Archive for the ‘Bodybuilding’ Category

Your Complete Guide to a Reveal Worthy Mid-Section

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog




Muscle Jawn

For more years than you can count, you have been on a quest for the holy grail of fitness, a unicorn to some.  You don’t ask God for much other than the death of your boss, winning the lottery, and a six-pack.  Day in and day out, you put in some hard time at the gym.  You toiled to no end, but the dreadful gut remained.  You took some fat burners and that green tea that Dr. Oz told you about.  You would never pass a newsstand and not pick up a fitness magazine covered by a chiseled model with bold colorful writing, telling you about “6 ways to a 6 pack in 6 minutes” or “the best food for flat abs” and read it cover to cover.  You’ve been following those fitness gurus on social media talking about waist-trainers, swearing by their effectiveness, and going as far as crediting them for their competition winning mid-sections.  You tried everything but alas nothing is happening.  Now you are wondering, what really is the 4-1-1 on losing the dreadful stomach pouch and getting that flat stomach or the more elusive 6-pack?  I promise you if you read and adhere to my every advice you will have no need to try the latest fad gadget or diet pills.

MMI’m not calling myself a fitness guru, but I just happened to know a thing or two, being a fitness trainer and nutritionist.  I have been in the business for a while, and I practice what I preach.  Also, I happen to know quite a bit about abs training.  I teach a fitness class called Hard-Core and from time to time I sport a 6-pack, or as of right now, I’m working on getting one to sport in the Spring/Summer.  So pretty much, I’m in the know about that well kept secret.  Yes you read that right, there’s one secret to achieving a fit mid-section …just one.  I know what you are thinking, “those sneaky sneaky fitness folks,  I totally knew it!  Those sons of biscuits”!!!  I know right (rolling my eyes).  Ok, here’s the secret.  Are you ready?!  Don’t read ahead or get too excited.  Ok Ok…The secret is…there IS NO SECRET!  No MAGIC PILL!  NOTHING!!  Flattening your stomach or building a 6-pack requires a multi-muscles exercise accompanied by cardiovascular training and a diet rich in nutrients.  In laymen’s terms, you have to burn some major calories to get rid of that fat and build some serious muscles to get that “toned” look.  Very straightforward; no BS!

First, let’s talk about the anatomy of the abs muscles. There is more to it than just a 6-pack.  For many, including my fitness clients, the abdomen has been marginalized to include just one muscle – the rectus abdominis, the part that looks airbrushed on Ryan Goslin.  However, the abdominal region is composed of several key muscles that contribute to core function (see figure). AbsThe abdomen is the region lying between the proximal chest and the distal pelvis. This region is served by several muscles that contribute to spine stability in a variety of postures, providing the ability to flex, side bend, and rotate the trunk.  These muscles also serve to protect the abdominal organs.  Four muscles provide shape and movement to the anterior abdominal wall; these muscles are the obliques (internal and external), transversus abdominis, and the rectus abdominis.  Three of these muscles are described as flat muscles (the obliques and the transversus abdominis), and one is described as being straplike (the rectus abdominis).  Not to bore you too much with scientific mumbo jumbo, the bottom line is your abs are a part of your core, a very important part of your body, and it’s responsible for so much more than you can imagine, like breathing, coughing, sneezing, and maintaining posture.  They are also connected to the muscles of the hips and back so without them there would be no walking to the fridge to grab that ice cream, which you shouldn’t be eating anyway.  To train your abs, you have to train your core muscles and pretty much your entire body since everything is connected.  You CAN NOT spot train.  If you can think you can do millions of crunches every day to get that chiseled stomach,  then I’ve got some bad news for you.  The only thing you will get is a broken back, literally.

A full body exercise consisting of aerobic and anaerobic activities is required to achieve a strong core by building abs muscles and burning that layer of gut fat to reveal a flat stomach or a sexy 6-pack.  A deficit in energy expenditure and caloric intake must be created; meaning besides exercising, you have to mind your diet as well.  You have heard the phrase, “abs are made in the kitchen”.  In a sense, this phrase is true but not the way you are led to believe.  Abs exercises alone are not enough to reduce abdominal fat and the girth of the abdomen, but they are known to increase the strength and endurance of the abdominal muscles.  Early results from a 2006 study found that walking exercise (not abdominal exercise specifically) reduced the size of subcutaneous abdominal fat cells.  So a combination of the two types is required to take care of the “energy expenditure” part and an excellent diet consisting of nutrients dense food and very low processed food is needed for the “caloric intake” part.  In addition, when you build muscle, your basal metabolic rate (the body ability to burn calorie while at res) increases, so in turn you’re impacting the deficit in calories.  So you have to work in the gym and the kitchen to achieve your goal.  Here’s a sample diet and sample training routine for further illustration.  When training abs, we tend to break the exercises down by the four muscles mentioned above; however, in reality the abdomen moves as one.  So realistically, every exercise trains the abs.


Sample Training Routine


Back, Abs and Cardio


Romanian Deadlifts                                                         3 sets of 12 reps

T-Bar Row                                                                        3 sets of 12

One Arm Dumbbell Row                                                 3 sets of 12 (each arm)

Seated Lat Pulldown                                                       3 sets of 12


Hanging Leg Raise                                                          3 sets of 15 reps

(best for rectus abdominis, upper abs)

Flat Bench Lying Leg Raises                                         3 sets of 20

(best for transversus abdominis, lower abs)

Bicycles                                                                            3 sets of 20 (each side)


Sit-ups                                                                               3 sets of 25

(transversus and rectus)



16 minutes of HIIT training as explained in my last article, Cardio That Works.



