If you're working out with me, and you're a healthy adult without major joint or spine issues, you WILL be deadlifting. Forget what your doctor or your friend who "broke their back" deadlifting tells you. If you deadlift properly, you will actually strengthen your back and many of your back ailments will go away. I speak from personal experience on this topic because I've hurt my back deadlifting the wrong way before. Once I cleaned up my form, my back has never felt better as an adult. Here's a helpful video from Mark Rippetoe about properly deadlifting in 5 easy steps!
A general assumption is that fructose means fruit and most of us don’t worry about getting too much sugar from our fruits because we just don’t eat them very often. We may be getting an overload of fructose without even being aware of it, though. And what’s even worse is that a researcher from the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has just discovered that fructose in the diet converts to fat faster than any other sweeteners available today.
Dr. Elizabeth Parks, an associate professor of clinical nutrition, says the kinds of foods we eat, especially the carbohydrates, influence fat synthesis and may have as big an effect in a weight-loss diet as counting calories. Traces of sugar occur naturally in many proteins (it’s the reason meats and pastries turn brown when cooked) but fruits and vegetables have the highest concentration of naturally occurring fructose. To test her theory, Parks and her colleagues recruited six healthy people for a three-part study using glucose- and fructose-sweetened breakfast drinks.
I use cinnamon every day to flavor my IKP Coffee (the recipe is in my new eBook), smoothies, and various other dishes. Not only does it taste great, but a slew of scientific research on cinnamon is showing that it can and should be a great addition to your low-carb or ketogenic diet.
Studies are verifying that cinnamon has an effect of 3-5% on resting blood sugar, which is equal to the amount of reduction of older forms of diabetes drugs. High resting blood sugar is what is referred to as "pre-diabetes," and is something anyone who has it should be aiming to alleviate, as the next step in the process if full blown type 2 diabetes. Another benefit of cinnamon is a statistically significant decrease in LDL (the so called "bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides, although studies have shown that how much improvement is dependent on each individual person.
Clearly you don't want to replace your diabetes drugs with cinnamon, but as part of your diet, cinnamon is a cheap, flavorful, and potentially beneficial addition to your overall regimen. Experts recommend using Ceylon cinnamon or even daily cinnamon capsules to help reduce resting blood sugar and improve your blood profile. You can purchase Ceylon cinnamon in most quality grocery stores and online. Go for the organic kind if money isn't an issue.
Tomorrow, I'll be sharing my power-food smoothie recipe that just happens to use cinnamon as a flavorful and beneficial ingredient, so be sure to check back them. Until then, keep your fat high, your protein moderate, and your carbs low. And start using some cinnamon!
Citation: Allen RW, Schwartzman E, Baker WL, Coleman CI, Phung OJ. Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Fam Med. 2013;11(5):452-9.
Losing a large amount of weight is a truly life altering experience. Better health, new clothes, new relationship opportunities. The list of positives that come from it are plentiful. But for many, it's incredibly hard to shake the long standing mental image of oneself. I was overweight for so long, I lost 100 pounds and still looked in the mirror and saw my 350 pound self for YEARS. Why, though? It might have something to do with 'phantom fat.'
For people who have lost 60, 80, 100 pounds and up, the mental baggage associated with weight loss can be long term for several reasons. From a physical standpoint, losing a large amount of fat can result in some less than desirable alterations to your physique. You've replaced a highly overweight body with a more fit body that has cellulite, loose skin, and stretch marks. These "side effects" of weight loss can give a person a whole new level of self consciousness, often times leaving them with little choice but to have painful skin removal surgery and incur months of healing time.
Physical scars aside, the real damage from weight loss can come from damage to your mental well being. When you lose a tremendous amount of weight, your mind is forced to "catch up" with your drastically altered body. This is especially true for folks who have lost weight very rapidly. While this will gradually ease over time, the feeling of being a much larger person even though you have a smaller body is one of the most persistent feelings plaguing the newly fit. Just as a person who has lost a limb in an accident feels a phantom limb, the formerly obese may feel (and see) phantom fat.
