Losing Weight = Loose Wallet?

A few simple tips for dropping pounds and beefing up your budget!

Today I wanted to talk about losing weight on a budget. Because cutting a few Lb’s shouldn’t mean you need to cut a few goodies off of your wish list. So here are a few simple tips for dropping pounds and beefing up your budget!
Harness Your Inner Boy Scout
Be Prepared is a Boy Scout motto that I will never forget. It just so happens to be the first tip! Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time means you wont have to spend extra money by stopping for fast food (costly on the wallet and calorie budget), stopping for groceries while hungry (worst idea ever), or saying “screw it!” and just eating whatever junk you have laying around the house (unless you’re in college, a bowl of cereal for diner is not acceptable). There are dozens of ways to meal prep. To get started check out herehere, and here.
Frugality Does Not = Cheapskate
Buying groceries on a budget does not mean you need to buy the cheapest foods. In fact, paying a little more to buy potatoes instead of potato chips will save you money in the long run! When we spend a little bit more in the produce section, we receive the gift of nutrients(vitamins and minerals) in return. And what happens when we feed ourselves nutrient dense foods? We reduce our cravings for junk, we feel fuller longer, and we consume fewer overall calories! Check out some of these recipes for holiday foods that taste as great as their nutritional value.
Don’t Become a Potato Because You Can’t Be a Ninja
We spend our entire lives getting to the fitness level we are at right now. So don’t become a couch potato because you don’t look the way you want to right now! Gymtimidation is a real thing… for everyone. At some point we have all seen someone at the gym and said to ourselves “I wish I looked/performed like them.” The key is to use this potential barrier as motivation, and NOT letting it weigh you down to potato town. This means you can’t set unrealistic goals and lack patience, lack social support, lose your motivation/desire, or focus too much on the end goal.
Losing weight on a budget is like anything else. To look and feel a little bit better you need to plan/budget/exercise a little bit better. Take the cost of getting lean in stride, and you will do just fine.

Our Intellectual Hubris

How challenging our assumptions can change our mindset, save us money, and make us healthy!

Today I wanted to tackle a tough subject. Challenging our thoughts and beliefs, specifically when it comes to health and wellness trends. This is a tough subject because it requires us to admit we are wrong, and sometimes our ego’s just can’t handle it. However, it’s an essential requirement for us to grow as people. So lets take a look at how challenging our assumptions can change our mindset, save us money, and make us healthy!
Know That You Don’t Know
Science is constantly evolving and informing us of new and exciting things. Because what we think we know today will inevitably be challenged tomorrow by some new research. The key to keeping up is to not get dug in on any “one true method” of doing things. This can be tough because our mind hates uncertainty, and randomness and needs to make connections even when there are none because it has a need for order and control. So when you get all of your information from one source, there comes an asymmetry of input (what you believe versus what you choose not to) that creates ‘gaps’ in your knowledge. Your brain automatically fills these gaps based on your prior learning andBOOM you get suckered into a cult. So lets take a moment to “snap out of it.”
Step 1 Take Responsibility – When you start taking responsibility for your own goals (learning, health, fitness, etc.) you also give yourself the power to make changes. We consume the outputs of scientific inquiry like we consume everything else: through a filter of emotion, bias and personal connection. So as long as it’s somebody else’s fault, (i.e. “Dr. Oz said so, so it must be true”) you’re going to keep making excuses to justify why you’re doing, or not doing, things.
Step 2 Call Yourself Out – You need to call yourself out and make sure that what you’re saying/doing isn’t just some nonsensical story you’ve crafted to avoid the hard things in life. There is no magic bullet. Fat burning pills won’t make you skinny. What you learn today probably won’t be true even a year from now. This means you need to recognize your biases, as seen in the picture below, to be able to make a move in the right direction.
Step 3 Be Authentically You – Not being afraid to be you, the real you. Not some manufactured ‘me-too’ edition of somebody else, so you can fit into some arbitrary clique you’ve been told you should be a part of. Don’t assume that doing what everyone else is doing is going to make you look, feel, or be like them. Doing what the bull (e.g. a body builder) does, won’t change the fact that you’re a llama (e.g. a runner).
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When to Build, When to Burn
We determine the importance of information quickly and subconsciously, rather than through a conscious process of deliberative and slow reasoning. So it’s inevitable. You’re going to realize that because a snap decision was made years ago, a person, book, method, or way of doing things is no longer the golden nugget you once thought it was. For instance, we used to KNOW that eggs, fat spreads, potatoes, dairy, and raw nuts were bad for you. However, we now realize that all foods fit into a healthy diet, and perhaps more importantly, enthusiastic consumption of one particular “superfood” can be worse than consuming a so called “food villain!” What I’m getting at is that we all need to take a look at what bridges need to be burned and to start building new ones to the right places as more information comes to light.
The question now becomes “how do I separate the wheat from the chafe?” This is a toughy because you have people out there like David Wolfe, the Food Babe, and Dr. Mercola who spew nonsense but appear to be legit. The keys to their success are that they look “good,” they communicate well and are charismatic, they’re marketing machines, they seem knowledgeable, and they seem experienced. But being scientific and fact driven are not high on their priority lists. Here is how to recognize their pseudoscience garbage:
Translate their message into ordinary language, thereby assuring that what the claim asserts is a logical concept, rather than just a collection of jargon.
In doing this, you will know whether you have been taught an idea or you have only taught a definition.
Practical Application
The goal of this post is to get you to challenge your current belief system, and know how to look for good information. Because knowing what science is will truly benefit us all. What we know today is a reflection of what we have learned and experienced in the past. The problem here is that our memories suck! We all have a distorted and constructed memory of a distorted and constructed perception, both of which are subservient to whatever narrative our brain is operating under. Our malleable memories, combined with confirmation bias, are a key factor in the Dunning-Kruger effect, the inability to perceive one’s own incompetence in a given area.
So here are key takeaways to attaining competence.
 – Challenge what you know, because not even the practice of washing your hands isn’t immune from scrutiny. So if you’re going to read junk like The Grain Brain that’s completely fine. Just be sure to challenge that view by reading The Gluten Lie.
 – Don’t just read the words, understand the meaning behind them. This means that just because something is labeled as “organic” don’t automatically assume that it’s better, or even good, for you. Translate the message (in this case “organic is better”) into ordinary language to fully appreciate the value.
 – Ditch the dogma. I hate the term “clean eating.” It’s an over-hyped theory, an absolutely meaningless term, and can actually be detrimental. It’s a term used in many dogmatic diets and is used by many knuckle head guru’s.
 – Be reasonable, don’t retaliate. People squabble over the silliest of things. So instead of digging into your position, be reasonable and take a firm look at the opposing argument. Yes, reasons can be given as to why insulin will cause obesity, but research shows there’s far more to it than that, and that it’s simply not true. Sure slow and steady weight loss has been shown to be very effective for keeping off weight, but rapid weight loss can also work under the right circumstances. Don’t agree? Find out why these statements might be right before you go saying they are wrong.
 – Don’t just go along with the herd. Our actions are largely influenced by those around us. So do your best to break away from the herd to take a closer look at what’s going on. Because starving yourself won’t help you get skinny, weight loss “hacks” aren’t always helpful, and thatexpensive grass fed beef everyone is raving about isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

