Wellness

5 Ways to Stick to Your Meal Plan

A certain level of dedication is required when striving to see fitness and nutrition results. In the case of nutrition this means committing to the process of meal prep, planning ahead for your week, designing a menu, making good choices at business meetings or long weekends at sporting events, and expecting the unexpected. Here are a few ways you to help you nail your MetPro nutrition plan.

1. Schedule a Meal Prep Day
Designating specific days for 1-3 hours of meal prep can save you hours cooking throughout the week. It also means you are not waiting until you are hungry to scramble to put together a meal.

Meal prep can be daunting at first, realizing what measurements are needed, knowing food combinations for each meal, etc. When you first begin meal prepping allow for extra time to make sure you are comfortable and accurate.

2. Design a Menu. Don’t Let Monotony Affect your Success!
Sometimes the options become overwhelming, or you are SO sick of chicken your eyeballs will fall out if you see it again. Designing a menu for the week makes you consider new combinations. For example sick of steamed broccoli and green beans at every meal? Try out a BBQ grilled bell pepper and zucchini blend?

3. Bring an Ice Chest
Remember: Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Have a small ice chest along with you with pre-packed with your lunch and snacks! When the doctors appointment runs late or meetings at work take longer than expected you don’t miss a meal!  You live a busy life, don’t let unexpected events interfere with your meals!

4. Make Educated Choices
You have knowledge now. Even when you are eating off a menu, you have the tools to make decisions that will still support your efforts.  It is normal to want to still go out with your girlfriends, meet up with the guys after hoops, or attend weddings. The important thing to remember is you still can make good choices. Go for the vodka soda instead of the margarita; choose the grilled chicken and side of veggies instead of fish and chips.

5. Be Committed to your efforts
Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed of your choices and lifestyle. Giving into the peer pressure of drinks, appetizers, or tolerating comments like “oh she can’t eat that” is easy, staying committed to your efforts takes resolve.

Remember it is your life and you are making a responsible choice to live a healthy lifestyle. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Perhaps your commitment to your health and nutrition will inspire those around to make better choices as well.

7 Survival Secrets for Summertime Shindigs

Summertime is the perfect season to get together with friends and family. Living your best life means participating in the things that make your heart sing without sacrificing your health. From traveling, dining al fresco, or celebrating with friends and family, you want to be conscious and prepared for when you are without your MetPro-approved meals.

Here are 7 quick tips to help you navigate summer shindigs:

  1. Buns are nice in swimsuits… but lettuce wraps are better for burgers.
  2. Reach for veggie sticks instead of potato chips
  3. Have unsweetened iced teas or water instead of Soda pop
  4. Watermelon = sugar juice. Pick berries.
  5. Heavy salad dressing and dips are for steakhouses. Get outside and use olive oil, lemon and vinaigrette's on salads
  6. Have your frozen plain Greek yogurt with berries in it, and eat it to.
  7. Go green. Smoothies are more colorful than milkshakes anyway.

4 Travel Tips For Your Summer Adventures

Summer is full of family fun, adventure, and time away from your kitchen and gym. Allow yourself to enjoy your vacation without completely going off the rails. It’s important to find the balance of embracing life while staying healthy. You’ve worked so hard to get where you are and you can have fun while still making good choices while traveling. Here are a few ways you can travel smarter and healthier this summer!

 

1. Continue to Snack

Don’t let your metabolism tank while you are busy exploring museums, lying on the beach, or riding that roller coaster!!  Be sure to bring plenty of healthy treats when it is snack time or dinner is happening later than expected you will always be prepared.
Snacks that travel well:

• apples
• nuts
• jerky
• rice cakes


2. Be Active Wherever You Are


Is there a beach at your doorstep? A hike with spectacular views? Go explore!  A lot of clients end up losing weight on vacation because they are on the go non-stop either hiking, paddle boarding, or walking on the beach. This list is endless! Make the workout happen and capitalize on getting your sweat on with a new view!

 

3. Get On-The-Go Workouts From Your Trainer


Let your trainer know when you will be gone, how much time you will have to workout, and what equipment you will have access to. Continue your routine even when on vacation! I’ve had clients go on cruises, to cabins, or stay in hotels and get at least 1-2 workouts in while they’re gone because they planned ahead.  It’s easy for your trainer to text or email you a full routine. It’s better if done ahead of time so you can ask questions about the workout before you go!

 

4. Use What You Have


No gym? No Hikes? Body weight, a wall, and the floor are all you need to get a great workout!
Example Workout- Set a timer for 15:00 and complete as many rounds as possible:

• 1:00 plank
• 1:00 wall sit elbow touches
• 10 push-ups
• 20 wall triceps press
• 30 air squats

No matter where you’re off to this summer, we’re here to help! Part of making positive changes in your health is making an effort to fit healthy eating and exercise into your daily routine. At home and on the go, a healthy lifestyle and routine is possible. Let’s make this your healthiest summer yet!

Life On Shuffle

Every morning I get in the car to go to work at Whole Body Fitness and the first thing I do is plug in my iPhone to hear some good music on my commute. The coolest thing happened to me the other day when I plugged my phone in: during the software update I must have accidentally switched the music play mode to SHUFFLE.

Instead of the same playlist that I am used to hearing over the course of the last few months, with the same songs, the same mood being set, I heard selections that I haven't listened to since I don't know when. I was instantly struck by the contrast in my morning routine and was refreshed by the realization that I had been in a RUT.

That’s the first step to getting out of a RUT or, for that matter, making any kind of change. We have to recognize where we are at before we can set a course for change or behavior modification. I am speaking to all of you creatures of habit out there.

Variety is the spice of life-no? “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!” Insert fifteen more quotes here about the importance of variance in life……

Here is where my Life on Shuffle relates to your health and wellness-

As the seasons change and the weather plays its usual winter-spring-summer games with our climate, I encourage you to shake it up a bit. Work on an area of health and wellness that is NOT your strong suit. Here are a few common areas that most folks can improve in:

Flexibility- Do you stretch your hamstrings, shoulders, and neck often enough to maintain proper posture and range of motion? If not, get to it! Come to one of our group classes at WBF that focuses on these areas.
Cardiovascular Endurance- When was the last time you broke a sweat in steady state exercise? If the answer is longer than a few days, get to it! Again, come to one of our group classes. We are constantly building new classes into our schedule to meet the needs of our members.
Body Composition- Meal prep and quality nutritional coaching are the way to get your body fat down and keep it there. Metabolic Profiling is a sure fire way to reach your body composition goals, come in to speak with Natalie or Stephanie ASAP. Swimsuit season is around the corner!

Now take a good look at your “playlist” of health and wellness activities and hit SHUFFLE. You will enjoy the variety and your mind and body will thank you for your new groove.

Attitude is Everything

Is your mind right? What is that one thought that keeps circling in your consciousness? Let me make a suggestion:

You can do it. Better yet, I can do it.

A few months ago Crystal wrote an article about Self Talk and it hit home with several people that I consider influential to my life. A few of those folks are trainers here at Whole Body Fitness. Echoes of their encouragement float through the gym like the sweet-sweet scent of hard work, as I prepare myself for my own workout and that has me PUMPED for my “Me Time”.

In that moment I recognized that I have eaten a healthy meal the night before, packed my meals in the morning, and took a gloriously warm shower to start my day. I am filled with gratitude as I hear myself reflecting on the past 24 hours. It strikes me that my preparation for this workout started with a simple decision I made Sunday afternoon; I chose to turn off Netflix and make a weeks’ worth of healthy breakfasts. 

In that moment it was affirmed that a positive thought (I can do this, not that) carried momentum forward into the preparedness of my workout. Good decisions stacked upon good decisions had prepared me to continue actions that lead towards habit. It is for this reason that I suggest monitoring your thoughts in order to set small mental goals that will eventually “ripple” towards actions that will help you build character in the form of physical, mental, and emotional strength.

Start here. Start now. YOU CAN DO IT!

Misinformation in the Health and Wellness Industry

Where did THAT come from?
Addressing misinformation in the Health and Wellness Industry

Here at Whole Body Fitness we have heard it all! Eat this not that, cardio makes you fat, eggs are bad for you, eggs are good for you, stretching is bad for you, and my all-time favorite:

“I am a lady and I don’t want to bulk up by lifting weights. I just don't want to get too bulky.”

Helping clients sift through the onslaught of information that is poorly presented, poorly researched, or learned out of context has become one of the key components of ensuring that a client sets appropriate expectations as they kick start their health and wellness improvement process.

Let’s call it like it is: most people get their health and wellness information through WebMd, Facebook posts, sound bites on the news, blogs, or through conversations with self proclaimed fitness specialists. The challenging part about hearing the content from these well-intentioned sources(second hand) is that the information that they are sharing is generally a half truth or its effectiveness depends on detailed variabilities amongst the population.

Eggs are not bad for everyone, nor are they good for everyone. Women come with varying amounts of testosterone, the more testosterone you have the more likely you are to add muscle mass and more quickly. Stretching effects performance of premier athletes in a specific motion(the bench press) and is generally understood to be productive for the average population.

