Monthly Archives for August 2010

Archives for August 2010

Hotel Fitness: Staying Healthy on the Fly!

I could give this daddy a good in-room workout. Or two. Or three.

So, here I am in San Francisco. My job doesn’t necessitate a lot of travel—so for me, this is one of those rare glimpses into the corporate world of frequent flyers, awards cards and sky miles. I feel a 5-year old playing dress-up.

Though I rarely find myself in hotels, a lot of you do. And sometimes those hotels have fitness centers—and sometimes they do not. The hotel that I’m staying at does have a gym, but it is rather meagerly stocked—as though it was receiving rations from Soviet Russia. In fact, I don’t think I’ve never seen a hotel gym with a bench press. Being a traveler (whether for work or leisure) certainly comes with a great deal of fitness challenge.

Here are my recommendations:

  1. Be weary of room service! Taking a quick glance at this hotel’s menu, I’m tempted to order such delicacies as fried mozzarella sticks or “nachos grande” (I assume the grande refers to the effect it will have on your waistline). Even the sandwiches are loaded in heart-clogging toppings like mayo and American cheese. It’s fine to cheat every now and then, but I’d suggest hitting the town to find some healthier alternatives.
  2. Exercise in your room. No weights, no problem! Body weight work outs are great for travelers without access to dumbbells, barbells, bench presses and the like. For a great chest workout, try my 17 variations on the common push-up from the comfort of your hotel room. If there is park nearby you can do pull-ups on a tree branch (don’t laugh—I’ve done it before!), or triceps dips on a playground’s parallel bars. Use your imagination a little, or download some workouts that don’t require equipment.
  3. Avoid those salted nuts and lock up the mini bar. As we speak, I’m scrutinizing the mini bar’s contents. For the record, there is nothing “mini” about this bar’s caloric content. Candy bars galore, gummy candy, chips and—what’s that, mixed nuts? I always recommend a caveman style diet—some lean meat, lots of produce and mixed nuts and berries. My excitement is short lived however, as the nuts are literally coated in salt. Unsalted nuts are the way to go—but you probably won’t find them in the mini bar.
  4. Maintain the proper mentality. Just because you may physically be on vacation, your body is not. I always chuckle when people say that they can eat what they want on vacation. Your body doesn’t process vacation calories differently, and the effect on your body is obviously the same regardless. Eat healthy as much as possible—target 80% of the time. Obviously this is much easier at home, but it’s the worth the effort to maintain while away.
  5. Stay hydrated. It’s easy not to get your 8 cups of water while traveling. And it’s much easier to adopt for soft drinks, alcohol, etc. Make an effort to drink water – it will also help stave off some of your cravings.

Being a frequent traveler doesn’t need to be a death sentence for your fitness program or a prescription for obesity. Keep your game face on—and I think you’ll be pleased with the results: more energy, better sleep and increased immune system performance, just to name a few.

What recommendations do you have for staying fit with traveling? Please share your best tips in the comments below!

The Best Scientifically Proven Ab Workout Ever!

For extra motivation (or at least masturbation fodder), print out this picture and tape it to the ceiling above you while performing this workout.

Well, shit… that’s quite a title to live up to. But according to my uncle – and Prevention Magazine – this ab workout lives up to its hype. Over dinner, my uncle told me about the workout. He and his wife have been doing it for a few months, and they’ve seen great results. They’ve both shed a few inches from their midsection and show a lot more definition.

It’s no surprise that they’ve shed a few inches; the workout is fast-paced and it gets your heart pumping. It’s really a cardio workout and ab workout in one.

I tried the routine this morning, and I suspect that I may even be a little sore tomorrow. Since I’m new to the workout, I couldn’t quite hit all the target numbers that you’ll see below. Each exercise contains 3 sets of 50 repetitions. That’s performing 150 instances of each exercise. Yikes! It’s certainly something to work up to.

Without further ado, here’s the “best scientifically proven ab workout ever”:

  • 3 sets of 50 modified crunches. Instead of having your feet flat on the ground, keep your knees bent at a 90 degree angle so that your calves are parallel to the floor. Throughout the exercise, maintain this 90 degree angle (no small feat). Cross your arms high on your chest, just below your neck. Rest 15 seconds between each set of 50.
  • 3 sets of 50 leg lift punches. You’ve probably done a leg lift before. It’s when you lie flat on your back with your legs together. You lift your legs by folding at the pelvis, keeping your back flat on the mat. Try keeping your legs as straight as possible. A normal leg lift would stop here – but we’ve added a punch. Once your legs are perpendicular to the floor, use your abs to “punch” them up towards the ceiling. Your ass will lift off the floor by 3 – 6 inches. Lower your bum back down, and then lower your legs so that they almost – but not quite – touch the floor. Sounds hard enough, right? Wrong! Instead of keeping your hands by your side, reach them over your head and hold onto something that is heavy – like a couch or weight bar. It really focuses the exercise on your abs, and doesn’t let you cheat. Rest 15 seconds between each set of 50. If you can do 150 of these, then you are my new fitness hero in chief.
  • 3 sets of 50 double crunches. Double crunches are one of my favorites – they’re in my 30 minute ab workout as part of Total Body Assault. Basically, you balance on your ass and form a “V” shape with your legs and torso. You flatten the “V” by extending your legs out and by lowering your torso. Then, contract your abs and pull yourself back up into the “V”. It’s basically a crunch from hell. Beginners will want to use their arms and hands for balance by touching the ground as needed, but advanced double crunchers may hold their arms parallel to the floor along the sides of their body, reaching for the toes. Rest 15 seconds between each set of 50.
  • 3 sets of 1-minute modified side planks. Lie on your left side. Pretend that your body is sandwiched between two panes of glass. Stack your left foot on top of your right foot and push yourself up onto your left elbow. Your right arm can lie flat on your side. It should create about 6 – 10 inches of space between your torso’s left side and the mat. Hold this for a minute being careful not to let your butt sag, then repeat on the other side. Do 3 sets of these, resting 15 seconds in between each set. This should bring your abs to the point of failure.

