Category Archives: Weight Loss

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

 

Calories Do Count

Calories count and if you think they don’t let me explain something. You simply don’t comprehend one of the basic physical laws of life, known as the First Law of Thermodynamics. It states that energy can neither be created or destroyed but merely transferred or changed from one form to another. In regards to calories, they represent the energy or heat contained in a food item. When we ingest the calories (energy) it becomes a part of us in some form. We have lots to discuss.

Good vs. Bad

There’s no such thing as good calories or bad calories. Calories are a unit of measure; a calorie is a calorie. Take for example the distance of a mile. You can walk/run a mile, swim a mile, or bike a mile. One might be easier than another but that doesn’t change the distance. It’s still a mile. A food changes based on its nutrient composition and that can impact how much it will fill you up or how helpful it might be for your long term success for fat loss. A calorie is simply the amount of energy a food item contains. What changes is the nutrient composition.

Important Numbers to Know

Your metabolism (the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life) is a collection of numerous processes, not one single number. Here’s what goes into determining your metabolism.

Resting or Basal Metabolic Rate (RMR/BMR) – RMR/BMR is the number of calories you burn each day at rest, just to breathe, think, and live. This represents roughly 60 percent of your ‘energy out’ and depends on weight, body composition, sex, age, genetic predisposition, and possibly the bacterial population of your gut. In general, men and larger individuals will have higher RMR/BMR rates.

Thermic Effect of Eating (TEE) – TEE is the number of calories you burn by eating, digesting, and processing your food. (Yes, this requires energy.) This represents roughly 5-10 percent of your ‘energy out’. HINT: You’ll burn more calories digesting minimally processed whole foods compared to highly processed foods.

Daily Caloric Expenditure (DCE) – DCE is the calories you burn from purposeful exercise, such as walking, running, going to the gym, gardening, riding a bike, etc.
Obviously, how much energy you expend through DCE will change depending on how much you intentionally move around.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) – NEAT is the calories you burn through fidgeting, staying upright, and all other physical activities except purposeful exercise. This, too, varies from person to person and day to day.

Energy In vs. Energy Out

This relationship between ‘energy in’ and ‘energy out’ is known as the Energy Balance Equation, and it’s the most commonly accepted model for calculating a person’s energy balance and how much weight they’ll lose or gain over time. In theory: If you eat less energy than you expend, you should lose weight. If you do the opposite (i.e. eat more energy than you expend), you should gain weight. This equation at times can really frustrate people.The mismatch between expectations versus reality is not because the Energy Balance Equation is wrong, or a myth. Nobody’s body defies the laws of physics. It’s because the equation is more complicated than it sounds. For one, it is influenced by things like sex hormone levels, macronutrient intake (especially protein), exercise style / frequency / intensity, age, medication use, genetic predisposition, and more. “Eat less, move more” is a good start but that advice alone isn’t enough. Here are some of the reasons why

• The number of calories in a meal likely doesn’t match the number of calories on the labels or menu. Food labels can be off by as much as 20-25 percent.
• The amount of energy a food contains in the form of calories is not necessarily the amount of energy we absorb, store, and/or use. The food we eat has to be digested and processed by our unique bodies. The innumerable steps involved in digestion, processing, absorption, storage, and use — as well as our own individual physiological makeup — can all change the energy balance game.
• We may absorb more or less energy depending on the types of bacteria in our gut. Some people have larger populations of a Bacteroidetes (a species of bacteria), which are better at extracting calories from tough plant cell walls than other bacteria species.

Energy out varies a lot from person to person too. Energy out, energy burned through daily metabolism and moving you around, is a dynamic, always-changing variable. Our human metabolisms evolved to keep us alive and functioning when food was scarce. When energy in (degreased caloric intake) goes down, energy out goes down to match it. (I.e. We burn fewer calories in response to eating less). That’s how our bodies avoid unwanted weight loss and starvation. It’s how humans have survived for 2 million years. Therefore, trying “what used to work” for you, or relying on calorie counting, often won’t get you the results you want. As your energy balance evolves, so must your strategies for losing fat or maintaining your weight. Understanding energy balance means setting better expectations about body change.

What About Dieting?

Losing weight doesn’t “damage” your metabolism but because of the adaptations your body undergoes in response to fat loss (to prevent that fat loss, in fact), energy out for those who have lost significant weight will always be lower than for people who were always lean. Losing weight, and keeping it off, is accompanied by adaptive metabolic, neuroendocrine, autonomic, and other changes.These changes mean that we expend less energy — around 5-10 percent less (or up to 15 percent less at extreme levels) than what would be predicted based on just weighing less and can last for up to 7 years! THIS IS WHY DIETING DOES NOT WORK LONGTERM!!! Nothing really has been “damaged” but the body has adapted to the stresses put on it.

