Shari Duncan

Tag: Goal setting

Hit a Plateau? Repair a Stalled Metabolism with Diet

by on Apr.25, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

Knowing your body’s daily caloric needs is an important step in adopting a realistic diet and exercise plan that will help you reach and maintain your desired healthy weight.

To determine your energy needs specific to your age, weight and activity level, click on the attached link to calculate your daily calories.  This is a basic guideline…   Remember, no two individuals’ body composition are identical and activity levels vary for each person.   But this number will provide an important starting point.

You now have a baseline number of calories to maintain your current weight.  Next, determine how many calories you are taking in. This must be done before you modify or make adjustments towards your desired weight goal.   Keeping a food journal or logging on to a web based calorie tracker such as can assist in this task.  I suggest you

You have to know where you are before you make a plan for success

STOP GUESSING! You have to know where you are before you make a plan.

track your calories for at least one week.  Write everything down, including sodas and alcohol.  Many people are surprised when they compare the numbers.  They are surprised to find they are not taking in enough nutrition for their body.  As a result, their metabolism has slowed and the weight loss has stopped.  If you find that your total caloric intake is too low for your current weight, you must gradually up your intake some before you begin to cut again.  This alone will jumpstart your metabolism.

This might sound scary, but you will have to eat more, to burn more….

And you will need to exercise (especially weight bearing  to increase lean muscle).  By restricting calories too much, the body responds by holding on… or going into “starvation mode” and will lock up from fat burning mode.  It will store as much adipose (fat) tissue as possible .

It is not just enough to eat the proper foods, but nutrient timing is key to revving a stalled metabolism. To keep “the furnace” burning, it is optimal to eat small frequent meals (every three hours).  By “fueling” up frequently with “Clean” and nutritious foods, you will prime your body to build lean muscle and in the process lose the unwanted fat. You also will not feel deprived because you will have something in your stomach all day long, which in turn will make it less likely for you to binge on unhealthy snacks.

Be sure that every meal contains quality protein, as proteins are more satiating than other foods and by increasing protein, you will decease you daily consumption of carbohydrates and fats, which are more readily converted to fat.   Research shows that escalating protein levels in your diet results in weight loss.

So what percentage of total calories should be protein?

I hesitate here, again because we are all different.  0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight is often recommended. For a 150lb person this equates to 120 grams of protein every day.  Others prefer a macronutrient breakdown based on total caloric intake instead of body weight:  -40% protein-40% carbohydrate & 20% fat or  a 40-30-30 distribution of total calories for example.  For the same 150lb person eating 1600 calories, this equates to 160 grams of protein a day.    You get the picture.  This is something you will have to experiment with to assess your response and make adjustments.

Macronutrient Tracking.

Macronutrient Tracking

Once your metabolism is moving again & if your goal is weight loss, you will need to GRADUALLY and safely create a caloric deficit. This is done by a combination of eating fewer calories and increasing activity levels.  Again, accountability comes into play.  You need to track your progress.  Stop guessing and measure everything that you want to improve.

  • Keep a nutrition AND training journal
  • Weigh and measure food and track your progress – weekly weights and body fat composition
  • Take photographs

Finally, revisit and re-establish your calorie deficit.  What worked for you before is no longer working, so it is time for a new strategy.  Calorie needs and metabolism changes with weight loss.  The trick to avoid plateaus is to adjust your food intake (calories in) and your exercise/activity (calories out)
each week to reconcile the difference between hypothetical (on paper) calorie needs and
actual (real world) calorie needs.

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Avoiding Exercise….What’s your Excuse?

by on Apr.10, 2010, under Fitness, Motivation

Becoming more physically active is about making YOU and your health a priority. Don’t let excuses control you and prevent you from achieving your goals.

People give all sorts of reasons for not participating in a regular exercise program.  Most excuses are not valid reasons for not working out; they are defense mechanisms for avoiding an activity they perceive as unpleasant or difficult and therefore approach it with apprehension.  Our bodies were designed for motion.  Exercise is the body in motion and should feel good.