Fear not if you can’t do the full 50 in each set. I found the leg lift punches really, really hard. Modify the workout for your ability. And build up from there.

The workout gives a lot of practical core strength that is incredibly useful in other exercises, and life in general. Enjoy it!

Totally confused? Let me know in the comments below. Would you rather me make YouTube video of this workout? I can do that – just let me know what you want. 🙂

Tighter Tummy: Figure 8 Ab Exercise Video

I always love trying new ab exercises. Doing the same old stuff over and over again leaves me craving a little spice and excitement. Moreover, our muscles can become accustomed to our routine – so it’s wise to switch things up from time to time. So, I was really excited to try the “figure 8” ab exercise (it targets the obliques) at the gym this morning. When I tried the exercise, I used a weighted medicine ball. But fear not, you can try this at home using a pillow as a simple alternative.

Use the video below to learn how to do the simple but mighty “figure 8” ab exercise:

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. Did you feel it?

8 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism and Burn Fat!

I can think of some good ways to burn calories with him. Woof!

Your metabolic rate is the rate and which your body burns calories to maintain itself. As we age, this rate decreases by a few percentage points each decade until around age 50 – though the amount of food we eat, often does not. As a result, a slower metabolism is one reason (of many) that people tend to gain weight as they age.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a number of things that all of us can do to keep our metabolism at full throttle:

  1. Studies show that B vitamins and magnesium may help increase metabolism. Of course, I’m sure another subsequent study will show that they also cause brain tumors and cancer. Nonetheless, foods that are rich in these nutrients – like nuts, edamame, lentil soup for magnesium and bananas, avocados and tuna for vitamin B – will give you a needed boost.
  2. Spread your meals out by eating healthy snacks in between. Try eating 5 – 6 times per day. If you go a long time without eating, your body enters starvation mode and your metabolism slows down to try and compensate.
  3. Eat breakfast. Research shows that by eating breakfast, you may boost your metabolism by as much as 10%. Try to eat within one hour of waking up – even if it’s a small meal like a banana and cup of old fashioned oatmeal.
  4. Exercise with intervals. Intense bursts of energy followed by slower exercise has been shown to dramatically increase metabolism. This is very easily accomplished on a treadmill doing sprints. Run quickly for a minute and then slow down for 90 seconds. Repeat. And don’t forget to strength train – muscle incinerates fat! As we age, our muscle degenerates and so it is necessary to compensate for this loss through strength training (i.e., lifting weights, weighted machines, etc.).
  5. Stop dramatically cutting calories. A calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight, but it’s better to create that deficit though additional exercise than by a reduction in food – especially when considering metabolism. As stated before, your body can switch into starvation mode – and then it will be very difficult to achieve any weight loss goals.
  6. Eat foods that are low on the glycemic index. Foods that are higher, like white rice and white bread, tend to have a negative effect on metabolism.
  7. Get lots of fiber! Fiber slows down the digestion process which increases your metabolism. High fiber foods include apples with skin, bran cereal and various beans.
  8. Sleep. Believe it or not, during sleep, your body produces higher levels of a growth hormone that acts directly on your cells to increase metabolism. Get your full eight hours!

Try some of these tips – whether you’re 20 or 120 – to keep your metabolism pumping and those calories a-burnin’!

Have you noticed any slow down in your metabolism? Let me know in the comments below!

Simple Lentil Soup Recipe.

My mom likes to say that there is nothing sexier than a man that cooks, and I tend to agree. I’m excited to bring another post in a continuing series by my good friend and fellow Underwear Yogi, Nick Kindrick. It’s a recipe almost as delicious as Nick himself!

Hello friends in fitness.  Here in the Northeast, we’ve been enjoying some fall-like weather for the past couple of days, which has been a welcome respite from the stifling heat wave that has been this summer.  The cool and windy conditions make me think of fall, which I equate with hearty and fortifying foods.  I’m happy to share with you one of my all time favorite meals – simple, rustic, lentil and chicken soup.  Of course, if it’s 100 degrees where you live, you can still enjoy it by making some slight changes to lighten it up a little.  Either way, with the addition of a green salad, this is a highly nutritious and gratifying meal.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over for any stones or debris
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a couple sprigs of thyme (fresh or dried, but fresh would be better)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno (optional), chopped with seeds and veins removed
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 chicken breasts or thighs and legs, on the bone preferably but skin removed
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro and/or parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place the lentils, bay leaf, thyme, sweet potato, and chicken in a medium pot with the water.  If you leave the chicken on the bone, the bones will add richness and flavor to the broth, but that is not essential.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to medium, stirring occasionally.  While that is cooking, put the olive oil in a small pan and heat to medium.  Add the onion, celery, carrot and jalapeno.  Add a substantial pinch of salt to the lentils and the chicken after they’ve been cooking for a while, and  another healthy pinch to the vegetables in the olive oil.  Stir and cook the veggies until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes).  If they begin to caramelize, turn the heat to low.