Real Strategies for Real Success

The physiology of weight loss is complicated, but the best strategies for losing fat and keeping it off don’t have to be.

1. Eat plenty of protein. Protein is essential when trying to losing weight / fat. Protein helps you keep that all-important lean body mass (which includes connective tissues, organs, and bone as well as muscle). Protein significantly increases satiety, which means you feel fuller despite eating less. Just by eating more protein you burn more calories, because of the increased thermic effect of eating.
2. Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, quality carbs, and healthy fats. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, water, and fiber to help you fill up during meals, stay full between meals, keep you healthy, and recover from your workouts.The carbs will fuel training, boost leptin (a super important hormone), keep up sex hormones, and prevent feelings of deprivation. And the fats also keep up sex hormones, boost the immune system, suppress excess inflammation, and make food taste really good.
3. Adjust your intake as you plateau, or to prevent plateaus. As your weight loss progresses, you will need to lower your calorie intake further to continue to progress, as your smaller body will burn fewer calories, and your body is adapting to your diet. Be ready, willing, and able to adjust portion amounts.
4. Understand that this is complex. So many things influence what, why, and when we choose to eat. Too often, eating and body size / fatness are blamed on lack of knowledge, lack of willpower/discipline, or laziness. In reality, food intake and body composition are governed by a mix of physiological, biological, psychological, social, economical, and lifestyle influences, along with individual knowledge or beliefs. One of the simplest ways to make your decision processes easier is to create an environment that encourages good food choices and discourages poor ones.
5. Do a mixture of resistance, cardiovascular, and recovery activity. Resistance training helps you maintain vital muscle mass, burn calories, and improve glucose tolerance. Cardiovascular exercise improves the health of your cardiovascular system, helps you expend energy, and can improve recovery. Recovery work (e.g. foam rolling, walking, yoga) helps  you maintain consistency and intensity with resistance and cardio training, making them more effective.
6. Find ways to increase NEAT. Even small increases in activity can account for hundreds of daily calories, and therefore make a big difference in fat loss efforts.
Some ideas: Get a stand-up desk or a treadmill desk; fidget; pace while on the phone; take the stairs; park your car farther away from where you’re going, etc.
7. Develop a solid nightly sleep routine and manage your stress. Sleep is just as important to your success as nutrition and activity levels. Don’t pretend that you can get by with less. It simply isn’t true.
8. Have some self-compassion. There are going to be meals or days where you don’t eat as you “should”. It’s OK. It happens to everyone. Recognize it, accept it, forgive yourself, and then get back on track.

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

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 11 – What Does It Mean to be Healthy?

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

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘healthy’? Some may visualize a lean person perhaps with ripped abs or shapely muscles. Others conjure up images of perceived healthy foods, like broccoli, chicken, Greek yogurt, nuts, and kale. Now, let me ask another question. What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘unhealthy’? Do you visualize someone unkept and overweight? I think most of you would come up with a list of food that contains some or all of the following: fast food, carbs, trans fats, processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, soda, etc. Regardless of what you pictured when you thought about each word, you are right… and wrong.

Understanding Context

I’m really not a fan of the terms healthy/unhealthy. More often than not they are used without proper context. Most times they are used as click-bait by editors in headlines to get you to read what they have to say. Instead I find it very important to understand not only what they mean, but also what they mean in the context in which they are used. The problem with words like ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy,’ is that they are thrown around with little thought given to context or understanding. They are used to scare or force you into making decisions without fully thinking it through.

Healthy Does Not Equal Fat Loss

One of the most common diet approaches when it comes to fat loss is just ‘eating healthy’. And while this approach is undertaken with the best of intentions, it often sets the dieter up for failure, for a number of reasons. The biggest one being that most people can’t agree on what eating healthy really is! The problem with labeling foods as healthy vs. unhealthy is that it forces people to see them as either good or bad. And that can create a dangerous relationship with food. When you limit what you can eat while dieting, you greatly increase the chances that the diet will fail. The more severely we restrict our food choices the greater stress we place on ourselves, and the harder the fat loss process will be. Yes we should limit our consumption of certain foods but notice I said limit, not eliminate. There is room in everyone’s diet for a reasonable amount of ‘unhealthy’ foods, even when fat loss is the goal. The important thing is not classifying foods as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy,’ ‘good’ or ‘bad’; but rather being able to identify which foods you should limit, which ones you should eat more often, and which foods will move you closer to your goals.

