The Importance of Life Changes

You can’t change your past, but you better believe that you can learn from it.

As I celebrate the arrival of my first child, I have had a lot of time to think about how I got here. All of the life events, choices, friendships, decisions, and other influences that I don’t even realize happened. Because as I gaze into my daughter’s precious sleepy eyes, I know that every single decision I’ve ever made since the time I was born has culminated into this moment of pure bliss. I know that I won’t have a great deal of time to spend with her as a newborn so I want to make every moment count. At the same time, I am overwhelmed with excitement to see how she will grow and develop.
Now take a deep reflective look at yourself (in a mirror or otherwise), then take all of the words describing my child, and replace them with your personal health and fitness goals. The paragraph above could be describing your body weight, strength, muscle size, or even something about your general health. And while the core message will remain true, you may not be looking at yourself and be happy or excited about how your goals are growing and developing. You can’t change your past, but you better believe that you can learn from it to make your next look in the mirror blissful.
The “Why”
If you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favor and read the book “Sart With Why.” It’s a leadership book, but it has some great take home messages that get to the core of what can help us feel fulfilled. When it comes to our health and fitness goals, many of us want to get there without making changes. Sure, going to the gym a couple times per week, drinking less, and saying no to candy bars is great. But I can honestly say that in the 7 years I’ve been doing personal training, I can count on one hand the number of people who were willing to exit their comfort zone to get to where they wanted to go. We all fall into these comfortable patterns of daily living that draw us in like warm cozy beds on a cold damp Sunday morning. We may be able to escape for a little bit, but we fall right back in when we get too uncomfortable.

Homeostasis —–> change —–> Chaos —–>Homeostasis

I think that’s why so many people do those 30-day diet/exercise challenges. They know that once it’s over, they can go right back to their comfort zone. The problem is that our end goal motives can be internal behavioral causes, such as instincts, impulses, needs, resolutions and desires as well as external behavioral causes, such as rewards, commendations, approval or disapproval. But the individuals that do the best, are those who are engaged in an activity for the pleasure the process provides (1). So if my goal is to get out of the cozy bed (get in shape), and stay out (stay in shape forever), I’m much more likely to do so if I’m playing with my daughter (healthy habits I like) rather than having to do chores around the house (nonsense health fads like eating kale) (2). When setting goals, the “why” should be something that makes you enjoy the ride.
Past Mistakes
The best lessons in life are learned through error. Whether they are mistakes we make, like leaving out a box of cookies on the table and expecting to have enough discipline not to eat them all by the end of the day. Or learning from others, like not to poke the bear. If you have tried and failed in the past, don’t go about things in the exact same way. It’s the reason why I talk to people on the treadmill at the gym. Typically, people do cardio to lose weight. However, cardio and dieting alone without strength training is a terrible way to lose weight, especially over a long period of time (3). But people try that route over and over again expecting weight loss to come. And when they don’t see that goal come to fruition, they get bummed out and quit for a few months. However, goal attainment is synonymous with behavior change goal feedback and tracking focused on accomplishments, resulting in enhanced self-efficacy for the goal (4). In other words, change what you’re doing (i.e. habits), document the positive results, and be happy with who you are and that you’re progressing!

References

  1. DECI, E. L., & RYAN, R. M. (2008). Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(1), 14-23. doi:10.1037/0708-5591.49.1.14
  2. Wisdom, J., Downs, J. S., & Loewenstein, G. (2010). Promoting healthy choices: Information versus convenience. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2(2), 164-178. doi:10.1257/app.2.2.164
  3. Dulloo, A. G. (2017). Collateral fattening: When a deficit in lean body mass drives overeating. Obesity.
  4. Héroux, M., Watt, M., McGuire, K. A., & Berardi, J. M. (2016). A Personalized, Multi-Platform Nutrition, Exercise, and Lifestyle Coaching Program: A Pilot in Women. Internet Interventions.

How’s That Resolution Going?

You don’t have to be perfect to get perfect, the best exercise and nutrition programs, and how to be realistic with what you’re going after.

Right about now, I bet many people are starting to say, “screw it” when they think about their 2017 resolution. And while this is indeed a shame, it’s not an eventuality. It is something that can be avoided by a little kick in the rear. Which is why I’m going to talk about how you don’t have to be perfect to get perfect, the best exercise and nutrition programs, and how to be realistic with what you’re going after. So buckle up for a quick read on how to resolve your resolution disillusion! 
 
