Tag Archives: health

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 12 – Three Reasons Why Physical Activity Should Be a Family Routine

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

The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was released in late 2018. The new guidelines reiterate best practices for physical activity and shed light on new research findings related to physical activity’s impact on growth and development, sleep quality, brain health and much more. Here’s the bottom line: Physical activity improves health during all stages of life and is good for the entire family. Read on for three reasons why physical activity should be a family routine.

Family Physical Activity Models Positive Health Behaviors for Children.

Developing positive physical activity habits is like any other behavior—we learn by observing. Parents are children’s first role models and have the ability to shape attitudes about physical activity. When children adopt healthy physical-activity habits, they benefit not only in youth, but as teenagers and adults. A 21-year tracking study found that high levels of physical activity between the ages of nine and 18 predicted higher levels of physical activity in adulthood. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that parents not only participate in physical activity with their children but also facilitate environments that encourage self-directed physical activity. For example, parents can place equipment such as balls and jump ropes near doors and play areas. Additionally, parents can help kids to form healthy habits by limiting screen time, focusing on enjoyment (rather than competition) and by working with school officials and other caregivers to ensure that active playtime is encouraged even when children are not at home.

Families That Move Together Build Stronger Social Bonds.

Social bonds describe the level of closeness we have with our family members, friends and other people we interact with every day such as coworkers and schoolmates. Our social ties impact several dimensions of our personal wellness, such as physical, emotional and mental well-being. Strong social ties not only affect the quality of our lives, they are linked to longer life expectancy as well. Healthy social bonds develop over time. Making physical activity a family affair can provide protected time for family members to share joys and frustrations about their day, which is important in building trust and a sense of closeness. Furthermore, when families complete an exercise or physical-activity goal together—whether running a 5K or simply taking a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood—they get to enjoy a shared sense of accomplishment. These shared experiences strengthen family social bonds.  

Families That Move Together are More Likely to Meet Physical-Activity Guidelines

Only 24% of children between the ages of 6 and 17 get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity, and less than 23% of adults meet the physical-activity guidelines for aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening activities. Social support, however, has been recognized as a determinant of physical activity for decades, and can be measured in several different ways:

  • Emotional support is the act of offering empathy, concern or encouragement. This type of social support lets other people know that they are valued and that their efforts toward becoming more physically active, whether big or small, matter.
  • Tangible support occurs when goods or services are provided for another person, such as providing free childcare services for an hour so that a friend can go to the gym.
  • Informational support is the provision of guidance, advice or some other form of useful information. A qualified health and exercise professional providing a free 30-minute fitness consultation is an example of informational support.
  • Companionship support is seen when two or more individuals participate in shared social activities.

All forms of social support are beneficial in health behavior change, but a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology revealed that companionship and emotional support are key in encouraging exercise participation. Subjects in the study who exercised with at least one partner who could provide emotional support increased both self-efficacy for exercise and frequency of exercise sessions.

If you are at the beginning of your family health and fitness journey, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Try to keep family fitness activities simple. Select activities that everyone will enjoy and ones that do not require advanced sport skills.
  • Get outside. Hiking, walking and biking are all great ideas.
  • Get behind a cause. Consider training for a local 5K or some other event tied to a cause important to your family.

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

Best Wishes to You and Your Families for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season and New Year!

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

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise
Day #5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit
Day #6 – The Real Science Behind Fascia
Day #7 – 5 Ways to Improve Eating Habits Without Counting Calories

Day #8 – How Age Affects Workout Recovery
Day #9 – Fitness and Nutrition Tips From the Healthiest Countries
Day #10 – 5 Bodyweight Exercises That You Can Do Right Now
Day #11 – How Exercise May Fight Aging

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 9 – Fitness and Nutrition Tips From the Healthiest Countries