The Huge Scam

Another problem is the big ‘health food’ push by food companies. They know that people are becoming more conscious about what they are putting in their bodies, and are producing new products as a response. But trust me, they do not have your best interests at heart. Large food companies know that a vast majority of the population fall into the trap of ‘Eat healthy, lose weight’. And they take advantage of this. For almost every food item available, there is at least one (if not more) ‘healthy’ alternative. And most, not all, aren’t that much different than the ‘unhealthy’ version. They usually will contain about the same amount of calories, less fat or carbs, more sodium, more sugar or artificial sweeteners, and of course, cost more. These companies bank on the fact that a majority of people don’t read food labels or serving sizes, and that they will see the fancy packaging with the words ‘Healthy,’ ‘Low-fat,’ ‘Low-carb,’ ‘All-Natural,’ or some other meaningless marketing nonsense and purchase it because its quote ‘better’ for them. More often than not, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these foods. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from purchasing them if that’s what they want. But what I don’t want are people purchasing them because they think it will help with fat loss. Because then you are just wasting your money.

Context (and Calories) Are King

When classifying foods, context is king. What better context to classify things other than calories?  ‘Healthy’ food, just like ‘unhealthy’ food, has calories. Regardless of what type of food you are eating, if you eat more calories than you burn, you will not lose fat. 3,000 calories from chicken, brown rice, nuts and yogurt is the same to the body from an energy-in standpoint as 3,000 calories from pizza, beer, and ice cream. It’s still 3,000 calories. No one would probably consider those first food options unhealthy but if your goal is fat loss and you are eating so much of these foods that you are gaining weight, would that really be ‘healthy’? A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, at least from an energy-in/energy-out point of view. You cannot lose fat if you are not in a caloric deficit, no matter how ‘healthy’ you are eating. If you are only burning 2,000 calories a day, but are consuming 3,000 from one of the options above, you will not lose fat; no matter which foods you are eating.

Quantity AND Quality

The quality of your food does play a role in reaching your fat loss goals and eating the right quantity of food will allow you to lose fat. But in order to have a well rounded diet; one that is rich in vitamins and minerals, that will help your body function properly, help you recover from workouts, and leaves you satiated and satisfied, it will have to mostly be made up of ‘healthy’, high quality foods. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for ‘unhealthy’ foods either. If you are flexible with your diet, work these things into your day, or a free meal, you can enjoy the occasional treat or indulgence if that’s what you want. And if you don’t enjoy these foods, or they don’t agree with you, then stick with the higher quality foods. There’s nothing wrong with either approach as long as at the end of the day, you are moving closer towards your goals. It’s about finding the right combination of moderation and balance. In the wrong amount any food, regardless of how you classify it, can be detrimental to your fat loss efforts. So know that if you are looking to lose fat, or struggling with your current efforts, just ‘eating healthy’ probably isn’t enough.

See you tomorrow for Day 12 and the conclusion 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 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars
Day #8Dieting Made Simple
Day #9 – The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing
Day #10 – Insulin and Insulin Resistance

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 8 – Dieting Made Simple

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I can’t stand diets. In fact, if you tell me you’re on a diet or just trying to “jump start” your metabolism I interpret that as you’re prepared to fail. And why do I feel that way? Plain and simple, DIETS JUST DON’T WORK! Period! You’d think after all of these years of constant failures we would get the message. This time of year, people often look to trend diets for a quick way to lose weight. But, as I’d hope you know and understand, sustainable, healthy eating habits are the key to achieving lasting results. No question. It’s not easy but proven to be much more successful in the long term, which should be the goal. Here are a few simple tips and I emphasize simple.

1. Eat a variety of colorful fruits & vegetables. But you knew that already, right?
2. Consume protein at regular intervals throughout the day. Protein is the only macronutrient our bodies must consume from the outside. Fat and carbohydrate can both be manufactured by the body. And the importance of protein cannot be understated. Everything about you minus bone is made of protein. Digest that one.
3. Focus on consuming healthy fats. Fat is not the enemy. To lump them all together is admittance in not knowing or understanding basic nutrition. And fat does not make you fat. Energy (calorie) excess does.
4. Choose whole grains when available. Carbs are not the enemy either. To lump them all together is also another admittance in not knowing or understanding basic nutrition. Carbohydrates is the preferred energy source of the body.
5. Drink fluids throughout the day and during exercise based on individual needs. Hydration is key and is not to be taken lightly.