What Do You Mean You’re Not In Perfect Shape After 3 Weeks?
One big reason why people give up on their health and fitness resolution so quickly is that they don’t see immediate returns on their investment. In fact, when we exercise, we often see the opposite. We are achy all the time, more tired than usual, stink with sweat (at least I do), and I feel like the list goes on forever. But, all that stuff goes away (invest in quality deodorant) once you push past the first month or two. The trick is really not to expect perfection. Not only do we all have flaws, we all have lives that don’t revolve around having a perfect body. Which is why, at the end of the day, it’s more important to be satisfied with what you’ve accomplished rather than be disappointed with what you didn’t. So, instead of going home and being bummed out that you didn’t get in the greatest workout, use techniques such as positive reframing, acceptance, and humor to be happier and more satisfied with how your day went (1). Be happy that you got any exercise in at all, and be satisfied knowing you truly made an effort to eat better that day.
 
You Already Know What The Best Exercise & Diet Are
People always want to know what’s the best exercise to do, or what diet works the best. The answer will forever and always be… the one that you will stick to. When it comes to your nutrition, none of the major diets reigns supreme. There is no clear cut winner when we compare any diet plan to another. As long as you can stick to it, any diet will do (2). One quick thing to note: In the short term, you will need behavioral support for friends, family, and possibly a professional for both nutrition and exercise (3). And in the long term, the effects of exercise will be more pronounced if you’re lifting weights (4)! But remember, your training program shouldn’t make you miserable. Which leads me to my last point.
 
Get Real
You aren’t going to look like a Spartan after a few weeks just because you did the “300” workout you saw on the internet. You need to set realistic goals for yourself… which can be tricky. For some, just asking yourself, “will this make me better?” is enough. For others, you may need hard and fast numbers to go by. In general, if you’re looking for fat loss, here is a formula to figure out how much you should lose per week (5):
Body fat percentage ÷ 20 = percentage of your current bodyweight you should aim to lose per week.
If you’re looking to gain muscle, you can expect to gain 4-7lbs within the first 3 months (6). And while muscle does weigh more than fat, it’s not by much. The density of muscle is about 1.06kg/L, and the density of fat is about .9kg/L.  In other words, muscle IS denser than fat, but only about 15% denser. Below is a picture of what two pounds of each looks like (7).
Inline image 1
What I’m trying to say is, don’t get caught up in how much you weigh for the first few months, and don’t overestimate how much muscle you will gain either. Just know that if you’re doing the right thing on a day to day basis, both metrics will improve. So don’t give up just yet if you’re not satisfied with the way you feel, what the scale says, or by how much you can lift. Everything will get better in due time as long as you stick with it!

References

  1. Stoeber, J., & Janssen, D. P. (2011). Perfectionism and coping with daily failures: Positive reframing helps achieve satisfaction at the end of the day. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 24(5), 477-497. doi:10.1080/10615806.2011.562977
  2. Johnston, B. C., Kanters, S., Bandayrel, K., Wu, P., Naji, F., Siemieniuk, R. A., . . . Mills, E. J. (2014). Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: A meta-analysis. Jama, 312(9), 923-933. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10397
  3. Zurlo, F., Larson, K., Bogardus, C., & Ravussin, E. (1990). Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 86(5), 1423-1427. doi:10.1172/JCI114857
  4. Zurlo, F., Larson, K., Bogardus, C., & Ravussin, E. (1990). Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 86(5), 1423-1427. doi:10.1172/JCI114857
  5. Alpert, S. S. (2005). A limit on the energy transfer rate from the human fat store in hypophagia. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 233(1), 1-13. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.08.029
  6. Damas, F., Phillips, S. M., Libardi, C. A., Vechin, F. C., Lixandrão, M. E., Jannig, P. R., . . . Ugrinowitsch, C. (2016). Resistance training-induced changes in integrated myofibrillar protein synthesis are related to hypertrophy only after attenuation of muscle damage: Muscle protein synthesis, hypertrophy and muscle damage in humans. The Journal of Physiology, 594(18), 5209-5222. doi:10.1113/JP272472
  7. Wernbom, M., Augustsson, J., Thomee, R., Sahlgrenska akademin, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Section for Anesthesiology, Biomaterials and Orthopaedics, Institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, sektionen för anestesi, biomaterial och ortopedi, . . . Göteborgs universitet. (2007). The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Cham: Adis International. doi:10.2165/00007256-200737030-00004

I Know Less Now Than I Did a Year Ago & Why That’s A Good Thing

The more you learn, the less you know.

