Sunday, May 30, 2010

Winning the War Against Temptation

You start each morning with the promise to be "good" today.

You'll refuse the baked goods at the office. You'll speed past that fast food place at lunch. You'll turn a blind eye to the vending machine in the mid-afternoon. And you'll pass on the ice cream after dinner.

But… you hadn't counted on the fact that a box of your favorite donuts would be sitting in the break room. Or that co-workers would invite you to join them for fast food place at lunch. Or that Girl Scouts would come through the office after school with boxes of thin mints. Or that your special someone would come home with a pint of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.

And as you get into bed each night you tell yourself that tomorrow will be different.

Tomorrow you will conquer temptation.

But tomorrow comes with its own set of special circumstances and temptation gets the best of you once again.

Why Does Temptation Always Win?

We live in society where food temptations are everywhere.

Walk through a store and you'll see the unhealthy food items displayed front and center. Ever notice how sugary "kids" cereals are down low so kids can grab them?
Turn on the TV and you'll be assaulted with commercials for fattening foods.
Open a magazine and you'll notice glossy pin-ups of sugary snacks.
Go down the street and you'll have restaurant signs clamoring for your attention.
In addition to the abundance of tempting edibles, you also have deeply ingrained positive associations with indulging.

You treat tempting food as a reward.
You turn to tempting food for comfort.
You rely on tempting food as stress relief.
You allow tempting food to become a habit.
It's Your Turn to Win

Temptation doesn't need to have the upper hand on you anymore. It's time to fight back using your most powerful asset: your brain.

Your mind is an amazing thing. Once it is made up about something it is nearly impossible to change it.

A Matter of Perspective

Imagine for a moment that you're peacefully floating down a river in an inner tube. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and you are having a wonderful time. You feel great about the river because it is making you feel good.

Now imagine that you are in a plane flying over the river. Your eye is immediately drawn to an enormous rocky waterfall. You look up the river and just around the bend is a person floating in an inner tube, having a wonderful time, headed straight for the treacherous falls.

Do you think that after your plane ride you'd be happy to get an inner tube and float down the river? Of course you wouldn't. You've seen that the river spells disaster.

You now have a negative association (watery death) with the river rather than your initial positive association (relaxing fun).

Overcoming temptation is all about building negative associations in place of existing positive ones. Use the 2 steps below to harness the power of your mind to become stronger than any temptation.

Step One: Create a Strong Negative Association with all the BAD STUFF

If cookies and chips and burgers are put on a pedestal in your mind as your favorite things to eat, then you will always eat unhealthy and will continue to gain weight.
What do you dislike about temptingfood?
It makes you unhealthy.
It causes weight gain.
It drains your energy.
It kills your confidence.
It degrades your quality of life.
It hurts your love life.
Every time that you encounter tempting food items focus on your list of negatives. It's time to kick those cookies off the pedestal and to put something healthy in its place.
Step Two: Create a Strong Positive Association with all the GOOD STUFF

Now that your mental pedestal has been cleared, put healthy food items on it. Juicy fresh fruit, crispy vegetables and savory lean meats are a great place to start.
What do you love about healthy food?
It makes you healthy.
It causes weight loss.
It boosts your energy.
It builds your confidence.
It improves your quality of life.
It enhances your love life.
Immerse yourself into the world of healthy food. Browse the aisles of a natural food store. Walk through a farmer's market. Bring healthy snacks to work. Clear your kitchen of anything unhealthy.
Using the technique above, you will soon find that healthy food is your favorite food and temptation will become a thing of your past.


This post was written by Life FX Director, Certified Personal Trainer and Reiki Master Chris Keseling.

With an extensive background in health and fitness including years of experience in personal training, massage therapy and Reiki, Chris is an expert in helping people from all walks of life create a holistic approach to getting their body and their health in optimal condition.

To set up a consultation with Chris regarding either personal training or Reiki, email him at

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Exercising During Pregnancy

Not too long ago, women were urged to avoid exercise during pregnancy. Today, we know differently. It is not only okay to participate in exercise during pregnancy, but it is encouraged. Exercising can have a positive impact on both the mother and baby. Be sure to consult your doctor once you know you are pregnant, before you start or maintain your exercise program.

Exercise does wonders during pregnancy! It boosts mood, improves sleep, and reduces pregnancy aches and pains. The ideal workout gets your heart pumping, keeps you limber, manages weight gain, and prepares your muscles without causing undue physical stress for you or your baby.