When the lentils are cooked and the chicken is cooked through – somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes – remove the bay leaf, thyme and chicken, if on the bone.  Discard the herbs, and remove the meat from the bone.  Be careful as the chicken will be hot, so best to let it cool for five minutes or so.  Cut or tear the meat into bite size pieces.  It should fall right off.  Return the chicken to the soup and add the onion, carrot, celery and jalapenos (and the olive oil).

Bring to a boil once again, stir and then lower the heat.  If you’d like a thicker, stew-like soup, continue to cook, until the ratio of liquid to veggies, lentils and meat dissipates (just be careful not to burn, so stir frequently).  Otherwise, you can make this dish a little lighter, by cooking it less time, so there is a larger ratio of broth to the solids.

Garnish with the cilantro and parsley.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Most people are not aware how awesome this little legume is.  1 cup of cooked lentils has about 19 grams of protein AND they’re loaded with soluble fiber – 16 grams in that same cooked cup, which means lentils have a very low glycemic load (although the sweet potatoes alter this, so if blood sugar levels concern you, omit the sweet potato).  They’re also a great source of folate (vitamin B9, or folic acid in the synthetic form of a supplement), which is essential for cell production.  They’re also a good source of iron.  And unlike beans, lentils obviously need no presoaking time (otherwise I would have noted that in the recipe).

So toss together a little green salad and enjoy this amazingly wholesome – and delicious – meal.

Revealed: Davey Wavey’s Workout Routine.

Curious to know how I hit the gym? I don’t mind sharing my secrets 😛

First, keep in mind that our goals probably aren’t the same (I focus heavily on arms) – and neither are our bodies. Having said that, I divide my routine into four days. Each workout takes about 90 minutes – maybe a tad more. I exercise six days a week.

Day 1:

  • 3.75 miles on the treadmill @ 9.5 miles per hour. Takes about 30 minutes with warm-up and cool-down.
  • 20 minutes of abs (I switch between lower abs, obliques (side abs) and general core). Watch a 5-minute version of my ab workout.
  • 25 minutes of chest exercises: 4 sets on bench press; 4 sets on incline bench press; 4 sets on decline bench press; 4 sets on pec fly machine; 4 sets of pec fly with dumbbells; push-ups, if time.
  • 15 minutes of shoulder exercises: 4 sets each of 3 different shoulder cable exercises; 4 sets of shoulder press with dumbbells; 4 sets of shoulder rotation exercise.
  • 5 minutes on elliptical or stairmaster.

Day 2:

  • 15 minutes of sprinting on treadmill. I do 90 seconds at 7.7 miles per hour and then 60 seconds at 11.3 miles per hour. I repeat this cycle until my 15 minutes is complete. Takes about 20 – 25 minutes with warm-up and cool-down.
  • 20 minutes of abs (either lower abs, obliques (side abs) or general core).
  • 35 minutes of back exercises: 4 sets on lat pull down machine, 4 sets of dead lifts (occasionally), 4 sets on hyperextension machine with weights; 4 sets of barbell rows; 4 sets of t-bar rows (occasionally); 4 sets of reverse flies; 4 sets on back extension machine. I really tend to switch my back workouts up, by these are some of the main exercises that I use.
  • 10 minutes of forearm exercises: 4 sets each of various forearm cable exercises; 4 sets of dumbbell forearm curls.
  • 1-mile run (6.5 minutes) at 9.5 miles per hour.

Day 3:

  • 3.75 miles on the treadmill @ 9.5 miles per hour. Takes about 30 minutes with warm-up and cool-down.
  • 20 minutes of abs (either lower abs, obliques (side abs) or general core).
  • 25 minutes of leg exercises: 4 sets of squats; 4 sets of squat variations; 4 sets of calf raises; 4 sets each of various leg machines.
  • 15 minutes of triceps exercises: 4 sets of overhead triceps extensions; 4 sets of triceps dips; 4 sets of triceps pull-down on cable machine.
  • 5 minutes on elliptical or stairmaster.

Day 4:

  • 15 minutes of sprinting on treadmill. I do 90 seconds at 7.7 miles per hour and then 60 seconds at 11.3 miles per hour. I repeat this cycle until my 15 minutes is complete.
  • 20 minutes of abs (either lower abs, obliques (side abs) or general core).
  • 40 minutes of bicep exercises: 12 sets of various bicep curls and variations; 4 sets of bicep curls on cable machine; 4 sets of pull-ups; 4 sets of bicep curls with barbell.
  • 1-mile run (6.5 minutes) at 9.5 miles per hour.

The weight and number of reps in each exercise varies depending on my goals for that muscle group. I don’t want my tits to get any larger, so I focus on lower weights and higher repetitions. I am building my back muscles, on the other hand, so I do fewer reps with heavier weights.

Keep in mind that I’ve been working out for more than a decade. I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying my routine if you’re just starting out. Work up to it. Moreover, it may not be realistic for you. I’m a personal trainer – this is what I do. Fitness is a huge part of my life.

Let me know what you think in the comments below – I’m always happy to field your questions.

