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.
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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 🙂
 

The Caboose Should Come First! – Glute Training

These days, people use their keester for little more than sitting. This is a real travesty because it’s useful for so many more things we do throughout the day.

Today I will be talking about the importance of training your glutes, and how best to do it! These days, people use their keester for little more than sitting. This is a real travesty because it’s useful for so many more things we do throughout the day. As a disclaimer, I will be using as many whimsical terms as I can think of to describe the caboose so stop reading now if you don’t like laughing 🙂More Than Just A Money Maker

Your heinie is crucial for so many different movements and activities that it is impossible to cover them all in one sitting (pun intended). It’s used for simple things like walking, sitting, and even standing with proper posture, to very complex movements like squatting, jumping, and sport specific movements. Booty strength is often lacking in those who sit for long periods of time which can lead to lower back pain. And this lack of strength can even lead issues such as ACL tears, shin splints, ankle sprains, and general knee and hip pain. Such issues occur when the tooshie is week because other muscles like hamstrings, hip flexors, IT band, and groin muscles over develop and cause problems in its absences. Finally, when the behind is weak, the abs/core is in a disadvantage and can’t do its job as well either! Longs story short, glute strengthening is necessary for far more than having a rockin rump during bikini season!

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that we ALL need have strength in our bottoms. So here are a few ways to get it done!

Mindful Movement –  The first thing for everyone to do is be aware of what you’re working. Mentally slowing down and concentrating on contracting your can will encourage greater development during exercise and during daily activities. Squeezing your butt (mentally, not with your hands) while standing is a great way to develop proper posture.

Squat – When done properly, the squat is a tried and true method of firming up the fanny. There are also many ways to squat, so using different tools to get it done right may be necessary for a beginner. Making sure you keep your chest up and drive through you heels are good starting points for a novice squatter.

Single Leg RDL – Simply standing on one leg, while keeping the hips even, is another easy way to round the rear end. Once you have mastered this skill, single-leg romanian deadlifts (RDL) are, by far, my favorite way to blast the buttocks. Make sure you have the balance and stability to do this exercise before you go for it however.

Tricks or Tweaks – There are a variety of simple tricks and exercise tweaks you can use to develop a powerful posterior. Squatting with a band around your knees, increasing the range of motion on hip thrusts (or any exercise for that matter), keeping your knees behind your toes during leg exercises, and overloading the lockout of your glute exercises by fully extending the hips are all ways to advance your exercises.

The Classics – Sticking to the classics of glute strengthening is always a good idea. Supine bridges (double and single leg), clamshells, and step-ups may not be the most glamorous, (read in Yoda voice) butt they work!

Front to Back – As mentioned earlier, the core works in concert with the keester. So be sure to double your effort to contract your derriere while performing core exercises.

As fun as this has been to write, and I hope read, all good things must come to a rear end.

Meal Frequency: The Truth Is Out!

Does eating more meals a day boost your metabolism, or just your dish count?

What if I told you “the more you eat, the more you will lose weight?” Sound too good to be true? Well, you would be right. Over eating will lead to weight gain. Which is why it drives me up a wall when people say that eating small meals more frequently will boost your metabolism, make you feel fuller on fewer calories, and/or balance your hormones (i.e. insulin) and thus help you lose weight. Not only are these claims not true, but at the end of the day, we suck at guessing how many calories we eat. Try it yourself by taking a quiz if you want. In general, if you eat more meals, you’ll overeat at more meals. So let’s take a look at the claims, and what you should try instead!
 
Mo Meals Mo Problems!
I don’t know about you, but I hate doing dishes. So when I was advised to eat meals more frequently to keep myself lean, my laziness made me skeptical. What I found out was that eating more meals really just boosted your dish count and not your metabolism. I mean sure, you will increase your energy expenditure by eating (1). But if you think that you will every out burn the calories you’re taking in you’re crazy! This is because with most meals you will only burn around 10% of calories consumed regardless of frequency. So if you think eating more meals per day is going to help you lose weight or decrease your fat mass %, you’ve got another thing coming (2). And that would be dishes.
 
