- How long should each hooping session be?
- What’s going on with the upper and lower parts of belly fat and the flabby part of your arm
- “I have a gorgeous Hoop from y’all…however, I cannot work it! When I was much younger (and thinner), was able to keep a hoop going forEVER. Sooo, really just one question: How do I get the darned thing to stay on/going?!”
- How to stay motivated to keep hooping (and well, the motivation to do just about anything – one super simple 5 second hack)
“When did I become my before picture?” my friend messaged me as she struggled to get her weight and more importantly her health back on track. It happens to all of us, whether its from life stress, tragedy, boredom, loneliness, Netflix binging – whatever the cause, we can all get off track at one time or another with our health and fitness goals. I’m off track. Yep, there it is. It’s difficult to admit as a trainer and nutrition professional. But yes, I I got off track due to family tragedy and the ongoing stress that followed. I began consistently overeating (you can see my own before pic at the end of the lesson ). I’m making my way back to where I feel and function best. That may be different from where you feel and function best, but the how to’s will be similar. So in today’s lesson we are going to tackle how to:
- Balance your hormones. Why you should care and simple cues that will tell you if you’re in or out of balance.
- Stop counting calories. It’s not only inaccurate, but it’s time consuming and well, a pain in the —. Yes, there are times when you might need to track, but using this one technique will take care of most of your issues.
- Eliminate your biggest weight loss obstacle. Your biggest weight loss obstacle is different than mine, but left unaddressed you’re not going to reach your goals. Stop wasting time on things that won’t budge the scale and your health in the right direction.
Step 1. Balance Hormones
You’ll see diet trends that come and go – Diets that become uber popular like Southbeach, Atkins, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian or even Keto. Truth be told you can have success on any one of these plans. The trick comes into assessing whether your plan is sustainable for YOUR body over the long haul. And paying attention to hormonal balance is a pretty good indicator of whether your plan is a good fit for you. It’s part of the reason why your friend may have had great success on Keto, but you completely tanked or why one person can get ripped on a vegan diet and another can get ripped using a Paleo approach for a short time period but found it unsustainable past six months. For today’s lesson, we are going to focus on
- Why you should even care about hormones with weight loss,
- The signals your body sends to tell you your hormones are out of whack, and
- 3 strategies to get things back on track
Why You Should Care About Hormones
For so long, we’ve all been told that weight loss is about calories in, calories out – how much you’re under or overeating. And if you can just manage and get this one piece right body fat will magically fall off and life will be rainbows. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. To achieve weight loss, you need both a hormonal balance and a caloric deficit. Often overlooked, your hormones can have a huge impact on being overweight. Hormones are messengers that
- control your appetite,
- stress responses in the body (think belly fat),
- WHERE you store fat in the body (are you storing in your lower body with stubborn fat pockets or are you storing fat in your midsection),
- menstrual cycle function,
- and cravings.
How To Tell When Hormones Are Out of Whack
An easy way to tell whether hormones are balanced in your body is to pay attention to whether you have reached hormonal ACES. ACES is an easy to remember acronym that stands for appetite, cravings, energy, and sleep. If these four areas are stable, its a pretty good indicator that things are in check. In addition to these four indicators you can also use the scale and your waistline to determine whether you’re moving in the right direction. If the scale weight drops, but your waist measurement doesn’t budge or even worse increases, you’re not losing fat. You want both your ACES in check and your waist measurement to drop.
3 Hormonal Fixes You Can Apply Now
- Get Your Blood Sugar Under Control. Mismanaging blood sugar is probably one of the largest causes of hormonal problems. While yes, our bodies need glucose to fuel our activity and brain, we don’t need as much as most of us are getting! High blood sugar can switch on fat storage, cause uncontrollable cravings, create inflammation in the body and flatline your results.
- Focus on Sleep. Aim for at least eight hours of uninterrupted quality sleep in a dark, cool, technology free environment. Sleep disturbances can impact cortisol, leptin and ghrelin and human growth hormone. Translated, this means that consistent, quality sleep can lower belly fat, decrease cravings and hunger the next day, and help preserve lean muscle mass.
- Exercise Smarter, Not Harder. Thank you hooping. Activities like walking, yoga, and hula hooping top the list as restorative exercise that lowers cortisol, increases feel good brain hormones and lowers inflammation in the body. Simply trying to eat less and exercise harder is going to backfire on your entire system. Your body will respond for a short period of time under this model but eventually cravings, energy, and sleep all tank. Aim for 3 hoop sessions a week complimented by quiet nature walks, relaxing baths, tai chi, yoga, meditation or even massage.