Overcoming Phantom Fat
I look at the battle with the mirror as an addiction. Just as alcohol and drugs are an addiction, "fat shaming" yourself in the mirror for years can become something of an addiction itself, even after you've lost the weight. A person goes from hating the overall reflection, to picking out small details on themselves to fret over. You've exchanged one vicious cycle for another, and it needs to stop. Here are some personal ideas on how to change your overall perception of yourself:
A picture is worth a thousand words: Forget the mirror. Take pictures. I promise you you're never going to see the difference in yourself if you look in the mirror every day searching for improvements. Take pictures of yourself in as few clothes as you feel comfortable with, or refer to past pictures to get a baseline for where you started. Take them every day, every week, or every month and THEN critique your results. Sometimes you'll be shocked at what comes out of the camera. Example...
Set an attainable precedent, and take your time. This isn't a contest: So you've lost some weight, yet still feel like you could do more? That's great. Self betterment is very healthy, but only if you do it right. I used to save and cut out pictures of ideal physiques, from bodybuilders to celebrities, then I realized something. I am a normal person with a job and a kid and responsibilities. I'm not competing in a physique competition nor am I prepping for a movie. I don't have a team of people whose sole mission in life is to make me look better. I have a team of one. Myself. As long as you're progressing, no matter how slow it is, it's still progress. You can't put a timetable on your overall health, and 99% of us weren't blessed with the genetic makeup to look like our favorite celebrity. And you know what, THAT'S OKAY!
Learn to expect small failures: That's right. You're going to fall off the wagon every once in a while and have a romantic weekend with your old friend the pizza delivery guy and a whole cake. You're human. It can and WILL happen. Don't "make up" for your indiscretions by punishing yourself with a juice cleanse or something stupid. Just right the ship, and get back to the habits that got you where you are. No need to beat yourself up over it.
Never stop loving yourself: This might sound cliche or whatever you want to call it, but you were given this one body, and you need to love it through thick and thin. You're going to gain 10 pounds of your original 50 back, then you're going to lose it again. You may need to get 10 pounds of skin cut off, or you may have some less than desirable stretch marks. Screw what society says. Most people have no idea where you started or what you did to get where you're at. Be proud, keep working hard, and only keep the people around who accept you for who you are, whether that be an overweight you or a newly thin you. Aside from yourself, those are the people who matter.
Have anymore suggestions you'd like to add? Feel free to comment below. I look forward to hearing your personal suggestions for fighting off personal demons.
By the year 2021, the nutritional supplement industry is projected to be a $60 BILLION dollar a year business. People are buying protein powder, fat burners (even though there's no such thing, and something I'll have to touch on later) and sport performance supplements at an ever increasing rate in the grand search for a healthier and more proportioned body. Unfortunately, people are also often wasting massive amount of their hard earned cash on stuff that offers empty promises and no results.
I personally love supplements. I use them daily, and find many of them to offer me an edge I previously wouldn't have had. That being said, I believe supplements should only be used in conjunction with an already proper diet to enhance good habits you're already practicing. So, get your diet and exercise correct first, and if supplements fit in with your routine, then start using them.
That being said, choosing the right supplements in an ever growing market is not always the easiest thing. And once again, there are so many things out there for sale that have no business being on the market, it's disgusting. So today, I want to share with you the 3 most beneficial supplements I believe anyone can buy. These are in no particular order, but I believe all of them can have a permanent place in your overall routine.
In the pantheon of supplements, it's hard to deny whey protein's place as the undisputed king. As muscle mass is the main thing that keeps your metabolism running at an optimal level, protein is the building block most responsible for new muscle growth, as well as muscle retention. While people on exercise programs should include a fairly substantial amount of protein at each meal, it's not always easy to wolf down several chicken breasts and a steak every day. That's where protein powders and drinks come into play. There are many different kinds of protein drinks on the market, but whey is the preferred choice of most due to the fact it's also one of the best absorbed kinds of protein you can buy. Check out my protein powder buyer's guide HERE to find out more on the benefits of using whey in your diet.