Sample Diet (for 125 lb female)


Meal 1:

1/2 cup oatmeal (dry uncooked)

4 egg whites and 2 whole eggs, 1tsp olive oil.

1/2 blueberries


Snack 1:

2 tbsp peanut butter

1 apple


Meal 2:

Baked chicken breast: 4oz (weigh after cooking)

1 cup spinach

1 tomato

1 avocado

use salad Newman’s Own light salad dressing with olive oil

1/3 cup brown rice (weigh after cooking)


Meal 3:

One baked potato

Salmon 3oz

steamed broccoli 1 cups


Snack 2

1 scoop protein powder

1 cup strawberries


Abdominal fat, and fat cell size in particular, is a predicator of type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle related illnesses like heart disease; therefore it is more than being superficial to make reducing it or eliminating it a priority.  While on your quest, there are few rules to keep in mind.

1. No spot training.  Train all of your muscle groups at least 3 to 4 times a week accompanied by cardiovascular activity.

2. Diet is VERY important.  You cannot out-train a bad diet.  No processed or junk food.  Eat real food.  Some of the best food for fat burning are found in the diet sample above.  Oatmeal, eggs, leafy green vegetables, protein powder, nuts/nut butters, olive oil, fruits such as apples and berries, and lean meats.

3. No starvation.  The worst thing you can do while trying to lose belly fat is to eat a low calorie diet.  Yes a deficit is required but if you restrict caloric intake and send your body into starvation mode, it will hold onto the stored fat for dear life.

4. There is NO magic pill so stay away from fat burners.  Let your own metabolism do the work.  If energy boost is required, try consuming caffeine an hour before your aerobic exercise, it will spare glycogen and used store fat as energy.

5. Be patient and trust the process.  Rome was NOT built in a day.


Good luck and happy training!


Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports

Cardio That Works

Monday, January 5th, 2015

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog





Many of us have made some new year’s resolutions.  For most, changing our lifestyle and losing weight tops that list.  As a personal trainer, I see a lot of a new gym members; people who have never set foot in the gym and are completely alien in this new environment; therefore, one of the first exercises for them to undertake is aerobics exercises such as running, cycling, and rowing because aerobic exercise is the foundation for any fitness activity.  People find aerobic exercise less intimidating and self-explanatory enough, but sometimes people feel lost or don’t know which activities will benefit them the most and help them get to closer to their goals.  If you are one of the newbies, fear not. I’m here to give you some pointers on how to get the most out of your cardiovascular activity and start on building your foundation and confidence to move into the weight room; not to mention, cardio is one of the most important things you can do for your body, whether you want to lose weight, burn fat, or improve your health.  It trains that big muscular organ we so very much depend on, the heart.  There is no right or wrong cardio exercise.  Just decide on the type of aerobic exercise you enjoy or dislike the least.  Now it’s my turn to tell you what exercises would give you the most bang for your buck, the one that suits your goal, or the one that works for your busy schedule.


There are two approaches to cardiovascular activity, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Steady State (maintaining the same low/moderate pace and tempo throughout the entire workout).  These two types can be performed on any of the machines, be it the elliptical, the treadmill, the bike (spin, stationary, or the real deal), the rowing machine, the step-climber, Jacob’s Ladder; or the good old pavement, stairs, tracks, or the swimming pool.  HIIT has gained a lot of popularity lately, especially among weight-lifters and people looking to shed fat quickly.  You’re probably wondering which one is best.  Well, truth be told, the best is a blend of both higher and lower-intensity cardiovascular training that is tailored to your body and your goals.  The difference in steady-state cardio is aerobic, which means it requires oxygen and is fueled mostly by stored fat.  HIIT, by contrast, is anaerobic, meaning the work intervals don’t rely exclusively on oxygen, and are fueled mostly by stored carbohydrates.

Counter-intuitively, HIIT makes you breathe harder, and burns more fat than steady-state cardio.  So if your goal is to burn fat, build muscle, and to build up stamina to withstand your weight-lifting sessions, then HIIT is for you.  An example of HIIT exercise is sprint intervals.  Here’s a sample of a HIIT Workout.


Warm-up for 5 minutes


Speed Burst                                                                         Easy-Pace Recovery


30 seconds                                                                       1 minute


30 seconds                                                                       1 minute


30 seconds                                                                       1 minute


30 seconds                                                                       1 minute


Cool-down for 5 minutes


This workout is a good HIIT routine that will leave you breathing heavy and torching some serious fat while working your core and building up your legs and glutes in a very time efficient manner.  Duration: 16 minutes, in and out has never been so fierce.  As you can ascertain from this example, HIIT is the MVP of cardiovascular training; however, it can take a toll on your body because it puts too much stress on your heart and the nervous system, and can leave you sore for at least 48 after each workout session, which always makes it harder to put in 100% the following session.

Steady-state cardio has long been a cornerstone in training programs because the vast majority of physical function from digestion to breathing to everyday movements like walking, standing, and sleeping are powered by the aerobic system.  I personally recommend for all of my newbie clients to work on a 30 min walk, fast walk, jog or run for 3-4 times per week for the first month to work on their endurance and get their bodies ready to handle more rigorous training.  One of the benefits of the steady-state cardio is that it doesn’t add too much stress to your central nervous system the way HIIT does.  It also helps your heart grow in capacity which leads your heart rate to drop substantially, both at rest and during exercise.  An example of a steady-state cardio workout would be a 30-45 minutes jog.

In summation, avoid doing HIIT consistently for months on end.  The most efficient way to achieve the best results is to be mindful of your needs.  Try periodizing your workouts, which means doing one thing for a period of 8 months or so then changing to a different program.  Or switch them on a regular basis; for instance, as much as you love your daily spin class, try to change it up by doing an hour on the elliptical every other day instead.  By doing so, you will reduce your chance of injury, stave off boredom and fitness plateaus, and stay lean and healthy.  Happy training, and let’s crush those goals!


