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Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

Why Sleep Should Be Taken Seriously

As we continue in these days of uncertainty, we must strive to stay positive and find a silver lining. For me, I had the unusual opportunity to attend not one, but two online seminars just over a week ago. And the best part? They were free! Unfortunately, both had been set up to be live events but due to the current situation made good on their promise to deliver and went online instead. Now to most people, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when you consider most multi day conferences run anywhere from $300-$500, I call that a win. I wanted to share with you though the one conference that I know you would find the most valuable and interesting and that was the one on sleep and recovery.

Sleep Needs a Bigger Priority

One thing I’m sure most would agree on is that we need more sleep. Our lives have become this constant state of go and while most would complain about being tired or drained, the cycle seems to repeat endlessly. Have you ever noticed the amount of “energy” products that exist in the marketplace? While it appears to be highly unlikely to return to a time when we awoke at sunrise and were asleep by dark, we have to adapt or it can certainly kill us. Insufficient sleep is a public health concern.

Sleep Loss and Deprivation

There are many factors that contribute to insufficient or poor sleep, such as hormones and psychological factors, but the reality is with some focus and concentration on making sleep a priority, we have the ability to improve it. Lifestyle changes such as choosing to go to bed at the same time everyday, turning off all electronics 1 hour before going to bed, and either adopting a meditation or breathing regime can go a long way. You simply can’t afford to not improve your sleep and following are 10 reasons why.

What Poor Sleep is Costing You

  1. Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight. People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to develop obesity, respectively.
  2. Poor sleepers tend to eat more calories. Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
  3. Poor sleep causes poor concentration and productivity. Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation.
  4. Poor sleep can negatively affect athletic performance. Less sleep duration has been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation.
  5. Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.Sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors.These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease.
  6. Poor sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk. In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population.
  7. Poor sleep is linked to depression. Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. It’s been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.
  8. Poor sleep decreases your immune function. Not the best thing to hear during these times. Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.
  9. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation. Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body. In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel disease.
  10. Poor sleep affects emotions and social interactions. Believe it or not, sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially. Kind of like the reason for being a moody monkey. Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.

The bottom line: along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

5 Ways to Stop Overeating

Overeating is easy to do, especially during this time of being recommended to stay home. It’s also easy because there are many factors that cause us to overeat, including stress and noshing too fast—both of which we likely experience or do on an almost daily basis. Fortunately, there are many tactics you can use to stop overeating once and for all, from slowing down to learning your body’s hunger cues. Use these tips and strategies to get your eating on track so you can feel fueled and satiated instead of full and frustrated and not putting on what has come to be known as the Covid-15.

Plan Ahead

This is a great tactic even when life is “normal”. Out of sight, out of mind, meaning if it’s not in the house in the first place the chance of eating it is lower. If you’re surrounded by unhealthy food all the time, it can be easy to eat all day long, whether or not you are hungry. Here’s one way to avoid this temptation: Think about how you’ll feel after you eat too much—like those times when you know you’re full, but there’s still food on your plate. A similarly powerful tactic is thinking about how you’ll feel if you don’t eat the food. In almost every case you feel proud, happy and more satisfied than if you’d indulged unnecessarily. Strategy: Before you grab that muffin in your kitchen—especially if you’ve already had a full breakfast—think to yourself: How will I feel when I finish this? Better yet: How will I feel if I walk away right now? Make this a habit, doing it every time you reach for an unnecessary snack; sometimes you’ll want to indulge and that’s okay. But you may find that you say “no” a lot more often than you say “yes.”

Eat Slower

It takes time for your stomach to tell your mind that you’re full because the process of feeling satiated takes time. The stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as it fills with food or water. These signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve that connects gut and brainstem. This process of sending signals from your gut to your brain can take anywhere from five to twenty minutes, which is why it’s important to eat more slowly. Eating too fast is a surefire way to overeat because we get this cue well after we’ve already eaten too much.  Strategy: The next time you eat, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how long it takes you to feel full, paying close attention to the cues your body is sending you. This will give you an approximation of how long it takes your body to feel full, which you can use to stop overeating in the future. Continue eating slowly until you notice that “I’m full” feeling. 

Eat Mindfully

In our on-the-go world, we’re often eating breakfast in the car, rushing through lunch at our desk, and half-heartedly chowing down on dinner while watching our favorites shows. In all of these situations, your focus isn’t on the food you’re eating. It’s on driving, working or watching television, which can lead to overeating. When you’re not paying attention to your body, it’s easy to miss the “I’m hungry” cue—just like when you eat too fast. Strategy: Make a rule to eat at least one meal a day without doing anything else. Notice the difference in recognizing your satiation (feeling full) cues and how satisfied you are. Slowly increase this to two meals each day and eventually to all three.