The bottom line is simply this: ask more than surface level questions before you take information as THE ULTIMATE TRUTH. If the person that is sharing the information is truly knowledgeable about the subject, they will welcome your inquisitive nature in that it will validate their intention for sharing in the first place. Be wary of the “because I said so” crowd or the person that will not quote their source. Even those that DO quote their source will have some answering to do when it comes to how they understand and interpret research articles.

At Whole Body Fitness, we let our experience and our results do the talking for us. Having dieted thousands of individuals over the past decade, we have come up with our own conclusions on what will and what won’t work in your health and wellness routine. At Whole Body Fitness, the proof is in the pudding(which is healthy for you according to WebMd).

                                          

10 Habits For Better Sleep

 

Sleep. The most overlooked factor in overall health. Getting some good Z’s is a major contributor that is typically undervalued, especially when it comes to weight loss. I have personally always had a love/hate relationship with sleep. I love a good night’s sleep, but I hate going to bed!

Often times playing volleyball abroad our practices would end late at night, leaving me full of adrenaline taking me hours to wind down. That second wind of energy that occurs after an exhausting long day is related to a higher cortisol level. Calories may be stored as fat when cortisol is at higher than normal levels. Cortisol levels begin torise around 10:30 11:00pm so head to bed before that for 7 hrs of shut eye.

Sleep allows for the restorative process to occur within the body. My schedule as a trainer has taught me to value of sleep on health and fitness. Training clients at 5:30am means I need to be functioning and fully awake! Now I crawl into bed around 8:30, asleep well before 10pm.

This did NOT come easy. I started to try different routines and created habits to ensure I get a good night's sleep. By creating habits that encourage restfulness, relaxation, and rest I have been able to get better sleep and maintain productivity throughout my day.

Here are 10 habits I have found key to getting amazing sleep

1 Get Moving!
Regular exercise can relieve insomnia and make for more restful sleep.
Participating in aerobic exercise 4 times a week is ideal.

2 Dim the Lights
I come home and turn on a lamp and light a candle. The body’s circadian rhythm
is controlled by a part of the brain that responds to light and darkness. Light
travels via the optic nerve to the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) signaling the
internal clock that you need to be awake or asleep. The SCN then sends signals
to parts of the brain that release hormones, regulate temperature, etc which can
make us feel more awake.  Exposure to bright lights when it’s bedtime can delay
the release of melatonin that assists with our sleepiness.

3 Wash Off the Day
Relax mind and body. Showering after work gives me time to process the day,
decompress creating a transition period from work mode to chill mode.

4 Dine
Take time to sit down and eat dinner, push pause and be still. Share your day
with your family, converse. I rush through my meals during the day, squeezing in
snacks and lunch, dinner is my time to sit down and enjoy my food.

5 Prep for Tomorrow
Preparing my food for the following day means it’s ready to grab in the fridge in
the morning allowing for a longer nights sleep and one less thing to worry about.

6 Setting a Bedtime
Having a regular bedtime and wake time keeps that circadian rhythm within your
body.

7 Make Your Bed
Pulling back the corner of my neatly made bed and crawling in! My routine for
getting a good night's sleep starts when I get out of bed in the morning! It’s like
you have a hotel maid.

8 Ban Devices in Bed
Blue light stimulation, caused by electronics, creates a block of melatonin which
signals sleep in the brain and body. Don't delay getting to that precious REM
sleep!

9 Read a Book
If you aren’t feeling heavy in the eyelids yet, a good relaxing read transporting
you into a story,  not real news or stressful reading. Skip the device reading, find
some old fashioned paperback reads.

10 Channel Your Inner Caveman
Let your bedroom be a cave, cool and dark. I sleep with an eye mask on
ensuring complete darkness.

The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

Talk yourself into your goals.

We all have dialogue happening within our own head everyday. This can be referred to as self-talk. Think of it as your own personal announcer, giving a play by play of your life. Criticisms, support critique, and cheerleading.

When I was playing volleyball in college you have announcers of other teams sometimes being impartial or cruel with the commentary, especially in close rival games where even the fans were yelling and taunting from the sidelines or directly behind you as you are serving. This can get into your head if you don’t have your own positive dialogue to drown them out.

This continued as I played volleyball overseas. The taunting fans and announcers were now speaking languages I couldn’t process. I could always tell when my teammates heard them loud and clear though, the effect of negative thoughts transferring to negative outcome are fluent in any language. It’s easier to channel your own voice in your head when the announcer sounds like the teacher from Peanuts “womp womp womp womp”. 

My self talk, as an athlete competing became “You do this everyday. You know what to do. You have prepared for this challenge. You are good at what you do” You need to train the mind as equal as you train the body!

Remember, YOU have control over that voice.

Destructive self-talk leads to self-sabotaging outcomes. “I’m so stupid” “I can’t ever do that!” This leads you to question your ability, create insecurity, and fill you with doubt. The more you question yourself, others will follow suit.

Replace the dysfunctional self talk with a constructive statement. “You are good at what you do, accept praise for your hard work.” “I am strong. I can do this.” If you believe in yourself, and others will follow suit. Focus on positive statements and outcomes and give yourself permission to feel good about your accomplishments.

The internal thought process can snowball quickly. Starting with positive dialogue is key. Have a mantra or phrase that reminds you what you are capable of. That way, when the announcers in your life are critical and doubt your ability, your voice is louder.

Begin creating positive uplifting self-talk and you’ll find not only will you be able to inspire and influence yourself and others in a positive way everyday.

Get in the habit of being aware of your self-talk.
Do you hear your voice? What does it say?

Stop Working and Workout!

Make your workday a workout with 8 easy circuits! 

 

I have a highly motivated client who is willing to put in extra work to reach his goals. He had the brilliant idea of breaking up the monotony of emails, spreadsheets, and conference calls with some movement! 

Here are 8 circuits that should to be completed in about 5 minutes while you are at work!  He works from home and has cardio equipment as well. So if you have cardio equipment as well supplementing that in place of a few of the circuits.

These are all body weight exercises and all you need is yourself, some wall space, and floor space! This workout focuses on posture and core.  The emphasis is on moving, getting the heart rate elevated, but not “lets get drenched in sweat in my cubicle” status.

The goal is to keep moving, so something is always better than nothing. Don't be discouraged about not doing EVERY workout. Leave a check mark next to rounds workouts you complete.

Keep track of how many you squeezed in during the whole workweek and have that as a benchmark or goal to match/beat next week! My client has been completing between 4-6 per day on average.

After Lunch

2:00 PM 3 Rounds

20 Table Top Cruch

10 Push Up

20 Arm Circles Both Directions

3:00 PM 4 Rounds

20 Wall Sit Elbow Touch or Pullover

20 Ice Skaters

20 Clamshell Per Leg

4:00 AM 3 Rounds

20 Total Plank Taps

20 Total Alternating Reverse Lunges

5:00 PM 2 Rounds

1:00 Jump Roap

1:00 Wall Sit

30 Active Back Crunch

Before Lunch

9:00 AM 2 Rounds

1:00 Air Squats

1:00 Wall Sit Elbow Touches

20/20 Arm Circles

10:00 AM 2 Rounds

20 Total Plank Taps

20 Total Bird Dogs

20 Total Hero March

11:00 AM 3 Rounds

25 Wall Tricep Press

15 Jumping Jacks

12:00 PM 3 Rounds

20 Air Squats

20 Tiny Taps

20 Lying Reverse Presses

 

 

90/10: Committing to the Process

A certain level of dedication is required when striving to see fitness and nutrition results. In the case of nutrition this means committing to the process of meal prep, planning ahead for your week, designing a menu, making good choices on business trips and lunch meetings, or long weekends at sporting events for your kids.

Often times in the gym when discussing nutrition with clients we get questions like:

“How much do I need to be nailing it in order to see results?”

Or statements like:

“I AM doing it … 65% of the time.”

Sound familiar? The truth is in order to see real results and make your hard work pay off you need to be adherent 90% of the time allowing only a 10% window for non-adherence.

Recently I have had a few clients who had tremendous success right off the bat! They nailed it, lost weight fast, got complimented on how great they are doing, and then nailed it less. With others we get close to the goal, and then results begin to slow. It can be discouraging when you aren’t losing 2-5lbs a week anymore. We’ve all been there.

We tell ourselves that we are nailing it, tell our coaches we are nailing it, and then there’s that Ah-Ha moment. We realize our adherence to the program hasn’t been as spot on. We’ve lost a bit of that excitement we had when we first started.

It’s important to follow through fully with the plan, to eat ALL your meal carbs, all your snacks, etc.  It’s important to do some extra work, add cardio, etc. It is important to do all of these things effectively, when we get close to a goal or experiencing a plateau, BEFORE you want to adjust your nutrition. Commit to your process. It’s important to be 90% on track and stay committed to the process.

Realize, when striving for weight loss, the more weight you lose the less body fat you have to lose. So when you near the end and the finish lines in sight, which is when the extra push comes.

The hardest work of all comes in the end, and in the end it is worth it!

Stay committed.  We are all pulling for your success!

Get More Out Of Your Trainer

Whether you’re a long time client, or just had your very first session, why not maximize your time? At Whole Body Fitness we endeavor to help each client get results. While our amazing trainers work hard to enable each client is successful, a lot of it depends on you, the client.