For most people, the word “maybe”  often indicates a lack of confidence in the answer to a question. For me, it’s become the standard answer to just about any health and fitness question. Because I have learned, time and time again, that there is no such thing as an absolute certainty anymore. When I first came out of school with my undergraduate degree in Athletic Training, I was very confident in myself and my skills. Like most young professionals, I thought I was the best and brightest wherever I went. Of course, now I know that what I learned then was only the tip of the iceberg. During graduate school, I became a lot less certain of how much I knew. And as I sit here and write this today, I realize that I am John Snow. Because the age-old saying is absolutely true… “the more you learn, the less you know.
Inline image 1
 
It’s Not Me, It’s You
I have a love-hate relationship with learning. I love to find out the right answers to questions, but I hate that the process inevitably adds more questions that need to be answered! It’s a positive feedback loop that drives some people to do crazy things like getting PhD’s. But what’s even more frustrating, is the fact that there are so many bad sources of information which are not always easy to sniff out. By now, most of us know some basic red flags to look out for such as:
🚩 If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is.
 🚩 Specific results promised within a specific time frame.
🚩You must do THIS exact thing to see results.
 🚩 A magic pill, shake, supplement, etc without changing anything else in your life.
🚩 Using the phrase long and lean.
 🚩 And the classic standby nonsense word Detox (1).
In academic research, there are no guarantees as well. One major issue in research is that people don’t like to change. So if you have been doing something for years, you don’t want to be proven wrong. This can lead to instances where studies may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias (2). This can be done by the misuse of statistics sometimes called “p hacking” (3). This is especially true when a study is funded by an industry, such as a food or supplement company (4). Study participants can also throw things off as well. For instance, we suck at reporting how much and what kind of food we eat (5). This makes it extremely difficult to accurately determine what dietary guidelines are appropriate (6). It’s why cholesterol was the worst thing for us a few years ago, but now it’s no big deal. Not to mention how the media will take a study and blow it way out of proportion. Remember when resveratrol found in red wine was said to be as good for you as exercise? Well, it turns out not to be true because humans react differently than animals do when it comes to that particular compound (7).
Inline image 2
What I’m trying to say, is that we are all responsible for the quality of information out there. From the researchers to the study participants, to us the consumers of information, we can all do better at getting and creating quality information. Fortunately, there are organizations out there who are keeping track of the poor studies that should never see the light of day. And there are high-quality organizations who just want to help and aren’t looking to sell you anything.
The Upside
Don’t get all bummed out about what you just read. The whole point of writing this is to tell you YOU’RE AWESOME! Taking time out of your day to read this means you’re willing to do what it takes to better yourself. You have a thirst for knowledge which is ultimately going to make you better! This leads me to my last point, we all need to be willing to change our minds instead of digging in. Recognizing the error of our ways can be difficult. However, admitting we were wrong about something and changing our ways is how we change for the better. Because as Ben Franklin put it, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” I don’t want to be done with discovering and growing as a person. I’m not finished with my pursuit of education. I don’t know as much as I did a year ago because I spent so much time learning.

References

  1. Klein, A. V., & Kiat, H. (2015). Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: A critical review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 28(6), 675-686. doi:10.1111/jhn.12286
  2. Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2005). Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Medicine, 2(8), e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124
  3. Misinterpretations of the ‘p value’: a brief primer for academic sports medicine Steven D Stovitz, Evert Verhagen, Ian Shrier Br J Sports Med bjsports-2016-097072Published Online First: 24 November 2016 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-097072
  4. Colquhoun, D. (2014). An investigation of the false discovery rate and the misinterpretation of p-values. Royal Society Open Science, 1(3), 140216-140216. doi:10.1098/rsos.140216
  5. Schoeller, D. A., Thomas, D., Archer, E., Heymsfield, S. B., Blair, S. N., Goran, M. I., . . . Allison, D. B. (2013). Self-report-based estimates of energy intake offer an inadequate basis for scientific conclusions. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(6), 1413.
  6. Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2013). Implausible results in human nutrition research. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 347, f6698.
  7. Fernández-Quintela A, Carpéné C, Fernández M, Aguirre L, Milton-Laskibar I, Contreras J, Portillo MP. (2016). Anti-obesity effects of resveratrol: comparison between animal models and humans. J Physiol Biochem.[Epub ahead of print]PMID: 27981508 DOI: 10.1007/s13105-016-0544-y

Move More, Eat Less?

One phrase that gets thrown around a lot is “move more, eat less” for anyone who wants to lose weight. Because… you know… it’s just that simple. Right?