The Tangled Web Of Weight Gain

It seems like there is a new diet fad, fitness guru with a crack pot scheme, or nonsense nutrition plan for weight loss that comes out every week. The majority of people because they are restrictive, often scientifically unfounded, and/or don’t address individual needs.

This week I wanted to bring some perspective to the nationwide weight gain crisis. With nearly 1/3 of Americans being classified as obese, and less than 3% able to maintain essential healthy habits, there are fingers of blame being pointed in many directions. So what’s really to blame? HA!!! Trick question! There’s a web of causation with dozens of tangled and intertwined reasons for weight gain. The picture below shows just what I’m talking about. Because I don’t want to write a book today, I’m not going to break down each of the 15 categories and their factors. Instead, I’m going to elucidate a few of them that I believe are under appreciated.
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Increased Intake
I’ll start with the category that’s the most obvious, and yet least properly addressed. It seems like there is a new diet fad, fitness guru with a crack pot scheme, or nonsense nutrition plan for weight loss that comes out every week. As a side note, one of my personal heroes of the industry, Alan Aragon, wrote a magnificent piece on this issue last week. Getting back on point, these plans simply don’t work for the majority of people because they are restrictive, often scientifically unfounded, and/or don’t address individual needs. There are just too many things to take into account for a “one size fits all” diet plan to address. For instance, depending on how well you picked your parents (your genetics), the amount of a chemical in your mouth called amylase will play a huge roll in your body’s ability to process carbohydrates! We also need to consider things like age, gender, mental/physical diseases, social norms/demands, economic status, and even advertising. Here is a list of other factors that contribute to overeating, and what you can do about them.
1. You’re not eating often enough – Don’t let your tummy be empty for too long. Eat something every 3 or 4 hours.
2. You’re not getting the right balance of nutrients – Aim to eat more fiber, protein, and a little healthy fat to stay satisfied.
3. You’re eating too many simple carbs and sugars – Knock it off with the white bread, pasta, bagels, and pastries!!!
4. You’re dehydrated and confusing thirst for hunger – Drink more water to eat less.
5. You’re stressed – Stress = Cortisol = hunger. Try yoga/meditation or some of these practices
6. You’re not paying attention to what you’re eating – When shoveling it in, you essentially forget you already ate. So, eat mindfully.
7. You’re not getting enough sleep – Sleep = hormonal control = appetite control. 
8. You have an underlying medical condition – Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression, and anxiety (along with some medications) can mess with appetite. 
Decreased Expenditure
We know that it’s not as simple as calories in calories out, but if you’re not doing anything to bump up the number of calories going out then that’s certainly an issue. The good news is that exercise is not the best way to lose weight. The bad news is that exercise is an absolute MUST DO. And we have all encountered those days where exercise seems like an impossible task. But as another one of my favorite fitness authors James Fell puts it “Don’t view an hour’s worth of exercise as something where you need to find the motivation to make it through that entire hour. In most cases, you only need the motivation for those first five minutes.”
When it comes to weight loss, the most important thing to do is to be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t make  excuses to get out of doing what you need to do to get/be better. Take a step back and be honest with yourself about what you say you’re doing, and what you’re actually doing to achieve greatness. If you’re aimlessly going about your health goals, or need to figure out great goals, here’s what I want you to do NOW before you read on the last section.
1. Turn “outcome goals” into “behavior goals” – Outcome goals are how we want things to be at the end of the process. Behavior goals focus on the things we have control over, and represent your commitment to practice a set of actions or tasks every day as consistently and regularly as possible. Here’s how to break goals into skills; skills into practices.
2. Turn “avoid goals” into “approach goals” – Saying “don’t” or “stop” in the goal setting phase means you’re telling yourself to stop doing something which almost guarantees you’ll keep doing it. Approach goals are about adding and enjoying “good stuff”, and pulling yourself toward something desirable (and quietly pull you away from something you’re trying to avoid).
