Tag Archives: Eating

What’s your excuse??

What’s your excuse??

I already know all the excuses because I was the queen of them for years… It’s raining out, it’s too nice out, my workout clothes are dirty, I forgot my headphones at home, I don’t have time, I don’t want to get bulky, I’m too tired…blah blah blah. The real question to ask should be what’s your REASON?

My before picture is just after finishing my doctorate. I did not regularly exercise. I held baby weight after each pregnancy. I was constantly exhausted and used the excuse that chasing the children around was enough exercise. I came down with every cold and virus that could fester and spread on the grocery cart handle. I was miserable and avoided any pictures with my children – which now in hindsight is just plain sad for them and me. I went to bed miserable every night because I failed at what I had sworn that morning I would do – which was to make better food choices and get to the gym. It was an ugly vicious cycle and the effects of my misery did not go unnoticed by my family. 

Finally, one morning I woke up and said I am done talking about it -(I felt my back fat jiggle) and from that day on I started living it and being about it. There have been setbacks, struggles and tears but the truth is, once I started getting up and consistently working out in the mornings, it made me want to make better choices all through the day, including in the kitchen. My energy levels became increasingly better and I slept like a rock all night. My moods were much happier and instantly improved my family life and relationships. It would be a straight up lie if I said I wasn’t motivated to rock a bikini at my age but I also realized these kids in my life really were MY WHY and they needed and deserved a happy, healthy, active mom who could step up and be their healthy role model. When I found my reasons why, I simply lost all of my excuses.

My decision to coach keeps pushing me further, keeps me motivated and providing goals but it is very far from my reason why I continue to live this lifestyle.

So instead of looking for your excuse, are you able to dig deep and find YOUR reasons WHY? When you do find your why and your passion, your results will follow. Message me for help.11042942_947364438631658_7105274840541815394_n

Goodbye love handles. Hello Sexy Abs!

Are you sick of muffin tops and love handles, or are you comfortable with the roll of flab that pops over the waistband of your jeans and ruins the sleek line of fitness clothes, clingy sweaters, and tailored shirts.

A lot of people think that they can get rid of this annoying bump with daily sit ups. While crunches do tone muscles this exercise alone will not get rid of love handles. Do you know why? Well it’s because love handles aren’t muscle. They’re fat, and to burn fat you need a healthy diet and a rigorous cardiovascular program.
A good overall plan for 30 to 45 minutes of cardio three to four times a week, strength training (including the exercises below) two to three times a week, and a day of rest every week so your body can rebuild muscle. Spice up your workouts with a variety of cardio approaches will be the most effective — don’t just stick to only the elliptical or just a few spinning classes. Getting stuck in a cardio routine can lead to a plateau. Instead, you want to keep challenging different muscle groups. My personal favorite high-intensity interval training to burn fat is TurboFire. You get results quicker instead of working at the same steady pace throughout your workout.
Your initial goals will be weight loss and trimming down the fat. Once you’ve done that — or at least made significant headway — you can start to tone the muscles underneath your love handles. As you burn fat and increase your metabolism through building muscle, that extra padding will eventually go away.

Ab Workout: Kiss Love Handles Goodbye

Make these five exercises part of your plan to tone waist and hips:
1. Bicycle Crunches: “This exercise will work your internal and external obliques as well as the rectus abdominis [the largest ab muscle],” Keigher says.
Lie on your back, knees bent.
Place hands behind your head without interlacing your fingers. Lift your head slightly.
Twist so that your left elbow goes toward your right knee while you extend your left leg.
Pull your leg back in and extend the other leg, twisting so that your right elbow goes toward your left knee.
Build up to 3 sets of 25 reps each.

2. Standing Trunk Twists
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
Keep hips and legs facing forward as you twist to the right, extending your left arm out (like a punch) to the right.
Twist in the opposite direction (left), extending your right arm out in a punch to the left.
Aim for 100 repetitions.

3. Lying Leg Twist
Lie on your back with your arms stretched out to the sides, hands flat on your mat.
Lift legs and bend knees so that your calves are parallel to the floor and your thighs form a 90-degree angle with your torso.
Lower both legs together to one side so that your outer right thigh touches the ground on the right side, maintaining the 90-degree angle.
Return them to center and then lower to the other side so that your outer left thigh touches the ground.
Build up to 3 sets of 25 reps each.

4. Side Planks: “This exercise strengthens your core, in the front and the back,” Nasser explains.
Lie down on your right side, leaning on your elbow.
Extend your legs out straight, with your feet stacked. The edge of your right foot should be on the floor.
Use your core to hold your body up in a straight line (you can modify it by putting your right knee down on the floor if you need support). Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, or longer if you can.
Lower yourself fully to the floor and switch sides.
For added challenge, lift the top leg and hold it up so that it is not touching the bottom leg.
Holding each side for about 30 seconds, do four or five reps, and increase as you get stronger.

5. Seated Russian Twists
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat.
Hold your arms out in front of you, hands pressed together.
Lean back about 45 degrees. With a slow, controlled movement, twist to your left side. Return to center, and twist to your right. That’s one rep.
One full rep should take about 20 seconds. Take a breath and repeat. Start with four to five reps, adding more reps as you get stronger.
For an added challenge, lift your feet off the floor as you do this exercise.
If you eat a healthy, low fat diet and burn more calories than you take in, and enjoy a good mix of cardio and ab workout time, you’ll watch your love handles start to melt away within a few weeks.

Resource: Healthy living from everyday health.

You’re stuck at the same weight, now what?

 

If this sounds like you then you may need to reset your metabolism.  The human body is a well-designed, amazing & complicated machine.  Many systems work together to help you maintain a stable weight.  But, when your metabolism slows down, you may feel tired and those extra pounds just seem to pile on.  According to the American Council on Exercise, a slow metabolism can be the result of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition or lack of sleep.

Calories are important to track, but they are only one part of the equation.  In order to lose weight consistently you need to make sure that your metabolism is running at top speed.

One factor that influences metabolism is your set point.  Think of your set point like a thermostat for your body. When you are home, you set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and expect your heating or air conditioning system to respond to outside conditions and maintain your home at that temperature. By the same token, your set point raises or lowers your appetite and metabolism — the rate at which your body burns calories — in response to how much you eat.  If you consistently eat less than you body needs your system will slow down.  After a while, you have a gap between the calories you eat and those you use up in exercise, your body’s regulation system will adjust your set point upward. Your body then settles in to maintain that higher weight. This is why it’s so hard to the weight back off.

When you start to lose weight, your body’s metabolic alarm goes off. It tells your body — which strives for stability, or status quo — that you are not eating as much as usual. In turn, your body demands more food. It’s a stubborn survival mechanism that is not reprogrammed easily.  You may be tempted by the lure of crash diets.  Don’t get me wrong, they work, but only for a little while.  Your body will think that it is starving of much needed nutrients and as a result your metabolism will slow down so that it can make the best use of the resources available.

As long as your set point remains elevated, you will have intense cravings every time your body senses that you are not eating enough to maintain your present weight.

Thankfully, there are some ways you can kick your body back in gear and reset your metabolism, giving you more energy to do the things you enjoy and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Know your numbers

  1. How many calories do you burn for your gender, age, body composition and activity level?
  2. How many calories do you consume/burn in a day?

To lose a pound you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories.

Avoid temptations

Those hunger alarms make it very difficult for overweight people to lose weight, and even harder for them to keep it off. Your body is fighting to hold on to whatever excess fat it has become accustomed to, and it does its best to replace any weight you lose. This is where you need to stick to your plan and avoid temptations.  Don’t give in to those strong cravings.  Your body needs time to readjust its settings.

Temptation can be an early warning sign that you need support. We all have moments when we can be around our favorite foods and stick to our program. But, there are times when we just sit right down and give in. Think of that craving as the first step toward actually eating the off-limits treats; think of it as the signal to call for help and reach out to someone that will support you before you start to feel like heading for the treats.

If you feel tempted, STOP! 

Stop Sign

Stop Sign (Photo credit: ladybeames)

STOP is an acronym for a four-step process that you can use to good benefit.

S — Stop!
Visualize a stop sign and hear the word “stop.” Immediately stop whatever it is you’re doing.

T — Take a deep breath.
This creates time for you recognize and look at the temptation you’re faced with, and take steps to avoid it.

O — Observe your situation, yourself, and the options you have.
Analyze what’s going on. How are you feeling? What do you want? What do you need? In your observation, use the HALT analysis. Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? That’s because we often react automatically, sometimes inappropriately. The only good reason to eat is true hunger. If there’s something else tempting you, then eating is not the answer, plain and simple.

P — Plan your correct action.
You’ve got choices, so what are they? What’s really important to you? What actions will help you move toward what matters, toward an appropriate response, and away from the temptation and reactionary eating.

Go ahead and let yourself hear whatever voices inside you are suggesting that you abandon or sabotage your healthy intentions, and pause long enough to acknowledge and respond to those voices. A good response might be, “Thanks for sharing, now move along.”

Then shift the focus away from food by doing something else: Sit quietly for five minutes and let your attention rest on your breathing; phone a friend; review a list of your motivations for getting healthy (you have made that list by now, haven’t you?) or take a walk.

Guess what?  You need to encourage yourself as you would a friend or loved one. Sometimes we are so critical of ourselves and say things about our bodies that we would never say to another person.  We’re often too willing to let ourselves fail without offering the support we would give to even a casual pal. Remember that sometimes, if you’re not hearing what you need to hear, it might be because you’re not saying it yourself.

The more often you use the STOP method to manage cravings, the more easily and effectively you’ll be able to resist temptations and overcome your body’s natural tendency to push you back to your set point.

This does get easier the more you do it, but it takes practice. After a while you get good at it, and it just becomes a habit.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast. Your metabolism slows during sleep. The sooner you eat the quicker the metabolism restarts.
  2. Drink 8 glasses of iced water a day. It will make your metabolism speed up to warm itself.
  1. Eat a minimum of six (and up to eight) times per day. These feedings will consist of snacks and main meals.
  2. Make lists of your favorite protein and carbohydrate foods. You should have at least five different protein foods and ten different carbohydrate foods to choose from that include vegetables and fruits.
  3. Each meal should ideally consist of 60 percent carbohydrates (from grains, vegetables, and fruits), 30 percent protein, and 10 percent fat.
  4. Eat only one serving of each food and one plateful for the entire meal. Never have a second serving.
  5. Never skip meals or snacks between meals.
  1. Have an apple. They are full of fiber and pectin that help you feel full and provides slow, steady energy for a longer period of time.
  2. Have a chili pepper. Spicy foods can increase your core temperature and your metabolism

References

  • American Council on Exercise Personal Trainers Manual, Cedric X. Bryant; 2003
  • 100 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism; Cynthia Phillips, et al.; 2009

What and When You Should Eat

I ate these - ants in the Amazon 2003

Image by exfordy via Flickr

By Steve Edwards

It’s not just what you eat but when you eat that matters. The perfect food for one situation may be horrible for another. Nutrient timing is a science that athletes use to try to get the most out of every calorie they consume. Not everyone needs an athlete’s level of efficiency, but all of us will benefit from a basic understanding of nutrient timing.

This is 911, need-to-know info only. To keep you focused on the big picture, I’ll begin with an example at the extreme end of nutrient timing. If the average Joe followed the same diet as an Ironman triathlete, he’d likely have type 2 diabetes in a matter of months. Conversely, if someone tried to complete an Ironman on even the healthiest version of a low-carb diet, that person would either be forced to quit or die. This is not just because either diet would mean eating too much food or too little food. Different foods cause the body’s metabolic process to react in different ways; and various activities should be fueled using various means.

Let’s begin by looking at our possible fuel sources:
Carbohydrates
Are fuel only. They aren’t stored in body tissue, only in the blood and liver as glycogen, which needs to be burnt off. They are essential for high-level functioning like running fast, lifting heavy things, and thinking. They are digested and put to use by your body very quickly. If you eat more than you burn, your body will convert them to be stored in adipose (fat) tissue.

Proteins
Called the body’s building blocks. Hence, you need them to rebuild tissue that breaks down daily. You digest proteins slowly, and at a certain point, your body just can’t assimilate them. Therefore, it’s important that throughout the day you eat foods that are high in protein.

Fats
Help regulate all of your bodily functions. They are dense and contain over twice the calories of proteins and carbohydrates. While they are vital for our health, it’s easy to eat too much of them, which will result in unwanted fat tissue on your body. You digest fats slowly, and fats will also help slow the digestion of anything else you eat. Fats are also your backup fuel source, though they can’t be put to use right away the way carbs can.

Fiber
Categorized as a carbohydrate, it is not a source of fuel as it has no calories. It’s the indigestible part of a plant and is of vital importance in your diet because it regulates the absorption of the foods you eat. It also helps us feel full. Most of us don’t eat enough fiber, and that’s a big part of the obesity problem.

Alcohol
Not really a food source but something we tend to consume. It has nearly twice the calories of proteins and carbs (though it lacks fuel) and digests rapidly. Its only healthy function is that it seems to make us happy. Studies indicate this is a good thing, as those who consume alcohol generally live longer than those who don’t, but from a purely nutritional standpoint, it’s not so hot because you’re getting calories without any upside. Its use should be strategic and regulated for best results.

Now let’s look at the various situations we face daily, at least on most days—hopefully.
Relaxing
This is when we’re sedentary both physically and mentally. In a relaxed state, you burn very few calories because your body is engaged as little as possible, hence the relaxing.

Sedentary work
When we’re at work or school. Our bodies aren’t moving, but our brains are engaged. The brain runs on glycogen, which is blood sugar fueled by carbohydrates.

Low-level exercise
Like mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, or going for a walk. This breaks down body tissue, so you’re burning calories, but it’s not intense work. Therefore, it can be fueled by your stored body fat. Your body tries to fuel its low-level outputs by mobilizing fat stores because this saves its limited glycogen for emergency situations.

High-level exercise
Fueled by glycogen. When you really have to get after it, all sorts of hormones go to work, and your body burns its blood sugar. Body-tissue breakdown is rapid, and your stored blood sugar (glycogen) won’t last much more than an hour.

Sleep
A very active time. Deep sleep is where your body works the hardest to repair itself. You need nutrients to make these repairs, but it’s better if you aren’t mucking up the process with digestion. This is why you hear that you shouldn’t eat too much at night. It’s best to eat early to allow most of the digestion to happen while you’re awake, thus allowing your body to use all its energy for recovery during sleep. It is worth noting here that it’s better to eat before bed if you need the nutrients—don’t skip them. Your body can’t repair itself without nutrients, and recovery from breakdown is why we eat in the first place. Next, let’s take a look at an important word you need to know: insulin.

Insulin
Wikipedia tells us that insulin “is a hormone that has extensive effects on metabolism and other body functions, such as vascular compliance. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle, and stopping use of fat as an energy source.” Okay, that’s a little scientific, but look at all the things we’ve already referenced: hormone, glycogen, metabolism, and fat as an energy source. Even if you don’t fully comprehend “vascular compliance,” you can tell that insulin is something important in today’s discussion.

Sure enough, it’s the only hundred-dollar word we need to know today. Your body’s insulin response is the main reason you want to eat certain foods at certain times, to do certain things.

Putting it all together
Now let’s take what we’ve just learned and put it to use. For most of us, nutrient timing is pretty simple. The next thing to consider is what you’re going to be doing or what you just did. As I said before, what you eat should be based on this. You’ve probably heard about the evils of sugar, or maybe even the glycemic index. Using the science of nutrient timing, you can turn sugar into something healthy because it’s the only thing that transports nutrients into your blood quickly enough to be of service during and after hard exercise.

Essentially, sugar or other easily digested carbs (the less fiber the better) promote an insulin release. This speeds the transformation of carbohydrates into glucose in your blood. As your glycogen stores are depleted during exercise, recharging them with sugar minimizes the damage done by the breakdown of tissue during exercise. Therefore, sugar, the oft-vilified ingredient, is actually your body’s preferred nutrient during times of excessive stress and tissue breakdown.

Pretty cool, huh? The bad news is that this miracle nutrient is not good for you when you’re not doing intense exercise, which for almost all of us is most of the time. In fact, sugar’s very bad for you because the insulin response that was so fabulous for you when you were bonking (glycogen depleted) is not so fabulous for you when you’re sitting in front of the boob tube.

Remember this from the Wikipedia definition of insulin, “stopping use of fat as an energy source”? That’s bad when you’re sitting around. Remember how one of dietary fat’s responsibilities is to fuel you during low-intensity exercise? Well, when sugar causes your insulin to spike, it cuts off that process. Now not only are you not burning body fat for low-level outputs, you’re trying to force your body to use its glycogen. Double bad.

Unless you’re exercising, sugar intake should be minimized. During these times—which is most of the time—your diet should consist of a mixture of proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates. The latter are natural sources of carbohydrates that generally come with fiber, which regulates the insulin response. Whole fruit, a simple carbohydrate by definition because it contains fructose (a sugar), always contains fiber and, thus, can be treated as a complex carb. Fruit juice, and other such stuff, is processed; it, along with processed complex carbohydrates like white rice, can cause an insulin response, so these types of foods should be used more like sports foods than staples.

It’s also important to note that combining all these different nutrients slows sugar’s ability to incite insulin into action. Therefore, a little sugar like a dessert after a well-rounded meal is buffered by the meal. The calories and lack of decent nutrients (processed sugar is devoid of most nutrients, except for energy) still count toward your overall diet, but at least you don’t have to worry about an insulin spike.

So the main point of this article is very simple. You should eat small, well-rounded meals most of the time. These should include some proteins, some fats, some fiber, and some carbs. During (only if it’s a long workout) and after hard workouts, you should supplement your diet with sugar or simple carbohydrates. After this, you should go back to eating well-rounded meals again.

Sports nutrition has evolved this process even further. In nature, foods are generally slow to digest. Nature’s great sports foods are things such as bananas and figs. These are sugary but still contain fiber and other nutrients. Science has found ways to make foods that are even more efficient during sports. These basically manipulate pH levels and process the sugars to speed them into your system. Outstanding when you need it. Terrible when you don’t.

They’ve even taken this a step further by finding a ratio of other nonsugary nutrients (like protein) that can be transported by the sugar to give you a further benefit. Beachbody’s Results and Recovery Formula uses this science. When you’re bonking during a hard workout, it speeds nutrients that are essential for quick recovery into your system as quickly as possible.

I can’t stress how important it is that sports fuels be used for sports performance only. Gatorade, soda, and all sugar candies (hey, no fat!) all function as the poor man’s sports foods. Unfortunately, those perusing the Quick Stop generally aren’t trying to fuel up after doing Plyo X, and therein may lay our obesity trend.

In case the topic is still a bit fuzzy, let’s use the above logic on the examples in the intro: An Ironman athlete is doing intense exercise for 10 to 12 hours or more. During this time, that athlete is mainly burning glycogen, which is gone after an hour or so. The athlete burns stored fat, too, but this is limited in its effectiveness. To race, the athlete must replenish with sports foods because they contain the only nutrients that the athlete will digest fast enough to help. To complete an Ironman, especially at your physical limit, it may take 5,000 calories coming mainly from sugar.

This is a sports-specific diet only. Someone trying to eat that way during a viewing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy would be lucky to stay out of the emergency room. Conversely, if you tried to maintain a 25-mph speed for 8 hours on your bike while munching on raw spinach and lean steak, you’d bonk so hard you’d be praying to get yanked from the race at the first checkpoint. That should cover your 911 on nutrient timing. Next time, we’ll move on to the topic of supplements. Are they magic pills, overhyped placebos, or something in between?


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