Making Cardio CVEasy

The benefits of increasing your CVE are too great to ignore so I wanted to share some thoughts on how to spice up your routine!

Today I’m talking cardio. More specifically I wanted to talk about cardiovascular endurance (CVE). This topic was spurred on by a meme that I saw earlier in the week essentially saying that people who only come to the gym to walk on the treadmill are wasting their time and money. To be clear, I think that cardio of any sort should be a part of a complete workout program and not the entirety of your gym experience. However, the benefits of increasing your CVE are too great to ignore so I wanted to share some thoughts on how to spice up your routine!
 
The First Step
The first thing you should do is assess where you are physically. This can be done several ways. You can see a fitness professional (like myself), you can track your workouts, you can take a ballpark guess, or you can just say “hey I’m a couch potato… I know exactly where I’m at physically” and go from there. What you will want to know overall is how to take your CVE to the next level without injuring yourself. Side note, the phrase “no pain no gain” is… dumb, silly, nonsense, asinine, dippy (I love my thesaurus).
 
Step Two
Assess what you need. That old pair of Chuck Tailors in the closet probably aren’t the best idea if you want to start a running program. So before you dust off the old bike, goggles, or roller blades on the way to a work out, make sure they are in good condition. Trust me when I say that investing $100 in your equipment is the BEST thing you can do for increasing your CVE. There’s nothing worse than a couple of forced weeks off due to injury.
 
Step Three
Look into activities that you already enjoy. There’s no reason to go running if you hate being on your feet. Make things easier on yourself by identifying things that you already kind of like doing and try them first. This will decrease the chances of you quitting early and increase the likelihood of you seeing actual gains. And always remember to gradually increase your workload. 
 
Step Four
Put one foot in front of the other (I love puns). You need to make it happen. Just knowing that 22 minutes of walking a day will decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer, and increase your overall longevity should be enough. But as a pragmatist I know that we all need help on days that we feel out of it. This is why I am such a fan of exercising in groups or with a partner to keep you accountable. 
 
Pro Tips
 – The fastest and easiest way to get in shape quick is high intensity interval training (HIIT). However, it is extremely difficult to do HIIT properly alone. There are definitely some great strategies to employ if you must do HIIT alone as your source of CVE training. You can also do a small group class like the awesome new GRIT classes that will be starting at the end of October (if you would like more information just let me know).
 – Not ready for HIIT? No problem! Running is a cheap and easy way to get increase your CVE. Check out this link for a fantastic review about everything you need to know to get started with running. While you’re at it you should also consider joining me at our Run Club every Saturday morning at 8am! (Note that we will be running an organized 5k as a group on 10/10/2015. Join by signing up here!!!)
 – Coming off of an injury and can’t do what you want? Check out this link for some ideas about how to modify your activities.
 – Never stop improving. Whether you’re just getting off of the couch and walking for 20m a day or starting a new butt kicking HIIT work out, it’s important to always strive to hit the next level. Even if it takes you years to get there, setting goals is an extremely important and effective way to stay in shape.  
 – Keep it all in perspective. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was this guy. We spend all of our lives getting to the point we currently are currently at. It take time to get in shape. So don’t reward yourself for exercising, and don’t expect immediate returns on your fitness investment. Stay the course and you will become an inspiration!

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 🙂

Lifting For… Losses

Lifting for gains (muscle/strength) can also equal losses.