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

While the world finds itself in the midst of a public health crisis with the COVID-19 virus, there are still many things Americans can learn from the health and wellness habits of those­­ who live in the healthiest countries in the world. Each year, the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index ranks 169 nations on several factors to determine their overall health. They evaluate countries on measures such as life expectancy, incidence of obesity and tobacco use as well as environmental considerations such as access to clean water and sanitation. Topping the list in 2019 was Spain, with an average lifespan of 83.5 years. Rounding out the top five on the list were Italy, Iceland, Japan and Switzerland. Unfortunately, the United States. didn’t break into the top 30 on the index last year, primarily because of the obesity epidemic that continues to plague the country. While Americans are exercising more than ever (up from 18.2% in 2008 to 24.3% by 2017), more than 42% of are still considered to have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, what can the U.S. learn from these global leaders in wellness and life expectancy?

Eat Simply

A person’s overall health and wellness is determined largely by what he or she eats. In the U.S., average diets have grown in portion sizes, saturated fats and calories over the years and the desire for convenience has left many people eating more highly processed foods and beverages. According to a study by researchers at George Washington University, “The rising obesity epidemic in the U.S., as well as related chronic diseases, are correlated with a rise in ultra-processed food consumption.”

Conversely, many European nations have stayed true to their culinary traditions over the years and consume diets that include fewer processed foods, are lower in unhealthy fats and higher in vegetables, fiber and lean proteins. On Bloomberg’s list of healthiest countries, Spain and Italy’s populations typically follow a Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to be one of the most nutritious globally because it focuses on healthy fats, vegetables, legumes, fish and seafood, which promote heart health. In addition, Spain, as well as many other European countries, is known for tapas meals (small plates), which encourage right-sized portions. While they are thousands of miles from the Mediterranean region, the populations of Iceland and Japan also follow traditional diets that center on whole versus processed foods and include fish, seafood and vegetables. Japan’s style of eating encourages natural flavors in food rather than dousing it in sauces. Icelandic diets typically focus on lamb, seafood and dairy. Finally, while Switzerland may be known for its rich and decadent cheese and chocolate, they also base their diets on eating real, unprocessed foods that create satiety and prevent overeating.

Move More

In each of the top five healthiest countries on Bloomberg’s list, outdoor exercise reigns over indoor gyms. In Iceland, a country that moves more than any nation in Europe, outdoor hikes and swimming top the list of favorite workouts. Spain, Italy and Japan all have plenty of opportunities for walking, hiking and running outdoors, while Switzerland boasts some of the finest skiing in the world in the Swiss Alps. Overall, the healthiest countries have plenty of traditional indoor and outdoor exercise options, but they also maximize movement in the everyday activities of life, such as walking to the store or planting and working in a garden. In addition to the nutrition and fitness trends all these countries embrace—whole foods, smaller portions, regular exercise—they all have excellent air quality, fewer issues with opioid drug addictions and more walkable towns and cities, all of which contribute to a longer life expectancy according to the Bloomberg Index. Americans are exercising more than ever but we’re not making gains in the kitchen, which is so important to overall health.

Taking a cue from our healthier neighbors, Americans would do well to get back to eating whole, unprocessed foods that provide a balance of macro and micronutrients. Combined with regular exercise, a change in diet would undoubtedly help the U.S. rise in global rankings of health and, more importantly, increase both quality of life and life expectancy for all its citizens.

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

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

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

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard
Day #4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise
Day #5 – 6 Ways to Adopting a New Habit
Day #6 – The Real Science Behind Fascia
Day #7 – 5 Ways to Improve Eating Habits Without Counting Calories

Day #8 – How Age Affects Workout Recovery

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 4 – You Are Never Too Old to Exercise

(This is part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I hear it all the time. “I’m too old to start exercising now.” “When you get to me my age, you’ll see.” As often as I hear it, I understand these statements to be more like myths than truths. It was once thought that once you reach a certain age all physical work is to stop. Contrary to those myths, you can actually improve your physical well-being in your older adult years even if you’ve never exercised before.