How to Tone (and Not Gain) Muscle.

If I look at this picture much longer, I'm going to start "toning" my right arm.

Alan writes:

Dear Davey,

What would you suggest for someone who wants to do a routine more for tone than weight gain or muscle mass? I love aerobics but hate doing any weight training. I am 41 5’8″ 157.3 lbs.

Alan, I’m a big advocate of finding ways to stay fit that you enjoy.

If your heart is in aerobic exercises like running, walking, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, rowing, skating, and machines such as stair steppers and elliptical trainers, that’s all great. All of these cardiovascular exercises are great for strengthening your heart, increased bone density, reducing stress and so on.

But just as man cannot live on bread alone, neither can he have a well-rounded routine without strength/weight training. Not only does strength training help boost metabolism (something that’s very important as we age), it staves off a whole slew of diseases, improves posture, decreases the risk of injury – and it will improve your aerobic performance.

And fear not: Strength training doesn’t necessarily equal large muscle gains. You can pursue a strength training program that tones rather than builds muscle. Such a program would involve high repetitions of low weights. Or you can ditch the weights entirely in favor of training with resistance bands. Or you could train with your own body weight – doing things like push-ups, pull-ups and the like – or even take gymnastics classes.

Regardless of our goals, cardio and strength training go hand-in-hand. It’s like bread and butter, salt and pepper or dildos and douches. Our cardio and strength training just need to be tweaked to meet whatever goals we set.

So Alan, I encourage you to find an enjoyable way to get the strength training you need in a way that involves high reps of light weights.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Rants? Raves? Share them in the comments below.

How to Make Exercise a Habit.

Consistency is key when it comes to exercise; it’s absolutely essential to habitualize your workouts, and thus avoid the see-saw roller coaster that so many exercisers experience.

Can you relate to the experience of working out for a week, and then skipping a day that turns into a week that becomes a month? Before you know it, your entire program is derailed and your fitness goals go out the door. If any of that resonates with you, here are a few helpful tips to make exercise habit:

  1. If you exercise in the morning, lay out your gym outfit before bed. Mentally, it sets you up for exercise in the morning – and it’s less fumbling that you’ll have to do when the alarm goes off in the AM.
  2. Find an exercise program that you enjoy. Relatively speaking anyway. I don’t enjoy sprinting on the treadmill, but I do enjoy it more than cycling. Maybe swimming is your cup of tea. Or maybe it’s rowing, or kayaking. Maybe you’d rather take a gymnastics class than lift weights. Or do yoga. If it’s something that you like, you’re more likely to stick to it.
  3. Create a schedule. Set dates and times for your workout. Plot it out on a calendar, and hold yourself to it. Otherwise you may put it off until you “don’t have the energy” to exercise. For example, I get up at 5:30 AM during the week to exercise.
  4. Get a workout buddy. If you know you are meeting someone at the gym, it’s harder to skip out. It’s letting yourself down AND standing up a friend. Simple idea, but it works.
  5. Commit appropriately. Most importantly, don’t take a bigger workout bite than you can chew. I see so many well-intentioned fitness enthusiasts burn themselves out because they go from no gym time to 10 hours a week. Be realistic, and build up slowly over time. There’s nothing wrong (and a lot right) with starting small – whatever that means for you.
  6. Don’t skip scheduled workout days. One day easily becomes two, and so forth and so on. Don’t slide down that slippery slope. If you are scheduled to workout on a given day, stick to it. Of course, build rest days into your schedule, too. That’s very different than skipping.
  7. Find a time that works for you. As I mentioned, I exercise in the morning. Many people exercise after work. Figure out what works with your other commitments and aligns with your body’s energy.
  8. Take the first step. When you wake up, put your feet on the floor. The hardest step is the first one. Take it!

And fear not, once exercise becomes a habit, it’s automatic. Though I’ve used many of these tips myself, exercise isn’t a choice for me. When I wake up, I don’t ask myself, “Should I workout today?” I just get up and do it. It’s non-negotiable. And that’s that.

Is habitualizing exercise a challenge for you? Tell me about it in the comments below. What tips do you have?

Take Davey Wavey’s Burpee Challenge!

Can you handle it? Are you game?! Take my burpee challenge and find out what you’re really made of 😛

Okay, here’s the deal: Lots of guys focus primarily on their chest, arms and (sometimes) back. But the legs usually get neglected. A powerful leg workout is one of the foundations of a comprehensive workout program – and so, I want to share one of my favorite exercises.

(And when I say “favorite”, I really mean that I hate burpees. They are tough. They are painful. But like I always say, if you dislike a given exercise, that probably means you need to be doing more of it. We like what’s easy. And burpees definitely aren’t easy.)

First, watch this video to find out what burpees are:

Now for the challenge: Beat me at burpees. I kicked my ass today by doing 3 sets of 20 burpees. That’s 60 burpees in total. It may not sound like a lot – but trust me, it is. I, Davey Wavey, challenge you to 3 sets of 20 burpees. The prize? Satisfaction, I suppose. And stronger, more powerful leg muscles.

So bring it on. Can you do 3 set of 20 burpees?

Of course, if you can’t – don’t feel bad. It’s really hard. But it’s something that you can work up to. Now you have a goal. Do what you can today, and slowly build over time. You’ll get there.

