A Letter To Unhealthy Food

Dear Unhealthy Food,

You are a master of disguise, I admit, but you no longer fool me. I see your thinly veiled face for what it is. The Face of a liar. You pray upon emotions with deception and empty promises and it’s time you are exposed.

4th of July 2004, you promised me that simple indulgences were not only my right, but were necessary for my enjoyment. You made me believe that because I’m young and because I will only live once, that turning to you against my better judgment would single-handedly enhance my experience. You lied. I had one of the best Holidays that year, but it was in spite of you, not because of you. The warm summer Sun, the joy of friends and family, and nighttime fireworks fit for a king are what made that day so incredibly special. Yet, you tried to take all the credit. In fact, your only contribution was that uncomfortable feeling in my belly and lack of sound sleep.

In 2008, when life had dealt me a poor hand, you promised me comfort. I looked to you for support, yet all that you provided were feelings of guilt, depression, and a salt-induced coma. You were to be my crutch, by your own admission, yet you simply weighed me down. I let you take over for too long, to the point where I could no longer look at myself in the mirror. In the end, it took my resolve, my inner strength, and my loving support network to overcome that poor hand, you were nothing more than a roadblock.

In 2013, at a retirement party, I watched you spread through the crowd like wildfire, lighting up faces with your delicious lies. Our guest of honor wept as she basked in the love of coworkers, bosses, friends, family, and children. It was special because of the moment. Yet, you are so powerful that all of the negative feelings, both emotional and physical, that came later as a direct result of your actions were completely overlooked. There is genius to your execution, forcing good people to blame their own lack of will and self-respect rather than the true source. You!

You are a wicked, wicked One, but your day of reckoning is upon us. People are learning that your promises are empty, and that life’s true enjoyment and comfort doesn’t come from your salty bags and sweet boxes, but from the very things that make us human. Love and connection. Your days are numbered, unhealthy food, relish the little time that you have left.

5 Ways To Increase Your Motivation

motivation

One of the most common weight-loss questions is “how to stay motivated?”.  It definitely makes the top 3 list and is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  Sure, most of us can white knuckle through a week of clean eating and working out, but long term success comes from translating that into a life-long commitment.

To help satisfy this oft-asked question, here are the top 5 sources of motivation for me.

  • Calorie Tracking – I don’t know why so many weight loss programs are so quick to advertise “no counting calories!” It’s as if this simple and impactful activity is time-consuming and tedious. While this may have been the case a decade or two ago, using a free app on your smartphone has reduced it to child’s play.  I literally spend 1 minute a day logging what I eat and the payback is phenomenal.  It holds you accountable to your target, it opens your eyes to what you’re eating, and it makes it snap to recognize easy swaps that can make a big impact on your intake
  • Activity Tracking – For the same basic awareness principle as calorie tracking, understanding how many calories you’re burning each week is the other side of the puzzle (the calories out vs. the calories in above). Quite simply, it will make you aware of your intensity and your total calorie expenditure both of which will make you more aware of how long it takes to burn off a simple 20oz bottle of soda.  Knowing that will make you want to skip it.  Again, it’s about awareness
  • A well-constructed plan – Sadly, it’s entirely too common for people to have no plan at all. Instead, trying to live by the concept of moderation, which is not only imprecise, but completely underestimated.  A well-constructed plan (which will count calories, track workouts, have goals, consider macronutrient ratios, food quality, and many other elements) will keep you motivated by not only keeping you accountable, but by providing you with a specific road-map rather than wandering blindly without results.  A plan of simple moderation will allow you to have birthday cake at an office party on a whim.  A well-constructed plan will have a time when that’s allowed, but will not give you carte blanche access to derailing treats.
  • Friendly Competition – nothing motivates like a little competition. Grab a friend and do a class or go through a strength training workout together. Without even giving much though, I bet you find that you automatically up your intensity when you know someone else is watching.  That’s just inherent to our nature.
  • Results – Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing (for me) motivates like results. I dare you to find success in a 3 week program and completely fall off in week 4 (this will ONLY happen if your plan is entirely too restrictive or entirely too grueling). The key is to have a well-constructed plan that you can live with long term.  If you can master that, than the results will keep you hanging on like nothing else.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

Depressing New Study Links Eating Carbs With An Increased Risk Of Cancer

carbs

I’m not a fan of using scare tactics, but I think this is a pretty important message.  According to an article by Sarah  Bruning,  posted on Woman’s Health website (read the article here) :

study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, people whose diets included a large percentage of high-glycemic foods (think: white bread, potatoes, refined/processed foods) saw their risk for lung cancer (the number one cancer killer of women) soar by 49 percent.