Age vs. Movement

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests adults do at least two-and-a-half to five hours a week of moderate-intensity activity. Not too bad. In addition, focusing on the postural alignment of the body may also help to start feeling better and moving with confidence. Proper postural alignment helps with everything from cardiovascular health to relieving joint pain and arthritis. When we’re young and continuing that habit throughout life it improves our health and decreases the chances of death. But a recent study found the same is true for adults who start exercising later in life. According to the study’s authors, “Although long-term participation in physical activity may be important to lower mortality risk, the present study provides evidence that becoming physically active later in adulthood (40-61 years of age) may provide comparable health benefits.” Other scientific studies have uncovered similar conclusions, including the fact that exercise programs for sedentary middle-aged adults can help to decrease the risk of heart disease  Now that you understand that exercise can help you turn around your health at any age, the next step is figuring out what activities you enjoy and will stick with over the long term.

A Change of Heart..and Mind

Starting exercise later in life requires that you find more meaning in why you’re moving. For example, can you transition from standing, down to the floor, and back up again easily? How do you feel when you get out of your car? Do you feel sluggish when you’ve been sitting for a long period of time? Ask yourself these questions and start to reshape your fitness goals to enhance your day-to-day functions in life and the confidence you have in your body. Choose activities that you enjoy, which will make it much easier for you to stick with your exercise routine. Get your family involved by going on a hike or a walk around the neighborhood. Dance with your grandkids in the kitchen, play a game of pickleball with friends or go for a swim at your nearby gym. Willpower will only get you so far, so find a way to make exercise a new routine for your daily life. Reward yourself for exercising so you’re motivated to do it again.

The bottom line: The earlier you start the better, so start today.

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

See you Monday for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitness

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

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You
Day #3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 2 – Sleep Facts That May Surprise You

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

Back in May, I had the privilege of attending an online seminar about sleep. Prepare to have your mind blown. Science keeps shining a light on the unknown to illuminate things we don’t know. The undeniable value of sleep has led to a recent expansion of the body of science around sleep. New understandings of sleep may be pleasantly surprising—and a welcome relief to those feeling pressured to adopt the mythical “early bird” lifestyle dogma so commonly promoted in health circles.

The Early Bird Myth

There seems to be society-wide pressure to get up early and “crush the day.” This is especially rampant in the health and fitness space. This flawed idea has no basis in science or the historical human experience. Instead it is a byproduct of an attempt to fit all of us into the “workday” boxes laid out by the work and school schedules of modern society. In sleep research, there are different “chronotypes” that refer to genetically predisposed best times to wake up and best hours of focus. An “early chronotype” (commonly referred to as an “early bird”) refers to someone who likes to rise very early, usually before sunrise. A “normal chronotype” typically rises around sunrise or just after. A “late chronotype” refers to what we commonly call a “night owl”. (that’s me..most of the time) Most people fall naturally into one of the three types. For example, the Hadza people of Tanzania are hunter-gatherers whose lifestyle remains similar to early humans. At any given time during the night, no fewer than eight of the tribe members are awake. This is in line with the “sentinel theory” first proposed in the 1960s. In essence, it says that somebody needs to be awake to keep watch for animal or human predators during any of the 24 hours in a day. As a result, there are genes for staying up late, getting up super early and everything in between bred into us and health is optimized when you follow what works for you rather than what you “should” do. In other words, if you’re not in the “early bird” group, it’s best for you if you stop trying to be one.

