Monday, January 26, 2009

Cut thousands of Calories this Super Bowl Sunday the Next Level Way!

With Super Bowl Sunday less than a week away, now is the time to start preparing for the smorgasbord of goodies for your football party. However, why not make a couple important changes to some of your favorite super bowl party food recipes to make them healthier and more beach body friendly come kickoff?

The following is the Next Level Super Bowl food list, which contains both approved food choices and/or healthier substitutes for traditional super bowl party foods. Use this list to satisfy your cravings while saving hundreds if not thousands of calories in the process. If you use these strategies consistently for parties and social gatherings over the course of the year, this could prevent 10-15 lbs of fat gain!

Section I- Appetizers
Naked Sandwiches (preferably bun-less, only use whole grain bun option if absolutely needed)
Thin Crust Whole Grain Pizza
Fruit Salad (throw low carb whipped cream and dash of splenda/stevia on top as desired)
Super Salad Bowl (use unlimited veggies and meats, dip dressing on the side or use low calorie substitutes)
Sweet Potato Fries
Tuna or Chicken Salad
Nut Butter on Celery Sticks
Mixed Nuts (no sugar, unroasted, low in salt)
Cheese, Eggs, and Meat Tray
Caprese Salad
Raw Veggies (use dip sparingly)
Grilled/Sauteed Veggies (use extra virgin olive or coconut oil)
Figure-Friendly Nachos (see “accessories” below for ingredients: tortillas, cheese, salsa, and guac)
Buffalo Chicken Bites (skinless, no breading, use low calorie buffalo sauce sparingly)
Pasta Salad (use whole grain pasta and go easy on the dressings, choosing marina based sauces over creamier versions)

Section II- Accessories
Natural Whole Grain Tortillas
Natural Baked Chips
Natural Cheetohs
Diet Lipton Green Teas (or other low calorie/carb beverages)
Natural Salsa
Salad Dressings: Vinegars of choice (apple cider, red wine, balsamic, etc.)
Other Low Calorie Condiments of Choice: mustard, hot sauce, horseradish, etc.

Section III- Main Courses
Lettuce Burgers (use extra lean sirloin or bison, preferably bun-less only using whole grain bun option if absolutely needed)
Rotisserie Chicken (choose “plain” and remove skin and dab off any grease as needed with paper towel)
Extra Lean Kosher Hot Dogs (preferably bun-less, only use whole grain bun option if absolutely needed)
Chili (preferably bean-less, only use if absolutely needed and feel free to swap extra lean turkey for the beef version to cut down fat intake)
Pizza (see “appetizers” above or use whole grain/thin crust options from restaurants or frozen food isles)

Section IV- Desserts
Edy’s Grand Light Ice Cream
Prograde Cravers (100% organic chocolate snacks bars)
Cocoa Via Bars or Packs
Low Carb Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory
Protein Cookies (swap in protein powder for flour)

BONUS- Top 10 Next Level Tips to Save Thousands of Calories on Super Bowl Sunday

1.) Go Naked: Replace all buns or breading for sandwiches with a lettuce wrap alternative to cut calories, stabilize blood sugar, and boost fiber and micronutrient intake.

2.) Hydrate: Drink at least two to four cups of water before eating AND one to two cups every 15-30 minutes after you start eating to fill your stomach and prevent overeating that can be triggers by dehydration.

3.) Eliminate Empty Liquid Calories: Minimize or eliminate all fruit juices, regular sodas, and alcohol. Opt for water, tea, or low calorie/carb beverages in moderation to leave more room for whole food choices that have more nutritional value and better fill you up.

4.) Do not fast in preparation for a feast as it will turn your body into a famished fat-storing machine the next time you eat. The resulting low blood sugar levels that come from not eating for four hours or more make you crave junk foods high in both fat and refined sugars.

5.) Replace All White with Brown (Or Better Yet... Green!): Be sure to use the whole grain alternatives for any starch you serve at your party (e.g. chips, tortillas, breads, rice, pasta). Whole grains have more vitamins and minerals and are high in fiber which means they won’t have as negative of an impact on your blood sugar compared to its white counterparts. However, if you want to be a nutritional boy or girl scout, go one step further by replacing all brown with green in the form of green veggies (see “Go Naked” above).