You may have heard about the low glycemic diet, and if not for yourself, then certainly as it relates to diabetics (though I would argue the benefits of following a diabetics diet), and hopefully you understand that this very important index is what separates the good carbs from the bad.

In fact, I’m a little upset that the title of the article simply said “Carbs” with no such delineation.  It’s important to make this distinction so that you know how to remove the dangerous ones from the truly good ones with tremendous health benefits.

Generally speaking, the good variety has fiber, which slows the digestion process and prevents blood sugar levels from spiking.   This avoids the body’s natural insulin response, which is why it’s important for diabetics.  Insulin also promotes fat storage, which is why it’s bad for anyone else (among other things, as this study proves).  Higher fiber carbohydrates include a wide variety of vegetables and whole grains.  However, please learn to read nutrition labels, the whole wheat bread you buy may just be a refined flour product, which doesn’t have the appropriate levels of fiber to consider it a ‘good carb’.

And the new link to cancer?  According to Sarah Bruning:

Higher levels of insulin can then spur an increase in proteins called insulin-growth factors, which have been linked to a greater likelihood of developing lung cancer.

A quick google search will get you a full list of foods with their index rating (higher is worse), but also be aware that the true measure of a food’s quality would be it’s glycemic load, not necessarily the index.  The difference?  The load considers the volume carb contained in the food, rather than just how quickly the carbohydrate metabolizes.  For example, watermelon has a high glycemic index, but a low glycemic load, simply because it’s over 90% water.  The sugar contained is so diluted that it will do little to spike your blood glucose level.

Click here for a quick lesson.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

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Hunter The Gladiator Is Worried You Might Be Skinny Fat

“Hunter the Gladiator is worried you might be skinny fat” By Jonathan Wells, an article published today on the Telegraph.

Read the full article here, especially if you immediately associate thin with healthy.  However, since I just yesterday wrote an article touting the benefits of strength training, I wanted to highlight this one excerpt.

 “Everybody should start with weight training and some high intensity interval training. Make sure to keep an eye on the amount of cardio you’re doing as well – it has its place, but if you’re endlessly running and always at spinning class, your cortisol levels – a stress hormone – will rise, and this will not allow your body to undergo a positive change in body composition.

I’ll also caution with this excerpt for those who plan not to read the full article above:

 “A person who is skinny fat is not technically overweight,” explains the 42-year old. “They can, to all intents and purposes, look completely healthy, thin and in-shape. However, underneath their clothes and healthy-looking exterior, it’s a different story.

“Your body can have a high fat percentage – often viscerally – but be incredibly low on muscle mass. Put simplistically, you can be thin on the outside but fat on the inside.

“This is a common problem among people who are obsessed with their weight on the scales rather than their health and body composition as a whole. The condition can lead to the development of chronic inflammation, low cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.

In summation, see yesterday’s article and add strength training to your regimen.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

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5 Reasons You Need To Be Strength Training

dumbbells

For most of us (I may dare to say all of us), there is a vanity element to weight management.  Sure, we love the ancillary benefits like lower blood pressure, stress relief, and higher bone density, but honestly, a lot of it boils down to looking and feeling great.  That being the case, I’m always surprised to learn that most people identify ‘working out’ with steady state cardio.  People are quick to talk about going for a run or hitting the treadmill/elliptical, especially women.

Sadly, I think the biggest general objection to strength training is the fear of getting big muscles (again, especially woman). The truth is, though, it takes an extreme amount of dedication to diet and exercise to get in ‘body building ‘shape, far far far more than most of us would commit to without that being the end-goal.  Therefore, it’s impossible to do it ‘by accident’.

Even more sadly, we over look weight training which, as it turns out, is the best way to alter our current bodies.  Sure, steady state cardio can help lose fat, but strength training will help change overall body composition, giving us sexy lean muscle mass that not only looks healthy, but creates body symmetry.

I believe in strength training so much that if I had to choose between it and cardio as my sole means to work out, I would choose strength training without a second thought.

To prove this point, here are 5 great reasons you should be strength training, either as the basis for your routine or, at very least, as supplemental training.