Here are 7 tips to maximize your fitness and personal training experience.

1. Have Clear Goals
What and Why. It’s important to know what you are working for and why you are here. Is it to stay in shape and accomplish your daily activities pain free? Is it to be pushed like an athlete and build muscle? Perhaps you’d like to lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels.

Regardless, your goals should be attainable and need to be discussed with your trainer and/or nutritionist. If you are told your goal is unrealistic, don’t despair.  Your trainer and/or nutritionist is there to provide you with professional guidance, and can help you focus on a goal that is attainable.

Setting goals exponentially propels your success in the gym. Visualizing yourself accomplishing these goals can help you commit to them even further.

2. Be Vocal
Communication is crucial. Don’t be afraid to speak up! While Personal Trainers can be very perceptive, they are not mind readers.  Speak your truth. That means being honest about an injury. Speaking up if you feel you’re being worked too hard or not hard enough. Being open and honest about your motivation levels, needing a new goal, etc.

Your trainer wants you to have a positive experience and suffering in silence helps no one. Clear the air so you can keep moving in the right direction.

3. Respect the Time
Show up on time and be focused while you’re there. This can be extremely challenging. Every minute counts in a 45-minute session. Arriving even 5 minutes late can throw off your trainers programming for you. Checking email, visiting with others in your group, and answering calls and texts, can mean you miss important instruction from your trainer.
This is time for you, and your health and fitness goals. Distractions can limit your productivity, motivation, and can lead to injury as well. Devote this time to your health and make the most out of it by being 100% in the moment.

4. Be Honest
Lying slows your progress. It’s hard to manage a clients program when there’s no transparency. Sure, your trainer knows you well enough to see that you didn’t eat breakfast before coming, or that your shoulder pain is back although you say it isn’t. 

By claiming to be eating better or drinking less than you actually are, you’re bound to be frustrated that you aren't reaching your goals. If you’re in pain, hiding that injury could lead to a much longer recovery.  Trust that you’re in good hands and remember your trainers want you to succeed. Our trainers are still able to program challenging workouts around injuries. Be open. Only then can your trainer can be honest with you about the results you can expect.

5. Be Mindful
Put your heart into it. Wanting to have a good workout comes from your mindset. Your attitude is just as much fuel for your success as your nutrition. Make the most out of your time with a professional by showing up ready to work!

Focus on the reasons you came, why you’re there, why your hired a personal trainer, and what your goals are.

Sometimes a personal mantra such as “I’m here, I’m ready, I’m all in!” can help you get in the right mindset before your workout even starts, and remind you why you’re there to begin with.

6. Manage the Other 23
Your personal trainer typically sees you a few hours a week. That’s all they truly have control over. What you do outside the gym will have a much greater effect on your progress than the efforts you make in the gym. Whether that is a positive or negative result is up to you. The negatives outside the gym will always outweigh the positives in the gym.

Ask yourself; do you want to spin the tires or actually go somewhere?

7. Ask for Homework
Make the most of your off day! Many clients exercise on the days they aren’t in the gym, or jump in an extra group class.
You hired trainers to be motivators, but you are the one putting in the work! Is your goal to have more glut definition? Do you need more posture work?
Ask your trainer what series of exercises you could do on your off day to work toward your goal outside the gym.

No More Fitness Excuses

Don’t hit the snooze button on your fitness goals.

Here are 17 of the most common obstacles to exercising — and expert advice on how to overcome them.

We all know we’re supposed to exercise. There are so many good reasons! More strength and stamina. More energy. A sleeker, leaner physique. A longer, happier life. And yet, when the alarm goes off for that early-morning run, or quitting time rolls around and kickboxing class beckons, it’s always easier to think of a reason not to go: No time. No childcare. No energy. No motivation.


Longtime exercisers know that the additional energy exercise provides makes it well worth the time and effort they expend — and that before long, that charged-up postworkout feeling can become a powerful motivator in itself.


So why do we let so many things — real-life obstacles as well as imagined excuses — get in our way?


“There are lots of reasons to not exercise — including social, cultural, financial, and time limitations,” says sports psychologist Michelle Cleere, PhD, author of From Here to There: A Simple Blueprint for Women to Achieve Peak Performance in Sports and Business. Still, she notes, “it’s what’s behind these reasons that really makes it hard to exercise: worries, doubt, fears, lack of confidence.”


None of us needs another sales pitch on the value of exercise. But we could all use more practical strategies on how to squeeze that workout in when it would be easier not to.
Here are 17 of the most common reasons people offer for bailing on their workouts — including lack of time and lack of confidence — and expert advice for overcoming them.

Don’t see your personal favorite excuse here?

Send it to us at experiencelife@experiencelife.com and we’ll tackle it in the future.

“I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME.”
People sometimes assume that a workout has to happen in a certain place, at a certain time, and for a certain number of minutes in order to count. This isn’t true. “Some of the most fun training sessions my clients and I have done are under 30 minutes,” says fitness trainer Jen Comas Keck, NASM, cofounder of GirlsGoneStrong.com. “Set up a fast-paced circuit, keep your rest periods short, and you can get in and out in limited time.”


For days when you’re really pressed, keep gym clothes at work and a few pieces of equipment — a suspension trainer, some bands, a kettlebell or two — at home so you can squeeze in a workout even when you can’t make it to the gym. A 10-minute circuit (continuously rotating sets of, say, 10 pushups, 20 squats, and 12 lunges on each leg, resting minimally between sets) is far better than no workout at all.


“CARDIO IS SO BORING.”
Steady-state cardio canimprove the health of your heart, and some people find it meditative and relaxing. But for many others, it’s a time-consuming, pain-inducing bore. If you fall into the boredom camp, center your workouts on strength training, and add high-intensity, short-duration intervals for a cardio effect.


Sprints, jumping rope, kettlebell swings, and rope slams lend themselves well to high-intensity training. Build up to eight to 10 intervals of 30 to 45 seconds each, either between sets of other exercises in a strength workout, or with a 90-second rest between repetitions. Looking for more ideas? Check out “Three-Speed Cardio“.


“I’M NOT FIT, STRONG, THIN, OR [FILL IN THE BLANK] ENOUGH TO GO TO THE GYM.”
If you’ve never set foot in a health club before, it’s easy to assume that they’re just for the über-fit. Take a walk-through during peak hours, however, and you’ll likely see a diverse cross-section of beginners, intermediates, and advanced exercisers, all building their fitness chops. And many of them had to overcome the exact same resistance to get there.
“Everyone at the gym is there to improve their health and feel better,” says Keck. “And we all have a right to be there.” So don’t get hung up on how you think you should be. Just make peace with where you are, and enjoy the journey.

So don’t get hung up on how you think you should be. Just make peace with where you are, and enjoy the journey.

It also pays to remember that we’re all a little self-focused, especially during our “me” time at the gym. “I can assure you nobody is paying attention to what you’re doing,” says Keck. “They’re too busy worrying about themselves!”


“I HAVE AN INJURY, SO I SHOULDN’T EXERCISE.”
While an injury is good reason to use caution, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to curtail your workouts. “There’s always a way to exercise,” says Cleere.


Avoid anything that causes pain in the injured area, and do more of what you can do comfortably. When you have lower-back pain, you’re usually best off avoiding movements where you twist, bend to the side, or load the spine significantly — including heavy lower-body moves like squats and deadlifts. (Seeking advice on dealing with back issues? See “Back in Trouble“.)


If you have painful knees, skip exercises requiring your quads to do lots of work (such as lunges and leg extensions) and double down on hip-extension moves like Swiss-ball leg curls. Cranky shoulders? Don’t press anything overhead or in front of you, and focus on back exercises, particularly rowing, instead.


For acute injuries, Billy Anderson, Master Personal Trainer at Life Time Fitness in Eden Prairie, Minn., advises clients to simply “accept the limitation” and move on. Even if you have a sprained ankle, he points out, you can still do exercises for your upper body and the noninjured leg. If your physician clears you for activity, you can work with a limited range of motion in the injured area and gradually increase it as your symptoms improve. In most cases, a moderate amount of safe movement aids in recovery and reduces discomfort.


“I FEEL AWKWARD IN YOGA CLASS.”
The prospect of lunging, twisting, and downward-dogging in a room full of strangers can intimidate even the most enthusiastic of would-be yoginis. To make your initiation into the namaste crowd easier, Keck suggests, “find a beginner’s class, and set up your mat at the back of the room. You might also recruit a buddy to come along. Everything is a little less scary with a friend.”
Still gun-shy? Remember that yoga practitioners — newbies to experts alike — are rarely there to judge their fellow students. The culture of yoga is meant to be a gentle and accepting one. So go get your OM on.


“I’LL NEVER GET A SIX-PACK SO WHY BOTHER?”
Images of shredded, flat-abbed fitness models are everywhere in popular media, but that aesthetic — often achieved through a combination of extreme dieting, short-term dehydration, and aggressive photo retouching — may not be a particularly realistic or worthwhile goal for most people.

