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Tuesday
May242011

Nutrition and Fitness Programs - What to look for

Commonalities of a Good Nutrition and Fitness Program

There is no one size fits all when it comes to a healthy eating and exercise plan. But all sound nutrition plans, diets or weight loss programs should have certain aspects in common. If a program relies on foods that are pre-packaged or processed, foods that contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners, bars, shakes, cleansing or minuscule portions, beware! If the workout routines require a herculean effort or endless hours of training, be very afraid!

A good nutrition and fitness program should first look to optimize your health. So when deciding whether or not to adopt a particular nutrition and fitness strategy, consider the following:

Does the program emphasize

Whole real food – nutrient dense & minimally processed (grass fed, wild caught, free range, organic whenever possible)

  • Protein – high quality & complete sources – meat, seafood, eggs
  • Fats from natural sources – meat, fish, fruits, nuts, dairy
  • Carbohydrates from vegetables & fruit, not processed grains & sugar

Optimal amounts of each macronutrient – protein / fat / carbohydrate – with varying ratios of each depending on your particular metabolism, energy expenditure and goals

Smart Exercise – cardiovascular and resistance training appropriate for your level of fitness, workouts geared toward your goals and that suit your personal style of training

Ongoing support – to answer questions and provide additional information as needed

If the program includes all of these features, the last thing you need to ask is, "Can I follow this plan for the rest my life?" 

 

 

Tuesday
Apr122011

What is a "Toned" Body?

Toned women #2 What is toned?

We would like to look “toned”, but many people don’t know what toned means, even though they know it when they see it. “A toned body is one that has a reasonable amount of muscle placed in symmetrical proportion, with a low enough percentage of body fat, so that those muscles are not covered up by the fat.” (Barry O'Toole) And to get those muscles you must lift weights. “Somehow toning is believed to be different than strength training or weight lifting. But toning is nothing more than lifting light-weights that produce minimal muscle size.” (Mel Siff) To achieve the benefits of weight training, lift with enough intensity (weight) so that your muscles are getting a true workout.

Strength training workouts are ideally performed 2 – 3 days per week, separated by a day or two of rest. The two workouts below are full-body workouts that can be done in your home or at a gym. They cover all major muscle groups, create a very balanced workout and can be completed in about 30 minutes. The only equipment that is required is dumbbells and resistance bands. (The bands I recommend using can be purchase by going to the products tab. Yellow / blue band (#7731S / #7732S) for women or the blue / black band for men (#7732S / #7733S).

If you’re looking to “tone up” for swimsuit season a nice mix of strength training 2 x per week; 2 x 30-45 minute aerobic (walk, run, bike, swim, etc.) sessions per week; 1 x 12-15 minute interval training session (sprints, bike, jump rope, etc) per week should do the trick. Don't forget the nutrition!

Workout # 1     10-15 reps / 3-5 sets (circuits)

  • Push-up or chest press
  • Bridge (bent knee 1 or 2 legs)
  • Plank (1 x 30 sec or 3 x 10 sec)
  • Side plank R/L (1 x 30 sec or 3 x 10 sec)
  • Squat
  • Row or 1 arm row

Workout # 2     10-15 reps / 3-5 sets (circuits)

  • Shoulder press (alternating sides or single arm R/L)
  • Split squat or step-up
  • ½ kneel row or lat pull-down or pull-up
  • Bridge (straight leg 1 or 2 legs) or RDL
  • Curl-up (using MECA Back wedge or towel roll under low back)
  • Alternate arm/leg x 10 reps (5 per side)

Videos of these routines can be viewed by clicking on the video links.

 

 

Tuesday
Mar082011

Re-Think Breakfast

Ever had an omelet for dinner? Salmon for breakfast? People get hung up on thinking you can only eat certain foods at certain meals. It's cereal, a bagel or eggs for breakfast. A sandwich or salad for lunch and meat or fish with rice and vegetables for dinnerTruth is all food and meals are inter changeable. Most don't have trouble with lunch and dinner but breakfast is another story.