Maggie Mangiel of Body On Track, for War Room Sports

Eat and Exercise Yourself into a Beautiful and Smooth Age Defying Skin

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog





Skin is body’s largest organ, and the desire for a younger, healthy skin that shows no signs of aging dates back to ancient times. Queen Cleopatra used to bathe in sour milk, and women in ancient Rome rubbed their skin with fermented grapes. Fast forward to a more recent history to an even more morbid story, Countess Elizabeth Báthory of Hungary, the most prolific serial killer in history, used to bathe in her virgin victims’ blood to retain her youth. Yes, most in today’s world would go to extreme length to get that flawless skin, even if it means injecting oneself with toxins to smooth out wrinkles and burning holes in the skin with lasers to force it to regenerate. According to research, 90% of women don’t like the way they look, so it’s no surprise that they will take extreme measures to change that.

So what if I told you that the key to having younger looking skin is very simple. I happen to know a thing or two about flawless skin because I am a proud wearer of one; my skin is definitely my most prized possession. You can eat yourself into a smooth radiant skin in about 30 days. Why a month?  Scientists claim that it takes about 28-30 days for a new skin cell to generate in the deeper layers of your skin and make its way to the surface of your skin. Eating the right kind of food and adding exercise to your beauty regimen can help you improve everything from fine lines to wrinkles to dark and age spots. So in a nutshell, fitness is the fountain of youth: I guess someone should have told Ponce de León that.

Eating healthy and adopting a fitness lifestyle can solve many skin issues such as premature aging, wrinkles, dry skin, bumpy skin, acne, slow wound healing, and the dreadful cellulite. Beautiful skin, like a beautiful physique, can enhance your life and promotes self-confidence. Besides the superficial, your skin performs a wide range of important bodily functions that help keep us alive.

  • Your skin is a part of your immune system, acting as a barrier between your organs and outside world, and we all know what’s out there.
  • It helps regulate your body temperature.
  • Plays a major role in maintaining bone health.
  • Can show signs of nutritional deficiencies and sometime disease symptoms; therefore, acting as a warning beacon.

There are many intrinsic and extrinsic factors that result in problematic skin issues. I have encountered women 10 years younger than me with aging skin and wrinkles. One of the intrinsic factors of aging skin is your genes; for example your hormone level. Extrinsic aging is influenced by external factors such as exposure to sunlight, smoking, bad diet, and frequent alcohol consumption. Healthy younger skin is more than just a pretty facade. It is central to your health. Your appearance (weight, skin, and waistline) gives clues about how healthy you are inside and outside. With all of that to consider, you have more of a reason to keep your skin in perfect health. Here are few things to avoid if you wish to get rid of skin problems:

1. High GI (Glycemic Index) food. It’s quickly converted to glucose which produces AGEs (advanced glycation end products) by attaching themselves to protein in collagens. AGEs contribute to aging skin.

2. Cheese and other dairy products increase your risk for wrinkles.  Research has shown that a week of eating ice cream every night is enough to cause visible damage to the skin.

3. Cigarettes. Just one cigarette causes the constriction of blood vessels, which hampers blood flow to your skin.

4. Prolonged time in the sun.

5. Alcohol. Frequent alcohol consumption causes nutritional deficiencies; especially, zinc which is essential for collegian formation. In addition, alcohol consumption enhances the formation of AGEs and causes cell death and tissue damage.

One important thing that you have to do to get that flawless beautiful skin and get rid of cellulite is exercise. Exercise is a fundamental way to get closer to flawless beautiful skin. Exercise helps your body remove toxins and waste and flushes the skin with lysozyme rich sweat which kills microbes that cause skin inflammation. It also flushes the skin with nutrients rich blood and gives your skin the material needed for cell maintenance and renewal. But most importantly exercise helps burn the glucose and sugar products which reduce the formation of AGEs.

When it comes to diet and proper nutrition, highly alkalizing foods are wonderful for the skin. These include citrus fruits, beets, apple cider vinegar, sprouts, and dark leafy greens. Eat acidifying foods such as red meat, whole grains, most fruits, sea foods in moderation, but keep in mind, sea foods contain omega 3s and fruits have antioxidants which do wonders for your skin. If your diet is lacking, here are some supplements that will enrich your skin. Vitamins C and E, calcium, Chromium, essential fatty acids, zinc. Beauty might be skin deep, but the truth of the matter is, in order for us to see your external, you have to work from the inside it out.


Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports

Don’t be a Hater: Gossip and its Effects on Health

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog





What is it about women and gossip?  As soon as we hit puberty we enjoy this “epic” female-kind pastime.  Just a bunch of women without a care in the world, trading negative talk about others while giggling and enjoying themselves to no end.  But is it harmless fun? Or is there more to gossip than just talk and giggles?