6.) Focus on eating lean proteins and fruits and veggies first. Use these in unlimited amounts as needed to fill you up and best prevent the typical party “killshot” of high carb and high fat meals (e.g. thick crust pizza with extra full-fat cheese).

7.) Never eat directly out of the bag or community bowl and use smaller plates to put your food on while limiting yourself to a pre-set plate total (e.g. four plate maximum during a three-hour football game).

8.) Replace Gold With Green: Opt for guacamole over cheese for your salads and chips. Guacamole is not only low in saturated fat and high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats but it also has a ton of fiber that will help fill you up fast and prevent overeating. Though cheese is a true super food in moderation, it is very easy to overeat especially when mixed with refined carb sources like white chips and pizza.

9.) Replace Flour with Protein Powder: Few people know that protein powder makes a great cooking or baking substitute for flour (e.g. protein cookies). By adding protein and reducing carb intake you will boost metabolism.

10.) 30 Chews: Eat slowly and require a certain number of chews before you swallow to allow your brain enough time to get the “I’m full” signal (e.g. 20 pre-swallow chews).

Yours In Fitness,

Steve Krebs

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hips and butts and thighs oh my!

As a fitness professional, I get a lot of questions regarding “What exercises are best for toning my legs, butt, and thighs? These areas are the most common concerns for the majority of my clients. Today I’m going to share my personal favorite lower body exercise and all of its awesome variations. It’s called the Rear-Foot Elevated Lunge Variation (a.k.a. Bulgarian Split Squat). This exercise is so effective that you’ll make your lower body beach ready once you master it!

Before we get into this, one thing I definitely don’t want to do is feed into the idea of individual body part training and spot reduction on certain areas of the body. I am a true believer in total body training, meaning that we train the upper body, lower body, and core during every single workout. By training the whole body at once we maximally stimulate lean muscle gain and metabolism and promote total body fat burning in order to effectively eliminate the body fat that is hiding those areas that people are having trouble seeing; yep the stubborn fat areas that prevent a good body from becoming a great body. Plus, a diet high in lean protein, fiber, and green veggies and low in unnatural fats and refined sugars and starches is of course a pre-requisite if you want to see your muscles show. It is also important to know that you lose fat in a genetically predetermined way. You can do all the crunches you want but without total body training. proper eating habits, and enough time to get to those stubborn fat areas you will never get rid of your gut, jiggly arms, or the junk in the trunk.

Moving onto the main event: the world’s greatest lower body exercise. My favorite leg exercises are any sort of lunge variation because I prefer single leg exercises instead of their double leg counterparts for a lot of reasons. For people with back issues, single leg exercises allow them to safely perform lower body exercises without putting their lower lumbar spine in jeopardy of hyper flexion or excessive rounding that can cause back spasms in the short run and herniated discs in the long run. Furthermore, I feel there’s often such a strength and/or flexibility imbalance between one leg and the other for most people that it’s critical to address one leg at a time to really eliminate the weak links from the start.

My favorite lunge variation is called the rear foot elevated lunge. So basically we’re going to elevate the back foot on a chair, bench, box, or any other sturdy foot support, usually about 12-18 inches high. You’ll put your front leg well in front of you in order to make sure that your front knee and ankle are lined up. In general, I tell people to exaggerate how far you put your front leg forward so that the front knee is almost slightly behind the ankle as this really helps reduce sheer force on the knees. Initiate the exercise by loading the front heel and dropping your hips as low as you can in a pain-free range of motion while staying really tall up top with a proud chest and shoulders down and back. Finish the rep by explosively driving through your front heel to return to the top of the movement. You can start with body weight only in search of front thigh parallel to the floor or lower depth and then progress by adding speed of movement or by adding dumbbells. You can even incorporate some very cool combination movements with this lower body exercise like adding a curl to press at the top of the movement or even by raising dumbbells overhead to really challenge your core and single-leg balance and stability.
Make sure to keep a look out for the boot camp workout of the week, where I will show you the different variations of this great movement!

