Monday, September 21, 2009

Alcohol and the calories

So you worked out really hard during the week and pratically killed yourself. Friday night rolls around, then Saturday...a few drinks here, more drinks there and next thing you know, you drank enough to undo allllll that work!! Yes, it all adds up!

Some popular drinks:

Pure alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram) and slightly less than fat (9 calories per gram). This means that if you want to lose weight and reduce excess body fat, alcohol is not a good choice! Alcohol are empty calories and there is NO nutrition value!

Here are some facts you should know about alcohol and nutrition:

•Alcohol is not a carbohydrate.

•Your body processes alcohol first, before fat, protein, or carbs. Thus drinking slows down the burning of fat. When alcohol is consumed, it gets special privileges and need no digestion. This could account for the weight gain seen in some studies. Alcohol gets absorbed through the stomach wall into your liver very quickly.
Your liver gives alcohol all its attention, the carbs (glucose) and dietary fats are changed into body fat, waiting to be carried away for permanent fat storage in the body.

•Alcohol is a diuretic causing water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, muscle contraction and relaxation. This is why you need electrolytes...coconut water, gatorade (actually great for a hangover). See my blog on electrolytes.

•Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways. Drinking may prevent you from getting a good night of rest. It can also increase the amount of acid that your stomach produces, causing your stomach lining to become inflamed. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to serious health problems, including stomach ulcers, liver disease, and heart troubles.

• Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which is detrimental to your diet plans. Alcohol actually stimulates your appetite. While you might be full from a comparable amount of calories from food, several drinks might not fill you up. On top of that, research shows that if you drink before or during a meal, both your inhibitions and willpower are reduced. In this state, you are more likely to overeat—especially greasy or fried foods—which can add to your waistline. To avoid this, wait to order that drink until you're done with your meal.

•Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks later is a bad idea. Many drinkers know they'll be having some alcohol later, whether going to a bar, party, or just kicking back at home. Knowing that drinking entails extra calories, it may be tempting to "bank" some calories by skipping a meal or two. Bad move! If you come to the bar hungry, you are even more likely to munch on the snacks, and drinking on an empty stomach enhances the negative effects of alcohol. If you're planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You'll feel fuller, which will stop you from overdrinking. If you are worried about a long night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.

•Hard liquor is distilled and does not contain carbohydrates. The current “Zero Carb” campaign for vodka and whiskey is bogus and may encourage mindless consumption. It’s like bragging that a candy bar is “cholesterol or fat free.”

•When grapes are made into wine, most of the fruit sugars (carbs) convert to alcohol, but a few carbs remain. A 5-ounce glass of wine typically contains 110 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and about 13 grams of alcohol (which accounts for 91 of the calories). A 5-ounce glass of wine supplies roughly the same amount of alcohol and number of calories as a 12-ounce light beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.

•Beer too, contains carbohydrates. The new low-carb beers are not new at all, though this type of beer does indeed have fewer carbs. Low-carb beers are simply the old light beers with a new label and ad campaign. The old Miller Lite has 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs in 12 ounces. The “low-carb” Michelob Ultra has 96 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs. Coors Lite has 102 calories and 5 grams of carbs. The differences are tiny and hardly worth mentioning. In contrast, a regular beer has 13 grams of carbs and 150 calories.

If you must drink, Here are some of the best options:

1. Rum and Diet Coke (1 oz. rum) - 65 calories (1.5)
Tip: Use diet sodas as mixers, such as gin and diet tonic, diet 7Up and Seagrams 7, diet ginger ale and Jack Daniels, and so on.

2. Vodka and Soda (1 oz. vodka) - 65 calories (1.5)
Tip: Try this with flavored vodka, such as raspberry, vanilla, or mandarin

3. White Wine Spritzer (4 oz. white wine topped with club soda) - 80 calories (2)

4. Bloody Mary (1 oz. vodka, 4 oz. tomato juice, dash of Tabasco and pepper) - 90 calories (2)

5. Light Beer - 100 calories

Don't forget to drink plenty of water in between to make yourself more fuller, not to mention avoiding dehydration.

"Low-carb" does not mean "Low calorie"!, Alcohol contains calories, not carbs that contribute to weight gain. Between overindulging in food and overdrinking, the combination will not help keep you lean no matter HOW much you exercise! Moderation people, is key! You've heard it day in and day out. I'm not saying you can't drink at all! Depending on your goals, if you're looking to lean out or lose weight, watch your consumption!

