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.

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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.

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Mindful Living – One Day Challenge

challenge

Since our mindful living plan is about simplicity, I wanted to introduce a simple one day challenge. This exercise should take you no more than 15 to 20 minutes over the course of a day, and you’ll be amazed at what you find out. Here are the rules:
1) Know your daily calorie needs. If you don’t already know them, you can calculate them here. Reminder, this should represent a 500 calorie deficit, so if you only know your maintenance level, subtract 500. If you follow the link it will default to a deficit (Lose will be highlighted on the second page)

2) Divide your total calories as follows:
a. 20% breakfast
b. 30% lunch
c. 30% dinner
d. 20% snacks (snacks can be divided into 2 or 3 snacks, but they must total 20%)

3) You don’t have to change what you eat, just make sure you portion control to fit the calorie allotment

4) By reading your nutrition labels or using a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal or Loseit! Take note of your sugars, sodium, carbs, and saturated/Trans fats. You don’t have to do anything other than take notice. And be aware that for a healthy diet:
a. Added sugars should be under 37 grams (do not count natural sugars, like those found in fruit)
b. Saturated fat. Should be less than 10 grams
c. Trans fat. Should be avoided
d. Sodium should be less than 3,000 (if not 2,500)
e. Carbs should be under 150

5) Also be aware of how many of your carbs are from refined grains, like white flour based products (bread, cereal, pasta, rice). Since they should be avoided, it’s good to know how big of a role they play in your diet.

6) Be aware of how many empty calories (junk food)
What’s the point? Well, doing this work will make you more aware of what you’re eating. When you see how many calories are in poor quality foods, along with the detriments they have to your sugar, sodium, and fat allowances, you’ll likely swap them for better foods on principle. This will encourage you to eat better quality food and help you lose weight and feel better.

Want the advanced challenge, include this workout:

AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) Workout – Time Limit: 30 minutes (Pressed for time? Do it for 20 minutes)

Dumbbell Chest Press (use exercise ball as bench) – 12
Reverse crunches – 20
Burpees – 10
Chest – Dumbbell Flye- 12
Scissor Kicks – 20
Jumping Jacks – 40
Bronze – 4 rounds

Silver – 5 rounds

Gold – 6 rounds

For the dumbbell exercise, be slow and controlled, at least 2 seconds on the concentric movement, 2-4 seconds on the eccentric movement.

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5 Weight Loss Strategies That Don’t Work

diets

Let me know if this sounds familiar:  You come across a recent picture of yourself and think “oh my god, am I really that heavy?” and immediately panic and resolve to lose a few pounds.  I think by the time we’re past our 20’s we all go through this, and while some of us may even eek out a few pounds in the loss column, only a handful of us actually keep the weight off in the long run.

The reason this is so common, is that most of us choose to create our own weight-loss plan, which really isn’t a plan at all, but rather a culmination of strategies that we think work best for us, with only hearsay or pure mythology as a basis.

If you’re one to not consult professional advice, here are 5 common strategies that not only mislead you, but can actually be detrimental.

