What’s Trending?

Like fashion, fitness trends seem to be cyclical. Every 5-10 years an old trend gets re-branded as something new and exciting (e.g. was Adkins now it’s Paleo).

After a brief break, I am back with a new post! This week we are taking a look at some health and fitness trends, and what you need to know about them. Like fashion, fitness trends seem to be cyclical. Every 5-10 years an old trend gets re-branded as something new and exciting (e.g. was Adkins now it’s Paleo). So let’s dive into the “new” trends and take a look at what they have to offer!
The Way You Move
The term “functional training” can mean a lot of things. Are you training to become better at a technical skill like a golf swing? Then sure! That’s functional training. But outside of getting better at a task, the resurgence of functional training has me shaking my head. You’ve probably seen the proponents of various “movement system” training at the gym or Youtube. Crazy folks standing on a wobble board to do squats, trying to mimic the movements of various animals, or doing all manner of contortionist circus tricks while standing on a physio ball attached to various bands, and so on. The people claiming that these exercises are necessary may use sciency-sounding words to justify what they are doing. In reality, there is no real standard to which functional training exists because we all move differently. There is no textbook form/function for specific exercises, but rather guidelines to prevent injuries while exercising. In all, there really is no justification for doing these crazy moves other than wanting to change up your routine. But if you’re trying to get strong and lose weight, well you may want to focus your efforts on practices that have been proven to improve those outcomes.
 
Expert Confusion
Holy crap I’m tired of seeing all these “experts” online. Everyone and anyone with an Instagram account and bulging biceps is apparently qualified to be a coach. This maddening concept is partly responsible for the resurfacing of the “muscle confusion” concept. Good lord it’s time to put that garbage term to bed. Adopting a periodized approach, rather than just winging it and doing something different every time you enter the gym, is a far superior way to see results. These coaches are also to blame for the social media fitness “challenges” that ask for both demanding and dangerous feats of athleticism. Fitness challenges may keep things entertaining, but it may come back to bite you.
 
Lose Weight Fast!!!!
Losing weight is easy. Just sweat a bunch, and you will lose weight. But because most people are looking to improve their body composition, it’s not weight loss that matters. That’s why the “lose weight fast” movement drives me crazy. Here are the tag lines of many “coaches” and/or companies that are essentially scamming us:
You don’t eat enough meals in the day to help your metabolism
You skip breakfast, which means you don’t “turn on” your metabolism to start the day
You don’t do intermittent fasting, which means your hormones are messed up
You eat too late at night and those calories are more likely to become fat
You eat “starchy” carbs, which are transformed into sugar
You eat white foods, such as white rice, which make you fat
You eat gluten or non-organic food sources, which pollute your body
All of these statements are laughably wrong (feel free to ask me for more info if you have questions). But millions of people waste money on products and services each year because these ludicrous statements are branded so well that they become social facts.
One Simple Trick!
It takes years of education and experience for fitness professionals to be able to properly help those they serve. So the insinuation that there is “one simple trick/plan” to help everyone is insulting and maddening. So when you hear/read some of the following statements, think “crap”:
Obesity isn’t a complex disease at all. It’s simple!
Calories don’t count; you just need to balance your hormones.
Hate exercise? There’s a wrap for that, and It Works!
Do fasted cardio to burn fat!
IIFYM bro
When it comes down to it, if you’re not eating well and regularly moving, then there really is no reason for you to even consider these trends. Try to master the basics of eating lots of fruits and vegetables and moving for at least 30 minutes every day. Because like everything else in life, achieving your fitness goals takes patience, dedication, and effort. If it’s truly meaningful to you, shortcuts are not an option.

How NEAT!

So what is NEAT you ask? It is all the energy used that is secondary to planned exercise and weight training activities.

Last week I talked a little bit about incorporating NEAT (non-exercise thermogenesis) into a weight loss program. So today I will be expanding upon what exactly that means, and what it can do for you. The information for today’s post come from a study published in April of 2015.
So what is NEAT you ask? It is all the energy used that is secondary to planned exercise and weight training activities. For instance fidgeting, singing, walking, laughing, cleaning, standing, and any other movements throughout the day count towards NEAT (also see table at the bottom*). Individually these activities don’t use many calories, however, when combined the NEAT activities can generate a great deal burned calories. In fact, it is estimated that those who are lean and active burn and additional 350 calories DAILY compared to those who are sedentary. For such small changes in what you do on a daily basis those are some big results.
Here are some more highlights taken from the paper that I think you will find interesting:
– NEAT variability can explain the caloric expenditure differences in individuals with similar body types. Variances in work and leisure-time activities in individuals play a fundamental role in NEAT differences.
– By just doing simple daily manual task activities, NEAT can be enhanced throughout the workday and at home.
– NEAT decreases cardiovascular disease mortality and improves metabolic parameters.
– NEAT has good long-term adherence, with positive impact.
Check out the rest of the article at the link below, and I highly encourage you to take a look at the table at the end of this email to see what steps you can take to increase your activity. I think it is also important to remember that the ultimate goal is to create a sustainable healthy practices. There is no need to try and do all of these things at once, but to focus on creating one healthy habit at a time.
TableDaily Activities According to the Amount of Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Activity Calories Burned per Hour
0-50 >50-100 >100-200
NEAT home activity
 Barbecuing/grilling X
 Cleaning X
 Clearing out storage space/garage X
 Cooking dinner X
 Grocery shopping X
 Hanging pictures X
 Ironing X
 Laundry X
 Organizing closets X
 Painting walls X
 Redecorating X
 Sweeping X
 Vacuuming X
General NEAT movements
 Climbing stairs X
 Pacing X
 Pushing a stroller X
 Riding in an automobile X
 Standing X
 Stretch band exercises X
 Stretching X
 Walking (strolling pace) X
 Walking and talking (briskly) X
 Walking around the home/office X
 Walking the dog X
 Walking to work X
NEAT yard activity
 Playing fetch with dog X
 Gardening X
 Mowing lawn X
 Planting flowers X
 Pruning shrubs X
 Raking leaves X
 Shoveling snow X
 Trimming hedges X
 Washing automobile X
 Watering plants X
 Weeding X
Hobbies and other recreational NEAT activity
 Baking X
 Bicycling X
 Bird watching X
 Playing board/card games X
 Bowling X
 Dancing X
 Fishing X
 Playing Frisbee or other outdoor games X
 Hiking X
 Journaling (while strolling) X
 Knitting/sewing X
 Kayaking X
 Playing the piano or another musical instrument X
 Reading (lounging) X
 Reading (standing) X
 Skiing (water or snow) X
 Surfing the Web (sitting) X
 Surfing the Web (standing) X
 Swimming X
 Practicing Tai Chi X
 Playing tennis X
 Watching TV X
 Watching TV on an elliptical trainer X
 Watching TV on a stationary bike X
 Watching TV on a treadmill X
 Playing video games (seated) X
 Playing video games (while moving) X
 Doing volunteer work (setting up/serving meals) X
 Window shopping X
 Practicing yoga X