For the past two weeks I've made a commitment to eating a vegetable at every meal, including breakfast. This requires some creativity as the traditional "healthy" high-carb breakfast of oatmeal or cereal and say broccoli don't exactly go together. What have I come up with? Zucchini and cheese frittata, ground beef hash with asparagus, steak with mushroom sauce and side of broccoli, smoked salmon and egg salad. These well balanced (protein, fat, carbs) meals require some pre-cooking but the nice thing is I just have to throw the food in the microwave or you can scramble some eggs and veggies and enjoy a hot nutritious breakfast in less than two minutes. 

No time to even do that. How about Greek yogurt (plain, full fat) with fresh berries or hard boiled eggs (make a bunch in advance) with a mixed greens salad (bagged, pre-washed) or an apple. Simple. Fast. And nutritious!

Check out the recipes tab at for more ideas.

 

 

Tuesday
Feb012011

Dairy Fat & Saturated Fat - The Truth!

Full-Fat-Dairy Stephan Guyenet creator of Whole Health Source did a review of a dairy fat intake study and also provided information regarding saturated fat as it relates to cardiovascular disease. A quote from the study’s abstact: “There is no consistent and significant association between total dairy intake and total or cause-specific mortality. However, compared with those with the lowest intake of full-fat dairy, participants with the highest intake had reduced death due to CVD”.

Dr. Guyenet goes on to say, “People who ate the most full-fat dairy had a 69% lower risk of cardiovascular death than those who ate the least. Otherwise stated, people who mostly avoided dairy or consumed low-fat dairy had more than three times the risk of dying of coronary heart disease or stroke than people who ate the most full-fat diary. The fat is where the vitamins A, K2, E and D are. The fat is where the medium-chain triglycerides, butyric acid and omega-3 fatty acids are. The fat is where the conjugated linoleic acid is.” This is the good stuff!

Two additional articles reviewed on his site were on saturated fat intake. One looked at the Framingham study organized by Harvard in which investigators “analyzed the relationship between saturated fat intake, serum cholesterol and heart attack risk, they were so disappointed that they never formally published the results. We know from multiple sources that they found no significant relationship between saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol or heart attack risk.” Guyenet The other post reviewed an article written by Dr. Ronald Krauss, a prominent lipid researcher, in which Krauss’s group found no association whatsoever between saturated fat intake and heart disease or stroke: A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.

In a time where there is so much misinformation regarding what to eat and how to keep ourselves healthy, Dr. Guyenet's blog helps us analyze and cut through the medical dogma that has been shoved at us for the past 50 years. Rock on! 

 

Tuesday
Jan182011

Review of "Why We Get Fat"

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes should be mandatory reading for doctors, dietitians, personal trainers and anyone trying to lose weight or “eat healthy.” The book examines the biological reasons for weight gain providing plenty of well-documented evidence that it’s not just excess calories that make people fat. He lays out why the prescription of eat less move more doesn’t work very well. This standard recommendation for weight loss has been proven to have a dismal success rate. Taubes explains why people can fatten while getting plenty of exercise and eating a low calorie (semi-starvation) / low fat diet. (If you don’t believe that, check out all the over weight folks at the gym. Many of them there everyday, then going home to eat fat-free whatever.)


The second half of the book explains the Law of Adiposity – how fat cells in our body operate and that “We don’t get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we’re getting fat.” Difficult to understand at first but makes sense when you read through the rationale.


The book is full of references to studies showing the best way to lose weight is to eat less starch and sugar. This information has been well known for more than a hundred years, but we keep being told to eat less fat. (It’s not the fat – it’s the carbs!) Also well explained is how carbohydrates raise insulin levels – “Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat” and how eating too much carbohydrate is the real cause of high triglyceride and LDL blood levels (not by eating too much fat or cholesterol).


Taubes doesn’t just leave us with why we get fat, but lays out what must be done to lose weight and regain our health. He ends with a plea to doctors and public health officials to look at the science and not dismiss carbohydrate restriction diets as a fad.  “Until our doctors / public health authorities truly understand why we get fat, the job of losing that fat and remaining healthy will always be far more difficult than it need be.” Amen.


 

Tuesday
Sep282010

Make yourself uncomfortable.

Hamster-wheel-runner Feeling a little "stuck"? Scale not moving? Reflection in the mirror still the same? Try getting out of your comfort zone. If you've been eating the same foods, performing the same exercises with the same weight or doing the same 30 minute program on your favorite cardio machine for so long you can't remember, it may be time to shake things up.

