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Send in your health, fitness, and wellness questions, and check back for an answer from Envolve's Wellness coach, Travis.

  • Do you encourage program participants to have a specific wellness goal? Should there be a set timeline in order to reach the goal?
    Yes! I encourage all participants to set realistic short term goals that correlate with a larger, long term goal. Always keep goals realistic. For example, you could try setting a daily goal of no sodas or minimal sugar, and a weekly goal of 3 workouts or going for 3 walks.
  • What are some tips on how to prepare for a workout?
    My recommendations are: Make sure you are well hydrated and have acquired adequate energy (calories) to ensure a safe workout. Do not jump immediately into high intensity workouts without properly warming up for 5-10 minutes. (Try walking/jogging on the treadmill or light full body movement.) Mentally prepare by setting a small goal every day.
  • I don’t have any exercise equipment in my home. Are there substitutes I could use that are easily found around the house (like canned food instead of hand weights, etc.)?"
    Canned foods, milk jugs, bottled water, filled backpacks, and bagged rice (just to name a few). There are all sorts of heavy items around the house that can be used for resistance purposes. However, do not underestimate bodyweight exercises—which require no equipment and use the weight of your own body to provide resistance against gravity. When done properly, these can be some of the most rigorous workouts!
  • Is it better to achieve weight loss through cardio or resistance training?
    Weight loss can be achieved through both cardio and resistance training. Cardio training will burn calories and fat if done for a long enough period (~60 min), and the pounds will shed with little to no muscle gain. Resistance training, however, will burn calories while increasing lean muscle mass—thus burning fat throughout the day. This type of training may also improve the aesthetic component if desired.
  • I am thinking about starting the Keto diet. Do you have any meal and exercise suggestions for this diet?
    Great question! Keto can be very effective for some people and not so much for others. My suggestions would be: Keep your carbs to under 50g/day (maybe ease into this) Try to time your workouts to align with your daily carbohydrate intake so your workouts aren’t lagging if you lift weights. If your workout is cardio-based (i.e. fat burning, which works well with Keto diet), think about getting your carbs in after the workout to replenish your energy stores. Lots of fatty meats such as ribeyes, chicken thighs, and pork work well and will provide lots of energy once you’re in Ketosis. As mentioned earlier, maybe keep the workouts primarily cardio-based on this diet while incorporating strength workouts about 2x a week.
  • What is the best workout to gain lean muscle?
    The best workouts for lean muscle are classified as high intensity interval training (HIIT). This usually incorporates timed exercises with resistance done for a short period of time (accompanied by a break), then repeat for rounds. This allows for high caloric output at the same time as cardio training.
  • I'm a woman in my mid-50s and this step challenge couldn't have come at a better time. I started a new journey to get healthy on February 1st (clean eating, protein shakes 2x per day, and counting those calories). Effective March 1st, I was planning to start a fitness routine... 30 minute walks 3x per week, workouts at home 3x per week, and yoga 1 day per week. Ultimately, I want to run a 5K in the summer. Any advice on how to get there?"
    First, I commend you for taking this step towards a healthier life. I think your plans and goals are right on point and realistic. As far as 5K advice, I’m estimating that you have around 12-16 weeks to prepare. I would suggest breaking up your training in 4 mesocycles (4 weeks of periodization). Adaptation phase—getting started, breaking through soreness, and building habit Acquisition phase—acquire the conditioning, mobility, and fitness to complete the 5K Preparation phase—set a goal time and push to get closer to that Peak phase—focus on tempo, technique, and proper rest
  • What are the best exercises for the stomach?
    The best exercises for the stomach, believe it or not, are not focused around the abdomen. Exercises such as the ones below can really help trim the mid-section without the problems linear exercises can cause. Back exercises like lat pulldown, row, hinging, and side bends all help the “love handle” area Rotation exercises on a cable pulley machine can help the stomach area as well All engage the lats (mid-back area) and hips through all core or stomach exercises
  • How can I curb my sweet tooth?
    Curbing a sweet tooth can be difficult. One option is to try lowering your carbohydrate intake little by little each day. This will allow your body to adjust to the lower carbs and begin burning fat for energy instead. Option 2 is to try something that has been shown to curb the appetite in general—such as plain dark chocolate. If you're still craving something sweet, go for fruits that are high in fiber (i.e. oranges and apples).
  • What are things people should keep in mind when considering a new exercise routine?