Polyphasic Sleep

The idea of getting all our sleep in one uninterrupted session is a given in modern life. Surprisingly, many people instead follow a “biphasic” sleep pattern where they sleep in two separate chunks, or a “polyphasic” sleep pattern where they sleep in many chunks during a 24-hour period. It was very common in preindustrial times (before lighting and modern work schedules) to follow a biphasic sleep schedule. The most common form is to sleep for several hours, get up for an hour or two, and then return to sleep for several more hours to achieve the total amount of sleep needed to be well-rested. Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Tesla stuck to almost impossibly strenuous polyphasic sleep cycles. Da Vinci reportedly slept 15 minutes every four hours, while Tesla never slept more than two hours in any 24-hour period (it is probably worth noting that Tesla had a nervous breakdown at age 25). These men were undoubtedly prolific and intelligent, yet their anecdotal examples are not a model to follow for most people. It can be as harmful to health to spend too many consecutive hours awake as it is to get less than your body’s required number of optimal hours of sleep. Our natural, historical tendency toward biphasic sleep warrants the acceptance of napping as a suitable method for being well-rested, especially if schedules or preferences make it impossible to get all your sleep in a single session.

Brain Flushing

When you are asleep, your body may be resting, but your brain is busy taking out the trash. The network that drains waste from the brain is called the glymphatic system. It works by circulating cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain tissue and flushing any resulting waste into the bloodstream, which then carries it to the liver for detoxification. Brain cells even shrink when we sleep, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to enter and flush out the brain. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are believed to be caused by inflammation and the accumulation of cellular waste products from energy production. These waste products are cleared out of the brain more effectively and more rapidly during sleep. Thus, in addition to the already familiar immediate effect of sleep quality and quantity on your mental function and mood the next day, there are apparently significant long-term brain health benefits to getting proper rest.

Bottom line: Don’t under value the importance of sleep. It could be your undoing.

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

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitness

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

Day  #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever

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

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

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

It a Choice

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

It’s a Mindset

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

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

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

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

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

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Are you fearing this year’s holidays? Are you wondering how you will handle the challenges of being confronted with mountains of delicious food, endless parties, and crazy schedules? Unfortunately, these worries and fears often lead to complete resignation, which causes people to give up all regular routines, self-discipline, and otherwise manageable self-restraint related to health and fitness. This, in turn, can result in guilty consciences, sick stomachs, sleepless nights, sluggish bodies, and bad attitudes.

The Good News: There is a Better Way!

If all this sounds familiar, your first step is to change your mindset. Practicing sound nutrition, health and fitness habits is vital to life-long wellness. Healthy eating, effective physical activity and regular rest are practices that should become part of who you are and essential to your daily life, just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. This shift in mindset sets the stage for greater self-empowerment and self-confidence, as well as a transition in locus of control from external to internal. The key is to recognize that you have the power to transform your life and live it to the fullest during times of joy, trouble, hardship, success, holidays, and festivities by applying key foundational behavioral principles. When you do that, you won’t get bogged down with seemingly endless challenging choices in every situation. If you make the following key foundational behaviors a priority, circumstantial, seasonal and unexpected events won’t have the power to derail you. Here ya go:

1) Drink water.Choose to drink water over anything else. Cold or hot herbal teas are a good option, too. Drink two cups of water when you first wake up in the morning and when you feel hungry outside of your regular mealtime/regular snacks. Festive Fit Tip: When you arrive at a holiday party, drink two cups of water or herbal tea before you start eating.

2) Move more, sit less. If you have the option of standing versus sitting, stand. If you have the option of walking versus driving, walk. If you have the option of moving about versus standing, move about. Daily physical activity and structured exercise, including cardio, strength and flexibility exercises, are a part of a healthy daily routine. Festive Fit Tip: When you attend a holiday party or an event, find a way to avoid sitting for the majority of the time (move about the room, start a dance party, etc.).

3) Something positive is better than nothing. Get away from an all-or-nothing mindset. If you don’t have time for a full workout, do 10 minutes of exercise and you’ll reap some positive benefits. If you forgot to add any fruits or vegetables to your meals during the day, add an apple at night. Apply this principle where it makes sense. Festive Fit Tip: Focus on nutritious foods during the holidays rather than on what you shouldn’t eat. Each time you eat at home or at a holiday party, add things to your plate that are good for you, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts or other healthy proteins or grains.

