Category Archives: Health

A man and woman doing a heavy weight lifting routine at Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

How to Get Back Into Exercise After A Long Break

We all have had longer breaks from exercise. Sometimes we just got too busy at work, with our family, other times it might have been an injury. If you have been out of training for longer than 3 weeks you should follow a couple of simple rules to get back into it.

The Short about what you need to know about getting back into working out

  •  Slow down after a longer break
  • Work with your body, don’t see it as the enemy
  • Frustration is a normal part of the process
  • Shorter, more frequent workouts might be better for you
  • Listen to the cues your body is giving you!
  • Listen to a professional at the beginning

Slow is the new fast

If you are like me then you might want to jump right back into where you stopped at. Same weights lifted, same mileage run, same hours put in. This is a sure way of setting yourself up for failure, injury and frustration.

  • If your break was shorter than 1 month but longer than 2 weeks reduce your volume by 25%.
  • If your break was longer than 1 month but shorter than 3 month reduce your volume by 50% and increase it by 10-15% per week.
  • Anything longer than 3 months of no exercise start at around 35% of what you have been doing and increase your load by 5-10%/week.


Your body is not the enemy

Sometimes we treat our body like the enemy when it does not perform on the level that we are looking for. We push through pain, force workouts and keep setting ourselves back. We also diminish our joy of working out. Listen to your body and work out accordingly. You will have more fun and success in the long run!

Frustration is normal

If you have a history of working out regularly and you were sidelined because of injury, frustration can be one of the biggest problems you can have. You will get impatient, you might feel like it will never get better.

It will get better, just not necessarily on the timeline that you were looking for. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal. Supporting it with soft tissue work like foam rolling & massages, stretching and corrective exercise can do wonders. Advancing too fast will get you injured quickly!

Go for less more often instead of going big one time

You might feel that working out for 10 min is not nearly enough, that it is not worth the effort. But research shows that it is better to do something for 10 min six times a week than exercising for 60 mins one time in a week. Most likely you are hitting it too hard during your one big workout in the week anyway.

Trust your body

Nobody else feels what you feels. If you work with a healthcare professional or a personal trainer make sure to explain to them what you are feeling as acurately as you can. They are better at interpreting where it might come from but they will need your feedback to make the best decision in regards to your training and health. If you have the feeling that your advisors are not listening, get new ones!

 Get help

I get it, we all think we can do it ourselves, and you can. With a lot of reading up, thorough research and commitment you will be able to put something together for you that might work. On the other hand you can always ask a professional in your field (cycling coach, personal trainer, running coach, etc), to help you with the basic setup. This person will be able to put a training routine together based on your current fitness level, observe your movements and make adjustments.

If you are interested in finding out more about our program,

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Sleep quality is important at Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

How your I-pad Messes with Your Weight Loss

A recent study surveyed the effects of i-pads on sleep. The last time I mentioned the problem of light pollution was in my blog about sleep not too long ago. The study I am mentioning today had participants read for 4 hours prior to going to bed. Half of the participants were using an i-pad, the other half were reading regular books.

The participants reading on the i-pad found that they were less sleepy than our book-readers in the evening and it took them about 60% longer to fall asleep (25 min versus 15 min).

In addition their body’s melatonin production was suppressed and their body reacted as if the day was actually 1 1/2 hours longer than it really was. This melatonin suppression is considered carcinogenic.

What happened in the morning?

In the morning the book-readers were more alert and active than the i-pad readers. They felt like they had rested more and were more alert during the day.

The Takeaway

Suppressed melatonin production is associated with higher risks of cancer. Back-lit tablets decrease sleep quality and hinder you from waking up more refreshed in the morning. This is also true with people who think they sleep well. Please bear in mind that phones, TVs, and computers are strong emitters of blue light as well, the culprit of the problem.

What you can do:

If you cannot stay away from using the computer in the evening or late at night, you might want to start using glasses that filter out the blue light spectrum (around 10$). They are certainly not fashionable but they make a difference and allow the production of melatonin to continue. If on the other hand you don’t want to look goofy, you either have to quit looking at the screen or dim the screen as much as possible while still being able to read, and, hope for the best. A third option is to install a program called f. lux. It adjusts your computer or phone screen automatically to the time of day and gives it a slight reddish hue.

What about my weight?

If we do not get enough sleep and/or our sleep quality is low our body has a tendency to hold on to our weight. Considering that most of us don’t get enough sleep to begin with, the quality of the sleep that we are getting is even more important.