I have yet to find an exercise that hits the legs as hard as this baby does. In particular, it really helps strengthen your vastus medialis muscle, that inner quad muscle that looks like a teardrop, that’s heavily responsible for tracking your patella and keeping your knee caps in line. So if you have a history of overtraining or patella-femoral issues this exercise is phenomenal for keeping your knees as bulletproof as possible.

Also, what’s great about it too is that it provides a very good stretch for the hip flexor of your back leg, an area that is often very tight, especially for guys. Any exercise that allows you to simultaneously stretch and strengthen your body is a real keeper. Don’t waste another moment with the useless adductor machine, and get off your butt and get your body beach ready with Next Levels best lower body exercise today!

Yours In Fitness,

Steve Krebs

Monday, January 12, 2009

Top 5 Next Level Safe Snow Shoveling Secrets!

Hey Everyone,
It is officially winter here in the Utica Area. I must admit, if there’s one thing that bothers me the most about the winter (besides the sickly cold and lack of natural light), it’s the number of people who hurt themselves shoveling snow. I can’t tell you how many clients of mine have tweaked their backs attempting to clear their driveways.
Today I am going to reveal my top 5 Next Level safe shoveling secrets. For those of you who do not live in the Utica Area like me, you still need to know this information too. Why you may ask? Beacause these same tips can be used for any outdoor manual labor!

1.) Perform a Proper 5-Minute Warm-up Before Shoveling
Just as very few people properly warm-up before intense exercise, so do many people fail to get their bodies ready for the intensity of shoveling snow. Let’s face it, snow, especially when it’s wet, is a real beast to move around. And if your body is tight and cold then you will dramatically increase your chances of injury.
I have created a great shoveling specific five-minute warm-up to get your body ready to rock. There is a special emphasis on opening up the hips and chest to save your back and shoulders, the two most commonly injured areas of broken down shovelers:

Perform each exercise in the following warm-up circuit at a slow, controlled tempo for 50 seconds with a 10 second rest and transition between exercises. Do this warm-up indoors to better increase core temperature and total body blood flow:
Exercise#1- Stationary Squat and Reach
Exercise#2- Jumping Claps (modified jumping jacks with arms moving across chest level, palms facing)
Exercise#3- Alternating Forward Lunge, Overhead Reach, and Twist
Exercise#4- Alternating Lateral Lunge with Opposite Hand to Toe Touch
Exercise#5- Prisoner Squats (hands behind head with finger interlocked)

2.) Split Your Stance When Shoveling
Back pain is probably the biggest complaint for shovelers. In most cases, a sore or tight back stems from restriction at the hips (see the warm-up above to best remedy this). More specifically, using a parallel stance puts your lower back at a greater risk of injury due to the greater likelihood of excessive flexion of the lumbar spine that often leads to back spasms in the short run and herniated discs in the long run. However, the simple switch to shoveling with a split stance, where one leg is forward and the other leg is back, will not only help prevent this hyper flexion while bending over and moving snow, but will also actively stretch and open up those tight hips at the same time. Be sure to keep things in balance by doing an even number of shovel strokes with both legs forward by alternating every 10 reps or so. Turn your shoveling into a workout!

3.) Point Your Toes In Same Direction of Shoveling
This is a continuation of the last tip. Even when you split your stance, you can be susceptible to injury whenever you perform a rotating back extension (e.g. a shovel toss to your rear). So, to further bolster your body, be sure to always shovel snow in the direction that your toes point to minimize excessive spinal rotation that can literally wrench your back.

4.) Shovel EQUALLY to BOTH Sides
This is a further continuation on the last two tips. Another big mistake people make is that they always shovel to their strong sides causing further strength and flexibility imbalances that can put your body at greater risk for injury. So, we now know you want to split your stance and shovel in the direction your toes are pointing, but you should also be sure do an equal amount of shovel tosses to your left AND right. Do 10 shovel tosses to your left with your left leg forward and then do 10 shovel tosses to your right with your right leg forward. Repeat until your driveway or sidewalk is crystal clear.