We all know that bullying is wrong and can lead to some serious consequences such as death, but when we take the two genders and compare them, we find that women (girls) prefer the more covert form; emotional as opposed to physical.  Emotional bullying takes the form of rumors and gossip spreads by those the victim consider friends and acquaintances, or those dubbed by pop culture as “haters”, and the instigator is usually someone very close to the victim. So the question I was asked was: “can haters and their gossip affect one’s health?” Well you bet your ass they can!  Elaine from Seinfeld once said, “boys would give each other a wedgie, and girls will tease someone till they develop an eating disorder”.  Bullying by females is so hard to detect, therefore hard to combat, which makes its effects even more severe. But what is it that compels women to gossip, is it biology or how we’re brought up?  What makes us the judge of others’ lives and their choices, and deem them unacceptable? Well I think the answer to that could be a long dissertation by some psychology/sociology grad student…it’s way above my pay grade.  However, a point that is worth noting is that female aggression is closely related to abuse and trauma suffered at home, so in this case the perpetrator is also a victim, and nurture obviously plays a big role here.

gossip_450x200Women tend to employ passive aggressive behavior in their attacks, unlike men who would use a fist to solve their problems, so we could call that biology then.  They would form a clique of friends a là the movie Mean Girls, and torment their victim by way of spreading vicious rumors that would eventually lead to the destructions of the reputation of their “frenemy”.  They would feel a sense of superiority over their “subject” and set out to “out” her “bad behavior” to the masses. They truly believe that they are in the right, so can we blame some kind of mental disorder here? It is safe to say that the aggressors might suffer from negative self-concept, body image issues, and poor relationships ties (Canadian Mental Health, 2009). The victim, of course, is not getting away without a scratch here (meow, no pun intended).  She might fall into depression, develop eating disorders, her relationships will deteriorate, and in some worse but real instances, take her own life.  Yeah this is some serious stuff, so gossiping is not so harmless after all is it?

So what can we do to eliminate this kind of ill behavior?  First, remove yourself.  If you find yourself participating in this is sort of thing, stop and repeat this; “happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”- Mahatma Gandhi.  Be mindful of what you say.  Your words can be deadly.  Gossiping can rob you of your own happiness, not to mention, destroy another’s life. Try to address the underlying emotional issues that compel you to do this.  Research has shown that most women who participate in gossip are victims of abuse, whether as children at the hands of their parents or as adults in unhealthy romantic relationships. (Canadian Mental Health 2009).  You are the solution.  If you see your friends/family take part in this, be vocal! Call them out on it! Educate them! Let them know how dangerous this behavior is. Hell, start an intervention if you must.  Friends don’t let friends gossip!  Assess the connection that you have with said person and see if you can build and better that relationship.  They might be hurt, suffering, or feeling neglected and that why they are resorting to this behavior.  Also find better things to do.  Engage in new hobbies, maybe even join a gym (yep you knew that fitness plug was coming, didn’t you?)

If for whatever reason beyond your control, you have to gossip, well then why don’t you engage in positive gossip?  Compliment someone in their absence, whether by stating what wonderful act they have committed, how beautiful they are, or how their mere company delights you, and remember, “strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and weak mind discuss people”.  Don’t be weak-minded!!!


Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports

Functional Training

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog





maggie pull ups 2


My love affair with iron started over 7 years ago.  I love lifting.  I do it when I am happy, sad, excited or even anxious.  I am down for iron during all seasons; I even walk to the gym in -20 degree Celsius to get it in. Being a fitness model and a bikini competitor, my go-to method of training is isolation training.  My goal is to build muscles and sculpt a jaw dropping physique accompanied by beautiful feminine curves. Isolation training is very ideal for muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth and increase in size) because isolation exercises are movements that involve one joint or one muscle group. You get to focus on that particular muscle and pay it full attention then allow it enough time for recovery.  I would train one or two muscle groups a day, for example; deltoids and triceps, dedicating at least 4 different exercises to each group.  Isolation training is also great for people who are healing from an injury or muscular imbalance.  Because my commitment and dedication to training resulted in amazing gains, I decided it is time to push the envelope and shake things up a little.  What is life without some spice?!  I want to be stronger, faster…better!!! As great as isolation training is, it does not always translate well to real life, but functional training (FT) does. For example, performing a 40lb/100m Farmer’s Walk will make carrying your groceries from your car to your 4th floor condo a walk in the park. Or when picking up a child or a desk, you recruit the same muscles as picking up a medicine ball during a medicine ball slam. So basically functional training is specially designed to improve your performance in real life and real sports situations because different muscles have to work together to achieve the desired movement.  Functional exercises work multiple joints and emphasize the body’s natural ability to move.  The best thing about Functional training is that it is suitable for everyone from a beginner to elite athletes.  It is for all people who want to train smart to step up their personal level.  To get stronger and fitter, improve their performance in their sport, prevent injuries, lose weight, look better or just to become their healthiest and fittest.  Here’s a sample of one of my functional training exercises.


Sample Workout

50 Push-ups

50 Pull-ups

50 Barbell Squats

50 Dips

50 Burpees

50 Situps

50 Medicine Ball Slams

50 Jumping Lunges


maggie pull upsI usually perform these with little to no rest in between; only to collect energy when needed.  I incorporated two sessions of FT into my weekly training routine beside my three sessions of isolation training and one session of yoga with aerobic exercise 5 times a week.


There are many benefits to functional training that isolation training does not offer.  By doing this type of training, you will develop greater strength, balance, coordination, endurance, flexibility and focus. In addition, it is the best way of training to prevent injuries. Here are few benefits that I have experienced first hand:


1. STRENGTH: FT provides functional upper body, lower body and core exercises that will improve the strength of your muscles.  Functional training exercises work with multiple joints, challenging whole muscle chains, just like in real sports and real life.


2. ENDURANCE: FT training sessions are designed to improve your aerobic and anaerobic endurance so you can go harder for a longer period of time.


3. BALANCE AND COORDINATION: Coordination and balance are one of the key ingredients of FT.  It is the secret of being able to react appropriately to different situations or changing conditions.  Training our balance and coordination is not only to achieve our best performance but more importantly to prevent injuries.


4. FLEXIBILITY: Training for real sports and real life range of motion is a fundamental advantage of functional training! Muscles and joints prepared in this way perform better and resist injury better.


