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 ūüôā
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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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.
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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‚Äôt 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. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know what I‚Äôm doing‚ÄĚ ¬†– 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‚Äôm 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.¬†‚ÄúI can‚Äôt commit‚ÄĚ – 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.¬†‚ÄúI don‚Äôt like exercising‚ÄĚ – 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.¬†‚ÄúI lack motivation‚ÄĚPlan ahead. Schedule yourself to run a 5k or make plans with friends to meet at the gym consistently.
8.¬†‚ÄúI‚Äôm too tired‚ÄĚ – Guess what…¬†exercise releases endorphins, increases energy, and elevates your overall mood. So stop being lazy and get it done!
9.¬†‚ÄúI look good enough‚ÄĚ – 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.¬†‚ÄúI‚Äôm too old‚ÄĚ – 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 ūüôā
 

Hungry For Success?

Food is so much more than a fuel for your body. It’s an experience, it’s joy, it’s a way we socialize.

I’ll start today’s post by asking you a few questions, and I want you to answer them as honestly as possible. What diet are you on right now? What diets have you tried in the past? How well did it (or has it) help you reach your goal? Finally, why did you stop your past diets? These questions are important to answer when searching for the true motivation behind an action such as dieting. But inevitably almost every diet fails due to the same reason. It robs you of something you enjoy! Food is so much more than a fuel for your body. It’s an experience, it’s joy, it’s a way we socialize. So today I am going to talk about why diets shouldn’t stop you from breaking bread (literally) with friends, family, or the weird neighbor you’re not too sure about.

Extremely UN-satisfying 

Most say “STOP” when it comes to eating a particular food. Fats, carbs, beans, meats, and gluten are just a few examples of things that are awesome, but get snatched away when we start a diet. In fact, many fad diets thrive on creating the fear of something (weight gain, disease, toxins, etc.). And when we buy into these notions,¬†what we might fear is the pleasure of the foods, but then we want to rationalize it by saying that what we really fear is its effect on our health. Ultimately, this means that we walk around unnecessarily robbing ourselves of foods we enjoy.

 

Science Said So!!!

Many fad diets claim to be science based, but generally the science is garbage. In fact, it’s pretty darn¬†difficult to study diets/nutrition¬†in general. Just as importantly,¬†science is filled with conditionals and fad diets are not. They don’t take into account individual needs or cultural norms/taboos. Ultimately what happens when we diet is we decrease our caloric intake, and often alter our vitamin and mineral consumption. There’s a¬†plethora of weight loss hormones¬†that get all jacked up when we alter our nutrition so severely. And guess what? Our¬†natural response to such strict dieting¬†is actually to over eat due to hormonal disregulation!

What To Do

Stay hungry. For long-term weight loss and happiness, avoid banning foods. This creates a cycle of cravings, inevitable indulgence, and guilt. Make all foods fit by eating smart 80% and food loses its power. In turn, you wont over indulge and/or give up and therefore you’ll a guilt free happy dieting experience.

Shift your pants. Not my best pun, but it has a point. When you shift your focus from dropping pant sizes to eating foods that are enjoyable and satisfying, you might actually consume fewer calories. Savoring your foods means you eat slower and feel satisfied with less.

Be realistic. Diets are not meant to be followed forever, so allowing yourself to eat all foods in moderation forms a realistic and sustainable approach. Long term success boils down to healthy lifestyle choices.

Balanced your diet.¬†Proteins are for growth, maintenance and repair. Fats provide vitamin and mineral absorption, hormone regulation, and formation of cell structures. Carbohydrates are your body‚Äôs primary source of fuel. Don’t rob yourself of any of these functions by eating foods in moderation.

These¬†last four tips¬†are… well… the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutrition. Make sure you go with your gut when looking at a new fad diet. And if you’re skeptical, use¬†trusted websites¬†to help in making an informed decision.

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 (yoga, yoga, desk job, tips, exercises), OA (tips, tips,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.
 РA decrease in Oxidative Stress which may damage DNA and essential lipids within the brain that triggers neuronal death if not controlled.
 РDecrease 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.
 РReduce the risk of Hypertension (chronically-elevated blood pressure).
 РControl 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.
 РMakes us more productive at work!
 РImprove 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 ūüôā¬†

Quickie About The Little Things

How making a small change to your life can generate big results.