If you already had an exercise routine before you got pregnant, stick to it! However, remember that the goal of this is to maintain, not to improve; your workout intensity should be mild to moderate. Do not try to beat your pre-pregnancy achievements, or even what you had done in the previous trimester. Get a good workout but to not push yourself too much, this could put undue stress on your body and the baby.

If you have not exercised before, pregnancy is not the time to start a full-blown exercise program. Beginning a new weight-training program is traumatic on the body when you are not pregnant, so it is not a time to start.

However, starting out slow and simple can do wonders for your pregnancy. Something as simple as a daily walk or swim can help a lot! Walking is one of the most natural and one of the safest forms of exercise. You want to choose something that will be safe and have the least risk of injury. Ten minutes a day is a great beginning. Then increase it to ten minutes twice a day, and then gradually go up to fifteen minutes.

Some of the major benefits that exercise can offer to expectant mothers are:

· Speedier recovery and delivery

· Increases sense of well being and self esteem

· Less leg cramps

· Larger placenta which provides an increased nutrient base for the baby

· Decrease the risk of excessive weight gain

· Stronger back which reduces the risk of lower back pains

· Boosts energy levels

· Reduces the chance of having a Caesarean birth

Some things to remember to avoid when exercising during pregnancy:

· After the first trimester, avoid exercises where you need to lay down on your stomach or back

· Avoid high heat, humidity, and altitudes

· Avoid heavy weightlifting

· Avoid stretching any further that your range of motion before pregnancy (Once pregnant the body produces a hormone called relaxin. This hormone is designed to help lubricate your joints so labor is easier. It will also make you more flexible, however this can lead to injury!)

While exercising, if anything feels “odd,” stop right away! Make sure you are listening to your body; many problems can be avoided this way. Once you are done with your pregnancy you will be so glad you that you exercised throughout it. Pre-natal exercise can be incredibly beneficial to both the health of the mother and the unborn child as well as rewarding and a great way to continue healthy habits.


This article was written by Certified Personal Trainer Emma Scagnelli.

Emma trains out of our Hunt Valley Location and is an expert in helping people lose fat, get in shape and tone up! To set up a consultation with her to talk more about your weight loss goals, email her

Monday, May 3, 2010

How Crash Dieting Could Be Giving You Heart Attacks

It's that time of year again. In their desperate attempts to look good for summer, an increasing number of people are resorting to extreme crash diets to shed pounds as quickly as possible.

And no doubt once summer has come and gone, those same people will pack on those pounds all over again, only to repeat the process again next year.

While regimens like these may help people lose some weight rapidly, it could also be causing their heart undue stress, leading to potential heart attacks down the road, according to Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, in New York City, and author of the forthcoming "Doctor of the Heart: A Life in Medicine".

"A crash diet once won't hurt your heart," Dr. Rosenfeld says. "But crash dieting repeatedly increases the risk of heart attacks."

Research suggests rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients. What's more, crash diets can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress. And yo-yo dieting can also damage your blood vessels. All that shrinking and growing causes micro tears that create a setup for atherosclerosis and other types of heart disease.

The Bottom Line:

If you're overweight, slimming down is critical for your overall health. Even moderate weight loss can lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

But it's important to lose weight safely, which usually means slowly: Most experts recommend dropping just 1 to 2 pounds a week. And despite what some brand-name diets claim, the best way to do so is to exercise regularly and stick to a diet that limits saturated fat and sugars and emphasizes fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, and whole grains.

"The key to losing weight is a combination of diet and exercise," says Dr. Rosenfeld. "One alone will not do it."


Yudi Kerbel

Certified Personal Trainer

Life FX Hunt Valley

Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 Ways To Spice Up Your Cardio

We all know “cardio” is a necessary tool to improve the health of our heart and lungs. It is also a great component to your training program if your goal is to lose body fat. Unfortunately, we often have this limited association with cardio. “It must be 45 minutes to an hour long--which can be a roadblock for those who have limited time per day in the gym. Many people also hop on a piece of cardio equipment and simply cruise at an easy, mindless pace--great if you need the mental vacation, but not so great for your metabolic response. Last, cardio, for many people, makes one whine at the mere thought because it can be boring!

The following are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate cardio and conditioning in little time, but sure to make your heart throb, body sweat, suck wind and feel exhausted. Not to mention, it can leave your metabolism soaring post cardio :)

One of my personal favorites for the following interval methods listed is the Schwinn Airdyne Bike, but many forms of cardio equipment will work. You are only limited by your imagination! Aside from traditional cardio machines, alternatives such as body weight exercises (ie: burpees, mountain climbers, power skips, sprints) or equipment such as JC bands, boxing, hammer/tire work, kettle bells, plus numerous other possibilities are perfect too!