Resolution season is in full swing, and so is terrible health and fitness advice season. One phrase that gets thrown around a lot is “move more, eat less” for anyone who wants to lose weight. Because… you know… it’s just that simple. Right? No not at all. We spend our entire lives getting to the point we are at now. This means we have to break lifelong habits and create new ones to suit our goals. However, to lose weight we do have to burn more calories than we consume. That’s why today’s post is about practical ways to start your weight loss journey without losing your resolution mojo by Valentine’s day.
Never Be Hungry
WHAT?!?!?! Eat food to lose weight? There are actually great reasons to never be hungry. Generally speaking, people are really bad at being hungry. It’s distracting, and can be constant reminder that we’re denying ourselves and that we’re struggling. It also makes us more likely to give into temptation (cake looks a lot more tempting on an empty stomach). This can create a feedback loop where the harder we try to diet, the more likely we are to fail. To avoid the feedback loop, think “more is less.”
More Is Less
Obviously you don’t want to eat just anything to stay full. Making smarter choices will mean that you stay full while consuming fewer calories. What I really mean is that you should have;
      More colorful vegetables,
      More water,
      More lean protein,
      and more healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, walnuts, etc.).
By doing these things we will eat less calories by crowding them out with more nutritious, fibrous, and filling foods. By eating more will be less hungry and less likely to feel like we’re denying ourselves things. These steps will also help us avoid eating the “healthy” foods, like 100 calorie cookie snack packs, that don’t fill us up. In addition to being weary of the “healthy” label on foods, consider high intensity interval training (HIIT). Using HIIT training has been shown to decrease the feelings of hunger, while cardio training has been shown to increase the feelings of hunger. Come to our free Grit demos these next few weeks to see how a safe, motivating, and effective HIIT program is done!
 
Master Consistency
Mastering consistency, not intensity, is the last key to success. Making a bigger cut in your food intake will certainly make it harder for you in the long run. Being consistent, pacing yourself, keeping it simple, recognizing your shortcomings, and keeping it fun/fresh are crucial for long term success. Not only for your diet, but for your exercise program too. If you’re new to exercising, or getting back into shape, you will want to start slowly, learn correct techniques for every movement/stop an exercise when you can no longer control the movement, and cross train one or two days each week.
Keeping all of these things in mind can be tough. But when it comes down to it, your health and longevity is worth the price of the effort you put into it. Here is a great video to watch that summarizes the importance of consistency and safety in exercise, and how a little personal training can get you there. So when you hear “move more, eat less” just remember that this means to never be hungry, more IS less, and to master consistency.

Nutrition For A Unique Snow Flake Like You!

Our nutrition should be tailored to the varying demands and requirements we face on a daily, weekly, seasonal, and lifespan basis.

The year 2017 is here, and I for one am excited! Coming off of the holiday break, I am fully refreshed and prepared to hit the ground running. And while no one can be fully prepared for what life has in store for him/her, most people can make smart decisions about where they want life to take them. Which is why it’s this time of year that I like to say that when it comes to health and fitness, you’re not special, but you are unique. No, this saying doesn’t make any sense out of context. It’s really a broader term that can be used to help you realize that there are guidelines for people like you to follow, and individualized approaches that you should use when making your health and fitness resolutions come to fruition.
 
In General
Let’s focus in on weight loss/body composition. By now, almost everyone should know that if you want to lose weight, you have to master your nutrition before exercise (1). The number one rule for weight loss nutrition is calorie balance. This means you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning. This doesn’t mean “eat less, move more” because if it were that simple, the advice “buy low, sell high” would make us all rich! These two pieces of advice don’t take into account the complexity of getting to the end result, and really don’t mean squat at the end of the day. Instead, calorie balance simply means you need to take into account how much you’re eating on a day to day basis. If you don’t know how much you’re eating, you don’t know what needs to change. So you can break out a food scale, weigh your food, and calculate how many calories are in each meal with a calculator and food label information (very accurate, but very time intensive). You can guess how much you’re eating and enter it into a calorie calculator like My Fitness Pal or Calorie King (not very accurate, but a modest amount of effort needed). Or you can use the old “your hand is your serving size” method (not accurate at all, but little effort needed). Calorie balance being the most important factor for success, I would recommend the former, at least at first.
Inline image 2
The second most important factor is food composition or macro nutrients. And while there are thousands of books that have been written about this topic, you really should keep it simple by prioritizing protein over carbs, eating fruits and vegetables, and avoiding over-processed junk food (2). These simple actions will keep you feeling full and decrease your total calorie intake without you even realizing it (3). Success is not measured from meal to meal or even one day at a time. To succeed in a weight loss program, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn on a weekly and monthly scale. These final factors are what everyone should be considering on a day to day basis, but are low on the priority food chain, so to speak.
 – Calculating and eating exactly the right amount of proteins, carbs and fats
 – Nutrient timing
 – Hydration
 – Supplements
Are You A Snow Flake?
Would you agree with the statement that what we do and where we are may be more important than what we are? If so, then you would agree that we don’t need a unique individualized nutrition plan. This is because we, with the rare exception of those with disability or disease, are not unique snowflakes. We are more like… cars, for example. We may have different years, makes, models, colors, and possibly aftermarket alterations, but we can function more or less the same way (4). Even our genetic makeup doesn’t tell us what the best nutrition program will be (5). Heck, we can’t even predict something as simple as height by using genetic analysis let alone the complex issue of nutrition and health outcomes (6). Not even our individual gut microbiome can be of any help in creating a personalized nutrition program (7). Environmental, cultural and behavioral factors greatly overshadow our individuality (8). So, what are some personal factors that should influence your nutrition then? The answer to this includes factors such as age, body/fat mass, physical activity, and even pregnancy. Due to the fact that all of these factors are subject to change (especially physical activity) throughout our lifetime, an optimal diet should not only be determined by what you’re currently doing but also to what you should be doing (9). To sum it all up, our nutrition should be tailored to the varying demands and requirements we face on a daily, weekly, seasonal, and lifespan basis (10).
Inline image 3

