The Misinterpretation Of “Diet”

diets
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?

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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3 Easy Ways To Cut Calories

calories

If you’re a believer in the pure mathematical approach to weight-loss: “burn more calories than you consume”, then your daily calorie count is of utmost importance.  By now, it’s common knowledge that to lose 1lb per week, you need to create a daily deficit of 500 calories.  Too many people think exercise alone will help, but even a good 30 minutes will only yield you about 300 calories.  If that’s not enough, add the fact that we tend to eat more after exercise, both due to physiological reasons and our own belief in ‘rewards’.   As such, the best way to help offset calorie surplus is to leverage proper diet.  Since many of us are averse to adopting major changes to our daily habits, here are three quick ways to help create the necessary deficit:

  1. Do not drink your calories – If you’re not a food label lover or being mindful of what you eat and drink, you might be surprised how many calories are in your beverages. If you’re drinking sugary drinks with your meals (fruit juice, soda), energy drinks after workouts, or high calorie dessert beverages (think large coffee bar drinks or smoothies) you’re almost assuredly drinking more than 500 calories a day.  Eliminating these and sticking to regular coffee, tea, water and seltzer (diet soda is bad, stop soda altogether) will not only help cut calories but will help improve your overall health and sense of well-being.
  2. Switch to non-fat dairy – 1 gram of fat carries 9 calories (compare that to 4 calories per gram for both protein and carbs), so if your diet is rich in milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. using low fat or fat free versions can save you a bunch. choose-myplate-selected-consumer-messages-51-728
  3. PrePlan your Snacks and exercise portion control – Although some of us do fine with simply eating 2 to 3 meals a day, most of us snack up to 3 times per day. If handled properly, this is a great way to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.  The problem is that too few of us actually plan snacks and simply wing it by pulling something off the checkout counter or vending machine.  These types of items are typically empty calories, and offer way too many for their serving size.  Preplanning your snacks and making healthy choices will fulfill your need to eat, as well as provide nutrients that will help you feel full. Making better choices can easily shave 100 calorie off of each snack time.

These tricks are part of what it means to live mindfully, and you can check out our full Mindful Living program here.

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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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Building Your Own Meal Plan: The Right Macro-nutrient Ratio For Fat-loss

ratio

If you haven’t heard of macro-nutrient ratios, or even macro-nutrients, this may sound like a super advanced principle, but you’ll quickly realize it’s not only simple, but understanding it can help you build your own meal plan more effectively.

Macro-nutrients, as most commonly used in nutrition-speak, refer to the components of our diets that we need in large quantities.  Specifically Carbohydrate, Protein, and fat. Macro-nutrient ratios, then, are the percentages of each that we consume in a given time frame, usually per day.

Just as it’s true that no person reacts the same to a predefined diet, I will caution that not every person will respond according to generally accepted macro-nutrient rules, but, as much as we can provide a ‘one-size-fits-all’ the following should work for most of us.

The most common goal for folks new to Meal Planning is fat-loss, which is why it landed in the title of this post.  And, you won’t be surprised to learn that of the 3 common ratios, this is the one with the lowest carbohydrate percentage, and the highest protein intake. The ratio is:

Carbohydrate: 10-30% (I’d be careful about going under 15-20% myself, but these are generally accepted amounts)

Protein: 40-50%

Fat: 30-40% (Please understand that the bulk of these fats should be of the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats and omega 3’s.  Saturated fat should be kept under 15 grams per day, and trans-fats should be avoided altogether)

So, what does this mean for your meal plan, how can you tell what the ratios are based on what you eat?

Well, it requires math, but it’s very simple.  You start by knowing how many grams of each macro nutrient you’ve eaten in a day. Then, multiple the grams of Protein and Carbohydrate by 4, and Fat by 9.  This will give you the total calories for the day.  Then simply divide the calories of each macro-nutrient by the total.

So, for example, if you had 1,800 total calories yesterday from 90 grams of Carbs, 225 grams of Protein,

and 60 grams of fat, your total calories per macro would be:

Carbs 90 x 4 = 360

Protein 225 X 4 = 900

Fat 60 x 9 = 540

And your ratios would be:

Carbs = 20% (360/1,800)

Protein = 50% (900/1,800)

Fat = 30% (540/1,800)

This would be a very typical ratio for Fat-loss.  If this is your goal, design your meals to mirror these same ratios, but start first with your total calorie target and work backwards.  And remember, you calorie target should be set 500 calories below your maintenance needs as to create a calorie deficit.

Creating these types of meal plans is something we can help you with, both with our online coaching and our 30 day reset, which focus on the fat-loss ratio.