Fill Er Up
Do you save time and money by stopping for gas every day? No (at least I hope you don’t have to drive that much). It would probably only annoy you to stop that frequently, and you would waste time and energy doing it. Same goes for eating meals at a greater frequency. Not only will it not hep you with burning fat, but it may leave you feeling less satiated (hunger satisfied) at the end of the day (3). Of course, this may not be true for everyone but that’s the point (4). It’s not “a fact” that more meals are superior because they keep you feeling full. If you eat more frequently just because someone told you it will help with weight loss, you may end up being annoyed that you have to stop what you’re doing just to fuel up for no reason (5).
 
Hormoans
I’ve written about how insulin is not to blame in the past. But time and time again the insulin monster comes up in the media as if our pancreas is out to get us. But more and more studies are coming out showing that “Current scientific evidence does not support the ‘carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity’” (6). In fact, when it comes to controlling insulin, eating two meals a day is probably better than eating 6 meals a day (7)! At the end of the day bringing up insulin is a moot point. If you’re eating too many calories you will gain weight irrespective of how much insulin you have flowing through your veins. The only exception to consider here would be the amount of protein you’re getting. It’s generally better to spread it out through the day rather than get it in a couple of large doses (8). Even then, the net benefits are negligible for most casual gym goers.
 
So What Now?
If more isn’t better, then what is? Well the answer to that question, like so many others, is that it’s up to you. The best advice I can give regarding meal frequency is that it should fit your lifestyle. If you want to eat a bunch of little meals or just a few large ones, that’s fine.Just be consistent in your approach because irregular eating patterns may negatively impact your metabolism (9). If you’re looking for some hard and fast guidelines, I’m not the best guy to go to. However, generally speaking, I would suggest three daily meals spaced out no more than every five to six hours to promote lean muscle.
References
1. Mercier, I., LeBlanc, J., & Nadeau, A. (1993). Components of postprandial thermogenesis in relation to meal frequency in humans. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 71(12), 879-883. doi:10.1139/y93-133
2. Jon Schoenfeld, B., Albert Aragon, A., & Krieger, J. W. (2015). Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: A meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 73(2), 69-82. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuu017
3. Ohkawara, K., Cornier, M., Kohrt, W. M., & Melanson, E. L. (2013). Effects of increased meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 21(2), 336-343. doi:10.1002/oby.20032
4. Smeets, A. J., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2008). Acute effects on metabolism and appetite profile of one meal difference in the lower range of meal frequency. British Journal of Nutrition, 99(6), 1316-1321. doi:10.1017/S0007114507877646
5. Cameron, J. D., Cyr, M., & Doucet, É. (2010). Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. British Journal of Nutrition, 103(8), 1098-1101. doi:10.1017/S0007114509992984
6. Bosy-Westphal,A, Hagele,F., & Nas,A. (2016). Impact of dietary glycemic challenge on fuel partitioning, Eur J Clin Nutr, 1038(10), 1476-5640. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.230
7. Kahleova, H., Belinova, L., Malinska, H., Oliyarnyk, O., Trnovska, J., Skop, V., . . . Pelikanova, T. (2014). Eating two larger meals a day (breakfast and lunch) is more effective than six smaller meals in a reduced-energy regimen for patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomised crossover study. Diabetologia, 57(8), 1552-1560. doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3253-5
8. Areta, J. L., Burke, L. M., Ross, M. L., Camera, D. M., West, D. W. D., Broad, E. M., . . . Coffey, V. G. (2013). Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. The Journal of Physiology, 591(9), 2319-2331. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2012.244897
9. Farshchi, H. R., Taylor, M. A., & Macdonald, I. A. (2005). Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and fasting lipid profiles in healthy obese women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(1), 16.