While nothing can replace the vitamins and minerals you receive from eating whole foods, the fact is most people simply don't eat enough of the right kinds of foods to get the essential amounts of vitamins their bodies require to run at it's absolute highest levels. Many people need something to fill in the nutritional gaps. That is why including a quality multivitamin in your diet can be highly beneficial. A few words of warning about multivitamins. You get what you pay for. Those "one-a-days" you see on commercials are nearly all synthetically made in a laboratory and contain little to no natural based materials in them. If the budget will allow, buy an organic based multivitamin. They are essentially made from food, and for that reason, are better absorbed and used by the body.
The overall importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet are numerous. They are highly beneficial in the areas of heart, brain, and joint health, as well as providing a base for overall better athletic performance. While there are many non-seafood based sources of Omega-3's, digestive processes required to turn them into the fatty acids EPA and DHA make them an inferior product due to the fact there is no digestion needed when these fatty acids come from fish oil. Out of everything on this list, the thing that I can literally FEEL working is fish oil. For a more in depth analysis of fish oil supplements and their benefits, read HERE.
BONUS: CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
Creatine is not completely necessary to an average person's overall nutritional program, but in the area of athletic performance, there is nothing more scientifically studied and proven to increase athletic performance than creatine monohydrate. While many of you may be under the notion that creatine is an anabolic steroid, that couldn't be further from the truth. Creatine is actually an organic compound produced by the liver that helps supply energy to cells all over the body, most notably muscle cells. Around 95% of the creatine your body produces is stored within the muscle, and while your body produces it naturally, an excess of creatine has been shown to verifiably increase athletic performance and with it, muscle building potential. Studies have found that people taking creatine experience upwards of 15% better athletic performance. This is something no other supplement can claim, and therefore the reason I feel it deserved a place on this list! Read more about creatine HERE.
Overweight people in America are everywhere. This is indisputable truth. You can go virtually anywhere and see multiple overweight people. While the actual percentage of obese people is certainly higher than it should be, the actual number may very well be skewed due to one particular problem. That problem is the BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator. Odds are quite good you've heard someone talk about how high their BMI was at least once in your life. But here's the problem. That person, as well as most others probably has a BMI much much different than a calculator or a doctor told them. Here's why..
BMI was developed in the early 1800's (a very loud alarm should have sounded just knowing that piece of information) by a Belgian mathematician. Somehow this genius calculated that weight (in pounds) divided by height (in inches) squared, multiplied by 703 determined an individual's body fat.
The Centers for Disease Control, for some unknown reason, sees this formula as a viable solution for calculating body fat. There's just one issue. The matter of determining the BMI by using only a person's body weight and not their composition. Meaning what exactly? Well, the cartoon above is a perfect representation of this. Both characters above are the same exact height and weight. The index states that both of these individuals have the same BMI, meaning the bodybuilder with 6% body fat has the same exact BMI as the man who is more than 30% body fat.
Clearly what I've just stated is not only wrong, it's VERY wrong, and should be aborted as a means to determine a person's body fat. A person is much more than just their height and weight. Everyone has muscle, bone, and water as well as fat and these must be taken into account to get a proper idea of their fat percentage.
Want to know what your real body fat percentage is? Have a fitness/health professional weigh, measure, and use skin fold calipers on you or see about getting access to a bioelectrical impedance device. Many gyms or personal trainers have access to one or both of these devices. Whatever you do, don't get upset over your BMI. Odds are it's wrong anyway.
First things first. Your results with a personal trainer are only as good as the personal trainer themselves and your level of commitment. If you have reservations about hiring someone (I include myself in this), don't do it. Plain and simple. However, if you think you've found a trainer who is right for you, you now have a lot more options of how you would like to receive your personal training than you did in the past.