TV = television.

*Mayo Clin Proc. n April 2015;90(4):509-519 n http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.02.001 www.mayoclinicproceedings.org

The Real Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Using the secret awesome supplements, fat burners, shakes, and other “scientifically proven” stuff that your trainer/TV doctor said to use. But for some strange reason, you just can’t seem to lose any weight?

Your app says you’re eating 1200 calories a day. The online metabolism calculator says that you’re burning 2000 calories a day. You’re even using the secret awesome supplements, fat burners, shakes, and other “scientifically proven” stuff that your trainer/TV doctor said to use. But for some strange reason, you just can’t seem to lose any weight. How can this possibly be?!?! Well, let me tell you a dirty little secret. Most of that stuff can be summed up in one word. Crap. Because if any of this sounds familiar to you, you’re not losing body fat because in one way or another, whether you realize it or not, you’re eating more than you think are even when you think you aren’t.
 
Calories In
Nutrition tracking is great because it can give you a sense of how many calories you’re eating within a given food, meal, day, etc. However, when it comes to tracking nutrition, the energetic content of food has been completely divorced from the energetic cost of food. Meaning, the tracker won’t take into account how many calories will be burned preparing the food and/or digesting the food. Additionally, your tracker may not always be counting correctly. For instance, I have seen examples on my tracker where the calorie count is identical for 4oz and 8oz portions of the same foods. So even if you use a scale to weigh and meticulously record you food stuffs, you could still end up being way off. In fact, on average people, even after being well educated on how to track their food, will under estimate their intake by 429 calories per day (1).That’s about 3,000 calories per week! That’s not to say tracking calories is not worth your while. Because when you’re not paying attention to calorie intake, you leave yourself open to all the environmental and cognitive factors that have you eating more and more without even realizing it. For the most part, your brain is to blame for all of this. So, set your brain up for success to decrease the amount you eat.
 
Inline image 2
 
Calories Out
You take out your phone at the end of a long day and see that you have walked almost 10.000 steps. You say to yourself, “not a bad day’s work! No need for the gym tonight.” But, of course this is a huge mistake. For starters, everyone should be exercising in some fashion just about everyday. Regardless of age, gender, or health concerns, there are guidelines that you should follow for your exercise routine. The operative word being routine. Not a “when I feel like it” mentality. Secondly, there really is no great way to measure your steps, or for that matter, your calorie output. Even the most expensive and popular brands of trackers routinely under-estimate your steps while over-estimating your calorie expenditure (2). If you truly want to know how many calories you’re using in a day, you will need to be hooked up to some expensive machinery (see picture bellow for details). But you better not plan on using that number forever. Your calorie usage changes on a daily basis for many reasons. And as you lose weight, your body will almost cruelly reduce the number of calories it burns. Because as you become leaner, this ‘leanness’ means your body doesn’t require as many calories to keep you alive.
 
Inline image 1
Beware The Guru
By now most of you know that I don’t enjoy the works of certain health and fitness “gurus.” Not only that, but I don’t really believe that the works of many supplement companies are quite ethical. With everyone craving instant results, the immoral take advantage of this fact despite knowing there is no way they can deliver. They make fads something to profit off of rather than actually help people and guide them to success in their goals. They try to get you to buy into their way of thinking, so it makes it harder for you to dig yourself out of their profit pit. They use fear mongering to get their way and make your pocketbook lighter. And while it certainly is commendable that you want to do something to make yourself healthier, I would like to share with you some money saving and health enhancing factsFat burning supplements won’t help you lose weight but can be dangerous (3). Vitamin supplements and detoxes are a waste of money (4). And cutting fat is just as effective as cutting carbs to lose fat mass (5). Diet soda is actually a good tool to help you lose weight and to that end, there are no negative side effects of consuming artificial sweeteners (6). And the likes of TV doctors and Men’s Health magazine leave much to be desired when it comes to good advice (7,8)
 