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’s 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.

Big Belly, Big Biceps, Big Training Mistakes

We make efforts to get to where we want to be, but often times we do the minimum to get there and never really breach our comfort zone.

Why do you exercise? Are you trying slim down that big belly? Looking to have shirt-busting biceps? Or perhaps just trying not to become a three-toed sloth (even though they are cute)? Well, I can tell you that we all make mistakes in our never-ending quest to be fit as a fiddle. It’s in our nature to be comfortable. We make efforts to get to where we want to be, but often times we do the minimum to get there and never really breach our comfort zone. So if you have ever asked yourself, “Why isn’t this working?”, read on to see some classic mistakes you’re probably still making.
Tummy Training Troubles
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At some point in our lives, we have all wanted our midsection to look at least a little bit different. Whether you’ve wanted to have washboard abs, a flat stomach, smaller pant/dress size, or even to see your toes again, we have all had goals. Training to see these goals come to fruition, however, can often feel like an uphill battle on a treadmill covered with petroleum jelly. No matter how hard or fast you move your feet, you just seem to see no progress. When it comes to seeing progress around your midsection, the difference is truly made in the kitchen and not the gym. This is because no matter how many crunches you do (or adductor machine squeezes you do for legs), you won’t see a bit of difference in fatty tissue laying over those areas (1). In reality, trying to zap away your problem areas is literally an exercise in futility, because spot reduction DOES NOT WORK (2)!!!! Furthermore, burning fat does not mean you’re losing fat (3). If you want to lose the muffin top, you should weight train (no not cardio), eat at least 500 fewer calories than you burn in a day, and face some of these hard truths:
1 – You will fail. Not everything you’re going to try will work. Keep trying new ways of losing weight and stick with what’s working for you. Whether it’s more exercise, eating less, or cutting out booze, find your weight-loss sweet spot to see that belly boil down to nothing.
2 – Your body is your fault. You’ve spent your entire life getting into the habits that have turned you into the person you are. Whether you’re happy with the way you look and feel, or get upset every time you look in the mirror, the sooner you start to take responsibility for your health and body, the sooner you’re going to make a change.
3 – Fat loss sucks. It’s damn hard and there is absolutely nothing “effortless” about it. You WILL have to get out of your comfort zone.
4 – You will never look the way you want. Our imaginations get the better of us by blowing things way out of proportion which results in some hybrid, demi-god version of ourselves. If you have ever thought to yourself, “I just want to look like I did when I was in high school/college”, then I’m sorry to burst your bubble Uncle Riko, you probably didn’t look that good in the first place. Our memories stink, we all think we are above average/better than we really are, and we are all getting older. Which leads me to my last point.
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5 – Men and women lose fat differently, and our bodies don’t work the same as we age. This is especially true for postmenopausal women who have a harder time losing weight due to drastic hormone changes (4).