That’s it! Simple, right? There’s no sexy way to go about it other than to stop confusing real nutritional science with the ton of nutritional pseudoscience that’s out there. May be the day will come where the consumer is wiser than the manufacturers will give us credit for. Until then, you must fight on.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 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 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars

 

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 1 – Weight Loss Once and For All

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

I see a lot of people hopping from diet to diet. Many of you have tried several diets in your lifetime, and you’ve come to the conclusion that they didn’t work. You might have lost a little weight, but you didn’t maintain it. And weight maintenance is a requirement for a successful lifestyle change. You blame the program for our failure. Either that or you beat yourself up.

Weight Loss Has Nothing To Do With Intelligence

A lot of people who struggle with weight loss are very successful in other parts of their life. They have good jobs. They have good friends. They have a family that loves them. They’re smart people who are having a hard time losing weight, and they can’t understand why it’s so hard to figure out. Some of the brightest minds in the world are experiencing a real struggle to lose weight. So don’t view yourself as lacking in intelligence just because you’re having a hard time reaching your goals.

Losing Weight Takes Practice

Weight loss (and maintenance) is a skill you have to develop over a lifetime. You have to practice it. There’s likely nothing wrong with the majority of the programs you’ve tried. There’s a good chance they’ve worked for a lot of people. It’s natural to think the program doesn’t work for you, but in reality, you likely didn’t persist long enough through the struggle to realize your true potential. Think back to when you learned to ride a bike. When you fell off did you say, “this bike doesn’t work. I’m going to get rid of it and get a new one that will work better.” No. You stuck with it. You figured out why you failed and you put a plan in place so it wouldn’t happen again. The same goes for weight loss programs. It’s not about avoiding the struggle. It’s about seeing those struggles as opportunities for growth and learning how to navigate them. You push forward and you grow. You find the parts that work for your personality and adjust the rest. You make the program your own. Then you become the new habits you’ve created.

Consistency Beats Perfection

So many people expect perfection from themselves, so at the first signs of failure they run the other way. But you have to let that perfectionist attitude go and understand that the struggle is a natural part of the transformation process. You need it to grow and change. So work on taking consistent action and be patient. Commit fully to your journey. Work through the tough times and don’t give up. This is going to take time. What you do today doesn’t always show up tomorrow. It’s a cumulative effect over time. Make more of the good choices and fewer of the bad ones. When you make a mistake, learn from it, let it go, and then move on. Keep pushing forward until you reach the next opportunity to grow. Every barrier you break through raises the floor of your success. Don’t avoid the struggle. Attack it head on.

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

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

 

 

 

 

Great for Fitness, Bad for Fat Loss

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear. Exercise in all and any of its forms is good for you. Period. There are better types of exercise for a particular outcome (i.e. a bodybuilder will have to lift weights) but in essence whatever you choose as your preferred method of exercise you can do no wrong. However, when it comes to the number one reason given as to why people exercise, their methods are no where in accordance with the desired outcome – weight loss, more specifically fat loss.

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

The two are not one in the same. You can have weight loss independent of fat loss yet when one decides they want to lose weight, what they’re really talking about is dropping the unsightly poundage from their physiques. Weight loss is easy. If I were to strap a 50 lb sack to your back to carry around all day – work, exercise, etc. – in the heat, you would definitely shed some pounds. You would most likely lose a ton of water and a fair amount of lean tissue (muscle), something you definitely don’t want to do when fat loss, not weight loss, is the goal. Fat loss on the other hand is not very easy to do. It requires a concerted effort where exercise is only a fraction of the plan. For one, eating behaviors (not dieting) must change as well as lifestyle choices. Many are on board with the exercise thing but only modestly interested in changing their eating behaviors or lifestyle choices. To achieve fat loss, you have to buy into that formula 100%.

You Can’t Out-Exercise Poor Choices

It happens every year. The day after Thanksgiving the gyms are flooded with people attempting to repent for their sins of gluttony the previous day. News Flash – that doesn’t work! Where does this thought come from and why is it still believed? Simple. Exercise becomes that easy cog to manipulate. You hop on a treadmill or bike, sweat for a few minutes, maybe do some light to moderate resistance training (that’s harder, right?), perhaps jump in on class, but feel good about exercising. Something’s better than nothing is often the mentality. Sure, if just moving and getting some physical fitness is your goal. But exercise at a level most people consider to be their “best” effort comes not even close to “denting the fat” so to speak. Don’t get me wrong. As I stated earlier, any exercise is good. Physical movement is good. It improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, increases endorphins, etc. It will not though erase a so-so diet, improve your chances of dropping unwanted fat, or increase your physical capacity (ability to handle what life hits you with). Choices good or bad are yours to make but exercise will not erase or benefit much from either.

