Body Mass: 105.6
Body Fat Mass: 34.1
Total Body Water: 77.6

One thing you’ll notice right off the bat is that the scale weight is EXACTLY the same. If the only thing she had to go off of was the scale, she would’ve assumed nothing was different. This is one of the reasons why I believe your bathroom scale should be thrown in the trash. Let’s not get me started on that rant.

Now let’s look a little closer, although the scale weight was exactly the same, she had lost over 4 lbs of body fat from the previous month! That’s about a pound a week, which I’ll take any day for someone with less than 20 lbs to lose.

Lean body mass was up, albeit a large portion of that was coming from short-term water retention occurring during the time of the assessment, but none-the-less she wasn’t losing lean muscle, she was adding it.

So we’ve got some lean muscle development and body fat loss all from doing the following:

  • Eating slightly more calories and carbs
  • Hitting the weights hard, but ditching the cardio

What’s the explanation for why this worked? It’s pretty simple actually. By decreasing the amount of cardio, she was in essence reducing the amount of caloric deficiency. The slightly higher calories and carbs in her diet worked to reset hormonal balances and ramp back up metabolism.

By focusing on the resistance training, which I’ll say it again for the thousandth time…this is the most beneficial type of exercise a woman over forty can do to change her shape, my client started to tap into body fat stores while building lean muscle.

The big take-a-way lesson in all of this is that, yes while calorie and carb cutting with lots of exercise may work for periods of time, it’s not for everyone. The closer you are to your ideal shape, the more you’re going to want to focus on feeding the muscle and supporting metabolism.

You simply can’t be afraid of eating more and bumping up carbs when fat loss comes to a standstill. This may be exactly what you need to break out of a plateau.

If you’ve found yourself stuck in a plateau like this I’m here to help. I’ve got several coaching options available, including remote diet coaching for those outside of the Charleston area. Don’t hesitate to let me know if I can be of assistance.

On a final note, just remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. A supportive nutrition diet and physical activity is paramount to fat loss and body composition changes, but your unique needs will change over time.

When a particular approach is no longer working, you’ve got to switch things up. Best wishes and talk soon. – S

Shane Doll CPT, CSCS is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. He specializes in body transformation coaching for middle age adults. Learn more and then sign up for a free no-obligations consultation.

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Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - Shane Doll

If I had to point to perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve seen over the years with those just starting out or returning to a body transformation regiment, it’s attempting to do too many things at once.

In the majority of cases this is a sure-fire recipe for frustration, discouragement, and unmet expectations.

An example would be the individual who goes from being on a poor diet and doing little to no exercise, to an attempt of hitting the gym five times a week and following a strict diet. While a small minority of individuals will have the discipline to jump right in with massive lifestyle changes, the majority of folks will find this overwhelming. Thankfully the gym owners are making it easier for us to join them with their great qualities among the system. If you run a gym then you are going to need some effective gym management software like this so that you can easily run the business and not have to worry about billing.

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Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 - Shane Doll

I sat down this morning with a cup of coffee and a notepad to brain dump some ideas for topics I’d like to discuss on this blog for 2014.

As I sat and pondered different ideas it occurred to me that I really need to do a better job with connecting on the mental aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

Sure I love discussing the latest research, training tips, diet strategies, etc, but this is my passion so it’s relatively easy for me to write about these subjects.

But then I started thinking, what about the person who’s currently doing very little for their fitness and health?

The more in-depth discussions don’t connect with these folks because they’re stuck in unhealthy habits.

Now granted there are some individuals who really don’t care and have no problem telling you that. It’s like they’re proud of their unhealthy habits and avoidance of anything that even resembles physical activity.

While I understand not everyone is going to be a health nut or workout fanatic, it’s always seemed silly to me that some people  would choose to totally neglect the most precious gift they have, their health.

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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 - Shane Doll

No this won’t be another post on the number of calories in a typical Thanksgiving meal or anything like that. Most of us don’t really want to know how long it will take to walk off the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie anyways.

I’m sure that information is out there somewhere, but I wanted to share a slightly different message about indulging over the holidays. After all, I don’t know about you but I’m going to be watching football after Thanksgiving dinner and not doing laps around the block.

When I sat down to think about what to write for this week’s blog post, I pondered on what I could share from a bigger picture perspective.

What popped into my head was a unique saying that my father used to tell me.

This was a line I typically heard as I was headed out the door in my younger years on a Friday or Saturday night when he knew I’d probably be up to no good.

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Thursday, November 7th, 2013 - Shane Doll

“So tell me Shane,” she said, “What do I really need to do in order to lose this weight and get my body back?” Then came a slightly surprised look on her face when I said, “Trust in the process and keep showing up.”

“But there’s got to me more, tell me how many hours of cardio I need to log each week, how much I have to cut my calories, just give me the blueprint!”

Trust in the process and keep showing up.

This may sound overly simplistic, but I’ve learned over the years that this is the best piece of coaching advice I can give to someone just starting out on a fitness or weight loss program.