Rather than focusing on achieving a particular appearance, set attainable fitness-oriented goals that reflect your current lifestyle and abilities. Focus less on how your body looks than on what it can do. Set your sights on the regular, daily actions you can pursue to become your healthiest, strongest, most body-confident self.
And remember, athletic bodies come in many shapes and sizes. Check out the differing physiques of competitive swimmers, marathoners, and weightlifters: They look entirely different, and yet each is at the pinnacle of fitness for his or her particular sport.


“I’M WAY TOO TIRED.”
Fatigue can be due to many factors. Chief among them are poor sleep and poor nutrition, which often play roles in the same vicious cycle.


“Study after study has shown that poor sleep adversely affects appetite and food intake,” says ISSA elite trainer Angelo Poli of Chico, Calif. Being short on shut-eye can make you hungrier for processed carbs and other foods of limited nutritional value, which can undermine your energy levels. This combination has a direct negative effect on your desire to exercise and the efficacy of your workouts — and can, in turn, create additional sleep disruptions.


Consider making sleep nonnegotiable. Set a bedtime you can stick to, and create rituals that help you unwind, such as taking a warm bath and setting aside electronic devices. If sleep still eludes you, talk to a medical practitioner about testing to rule out certain sleep disorders.
On the dietary front, eating too close to bedtime can lead to sleepless nights, as can choosing foods that are difficult to digest. Food intolerances can profoundly undermine your energy and make you feel chronically sleepy. Have a health professional evaluate your diet, if necessary, to determine if food might be the source of your fatigue.


“I’M SICK.”
“If you have a fever or runny nose, or are otherwise in the acute stages of illness, stay out of the gym,” says Poli. “You’re likely to prolong your illness and may make someone else sick.”
Short of that, though, you’re probably OK to do at least a light workout when you’re under the weather. “Your aerobic capacity may be a little down, but lifting weights and light cardio are fine as long as you don’t go overboard,” he says.


Sometimes, the immune-system boost you receive from moderate exercise might even help you feel better. A 2009 study by University of Illinois researchers found that moderate exercise helped fight off viral respiratory infection better than either complete rest or intense exercise.


“I JUST DON’T LIKE WORKING OUT.”
The first step to overcoming this obstacle is simply recognizing that our bodies were designed to move and to feel good in motion. Exercise can and should be fun. In fact, for an exercise plan to be effective and sustainable, it has to be enjoyable.


Once you’re open to that possibility, the next step is to figure out what’s fun for you.
Some people love to run and lift heavy weights, while others prefer Rollerblading and trapeze classes. Open your mind to nontraditional activities — such as a half hour at the trampoline park or playing kickball on a rec league — and you may discover an activity that gets your heart rate up and puts a smile on your face.


The key to finding your passion is trial and error. You can test-drive many activities for little cost by dropping in at your local gym or fitness studio (many offer free introductory classes) or by renting a bike, paddleboard, snowshoes, or other equipment for a small fee at your local park.
Discover activities you love, and you’re much more likely to stick to them.


“I DON’T KNOW HOW TO EXERCISE.”
Consider rewriting that statement: You don’t know how to exercise yet. In other words, you are learning. Which, by the way, is how everyone starts.


You can pull great workout ideas from magazines, books, and websites (check out our collection at “Move“). You might also try fitness DVDs, which you can buy online or borrow from your local library, or hit YouTube for videos demonstrating key moves and form pointers.


If you’re a health-club member, consider trying out a group fitness class, or enlist a trainer to help you learn some basics. Adopt a beginner’s mind: Decide not to be intimidated by what you don’t yet know. Just start where you are, and over time you’ll gain both skill and confidence.


“I FEEL SELFISH TAKING TIME OUT FOR MYSELF.”
Let go of your guilt. First, the few hours you invest in your workouts will help you show up as a better, healthier, more energetic parent. Second, being a regular exerciser with the discipline to carry out a self-care plan makes you a far better role model for your kids to look up to — and quite possibly a nicer parent to be around.


“I DON’T HAVE CHILDCARE.”
Get strategic. If you have a partner, the two of you can set up a schedule that lets you swap exercise and parenting stints. No dice? See if you can find another parent who wants to trade an hour or so of babysitting for “me time.” This arrangement has the added advantage of breaking up the day-to-day routine of caring for a young child and giving kids some social time with children their own age.


Increasingly, health clubs offer onsite childcare — and even activity classes for kids — either as part of your membership or for a nominal fee. If you’re a gym-goer, check your options at the front desk. And if your gym doesn’t offer these services, consider switching to another facility.
Another workaround is to exercise with your kids. If you have small children, tuck them into a jogging stroller and head out for a walk or run. At the park or playground, create a circuit that you can do while your kids play: pushups and step-ups on a park bench, pull-ups on the monkey bars, sprints across the length of the field. Or try a game of tag with your kids. This way, everyone gets a workout, and you’ll help instill good habits that will last your kids a lifetime.


“I HATE WORKING OUT ALONE.”
Find a workout buddy, preferably someone who has similar goals and taste in fitness activities. Enlist a friend, or work through a social group such as Meetup.com. You can also join an exercise class, where high-energy instructors provide guidance on workout techniques, and the group atmosphere keeps you motivated.


“I DON’T LIKE WORKING OUT IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE.”
Make a point of seeking out environmentswhere you have enough privacy to feel comfortable. Dance, lift, or do calisthenics in your living room. Bike some quiet park trails. Or hit the gym during off-peak hours.


And on the occasions when you just can’t seem to escape the madding crowd, pop in your headphones (the universal symbol for “leave me alone”) and get lost in your favorite songs or a terrific audiobook.
Focus on yourself and your goals, and you’re less likely to be bothered by the presence of others.


“I CAN’T AFFORD A PERSONAL TRAINER OR FANCY HOME-GYM EQUIPMENT.”
Weigh the relative costs of powering your exercise habit against the costs of being less fit and healthy than you want to be. Basic memberships at many clubs amount to less than a monthly cable (or daily latte) bill. If you work for a large company, you may get a fee discount, or your health insurance may give you a rebate for hitting the club regularly.


If a gym membership simply isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of other budget-friendly options out there. Running and walking require little investment beyond a pair of sneakers. Bodyweight exercises require no equipment at all, can be performed almost anywhere, and can be scaled to your goals and fitness level. Start with squats, lunges, and pushups. Add some squat jumps, jumping lunges, and plyo pushups for a cardio boost. Work in some burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and plank variations, and you’ve got the most affordable workout program around.


“I REALLY DREAD LOCKER ROOMS.”
Gyms offer locker rooms as a convenience to members who like to go right to work or a social engagement after they exercise. But you never have to set foot inside one if you don’t want to. Just go to the gym in your workout gear, lock all your valuables in your car, place your car key in a zippered pocket, and you’re off to the races. Afterward, motor home and shower there.


“I JUST CAN’T GET MOTIVATED.”
If you’re stressed out, undernourished, or exhausted, it can be hard to summon the motivation for anything, workouts included. But if you have a specific resistance to activity, there may be a deeper issue, such as body-image or exercise-related anxiety, that’s holding you back.
It can help to get in touch with your bigger “why” — the reasons you care about getting healthier and fitter, or why you feel compelled to take better care of yourself in general.


“Motivation is mostly a question of getting in touch with what you care about in life,” says Anderson, who, in addition to being a trainer, is also a leadership coach.


Your doctor may tell you to exercise to lower your blood pressure, for example, but until lowering blood pressure has meaning for you — because you want to stick around for your partner and kids, for example — the inspirational value of that objective will be limited.
It can also help to connect your fitness ambitions with bigger life goals, like being able to keep up with your kids, completing an active adventure, or showing up more fully for your work and relationships. From there, Anderson says, “the practice of fitness will become intimately connected with those reasons.” And accordingly, it will become much easier — and more rewarding — to embrace.

To read more articles visit www.experiencelife.com

by: ANDREW HEFFERNAN

Dieting Through The Decades: The History Of Weight Loss

What we choose to eat isn't simply about filling our bellies; it's an expression of who we are, when we are, and often, what we value. "You are what you eat" now takes on new meaning in a world of carnivores, herbivores, "fat free" fanatics, raw food artists, junk food junkies, and juicing warriors. Food and diets are as much of our pop culture as music and entertainment. We're fascinated with what people are eating and what diets the celebrities are following.
Reality television routinely showcases people with outrageous food cravings and uncontrollable obsessions -- it's our new voyeuristic entertainment. Meanwhile, diet propaganda shockingly encourages young women to starve themselves while other venues promote guzzling beer and inhaling pizza as a man's rite of passage. 

As a species, the human race is getting fatter. Obesity rates increased 214 percent between 1950 and 2000. Two out of every 3 people in the U.S. were obese or overweight in 2010. Not surprisingly, bookstore shelves are lined with new diet books daily. How did we arrive at this point, and what diets have been the most persuasive on our culture? What can we learn from the missteps -- and smart moves -- of the past?
 