To recap, here are the suggested ratios by the three primary goals (C/P/F):

Fat-loss: 10-30%/40-50%/30-40%

Maintenance: 30-50%/25-35%/25-35%

Bodybuilding/muscle gain: 40-60%/25-35%/15-25%

Want to make this super easy? Download an app like Lose it! and it will do the work for you. You can see your ratios at a glance each day and adjust as appropriate.

 
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5 Sugary Things You Need To Avoid

soda

I recently did a post talking about all the conflicting information available with regard to Nutrition and Exercise. While there will continue to be controversy over extremes (anything from Paleo to Low-Fat dieting), one of the few universal things we all agree on is our need to significantly cut down on added Sugars.

Ellie Krieger of the Washington Post writes “Beyond adding empty calories and spiking blood glucose, which can contribute to weight gain and the myriad health issues linked with that, eating sugar dramatically increases your risk of dying from a heart attack. A major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 found that people who ate close to 20 percent of their daily calories from added sugar had a whopping 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate half as much. (For clarity, I am talking about added, refined sugar here — the concentrated sweetener put into foods, as opposed to the sugars inherent in whole fruits and dairy. Because those foods are naturally “packaged” with water, fiber and other nutrients, they do not have the same negative effect on your health. In fact, most of us should be eating more of them.)”

Here are the 5 no-no’s for anyone concerned about their added sugar in-take (and that needs to be ALL of you)

  1. Soda – There’s absolutely nothing good coming from Soda, even the diet version. If you need the fizz, switch to seltzer and if you absolutely need something to cut the taste, add a very small amount of fruit juice.  This will make it taste more like soda with only a fraction of the sugar.
  2. Sugar Cereals – I know it’s a quick way to get your breakfast in the morning, and I salute the effort, but check your labels.  Even cereals you think are good for you are still loaded with sugar.  Find cereals made from only whole grains and ones that include that as the ONLY ingredient.  If not, skip it.  To sweeten the taste, add fruit.
  3. Candy – This should not be apart of your daily routine as an adult.  If you’re someone who thinks they need chocolate or the like to get through the day, recognize that you have unwittingly created a bad habit and it needs to be broken.  Remove it from your routine for 30 days and you’ll be shocked how you will no longer crave it.
  4. Sports drinks – Unless you’re a pro athlete please give me a break.  Stop this now.  You want energy? Grab a handful of almonds.
  5. Coffee – This is another habitual drink.  Remove it from your coffee for 30 days. I bet on day 31 you’d find your old coffee too sweet and undrinkable.  Do not drink sugar, it’s pointless.

Read Ellie Krieger’s full article here.

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5 Signs You Might Be Skinny Fat!

skinny fat

That is the title of an article I came across this morning (written by Amanda Macmillan, featured on Fox News’s website.  Full Article link below) , and I have to be honest that the title alone made me click through (and chuckle!).  Obviously, though, this is no laughing matter.

However, to keep it light for a minute, are you one of the unfortunate people who has a close friend or relative that can eat like a garbage pail and never gain an ounce?  Okay, they’re not going to win any fitness competitions, but they could plow through a supersized meal and dessert and still wear the same jeans from High School?  I have a friend who is best friends with one of these, while she herself is the kind that would gain a pound just looking at a milkshake.

Often, when she goes off on the unfairness of life and the cruelty of the darned gene pool, my ‘go to’ response is to remind her that’s she is actually better off.  Why? Well, just being thin isn’t a barometer for health.  While she can fit into the same clothes from a decade ago, her friend isnt’ getting the warning signs that her body is slowly growing unhealthy.  While her friend goes about eating fried Oreos and sipping cola’s, my friend has had to clamp down on her diet an increase exercise to help stave off unwanted pounds.  As much as I hate to admit it, and I’m sure you’ll silently protest it as well, vanity plays a big role.  Assume you could eat whatever you want and keep your 20-something year old body – would you bother eating clean and working out? Only a small percentage would answer ‘yes’ to that.

So, forget being bitter and ‘hating’ our genetically skinny brothers and sisters, and start feeling blessed that your body is sending you signals to tighten up your diet and move a heckuva lot more.  After all, while it’s wonderful to look good, living a more healthful life pays so many more dividends.

Here are the 5 signs bulleted. To see the full article visit: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/01/28/5-signs-might-be-skinny-fat.html

  • You have a muffin top
  • You can’t do a pushup
  • You have a family history (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure)
  • You don’t eat healthy diet
  • You’re in an at-rick population (e.g. ethnic group)

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