5 Fitness Goal Tips

IFBB figure pro Linda Stephens shares 5 tips that have helped her reach her fitness goals.

View Linda’s Article On Muscle & Fitness Magazine

If you want to change your body, build lean muscle, lose weight, or reach most of your fitness goals it’s important to remember that those achievements take patience and perseverance. Before you embark on any nutritional or exercise regime you’ll need to tell yourself to take it “one day at time.”  We live in a culture of instant gratification. Anything we want or desire can be obtained pretty quickly, within reason that is. But when it comes to changing your body shape or improving your health, it takes time and effort. You’ll need patience to see it through and perseverance to stay the course. These two words describe what it takes to go the distance and endure the hard days when things don’t go your way.

During times of stress or hardship, sticking with your eating and exercise plan are the two best things you can do for yourself. Exercise has been shown to help alleviate the harmful effects stress can have on your body. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause your body to hold onto fat.  If you’re eating a diet that’s already high in fat like processed foods and you’re not exercising enough then you’re setting yourself up for weight gain — putting yourself at risk of developing illnesses.

Here are five mantras to remember when the going gets tough and you want to stray from your plan.

(Read more on Muscle & Fitness Magazine)

Creatine is one of the best-studied aids for improving workout results. So why aren’t you taking it yet?

View Linda’s article on Muscle & Fitness Magazine

 

We know guys love supplements that help them gain mass and build strength. But many women tend to shy away from ingredients that promote size, fearing that they’ll get too bulky. That’s one reason many women  still don’t reach for creatine when they’re picking out supplements to boost their workout results. But before you discount this well-studied strength aid, take a moment to consider the following benefits:

YOU’LL BUILD LEAN MUSCLE

Your muscle cells naturally make creatine phosphate, which when broken down provides immediate energy to muscle fibers. When you supplement with creatine, your body can store more of this energy-giving molecule, strengthening the contractions of the muscle fibers. That means you can pump out more reps—and build more muscle—when you’re training.

YOU’LL TRAIN LONGER (SO YOU’LL BURN MORE CALORIES)

Creatine supplementation helps your muscles replenish their energy stores, so you can train harder for longer periods. Here’s how: During any strenuous activity, your body gets its energy from a molecule called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. During a complex metabolic process, ATP is broken down into ADP (adenosine diphosphate). Creatine helps add back a phosphate molecule to ADP, so your muscles once again have more ATP to work with and you can continue to burn it up at the gym.

(Read more on Muscle & Fitness Magazine)

Why You Need B Vitamins

Learn about the eight different types of B vitamins, what they do for you and which healthy foods have them.

View Linda’s Article On Muscle & Fitness Magazine

Vitamins can be a confusing category to navigate but when you’re getting all of the vitamins and nutrients you need you’ll be likely to have more energy and better recover from your workouts. This quick and easy guide will help you better understand B vitamins.

What are the B vitamins responsible for?

B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning your body will excrete the excess through your urine.  Have you ever noticed that your urine is bright yellow after taking vitamin supplements?  That’s the excess being passed through your system. Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that doesn’t get excreted through urine. Instead, it’s absorbed into the intestine.

B vitamins use your macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) to generate energy by acting as coenzymes–“helper” molecules that assist in a biochemical reaction within your body. B vitamins help support your immune and nervous systems along with aiding energy metabolism.  Deficiencies of this vitamin can become an issue for athletes, hard-core gym goers, and competitive bodybuilders because their diets are very restrictive and their training demands are much more than someone who’s training for personal health.  Your also lose B vitamins when you sweat.

(Read more on Muscle & Fitness Magazine)

 

What’s In A Fat?

Here’s the skinny on this important nutrient.

View Linda’s Article On Muscle & Fitness Magazine

A fat, like protein and carbohydrates is a macronutrient and we all need macronutrients for normal body functions without them we could not survive. Fats give us energy and allow for the transport of other nutrients in order for them to do their job efficiently.  A fat contains 9 calories per gram. If your favorite treat has 10 grams of fat then 90 calories of the total calories are from fat.

SOME IMPORTANT FAT FACTS:

  • Fat is essential for life. It protects our internal organs and acts as a cushion.  But, too much fat around our internal organs is dangerous and can lead to many preventable diseases.
  • Fat keeps our bodies functioning at the proper body temperature. If you’ve ever been on a diet where your body fat drops to low levels you might have noticed you could be cold on a summer’s day!
  • It allows our bodies to process and transport the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D E & K.