 

 

References

  1. Malhotra, A., Noakes, T., & Phinney, S. (2015). It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: You cannot outrun a bad diet. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(15), 967-968. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094911
  2. Klok, M. D., Jakobsdottir, S., & Drent, M. L. (2007). The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: A review. Obesity Reviews, 8(1), 21-34. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2006.00270.x
  3. Holt, S. H., Miller, J. C., Petocz, P., & Farmakalidis, E. (1995). A satiety index of common foods. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 49(9), 675.
  4. Smith R (2012) Stratified, personalised, or precision medicine. Avail-able at: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2012/10/15/richard-smith-strati-fied-personalised-or-precision-medicine/ (accessed 14 September2016).
  5. Celis-Morales C, Livingstone KM, Marsaux CFM et al. (2016)Effect of personalized nutrition on health-related behaviourchange: evidence from the Food4me European randomized con-trolled trial. International Journal of Epidemiology. doi:10.1093/ije/dyw186.
  6. Gudbjartsson, D. F., Walters, G. B., Thorleifsson, G., Stefansson, H., Halldorsson, B. V., Zusmanovich, P., . . . Stefansson, K. (2008). Many sequence variants affecting diversity of adult human height. Nature Genetics, 40(5), 609-615. doi:10.1038/ng.122
  7. Zeevi, D., Korem, T., Zmora, N., Israeli, D., Rothschild, D., Weinberger, A., . . . Segal, E. (2015). Personalized nutrition by prediction of glycemic responses. Cell, 163(5), 1079-1094. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.11.001
  8. Joyner, M. J., & Prendergast, F. G. (2014). Chasing mendel: Five questions for personalized medicine. The Journal of Physiology, 592(11), 2381-2388. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2014.272336
  9. Blundell, J. E., & King, N. A. (1999). Physical activity and regulation of food intake: Current evidence. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31(11 Suppl), S573.
  10. Betts, J. A., & Gonzalez, J. T. (2016). Personalised nutrition: What makes you so special? Nutrition Bulletin, 41(4), 353-359. doi:10.1111/nbu.12238

What Keeps Me Up At Night

To maximize my sleep, I need to stay motivated. So today I am sharing some thoughts on how to stay motivated, and keep things in perspective.

 There are two things that can keep me up at night. The first being my cats who fight and sprint around like crazy as I’m lying in bed. I call it the “furry fury” hour. The second being the thought that I am not doing everything I can to help  my clients and those I interact with on a day to day basis. To be the very best professional and person I can be, I do a lot of reading. This is because I not only want to know the science behind my profession, but I want to know how I can best communicate my knowledge to those who need it. To maximize my sleep, I need to stay motivated. So today I am sharing some thoughts on how to stay motivated, and keep things in perspective.
Balance
 For me, productivity is only obtainable when I have a (relatively) clear mind. This means I can’t be bogged down by trivial nonsense or things I can’t control. Incorporating strength training, yoga, Pilates, and meditation are great ways to reduce stress and keep me productive. Just as important to me, is the concept of work life balance. Loving what I do comes with the burden of an immense time commitment to my place of work. To avoid burn out, I make time to do thing I love during the week. Whether it’s blocking out time to get lunch with my wife, or simply playing a round of disc golf in the middle of the day, I commit myself to loving life. In turn this allows me the will power to redouble my efforts while at work. Because everything you do is either going to raise your average or lower it.
Be Happy
 When it comes to achieving goals, being happy with you efforts is essential. This is particularly true when it comes to health and fitness goals. Motivation needs to come from within, and being able to sleep at night will be much easier if you know you did the best you can in pursuit of your goal. Fortunately, science shows that exercising makes us happy! Unfortunately, most of us know that it’s getting the courage to go to the gym that’s the hard part. So here are 10 excuses to not exercised squashed.
1. “I don’t have time” – Schedule it and make it a priority.it only takes 10 minutes to make a difference.
2. Too expensive – There are so many outlets for no-equipment workouts. And there are free services to take advantage of at O2 and almost any other gym.
3. “I don’t know what I’m doing  – You get two free sessions from a trainer at O2 so take advantage of our knowledge. If you don’t want to do that, just ask someone who knows what they’re doing for help. People a generally nice, and you may even make a new friend.
4. “I’m too out of shape” – We all need to start somewhere. And unless you’re grunting, no one will really judge you for what you’re doing at the gym.
5. “I can’t commit” – Paying for a service is a great way to commit and follow through. Here are some more ideas that don’t require financial commitment.
6. “I don’t like exercising” – There are so many forms of exercise that, trust me on this, you just haven’t found the one you enjoy yet. Keep trying new things!
7. “I lack motivation”Plan ahead. Schedule yourself to run a 5k or make plans with friends to meet at the gym consistently.
8. “I’m too tired” – Guess what… exercise releases endorphins, increases energy, and elevates your overall mood. So stop being lazy and get it done!
9. “I look good enough” – Loving yourself the way you are is indeed important. But exercise is more than that. It reduces stress, improve your cardiovascular health, improve your mood, sleep better, and feel better.
10. “I’m too old” – NOPE! As we age weight-bearing exercises become super important to maintain bone mass, making modified strength training ideal. Using low impact activities such as water aerobics, yoga, walking, or Pilates are also great ways to stay active.
 Being healthy and motivated means different thing to everyone. So my final thought on the matter is to find yourself a roll model. I look up to people like James Fell, Alan Aragon, and Spencer Nadolsky. But the best roll model I have in my life is my wife. She is the hardest working person I have have ever met, and she is incredibly intelligent. So you may not have to look too far to find the inspiration you need to find success and sleep sound at night.
Bonus picture of the two responsible for keeping me up at night 🙂
 