In order for your body to change it needs a new stress or stimulus to adapt to. If not, we give it no reason to change. Our bodies (and mind) like the status quo, we must force them to change and adapt.

Ideas & Tips

Clearly identify what you're dissatisfied with, make the decision to do something about it and put it in writing.

Is it your lack of weight loss? Try tracking your calorie intake by weighing and measuring what you eat. Replace your starchy vegetable at dinner for a green one. Switch one regularly eaten snack food with a lower calorie option.

Not seeing improvement in your body fat (muscle tone) or strength? Try lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions. Add an extra day of strength training per week. Try a different version of some key exercises (ex. squat --> deadlift; chest press --> alternating floor press).

Cardiovascular and fitness levels stagnant? Add interval training 1-2 x per week. Start by performing 30 sec of high intensity cardio followed by a 1-2 min rest. Repeat 5-10 times. Change the form of cardio you do (ex. elliptical trainer --> treadmill; jog --> bike).

After you've implemented some changes be sure to stick with them for at least 2-3 weeks and track your results. Also, don't change more than one variable in each category at a time. This way you can pinpoint what's working or not working.

 

 

Tuesday
Aug312010

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Weight Loss

Bigstockphoto_Health_4307887 People lose weight through a variety of different methods and strategies. But there are common threads in all successful weight loss programs. Here are 7 of the best.


1. Portion Control - Don't eat too much. Single biggest factor for weight loss.


2. Reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates and starches - Limit bread, crackers, desserts, white potatoes / rice, etc.


3. Eat - 3-6 times per day


4. Balance meals and snacks - Eat lean protein, low starch carbs, and healthy fats at each meal and snack.


5. Set goals (in writing) and keep a journal.


6. Exercise - Do something daily. Include both strength and cardiovascular training in your program.


7. Consistency - Do what you need to do most of the time.


Steer clear of quick fix schemes and the "biggest loser" mentality. Sticking to these simple habits will guarantee weight loss success.


Sunday
Aug082010

Meca Back Wedge Review


Back-wedge  Avoiding abdominal crunches? You should be! Based on
research by Dr. Stuart McGill, a leading back researcher, performing
traditional sit-ups and crunches will destroy your back (either on the floor or
stability ball). These exercises cause the lumbar spine (low back) to flex
(round) which increases the pressure on the spinal discs. But a new product,
the Meca Back Wedge claims to fix the problem of spinal flexion when performing
abdominal exercises.

Dr. Jeffery Anderson developed the Wedge and the web site describes
the wedge as “ A tool designed to both support the natural curve of the low
back and enhance the effectiveness of abdominal exercises. The wedge is
composed of a soft textured foam material… This serves to redirect the damaging
force of abdominal exercises from the low back to the abdominal wall.”

Having used the Wedge myself and with my clients, I can
attest to its effectiveness in preventing lumbar spine flexion during supine
(lying on your back) abdominal exercises while increasing the intensity of the
exercises. Just lying on it does put the lumbar spine into a natural and
comfortable extended position. A few of my smaller (5ft) female clients have
found the wedge uncomfortable to use, but others have not. Everyone who uses it
loves the feeling in their abs and are humbled when they struggle to do 10
crunches.

The biggest objection I get is the price, $80.00, “for a
piece of foam.” The price does “seem” a little high. But the Meca Back Wedge does allow you the safely add all types of abdominal crunches to your core
routine, increase their intensity and effectiveness, all while protecting your
back. My opinion: A worthwhile $80.00 investment.

Tuesday
May252010

Try Something Different.

It won't kill you!
2006_sardines_can_open  

Many of our day to day thoughts and activities run outside of our conscious control. For the most part we are run by our habits. Even if our habits are good ones, it may be beneficial to try something different. If there are some habits you'd like to change, what better time than right now. Here are some tips for starting something new.


  • Write it down - Decide exactly what you want to change or add to your diet, exercise routine or life. Write out the reasons why you want these things and the actions you plan to take.

  • Post - Place your goals, reasons and action plan in a visible place. Read (with feeling!) twice a day.

  • Make a commitment - Commit to your new habit for 30 days. 

  • Be consistent - Daily manage your thoughts and activities. Adding something new to your routine won't feel natural or easy. But the more consistently you work at it, the easier it becomes.   


