The Importance of Life Changes

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

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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.

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.

Resolutionary Thoughts

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, I think you will get something out of this post.

With resolution season coming up, I wanted to give some tips on how to adjust your fitness goal, and stick to your resolution! For most people, the key this time of year is to either shake things up, or start a new, safe, and enjoyable exercise program. So, no matter where you are in your fitness journey, I think you will get something out of this post 🙂
Shake It Up
One of the best ways to shake things up is to reevaluate your goals. Often times when I get stuck in a training rut, it’s because I am aimlessly exercising. To break loose from the chains of exercises staler than flat beer, I make sure I have a purpose. Whether it’s to gain muscle mass, trim down, or prepare my body for the rigors of joining a team sport, I make sure to lift accordingly. In turn, I will know exactly how much time and effort I will need to put in to see my goals come to fruition. Here are seven things to think about, and take into account, when shaking your routine up:
 1. Your training age: Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainee?
 2. Your goals: Are you training for better physique, bodybuilding (muscle size), powerlifting (strength), general health and fitness, conditioning, fat loss or a combination?
 3. Your recovery ability: How well can you handle a large volume of exercise?
 4. Your split routine: Are you training your entire body, half your body, or just a body part or two in a single workout?
 5. Your personal preferences: What style of training do you enjoy the most – short and intense or long and leisurely?
 6. Your results: Is what you’re doing now working well for you?
 7. Your schedule: How much time do have available and how much are you willing to spend working out?
A New Beginning
If you’re new to the gym, or starting back up into a regular routine, it’s important to progress through your weight training safely. So here are some thoughts on when, and by how much, you should increase the iron your lifting.
1. Start small. If you’re new to lifting, start with about half as much weight as you think you can lift. This simple step can not only save you from injury, but it will save you from embarrassing yourself the day after when you cant move your arms due to DOMS.
2. Know when it’s time to increase the weight. In general, it’s safe to start lifting a little bit heavier when you’re completing your last set of an exercise with ease, and barely feeling it the next day.
3. Figure out how much weight to add. Essentially, you should be adding a little bit more weight each week for any given exercise. Pushing yourself will drive results.
The Long Haul
Regardless of your fitness goal, the overarching theme should be that of life long health and fitness. Here are some tips on how to stick to your fitness plan past February.
 1. Announce it to the world. The more people who are aware of your intentions, the more support and accountability you will have.
 2. To go along with this, create accountability measures. Make use of a journal, friend, or accountibilibudy to regularly update your progress.
 3. Tackle the goals with other people. Whether it’s a group, a friend, or hiring a professional, creating a give-and-take system will thwart the feeling of not wanting to work out.
 4. Make very specific goals or resolutions. I went over a few general thoughts on goal making, but utilizing the SMART goal making system, will help ensure your success.
 5. Do something every day. Achieving your dream body/fitness goals doesn’t happen over night. So trying to make it happen all at once isn’t the best idea. Even if it is a really small step, do something that helps you get closer to your goal every day.
 6.Pick a goal that seems impossible. The key word here is seems. That’s because you will be amazed at your self-confidence as you start actually progressing toward that goal.

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).
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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 🙂
 

Better Than A 6 Pack

Because the cost of getting and maintaining 6 pack abs can be daunting for, well, everyone, I thought it would be a good idea to broaden the scope a bit. So lets take a look at what great things exercise can do for all of us.

As some of you may know, I like to drink and brew my own beer. But before you get your hopes up, today’s post has nothing to do with that! Instead, I wanted to talk about what benefits exercise can bring you besides looking good naked. Because the cost of getting and maintaining 6 pack abs can be daunting for, well, everyone, I thought it would be a good idea to broaden the scope a bit. Many people get fixated on the minutia of exercise and fitness training. I often hear things like “I want Michelle Obama arms” or “Carrie Underwood legs” or my favorite “I just want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.” To achieve these looks, one would have to pick their parents wisely. You can’t change your genes people! So lets take a look at what great things exercise can do for all of us.
Nearly half of the U.S. population is taking at least 1 prescribed drug each year. And unless they’re looking to kick that nasty breathing habit, most people should keep taking them. But wouldn’t it be nice to not be dependent on a pharmaceutical agent to stay healthy/alive? Well the good news is that the 3 most common medications are Analgesics (pain management), Antihyperlipidemic agents (cholesterol management), and Antidepressants. And guess what exercise is great at doing?
Pain In The…
Millions of people deal with chronic pain. From the ever common low back pain, to osteoarthritis (OA), to more severe symptoms of fibromyalgia. For most people, the only option given is to take a drug of some sort. However, research shows that people who exercise and stay flexible manage their pain much better than those who don’t. This is because it takes less pain to make you feel more uncomfortable for those who suffer from chronic pain. Luckily, exercise for cardiovascular endurance, strengthening, and flexibility, can help improve this pain threshold. So check out these links if you or a loved one suffers from lower back pain (yogayogadesk jobtipsexercises), OA (tipstips,exercises),  or fibromyalgia for helpful exercises and tips. 
LDL On The Down Low
 
Without getting too technical, exercise is excellent for raising the cardio-protective HDL’s in your blood. This “good” cholesterol is what you get from exercising at least 5 hours per week. Click here and here for more information. 
 
Exercising makes us Happy! So to smile more you should exercise more. Here’s a glimpse at how it works. Exercise = the brain recognizes this as stress. This causes the brain to think you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it (the good old fight of flight mechanism). As a result, our brain releases protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and endorphins which together minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain, and create a feeling of euphoria.
Zombies Love A Fit Brain & More!
 
The brain not only reacts to exercise, but benefits from it too! So here is a list of other great benefits to the body and brain that are derived from exercise.
 – A decrease in Oxidative Stress which may damage DNA and essential lipids within the brain that triggers neuronal death if not controlled.
 – Decrease Inflammatory Agents accumulate in the brain which can destroy neurons and inhibit neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) if left unchecked.
 – Balance Hormones like estrogen, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that collectively help preserve cognitive ability but decrease with aging.
 – Reduce the risk of Hypertension (chronically-elevated blood pressure).
 – Control or even reverse Diabetes and Insulin-Resistance which is an inability to utilize glucose that linked to lower levels of neuronal growth factors, decreased brain volume, and higher incidence of dementia.
 – Reduce Stress and Cortisol levels which can help with sleep and overall happiness.
 – Makes us more productive at work!
 – Improve Bone Density
Bottom Line
 
Just start exercising and you will feel great. Whether your a beginner in the gym, need to get your fitness in at work, or an experienced lifter, there’s always a way to make it work for you. And no matter what the level, your body and brain will be better for it 🙂 

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!