4) Take control. Focus. Reflect. Ask yourself: Is this behavior good for me? Be mindful. Choose wisely. Follow-through. Festive Fit Tip: When you are at a party and about to fill your plate with all the goodies from the buffet, pause and ask yourself: Is it time to eat now? What have I already eaten today? What is available here that is considered healthy?

5) Half is enough. Eat only half of the less-nutritious foods on your plate. If you take a cookie, for example, eat half of it and pack the other half for another day. Festive Fit Tip: At a holiday party or event, serve yourself only half of what is on the serving platter. For example, if you want a brownie, cut it in two on the serving platter and only serve yourself half (and don’t go back for seconds).

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

See you tomorrow for Day 4 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

 

12 Days of Fitness 2017: Day 11 – Organic Foods 101

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

20 years ago most organic food was produced by small farms and was only available at farmers’ markets and health food stores. Since the early 1990s organic food production has increased at the rate of about 20% per year, in both developing and developed nations – making it far more widely available – with giant supermarket chains like Giant and Walmart carrying organic products. Usually organic foods are more expensive; so with economy on everyone’s mind we needed a reminder of what organic foods are all about.

What Does Organic Mean?

Organic foods are produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and the land used to grow organic produce must go through a three year transitional period to ensure the soil is clear of conventional fertilizer and pesticide residue; in order to meet the USDA standards of organic certification. It must also be free from any waste contamination, either human or industrial and livestock must be free from growth hormones, not have been subjected to the use of antibiotics on a regular basis and must be fed a healthy diet. Organic products cannot contain genetically modified organisms in most countries. As far as food safety is concerned there is no difference between organic and conventionally produced foods – so always remember to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water to remove dirt and bacteria and employ safe handling and storage for meat, poultry, dairy and fish. Some scientists even suggest that organic farming practices are not as sanitary as conventional farming practices.

Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

In terms of actual nutrition there has not been any conclusive evidence to suggest that organic foods contain any more nutrients than conventionally produced foods. They do however contain significantly less pesticide residue. And don’t panic – if you are very concerned about pesticide residues for yourself or your children and you’re unable to buy organic foods, you can remove a significant amount of the pesticide residues in your food by simple peeling fruits and vegetables and removing the outer leaves (but do be aware you will be losing fiber and some nutrients), and trimming any fat from meat and poultry as the residues tend to be more concentrated in the fat and avoiding fish from contaminated areas.

But Is It Worth It?

Some people think organic food just tastes better and, if you can afford to, it makes sense to give your body the most delicious and best possible food available, but don’t stress yourself out over it. A varied, nutritionally balanced diet with proper food safety handling, whether organic or not, is the most important thing for overall health and well-being, and if you can buy organic you can be assured that you are helping to sustain the planet.

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 – 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

 

The Bread is NOT Why You Can’t Lose Weight

Wouldn’t it be easier to place blame on something that’s so available on your weight loss woes? That’s exactly what happened in the late 90’s by Dr. Atkins, Dr. Sears, et al. in their quest to combat the rising obesity epidemic. They scared people into believing that bread, more specifically carbs, were the enemy to be avoided like the plague. In response, the food industry was forced to develop product that was low carb or no carb that people would buy by the dozens. And they did. Fast forward to current day and the low carb craze as it came to be known still has a life today. But despite its alleged magical powers, obesity in this country has continued to rise.

It’s All About the Bread

Bread sales in the country have decreased, albeit slightly. The biggest reason can be attributed to the fact that’s there so many options available to consumers. Low carb, whole grain, organic, diet, half sliced, sprouted, low sugar, etc. – the options are endless. Bring a snow day here in the northeast though and the bread aisle is wiped out! Apparently snow doesn’t care about your waistline. Here’s another tidbit. The bread doesn’t care about your waistline either. The amount or type of bread that one eats has no bearing on how much weight an individual will gain or keep. Now this is not a license to eat all the bread you want but it brings up a fact that most miss when they consider losing weight or dieting. Calories. That little number some obsess over and others know what it is but no one pays much attention to when concerned for their weight. It’s just easier to dump bread or eat a sandwich without it.