If the option is there, in person training is still a great route to go. However, we live in a fast paced world. We operate on different schedules, have kid's soccer practices, meetings, you name it. It can be pretty hard for some folks to lock down 3 or 4 dedicated times each week with a personal trainer. Also, from a financial standpoint, it can be a very pricey venture for some.
Enter online personal training. Flexible around your time, considerably more affordable than in person training, and the same great results if you put in the effort! Online personal training may indeed be the next step forward in the fitness industry. However, as with hiring any trainer, make sure you do your homework and make sure he or she offer you the services you're looking for. These are a few of the things every quality online trainer should offer:
If you already have a gym membership and a general knowledge of how to get around the weight room, online personal training may be the perfect fit for your lifestyle, and more importantly your budget. Just remember, a quality online training program should include nearly everything an in person one does. Choose your personal trainer wisely, and you will both reap the benefits of a successful trainer/client relationship! Ready to START online training? Fill out my client application for a free online consultation now!
No, this isn't another stupid article about eating celery or iceberg lettuce, so continue reading. This is about actual negative calorie foods, but there's a twist. All foods have some kind of calories, but there are foods (not celery) that studies have shown use more calories to digest than the food actually contains. Hence the term, "negative calorie foods."
This isn't concrete scientific fact just yet, but many studies have been done on this topic, and an explanation for why some foods may be considered negative calorie is as follows. Once again, nearly all foods have calories. And while no foods actually contain actual digestive enzymes, higher quality whole foods (read: non-processed) have vitamins in them. What some of these vitamins do is trigger the release of digestive enzymes to break down the food we've just eaten.
When we eat junk food, this same process happens. The difference is, there are no enzyme triggering vitamins in junk food. So there's a minimal release of enzymes, then the rest of the food is left to be taken up as fat or secreted as waste. HOWEVER, in the so called "negative calorie foods," the enzyme release is enough to break down the food and leave a surplus of enzymes. Where the debate lies is in this. It is not entirely known if the excess enzymes make their way into the blood stream. If they do, enzymes are responsible for accelerating the metabolism, therefore increasing the likelihood of fat loss.
While not conclusive, there has been some fascinating research done lately that looks promising.
"According to a recent study performed by Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D., of the University of California, at San Francisco, a vegetarian diet consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables, was adhered to by research subjects as an experimental study on the reversal of heart disease. As a result each of the research subjects (all suffering from heart disease), lost an average of 20 pounds without cutting calories or limiting serving sizes.
In light of the fact that these subjects were 40 years and older (with relatively slowed metabolisms) and the research performed involved no prescribed exercise program, this constitutes a dramatic weight loss that could only be attributed to the consumption of various fruits & vegetables."
So could it be that easy? Eat high quality, non-processed foods along with "negative calorie" fruits and vegetables and experience considerable fat loss? It very well could be. Regardless, a diet consisting of high quality proteins, vegetables and fruits will make you healthier. So essentially you have nothing to lose. Oh, and I suppose I should give you a small list of some of these negative calorie foods before you get mad for sticking in there so long. Keep in mind, these foods should be eaten raw or lightly cooked. Overcooking any produce can result in nutrient loss. These are just some of the foods that were given to the people in the study:
Try adding some of these into your diet, along with other healthy foods and see how it affects your overall body composition in conjunction with physical activity. You might just be surprised at what happens! Everyone have a great day, eat your fruits and vegetables, and go work out!
Let's be completely honest here. New Year's resolutions don't work. If they did, the 2,000 people I will see at the gym today would be there all year round and not just three weeks. Today may be January 1st, but in reality it's just another Wednesday. The only difference is you don't have to work.
I know that sounded negative, but what I am really getting at here is that it's time to stop with the resolutions and it's time to come up with a solid game plan for long-term success. You might be motivated today because you feel like the New Year is a fresh start, but unless you change your mindset, you will find your motivation wavering in pretty short order.
