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Two weeks into the New year. How are you holding up?

You’re still on track, right? The wheels haven’t completely fallen off anyways, right?

Well if they have, you’re like most everyone else. When something is new it is exciting. When it’s new there’s curiosity, the unknown. There’s potential. It probably gives you butterflies.

And then a few weeks later that’s all gone. It’s no longer magical. You know all about it. It’s hard. It’s not all fun and games and hopes and dreams. So you bail. And that’s understandable, isn’t it? Maybe you just weren’t seeing progress fast enough. Maybe you got sick or injured. Maybe your boss got on your ass “Office Space” style and had you working the weekend so you couldn’t get in that long run with your friend. Or maybe you were just focused on the wrong thing.

Look,  I’m making this short and sweet and to the point today. This is actually almost identical to the post I put up last week. And you know why? Because I’m literally GIVING you the secret to long term success. The last post I wrote was likely the most important one of mine you could ever read. You can read it here: http://fgnutrition.com/wordpress/2017/01/03/yep-its-the-new-year-again-how-this-one-really-can-be-different/

I’m done typing today. Just click the link above. And yeah, that might be lazy on my part, but I really do believe that the focus on the task is something everyone needs to know. Hell, even if you read it last week. Read it again. I believe it to be that important.

Yep, It’s the new year again. How this one really can be different.

I know, I know. I didn’t want to write it either. I’m pretty anti-resolutions. I don’t need to bore you with the statistics about the percentage of people who make a resolution and then don’t follow through on it. You already know that it’s high. You probably know because you’ve personally made one (or a lot of them) and they didn’t really pan out. You’ve also probably heard all the reasons “why” they don’t work and my personal belief is that they don’t work because you don’t want it badly enough. If you were truly serious about it, you wouldn’t have waited until the start of the new year. You’d have started the moment you came up with the idea.

But enough of that. I’m coming to you today to tell you how to actually succeed. And this isn’t subject to only new years resolutions, but really any change you want to make when it comes to your nutrition and health or fitness. It’s what I work on with all of my clients on a daily basis. And you’ve certainly heard me elude to it in previous posts if you’ve been following along over the years. We know that there isn’t really any secret. It’s not sexy. It boils down to consistently eating pretty well and getting in exercise over a long period of time. Aren’t you excited?!

But you knew that too, didn’t you? After all, if it was so damn easy we’d all be sporting 6 packs. In fact, and this is still crazy for me to think about, but if you are of a normal weight for your height, then you are a minority. Most people are overweight or obese. That’s just a fact, albeit a sad one. Were quickly approaching our general population to be at 70% overweight or obese. Seventy. Not seven.

So… we know that it takes consistent dedication to eating well and exercising. Bottom line. But how do we consistently do it? I think that’s the question most of us aren’t asking. And it’s the most important one. And here is my answer:

Focus on the task.

That’s it. Focus on the action you need to take that will lead you to your goals. Too many people focus on their weight, for example. If instead, however, they were to focus on getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night, have a vegetable with lunch and dinner, or drink half their body weight in ounces of fluid each day, then I think a lot of people would be a lot more successful. You see, focusing on the task is easy. There’s no emotional tie to having a vegetable at dinner each night. That ain’t the case when you step on the scale after putting in work for a couple of weeks and it’s barely budged. That shit will bring you down, man. That’s a goal killer. Now yes, you might hop on and maybe not seeing it down is just more motivation, but eventually, that’s going to get old. Instead, just focus on the tasks. And do them. Ev. Re. Day. Over a long period of time. You WILL see results.

Now, you can also pair that with just having low expectations and you’ll also be happy!

But seriously, the task is the key. That’s the golden ticket. Stick to the task, do it and you’re set. Sure, I’ve made it sound more “easier said than done”, but trust me it gets easier. You know why? Because by focusing on the task, you’re subconsciously forming a habit. You’re forming a norm. And the norm should be eating well and exercising. If down the line you find yourself out of whack because you haven’t exercised in a few days, you know you’ve got it. If you feel like absolute crap after eating a greasy, fried or super sugary meal, you know you’ve made it. Try it for a year. They go by pretty fast and the time will pass anyways, so give it a shot.

Happy 2017 everyone!

How I manage my calories and macros

I get asked questions like this all the time:

“How many calories do you eat in a day?”

“Do you eat low carb?”

“How many grams of protein do you eat?”

To which the answer to these, in order, are: “No clue”, ‘nope, love carbs”, “probably right around what I need”

This post came about because I was driving into the office/gym the other day and it dawned on me that I drive almost always focused on what’s a little ways up ahead, not on the car directly in front of me. I probably developed this habit because I’ve only ever owned manual transmission cars and when you’re in city traffic, you learn this much valuable skill so as to not burn the hell out of your clutch as well as your left leg. But enough about cars. Although I’d actually really enjoy going on and on about that topic!

So this got me to thinking that I kind of operate on a nutrition and fitness level in a very similar manner. So the rest of this post will be comparing cars to nutrition and fitness.