Inline image 3
 
Instead of focusing on instant gratification, remember that anything worth having is going to take time, hard work, and persistence. Instead of searching for motivation all the time, learn why motivation is unreliable and what you should do instead. Remember that any diet suggesting you remove entire food groups, or slash your calories drastically doesn’t have your best interests in mind. There’s no long-term play here. Finally, ask yourself “are there any beliefs you hold that you might need to let go in order to attain better results?”
References
1. Champagne, C. M., Bray, G. A., Kurtz, A. A., Monteiro, J. B. R., Tucker, E., Volaufova, J., & Delany, J. P. (2002). Energy intake and energy expenditure: A controlled study comparing dietitians and non-dietitians. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(10), 1428-1432. doi:10.1016/S0002-8223(02)90316-0
2. NELSON, M. B., KAMINSKY, L. A., DICKIN, D. C., & MONTOYE, A. H. K. (2016). Validity of consumer-based physical activity monitors for specific activity types. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 48(8), 1619-1628. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000933
3. Dara, L., Hewett, J., & Lim, J. K. (2008). Hydroxycut hepatotoxicity: A case series and review of liver toxicity from herbal weight loss supplements. China: The WJG Press and Baishideng. doi:10.3748/wjg.14.6999
4. Guallar, E., Stranges, S., Mulrow, C., Appel, L. J., & Miller, 3., Edgar R. (2013). Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements. Annals of Internal Medicine, 159(12), 850.
5. Hall, K. D., Bemis, T., Brychta, R., Chen, K. Y., Courville, A., Crayner, E. J., . . . Yannai, L. (2015). Calorie for calorie, dietary fat restriction results in more body fat loss than carbohydrate restriction in people with obesity. Cell Metabolism, 22(3), 427. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.021
6. Peters, J. C., Wyatt, H. R., Foster, G. D., Pan, Z., Wojtanowski, A. C., Vander Veur, S. S., . . . Hill, J. O. (2014). The effects of water and non‐nutritive sweetened beverages on weight loss during a 12‐week weight loss treatment program. Obesity, 22(6), 1415-1421. doi:10.1002/oby.20737
7. Korownyk, C., Kolber, M. R., McCormack, J., Lam, V., Overbo, K., Cotton, C.. . Allan, G. M. (2014). Televised medical talk shows–what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: A prospective observational study. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 349(dec17 11), g7346-g7346. doi:10.1136/bmj.g7346
8. Cook, T. M., Russell, J. M., & Barker, M. E. (2014). Dietary advice for muscularity, leanness and weight control in men’s health magazine: A content analysis. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 1062-1062. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1062

The Best Signs Of Progress Don’t Include Your Weight!

Physical and mental signs of improvement that make the scale irrelevant!

I can get anyone to lose 5 pounds with one simple trick. I put them in a steam room for an hour and don’t allow them to drink anything! But of course, for most people, that’s not  the point of losing weight. This simple fact begs the question, if losing water weight isn’t the end goal, then does what the scale says even matter? Our weight fluctuates to a dramatic degree throughout the day based on all sorts of things. Are you hydrated?  Did you use the bathroom recently? Have you eaten yet? Are you sick? Are you stressed? Even your sleep can play a roll in weight fluctuation. That’s why I want to talk about the physical and mental signs of improvement that make the scale irrelevant! 
 
First Things First
For the most part, people want to see two things happen. They want to see themselves lose fat, and gain muscle. But there are so many more benefits to exercise than that. So I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to write down exactly what their goals are. Once you have a goal/goals in mind, you can start to take action and monitor the outcomes of your efforts. I don’t want to get too side-tracked here, so here are some easy steps to start taking action today.
Write down one outcome you want. Don’t over-think it. Just name the desired outcome you want most right now.
Write down some of the skills you think you’ll need to get that outcome. If you’re just starting out, focus on foundation skills. What are the basics that make everything else possible? (For instance, if you want to manage your time, you need to learn to use a calendar.)
Related to each skill, write down a behavior or two you can do today that’ll help build those skills. This can be really easy, like walking through the gym doors or even packing your gym bag for tomorrow morning.
Do the behavior today, and tomorrow, and so on. And, keep in mind, if you don’t follow through on a given day, don’t let it derail you. Each day is a clean slate.
 
