Q: Gyms can be overwhelming with all of the equipment options available. Generally speaking, what is the best cardio choice you can make? What is the best strength-training option?
JM: I honestly don't think there is a right answer here. This all depends on your likes and dislikes, whether or not you have any injuries, etc. Also, I am a firm believer in variety. I don't like anyone to get stuck in a routine. It's bad for the body and bad for the mind. If I was forced to choose, I would say body resistance moves for strength training—squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. This is because it helps prevent injury and allows the body to be more functional, as well as fit. As for cardio, try the step mill because it's just plain brutal! Get out of your comfort zone. Nothing changes until you do.
BH: I always tell people to get acquainted with two pieces of equipment in the gym at a time so you are not overwhelmed. Start with the treadmill for a good cardio workout, and then go for the free weights. They are a great way to get acquainted with the muscles in your body. One set of hand weights can target all of your muscle groups.
Q: What inspired you to become a personal trainer and live a healthy life?
JM: It was my own journey with health and wellness that has given me my passion for helping people build a life utilizing fitness. I was an overweight kid with zero self-esteem, and my mother had the foresight to get me into martial arts as a teen in an attempt to help me turn things around. This was transformative for me emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically, and for that reason, I believe that when a person is strong physically, it transcends into all facets of their lives.
BH: I believe that I am doing exactly what God put me here to do. When you find what your true passion is in life, then there will be nothing that stops you and that is what personal training is for me. To help people get back on track and to be a messenger in this quest for helping someone live a healthy, spiritual and happy life.
Q: What's your biggest dieting weakness? Sweets? Fried foods? Is one cheat a week okay?
JM: CHOCOLATE! No on the cheat day. You can have a high-calorie day, but not a cheat day. I don't even like the word "cheat." It makes a person feel dirty. Forget that. Take a day out of your week and raise your calories up to 2,000. This way you can have some high-calorie foods but with boundaries so you don't wreck all your progress in one day. Additionally, you won't feel like you blew it and then beat yourself up.
BH: I think that one "high-calorie day" is absolutely acceptable. I prefer those words as opposed to "cheat day." It is a much more productive way of putting it. I am a big fan of dark chocolate, so that would be my weakness.
Q: When contestants go for visits home near the end of the show, you warn them of the dangers of going out with their friends: no alcohol. What can I drink in a bar? Only water?
JM: Alcohol is tricky. It is definitely enemy number one to a diet. It's full of empty calories, and it lowers your willpower. How many times have you find yourself at a late-night diner ordering a tuna melt and fries? I mean come on! Who does that sober? With that said, a good strategy is to allow yourself four drinks a week. Make them lower-calorie options like a glass of wine or a clear alcohol with a low-calorie mixer. Tequila on the rocks with a lime. Vodka soda. Martini...you get the idea.
BH: Alcohol lowers your resolve, so I always tell people to be very careful when it comes to drinking. Limiting yourself to one glass of wine or a light beer is fine, but only once or twice a week.
Q: Is it important to take a day off from workouts? Or if you can, should you work out every day?
JM: I believe you should take two days a week off from training. Your body needs rest and recovery time in order to grow and change. Your workouts are interpreted by your body as stress, and without adequate downtime, you can create injuries and end up breaking your body down instead of toning it up.
BH: Taking one day off to rest your body is the best way to live a healthy life. Your body needs time to recover and recoup, and then after that day off, you will have the strength to push yourself to new limits.
Q: How can I stick to a diet/exercise plan when I feel like I lack willpower?
JM: Jettison the all-or-nothing mentality. Build a life on a middle ground. Allow yourself your favorite foods within your calorie allowance. Keep your life list handy, and whenever you are feeling discouraged, go back and remind yourself of all the things you want out of life. Then, ask if your behaviors are getting you any closer to those goals.
BH: Until you awaken the spirit in you to decide that you are worth it enough to make a change today, you won't feel that willpower that is required to get yourself back on track and start a whole new way of living. But when you do turn on that light, you will have enough willpower to start and keep going.
Q: How does someone who is an emotional eater get to the root of why he or she is overeating?
Self-exploration is critical. I highly recommend getting into therapy. It has helped me tremendously to improve every aspect of my life. There are low-fee clinics available as well if you are strapped for cash. Other options could be OA [Overeaters Anonymous] meetings, support groups, online communities, journaling, self-help books—anything that gets you thinking and introspective.BH:
The first thing to do is find out what your relationship is with food and, more importantly, what your relationship is with yourself. That is where the real work begins. Watching what triggers you and "sets you off." You have to be able to acknowledge the behavior as opposed to avoiding it and pretending that it doesn't exist. When you are able to make that acknowledgment, that is when you are able to dilute the power that has been there, in this case the power of the food. Get weight loss secrets from Biggest Loser contestants!
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