Now I get the “how many calories do you eat” more often (far and away) than any other personal question about my eating habits. And I’m being 100% honest in telling people that I have no idea. I don’t track on an app. I don’t weigh or measure. I simply eat mostly minimally processed, whole foods, start to eat when I’m kinda hungry, and stop when I’m satisfied. Well…. most of the time anyways. I’m not perfect by any means, after all. But in doing this I’ve basically been between 165 and 175 lbs since I was 18 years old. And I still eat pizza and ice cream and all sorts of tasty shit like that. I just don’t do it all that often. I don’t think I can give you a “I eat well 90% of the time….” type of answer here, but just know that it’s mostly veggies, lean meats, complex carbs, fruit, and a bit of dairy. I’m not cut up by any means and eating this way won’t get me there. For that you have to dial it in. But I’m at a healthy weight, I’m active, and I enjoy myself. That’s really all I want anyways. Screw a six pack, man. So this is like my car in that I put in the required 93 octane, get regular oil changes, and pretty much leave it at that. Yeah sure, I floor it occasionally to see how quickly I can get to 60, but in general I take good care of it and it runs great. I don’t fuss over the little things about it. Except tires. Good tires are the most important addition you can make to your car IMO.

To address the “low carb” and “grams of protein” questions I get, I think it will be best to put them into one here. As for the carb thing, I probably do a mini version of carb cycling…. but not really intentionally or to any strong degree. I just know that if I’m working out that day I’ll include more carbs than if I’m not training or working out. I couldn’t tell you by how much, I just usually swap in veggies where rice might have been or something like that. But I do love carbs! As for how many grams I get? Again, no clue. Training days it’s maybe 200-250 or so? Off days maybe 125 ish? I just know I have plenty of energy and feel good.

For the protein question, I suppose this one has some merit as it’s critical to maintaining and building muscle mass (among other things). Go to a gym and you’ll likely leave feeling like that’s all you should be eating based on the conversations of the trainers and patrons there. Obviously that isn’t the truth and how much you should be taking in is variable based on several factors. I won’t get too deep into it, but I typically have my clients consuming a minimum of 1.2 grams/kg body weight. For my highly active and resistance training clients I’m probably bumping them straight to 2 grams per kilo. That’s just slightly less than 1 gram per pound of body weight. Now as for me, I just make sure that each meal/snack I have has 20-40 grams of protein in it. I can look at a dish/meal/snack and guesstimate close enough after doing it all these years. So therefore if I’m eating 4x/day, then I’m probably getting anywhere from 120-160 grams per day. Although my guess is I’m closer to the higher end of that range most days. And if you take my weight of 172 lbs, that means that 2 grams per kilo would be 156 grams per day. Therefore my answer of “probably right around what I need” is pretty accurate. I’ll compare this to how I fill my cars fuel tank. You see, I’m one of those guys who knows that I have 27 miles left once the low fuel light comes on. And it’s often I use some of those 27 miles. So when I’m fueling up, I like to play the guessing game to see how close I can get to the final gallons added. I know, I know…. not normal. But anyways, I know I have a 14 gallon tank of which roughly 13.8 gallons are useable. Furthest I’ve ever taken her was 13.5 gallons added which means that if I’m averaging 23 MPG, then I had just under 7 miles remaining.

Wow I really got off on a tangent there didn’t I? I was going to delete it, but what the hell, I’ll just leave it there for you guys to see where my mind wonders while I’m typing these things. So that’s all for today’s post with the exception of this shameless plug:

Check out the Feel Good in ’17 Challenge we’re running beginning January 9th right here! –> http://feelgoodin17.com/

 

 

New Year Habit Transformation Challenge!

Okay, so as you may or may not have heard, I am running a New Years Challenge. NOT a resolution because those are dumb. Sorry, I’m just not a fan. If it was that important to you, then you’d start today. But I digress.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions as to how the challenge will be structured and I’ve just recently dialed in the details of it. So without further adieu, here is how the Feel Good in ’17 Challenge will go!

Duration and start date: 28 days beginning on Monday, January 9th and wrapping up on Sunday/Monday, February 5th/6th.

What it is (and isn’t): This is a habit based challenge. We do not require any measurements, weights, body fat %, etc. However, if that is something you would like to monitor for yourself, we can certainly provide that. It is just not the focus of the challenge. Again this is habit based. So you may be asking yourself at this point, “okay cool, but what exactly does that mean?” Essentially there are 4 main points of emphasis in which we track. They are Training, Nutrition, Detox, and Lifestyle. Now for each category there are things that you will do daily/weekly and record them to a daily tracking sheet.

For Training, you must (or I should say GET TO) train at the Feel Good Nutrition and Fitness facility a minimum of 3x per week to earn your “points” for that week. Each persons’ workout will be individualized and based off of a Functional Movement Screen that each participant will go through. Workout sessions are typically around 1 hour in duration and are done in a small group personal training setting (1-6 people per hour). Training times will be determined on number of participants and their schedules. I’m open to a lot of possibilities.

