Category Archives: General

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise

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(This is part 1 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

The holidays: a time for loving, sharing, giving, and receiving. It is also a time where priorities shift and we become engulfed in the season. For many, the season is just another time of year where exercise time might be compromised but never missed. However, for most it becomes yet another excuse for skipping or missing workouts. After all, January 1 is right around the corner. So the holidays become an excuse now but when happens when they are over? See if you are guilty of one of these reasons and maybe, just maybe, we can change that.

  1. No time in my busy schedule. Classic. Everyone does not have the time for what they don’t value to be important. If it’s important, if it’s a priority, you DO make the time. One of my favorite quotes of the year was, “Do you know what the most dedicated people and the laziest people have in common? The same 24 hours!”
  2. No energy, lack of discipline. No or low energy is a sign that your nutrition is poor. Lack of discipline is a mindset shift. Improve your nutrition (not dieting) and set a realistic expectation on yourself.
  3. Not enjoyable. There are countless ways to create physical movement. Find one, something, anything that you enjoy and can see doing all the time. Don’t rely on doing what you think you should do. Just do it!
  4. Expense of equipment, clothes, or membership. Want to dress it up, look the part, be able to brag to your friends? Go for it. But when it comes down to it, all you need is a body. That’s it! Nothing else.
  5. Distance / inconvenience. This might be the only real legitimate excuse. Research has proven that anything beyond 12 minutes of travel time is a good distractor for many. Even then, outfit your home with some basic equipment; do bodyweight training; get outdoors; make it work.
  6. Boredom / lack of variety. No one said you had to stick with something that does nothing for you. Change it up. Do something different at regular intervals. (See #3) Have fun with it and see it not as a chore but something that will make you feel better.
  7. Injury / health problems / chronic physical discomfort. Injuries and health issues are not to be taken lightly. However, when they become the crux of why you don’t exercise as opposed to the reason why you should exercise, you wind up wasting time and waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Hint: there is no perfect time to begin
  8. Embarrassment / social discomfort. Most of us who exercise regularly began just like you – intimidated, scared, or embarrassed. What you really need to understand and appreciate is that most don’t care about what you’re doing. They’re quietly happy to see you doing something, taking care of yourself. You are one of the few.
  9. Lack of understanding of the benefits of exercise. In today’s world where information is merely at your fingertips, there’s simply no excuse for not knowing the how or why. Seek the help of a professional to guide you along the way.
  10. Apathy. No one sees something as valuable until it is taken away from them. With exercise, there are no guarantees but with the short investment of time and energy on your part consistently, you CAN control the quality of your life.

See you tomorrow for Day 2 of the 12 Days of Fitness

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

 

 

 

A Thanksgiving Prayer

This post is a borrowed, guest post if you will from Mr. Thomas Plummer, a gentleman I respect greatly. Mr. Plummer has been in the fitness industry for over thirty years as a business coach/adviser to those of us in the fitness industry. I had saved this post last year but I wanted to share with you now and hope you find the inspiration from it as well.

My Thanksgiving prayer for you.

May you….

  • Change the world around you by the strength of your caring.
  • Forgive everyone and learn that nothing in life is worth carrying anger for even five minutes. Stupidity is their problem. Carrying anger toward stupid people is your issue. Just refuse to play.
  • Become the old crusty, crazy person in the gym who just laughs, smiles and keeps on keeping on year after year savoring every workout and living for just one more day at the gym.
  • Learn that wasting your talent might be the biggest sin there ever was. You aren’t judged by what you did, but by what you should have been.
  • Remember that your past has no hold on you and your future is yet to come, but today is everything in life and all that matters. Miserable people live in the past. Dreamers live in the future. The world is changed today.
  • Understand that if you get it right as a coach everyday, other people reach goals they never knew existed. There is no bad day as a coach, just another day carrying the world and that is a good thing.
  • Learn that you can’t carry the world until you can carry yourself. You will never be you living in someone else’s shadow.
  • Know that no one, including you, ever got to be you on his own. Remember where you came from and say thank you often.
  • Learn that cheap people suck the life out of the universe. If you want, then give. If you need help, then help others. If you have been helped, then pay it back. And buy a round now and then just to set the world on fire.
  • Remember that family is everything now and there is no one on the other end of that phone that is ever more important than 30 minutes with your family and friends. Put the phone away and live today.
  • Finally learn that money isn’t bad. Money exists for the sole purpose of giving you the freedom to live life on your own terms. There is no other reason for money.
  • Thanksgiving is a day to be gracious, thankful and humble. You have so much and others have so little. We all have problems, but ours always seem so light to carry when compared to those who have lost so much.
  • Happy Thanksgiving. I thank you all for the support and friendship for so many years. You have all allowed me to live a life beyond my imagination when I was young. I appreciate you all and wish you all a perfect Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

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

Mission Accomplished

I am speechless; without words. So without further ado, let me get right to it. On July 23, my wife competed and finished her first Ironman in Lake Placid, renowned site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. An Ironman, both a brand and the title given to the event, is the penultimate event in the sport of triathlon. It’s a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. The clock begins the minute you cross the time barrier when you start the swim and ends when you cross the finish line after the marathon. Not for the feint of heart and definitely not something you just go do. Less than .5% of the US population can say they’ve run a marathon; even less at 0.001% can say they have completed an Ironman. It’s a monumental undertaking of both the physical and mental limits and I’m very proud to say my wife has done it! But as with most accomplishments what people don’t appreciate or understand is the depth of dedication and discipline that is required to pull off such a feat.

