Interval Training for Fat Loss – How to Work Out More Efficiently (Guest Post)

Today’s society is one that craves instant gratification. On one hand, you have social media networks where experiences can be immediately shared, soliciting likes and shares. And then on the other hand, you’ve got quick and instant fixes available like plastic surgery, wherein people are willing to go under the knife instead of working out to get rid of their excess fat.

When it comes to fat loss, there is no silver bullet that will eliminate the fat overnight. If you want to shed all the pounds away, you have to invest time and effort in cleaning up your diet and in exercising.

But when you speak about investing time, especially in exercising, it is not simply logging in hours on the treadmill or elliptical trainer, or even in the weight room. When it comes to spending time on training, you should make sure that you are spending it wisely and not just simply going through the motions. This is where interval training for fat loss gives great returns for your investment in time.

There are various interval training protocols that you can use in shedding away those excess pounds. But in a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found out that a training protocol which consisted of six seconds of effort and nine seconds of rest was much better than a protocol that consisted of 24 seconds of effort and 36 seconds of rest. It was later found out that the protocol with the shorter activity/rest period burned fat three times faster. Apart from the activity/rest period, there is not much difference in the parameters of the study; the whole workout for both protocols lasted 40 minutes each while the speed by which the participants in the treadmill ran was the same. But why the difference?

To understand this difference, you have to take a look at the protein that is known as myoglobin. Found in the muscle cells, myoglobin stores oxygen. During workouts, this protein depletes and replenishes its oxygen reserves. When it is prevented from replenishing its oxygen supply, the body utilizes its carbohydrate supply as fuel. It is also during this period wherein lactic acid starts to build-up. Lactic acid prevents the body from burning its fat supply. Now, if you want to shed pounds, it is important for your body to burn the fats and not your carbohydrates. To do this, it is best to program your exercise in such a way that myoglobin has adequate time to replenish its oxygen supply. Myoglobin has the capacity to store oxygen that will last up to 15 seconds. And as such, it is logical to use a protocol that has a lower activity-to-rest ratio.

However, even if you use any other interval training protocol, that would be much better compared to simply running or exercising at a steady pace. Why? Because you allow your body to train at greater intensities while allowing it time to rest. In turn, you alter your body’s metabolism such that you continue burning calories even 36 hours after your workout.

About the Author: Chelsea Sawyer is a nurse and a certified health coach who has been helping many people in changing their behaviors to keep them focused on achieving their health and fitness goals. She has great passion for writing; hence her hobbies include writing and sharing helpful techniques on topics like losing weight, achieving a healthy lifestyle through physical activities; and living healthy through proper diet and way of eating. She recommends as a great resource for healthy living and weight loss.

How Do You Overcome the Obstacles Standing in the Way of Making Your Passion Your Life?

I had a conversation recently in which the subject of passion, and what we are really meant to do with our lives came up. The fact is, I know that in a full-time capacity, I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, not what I’m meant to do. Am I good at it? I guess so. But does my full-time job fulfill me? Not really. I’d say maybe 15% of the time I’m proud of my work, and I feel like what I’m doing makes a difference. But it pays my bills.

What frustrates me is that I do know what makes me feel complete.  When I step in front of a class, or have a conversation or answer a question about fitness, or even when I’m here blogging, I feel like I am the real me. The person I am meant to be, who does make an impact, and feels like the work I’m doing makes a difference. Not 15% of the time, not even 50% of the time … I’d actually say it genuinely is 100% of the time. Fitness is my passion. The gym never feels like work, or a commitment, or something I “have” to do – it’s my home. My safe place. The place I feel more confident, more comfortable, and more secure than any other place or situation in my life.

I guess you could say at this point in my life, I’m at somewhat of a crossroads. It’s as if I know exactly what I want in my life, and who I want to ultimately be, but there are walls keeping me from reaching my goals, and I have not yet found a way to either break them down or climb over them. Instead, I’m running in circles. Waiting for something to break. Wondering how I can make the changes I need to make in my life, and still survive. Perhaps a little bit of it is fear, but not the biggest part – I’m all for doing things that scare you, but I have to pay my bills.