Let me know if you’re able to do 3 sets of 20 burpees (60 in total) in the comments below!

Exposed: How Long Does it Take to Get Results from Working Out?

Dear Davey,

How long should it take to see results from working out? I’m relatively new to the exercise game. I’ve been doing resistance training and cardio for about 4 weeks. Thanks for any advice you have.

Impatient in Iowa

Thanks for such a great question!

First, Mr. Iowa, we have to define results. Your “results” are likely different from the next person, and obviously it is all dependent on your fitness goals. Some people exercise for weight loss while others are looking for (if you can believe it) weight gain. Some want bigger muscles and others want improved energy or endurance.

Second, we have to determine the best way to measure those results. Here are just a handful of ideas:

  • How your clothes fit
  • Tape measure
  • Body fat percent
  • Cholesterol
  • Improved level of activity (don’t get winded as easily, can lift more weight around the house, etc.)
  • Scale
  • Sleep (if you’re sleeping through the night)

Obviously, there are a number of methods to measure your results and these methods will be dependent on your goals. If your goals are building muscle mass and increasing strength, for example, then I’d recommend a tape measure as your method (this is much better than weighing yourself). On a biweekly basis, you can measure the width of the muscles that you are trying to build and track the results.

Third, consider diet. Does your diet support the results you are looking to achieve? If you are looking to build muscle, are you taking in the right amount of protein? If you are looking to drop a few pounds, does your diet support a calorie deficit? A lot of people have great fitness goals that they are working towards in the gym – but then they ignore those goals when it comes to food. It’s like trying to swim upstream. On the flip side, if your diet supports the change that you are looking to produce, your results will be expedited.

Fourth, we need to factor in the amount of time and energy you’re spending exercising. Obviously, someone who is working out intensely 5 days a week is going to see results faster than someone that is spending 20 minutes a week working out. Not surprisingly, there is a positive correlation between effort and results. If you are working out less frequently – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – then just know that your time line will be extended.

Having said all of that, most beginners will start to see results in one way, shape, or form after the first 6 to 8 weeks of exercise. Of course, different muscles build at different rates – and so larger arms will be noticeable before, say, more developed abdominal muscles (abs build very slowly). Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. And your results won’t happen overnight. Moreover, many of the changes are so slow, they’re hard to track with the naked eye. Be sure to measure with something a little more objective than your bathroom mirror.

Keeping all of this in mind, it’s important to recognize that exercise isn’t about setting a goal, measuring against it, achieving it and stopping. It’s about making exercise a regular, sustainable and integral part of your life.

If you’re looking to get started (or change things up), my Total Body Assault program is a great way to start. For a limited time, use promo code “results” to save 25%.

Are You Eating Your Emotions?

When my boyfriend moved back to Canada last Sunday, I suffered some heartache. And without much of anything to distract me, I quickly found myself craving – and reaching for – chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. As I dug my spoon into the container, I quickly realized that I was feeding my feelings more than my stomach. It’s called in “emotional eating” – and I’m not alone; experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotional eating.

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming food (usually “comfort” or junk foods) in response to emotional feelings rather than hunger. Emotional eaters use eating as a main strategy to manage their emotions, both negative and positive. It’s dangerous and addictive.

But are you an emotional eater? Here are a few signs:

  1. You’re eating and you’re not hungry. Emotional eaters are filling an emotional void, not an empty stomach.
  2. You’re craving a specific food. When you’re hungry, any number of options will satisfy that hunger. When you’re an emotional eater, you desire one specific food.
  3. You have an intense urge to satisfy your craving instantly.
  4. You turn to foods like ice cream, chocolate or other unhealthy comfort foods.
  5. You know that you are full and you continue to eat.
  6. After you eat, you have feelings of guilt.

The first step in treating emotional eating is recognizing it. Once recognized, there are a few steps that all of us can take to nip this unhealthy habit in the butt:

  1. Replace the food with something else. Instead of reaching for Ben & Jerry’s, go for a walk or a jog. Call a friend. Do housework. Or even take a nap!
  2. If you find yourself unable to replace eating with another activity, at least replace the food type. Instead of eating pizza or junk food, try consuming celery or carrot sticks.
  3. Know that you don’t need to eliminate junk food from your diet entirely. Instead, recognize that junk food isn’t a healthy way to cope with emotions. You can occasionally indulge for the right reasons. I recommend the 80/20 rule as a general nutrition guideline – eat healthy 80% of the time.
  4. Instead of eating the entire cake, try taking just a few bites. Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois, states: “Your memory of a food peaks after about four bites, so if you only have those bites, a week later you’ll recall it as just a good experience than if you polished off the whole thing.”

Eating your emotions is a habit that can be broken. It might take some extra help; if you’re overwhelmed by your food addiction, I strongly recommend that you seek professional help.

Are you an emotional eater? If so, what foods do you turn to?

How to Get Venus / Butt / Lower Back Dimples.

I could do my laundry on Ryan Sheckler's backside. (Photo: Business Wire)

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I get a lot of e-mails asking about Venus dimples – the small indentations on either side of the spine just above the lower back. It’s almost like having a six pack on your rear end. But aside from a good pick-up line (“Hey, love your butt dimples!”), what exactly are these mysterious indentations – and is it possible to get them from exercise?

Venus dimples are created when there is a visible cleft in the topography of the sacroiliac joint. This cleft is considered by many (myself included) to be sexually desirable. Though it’s rare overall, it’s more common in women than it is in men.