What to Do

First and foremost, be absolutely steadfast with your goal. There is no room for excuses, otherwise it’s merely a thought. Two, you need to program your exercise program. Yes, program it. Write it out, have someone help you, and follow it. Third, you need to change the way you eat. Notice I did not say diet. If you can find a diet that you can live with for the rest of your life (that’s a lot to ask of anyone) then have at it. But don’t you see how we’re all guinea pigs to this crazy-eat-better thing? Every year a new program comes out saying this is what you need or should do. The one thing you need to do? EAT! You need food to survive, not avoid things like a plague. Finally and probably the most difficult to do, you have to change your lifestyle. You like Happy Hour on Friday’s? May be cut back to 1-2x/month. You like to eat out 3-4 times/week? Cut back to 1x/week. (This alone will save you 1,000s of calories and money).

When all is said and done, fat loss occurs in people at different levels. Comparing your success to others or to the scale is unfair and sure to disappoint. But you owe it to yourself if fat loss is your goal you must not rely solely on exercise more as your antidote. It’s only a small piece of the puzzle albeit an important one. It needs to be consistent and part of the rule, not an exception. I believe you can do it.

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

5 Ways Your Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts

It can be very disheartening and even more frustrating. You’ve spent a bunch of time committing to doing what you thought was the right thing yet your weight loss has stalled or worse reversed. You’ve dieted and exercised all to no avail to the point where you’re ready to quit…again! Is it really supposed to be this hard? The short answer is no and chances are you’re most likely guilty of a few or all of the following reasons you struggle with weight loss.

1. You Don’t Eat Enough. Sounds counterintuitive but weight loss only occurs when you burn more than you take in, correct? Not exactly. Yes, if weight loss is your goal you inherently do need to eat less but there’s a point where much less is a bigger problem. As sporadic or chronic energy (calorie) needs are not met, the metabolism decreases to spare energy. This is one of the major issues with dieting. With a decreasing metabolism comes an even more uphill battle to losing weight (burning calories). Just eating less for the sake of eating less can do more harm to the body than good. As a general rule of thumb, females should not consume less than 1200 calories and men 1500.

2. You Do Eat Too Much. No one ever wants to admit it but unless your tracking what you consume you really have no idea how much you’re consuming. The classic is not eating all day and then eating a large meal at the end of the day to “spare” calories. Chances are you consume more calories in one sitting than you would if you had just eaten throughout the day. The other issue is overestimating portion sizes thus causing overeating. Portion sizes today greatly exceed how much you should really consume. Coupled with hurried eating and portion sizes it becomes a moot issue.

3. You Dine Out Too Often. It doesn’t matter how “healthy” a restaurant claims a food item to be. If you’re not cooking it, you have no control over that. Sure they may decrease the portion size but you’re still ultimately at the mercy of the restaurant’s chef. Dining out should be a treat saved for special occasions or for one time on the weekend. Portions are bigger, food is prepared for flavor, and they would love nothing more for you to order an appetizer, entrée, and dessert.

4. Overdoing It On Weekends. Lets say you’ve been good Monday through Thursday but once Friday hits it all gets forgotten. Maybe you decided Friday night was your night out but then there was a dinner date for Saturday night and a brunch on Sunday. Shouldn’t 4 out of 7 days count for something? Maybe, if weight loss isn’t something you are struggling with. The body systemically processes, burns, and stores calories. A bad weekend won’t show up right away but you can bet it will in time for a repeat weekend performance.

5. Jumping From Plan to Plan. Diets work when they are strictly adhered to. If it’s repeatable and palatable and you can live that way for the rest of your life, it will work. Why? Because by some method you’re simply eating less, plain and simple. But the reality is diets are nothing more than calorie deprivation tactics disguised as some new finding or mechanism, one that most likely is not realistic for people to stick with over the long haul. I’ve always said the thing wrong with Weight Watchers or similar programs is that people keep going back. A lifetime plan should not require anyone to go back.

Weight loss is and always will be a long, not short term process. The good news is that the time it took to gain the weight and the time to lose the weight have no correlation, meaning you can lose weight faster than you gained it. But it takes a conscientious, no excuse approach with a margin of error that affects us all individually. No tricks, no gimmicks, no potions, no magic fairy dust, no supplements- NOTHING – can replace the work of a hard working individual with vision.

Til next time, Train Smart, Eat Well, and Be Better.