The truth is, for years, I’ve known that I wanted to parlay fitness into my someday-mommy-job. However, the older I get, the more I yearn to be able to do what it is that truly fulfills me. It’s as if I know step five, but steps one through four have to come first … and I’m not doing so great on those ones (some days I feel like I’m making a little headway, but honestly, that whole situation is way too complicated to even get started on). If you asked me 10 years ago what I wanted to do with my life, I would have said that I wanted to rule the world (or run Cosmo). Now? I want to be a wife, and a mom, and a fitness instructor and trainer. I guess you could say as time has gone on, I have discovered the things that really matter to me in life – love, happiness, and making a difference. And unfortunately, finding the things that are truly important to me are incredibly hard to find. I’m 32, unmarried, worried that I’m running out of time to have any chance of ever being a mom, and I spend 40 hours a week working a job that does little more for me than pay my bills. But those five hours a week I spend in a class? I’m not joking when I tell my classes that seeing them is the best part of my day. Because it really, truly is.

I’ve often been accused of being too “in my head,” and I know that it’s true – I’ll admit to being a bit of a control freak, I think entirely too much, I read into everything, and it kills me that I can’t just snap my fingers and make everything fall into place. It’s as if because I found out “too late” (i.e. after college, not actually too late) what my life’s work was meant to be, I have too many “buts” in my head. But I don’t have the right education. But I have to support myself financially. But I need more stability. But how do I even start?

At the end of the day, all I want is to feel like I make a difference – that my work means something. That lives are better because I have been a part of them. I do feel that I have been blessed with this amazing gift, but life, or fear, or responsibility, or circumstance has held me back from becoming the best version of me.  Am I to blame? Undoubtedly – who else could possibly be at fault? But, to quote a song I’m currently obsessed with (for completely unrelated reasons) – “I don’t want good, and I don’t want good enough” – I want great. I want to be the best me all day, every day. But what I want more is the strength and courage to be able to make it happen.


Travel Tips that Help Me Stay Fit (Guest Post)

Today’s post is courtesy of Mike over at Manning’s Musings – and it’s very fitting, as I’m on vacation myself this week! Enjoy, and remember that just because you are out of your normal routine doesn’t mean that you have an excuse to give up on fitness for the length of your trip – it’s an opportunity to find new options!

Travels Tips that Help Me Stay Fit

When I first began to travel, I was very discouraged that hotels did not have exactly what I needed for my fitness routine. At times, I wished that I could take my equipment with me. As I thought about this, I realized that I could bring certain items with me. Make sure to do some research beforehand in order to book a hotel that has the right fitness amenities for you. On a recent trip to San Francisco I was able to book a hotel like this by first using a travel reviews site in order to scan all the hotels in San Francisco to see which ones have the right amenities for me. In addition to this, I like to run and I have found it beneficial to ask a hotel representative if there are trails or sidewalks that are available to use. Preparing like this has really helped keep me fit while on business.

I love my smart phone for it is so valuable to me. There are terrific applications that I can download that are extremely beneficial to me. As I am running, there are applications that I can use that document how far I have gone and how fast I was going. In addition to this, it can note how many calories I have used. Furthermore, there are travel applications that I can download that give me beneficial information in terms of picking the best area in which to stay.

As a fitness enthusiast who loves to run, it is great to see a number of fellow travelers are beginning to run on local streets and trails. After being on a plane for a number of hours, I have found that running can be a great way to reduce stress on my body. Furthermore, as I run in the morning, it helps me deal with potential business stress as well as gives me opportunities to meet and socialize with local runners. While I do not have time to site see on some occasions, running enables me to see certain sites of the location in which I am staying.

It is a fact that many business travelers, including myself, have a lot of stress to deal with. This can include a business meeting, establishing new work relationships and so forth. Here are some tips I have found beneficial. As I stated earlier, running is a great way to get rid of stress for me. Another stress reducer is walking. I try to walk around the airport terminal and in various concourses. It keeps the blood circulating and keeps me occupied. While on the airplane or in my hotel room, I try to bring a fascinating book or magazine to read. This gives me pleasure and I have something to look forward to.

Vacation Time is Finally Here!


Today begins my absolute favorite week of the year – vacation time! My family has been going to North Myrtle Beach, SC for almost 20 years, and I have to say, it’s never gotten old (though we certainly have)! I’m hitting the road early, in hopes of missing as much traffic as possible, and getting to the beach around 1 p.m. or so … early enough to still hit prime sun time!

Perhaps one of the most important things about my annual beach trip is that is gives me a reason to do something I’m not so good about throughout most of the year – rest and relax. I know that my body is craving a break about now, and with workouts only as strenuous as a daily walk down the beach, I’m sure I’ll come home nice and recovered, re-energized, and ready to take on some new challenges. I’ve been feeling a little tired physically lately, and I have had so much on my mind that I’m certainly overdue for a mental break, too (running is great, but it really only goes so far in turning my brain off sometimes … and the older I get, the more I ache the next day after a nice, hard run).