For Nutrition, you’ll simply aim to eat 3 balanced meals each day. For those who sign up I will be discussing what this ultimately entails.

For the Detox, the goal is to do your best to eliminate added sugars in your diet. Again, for those who sign up I will discuss how to navigate that aspect of the challenge.

For Lifestyle, you will simply choose 1 out of 5 daily habits to adhere to. They are as follows:

  • Meditate for 5 minutes
  • Walk for 20 minutes
  • Turn screens of by 9 pm each night
  • Keep a daily food log (highly recommend this one)
  • Drink a glass of water upon waking each morning

At the end of each day/week you tally up your points (there’s an easy to follow system, don’t worry) and submit them to the website for the challenge I have set up. Each week we’ll have a prize for the person(s) with the highest point total. Prizes will be decided upon once I know how many will be joining this challenge, but they’ll be kick ass I promise. Also, there will be an overall grand prize for the person with the most points at the end of the challenge. Although that person is likely to have already attained the ultimate prize…. feeling and looking awesome!

Who the challenge is for: Everyone! That’s the beauty of it. Because each program is tailor made for each person, anyone can join. Bring a spouse, friend, cousin, uncle, co-worker, or whoever you like to join in the fun with you! Hey, it’s only 28 days after all. You can do anything for 28 days. Well…. not heroin. Don’t do heroin for 28 days. But you can do this!

Facebook Group: In addition to the website, we have set up a private Facebook group so that you can get on and share tips, ideas, recipes, photos of your progress, or just to post a funny meme. It’s all about fun! You’ll meet new friends and can stay connected to me as well. So it’s a great place to throw out that question you forgot to ask me when you were at the gym. I’ll be monitoring it daily and will be happy to respond.

Bonus of the week: Each week, in addition to the 4 major categories above, I will be posing a “bonus” challenge for everyone to do. Think of it like extra credit. It’s not necessary, but why not go all in? I will announce this bonus on Monday of each week and you will have until week’s end to complete it. A bonus challenge might be something like taking a photo of yourself prepping your meals for the week. Or it might be sharing a recipe with the group and posting a photo of you with the finished product. It could also be fitness related. Maybe you felt like banging out 10 goblet squats with your dog in your arms during a commercial break. Snap a photo of that one for sure!

So there you have it. These are the details of the Feel Good in ’17 Challenge and I’m pumped to get it underway. There is a lot I still have to do behind the scenes, but if there is one thing I can ask of you (other than signing up, that is) it would be to tell anyone you know who might be interested in doing this!

The cost to sign up is $49 for current clients and $149 for new members.

That’s less than most spend on groceries in a week (if you have kids).

That’s less than 2 upper-level tickets at a Colts game

That’s less than… well a lot of things we buy!

Bottom line is that this is a great deal, I promise. My goal is for you to walk away saying, “I can’t believe we got all of that for just $149”. This is a special promotional deal so if you’re on the fence that might be something to think about.

Thanks so much for reading all the way to the end. I’m sorry it’s all pushy promotional stuff, but I have to do these once in a while too. So that’s all for this week. Til next time!

The New Year is quickly approaching… and I’m running a challenge!

Yeah, yeah I know the title is corny and cliched, but it’s the best I could come up with. But you have to admit that it’s true. As I write this we are 2 days away from December. I’ll say that again…. De-freaking-cember. I know I’m not alone in that the year flew by. A lot changed for me, personally. And I’m sure you had a lot go on as well. Good, bad, or otherwise. Hey, how about that Donald Trump?

Just kidding. Today’s post is an exercise in looking back along with a shameless plug for my upcoming nutrition and fitness challenge beginning on January 9th. Oh, did I mention that I’m going to be running a nutrition and fitness challenge beginning on January 9th?

But let’s start with the reflective part of the post today. It really doesn’t have anything necessarily to do with exercising or nutrition, but I think it’s important nonetheless. I’ve had these conversations many times before, and oftentimes with myself. I am big on setting goals and doing my best to achieve them. And I’m guessing that pertains to you as well, no? And reaching a goal is an awesome feeling, no matter how small. But then what? Well, we set another and another and another (those last 5 words remind me of my days bellied up to the bar at the chocolate shop there on Chauncey hill). So we go on and on, setting goal after goal and hopefully reaching the majority of them. And the next thing you know it’s 10 years later and a LOT has been accomplished and happened.

My point here is that I think it’s important to look back on all that we’ve accomplished instead of always just looking for the next goal to reach. Otherwise, what’s the point? The only way to truly enjoy our successes, according to me anyway, is to reflect on them. So for me for example, I worked pretty hard to obtain my RD credential (it was a longer road than it needed to be) back in 2010. But before I’d even sat for my exam I was only focused on getting a job. I’m not sure I really allowed myself to enjoy it as much as I should have. But looking back now I can smile and appreciate it. Another instance for me would be the business. It’s so easy to get fully absorbed into it that I often forget to appreciate the situation I’m in. So I’m asking you guys today to look back and appreciate some of the things you’ve accomplished. Even if your year was a bag of shit. There’s something there.