Give Yourself Time

How many times have you looked down at your plate, knowing that you’re full, and finished it anyway? When you’re done, you feel full and mad at yourself: “Why did I eat the rest of that? I didn’t need it and now I feel like crap”. It’s hard to resist food in the moment, thanks to our need for instant gratification. But giving yourself time to decide whether or not to finish the plate may be exactly what you need. Strategy:  The next time you’re in a moment where you would normally eat more, but know you shouldn’t, stop for 10 minutes. Give yourself time to decide if you want to eat the rest of the food on your plate. Almost every time, you’ll be happy to toss or save the rest of the food when your 10 minutes is up.

Pay Attention to All Your Hunger Cues

If you’re waiting for your stomach to growl, you may be setting yourself up to overeat, because we don’t all experience the same hunger cues. Sometimes it shows up as a headache or a bad mood that comes on suddenly. Knowing how hunger can show up in your body is key to recognizing it before it’s too late and you’re starving. Other potential hunger signals include:

  • Growling stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Low energy
  • Suddenly irritable (“hangry”)

Strategy: Make note of which hunger cues you experience each time you eat. Slowly you’ll discover what means “I’m hungry” for your body, allowing you to eat right away rather than waiting until later, when you’re ravenous, and therefore more likely to overeat.

Overeating, just like overtraining, is a behavioral choice, knowingly or unknowingly. By creating awareness and developing a strategy that is unique to you, meaning you find what works best for you, and implement it is the key to your success. These are just some of the more sensible strategies you can try, but in the end, you’re just looking to create a lifelong habit.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

How Fast Does Fitness Dissipate?

We are currently living in some very challenging, different times. You can’t go to visit family or friends. You can’t travel and going to the store is a task within itself. Most can’t go to work either because the business had to shut down or their work was considered to be “ non-essential”. All of this from a vicious virus that has spread not only continentally, but globally. And if fitness is a part of who you are, that too has been stripped from you. Gyms, fitness centers, studios, and whatever else fitness gatherings that we have taken for granted are closed. What is one to do? More on that in just a bit. A bigger concern is what happens to the fitness we have all worked so hard to build and/or maintain if all of the sudden it stops!

The News is Not So Bad

First, it’s important to remember that taking time off now and again is a good thing. Any good workout program includes a heck of a lot of rest days, especially if the exercise is very intense. And there are benefits to both “active recovery” and complete rest. Exercise inflicts a degree of stress on your body. Generally speaking, if you’ve been working out several times a week for more than a year, your muscle memory is solid. When it comes to fitness, we’ve all heard the saying “Use It or Lose It”. While it’s true that when you stop exercising you lose fitness, how quickly you lose it depends on several factors, including how fit you are, how long you have been exercising and how long you stop. Losing fitness when you stop working out, also called detraining or deconditioning, is one of the key principles of conditioning. The principle of use/disuse simply means that when we stop exercising, we generally begin to decondition and lose both strength and aerobic fitness. Most of us need to stop exercising on occasion for any number of reasons. Illness, injury, holidays, work, travel, and social commitments often interfere with training routines. When this happens, we will often see a decline in our level of conditioning. That being said, the better in shape you are, the minimal that is lost. A few weeks, ok; a month, a little bit more; a month or two more and you’ll see and feel a drop in both muscular strength and cardio fitness. Here are some of the general guidelines to how we lose fitness.

Strength Loss

  • For most people, strength loss occurs after two to three weeks of inactivity, but that can vary.  A 2017 study showed that men who did resistance training held on to muscle strength after a two-week break. But a 2013  study showed that athletes will start to lose muscle strength after three weeks without a workout. 
  • The more muscle you have, the more you stand to lose. A 2015 study found that active young adults lost one-third of their leg strength after just two weeks of inactivity.

Cardio Loss

  • Sadly, we lose this kind of conditioning a little more quickly than we lose strength.
  • An older, but a landmark 1984 study showed that after 12 days of inactivity, VO2 max dropped by 7 percent and enzymes in the blood associated with endurance performance decreased by 50 percent. 
  • A 1993 study of endurance cyclists found that four weeks of inactivity resulted in a 20 percent decrease of their VO2 max, which measures a person’s maximum capacity to take in, transport, and use oxygen during exercise.
  • The really good news is that while your cardio conditioning does fall faster than your strength, it’s easier to regain.

Other Factors

Consistency is key for building new habits, and it’s as true for the body as it is for the mind: If your body hasn’t been enjoying exercise for long, it can be easier to lose the progress you’ve made. While your fitness level is key to how quickly you get back to your fitness baseline, a few other variables also come into play.

  • A 2000 study found that age plays a role in bounce-back time. Among 41 study participants who were either 20 to 30 years old or 65 to 75 years old, the older people lost strength almost twice as fast as the younger people during a six-month “detraining” period.
  • Children have a serious advantage. A 2018 study found that 10- to 13-year-olds were able to hang on to fitness gains after four weeks of detraining. 