Cutting down your intake by 1 or 2 beers, wine, high calorie drinks, etc. little by little will go a LONG way! If you don't believe it, try it for one week! If you can hold out a little longer, 2 or 3 weeks and see how your body reacts. It's totally up to you. Don't complain when you know why your body isn't changing. Experiment and note the results. You can gage how far you go before you let it get out of control.

Balance is key!

If you're feeling guilty, you can burn off all those sinful calories in Cindy Lai's Bootcamp ;-)

P.S. For a list of calories, please go to

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Staying on Track and updates..

How's your week going? Are you so emerged in work, you've already made a dozen excuses how you don't have time to work out, have been eating badly, or are just too tired to care?? Stop!!! Don't let yourself get there. So you can't work out the way you planned to during the week..It doesn't mean this give you any right to overindulge on all that junk! Most of you are at desk jobs, so get up walk around, up and down the stairs, to and from work, but just try to stay active somehow!

If on the other hand, you're just being plain lazy...who's to blame when you start gaining all the fall/winter weight? Learn to balance your social life with your work, health and fitness. Schedule it in, plan your meals, and give your mind and body a rest when you really need it! Being overexhausted and overtraining won't help either. But why are you so tired? Did you eat your healthy 5-6 meals today? Did you get enough rest? Is your immune system lacking? Take your vitamins? Burnt out? Sometimes you need to take a step back and re-evaluate what you need to sacrifice and what you need to incorporate. We are all busy New Yorkers!! If staying in shape and feeling good in your mind, body and soul is important to you, then make the time!

I'm always running around like a madwoman but I don't feel guilty on the days I am not physically at the gym. You can burn enough calories by being on your feet all day and not being a couch potato. I will watch my eating more carefully that though. On other days, I like to enjoy my "scheduled" social brunches, dinners, outings, etc.
Don't you just feel better when you eat better? Cut out all that processed garbage and start incorporating veggies, lean protein, whole grains, drink more water.

It's really simple...Don't make it harder than what it is!

In the meantime, bootcamp schedule is now officially:

Central Park Tuesday and Thursdays: 600p & 700p
West Side Kettlebells: 900a Beginner, 10a Advanced

You must reserve with me in order to guarantee a spot.

Also, join me in the Capoeira Festival this Sat @5pm. If you've never experienced capoeira before (which I've been practicing for a few years), you need to come uptown and see it for yourself! There will be a lot of great capoeiristas performing. Details here:

Cindy Lai Fitness

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


1/Check out "Capoeira and The importance of cross training" for capoeiristas,
It's a great online magazine for all capoeira related material.

2/Bootcamp Schedule Change:

Central Park Tuesday remains 630 and 730pm
Central Park Thursday changes to 600pm and 7pm
Kettlebell Saturdays remain 900am (beginners), 10a(advanced)

Stay tuned for any new updates.

Cindy Lai Fitness

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Season, new changes

Summer came and went all too quickly. The humidity is gone, fall is here, the days are getting darker sooner. With the changing of the season, it's time to re-evaluate your goals. Have you been consistent with your health and fitness? Or have you been indulging in one too many barbecues, late night drinking, or just have been slacking off?? Stop making a million and one excuses! Beat the fall/winter weight gain by getting into a good routine. Being healthy is a lifestyle and any little changes you incorporate will go a long way. You do not need to look like a supermodel or celebrity to be "healthy". Of course, proper nutrition is just as essential. It's about being balanced in not only your physical but your mental well being. Exercising consistently will help you build self-esteem, relieve stress, help you look and feel better and help keep you sane! NY is such a hectic place, never enough time for everything, but you ALWAYS have time to take care of yourself! What's the point of working like a maniac if you are going to deteriorate as you get older? How are you then supposed to enjoy life?

As the days are getting colder and you will most likely be taking your workout indoors more often at some point, you need to start focusing on changing your bad habits and discipline yourself before you lose control. Here are a few tips:

- Stop saying and start doing! Words don't mean anything until you take action

- Cut out all processed foods or at least start reducing all the junk in your diet

- That goes for alcohol too..control your intake, you don't need to be drinking every
night and feeling guilty the day after. (Depending on the type of alcohol,
calories can be anywhere from 65 calories for vodka and soda, 100-150 calories for
beer, wine and over 800 calories for frozen drinks!

- are you balancing your workouts? Cross-training? See my previous blog for details

- It's all about scheduling,if you can't get your workouts in after work,do it
before! There is always time to fit in a workout whether it's 20 minutes or an hour

- Consistency is key! Treat exercise as a necessity and work it into your life! If
you have time to be social and time to work, a few times a week is nothing.