The Goal

A big part of my satisfaction as a fitness professional is helping others achieve greater things than they thought possible. Creating a pathway for them through proper exercise, sound nutrition, and coaching their mindset brings me such great joy and satisfaction with what I do. Five years ago I was sitting with my laptop putting together a triathlon training program for a client when my wife asked me, “What are you doing?”. “I’m designing a training program for a client who wants to do a sprint triathlon (smaller distance but still involves a swim, bike and run)”, I told her. Without much hesitation I continued, “You could do this.” Now, understand that I am not taking responsibility for my wife’s interest and subsequent dive into triathlon. As someone who knows her well I thought this was just the kind of thing that could let her get excited about getting involved physically to accomplish something greater than just being active. Who would have thought she’d take the bull by the horns. After her first sprint triathlon came several sprint triathlons. Then came a few Olympic distance triathlons (essentially double sprint distances). Then came the Half Ironman triathlon, the next logical step towards competing in the Ironman. The years leading up and subsequent races were all strategically chosen with her ultimate goal to train and eventually compete in the Ironman. That decision was made summer of 2016.

The Discipline

Just as in marathon training, one’s ability to do a half marathon does not equate to success in running a full marathon. Finishing a Half Ironman comes no where close to finishing an Ironman. More time, energy, and mental acuity must be built to handle the fact that you’ll essentially be exercising non-stop for 12+ hours! The training and preparation for the undertaking of competing in an Ironman has a “no excuse” clause that simply implies that a day missed are minutes lost and minutes lost in an Ironman could potentially lead to a DNF score, or Did Not Finish. Everyday, week, and month is strategically mapped out to achieve the goal. My wife followed her plan to a “T” which included:
• Waking up at 5am to get to the pool to swim before work
• Planning around my work schedule to get a second workout in at night, either running or biking
• Spending hours on a Saturday riding the indoor bike trainer
• Running here, there, and everywhere
• Developing a nutrition strategy that would be used during the event
• Hitching long outdoor rides with teammates (and me) for many miles
• Competing in “set-up” races to gauge progress

The schedule was arduous but manipulated to accommodate our lives, social obligations, and of course a day or two of rest.

The Accomplishment

There is no more gratifying feeling in the world to set out to achieve a goal, appreciate the process, and accomplish that goal. To my wife, that moment was magnified when she crossed the finish and Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, called her name and said, “You are an Ironman!” She cried and I cried with her and the replay still gets me every time. Many set out to accomplish a goal and many never see it to fruition. But my wife did and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Not all the days were easy; life happens and causes challenges; but she never made excuses and kept her focus on the bigger picture. She wanted to do this and nothing was going to tell her otherwise. She made a commitment to herself and gave the respect that the event warrants. She maintained her role as a teacher, mother, and wife and had all our support from day one. She accomplished something many will only dream of and many more will never do. That’s what makes goals great and even better when they’re achieved.

Take Home Points:

• You don’t have to do an Ironman or a marathon or anything like that. The popularity of these types of events is that they hold a steadfast deadline – a timeframe within which to achieve the goal. If you made more of your goals that way and added a “no excuse” clause to them, you’ll be more successful.
• The only one setting your limits is yourself. Don’t judge and think of things as crazy or impossible. That mindset only magnifies the short sightedness you possess and no one will ever achieve goals with that.
• Identify your “why” with your goals. It’s the “why” that creates the desire and discipline to move forth and conquer
• All of your excuses are invalid. If you continue to make them you’ll confuse them with reality, a huge problem with those who never achieve anything.
• Start small but think big. Once you create momentum by achieving smaller goals, bigger goals look less intimidating.

 

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

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss. Knowing the Difference is Key to Your Success.

The weight loss “industry” is a $60 billion dollar enterprise (yes, that’s a “b”, not an “m”.) The fitness industry by the way is not factored into that number. Everything from best-seller books to programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig; to supplements, cleanses, and surgery. The numbers are staggering and projections for the future are even more unbelievable as it is believed those numbers will not only continue to climb but the “industry” will more aggressively seek out more consumers. When you consider that 68% of American adults and 33% of children are considered obese, the effectiveness of this “industry” is highly questionable. Is the weight loss “industry” to blame or are we a highly gullible and weak society looking for panacea in bottle? It is an equally shared blame.