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 12 – To Your Dieting Success

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

A majority of American adults say they’ve tried dieting to lose weight at some point in their lives, and at any given time, about one-third of the adult population say they’re currently dieting. Yet 60 percent of American adults are clinically overweight or obese and more than 16 percent of deaths nationwide are related to diet and physical activity. “There is clearly a disconnect if we have a majority of the population that has tried to lose weight and a majority of the population that is overweight,” says Marc Kiviniemi, a public health researcher at the University at Buffalo. “People are planning to diet and trying to diet, but that’s not translating into a successful weight loss effort.” Many issues, from biological to environmental, determine effective weight control, but how people manage their own behavior is a big piece of that puzzle.

Plan to Change

Dieting is a process that involves a plan to change eating behavior and behaving according to that plan. But the factors that guide diet planning differ from those that guide actual diet behavior, according to the results of a study with Carolyn Brown-Kramer of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “The crux of the disconnect is the divide between thoughts and feelings. Planning is important, but feelings matter, and focusing on feelings and understanding their role can be a great benefit,” says Kiviniemi, associate professor of community health and health behavior in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions. Plans to change behavior are a function of thoughts, the belief that weight loss is possible by making better food choices. But when it comes to making a food choice and deciding to execute the plan, feelings guide behavior. “If you’re sitting back conceiving a plan you may think rationally about the benefits of eating healthier foods, but when you’re in the moment, making a decision, engaging in a behavior, it’s the feelings associated with that behavior that may lead you to make different decisions from those you planned to make.” The findings highlight the shortcomings of deprivation diets or diets based on food choices that ignore people’s preferences. “First of all, the deprivation experience is miserable. If you didn’t associate negative feelings with it to start, you will after a few days,” says Kiviniemi. “The other thing that’s important is the distinction between things that require effort and things that are automatic. “Planning is an effort that demands mental energy, but feelings happen automatically. Deprivation or anything that demands a high degree of self-control is a cognitive process. If you put yourself in a position to use that energy every time you make a food choice that energy is only going to last so long.”

Plan for More Enjoyment

Kiviniemi says dieters should seriously consider enjoyment when framing and shaping a behavior change. “In the dietary domain, eating more fruits and vegetables is fabulous advice. But if you have negative feelings about those food choices, they might not represent elements of a good plan,” says Kiviniemi. “It’s not just about eating healthy foods. It’s about eating the healthy foods you like the most.” It’s not easy, and a lot of work is required to move intention to action, which is why Kiviniemi says planning should be broadly based on both thoughts and feelings. “Think seriously about how you’re going to implement the plans you make to change your behavior, and that includes not only the feeling component, but how you plan to overcome a negative reaction that might surface during a diet.” It’s not just the knowledge of what we’re eating, but consideration of how we’ll feel having decided to eat those foods, he says.

Happy Holidays to you and your families and blessings for a healthy, happy, 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 #1 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise
Day #2 – The Dangers of Dieting
Day #3 – The New Rules to Strength Training
Day #4 – How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy
Day #5 – How Natural is “Natural Flavoring”?
Day #6 – Understanding Food and Nutrition Labels
Day #7 –  Minimalist Fitness
Day #8 – 7 Common Myths About Fat Loss
Day #9 – The Food Pyramid: The Demise of the American Diet
Day #10 – 10 Weight Room Mistakes
Day #11 – Organic Foods 101

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 8 – 7 Common Myths About Fat Loss

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

As it is with many subjects, fat loss is awash with mythology. What’s unfortunate is that most people blindly follow the latest and greatest “fad” or are clinging to outdated information that in the end really hurts their efforts to get leaner. Then there all of the ridiculous programs promising to “cleanse” the body and “reset” the metabolism as if there were some magic ctrl-alt-delete feature for the body. Furthermore, weight loss and fat loss are not synonymous with each other as there can be weight loss without fat loss and vice versa. Following are what I consider to be a few of the many myths about fat loss in the hopes of offering you some clarity.

  1. Eating For Fat Loss Isn’t Always The Same As Eating For Good Health

Despite what various diet marketers will tell you, losing weight is pretty much all about calorie control. Sure, the proportion of fats, proteins, and carbs do play a role (more about that later in this article), but ultimately, if you consume less energy than you expend, you’ll lose weight, even if those calories come from “unhealthy” foods or food ingredients. Now there’s an interesting corollary to this: if you’re fat — let’s say even obese — you’ll improve your health by getting leaner, regardless of what you ate to lose the weight. I’m not necessarily suggesting you eat “bad” foods to lose weight; I’m just trying to achieve some clarity on this subject. And as much as many people will cringe when I say this, but you can and will lose weight eating cookies and chips and ice cream and any other forbidden foods you can imagine, as long as you eat too little of these foods. Again, I’m not advocating these foods; I’m just making a point.