Programming Your Exercise For Getting Big

Getting bigger muscles is not easy. It takes dedication, lots of effort, and most importantly, consistency. Spending a few weeks lifting weights in the gym is not how you get bigger or stronger. You need to spend months, and even years, of heavy lifting to look like a muscle-bound gym rat. And even then, you will need to be doing a few key things to see success. To be clear, if you’re a high-level athlete there are a few very specific things that you need to consider, but we are not going to get into those topics here. If you are trying to get into a generally better body, then take a gander at what you need to be doing.
 * Ignore the overrated minutia of training that just about everyone online is talking about. Even smart people and trainers get bogged down in the never-ending pile of garbage that’s out there these days.
 * Progressive overload is the name of the game. More weight, more reps, more volume, more frequency, more quality, more efficiency or more intensity (of effort). These are all different forms of overload and this increased workload from one workout to the next is fundamentally what triggers muscle growth.
 * Beginners can add weight to the bar at almost every workout, and enjoy rapid muscle gains with about 5 sets of exercise a week per muscle group. Experienced lifters will see gains come slower and need about 10 sets of exercise a week per muscle group (5). So don’t get frustrated; keep at it.
 * Think long term. Not only does muscle growth happen slowly, your progress rarely occurs in a continuous, straight upward line.
 * Sacrificing form for weight is unacceptable. I know you want to see more weight on the bar, but if your form goes to crap, then what’s the point? Strict form is always important for results and safety, but a standardized form is also a must when it comes to quantifying your progression from one workout to the next.
 * Keep a training journal. Your memory isn’t so hot either, so write it down. How can you possibly get better if you don’t remember the sets, reps, and weights you did last time?
Bottom Line
When it’s all said and done, you need to take care of you. Everyone experiences weight loss and muscle gain differently. What works for me probably won’t work for you. But if you’re not making an effort to get out of your comfort zone, then nothing will work. If you’re not tracking your process, successes, and pitfalls, then you won’t know which direction to go next. Work hard consistently to get to your destination.
References
1. Vispute, S. S., Smith, J. D., LeCheminant, J. D., & Hurley, K. S. (2011). The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(9), 2559.
2. Idoate, F., Ibanez, J., Gorostiaga, E. M., Garcia-Unciti, M., Martinez-Labari, C., & Izquierdo, M. (2011). Weight-loss diet alone or combined with resistance training induces different regional visceral fat changes in obese women. International Journal of Obesity, 35(5), 700-713. doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.190
3. Stallknecht, B., Dela, F., & Helge, J. W. (2007;2006;). Are blood flow and lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue influenced by contractions in adjacent muscles in humans? American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, 292(2), 394-399. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00215.2006
4. Green, J. S., Stanforth, P. R., Rankinen, T., Leon, A. S., Rao, D. C., Skinner, J. S., . . . Wilmore, J. H. (2004). The effects of exercise training on abdominal visceral fat, body composition, and indicators of the metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women with and without estrogen replacement therapy: The HERITAGE family study. Metabolism, 53(9), 1192-1196. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2004.04.008
5. Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Effects of resistance training frequency on measures of muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 46(11), 1689-1697. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8

 

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 🙂 

Biomechanics Aren’t As Important As You Think

With so many variables to consider, how can anyone claim to really know what’s supposed to happen when any given individual moves?

These days it seems like everyone’s a biomechanics expert. From gym teachers to physical therapists, to personal trainers, and even fringe clinicians like chiropractors and massage therapists think they have the end all be all answer to the way we should move. With so many experts around, I had to ask myself “is anyone right?” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent years studying movement, so I am in no way saying there isn’t something to proper movement. But, with so many variables to consider, how can anyone claim to really know what’s supposed to happen when any given individual moves? A quick breakdown of variables to consider would include 3 independent planes of motion (never used in isolation), 46 miles of nerves, 206 bones, 100-300 major muscles (out of 700), 360 joints, and seeming endless ways of combining them to move. I would need help from a statistician just to figure out how many ways there are to move, so how can anyone really know how to move perfectly?!?! Well, one thing is for sure, we can only guess and learn from the best.
 
Biomechanical Boogymen
All too often I have people tell me that they can’t do things because their chiropractor found something on their X-ray, their trainer said it was bad for their joints, or their massage therapist said it was giving them trigger points. When I dig a little deeper, I general find that there is nothing to substantiate the claims. Why? Because I know that some practitioners use fancy terminology to sell their services knowing that less educated folks are somewhat more likely to swallow fancy-sounding bull**** (1). And because being asymmetrical and/or abnormal is normal! Neck pain is not greatly associated with neck posture (2). Sagittal (front to back) spinal curve does not relate to spinal health or back pain (3). It is highly likely that we all have disc degeneration, a bulging disk, and/or protruding disk in our back right now, and that’s normal (4). It’s not an unequal leg length that’s causing your back pain (5). Even the best athletes in the world have asymmetrical muscle size and movement patterns, and they don’t have issues caused by them (6,7). To sum it all up, movement systems seem to have reserve capacity to allow for asymmetry and imperfections to exist without failure or symptoms (8). You’re not made out of glass and tissue paper, and pain is complicated!
 