By The Numbers
Some of the best physical markers of success are easy to see, while others take some time and equipment to measure. So for each marker, I will give you the scientific way to go about reaching it, and the DIY version.
Body Composition – This is perhaps the most revealing assessment (1). Your body composition is the ration of fat mass to lean mass (muscle, bone, water, etc.). There are loads of ways to measure this marker from the gold standard Bod Pod and X-rays, to skin fold measures, to the less accurate bio-electrical impermanence (BIA). For all intents and purposes, the BIA does a good enough job for most people and is a cheep option via a smart scale or hand held device. Seeing your body fat percentage go down and muscle mass go up is always a great feeling!
Waist Line – Using a hip to waist ratio is an easy way to self assess your overall health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/215214492). Seeing your waist line go down is an even easier way to see improvement because your clothes will begin to fit better! It’s hard not to take notice of improvement when you’re having to buy smaller pant sizes after all.
Labs – It will certainly make your doctor happy to see lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. These measurements can assess risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. For the most part, these need to be measured at your doctor’s office, but most pharmacies have free equipment for measuring blood pressure (3).
Heart Rate – This is a twofer because both your resting heart rate and working heart rate are important health markers. Watching your resting heart rate decrease over time means that you are becoming more cardio-vascularly fit (4). Having your heart rate stay stable while exercising means that your body is accustomed to doing work, which is a great sign! Testing this is simple. You can count how many times your heart beats in a minute by taking your pulse, or simply buy a heart rate monitor.
Better, Faster, Stronger – One of the most gratifying indicators of improvement is seeing your body change. You are able to see your muscles in the mirror and witness your strength increase. It always feels good to add an extra weight plate to your barbell!
State of Mind
Signs of progress also happen in the form of mental health. How you feel throughout the day and during a workout can be great indicators of improvement. So take mental note or keep a journal to document your improvement in these indicators of success.
Exercise Excitement – Okay, so not everyone enjoys exercising. In fact, most people loath going to the gym. But everyone can agree that we feel better after a workout. That’s why dreading going to the gym less and making exercise a part of your identity over time is a great indicator of improvement.
Energizer – While everyone has an off day here or there, having an off week or month can be downright frustrating. That’s why keeping note of your day-to-day energy & stress levels is an exhilarating way to experience positive changes from your efforts.
Zzzzzzz – Your sleep can be influenced by stress, aging, hormonal changes, being a new parent, getting too much light late at night, jet lag, and so on. But nutrition and exercise can play a role as well. A regular sleep schedule can be a great way to monitor your improvement as well as improve your performance at the gym and in life (5)!
Mood – Stability and improvement in your mood are also fun ways to mark your improvement. Feeling confident, clearer-headed, happier and more positive, motivated, and more open to trying new things can be subtle but very meaningful markers of improvement.
References
1. Gale, C. R., Martyn, C. N., Cooper, C., & Sayer, A. A. (2007;2006;). Grip strength, body composition, and mortality. International Journal of Epidemiology, 36(1), 228-235. doi:10.1093/ije/dyl224
2. Czernichow, S., Kengne, A. ‐., Stamatakis, E., Hamer, M., & Batty, G. D. (2011). Body mass index, waist circumference and waist–hip ratio: Which is the better discriminator of cardiovascular disease mortality risk? evidence from an individual‐participant meta‐analysis of 82 864 participants from nine cohort studies. Obesity Reviews, 12(9), 680-687. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00879.x
3. Nagaya, T., Yoshida, H., Takahashi, H., & Kawai, M. (2010). Resting heart rate and blood pressure, independent of each other, proportionally raise the risk for type-2 diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Epidemiology, 39(1), 215-222. doi:10.1093/ije/dyp229
4. Fox, K., Borer, J. S., Camm, A. J., Danchin, N., Ferrari, R., Lopez Sendon, J. L., . . . Heart Rate Working Group. (2007). Resting heart rate in cardiovascular disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 50(9), 823-830. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2007.04.079
5. JACKOWSKA, M., DOCKRAY, S., ENDRIGHI, R., HENDRICKX, H., & STEPTOE, A. (2012). Sleep problems and heart rate variability over the working day. Journal of Sleep Research, 21(4), 434-440. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.00996.x

Nutrition Simplified

I want to give you all an idea of what the foundation of a good nutrition plan looks like.

Some things never go out of fashion: blue jeans, Corvettes, and Pokemon. But for some reason, people try to make nutrition out to be a never-ending crap storm of “must do’s/don’ts.”Don’t eat fat, don’t eat carbs, salt will kill you, sugar will bring Cthulhu from the watery depths to rule the world.” Whatever happened to the notion that simple is better? Why bother to eat the expensive organic, GMO free, local foods that cost an arm and a leg when you’re trying to build them up and lose the belly instead? Well, today I want to give you all an idea of what the foundation of a good nutrition plan looks like. Even if it isn’t the scariest scenario or the sexiest diet around.
It’s No Secret
Since I’m not a dietitian, I don’t provide specific meal plans. That being said, by now, everyone by knows that what you eat effects not only your overall health, but also your training results. This is why simple guidelines are the best advice any coach or trainer can legally give. On top of that, anyone who says there is an “absolute” nutrition recommendation is suggesting that his or her plan is the “only way of doing things.” Which, of course, is craziness and is probably worth dismissing. The only “absolute” worth noting is that you need to be in a consistent calorie deficit in order to drop body fat, plain and simple. So, don’t get all bent out of shape when someone says you shouldn’t eat a specific food because of some ingredient or chemical it has.
Inline image 1
Becoming Simplified
Here is a beautiful way to sum it all up in 3 easy steps.
1. Eat mostly meals consisting of fruits and vegetables and  high-quality meats, eggs, and fish (or protein substitutes, for vegetarians and vegans).
2. Limit your intake of refined foods, simple sugars, hydrogenated oil, and alcohol.
3. And don’t overeat.
Is your mind blown?!?!?! Yes, these are the same recommendations that have been given to us for years. And yet, how many of us follow them? What’s the point of starting a new diet or taking a fist-full of supplements if you haven’t tried to lay a solid foundation? You should start by focusing on the quality of the foods you eat (emphasizing fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins). You’ll likely end up taking in fewer calories without even counting them. Before we move on to the next section, we are going to get into the three soft “don’ts.”
Don’t crash diet. When you create massive caloric deficits, there can be issues with metabolic slowdown. But even worse is the hormonal response that causes appetite to run amok, and you end up gaining back all the weight you lost, and then some.
Don’t drink a doughnut. I don’t mean this literally, but what I’m trying to say is limit the calories you drink. This, of course, means cutting back on the booze, sodas, and the ever-so-ridiculous trend of putting fat in your coffee.
Avoid added sugar, fat and salt. The most important word here is ADDED. Cut back on the extras, and your waist line will show some love.
Instead of Subtracting, Add
When you focus on bringing the good stuff in, the bad stuff finds its own way out. For the most part, this statement is true. So here are a few things that you should consider adding:
1. A regular meal pattern – Three decent sized meals each day will decrease the need for preparation and keep you feeling full.
2. The grocery store – Eating out should be a rare treat. This is because each meal you don’t make yourself is almost guaranteed to be a bucket full of unneeded calories.
3. Veg out –  Eat your vegetables. Not slathered with butter or covered up with cheese, but with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
4. Protein power – Protein will help you feel full and increase your metabolism (1). Don’t over estimate this because it can be a downfall. Like everything else, moderation is needed.
5. The dinner table – When you eat every meal at the dinner table, you create a psychological environment that lends itself to healthier eating. No one eats a bag of chips at the table, I hope.
One Thing Leads To The Next
When you create one good habit, another is sure to follow. This domino effect can be profound over time. Choose a healthier eating style that’s realistic for you to stick with, and gradually implement it by making small changes in your eating behaviors and turning them into positive habits before changing other eating behaviors. Of course there are loads of other ways to create the caloric deficit needed to create fat loss. Here is a great reference for those ready for the next steps. But for now, keep it simple and build upon your good habits.
Don’t forget to like me on Facebook!
References
1. Acheson, K. J., Blondel-Lubrano, A., Oguey-Araymon, S., Beaumont, M., Emady-Azar, S., Ammon-Zufferey, C.. . Bovetto, L. (2011). Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(3), 525-534. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.005850