It has been shown that devices like TVs, tablets, phones, backlit e-readers have a negative impact on our sleep. I understand that we seem to be unable to function without them. We catch our favorite show after a stressful day, or wind down reading articles, surfing the internet. That does not release us of our responsibility to take care of ourselves. Simply grabbing a paperback book, adjusting our computer lights, eliminating our light pollution in our bedrooms and using blue light filtering glasses can do a lot to improve our sleep patterns.

If you need more help with your training and fitness regimen,

please check out our specials at Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting to get started.





Nutrition that makes sense at Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

Long-term effects of a high carbohydrate diet on your health & performance

  • A High carb  diet (> 70% of intake) can lead to insulin resistance
  • A high carb diet can lead to additional fat gain
  • A high carb diet can increase performance in endurance athletes
  • A high carb diet will lead to increased water retention and could lead to loss of performance
  • Say goodbye to your teeth
  • You are more hungry
  • A high carb diet should be an intervention for performance reasons and not be maintained throughout the year.

Let’s take it apart:

High carb diets (> 70% carbohydrate intake)  followed for a prolonged period of time lead to higher body fat percentages and chronically elevated insulin levels. Choosing to follow such a diet should be restricted to very specific people with specific goals.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin is responsible for transporting blood glucose to muscle cells and fat cells. If we have chronically elevated glucose levels our muscle cells can become more insulin resistant. In return our body produces even more insulin which can lead to a burnout of the insulin producing cells in your pancreas. Congratulations, you just have become a diabetic.

Fat Gain

Our liver and muscle cells can only store a small amount of glycogen (transformed glucose molecules) compared to our capacity to store fat. When on a high carbohydrate diet our body will transform the extra glucose into fat which could lead to that unwanted spare tire around your waist.

Performance Increase or Decrease

It seems like I have two contradictory statements above. One claims that a performance increase is possible, while the other claims the opposite. Now, which is it? That totally depends on you and your sport. Endurance athletes utilizing a high carb diet do so because they want to maximize their glycogen stores for their sport. Having full glycogen stores enables them to perform at a higher level for a longer period of time. The problem is that one 1g of glycogen is stored with 2 g of water. Before you know it, you can have 1-3 lbs of additional water weight which could reduce your performance since you have to haul it around. You will have to find your personal optimum and see what works best for you.

 Hunger & Teeth Decay

Fat and protein stimulate a feeling of satiation better than a high carb diet. This has to do with how long food takes to digest, stomach filling, hormone stimulation by foods etc. Diets higher in fat and protein have a tendency to leave people more satisfied for a longer period of time.

In addition a diet high in carbohydrates almost always consists of highly processed sugary foods (yes, your larabar is part of that, at least when it comes to sugary). Your teeth are under constant assault and your dentist is happy to book his next vacation on your dime.

So what should you do?

If you are an endurance athlete who seeks out performance improvement and would like to avoid some of the negative impacts mentioned above, then you want to reduce the carbohydrate intake to 55% and increase the fat and protein intake. Make sure that the carbohydrates you take in are minimally processed. Then, 3-4 days ahead of your competition you can switch to a high carb diet with 70% carbohydrate intake. If your event is shorter than 90 min then don’t worry about carb loading. It won’t be necessary!

Let me know if you want us to help you with your fitness and training goals. Check out our specials at Charlotte Personal Trainer

Have a great day,



Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting Nutrition advice

To eat or not to eat before cardiovascular training

Though cardiovascular training has been challenged as the optimum way to lose body fat, it is still a viable way of increasing your caloric output when done in moderation.

In the fitness industry it has been quite common to tell people to do some cardiovascular training before consuming any food. The reasoning behind it is that fat oxidation should be  utilized more when exercising in a fasted state.

A recent study tested this theory on healthy young women. Now, media and bloggers like me have a tendency to generalize those outcomes and I want to be really careful to avoid this:

The researchers found no difference in fat loss among both groups (fasted and unfasted) but showed that both groups lost body fat with a calorie restricted diet.

This is where the problems start to show up. Just left at this we could come to the conclusion that training while fasted has no benefit. But, the sample of women was pretty small and the study was only done over the course of four weeks. It is very well possible that there would have been differences at a later point in time. In addition the dietary habits were self-reported and inaccuracy and misreporting could have led to changes in the outcome.

There is simply not enough evidence to rule out that doing cardiovascular training while fasted might lead to more fat loss than exercising while fed.

Either way, working out while on a calorie restricted diet will lead to fat loss.

What about HIIT?

This particular study only addressed steady state cardiovascular training. High intensity interval training is a completely different animal. Even though EPOC (excessive post exercise oxygen consumption) seems to be lower with HIIT than originally expected, there might be hormonal changes and changes in appetite that lead to an increased fat loss. Again, more research is needed.