3.Turn “performance goals” into “mastery goals” – With performance goals means you’re looking for external validation which can be incredibly demotivating if they don’t work out. Mastery goals emphasize the process of getting a little bit better each day, the joy of learning, and feeling good about your own personal progression.
What To Do Next
The crux of all of this is creating positive behavior changes. When it comes to nutrition, try using this check list to make a sweeping change of your home and re check it a month later to make sure you’re adhering to your positive changes. When it comes to exercise, no matter how you feel, get your fanny to the gym and if you’re not full of energy after the first 5 minutes then reconsider your exercise strategy. If in a month from now you’re not making the progress you want you may need to think about 3 keys to mental toughness.
1. “Complete or kill” – If something is important to you, complete it. If not, kill it.
2. If you commit to nothing, you’re distracted by everything – Do you make time for your goals above all else? Do you organize your day around accomplishing them? If you commit to nothing, then you’ll find that it’s easy to be distracted by everything.
3. It doesn’t matter how long your goal will take—just get started – Don’t let the length of your goals prevent you from starting on them.
“Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
—H. Jackson Brown
As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this week’s subject. If you have any questions or tips related to the post, or suggestions for future topics, feel free to contact me any time. As always, I’m here to help. So if you need answers to your exercise program, nutrition plan, or wellness issues, please don’t hesitate to ask!


Being Brutal Is Better

Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, the idea behind this post translates to not only health and fitness, but to life goals in general.

This week I wanted to talk about a few tenets of weight losing weight and keeping it off. Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, the idea behind this post translates to not only health and fitness, but to life goals in general. The majority of this post comes from a fantastic article by James Fell who writes great stuff at bodyforwife.com and other news outlets.
The Struggle
People struggle to lose weight for many reasons. To counter that, the weight loss industry seems to have as many methods to lose weight as there are calories on the McDonalds menu. But when it comes down to it, burning more calories than you consume = you, weighing less. But as James puts it “Saying “eat less, move more” to an overweight person is like saying “spend less, earn more” to someone living in crushing poverty.” It’s just not easy for someone to completely change their habits. And with many diet programs being unsustainable, many people turn to dietary tracking. Personally, I don’t track my foods or exercise. That’s because it’s tedious, not super accurate (for calories in or out), and I simply don’t have time to do it on a day to day basis. And generally, the majority of people underestimate their food intake by as much as 50%.
The Reality
I, by no means, am saying not to track your calories. Tracking calories works. But to do it right you need to be brutally honest with it. This means you need to take everything that you consume into account. Not only that, but you need to make sure you are putting in the right quantities. Leaving off a handful of nuts because you think it’s a “healthy snack” or simply eyeballing a scoop of mashed potatoes, means you’re not tracking. It means you’re plugging in information to feel good about yourself and say “hey I only ate 1,200 calories today! Yay for me!” If you’re not tracking your food correctly then you might as well not do it at all.
The Solution
Being brutally honest with yourself is key. And honestly, almost everyone is bad at food and exercise tracking. And until you get really good at the skill of calorie counting, the result generally is nothing more than self-deception. Instead, I suggest creating and practicing healthy habits while you develop your tracking skills. Doing things like cooking for yourselfwalking whenever you get a chancediscovering new NEAT exercisesknowing when to ask for helpactually getting organized and planning (heaven forbid), and building a support network are all great foundations for success.
Being brutally honest with yourself means not holding back when looking at your life choices. I know for me, this message will improve the way I reflect and improve as a person. For more info on why we suck at calorie counting and why being brutally honest is the best way to go, check out the main article here.