Habits, And How To Handle Them

habitsMost of us don’t think of it this way, but having success with a weight management program really comes down to managing habits.  Specifically, removing bad ones and creating good ones.  Of course, having just read that it probably does make sense, even if you wouldn’t have put in those terms yourself.  It’s why I have a section on habits in my e-book, and it’s why it’s one of the fundamental keys to long term success.    To reinforce this, I recently got back from a vacation where I planned to relax my normal ‘rules’, which of course meant gaining a few pounds.  Now that I want to actually lose that weight, I have to change a few habits that I created while previously in ‘maintenance’ mode.  For example, while in maintenance mode, I don’t have to be as strict with starchy carbs, and I can afford to eat my favorite snack 2 times per week.  Since I now want to lose weight, I have to play with two different levers:  1) Create a calorie deficit, and 2) eat higher quality food.

To move both of those levers, I definitely have to change my twice a week snack habit.  They say that one way successfully change habits is to not omit the bad one completely, but rather, replace it with a good one.  So, this past weekend, rather than not snack at all (and deal with the frustration and deprivation that goes with it), I changed what I would normally eat, both in quality and volume.  Doing so dramatically eased the transition, and provided the added benefit of feeling really good, both mentally and physically.

The next lever was my workouts.  In maintenance mode, I can focus on strength training and do less cardio.  To help burn fat this week, I changed to a circuit weight training, where I could keep my heart rate up during strength training for added calorie burn.  I also increased my cardio time.  My total workouts were now burning over 400, rather than just north of 200 in maintenance mode.  Again, simply making changes to a habit, not making huge omissions or additions you can’t live with.

When you assess the habits that are acting as roadblocks for your ultimate weight management goals, consider this your new rule, it’s easier to replace a bad habit with a good when than to omit the bad habit altogether.

For more of an in-depth read on the topic, check out this article I came across earlier today.

For more info on personalized weight-loss plans, visit http://fitcoach99.net/personal-weight-loss-plan/

How We Complicate Weight-loss

weightloss

Sometimes we have a knack for making things more complicated than necessary. And, once in a while, we read things that make us think that just maybe things really are complicated.  I remember a time not too long ago when I struggled with weight-loss myself. I remember clearly thinking at one point in my mid-thirties “is keeping my weight down just simply out of my control”.  Without completely understanding how to do it properly I felt lost, confused, and very frustrated.

When I read through an article on Flipboard this morning, the bleak outlook that was painted triggered those old feelings, and made me empathize with anyone who is now caught in that all-to-familiar spiral.

You can read the full story here, but here’s a sample of the content

If you’re one of the millions of people struggling to lose weight, the latest news probably isn’t helping your motivation much. I’m talking about two recently published articles, both backed by rigorous research, that paint a grim picture around weight loss and exercise. But don’t throw in the towel just yet. They don’t tell the full story.

In case you’re not familiar with the articles I’m talking about, here’s a quick recap:

Article 1: The New York Times

The New York Times article looked at former contestants on “The Biggest Loser” and concluded that almost all of them regained the weight they’d lost on the show. The article reasons that after drastic weight loss, two things happen that make weight gain almost inevitable:

1.Resting metabolism decreases (so you burn fewer calories).

2.Hunger and cravings increase, thanks to plummeting levels of leptin, the hormone that controls hunger.

“As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back,” says Dr. Michael Schwartz in the article.

Article 2: Vox

In the second article, writers at Vox claim that exercise does not work for weight loss. It concludes “exercise is excellent for health, but it’s not important for weight loss” by citing 60+ supporting studies. The article reads much like a compilation of what I’ve been writing about for years. It even includes some identical messages, such as why counting calories from exercise will sabotage your weight-loss goals and why you should focus on diet, not exercise.

Still, I found myself upset after reading both of these articles—not because of what they said, but because of what they didn’t say. They omit half of the story, leaving readers with only one conclusion to infer: We’re f*cked! Your exercise has been for naught. And if somehow you actually do lose weight, expect the pounds to creep back on, because you’re fighting a losing battle against biology.

Most people take away two really impactful “truths” from this. 1) Once you start losing weight, your body will work against you to get you back to where you started and 2) exercise is pointless with regard to weight-loss.

Like the author of the blog post that cited these articles, I, too, have lost 30 lbs. and kept it off. For 8 years now.  While I’ll agree that the longest route to weight-loss and the quickest one to frustration is to solely rely on steady state cardio as a means to stay thin, I can’t say that I identify AT ALL with the first statement.  In fact, I pay very close attention to cravings and food addictions, and I have no personal experience that simply losing weight had any impact on the frequency and intensity of cravings.  Now, I can’t dismiss that what was said was scientific fact, that’s certainly possible, I just didn’t notice is to any extent that I found it demoralizing in my own efforts.

