Monday, June 23, 2008
So, here a three advanced tips that I use to help me get where I want when things start getting serious:
#1) Have a plan for what you will eat each day.
Your plan can be as precise as knowing every meal down to the exact amount and type of food, or it can be a little more flexible by just giving goals for calories and macronutrients. Or, it can be a combination of both.
Some people like to have their meals exactly laid out for them for the entire day, where others like to have more choice and freedom to just choose foods that fit into a pre-determined mold. Either way will work, it just depends on what you want.
Your meals will be a division of your total daily intake - and will depend on your total amount of activity for the day, your type of activity and your access to foods. For example, you wouldn't want to plan a meal of scrambled eggs and spinach if you aren't anywhere near a stove -- or eggs for that matter. That's just common sense.
If you don't have the tools to determine these breakdowns for yourself (i.e. a nutrition program to help you make all the calculations), you can always follow a plan from a reputable source (book, nutritionist, credible website, etc), or hire someone. People hire me to create plans for them based on their own personal goals and needs, as I've been doing this for sometime now and have a good track record. Then, I do this for myself as well.
#2) Have a plan for what you will do for exercise each day.
Like nutrition, this can be as precise as exact exercises, sets and reps, or can be as general as a focus on certain muscle groups or functional movements.
I'm someone who likes having a specific plan, so, I either write these out myself or contract someone I trust to make it for me. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut doing the same things for my exercise plan, so I find it good to go to someone outside of my realm and obtain a new training prescription. Right now I'm working side-by-side Jonathan Fass of Accelerated Strength and am absolutely loving my programming.
You too can either write your own programs, hire a one-on-one personal trainer (check them out before you work with them full-time though as I've seen some HORRIFIC personal trainers in my gym and have no idea how they haven't completely injured someone already), or contract someone to make programs for you online. There are a lot of great trainers on the Internet now, but there are also some not-so-good ones, so make sure you do your homework on them thoroughly before you buy into a long term plan.
#3) Always make sure you plan time for yourself and your family and friends. This helps to keep your life in balance and can guarantee happiness.
Although working out and eating to a fine-tune can be considered doing things for yourself, you also need to take time to slow down and smell the roses (literally). This is all part of the de-stressing I spoke about last time. You need to keep your life in harmony by doing things you love, especially alongside those you love.
Nothing is worse than a cranky, irritable dieter. It's not healthy to be like that for you or for people around you. So, taking a day (or few days) off from training and dieting to enable relaxation and reduce stressors can be the best thing your body could ever ask for. Some people also refer to this as a deloading week which is very important to prevent over-reaching and over-training which can have long-term negative effects on your health and life.
So, enjoy your body recomposition goals and learn to take a break every once in a while. It will not only keep you happy and healthy, but will do the same for those around you that you love.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Yes, it was a rough year last year with my books, dissertation project and lots of stress, and I put on some body fat that I'm not too happy with. I'm just like anyone else: if I slack on my eating and exercise, body fat likes to jump on my hips, thighs and lower belly. I'm not one of those lucky people that can eat anything and be lean; I really do work hard to have a lower than average body fat % and a high level of quality muscle mass.
But, as I said, things went downhill last year and now I'm getting back on track after completing my dissertation project in March and finalizing some other writing & projects that I had to accomplish.
And, as everyone knows, it can be easy to put on body fat, but takes twice the time to take it off.
Despite some hurdles, I'm making great progess and expect to meet my Aug 2nd goal. I've dropped significant pounds off the scale and am decreasing the circumference of my fat-storage depots consistently. I'm also comfortably wearing clothes (pants and shorts) that were too tight just a few months ago and feeling better about my body every day.
Although it's not easy sometimes to get where you want when your body is off-track for some time, there are a few easy tips that you can follow to really make a difference in the way that you look. Now, they might sound too easy, but they really do work (believe me, I'm living proof):
#1) Write down what you eat right after you eat it.
This doesn't mean that you have to write down the calories or macros (but you should know the volume and weight of the food), because you intuitively know in your head what's too much, what's not good and how much is enough to fuel your system.
Your body is also a smart machine: it can regulate food intake VERY well as long as you're conscious about what you're putting in your mouth. Some people call this mindfull eating, and there's even research done to show that you can consume significantly more food than you need when you aren't paying attention.
Finally, your energy needs change each day due to differences in activity levels that we all experience from work and planned exercise. So, you don't necessarily have to stick to a defined calorie level day-in and day-out, just know what's going in so you can regulate how to balance it out.