#1 Moderate Interval Work: 3 minutes of cardio on a machine of choice, (ie: a bike, the rowing machine or treadmill) at a moderate intensity, followed by 2 minutes of jumping rope. 5 minutes per round, complete 4 rounds for a total of 20 minutes.

#2 Complete a Timed Mile (on your choice of cardio equipment) in as little time as possible. This will only take you minutes, but it’s all about INTENSITY!. Over time, after you’ve mastered one timed mile, try incorporating a rest period for recovery–about the same amount of time it took you to complete the first mile) then begin timed mile number 2!

#3 Moderate to Hard Intervals: 1 minute at a mild pace to warm up. 1 interval round = 30 seconds of hard effort followed by 30 seconds easy. Repeat 8 rounds and a 1 minute cool down for a total of 10 minutes.

#4 High Intensity Intervals: Another interval scheme I enjoy is 10 seconds hard (and I mean HARD effort) coupled with 20 seconds for recovery. 30 seconds is one round, repeat 8 rounds for 4 minutes total. This is a Reverse Tabata. If you are at the intensity level you should be, 4 minutes will be all you need to feel smoked! Over time, you may also progress this to 15 seconds of hard effort and 15 seconds of rest.

#5 Tabata Interval Training: Tabatas are probably the shortest yet most intense style of cardio/conditioning out there. A true Tabata is 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes for a total of 8 cycles. This is a phenomenal way to sky rocket your metabolism, burn fat and increase your fitness capabilities. Again, the exercise chosen for a tabata is open, but the intensity is the key. Many folks trail off the intensity by the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th round, so build up to this demand using the suggestion #4. This style of training is recommended only for higher levels of fitness and should be progressed into it’s truest form.

So no more excuses that you don’t have time for cardio or you’re bored with the traditional methods. Give these suggestions a try and it’s sure to leave you feeling physically worked with a higher caloric expenditure and a metabolic response in less time than you could imagine!

-- Alli McKee

Certified Personal Trainer

Life FX Hunt Valley and Silo Point

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Research: Junk Food Is As Addictive As Crack?

Sadly, the title of this post is not even a joke.

A new article published on the CNN Health website shows that unhealthy foods can be dangerously addictive.

According to the article:

"A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin. When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction, the study found.

Doing drugs such as cocaine and eating too much junk food both gradually overload the so-called pleasure centers in the brain, according to Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute, in Jupiter, Florida. Eventually the pleasure centers "crash," and achieving the same pleasure--or even just feeling normal--requires increasing amounts of the drug or food, says Kenny, the lead author of the study.

"People know intuitively that there's more to [overeating] than just willpower," he says. "There's a system in the brain that's been turned on or over-activated, and that's driving [overeating] at some subconscious level."

This research just confirms what many of us have suspected for a long time.

Eating junk food is so harmful for you in so many ways physically, and this research shows that the damage is now psychological too.

So the next time you're about to tuck into to that tasty morsel of junk food, make sure you think twice, you could be getting addicted.


Yudi Kerbel, CPT

Life FX Hunt Valley

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Studies Show That To Get Toned And Slim, Women Need To Lift Heavy And Hard

Everyone knows the conventional wisdom - to get lean and toned you need to lift light weights for high reps, right?

Not so, according to a recent article in the NY Times:

"For people who lift weights to tone up and slim down, experts say, a regimen that includes a combination of challenging weights and fewer repetitions can help significantly. In a 2002 study, for example, scientists looked at what happened when women performed various resistance exercises at different weights and repetitions (85 percent of their maximum ability for 8 reps, versus 45 percent for 15). Subjects lifting more weight fewer times burned more energy and had a greater metabolic boost after exercise.""

In other words, lifting heavier weights revs up your metabolism and burns more calories than lifting lighter weights.

So if you're currently avoiding the heavy weights out of fear that you might 'bulk up' and 'get big', you need to do exactly the opposite of what you're doing now.

The Bottom Line:

If you want to tone up, train heavy and train hard. Light weights and high reps have their place in a training program, but most people turn to them way too often to really see the results that they want.

If you can't seem to shift that weight and you've only been training with high reps, give those heavier weights and low reps a try.

And if you're not sure about the best way to get started training with low reps, make sure to stop in to one of our fitness center locations and ask for your free consultation with a certified personal trainer. Our trainers are all experts in fat loss training and can help you tone up, slim down and get in killer shape super quick!

Yudi Kerbel, CPT
Life FX Hunt Valley Certified Personal Trainer

Saturday, January 16, 2010

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