Okay, now for the shameless plug… again. The challenge will begin on January 9th and run through Monday, February 6th. Also, this will be a habit based challenge. You will have the option to choose out of a list which habits you want to focus on. Some examples include meditating 10 minutes each day, keeping a food journal, eating breakfast everyday, keeping a gratitude journal, and many others. Now, it won’t be entirely habit based because I want to get people in here to the gym and working out as well, but it will heavily rely on the habits. I don’t have the full details on the challenge yet as I have to meet this coming Monday with my friend who is going to help me run it, but keep an eye out on social media and spread the word! There WILL be awesome prizes if we can get enough people to sign up for this. And by awesome I mean cash (a nice chunk, trust me), an iPad, discounts on training here with me and on nutrition too, gift certificates around town, etc. I’ll make sure they are kick ass. I’m still dialing in on the cost, but expect it to be around $99-$120 with heavy discounts for those who choose to sign up with me after the challenge has ended.

If this is successful, the plan is to run a challenge every quarter so if you miss this one, know that there will be other opportunities. But I’d recommend getting in on this one because why not get started on your health journey early? Next week’s post will be about the absolute details of the challenge (sorry in advance) so be on the lookout!

Why walking kicks ass

Walking. Yes we’re talking about walking today because it is extremely underrated in my opinion. And actually, it’s not just my opinion. There’s a crap ton of scientific research to back up my opinion.

But today’s post came about because the weather has been awesome in central Indiana as of late (for you East coasters ravaged by Matthew, sorry. Hope that gets cleaned up soon.) My new gym/office location is right off the monon trail in Carmel and so I have been making it a habit to go out and get in 30 mins 1-2 times per day lately. And from an anecdotal standpoint, here’s what I’ve noticed:

  1. Better recovery from training sessions. Now that I’m 32 (and yes I realize that isn’t that old, but 32 ain’t 22 either) I notice that I can’t quite get after it like I used to. Years of training for triathlons while simultaneously lifting weights and playing recreational sports like pick-up basketball and flag football often meant training or exercising 2x per day and up to as much as 10-12 training sessions per week. I know that sounds like a ton, but I did it and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Now? Eh, not so much. I can still get a couple of 2 a days in there every now and then, but man I pay the price. Even with my diet in check and a solid night’s sleep, it just isn’t quite the same. I need about 1 extra day it seems to get back to 100% whereas before I bounced right back. Hell, after my first half ironman on a Saturday in 2011, I went out and ran 6 that following Monday because I felt fine. Probably wouldn’t be the case today. Anywho, I’ve found that a nice brisk walk really rejuvenates me and seems to allow me to bounce back a bit quicker, especially following a heavy strength training session.
  2. More focus and alertness. This is very similar to how swimming affects me. Typically after a pool session I feel really, really good and ready to get back to it. It’s like a second start to the day. Well I’ve found that walking has a very similar effect. And oddly enough, I don’t get the same feeling after a run of similar time. Runs seem to really gas me out lately. Although in all fairness I still push it to get solid splits (and negative whenever I can). But the bonus here is that I don’t have to drive to the gym, change, swim, shower, and then drive back to the shop. I can just go out and immediately get these benefits with nothing on but a pair of shoes…. okay and shorts and a shirt.
  3. Better back health. If you’ve followed along at all in my blogs over the years I’ve beat this one over the back (see what I did there?). I have a screwy back with a long sounding diagnosed name that you don’t care to know about. Just know that I have to be cautious with it. After swimming, it seems to really be in great shape and my chiropractor 100% agrees. Well, more good news! Walking seems to have a very similar impact on my spine too. Again, all without having to do anything but go for a stroll.
  4. Improved mood and creativeness. This one is kind of a no brainer, but I feel it is still worth mentioning. It’s pretty much common knowledge that exercise improves mood. It’s like that co-worker who comes in all happy and shit at 8 am and hasn’t even had coffee yet because they were busy busting out an hour long spin class at 6 am. But it really does help me out. I just overall feel happier after a walk. And when I’m on that walk it gives me time to think about better ways to do things both within the business as well as life in general. I’m telling you guys you’ve got to start doing this! As little as 10-15 minutes will do the trick.

But as I said earlier, this is anecdotal. What works for me may or may not work for you. So with all this said, do what ever makes you happier and healthier overall. But for the sake of providing some evidence, below are some of the actual observed benefits of walking:

  • Walking at least 30 minutes a day is linked to an 18% lower risk of coronary artery disease.*
  • Walking at least nine miles a week was linked to a 22% lower death rate.*
  • Among 72,488 female nurses, walking at least three hours a week was linked to a 35% lower risk of heart attack and cardiac death and a 34% lower risk of stroke.*
  • A 10-year study of 229 postmenopausal women randomly assigned the volunteers to walk at least one mile a day or to continue normal activities. At the end of the trial, the walkers enjoyed an 82% lower risk of heart disease.*
  • Walking improves cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress.*
  • Walking and other moderate exercise programs also help protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction.*

And guys, if that last one didn’t sell you I don’t know what will! So if you’re finding it hard to squeeze workouts into your busy schedule, just remember that walking around a bit more can really do wonders for your physical and mental health. So get out there and start walking!