  • Lean muscle is more expensive – The more muscle you add, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. (remember, adding muscle doesn’t mean adding size, it means replacing fat with high density muscles tissue that takes up less room but eats more calories.  So your body still shrinks in overall size, not swells)
  • Energy and Mood boosting – Strength training elevates endorphin levels, which make you feel happy. Strength training has shown to be a natural anti-depressant
  • Stronger Tendons, ligaments, and bones – it will help you stay fit and strong, especially as you age, when the body naturally loses muscularity and balance. It also improves posture and coordination.
  • Helps with disease prevention as we age – Studies have shown it can help type 2 diabetics with glucose control, can help with arthritis pain, and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
  • Okay, Fine, you’ll look amazing – Let’s not deny the number one motivation for working out. To look and feel great! Strength training can change your body, and for the better.  Stop thinking body building and start thinking fitness models.  And for those that will say oh they’re too skinny or too ripped, that’s a function of diet, it’s VERY hard to get that low in body fat.  Without a perfect diet you will simply look slim, fit, and healthy.  Far better than if you only did long sessions of steady state cardio, which will make you look thin and stringy (think: distance runners)

It’s time to stop associating weight/strength training with Arnold and his fellow body builders and start recognizing that the lean healthy bodies that you envy in magazines are built by fitness routines that regularly include strength training.

 
Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

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Sleep Munchies: Why It’s Harder To Resist Snacks When We’re Tired

sleep

Article by Allison Aubrey, published on NPR.Org

What’s it about?

The article posits that not getting adequate sleep leads to higher rates of snacking.

Why?

““Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.

Now, a new study finds evidence that sleep deprivation (getting less than five hours of sleep per night) produces higher peaks of a lipid in our bloodstream known as an endocannabinoid that may make eating more pleasurable.

So, what’s an endocannabinoid? If you look at the word closely, you may already have a clue. The prefix endo means inner, or within. And cannabinoid looks like … you got it: cannabis.””

The Study

““The study was divided into two parts, each lasting four days. For one session, the participants were allowed to follow a normal sleep schedule, about 8 1/2 hours per night.

But during the other session, they agreed to a crazy schedule. They went to bed at 1 a.m. and were woken up at 5:30 a.m., so that they got a maximum of just 4.5 hours of sleep per night.

In both sessions, study participants were offered buffet-style meals and plenty of snacks, including candy and chips.

“They were given way more food than they could ever eat, “says Hanlon.

It turned out that when participants were sleep deprived, they ate about 400 more calories from snacks. That’s “a lot more,” Hanlon says.”

In Summary

Getting adequate sleep is in the top 5 rules of most weight-loss plans. This new evidence lends an additional reason to get your ZZZ’s. If stress and anxiety is leading to insomnia for you, seek help in working out the issue.  From recovery and muscle growth to satiety, it seems it’s a huge component of successful weight management.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

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Why I love AMRAP Workouts, And You Should Too!

exercise

First, if this acronym is new to you (and you’re busted for not consistently following my blog!) AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds As Possible.  Generally composed of 2 to 5 exercises performed in succession for a predetermined amount of time, usually 20 minutes.  These are considered High Intensity workouts, which I absolutely love for their efficiency.  Here are 3 big reasons why you should not only try them, but adopt them as part of your workout regimen:

  1. Do more in less time! – Why do a slow and steady 40 minutes on the elliptical when you can get better rewards in just 20 minutes?  Studies have shown that high intensity workouts not only burn more calories per minute, but the after-burn effect burns calories long after your workout is complete.  Low intensity – steady state (LISS) cardio stops burning calories as soon as you’re done.
  2. They include Strength training as well as Cardio – If you choose the right combinations of exercise (like squats and pushups), you can build muscle as well as torch calories. Lean muscle mass is more ‘expensive’ to maintain, thereby burning more calories while at rest
  3. The insane feeling of accomplishment afterwards – High intensity training feels amazing when you’re done (and can be down-right brutal during, but we love that, too!). Endorphins go nuts and lift your mood, making you feel happy and totally accomplished. Nothing beats a great workout.

AMRAP workouts are great for days you can’t get the gym or if you just want a killer workout when pressed for time.  Don’t be fooled though, they can also be a complete and total regimen, I feature them in my Mindful Living Program and the 30 Day Fat shred program as they require little to no equipment, no membership fees, and very little time commitment.  Want to give them a try? Sort my blog by WOD and see the few that I posted or search Pinterest or Google and you’ll find unlimited workouts.  Also give YouTube a try, I find so much value in working along with a video. It really helps push your limits when you try to keep pace with the instructor.
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Having trouble losing weight?  We can help! Check out our online coaching page.  For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program.  The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

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