Function and Fitness Blog
Function and Fitness Blog
Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Playing the Accountability Game

It’s always a hard question to answer when people ask me about how I lost my own thirty pounds of “fluff.” For so many of us, we’re looking for that one size fits all “solve” - the “oh, I just ate grapefruit,” or “I started taking this awesome supplement.” I always wish I had “the magic pill” to just hand out, but the honest to goodness truth is I just committed.

And honestly, I know how annoying that sounds.

Weight loss is hard until it’s not hard. And I say that because truthfully, deep down inside we can all admit that we know what it takes to lose weight. Barring any health issues (like thyroid issues, etc…), weight loss comes down to what you are feeding yourself and how much you are moving.  If you put the good stuff in, in the right amounts, and you move often, your body is going to lose weight.

For years I yo-yo’ed between a size 6 and a size 14. I’d have three weeks of “good” and then weekends that devolved into weeks of bad.  Any progress I made was literally eaten away. And I did that - for years - until I finally (and fully and completely) decided I’m not going to do that anymore. Sure, I had said that countless times before, but I was just soooo over feeling and looking the way I did.

In the past, I had done Weight Watchers and been successful, so I knew writing stuff down would be important. There’s just something about having to “fess up” about what you’re eating that keeps you in check. Knowing that I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. While the app will give you a calorie number to aim for (based off of your height and weight), I suggest you get an InBody Assessment that can give you an accurate number based on your body composition. You can do it at the gym! It’s easy! You just stand on something for like 3 minutes. Once you have that calorie goal number, make sure you track everything. The app makes it so easy - you can even scan the barcodes!!

Track Your Workouts

In addition to food, I suggest tracking the calories you burn during your workouts with a heart-rate monitor. The great thing about heart-rate monitors is that most of them can show you what level you are working in during your workouts. It’s a great way to check in with how hard you might be working. And actually - a lot of the time (or rather, most of the time) I see that I work the hardest when I’m lifting weights. Woohoo #girlswholift!

You might also want to consider wearing a pedometer - or something that tracks your daily steps. I actually burst through some of my plateaus by just making sure that I was getting in my 10,000 steps. It’s a great way to remind you to get moving!

For me, I found that keeping myself accountable was the only way I was going to be able to keep myself honest. As coaches, we can make sure you’re doing the work in the gym, but we can’t be there when you’re sitting in the drive-through line at McDonald's or standing in that freezer aisle at Trader Joe’s (that’s my downfall). In so many ways you have to be your own coach or ref when you’re out in the grocery/restaurant/real-life field. Finding a way to make yourself and keep yourself accountable (over the months and maybe years it takes to lose the weight) is the first step in winning the weight loss game!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Where Is This “Rest Muscle” And How Do I Train It?

It’s not uncommon for people just starting to work out to want to go hard - like 7 days a week hard. And here’s a little confession from me (when I'm not pregnant) - it’s not uncommon for me to want to go 7 days a week (maybe even 8 or 9 times a week) hard when it comes to exercise.

We’ve been programmed to think “more is more,” but that’s not actually the case when it comes to exercise.

Here are just some reasons for why we need some R-E-S-T:

REBUILD. Your body rebuilds when it rests. During the course of your workout, we’re asking your body to do a lot of work. We’re essentially ripping up the muscles. During your rest days (and while you’re sleeping - more on that “sleep thing” in a later blog) your body rebuilds those rips and rebuilds them to be stronger. No rest = no rebuilding.

DECREASE RISK OF INJURY. While injuries can’t always be prevented, we CAN do some things to decrease injury potential. When you’re body is fatigued, it finds ways of compensating - and quite often those “ways” aren’t the best ones. It’s kind of like when you’re so tired your feet are literally dragging. Sure, you’re still walking, technically, but we want that “pep in your step” - especially when you’re doing step ups.