5. FOCUS: Every FT session has been designed to improve focus. Time interval work/rest periods help you to stay focused when performing and also to relax and collect energy when resting.  The exercises (see sample) are very challenging and by reducing resting times during the training sessions the training itself does not only get more efficient but you also train to stay focused when your body is already tired. Being able to focus will also help you avoid injury through mistakes and mishaps in your sport.


INJURY PREVENTION: For all levels of athletes injury prevention is a big gain and one of the reasons worth training for. For non-athletes staying healthy is a must in order to achieve the goals planned. To avoid injuries it is essential to perform exercises with proper form.


In order to perform optimally and get the best results from FT, do the following:

1.  Warmup with an aerobic exercise for 5-10 minutes making sure there is enough blood flowing through the muscles and the body is ready for intense training.

2.  Make sure you are not training on a full or an empty stomach.  Eat 3-2 hours before training.

3.  Cool down and stretch after your session.

4.  Hydrate well.

5.  Eat plenty of complex carbs, healthy fat, and lean protein; don’t cut back on carbs, you will need the energy.

6.  Get enough sleep.


Note that functional trainer differs from fitness’ latest craze and bastard child known as CrossFit.  There are no Olympic lifting style exercises such as clean and jerk or snatches.  Absolutely, no heavy lifting while racing the clock, and most importantly, proper form takes precedence in FT.  As you can see from the sample workout, most of the exercises are done with body weight or light weights, and the movements involved in performing them are very natural, e.g., pulling your own body weight, jumping, picking up a ball…etc.  The point of FT is to get stronger and prevent injuries so paying special attention to form is key, and never sacrifice form for speed.


Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports

Lies, Games and Weight Loss

Monday, February 24th, 2014

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog







I have always expressed strong negative feelings about NBC’s hit reality show, the Biggest Loser. I passionately hate it. YES I DO!!! People always ask me why. The show helps people lose weight, get their lives back on track, inspire others to shed those pounds, and glorifies the profession of fitness training. Why would you, a fitness trainer, have a problem with that?  Well let me tell you. The Biggest Loser encourages unhealthy, unsustainable weight loss and exploits people’s insecurities, their need for money, their desperate need to drop the weight, and perhaps their need for fame. It showcases unrealistic ideals about weight-loss and fitness training.  Let’s not forget my absolute favorite, personal trainers are overly emotional, potty mouthed, ex steroid abusers, with raspy voices and Adam’s Apples…or am I the only who sees that on Ms. Michael’s throat?

This show is so far from reality that it should win the Emmy for best TV drama every year. They move the contestants to a secluded ranch, put them on a dangerously low calorie diet, and make them undergo grueling physical activities, oh wait, don’t worry it’s under the supervision of physicians of course. How else? That’s how weight loss is done; isn’t it? Don’t the average Joes/Janes take off from the world and have chefs, doctors, and trainers live with them while they lose the weight? Then there are those dreadful inhumane challenges. After being fed only celery sticks and dry oatmeal for days, even I, a fit average woman with no history of eating disorders/unhealthy relationship with food and weight issues, will not withstand being locked in a room full of desserts and asked not to touch any. How else do you define torture if not that? If will power was these people’s forte, they wouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with.  These are people with deep-seeded mental and emotional issues; I’m sure toying with them would not play out well in the long run.

Extreme Makeover before and afterSo the finale night of the last season; I was watching Jeopardy (as many of you know that’s my favorite show) and getting ready to hit the gym. The Biggest Loser followed right after. I absolutely haven’t watched it since the first two seasons, but I’m a fan of Ruben Studdard and decided to watch a little bit to see how he did. Some of the contestants lost weight and looked quite alright. I was happy for them, like most people, I can give credit for hard work. Then the final 3 came out, and I was taken aback by their appearance; they had transformed drastically and the woman, Rachel Frederickson looked extremely thin. I’m the first to tell you that you can’t judge anyone’s health by looking at them. I bet Kate Upton isn’t healthy.  That girl looks like she has 50% body fat; get it together Sports Illustrated; there’s nothing sporty about her. Anyway, I need to stop sipping on that Kate flavored Haterade and get back to the topic at hand. There are many factors to consider and that’s why the professionals perform tests to determine these things. So I watched and got a bit teary-eyed; I get emotional seeing people get so vulnerable and transparent. Then came the big weigh-in. Rachel lost 155 pounds, about 60% of her whole entire body weight in 5 months. That’s losing about a pound or more a day. In order for that to happen, she had to have been on such a calorie deficit that could have been very dangerous for her health. Every health professional would tell you that a healthy weight loss is about 2 pounds a week. So if she had done this in a healthy manner, it should have taken her about a year and 8 months to lose that weight. In addition, according to the BMI (Body Mass Index), the reason the nurse takes your height and weight when you visit the doctor, she is now below the healthy BMI for her height. Many people have expressed that she had to do what she needed to do to win the game.  I guess risking one’s life and exposing yourself to major health risks is all fun and games. Who knew!!! I’m sure her family physician will be very busy for the next few months, and that’s the main reason I REALLY hate the show. Weight loss as a result of extreme dieting practices can’t be sustained and the dieter ends up gaining back all the weight, if not more, and facing dangerous health issues for the rest of his/her life. At least 3 winners of the Biggest Loser have gained back all the weight. There are also some major health complications. One contestant of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, another brainchild of the Biggest Loser’s producer, has recently blown the whistle on the ill practices of the show. Things are not as rosy as they try to make us believe. James Garrison stated that he has been dealing with health issues as a result of his rapid weight loss on the show. Of course losing 313 pounds in 365 days is obviously not healthy; he ended up with about $50,000 in medical bills.   Extreme dieting is very hazardous; it’s a wonder that nobody has died on any of these shows yet. These shows are endangering the participants’ lives and selling the rest of us a bunch of lies in the form of inspiration.  Does a lie really motivate anyone to do anything…maybe or maybe not…but it is still a lie to me, and that’s very unethical.