How to Make the Most of Your Time in Quarantine

1. Go for a walk. Indeed, training a little will do a much better job of maintaining your gains than totally stopping, especially if you’re able to squeeze in the odd cardio session that’ll train you at the upper end of your intensity level.

2. Incorporate some resistance training. If you have some equipment, great, but it’s not necessary. Do some body weight training exercises like push ups or squats. For the really inclined, do a four-minute Tabata session (or two) that will make a huge difference in maintaining your strength.

3. Hire a coach. No one thinks they need a coach until they need one. Technology today, especially in today’s era of “social distancing”, makes it easier to reach people in every corner of the world right from where you are currently.

3. Eat well. Exercise helps control junk food cravings, so you may need to try harder to avoid less-healthy foods while you’re not working out. Get lots of protein, healthy fats, and low-GI carbs, and your body will thank you. Eating well will help you avoid any weight gain, which would make restarting fitness all the more challenging.

When this is all over, and believe me, it will end, the gym will be right there waiting for you when you’re ready for it, but for now, do what you can and do what makes you happy. Until then, stay safe and stay well.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Fitness Tidbits From One of the Best

In today’s post I wanted to share with you some of the musings from someone whom I consider to be one of the best in the business, Thomas Plummer. Mr. Plummer is a veteran in the fitness industry as both a trainer and business consultant for over 30 years. In July of 2019, I finally had the privilege of seeing Mr. Plummer for the first time in 25 years  at two sessions at the 2019 NSCA National Conference. I also got to speak with him personally at the hotel gift shop. As an astute follower of Mr. Plummer’s knowledge, I can tell you he shoots straight from the heart in telling the truth that most weak minded people would find insulting or offensive. I’ll let you decide for yourself as I share with you some of his clippings from recent posts/articles and see if you agree.

A Training Client’s Code Of Responsibility

  • I will find a coach whom I trust and stick to the plan. I will not try and outthink my trained professional.
  • I will accept who I am now and not try to be the person I was physically 20 years ago.
  • I understand that no matter how many times a week I go to the gym, there is no magic workout that will overcome a lousy lifestyle. If I want big change, I have to make big change, in not only how I approach fitness, but how I live too.
  • I will always remember that there will be days when I just don’t feel like it and even the act of just showing up and getting it done is far superior to doing nothing at all.
  • Good coaches lead but aren’t magicians. I still have to do the work if I want the change. My fitness is my responsibility.
  • I understand that the ultimate goal of any fitness plan is the quality of life. Looking good is nice, but living healthy and feeling great is everything in life and fitness.
  • I realize that about 99% of all the garbage on FB and YouTube may not be true and I will trust my coach instead of the magic exercise or supplement of the week.
  • I will not lie to my coach about food, or wine, or what I ate Sunday watching the game. And no matter what I say, I realize my body can’t lie and what i ate is what I wore in today so I might as well as write it all down.
  • My goal is to get to the point where I understand that fitness is motion, and motion is life, and the best day of my life is when I just go out for a long walk for the simple pleasure of moving that day.
  • I will understand that my coach is a professional, the same as everyone else who supports me in life, such as my doctor, accountant or chiropractor, and that I understand he or she needs to get paid decent money for putting up with my nonsense every week.

Things to Ask and Ponder Yourself

  • Why don’t you fight back?
  • When did you quit on yourself physically?
  • What day did you decide it is no longer worth taking care of your body?
  • If you are in your 30s and not happy with your body now, but not doing anything about it, what kind of health and body will you have ten years from now?
  • Isn’t being there to watch your kids grow up important enough to get you to move?
  • Is hanging on the back of the shopping cart because you are too lazy to stand up and walk the life you want?
  • Are bad food choices worth dying early?
  • Do you really want to spend your years watching others live full and active lives while you sit and do nothing but make excuses?
  • Do you use the time excuse when you spend hours a day staring at screens?
  • Do you use the money excuse when you could at least walk and hour a day and change your life?
  • Do you blame not knowing when you could hire a coach for only an hour a month if you don’t have much money to start you in motion?
  • If not now, then when?
  • When will you realize your life and how you live it is your choice?

Age is Not an Excuse

  • You choose your age.
  • You define your own age by the choices you make each day as to how you will live.
  • You can be in your 50s and choose to live as 35.
  • You can chase fitness and healthy food and have a body that screams 35.
  • You can jump rope, chase the grandkids, run on the beach, and love the one you love.
  • Or you can ignore your health, tell yourself 50 is getting older and you are slowing down, watch television for four hours a day, wear frumpy old lady clothes, wear the same hairstyle you did in high school and be 50 doing everything you can do to be 65.
  • You can be the 40-year-old guy with the too-much-time-at-a-desk forward head lean thing going on with the muscle-free rounded shoulders, old dude pleated pants to hide the belly (it doesn’t) and ignore that your choice of lifestyle is killing you, or you can fight back, join a gym, get a coach and turn back the clock to a mentality and body that says 30, not 40 looking a bad 60.
  • You can move, eat better, dress better, and realize age is just a condition of your mind and you choose to be the youngest version of yourself possible or you choose to live 20 years past your time.