  • Severe Calorie Restriction. I once over-heard a co-worker relay a new ‘diet’ that he created to a colleague.  The diet was based on the fact that his cousin, who had just been in a horrific car-crash and could only consume liquids, had lost “a whole bunch of weight”.  This new diet, proudly named “the once a day chew diet” was simply to only eat real food 1x a day (the chew), while only consuming beverages the rest of the day.  Mind you, these beverages were not specifically considered to provide nutrients and the requisite calories necessary to sustain bodily functions, but arbitrary drinks that he’d enjoy enough to mask the obvious lack of food.  Also, the 1 real meal was based on food preferences, not nutritional value.  That day he had only consumed a bialy.  As far as choices go, that was pretty poor.  This ends up just being a diet based on severe calorie restriction which creates havoc within the body.  It slows metabolism, it causes the body to break down lean muscle mass for calories, and, of course, robs the body of the nutrients it needs.  All of which is the exact opposite of what you want when trying to lose weight.  The correction to over-eating poor quality food isn’t eating less.  It’s eating better.
  • Low-Fat Diets. A few decades ago, low-fat diets were in fashion.  There are two reasons why I believe fat has a bad name, similar to today’s carbohydrate.  First, fat has more calories per gram than either protein or carbs (compare 9 to 4 of both the latter), which means fatty foods naturally carry more calories.  Secondly, there are bad quality fats that are detrimental to health, just like there are poor quality carbs with negative health benefits (including weight-gain).  For both of these reasons, fats get lumped into one category and labeled ‘bad’.  However, good quality fat is necessary for optimal health, and can provide satiety and curtail cravings.  Lastly, low-fat foods as marketed on our grocery shelves are often overly processed foods with added sugar to make them more palatable (this is not true for whole foods naturally low in fat).  A healthful diet contains 20-30% of calories from good quality, health promoting fats (monounsaturated oils, seeds, nuts, avocados, to name a few)
  • Not Eating after 6. While there are benefits to having fewer carbs after 6 (or even earlier), especially the refined variety, there isn’t proof that any such strategy in and of itself will promote weight loss.  This is especially true if your whole diet is predicated on this one rule alone.  You can’t undo an unhealthy diet, I don’t care what time you stop eating.
  • Only Exercising. More often than not, this actually works against us.  It becomes an excuse to eat more, and/or eat poor quality food as a reward.  It also causes us to grossly over estimate calories burned.  True weight management pairs the two together to create a calorie deficit and, if you’re smart and learned it’s necessary to strength train, promote muscle hypertrophy. Lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest. Of these two levers, diet is weighted more heavily.  Most put the ratio split at 80/20 in favor of diet.  Lastly, for emphasis on this last point, even a relatively good workout will only burn 300 calories or less.  Strategic changes in diet can easily remove more than that with little effort.
  • Food Group/Macronutrient elimination – Fad diets often remove entire food groups like dairy, or entire macronutrients like Fat (as noted in number 2 above) or Carbohydrate. These groups or macros aren’t the problem, it’s their existence in overly processed and refined foods that give them a bad name.  And, to completely contradict this trend, having a wide variety foods is the best way to reach optimal health as it will supply your body with the wide array of vitamins and minerals it needs.  To make the argument even better, it means more variety for you to eat, removing those nasty feelings of deprivation.  Forget removing dairy, or removing carbs for the sake of removing them. Instead remove the poor quality foods (processed prepackaged foods and junk foods) that are causing poor health and weight gain.  It’s time to start putting blame where it really belongs.

 
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Man To Survive On Potatoes For A Year!

potato

This real life Mark Watney is trying to survive for a year on nothing but potatoes, says an article by Jennie Jackson from “Quartz”. Read the full article here.

From Jackson:

“In an attempt to lose weight and improve his relationship with food, Andrew Taylor has decided to eat nothing but potatoes for a year. But is this approach likely to work, or will he run out of nutrients? And could he have chosen a better single food On which to live?”

The skinny: The article walks through the how and why and discusses the pros and cons of selecting the potato as the single food of choice.

What’s good: While the potato does offer a wide array of nutrients, the article eventually came to the same conclusion I had when I started reading; that your diet should consist of a wide variety of foods because of vast number of nutrients it needs to serve all of its functions. Obviously, then, no single food would cover everything, and only eating a variety of foods from all of the groups will help you achieve optimal health.

Conclusion: The idea behind the rather bizarre plan is novel. Removing processed foods, especially those riddled with saturated fat, sugar, and sodium can do wonders for improving health and removing unhealthy cravings, but rather than stick to one single food, load up on vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and lean proteins.

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How Your Brain Is Controlling Your Eating Habits

