What Type of Workouts Should YOU be Doing?

What Type of Workouts Should YOU be Doing?

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How to decide what workouts you should be doing?

There are SO many moving parts when it comes to deciding what type of workouts you should be doing. The main factors to consider are your goals,  where you are in your fitness journey, and the strategy required to get you to where you want to be. 

Let’s take a deeper look.


“Fitness” goals and ability vary DRASTICALLY from one person to the next, and so should the workout style…

You may be working out to improve health markers (lower cholesterol, get type II diabetes under control), to finally get that six-pack, or be anywhere in between. The actual goal doesn’t matter, so long as you know what it is, because different goals typically require entirely different approaches. 

Many unproductive dieters can attribute years of failed fat loss attempts to either having no specific goal (i.e. “getting in shape”) or expecting one workout style (i.e. running) to accomplish multiple –often opposing– goals (i.e. lose fat AND gain muscle/build strength AND increase endurance).

If the goal is to get stronger for example, a circuit-heavy routine just won’t cut it.  Many people looking to get “toned” would be hard pressed to define muscles they’ve never taken the time to build. Increasing your mileage on the treadmill (or pounding the pavement) may be the absolute best way to increase your endurance for that Rock’n Roll marathon – but could seriously work against your efforts to chisel out that firm, muscular, lean physique you’ve been striving for.  Even if your daily run has become a significant part of what keeps you sane – strength/muscle gains (and even fat loss!) will not come from simply doing more of the same, just because you love it.  

Accomplishing any goal will only come from incorporating the behaviors conducive to that particular goal. Whether you “love” the required behaviors or not.

Fitness Journey 

Understanding the various stages of the journey, and where YOU are in it, is the next critical piece to this puzzle.  

Regardless of what inspires you to begin the journey (doctor’s recommendations, desire to change, etc.), a person who has never really worked out before will need an entirely different workout plan than a seasoned veteran.

Beginning stages will consist mainly of learning, experimenting, and focusing on consistency (vs being completely derailed by details that simply don’t matter…yet). Your first year or two of starting a fitness regimen is a great time test out a wide variety of exercise styles, as you’ll likely get the same results regardless of what type of activity you chooseespecially in the first six months. Because your body has not yet had time to adapt to your new habit of movement, progress (i.e. “newbie gains”) will come rather easily.

Take FULL advantage of this season of the journey (don’t rush it!), because when it’s over, it’s over

A year or two into your fitness journey, you will have to start being more systematic in your approach. What “worked” in the beginning stages will slowly stop producing the results that it has been, and progress will come to a screeching halt. 

This stage of the journey is where strategy becomes essential.


Just as college courses start off general, and become more specific as you close in on your degree – your workouts should become more goal-dependent, and increasingly strategic as your journey progresses. 

They key to seeing continual changes to your body (or increasing progress toward whatever YOUR goal is) is to consistently introduce deliberate challenge, rather than seeking THE one-size-fits-all solution. 

Notice the keyword: deliberate. This means that each workout session/style/phase builds on the one before it, compounding toward the end goal.  This is not the same as randomly changing things up, or “trying something new.” Signing up for random classes at your local gym, gathering free workouts from the internet, or having unwavering devotion to whatever on-demand workout service is currently trending does not guarantee specific “results” any more than signing up for random classes at your local university could guarantee a specific degree. 

Without a strategy, even seemingly productive actions can become glorified wheel-spinning, leaving you with little to no progress to show for the time you’ve put in, and putting you no closer to your actual goal than when you first started.  

**Side note: Strategy and a systematic approach to your fitness journey isn’t just about ditching the workouts you love to do, while suffering through workouts you may not enjoy, but rather finding a way to incorporate the behaviors your goals require into a lifestyle that still includes the things you do enjoy. **

Bye-bye comfort zone

Once you understand your goal, the strategy that it requires, and where you are on the journey – it’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror.  Whether you’re just starting out, or a veteran to working out, know that you will constantly have to challenge yourself in order to keep seeing change. Be patient with yourself, and grateful for ANY results that come as you build consistency in the beginning, yet open-minded and willing to alter the approach as your journey progresses and the newbie gains dwindle. 

How much fiber for fat loss?

How much fiber for fat loss?

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

Although more women are paying attention to their macronutrients, fiber is a micronutrient that most people tend to ignore. Fiber is important as it aids in digestion and helps lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels all while keeping you feeling full and satisfied.  Power Eating author Susan Kleiner, even goes so far as to say that increasing fiber intake by just 5% would help most people improve fat loss results.

Fiber is not available via fat or protein, which means that eating carbohydrates is key to getting in enough fiber.  So if you're carbophobic, but always coming up short on this micro, it may mean that you have to get off that low carb train in order to do it!

Great Fiber Sources

Fiber is best in its “natural” form. Supplements like Metamucil and the like can certainly come in handy, but it's best to get your intake in from eating real foods. Some of the best options are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Grains

Eating carbs may be scary for some, but have no fear.  Focusing on higher fiber choices will help guide you in eating the right kind of carbs for your goals, round out your diet, and compliment your other macros.