Perpetrated Myths

Ask 10 people what it means to eat healthy and you will likely get 10 different answers and depending on what generation they are a part of a very different mindset of what it means to eat healthy. Aside the fact that most would agree fruits and vegetables are healthy choices, most would admit they don’t eat enough or avoid fruit because of the sugar content. (Oy! That’s a fact based discussion for another day!) How did something so primal as eating get so convoluted that there is such a disparity between what’s good and what’s bad? That blame can be placed on big and little companies all looking to make a dollar at the consumer’s expense. And how is that possible? Because they are banking on scoring profits over a very emotional and of course desperate, health conscious society. A new gimmick or “trick” is released in an every few year cycle that says eating this is bad, or eating that is what makes you fat, blah, blah, blah. The end result? A society more confused, or worse, sold on an unproven theory about what constitutes healthy eating becoming more nutritionally challenged as to what they are supposed to do, slowly creeping up in weight despite what they believe to be their best efforts. But that’s when the blame can now be shifted on you.

Knowledge is King

As a result of big company myth marketing, everyone becomes an expert of their own domain. “Eat less and exercise more is all I have to do.” “I need to eat these foods in combination.” “I have to stop eating after 7.” If it were only that easy so let’s stop right there. All three and countless other solutions are total BS and what’s frightening is people believe them to be sacred truths that must be adhered to despite their continued rate of failure. And how is that possible? Because knowledge that is fact, evidence based is far less sexy than avoiding whole food groups or eating like a caveman. Let’s begin with weight loss and fat loss. They are not the same. That’s an important concept to understand as most people who enter a diet program, or exercise program will say their goal is to lose weight. Number one, weight loss should never be the goal of any program because weight loss is easy. If I wrap you in a rubber suit, put you in a room that’s 100 degrees and have you do non-stop calisthenics, you can bet your tuckus you’d lose a lot of weight. Yep, it would be all water weight and most likely a little muscle if you didn’t pass out before the session was over. Fat pounds lost -zero. Fat weight, or that matter that accumulates on the body in lumpy sometimes unsightly appearances is much more stubborn and resilient but not for reasons you think. It’s just doing what it’s supposed to do.

The Fat of the Matter

Body fat, or adipose tissue is essential to human life. Yes, you need water and oxygen but fat comes in a really close third. Without getting into too much physiology, fat is an insulator, constituent of all cells, storage site for important vitamins, and a “reserve” of energy among other things. In most of the adult population (68%), it also becomes the surplus energy site. Going back to why people diet or exercise and they say they want to lose weight, what they really mean to say is that they want to lose fat weight. Losing fat weight though is not the same as losing weight and vice versa. Yes, you can lose fat and lose weight, but as previously explained in my horrendous exercise plan, you can lose weight and yet lose no fat weight. How is that possible? Don’t you sweat it out? How myths permeate our thinking. The human body is the perfect machine. Despite your best efforts, it will do everything in its power to keep you alive and kicking. Store excess energy for a later day and store even more energy when it is simply denied energy. Careful of the interpretation here. The body doesn’t store more energy when no energy is present. No, the damage is done when energy deprivation (restrictive calories)is occurring. Weight is lost through water weight and tragically muscle. Muscle is ultimately the engine that burns anything, including fat. Some fat weight may chip away but for the most part it remains and won’t be reflective much on the scale. Here’s where the real issue begins. In the quest to lose weight by eating less, most cut calories too low in whatever cockamamie method du jour thus chipping away at lean tissue (muscle) and seeing weight drop. Time passes and the cockamamie method du jour is no longer pleasurable or sustainable and eating methods slowly return to prior behaviors. There’s now less lean tissue, hence metabolism is lower, and calorie surplus is on the rise. You may have heard of the yo-yo dieting effect. Well, here ya go. Back at square one in a worse position than previously and the cycle continues. It doesn’t have to be that weigh…excuse me..way.

Points to Ponder

Fat loss is not easy but it is absolutely 100% possible. The ease with which some seem to have is not reflective of everyone’s journey and vice versa. It requires consistent, dedicated work towards a specific goal of losing fat, not weight. Here’s a few tips on how and where to start.
• If your past efforts have failed you, perhaps it’s time to take responsibility and own the fact that you’ve been going about it all wrong.
• No more dieting, quick fixes, temporary techniques for short term goals.
• Choose exercise that you will do consistently and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. At the very least, incorporate some form of resistance training for IT IS THE ONLY EXERCISE that can physically change your body.
• More exercise is not necessarily the answer. Develop a healthy balance that keeps it consistently fun and not a chore.
• Nutrition isn’t so necessarily complex. Stop buying into, believing nutritional claims promoted by unqualified “experts”. They exist because you continue to listen. Stop listening.
• EAT FOOD! Real food. Limit packaged, specifically marketed “diet” food.
• Food is not your enemy; the voice in your head is. You need to eat to survive, not listen to the opinions of others, including yourself.