obey

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Imagine for a minute that food had no taste. No matter what you ate, it didn’t’ register on your taste buds, feed your brain signals, or make you react in any way, positively or negatively. How did reading that make you feel? Did it sound terrible knowing you wouldn’t ever be able to feel the elation of eating chocolate, or taste the decadence of your favorite cake? Or did you think how cool it would be to not have to wrestle with food addictions?
The latter is an interesting response, because it means you recognize that it would make it much easier to eat a more healthful diet. It inherently removes bad habits, cravings, and obsessions. I have little doubt that if you removed taste from the equation, most of you would be able to pull together a relatively healthy diet.
Consider then, that the issue with obesity we face in this country is not lack of knowledge, but lack of implementation (okay, there are more factors including an abundance of inexpensive poor quality foods and emotional eating to name two). And the biggest reason is our association with food. This is not will-power, as you will often blame for your weak moments, this is cultural, habitual, and yes, good old fashioned brain mechanics (you may have read that some studies show that sugar can be addictive as drugs).
It dawned on me while breaking some unhealthy habits developed over the holidays that it’s really just the brain at work. The reward system that tells us to go eat this food and I’ll deliver this response (usually in the form of dopamine, which makes us happy). I noticed that when the cue for my particular habit triggered my brain to send me signals, it was all just smoke and mirrors. I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t even bored. My brain was now simply wired to tell me to eat based on this particular cue (in my case, it was based on the day of the week, which I had previously designated as a cheat day to get through the holidays without overwhelming feelings of deprivation). So while I ate very clean most days, when my former cheat day came, my brain knew it, and it went crazy trying to get me to eat the foods I had fed it from November to January. When I really thought about, the only real answer I could give myself is “what’s the point”. The only reason I had previously given into this habit after January 1st when it was supposed to stop, was to simply shut my brain up. Much like a nicotine addict will use for the sole reason of staving off the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. It has a calming effect to make the brain stop signaling you. Of course, the more you give into this signal, the stronger this becomes.
So how do we break this cycle? Simple, much like nicotine, the key isn’t “to use” to remove the withdrawal, or, even to cut down (which only means you’re dealing with withdrawal for a longer period of time, again, making the habit stronger). The only way to fix it is to stop completely.
And here’s the funny thing – sure, it will be tough the first few times because your brain will be screaming for you, but much like a child, once it learns that the little tantrum won’t make you give in, it just stops. Once this happens, and the habit is broken, you’ll begin to wonder how you get locked into it in the first place. It just completely loses its hold over you.
As a next step, be mindful of the cues that trigger a behavior that you’d like to change. First, ask yourself what the point is. What did I really get of repeating this behavior other than quieting my brain? More importantly, how did you feel after? Often there are negative feelings associated with giving into a habit you know is deconstructive. Pay attention over the next few days and try to be aware of this happening in your own routine.
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5 Weight Loss Hacks For Non-Dieters

weight

Let’s face it, committing to a new diet and exercise program is not only daunting, it can downright unappealing.  This is especially true for those that have followed a poorly designed program with weak principles that ultimately led to inevitable failure.  Those old feelings of deprivation and weak will power are all too familiar to fade so easily.  However, even those who don’t currently have the courage to get back on the proverbial horse (PS, if that’s how it truly feels then that program is wrong for you) still care about their weight and overall health.   There is hope, though!  Making these few strategic changes can pay big dividends.

Do your workouts first thing in the morning:  While there is a raging debate about what time of day is optimal for exercise, nobody will dispute that exercising at the wrong time is pointless.  The reason this makes sense is simple:  You can find 101 excuses to NOT workout when you get home from school or work.  Doing it first thing in the morning gets it over with AND can positively impact your mood and energy levels.  Once you train yourself to be an early bird you’ll see a huge difference in how you feel and you’ll be less likely to skip it. If finding time in the morning an issue, remember that HIIT training (Tabata, AMRAP, EMOM) workouts can give you a GREAT workout in only 20 minutes.  Excuse – GONE

Eat Breakfast: How often are you advised to eat MORE?  Research has shown that eating breakfast (include complex carb, protein, and healthy fat) will not only jump-start your metabolism, but can help curb binge snacking later in the day.

Learn to Exercise Portion Control: Let’s be honest, mindless eating (what would be the opposite of portion control) leads to overeating.  Rather than put entire dishes on the table and continually serve yourself and your family, make a plate ahead of time and resign yourself to only eating 1.  The fact is, and you’ll learn quickly if you try, we can eat far less than we think, we just eat so fast that our brains never get the message in time.

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Plan your snacks:  Same principle, avoid mindless eating.  Rather than hunting for a snack at 3pm and ending up with whatever sugary and processed package you find, pre-plan your snacks.  It’s great to eat at 3pm, but you’ll get the same joy of eating something healthy as you would with a bag of chips once you create a positive habit. You’ll feel much better too (no sugar crash)

Invest in a wearable:  This may not resonate if you haven’t tried it before, but having something attached to your body that holds you accountable to a goal can have a bigger impact than you may think. Most trackers can alert you to stand if you sit too long, track your steps and help manage your goals.  You’ll have no problem taking a longer route to the bathroom or parking farther from the door if you know your tracker is watching.

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 Benefits Of Exercise 

Other than weight loss!

  

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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