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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 1 – 6 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

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

There are countless opportunities to pile on extra pounds during the holiday season. If you’re anything like me, it’s difficult to turn down all that scrumptious food and drink. And guess what? You shouldn’t! Forget denial and follow these science-based strategies to enjoy the season healthfully without making that tired resolution to lose the weight come the first of the year.

  1. Eat mindfully It takes time for our brains to respond to satiety signals that say “Stop eating! You’re full!” They’re either drowned out by our desire for more yumminess or because we are not giving your body the chance to react. The holiday season is meant to be savored, so enjoy each delectable dish to its fullest by eating mindfully. Chew slowly and focus on the experience..
  2. Drink water Liquid calories contribute significantly to our daily energy intake, especially during the holiday season when tasty libations abound. Our bodies aren’t great at recognizing that calories in liquid form contribute to fullness, so we tend to pack them on as extra. Choosing water rather than an alcoholic or sugar-sweetened beverage means you’re consuming fewer calories.
  3. Focus on veggies and fruits Holiday treats tend to be loaded in calories and rarely feature lighter fare like vegetables and fruits. “Eat more plants” may sound like tired advice, but there are so many festive ways to prepare plant-based dishes for your holiday table that help boost nutrition and keep calories in check. And why not feature fruit for dessert.
  4. Select smaller plates and cups Selecting smaller plates and cups leads to less food and drink consumed. Try setting your holiday table with smaller place settings. Choosing smaller plates is especially important in a buffet situation, which is a recipe for over-indulgence given all of the tasty choices for the taking. And smaller portions also means you’re more likely to finish what’s on your plate, which means less food waste.
  5. Watch your weight Weight gain occurs incrementally, and stepping on a scale either daily or several times a week is the easiest way to tell whether you’re holiday feasting has gone awry. Weight gain around the waist is especially harmful because of its inflammatory effect, so keeping track of how your clothes fit throughout the season is also key.
  6. Get out and play Weight gain is, ultimately, a simple equation: consuming more calories than you’re burning will lead to storage of energy as body fat. So the other side of energy balance—physical activity—needs to be on the list. Maintaining a fitness routine is a challenge during the holiday season, but the fact remains that we should actually increase our activity to offset the extra calories we’re consuming. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. And if stuff gets in the way, don’t beat yourself up; just get back out there when you can.

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

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

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 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.

 

 

 

 

5 Not So Popular Reasons to Lose Weight.

Female athlete suffering from pain in leg while exercising

There are many reasons to want to lose weight, most of it falling under the category of just wanting to look good. Forget, for a moment, about looking good. Forget, for a moment, about disease. Forget about all the big-name medical scares including atherosclerosis, arterial plaque, cardiac arrest, pulmonary hypertension, stroke, all the cancers, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Avoiding heart disease and looking ‘fab’ are great reasons to lose weight. However, there are 5 immediate and significant ways your life can change when you trim the fat that garner almost no attention.

Reason #5: Your joints will thank you.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, in which we lose cartilage and gradually destroy the bones of our joints. Imagine two rocks grinding together and you get the idea. Aging makes it more likely. Like most chronic illnesses, osteoarthritis is a vicious cycle. Your joints hurt, so you move less. Moving less means your joints don’t get loaded. Less joint loading means muscle weakness. Muscle weakness means force doesn’t get cushioned correctly. Less cushion means the condition worsens. More osteoarthritis means more pain. I think you get the picture. The point? Obesity makes it much more likely that you’ll get osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis worsens from a combination of excess joint loading plus the inflammatory chemical and hormonal environment that having too much body fat creates. Bottom line: One important reason to lose weight is to reduce joint pain and improve your movement. These are are things you can benefit from almost immediately.

Reason #4: You’ll get a good night’s sleep.

Two words: sleep apnea. Think of what happens when a rockslide blocks a tunnel. The upper airway collapses while you sleep, cutting off that oxygen tunnel. Just to clarify, sleep apnea is more than a little snoring. Sleep apnea means you stop breathing. Over and over and over as you sleep, which is bad. More body fat means more potential for sleep apnea. This comes from a few combined factors: fat in your airway narrows the space available which makes your airway more prone to collapsing; fat in your upper body puts weight on your lungs and reduces the space available to them. You need more oxygen but you can’t get it as well. While around 25 percent of adults have sleep apnea, 50 percent of obese adults have it. Even more scary: If you have mild sleep apnea, and you put on weight, the chances of you graduating to moderate or severe sleep apnea are:

• 5 percent weight gain = 250 percent increase of severe sleep apnea
• 10 percent weight gain = 650 percent increase of severe sleep apnea
20 percent weight gain = 3,700 percent increase of severe sleep apnea

So, why is sleep apnea bad? Sleep is a major regulator of our metabolism. If our sleep is bad, so is our metabolic health. This means things like elevated inflammation, rapid cell aging and oxidation, and hormonal disruption (and, yes, higher risk for all kinds of nasty chronic diseases in the long term). Bottom line: Another important reason to lose weight is so that you can sleep better. Not only does this help regulate metabolism, hormone systems, and more. It helps you feel, think and live better right away.