5.) Buy a Condo
This is my personal favorite, and no, I’m not joking. The great thing about a condominium community is that they do all of the outdoor maintenance for your home, including shoveling.

The aforementioned tips will go a long way in keeping your body as bulletproof as possible during the next blizzard. Seriously, it’s not really cool to get hurt shoveling. It’s a sign of an even bigger problem: being overweight and/or highly de-conditioned. And if you do get hurt shoveling, be sure to lie when some asks why you’re in a wheelchair. Just tell them you got hit by a snow plow truck, it makes for a better story and your co-workers or friends won’t rip on you for the rest of your days, ha!

Yours In Fitness,


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Turn Your New Years Resolutions Into Next Level Results: Part II

Step Two- The What and When: What do you want to accomplish and when do you want to accomplish it by?

So we already figured out the obvious: you want to look better and get that Beach Body! So, now we need to establish what objective goal(s) need to be accomplished in order to realize this dream.

There are three major ways you can track “look better” progress in order of importance from least to most important:
Scale Weight: This is by far the least important goal, but it gives a number that’s worth tracking. Though body fat percentage would be a much better method of tracking progress, it is simply too inaccurate on a small scale and too costly on a large scale. The key is to taking your initial weight before you start and then not weighing more than every 2 weeks. I have found most people to do better with tracking their weight every month. There are simply too many variables for controlling your body weight and the natural fluctuations based on diet (and for women, their menstrual cycle), means the less frequently you do this the better. If the scale is just too de-motivating for you in general, then just skip this one altogether if you must, because the next two markers are far more important.

Dress/Pant Size: This is probably the most simple and effective unused method of tracking whether or not you look better. I think it’s safe to say that if you are dropping dress and/or pant sizes that you will be looking better, right? Your best bet is to also select one dress or one pair of pants that you really want to get into since that is the true end goal in mind. I tell my clients to assess how they are fitting in their preferred dress/pant size tracker on a weekly or bi-weekly basis since our clients that follow our program exactly as outlined typically lose a dress and/or pant size every month (until they get to their ideal dimensions). For those of you would want to argue that every outfitter has different sizes, well that’s a mute point if you use the same pant or dress size to track. There’s nothing more powerful than being to literally being able to feel yourself comfortably get into those skinny jeans.

Digital Pictures: Pictures don’t lie, that’s the bottom line. If you want to look better, what better way is there to assess this than pictures? I cannot begin to tell you how important this is. Taking a before picture is essentially you telling the whole world that you are ready to change and that you are ready to do whatever it takes to make those changes. They key is take pictures wearing exactly what you want to look your best in. Now, don’t be sending me nude pictures of yourself, ha (though you can keep these for yourself to track if you’d like). Maybe it’s taking pictures of you in the dress or pair of pants that you are using to track your dress or pant size. Or maybe it’s a sleeveless shirt and tank top that you want to wear during the summer. And if you want to see your abs, then you best believe that you need to take pictures of your abs to track how much more definition you get. Take a front, side, and rear view picture and be sure to note the exact conditions in which the picture was taken (lighting, distance from camera, time of day/week, etc.) to be as accurate as possible in your assessment. The clients whom I’ve transformed that failed to take before pictures in the past have nothing but regret about it. Your before pictures will become your trophy and they are an absolute must if you really are serious about getting results that count. We tell our clients to take new pictures either bi-weekly or monthly until they reach their goal(s).

Step Three- Planning and Preparing for Roadblocks: What are the big obstacles that will prevent you from having the success you desire? What’s contributed most to past failures?

Now that we know what you want to accomplish, it’s time to plan and prepare for any obstacles that might get in your way of getting the job done based on your own personal schedule.
In general, the number one thing I hear is that people are too busy and tired and don’t have enough time to get their workouts in or make their meals. Well, I don’t care how busy you think you are, there is always hidden time throughout the day and week that can be freed up if your re-prioritize. Again, think back to why you wanted to do this in the first place and then examine what’s most important to you. Make your workouts and your meal times just like work appointments. Either you make the appointment or you don’t. And if you want to keep your job (or get your Beach body) then you better make that appointment.