What to take home:

The quality of training is just as important as the time you eat. If you don’t stomach food well before working out, then you might be better off exercising while being fasted. If on the other hand you die half-way into your workout then it might be time to grab a carb+protein drink and kick some butt.

There is rarely a “fit one, fit all approach”. For most people it is a trial and error thing. Some general suggestions can be made, but even those need to be individually adapted. Just because it works for you, does not mean it works for your buddy.

Have a great day,


Resources: Running on empty: can we chase the fat away? – Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise

Thoughts On Wearing a Brace

Todays blog is provided by Troy Groce. He is one of my personal trainers and specializes in a corrective approach to training. He is sharing some thoughts on rushing towards braces whenever something seems to be uncomfortable:

A brace is not always the right way to go

A brace is not always the right way to go

Our society has become brace happy.  At the first sign of discomfort people brace joints more often than they should.  Bracing may provide temporary relief, but it can pose more extensive long term problems.  However, bracing is appropriate when a joint is significantly injured or unstable and/or when any excessive additional movement can cause further injury. Knowing the difference between discomfort and acute pain is essential.  Significant acute pain should be diagnosed by a medical practitioner.

Bracing at the first sign of discomfort and restricting movement can actually slow down the healing process. Movement at a joint when it’s mildly injured brings blood flow to help in the recovery process. Bracing weakens the stabilizing muscles and connective tissue around the joint. Wearing a brace too long causes the joint to grow weaker, possibly resulting in a more significant injury to the specific joint or dysfunction in other related joints.  The root issue of most non-traumatic joint pain is usually associated with improper movement patterns that can be simply addressed with a proper corrective exercise program.

I am looking forward to helping you with your goals,

Troy Groce


What to do when your knee hurts!

A lot of my personal training clients, myself included have had knee pain at some point and time in their life.

You might remember this nagging pain under the knee cap, maybe off to the side. Some feel it just below the knee or they have problems straightening their leg because the knee feels tight.

The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body. It has many surfaces that glide over each other. It is being held in place by strong ligaments and is stabilized and moved by the muscles of your whole leg. Yep, the whole leg. You might wonder now what youknee_arthroplasty_anatomy01r butt or your calf has to do with the knee but we will get to that in a little bit.

First I need to tell you what this article is NOT, it is not a guide how to treat acute or chronic injuries yourself. First of all, I am not a medical professional, second of all, it would go beyond the scope of this blog. What the blog will do though, is get you a little bit better at understanding your body in order to help you discuss your issue with your fitness or health care professional and understand how your training impacts your knee.

The causes for knee injuries differ widely. Some are caused by an acute injury, like you tripping, someone sliding into you during sports, etc. Others come on chronically due to biomechanical factors which could be habitual, genetic, etc. and some are a combination of the above.
Your training might be able to train up your legs, make them stronger and more injury resistant to acute injuries (see above). Now when it comes to biomechanical problems it gets a little bit more complicated. Here the goal is to correct an underlying issue. Depending on its nature that might not be possible. You might have been born with a severe leg length difference, scoliosis, etc. Factors that we as trainers or health care professional might not be able to correct at all or only minimally.

So what can training do for you?

Young woman having knee pain

Is your knee hurting as well?

A lot of chronic knee issues come from the joint above or below the actual knee. I always tell my clients the following analogy: “If one of two workers goes on vacation, which one is the most likely to complain about it?” The answer is obvious, the one doing all the work. Especially with chronic knee pain we often see that the hip muscles are not able to do their job for various reasons. The hip joint is not properly stabilized or mobile enough which in turn can lead to problems in knees or back.

Bad Movement – No Pain

When a personal training client comes to us, we perform a comprehensive initial consultation to check out their movement patterns, see if pain exists, etc. Occasionally we find dysfunctional movements that do not cause pain. Oftentimes using proper lateralization/regression exercises, we are capable of activating and correcting those movement patterns and prevent an injury from happening.

Pain with Movement

In case we already have an existing pain pattern, we refer the client out to a health care professional we trust, in order to work in tandem on the problem. Together we create a cohesive team dedicated to our client’s well being.

For a long time therapists were focused solely on the muscles surrounding the affected joint. In case of the knee they would work the quads and hamstrings. One of the favorite machines back in the day was the knee extension. Extensive research and a lot of ruined post-patellar cartilage later this machine finds less and less use.