So I ask, what is your reason  (excuse) for not making exercise part of your lifestyle??


GET ACTIVE: Do what you find fun & include friends. Even if it is TIRE FLIPPING?

GET ACTIVE: Do what you find fun with others that share your interests. TIRE FLIPPING ANYONE?

Work, school, family, church….there is always something taking up your time. But taking some time out each day for yourself will not only benefit your health physically but also mentally.  There are many programs out there that enable even the busiest of folks to fit in exercise.

Inactive people are just as busy as those who find time to exercise… you have got to get rid of this excuse.  Here are a few more pointers to help you manage fitness into your daily routine:

Schedule workout time –  break exercise time into 15 minute segments:

ü  Get up a few minutes earlier & go for a brisk walk

ü  Use 15 miutes of your lunch break to walk stairs and/or

ü  Lift weights for 15 minutes after work.


Exercising is one of the most inexpensive activities around.  It is not a sport for only the rich.  All you need is a good pair of shoes.  A regular exercise routine can transform you from a couch potato to a more energetic and healthier individual.

Think about the money you spend on coffee, cigarettes or beer. Think about packing a lunch instead of eating out even just one day a week.  You may just have enough for that gym membership.


Exercise generates Energy…  Let me say that again: EXERCISE GENERATES ENERGY …dramatically..  Sometimes life gets hectic with all we have to do, but once you establish a routine and begin to get healthy, you will find a renewed sense of vitality.  And the more energy you have, the more you will be able to accomplish in a day.

Fitness Magazines and DVDs are excellent resources for beginners

Fitness Magazines and DVD's are excellent resources for beginners


There is all sorts of information about exercising and fitness programs.  Pick up a book, DVD or fitness magazine to help you. Everybody has to start somewhere. Start with what you know and what you are comfortable with and gradually introduce new exercises or activities.  Go to the gym with a friend or colleague who can show you some exercises. Take a group fitness class or set an appointment with a personal trainer to help you get on a program that is specific to your health goals.

5) HATE EXERCISE – really.

Exercise does not have to be this dreadful chore you perceive it to be.  Keep looking until you find something you like to do.  Experiment with different activities until you “connect” with something. Keep going back and don’t give up. The more you participate and practice, the better you will become at it.  As time goes by, your confidence will improve and you will find that you actually are having fun at your “sport”!

And the best part: your body in the process will become healthier and fit.

Exercise is timeless.  It benefits all people of all ages, shapes and sizes. You are never too old (or too young), too fat, too busy, too inexperienced, or too broke to start exercising.

It is time to ditch all of these excuses and start moving in the direction to be in the best shape of your life. … Instead of moving in the direction of regret for not making YOU a top priority!

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NUTRITION: for Optimal Success

by on Jan.17, 2010, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

Just because you work out does not mean you can eat whatever you want. … that is if you want optimum results.

Here are 10 basic tips that will not only help with muscle building and fat burning from your training but will also provide a boost of energy throughout the day.

Exercise and Nutrition: Partnership for Success

Exercise and Nutrition: Partnership for Success

1.      EAT six meals a day.

Researchers and nutrition experts advise active people to eat frequently (about every 3 hours) to accelerate the metabolism and maintain steady energy levels throughout the day.

2.      COMBINE carbohydrates AND protein at every meal.

A simple fact: Our bodies work most efficiently with a balance of carbohydrates and protein.  Protein is essential for building healthy and maintaining a strong immune system. Protein paired with a nutritious carbohydrate has been shown to reduce appetite as proteins make you feel fuller longer.

3.      CHOOSE appropriate portions.

Portion size is important to weight management.  Use a common sense approach, such as using the palm of your hand or clenched fist to gauge portions for foods.

4.       PLAN meals ahead of time.

Fix meals in advance and pre-package or freeze them. It is important to plan ahead and shop at least once a week.  If you forget, you run out of “good” food and will be tempted to cheat or make impulsive and not so healthy choices.  Experiment with different recipes and seasonings and try new foods to add variety.