Reason #3: You’ll actually start to taste your food.

This may sound weird, but it seems that people who struggle with their weight don’t taste food as well. People vary in how well and sensitively they can perceive different flavors and textures such as fattiness or sweetness. One hypothesis is that many people with excess body fat also have altered flavor perception. Bottom line: Obese people have altered taste perceptions leading to eating more and eating more of the wrong foods. By losing weight you’ll end up craving less high-sugar and high-fat food. You might even enjoy and extra veggie or two.

Reason #2: Your immune system will work properly again.

Think of body fat like an ATM: a place where we deposit or withdraw energy. It isn’t.
Instead, fat is an active endocrine organ. That means it secretes hormones and cytokines (cell signaling molecules). Hormones and cytokines have effects throughout the body. They “talk” to one another chemically. Like all things, balance is important. If we have a healthy amount of fat, our hormones and cell signals work properly. If we have too much, things go wrong. Increased BMI and more body fat is associated with greater risk for several kinds of infections including: gum infections, nose and sinus infections, stomach infections, and oral herpes.Too much adipose (fat) tissue can release large amounts of immune chemicals. Over time, this chronic high exposure can interfere with the body’s ability to spot and stop actual outside infections. Bottom line: Losing body fat can mean a healthier, more responsive, more robust immune system. And that means less colds, fewer infections, and a healthier daily life.

Reason #1: You’re better able to handle surgery and/or childbirth.

People with a lot of body fat: are harder to intubate, have a higher risk of incisional hernia, have a longer operation time, have a higher risk of catheter site infection, and have a higher rate of serious postoperative complications. Surgery is a risky business for people who are obese. This is a double whammy because people who struggle with obesity also struggle with more health issues that may require surgery. Bottom line: Every surgery patient wants a safe and speedy recovery. And every mother wants a safe birth and a thriving, bouncing baby. Having a healthy range of body fat makes those happy outcomes much more likely.

The real bottom line: there are no advantages to carrying excess weight. Your weight loss goals need better focus than just the aesthetic reasons. That all becomes a nice side to a greater accomplishment.

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.

A New Years Plan to Follow

I know. January is just about over and here I am writing to you about a plan you should follow in the new year. Why? Because your best intentioned “resolution” isn’t going to work. I know. So pessimistic of me. Couldn’t I be more positive? Fact of the matter is, you’ll always have my support but reality is reality. 80% of those who make resolutions fail by February; less than 8% actually see them all the way through. Every. Year. Not great odds. The real issue with resolutions is that they are thoughts, emotional ones at that. Thoughts with no plan, no direction, or no real goal. I am here to tell you that none of this has to be fantasy. It indeed can be a reality. It has to begin though not as a thought but a course of action; a plan/statement as to what you’re actually going to do, not hope or when it’s convenient.

Best Foot Forward

My domain is exercise, nutrition, and health so let’s first start with that. If you’re going to start exercising but haven’t exercised CONSISTENTLY in the last two months – STOP! Starting an exercise program in January is no different than starting one in October. If you didn’t have the intentions then, you won’t have them now. Think of just getting moving. May be it’s a walk at lunch time; a few calisthenics upon waking up; just spending more time not sitting. Eventually you may find yourself seeking more activity, or may be not. The point here is that it becomes something coming out of an action, not a thought. Want to lose weight? Stop with the following of diet plans, potions, programs that promise quick, easy solutions. They don’t care whether you succeed. In fact, they’re counting on you not so you’re susceptible to their marketing again next year. Begin with small, achievable changes like adding a glass of water to your day; eat out less, pack food more; stop giving up foods and embrace eating more. Understand that eating is a means to survival, not an evil activity to be shunned or treated like a plague. Improve your relationship with food/eating before you think of following any program. There are no metabolism resets, cleanses, or any ridiculous rituals to fixing something that no one has a handle on. Long term, sustainable weight loss is a daily activity, not a 6/8 week program.

Making Some Real Changes

Not all resolutions need to be exercise and/or nutrition based. Prove to yourself that first you can set something up, achieve it, and feel proud about seeing it all the way through. It has to start with a belief, not a thought or hope. Following are some ideas to do to get you started, pumped up about seeing the one thing that eludes you – accomplishment.

• Get more quality sleep
• Eat vegetables at every meal
• Meditate
• Spend more time outside
• Actually eat your fruit before it goes bad
• Get back in touch with old friends
• Don’t watch tv or use the computer during meals
• Stretch and improve your flexibility
• Drink herbal tea instead of coffee
• Concentrate on improving your posture
• Cook and prepare lunch instead of relying on processed foods
• Stop biting your nails
• Compliment someone every day
• Cut back on your sodium intake
• Regularly donate unworn and ill-fitting clothing to a local shelter
• Clean your pantry and throw out expired food each month
• Cut down on the amount of plastic you use each day
• Re-try foods that you hate, but haven’t eaten in years
• Delete a social media account
• Keep a journal

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

 

 

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.