Deciding to be Happy

How making day to day decisions can impact your overall happiness.

Today’s post discusses how making day to day decisions can impact your overall happiness. I often find myself caught up in the moment and making regrettable decisions. Whether it’s skipping a work out, eating the wrong food, or even having one too many beers, I usually end up frustrated with my decisions within 24 hours. I’ve recently been trying to take a step back in such moments to analyze the situation. In doing so I’ve felt better mentally and physically, been more productive, and drastically decreased stress. This article discusses some fantastic ways to exhibit self control on a day to day basis while not losing your mind. One tip in particular that has contributed to my recent success is waiting 10 minutes before giving in to a temptation. Not only does this give me time to reanalyze the situation, but typically my weakness becomes nothing more than a fleeting moment. Read the entire article for more great tips to keep yourself on the right track!

Dealing With Reality

Reflect, learn, and plan for the future.

Reality can be cruel. You won’t always get what you want or see the results you were hoping for. However, burying your head in the sand or throwing a tantrum won’t do anything other than make you look foolish. And many of us have delusional thoughts of what is right and wrong for our body or have idealized the perfect picture of health in our mind’s eye. We unfairly judge others, and ourselves, for eating processed foods, not exercising, or for imperfect practices at the gym. But, how we think and act should not be a pursuit of perfection; rather, it should be in pursuit of doing the best thing for our future selves.
 
Get Your Head Out Of Your…
Getting off our high horses and doing the right thing will benefit not only ourselves but those around us. Your diet and exercise program is not the best there is. How do I know this? Because you’re not a professional athlete being studied by top scientists with customized diet and exercise regimens designed by leading academics. You’re a human, who has decided to go with a program that works for you, even though it may not be the best. So before you go judging others for not eating organic, realize that they may not have the same values as you do. And before you get too down on yourself for falling off the wagon, realize that your fad diet probably isn’t as great as it’s cracked up to be in the first place.
Inline image 1
 
 
No One Is Immune
Even fitness pros can fall into the trap of “all or nothing” thinking. Not all people are looking to lose weight, improve performance, have a beach body, or play professional sports. But I know trainers who think like this. Heck, I used to train people as if they were preparing for a physique contest against Arnold himself! But being healthy has nothing to do with those sorts of goals. And what do most people look for when starting a diet and exercise program? I mean, at the end of the day, what are you really looking to get out of all those hours at the gym?  I bet the following benefits of exercise is/are more appealing than looking good in tight jeans:
    • Decreased blood pressure and risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer (e.g., colon and breast cancers). (1)
  • The preservation of bone mass and reduced risk of falling (particularly in older adults). (2)
    • Prevention of and improved mood in people with mild to moderate depression while also potentially playing a supporting role in treating severe depression. Not only has research found that exercise’s effects last longer than those of antidepressants, but in regard to anxiety, research has shown that physical exercise reduces anxiety in humans by causing remodeling to take place in the brains of people who work out. This evidence suggests that active people might be less susceptible to certain undesirable aspects of stress and anxiety than sedentary people. (3)
  • Improved sleep patterns, which can help you become more alert in the daytime and also help promote more sleepiness at night. (4)
  • Enhanced feelings of “energy,” well-being, and quality of life. (5,6,7)
  • The stimulation of brain growth through the production and preservation of new brain cells and neurons, which enhances learning and memory, and is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (8,9,10)
  • The delay of all-cause mortality. (1)
 
Some trainers, both celebrity and local, can also falsely think that their way of doing this is the best. Because they know from experience that their method works! However, in reality, every trainer wants their method to work in the first place. This creates as massive confirmation bias (basically seeing what you want to see), and a failure to recognize failure. Because of all the conflicting anecdotal evidence based claims in the training, rehabilitation and nutrition arena clearly demonstrate the fallibility of humans to accurately judge the evidence of our own experiences when it comes to things like health interventions. Sometimes people will get better in spite of what a trainer or health professional is doing for them. There really is no “one true way” or “exercise everyone should be doing” because (prepared to be shocked) everyone is different. 
 