Step 2. Stop Counting Calories
Hmmm, It’s Sort of Accurate
Counting calories will work if weight loss is your goal. It may be time consuming to track and manage, although technology has made this easier and easier with apps available at our fingertips. But it relies on a principle of estimating how many calories you need based on a number of factors versus estimating the energy or calories of the food you take in. Let’s take a look at how this COULD be tripping up your efforts. And let me also say, if it’s working for you GREAT! Keep going! If it’s not, then it may be that the estimates are off just enough to throw your efforts off track.
Energy and nutrients listed on labels and databases can have an error margin of +/- 25%. And most of us try to balance this with energy expended during exercises. This adds even more variability, since this is even harder to measure than the food you eat. All of this means even if you are doing your best to measure this precisely, you could be off by 20% or more.
This Method is Simple and Uses Your Hand to Measure Portions
This super simple method is a lot easier than counting calories and will be a great place to start when putting your plate together. Monitor cues like hunger, energy, and cravings to determine whether adjustments need to be made. Here’s how it works (and if you’re a visual person check out our infographic below).
- Protein: Use Your palm to determine what portion you should have as a starting point.
- Veggies: Use your fist as a starting point to determine portions.
- Carbs: Use your cupped hand (no, I didn’t say hands plural – although truth be told that’s what I would like to do at every meal) to determine carb portioning.
- Fat: Use your thumb to determine a starting point for the amount of fat.
Step 3. Smash Your Biggest Weight Loss Obstacle
If you have heath and fitness goals or weight to lose, you may be wondering how to start closing the gap from where you are to where you want to be. All too often we focus on doing so many things at once, which can really impact your success because a) either you don’t do any of it really really well, or b) you focus on the wrong things that aren’t going to move the needle in the right direction or c) you’ve got unfinished projects all over the place. Most of us can relate to this problem in terms of productivity whether it’s work based or personal life/home life based. And obviously this impacts success, but it gets really really critical to correct this in the game of weight loss. In order to move in the right direction, it is absolutely critical that you get clear on “the one thing right now”.
Step One: Identify Your “One Thing”
Ask yourself, “What is the one specific measurable action I can take right now that if done consistently this week would produce results?” Let me give you an example from my own personal case study. Over the past year as the stress has piled on, I’ve gotten into the habit of bonding with Netflix and anything that has fat and sugar in it. Oh Netflix, how you’re killing me. Anyway, because I’m eating a) way too much and too much of the wrong foods and b) eating too close to bed, I’m now impacting my sleep, release of growth hormone and affecting how my body responds to hunger and cravings the following day. The rest of my meals are pretty on point for the most part. Not perfect, nor do I strive to be. BUT, cutting the nighttime snacking is going to have a big impact for me on moving me in the direction of getting back on track body composition wise. So my specific measurable action is to stop eating after dinner. Period.
Your one thing could be entirely different. Maybe it’s constant snacking. Or enough sugar in a day to fuel five kids. Whatever it is, sit down, take some time and identify your one thing.
Step Two: Is it a must do to achieve results?
This is where you now evaluate your “one thing” Take a look and really ask yourself whether it’s going to make the biggest impact on your goals. For me, the nighttime eating is. It’s throwing my calorie and hormonal balance out of whack, impacting my sleep and kicking off a cycle of overeating.
The most common issues I see with clients are:
- Too much sugar
- Too much snacking
- Nighttime binge eating
- Portion sizes are off
If you can’t answer yes to whether this a must do, go back and work on Step 1.
Step 3. Think Big But Aim Small
It’s absolutely critical to aim big on your goals, but I really encourage you to get laser focused and small in how you execute your “one thing”. Its critical to be very very specific in how you are going to carry out your one thing. It should not take up your entire day. It should not be all consuming. If it is, it’s too broad. Make it a task you can execute and check off your list!
Allrighty, here you go. The picture on the left is right about the time I started paying attention to my own nutrition principles I teach again. The picture on the right was taken this morning. There’s about a five week difference. If you aren’t taking pictures and measurements, please start. The scale is only one indicator of what’s happening.
Leigh Little is a certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Precision Nutrition Certified. She is a hoop dance performer and regular Canyon Hoops contributor with blog articles and videos and is the creator of Canyon Hoops Hoop Fitness DVD. To work with Leigh one on one for hoop fitness, dance, or weight loss contact her at email@example.com
Why you can’t Hoop… and what you can do about it!