In summation, NBC should stop airing this show and find a better way to encourage people and educate them on fighting obesity instead of perpetuating the cycle by preaching these unhealthy unorthodox methods. The end!!!


Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports

How to Avoid the Holiday Weight Gain

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog


Thanksgiving is a few days away, and right around the corner is Christmas.  You just finished the last Kit Kat bar from the Halloween candy stash.  You are already starting to notice that your morning battles with skinny jeans are getting longer.  Last Winter, you gained about 8 lbs, the year before about 10 lbs, and you fought like hell each time to lose those stubborn pounds.  You were lucky that you were able to lose them.  According to the National Institute of Health, most Americans never lose the winter holiday weight.  Those pounds add up year after year leading to adult obesity.  So you might have wondered, like countless others, what’s the secret to avoiding those 10 Holiday Pounds?  Well, sorry for bursting your bubble, there is no secret.  Ok, there is one secret… or maybe two.  Namely, will power and portion control.  I know that it is easier said than done considering the endless temptations of holiday dishes.  However, there are few rules, easy and simple 10 rules if I may add, that make implementing portion control and willpower as easy as pie (no pun intended…hahaha…ok, maybe a little bit).  You can still enjoy your holiday festivities, the delicious baked goods and the sweets, without the nightmare of post-holiday weight gain.  Yes, fit people get to indulge too, and so can you, but you have to do the following:

Weight Loss

1. Limit your alcohol and sodas and quench your thirst with some H2O

Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. Alcohol contains a lot of sugar and few of us can really control the amount consumed, and when we drink a lot, we can’t control the amount of food on our plate.  If you feel out of place without a drink, sip on water or tea.

2.  Never Arrive hungry

Planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. Don’t go to a party on an empty stomach. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.

3.  Look at the big picture

Many people forget that there’s more to a holiday party than food, like reconnecting with family and friends. Enjoy the human experience. Chatting is a great diversion, whether you’re at a small family dinner or a large party. A conversation can take your mind off the food.

4. Pace yourself

Have you ever tried telling yourself you’ll only eat during the first half hour of a party?  Yea that never works, so instead, chew slowly, taste and enjoy the food. Take your time and eat throughout the night.

5.  Outsmart the buffet and beat the line

When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don’t stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. Fill your plate with nutritiously dense foods like fruits and vegetables. Also get there first so you can get the food that you actually want instead of ending up with food that you don’t want and overeat out of disappointment.

6. Be picky and choosy about sweets but don’t swear them off

When it comes to dessert, be very selective. Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you. If you plan on sampling several desserts, just take a little bit of each.  Don’t fill your plate up with a bunch of different desserts because you will eat it all. Trust me you will.

7. Bring your own treats

Whether you’re going to a friend’s party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you’ll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting.

8. Don’t end up eating instead of “tasting”.

If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those “tastes”.  Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post-seasoning.  Dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served.

9. Work it off

I know our routine gets messed up during the holidays, but don’t skip your regular exercise session unless it’s impossible.  Also, make a new holiday tradition such as a family walk, family game night, or playing Twister. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for a while.

10.  Avoid the morning after treats

Send guests home with the leftovers.  Remember, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.

Bonus rule: keep calm and kick cravings. When you are craving something and you are already full, close your eyes and focus for about 30 seconds, then ask yourself why you need it. Chances are you will find out that you neither need nor want it.  Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and “toodles” to gain-free holidays!!!

Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports

10 Reasons Why Resistance Training is Good for Women

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog





After 6 years of weight-lifting, 5 times per week.

After 6 years of weight-lifting, 5 times per week.

Weight training is as beneficial and suitable for women as it is for men.  Many women are wary of lifting weights of fear that they will lose their femininity and wake up one morning looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger; however, there is one word that said women overlook; testosterone.  It is a very important hormone that plays a key role in developing and shaping muscles, and women do not produce enough of it.  So rest assured that unless you are supplementing with this hormone, you will never pull off the Terminator look.  I have been lifting weights 5 times a week for the past 6 years, with no more than a couple of weeks of break time per year.

I started my lifting journey at 26 years of age, weighing 118 lb (pic in the black dress) , and now at 32, I weigh 135 lbs with lean muscles, healthy body fat, and an energy of a 17 year-old (bikini pic at top of article).  I’ve managed to sculpt my

Prior to 6 years of weight-lifting.

Prior to 6 years of weight-lifting.

ideal body, and so far, nobody has mistaken me for a man.  Lifting weights is the best thing that I have done in my life so far.  It has changed me tremendously, not just externally but internally as well.  My personality has undergone some sculpting too.  Do not be a “cardio queen”; give weight lifting a try, and you will never regret it.  With resistance training you can sculpt your body however you choose.  If you want a narrow waist and a bigger backside, you can do so.  If you wish to have a strong back and arms like Angela Bassett so you can carry your groceries in one trip, you can do so as well.  The only thing you have to lose is self-doubt, body fat, and some old clothes that will no longer fit.  If you are still unsure about taking such a step, the following are 10 reasons why you should consider it.

1.  Increased Muscle Mass; weight lifting will help to reduce the speed of muscle loss (sarcopenia) as you age. This loss of muscle can start as early as your twenties.

2.  Increased Bone Strength; women tend to have less bone density through aging than men. Lifting weights can aid in the increase of bone density which can help slow or reverse the effects of osteoporosis.