In fact, I would argue that cravings are more a function of your eating habits and routines than your body screaming for nutrients.

So before you throw your hands in the air and order a large pizza in celebratory defeat, let’s check to see just how well you conform to the true principles of long term weight loss. Perhaps you’ll realize that your frustration comes from the wrong approach rather than your body working against you.

  1. Do you strength train? – if you have any history with my blog you know I’m a staunch supporter of strength training. To the extent that it’s worth repeating that if I could only do one form of exercise, it would win out over cardio every day of the week.
  2. Do you do HIIT training? – I’m not sure why this hasn’t taken root in our society since ‘time’ is seemingly our most precious commodity, but to get outstanding results, a tremendous sense of accomplishment, a feeling of total exhaustion, and get it in only a fraction of the time? I don’t know how this is the bestselling idea since indoor plumbing.
  3. Are you eating clean? – You want to ratchet up your cravings? Eat exclusively processed, sugar-laden pre-packed foods. See if your brain doesn’t go nuts trying to get you to repeat that behavior. Similarly, want to crush your cravings, give your body clean, whole foods. Your body doesn’t raise the cravings flag when it’s getting the nutrients it needs to run efficiently.
  4. Do you say “no”? – Let’s face, life can be a succession of mine fields when you’re trying to eat a clean diet, especially now that the warmer weather is here (well, almost). You can’t go a day without someone shoving delicious treats and high fat animal protein in your face. If you’re not saying no with regularity, you’re giving your brain a reason to light up like a Christmas tree with all the fat and sugar, not only leading to a whole sack of calories, but subsequent cravings.
  5. Are you monitoring? – We at FC99 are huge proponents of living mindfully and tracking what we do. What we eat, how much eat, how often we move, how our weight changes, etc. If you’re not mindful of these things, it’s almost impossible to progress. You need to know what you’re doing each week and getting feedback from it. That’s how you make the necessary course corrections.

I’ve said this in the past.  Permanent weight-loss, in theory, is very easy. In application, it’s difficult because it requires significant changes in habits that are deeply rooted in our lives and culture.  However, all of that is simply habitual and can be changed, we just have to know how to do and to give it enough time to take root in place of the poor habits we’ve built.

For more info on personalized weight-loss plans, visit http://fitcoach99.net/personal-weight-loss-plan/

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

Top 3 Nagging Weight Loss Questions: Answered!

confused

I am the first to admit that the diet/exercise/weight-loss/fitness industry is rife with confusing and often conflicting information.  For most people, it’s difficult to navigate these murky waters since we’re forced to solely go by what we see, hear, and read.  One need only to look as far as what is considered the most extensive diet study of all-time to see just how deep the contradictions run.  The China Study suggests that animal products show direct links to many of our modern ‘diseases of affluence’, while the Paleo followers push the blame on grains, among other things, suggesting that animals be an important part of our daily plates.

We can, however, put to rest at least 3 questions that are all-too-often asked by those looking to shed a few pounds for beach season.

  • How come I can’t keep off the weight? This is an extremely common occurrence, and the constant weight-loss/weight-gain treadmill is known as yo-yo dieting.  The main reason why this happens is because too many of us turn to canned fad diets for weight loss.  Most of these diets are too restrictive, both in calories and food groups, to the extent that within a short period of time (or, at most, when we reach our goal), we resort back to our old habits.  What’s the answer, then?  First, we need to adjust our mindsets.  It’s important to realize that weight-management is a marathon, not a sprint. Secondly, let’s forget fad dieting altogether.  Long term weight-loss comes from life changes, not from short term super restrictions.  Education is a big part of this puzzle, and finding strategies that work for you as an individual.  This is why having a personalized plan infinitely increases your chances for long term weight management.  Be sure to check out our personalized weight-loss plans
  • Should I diet or exercise? I really hope you found the answer obvious, it’s both. The most effective way to manage your weight and your health is to eat a healthful diet and exercise. And don’t think this has to mean long hours in a gym and eating carrot sticks all day.  Based on your tolerance to change, there are ways to clean up your diet and implement efficient, effective exercise without being maniacal.  Unfortunately, based on conversations with people, its all-to-common for people to favor only ½ of the equation, and results are either stifled or completely non-existent.
  • Carbs, Meat, Fat, Vegan?!?! WHAT DO I EAT!? This is primarily where we see the conflicting information I mentioned earlier.  Rather than get bogged down in trying to determine what the ultimate human diet is, let’s keep it simple.  Eat more whole, unprocessed foods.  Between, salt, sugar, and saturated/trans fats, our supermarkets and restaurants have become a minefield.  If you want to improve your health, eat foods as close to their original forms as possible.  It isn’t only better for you, it will taste better.  Also, if you’re one to use dinging out as entertainment, try replacing that by cooking at home as a couple or family, or host more dinner parties. It’s much easier to control what’s going into your dish when you’re the one cooking it, especially when you start from fresh, whole ingredients.  And remember, fruit was nature’s original fast food.  If  you need convenience, become a master at stocking wholesome treats to grab-n-go.