The '80s
Journey, Depeche Mode, Back to the Future, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Full House. Ah, the '80s, notorious for many things -- including the turning point for our waistlines. It was the perfect storm, personal computers became mainstream, Nintendo ushered in the golden age of gaming with the NES, and the original Star Wars trilogy was completed. What further reasons did we need to sit and stare at a screen? Meanwhile, the food industry ramped up the packaged snack selections. Obesity began reaching epidemic proportions, and the need for an honest solution to the problem became obvious. 
To cater to the demand for less fattening foods, manufacturers began making everything "reduced fat" or "fat free." This was in response to the philosophy that fats made you fat. Since fats are the most calorie dense macronutrients, their reduction became a common way of cutting calories.
The concept of restricting the food we eat has been around since humans have had a desire for slenderness, but the low-calorie trend began to really pick up steam in the '80s. These diets used different methods to get their participants to eat fewer calories: Some promoted pre-made, calorie-controlled meals; others implemented low-calorie snacks aimed at reducing appetite. Most promoted restriction of all types of fats. 
 
What we got right in the '80s: Reduced calorie diets result in weight loss when caloric intake is sufficiently lower then what the participant is accustomed to. In other words, if the participant typically eats 2,500 calories per day and the diet reduces them to 1,600, the dieter will lose weight, at least for a little while. However, if the dieter is already used to eating only 1,600 calories, reducing it marginally further to 1,400 calories will only result in minor weight loss -- if any. 
 
Where we went wrong: Low-calorie diets are based on a false premise that a person's metabolic rate, or number of calories they require, is fixed. In reality, the primary function of our metabolism is to keep us in stasis (status quo), or to adapt to our nutritional environment. This means if we eat less, our metabolism will gradually re-adjust to run slower, negating marginal reductions to our caloric intake. This is known as the "survival mechanic." If a person burned a set, unchanging number of calories based on genetics, even a small reduction in calories would result in unending weight loss. We know, of course, that this simply isn't so; we hit plateaus and stop losing sooner than we'd like. Despite the fact that our bodies try to thwart our best efforts, fat and caloric restriction remain a principle method of battling the effects of overfeeding ourselves in America.
 
The '90s:
Sheryl Crow, Green Day, Jurassic Park, PlayStation, Friends, and the Internet forever changed the landscape of our lives. Welcome to the '90s, also the era when we decided all carbohydrates were to be drug out back and shot.  After years of chowing down on every cookie, cracker, and crust that manufacturers slapped a "low-fat" label on, we decided we'd had enough. Fats were in, carbs were out, and we quit caring about calories. Low-carb diets all revolve around the single theme of cutting -- you guessed it -- carbs. 


More aggressive variations on this theme actually promote entering a state called ketosis. Ketosis is triggered by fasting, starvation, intense exercise, and yes, low-carbohydrate diets. Reducing carbs too much can leave you with mental fogginess and even cause irritability. In the absence of carbohydrates our bodies are forced to use alternative metabolic pathways to produce glycogen. The flip side is it can lead to greater metabolizing of fats.
 
What we got right in the '90s: In many ways, your body views fat (lipids) as a second -ate energy source and needs a little encouragement to use them. Fats are your body's preferred fuel source for sustained low energy output activities. But by the 90's these activities (the foremost being walking and manual chores) had been replaced with power steering and remote controls. Cutting carbohydrates was a means of tricking your body into using more fat for fuel during a greater variety of activities. If you don't have enough sugars (glycogen) available, well then, I suppose you can burn a little more fat. It's this encouragement of using fats for fuel that's earned low carbohydrate diets their iconic status in weight loss history.
 
Where we went wrong: While cutting carbohydrates did indeed lead to increased fat burning, being over aggressive also led to the depletion of fuels necessary for intense activity making exercise, a key ingredient in long term weight loss, difficult. Furthermore, going for bouts with little to no carbohydrates leaves the body in a "carb sensitive" state. This environment isn't dissimilar to that of athletes preparing to carb load before a race. By reducing their carb intake the body readies itself to store additional rations when they become available. I teach my clients that there is a difference between the carb cost and the calorie cost of a cheat. When it's carbs you've been cutting the cost is much higher; a couple dinner rolls and a glass of wine can easily result in waking up to 2-3 pounds of extra you in the morning even though they only amounted to a few hundred calories.
 
 
Dieting since 2000 and beyond:
Eminem, Black eyed Peas, iPhones, The Office, and Mark Zuckerberg changing the way we connect with people. Today as technology marches ever forward, the trend in nutrition is going backward to our beginnings. What we have is a melting pot of diets under the broad theme of "eating natural". Among their ranks are; raw food diets, paleo and gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, and organic food plans. They each promote a chemical free, minimally processed approach to eating, but the similarities end there. Many of their proponents are at each other's throats vying for the label of "the human's natural diet". 
Any such claims are hard to make stick since humans have populated nearly every inch of the globe with nutritional variances as diverse as the climates and terrain these cultures were born out of. Arctic settlers and coastal cultures have thrived off food from the sea, including organ meats and even whale blubber. Jungle tribes and tropical civilizations have flourished eating a mostly plant based diet. Farming cultures have been among the most enduring consuming a mixture of grains and animal products. Some of these diets conflict philosophically over what humans were originally designed to eat, but they wholeheartedly agree that processed foods laced with high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, and artificial sweeteners aren't it.
What we're doing right: We're no longer in denial about the effects greasy--fried foods have on our bodies. And we know we probably can't get away with snacking on sweets and crackers every night. More recently we've learned to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid foods laced with harmful ingredients. Overall we're trying to eat foods more like our grandparents did.
 
Where we're still going wrong: We're still overweight and filling hospital rooms with people suffering from preventable disease. With improved lifestyle and nutrition many of our country's ills would fade away. Why are we not acting? What is the missing ingredient that will solve our problems? The answer may surprise you: based on what I see in my clients, I think the answer is time. Most people cite "not enough time" as the reason behind their poor eating habits. Our technology-driven society rewards those who move fast, multitask, and rush. In the future I believe the most effective nutrition plans will place emphasis on practical strategies, simple food prep, and offer its patrons compelling evidence that investing the time in procuring healthy foods is a worthwhile investment.  
 

-Angelo Poli SET SPN CFT

Seven Tests of True Strength

By Andrew Hefferman, C.S.C.S, Photographs by Matthew Salacuse

"Are you Men's Health Fit? Prove it -- or improve

...

Sure, the definition of "fit" varies; power lifters and marathoners have different views. Still, every man should be able to meet certain standards before he can call himself in shape." And then there's Men's Health Fit.Take these tests to see how you measure up. If you don't clear our admittedly high bar, don't sweat it - we have tips from top experts to help bring you up to speed."

1. Jump

2. Squat, Curl, Push Press

3. Controlled Wall Squat

4. Beep Test

5. Deadlift

6. Clapping Pushups

7. Plank - Hold for more than 3 minutes

"A Chiseled core makes you stronger in everything you do, from carrying groceries to mastering the deadlift. It enables you to "produce, stabilize, and transmit force through out the body" says Angelo Poli, owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, California. But that armada of muscles is "on" whenever you're upright, so stamina is key."

See Full Article at "Men's Health". - requires digital subscription or purchase the issue at your local newsstand.

Paleo, Weight Watchers, Atkins: What diet is right for your body type?

Every month my clients ask me about one of the new nutritional trends. Last month everyone wanted to know about the HCG diet, this month it's Paleo. CrossFitters the world over swear by this diet yet most of the elite competitors by their own admission don't follow it strictly. Does that mean it's not right for you? Not necessarily. Having an understanding of what mechanics are involved in a nutritional model like The Paleo Diet is the key to knowing what's best for you. For the purpose of this discussion we'll review the steps needed to properly evaluate what your nutritional needs are. Then we'll consider the mechanics behind a few popular diets and see how they stack up.

One of my hobbies as a sports nutritionist is to follow trends in the nutrition field and observe as the public opinions of specific foods, even entire food groups shifts. It never ceases to amaze me how opinions thrash to and fro like waves in a storm being influenced by the media, advertising, and commercial stigma's. Remember when egg yolks were bad? Then yolks were good. Now the American Heart Association has settled on "Yolks are ok, but just in case no more then one per day". Really, that's no big deal when you consider that we're used to vilifying entire macronutients. It seems to go by decades. In the 80's yourleg warmers and sweat bands were kicked to the curb if you weren't low fat. In the 90's we packed up the carbohydrates. Breads, grains, and cereals were marched out back and shot. Even if they were allowed in the house they were hidden in the cupboards guests wouldn't see so you didn't have to explain yourself. On a related note laxative sales saw a noted increase those years. Today it's all about Gluten Free and Organic. Eat what you like so long as it comes naturally from mother earth and is sold to you by a cashier who smells of hemp seed and likely doesn't own a clothing iron.

So are all trends bad? No. In fact all of them have merit and benefits. The trouble is misapplication and extremes. Having a working understanding of the basic principles a diet is operating on can allow you to be a savvy dieter. With the mountain of opinions and endless stream of new diets entering the market it is definitely a "buyer beware" situation. My goal here isn't to promote or discourage any one method of dieting. Rather I want to arm you with knowledge that will allow you to make better informed decisions about your nutrition and health. Let me share with you my secret to making nutritional recommendations. Evaluation. Unless you evaluate your needs and goals you can only vaguely guess what nutrition plan is right for you. Here's an example of a full evaluative process:

1.) Determine your primary goal

Be a specialist not a generalist! I know, I know . You want to burn fat, build muscle, loose weight, increase your strength, shrink your waist, and grow 2 inches taller. Who doesn't? Your body responds best when focused attention is given to one primary goal at a time. Don't get me wrong, people can achieve multiple goals at the same time via diet and exercise but unless you prioritize your goals and have a clear defined focus, you'll never be able to maximize your results.