Since then, things have come a long way. Good physical therapists during the rehab phase, and personal trainers and coaches during the reintegration phase, have started to look at the whole kinetic chain. We have realized that we cannot just look at the muscles surrounding an affected joint. Don’t get me wrong those have to be addressed appropriately, but we have to look at what is happening above and below. good hip stabilization, ankle stabilization and movement patterns very much influence the knees.

What does that mean in regards to your training?

Single leg deadlifts, deadlifts, bridges, chop patterns half kneeling or tall kneeling and so many more exercises can be  great tools in your tool box. We have found that when you train a client who has knee pain and stay away from pain causing movements and focus on hip exercises, we often see improvements in their pain and movement patterns, and pain free range of motion.

Despite us not doing any treatment at the hurting location and instead addressing the muscles that were not working properly prior to the injury we were able to help some clients minimize their pain, or eliminate it completely.

So, just because your knee hurts does not mean you cannot train legs. You have to train smarter!

Have an awesome day,





Healthier You – Healthier Kids!

I am going regularly to the park with my son. My son has low muscle tone. It is a condition that can severely slow down his learning of new movements and speech. Therapy is simple: move and be active as much as possible.

What I observedActive with kids Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

Aside from almost every adult at the playground looking intently at their phone instead of their kids (kind of guilty of that sometimes too). I could observe a close relationship of how the parents looked and how their kids looked like.

This might not come as a surprise to you. It should not. But it was nonetheless astounding how much the kids looked like their parents. If the parents were severely obese the likelihood of the child to have way too much weight on her was increased as well. Same the other way around. If the parents seemed to be in reasonable shape the children seemed to be more active and physical.

Take responsibility

I know it is not easy in a time where food, especially fast food is everywhere. But if not for us then at least for our children we carry a responsibility to make an effort to be healthy, eat healthy and move more. I am not talking about having a six-pack or looking like a model. I am simply talking about making healthy choices when it comes to eating, moving, and being generally active.

Do these 10 things to be more proactive


  1. Participate in outdoors activities with your child like adventure playgrounds, splash grounds.
  2. Use indoor facilities like Monkey Joe’s, Ray’s Splash Planet or Defy Gravity when the weather prohibits outdoors activities.
  3. Chase your kids around the house. My son for sure gives me a great workout. He can play for hours.
  4. Limit the use of electronic devices and encourage playing outside for an hour or two hours in the morning or late afternoon.
  5. Go hike in the mountains or local woods, drive to the beach and play in the ocean. Be active.
  6. Go for a run with your kids on the bike, it will keep you and them in shape.


  1. Make small changes. Make an effort to make one of your meals/day healthy in the first week. Add a second one in the following.
  2. Bring some healthy snacks to your activities: chicken leftovers, carrots, fruit, Avocado Pudding and replace the sugar with some raw honey, banana, or stevia.
  3. Reduce the fast food meals to one or two/week
  4. Start cooking the big ticket items over the weekend to save you time during the week.

These are just few tips that can help you to a healthier lifestyle not just for you but for your kids also.

Have an awesome start into the weekend,


Getting Going In Your Office

Hello everyone, evolution

sorry that I have been a little bit behind with my blog posts. I have had some major construction going at the studio and the preparation for it as well as transitioning to a new merchant account really took up more time than anticipated.

Office Job = Sedentary Work Setting

I recently did a couple of “lunch & learns” at local firms and companies. The major topic throughout was the negative effect of office work, or working in a sitting environment on health and performance.

Newest research seems to indicate pretty clearly: Just having a six pack (good for you if you do) and being fit is not enough to offset the negative side effects of your office work. Rising blood pressure, worse lipid profiles, as well as a higher mortality rate seem to be at the end of a long office career.

What can you do?

In a perfect world you would be able to have a dynamic environment that allows you to work sitting, standing, walking etc. That is hardly the case for most of us. Quite the opposite, the classic cubicle or office does not even have standing desks and might not allow them either. But not all hope is lost. This is what you can do:

  • Use the stairs as much as you can.
    Work Environment
  • Walk the hallway or stairwell if you are thinking through a problem instead of sitting hunched over in front of your computer screen.
  • Take a 2-3 min break every hour and do some exercises (easy routine shown in the video in this blog post)
  • For the workout do each exercise 10-15 times and repeat the whole set of exercises once an hour for the most beneficial effect.
  • Transition to an adjustable desk or get a standing desk booster for your existing desk
  • Take a nap to enhance your performance. Research shows that a 20-30 min nap can improve your performance by 20-25%. No caffeinated beverage can compete with that over the long haul without getting you addicted.
  • Stretch your chest, neck and shoulders to get out of the hunched over position.
  • After Work Environment


  • The more you sit at work, the more you should try to make up for it after work and on the weekends.
  • Go for long walks, inline skate, bicycle, hike etc.
  • Work out regularly. Lift weights, do cardio, play tennis, golf, or run, etc.
  • Go hike or do some work in your yard (not the sitting lawn mower Smile).
  • Park your car intentionally on the far end of the parking deck.
  • Get up during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show and run up and down the stairs or on the spot.