    The first thing to consider is your set of goals. Ask yourself if the mode of exercise you're looking into is conducive to those goals. Secondly, are the movements safe, effective, and designed to build better posture from the ground up? Thirdly, are they metabolically effective (i.e. can you burn the adequate amount of calories or is your "time under tension" right for lean muscle mass building? Ask yourself these questions and work backwards.
  • What happens to the body when someone exercises and how does it help boost your mood?
    If you look at exercise and its relativity to mood, one should view it as a balancing act. If the mood is low, increasing the heart rate and vasodilating (open blood vessels) will increase blood flow and circulation. This will also cause firing and regrowth of latent neurons in the brain and regrowing neural pathways, which has been shown to increase mood.
  • If I exercise, can I eat whatever I like without gaining weight?"
    Not necessarily. While some age ranges and body types can get away with this for a short time, the majority of us need to maintain a balanced diet along with exercise.
  • I pretty much do not like any vegetables. With most clean eating, you eat a lot of veggies… so what are some other ideas on how to get the right amount of nutrition?"
    One way is to blend vegetables in a blender or food processor to get all your nutrients at once so you won’t have to keep revisiting them throughout the day. Another way is to go to your local health food store/somewhere like Whole Foods (or even Amazon) and try the vegan protein shakes. These usually offer all the nutritional components needed throughout the day.
  • Do I need to vary the types of workouts I’m doing in order to see results?
    Varying your workouts is critical. If there’s a style or particular workout you enjoy, you can vary the time, number of reps, and sets/rest periods. The variability helps to introduce new stimuli to the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. Variation in the style of workout can also be critical in maintaining interest and not getting burnt out or bored with exercise. It’s a marathon—not a sprint!
  • Do you have any exercise suggestions for those of us who work at a desk all day? Maybe some moves that will help us stand and walk longer (or stretches that help with muscle tightness caused from sitting)?
    Take 5-10 minutes (if possible) every hour or so to stand up and take pressure off your lower back. Try: Standing straight up with your back against the wall for 5-10 minutes Getting into a full resting squat (or children's squat) where the knees are fully bent for a few minutes (you may need to work up to this) Doing hamstring stretches and runners' stretches With all that being said, your movements outside of the office will be crucial to maintaining a long, decompressed spine—so don't forget to try these same movements at home. Hope this helps!
  • How important is stretching before I exercise? Sometimes I’m tempted to skip it in the interest of saving time.
    Static stretching such as a hamstring or runners' stretch (i.e. any stretches held for more than 5 seconds) are actually not ideal before exercise. They decrease the elasticity of the muscle and cause less force production. Try dynamic stretching, which not only allows for lengthening and shortening of the muscles, but gets the synovial fluid in the joints to secrete (which lubricates the joints). Examples of dynamic stretching: Light jogging High knee walks Shallow lunges Shadowboxing
  • How do you feel about “cheat days?”
    Cheat days depend on the individual. Some can get away with them and not revert back to old patterns, while others cannot. Be honest with yourself about which category you fall under in terms of moderation and go from there. Try a cheat day, then log your eating habits for the following 3 days and see how you’ve have maintained. All in all, they CAN be a good reset—or not!
  • What are the biggest mistakes people make at the gym?
    Here are the main ones I've noticed: Bad technique Not perfecting or establishing a strong foundation from the feet up Lifting weights that are too heavy Short range of motion Working too fast
  • What are good ways to boost energy levels?
    When trying to boost energy, attempt to remain patient, confident, and consistent in your pursuit of higher energy levels. Start slow and STAY IN THE GAME with these lifestyle adjustments: 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night Low carb/Ketogenic diet Increasing healthy fats in your diet (Yes, certain fats are good for you! Some examples are avocados, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, & sardines, almonds, peanuts, cashews, and flax seed) Drinking water (Men: 3.7 liters; Women: 2.7 liters) Intermittent fasting (16/8 method), which is defined as fasting every day for 14-16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8-10 hours Exercising daily I would suggest not to attempt making all of these changes at once. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Try starting with one of the suggestions listed above and implement a new element every month—or whenever you become confident in your ability to maintain the current lifestyle change.
  • Can exercise help with mental health/depression?
    Regular exercise has been shown to release “feel-good” endorphins, thus enhancing one’s mood. This has been shown particularly in cardio-based exercises.
  • Should I eat right before a workout? If so, what types of foods/smoothies would be best?"
    Eating can be beneficial (or not) prior to a workout. This depends on the style of workout and how long it has been since your last meal. Long duration cardio (20 minutes or more) does not usually require calorie intake prior to exercise unless there are other health factors in play. Short burst, high intensity, or weightlifting generally requires some glucose (i.e. sugar/carb) consumption prior to exercise to fuel the ATP/energy system.