For my XSport Alexandria folks, here’s who you can look forward to seeing in my absence this week (note that some of the formats will be different than you are used to, so apologies in advance):

Sunday: 9:30 Piloxing will be BodyCombat with Leah this week. Beth will be stepping in for my 10:45 Pilates class.
Wednesday: Leah will be back for Piloxing at 6:00, and instead of Pilates, you will have BodyFlow with Allison at 7:15 this week.
Thursday: Jen will be covering my 5:45 cycle class.

I’ll be back in town next Saturday evening, so I’ll be home in time for Piloxing and Pilates again on July 21. Though a word of warning … after a week of sleeping in and taking it easy, it might be kind of scary (though that may be a good thing for you)!

Just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I’m taking a blog break, though! You can look forward to a couple of guest posts, some inspiration, and maybe a few random thoughts or exercises throughout the week. Hopefully after nine days of family time, I’ll come up with some new ideas for upcoming posts, because I’ve found that every time I’m with the family, I’m answering questions about nutrition or exercises or something health related.

Until next time … here’s to my favorite day of the year!

Spinning Playlist – July 11, 2013

Welcome back, everyone! Hope you had a great July 4 last week – I got in a nice early(ish) morning workout last Thursday, spent some time at the pool, and got started on what looks to be a new opportunity (more on that coming once everything is finalized).

I broke out a brand new warm-up tonight, as well as a few songs we haven’t heard in a while. Here’s tonight’s Spinning playlist, straight off the bike:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
Best I Ever Had – Gavin DeGraw

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 9)
Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welsh
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
Come to Me – Diddy ft. Nicole Scherzinger
Inside of You – Hoobastank

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9+)
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera
Take Me On the Floor – The Veronicas
Without You – David Guetta ft. Usher
Give Me More – Britney Spears
Find Your Love – Drake

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 7+)
Endorphins – Sub Focus ft. Alex Clare
The Other Side – Jason DeRulo
Firework – Katy Perry
Desert Rose – Sting

I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes
Ho Hey – The Lumineers

Just a reminder that I am on vacation next week, but Jen will take care of you in my absence – have fun with her! I’ll see you when I get back all tan after a week of sitting in the sand, looking at the ocean, reading a couple books and hanging out with the family. Until next time!

Get Strong Pilates Abs This Summer!

Summer is in full-swing … how are you feeling about your abs? If you’re sitting next to the pool or on the beach wrapped up in a towel, you still have some time to build some abs you’re proud to show off.

One of the best ways to start: break free of your standard crunches. Try these great Pilates exercises to work your core hard, hitting all the muscles from underneath your ribs, all the way down into your hips – and they’ll hit the deeper muscles crunches don’t hit, too.

Here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

Start lying flat on the floor, belly button tucked tight into your spine, with arms extended long behind the head. As you inhale, reach the hands toward the sky, and as you exhale, slowly lift the upper body and reach toward the toes, keeping the abs scooped (as if you are reaching over a ball and past the toes). Inhale, lifting the hands back to the sky, and exhale, lowering the body back to the starting position as slowly as possible. Make sure to keep the shoulder blades pressed down and back, and the legs firmly on the floor (they will shift back and forth slightly; you just want to make sure they don’t come off of the floor – if they do, you are using your legs to lift you, versus your abs). If you find yourself struggling to keep the legs down, you don’t have to roll all the way up – as long as the abs are engaged, you are still getting the benefits, even if the upper body is only coming two inches off of the floor.

Single Bent Leg Stretch
Lift your head and shoulders off of the mat, tucking your bellybutton tucked tight to the spine. Position your hands on the inside and outside of one knee, as you extend your opposite leg straight. Release and switch sides, reaching the toes of your extended leg straight in front of you, with controlled motion.

Double Bent Leg Stretch
Lift your head and shoulders off the mat, bellybutton tucked tight to the spine, both legs tucked in, with your fingers extended in blades atop the shins. Inhale, extending arms and legs in opposite directions. Exhale, using angel arms circling the body, and pulling arms and legs back in tight. Halfway through, reverse the arms, with angel arms back, then pulling up and over, legs stay the same.