5.      STORE  food in reusable containers.

Purchase plastic storage containers, sports bottles, a water jug and a cooler to store and carry your food.  Having your pre-planned and prepared meals with you throughout your hectic day will keep you on track.

6.      DRINK 10 glasses of water daily.

Drink at least one glass of water with each of your 6 meals and 4 more throughout the day.  If you indulge in soda, coffee or tea, strive to consume even more water to compensate for the diuretic effect of these beverages.

7.      PROTEIN within 30 minutes of exercise.

Your muscles are primed for nutrients immediately after an intense workout, but within 2 hours, the body’s ability to refuel decreases.  Taken within 30 minutes of your workout, a high-quality protein helps to refuel and build muscle.

8.      SUPPLEMENT with high quality products.

Supplements can help make up for any nutritional deficiencies and enhance performance.

9.       Define your GOALS and your reason to succeed.

Research shows that those who are successful in transforming their bodies are motivated by an emotional trigger that helps them clarify their reasons for making that change.  Consider your “emotional trigger” and use it to stay committed to your nutrition program.

10.     CONSISTENCY, not perfection.

There will always be a meal or special event that offers foods not on your recommended food list.  When you get off track, don’t allow it to slow your progress. Enjoy the divergence, recommit to your goal and then get right back on track with your very next meal.

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by on Jan.01, 2010, under Fitness, Motivation

Keeping your fitness Goals in the New Year

Circuit training for muscle toning and fat loss.

Circuit training for muscle toning and fat loss.

Setting fitness goals is easy.  Sticking to those goals, not so much.  If the “want to” is there, then keeping a plan is not as difficult as you think.

The key is to have a GOAL and a PLAN.

So first things first: Set realistic goals. By keeping your goals attainable, you are not setting yourself up for failure. Break them down and tackle them one goal at a time. Saying  “I want to lose weight or “I need to get in shape” is too vague and leaves you no way to measure progress or success.  Instead, set several smaller, achievable goals. Set both short and long term goals.

BELIEVE that you can and will get the results you want and make the commitment to do something about it.

PLAN time for exercise. Be honest with yourself and commit to a schedule that you can keep.  Aim  to break a sweat by doing something every day. You do not have to be in a gym for hours on end, seven days a week to achieve results. Run a flight of stairs, do a set of jumping jacks, or heavy yard or housework count, so don’t beat yourself up on days you can’t make it to the gym.

Make it SOCIAL.  Enlist a friend or co-worker. Try a boot camp or participate in a group fitness class twice a week.  Having others to work out with helps with accountability and will keep you on track. Add variety and keep it fun! You don’t have to do the same thing everyday. One day it may be to go to the gym and lift weights; one day parking at the far end of the parking lot; and another riding bikes with some friends. Focus on the activity and not the outcome and you may find you enjoy the challenge of what you are doing while at the same time achieving the results you desire.

JOURNAL your progress. At the beginning of each week, take a few minutes to plan out your activities. Use your journal to track and modify your goals. Writing goals and keeping a journal decreases vagueness in your daily routine and keeps you accountable. This is important because if you begin to doubt why you are doing something or if it can be accomplished, you tend to become anxious, stressed, or disouraged. This is what leads many to simply quit or give up.

Getting fit by leading a healthy lifestyle is a long-term investment, with long-term benefits and rewards. It is not a goal with a finish line.  Becoming and remaining active can become as much a part of  your daily routine as taking a shower or walking your dog.  It is one of the most valuable investments you can make…the investment in yourself.

And why shouldn’t your health be your top priority? Once you make your mind up to make the change to a healthier you, all there is to do is to just do it…  It’s totally worth it.

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by on Dec.03, 2009, under Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding

Are you ready to take your workouts to the next level??

Try the following  techniques individually or in any combination regardless of your current fitness level or experience in the gym.  Just remember that the most important aspect of any training is to be safe.  Practice safe technique and form before taking it to the next level.  It should ALWAYS be about quality of exercise and not quantity (of weight, or time, or speed, etc.)

.. After all, if you injure yourself on the first day, you are not maximizing your workout!