(Read more on Muscle & Fitness Magazine)

Here’s why you want heartier, high-carb foods this time of year—and how to balance those hankerings the healthy way.

View Linda’s Article On Muscle & Fitness Magazine

Have you noticed that as the weather cools you want to stay under your blankets for longer in the morning, binge-watch TV and movies, and eat heartier comfort foods? You’re not alone in your desire to eat higher-fat, high-carb foods during the fall and winter months, but, you may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to sidestep those cravings?

Comfort foods tend to be higher in sugar, fat, and starches, and science has shown that these nutrients can cause the brain to release feelings of pleasure or may even calm stress and anxiety.

With shorter, darker days approaching now that Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday (turn your clocks back!), we’re here to help you better understand your cold-weather cravings as well as how to combat some of those comfort food urges.

(Read more on Muscle & Fitness Magazine)

Your all-in-one handbook to the star muscle builder in your kitchen.

View Linda’s Article On Muscle & Fitness Magazine

It’s a no-brainer that protein helps you stay lean and strong, but maybe you’re unsure exactly just how much you should be getting to reach your current fitness goals. Your gym buff boyfriend recommends one thing, but your nutritionist says another, and that article you just read online tells you something else altogether. We’ve got the real scoop on protein, including why you need it, the best types to choose, and the amount you should consume to look and feel your best.

Building Block Basics

Protein’s main function is to build and repair the body’s tissues, including muscles, plus synthesize hormones and enzymes. Since protein is constantly being broken down, it’s vital to consume this all-important macronutrient at every meal, and especially after strenuous workouts. Protein is made up of two groups of 20 amino acids, including both essential (your body doesn’t make them, so you can get them only from what you eat) and non-essential (your body synthesizes from other compounds such as fats and carbohydrates) aminos.

(Read more on Muscle & Fitness Magazine)

 

Linda Stephens Turns Pro

View full article in The Darien Times.

Linda Stephens, a local fitness instructor and competitor, set out on a course to conquer her dream, with only an oar to row her in the right direction, as a beginner, several years back.

Now, turning pro in her field, Stephens sails into uncharted waters with her sails catching the wind.

Here’s her own account of what it took for her to make her way:

“I’ve always believed that if you have dream or something that you’re passionate about you need to set a plan of attack and go the distance.  It’s never to late to make your dream come true and I’m living proof of that.

“This past winter I trained hard and often. Knowing that this summer I wanted to compete in as many shows as my body could withstand in order to obtain facial recognition with the judges.

View full article in The Darien Times.

 

Why women need to lift heavier weights for a more shapely figure, overall confidence and good health.

View Original Article In The Darien Patch

There are two misconceptions that I experience as a personal trainer.  The first one is that most women feel they need to do cardio for countless hours day in and day out in order to stay “long and lean”.

The other misconception that’s expressed to me by many women is that they don’t want to lift heavy weights for fear of becoming bulky and “too big.”  I’d like to address the later first.

As women, we just don’t have the amounts of testosterone it would take to build a huge bulky shape. Also, you would have to lift heavily for months even years in order to build some serious muscle mass. It doesn’t happen overnight, so let’s just throw that fear right out the window. You can curl or press the 5- or 8-lb. dumbbells for 100 repetitions but that’s not really going to do much of anything.

If you’re not going to challenge your muscles they will never grow.  If you don’t build muscle then your body will never really look any different.  I’m sure most reading this have heard the term “skinny fat.” You can run your little heart out on the treadmill, but if you don’t stress your muscles they will never develop shape.

View the complete article in The Darien Patch.

 

It’s your time to have the body you’ve dreamed of and feel more energetic.

View Original Article In The Darien Patch

I thought this would be a good time to write about something every one can appreciate this time of year—losing weight and having more energy.  It’s also a good time to revisit that old New Year’s resolution, “this year I’m going to join a gym, eat better and get in shape” or something along those lines.

Two things have inspired me to write this, the first being that I myself have started my leaning out process for my third season as a National Physique Committee (NPC) figure competitor and, secondly, at Infinity Fitness in Darien (where I personal train and nutrition coach) I’m leading a team of 15 very motivated women in our six-week body transformation competition.

It’s the perfect time of year to recharge that resolution.  The weather is great to run, walk or bike outside.  Grab your dumbbells and do your weight training in the sun.

Your muscles will feel great while you absorb all that vitamin D.  The other great thing about this time of year is that we often eat less and our food choices tend to be healthier.

View the entire article in The Darien Patch