*Another big obstacle is alcohol. People like to drink and unfortunately alcohol is about as detrimental to burning fat as it gets. Again, what’s more important to you, looking sexy or getting hammered. The choice is yours. Remember, once you achieve your goal(s), alcohol can be added back in with moderation. But know this, lean people just don’t get wasted unless they are genetic freaks. Low to zero alcohol consumption is needed if you want to look your best year round and that’s a fact.

Lastly, many people deal with boredom eating or emotional eating. Boredom eating means just that, eating to fill up dead time when you have nothing better to do. The best way to deal with this is, you guessed it, to do something! Find an active hobby to keep your mind off of eating when boredom strikes and you can beat this trend. Emotional eating describes the use of food to cope with stress or to reward for accomplishment. Food is not unlike drugs or alcohol in this regard, it can be very addictive. There is no quick fix for emotional eating other than avoiding trigger situations (bars, parties, etc.) and trigger foods (starches, sugars, fast food, etc.) in the short term to break bad habits.

At the end of the day, whether your roadblocks are very individual or if they fall in line with the general roadblocks our clients encounter on a regular basis, the key is to be honest about them and to plan and prepare for them. And that’s where social support and accountability come into play. The clients who have had the most success with us have undergone their transformation with the support of other friends or family members. This is so critical, especially since most of the poor food and drinking choices that sabotage one’s progress occur on the weekend, when most people hang out with their friend and family. If they are committed with you and your goal to get fit and look better, you can put yourself in a much better position to realize the success your desire and deserve. The last thing anybody needs is sabotage or peer pressure from those closest to you, so get them on board and get them on board early.

Yours In Fitness,

Steve Krebs

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Next Level New Years Resolutions success: Part I

Step One- The Why: Why do you want to do this?

Ok, It's time to get serious. In almost every initial consultation I do, when I ask why they have contacted me today, here is the typical answer that I first hear:
“Well, I just want to get healthy and lose weight I guess.”

Nope, I don’t buy it. Sure, I know they want to lose weight and be healthy, I mean who doesn’t, but really WHY do they want to do this? I mean, what is it that’s going to get them up at 5 am to get their morning workouts in, or take a couple of hours on Sunday to plan and prepare their meals for the upcoming week? It sure isn’t “being healthy” because for some reason this just isn’t a very powerful motivator for most people (though it should be).

Let’s face it: everybody, including YOU, wants to look better naked. Stop giggling, you know it’s true and that’s okay because the desire to improve your appearance is the most powerful motivator there is. This shouldn’t be such a big surprise since the main life mission of humans, or any species for that matter, is to procreate. This is instinctual. And obviously, looking better makes this more of a reality. ;-)

So, after a little digging, I find out the real reason why they want to do this; I find their past or pain and then establish their current and future ambitions. Some people want to be able to go the beach and take their shirt off, or wear a new bikini and not feel self-conscious. Others want to get back into their "skinny jeans" that they haven’t been able to get one leg into for the last five years. Then there are those who want to look and feel more attractive to ignite some passion back into their relationships and/or put for their best image at work.
And of course, my personal favorite is preparing for big events that have built in deadlines. Wanting to get as lean and tight as possible to rock that dream bathing suit in Chile, or get off the plane in Florida when visiting family you haven’t seen in two years to blow them away with your new body, or being a classic beauty in your wedding dress on the big day, it all works!
This is the stuff that gets people excited and ready to commit to making some real changes. How do I know? Well, I just shared with you verbatim the exact “WHY’S” of some of my own clients.
So, the first thing you have to figure out is your personal WHY. To make this even simpler for you, just answer this question: what are YOUR GOALS? For appearance? For Fitness? Do you want that flat stomach? Beach Body? Bulging Biceps? Set your goal, handwrite it, and post somewhere you can see it everyday!

Yours In Fitness,

Steve Krebs