Today’s post discusses how making a small change to your life can generate big results. Doing simple things like walking a little bit extra each day, cutting out one sugary drink per day, eating out one fewer time per week, or even setting out healthy fruits to snack on instead of looking in the cupboard for a quick (and usually unhealthy) snack can generate tremendous changes in a gradual and maintainable way. Health and wellness are a life long journey, there’s no need to make a dramatic unsustainable change for a short term gain.

Winter {Weight} Is Coming

Because Winter is coming, we know the holiday feasting season is coming. So today I thought it would be prudent to go over some motivational, nutritional, and exercise advice to get you through it healthy and happy!

Because Winter is coming, we know the holiday feasting season is coming. So today I thought it would be prudent to go over some motivational, nutritional, and exercise advice to get you through it healthy and happy!
Step 1 –¬†Set yourself up for success
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Don’t go into the holidays thinking “I’ll just eat healthy and be fine.” That’s not how it works… No one ever say a plate of grandmas (insert holiday of choice her) cookies and thought “Nope! I’m eating healthy!” By planning for moments like these you will be better equipped to just eat one, or handle yourself to not¬†eat regrettably. This means you need to learn to¬†be OK with being ‚Äúnot OK.‚ÄĚNo one is perfect.¬†You are human. You are normal. You are not a weirdo. You are not alone. Make a plan, and no matter how ridiculous you think it is, stick to it.
Step 2 –¬†Anticipate obstacles
This goes along with step one, but has a few key differences. Instead of planning to have one cookie to let grandma know you love her and that she’s a heck of a cook, in this phase you need to make sure you¬†don’t fall victim to the same traps¬†over and over again.¬†Do you skimp too much on dinner then lose it at the dessert table?¬†Do you eat a dozen hors d‚Äôoeuvres before the real meal even starts? Crack a beer early in the day in anticipation for football? Anticipate these obstacles and set up an alternative course of action.
Step 3 –¬†Tighten up home court
Starting NOW you need to tighten up your¬†healthy habits. It’s much easier to maintain a good habit than it is to create a new one. So take a look at what you do well and lock down those healthy¬†habits¬†ASAP. So continue on with your workout routine, and start looking into delicious and healthy¬†travel/holiday meals.
Step 4 –¬†Adapt and adjust
During the holidays, and throughout your fitness journey, you will experience successes and setbacks. This is called learning, and it’s the only way to make long-term progress. So if somethings not working, experiment with your exercise and nutrition to figure out why. It’s not always about the¬†‚Äúeat less and move more‚Ä̬†formula. In fact, it is certainly possible to¬†gain weight in a calorie deficit!¬†Your strategies will need to continuously adapt, but the lessons you learn will stay with you. So plan ahead,¬†stay motivate, an¬†keep your chin up to¬†get the most joy and the most health out of this, an every, holiday season.

Macro Look at Micro Nutrients

Basic steps that you can take to analyze and improve your daily food needs.

Today’s¬†post is all about the importance of your diet. By now most of us know there is no magic bullet. By that I mean there’s no such thing as a one size fits all diet, and we all need to individualize our eating habits to best suit our lifestyle and goals. The wonderful people at Precision Nutrition recently came out with a guide to basic steps that you can take to analyze and improve your daily food needs. So what are most people¬†likely lacking? When it comes to vitamin’s and minerals they are:

–¬† B12 which helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. It can be found in foods like organ meats (beef liver), shellfish (clams), meat, poultry, eggs, milk and other dairy foods.

– B7 (biotin) helps support adrenal function, help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and are essential for the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat. It can be found in foods like organ meats, barley, brewer’s yeast (hooray for beer), fortified cereals, corn, egg yolks, milk, royal jelly, soy, and wheat bran.

– D which is used to absorb calcium and promote bone growth along with so much more. It can be found in fish and mushrooms.

– E a fat-soluble nutrient that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and many other conditions. It can be found in Plant Oils (Wheat Germ), Sunflower Seeds, and Almonds.

– Chromium which is an essential part of metabolic processes that regulate blood sugar, and helps insulin transport glucose into cells, where it can be used for energy. It can be found in foods like whole-grain products, high-bran cereals, green beans, broccoli, nuts, and egg yolk.

– Calcium which in addition to building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium helps our blood clot, nerves send messages and muscles contract. It can be found in foods like almond milk, rice milk or soy milk, and fortified foods.

– Iodine which is needed to make thyroid hormones. It can be found in fortified salt, seaweed, and potatoes.

