The Misinterpretation Of “Diet”

For a lot of people, simply hearing the word “diet” is enough to put them in a brain-locking tail-spin with visions of deprivation and carrot sticks.  The word seems to be synonymous with hunger pains, bland food, and tiny portions, conjuring feelings of not only boredom, but pure dread.  This goes hand in hand with black and white thinking, starting with complete over-indulgence (a period of time where we don’t consider food quality and portion control at all) to a 180 degree swing to absurd rigidness in an attempt to compensate for bad behavior.

An example of this rigidness is our own 30 day fat shred program.  It’s designed to help you quickly reset your body by feeding it high quality food and removing the processed junk that is breaking down your body. However, it’s a program with a fixed length.  It’s not a practical life-long eating plan.  It’s meant to reset and then reintroduce foods smartly and with true moderation.  It helps not only with weight loss but with food addictions, namely sugar.

What’s missing from this life-sucking loop is implementing a feasible and adoptable eating plan.  Sure, you love your pancakes and can’t imagine a life without them, but do you really need them 4 times a week?  When food is a significant part of fabric of your life, it’s likely being used to deal with emotions and, newsflash, it’s not helping you cope, but actually making matters worse.

Where To Start?

Let’s assume, though, that you’re ready to create an adoptable plan, one that’s meant to be a way of life rather than a fixed-length diet.  Where do you start? Well, there are different approaches.  If food isn’t an addiction for you and you want to jump right in, you can start by following the 80/20 rule. Take 80% of your calories from whole, unprocessed, real foods, and save 20% of calories for indulgences.  Doing so will allow you to avoid feelings of deprivation without overdoing it by forcing good portion control.  Remember, the last bite of our favorite food is never as good as the first, so no sense in binge eating and derailing your entire week when you’re getting so little reward.

If you’re someone who needs to step down slowly, you can start small and make incremental changes each week until you reach the end goal of 80/20.  You can start by using a different ratio, or, by adding more unprocessed foods and vegetables at the start (which will make you too full for more junk) and eliminate more processed and unnatural foods each week.

Healthy foods aren’t boring

If you’re in the mindset that eating healthy means boring, you’re not following the right recipes. Cooking with unprocessed, fresh, natural foods makes delicious meals that won’t invite post meal crashing, bloating, and poor digestion.  As a bonus, the more meals you replace, you’ll notice your cravings for heavily salted foods with a lot of sugar and fat will diminish.  Remember, however, that you still can have the foods you crave, just a little less frequently and in smaller doses.

So, let’s change how we react to the word diet.  Let’s stop associating it with negative feelings and displeasure and start associating it simply to the construct of how you eat.  After all, your personal diet (how you eat) means something completely different than a cabbage soup diet, right?

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


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.

Visit Fitcoach99, LLC’s profile on Pinterest.

5 Weight Loss Strategies That Don’t Work


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.

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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How Your Brain Is Controlling Your Eating Habits


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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.
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.