 

* All of the above bullet points were taken from The Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications and the full article can be found here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Walking-Your-steps-to-health

 

My take on “diet” and “alternate” foods

“Oh my God, that’s awful” were I’m pretty certain the exact words out of my girlfriend’s mouth after just one spoonful of cookie shake flavored ARCTIC ZERO. My reaction wasn’t as dramatic, but she was right. That stuff is terrible.

Now, if you don’t know what ARCTIC ZERO is, it is a low calorie alternative to traditional ice cream. They come in all assortments of flavors and are distributed in pints that you can find at pretty much any grocery store these days. They also make chocolate dipped bars, but I’m not even willing to try those after the first frozen fiasco.

But then again, we should have known better from the get go. Why? Well these are the ingredients of this stuff:

  • Purified water
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Chicory root
  • Sugarcane fiber
  • Dutch processed cocoa powder with alkali
  • Guar gum
  • Xanthan gum
  • Natural flavors
  • Organic vanilla
  • Sea salt
  • Monk fruit concentrate

I mean the first ingredient is water for crying out loud! I don’t see the word “cream” in there once. And this is, after all, ICE CREAM! But thank the Lord the vanilla is organic.

So this brings me to the point I’d like to get across for this week’s post. And that is all these products out there that are designed to let you have your cake and eat it too. You see, these pints vary in their caloric content, but this particular one rang it at a mere 150 calories….. for the ENTIRE pint. Too good to be true. The label also proudly touts that a serving (1/2 cup) will only set you back 35 calories, but believe me you’re better off saving those calories for something worthwhile.

Now I’m making an example out of ARCTIC here, but it’s not a new idea and by far not the only impostor out there. Skinny Cow, for example, makes a ton of varieties of  lower calorie ice cream as well as candy bars. Although I’ve had their ice cream sandwiches and I think they are pretty good actually. But there are others out there that target the savory crowd as well. Anyone remember the “WOW” variety of chips that came out in the late 90’s to early 2000’s? They touted they were low fat/fat free and they used this product called Olestra as the fat substitute. They tasted kind of funky, but most importantly, they also caused people to shit their pants. Seriously, the label read: “This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.” A very similar affect is derived from consuming too many sugar free foods. They contain sugar alcohols that will wreak havoc when consumed in large doses. If you’re so inclined, you can YouTube Haribo sugar free gummy bear challenge. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, there are some things that have come along in the food industry designed to help whittle our waists away that I think have some merit. For example, individually packaged nuts. They sell them in 100 calorie portions and I’m a fan because it’s easy for me to pound down 4-5 times that amount without even thinking about it. Along those same lines are portion, and therefore, calorie controlled packs of hummus and peanut butter. Again, these are two very calorie dense foods that can add up very quickly. But the thing about them is that they haven’t been altered. It’s the same stuff, just portion controlled. No whey protein concentrate or sugar cane fiber here. There are other items to mention, such as sugar free gum (again, not too much), but I’d rather chat about where my stance used to be on these items (as well as healthier versions of your favorite foods) and where my stance is now.

So way back when I was just a dumb kid learning about nutrition at Purdue, we were always coming up with ways to make some of our favorite dishes healthier. If you’ve followed my blog at all you know that I really, really, really like pizza. I’m a self-labeled pizza connoisseur. So for years I was experimenting with ways to make it healthier. For example, less cheese and more sauce. Fewer fatty meats and more veggies. Thin, whole wheat crust instead of deep dish. You get the point. And that’s all fine and dandy, but here’s where that idea, as my friend Kyle would put it, “shit’s the bed”. If you are really craving a well made, cheese and meat laden deep dish, but you instead resist and make a thin crust veggie, you’ve made the healthier choice, sure, but you haven’t gotten rid of your craving. You know damn good and well that all the while you were eating the veggie ‘za you were dreaming about the multi meat monster you truly wanted. Now, if this is a multiple week occasion thing, then yeah you can’t expect to get the deep dish all the time. Rather, I’m referring to those random, every once in a while times (think every 6-8 weeks). Enjoy it! Just don’t gorge out on it, man.

So this is where it all ties together. Those ARCTIC ZERO things sucked. If you want ice cream, get the real deal. Have a few bites and really enjoy and savor them. Eat slowly. This allows you to get what you were really after without adding excess calories. If it’s pizza, get the good stuff, but limit it to 1-2 slices and again, really enjoy it. Whatever food it is that you enjoy that might not be the best for your diet and health, try this tip out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Also, fat free salad dressing sucks.

 

I was wrong; an addendum to an old post

Normally I have no trouble at all coming up with ideas to write about for the old blog here. Friends, family, clients, the media, etc. They are all great at triggering something for me to write about. And I had talked with a client who is just out-of-this-world busy just the other day. I thought I was going to talk about how to navigate those times. And frankly, that’s a good post and one that we should all read. Maybe that’s what I’ll write about next week?