The Choice is Yours

  • You choose to sit, others choose to move.
  • Most of the diseases of aging are self-inflicted and we know they are coming
  • You refuse to exercise, you are a self-inflicted statistic in the making…and you do know it is coming your way.
  • You just didn’t wake up some morning, stand in front of a mirror naked and realized, “how the hell did this happen to me? I look like a bad clay project done by a bunch of four-year-old drunks.”
  • You became that nasty artwork in the mirror by choice, by one lazy day at a time, by one donut as a snack, by too much, too much of everything bad for too long.
  • But today, if you choose, you can turn back the clock.

Best Wishes to Everyone

  • May you always keep your shoulders one inch wider than your hips.
  • May you always have a butt that only needs one chair. One butt, one seat; that is a basic rule of life.
  • May you always remember that if you are wearing it, then you ate it and if it is on the hips it came through the lips.
  • May you always remember that lying to your coach, and yourself, in your food journal helps no one. Entering one glass of wine, but drinking one bottle, does make it difficult to help you lose weight, although you might be fun to hang out with.
  • May you always have a belt buckle that points east and west, not mostly to the south.
  • May you always remember that hardcore purists die alone in the dark without friends. Being 90% good equals a life of health and friends.
  • May you always remember that the best day you will ever have in life is today. Doesn’t matter who you use to be. Doesn’t matter who you will be. Does matter who you are today.
  • May you always remember that your kids, family and friends are worth a few hours a day without your phone in your hand.
  • May you learn whomever wrote, “He who dies with the most toys wins” was wrong. He should have said, “He who dies with most experiences wins.” Life is about what you do and how you live, not about what you own.
  • May you always remember that not trying at all is worse than actual failure. Not trying because you don’t know where to begin is a lie you tell yourself because you are lazy. Do something, even if it is wrong, and keep moving forward. You can fix a mistake moving forward, you can’t ever fix doing nothing.
  • Always remember that even one small act of kindness changes someone else’s life, and maybe your own soul. Petty people who are continually angry are the people the world can do without. If you are one of those, grow up in 2020. Your friends and family will be grateful.
  • Always remember that no matter how bad your day is, somewhere in the world are people who don’t have fresh water, enough food or the simple safety we assume to be part of life. Even when life is tough, you should still be grateful for your life.

Learn the Power of Saying NO

  • Say no to drainers of life who expect you to carry their load.
  • Say no to anyone who wants your time and energy but gives nothing back.
  • Say no to taking on so many projects your own life and business hurts.
  • Say no to your television and get a life today.
  • Tell your phone you are breaking up and today I can’t scroll with you.
  • Say no to toxic people who do everything they can to keep you from succeeding.
  • World, today the answer is no to you, but for me, I am all about yes.
  • My life is short. I will only spend time with the ones I love or the ones who inspire.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

What Does it Mean to “Eat Right”?

Eat right and exercise – the generic plan for most who embark on the journey to getting better, healthier. At the turn of the New Year, it was the promise or resolution made by many. Now at almost half way through only the second month of the year, did they ever clearly know what it meant? Exercise is easy, right? Join a gym or a program, start running, or use the exercise equipment received over the holidays. But eat right right? What does that even mean?

Misinformation

Eating right has got to mean eating more fruits and vegetables and I think most would agree. No one has gained weight from overeating vegetables or fruit. But wait! I thought fruit was dangerous from the sugar. Hold on. Proof number one of the dietary myths that permeate the landscape. Fruit in and of itself is nature’s candy sweetened by a substance known as fructose. However, in the presence of the fiber and water that accompanies fruit that is consumed should offset the “fear” of eating fruit for its sugar content. Fruit juice on the other hand is simply sugar flavored water, no where near the same thing. While most would agree consuming more fruits and vegetables is a good start, I would question where or how they actually increase consumption of the two. Potatoes are not a vegetable. They are a starch. Corn is the same thing. A starch is defined as a type of carbohydrate, or more specifically a complex carbohydrate, since it is made up of long chains of sugar molecules. Other sources are peas, beans, pasta, rice and grains. No vegetables here. What about the dangers of carbohydrates? Proof number two of bad dietary myths. Carbohydrate is an essential macronutrient to our living, functioning bodies. A small, small percentage of the population has to control and monitor their carbohydrate consumption due to its effects on their blood sugar. For most of us, carbohydrate presents no reason to avoid it like the plague. Its gross popularity has grown from the simple fact that we consume way too much food in general, not just carbohydrate. Carbohydrate gets its undeserved reputation because it’s in more than 70% of all food consumed. Eliminate or drastically drop how much carbohydrate you consume and of course changes are going to occur. You do the math! What about meats and proteins? Everything from grass-fed, to antibiotic, cage free, wild caught, sustainable, etc. has created a big furor of, “What the hell am I supposed to eat?”. These terms are only meant to describe how the animal is treated and/or harvested. Says nothing about a protein being good or bad. Protein is another important macronutrient to the body and vitally important because our bodies don’t manufacture protein on its own, a component to all living tissues and cells.So my question again is, do people really know what it means to eat right?