Making Mornings Beter

Without a doubt mornings can suck, but they don’t have to!

Today’s post is a double whammy, because we have 2 posts on the docket. Of course they are both related to making your mornings easier, and starting your day off right. This is an area that I personally struggle with for many reasons. For one, I like to stay socially active, and many of my friends don’t have the same hours that I do. Whats worse is that my wife is a college student and she is never up in the morning, and gets home around my bed time. So if I want to spend time with her I need to push my physical limits to make it happen (which I am always happy I do). If these examples sound familiar then you know how much beds can resemble quick sand in the morning. The more you struggle to get out, the more it seems to suck you right back in.
So without a doubt mornings can suck, but they don’t have to. In fact mornings can be the best time of the day, especially when its your exercise time. So the two blogs that I am featuring today include why the TV is bad for bed time, and ways to make morning exercise happen happily.
So the first step to making mornings better is to get enough sleep. Since we can’t really add hours to the day and make our wake up time later, we need to make sure that we go to bed on time. Here are a few times to make it happen:
1. Sleep Debt.
Even if you stay up later by only a few minutes a night due to screen time, you can develop a “sleep debt” by not getting the rest the brain needs. And until that debt is paid off you will suffer the consequences of feeling tired all day long.
2. Altered Brain Bedtime Habits.
Believe it or not the brain learns habits and behaviors of falling asleep. Making the TV a part of the habit can create a positive feedback loop that exacerbates issue #1.
3. TV Makes You Take Longer to Fall Asleep, and Wake Up Earlier.
This is bad for obvious reasons, and happens because the stories and dramas on TV can raise stress levels.
4. Wakes You Up More Often.
This is because the stimulating effect of light tells our brains “go!”
5. Poorer Sleep Quality.
Because of the reasons above it’s obvious why the quality of what little sleep you get is poorer
The second post is a list of 24 hacks to make waking up to exercise easier. I’ll cover my top 5 favorites, but I highly suggest you check out the whole blog post.
1. Pack accordingly and get in bed early.
The most important thing for me to do when I get home is unpack from the day, and repack for tomorrow. No one wants to scramble around in the morning so make life easier and make it happen before you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
2. Make it a habit.
There’s that “H” word again! If it is a morning task, rather than a habit, you are more likely to not do it. So do workout 2-3 times per week in the morning, do it every day to make harder to skip out on.
3. Think about how you’ll feel afterward.
Have you ever dreaded going to the gym or doing a workout, but once your done exercising feel great? I do. All the time pretty much. I sometimes hate the thought of exercise, but once I buckle down and get started I know that I will feel like a million bucks. Keeping that thought in the back of my mind can be the difference between actually getting it done or not.
4. Schedule brunch.
We all know nutrition is important, so have a daily meal scheduled after your workout. Have a continuous appointment set with a friend, family, or pet to eat after you workout to get you through the day, and get protein to those muscles! More importantly, it will be another habit that you won’t want to break by skipping a workout.
5. Do it no matter what.
Even if you just get up and piddle around for a little bit, it’s better than doing nothing at all. I’d rather go through the motions than feel like I let my self down later in the day.

Cutting Through Crap & Real Solutions For Nutrition, Health, & Life

The truth is that the health and fitness industry is so rife with crap because, well, we buy it. Let’s take a look at what can be done, how to educate yourself so you don’t waste money, and how simple it is to really be healthy and happy with your body.