But I got sidetracked when, just for shits and giggles, I decided to go back and look through some of my old posts. I stumbled across one in particular from July of 2011. The title of the post was “Exercises you’re doing… and shouldn’t be”. And so I thought to myself, “you know, you’ve been writing a lot about nutrition lately and not so much about exercise. Maybe you should mix it up this week.” The post wasn’t all that long and so I read it really quickly. Unfortunately I found myself shaking my head at…. myself. But before I explain what I’m talking about, below is the meat of the old post that I’m going to have to man up and explain why I was wrong:

1. The Seated Preacher Curl Machine— I don’t know who invented it, but I do know that whoever invented it didn’t have much going on upstairs. Let’s take a quick look at why it sucks. First, you are seated. This completely eliminates any core benefit you might have received had you been standing and bracing your midsection to prevent swaying. Secondly, you are seated. Yes, you read that right. I want to get this point across. By sitting and curling a bar towards you (and your arms are even braced!), you are working a muscle group the size of oranges… expending almost 0 calories. By standing and curling a bar towards you (or better yet, doing a pullup or chinup) you engage your core, back, shoulders, and chest in addition to your biceps.

2. The Calf Raise Machine— Similar to the preacher curl, you are working a rather small muscle group. If you are on this machine, you are probably looking for really defined calfs, right? Here is an alternative that will get you there quicker. You see, in order to have defined calfs (or defined ANYTHING) you need to clear away that layer of fat. And you do that by burning off more calories. So, try bodyweight or barbell squats and when you reach the top, simply do a calf raise and then repeat back into the squat. Or try out squat jumps. You can YouTube it for how to do it. Squats aren’t your thing? Might I suggest running stairs?

3. The Seated Leg Extension / Leg Curl Machine— The problem with these machines is that you are not only seated… again, but you are working your muscles in a way that they don’t function in the real world. Seriously, how many times have you found it necessary to lift an object by curling your feet up towards your body? The 2 best alternatives, by far, are the deadlift and lunge. The deadlift will focus more on your hamstrings, while lunges will ignite both your quads AND hamstrings. And best of all, you don’t need a machine to do either. Resistance can be added to make each more challenging, but even without added weight, both will hammer away at your legs and build a rock solid core.

Now, I wasn’t completely wrong on everything, but I was pretty off on a lot of things. So let me right the wrong below:

  1. The seated preacher curl— You know what, so what if you’re seated? If your focus is on really hammering your biceps, then the preacher curl station is fine. Take bodybuilders for example. That’s gonna be a useful piece of equipment. They don’t care that their core isn’t braced. They’ll work their core in another way with a separate exercise. The goal at that moment is the biceps and there ain’t nothin wrong with that. And who cares about burning calories here? If you’re worried about calories address that with your diet and cardio work.
  2. The calf raise machine— As with the preacher curl, it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Maybe you’re finishing up your session and want to try to help bring your calves up a bit. Then hit the calf raise machine! I can’t believe I wrote about doing a squat and then at the top doing a calf raise. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was I thinking? That’s just…. eh, I’ll let it go. Just forgive me for that one, ok? And not that running stairs isn’t a freaking awesome fat burner of an exercise, but to really build up your calves, you’re gonna want to shoulder a bit of weight to help them along.
  3. The seated leg extension / leg curl machine— I’ll just start with full disclosure that I personally use these machines. You know why? They work. And before I even read that paragraph I immediately thought about how I was wrong about the shearing forces and that there are ways around that. But then I read it and I never even mentioned that? I instead chose to write about the fact that you are sitting? Smh. I must have been Captain Functional Training back in 2011. Isolation exercises absolutely have their place. I’m a particularly big fan of the leg curl machine as it allows you to really load up the hamstrings without putting any (like none whatsoever) stress on your spine like the dead lift can. And not that lunges aren’t great (at least I got one thing right), but the leg extension has it’s place too for reasons I’ve explained in number 1 and 2 above. And just because you don’t do that particular move “in real life” doesn’t mean that working your quads in that fashion won’t directly translate over to it.

So there you have it. I admit I was wrong.

Today’s date happens to be September 22, 2016. It’s also the first day of the Fall. So come the fall of 2021 I’ll have to try and remember to come back to this post so I can rip it apart because my views have once again been changed. That’s the nature of this business. New research and more time in the trenches keeps you as malleable as aluminum foil, man. Til next week!

What my successful clients do…. and don’t

This week’s post came about while I was swimming the other day. I really enjoy swimming for several reasons. First of all, you can’t swim with your phone, so no one can get ahold of you. Secondly, it does wonders for my mess of a back. And last, but not least, it allows me time to myself to think about where I want to go in my personal life as well as with the business. I often come up with my best ideas when I’m swimming.