Sure I’ll give them guidance on what changes to make and where to start with their exercise and diet, but it’s important the plan is doable and not overly complicated.

Setting the bar too high or recommending major overhauls in habits and behaviors are typically a recipe for distress and frustration, which as we know increases the likelihood of giving up or struggling to stay the course.

More after the jump…

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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 - Shane Doll

I’ll often tell my personal training clients that nutrition will be responsible for 75% or more of their results. This is true whether they’re looking to lose weight or add muscle mass.

I believe deep down most people know that their diet really is the determining factor in whether or not the time they spend working out will pay any dividends.

A good diet and sub-par workouts will be more effective than a poor diet and excellent workouts in almost every case. So why is it that getting the diet part right can be so difficult?

I’ve often pondered this question while brainstorming for ways I could be better helping my clients. Experience has shown me that in the majority of cases, the root problem can be traced back to one or more of the following factors:

  • Over-complicating matters of what to be eating or how to make it.
  • Faulty belief systems, assuming the diet must be perfect all the time.
  • Failure to plan and prepare in advance.
  • Refusal to make short-term sacrifices and temporarily give up certain foods or drinks.
  • Managing dietary habits and routines in the REVERSE order of what’s most effective.

In today’s post I’ll be discussing each of these issues and revealing what I believe to be the true secret (if there is such a thing) to lean eating.

More after the jump…

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Thursday, October 10th, 2013 - Shane Doll

Today’s blog post is part coaching tip and part rant on the subject of fitness training. I’ve witnessed a disturbing trend over the past ten years or so where fitness training went from something that was used to condition and develop the human body, to something that provided entertainment or fun while working out.

Now I certainly don’t advocate picking a form of exercise that you dislike as that won’t do much for compliance and habit formation. However, any type of physical conditioning or training worth a hoot is going to provide some sort of short term discomfort.

I’m not talking about the dumb adage of “no pain no gain.” Pain while training is a red light, not a green light. Discomfort, fatigue, shortness of breath, a burning sensation in the muscle, etc…these are all a different story. While they’re by no means fun, they’re part of the trade off one makes to see results.

After all isn’t that why we train anyways, to see results? No matter how fun or entertaining a workout routine is, if it doesn’t provide some sort of progressive overload over time it’s not going to produce much of a change. That’s the cold hard truth.

More after the jump…

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Friday, September 13th, 2013 - Shane Doll

As a fitness professional I frequently study behavioral psychology as I firmly believe that success or failure with changing one’s shape largely depends on that individual’s thoughts.

After all it’s our thoughts that dictate the numerous small decisions we make on a daily basis and therefore our actions.

The food we eat, how often we exercise, how much alcohol we drink, and other factors are all nothing more than decisions. How we look and feel at any given moment in time is a reflection of the sum of these decisions.

It’s human nature to blame external factors and make excuses when we don’t look or feel the way we want. “If I only didn’t have <fill in the blank> I could exercise more.” The list here is endless and I’ve just about heard them all over the years.

The cold hard reality is no matter how you slice it, these are still decisions. At the end of the day you choose to be fit, lean, toned, healthy, etc, or not.

More after the jump…

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Thursday, September 12th, 2013 - Shane Doll

An old friend of mine from college recently emailed me and asked me if I’d take a look at his workout routine. He was frustrated with being stuck in a rut and not seeing much in the way of gains from his weight training workouts.

I told him I’d be happy to help and requested that he forward me whatever he’d been doing in his workouts. As soon as I took a look at the routines I spotted one of the biggest problems. It’s something that I’ve seen quite frequently over the years and to be completely honest have made the same mistake myself.

I called my friend and told him that his biggest problem was DTMS. There was a brief moment of silence on the other end followed by “Huh?” What in the world is DTMS?

I told him to relax as there was a simple fix and no this wasn’t some weird hormonal imbalance or anything like that.

I explained that DTMS was an acronym for “Doing-To-Much-*!%#.” Let’s just call it “stuff” instead of the other four letter word that starts with “S” that I used.

More after the jump…

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Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 - Shane Doll

Quite frequently when I meet someone new or run into a friend I haven’t seen in a while, I’ll often get asked for tips on the best way to change your shape. I’m happy to oblige them as it really doesn’t bother me to talk “shop” outside of work. In fact, it’s the opposite as these subjects are my passion, not just my work.

The thing is I’ve noticed over the years is that most of the questions are centered around specific nutrition or exercise strategies. You know things like…what’s the best diet, workout routine, or exercises to do? In other words, they just want to know exactly what to do.

While some individuals can certainly benefit from recommendations on how to perhaps switch up their routines to best fit with their individual needs and goals, these are individuals who typically already have an established habit with exercise.

For someone who’s currently not exercising regularly or following a healthy diet, there’s not much need to major in the minors per say when it comes to the specifics. Perform some form of cardiovascular or resistance based exercise for 30 minutes, 5 x a week, and eat natural foods may sound overly simplistic. But this is exactly the recipe for anyone just starting out on a quest to transform their physique.

More after the jump…

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