As this is a fitness blog, I'm not going to give you a step by step plan to fix your finances or your personal relationships, but I've got a good idea of proper goal setting as it pertains to getting on track to better health. So forget the mindless "I want to lose 20 pounds this year" resolutions and come up with a REAL game plan.
WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN AND READ THEM EVERY DAY
You must train your subconscious mind to achieve real success. The conscious mind is responsible for thought and reasoning, and it's what makes you reach for the pizza and ice cream after a stressful day. The subconscious mind is responsible for your habits. What your subconscious mind believes, your body achieves. If you have goals, write them down and read them with conviction several times a day. The subconscious is trainable, and will be a huge factor in your overall success. But what do you write down?
SPECIFIC AND MEASURABLE GOALS, NOT GENERAL ONES
"I want to lose weight" is not a specific goal. "I want to get down to size 6" or "I want to run a 5K" are specific goals. When you generalize your goals, it's harder to envision them in your mind. When you turn "I want to get stronger" into "I want to squat 225," you can actually picture a bar with two 45 pound plates on each side with you underneath it. Whatever your goals are, make them precise and put them down on paper.
BIG GOALS, REALISTIC DEADLINES
If you have 100 pounds to lose, it's going to take you a year or more to safely achieve it. However, if that's what you truly want, WRITE IT DOWN then give yourself a timetable. Write down your timetable something like this:
DON'T DO THIS ALONE
Everyone has someone who will support them, whether it's friends, family, or a support group you're a part of. Make your goals known, hold yourself accountable to them, and have SOMEONE ELSE hold you accountable to them if possible. Hitting milestones is much easier with someone in your corner. If you don't know where to start or what to do, feel free to fill out an application for a FREE consultation with me. I will help you set up a plan and give you the step-by-step actions you need to see it through, as well as give you a few more crucial pieces to the puzzle that weren't mentioned in this article. Happy New Year's Day, everyone. Go work out, not because it's a new year, but because it gets you one step closer to your long-term goals!
The rate of overweight or obese people in 1970's America was somewhere in the mid-40% range. Fast forward 40 years. That number has jumped closer to 70%. Another statistic. Clinical obesity has literally doubled. Processed "food" (I use the quotations because half the things people eat shouldn't qualify as nutrition anymore) is a contributing factor without a doubt. The other dominant factor? Almost nobody understands what qualifies as a portion.
That illustration above is a perfect example. The picture on the right is roughly the equivalent of what you would have received in your fast food bag in the 1960-70s. Fast forward 40 years, and the average trip to McDonald's has most if not all your daily calories in a single trip. Without getting into further specifics about all the chemicals and crap that are put into your average fast food meal, eating one of these double and triple portion meals a week as well as the other couples meals you're probably consuming in a day is going to add significant weight to your body year over year.
I use fast food as an example, but portions have blown up everywhere, and the only sure fire way to make sure you're not overdoing it is to be imparted with the knowledge of both what you're putting into your body and what qualifies as a serving. I've slightly covered this issue before in my Food Labels 101 post, which I recommend you read when you have a chance.
As it pertains to portion control, knowledge is power. Read the labels on things you buy. Almost everything will you tell you a portion size in grams or ounces. If you have access to a food scale, weighing your food out may seem like a big task, but it's a guaranteed way to know how much you're putting in your body. As most produce and fruit is not labeled, though, the FDA recommends measuring in cups. For example, the average adult woman should have between 2 and 3 cups of vegetables a day. Having a measuring cup around your house is a very easy way to make sure you're staying on track. If you don't have access to measuring equipment, use this chart to relate your foods to common items. Click on the picture to view or download the full size PDF.
Keep that chart on your phone, saved in your computer, or even print it out and put it on the fridge. Knowing what constitutes as a portion can help you get on the way to weight loss or just maintaining your current healthy weight. If you have any further questions, comment below or contact me and I will do my best to answer it. Otherwise, have an amazing day, go work out, and start focusing on those portion sizes!