By tracking what goes in your mouth, you can also stop your body from telling you you're hungry when you just ate a short time ago. When you get a sense of hunger but seen that you've just ate an hour ago, you know your body is just trying to set you off track. Drink fluids and wait it out for the next hour at least before you dive into more food.
#2) Move your body for 30 minutes everyday.
Even though there's such thing as the 10-minute workout or the 6-minute fat-blasting routine, your body has to be in motion AT LEAST for 30 minutes EACH AND EVERY DAY.
There is absolutely no reason at all that you can't move around for 30 minutes by either cleaning or shopping or walking your pets (or around a few blocks at lunch) and also doing your 10-minute workout. If you're sedentary and sit all day with as minimal movement as possible (which is the case for many people who commute to work, then sit at a computer all day and then come home to zone out on the T.V. all night) you might as well put out a welcome mat for body fat gain and muscle mass loss.
Your body was meant to move (if it wasn't we'd been born without arms and legs) and it likes to do it.
It doesn't matter what you do, just get off your butt and move. Don't get analysis paralysis worrying about what you should do - just get out there and do it. Your body will thank you.
#3) Get the stress out of your life.
No matter if you workout all day and keep your diet as perfect as possible, if you're overworked and stressed out, your body will not let you lose fat. That's just evolution: in times of stress your body goes into storage-mode and inhibits all fat and energy loss. It conserves everything you have so that you can fight off the stressful event/emotion.
So, if you're in a stressful place, find a way to get out or make it less of an impact in your life. Stay away from negative people who will only bring you down and into more stress. Find a way to minimize your workload. Take time to sit down and think about all the good you have in your life so the stress doesn't seem so bad. Or, enlist the help of someone that can help you become stress-free.
Do whatever it takes, but realize that stress will not only stop your fat-loss goals, but will decrease your healthy life span and make your world seem like a horrible place. You can do it and there is solution- just make an effort to make it happen.
Now, I'm off to get my workout in for the day and doing something I love: mountain biking for a few hours with my friends. I get to enjoy the beauty of the summer and get leaner at the same time. Life is good.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
BPA mimics estrogen in the body and has been linked developmental delays in children, ADD, cancer and more.
What's even more sickening, is that I've just learned that in a study funded by the Environmental Health Fund, it was found that almost every baby bottle leached BPA into its contents! This may be one of the reasons there is increased prevalence of ADD in our children! This is horrible and totally not acceptable.
Something else got me thinking with respect to dangerous plastics: The other week, my friend had to take her bunny to the vet because it was urinating blood and not eating at all. The vet found that her bunny had an extremely large tumor on her uterus, and said that this was very common in bunnies.
Now, if you think about it for a second, you'd seriously ponder if plastic chemicals had anything to do with this? Almost every bunny drinks its water out of a plastic drinking bottle that's attached to its cage. These bottles are also used in hamsters, gerbils and other caged pets. In fact, my own puppy drank out of this for the first few months of his life (while he was crate trained), until I put a prompt stop to that!
How the heck would a bunny contract cancer anyhow? They don't use chemicals on their bodies (creams, sprays, etc). They don't eat foods with preservatives (the last time I checked, bunny food wasn't loaded with nitrites or other preserving chemicals). Bunnies don't eat food from a microwave, and they aren't (usually) exposed to car fumes or cigarette smoke. So.... you really start thinking: are these common tumors in bunnies a result of drinking out of plastic bottles their whole lives?
If it is, I'm going to be glad now that I've banned plastic bottles from my house. I won't buy anything in a plastic bottle now, and if I go hiking, I'll take my new Kleen Kanteen bottle that is totally plastic free.
On one hand, we're very lucky that our society has given us so many items that make our lives easier, but on other, it's also introduced many things that have threatened our health: trans fatty acids, microwaves, BPA, and many other chemicals and toxins that we only wish we never knew of.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
On Sunday June 29th, I'll be speaking with Eric Cressey at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA about 21st Century Nutrition and Exercise for Women.
My talk will cover:
- beginner and advanced body recomposition tactics for women of all training levels
- nutrition modifications for women of various body types and body compositions
- dispelling diet and training myths that you find in your favorite magazines
- nutrient timing for women with and without exercise
- and much more
Eric will then speak on:
- Common musculoskeletal injuries in females and how to prevent them
- Prioritizing different training strategies to build a strong, functional body that also looks great
- Latest research with respect to resistance and cardiovascular training
To learn more about this seminar, please visit here
It goes from 12:30 to 5pm with a lot of time for Q&A from both Eric and I.