2.)Acknowledge your body type

-Are you a petite frame with longer arms and legs, prone to accumulating fat in your mid section more then legs? You're an Ectomorph. Can you wrap your thumb and middle finger around your wrist and easily touch your finger tips together, even overlap? Say it real slow... Ecto- morph. Does going more then 4 hours without food cause your alter ego to rear it's ugly head making your irritable, headachy, and ravenously craving carbs and sugar? Maybe your a different body type... just kidding. You're an Ectomorph.

- Did you have an athletic build in high school? Not to skinny or stocky, you know the Goldilocks zone. . just right. Mesomorph. You set some athletic records in high school, maybe even college, but now spend most of your time working late hours at the office crumpling pieces of paper to toss at the waste paper basket. Deep down you still think of yourself as a warrior and athlete. Yeah, you're a mesomorph. Food is good, but you'll gladly skip a meal to build an appetite for your favorite dinner. Mesomorph.

-You were bigger and stronger than all the kids in grade school. By high school you already began equating the word "metabolism" with various profanities. Endomorph. Gains in the weight room seem to come easy, as do gains at the buffet line. Everyone else seems almost delicate when compared to your sturdy bone structure and frame. You can wrap you thumb and middle finger around your wrist but most of you can barely touch. Endomorph.

Don't like your body type? Well, you'll have to take that up with your parents. Sorry, can't help you there. All I can do is give you a rough road map of how your body type "generally" responds to various nutritional activities. Each body type has their pre-disposed strengths and weakness, simply acknowledging them is a vital key in evaluating your nutritional needs. As for me, I'm an ectomorph. I live in perpetual irritation that my wife still has more developed calves then me. I comfort myself with the knowledge that I can drown my sorrows in a few extra carbs at night without paying too much penalty.  Now these are generalizations. Often people can have traits from more then one body type, however most people will quickly identify with one of the above somo (body types)

So what does your body type mean for you?

Ectomorph - Typically lower in body fat and often struggling to gain muscle. No matter how "clean" or "healthy" your diet, most ectomorphs will need more calories to make substantial muscle gains. Generally add in this order - assure that adequate (and possibly a little more) protein needs are met. Then begin liberally adding complex carbohydrates and a little healthy fat. If you still are not seeing gains, consider adding more fats as you will be too full to muscle down more and more carbohydrates. Fats will give you more caloric bang for your buck and as such remains the "end game" diet strategy for hard gainers by default.

Mesomorph - Change it up. Your body will respond to changes. Wanna build muscle? Fine. Do it for a while then switch it up. Get your body used to extra calories and carbs for recovery and then start scaling back and watch the body fat strip off. Or if you want to do it in reverse, cut back on your carbs or calories until you stop seeing changes in your body and then gradually increase both your food intake and training intensity and let your body build some muscle.

Endomorph - Your body doesn't play by the rules. Everyone tells you to eat this or take that to fuel your muscle and aid your recovery. Fuel the muscle starve the fat... right? Who cares about muscle. That's right you heard me. You've been building muscle since you were four years old!  Once all you fitness professionals finish gasping at the notion that I just suggested it's ok to allow your body to lose some precious muscle, consider this: Unless you plan on being a competitive powerlifter (even then strength is mostly neuromuscular) I can think of very few endomorphs that wouldn't sacrifice 10 pounds of muscle if it meant losing 25 pounds of fat. Even with restricted food intake, hitting the weights still seems to trigger muscular development. Use that to your advantage, but tune your nutrition more in favor of weight loss. You will likely have to be more diligent about monitoring your intake then the other body types, eating fewer calories and carbs than someone of similar height / weight but of a different body type. Be consistent and take full advantage of the benefits of aerobics.

3.) Evaluate your current diet. The only way to know where we're going is to know where we came from right? Keep a food log. I know, you're fed up and ready to start your new diet now. Don't. Most of you will ignore me because you have a friend who went on the ABC diet and got XYZ results so you think it's going to work the same for you. Wrong. The only way to know what diet approach will work best for you is to evaluate what your body is currently used to. If you aren't particularly savvy about nutrition and macronutrients use an online calculator. Over a few days of typical eating note your approximate calories and ratio's of carbs, protein, and fat. Based on that determine if you have the most room to adjust calories, carbohydrates, or a combination of both. Then make your choice what style of dieting best suits your needs. Don't forget to factor in your body type.

  So what diet options are out there? Basically there are 3 categories of diets. By decade popularity they are:

  • Natural and gluten free. The Paleo Diet is one of several that fit this genre. (current trend)
  • Carbohydrate restriction. The Atkins Diet is the popular grandfather to much of this genre. (Low carbohydrate diets have been popular from the late 90's through today)
  • Calorie restriction. Weight Watchers is still a leader pioneering this principle. (popular in the 80's and now promoted differently, but the same basic science)

 

The Paleo Diet

Restricts dairy and gluten. It allows liberal use of everything else provided it's "clean" or "unprocessed". Basically what we have here is a "Hippie's guide to digestive treatment" .... and a pretty darn good one too. There are two failings. Difficult adherence and non-specific attributes (I'll explain that shortly). We have a 20 - 20 - 60 scenario here. Twenty percent of the population are going to find this diet to be the holy grail of digestive relief leading to massive improvements in their quality of life. Twenty percent of the population are going to see no digestion change and quickly get fed up with shopping from the one shelf in the grocery store that's gluten free. Sixty percent of the population will see some marginal improvements and could go either way. How do I know this? I evaluate people's nutritional needs every day. For every 10 people who sit in my office roughly two of them will have obvious digestion issues, discomfort, and problems. Two of them will be those who eat a diet of rusty nails and dry wall yet amazingly feel fine. (We all know people like that.. .. and yes we hate them) Six of them will land somewhere in the middle. Naturopaths who believe gluten and dairy to be the devil itself will think me crazy for not believing everyone has intolerance's. Meanwhile, the bread and dairy industry will ask how entire civilizations have flourished on diets rich in milk and grains for millennia. I have no interest in getting in the middle of their feud. I just call it how I see it. 20 - 20 - 60.

Those of you die hard fans who eat and breath paleo don't need to send me mail defending why you feel paleo is nutritionally superior to other ways of eating. I've heard your arguments, acknowledge them, and am now attempting to provide clarity and perspective for the "average" consumer trying to select a diet. In fact to be perfectly blunt, I'm not interested in recommending people follow the best diet (insert gasping sound here). What I'm interested in is helping people select the "best diet" that they can actually convert into a "lifestyle", and those are two very different things. If I were to put pen to paper and be forced to recommend the "best" diet to save humanity, it would probably end up looking like some sort of fusion high protein vegan diet (nutritionists know why that's funny). Rather my goal is to provide people with tools to identify the diet that will work best for their circumstance while considering all factors including goals and lifestyle.

Alright already lets get to the point, will Paleo make me lose weight? And the answer is (drum roll),  ... maybe. That's where the non-specific attributes come in. The paleo diet really is dominantly a digestive health program. In a effort to eliminate processed foods, chemicals, and inflammatory properties, junk food has been eliminated. By default that is going to result in a drop in caloric intake for most people. That will equal weight loss. In an effort to restrict gluten, most of our favorite carbohydrate options have been removed.. pasta, breads, etc. Therefore it will likely result in a significant reduction in carbohydrates. For most that will mean weight loss. Then why do I say "maybe"? Because even though as a matter of happenstance it will somewhat accidentally result in lower carbs and calories, there are still several foods allowed on the diet that are excellent for gaining weight. For example: banana's, sweet potato's, and nuts are perfect examples of high glycemic carbs, low glycemic carbs, and fats ideal for packing on pounds. So losing weight on Paleo depends on how you do the Paleo diet. Lots of people dance when they hear salsa music, but that doesn't mean they all know how to salsa. The moral of the story is if you don't know how to dance, get off the floor. My recommendation, if you want to try Paleo, more power to you, but use a qualified nutritionist to help you structure your Paleo plan to meet your needs.

Paleo is more for athletes anyway right? Consider your body type! It depends on your needs. For example, a Paleo diet structured to emphasize meats and veggies with moderate low inclusion of low glycemic carbohydrates and very low inclusion of high glycemic carbohydrates (banana's, raisins etc), canbe quite well suited for an endomorphic body type looking to lose weight. On the other hand an ectomorphic competitive athlete attempting to limit themselves to the recovery that fruits and veggie can provide alone will leave them falling short of their athletic potential every time. Unless they've developed romantic feelings about pounding buckets of mashed sweet potato's with every meal, they're simply not going to recover optimally. But I'll live off fats. I love nuts. No. You won't. Sporting a high fat diet, low in carbs defies every scientific study done on sports nutrition and performance in the last 60 years. If you want to perform your best in the glycolitic pathway (looking at you CrossFitters) you'll need carbs.That is why elite CrossFitters are rarely "strict" Paleo by their own admission. While only theoretical, I'd bet that if a pole was taken of truly elite CrossFit athletes who follow some variation of the Paleo diet what we'd find is that those who are Endomorphic break their diet and "carb up" less often then those who are Ectomorphic needing ample carbs at that level of performance. Ironically, Rich Froning Jr. and Annie Thorisdottir, the 2011and 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Champions are both classic Mesomorphs - smack dab in the middle. Niether follow Paleo. Let the debates continue.