You see the possibilities are endless. I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you need any assistance with your fitness and wellness!

Have an inspiring day,


Head Trainer at Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

Be Inspired–Be Great!

Last week we talked about the importance of motivation. Today I am going to talk about the importance of being inspired. If you are inspired the motivation is there, it is simply just there. Get inspired by Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting

Webster’s Dictionary puts it as follows: inspire, inspired: 1. To guide or affect by divine influence. 2. To fill with high emotion: exalt. 3. To stimulate to creativity or action.

In our work with our clients we are seeking to inspire, because we know that this is the ultimate success. When we can inspire a client, success comes almost effortlessly. The effort involved might still be a sacrifice but now you have something that you are striving towards, that drives you from deep inside.

Many of our clients have that drive from deep inside. Some just love their game of golf, soccer or tennis; others like running or lifting weights, while others are passionate in general about health and fitness.

If you want to succeed and keep succeeding look deep inside of yourself and find what inspires you. It could even be inspiring others to a healthier lifestyle and wanting to be a good example.

If you are inspired about something your eyes are glowing when you talk about it, you are excited, you might not be able to sleep, you want tell people about it. If you are currently working out but afraid to tell someone that you are doing it, chance is you are not inspired to work out. Look deep and find out, why do you work out. That will create a little flame inside, which can create a fire. A lot of our inspired clients have lit a fire in other clients.

It is important that you find yourself. Don’t be what you think you should be but who you truly want to be.

Be Inspired – 5 Steps to find your Inspiration:

  1. Write down every evening 1-3 events and activities you liked and why you liked it
  2. When you work out take note on what you really enjoy and what you don’t.
  3. Take an hour and write down how you want to be remembered. Create a VISION of you.
  4. Create a Game Plan to put that vision into action.
  5. Review it regularly and make sure it still represents you. We change over time. Maybe you need to adjust it.

Have an inspiring day,


Sugar & fat addiction – more commmon than thought

This might come as a surprise to you, maybe not. More people are addicted to sugar than you might think. Even people who have a healthy weight. Often people think that as a personal trainer I do not suffer from those issues. This could not be any further from the truth. Food Addiction Charlotte Personal Trainer

My biggest downfall is chocolate. This sweet combination of fat and sugar used to make me crave it sooo badly. I would eat a family pack of M&Ms within 15 min; a whole bar of chocolate would last maybe 5 min. I would sneak chocolate by my wife in the kitchen because I was ashamed, ashamed of not being in control of my eating. I would devour every chocolate in the house.

I had to change my nutrition. After I did, within 2-3 weeks, my cravings were gone. A year went by, Christmas came back up and with it the goodies that my wife bakes, ginger bread, and the works. I had been doing really well with my nutrition and so I thought I was able to control it. It was a slippery slope. Within 4 weeks I had undone what I had worked for the whole year in regards to my cravings. I started eating a little bit of chocolate then a little bit more and more and more until I was back to my old habits.

I kicked it again but I also know now that I cannot go back. I was not happy in my body and I felt like crap.

Your problem might be a different food but most of the time it is a combination of sugar and fat that sets us off. It has to do with the dopamine release in the brain. Basically your brain gets high on its own drugs. It makes you happy and feel better. The effects can be as strong as a heroine dose.

Your issue might be a donut (sugar + fat), a bagel (sugar + fat), pasta (sugar) or even a combination. If you have similar issues to what I had to go through, then this is how I kicked my issues to the curb.

  1. I had to go cold turkey (meaning no more chocolate at all). I had to throw away the chocolate and to make sure I would not fish it back out of the trash I had to make it nasty.
  2. I started eating unprocessed foods, cooked and prepared by me.
  3. If I was craving something sweet I would use some dates (don’t recommend it anymore), due to the insulin release.
  4. Now I would make a smoothie with a fruit and protein powder and maybe a little bit of honey
  5. Avoid fat + sugar combinations.
  6. I rarely eat sweet potatoes, potatoes.
  7. I never eat rice, grains or pasta.
  8. All of my food consists of veggies, protein (fish, poultry, meat), 1-3 fruits a day, and some nuts.

This has worked phenomenally for myself and a number of clients who wanted to try it out.

If you need any help, please feel free to contact me at