What if I told you I had THE ONE SIMPLE TRICK to get you to lose weight and gain muscle fast? All it takes is… laser treatmentssuper shakes,eating for your body typeweight loss wraps, or some other bald faced lie. The truth is that the health and fitness industry is so rife with crap because, well, we buy it. We are all looking for the magic bullet to get us to where we want to be. Admittedly, most people, including myself, think it would be nice right? But in reality, you can’t alter your height, limb or torso length, and most other characteristics determined by your genetics. It’s not about trying to look like “her/him”;  it’s about being the best version of yourself. So let’s take a look at what can be done, how to educate yourself so you don’t waste money, and how simple it is to really be healthy and happy with your body.

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My Redundant Plea

I have written on several occasions about where to go for good advice/where bad info comes fromhow to spot bad swindlers/bad science, and why you need to think critically about your investment in your health and fitness goals. But, after another week of fielding questions about “which shake should I be drinking” and “how many carbs should I have”, I wanted to pick on a few more mind boggling BS claims. The powdered unicorn fart capsules known as shakeology, detox/cleanse, super supplements, and Gwyneth Paltrow continue to make people lose weight by making their wallets lighter. And it’s not just your local 20 something trainer caught up in a multilevel marketing scheme, it’s people who have credentials who are getting in on the action. Take “Dr.” Joseph Mercola seen below who continues to blur the lines between business and medicine.

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These folks, and those who claim that you have to sacrifice, suffer, and deprive yourself to build a better looking body and that eating well and working out has to become your entire life, suck. They may make claims that their workout program will make you a battle-ready warrior or superior specimen of the human race, and that their diet will make you bulletproof. They may speak in absolutes stating “women should always do A, B, and C”, or “women should never do X, Y, and Z.” They use words like “groundbreaking” and “revolutionary” frequently when describing quick-fix fads and gimmicks. You may encounter entire groups that put down other people who don’t work out or eat the way they do. For the record, any group claiming to be better than others because of their health and fitness lifestyle has eaten too many of their own poop sandwiches. Speaking of poop sandwiches, just because someone had success with a particular diet or workout program doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you. Anything promising to make your muscles “long and lean” or says you can look like someone else is, once again, a turdy bacon club sandwich. Diets that blame a macronutrient (e.g., fat, protein, carbohydrates) or food group (e.g., dairy) for hindering your fat loss efforts are, you guessed it, crap.CARBS WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT!!!!! Science (1). A low-fat diet isn’t a benefit because eating fat doesn’t cause disease. NOT eating it probably does, and we now know the body even needs some saturated fat to function optimally (2). Salt won’t kill you or drive up blood pressure if you’re generally healthy (3). And gluten… well what can be said other than food marketers have simply found another way to convince you that their bag or box of garbage is healthy (4).

Find the people who know their stuff, and learn from them. You can, again, check out my favorite “go to” resources here, but in short, Alan Aragon,Precision Nutrition, and Brad Schoenfeld will always be on my short list of trusted information sources.

 

Simple, Practical, Crap Free Advice

Now that we have bravely made it past the organic corn fill BM that is much of the fitness industry, let’s take a look at some info that will actually help.

-First up, short cuts don’t exist. Like many other aspects of life, if you truly want to achieve a goal, you must put in some effort.

-Strict diets are not sustainable long-term and exercise is not punishment. Your best bet is to eat real food with ample amounts of fruits and vegetables, and you’ll reap far greater results by consistently doing exercises you like (e.g. hiking, take a group fitness class, start learning martial arts, or anything that sounds fun to you) rather than haphazardly doing something deemed perfect. Find out what you like for both nutrition and exercise, and you will see results and be much happier in the long run. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end anyways?

-Know that gimmicks prey on your insecurities (and even create new ones). You don’t have to be miserable or deprived. Stick to the basics: eat mostly real, minimally processed foods, and strength train 2-4 days per week, and get enough sleep. These should be done according to your preferences and time availability.

-If you make a mistake, or even fail completely, don’t beat yourself up. Practice some self-compassion and then move on and do something positive when possible.

 

I am going to talk about looking and feeling confident because if you want that shredded, 6 pack abs, glistening muscles, ripped look, you may want to think about what it takes to get there. First of all, it’s tough to get and stay lean enough to look like Khal Drogo. It takes dedication, knowledge, and a win of the genetics lottery. But from disease risk to brain function and physical performance, a healthy diet is vital for every aspect of life. So to feel confident enough to take off your shirt at a pool party or feel like you can take on the world (or a last minute 5k you get invited to), then you will want to look into these rational steps.

  1. Know that total calorie intake is key (5). If you put in more calories than you burn, you will store them as new muscle or body fat. If you consume fewer calories than you burn every day, you will lose weight (6).
  2. Know what macro nutrients are. Carbs4 calories per gram. All starchy foods like bread, pasta and potatoes. Also includes fruit, legumes, juice, sugar and some dairy products.

Protein 4 calories per gram. Main sources include meat and fish, dairy, eggs, legumes and vegetarian alternatives like tofu.

Fats 9 calories per gram. Main sources include nuts, seeds, oils, butter, cheese, oily fish and fatty meat.