A General Consensus

Most of us will eat the way we were raised; what we learned from our parents. Food science has changed a little bit, but not that much. Fat, protein, and carbohydrate are essentially the same thing we knew them to be over 100 years ago. We have a better understanding of how we react to certain macronutrients but in small percentages, not the vast population that marketers and the pseudoscience would have you believe. Nutrition is a very individual concept. What works for others may or may not work for you. As frustrating as that may seem, you have to go with what works for you and no one or no diet may have the answer for you. Not overeating is a great start and if you think you don’t overeat, I would suggest examining closer just how much you consume. Quantity and quality of food are very different. Cut down on the amount of everything you consume and instead focus on quality of the food you consume (less processed, less dining out, etc.) and you’ll be on a better way to eating right.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes, medically known as diabetes mellitus, refers to a group of conditions that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems. So what are the types of diabetes and why is it important to avoid, if possible, this metabolic disease?

Types of Diabetes

There are four classifications of diabetes: Type 1 (juvenile diabetes); Type 2 (formerly known as adult onset diabetes – more on that later; Prediabetes (an attempt by the drug companies to push more medication); Gestational (occurs during pregnancy). Of the four, gestational diabetes of course only affects women and is generally resolved after the baby is delivered. Those with Type 1 diabetes are born with the condition, usually genetic, and do not make enough or too little insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose. For the rest of their lives, they are subjected to regular injections of insulin. As previously mentioned, Type 2 diabetes, formerly referred to as adult onset diabetes, is rampantly affecting a much younger population. Where Type 1 diabetes can be classified as a genetic, possibly susceptibility disease, Type 2 is classified as a lifestyle, environmental disease. (I.e. it can be avoided). Prediabetes, introduced first by the ADA (American Diabetics Association), is a fabricated state if you will, determining whether someone has a high susceptibility to becoming Type 2 diabetic. If the blood sugar concentration is between 100-125 mg/Dl (normal is considered 70-99 mg/Dl), they are classified as pre-diabetic. When you examine the proximity of the normal versus prediabetic ranges, about 85% of the population could be classified as prediabetic! A prediabetic diagnosis is a yellow flag that changes need to be made, which should not include medication which is generally prescribed.

The Best Treatment

Unfortunately for the Type 1 diabetic, there is no treatment, only management. Drugs are sometimes prescribed as a precaution to keep the patient from developing Type 2 diabetes. But the same non-drug treatments that a Type 1 diabetic should follow is the same prescription for the Type 2 diabetic – plenty of exercise, moderation of the diet, and monitoring of their weight. Someone diagnosed as being prediabetic is a wake up call to “get your ass” moving. Most will claim to exercise but believe me, it’s not enough. They’ve reached the point where exercise has to become something they do daily, not just here or there or when they feel like it. Exercise comes down to one simple function: muscles move, they require glucose. If high blood sugar levels are detected, movement is a simple, pain free, drug free method of keeping it in check. Monitoring the diet goes without saying. Ingesting a bunch of simple sugar is not a good idea and it’s what has caused the great fear of sugar. Sugar is not bad or evil. Added sugar is and it’s everywhere. Eating fruit isn’t an issue as when you eat fruit you’re also eating the fiber with the fruit. Strip it down to just fruit juice and we’ve got a problem. Extra weight, which is one of the top precursors to developing Type 2 diabetes, should and can be controlled by doing the other two. With extra weight comes an increased resistance to insulin. Overtime, it progresses to the point where insulin no longer works. So, what’s the inherent dangers of becoming diabetic?

The Dangers of Diabetes

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death. Bad news is that it’s on the rise because an increasingly growing number of individuals do not take good enough care of themselves. But just in case you needed the motivation, following are increased risks of a diabetic diagnosis:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Eye damage (retinopathy)
  • Foot damage
  • Skin disorders
  • Hearing impairment
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease

If you’re not a Type 1 diabetic, the good news is that you have a 100% chance of changing it all for the better. If your doctor tells you your blood sugar is higher than he or she is comfortable with, let them know that that’s the last time you’ll ever hear them say that to you again.