But can you get Venus dimples from exercise? Not surprisingly, there’s not a whole lot of research on the subject. It’s widely believed that Venus dimples are genetic – much like a cleft in one’s chin. But I’m not so certain. If you Google the backside of any lean athlete, from David Beckham to Michael Phelps to Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured in white underwear) to Ryan Sheckler (pictured on ESPN cover), you’ll notice that they’ve all got it. In fact, I was unable to find any very lean and fit athlete without said dimples.

I’m going to suggest that the magnitude of Venus dimples may be determined in some part by genetics, but that there are two things that all of us can do to enhance what we’ve got through exercise:

  1. Lower body fat percentages to the 6% – 13% range for men (and 14%-20% for women). These are the body fat percentages for athletes (like the ones we discussed above) – and they’re hard to obtain without a high level of commitment and motivation. Here’s a really basic but decent body fat calculator (though I recommend working with a professional to get an accurate measurement). Lower body fat percentages mean high-level cardiovascular training, like hard sprints. Get ready to sweat!
  2. Build and develop lower back muscles through strength training. A lean and muscular back will help showcase what you’ve got – so be sure not to overlook your lower back region when strength training (it’s actually quite common to overlook this muscle group). There are a number of machines that target this area, but you may also wish to try the equipment-less “Superman Exercise” at home or anywhere else.

To perform the Superman Exercise:

  1. Lie face-down on the floor with your arms straight out in front of you on the floor. Feet should be together.
  2. Keeping your limbs straight and torso steady, simultaneously lift you legs and arms up to ceiling. Your belly should be the only part of your body touching the floor. Remember to breath!
  3. Hold this for 30 seconds. Release, then repeat a few times.

And it’s not entirely superficial – lower back exercises come with great benefits like increased spinal support/posture and pain relief down the road. And I’d suggest that these benefits may improve your life more than a few extra glances on the beach. 🙂

So there you have it! More than you ever wanted to know about Venus dimples. Are you a big fan of Venus dimples and are they a fitness goal for you? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. I created this Davey Wavey Fitness video with a great venus / lower back dimple workout. Give it a try.

Do Abercrombie Models Motivate You to Workout? [Poll]

What motivates you to workout? For me, it’s staying healthy and fit – and keeping my pecs perky so that people continue to watch my YouTube videos (just kidding about the last point).

But my motivation wasn’t always so pure. When I first started going to the gym regularly and intensely at age 16, I wanted to look good. I wanted to look like the hot guys in the Abercrombie ads (and masturbation fodder) that I saw at the mall. I wanted to look “hot”, too. And so I hit the gym with all my energy and might.

What I discovered surprised me: The superficial changes paled in comparison to the deeper changes that I felt. Changes like increased energy, less stress, better sleeping patterns, improved health – and so on. As I got older, these benefits kept me motivated much more than looking a certain way.

Also surprising: Even when your outward body changes, the inside doesn’t. As it turns out, looking more like an Abercrombie model doesn’t actually make you feel any better or any worthy on the inside. Food for thought.

I don’t knock people for exercising to look a certain way. After all, it’s exactly what I did. But what I do hope is that people eventually come to appreciate exercise not as a means to look a certain way, but rather as a part of a more fulfilling life.

What motivates you to exercise? Vote in the poll below:

Top 12 Gym Mistakes.

Ogling this (and ignoring your workout) could be a big - albeit delicious - mistake

I’ve been going to a gym regularly for more than a decade – which has given me plenty of time to make mistakes (or as I like to call them, learning experiences). Here are my top 12 “mistakes”:

  1. Sticking to the same old shit. You have to mix things up if you want to make progress. As I’ve said before, more of the same produces more of the same. Try new routines. Work with a trainer. Step up your weight levels. Change your base of stability. Do whatever it takes to change things up every four to six weeks – or else your results will likely plateau.
  2. Eating a heavy meal right before exercising. You only make this mistake once. Save your larger meals for after the workout.
  3. Doing the same workout every day. You have to give your various muscle groups sufficient rest. If you do exercise frequently, do different muscle groups on different days.
  4. Ogling the eye candy. I know, sometimes it’s hard not to take a look. Or two. Or three…. But do your best to keep your mind – and your eyes – to the task at hand and not the hot daddy on the stair master. Woof.
  5. Not doing cardio. Or not doing strength training. Regardless of your goals, you should have a balance of both. Even if you’re looking to release weight, you should strength train (muscle incinerates calories). And even if you’re looking to build muscle, you should exercise your heart with cardio.
  6. Rests become nap time. It’s helpful to time the resting period in between sets so that you don’t end up wandering around endlessly or watching half of a program on TV. Hold yourself to it. On the flip side, don’t cut your rests short; your muscles won’t have sufficient time to recover.
  7. Not warming up specific muscle groups. I’ve very guilty of this one. Spending a few minutes on the elliptical, for example, doesn’t warm you up for curls. Warming up with cardio is helpful – for cardio (I like to warm up at 60% of my actual running pace, FYI). But if you are curling, do a set or two at a light weight to get your muscles moving. Then, move to the heavier weight. Target your warm ups to the specific muscle that you’ll be working.
  8. Working out when you’re sick. Again, guilty as charged. According to experts like Dr. Rick Kellerman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, “I tell people to listen to their bodies. If they are sick, their body is telling them something is wrong. Even though it may be tempting to not break an exercise routine, working out may actually prolong the illness.” Moreover, you could be infecting fellow gym-goers. Bottom line: Stay home.
  9. Thinking that a tired mind is a tired body. We’ve all had draining days at work – whether it’s answering phones, typing e-mails or staring at the computer screen. If you exercise after work, it’s tempting to use excuses like, “I’m too tired to work out today.” But a tired mind is not a tired body! In fact, hitting the gym will help to wake you up and boost your energy. Ditch the “I’m too tired” excuse.
  10. Spending more time gossiping than exercising. Yes, we’ve all been there. Unless you are hitting the gym to make new friends, flapping your gums won’t bring you results. Remember the task at hand.
  11. Not adding strategy to your workout. Working out for the sake of working out won’t necessarily bring you the results that you want. If you want a stronger core, there may not be an app (yet) but there sure is a strategy for that. If you want bigger arms, there’s a strategy for that too. It’s absolutely necessary to figure out what is going to bring you the results you want.
  12. Being a total copy cat. I support being a partial copy cat; I steal some of my best exercises from the people that I see around me at the gym. Copying an exercise is one thing. But copying an entire routine is another – unless you know that the routine is in alignment with the results you’re looking to achieve.