  • How much exercise do I need?
    General health guidelines suggest ~120 minutes per week of moderate exercise. This amount of time increases or decreases with the intensity of the workout.
  • How can I stay motivated?
    Maintaining motivation can be one of the toughest aspects of wellness. Things like daily goals/tasks (i.e. step count, food choices, and exercises modes) can keep the mind stimulated to make healthy decisions.
  • Which should I prioritize first: diet or exercise?
    “Can’t outwork a bad diet” is the old saying—but realistically, if any one element is missing, the imbalances will remain. Start improving your diet once you begin your exercise journey.
  • How often should someone aged 60+ be lifting weights?
    No less than 2 days a week of resistance training and at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular training OR 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise/activity (NASM).
  • If I’m already thin, should I still exercise?"
    Yes! Exercise/movement should be a part of everyone’s day-to-day regimen, regardless of build, age, or weight. Being slender does not necessarily ensure that one’s cardio, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, or nervous systems are functioning optimally.
  • If I stop eating meat, will I lose weight?"
    No, that is not necessarily true. Cutting out meat can also be dangerous if you have not taken the proper steps and done adequate research on how to replace the missing amino acids that you would normally get from meat protein. Always do your research on diets!
  • Is boxing a good workout?
    Boxing (non-contact) has been shown to be one of the most effective modes of cardiovascular exercise and coordination. It also has the ability to promote neurogenesis (the growth and development of nervous tissue).
  • What is the best time to exercise?
    The thoughts surrounding this question tend to vary from person to person. Some prefer early mornings, while others shoot for their lunch break or after work. I suggest finding a time that is the slowest/least busy part of the day.
  • Is there such a thing as working out too much (overtraining)?
    The simple answer is yes, but this can be relative to the individual. take into account: 1. Current physical condition and overall health 2. How your body responds to higher volume workouts (listen to your body) 3. Age
  • Will wearing a sauna suit help me lose weight faster?
    Exercising in a sauna suit increases physiological strain and induces larger sweat losses. These conditions can lead to dehydration and heat-related illness. Other weight lost suggestions: Stay consistent "Smarter, not harder" Be patient with yourself
  • How many calories does it take to burn one pound of fat?
    You need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose one pound of weight. This translates into a reduction of 500 calories per day to lose one pound in a week, or a reduction of 1,000 calories per day to lose two pounds in a week.
  • How can I make my workouts more fun?
    Make your workouts unique to your personality Take advantage of your strengths Don't be afraid to do something outside of the gym norm Make anything an exercise Crank up the music!!
  • How many calories should I be eating per day to remain healthy?
    Recommended daily calorie intakes in the U.S. are around 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women.
  • What core exercises provide the best results after having a baby?
    Check out my video answer here:
  • Do you have any suggestions for those of that work at a desk all day for exercises that will help us stand and walk longer? Or stretches that help with muscle tightness caused from sitting?
    Check out my video answer here:
  • How do you suggest we get in enough protein?
    High sources of protein include meat protein (unless vegan), non-bodybuilder protein shakes, an array of nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, etc.), as well as green peas, lentils, and tofu.
  • If I want to tone up my arms, is it better to do more reps with lighter weights or heavy weights with fewer reps? Also, what are the best exercises for this?"
    When it comes to developing the arms, a combination of both high weight/low reps and low weight/high reps has been found to be effective. Try increasing volume and maybe adding another day focused around arms. Also, the triceps (3) makes up more of the arm anatomy than the bicep (2).
  • Which exercise equipment is best to use?
    The basics: A set of dumbells, resistance bands, jump rope, 10-25 lb barbell plate, and a kettlebell.
  • Is it safe to lift if I am obese?
    Lifting weights is one of the best things an obese person can do to lose weight and burn as much fat as possible. The beauty of weightlifting is that may fat-burning routines can be done while standing in one spot-or even sitting in one spot!
  • Is food labeled "organic" more nutritious?"
    Organice foods are not healthier per se in terms of nutrients. You are still getting the same benefits in conventionally grown foods as you are in organic foods. Organic produce often has a shorter shelf life than conventional produce. In the U.S., organic crops must be grown without the use of chemical fertilzers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
  • Is it best to get your protein intake from meat or drinks?