OVERTRAINING CAN MESS UP YOUR ZZZZ. It can get in the way of your sleep. You’d think that more exercise would mean your body wants to sleep more. But more exercise can also get in the way of your sleeping ability. As explained by Muscle for Life “your sympathetic nervous system can remain excited at all times and you’ll feel restless and unable to focus, and your sleep will be disturbed and broken.”

NOT RESTING CAN GET IN THE WAY OF WEIGHT LOSS. Okay, so this might be number one. Not resting can get in the way of weight loss. Yup! Read that again! If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re not resting, all that work you’re doing could be for not. WHY? It kind of goes along with #4. With that increased feeling of energy, the adrenal system kicks up in order to deal with the extra demands being placed on it. This can cause spikes in insulin. When insulin increases, fat burning decreases and your body starts to store exactly what you’re trying to get rid of with all that exercise.

So how do you train that “rest muscle”? By actually resting it.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Training the Willpower Muscle

“I just have no willpower.”

It’s a phrase we’ve all said. And newsflash - no one has willpower.

Whether it’s Salt-and-Vinegar flavored potato chips, Halloween candy, or those awesome bakery-fresh croissants with a Sunday brunch mimosa, we all have those triggers that cause us to exclaim “what’s willpower?!”

But guess what?!

We all have willpower and we can strengthen it!

First, we have to know what it is. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” What that means is resisting that urge to open a bottle of wine on a Friday (who are we kidding?! More like a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… you get my drift) night so that we can fit into that dress for our best friend’s wedding.

Sound impossible? Maybe. But maybe just because your “willpower muscle” just hasn’t done enough overhead dumbbell presses.

Willpower researcher Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., a psychologist at Florida State University, breaks it down like this: First, establish the motivation for change and set a clear goal. Second, monitor your behavior toward that goal.

As you see, once again we’re back to that idea of “what’s your why?” Why do you get up at 4:30 every morning to get to the gym? Why decide to reach for an apple instead of a chocolate covered almond? Is it because you want to be around for your grandkids? Is it because your doctor just told you that you’re pre-diabetic?

Is Willpower a Limited Resource?

Even more interesting/annoying is the fact that willpower has also been shown to be a limited resource. So after resisting all the temptations you might run into at work - those doughnuts that Mary brought in, or that always M&M filled bowl on John’s desk - you come home and binge on that box of Famous Amos that has been burning a hole in the back of your pantry.

As explained by APA, there are a number of different studies that have been done that show willpower might be a limited resource. I won’t go into all of those studies (you can check them out here) but it’s been shown that people whose willpower was depleted by self-control tasks had decreased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex part of the brain, a region involved with cognition. In another study, subjects asked to exert they willpower during lab tests had lower glucose levels (glucose fuels all of our functions) than the subjects who did not go through willpower lab tests.

So What Can You Do?

So now that we’ve gone over how it’s not your fault that you “don’t have willpower,” let’s figure out what we can do to train the little willpower that you DO have. So here’s your program for training that willpower muscle:
Employ the “out of sight, out of mind” principle - keep the snacks in the pantry, or better yet, in the grocery store (see what I did there?)
Set one goal at a time
Plan for “dangerous situations” with “if-then” statements. For example, "IF I go out to dinner with my friends and they all order martinis, THEN I’m going to order a soda water with lime."
Find your motivation - remember that “WHY?”
Eat regularly. If you make sure you’re eating healthy foods at regular times, you’ll be less likely to have that “I’m so hungry I’m going to literally eat everything in my kitchen, even those disgusting 3 year-old jelly beans that my mother-in-law bought me that one Christmas that I keep saving for who knows why.”
Exercise. And I’m going to quote APA directly here: “Regularly exercising their willpower with physical exercise, it seemed, led to better willpower in nearly all areas of their lives.” So, literally - you CAN flex your willpower muscle!