Anyways, as is the norm in this business, there had been a recent headline out in the news talking something about how the sugar industry manipulated the system and made fat look like the culprit and singular cause of the obesity epidemic. Hey, it’s a good headline you have to give them that. Unfortunately, it’s the same old song and dance. Sugar is bad! Fat is the devil! Carbs are the real enemy! But, but… fat has…. like…. so many calories… it has to be the bad one! It all had me remembering a classic Seinfeld episode where Elaine keeps gaining weight and Newman is super pumped about this frozen yogurt shop that serves up this amazing frozen yogurt that is fat free. Anyways the premise is that it’s too good to be true and that there must be fat in it. Of course Kramer is involved and blunders the whole thing up, but I’ll just let you YouTube the episode. For the record, that episode originally aired in 1993.

So this all got me to thinking about a particular client of mine who has been doing really well lately (and from day one really). That led me to thinking back on all of the clients I’ve had since I opened the doors to Feel Good Nutrition (now Feel Good Nutrition and Fitness) in March of 2011. What was it about the one’s who were/are  successful in not only the short term, but the long term as well? And why didn’t all of my client’s reach and maintain their goal weights? Had I failed them in my counseling? Were they just not ready to change even though they thought they were? Was it a combination? Or was it something else altogether?

My swim that day was a bit longer than usual because I really just got kind of lost in my thoughts for a while pondering all of that. Obviously I want everyone I work with to be successful in their health journey. So I decided to think positively and focus on the successful ones. What was it that they did that allowed them to succeed? Well, here’s what I came up with during my 25 yard zig zag.

  • They listened to my advice and actually adhered to it. Now I’m not trying to come off brash with that, but I’ve unfortunately given out advice or recommendations for more people than I care to remember that was in one ear and out the other. Then 2 weeks later they come back and we look at their progress towards the goal(s) we had set and I get something along the lines of “Well this last 2 weeks just hasn’t been typical. There was a,b, and c and x,y, and z that don’t normally happen.” Then 2 weeks later it’s the same thing. Over and over again. That’s particularly frustrating. Now, I understand shit happens. I live a life too. But there are ways around it that I would lay down and they just weren’t picking it up, man.
  • They weren’t perfect and they were cool with that. This one is huge. I see so many people stick to a diet to a “T” and then they go to a party or something, have cake and ice cream, feel like they’ve blown it (they haven’t), and say “to hell with it”. Ahhhhhh!!!! One meal or day isn’t going to make or break you and I drill that into my client’s heads. As a matter of fact, I love it when I see someones food log and it includes a peppering of pizza and popcorn or some chocolate and wine. They aren’t depriving themselves and that’s crucial for long term success.
  • They were aware of what they were putting in their mouth. I was talking the other day to my friend on the phone and he had recently started casually logging food just because he was curious. He’s only recently started this, but my hunch is he’ll lose at least a few pounds. How do I know this? Because often times after meeting with a new client and explaining that in order for me to know what to fix with them, I need to see what they are currently doing. And it almost never fails that they come back to me (remember, I haven’t given any advice yet) and remark at how they’ve already lost a bit of weight. It’s because they’re finally paying attention. Mindless eating will bite you in the ass…. and give you a bigger one too. Let’s say you mindlessly finish off that bag of Doritos everyday at lunch and you mindlessly scoop out of the ice cream container after dinner each night. That’s a couple hundred calories at lunch and at least a couple hundred more at dinner. So for the sake of math, that’s roughly an extra 500 calories a day. And that’s pretty easy to do by the way, especially with the types of foods I just described. Make the change to still have it, but be mindful and only have a few extra chips and a couple of spoonfulls of ice cream and you’ave cut 250 calories. That could make the difference in the course of a year of weighing an extra 15-20 pounds or not. Think about it.
  • They were consistent and stayed the course, even when it got tough. As I mentioned earlier, I know that life happens. Loved ones can get sick or die, jobs can be a bitch, kids can get out of control, you travel a lot for that bitch of a job, etc. But the successful ones make it work one way or another. Sometimes they go the other direction and gain a bit of weight, BUT they hop right back on that train and get back to it, knowing that these bumps are inevitable. What this all boils down to is mindset. I often get out a sheet of paper when working with a new client or one who has hit a plateau or gained back some weight. I draw a simple x-axis and y-axis. The x-axis is time and the y-axis is weight. What I first draw is a straight line descending from left to right and say “this is how most people think of weight loss”. Then I flip the sheet over and draw the same graph. But this time the line is squiggly. Up, down, small changes, big changes, and flat lines. From point A to point B on each graph, the end point is the same. The only difference is the journey getting there and I think that is really important to know.

Okay, so this week’s post wasn’t necessarily as funny as I like to make them, but sometimes I just have to be real. Til next week!

5 mistakes you might be making with your diet

Back in October of 2012 I wrote a post titled “7 nutrition mistakes you’re making”. I’m not going to link said article because my stance has changed on a few of the things I discussed in it. Ah, the naive 28 year old that I was. And now I’m jt a naive 32 year old. But anyways, I wanted to do a follow up to that article because it seemed overdue. So here are 5 things you may or may not be doing for your health that aren’t so good (according to me anyways).