– Molybdenum which combines with sulfite oxidase to catalyze sulfur-containing amino acids that are crucial for human health. Can be found in Grain products and nuts.

– Zinc helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses and make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Can be found in oysters (which contain more zinc per serving than any other food), red meat, and poultry.

The Big Picture

These nutrient deficiencies are just some examples of what we can be missing. Every person is truly individual so don’t just assume your diet is lacking all of the above examples. However, what can be said is that when our bodies don‚Äôt have the nutrients they need to do their work, we all suffer. But as soon as we get these nutrients, we thrive.

 

Thoughts For Food

The “why” behind our food choices.

Today’s post is short and sweet. It comes from an¬†article by the Health Science Academy¬†about factors influencing our food choices. This fantastic review takes an in depth look at the “why” behind our food choices. Although we may think that it’s a simple decision, there are actually a lot of things that we can do to positively influence our decision making. Here are a few tips on how to make great nutrition choices!
1. Get enough sleep
2. Get a lot of exercise, especially when you’re stressed
3. Learn to say “no” to extra work or social events that will do nothing but add stress to your day
4. Hug Someone! This simple step can decrease stress hormones and positively influence your food choices
5. Control your environment by making healthy decisions easily seen and accessible

Tech Time

Although technology wont make you any more fit, they can provide you with a plethora of information and motivation.

Today we are talking tech! By now most people have heard of fit bit, my fitness pal, or one of the may other apps and fitness equipment that can be worn to track your level of activity. Although these utilities wont make you any more fit, they can provide you with a plethora of information and motivation.
This weeks post is inspired by Dr. Geier, an orthopedic surgeon I follow and highly recommend you do too. In an article for Reuters he, and others, talked about some of the benefits of fitness technology. Here are a few highlights:
According to the CDC, 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week can reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers as well as help strengthen muscles and bones
In other words we are looking to walk about 10,000 steps a day
Although tech can’t¬†necessarily¬†help you reach that goal, it can be a great motivator and help you realize just how much (or little) you are actually moving throughout your day
When talking about smart phone apps and step counting, Apple tends to over count steps and android tends to under count steps
If you don’t have a smart phone, try investing in a $10 to $30 pedometer before you decide to buy a $100 fitness band
While these factor are important for self realization of activity, I think it is also important to harp on the nutrition side of things as well. In simple terms, when you are in a hypocaloric diet (eating less calories than you’re using in a day) following the minimal guidelines can result in fat mass loss as found by a recent study. I attached the study for those of you with an eye for scientific research, but I will say that these data are not conclusive for every individual.
The bottom line is that for most people hitting the minimum 10,000 steps per day while in a hypocaloric diet is enough to produce meaningful results over a few months. See the article for more on technology, and the research for information on diet and exercise combined (warning, it is not an easy read for all).

Burn More Fat!?

Today we are busting some big fat burning myths!!!

Today¬†we are busting some big fat burning myths!!! For those of you who have trained with me, much of this post will sound familiar. BUT, I am certain that everyone will discover something new this morning ūüôā
So there are a lot of “fat burning” promises out there. From fad diets to new and improved exercise programs to miracle pills. It seems like everyone has the magic Quick Fix¬†that no one has ever thought of before. But I’ll let you in on a little industry secret… NOTHING replaces hard work. Now although there are no magic pills that allow you to sit on your butt and reach you reach you health goals, there are smart ways to use your time in gym. Here are a few highlights from this weeks article talking about do’s and don’ts.
Don’t
Believe that there is any one thing you can do to loose fat (especially taking a pill)
Do
Take time to educate yourself. Take time to learn about a given intervention such as a diet, exercise program, and how they will interact with your lifestyle and health concerns. You need to incorporate all of these things by creating new habits to see meaningful results.
Don’t
Just walk on the treadmill. Slow steady state (low to moderate intensity for 1hr) exercise wont burn fat efficiently.
Do
Participate in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)! This style of exercise will differ for everyone, but in general it will allow you to work for a shorter amount of time with greater fat burning power. Our March Boot Camp is a great example of HIIT.
Don’t
Rely on the way you feel to gauge the intensity of exercise. Everyone responds to stress (yes exercise is a stress) in different ways.
Do
Purchase a heart rate monitor. Investing in a quality heart rate monitor will show vast returns in your health. These inexpensive devices are imperative to the HIIT principle and will ensure that your workouts are effective, but most importantly, safe!
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To learn more about HIIT, fat burning tip, as well as some common myths you can access the original article here.