  1. The Dangers Of “Chemicals” And Food Processing Are Largely Overblown

Why you ask? Well for starters, everything you eat or drink is a chemical, and everything you eat or drink has been processed to some degree. With that being said, some chemicals are less healthy than others, and of course, some types of food processing are worse than others. As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the dose:” even pure spring water will kill you if you drink too much of it. And even arsenic is safe if you consume a small enough amount of it. This isn’t to say that you should be completely indiscriminate in your food consumption. Some types of processing, such as trans fats, have been shown to adversely affect human health. Other types of food additives and processing methods are still the subject of vigorous debate in scientific circles. With that said, is there really a downside to eating an extremely “natural,” totally organic, and/or “unprocessed” diet? Aside from the potential expense, probably not. It’s just that such an overly cautious approach probably isn’t necessary. So why make things more difficult than they need to be?

  1. No Single Food Is “Fattening”

I mean that literally. Ice cream isn’t fattening. Big Macs aren’t fattening. Pizza isn’t fattening. What is fattening then? Eating too much food relative to your energy needs. Once again, pizza and ice cream certainly aren’t “helpful” foods if you’re attempting to lose weight, and they’re also not particularly great for your long-term health. But they certainly can be eaten as a part of a fat loss strategy, as long as your overall food intake is appropriate.

  1. Low/No Carb Diets Can (And Often Do) Work, But Not For The Reason You Might Think

People love weight loss diets that give you hard and fast rules, and I understand why: it removes the uncertainty from the process. So I’m not against rules necessarily, nor am I necessarily “against” low carb diets, but it’s important to understand that they don’t work for the reasons that their proponents state. For example, the common rationale usually put forth about low carb diets is that when you eat carbs, your body produces insulin, which is a fat-storage hormone, so the result is, you get fat. There are a few problems about this scenario however: First, insulin does act as a fat storage hormone, but it also has very beneficial properties also — that’s why it exists in the first place after all. Secondly, carbs aren’t the only types of food that produce insulin — proteins for example, also stimulate insulin production. Third, your body can store fat without insulin. So even if you find a way to totally prevent insulin secretion, it doesn’t mean you can’t still gain weight. So how do low carb diets work? Any time you remove large categories of food from your diet (such as carbohydrate-containing foods, or animal-based foods, just to cite two common examples), you tend to eat less, and therefore, you lose weight. Simple right? Actually, it’s so simple most people never consider it.

  1. Most People Have No Idea How Much They Eat

If losing weight isn’t about what types of foods you eat, but rather, how much you eat, then it’d certainly be important to know how much we’re eating, right? Unfortunately, research has shown over and over that most of us tend to significantly under-estimate how much we eat, and most people also tend to over-estimate how much physical activity they do over the course of a day. The solution? Self-monitoring. By the way, the most common characteristic among people who lose weight and keep it off for long term is self-monitoring.

  1. It Doesn’t Really Matter How Many Times A Day You Eat

 One of the oft-repeated myths about nutrition and fat loss is the idea that “you need to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism from slowing down.” Like most folklore, there is a kernel of truth in this idea: going long periods with no food does indeed decrease your metabolic rate, and eating anything does in fact speed up your metabolism. But when you look at the science, what we find is that, on a practical level, it doesn’t make much difference if you eat twice a day or 6 times a day. What does  matter is how much you eat in 24 hours.

So if you’re one of those people who don’t get hungry until noon or so, don’t worry about eating breakfast. Or, if you find that your energy levels and overall mood is better when you eat more frequently, go with that. In other words, use whatever meal timing and frequency that will make your overall nutrition program more effective and easier to comply with. Just make sure that in the space of 24 hours, your caloric intake and nutritional needs are being met.

  1. Fiber And Protein Make Any Diet More Successful

As a final suggestion, I’d like to leave you with a quick and easy tip that will make any nutritional program more effective, both in terms of weight loss and long term health: Most people would be better off with more fiber and more protein. There are a number of benefits to both, but for this discussion, I’m mostly talking about the satiety (feeling of fullness) that these two nutrients provide. The irony is however, that calorie per calorie, foods with a relatively high protein and/or fiber content are much more satisfying on a calorie per calorie basis. Feeling full is a GOOD thing because it makes you less likely to binge on less-productive types of foods.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 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 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise
Day #2 – The Dangers of Dieting
Day #3 – The New Rules to Strength Training
Day #4 – How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy
Day #5 – How Natural is “Natural Flavoring”?
Day #6 – Understanding Food and Nutrition Labels
Day #7 –  Minimalist Fitness

 

 

 

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 2 – The Dangers of Dieting

(This is part 2 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

You know what? I don’t like diets. They are highly ineffective for long-term weight loss, yet one in four people start a new diet every year. Of these people, only 20% of them will succeed at losing weight and keeping it off. But what about the other 80 percent? Do they just stay at the same weight? Nope. The majority of them actually lose a little bit of weight at the beginning. Then, they not only regain their weight, they end up gaining even more weight than when they started. So why do the majority of people gain weight when they diet? The answer is quite simple – muscle loss.