  1. You’re consuming too much sodium. After analyzing a new client’s diet, I typically find that sodium consumption is well above the recommended upper limit of 2,300 mg. This amount, by the way, is the equivalent of a level teaspoon of salt. (Side note: sodium is it’s own element, but in our diet’s it is usually consumed when paired up with chloride to make salt) I often see 2x this amount being consumed on a daily basis in a lot of people and sometimes I’ll see 3-4x this amount. And when you look at what we’re eating, it’s not surprising. Swinging by Applebees for happy hour for their salsa verde beef nachos? That’ll set you back a whopping 6,110 mg of sodium!!! And I found that in just one quick search of one popular chain restaurant. You’ll find this all over the place. So while most people think that the salt shaker on the table is to blame, it really only accounts for a very small amount of sodium in our diets. Take home message? Cook at home as often as possible.
  2. You still aren’t drinking enough water…. probably. We’ve all heard to drink 8, 8 ounce glasses of water every day. First of all, where the hell did that recommendation stem from? How can you possibly blanket this for our entire population? A sedentary 5’2″ receptionist in air conditioning is going to require substantially less fluids than a 17 year old kid in full pads running 2-a-days in July. Then again, I think they got rid of 2-a-days? Either way you get the point. Everyone is unique here just as they are with nutrition in general. Now, I probably should have addressed this in the sodium section, but since water goes where the salt goes, I’ll put it here. Some people actually require well above the recommended upper limit of 2,300 mg of sodium due to losses in sweat. So think of the kid playing football, a woman training for a marathon, or even just heavy sweaters… But back to water recommendations. My general rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight in ounces of fluids per day. Obviously water is my numero uno of choice, but other fluids such as coffee, tea, milk, and even water from fruits and veggies count towards that total as well. You are eating your fruits and veggies aren’t you?
  3. Your main goal is protein intake. Look, I love me some protein so don’t get me wrong here. It’s upside is very positive and I think the RDA is still too low. BUT, holy hell the media and marketers are driving me insane with this lately. High protein this, high protein that. Whatever happened to eating eggs and lean beef, chicken, and pork? What about fish? Milk, kefir, yogurt, beans, nuts, seeds, buckwheat, or quinoa? These are all solid foods! And they didn’t have to be fortified by General Mills to make your Cheerios have a measly gram or two of poorly bioavailable protein added for an extra $1.50. Eat the aforementioned foods in reasonable amounts and include plenty of fruits and veggies along with some good carbohydrate foods and you’re gonna be doing just fine.
  4. You are still afraid of those spooky carbs. Keto diets seem to be all the rage nowadays. And if you’re prone to epileptic seizures, then they are absolutely warranted. But if you’re not, then why? First off, it’s very difficult to accomplish as there are carbs in just about everything. Even your non-starchy veggies have at least a few grams per serving. So the diet itself is very limiting in terms of what you can actually eat. Therefore, if your goal is say, 25 grams of carbs per day (which would suck) and you have an apple, then the rest of your diet is gonna be meat and cheese probably. So again, you can see the potential micronutrient issue here. Now, some folks can handle more carbs than others, but to force your body into ketosis just doesn’t make any sense to me. However, I admittedly haven’t looked too deep into the new data/research on this so if you can show me evidence of some real benefit I’m happy to change my tune. Bottom line still remains that you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight and that can be done a lot of different ways. You can lose weight without dramatically lowering your carb intake believe it or not.
  5. You have a reward mindset. Oh man do I see this one a lot. A client, let’s call her Jane, just ran 5 miles at an above average pace. I mean for her she felt like she was flying! Now she decides it’s time to spend some quality time with her two best friends, Ben and Jerry, to reward herself. Only problem is that she’s likely to out eat what she just ran off. Another way I see this play out is the guy who was perfect with his diet and workouts all week long, Monday-Friday. Unfortunately, he now believes that he has earned a weekend of couch sitting and munching on nachos while watching football (not that I haven’t been guilty of that). It’s pretty easy to undo a week’s worth of effort over the weekend. Or the worst of them all…. The person who finally reaches his or her goal weight only to celebrate by going on a binge episode of their favorite foods that they have been avoiding. The guilt and shame that follows is brutal. It happens to way too many of us and often leads back to poor behaviors and, ultimately, weight regain. Now, it’s not that the reward mindset in and of itself is bad. It’s natural actually. But we need to find a way to reward ourselves that doesn’t involve food. Maybe you get a new piece of fitness equipment you’ve been wanting. Or maybe you go and get a 90 minute Swedish massage (highly recommend this one by the way). Maybe it’s buying that pair of overpriced shoes that you have to have. It could be a weekend getaway. It can be really whatever the hell you want it to be. Just don’t let it be about food.

So I think that’s good for this week. As always, the comment section is there for a reason so let me know if these rock your world or if they just flat out suck and I’m a moron. Regardless, I hope you learned a thing or two and are constantly finding new ways to better yourself and your health. Til next week!

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