Single Straight Leg Stretch
Lift your head and shoulders off the mat, bellybutton tucked tight to the spine, legs at 90+ degree angle – one parallel to the floor, the other leg extended to the sky, hands behind the leg. Reverse the legs, drawing straight lines to the front with each leg.

Double Straight Leg Stretch
Start with your legs extended up to the ceiling, with your low back grounded and bellybutton tucked into the spine. Keeping your legs together, inhale as you draw a straight line down, as close to the ground as you can get without allowing the low back to pull up. Exhale as you draw the toes back to the ceiling. You can choose one of three upper body/arm positions: for low back issues, keep hands underneath hips, head and shoulders on the ground; or keep head and shoulders on the ground, hands next to hips; or head and shoulders off the mat, hands placed lightly behind the head.

Start lying flat on the mat, head and shoulders up, hands lightly behind the head, with the knees bent at 90 degrees. Angle the front of one shoulder toward the opposite knee, reaching long (not crunching), then reach toward the opposite side.

Start on lying on the back, with knees bent and feet flat on the ground and arms extended straight behind the body. Inhale, lifting the hands up to the sky, and exhale, lifting the upper body to a seated position. Inhale, lifting the hands to the sky, and exhale, slowly lowering the body to start, hands parallel to the ground. Once you’ve mastered the level one, there are several progressions you can work into, as well.

Add these exercises to your regular routine two or three times a week, and you’ll be on your way to feeling stronger and leaner by the end of summer. Remember, diet and cardio play a role in getting those six-pack abs, so watch what and how you eat, and get your sweat on at least a couple hours each week.

Post #400 … and Giveaway Announcement!


It’s hard to believe that I’ve already made it to post #400! Seems like just yesterday I was writing #200 … heck, even sitting down to write post #1. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I began Strong-Fit-Beautiful 18 months ago, but I have to admit, it’s been a rewarding experience. I had no idea that people would actually read what I had to say (and certainly not that this little blog would lead to one of my classes being part of a news segment on hybrid workouts), that the people in my group fitness classes would engage with me outside of class through my blog, or that I would end up making what I would consider “blog friends.” I can thank my girl Helen (who spends about 9 hours a day sitting about two feet away from me) for pushing me to share my passion for fitness in a format very different from my group fitness classes – and I’m forever indebted!

In honor of my 400th post, I have decided to do something a little different as a thank you for letting me be a part of your fitness world. I’m going to be giving away a little something health and fitness-related once both my Facebook page ( and my Twitter (@StrongFitSarah) EACH reach 200 followers. To clarify – that’s two giveaways … meaning two chances for you to win! So head there now and have your friends do the same 🙂

Finally, I do want to thank you from the bottom of my  heart for sticking with me through workouts, playlists, inspirational quotes, infographics, videos, occasional rants and sometimes even too much of a peek into my own personal goings-on. It’s because you read and share your comments, stories and guest posts that I am still writing regularly. For those of you who don’t know, writing was more of my background even before fitness was … and to be able to blend two things I love? It’s truly rewarding. So here’s to another 400 posts … you all are the best!

How’s Your January Motivation Doing in July?

July 4 is now in the rearview mirror, and we’re officially in the dog days of summer … and more than six months removed from setting those New Years’ resolutions. How far have you come toward achieving your health and fitness goals?

If your motivation didn’t last much past the Valentines’ Day candies … or even the chocolate Easter bunnies … it doesn’t mean you’re doomed. Those January 1 goals were supposed to be intended for the year – and we still have half of it to go. That said, if you find yourself gravitating for the couch rather than the treadmill, there is no better day than today to get back on track and finish the second half of 2013 strong.
Here are a few tips to help you regain that excitement you may have lost:

• Look at how far you’ve come. It could be a more defined muscle, a couple pounds gone, or even just running a mile without walking. Recognize that though you may not yet have reached your goal, you have accomplished a few things along the way.

• Try something new. Same old routine gotten a little boring? Try a new class, take your workout outside, work out a different time of day, or …

• Hire a trainer. A coach dedicated to holding you accountable and pushing you harder than you would on your own is a recipe for success. But do your homework – not all trainers are created equal.

Most of all, remember that exercise is supposed to be fun. If it’s not, you just haven’t found the right thing for you. Try something new, compare some old pictures, and seek out a pro if you still need a little motivation to keep getting better and stronger. Remember, that hardest part isn’t getting started, it’s keeping it going … and nothing is as rough as having to start all over (again).

What keeps you motivated throughout the year?