The Wrong Path

When we talk about diets, we’re talking about any temporary change to your eating patterns. The idea of “going on a diet” infers that you’ll be returning to your old eating habits once you’re done. What does the anatomy of a diet look like:

  • low calories
  • reduced energy and intensity in the gym
  • fewer nutrients due to fewer calories
  • quick (but short-lived) weight loss
  • slowed metabolism
  • increased cravings

All of these things create the perfect storm for muscle loss. They also create a spring-loaded rebound effect once you start eating “normal” again. Even losing just 5 pounds of lean body mass can slow your metabolism enough that your old calorie intake is now too much. Combine that with a slowed metabolism from hormone down-regulation and add in some binge eating behavior, and you have a perfect recipe for weight gain.
Each time you diet again you dig yourself deeper into a hole. This is the main reason why people diet their entire lives yet continue to gain weight. If you want to stop the cycle you have to put the diet mentality behind you. Focus your efforts on creating healthy eating habits.

Time Works Against You

Diets all have end dates. They last for 4, 8, or maybe 12 weeks and then they’re over. What then? Do you have any idea how to eat once your diet is over? Most likely, you will be returning to old eating habits and then starting all over again months down the road once your weight creeps back up. We want time on our side. When we stick an artificial end date in the future, time crawls to a still. Compare that to a lifestyle change where there is no end date. You might think that the short time period of a diet makes things easier, but this is a common illusion. We want to lift the burden of time. We don’t want to think about it at all. We want to move beyond the day to day intricacies of eating, and instead make our eating habits second nature. Once we do that, we’re just eating. Weight loss goes on autopilot and becomes an involuntary side effect. When you’re not always thinking about your next meal or your next cheat meal break, you can distract yourself from the weight loss process. You put more trust into healthy eating and believe that your healthy habits will take you to where you want to go. Your thinking goes from “if I can just make it the next 2 months eating this way” to “I’m just eating, and 2 months is going to pass one way or another”.

They Don’t Hold You Accountable

Diets give us something to blame when we don’t get results. It’s easy to say a particular diet didn’t work for you. Rationalizing your failure by passing the blame to an inanimate object is the natural thing to do. But was it really the diet that was to blame? Because we never learned along the way about our own relationship with food, and about what works for our individual metabolism, we end up placing all of our faith in our diet. When that diet doesn’t work, it’s on to trying the next one. We must hold ourselves accountable for our actions if we want to succeed. You can’t reach your weight loss goals until you accept complete responsibility for your current lifestyle habits. You are in complete control of your life. That doesn’t mean there won’t be difficult circumstances, but how we choose to react to those situations will determine our ultimate outcome. Weight loss is not a straight and narrow line from beginning to end. There will be a lot of detours. You will need to learn how to react in those moments, and diets won’t show you how. One of the biggest dieting fallacies is that there’s a blueprint you can follow for success. There isn’t.

They Teach You Very Little About Yourself

While diets will teach you what to do, they teach you very little about why you’re doing it. Learning the why’s behind your actions are what create sustainable long-term weight loss. Blindly following a diet or meal plan might seem easier, but no diet goes 100% as planned. If you don’t take the time to understand the purpose behind what you’re doing, you will be easily discouraged when times get tough. When losing weight you spend a lot of time in uncharted territory. You have to make tough decisions on whether you should increase or decrease calories, how many meals you should eat, whether cheat meals are OK, how to recover from a slip up, protein and carbohydrate adjustments, and 100 more unique circumstances. Diets won’t teach you how to navigate off the beaten path, and that’s where success is ultimately determined. If you want long-term sustainable weight loss, you must start educating yourself on the details of a healthy lifestyle.

Say goodbye to your dieting mentality. Stop searching for the next diet to try. Chances are it hasn’t worked out for you so far, and it’s highly unlikely anything will change that outcome in the future. Instead, work daily at creating new healthy habits that will build the foundation for long-term weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.

See you tomorrow for Day 3 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 – Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Exercise