Today I wanted to talk about getting shredded to lose weight. Because I know everyone is concerned about how they are going to burn off all that BBQ they will be eating this weekend! So that’s why I wanted to talk about why lifting for gains (muscle/strength) can also equal losses.
But first, a clarification. Weight loss is not the main topic of today’s post. Why? Because weight loss can be achieved through amputation, osteoporosis, stomach flu (though intestinal parasites will do in a pinch), coma, chemotherapy, shaving all your hair off, lobotomy… you get the point. Weight is not a great indicator for health or fitness, so what we are really talking about is fat loss. Because we all know muscle weighs more than fat, we know that weight may go up while your pant size goes down. This is why all of my clients take more pride in their bio-electric impedance (fat mass) numbers rather than the numbers on the scale. They know that their body composition (lean mass compared to fat mass) is what’s really important.
Old-School
The old-school way of thinking was that low intensity cardio burns fat, therefore you lose fat. But we now know that this just isn’t true. Without getting into science nerdy stuff too much, burning fat only means your using fat as fuel source. And unless you’re an ultra marathon runner,this doesn’t really matter. Although cardio is beneficial in many ways, it won’t do a great deal to help you lose fat. Oh and fasted cardio? Well… listen to this podcast that reflects my thoughts on this ridiculous practice.
Why Weight Lifting is Better
Picking up and putting down heavy things does more than you know. It places large amounts of stress on not only your muscles and tendons, but your bones and nervous system as well. Everything has to adapt to stress. As a result of this adaptation, your muscles will store more myoglobin (sugars), bones will become more dense, and your body will know to send more blood to these areas to help with the repair/replenishment of nutrients. Although your weight may go up a bit from these adaptations, it in turn means your metabolism grows as your muscles do! So class. What do we burn when we are at rest and our metabolism is high? Fat! This scenario is how we lose fat. Research continues to show that placing greater amounts of metabolic stress (like weight training) will result in greater fat loss and muscle gains.
Where To Start
Now for some of you, I know that the thought of weight lifting is daunting. Images of bench pressing meat heads may even be dancing around in your mind. But getting started on a weight lifting program doesn’t mean you need to learn how to grunt like an animal while squatting. What is important, however, is that you get started and stay consistent. Here are some key thoughts on how to do this:
Make the Process Fun – Experiment around the gym. Find what you like to do, then do it. It’s that simple.
Set Mini Goals – Long term goals progress slowly. To avoid going crazy, set short term goals as well. It can be as simple as doing a real push up by the end of the month.
Have An Accountabilibuddy – Nothing gets you in the gym as easily as a buddy. It’s much harder to say “no” when there is someone to push you along the way.
Don’t Get Carried Away – The “more is better” approach is rarely a good thing. Layer things on slowly and you will stay sane and injury free.
Feeling stressed out? Who isn’t these days?! Check out this link for tips on how to train when stressed.
Final Thoughts
I’m not saying cardio is bad by any means. In fact, it should be a part of your training program. But if your trying to look strong and/or lose weight, it should not be the main strategy. It’s also important to remember that everyone will react differently to resistance exercise. There is no magic bullet to all of this. Make sure you are placing the big rocks first and results will come. A high protein diet and consistent metabolic stress from resistance training will get you the results. Just be patient and keep the faith and you will see your body composition change! Still need help getting started?

Death Taxes and Sarcopenia

Starting around age 30 we all start to lose muscle mass and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. Might as well accept your fate right? WRONG!

This week we are talking about how to minimize sarcopenia. What the heck is sarcopenia you ask? Well as the title of this week’s post implies, it is the inevitable decline in the strength and size of our muscles as we age. Starting around age 30 we all start to lose muscle mass and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. However, several factors can exacerbate sarcopenia to extremes. In fact, it can cause loss of mobility and function, decline the ability to perform activities of daily living, increase risk of cardiometabolic disease, and increase chances of falls and hip fractures.
So the only things in life that are guaranteed are death, taxes, and sarcopenia. Might as well accept your fate right? WRONG! Here are a few key factors to keep your muscles, and consequently your lifestyle, from wasting away.
PROTEIN
I’ll start with protein because I know you all are protein pros! Protein is essential to muscle function. So it should come as no surprise that if you are under consuming amino acids, you will be at greater risk to suffer from advanced sarcopenia as you age. It’s important to note here that we need more protein as we age. So don’t be a part of the 50% of the elderly population who doesn’t get enough protein. Shoot for 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day (calculate here).
ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are in the media constantly. They are touted as being the miracle source of all sorts of health. The reality is that they only play a role in our overall health. What they do is reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is responsible for all sort of things, not all of them bad. So for some the key is moderation, and for others it is supplementation. So how does it affect sarcopenia? Well in several ways, but really the most important way is that it reduces or even can reverse anabolic resistance. Now this is extremely important because anabolic resistance basically means your muscles can’t use proteins, and thus they will wither away.
RESISTANCE TRAINING
By far the most important factor in reducing sarcopenia is resistance training exercise. I think this point is even more important for women because in addition to sarcopenia they are more likely to suffer from bone diseases like osteoporosis. What resistance training does is force the body to adapt to the stress placed upon it. So your muscles get bigger because they need to adapt to lift more weight, and bones get bigger to support the added stress from the muscles. This is why I always encourage women of all ages to lift weights. It’s also why I cringe when a women tells me “but I don’t want to get too bulky”. James Fell wrote a fantastic piece on this very topic and I encourage everyone to read it here.
So whether you need help on increasing your protein intake, antioxidants, or figuring out an exercise program, I’m always here provide assistance.