So yes, you DO have willpower - you just need to load it up with some “strategy weights” and get to flexing it!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

How Pregnancy Ruined My Healthy Kick

You were going so strong for a while. Three workouts a week. Walking on your days off. Getting the nutrients that you needed - fats, carbs, and proteins at every meal. Snacking in a healthy way. Drinking all your water.

And then it stopped.

Maybe you had a big blow-out dinner one night that sent you spiraling. Maybe Easter happened. Maybe Christmas happened and you still haven’t gotten back on the wagon. Maybe you got pregnant... Huh?

Yup, okay, here we go. I’m about to make this real personal. But only because I want to prove that it’s difficult. For everyone!

Prior to getting pregnant, I was in pretty darn good shape. I was working out, eating well, and basically trying to hold true to what I preach. Sure, I had my stumbles, but I truly believe that you have to walk the walk to talk the talk.

And then I got pregnant. As some of you know, this pregnancy has not been an easy one for me. From nausea to just full on tiredness, I have not been feeling 100%. And what did that translate to? Let’s just say a whole lot of grilled cheese sandwiches.

From the beginning, so many people have been so kind - oh, you’re going to have no problem at all because you’re so healthy. Well, I’m just going to say it right now - I haven’t been healthy. There have been full on days - okay, maybe weeks - where I haven’t touched a vegetable. Seriously. I had a couple of days where I thought drinking water was just going to make me throw up. So what did I do? Cut back on water - in a big - like, fruit juice only - no water, thank you - kinda way.

So why am I confessing all this? Because I want you to know that it happens. We all fall off the wagon for one reason or another. Whether that be pregnancy or a vacation.

What matters is how we get back on the wagon.

For me, it’s been small steps. Adding vegetables back into my scrambled egg breakfast sandwiches. Grabbing strawberries when I really just wanted a bowl of Lucky Charms. Making sure that there was at least one vegetable in my day. I even got back to eating broccoli - which was a giant “please, no” in those early months. It all comes down to small decisions. Yes, those decisions can be incredibly hard, but they are do-able when you remember your “why.”

Why do you need to change your diet? Why do you need to get back on the wagon? Remembering that can mean all the difference. For me, it’s obvious that a healthier way of life is (uh duh) healthier for this little growing child, but it’s also crucial for my own health. And even if you’re not pregnant, I’m guessing it’s the same for you.

If you’re struggling with getting back on the wagon, reach out to any of us! We’ve all gone through it and we’re here to help!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Sneaky Exercise

“Getting exercise” isn’t all about getting to the gym every morning at 6am. Sure, a regularly scheduled (and attended) workout is important, but it’s also about what you’re doing the rest of the day. Here’s a quick list of “sneaky” ways to get a little more exercise into your day:
  • Park at the back of the parking lot
  • Ride your bike or walk to work (if possible)
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Walk on your lunch break
  • “Deskercise” - why not add a few push-ups or squats in every now and then? Fell silly? Close your door.
  • Have in-person conversations with co-workers rather than rely on email
  • Convert “happy hour” to “hiking hour”
  • Take the dog for a walk - it’ll do both of you some good
  • Clean the house
  • Stretch while you watch TV
  • Take a “fun” class like yoga or hip hop
  • Play outside with your kids
  • Switch out your chair for a stability ball - it will encourage you to engage your core instead of slumping at your desk
  • Take all calls standing up
  • Hand-wash dishes
Leading a healthy lifestyle is all about how you incorporate healthy habits into your everyday flow. So get out there and move a little! And then move a little more!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

The Myth of the Fat Burning Zone

It’s something you’ve most likely heard before - or maybe you’ve even seen a color coded posting on a treadmill or elliptical machine - the infamous “Fat Burning Zone.” If you haven’t seen or heard of this, let’s review.

The “Fat Burning Zone” is based on the idea that you can get your heart rate to a certain low-intensity level - meaning a low percentage rate of its max capacity. And if you’re able to stay in that low-intensity range for a prolonged period of time, you’ll burn the most fat. For years the treadmill and elliptical - steady state “cardio” - machines and companies touted this “fat burning zone” as the best way to lose weight. Hop on the elliptical for an hour and you’ll burn more fat that a HIIT workout.