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

12 Days of Fitness 2016: Day 12 – A New Year, A New You

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

Imagine business without progress; a stock portfolio that shows no growth; an investment that becomes a loss.  Mention any one of these occurrences to a reasonably intelligent individual, and the first thing they should say is “something has got to change”.  So what does it have to take for people to view their health the same way?  Businesses come and go, stocks rise and fall, and investments will always be there.  But you only get one shot at your health.  It’s yours to grow, nurture, and improve and no one can take that away from you.  It is what I like to call a safe investment with minimal risk.  Sure, there are things in life that occur that are simply out of our control. However, if you wait around hoping good things will happen for you instead of making them happen, you will be disappointed more times than not. Understanding how exercise and good nutrition play a role in the improvement of your health is vital to your success. If you don’t clearly know what it is you are supposed to do, you begin to walk down a dimly lit path full of debris and deceitful crossroads

The “Nutri”-Fix

To help shed some light, in a recent report some of the top US nutrition experts came up with their top five nutritional gripes – nutritional blunders our society is repeatedly guilty of.  In the never ending quest for knowledge and progress, see which of these gripes you are perhaps guilty of and imagine the possibilities if you were to make even some small, subtle changes in regards to your dietary habits.

  1. We can’t tell the good fats from the bad ones.
    “Most people still don’t get that some fats are actually good for you,” says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, an American Heart Association spokesperson. “You want to avoid saturated and trans fats, but you need more good fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources are fish, nuts, avocados, soybean products, and canola and olive oils. If you keep track of total calories, you don’t have to worry about how much fat you eat, just what kind,” explains Dr. Lichtenstein.
  2. We super-size to save money.
    “People think that super-sizing a restaurant meal is a money saver, but it’s not a health bargain if it has way too many calories,” says Karen Weber Cullen, DPH, RD, research nutritionist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Judge portion sizes with your palm, not your purse. A serving size is about what fits into the palm of your hand (larger for men than women, smaller for children). For most meals, pick one protein, one starch, one veggie, and one fruit based on the serving that will fit into your palm. Buffets are not good values.  They’re feeding troughs!
  3. We think anything liquid has no calories.
    “What freaks me out is the amount of sugared soda and juice we drink,” says Judith Stern, ScD, RD, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. “I’d like to see all the sugared drinks sent out into space, where they could orbit the Earth forever.” Sugared drinks balloon your calorie intake and squeeze out more nutritious foods.  Diet beverages are no better, as they too have been linked to weight gain and eating the fruit is far more superior nutritionally than drinking juice.  Instead, try a cup of tea. Available in myriad varieties, the calorie-free brew promotes heart health, staves off several types of cancer, strengthens bones and teeth, and protects the skin.  Still, when it comes to what is best, nothing can replace water.
  4. We don’t know how “hungry” really feels.
    “If you don’t know when you’re hungry, you don’t know when you’re full, so you won’t know when to stop eating,” says Elisabetta Politi, RD, nutrition manager of the Duke University Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC. Tune in with mindful eating by doing the following: 1) Before you eat, relax, and rate your hunger from 1 (hungriest) to 7 (fullest); 2) Eat slowly, pausing often to rate how your hunger changes; 3) When finished, rate yourself one more time. Try to stay between 2 1/2 and 5 1/2: not too ravenous when you start and not completely full when you stop.
  5. We have a microwave addiction.
    Many people come home from work and pop a frozen entrée into the microwave. “Eating too many heavily processed foods can leave you short on fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin C,” explains Jo Ann Hattner, RD, clinical dietitian at Stanford University Medical Center. Complement a frozen entrée with a green salad, a 100 percent whole-wheat roll, and fruit for dessert. Stock up on the freshest fruit for maximum flavor.

Nutrition however is only part of the equation. There are blunders people make when it comes to getting fit.  The improvement and betterment of your health should be the number one reason you begin an exercise program; not to look good for a vacation or get ready for a class reunion.  The good news is those benefits can and will manifest themselves with a lifestyle that includes regular exercise.  Especially at this time of year, perhaps you may be guilty of some of these oversights regarding exercise.

The “Fit” Fix

  1. Not enough time and lack of consistency. When time becomes the excuse, exercise is not a priority.  Translated: my health is not a priority.  Exercise doesn’t have to be hours doing something physical.  It just needs to be consistent.  There may be days when time is more available, and other times when it is of the essence. Consistency breeds a habit, and that habit becomes a lifestyle. You can ill afford to not make the time.
  2. Taking credit for physical activity. All too often, people like to think that household chores, yard work, and shopping account for exercise.  Don’t be confused and likewise, don’t be too proud.  Any physical activity is a good thing, but when was the last time you heard that someone reduced their blood pressure or participated in a 5 K because they clean their windows every week?  Structured exercise, a physical stress beyond normal every day activity, is what it means and is necessary to get fit.
  3. Buying into gimmicks. Late night and weekend infomercials are only interested in one thing and it is not your health.  It’s your emotional buying power.  They only add to the confusion of what most think it is they need to do and in turn have created mounds of rubbish.  Like mom always said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  4. Using generic fitness programs. We are all unique and what works for some does not guarantee that it will work for everyone. Fitness programs should be specifically tailored to the individual and not copied because it is what some Hollywood starlet used to get ready for a movie.
  5. Exercise designed around a specific body part. Our bodies work and operate as a whole, and as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link.  Optimal health comes from incorporating the body as a living, functional unit, and an exercise program designed around just a specific body part is short sighted and will yield sub-par results.