Take Away Lessons
Don’t get down on yourself for missing a day or two, or even a week. Exercise comes with many valuable lessons and creates and environment where you can be the master of your destiny (when you pay close attention). Through exercise, we learn that there’s a direct, unmistakable causal relationship between hard work and reward. By going to the gym regularly, you attract people who are into the same stuff and having like-minded friends is powerful. These connections can open doors, keep you motivated, and improve your health all around. Lifting weights will teach you that nothing worth having comes easy, you must be adaptable, and it’s good to appreciate failure.
 
You may have gotten what you wanted last week, or maybe things didn’t go as planned. Don’t bask in the glow of success for too long, or wallow in self-pity for not getting what you wanted. Reflect, learn, and plan for the future. Make yourself great again by doing what needs to get done and being a positive supporting person for those around you. 
References
1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, 2008 [Internet]. Washington (DC): ODPHP Publication No. U0049. 2008 [cited 2010 Sep 24]. 683 p.
2. Nelson ME, Rejeski WJ, Blair SN, et al. Physical activity and public health in older adults: recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39(8):1435-45.
3. Schoenfeld TJ, Rada P, et al. Physical exercise prevents stress-induced activation of granule neurons and enhances local inhibitory mechanisms in the dentate gyrus. J Neurosci. 2013 May 1;33(18):7770-7.
4. Driver HS, Taylor SR. Exercise and sleep. Sleep Med Rev. 2000 Aug;4(4):387-402.
5. Puetz TW. Physical activity and feelings of energy and fatigue: epidemiological evidence. Sports Med. 2006;36(9):767-80.
6. Yau MK. Tai chi exercise and the improvement of health and well-being in older adults. Med Sport Sci. 2008;52:155-65.
7. Conn VS, Hafdahl AR, Brown LM. Meta-analysis of quality-of-life outcomes from physical activity interventions. Nurs Res. 2009;58(3):175-83.
8. van Praag H, et al. Running enhances neurogenesis, learning, and long-term potentiation in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Nov 9;96(23):13427-31.
9. Laurin D, et al. Physical activity and risk of cognitive impairment and dementia in elderly persons. Arch Neurol. 2001 Mar;58(3):498-504.
10. Robert P. Friedland, et al. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have reduced activities in midlife compared with healthy control-group members. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. Vol. 98 no. 6: 3440–3445

I’m Secretly a Sith Lord, And So Are You!

Despite our best efforts, we can all have moments where we think irrationally, abandon critical thinking skills, and fail to be a balanced accurate viewer of what is going on around us.

It has been said that “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” If you don’t know what a Sith is, then shame on you. Stop reading and go watch the Star Wars movies! For everyone else, let’s talk about why I am secretly a Sith lord, and why you probably are too. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we are all evil people who are drawn by the dark side. What I am saying is that despite our best efforts, we can all have moments where we think irrationally, abandon critical thinking skills, and fail to be a balanced accurate viewer of what is going on around us. We like to have black and white answers to questions about shades of gray. Whether it’s politics, sports, or health and fitness, we all are looking for something that doesn’t exist: The right answer.
 