The Catch
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No, you do not have free reign to ignore your exercise technique and/or posture. This is because we know there are ways to avoid hurting yourself! For instance, we know that runners with weak hamstrings are more likely to be injured (9). We know that rounding your back during a deadlift is bad. But, a lot of other technique coaching tips are sort of just semantics for the deadlift. My point is, there are things that we can do to control the likelihood of injury, but seeking perfection is fruitless because it doesn’t exist. Personally, I believe that being in tune with your body is one of the best things you can to do know what’s causing you pain or discomfort. By this, I mean you should have a general sense of what your body is doing. Have proper motor planning by figuring out the actual steps involved in a movement (i.e. map out all the steps from point A to point B). Learn to have motor control by practicing perfect technique in a mirror. Gain proprioception by having a sense of knowing where your body is in space. Enhance this skill by selectively contracting individual muscles, and balancing on one leg with your eyes closed. If you don’t know whether you’re moving well, how can you tell when you’re not? Was it really that deadlift that bothered your back, or was it from sitting in hunched-over position?
What’s most important when considering all of this, is getting strong. You can’t alter biomechanics without getting strong. It takes over 1,000 lbs. of force to deform fascia by even 1% (10). So foam rolling and massage won’t change your biomechanics. Having your back cracked or hips adjusted back into place may feel good, but it’s temporary and normal for things to go back to the way they were. That is unless you get stronger overall. It’s funny how things work out when you keep the body moving. Even if you don’t have textbook technique.
References
1. Weisberg, D. S., Keil, F. C., Goodstein, J., Rawson, E., & Gray, J. R. (2008). The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(3), 470-477. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.20040
2. Grob, D., Frauenfelder, H., & Mannion, A. F. (2007). The association between cervical spine curvature and neck pain. European Spine Journal, 16(5), 669-678. doi:10.1007/s00586-006-0254-1
3. Christensen, S. T., & Hartvigsen, J. (2008). Spinal curves and health: A systematic critical review of the epidemiological literature dealing with associations between sagittal spinal curves and health. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 31(9), 690-714. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2008.10.004
4. Brinjikji, W., Luetmer, P. H., Comstock, B., Bresnahan, B. W., Chen, L. E., Deyo, R. A., . . . Jarvik, J. G. (2015). Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations. AJNR. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 36(4), 811-816. doi:10.3174/ajnr.A4173
5. Grundy, P. F., & Roberts, C. J. (1984). Does unequal leg length cause back pain? A case-control study. Lancet (London, England), 2(8397), 256.
6. Hides, J., Fan, T., Stanton, W., Stanton, P., McMahon, K., & Wilson, S. (2010). Psoas and quadratus lumborum muscle asymmetry among elite australian football league players. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(8), 563-567. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.048751
7. Hespanhol Junior LC, De Carvalho AC, Costa LO, Lopes AD. Lower limb alignment characteristics are not associated with running injuries in runners: Prospective cohort study. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016 Jun:1–8. PubMed #27312709.
8. Lederman, E. (2011). The fall of the postural-structural-biomechanical model in manual and physical therapies: Exemplified by lower back pain. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 15(2), 131-138. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2011.01.011
9. Devan, M. R., Pescatello, L. S., Faghri, P., & Anderson, J. (2004). A prospective study of overuse knee injuries among female athletes with muscle imbalances and structural abnormalities. Journal of Athletic Training, 39(3), 263-267.
10. Chaudhry, H., Schleip, R., Ji, Z., Bukiet, B., Maney, M., & Findley, T. (2008). Three-dimensional mathematical model for deformation of human fasciae in manual therapy. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 108(8), 379.