The prospect of a New Year can be thrilling.  Another potential 365 days of promise, hope, and wonder and a chance to improve and take another step towards greatness.  Change is not going to happen overnight. Fitness (physical, nutritional) is a lifestyle of smarter choices, commitment, and balance.  In 2017, make a promise to yourself that this year will be different and you will not only do what is necessary to take care of your health, but also make real progress towards making a better you.

All my best to you and your families for a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

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

*Originally featured in January 2008 Issue of 422 Business Advisor

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

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts
Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself
Day 4 – Never Diet Again!
Day 5 – Benefits of Exercising in Winter – Outdoors!
Day 6 – Understanding Your Metabolism
Day 7 – The Most Addictive (And Least Addictive) Foods
Day 8 – The 10 Biggest Lies of the Weight Loss Industry
Day 9 – Are You a Closet Eater?
Day 10 – 10 Ways to Kickstart a Morning Workout
Day 11 – A Resolution or A Plan?

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2016: Day 11 – A Resolution or A Plan?

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

The English language can be a complex thing. In fact, scholars say it is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn.  Hard to believe when most of us take it for granted.  But think for a moment how a particular word can be defined several different ways while two different words that sound alike, can be spelled differently, and have absolutely nothing in common in their definitions.  Add to that the poor grammar and slang that is used in everyday language and even our English teachers would be ashamed.  Spoken vocabulary can be confusing and sometimes questionable, and there is no better proof of that than the use and meaning of the word resolution.

A Resolution?

Yes, it is that time of year again.  The holidays are upon us and a new year is just around the corner.  This time of year can be both a time of celebration and a time of reflection to look back on the previous year and make our resolution for the next year – a year of promise and new beginnings.  From my professional and personal experience however, the resolutions that people make appear to be the same every year.  That would indicate that not much of a change or improvement has been made over the past year.  Perhaps a resolution is not the answer or even the correct word to use.  Webster’s Dictionary defines “resolution” several different ways: a decision to do something; an analysis; a firmness of purpose; a statement that solves a problem; clarity of the computer screen measured in pixels – to name a few.  Notice however that nowhere in the definition does it say anything about planning, goal setting, or action.  With the exception of how good your computer images look, a resolution is nothing more than a thought or idea. We can all decide to make a change, but how are we going to go about it?  We can analyze the past year but how are we going to change it?  We can clearly state our goal, but what and how many steps is that going to take?  We can solve the problem, but how are we going to avoid it from happening again? In essence, by its definition, a resolution is nothing more than merely talk without any required action.

A Plan?

Conversely, a plan as defined by Webster’s is a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished.  By comparing these two definitions, a resolution is in essence the idea and a plan is the clearly defined action process.  To clarify that comparison, look no further than the world of business.  In business, companies take that first step of starting up a business by drawing up a business plan, not a business resolution.  Afterall, if it were a business resolution, the ideas while they may sound great would never come to fruition unless the necessary plan was in place. Great business ideas are thought of everyday, but only the ones with a plan ever take off.  Therefore, would it not be beneficial for us to develop a New Year’s “plan” as opposed to another New Year’s resolution. To borrow the cliché’ phrase, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, speaks volumes about how success can be attained and failure can be avoided.

The first of the year has always been synonymous with new beginnings, but there is never a better time than the present.  Do yourself a favor this year.  Do not wait until January 1 to begin with a resolution to change, get better, improve upon, etc.  Instead, make a plan with achievable, attainable goals and resolve only to avoid making excuses.  Then once your plan of action is in full swing, come up with a resolution for that mid-year get away to the Caribbean.  Happy Holidays, enjoy the season, and all the best for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

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

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

 

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

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts
Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself
Day 4 – Never Diet Again!
Day 5 – Benefits of Exercising in Winter – Outdoors!
Day 6 – Understanding Your Metabolism
Day 7 – The Most Addictive (And Least Addictive) Foods
Day 8 – The 10 Biggest Lies of the Weight Loss Industry
Day 9 – Are You a Closet Eater?
Day 10 – 10 Ways to Kickstart a Morning Workout

12 Days of Fitness: Day 10 – 10 Ways to Kickstart a Morning Workout

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

As we head into a New Year, people will often make a plan to exercise more or start exercising which often means having to do something they have never been successful to accomplish before, such as exercising first thing in the morning. I’ll be the first to admit, I am not a morning exerciser. When it’s called upon or necessary, I can do it but it’s built into my daily schedule for later in the day. For some, it may in fact be the only best time for them to do it. There are many advantages to exercising first thing in the morning and if it’s something you’re willing to do and give it a try, here are some tips to create that new habit.