How Much Fiber Blog Social Media Graph (1)While the recommended intake is about 25-35 grams, most women are lucky to get in about 15 grams in a day.  This is one element of your diet that you want to increase very slowly (and with lots of water!) to allow your body time to adjust.

Water is essential to increasing your fiber! By not drinking enough, your digestive system will essentially create concrete making it very hard to pass through your bowels. Give your stomach a chance to adjust and increase very slowly.

When increasing your fiber, remember that some choices may work better for you than others, or rather that some will give you more bang for your buck. An apple or orange have about 3 grams, but a cup of raspberries has about 9 grams! So look at your fiber options and how you can get the most out of your choices. Celiacs (or anyone for that matter!!) can opt for grain options like millet or brown rice rather that oats and barley, the key is to adopt the habit AND make it work for you.

If you are new to increasing fiber, try to break up your meals and aim for about 5 grams per meal (5g x 5 meals = 25g/day). If you're eating fewer meals, then you'll want to work up to more fiber (ex. 7-8g) per meal to help you get it all in. Again, take your intake for these goals up slowly and increase your water accordingly!


Counting Calories, or Counting Macros?

Counting Calories, or Counting Macros?

counting caloriesWhich is better?

Counting calories has been around since the dawn of dieting, and the awareness of “macros,” or macronutrients, has dramatically increased in recent years.  With the explosion of the expression “If It Fits Your Macros” (and the subsequent websites, social media pages, and FB groups that inevitably followed) the public has become more interested in “hitting macros” in pursuit of building muscle and consistent fat loss.

For more seasoned dieters, the question eventually asked is “Which is better, counting calories or macros?” The truth is that neither one can exist without the other and both do matter in terms of fat loss and muscle gains.

Both terms are merely ways to count food, however they analyze that food in two different ways.

Counting Calories Or Macros?

Calories are the total overall amount of energy in a food. In the dieting world, people are trained to eat LOW CALORIE, which means low energy. By doing so, the dieter is not focused on the quality of their food choices, but rather how much food they're eating.

Our unhealthy obsession with reducing cals is what led to the 90s low-fat craze (fat = double the cals of protein/carbs). Dieters started reaching for processed, high sodium/high sugar/low nutrient food options simply because the fat (and subsequently, caloric level of the food) was low, not realizing that a higher calorie, more nutrient dense, whole food option could be a better choice.

For instance, the food industry started selling “100 Calorie Snack Packs” which were usually some processed bar, or cookie or cracker product. However an ounce or two of whole, unsalted nuts would be a far more satiating food choice (keeping you fuller, longer) even though containing a few calories more.  In many ways, the diet industry continues to push the low-cal agenda, sending dieters down the rabbit hole.

counting calories

Macros (or Macronutrients) are just a way of looking at the breakdown of those calories. In EM2WL we focus on the three macrosProtein,Fat, Carbs (with carb emphasis on fiber). When you concentrate on the macros of your food choices, the quality of your food will inherently be better. It also makes it harder to overeat and still hit your macro totals.

The key is to balance both the calorie amount AND the macro breakdown for your goals. If you are hitting your calorie amount, but your macros are all over the place, the quality of your food suffers. And if you concentrate on hitting your macros but can't hit your calorie total, then your body is not getting enough energy to do its job.

Both are important and both matter to your overall goals. Focus on using both of them to increase your quality of food, and ensure you are eating enough food as well.

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Stress – Your scale’s worst enemy

Stress – Your scale’s worst enemy

When it comes to all of the reasons why your weight rises in any given circumstance, the one reason women overlook the most is Stress.  I know we have all muttered it before, “Yeah, I know I'm stressed out, but I'll just keep doing what I am doing” or “I know I'm stressed, but I'm not that stressed”

If you are under Stress, the scale will not co-operate

Weight Gain Troubleshoot - Stress We have talked before about how the scale is not a good indicator of success in your journey, but when you add stress in the mix, it can be downright cruel. When the body is under stress a number of things begin to happen. First, cortisol levels shoot up. When this shoots up, water retention levels also shoot up, causing the scale to say things we don't want to hear. If your cortisol levels stay high for prolonged periods of time, the gain on the scale becomes a permanent one.

Stress weight is the hardest weight to lose. A cycle takes place when we are under stress and most women don't realize that the very things we are doing to lessen stress, is what is actually causing more stress. We become stressed at home – then we decide to hit the gym and kill it – then we decide to tighten up on our diet, or pick at what needs to change in our diet – then we stop sleeping well – and so on..

Each of these things are a stress to the body. Even though we think of “going to the gym” as a de-stressor, it is still adding stress to your body overall. Stress in women tends to show up in the belly area, thus the “Stress Belly.” So when we see that our belly area is growing, it is a good sign that we need to look at the stressors in our life and find a way to relax and slow down again.