The cost is only $49.00, with an additional $10 fee for on-site registration.
Let me know if you'll be there as I'd love to meet you!
See you soon!
Friday, June 13, 2008
The American Dietetic Association also has recently released their position stand regarding plastic bottles. The information they present is very interesting and the bottom line is that bottled water is not and healthier than tap water, and may in fact, be less healthy because of BPA:
Date of Release: May 2008
Claim of Topic:
Is bottled water a better choice than tap waterDiscussion of Topic: Bottled water sales have soared in recent years, as people increasingly choose bottled water in place of calorie-laden beverages. Drinking sufficient water is certainly to be encouraged, but what type of water is better?
The following are factors to consider:
Environment. Because of the oil it takes to produce and transport the plastic bottles and the waste those bottles leave behind, bottled water is being criticized for its environmental impact. Several actions have been taken or proposed: Some restaurants and work places have banned bottled water, deposit laws were proposed to help boost recycling rates and manufacturers have introduced thinner bottles to reduce the amount of plastic. Some companies are even introducing aluminum and paper containers for water. Individuals also are buying bulk containers or water filters for tap water.
Safety. Another timely issue is the potential risk from a chemical in some plastics called bisphenol A or BPA, which was sparked by a draft report from the US National Toxicity Program. The report says there is “some concern” for infants and children and calls for more research. The American Chemistry Council, manufacturers of plastic products, has launched efforts to reinforce the safety of BPA in low doses. Tap water had its own scare recently with the report that pharmaceuticals were found in municipal water supplies. A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that bottled water is not safer or healthier than most tap water. Both are equally regulated — EPA regulates tap water while bottled water is regulated by FDA.
Cost. One factor to consider when assessing the difference between tap and bottled water is the expense. A New York Times reporter calculated that eight glasses of New York City tap water would cost about 49 cents per year. Bottled water would be 2,900 times as much or $1,400 per year.
Taste. The taste of tap water may differ in various parts of the country. Some people simply prefer the taste of bottled water, or they find themselves drinking more water if they can choose flavored bottled waters. Increasing the appeal of water can encourage greater consumption — a health benefit as long as the flavored waters are not hidden sources of added sugar. Also, lemon or other flavorings can be added to tap water to enhance its acceptability.
Fluoride. Most bottled waters are not fluoridated like tap water, which is a particular concern for children and teenagers.
Bottom Line: Bottled and tap water are equally safe with similar regulatory oversight. Unless fortified, bottled water offers no significant nutritional advantage and the excessive use may have a negative impact on the environment. On the other hand, the increased availability of bottled water has helped encourage greater consumption of water, typically at the expense of sugary beverages, which is a positive trade-off.
Natural Resources Defense Council, Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?http://www.nrdc.org/.Accessed May 1, 2008.
Corporate Accountability International, “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign.http://www.thinkoutsidethebottle.org/.Accessed May 1, 2008.
US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. National Toxicology Program. Draft Brief on Bisphenol A.ntp.niehs.nih.gov.Accessed May 1, 2008.
American Chemistry Council. Facts on Plastic.http://www.factsonplastic.com/.Accessed May 1, 2008.
A Battle Between the Bottle and the Faucet. New York Times.http://www.nytimes.com/.Posted July 15, 2007. Accessed May 1, 2008.
International Bottled Water Association,http://www.bottledwater.org/.
Written by Janet Helm, MS, RD, Executive Vice President, Director of Food and Nutrition, Weber Shandwick, Chicago, Illinois
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
People with Type 2 Diabetes can not process carbohydrates, so rather than tell them to eat carbs but just use more diabetic medicine, doctors such as Mary Vernon and Eric Westman are teaching them about carbohydrate-restriction. By reducing carbohydrates, people with Type 2 Diabetes can better control their own blood sugar levels and prevent complications associated with poor blood glucose control.
To learn more about the application of carbohydrate restriction in real life, please see this excellent news clip from Voice of America: Some US Doctors Recommend Unusual Diet to Treat Diabetics
Ignoring the use of low carb diets to help people better control their Type 2 Diabetes has to stop. This diet is very useful for this disease and is shown over and over again in recent research (including that from my own lab) to be safe.
It may not be for everyone, but it has it's use.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
The focus of the conference is to present information about sports nutrition and supplement strategies to improve sport performance and health. I've gone every year since the very beginning to the ISSN conferences, and I can honestly say that it is hands-down the BEST (and most fun) place to get real-world information about sports nutrition and supplements.