So is there really a magical Fat Burning Zone?

Here’s where it gets complicated. And if you want even more in-depth info, check out this article. Yes, you can exercise at an intensity in which the body will be using more fat as fuel (versus glycogen, which is the stored version of carbs). The body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities. For example, at lower intensities, the body may burn 50 percent of the calories from fat, while at higher intensities it may only burn 35 percent.

But here’s where we’re going to burst your mystical Fat Burning Zone dreams - let’s remember that weight loss comes down to calories in and calories out.

At higher intensities you burn way more total calories (which is how you lose weight) than you do at lower intensities. This is why high-intensity intervals will always “outweigh” steady state exercise such as walking on a treadmill (without ever increasing speed or elevation) when it comes to burning calories. For example, in 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise you will burn 200 calories, and much of that will, yes, be from using fat as fuel. But in that same amount of time, you’ll burn 400 calories in a higher intensity workout. The majority of that will use the glycogen in your body as fuel. So which one would you choose? The 200 or 400 for the same amount of time? Yeah, that’s what we figured too.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Why We LOVE Heart Rate Monitors

You’ve probably seen we’ve started incorporating heart rate monitors into our team classes at Function and Fitness. Here’s a little breakdown of how a heart rate monitor can take your workouts to the next level.

How it Works

The monitor, which is worn with a chest strap picks up your heartbeats. This is why it’s important that you wear the chest strap correctly so that the monitor sits directly on your skin right where the bottom of your bra would typically fall. This allows the monitor to sit close to your heart so it can pick up your heartbeats.

Heart Rate

For healthy adults, a normal resting heart rate can be anywhere between 60-100 beats per minute. Having a lower heart rate typically indicates that a person has more efficient heart function.

Why it Can Help

Because the monitor is based on you, it can give you an accurate indication of how hard you’re working. Why do you need to know? Well, this info can inform you on whether or not you need to push harder to maximize your calorie burn, or if you’re already working at your max capacity and need to bring your heart rate down to avoid hurting yourself. It’s advised that vigorous exercises be performed at 70-85% of your target max heart rate. This is typically when you see yourself in the green or orange on our monitor.

If you’re playing the weight loss game, knowing how many calories you’re burning during a workout can help you zero in on how many calories you need to eat on a daily basis. For the days that you go super hard in the gym, you’ll need to eat back more calories to ensure you aren’t losing muscle.

To find our more about our heart rate monitors and how you can get one, contact info@functionandfitnessla.com or just ask a coach next time you’re in the gym!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

What to Look for in a Protein Powder

We all know that not all protein powders are created equal. So how do you know which one you should go with? As with most all things that you eat, it comes down to ingredients.

Building muscle means upping the weights and upping your protein intake. Sounds easy enough, except for when you’re walking down the protein powder aisle. If you’ve taken a stroll through your local GNC or even just your local grocery store’s health aisle, it’s plain to see that the protein powder industry has exploded. Here’s how to weed through the junk:

Whey. You’ll want to look for Whey protein. Why? Because Whey is a complete protein (meaning it has all the essential amino acids that your body needs to build muscle) and it’s also been shown to be the most easily digestible (unless you’re lactose intolerant). You’ll want to look for a high quality - typically “grass fed” whey. One side note: because Whey is a milk protein, you’ll need to turn to plant-based protein if you’re body can’t handle milk-products.

NO GMO. When it comes to genetically modified organisms or foods we all know to say “no.” The same rule should be applied to your protein.

Say “No” to Sugar. A lot of protein powders add in sugar to make it taste better. But sugar induces the release of insulin in your body. High periods of insulin can lead to health problems such as diabetes, obesity, and vascular abnormalities. Take a look at how much sugar is in your protein and then aim to go as low as possible. Remember that sugar can come in other names too, such as maltodextrin, xylitol, and sucralose just to name a few.