 

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

12 Days of Fitness: Day 12 – 10 Resolutions Only the Most Successful People Make

(This is part 12 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

New Year’s resolutions: Most of us make them; most of us fail to keep them. Why do we fail? Usually, we resolve to do something so big, so difficult, so time-consuming, we reach too high – the simple act of reaching gets tiresome. And so we quit. Fortunately, there’s a better way. Here are 10 simple things I came across in an article I read earlier this year to try sometime in 2020. They’re all one-time events, although you can certainly repeat them as many times as you like. And each is a lot easier to accomplish than some hopefully-life-changing-but-in-the-end-never-accomplished New Year’s resolution.

  1. Do one thing you’ve been afraid to do.The most paralyzing fear is fear of the unknown. Nothing ever turns out to be as hard or as scary as you think. Plus, it’s incredibly exciting to overcome a fear. You’ll get that “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I just did that!” rush. That’s an amazing feeling you probably haven’t experienced for a long time. Enter a race this year or participate in some event you never thought possible for you.
  2. Apologize for one thing you need to apologize for. We all make mistakes. So we blame them for our problems.But we are almost always to blame too. Maybe we didn’t provide enough. Maybe we didn’t foresee a potential problem. Maybe we asked too much, too soon. We did or did not do something we could have. Take responsibility, and then focus on being smarter or better or faster or more creative next time.
  3. Start one thing you’ve always planned to start. You have plans. You have goals. You have ideas. Who cares? You have nothing until you actually do something. Every day, we let hesitation and uncertainty stop us from acting on our ideas. Fear of the unknown and fear of failure often stops us. Pick one plan, one goal, or one idea. And get started. Do something. Do anything. Just take one small step. The first step is by far the hardest. Every successive step will be a lot easier.
  4. Tell one person how much they mean to you. No one receives enough praise. No one. Pick someone who did something well and tell her or him. Surprise praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient.
  5. Ask for help. Asking someone for help instantly recognizes the person’s skills and values and conveys your respect and admiration.That’s reason enough to ask someone to help you. The fact you will get the help you need is icing on the achievement cake.
  6. Offer to help someone. Then flip it around. Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness, so they hesitate. Yet we can all use help. But don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Most people will automatically say, “No, I’m all right.” Be specific. Say, “I’ve got a few minutes; can I help you finish that?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. And then actually help. You’ll make a real difference in someone’s life–and you’ll take a solid step toward creating a connection with that person.
  7. Do one thing no one else is willing to do. Pick one thing other people aren’t willing to do. Pick something simple. Pick something small. Whatever it is, do it. Instantly, you’re a little different from the rest of the pack. Then keep going. Every day, do one thing no one else is willing to do. After a week, you’ll be uncommon. After a month, you’ll be special. After a year, you’ll be incredible, and you won’t be like anyone else.
  8. Just once, refuse to care what other people think. Most of the time, you should worry about what other people think–but not if it stands in the way of living the life you really want to live. Pick one thing you haven’t tried simply because you’re worried about what other people think–and just go do it. It’s your life. Live it.
  9. Don’t be afraid to say yes. You’re busy. Your plate is full. There are plenty of reasons to sit tight, stay safe, keep things as they are. But that also means tomorrow will be just like today. Say yes to something different. Say yes to something scary. Say yes to the opportunity you’re most afraid of. When you say yes, you’re really saying, “I trust myself.”
  10. Don’t be afraid to say no. Still, you can’t do everything. You can’t help everyone. You may want to, but you can’t. Sometimes you just need to say no: to a favor, to a request, to a family member. Sometimes you really need to be able to focus on what is important to you. Say no at least once before the end of the month–the harder to say, the better. And don’t worry if you feel selfish: When your heart is in the right place, what you accomplish by spending more time on your goals will eventually benefit other people, too.

Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet
Day #8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies
Day #9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset
Day #10 –The 11 Most Common Weight-Loss Blunders
Day #11 – 8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 11 – 8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

(This is part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

No matter how good or bad I have it, I wake up each day thankful for my life, because someone, somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.  Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles.  Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost.  Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.