Did I miss anything? What mistakes have you made at the gym. Share in the comments below!

Shoulder Workout You Can Do at Home.

Looking for a great shoulder/deltoids workout that you can do at home? Look no further!

You do this powerful workout at home (with two relatively light but identical objects) or at the gym (with a set of free weights).

The Best Lower Ab Exercise Ever?

Weighted leg lifts just may be the best lower ab exercise, ever.

If you’re like me and hit the gym often, you may break your abdominal exercises into different days. I tend to do obliques (side abdominal muscles) on one day, lower abs another and then upper abs and core on yet another day. It’s a great way to work the abs frequently, but to also allow for rest. Nonetheless, in all of my experimenting and testing and tribulations, I’ve yet to find a lower ab exercise as powerful as weighted leg lifts.

You can either perform weighted leg lifts on a mat or, for a more challenging workout, on a bench (it will increase your range of motion in the exercise). You’ll also need a light dumbbell; I use a 10-pounder.

As the name would imply, a weighted leg lift is essentially a leg lift with a weight in between your feet. Here’s what you do:

  1. Start on the mat or bench with your hands at your side as pictured. For a more challenging variation, place your hands behind your head and contract your abs as though doing a crunch (shoulder blades should be lifted off the mat).
  2. Keep your legs out straight. Place a light dumbbell in between your feet as pictured.
  3. Contract your abs and lift the dumbbell a few feet of the ground, performing a leg lift.
  4. Pause for a moment, then lower the weight to near the starting position – just don’t let it touch the floor. Repeat 8 – 12 times.

If you do try this exercise on a bench, you’ll notice that the added elevation increases the range of motion of your legs. Your starting position would be lower than is possible on the floor – so the workout is harder and more challenging. And if it’s possible, this is a great exercise to do with a friend. Getting the weight in between your feet isn’t always easy by yourself!

If you know of any great lower ab exercises, please share them in the comments below! And if you’re able to give weighted leg lifts a try, let me know what you think.

Buns of Steel: Which Cardio Machine is Best for Your Butt?

Buns of steel could be only a jog away, according to a recent study.

As a gay man, I spend a lot of time thinking about butts. So I was especially excited to get my paws on a new study about glutes (a.k.a. ass muscles) and cardio machines. So which cardio machine is best for your backside? Is it the treadmill, the recumbent bike, the stair master, or the elliptical? You may be surprised by the answer.

Here’s what the study found:

  1. Treadmill (jogging): 48.9% of glutes activated.
  2. Elliptical: 32.6% of glutes activated.
  3. Treadmill (walking): 24.3% of glutes activated.
  4. StairMaster: 24.0% of glutes activated.
  5. Recumbent Bike: 6.0%of glutes activated.

Jogging on the treadmill is the clear winner (running or sprinting, though not included in the study, is presumably even better). Jogging speeds, by the way, are different for different people – it’s based on perceived effort – though most jogging speeds are less than 6 mph.

Here are a few tips to dig even deeper when doing cardio:

  • When walking, jogging, running or sprinting on a treadmill, add an incline to activate a greater percentage of your glutes.
  • When cycling, use the upright bike instead of the recumbent bike.
  • When stair climbing, take bigger steps.

Bottom line: If a stronger ass is in alignment with your fitness goals, picking up the pace on a treadmill takes the cake.

Working Out Twice a Day: Is It For You?

This guy is one of the few things that could get me to the gym twice a day.

Okay, I admit it. I occasionally workout twice a day. But my second workout is usually something fun and different – like swimming, kayaking, canoeing or a bike ride. It’s not something that I do a lot, but it is common practice for a handful of very dedicated enthusiasts (though most of us have a hard enough time getting to the gym even once!).

Ideally, “twice-a-dayers” will do cardio in the morning and strength training in the evening. Each workout could range from 20 minutes to an hour. Hitting the gym twice a day is really a splitting of your workout. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be doing your normal routine twice – it means that you’ll divide things up accordingly. And in fact, many people find they’re able to push themselves harder by exercising twice a day, and that they’re actually able to shave off some time from their workout.