Perhaps you have fond memories of hula hooping as a child. It was a sunny day at the park and you had that perfect colorful circle whizzing around your torso. It was FUN, wasn’t it? You had the approval of your friends and parents because ‘hula hoops are for kids.’
Since then have you picked up one of those perfect colorful circles to find that you “can’t hoop” anymore? That the distant memory of accomplishment and fun has been replaced by a hoop that doesn’t do much more than get catapulted by gravity to the ground before you even had a chance?
If you are no longer a kid and you are feeling discouraged by hula hoops then know that you aren’t the only one. Let me also tell you that for every ounce of disappointment you have felt towards that ‘not so perfect’ colorful circle there is an equal ounce of joy and happiness to be had. Read on, and lets change that ‘I can’t hula hoop’ to ‘Yes!!! I can hula hoop!’
One of the most basic qualities of a new hoop is the size. The size of your hoop makes ALL the difference. Eventually you will know your favorite hoop size down to the inch! Hoop size also helps make certain tricks more accessible. Most adults try hooping again for the first time since childhood with a small ‘kids size’ hoop that comes from a major department store. These hoops are no longer suitable for you! Depending on your size a 36-40” in diameter fitness hoop could be a great place to start. A size changing hoop is always a good option so you can discover over time what is best. Most kid hoops are around 24” in diameter! The size of your waist dictates what size hoop you will need. Bigger hoops are better for bigger waists! The bigger the hoop is the slower you will have to move to keep it up. We have a hoop sizing guide that can help you with the question of “what size hoop do I need?” and you can always write us at firstname.lastname@example.org with more questions.
Weight is almost as important as size! A heavier hoop will move more slowly and give you time to react and keep the hoop up. The lighter the hoop, the faster you will have to move. However, just because a hoop is heavy doesn’t mean it is better. You will see lots of weighted fitness hoops on the market. It is important to get a hoop that is not too heavy! For a healthy body a 2.5-3 pound hoop could be fine but 3 pounds can be too heavy depending on your size and the health of your spine. Caution!! Anything above 3 pounds can be damaging to the spine. If you have a sensitive spine or have previously injured your spine a heavy hoop may not be for you!
How are you moving to keep the hoop up? The most common ways to keep a hula hoop up are to move side to side or forward and back with your hips. When you practice with your new hoop that is the right size and weight this will help inform which style of hooping you prefer more! Even though your hoop is a circle, circling the hips will NOT help you keep the hoop up easily. For example, when you press your hips to the right the next easy point of contact will be to your left. Focus on keeping the hoop up by meeting it where it is going to make contact with your body! You also want to make sure that when you first start your hoop spinning with your hands that the hoop is level to the ground!
TYPE of HOOP:
There are many different types of hoop tubing and this makes a big difference in how easy it is to keep your new hula hoop up. Bare polypro will be too light as a beginner hoop anyways, but the texture of the hoop is also very slippery. Slippery hoops will slide downwards a lot faster than grippy hoops like taped fitness hoops. What makes these hoops grip onto clothing and skin better is gaffer tape. Gaffer tape has the texture of fabric and often make up half of the tape on a fitness hoop. There are some tapes like vinyl and specialty tapes that are slick and won’t help you keep the hoop up. The type of tape on your hoop can make all the difference!! Likewise, the type of clothing that your are wearing can also make a big difference in how the hoop slides, or doesn’t, on your body.
But I am afraid of what others will think…
If you find that you love hooping but still have it in your mind that ‘hooping is for kids’ let me dispel this thought for you now. Hula hooping has been growing in popularity each and every year with adults and kids alike. Hula hooping is fun, can help you lose weight, and can be done at any age!
If you are on instagram or facebook you will find many videos of adults hooping. If you feel like you are the only hooper in town try finding fellow hoopers through different groups on Facebook, or look for a local class. If you don’t find anyone then maybe YOU can share the love of hooping by getting a fitness hoop DVD and inviting a friend over to give it a try!
No matter what, hooping will be what you make it. You can hoop because it brings you joy. You can hoop to burn calories. Or you can hoop because it’s a great way to get your friends together at the park on a sunny afternoon…this time with ‘big kid hoops.’ 😉
- How HEAVY does your weighted hula hoop need to be in order to lose weight?
- Which trend could be moving your weight loss goals in the wrong direction? (and killing your back in the process)
- What’s the perfect hula hoop weight to really work your abs?
- Is front back pushing or side-to-side better for your core?