    There is no right or wrong way, but please consider that Commercial protein shakes often include added sweeteners, supplements, artificial preservatives, colorings, and chemicals. Any of these (when consumed in excess) can be bad additions to your diet. whereas meat (animal Protein) has all the requisite essential amino acids while providing a more balanced diet.
  • Occasionally, Managers get stuck at the desk doing reports or training. what are some good desk exercises that we can do when that happens?"
    Push-ups on desk, seated shoulder press, calf raises, and band above knee hip abduction.
  • What is the best way to reduce inflammation in the joints after a workout (or to prevent it prior to workouts)? I do a lot of hiking/skiing and have trouble with my knees.
    Perform exercises that do not compromise the body's natural alignment/ movement durability. Tips: Keep a consistently clean diet to maintain constant energy throughout the day. Rebuild the arches of your feet. Build a foundation.
  • What advice to do you give for healthy weight gain?
    Proper weight gain depends on things like genetics, height, body length, and metabolism. The basic proven formula would be to slowly increase your calorie consumption and to lift heavier weight (increasingly over time).
  • How important is nutrition when one is working out or exercising? What are some nutrition tips?
    Eating a balanced diet and being physically active are the most important factors in regards to health at any age. Tips: 1. Eat fewer calories. Less is more. 2. Sleep 6-8 hrs. to restore the body's vital systems and metabolism. 3. Explore diets that work best for you; not just weight-wise, but energy and gut health-wise as well.
  • Is it good to work out before or after a meal?
    This can depend many factors. What time of day are you exercising, and how many calories have you consumed in the last 24hr? Experiment with which time of day works best for you. Maintain a consistently clean diet to maintain constant energy throughout the day.
  • My doctor has recommended that I take steps to lower my cholesterol. My current numbers do not require prescription medication. What changes should I implement to lower my numbers?
    1. Cut back on animal fats/fatty, processed meats such as bologna, salami, pepperoni and hot dogs. These foods contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol, which are both associated with higher blood cholesterol and plaque buildup. 2. Make friends with fiber. Specifically, get friendly with foods high in soluble fiber. In the gut, Look for soluble fiber in oats, oat bran, ground flaxseed, psyllium, barley, dried beans and legumes, fruits, and whole-grain cereals.
  • What are the best exercises to tone/flatten the core/belly area?
    Exercises like crunches and sit ups are good for actually bulking the core (i.e. making it bigger, like a bicep curl). Most "bellies" come from a lack of strong columns. Try some lateral movements next time!
  • What should I eat before and after a long run (5 or more miles)?
    This depends on the time of day you're running. If later in the day, have you already eaten? (Maybe if it is in morning, try fasted running?) but as a general answer, something light with glucose such as fruit should power you through your run!
  • As women, our metabolism slows down due to hormone changes. I have about 7 pounds that I wish to get rid of but can't seem to do so no matter how much I work out. When I try to eat totally healthy, I feel like I am starving. Any suggestions on other ways to lose the weight?"
    Tip #1 Do research to make sure your healthy eating choices are truly healthy. Some advertising can be tricky! Tip #2 Increase your caloric output during your workouts. maybe try to burn 100-300 extra calories every workout. Tip #3 Try increasing your healthy fat intake with things like nuts, fish, avocados, and grass-fed ghee butter.
  • Breakfast is usually hard for me as I have to take medicine on an empty stomach and can't eat anything for at least an hour after taking it (so usually, no breakfast at all - which I know is not good for you). So my question is: What is a good breakfast that I can take on the go?"
    I personally have encountered this issue for the majority of my life, so I understand where you're coming from. My Rebuttal to this is that not Eating Breakfast can actually be beneficial. Tip: "Bulletproof" coffee (which is coffee with ghee, a.k.a. clarified butter) could be a possible option. This will add healthy liquid fats without food. Fats have also been shown to increase the absorption of some medications and supplements!
  • Why does my stomach sometimes feel like it is on fire when I'm running?
    Runner's Stomach: Running for an extended period of time causes the blood flow that normally is directed to your digestive system to be diverted to your cardiovascular system. This can disrupt and irritate your digestive process. Tip: Try to control the acid in your stomach at all times. Also, heartburn can be caused from too much or too little acid.
  • Why are artificial sweeteners bad for you? Are there any that are okay to use?
    The most common types of artificial sweeteners are: saccharine (Sweet’N Low), aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and stevia. While artificial sweeteners lack many of the negative health effects of sugar, they have their own set of issues. The side effects of artificial sweeteners can include headache, depression, increased risk of cancer, and weight gain due to increased appetite—as well as an impact on gut health and increased diabetes risk.
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