In times where we cannot control personal stresses, like a job, move, or divorce or something, we need to be able to stop other stresses from piling on.

Things to consider to reduce stress

  • Eat at TDEE and take a maintenance break
  • Reducing your time on the steady state cardio machines
  • Staying away from HIIT workouts
  • Participate in a pilates or yoga class
  • Leisure walks
  • Rest week from the weights

Being aware of how stress affects our body and knowing how to deal with it properly will certainly set you up for future success. Sometimes we cannot control stress, but when we can, we need to limit our exposure to it and be prepared to scale back on other things until the stress period has passed.


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Plateau Prevention- Let’s talk about EATS! – 3 Tips

Plateau Prevention- Let’s talk about EATS! – 3 Tips

Our last blog post touched on five workout tips to prevent (or breakthrough!) the inevitable plateau. Today let's take a look at how our eating habits can also cause a plateau, and 3 ways to avoid derailing our progress.

3 things to focus on with your EATS

PP Eats SocialMedia (2)

Just as when mapping out how to workout for plateau-prevention, your food focus breaks down to three main areas of focus: Load, Frequency, and Type.  Here's what to pay attention to for each area:

Load – This is how many calories you should eat. This varies person to person and no one should be in a blanket calorie range (uh hello 1200 calorie plans) By using our calculator, you can find out three different things, how many calories you need to maintain your weight (TDEE), how many calories for fat loss (Cut) and how many calories for muscle building (Bulk)

By knowing these numbers, you can cycle your intake around when you are on maintenance, when you are planning a cut and periods when you are building muscle.

Frequency – This is the amount of calories you eat, for whatever phase you are in, and when to change it up. Like our load, we need to change the amount of calories we eat at times to prevent a plateau from occuring. When in a fat loss phase, we should be taking a “diet break” (eating at TDEE) every 8-12 weeks for a period of 1-2 weeks. This will “remind” the body what maintenance is, so as we start to lose weight, our Cut amount doesn’t become our Maintenance amount.

Type – I’ll just say one word – Macros.

The type of food we eat does make a huge impact on our progress or our plateaus. Protein, Fat and Carbs are the most important ones to focus on to help make better quality food choices. If you are just starting out getting your macros into focus, plan on putting your protein goal front and center. Focus on one thing at a time and build up the habit, and this will set up your natural progression for better food quality.

By paying attention to these variables in our eating, we can stop a plateau from sending us down the rabbit hole and derailing any progress we might have had.

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5 Workout Tips for Preventing Plateaus

5 Workout Tips for Preventing Plateaus

SocialMediaGraph16.1Plateau Prevention 101: Workouts

When it comes to hitting plateaus along your journey, it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Knowing that plateaus will come should prevent you from the all-too-common mistake of trying to change too many things at once.

This is difference between amateurs and pros. Pros know start small, tackling one bite sized chunk after another.  This not only helps them have a plan in place before they plateau, but assures that they can actually stick to the plan — progressing for years to come.  Amateurs try to move ahead “faster” by biting off more than necessary. This not only gives them nowhere to go when they plateau (because they’re already doing the MAX, when the minimum would have given the same result), but they also burnout very early on in the process, and give up. Over. and. over. Instead of approaching your journey in the all-or-nothing way of the amateur, let’s level up and attack your workouts like a pro this year.

Tips for preventing plateaus:

5 ways to add challenge/variety/levels to your workouts

  • Rep ranges – Don’t just stick to one. Try alternating short periods (daily, weekly, monthly) of one rep range before moving to another.  Don’t get nostalgic or think that one rep range can do it all. It can’t/shouldn’t. (common rep “ranges” to alternate: 1-8 reps, 9-12 reps, 13+)
  • Amount of weight you’re using – Every time you change rep ranges, the amount of weight lifted should change. Higher reps = lighter weight, lower reps, heavier weight.  If you’re sticking to one rep range for several weeks, you should be seeing weekly increases.  At the very least, your weight by week 4-6 should be heavier than weeks 1-3.  If your weights aren’t increasing, time to take a break from that phase.
  • Rest periods – Rest periods are not set in stone, they can range from no rest, to 3-5 min of rest depending on the above. If you’re lifting heavier weights for lower reps, you’ll need longer rest periods to keep hitting it hard. If you’re lifting light weights for high reps, less rest is needed.
  • Exercise type Compound vs isolation movements. Each has benefits, so don’t be extreme, or expect any one exercise movement to be a holy grail.  But as a general rule of thumb, beginners should stick with more compound movements (1-3 yrs), and advanced lifters (3+ years) can benefit from some isolation work.
  • Cardio – be strategic, add it slowly, if at all, based on preference. Your body quickly adapts to traditional forms of cardio, so adding in a ton from the jump makes it have a less of an impact in the long run. Unless you’re an endurance athlete, or just love cardio (and fully understand/accept it’s limits/diminishing returns), you may want to consider cardio as an occasional, “finish line,” or recovery-only basis.



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