  1. Know what whole foods are. Basing your diet on whole foods is an extremely effective but simple strategy to improve health and lose weight. They are the unprocessed foods containing only one ingredientthat should be eaten at least 80-90% of the time. So if the product looks like it was made in a factory, then it’s probably not a whole food.
  2. Know that no food is strictly off limits. However, overeating certain foods like processed low-fatproducts and refined carbscan increase disease risk and lead to weight gain (7).
  3. Know that by controlling your portions, you are more likely to avoid consuming too many calories. To avoid portion distortion, you can use smaller plates and take a smaller-than-average first serving, then wait 20 minutes before you return for more. You can also use the hand method.
  4. Know how to assess your calorie needs. You can use a calorie calculatorfree calorie/nutrienttrackers, or simply consider increasing protein intake. Protein shakes can be very helpful, but know that what type you buyis also based on your goals.
  5. Know that most people regain all the weight they lost soon after attempting a weight loss diet (8). To avoid being a statistic, follow the rule that if you can’t see yourself on this diet in one, two or three years, then it’s not right for you. Making a sustainable diet means that you can enjoy and stick with it for the long term. If you want unhealthy foods, save them for an occasional treat.

 

 

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References

  1. Kreitzman, S. N., Coxon, A. Y., & Szaz, K. F. (1992). Glycogen storage: Illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 56(1 Suppl), 292S.
  2. Skeaff, C. M., & Miller, J. (2009). Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: Summary of evidence from prospective cohort and randomised controlled trials. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 55(1-3), 173. doi:10.1159/000229002
  3. Cohen, H. W., Hailpern, S. M., Fang, J., & Alderman, M. H. (2006). Sodium intake and mortality in the NHANES II follow-up study. The American Journal of Medicine, 119(3), 275.e7-275.e14. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.10.042
  4. Reilly, NR. (2016) The Gluten-Free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction, and Fad. The Journal of Pediatrics. , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.04.014
  5. Swinburn, B. A., Sacks, G., Lo, S. K., Westerterp, K. R., Rush, E. C., Rosenbaum, M.. . Ravussin, E. (2009). Estimating the changes in energy flux that characterize the rise in obesity prevalence. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(6), 1723.
  6. Hall, K. D., Heymsfield, S. B., Kemnitz, J. W., Klein, S., Schoeller, D. A., & Speakman, J. R. (2012). Energy balance and its components: Implications for body weight regulation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(4), 989.
  7. Gross, L. S., Li, L., Ford, E. S., & Liu, S. (2004). Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the united states: An ecologic assessment. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(5), 774.
  8. Dulloo, A. G., & Montani, J. ‐. (2015). Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: An overview. Obesity Reviews, 16(S1), 1-6. doi:10.1111/obr.12250

Working Out To Justify Junk Food

It can be all to easy to justify a bad habit with a good one. To quote a client “Great workout. Now I can eat that bacon cheese burger later!”

Today I wanted to discuss a common, mind boggling, issue. To quote a client “Great workout. Now I can eat that bacon cheese burger later!” If you have fallen into this trap before I don’t blame you. It can be all to easy to justify a bad habit with a good one. But there are far too many things wrong with this line of thinking to cover it all in one email. So I am going to talk about it purely from a caloric/math point of view with today’s information coming from Suppversity
 
Issue #1
It’s commonly thought that to lose a pound of fat you need to burn 3,500kcal. This concept is fundamentally flawed. Learn more about whyhere
Issue #2
Working harder and doing more repetitions does not always bring greater results when looking at the scale. Learn more about why here.
Issue #3
Exercising more is not going to increase your appetite. So no excuses. Learn more about why here.
 
So what does all of this mean?
 Well basically when we are looking at weight loss, justifying your dietary decisions based on your exercise program is a poor choice. In fact exercise only makes up a small portion of you daily caloric expenditure as compared to the calories you burn just to stay alive. So at its core, the thought that the 300kcal that you burned during your gym session justifies the 800kcal bacon cheese burger (or insert you favorite junk food here), is fundamentally flawed. Now let me be clear here. It’s okay to live life and eat junk once in a while. But to regularly eat garbage because you exercised is a very poor way to go about achieving you goals. It may even make the scale move in the wrong direction.
 
What to do next.
Stick to your healthy eating habits. Don’t deviate away from being a healthy individual because you had a hard day pumping iron. Instead, you should stay consistent with your dietary goals even if you think you “deserve” more. The dark side (fast/junk food) will always be tempting, but achieving you ultimate goal will be so much more satisfying in the end. Finally, you need to stick with an exercise program you like, and try to incorporate both strength cardio training into your program.
 
For more information you can click on the links above or follow the link to the main article bellow. If you need help figuring out what the best course of action is for you, I am always here to help 🙂

Breaking Bad

Today we’re talking about breaking bad… habits.

Today we’re talking about breaking bad… habits. Because I am a huge KISS fan (keep it super simple), I really enjoyed reading the article published by My Fitness Pal. It talks about bad habits that can bugger up the works when it comes to your healthy lifestyle and nutrition. So lets take a look at the bad habits.
 
Bad Habit #1 Skipping the Grocery Store
We all know that eating out is almost always less healthy than making food for yourself. So make sure you have something to cook with by regularly going to the grocery store. If you like to save time, it is much easier to get in and out quickly if you go early in the day.
 