  1. Set a Goal. It’s cliché but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Every Sunday night, create your workout schedule for the coming week. Tell yourself, for example, “This week, I’m getting up at 6 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and doing something for 30 minutes.” Schedule your morning workout just as you would an appointment. You’re more likely to follow your morning workout routine if you write it down. If you don’t make it, write a note in your calendar to explain why. Later, you can analyze your exercise excuses and look for ways to overcome them.
  2. Prepare the Night Before. To follow through on a morning workout routine, it helps to lay out your exercise clothes and equipment the night before. That way you don’t waste any time getting dressed and ready for your workout. One possible disadvantage of exercise in the morning is that your time may be limited — overcome this limitation by having a set routine and not wasting time looking for your sneakers or your weights.
  3. Create a Morning Workout Playlist. Music is a good motivator, especially in the morning, If you have a great playlist, it can be enough to get you out of bed in the morning. Research has shown that listening to music when you exercise can produce positive thoughts and help offset fatigue.
  4. Move Your Alarm Clock. Instead of sleeping with the alarm next to your bed, move it to the other side of the room. That way, you’ll have to get up and get out of bed to shut it off. Once you’re up, it’s that much easier to get dressed in your workout clothes, and head out the door for a brisk walk around the neighborhood or to the gym for a morning workout routine. If you use an alarm that plays music, set it to a song from your workout playlist to help get you in the mood for exercise.
  5. Make a Date. Having a workout buddy or coach is a great motivator. Make plans to meet your exercise partner at the gym at a certain hour. You’re less likely to poop out if you know someone is waiting for you.
  6. Make Friends. If you don’t have an exercise buddy yet, chances are you will make one after a few weeks of sticking to a morning workout routine at your gym. You’ll become familiar with the regulars who also exercise there that time of day. It does inspire you to get up and move because you know they’re there and will wonder where you are if you miss a day or two, It’s a social factor that can help motivate you in the morning.
  7. Let People Know. The more people know of your intentions, the more support you’re likely to get, perhaps even pick up a workout buddy along the way. It adds another level of accountability to keeping you honest with your plan.
  8. Do Not Allow Work to Get in the Way of Working Out. Resist the temptation to log on, check emails, messages, etc. that will most certainly derail you from getting your workout in. News flash – everything is still going to be there when you’re done your workout and chances are you’ll be better able to handle any situation that is awaiting for you once you return from your workout.
  9. Make It Simple. No one is going to move mountains in a day. Start by first getting into the habit of waking up and going to the gym, downstairs, or outside. Plan to do a small workout (15-20 minutes). Make that a pattern and then look to expand upon/add more to the workout. Don’t put any unrealistic deadlines on yourself. Make this a journey, not a sprint.
  10. Reward Yourself. Give yourself a target achievement of after so many days of getting up to exercise (now it’s habit), treat yourself to a massage, new outfit, gear, etc. But the greatest reward you can give yourself is that once the morning workout is complete, you are done for the day. Any additional physical activity is bonus and there won’t be any excuse about not being able to work out because it’s already done.

See you tomorrow for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Fitness

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

 

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

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts
Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself
Day 4 – Never Diet Again!
Day 5 – Benefits of Exercising in Winter – Outdoors!
Day 6 – Understanding Your Metabolism
Day 7 – The Most Addictive (And Least Addictive) Foods
Day 8 – The 10 Biggest Lies of the Weight Loss Industry
Day 9 – Are You a Closet Eater?

 

12 Days of Fitness 2016: Day 9 – Are You a Closet Eater?

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

Nutrition is a tricky subject. It’s not as simple as black and white and there’s a whole lot of gray where everyone can call themselves an expert. They don’t eat this because of what some “guru” spouted. They won’t eat that because they “read” that it’s bad based almost solely on pseudo-science. They steer clear of this because that’s what some best-selling book is preaching to all who will listen. But it doesn’t nor should it be that way. Who’s to blame and what needs to be done? The answer is simple. To blame is anyone and everyone whose sole purpose is to make moolah and a mockery out of people who are emotionally vulnerable when it comes to their waistlines or vanity. What can be done? Stop all the madness right now and truly understand that what you think you know about nutrition is most likely failing you.

Enter The Closet Eater

Not as the name implies, a closet eater is simply the individual that goes around boasting their supposed good nutritional knowledge, puts up the front that they’re a healthy eater, but in reality does more harm to themselves nutritionally and most times rather unintentionally. They feel good about the healthy things they eat, like salads, yogurts, green tea, organic products, etc. They’re proud of their avoidance of snacks like chips, pretzels, cookies, etc. and think that qualifies them as a healthy eater. What they quickly forget are the days they don’t eat for hours on end and the sometimes resulting binge eating that most likely occurs; the alcoholic beverages they drink throughout the week. They will never be caught in public being made to eat their words so to speak, but they’re nibbling on this and that behind closed doors all the while justifying they deserve a little treat because they’ve exercised or ate good all day. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that everyone is allowed to treat themselves from time to time and that exercise is not a free pass to eat whatever you want when you want. But let’s be real – none of this would be such an issue if we clearly understood nutrition and how it works for our bodies, not what we assume how it works for us based on propaganda.