The ISSN was founded by Dr Jose Antonio and Dr Doug Kalman in conjuction with several other important sports nutrition scientists such as Susan Kleiner, Rick Kreider, Jeff Stout, Mike Greenwood and John Ivy (the Nutrient Timing author), because there was a need for an organization that would disseminate the truth behind nutrition and sport, and make it fun at the same time.
The goal was accomplished with flying colors and the ISSN is now the top sports nutrition society in the world.
The conference begins this Sunday June 8th and continues until Tuesday June 10th.
To learn more about the ISSN and the conference, please visit the website: http://www.theissn.org/. And if you support its goals and mission, you should consider becoming a member.
Also, if you're going to be attending the conference, please let me know as I'll be there the whole time and would love to meet you.
If you won't be there, I'll take notes and provide a summary next week.
After this conference I swear I'm not travelling again until my wedding in August. I've been on too many planes already this year!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Overall, the take-home message for me was that the future of weight-training is going to be a lot different than it is today.
We all know that weight-lifting is the best way to get the body you want without ruining your knees from hours of running or putting on a not-so-comfortable bathing suit to swim laps in a pool.
However, weight-lifting is so much more than the days of the great Arnold where bicep curls were done to impress the ladies. i.e. the saying "curls for the girls".....
Today, you can combine FUNCTIONAL weight-lifting movements into sets or supersets that will work not only increase your strength, but also increase the definition of your muscles (called "toning to some" and improve the functionality of your entire body (your cardiovascular system, along with your balance and agility). This prevents injury while making you look better than you ever did before. And that's what we all really want from exercise.
For women specifically though, weight-training comes with a sense of the unknown and the idea that it will make her big and bulky. Also, the one-on-one training of the past was boring, in addition to unconvincing that it would make a women's body look sexier and skinnier (A women can't understand that the same bench press that made her male trainer huge is going to make her skinnier.... ). These reasons explain WHY women constantly flock to aerobics classes and spin group fitness classes INSTEAD of signing up with a personal trainer. Women more so than men (even though it does apply to the male population too), enjoy working out with others and prefer not to be the center of attention. They want to get a good workout with others who are also sweating and breathing hard. That idea is much more attractive to them than being under the scruteny of a clip-board drill sargent.
So, for the future, you're going to see alot more small and large group weight-lifting sessions. Effective, functional-trained personal trainers are going to instruct groups of 3 to 10 men and women (more than 10 doesn't work when there are kettlebells or med balls flying around...) in smaller faclities using non-fixed, functional equipements such as sleds, ropes, dumbbells, ladders, cones and boxes. Women and men are going to use enough resistance to build muscle and become strong, but they'll do it with exercises that improve their everyday movement ability. They'll be less body-building and more sport-specific exercises so we can actually do something with our bodies, instead of just being muscular and big. The exercises will be strung together in sets rather than just being performed alone so the heart gets just as much of a workout as all the other big muscle groups and you increase your fat-burning potential.
In both my books, Women's Health Perfect Body Diet and The New Rules of Lifting for Women, the workout plans are strung together in sets and supersets so you get this increased fat-burning effect. The exercises are also more challenging than other typical weight-lifting plans because they involve using balance and core stability to activate more muscles and create more metabolic demand. Also, you can take these sets/supersets and do them with a friend or two so that you're working in a group and enjoying the burn with someone else. For example you'd do exercise A1 while your friend would do exercise A2. When you were done your reps for time or for prescribed number, you'd switch to the next in that set and keep going until the whole set/superset is done, and then go on to the next set of exercises. In this manner you'd challenge each other to lift more or push for another rep and you'd have more fun than working out alone. You'd still be doing so much more work than any aerobics class or Bodybar class you've ever been in and you'd be getting all the benefits that weight-lifting will give you.
Finally, like I said, the future of weight lifting will involve using more kettlebells, more med-balls, more rope climbs, more punching bags, more agility ladders, more box jumps, more functional body weight exercises like t-pushups, and one-arm chinups, and more movements that require less equipment and more challenges. This means that your home gym can consist of a few easy-to-get pieces of equipement or can be as simple as heading over to the local playground. You'll get rid of your bench press and replace it with it with something that requires less space, but gives you more bang for you buck.
Speaking of kettlebells, since this is now one of my favorite pieces of equipment (and I'm heading off right now to do an hour workout with these), check out this video from the new kettlebell superstar, Anthony Diluglio and tell me you don't think this isn't the coolest way to get lean and functional: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ8qWKsIVDA