Bad Habit #2 Sleep Hygiene 
Want to get more done in your day, feel more energized, and able to take on the world? Well sleep should be one of your primary tools to do so. That cup of coffee wont do much if you’re regularly under sleeping. Practice some sleep hygiene and you will see a world of difference!
Bad Habit #3 Pantry Dropper
Dropping the ball on having your pantry stocked with good food is never a good thing. This poor habit plays into grocery shopping. Something is bound to happen to keep you from getting to the grocery store, so having a stocked pantry is a good way to not order junk food straight to your door. It can also pay off to freeze some fresh veggies and meats for the days you need to dig into your stash of quality food.
Bad Habit #4 Selecting Veggies
Eating old and out of season food can leave a bad taste in your mouth. So one solution is to make sure you’re buying fresh in season food that you will be getting at its ripest. Practicing this will make you happy to eat those vegetables and not dread it. Don’t know where to start? I recommend you check out our state farmers market that’s open year round. The vendors are always happy to educate and help you learn whats the best to eat this time of year.
Bad Habit #5 Kitchen Hygiene 
This is the bad habit I am most guilty of. This habit requires you to clean your kitchen frequently and thoroughly. However, I have to admit that doing the dishes quickly does result in less time/money wasted on ordering out food. Having a clean kitchen requires about 30m of work per day, but can save you hundreds (or more if bugs become a problem) of dollars per month overall.
Bad Habit #6 Over-exercising
Over exercising can cause anything from injuries to over eating at meal time. Keeping your exercise routine to a healthy work load can go a long way in keeping you sane and satisfied.
For more information on these topics, check out the link bellow. If you have any questions about what you can do to avoid these habits I’m always here to help!

Speaking English Will Kill You!

With gobs of terrible information on the internet about “the perfect diet” I wanted today’s post to be about what a good diet looks like. Because there truly is no magic bullet, perfect diet, or one true way to eat.

Why speaking English will kill you according to research.
 The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
 The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
 The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
 The Italians drink excessive amounts of ride win and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
 The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
 Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
With gobs of terrible information on the internet about “the perfect diet” I wanted today’s post to be about what a good diet looks like. Because there truly is no magic bullet, perfect diet, or one true way to eat. There are, however, dozens of people who will tell you otherwise, and they are probably trying to sell you something. I think this point is exemplified by this quote“When we have millions of years of evolutionary history to guide our dietary decisions, the latest nutritional trends don’t really matter much.”
Personally I take issue with the extremists. Low carb, low fat, Keto, Paleo, and even intermittent fasting all come at a cost. Whether it be ill effects on your body, or going insane every time you see a piece of bread. So I will attempt to quickly take a look at a few trends, as well as what you should really do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
High Fat/Paleo
So I think that the biggest trends lately have been towards area of high fat diets. From the absolutely ridiculousness of Bullet Proof Coffee to off base Paleo diet. The problem is that each of these examples are not backed by quality science. Bulletproof coffee does nothing more than add extra calories to your diet, but if you like the taste of adding butter to your cup of Joe (eww) then don’t let me stop you. I personally like Paleo because it encourages lots of fruits and vegetables. But any diet that says “you can’t have any of this or that” just sets you up for failure. Finally, high fat diets are not heart healthy. Fats are not the enemy by any means. But when we fail to moderate our fat intakes, our blood lipids (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, Apob, etc) can get out of control.
Killer Carbs
Similar to high fat diets, low carb diets are trendy. However, carbs are not the problem! In fact we generally need carbs toperform exercise and for optimal brain function. Time and time again the research has shown that it is total calorie intake, not the macro-nutrient composition, of a diet that matters. So why do people see success using low carb diets? Well it’s because they cut out hundreds of calories from their diet. But at what cost? How long can you go without eating a sandwich? What’s worse is that as soon as you go off of a low carb diet you will likely gain back a lot, if not more, weight. I’ll finish up by saying that CARBS DO NOT CAUSE ANY KINDS OF DISEASE!!! However, using a Keto diet may cause extreme fatigue, dizziness, headaches, changes in bowel regularity and consistency, shakiness, muscle cramping, disruptions in sleep, a temporary dip in thyroid hormones, and even an increase in kidney stone formation. Yikes!
What To Do
I don’t adhere to any specific diet and I don’t recommend any specific diet. Everyone’s life can be hectic, and a demanding diet regime can often just put too much on our plate to handle (pun intended). Instead, because I am a true believer in the KISS (keep it super simple) method, I like to use some simple guidelines when it comes to food.
1. Make small adjustments to include more plants
Fruits and vegies are packet with nutrients. By adding more of these into your diet you will feel fuller for longer. All you need to do is put an emphasis on minimally processed plant foods.
2. Embrace the bean
Although they are condemned by followers of Paleo, beans are freaking awesome. Why’s the magical fruit great? They’re cheap, they contain protein, minerals, and antioxidants, they may reduce our risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, and they’re freaking delicious!
3. Don’t try to eat “perfectly.” Just do your best
You should feel guilty for doing bad things. Feeling guilty for something you ate should not be a thing. Don’t sweat the little stuff and you will sleep easy at night.
4. Eat for a reason
So what’s the driving factor behind your nutrition habits? Do you want to set an example for your kids? Support local farmers? Improve animal welfare? Eat foods with a lower environmental impact? Worry less about your health? Try answering these questions if you need help figuring it out.
“I’m the kind of person who ___________________.”
“And it’s important to me that __________________.”
“So I’d feel good about accomplishing ___________.”
5. Move away from all-or-nothing thinking
“I need to eat 6 vegan meals a day or else!” First of all, eating more frequently won’t boost your metabolism. Secondly, this will only make you feel bad if you have a piece of meat or miss a meal! Instead find what works for you, in your real and messy life, and give yourself credit for the good stuff you’re already doing.
I’ll wrap things up by saying health and happiness should not be mutually exclusive. They should intertwine. If you feel that one is getting in the way of the other, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate things. Of course I am always here to help you figure it it out 🙂