The Atkins diet

As some of us sports nutritionist call it "The Tyrannical Eradication of Carbohydrates from the Planet". So will I lose weight on it? Yup. So you see the battle us nutritionists have when convincing dieters to be moderate in their eating habits. It's a tricky one. People want instant gratification and if they see the scale dropping it's hard to convince them to do anything else. Carbohydrate restriction, especially when fairly severe, causes the body to metabolize a greater amount of lipids (among other energetic substrates) in the synthesis of ATP. Extremely low carb diets and exercise aren't good bed fellows.They're at each other's throats. Low carbs wants to take a nap while Exercise wants to hit the gym but needs a ride and Low carb isn't moving. Exercise keeps yelling "you'll never be healthy or fit without me!" Low carb just smirks"yeah but I can just lay around and still lose weight so why bother".

Ultimately most people will gain the weight back after following an extremely low carb diet. Here's why:
1.) Cutting all carbs does indeed make achieving any level of intensity while exercising difficult, therefore as a lifestyle change you're missing half the battle. Usually I spend my days managing people who think they can "just" exercise and get results... yeah, let me know how that works out. With the "low carbers" I find myself trying to convince them that a strict diet without exercise is just as bad. It's like they're all on a giant boat, "low carbers" on one side, "Exercisers" on the other. The Low carbers are laughing because there's a hole on the Exercisers side of the boat. Kind of short sighted.

2.) Difficult adherence, nearly impossible long term. Sure, I could spend a week or two living off bacon, cheese, and burgers wrapped in lettuce. Double double protein style at In-N-Out here I come. Course I'll need to buy stock in Metamucil and Exlax. Eventually I'll just need a bite of something loaded with carbs, and when I do...

3.) I'll wake up the next morning looking like I fell out of the "Fat Tree" and hit every branch on the way down. Good morning puffy face! You see several biological elements converge at the point of cheating on a low carb diet to make us instantaneously fat and filled with self loathing. After weeks of "low carbing it" your body is in full-on glycogen depletion mode. Athletes will purposely restrict a small amount of carbs just prior to carb loading. You have now achieved all the elements necessary to qualify for carb loading by having just one meal. The morning after... You wake feeling puffy taking notice that your rings are now stuck on your fat swollen fingers as you stagger to the scale. Looking down at your new number brings up feeling of guilt and remorse as you replay in your mind how it all happened. You walk away thoroughly depressed and console yourself with ....you guessed it. Carbs.

Notice that my reference is to extreme carbohydrate restriction. Moderate restriction is a completely different animal and can be applied to great benefit in many circumstances.

Weight Watchers

It's good old calorie restriction turned into a game with points. Significantly less structure than some recent diets. High emphasis on quick and easy identification of the lower calorie options across multiple venues via a "point" system. It may seem overly simple, but that's why it's been successful for many people for years. It's not overly cumbersome. In times past there hasn't been enough emphasis placed on making the right or healthiest choices with food. This diet has favored pure and simple identification of the lowest calorie option. From a nutritionists perspective that can be fraught with problems as selecting foods only based around calorie content can lead to a highly processed and nutritionally depleted diet. Individualization, adaptivity to unique needs, or athletic structuring is nearly absent. In recent times they have shifted to a more educational model promoting more balance and healthier selections. That is good, but a large percentage of their patrons are only exposed to a limited amount of the educational process, those who stay involved will likely do best.

Summary

The key lies in evaluating what your body's needs are based on your body type and previous nutritional history. Keep a food log, it will be enlightening. Research more about your body type and carefully consider your goal. Make sure the diet you're considering is compatible with your goal. If all else fails or you reach a plateau that you're unable to navigate, get help from a qualified nutritionist.

Angelo Poli SET SPN CFT

A calorie is a calorie, right?

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, right? Not even close! Perhaps inside test tubes in laboratories; but in the real world, a calorie is more like the American dollar— its value goes up and down with inflation and the economy. If inflation is high, a dollar doesn’t buy us much. Likewise, if your metabolism is running high, a few extra calories will be quickly used and therefore have less impact on your “bottom line”. If your metabolism is running low, even a few extra calories will pack on extra pounds.

I collect a food log before creating a client's program to see what kind of food consumption their metabolism can handle. The value and effect of a calorie can only be measured when contrasted with the speed of our metabolism at the time the calorie is ingested. And the speed of your metabolism is constantly adjusting to the environment created for it daily by your energy balance.

If we reduce calories, we trigger a metabolic response in our bodies that starts slowing our metabolism. We will then lose weight only until the metabolism has adapted to our new caloric intake. We call this point a 'plateau'.

It’s at these 'plateaus' that we are most vulnerable to taking extreme measures that can ruin our metabolisms. Often we resort to some nutritional "extreme" out of frustration to break this plateau. Understanding how our metabolism works and what a plateau actually is, helps us to determine how to handle them. Our bodies metabolism can significantly throttle back and slow down when it perceives a food shortage. This is a survival mechanic, and a very powerful one. When we hit these plateaus we have two options:

A - reduce calories or carbohydrates further

B - Increase food intake

These options may seem straight-forward but responding incorrectly to a plateau can cause big problems for our efforts to reduce body fat. If handled properly, a structured decrease in our food intake can result in temporarily staving off the plateau long enough to lose more weight. If handled incorrectly, or when food intake is already too low, it can trigger a survival mechanic that can wreck our metabolism and make it nearly impossible to lose more weight.

If we choose to increase our food intake we need to recognize that our new goal is to speed our metabolism and not necessarily to lose more weight at this point. If we increase our intake we may actually increase our body mass so making sure we are doing the proper exercise at this point will ensure that only lean mass is increased and not body fat. It’s a very fine line to walk between increasing our intake enough to speed our metabolism while not gaining any body fat. Often this can only be accomplished by a gradual increase in food intake spread out over a few weeks. If implemented properly it will reset our metabolic rate, and allow us to once again begin dieting with results.

When properly structured, a diet can be cycled in such a way to decrease weight and body fat, and if needed, be re purposed to temporarily reinvigorate our metabolic rate allowing us to hit the 'reset' on the body’s ability to drop weight.

This method has the advantage of resulting in dramatic shifts in body composition and actually 'reboots' the metabolism so that these results are sustainable.

This approach is far too dependent on individual evaluation to be presented as a mass diet.... which is why there are no manuscript diets that can yield results anywhere close to this.

An intelligent nutrition plan must be based first on the current food intake levels your body is used to; second, what activities and conditioning you’ll be engaging in; and third, what your specific body type is, and unique personal goals are.

When these elements are accounted for, and then food and exercise timing is factored in, the results can be quite impressive to even the most experienced fitness professional.

Overcoming adversity while dieting

I’ve been designing diets for my clients for a decade now and have worked with several thousand people. One of the things I’ve learned is that we are ALL human and have different struggles and weaknesses. With that being said there are a few common issues that most of my clients face, and a few proactive measures that can be taken that strongly correlate to success with a diet.

1.) Recognize that most often people break their diet not out of cravings but out of convenience. If there is nothing healthy and in harmony with your diet available you’ll have no choice but to “break” the diet. The solution is prepare your healthy food in advance. I actually require my clients to use an ice chest and ask them to show it to me regularly. Preparation is vastly more significant then will power when it comes to successful dieting.

2.) Don’t let a bad nutritional day turn into a bad weekend and bad week. If you fall off the wagon, don’t worry. Everyone does sooner or later. The ones who get back on track quickly make the most progress.

3.)Do no keep junk food in your house. Assuming you can resist it if you make your mind up to do so is flawed thinking for two reasons. First it’s flawed because eventually you’ll have an emotional or frustrating day and turn to the junk food... I know because this is exactly what I do. Second, even if you do resist the temptation, having to constantly deny yourself something every time you walk by the pantry will only lead to feelings of resentment for your new healthy life style. You don’t need that. Keep your home a safe haven of healthy options. If you cheat on the diet do it out of the house and don’t take it home.

4.) Understand the difference between selectively choosing to “break” your diet and uncontrollably choosing to break your diet. Deciding that you’re going out with your friends for dinner on Saturday and choosing in advance to allow yourself a little leeway is ok from time to time. Deciding to stick to your diet and then crumbling every time sweets in your path is not.

5.) Once again... use an ice chest and cook in bulk! Preparation equals success.

By Angelo Poli SPN, CFT, SET
- owner Whole Body Fitness

Good morning, nice to meet your metabolism!