Back to Basics

Calories count. If you don’t think so, you can stop reading. But if you do, you have to pay attention to how many calories you need and how many you need to burn. Simply putting the bread aside isn’t going to be enough. For example, let’s say you order a cheeseburger you feel you earned but ask for the bun to not be included or halved. You might save about 150-200 calories. But what does the rest of the meal look like? No fries? Ok, so now you’re down about 350-400 calories. What about the burger itself? That can vary greatly depending on what or where you ordered it. That can be anywhere from 200-650 calories! The bun was a calorie culprit but a small one indeed. The point here is that bread became the scapegoat of irrational, minimally substantiated evidence that carbs, specifically bread, was bad for your body composition. Sure, there’s plenty of evidence showing the net effect of carbs on spiking insulin levels but note that’s when the carbs are consumed by themselves. (A major flaw of the GI – glycemic index; a discussion for another time.) If you enjoy bread, then eat it. Trust me, it’s not the issue with your waistline.

But What About My Waistline?

Waistlines didn’t expand in a day. They are the cumulative effect of poor diet choices and/or genetics, not because you ate bread. As I stated previously, it’s much easier to pinpoint and blame a single food group or item than take the responsibility that your diet overall is the issue. Who knows? Someday it could be green, leafy vegetables that are the problem. The very first step to achieving optimal health is examining what you consume on a daily basis, including Saturday and Sunday. There are no “cheat” days. If you “cheat” own it and move on but understand that “cheats” add up just like everything else, bread or no bread. Most of these food blamed scenarios all stem from a single thought, or idea that sounds good on the surface. Upon further review, they’re nothing more than a desperate attempt to satisfy a desperate audience.

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

12 Days of Fitness 2014: Day 12 – Making Fitness Permanent

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

Sweat_FitnessSuccess-300x201During the holiday season, most do not even give health and fitness a second glance. After all, it’s a season of hectic schedules and spreading good cheer. Who has time to work out or eat healthy? But in a few weeks’ time, that all shifts to starting the New Year on a high note with a plan for more exercise and eating better. It’s an unfortunate reality that one, most people wait until January 1 to start taking their health seriously, and 2, that it usually all comes to a screeching halt within a month’s or so time. It doesn’t nor should it have to be that way. Too often people focus on perfection rather than making progress and when it comes to our health, it’s all about progress.

The Right Mind Set

How many times have you started a diet and/or exercise program and after may be only a few weeks or days threw in the towel? Often times people jump into a diet and/or exercise plan that is so strict or so completely the opposite of what is realistic for them that they quit entirely, repeatedly blaming that exercise is not for them or that the diet was too unrealistic. Many approach diet and/or exercise programs with an “all or nothing” attitude that sets them up for failure 100% of the time. It doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be that way. You don’t need to be perfect with your eating or your exercise program. That’s an unrealistic expectation of anyone and the person that says otherwise is usually hiding some demons of their own. You just need to moving towards a place better than you currently are and that is what progress is all about.

What is Real Progress?

Any movement in a forward direction is progress. There is no status quo; you are either moving forward or you are moving backwards. It’s as simple as that! That doesn’t mean there is no room for error. It just means enjoy life and all things in moderation with an eye on a greater pursuit – your health and well-being. It’s too easy to get caught up in the “I can’t eat that” or “I need to exercise more” mentality when the focus is on negative behaviors as opposed to positive, progressive ones. If you can consistently aim to eat better and regularly exercise, you’re making progress that can be more easily stepped up in times for more specific goals, such as preparing for a wedding or that summer vacation. Haphazardly piece mailing your nutrition and exercise is not going to cut it and is like climbing an oil-slicked slope – you might interpret you’re working hard but you’re not going anywhere!