3.  Better Stability; falling can be fatal. Though nothing guarantees that you won’t fall, weight training will ensure stronger muscles, which means more stability. The majority of those who experience bad falls is usually associated to poor balance and weakened muscle fibers.

4.  Improved Daily Activities; lifting weights will force your muscles to work more efficiently. Everything we do requires some kind of physical movement. These movements include sitting, standing, running, walking, sleeping, lifting, pulling, and other daily movements. Lifting weights can help you achieve proper execution of these complicated movements.

5.  Lowered Blood Pressure; in the long term, lifting weights can reduce your blood pressure. You will not only create beautiful muscles, you will stimulate increased blood flow to the muscles you are using. As your muscles strengthen, it takes less work to make them contract, which means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. This lowers your blood pressure and resting heart rate. However, while you’re in the midst of lifting your blood pressure may temporarily rise, so people with uncontrolled high blood pressure or significant heart problems should check with their doctors before starting a weight-lifting program.

6.  Leaner, sexier physique; with the increased muscle mass you will end up with lower body fat percentage since your body can burn more calories at rest.

7.  Better health and easier menstrual flow; people who lift weight tend to eat healthier which lead to a better immune system.  Many “feel good” hormones are realized during exercise and those can help ease the pain of menstrual cramps.  Also when it is that time of the month, your body goes through a hormones shift which results in lower estrogen and progesterone that make you feel more powerful during exercise.

8.  Looking good naked and having a better sex life; check out reasons 4 and 10.

9.  Enhanced mood; exercise promotes the release of endorphins which makes you feel happy and increases your sense of wellbeing.

10. Increased self-esteem; research has shown that women who lift weights are more confident and content with their lives.


So do not be afraid of the iron.  Start sculpting the body you desire, now.  Pick up those heavy weights, push out a rep, yell out, “I’m woman!!!”, and repeat!


Maggie Mangiel of  Body on Track, for War Room Sports


Do Not Stalk me by the Squat Rack: Your Complete Guide to Gym Hookup DON’TS

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog







There is no better feeling than being in love…or so I have heard.  I have never had the pleasure to experience that amazing phenomena, but I have been assured that it is wonderful.  So if you are like me, single and tired of looking, I would say that you have given up on the club and bar scenes, and said no to blind dates that family and friends have been setting up for you.  Like me, you have horror stories about online dating.  I signed up on “Plenty of Fish” last night (just to get some fresh material for this article…yep I like to do my research), and God!, were there some creepy messages.  One guy asked me if I would let him be my “oil-boy”; I really do not know what that means.  Is that some sexual innuendo?  One message was just straight up scary.  The guy said that I was gorgeous, and he would take out his eyes and present them to me.  What?!  Maybe he is not a native English speaker, and something got lost in translation.  So, like me, I bet that you have decided that enough is enough, and you determined that you are going to meet like-minded people in your regular daily setting such as the gym.  That might sound like a good idea in theory.  Let us give this a deeper thought and see where it might take us.  I have been analyzing this concept for a while now, and this is what I have come up with.  I’m sure the gym can be a good pickup spot, actually let me correct myself, a great one.  I’m also sure that it has been since the first time a unisex gym has opened its doors.  It is the laws of nature; a closed quarters with beautiful bodies and endless supply of testosterone, it is actually a wonder that an orgy has not taken place there yet.  This natural phenomenon (the attempt to mate, not the orgy) is only more obvious during the months of July, August, and September, when everyone looks their best and their hard work on the treadmill has paid off, but do not get discouraged because the winter is upon.  The colder the weather, the greater the need for coupling.  Like every female, maybe more so being self-obsessed, I relish male attention.  However, since the gym is my office, playground, and church, I tend to negatively response to this kind of attention because I have no interest in meeting potential mates there.  When I’m hitting the weights hard, be damned he who dares interrupt me.  I am also discouraged because of certain kinds of relentless people whom I’ve dubbed the “Gym Talent”, who will do nothing short of actually working out to get my attention, and they are as follows:


  1. The handsome guy AKA “Da Playa” – You know that boy is a biohazard, and you should not get near him without a Hazmat suit.  You usually overhear him brag about his romantic conquests to his friends between sets.
  2. The not so attractive, ok the ugly well-muscled guy on steroids aka the walking pharmaceutical that sees in the mirror something most of us do not see and thinks he is God’s gift to women – He is insecure and had been bullied most of his life hence his new found love for iron.
  3. The creepy old man (shudders) who REALLY believes he has the right to date young women.
  4. The Average Joe who just joined the gym and would like to have a hot girlfriend/free personal trainer.
  5. The friendly old ex-athlete who seems very nice, however likes to give you his full attention, expertise and maybe something else if you let him.


Let’s not make this a “one gender thing”, women are as guilty as men. Boys, I’m sure you have had your share of crazy female stories in the gym.  I’m not talking about the girl in the extra tight short shorts because that one would be me, and you damn well know that I would rip you a new one if as much as you imagined that I was after you.  I was referring to the gym groupie whose mission is to get as many phone numbers as possible; and when her trainer talks to her about her BF, she thinks she means boyfriend.  She is usually a girl of the tender age of 19-25.  She comes clad in makeup and wears 3 bras for maximum cleavage exposure.  She is usually found by the stretching area doing some half-assed yoga moves while batting her fake lashes at passers-by.  She never touches the weights because God forbids she might gain bulky muscle and turn into a man.  In addition, there is the gym posse.  A group of desperate single females who had no luck at the bar the previous weekend, the weekend before, and the weekend before that.  My favorite of them all is the cougar/divorcee whose newfound freedom has led to lifestyle changes resulting in weight loss, sexy new physique, balanced hormones and crazy sex drive.  This woman is my hero, but I get a little bit disturbed and sad thinking about her so I am not going to discuss her any further, but I am certain of one thing.  She is the ex-wife of the creepy old man.  Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand.  So what should you NOT do to guarantee a great gym hookup?  Well, here are your gym don’ts:


  1. Do not carry yourself like one of the culpable idiots mentioned above. Avoid everything they do.
  2. Do not talk to the culpable idiots mentioned above.
  3. Do not follow your target around.  Once you spot her/him, make sure you don’t make too much eye contact.  Smile and carry on till a perfect opportunity for a chat presents itself.
  4. Do not listen to your mp3.  When you are listening to music, you end up in your own world, and you will not notice what’s around you, aka, a hot catch.
  5. Do not get too personal too fast. You will come off as thirsty and creepy and just end up making your target uncomfortable.
  6. Do not change your gym schedule.  If you see someone you like at 4pm on a Monday, chances are she/he will be there at 4pm every Monday.


I’m sure there are cool people like you and I in the gym, and they would like to meet you; just avoid those creatures who lurk between the weights and cardiovascular machines; and do not commit any of these don’ts, and you shall find love in the iron jungle.


Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports

Discrimination and Your Health: What to do to Protect Yourself from the Health Hazards of Prejudice

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

by Maggie Mangiel

Maggie Blog







In a diverse environment such as ours where everyone interacts on a daily basis with people from all walks of life, some of us have discriminated or have been discriminated against.  Being a woman of color who lives in a part of the country with a deep-seated bias against people of different backgrounds, I sure have had my share. I have been refused service at a coffee shop and asked to leave for no apparent reason.  I have had my occasional uncomfortable encounter at a workplace.  Many or some of you can relate to such instances. Discrimination comes in forms of gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and most prevalent, race. Even the rich & famous encounter instances of discrimination.  For example, Oprah Winfrey has had few such encounters in her lifetime with the latest being in Zurich at the Tom Ford store.  Let us not mention what the winner of 2014 Miss America, Nina Davuluri, went through in the hands of social media from racist and ignorant tweeps.  With that being said, how does such experience impact our health and well-being?  Does discrimination go beyond a distasteful experience and a ruined day?  Experts say yes.

Perceived discrimination has been studied with regard to its impact on several types of health effects, both mental and physical. Being mistreated based on things beyond one’s control can lead to mental distress such as anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem.  A study at Princeton University has shown that stress is directly and indirectly related to many diseases and disorders such as high blood pressure and inflammation in artery walls, which is the cause of heart disease.  Experts also explain that for the discrimination to be effective, it need not be explosive or emotional.  Accepting discriminatory, unfair treatment has been proven more harmful.  In a study conducted in 1993, participants included 831 Black men, 1143 Black women, 1006 White men, and 1106 White women 25 to 37 years old; results were that systolic blood pressure among working-class black adults reporting that they typically accepted unfair treatment and had experienced racial discrimination was about 7 mm Hg higher than those reporting that they challenged unfair treatment and experienced racial discrimination in one or two of the situations.  Even subconscious prejudice can be deadly, literally.  Researchers have shown that middle class, college educated African Americans have less life expectancy.  They also earn less money and have less access to healthcare than their white counterparts, all due to systematic bias.  African Americans receive 35% less pay than Whites for doing the same job with the same qualifications.  Earning less means not affording the best of food or health insurance coverage, and also living in less than ideal neighborhoods.  It also means not affording top education for your children, which perpetuates the cycle.  In addition, people who have taken an oath to do no harm have shown prejudice because of race and age.  Nurses and care givers in emergency rooms have been observed to keep young men of African or Hispanic backgrounds, with traumatic injuries, waiting longer and without offering them painkillers.  Elderly non-whites reported being ignored and not treated for their pain and suffering.  Furthermore, white women who have been discriminated against due to their gender or age tend to have higher levels of visceral fat, which is associated with higher risks for developing diabetes and heart disease, just as in black women who experience racism.  Besides, women on average earn less money than men due to gender discrimination.

With all of that aside, discrimination is hard to prove at times, and you cannot always take your case to customer services, human resources, or a court of law.  You just know it and feel it, but what can you do to protect yourself and your health?  Here are few ways in which you can combat subtle prejudice as suggested by a professor at Harvard School of Public Health:

  • Take care of your health, manage what you eat, exercise and meditate.  Doing so can help minimize your need for health care services.
  •  Learn as much as you can about your health condition so you can ask intelligent question and provide informative data to healthcare givers if the situation ever arises, that way you would get the full attention of your physician and you will not be ignored and rushed during your session.
  • If you are an elderly, have a relative, a family friend, or a church member accompany you on medical visits.
  • Understand your own strength and value.  Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.
  • Do not give in to stereotypes.  You are not a loud-mouth, angry person nor a drunk just because of your racial background. So when in a situation and you feel that you are being pushed to act in a stereotypical manner, reject the urge to give in.
  •  Choose a refined language when addressing the matter, you make the situation worse by your choice of words.  For example, instead of saying, “is this because I’m black” , say, “I feel that I’m not being treated like everyone else” or “please explain to me why I’m receiving less than ideal service”.
  •  Last but not least, address the issue when it happens.  Avoiding the situation leads to bigger health risks.

To discriminate is a failure to relate to another person’s humanity; hence not treating them with dignity and respect.  If you ever feel that you are being prejudiced against someone due to their race, gender, age, or religion, try to picture yourself in their shoes.  Reject all stereotypes.  Discrimination reflects the cultural feeds that people get, and the only way to fight it is by refusing to give in.


Maggie Mangiel of Body on Track, for War Room Sports