Plus, a super simple exercise you can do anywhere to help you fire off deep core muscles! Read more
Steal These Strategies
I recently sat down for a goal setting session with a client and one of her goals was to “lose the jiggle”. Are you in a similar situation? You order a fitness hoop to help lose your belly fat and want to know where to start? Today I’m going to give you strategies to help move fat loss along. And these tips aren’t about the specifics of your exercise program or your nutrition strategy, but rather how you set up your environment so you can stop white knuckling it through the process. Read more
5 Balance Drills With Your Hula Hoop
Look, we get it. Balance exercises aren’t “sexy”. The exercises alone don’t produce rapid, amazing, shocking body transformations, or RIGHT NOW results. And in a busy, fast paced world we tend to deal with the “right now” problems versus the prevention of the “what might be” problems. Adding another session of exercises to your routine on when so many of you struggle to fit in your workouts now can seem overwhelming.
Luckily, we have created a series of short yet super effective exercises you can use in three different ways, whether you are focused on weight loss, hoop dance flow, or preventing falls and injury. It’s like a transformer workout. (Bear with me, I’ve been spending time with my five year old son and transformers and legos are at the center of my vocabulary these days!)
Adding in this sequence, especially if set to a very soothing, rhythmic type music can challenge muscle activation without increasing hunger, cravings, and mood swings like too much cardio can.
Frequency: Try this series a couple of times a week. Complete each exercise 1-2 times, depending on your level of fitness. Focus on your breathing, moving fluidly through the exercises and relaxing.[/ultimate_info_table]
NOTE: IT is very important to perform your balance exercises before engaging in your cardio waist hooping or dance sessions. Engaging in balance exercises AFTER your workout can negatively impact the progress of your balance work.
Frequency: Try this series a couple of times a week. Complete each exercise 1-2 times, depending on your level of fitness. Finish up each session with 5 minutes of waist hooping at the end.[/ultimate_info_table]
You can add this series in the beginning of your flow session as a warm-up, in the middle as a “reset” if you’re having difficulty with tricks, or at the end to slow things down and cool down.
Frequency: Try this series a couple of times a week. Complete each exercise 1-2 times.[/ultimate_info_table]
- The exercises combine cognitive AND balance challenges together. Training balance problems in isolation doesn’t simulate real world conditions – for example, falling in the dark or falling when you are distracted by other thoughts or activities.
- The advanced exercise (see #5) at the end of the series won’t allow you to anticipate the disturbance in your balance, making it simulate real world more effectively. We do well when we KNOW what’s coming, right? But it is your ability to recover from an unexpected balance disruption that causes the most serious problems. This can occur from bumping, slipping, tripping, bending, reaching, and turning.
- The exercises combine strength training AND balance challenges. This is very effective, as muscle weakness is a major contributor to balance problems as we age. These exercises develop core strength and balance at the same time.
- The balance exercises include sensory challenges that stimulate real world conditions – lighting changes, loss of vision, moving your head from side to side. To simulate lighting changes you can dim your room lights or even wear sunglasses.
Each exercise contains modifications based on balance skill level. Choose which version you are most comfortable with and can safely perform. Be sure to work in a space that has enough room and wear smooth bottom shoes or go barefoot.
Exercise #1: One Leg Balance Drill Series
Aim for 10 balance holds on each leg. Repeat 2-3 times. You can choose which one leg balance drill best suits your current balance skill level.
Exercise #2: Body Circle Series
Aim for 10 body circles in each direction. Repeat 2-3 times. You can choose to perform these with or without your hoop based on your current balance skill level.
Exercise #3: Walk the Line
Aim for 10 steps both forward and backward. Repeat 2-3 times. You can choose to perform these with or without a lifted leg balance based on your current balance skill level.
Exercise #4: Object Stepping
Aim for 10 steps over your objects. Be sure to use soft objects. Repeat 2-3 times.
Exercise #5: Obstacle Course
Aim for 10 random steps over your soft objects. Repeat 2-3 times. You can increase the challenge by having someone call direction changes for you, as demonstrated in the video and also tossing a ball back and forth as your skill level increases.
About the Author:
Leigh Little is a certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Precision Nutrition Certified. She is a regular Canyon Hoops contributor with blog articles and videos and is the creator of Canyon Hoops Hoop Fitness DVD. To work with Leigh one on one for hoop fitness, dance, or weight loss contact her at email@example.com
Lessons Learned from the Biggest Loser
Millions of us abuse our bodies emotionally and physically every day. The fact is we engage in harsh self talk, radical strategies, or strategies that work for someone else and at the end of the day end up frustrated and feeling hopeless in the war against weight loss. This is happening all across America. A recent article from the New York Times shed light on The Biggest Loser Contestants and the problems that resulted following their radical experiences on the show. Read more