The Secret to Progress

The secret is simple – make your diet and/or exercise the rule, not the exception. Good nutrition is something you need to work at daily; not weekly, or for a few months or for some unrealistic specified amount of time – DAILY! Same with exercise. It doesn’t need to be done in large chunks of time or with the pedal to the metal. It just needs to be consistent, not here and there, and in accordance with your goals. Do your best to be better and at your own pace. Keep a visual of this by keeping a food journal, or even making yourself a chart and document every time you eat a healthy meal and/or got a work out. At the end of the week, add it up and see if it’s in the majority or the minority – it becomes the rule, not the exception.

Accept and Learn From Mistakes

Don’t hide from your failures. Learn from them so that you are continually prepared for any situation. When you do get off course, don’t waste time and energy beating yourself up for it. Learn from what happened, and just move on without looking back. Many of us are so scared of failure that messing up makes us afraid to keep trying, and makes us question ourselves. After all, true success is just choosing to never give up, no matter how many times you fail.

Best to you and your families for a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy New Year!

 

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

 

 

12 Days of Fitness 2014: Day 11 – Are You Winning the War?

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

holiday-weight-gain-torranceThere are two guarantees in life: death and taxes. The rest of course is up for debate. Every politician that runs for office promises no new or reduced taxes (yeah, right) and there are those who claim that their products or techniques reverse the effects of aging or prolong life. (good luck with that one). There are those however that take a very negative, self-defeating mindset when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle thinking “What’s the point?”; “I don’t have time to exercise”; “Why eat healthy? I want to enjoy life.” And the excuses mount on and on until one day it bites them in the backside and it’s too late. Then it becomes, “I’m just old”, “I have a family history”, or “I never had the time.” I’m not here to tell people how to live their lives but what I can share is a perspective that most never think about or worse, don’t even know that it’s going on. So let me share with you some key points regarding everyone’s health that should probably be taught more stringently and you can determine if you’re winning the war or not. Your health is not an entitlement.

  • Cells are the basic units of every living creature. We have approximately 37.2 trillion of them.
  • There are hundreds of different types of cells in the body and with few exceptions are all constantly dividing and regenerating as little as every two days or more than 30 years depending on the type of cell they are.
  • Every time cells regenerate, they have to rely on materials present to carry through with the process. That’s what we provide through our nutrition.
  • Cellular health depends on the quantity and quality of building materials being made available. Think of two buildings that are knocked down and rebuilt – one is made consistently with concrete blocks and the other is also made with concrete blocks but straw is gradually being used in place of the concrete until ultimately the building can’t be erected anymore. Are you providing quality materials to build strong or weak cells?
  • Over time as the cell is provided with less and less quality material it grows weaker to the point where even intermittent good quality materials are brought in can’t be used optimally.
  • The more and more these tired and weak cells are left to their own to survive the sooner they begin to die off and slowly start bringing more of their surrounding neighbors down with them.
  • The body is designed to keep this scenario from happening at all costs and it does an amazing job of doing just that. But in time, there’s only so much it can take, it gets tired, and begins to throw in the towel.
  • The body fat; the unwanted pounds; the high blood pressure; the high cholesterol; the diabetes, etc. are all examples of the cells losing their individual wars.

So what’s one to do?

  • Every single time you ingest something, whether it be food or drink, you are having an affect on the strength and rebuilding of your cells. You can enjoy all there is in life, but be aware that every choice has a consequence.
  • Every day that you’re not engaging in some form of physical activity, the cellular environment gets stale and sludgy, like a body of water with no movement. In time the net effect compounds and makes every effort to the contrary that much harder.

The best advice will never go away. You need to be mindful of your eating; not perfect. You need to engage in regular physical activity; not just for fat loss. You are not only what you eat, but what you absorb. Exercise goes well beyond just sweating for 30 to 60 minutes a day; it’s an inherent need that when our bodies aren’t getting that movement have no choice but to surrender, and not on your terms.

See you tomorrow for the conclusion of the 2014 12 Days of Fitness

 

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