  1. PREPARE YOUR BODY FOR YOUR WORKOUT :  Dynamic warm-ups  get your body ready to perform.  Take a few minutes before jumping right in to take your body through basic functional movements that include bending, twisting and rotating the body. Dynamic warm-ups begin to raise your body temperature  and prepare the muscles, joints and nerves for your workout.
  2. INTERVAL TRAINING:   This is all about short-burst high intensity exercise followed by brief recovery periods.   This type of training is one of the most effective techniques for fat burning. Just 10-15 minutes of high intensity interval training is proven to be more effective in fat burning than 60 minutes of continuous, moderate cardio… REALLY!  The key word here is INTENSITY.. and form.  Again, this is about quality not quantity.  Sprints, plyometrics, and kettlebell swings are perfect ways to implement intervals into your workouts.
  3. TIMED WORKOUTS:  Get out your stopwatch! Very similar to interval training but the bursts of exercise last a bit longer and instead of performing total body movements, you isolate particular body parts with resistance exercises. This technique maximizes the effect of resistance training because you are also burning body fat by elevating your heart rate. Using a moderately heavy weight, focus on proper form, aim for a lifting time between 40-60 seconds with no more than 20 seconds of rest between sets.
  4. SUPERSETS – USING BODY WEIGHT:   Add variety and intensity by simply adding a second, similar exercise for a particular muscle group. This is also an extremely time efficient technique to improve strength and lean muscle development.  Do not use any weights for the second exercise.  Chest presses super-setted with push-ups; back rows super-setted with body-weight pull ups are  a couple of examples.
  5. RECOVERY & REGENERATION:  Your body requires recovery time  from the breakdown in muscle fibers caused by intense working out.  Without appropriate rest, over training may occur and result in injury and may in fact limit your progress.  Be sure to give specific muscle groups at least 48 hours to recover before training them again. Integrate regeneration exercises such as stretching, yoga and foam rolling techniques on your rest days to assist in muscle recovery.
  6. INTEGRATIVE TRAINING:   Simply put… Shock your body into transformation by changing things up often by incorporating a variety of fitness routines.  If you always do the  same routine, your body will adapt and you  stop making progress.  Plus, variety will keep you engaged, interested and challenged.   Try Yoga, cycling, kickboxing, plyometrics, sprinting, or my all time favorite – staduim stair running.  Talk about challenging  and pushing yourself to the next level!


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by on Nov.29, 2009, under General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding, Weight Loss

Food journals provide awareness and accountability for what we put into our bodies.

Members at my gym;  family and friends often approach me for advice on how and what they should eat in order to lose the weight, trim the fat, put on muscle mass, etc.   The first thing that I recommend; no matter what their goal ….is to keep a food log.

Food journals provide valuable insight to what foods the individual likes and dislikes. It shows eating and snacking patterns and most importantly establishes a baseline to work off of.   A food log assesses patterns for what and how you are eating now and provides direction in going forward in designing a plan that will work for YOU.  By keeping a food diary, you will not only be able to track your calories and  specific breakdown of protein, carbohydrate, fiber and fat grams; you will be able to keep up with portion sizes, determine reasons (other than hunger) for eating, identify lapses in eating and target areas for improvement.

Food diaries are effective because they determine whether you are taking in enough (or too many) calories.  They also show if you are consuming enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins and to maintain the protein-carb-fat ratios in healthy proportions specific to your goal.

Tips for Keeping a Food Diary

  • Write as you go. Don’t wait until the end of the day to record what you ate and drank.
  • Focus on portion size. Practice at home with measuring cups, measuring spoons, or food scales.  Be aware that people tend to underestimate how much food they’re served.
  • Use whatever type of food diary works for you. It doesn’t matter whether you use scrap paper, computer program or PDA, or a notebook.  The key is to RECORD EVERYTHING… and be consistent.
  • Cook at home. You’ll have more control over what you consume, and you know what that food contains, and how much of it you’re eating. That makes for a more detailed entry in your food diary.  When you dine out, still log your foods and beverages.
There are many free online programs available that make food and nutrient tracking easy.

Here are  a few to check out:

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