Denying What We Know

Don’t eat carbs because carbs make you fat. Don’t eat fat because it will make you fat. Don’t eat too much protein because it will shut down your kidneys…and too much will make you fat. The only correct statement in that block is that too much – too much of anything can make you fat. Why? Because food has energy, better known as calories. Take in too many calories, you gain weight. It doesn’t matter where they come from. Utilize and burn those calories, you have a better chance of not gaining weight. But it’s not that simple and this is where some of the confusion begins. A calorie is simply a measure of how much heat (energy) is needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1° C. In laymen’s terms, low calorie foods produce almost no heat (energy) while higher calorie foods produce a lot of heat (energy). Low calorie foods may not produce a lot of energy but their energy contribution might not always be what’s lacking. For example, 100 calories of cookies brings the heat but no other value nutritionally whereas 100 calories of an apple brings the same level of energy BUT do to its nutritional package delivery (fiber, minerals, vitamins, water, etc.) winds up with a net loss in calorie punch, otherwise known as the thermic effect of food, or the energy cost of breaking food down for the body to use. The same is true with high calorie foods. 100 calories from a handful of nuts or an ounce or two of a beef filet has more bang for the buck nutritional value and a higher thermic effect of food then say 100 calories of French fries. What about blood sugars and its effect on insulin and the storing of body fat? All very true and important to understand, but if you don’t respect the simplicity of the energy balance equation, you enter into an endless cycle of moving from one crazy diet plan or gimmick to the next, each one telling you to eat this, not that and thinking the next best one is going to be the Holy Grail solution to a lifelong problem. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Not Always As Healthy As You Think

Today you can buy or have a whole meal without so much as lifting a finger. Drive up food; packaged packs to go; food to nuke or simply reheat. I really don’t think it will be that long before we can just add water to a capsule and BOOM! Voila dinner! Whatever the mode, you are left as the consumer to decide which is best for you based on deceptive marketing terms like organic, gluten free, whole grain, heart healthy, steel cut, artisan, etc. etc. etc. The government has even created a Food Pyramid or the most recent Healthy Plate to tell you what you need to eat not based on what’s healthy for you, but what the food industry would like you to think you need to eat. It’s enough to leave you scratching your head, confused, and frustrated about what in the world are you supposed to eat.

Successful Steps to Righting Your Nutritional Ship

  1. Forget everything you thought you knew about nutrition. Easier said than done I know but an absolutely necessary step. Unless you have a PhD in nutritional sciences, your knowledge of nutrition has come only from what you’ve read (mostly propaganda), what’s been passed down to you from others (where did they get their knowledge from?), or what’s been suggested to you by your doctor. (Note: as an exercise science student, I’ve had more nutritional science coursework than most MD programs.)
  2. Eat REAL food! Just about everything we eat has some level of processing to it, unless of course you live off of the farm that you cultivate. But if it comes in a box or wrapper and was once a real food converted to this packaged product, let that be the first clue to just how healthy is this food.
  3. Eat you fruits and vegetables. You cannot ever eat too much. #1 You’d be too full. #2 You never hear about anyone who gained too much weight from eating abundance of fruits and vegetables. (Note: Simply being labeled a vegetarian does not mean you eat nutritionally balanced.)
  4. Sugar is bad. Plain and simple, sugar is everywhere. Enjoy it where it naturally exists, not where it is added. Eliminate it or drastically decrease it and you will see a positive change.
  5. P-o-r-t-i-o-n control. If you and I were to go to dinner and order the same entrée, we’d both be delivered the same portion. Clearly, that’s not acceptable and you wouldn’t or shouldn’t do the same thing at home. Be mindful and aware of how much you’re taking in.
  6. Calories count, but… There’s always room for whatever you really enjoy but it all has to add up. Want a glass of wine with dinner? Sure. That’s approximately 110 – 300 calories per glass. Dessert? Why not? Does it all fit in?
  7. Focus on quality, not quantity. Good, nutritious food doesn’t necessarily need to be served in large quantities for chances are it will provide a greater level of satiety without an over surplus of calories. On the other hand, large quantities of food like those served on a buffet do not generally equate to healthy or nutritious.

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

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

 

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

Day 1 – Why Not Eating Enough Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Day 2 – 5 Ways You’re Self-Sabotaging Your Workouts
Day 3 – 10 Fitness Fibs You Tell Yourself
Day 4 – Never Diet Again!
Day 5 – Benefits of Exercising in Winter – Outdoors!
Day 6 – Understanding Your Metabolism
Day 7 – The Most Addictive (And Least Addictive) Foods
Day 8 – The 10 Biggest Lies of the Weight Loss Industry

Thanksgiving Day Survival Guide

buff-turkeyThanksgiving has become one of, if not, my favorite holidays of the year – so much to be thankful for and blessed to have family to share it with. Most of all, the food! I’m all about the food! The smells, the abundance, the limitless second and third helpings – I can’t wait. As a fitness professional, I have a very healthy relationship with food and understand that one day does not ruin my metabolism, waistline, or health. For some, that is not the case and the holiday meal becomes more an exercise in what not to eat rather than just enjoying it for what it is – a celebration. Nevertheless, if you still have a hard time coming to terms with just enjoying yourself, here’s a short checklist to perhaps lighten your anxiety a little bit.