- There is always room for improvement! Stop doing the same routine over and over to
set yourself up for a plateau, work on your weaknesses..what are you lacking in
your program? Flexibility, strength,cardio, balance,core training?

If being healthy is important to you, then take charge! Don't wait until New Year's to make a change. The sooner you start, the better you will feel. Don't wait until it's too late, when you get injured or for something bad to happen. You are still young and so long as you are willing to improve your lifestyle, you will feel a whole lot better about yourself in the long run.

Cindy Lai Fitness

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Importance of Cross Training

You consider yourself to be in better than average shape. You run several times a week for health and fitness and maybe do an occasional fun run on the weekend. You play sports or practice martial arts several times a week. You decide to go skiing, snowboarding or surfing for the weekend. After a few days, you felt like you’ve been run over! What’s wrong?

You may be in great shape for the exercises you do routinely. But if that's ALL you do, day after day, you may be setting yourself up for injury or mental burnout and that is not a good way to get fit. What can help prevent injury and burnout? Cross training.

The term cross training refers to a training routine that involves several different forms of exercise. While it is necessary for an athlete to train specifically for their sport if they want to excel, for most exercisers cross training is a beneficial training method for maintaining a high level of overall fitness. For example, you may use both biking and swimming each week to improve your overall aerobic capacity, build overall muscle strength and reduce the chance of an overuse injury. Cross training limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.
Cross training is a great way to condition different muscle groups, develop a new set of skills, and reduce boredom that creeps in after months of the same exercise routines. Cross training also allows you the ability to vary the stress placed on specific muscles or even your cardiovascular system. After months of the same movements your body becomes extremely efficient performing those movements, and while that is great for competition, it limits the amount of overall fitness you possess and reduces the actual conditioning you get while training; rather than continuing to improve, you simply maintain a certain level of fitness. Cross training is also necessary to reduce the risk of injury from repetitive strain or overuse.

**Runners, how many of you have knee or hip injuries?? Cross-training is essential to any running plan because it gives your joints a break. Running is incredibly hard on your body- your feet hit the ground an average of 800 times per mile, which is not great for your knees or ankles. Cross-training is an awesome way to get your heart rate up and increase your endurance while decreasing impact.**

**Capoieristas, if you haven’t already started experiencing knee pain for the countless squatting, lunging, twisting or turning, how long do you think it will take before your incur an acl or meniscus tear? You are constantly working your dominant quad and glute muscles but neglecting the hamstrings, adductor and abductors!**

Incorporating different exercises into your fitness schedule will give your body a more balanced workout and make your body stronger overall, instead of just working one particular set of muscles. For example, if you only run, you will have a strong legs and good cardio but your core and upper body will be weak; if you only lift weights, your cardio will be weak so that even a quick jog to catch your dog will make you tire very easily. The ideal fitness routine would be to include exercises that will build your cardio, strength, endurance and balance. This may seem like a lot but varying your workout in the week with different types of exercises will improve your fitness. For example, you can take an aerobics class for cardio, pick up some weights to improve your strength, try some yoga moves to increase your flexibility and balance, and run for endurance. The more variety you bring into your workout, the better.

Exercises you can do for cardiovascular activity can be running, spinning, elliptical, stair climbing, jumprope, rowing, swimming, sports and martial arts.
Strength training would be calisthenics (pushups, pullups, squats, lunges using bodyweight), free weights, machines, tubing and bands.
Pilates and Yoga can be incorporated for core strengthening, posture, alignment, flexibility and lower back conditioning.
Speed, agility, balance drills, circuit training, sprinting and plyometrics are other forms of skill conditioning than can help improve your level of fitness and what I incorporate in my bootcamp
Kettlebell training is a very functional method of strength training in a very non traditional manner. a kettlebell looks like a cannon ball with a u-shaped handle where you learn to use your entire body as a unit. You swing, press, and clean, executing power movements to build your strength, flexiblity, core, balance, coordination all in one workout. It comes from Russia and is very popular amongst mixed martial artists to enhance their fitness level. I have seen the results on myself and my clients in a very short period of time using this method of training. For more info, go to "kettlebell training" in this blog.

Exercise can strengthen the cardiovascular system, bones, muscles, joints, reduce body fat and improve flexibility, balance and coordination. But if you want to see all of these benefits, you'll need to start cross training!

Join me in for Central Park bootcamp Tuesday and Thursdays 630 and 730pm and Kettlebell Saturdays 9am (beginner) and 10am (advanced) off the West Side Highway if you want to be fitter, stronger and leaner!

Cindy Lai Fitness