Context
There is often times no right answer because the question at hand is not framed within a reasonable context. What’s the best exercise? What are healthy foods? Should I be “eating clean”, or avoiding gluten, dairy, and GMO’s? How do I fix my back pain? Who’s the best boy band of all time? Hint: none of the questions can  be even remotely answered without more context. Everyone has extenuating circumstances surrounding him or her, and there can be no right answer without digging a little deeper.
Duck Soup
“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” This Marx Brothers quote from the movie Duck Soup reigns supreme when it comes to our perceptions of reality. We all look for patterns in our daily lives to explain the world around us. It’s why Airborne, vitamin C, and chicken noodle soup are thought to cure common colds. In reality, these interventions don’t do anything at all to help you heal up (1). But, at some point, I’m sure we have all fallen for the Airborne scam of taking a product, feeling better, and thanking that product for making us feel better. Here’s the dirty little secret… you would have felt better anyway because that’s how colds work. This same principle can be applied to many aspects of our lives. Ever hear someone say, “if I eat this ice cream, it will go straight to my hips!” Well, that’s not how the body works. If you’re not in a caloric surplus, then you won’t put on weight. But we see patterns and tend to blame one thing or another. Whether it’s weight gain, muscle building, or aches and pains, there is no one single reason for their occurrence. It is a spectrum of hundreds of factors that play into our health and well-being.
Avoiding The Dark Side
To avoid the dark side and being a Sith lord, try to think in relative terms. So instead of thinking that taking vitamin C will cure no disease, try thinking that vitamin C may help me if I am deficient and therefore could help my body operate more efficiently. This same reasoning can be used with eating organic. Will eating organic foods make you any healthier? Probably not alone, but it may inspire you to eat more fruits and vegetables in general which will make you healthier. Will avoiding chemicals make you healthier? No, but it may inspire you to learn about what’s actually in the food you’re eating.
Inline image 1
Should I be on a low carb, low fat diet, or will a Keto diet be best? Should I be taking probiotics? Will these supplements help me lose weight? Who should be telling me what to eat? What exercises should I be doing?
None of these questions matter in isolation, and none of these questions have a right or wrong answer. The answer will almost always be “maybe. It depends.” Don’t take answers at face value because no one source will have all the information. Don’t assign causation or blame because a myriad of factors will play into your results. Don’t simply put all your eggs into one basket. Our perception stinks. We, as humans, have a hard time sorting out reality. We try to use our past experiences to figure out the present, and this leads to all sorts of misguided judgments even in the face of contradicting evidence (2). Don’t dig in and defend these poor decisions once you have made them. Try to keep an open mind, learn as much as you can, and be willing to change as needed.
References
1. Hemilä, H., & Chalker, E. (2013). Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1), CD000980.
2. Fazio, L. K., Brashier, N. M., Payne, B. K., & Marsh, E. J. (2015). Knowledge does not protect against illusory truth. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 144(5), 993-1002. doi:10.1037/xge0000098

Inspiring Reasons To Exercise

Everything you need to know about exercise is that setting these benefits as goals will not help you achieve them as much as finding…

There are thousands of benefits from regular exercise, and as a sports medicine and fitness professional people ask me the same question all of the time. “I heard about this new thing that can get my body the way that I want it with only a little bit of exercise. Does it work?” Regardless of the new thing that someone is trying to sell you, or what magical powers it claims to have that can get you to lose belly fat, gain muscle mass, or keep you looking youthful, I always say the same two things. The first being “probably not, but let me do some research”, and the second being “why?” I’m not here to rant on about the fads being sold to suckers around the globe, but rather ask why people buy it. Because if all you want is to lose a little bit of fat mass, stay youthful and spritely, or even prevent disease I can guarantee you that you are going to fail!

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that exercise or any of the “breakthrough in science” products won’t work. As a matter of fact I have helped clients drop 40+ lbs in fat through exercise alone so they can go to the beach in style. But like a boomerang some people put the weight back on in the fall and come back to see me. What the heck does any of this have to do with you?! Good question! Let me explain to you everything you need to know about exercise.

Exercise is often viewed as the necessary evil by most of my clients, and sometimes even myself. People want quick fixes so they can stay at home and do whatever it is that they are going to do other than exercise. Exercise does not have to the bad guy. You know why my successful clients lose weight when they come to see me and don’t put it back on during the winter? It’s the same reason you see 70 year old men pumping iron 5 times a week, or the walking ladies in the mall, or even elaborate gardens at the retirement community. It’s because all of these people found an exercise, environment, or activity that they enjoy, and then stuck with it.

Exercise is an amazing thing. We all know by now that it can help prevent things like heart disease diabetes, and various other diseases. But being fit for life can provide so many more benefits. It can help you decrease stress and enjoy your time on earth more, it makes you smarter and help brain functions, and it can keep you looking young while living longer. It’s the freaking fountain of youth people!! But everything you need to know about exercise is that setting these benefits as goals will not help you achieve them as much as finding the person, place, or thing that makes you look forward to exercising daily.

References

  1. Deep Down, Exercise Helps Keep You Young. (2010). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 28(2), 4-5.
  2. Heir, T., Erikssen, J., & Sandvik, L. (2013). Life style and longevity among initially healthy middle-aged men: prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 1-5. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-831
  3. Opdenacker, J., Delecluse, C., & Boen, F. (2011). A 2-Year Follow-Up of a Lifestyle Physical Activity Versus a Structured Exercise Intervention in Older Adults. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society, 59(9), 1602-1611. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03551.x

4. Piazza, J., Charles, S., Sliwinski, M., Mogle, J., & Almeida, D. (2013). Affective reactivity to daily stressors and long-term risk of reporting a chronic physical health condition. Annals Of Behavioral Medicine: A Publication Of The Society Of Behavioral Medicine, 45(1), 110-120. doi:10.1007/s12160-012-9423-0