  1. DO NOT SKIP MEALS! Limit your intake of calories leading up to the big feast. Eat breakfast and a protein-packed lunch (if dinner is later). If you starve yourself during the day, you could wind up SO hungry that by the time you sit down at the dinner table you eat WAY too much food.
  2. Go for lean, white meat turkey to get the most bang for your calorie-buck. Dark meat has about 15% more calories and 30-40% more fat than light meat. If you prefer the dark meat, then at least take off the skin since that is where most of the fat (added calories) is.
  3. Start with the protein (animal or vegetarian). Start with your protein choice and then work on the vegetables. Leave the starchy carbs until the end. The protein will help slow the brake down of the starchy carbs.
  4. Pause and take some breaths. After you finish each serving on your plate put your fork down. Chew your food and take a couple of slow deep breaths. Enjoy what you’ve previously eaten before starting on the next serving. The deep breaths don’t have to be obvious. Taking pause and some deep breaths will also help aid digestion.
  5. Choose calorie free beverages. If you are going to be having alcoholic beverages then everything else you drink should be calorie free. Skip the soda and juices. Drink lots of water to avoid the dehydration that comes along with drinking too much.
  6. Ask if you can make a side dish – make it a tasty guilt free dish so you will have at least one thing to splurge on. Veggie dishes don’t have to be boring.
  7. Burn calories! The more calories you burn with activity, the more food you can consume without feeling terrible about it. Do not skip the exercise leading up to the feast or on the day of. Make time to get exercise and raise your heart rate. Your metabolism will thank you for it.
  8. Wear form fitting clothing and you will be less likely to overeat. No sweat pants or stretchy pants. No one wants to see you with your pants unbuttoned after the meal.
  9. Use a salad plate instead of a regular dinner plate. If your plate is smaller you will not have as much room on it and won’t overload it with too much of the stuff you shouldn’t have a lot of.
  10. Keep your goal in mind! What are you trying to accomplish? Are you really doing yourself a favor by not enjoying a festive meal when your dietary habits aren’t all that great to begin with? Are you competing in a few weeks in a physique contest? Have you diluted your nutrition knowledge so much that you don’t even know what it means to eat anymore? The point here is this: health has as much to do with mental well-being as well as the physical and the nutritional. Don’t allow yourself to be drowned by negative thoughts or fears. Enjoy the day, enjoy the meal, and bask in everything you have to be thankful for. Just don’t allow one day to become two, six, or 30!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

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

A Heartfelt Thanksgiving Wish

happythanksgivingIn what always feels like the blink of an eye, summer has ended, fall happened somewhere shortly thereafter, and the holiday season is upon us which seems to begin earlier and earlier each year! Alas, in the speed bump month known as November we get to celebrate what I think is the most special holiday on our calendar – Thanksgiving. It’s a perfect time to reflect and be grateful for all that we have and endured to have, regardless of race or beliefs. And yes of course, there’s that wonderful feast centered around food without all the extra “distractions” and stresses. Thanksgiving has different meanings for everyone but I wanted to share with you some of the things I am most thankful.

I am sincerely grateful for:

  • My wife and our little boy. Every day they are the reason to keep pushing on whether it be for work, a competitive event, or life in general. They’re who I start and end every day with and nothing could be more comforting.
  • My parents. They nurtured me to become the man I am today and I now appreciate their wisdom more as an adult with my own family than I did many years ago.
  • My family, including my siblings, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. We share the greatest time and memories and we’re together more in a year than most families are in several years.
  • The friends and acquaintances I have made throughout the years. I truly believe the people you meet in life are not by chance and I have been blessed.
  • All of my clients, past and present, who I’ve had the opportunity to work with on many levels. They’ve not only made it possible for me to do what I love but have made me a better professional. They’ve put their trust in me as a source of honesty and integrity and I would never jeopardize or take that for granted.
  • My health. I’ve had my share of my own hiccups and certainly no comparison at all to the really tough journeys some others face, but I work at it daily through exercise, nutrition, and my lifestyle and I’ll never take it for granted.
  • My mentors and coaches. Through the years I’ve learned to assimilate all of the great advice along with all of the not so good or poor examples and cherish it all as lessons to make me a better person.
  • The men and women who protect our country. Their service and dedication is priceless and in the current state of our world today is more critical and appreciated than ever.

Thanksgiving is more than just a “kick-off” to another season so enjoy it for what it truly is. Eat what you want, drink what you like, and celebrate whatever is most important to you. On a health note, don’t make yourself crazy worrying about calories or overeating. It is but one day and one day is not going to magically sabotage any of your efforts, especially if your dietary habits are good year round. Oh, and one more little tidbit on fitness. Going to a marathon workout either before or after the festivities to get ahead of or burn the calorie surplus is a loss in futility. It simply doesn’t work that way; yet another lesson that it’s not what you do but how consistently you do it.

Wishing you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving!

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