  1. Pain is part of growing. Sometimes life closes doors because it’s time to move forward.  And that’s a good thing because we often won’t move unless circumstances force us to.  When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose.  Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.  Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.  Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there.  Good things take time.  Stay patient and stay positive.  Everything is going to come together; maybe not immediately, but eventually. Remember that there are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you.  When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.
  2. Everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt, you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning, but still you often forget, and instead choose to believe that the night will last forever.  It won’t.  Nothing lasts forever. So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.
  3. Worrying and complaining changes nothing. Those who complain the most, accomplish the least.  It’s always better to attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.  It’s not over if you’ve lost; it’s over when you do nothing but complain about it.  If you believe in something, keep trying.  Don’t let the shadows of the past darken the doorstep of your future.  Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any brighter.  Take action instead.  Let what you’ve learned improve how you live.  Make a change and never look back. And regardless of what happens in the long run, remember that true happiness begins to arrive only when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
  4. Your scars are symbols of your strength. Don’t ever be ashamed of the scars life has left you with.  A scar means the hurt is over and the wound is closed.  It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved forward.  A scar is the tattoo of a triumph to be proud of.  Don’t allow your scars to hold you hostage.  Don’t allow them to make you live your life in fear.  You can’t make the scars in your life disappear, but you can change the way you see them.  You can start seeing your scars as a sign of strength and not pain.  Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most powerful characters in this great world are seared with scars.  See your scars as a sign of “YES!  I MADE IT!  I survived and I have my scars to prove it!  And now I have a chance to grow even stronger.”
  5. Every little struggle is a step forward. In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams, knowing that the work is worth it.  So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way.  Otherwise, there’s no point in starting.  This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills.  It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar.  It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers.  It could mean lots of time alone in solitude.  Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible.  It gives you the space you need.  Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it. And if you want it, you’ll do it, despite failure and rejection and the odds.  And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine.  You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path.  And it’s worth it.
  6. Other people’s negativity is not your problem. Be positive when negativity surrounds you.  Smile when others try to bring you down.  It’s an easy way to maintain your enthusiasm and focus.  When other people treat you poorly, keep being you.  Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are.  You can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you.  They do things because of them. Above all, don’t ever change just to impress someone who says you’re not good enough.  Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a brighter future.  People are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it.  So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think.  If you believe strongly in something, don’t be afraid to fight for it.  Great strength comes from overcoming what others think is impossible.
  7. What’s meant to be will eventually, BE. True strength comes when you have so much to cry and complain about, but you prefer to smile and appreciate your life instead.  There are blessings hidden in every struggle you face, but you have to be willing to open your heart and mind to see them.  You can’t force things to happen.  You can only drive yourself crazy trying.  At some point you have to let go and let what’s meant to be, BE. In the end, loving your life is about trusting your intuition, taking chances, losing and finding happiness, cherishing the memories, and learning through experience.  It’s a long-term journey.  You have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting every step of the way.  Laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds.
  8. The best thing you can do is to keep going. Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again.  Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart.  Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes.  There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.  And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t.  When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right.  Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best. Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher.  Find the strength to laugh every day.  Find the courage to feel different.  Find it in your heart to make others smile too.  Don’t stress over things you can’t change.  Live simply.  Love generously.  Speak truthfully.  Work diligently.  And even if you fall short, keep going.  Keep growing.

Awake every morning and do your best to follow this daily TO-DO list:

  • Think positively.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Exercise today.
  • Worry less.
  • Work hard.
  • Laugh often.
  • Sleep well.
  • Repeat…

“The best way out is always through.”

―Robert Frost

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

See you tomorrow for the conclusion of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet
Day #8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies
Day #9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset
Day #10 – The 11 Most Common Weight-Loss Blunders

 

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 10 – The 11 Most Common Weight-Loss Blunders

(This is part 10 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Losing weight can be tricky business: When you’re insanely busy, it can be tough to focus on your goals in a healthy, sustainable way, let alone work towards them at all. It’s easy to fall into pitfalls, but hey, knowledge is power—when you know the traps you’re most likely to fall into, it’s easier to steer clear.