For those of you that have already made the commitment to regular exercise and healthy eating, shake things up by try experimenting with a different workout routine or recipe. Some suggestions: an outdoor strength workout; bike riding instead of walking/running; heavier weights with fewer repetitions. Try a new spice, a different type of fish like sardines (very high in omega 3), lentils, quinoa or an interesting looking vegetable. Check out some web sites for recipes ideas.

So this week try one new exercise or workout routine and one new food or recipe. Let me know what you come up with.

Don't forget that now is a great time to get in on The R.E.A.L. Diet and Fitness Program. Lose you butt, gut or whatever else that may need shaping up for the summer. Sign-up before Monday May 31, 2010 and the cost is just $87.00!

Monday
Apr122010

Is Obesity A Disease?

 

Feetonscale  This question has been getting bounced around in the news
and on the Internet. But let’s put the question aside for a minute and look at
some of the factors that influence obesity. According to a report published by
the University of Miami Health System, genetics, metabolic factors,
socioeconomic factors and lifestyle choices contribute to the occurrence of
obesity.

 

Dr. Deborah Cohen, scientist at the Rand Corporation, says,
“Much obesity is the result of genetics and the environment.”

While these factors do exist and play a role in how much
someone weighs, they are not the deciding factors. If they were then everyone
with low social status, overweight parents and a slow metabolism that lived
near a McDonalds would be obese. This just isn’t the case.

 

The study also reports the negative health effects
associated with obesity; hypertension; diabetes; hearth disease; joint
problems; sleep apnea; cancer; psychosocial effects. These related conditions
cost over 100 billion dollars and cause an estimated 112,00 premature deaths in
the U.S. annually.

 

Paul Campos, author of The Obesity Myth, in an interview with The Atlantic, says, “The correlations between higher weight and greater health risk are weak except at statistical extremes.” He also believes that you
can’t control health care costs by reducing obesity, that turning fat people into thin people does not improve their health and the solutions for obesity are non-existent.  

 

I don’t have all the statistics, but I do have plenty of empirical evidence that being overweight causes many health related issues. Many of my overweight friends, family members and clients suffer from diabetes,
sleep apnea, joint pain and the psychological effects of obesity. While some of these health issues may not be weight related, it seems reasonable to believe that some of them may be. Even if we put aside health, what about the quality of ones life. Being overweight makes it difficult to perform many activities of daily living. Climbing stairs, bending to pick up a child, and just getting out of a chair can be challenging. I don’t know of anyone who has lost weight saying they don’t feel better. A lot better!

 

One problem to the obsesity epidemic is getting people to “want” to lose weight. That’s the difficult part. People think it will be too hard and they’ll have to sacrifice too much. While it does take a substantial effort, you shouldn’t have to beat yourself up or feel deprived. Maintaining a healthy weight with good nutrition and exercise does come at a cost. But Zig Ziglar says, “You don’t pay the price for good health, you reap the benefits.” 

 

So is obesity a disease? J. Justin Wilson, a senior research analyst, at the Center for Consumer Freedom says, “If obesity is a disease, it’s a disease of a civilized lifestyle and a high quality of life.”

 

I believe it is a psychological issue made up of many complex factors. Self-esteem, feelings of worthiness, past experiences, fear and the yearning for something more, play a critical role in ones inability to help ones self. When I ask new clients about their goals or what they want to achieve, I will most often hear "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get in shape." I’ve come to learn that what people really want is to feel better about
themselves. No one wants to be overweight. But until a person can find the cause of his or her compulsion with food or lack of moitivation to exercise, permanent weight loss will be difficult. While there are many contributing factors, the fact remains that obesity is reversible. And when someone decides they’re truly ready, plenty of resources are available to help.

 

Who or what’s to blame for the obesity problem? Food manufacturers? Fast food restaurants? Dieting? Genetics? The environment? All play a role. But let’s stop playing victim and blaming someone or something else. We ultimately get to decide what we eat and if we choice to exercise. Don’t let the fork or couch rule your life. Take personal responsibility. Think of all the reasons why losing weight is so important to you and how your life will be different when you do.

 

Begin by taking responsibility for the choices you make and the actions you take. Choose to live your best life!