The weights are your friend…

This says it all. I write this especially for the ladies out there who fear the weights because they are afraid it will bulk them up or make them look like a man (see pic below for proof it doesn’t).  Gals, it is difficult for us to get bulky by lifting weights…our natural hormonal makeup won’t allow it. Don’t fear the (heavy) weights! These are what will build your muscles and create the shapely body many of you want. Doing leg lifts or side bends in your living room isn’t going to cut it! You’ve got to lift weight to get that look. There are countless other benefits to your overall health that you only get from weight training. Ray’s discussed them in his Facebook videos. A few examples: 1) you burn more calories after a strength training workout than you do after a cardio session…there is no metabolic effect after cardio; however, after a weight training session, you continue to burn calories after the workout as your body is repairing itself from the workout you just had; 2) muscle burn more calories at rest; 3) weight training prevents osteoporosis because as you increase muscle mass, your bones must adapt to accommodate the muscle mass increase, so the bones increase in density, thus lowering the risk for osteoporosis; 4) face it…muscle looks better on our body than fat does!

Following is my personal experience over the last three months to illustrate what I’m talking about. With focused training, lifting heavy, eating more (not less), I’m getting stronger and physique changes are happening. I’ve posted recently about strength gains which I’m proud of because of the consistent, hard work. Friday I worked out my back and, again, had gains on all my lifts…except for my pullups. I didn’t get as many reps as the two previous weeks. Why? Not because I’m not getting stronger, but I’m gaining muscle weight, so the pullups are more difficult.

Since March 7, I’ve put on 10 lbs. of muscle; BMI increased 1.1; and body fat percentage decreased 0.3%. This has been done with no calorie restriction. By the way, the heavier weights I’m lifting (55 lb. dumbbell chest press; 45 lb. shoulder press; 65 lb. single arm dumbbell row; 140 lb. deadlifts; 160 lb. back squats) have not given me a bulky or manly look.

To sum it up, girls, pick up the weights and get on the road to getting the body you want. Need help getting started, reach out to or stop by and see us for a free fitness assessment.

Osteoporosis – How The Firm U Can Help You Circumvent It and Live Your Life with Strength and Energy

I’ve been studying the last couple of months for my NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certification. Today I came upon the chapter related to osteoporosis and exercise. Once finished with the chapter, I was compelled to put the book down and write because what I’ve read has stuck me as very important and something over which, we, ourselves, have great influence. I’ve always known that weight-bearing activities (resistance training, training with weights, weightlifting, whatever you want to call it) improves bone density. Not until I got into this textbook did I become clearer about the benefits of weight-training and the risks osteoporosis poses to our overall health.

Consider these osteoporosis facts which I found terribly frightening, especially as I approach the 50-year milestone mentioned for women several times throughout my research:

Hip fracture risks double every 5 years in postmenopausal women over the age of 50.

Osteoporosis affects more than 25 million people each year resulting in 1.5 million hip fractures, of which only 20% return to normal functional status. If this isn’t enough to scare us into taking steps to prevent the onset of osteoporosis, then I don’t know what will. This means that 80% of those who suffer a hip fracture will not return to normal functional status. I don’t want to be a part of that 80%, so you bet you’re a$$ that I’ll continue my weight training for the rest of my life.

For training to influence bone mass, it will require approximately 6 months of consistent exercise at high enough intensities. Translation is we must employ patience, consistency and time to see results. Additionally, training must become a lifelong event to ward off this condition.

There are many things over which we have control that will reduce our chance of becoming prone to osteoporosis (1). Let’s look at a few of them:


CALCIUM: Calcium is a major component of bone so it makes sense that you need adequate amounts throughout your life to reach and maintain peak bone mass. Recommended daily amounts:

Women (ages 19-50) / Men (19-70): 1,000 mg/day
Women (50 and over) / Men (70 and over): 1,200 mg/day

Sources: dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, sardines, calcium supplementation with Vitamin DVITAMIN D: Vitamin D is used by your body to absorb calcium. Without Vitamin D, your bones can weaken and increase fracture risk. Recommended daily amounts: 600-800 international units (IU) per day. Sources: fatty fish (tuna, sardines), egg yolk, and the PRIMARY source of vitamin D is sunlight. Supplementation may be necessary for people who don’t get adequate sun exposure

MAGNESIUM: This mineral helps keep the calcium in the bones and out of blood vessels and other soft tissues. Sources: green veggies, almonds, black beans, kidney beans, nut butters.

VITAMIN K: Needed for normal bone metabolism and helps prevent bone loss. It is found in leafy green veggies, i.e., spinach, kale, broccoli, and in green beans and peas.


People who participate in resistance training have a higher bone mineral density than those who don’t. Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for bones is weight-bearing (training with weights) which forces you to work against gravity. Physical activity also improves balance and coordination, thus helping prevent falls and broken bones that may result from a fall.


Smoking increases bone loss rate. Women who smoke have a lower level of estrogen (the hormone that is necessary for bone rebuilding) than non-smokers. Smokers go through menopause earlier than nonsmokers. There is a direct relationship between lack of estrogen during perimenopause (which can start in early 40s and on average lasts up to 4 years) and menopause and the development of osteoporosis. Any prolonged periods where hormone levels are low and menstrual periods are absent or infrequent contributes to loss of bone mass. (2)

Moderate alcohol consumption can accelerate bone loss and reduce your body’s ability to absorb calcium. In addition, it can have an adverse effect on the hormones that regulate calcium levels and reduce the formation of new bone. Moderation is key when using alcohol. For example, one drink per day for women of all ages and men older than 65 and up to two drinks per day for men age 65 and younger. (2)

Ernestine Shepherd, 79 years young!

Meet Ernestine Shepherd, the Guinness World Record Oldest Female Bodybuilder, pictured here. She’s 81 years old and started working out at  age 56. She is proof that it’s never too late to start. Ernestine does the same thing day in and day out (consistency) and takes no medications. Depression and anxiety are gone. She is an inspiration to many women (and men!). Her age defining mantra is “Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined to Be Fit!” and “Age is nothing but a number, and you can get fit!” Words to live by!


As reported by the National Institute of Health, we know a weight-bearing program is beneficial to bone strength. The NASM textbook (3) cites that for training to influence bone mass, it will require approximately 6 months of consistent exercise at high enough intensities.

How can The Firm U help with this? By working you through a consistent weight-bearing training regimen. All Firm U trainers are certified in working with clients with Types I and II Osteoporosis.

As discussed earlier, we know that adequate vitamin and minerals are essential to bone health. Supplementation may be necessary for those who are low or lacking in any of the vitamins or minerals listed above. Deficiencies can be determined through a blood test.

How can The Firm U help with this? At The Firm U, we order appropriate bloodwork panels (through SpectraCell, the leader in nutritional testing) and review the results with you, making recommendation for any needed supplementation. For the convenience of our clients, we sell pharmaceutical-grade supplements on site and we carry or can get anything you need for optimal health. A few of the brands available at The Firm U: Designs for Health; Life Extension; Rejuvenation Science; Transformation Enzymes, YES (Your Essential Supplements), Douglas Labs, to name a few.

I’m hopeful that you, too, are moved by the facts provided above and the ability we all possess to slow down the onset of osteoporosis allowing us to live an active life free from the danger and worry of living with brittle bones. Would you like more information or are you ready to get started?

(3) National Academy of Sports Medicine. Optimum Performance Training for the Health and Fitness Professional. 2004