Here’s what you stand to benefit:

  • Double boost in metabolism. When you exercise, your body burns fat and calories at an increased rate. This increase continues for some time even after your workout is complete. So obviously, when you exercise twice a day, you get twice the boost! If you’re trying to lean up or release some extra weight, this is good news.
  • Shorter workouts. Instead of doing a 90 minute fitness routine, you could break it up into two 30 – 45 minute workouts. Shorter workouts make it easier to focus – and much easier to really give it your all; you’ll avoid the drag that most people experience in the second half of a longer workout.
  • Increased energy. If you workout in the morning, you’ll know that it’s better than a cup of coffee. Whether you’re feeling lazy, sluggish or unproductive, there’s nothing like a good workout to energize your day. But by the afternoon, most of us fade back into a haze. If, however, you hit the gym again in the afternoon, you’ll be stimulated and alive all evening. It’s like a second wind. And don’t worry – working out close to bedtime doesn’t lead to insomnia or sleep problems for most people, though there is some risk.
  • Better results. Maybe. If you’re able to push yourself harder, faster and stronger by splitting your workout in two, then you’ll see better results sooner.

Working out twice a day isn’t for everyone. For me, the benefits are often outweighed by the idea of commuting to the gym twice, changing twice, dirtying two gym outfits, etc. But what do you think? Do you workout twice a day? Is it something that you’re interested in trying?

Not Seeing Results from Your Workout? Here’s Why!

We all know people that complain about a lack of results. Just the other day, I was talking to a woman at my gym who couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t losing weight. Day after day, she’d hit the gym and do the same routine – but alas the pounds were not shedding. Duh! If she’s not getting results, why keep doing more of the same? Doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity. But I know that she’s not alone and so I compiled a list of the top reasons the exercisers don’t see results:

  1. They’ve plateaued. The woman at the gym was playing it safe – she had found a workout that she could manage and performed it religiously. But she wasn’t challenging herself or pushing her body to its limits. It’s time for her to supercharge her workout and turn up the heat. After all, you’ll only get out of your workout what you put it. Break through your plateau!
  2. They’re inconsistent. Consistency is one of the most important factors in achieving any fitness goals. Taking a day off here and there is fine – but days can easily become weeks, and weeks undue progress. At the minimum, get a good workout 2-3 time a week.
  3. They don’t have a clue. Lack of results can often be attributed to cluelessness. It’s one thing to have a fitness goal. It’s another thing to know what you’ll need to do to achieve that goal. Maybe you want stronger arms – but do you know what it takes to build them? Doing good, solid research or hiring a person trainer can help – or you can sign up to get Davey Wavey Fitness blog updates by e-mail. 😛
  4. They can’t focus. I always chuckle at the number of people that only seem to be exercising their mouths at the gym. Sure, it’s great to socialize, but let’s remember the task at hand! Just going to the gym isn’t going to help you get results – you have to actually to do something while you’re there.
  5. They eat shit. If someone is following a tried and true fitness program consistently and they still are not seeing results, then it’s time to look at the other end of the equation: nutrition. Proper nutrition doesn’t mean eating raw eggplant and alfalfa sprouts – but it does mean doing your best to avoid the shitty stuff most of the time.

Are you not seeing the results you want? What’s your story? And which of these reasons might apply to you?

How Many Calories Should I Be Eating? [Harris Benedict Calculator]

If you’ve looked at a nutrition label in the United States, you’ll notice that it says “based on a 2,000 calorie diet.” Does that mean that everyone should be eating 2,000 calories – from Michael Phelps to your grandmother in her nursing home? Of course not.

The Harris Benedict Equation is a formula that will give you a better idea of your ideal caloric intake. It requires four steps.

  1. Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) using one of the equations below:
    Men (Imperial Units/United States): BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + (12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.76 x age in years ) = ________
    Men (Metric Units): BMR = 66 + ( 13.7 x weight in kg ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) – ( 6.76 x age in years ) = ________
    Women (Imperial Units/United States): BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years ) = ________
    Women (Metric Units): BMR = 655 + ( 9.6 x weight in kg ) + ( 1.8 x height in cm ) – ( 4.7 x age in years ) = ________
  2. Determine your current fitness level:
    Sedentary: little or no exercise
    Lightly Active: light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week
    Moderately Active: moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week
    Very Active: hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week
    Extra Active: very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training
  3. Calculate the number of calories that you require in a day based on BMR and fitness level:
    Sedentary:  Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.2    = __________
    Lightly Active: Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.375  = __________
    Moderately Active:  Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.55  = __________
    Very Active: Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.725    = __________
    Extra Active:  Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.9  = __________
  4. Compare. Use a journal to track your caloric intake against your actual weight – this is really the only way to know for sure!

It’s not as complicated as it sounds. For example, at 155lbs, 5’9” and leading a very active lifestyle, I should be consuming 2,840 calories a day according to the equation. Or, just less than a full 14″ cheese pizza from Pizza Hut. 😛

Why does it matter? Weight loss can only be achieved through a calorie deficit – that is, taking in less calories than are used. Using this equation, you can get a rough idea for how many calories that should be.

And if you’re not trying to lose weight, it’s still a good idea to get a general sense of how many calories you should be eating in order to avoid weight gain.

So, whip out your calculate and crunch the numbers. How many calories should you be eating? Let me know in the comments below!