If you want to read more about the China Study conflict, visit https://chriskresser.com/rest-in-peace-china-study/

For more info on personalized weight-loss plans, visit http://fitcoach99.net/personal-weight-loss-plan/

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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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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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.

This is what it means to live mindfully. check out our book!

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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.

HandGuidetoPortionControl_52e67e6f7426e_w1500

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.

Visit Fitcoach99, LLC’s profile on Pinterest.

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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Victoria Secret Models Diet And Exercise Just Like We Do. Oh, OK!

va

A few comments on a recent article that was written by Jordi Lippe from Hollywood Take, you can read it here.  I’m not sure what I expected to read, but I figured  the main idea would be simply that they don’t do anything outside what I consider sensible weight management.  Clean diet, a strong exercise program, and clear and measureable goals.  Afterall, we only make this more complicated than it is because we’re bombarded with Marketing pitches and misinformation with the intention of selling empty promises.  By the time I finished this relatively short article, however, I was a little confused on the point.  Here’s why:

Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jasmine Tookes have the kinds of bodies that send countless women running to the gym. But the VS hotties aren´t exactly limiting their diets to carrots and celery!

Hollywood Take caught up with the two beauties at a Valentine´s Day Gift Picks event at Victoria’s Secret Herald Square, and they told us they love to indulge in high-calorie meals like the rest of us do.

“I don’t avoid carbs,” Jasmine Tookes, 25, told HT. “Give me carbs! I love pizza.” 

Fellow Angel Elsa Hosk, 27, couldn’t agree more. “I don’t avoid carbs,” she told us. “I have a crazy indulgence that I do a little bit too often. I get a grilled cheese sandwich at Chelsea Market at a place called Lucy’s Whey almost every day. It’s so good! But if I have an important shoot, I’ll cut down on my grilled cheese sandwiches.”

Okay, so they know how to work in cheat meals (so do I) while keeping a really strong and principled program.  Hoorah!  But wait, after reading this, did you get the wrong message? Did this justify indulgences?  I came out of this thinking wow, they only workout three days a week and eat pizza and grilled cheese.

That’s obviously not what’s going on.  While they do have the benefit of being young, you really need to keep on point to keep body fat percentages that low.  So while the message is great that you don’t have to give up everything to keep thin, I would be careful in over estimating how clean people in this shape have to be.  If you are anything like me, this article made you want to hit the local pizzeria for a fresh slice!

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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3 Little Things You Can Do To Immediately Benefit Your Health

change

If the idea of becoming healthier has been nagging you, but you just can’t bring yourself to adopt a full program, here are three little ways to make effective changes immediately:

  1. Learn to read food labels – A lot of information can be gained by glancing at food labels, in the matter of 5 seconds you can become more mindful of what you’re eating
    1. Calorie Count – Be aware of serving size, too often it doesn’t fall inline with how much of the food you’ll actually eat in a sitting
    2. Carb and Protein grams – Just by having daily targets for Protein and Carbs can make an impact on your food choices. I generally keep carbs at about 40-50% of total calories
    3. Ingredients – 2 big things to notice are the number of ingredients (be especially mindful of the ones you can’t pronounce) and the first few ingredients. If sugar or white flour are high on the list it’s likely a poor quality food
    4. Sugar count – I keep ‘added’ sugar to 37 grams per day or less. Fruit is not counted toward this total
    5. Fat content – aside from fat having more than double the calories per gram than either protein or carbohydrate, you want to limit saturated fat and remove trans-fats
  2. Slow Down! – Even if you choose to indulge in your favorite comfort food, be more mindful of how fast you’re eating and slow down!  Not only will you enjoy it more, but the longer it takes you to eat the more likely it will be that your brain will get the signal from your stomach that you’re full.  You’ll naturally eat less
  3. Exercise, but start small – This one is obvious, but a huge objection for must of us.  The good news is that you don’t have to go crazy to reap the benefits.  Start off really small until it becomes a habit.  20 minute workouts just 3 times a week is enough to get started.  YouTube has an insane number of free workouts that will  keep boredom at bay, and working along with a video will push you further than working out on your own.  Look for Tabata, AMRAP, and EMOM workouts which get the most out of the short duration workouts.  Once you start seeing benefits you’ll likely want to ratchet up the duration and frequency.  They key is to start small until it takes root so that you burn out.

These easy steps can make you more mindful of your weight management habits and can help promote change. Being Mindful is a great way to make decisions automatic without deprivation.  So much so that we wrote a program called Mindful Living, check it out.

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