 

There is so much misunderstanding regarding the metabolism we could write books on just this topic. Don't even get me started on how the diet industry often tries to cover up the truth of how our metabolism actually works. I'm often asked for a summation of the topic so while this is most definitely the abbreviated version - here it is... Meet your metabolism! It works like this:

The metabolism basically has 2 modes.

“Active Mode.”  - This is when it’s running at full power fueled by plentiful energy intake (calories and carbohydrates) when the body has not been dramatically deprived of the food it needs to sustain it’s mass. In other words, you’ve not been doing any sustained radical dieting that would push it into “Survival Mode.” If this describes you, then there’s good news! You have the upper hand metabolically and are in a strong position to start loosing weight!

**Note: Even if feel you have a genetically slow metabolism or are currently inactive, overweight, or out of shape, you still have the resource that matters most in the battle against excess weight. A metabolism that’s not in survival mode. With the proper science you can easily make some simple manipulations to your food combinations or meal timing and see some immediate results. 

“Survival Mode” - This is a normal stage of dieting that is often misunderstood. It’s a natural response to sustained dieting and can’t be avoided entirely. When you understand what’s going on when your metabolism enters “Survival Mode” and recognize it as a natural part of the weight loss cycle, it can be dealt with quickly and effectively. There are varying degrees to this mode. It can be the normal readjusting our metabolism goes through (often between 3-5 weeks after starting a new diet)  that can stop us from loosing weight for just a few days. Or it can be a complete plateauing of our weight loss progress that requires purposeful readjustment of our nutrition to circumvent the halted progress. 

It’s here in the “Survival Mode” that the battle for our bodies, and our health is fought.. Sadly it’s often misinformation on how our metabolism actually works that’s responsible for abandoned weight loss aspirations. Not to worry though, you CAN lose the weight, and you’ll be delighted how painless it is when properly approached. The key is learning how to minimize the amount of time you body spends in "survival mode" and maximize your time spent in "Active mode" where the real progress is made.

Using your metabolism to your advantage

With an intelligently designed nutrition plan you can gradually, and progressively lower your food / energy intake to stimulate weight loss. As you do this you MUST realize that the more you restrict your intake the greater your metabolism turns on that survival mechanic. Ultimately most people will reach a point where they can't or shouldn't drop their intake any lower otherwise they will plunge themselves destructively into "Survival Mode" with little prospects for maintaining their recent weight loss.

The trick is understanding how to ride that line of adjusting the diet at just the right pace to sustain progressive weight loss and then recognize the early signs of needing to start increasing your food intake in order to cheat your metabolism out of a long dry summer of "survival mode".  If you have to increase your intake to let your metabolism refresh, don't delay in doing so. Be prepared by planing to offer your body a proverbial piece offering... an alternative outlet for the extra calories - lean mass. If you're doing some form of resistance training then odds are the small increase will primarily go to building muscle. Be patient. This phase isn't about losing weight directly but rather about reestablishing a heathy metabolism that is in "Active Mode". After a short while you're metabolism will start running "hotter". You WILL feel this if you listen to your body. That's the signal that you're ready to start losing again. It's all in the timing. When and how much to adjust your diet is the key. As far as the "what" you should be eating, well you should already know that... Lean proteins, quality slow burning carbohydrates, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. As to the "details" of exactly how much of the right foods to eat, what ratio to eat them in, and when to change those ratio's and amounts. . . well, it's all about the details. For those who are diligent and pay attention to the details, your metabolism will work for you instead of against you! Ignore them or leave it all to chance and you'll see... the devil is in the details.  

By Angelo Poli SPN, CFT, SET
- owner Whole Body Fitnes

Is Late Night Eating Unhealthy?

Is unhealthy, and doing so will pack on pounds, no matter how healthy you eat. Other people believe that eating late is absolutely fine, as long as you stick to healthy foods and stay away from junk. Which is true?

Should you refrain from eating past a certain time, or does it matter how late you eat, so long as you eat healthy?

Does your metabolism really slow down after a certain time?

The answer to this debate depends mostly on what diet or mechanic you are using to lose weight. There are two basic mechanics that effect weight and body composition.

1. Calorie restriction

2. Macronutrient ratios (controlling the ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats) Low carbohydrate diets use this mechanic to force the body to burn more lipids for fuel.

Note: There are many other strategies aimed at controlling hormones, glycemic load, etc, that can be helpful. These additional strategies are often combined into a diet. The primary mechanic however remains the same.  Reduce calories or carbohydrates.

What happens to our metabolism at night?

When we sleep at night our bodies power down into a state of extremely low energy expenditure. At this point any left over fuel in the tank is more likely to be stored as body fat. Not all fuel is the same, however. Proteins, for example, are still used even while we sleep to repair tissue. If we have excess sugars at night time it's unlikely that we will be able to burn them off and therefore store some as unwanted body fat.

Pros & cons when deciding whether to include a food “cut off time” as part of your diet program:

Pro: In the short run it will seem as though you are losing more weight. This is mostly because your body will be in a “fasting” state for a longer period of time in a 24 hour cycle. You will wake with less intestinal bulk and feel mildly lighter and digestively “empty”.

Pro: If you are following a reduced carbohydrate program, it will ensure that you don’t unintentionally get carbohydrates late at night. Carbohydrates at night undermine the mechanic that triggers fat loss. This is especially the case when the diet is already built around that mechanic (low carbs).

Pro: Most Americans consume the bulk of their calories in the second half of the day. If your weight loss plan is built around calorie restriction, a cut off time for meals can help keep you within your targeted caloric intake.

Con: It’s a gimmick. No serious athletes should completely eliminate their intake at night. The same mechanic that causes us to lose more weight by going consecutive hours without food (fasting) causes us to plunge deeper into a catabolic state (feeding off our own muscles). This is counter-productive when trying to develop lean mass, recover from intense training, or improve athletic performance. 

Tip: There are three basic body types. Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph. Learn which one you are. Ectomorphs will be most negatively impacted by the above mentioned catabolic effects of fasting while Endomorphs will be the least effected.

Con: Many people are subject to blood sugar swings. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is more likely to effect someone aggressively dieting. Cutting off food too early in the day may impact you if you’re prone to low blood sugar.

Conclusion:

Based on the pros and cons it’s reasonable to conclude that it’s important to know your body type and understand the mechanics involved in the diet you’re following.

If you’re following a reduced carbohydrate diet, some people see benefits from allocating less carbs in the evening while still getting some proteins and fats.

When following a reduced calorie diet that doesn’t restrict carbohydrates you’ll still benefit by avoiding highly processed foods at night. It's a safe assumption that sugar before bed is undesirable for any diet.

I sincerely welcome any questions or comments,
Angelo Poli SET, SPN, CF

Why am I a circle?

It's true, people come in all different shapes and sizes, but in recent years more and more seem to come in the same general shape. A circle.

It seems our lifestyle in general (the age of technology and eating on the run) produces an easily identifiable bulbous and sagging look towards the center circle. How did this happen? I used to be rectangular, even triangular... but now I'm a circle.

There are two primary contributing factors to our increasingly spherical physiques.

The first reason is that when we spend additional time in the seated or slumped position, our head and shoulders tend to roll forward and down (toward our center) and our arms internally rotate (again toward our center). Not sure if this describes you? Well, do you spend much of your time working at a desk, relaxing on the couch, driving, being driven, watching movies, working on the computer, eating, visiting with friends at the coffee shop, texting, studying, reading, playing video games, talking on the phone...?   ...by the way, what are you doing right now? You wouldn't happen to be sitting, would you?

If any of these activities describe a large part of your life, you are.. well... pretty normal. Also your head is likely forward from your center of gravity (not in line with your ankles), and when you stand relaxed the back of your hands face forward instead of your thumbs.

Ok, now that you've stood up and checked yourself out in the mirror (yeah, I know), let me recommend a couple things you can do to help restore yourself from a circle to any number of improved geometrical shapes.

For every hour a day you spend in the seated or slumped position, I suggest performing 2 door-jam shrugs. That means if you spend 10 hours per day sitting (scary but add it up - driving to work, sitting at your desk, relaxing in front of the TV etc..) that means you would perform 20 door-jam shrugs per day!

The second reason is because when we gain fat, our bodies are designed to hold it more or less symmetrically near the center of our bodies. Thank goodness for that! Could you imagine if we had an extra 30 pounds in our left ankle? Our Hop-Scotch days would be over! Instead, our bodies store the extra weight neatly in our stomach, thighs, and hips, allowing us to move with remarkable dexterity on the dance floor despite the need for a Doctor's note prior to preforming most popular dance moves (you know what I'm talking about)...

There are a few nutritional strategies.... and yes -- I'm talking about diet -- or as some people commonly regard it, “the complete removal of life's enjoyment”. Regardless, if you're in the market for a diet, make sure you read this brief article based on years of dieting thousands of clients. There are some common elements that strongly correlate to success with dieting.

Click here to view the article "Overcoming Adversity While Dieting".

While as a nation we are becoming increasingly rotund, individually we can take some steps to prevent ourselves from becoming or remaining.. “a circle”.

Instead we can adopt a healthy lifestyle and get in the best "shape" of our life.

Angelo Poli SPN, CFT, SET