Since we should all be taking in a protein shake post-workout, it’s important to know you're drinking a good one. Check out our selection of high-quality protein shake options next time you’re in the gym!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

What Are You Doing Outside of the Gym?

One of the hardest things to hear as a coach is “this just isn’t working.” Believe me when I say that we hear the frustration in your voice and we truly want you to be successful in achieving your fitness goals.

That being said, I’m about to drop some “real talk” on you. Getting fit is 95% what you're doing outside of the gym. Yup, I said it. I’m even potentially diminishing just what we can do for you, but the bottom line is if you’re giving 100% in the gym and then giving 1% to what you’re eating and how you’re moving the rest of the day, then all that work can be for naught.

On average we see a client for 3-5 hours every week. While we can monitor how well you are moving for those 3-5 hours, we can't be with you for the remaining 165-163 hours in the week. If we could, you’d most likely hear us - all day, every day - saying things like, “don’t eat that” or “you should get up and stretch,” or “it’s time for you to drink some more water.” The truth is, we can’t be there all the time - though we can try to support you as much as possible!

So how can you ensure you’re working just as hard outside of the gym? Here are some tips:

Set a reminder to drink water. You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. What does that mean? If you’re 100 lbs, you should be drinking 50 oz of water every day. Yes, every day

Invest in a fitness tracker. Tracking your steps can help inform you on how active you are outside of the gym. 10,000 is a good goal, but if you’re usually super active, you’ll want to set a higher goal.

Get up and stretch. We all know that our current lifestyles have landed most of us behind a desk. So what can you do to be proactive in the fight against tight hips and sore backs? Get up and stretch. If this seems awkward, close the door to your office, do a couple stretches in the bathroom stall, or step outside for a quick walking/stretching break.

Watch what you’re putting in your mouth. I don’t need to go into detail on this one - you know what you should and shouldn't be eating. And if you don’t ask us for advice!

We’re all here to help you - in the gym - and out of the gym.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

“Organic” “Whole grain” “Sugar Free” “Oh my!”

Today we continue our series on food labelling with a conversation about (dun, dun, dun) marketing. Having worked in marketing for years (okay, yes, it was gaming and home entertainment, not food marketing) I know a little bit about the clever tricks people use to get you to buy their products. It’s the bells and whistles we all fall for. But sadly, when it comes to food packaging, the marketers are using even sneakier tricks - they’re using the words you trust against you.

We’ve all seen these words on our food. But most of them are just lip service. Food labels love to make health claims, but can you believe them? Let’s de-code some of these well-known labels.


Usually means processed to reduce fat or calories. What that often translates to is watered down or something else has been added to make it taste good. That “something” is often sugar.


Grains = healthy, right? Uh… well… if you have a grain intolerance, definitely no. But “multi” just means that there is probably more than one grain in that product, and unless those are whole grains, you’re just getting a lot of refined grains where they literally remove all the healthy stuff from the grain.


A product can claim it’s natural if it has a natural source. Just because the source might have been natural, that doesn't mean the final product is.


This one might be the worst offender. We LOVE organic things, but people can slap the organic title on anything. You need to make sure it’s been certified organic - check the label for a stamp that proves it’s been certified organic.

“No added sugar”

Okay, so its good they didn't add more sugar, but some products already have a enough sugar in them - so while it’s good they haven't added more, it might be too much already. Additionally, instead of adding sugar, manufacturers might have added unhealthy sugar substitutes.


Sure, it might be lower fat, but this usually always means more sugar - they want it to still taste good, right?

“Made with whole grain”

Sure, there might be whole grains in it… somewhere… If you look at the list of ingredients and don't see whole grains within the first three ingredients, then the amount of whole grains actually in the product is negligible.

The truth is you CAN outsmart those marketers - you just have to look further than just the front label’s marketing claims - turn the package over and take a look at the list of ingredients!

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