  1. Focusing on what you CAN’T eat. So many people embarking on a weight loss journey focus on what they can’t have – no sugar, no alcohol, no dessert, no bread, no cheese. Shift your focus instead on what you can have and make a list of all the filling and nutritious super foods out there.
  2. Adopting an all-or-nothing attitude. Don’t eliminate foods you love. Too many people who are trying to lose weight develop the all-or-nothing attitude. This way of thinking can be detrimental in the long run. Instead of depriving yourself of foods you love, learn how to incorporate them into your diet in a healthier way. For example, love pasta? Instead of adding a creamy high fat sauce, add lots of veggies, grilled shrimp, and toss in olive oil and garlic. Can’t live without bread? Well, you shouldn’t have to. Make a healthy sandwich for lunch on 100 percent whole grain bread with grilled chicken, avocado, lettuce, and tomato.
  3. Not having a solid plan. Not having a solid, realistic plan is a mistake. People should set themselves up for success by coming up with small, challenging yet attainable action steps to work towards. Start off with a few actionable and specific goals for the first week. Once you master those, keep adding on. Before you know it, those action steps will become lifelong healthy habits.
  4. Cutting out an entire food group. When you are trying to lose weight and you cut out an entire food group, like carbs or meat, this usually just results in an unbalanced diet and even deficiencies in certain nutrients. Plus, for most people, this is not sustainable for a lifetime. Words of advice – if you couldn’t do it for the rest of your life, it’s a diet that’s probably not going to work in the long run.
  5. Replacing meals with liquids. Green juices and smoothies are very popular, and a lot of people will use these as meal replacements. Unfortunately, oftentimes these beverages aren’t made up of the right mix of nutrients. Green juices lack fiber and protein, which are key nutrients in keeping you full and helping you meet your nutrient recommendations, and smoothies are typically loaded in sugar from juice, sweeteners, or too much fruit, and can be really high in calories from over-sized portions of healthy fat sources like nuts and seeds.
  6. Eating too few calories. One of the biggest pitfalls I see constantly is people falling into the calorie counting trap. Sounds counter intuitive but trust me – you need to eat! We live in a culture that is so obsessed with calorie counting that oftentimes we are depriving our body of the very nutrients that will actually help us not only to live healthier, but lose more weight. What you eat is just as important as how much you eat.
  7. Steering clear of healthy fats. Unfortunately too many people still fear fat and are stuck eating low-fat or fat-free versions of food, a holdover from the fat-phobic days of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. A moderate amount of fat is important as it helps with satiety. Plus, people end up replacing fat with refined carbs, which we now know can have a detrimental effect on health and weight. Include healthy fat at every meal, in the form of nuts, seeds, liquid oils, avocados, oily fish, soy, and dairy products.
  8. Ditching fruits and veggies with high sugar content. Cutting out certain fruits and vegetables because you think they contain too much sugar is just ridiculous. Sure, some do contain a bit higher amount of naturally occurring sugars, but they also contain fiber, which helps counterbalance the effect on blood sugars. Compared to highly processed snacks and drinks, there is nothing to be worried about.
  9. Relying on weight loss pills and supplements. The bottom line here is if there was a pill or a potion that really worked in the long term, then not one of us would be talking about weight management at all! The weight loss industry is so successful because we are so desperate to find a quick fix. The only long-term effective weight management skill is to change the way you think about fueling your body. We need to think of food as fuel for daily living and to fuel it the best way we can. The rest takes care of itself.
  10. Taking the weekends off from healthy eating. You should take the weekends off from your job, not your diet. Sure, you can still have fun and go out to eat on the weekends, but make an effort not to stuff yourself to the brim with food or drinks. Simply eating mindfully when you are enjoying good food can be enough to not wreck your hard work during the week. If the weekends are a problem for you, consider weighing yourself Friday mornings and Monday mornings. If you see that number routinely creeping up on Monday, try changing your weekend routine to include more exercise and healthier food choices.
  11. Not drinking enough water. A lot of people simply don’t drink enough water. Changing this habit is one of the easiest ways to help your health. Studies show that drinking water or eating a water-rich salad or broth-based soup before a meal can help decrease how much you eat during the meal—plus, staying hydrated helps prevent headaches, which can lead to stress eating. Figure out how you prefer to get your water: Do you like a bottle with a straw or a wide-mouthed top? Whatever your preference, keep a water container at your side as often as you can. You’ll reach for it a lot more if you don’t have to get up to fill a glass.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

See you Monday for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet
Day #8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies
Day #9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset

 

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset

(This is part 9 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I’ll be honest. I really struggle when I hear people say that they either hate to exercise or that they don’t have any time to exercise as well as the thousands of other excuses they give on the subject. But then I can come to a better approach and realize that they just don’t get it. Going to the gym isn’t a punishment for what you ate or how much you sit; fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can still move. Perhaps they just don’t feel alive. I don’t know.

It a Choice

Fitness isn’t something you only do at a gym; fitness for life means you either approach your body and mind with respect, or you disrespect the gift of your own life and health and then everything that defines a healthy human being, such as the ability to pick up a grandchild or to walk on the beach, is taken away from you. Getting in shape isn’t something you only do for a wedding or upcoming vacation. Fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the highest level you can possibly achieve, because if you are fit and healthy, then anything in life seems possible. What would you give for an extra 10 years of quality life? If you are 30, this doesn’t seem relevant, but if you are in your 40s, way overweight and don’t move, you made a decision, and that decision was to end your life earlier than someone who does realize what you do today in fitness determines how you will live 20 years from now. You, and only you, can determine the quality, and in many cases, the length of your life.

It’s a Mindset

The mindset for fitness isn’t about being perfect or trying to recapture who you were, “back in the day,” but rather becoming the best you can be today. There is no perfect you, but there is a you within that can overflow with happiness, vibrant health and crazy energy, because you now understand you don’t do fitness, you are fitness. Mindset is everything in the pursuit of personal health, but you have to enter the arena with the understanding that fitness isn’t another hobby you only do when you have time or to relax. Fitness is the very essence of how you live 24 hours a day, how you think and who you are. You choose to be healthy; then you chose life. You choose to ignore your fitness, and you made a choice… and you will pay for that choice someday, and then when you can’t get out of a chair without help, or play with a child, or hold the hand of the one you love on a walk through the woods, what would you pay then for just one hour of health and life? And the sad thing is you could have had it all along.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 10 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #5 – 9 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6 – The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet
Day #8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies