100 simple and easy ways to stay healthy in 2018

Because I (impulsively) felt compelled…

Here’s a list of 100 small things you can do to stay healthy in 2018 –

Stay hydrated:

1. Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up

2. Invest in a water filter

3. Add flavor to your pitcher – something without calories

4. Use an app to track how much water you’re drinking

5. Keep a gallon nearby – get your bro on

6. Consume more water-rich foods (plenty of veggies)

7. Use a marked water bottle

8. Get your La Croix on, or any type of carbonated water brand

9. Sip some water before each meal

10. Drink a glass after every bathroom break

11. Set alarms on your phone to get up and drink some water

Sleep well, and often:

12. Resist the snooze button (it’s not high quality sleep when you hit the snooze button)

13. Set an alarm to go to bed

14. Avoid drinking alcohol before bed

15. Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible, invest in blackout curtains

16. Maintain a cool temp (67-69 degrees if possible)

17. Cut off the caffeine consumption by early afternoon

18. Avoid screens for at least a half an hour before bed, eliminate the artificial light

19. Exercising regularly will help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule

20. Avoid eating right before bed

21. Cut out all of the noise, unless you sleep with a fan, in which case, white noise is your friend

22. Keep your pets out of bed, unless they’re very polite and exist in the same spot, as not to disturb your slumber time

23. Make sure your mattress and bedding aren’t abusing you

24. Keep a consistent sleep schedule – wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time

25. Yoga and meditation before bed can prime you for restful sleep

26. Deep breathing can help prime you for sleep, as well

27. Hot showers/baths before bed

28. Take Melatonin an hour before bed

29. Invest in a comfy, non-obtrusive sleep mask

30. Journal before bed, specifically what’s bugging you

31. Avoid excessive liquid intake before bed

32. Invest in a brand new pillow

Get introspective/mindful:

33. Consider seeing a therapist as a means to talk through your life issues–it will translate and transfer itself to other facets of life, making you an overall healthier person mentally and physically

34. Consider journaling in the morning to get your thoughts out–you can practice gratitude journaling, you can “brain-dump” your thoughts out, or you can simply write down 3 things you hope to get done by the end of the day

35. Read books that challenge and empower you, as this will translate to peace of mind and ultimately, a healthier mind/body

Make exercise easy:

36. Establish some realistic, and specific goals, and attach timelines to them

37. Keep your workout clothes/shoes somewhere in your line of sight, and somewhere you can grab them easily (car, next to your bed)

38. Get a workout partner, hold them accountable and make sure they do the same

39. Hire a professional – skin in the game + expertise = accountability

40. Make a bet with a coworker

41. Walk outside whenever you get the chance.

42. Set a concrete workout time throughout the week and stick to it – set alarms in your phone if you have to – example: Mon/Wed/Fri at 7:00am-8:00 non-negotiable

43. Ask your HR department for some information regarding incentives to stay healthy and active – you could get paid to work out

44. Make some bomb-ass playlists on Spotify to work out to

45. Buy a FitBit, and count your steps

46. Gamify your workouts by using apps

47. Think of something active you can do while watching TV

48. Introduce yourself to some podcasts that you can listen to while working out – if they’re inspirational or empowering, double score

49. Keep your gym bag stocked and in your trunk

50. Don’t end the workday unless you’ve worked out – think of it like this: you don’t get paid if you don’t work out

51. Go into the gym with the expectation that you’ll just be walking for 3 minutes, everything after that is bonus – we do more once we actually make it to the gym

52. Trick your brain, it’s not that smart

53. Put a few bucks in a jar every time you exercise, at the end of the year, go on a mini-vacay or buy yourself something fancy

54. Re-examine how you view pain – pain is great in the right context – without pain, there can be no growth

55. Drink a glorious cup of coffee before working out – caffeine can be very beneficial before exercising

56. Exercise when it feels right for YOU – ask yourself, “what would this look like, if it were easy?”

57. Try yoga – free workouts on YouTube

58. Try group classes – many can be fun, and if you like the idea of working out with other people, there’s a possibility of community and accountability

59. Think of fun incentives for completing workouts

60. Think of it as self-care, because it is

61. Set alarms to get up and walk around if you have a particularly sedentary job

62. Go for a hike

63. Work out in the yard, or the garden, or play sports with your friends

64. Avoid comparing yourself to others – become a better version of yourself and cut the comparisons

65. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout, just get back on the horse asap

66. Take the stairs

67. Park far away from your destination

68. Remind yourself to enjoy the process – we’re all a work in progress

69. Do some active stretching/mobility work while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning

Make eating well easy:

70. Pick 5 sources of healthy protein, carbs and fats, and consume those foods 5-6 days a week

71. Prep your food for the week on the weekends

72. Prep ONLY your protein for the week on the weekends so you always have it available

73. Make a smoothie as a healthy snack: Protein powder, frozen fruit, water or almond milk, ice, a tiny bit of natural peanut butter, and pinch of oats and you’re good

74. Drinking water before and during meal time will help you feel more full and satiated

75. Keep your meals during the week as simple and easy to prepare as possible – convoluted recipes will be the death of your healthy eating

76. Avoid waiting until the end of the day to get most of your food – fast food after work needs to be a last resort

77. Incorporate mindful eating – pause before eating – pinpoint your “trigger” foods/drinks, the kinds of food and or drinks that influence you to consume more of the unhealthier food items

78. Limit alcohol – try drinking 1 day a week, or try cutting it completely

79. Use a meal prep service – many are affordable, and many are completely customizable – they can even prepare your food according to your macronutrient ratios

80. Make a grocery list and stick to it – don’t go to the grocery store hungry

81. Hire a professional to be your nutritional adviser

82. Buy in bulk – divide in portions

83. Tupperware can be your friend

84. Avoid eating out during the week

85. Use a smaller plate – science has backed this one

86. Opt for frozen over canned

87. Pace your meal time – slow down and you’ll more than likely consume less

88. Don’t buy crap in large quantities – if you’re going to have a cheat day in the week, buy crap at the gas station in single-serving portions and consume it that day – you’re much less likely to consume crap during the week if you don’t have it

89. Eat all the greens you want – massive salad adventures

90. Choose whole grains – they’ll help you feel more satiated

91. Avoid fat-free items – they add more carbs, so the calorie amount stays the same

92. Avoid sweetened drinks – avoid drinking calories

93. Prepare some healthy snacks that are easy to transport – example: apple and almond butter

94. Pack a protein bar, if you have to – Okay, so not optimal, but if the alternative is a candy bar, a protein bar is a far better option

95. Buy veggies pre-chopped and throw them in the skillet

96. Invest in an Instant Pot, or another crockpot and search the interwebs for some simple and healthy recipes

97. Eat the same thing 5-6 days a week – find out YOUR magic food amount for the ideal busy day and stick to it

98. Use MyFitnessPal to track your food intake

99. Avoid using your work’s fridge if it’s filled with crap

100. Expand your food horizons and explore some healthier items you’ve never had – you can cook with your significant other, try new things, and hopefully add to your healthy meal repertoire

If you have some more that you didn’t see on the list, I would love to see some ideas in the comments.

Cheers! Happy first month of 2018.

Movement Motivation

Do you ever have those days, where you just can’t find the motivation to do anything?

I do.  We all do.  I can’t get off the couch.  I have no energy.  I have no drive.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel it.  I don’t feel like working out.  I don’t feel like eating my pre-scheduled meal.  I don’t feel like drinking an adequate amount of water.  I don’t feel like getting off my butt.

I’m grateful for these moments.  I have worked hard to become self-aware enough to know when they’re coming on.  I have learned to challenge these thoughts, and challenge their lack of deliberate action.

It has taken time, and patience with myself while I figure out how to fight against the temptation of not doing anything.
I know that when I feel a complete lack of motivation, I must plunge into purposeful action.

I must propel myself into a state of total excitement.  I must implement effort and exertion.

This is how I have to work out, even on the days when I don’t feel like it.

I work out with purposeful action, with excitement, with effort and exertion.

It’s time to start getting real.  It’s time that you start being completely honest with yourself.   It’s time that you stop letting yourself off the hook so easily.   It’s time to start answering tough questions.

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn

Time is going to move regardless.  Do you want to let 6 months go by without even starting?  Or do you want to look back at the 6 months behind, and be thankful you started?  You will not regret doing something healthy for yourself.

I will not regret exercising.  I will not regret choosing to not eat that piece of cake after I’m already feeling full.  I will not regret taking time to recharge and rest.  I will not regret taking a few moments to plan ahead to make it all work.

Exercising and living a healthy life is the ultimate form of self-care.

I’ll never take it for granted.

I know the power of it now.

Maybe it’s time that you start doing good things for yourself.  Maybe it’s time you implement some self-care that isn’t easy.  Learn to delay instant gratification.

Instant gratification robs us.  It cheats us.

Instant gratification leaves us feeling empty, hollow, worthless and weak.  You don’t build muscle by sucking in your gut to take a fake selfie to post online for some false compliments based on a lie.

Delaying gratification gives us control, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment.

Don’t cheat yourself.  Don’t cheat your goals and aspirations.

Staying motivated to keeping your health a priority is crucial.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Why am I doing this? 
Why do I want to change my body composition?

Take a moment, and really think about why it is you want to do this.

Come up with as many reasons as you possibly can.  Be very honest with yourself.  Write down the answers – in depth.  Let your thoughts spill out onto the page.

When you binge on junk food for a quick fix, do you feel good about it? 
When you neglect getting a workout in, do you feel good about it? 
When you don’t make taking care of yourself a priority, do you feel good about it?

There will be times during this process that you may lack motivation.

Procrastination will rear its ugly head and you’ll stop moving.  You may wake up in a slump.  We have all been there.  Occasionally, you’re not going to want to drag your butt to the gym.

Netflix is right there, the remote even within reach, and leftover cake is sitting in the fridge.
But no matter how good you are at binge-watching “Stranger Things”, you are going to have to find the moments where you can fight it.

There are some things that you’ll want to remember and think about during these times:

It’s all about perspective.

Shift your thinking from someone who exercises occasionally to someone exercises regularly.  If people were to ask you to describe yourself, you could honestly tell them that you exercise and take care of yourself.

It’s what you do.  You don’t love it or hate it.  You do it.  Period.

This idea needs to become part of your identity, if it’s going to stick.  You are letting yourself down if you choose to skip a workout. You are slowing progress when you choose chips and dip instead of some healthy form of protein.  You are losing momentum when you don’t keep fighting to care for yourself.

Perhaps you have children.  Think about the example you’re setting for them.  Do you want them to be physically active and healthy?  Do you want them to grow up thinking it’s okay to avoid doing something, just because it may not be easy?  These thoughts should drive your behavior and motivate you to set a good example.

You have value to the people around you.  You are worth the effort of showing up for yourself.

Schedule a Regular Workout Time

Some of the most committed exercisers have a routine that they stick to – every day.  Some people do it as soon as they wake up.  Some people do it immediately after work.  It’s worth noting that people who exercise in the morning have more energy, and are much more alert for the duration of the day.  When you have a specific time of day that you exercise, it becomes a part of you.  It becomes as routine as brushing your teeth.

Psych Yourself Up

Watch a motivational video on YouTube.com.  Listen to inspirational music.  Listen to heavy music.  Jump up and down.  Splash cold water in your face.  Scream your mantra!

Do whatever you have to do to psych yourself up, and then get out the door.

Reach Out To Someone

Consider asking a friend to be your workout partner on certain days.  Having someone waiting for you at the gym is one of the most motivating ways you can positively change your environment.

You may engage in friendly competition with your workout partner.  It’s more fun if you’re trying to beat each other during sprints, get in more reps, or have better form with a deeper squat.  Push each other forward.

Plus, you get a spotter!  Just be sure to stay off of your cell phone when your buddy has 200 lbs over his/her face.

Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing It

Think about why you started.  Look at your goals.

Think about how not having the body you desire makes you feel.  Imagine how it will feel to create the body you desire.  Think of all the people who are rooting for you.

Think about all the people who told you that you couldn’t do it.  Think about all the times you told yourself you couldn’t do it.  Let the need to prove them, and yourself, wrong become a positive motivator.

Remind yourself why you started and then re-commit to keep going.  And then get the hell after it.

Time Well Spent – In the Gym

Time is the one non-renewable resource we have. This makes it the most valuable thing we have at our disposal!

Because time is limited – it’s very important we spend it wisely.  The gym is no different.  We want to get the most out of the extremely valuable and precious time we spend working out.

Be effective and not just efficient

Make a to-do list. Find a way to make it your own. Whether it’s a journal, a checklist on your phone, or several sticky notes strewn across your wall.

to-do-listLists can be a great time management tool, as having all of your tasks written down can keep you focused. For me, checking things off of my to-do list is one of the most satisfying and cathartic parts of my day!

When I make a list of things to do, I’m going to prioritize the list, putting the most important things at the top. I’d rather avoid doing a ton of unnecessary busy work just to prove I can get a lot of things done.

I see a lot of people doing excessive isolation movements in the gym.  Bicep curls, tricep extensions, leg extensions, abdominal crunches for days! Isolation movements have their time and place, but you want to prioritize your workouts and focus on compound movements first.

Compound exercises involve working many different muscle groups throughout the lift. Compound Movements include Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, Overhead Press, Pull Ups, Rows, Lunges, and Planks.

Prioritizing ensures that I’m tackling the most important and necessary lifts first.

Example:  Instead of performing 12 sets of varied bicep curls, do 6 sets of strict chin ups.  You won’t just be isolating the bicep muscles.  You’ll be hitting the biceps, the forearms, the back, and the core.  Compound movements are going to make you stronger, faster.

If I don’t prioritize, everything seems urgent and important.  It’s easy to fall in the efficiency trap.

I can do 10 small things that may or may not be critical in the grand scheme of my day/week. Or, I can prioritize and do a few very important things that I may be avoiding. In one of his many brilliant blogs regarding time management, Tim Ferriss says “What you do is more important than how you do everything else, and doing something well doesn’t necessarily make it important.”

Plan your day in advance

Consider writing out a list at the beginning of each day, or right before you begin your workout.  Ask yourself a couple of questions:

• “If I only perform these exercises today, will I get a great workout?”

• “Will performing these exercises help me reach my desired outcome?”

I like to literally plan out each hour of my day, if I can.  This is where my neurotic qualities really shine. For me, sticking to a plan helps me stay focused and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

At the very least, starting to do this with your workout time will help make those moments the most effective possible! It doesn’t have to be complicated.  Keep it simple.  It could be something as simple as:  Monday is leg day.  You might have a specific body part (or parts) that you work on specific days of the week. Don’t to go into the gym and say you’re going to play it by ear.  Don’t guess.  Have a plan.skipped leg dayYou want to follow an appropriately balanced training program.  This requires a little forethought.  A balanced program will ensure that you’re not neglecting certain body parts/muscle groups.  This will also ensure you’re not favoring any body parts/muscle groups, which we all have a tendency to do.

We all know that guy who only does arms and chest.  He’s going to have a major problem down the line, if he keeps it up.  Internal rotation of the shoulders, tight pectoral muscles, and chronic back pain are only a few of the symptoms of favoring “mirror muscles.” Plus, he’s the guy on the meme that forgot about leg day.

Avoid “multi-tasking”

Occasionally, while training a client, I’ll overhear someone conducting a meeting out on the floor of the gym.  They pace back and forth as they shout in to their headphones. Having a conversation on the phone while simultaneously performing some not-so-intense cardio work.

Don’t be this guy.

Are you working out, or are you securing a new client? Pick one.  If you’re in the gym, you should be working out.

Divided attention leads to poor progress.  You can’t build and sustain muscle while blabbing to your best friend about how much you hate your boss. Not to mention, it’s poor gym etiquette to hog a machine, accomplishing nothing but liking the last 30 Instagram posts or Facebook stalking your ex.

Multitasking is less productive than doing a single task at a time.  We’re never actually doing 2 things at once, just bouncing back and forth.  Our brain is only capable of focusing on one thing at a time.  Research has shown that multitasking reduces efficiency and performance.  Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, trying to do many things at once lowers your IQ.  Instead, it’s better to practice singular focus, and do one task at a time.

If you’re going to work out, then work out.  Get in there, work hard, get it done, and go home. Make it worth your time.

Avoid distractions

If you’re like me, and you’re hypnotized by any television screen within your line of sight, try to avoid it.  Even at the bank, I find myself looking at the television while waiting in line.  I hate it. Most gyms are filled with tv screens.

It may be cable news screaming sensational headlines in the hopes of distracting you every 5 minutes, or it may be ESPN recapping all the latest sports drama.  Resist the urge to watch, resist the temptation. They will cause you to take incredibly long and unnecessary rest periods, and this will destroy your progress.workout clothes readyMusic is great because it’s not a distraction.  The right music might help drive and motivate you. I only listen to music while working out.  It keeps my workouts intense.  I like it loud, and heavy. Sometimes, music in your headphones can simply drown out all of the environmental noise that you’re going to hear in any busy gym (weight’s clanging, big dudes grunting, etc.).

You need your time, and you have a limited supply. Don’t waste it. Be conscientious about how you spend your time in the gym. In fact, these principles can be applied to any worthwhile endeavor in life.  Quality time with your family, how you spend your time in the office, what you do with the little free time you have.

Your time is a valuable and precious commodity. Use it well.

Prepping Your Plate

I thrive on rituals.

My habit loops are powerful.

Daily, weekly, monthly – My habits ensure I live a healthy, productive life.

Without them, my life would be, and has been, chaotic at best.

It is necessary for me to form eating rituals.  It is necessary for me to create a daily meal plan.

I’m taking preventative measures.  I’m being proactive. I’m being strategic and intentional.

Healthy moments create healthy habits.

Make this easy on yourself. I don’t want you to stress out over this.

Create short-cuts with the food you’re eating. 

Figure out a meal plan, and then prep your meals for the week.  You don’t have to prep everything ahead of time, but you can prep certain things.  Make 2 or 3 protein shakes and keep them in your fridge.

Always have a piece of fruit with you.

Buy things that you can throw on the stove together, and that don’t require a lot of cook time.  Prepare a majority of your protein at one time, so you have some available.

Once you get the routine of your meal plan down, it’s going to take the thought process and stress out of it.  Come up with multiple meal plans that fit your macronutrient profile and cycle through them, so you’re not eating the same thing every day.

The price I pay as I mull over the endless options of what to eat, and where to eat, or what to cook (and do I have the ingredients necessary), are not weighing on my already overtaxed mind.

I just know.

Grocery Store

shopping basket of healthy things

Trust me when I say, this saves me time in the grocery store; I’m in and out in less than 5 minutes.  This also saves me money, as I don’t buy unnecessary food items.  I won’t purchase fruits and vegetables that will ultimately go bad.  I won’t buy junk that I’ll eat in times of desperate hunger and craving.

I buy exactly what I need.  It’s all according to the plan.  My control freak mind is satiated every time every time I walk up to the checkout counter.

Personally, I eat the same thing 5 or 6 days a week.  You don’t have to do it that way; you can plan for variety in your meal planning (I’d recommend it).  Eating the same thing all the time works for me, I realize it may not work for everyone else.  But, I don’t have to worry about food anymore.  Food is in the control column of my life, and that’s a liberating feeling.

Regardless of what meal plan you venture into the isles with, keep these things in mind:

Go with a list.

It keeps you on track and makes sure you don’t buy unnecessary crap.

Don’t go hungry.

That’s when the bag of marshmallow cereal actually looks appetizing.

Avoid the middle isles.

This is where you find the most prepackaged food

There are no magic food items for weight loss.

I want you to get away from the idea that there are “good” foods, and “bad” foods.  There really aren’t any “weight loss” foods, just food items that have high calories, and low calories.  They may be more nutrient dense, or lower in nutrient value.

You do not need to eat “fat-free” food items 

Reduced fat, or “fat-free” food items might have less calories than their counterpart items with the “fat-full” amount.  But many of these items have just as many calories, if not more so.  These “fat-free” or “low-fat” food items may have added sugar, starch or flour thickeners that are meant to improve flavor after the fat has been removed.

 Don’t worry about purchasing “organic” items exclusively.

Inspect any packaged food items before you purchase.  If they contain extra preservatives, additives, sugars, or unhealthy fats/carbs, reconsider buying.

Consider digestion. 

A healthy digestive track is important. Get at least 1 or 2 fruits in your daily dietary pattern (in between meals, and not with meals), as well as at least one green vegetable with your biggest meal.  Eat food items with insoluble and soluble fiber.

Condiments

A healthy, low calorie meal can turn into a calorically dense meal quickly depending on the amount of stuff you drizzle on top of it.

Ketchup, barbeque sauce, honey mustard, buffalo sauce, and many salad dressings are loaded with calories and sugar.

Swap mayonnaise for mustard, guacamole, hummus, or salsa.  You’ll conserve daily calories, and you might even discover that you enjoy the healthy alternative more than what you were previously eating.

Some other condiments that are very low in calories are:  Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, Horseradish Sauce, Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, Tabasco, Worcestershire Sauce, Wasabi, and Sriracha.

Spice it Up.

Experiment with an array of herbs and spices that will make your food taste delicious.  Spices also have thermogenic effects associated with them, which will help you burn more fat.

Re-feed/Cheat Days

It’s also worth noting that I haven’t taken out the spontaneity of eating altogether, either.  Once or twice a week, I’ll go to a restaurant, or I’ll get some take out.  I’ll eat some “sleazy” food, as I like to call it.  And I enjoy THE HELL OUT OF IT.  No guilt, no shame, no crippling self-hatred.  NOT ONE BIT!  I eat it, and love it.

I appreciate food more than I ever have.

Periodically, during any type of meal plan that requires a caloric deficit, you’re going to need to increase your leptin levels and balance out your hormonal profile. Leptin is a very important and influential hormone that is produced by fat cells.  Along with many other functions, leptin plays a significant role in regulating food intake, hunger and energy expenditure.

Any time you go on a “diet” or meal plan, you will be restricting yourself of foods that you once ate on a regular basis; this will cause your leptin levels to decrease.  This is going to cause you to crave the foods that you once ate.

Keep in mind that this is your body responding to a physiological trigger, and not just a struggle of willpower. You aren’t broken or failing. Your brain is wired to react this way and you will have to retrain it. That takes time.

Something you must take into account if you’re going to start any type of meal plan is that you when leptin levels go down, so will your metabolism. Whenever you are on a calorie restricted diet – even a small caloric deficit – for an extended period of time, your leptin levels will decrease, and your metabolism will slow down in an effort to make due with the food that you’re feeding it.

This is your body compensating when you give it fewer calories than it is used to having.  Unfortunately, this compensation effect can slow fat loss.  So what can you do to raise your leptin levels?

Some people chose to have a “cheat meal” or even a “cheat day” once or twice a week.  This can become an easy way to binge on everything in sight, as a “cheat day” can become a “cheat week” very easily.

Refeed.

Refeeding refers to a strategic increase of calories on certain days while engaging in a meal plan that calls for restricting a conservative decrease of daily calories. This is a specific way to cheat with guidelines so you can not hate life and still make your goals!

The main goal of a refeed is to eliminate the negative effects of dieting for long periods of time.  This is how you will normalize your leptin levels.

It’s important to note that leptin is highly responsive to glucose metabolism.  Because of this, you’re going to want to consume a surplus of carbohydrates that will turn into glucose.

You do not want to consume more protein and/or fat sources.  You will benefit most if the majority of your excess calories are carbohydrates on refeed days. This will normalize your leptin levels and increase your metabolism without the addition of excess body fat.

So how often should you have a refeed day?  How many extra carbs should you eat?

This depends on many factors such as:  how long you’ve been dieting, how big the caloric deficit is, and your body fat percentage. If your body fat percentage is lower, you’re going to have refeed more often.

A refeed day should consist of 20 – 50% more calories than you would normally be eating during your calorie restricted diet.  So when you determine your basal metabolic rate or your “calorie maintenance level” – this is the amount of calories you should be eating on your refeed day.

You should include some of your more desired foods on refeed days, as this will help improve the psychological restraints you experience during the dieting process.  It’s important that you don’t go overboard on junky carbs, and try to get a majority of your food from nutrient dense foods.

Below is what your macronutrient ration should look like on refeed days:

·        Reduce protein to 1g per 1lb bodyweight

·        Decrease your fat intake by 50%

·        Increase your carbohydrate intake by 50 – 100%

As you become leaner, you’re going to want to increase the frequency of refeed days.

Men over 10% body fat:  Refeed every 7 – 10 days

Men under 10% body fat:  Refeed every 3 – 4 days

Women over 12 – 15% body fat:  Refeed every 7 – 10 days

Women under 12 – 15% body fat:  Refeed every 3 – 7 days

You’re going to want to monitor your progress closely while refeeding.  If you notice a decrease in performance, or you feel bloated and fatigued after a refeed day, consider lowering your overall calorie consumption on refeed days.  I would not recommend you implement refeed days until you are under 20% body fat.  If you are already there, limit your refeed days until you get a handle of making regular, healthy eating habits!

Shortcuts and Quick Tips

·        Drink plenty of water each day

·        Surround your workouts with meals – pre workout meal, and post workout meal) that contain a nice amount of protein (20 to 50 grams) and carbohydrates

·        Get the majority of your calories from higher quality, nutrient-dense sources – some junky stuff is fine – but make it a very small part of your overall diet (think 80% “clean” – 20% “not so clean”) – make sure it fits your macros

·        Whey protein powder can be a very convenient and quick source of protein

·        Adopt a healthy lifestyle – “diets” are (for the most part) not a sustainable – ask yourself:  “Can I continue eating this way for 5 years?” – if the answer is no, then the meal plan will not work

·        Limit the processed crap – eat more fruits and vegetables instead

·        Avoid margarine and canola oil – you’re better off using regular butter in moderation – butter contains some of the good fats

·        Use coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

·        Limit processed meat – If you eat meat, purchase the meat and cook it yourself (grass fed is best)

·        Avoid drinking any calories – try to drink water exclusively – calorie free drinks are okay in moderation, but water is king

·        White rice is fine – it’s not necessary to only eat brown rice

·        Avoid pre-packaged microwavable meals – they are very processed, and because you’re microwaving them, you’re losing some of the nutrient density

·        Avoid candy, chewing gum, and excess sweets – they may contain high fructose corn syrup, and you want to avoid those

·        Limit artificial sweeteners – alters our sweetness sensitivity – honey can be an appropriate substitute in small doses

·        You can eat eggs – you don’t have to exclusively eat the egg white – the yolk contains many essential nutrients like omega 3 fats – eggs have a lot of protein in them as well – hard boiled eggs are a great snack that are easy to prepare

·        Whey protein shakes are convenient when you’re on the go – you can take them with you wherever you go

·        Berries are super foods – tons of antioxidants – great in oats or in protein shakes

·        Avocados are a great source of “good fats” – the fat that your body needs to remain healthy – avocados also contain over a dozen essential minerals – and they’re very filling (be aware of high calorie content)

·        A wide variety of beans are great to incorporate into your diet – they contain a lot of fiber – they contain many vitamins – they also contain a lot of proteins

·        Nut butters such as peanut butter and almond butter contain a lot of fiber and protein – natural peanut butter is optimal – regular peanut butter in moderation

·        Herbal tea, and black tea contain tons of antioxidants

·        Leafy greens are nutrient dense – kale is the most nutrient dense food in existence

·        Sweet potatoes are a great source of healthy carbohydrates that your body will utilize efficiently

·        Eat a variety of lean protein – grass fed is optimal – chicken,  fish, turkey, ground beef, any other type of beef – keep in mind that you can be a vegetarian/vegan and get a sufficient amount of lean protein (avoid consuming excess soy)

·        Limit alcohol consumption (you may want to nix it all together) – many alcoholic beverages are loaded with nutrient free calories – our bodies aren’t designed to store alcohol (unfortunately), and our bodies will work to expel it immediately, this process can get in the way of absorbing nutrients and burning fat

·        Fast food is no longer an option – should be viewed as poison

·        Balance is key – a balanced diet contains plenty of healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates and fiber

·        Prepping meals for the week on the weekends is a good idea – it can help you avoid eating convenient junk when you’re starving

·        Only eat when you’re hungry – stop eating when you are full – avoid eating due to boredom

Once you have implemented these practices, you can focus more on the intensity that you’ll be bringing to your workouts.  

My hope is that these blogs regarding food have helped you see the bigger picture of how your daily eating habits contribute to your overall fitness and health.  Implement some of these practices and mold them as you see fit.  All advice is like a shirt, try it on and make sure it fits well before you keep it.  And if you want to tailor it to make it work for you, contact me!

Balance, and consistency – keep these elements in mind, and you’ll be sure to reach any goal you set!

Creating a Daily Meal Plan

I made the decision to figure out exactly how much food I needed in order to get lean, because I was sick and tired of guessing.

My goal was to get lean.  Lean and mean.

When I calculated my daily calorie number, and my daily macronutrient ratio, I still wasn’t sure what the hell I was going to be putting into my body.  I didn’t know where to start.

What was it going to look like?  How many times a day did I need to eat?  Did it matter when I ate certain foods?  Were there any foods that I absolutely had to incorporate into my meal plan?

In this blog, I’ll be giving some tips on how to create your own custom meal plan – One that you’ll be enjoying for years.  With time, you’ll see how easy it is to change and adapt your meal plan to fit your lifestyle.

Creating a Daily Meal Plan

Once you have determined the amount of calories you will be consuming daily, and you’ve determined your macronutrient ratio, it’s time to start developing a meal plan.

It’s important to remember that it’s okay if you are not following these calorie numbers exactly, but you want to remain close.  Stay close to the numbers, and you will succeed in gaining lean muscle tissue, while minimizing fat gains.

Healthy diet

Don’t be afraid to measure your food.  Buy a food scale, they’re relatively inexpensive.  A lot of people hate the idea of measuring out their food, but once you get in the habit of it, it becomes second nature.  You’ll love the control you feel once you know that you’re not spilling over, and eating too many calories.

There will come a time, when you may not need to measure your food exactly.  I usually suggest that my clients begin measuring their food as an awareness tool more than anything.  It’s important to be aware of how much 4 ounces of rice is, or 6 ounces of sweet potato.  Most Americans aren’t aware of how large their food portions are.  Measuring your food is eye-opening.  It’s a game changer.

Pick foods you love, damn it!  Don’t torture yourself. 

For some, a meal plan means eating the same small meal 7 times a day.  You’ll see people lining up their perfectly portioned Tupperware containers on Instagram with the same thing in every container.

Tilapia, brown rice, and broccoli.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT THE SAME SMALL MEAL 7 TIMES A DAY.

You can change it up!  It’s better if you have a wide variety of macronutrients.  Eat different types of protein, carbohydrates and fats.  There’s no honor in eating the exact same food you hate for an extended period of time.

It’s also important to note that you want to pick foods that you enjoy so that you won’t feel like you’re on a diet.  This is not a diet.  We’re being intentional about the food we’re putting into our bodies, in order to get the most out of it.  We’re being flexible with our food choices, and that’s why it works.

A lot of so-called “trainers” and “fitness gurus” might tell you that you need to eat 7 small meals a day.  They might tell you that 6 of those 7 meals must include grilled tilapia, broccoli, and brown rice.  This is a very archaic approach to losing weight, and if you follow a plan like this… you will be miserable, and you will quit.

Food is meant to be enjoyed!  We want the food we eat to fill us up, give us energy, and fuel our busy lives.  You should be enjoying the food you eat every day.  No exceptions.

The best meal plan is the one that doesn’t feel like one. Be flexible. If you can’t see yourself eating in a similar manner in 5 years, you need a different meal plan.

Tools

There are a few tools you can use to keep track of your food intake.  It’s always a good idea to start tracking the food you eat with a daily food journal.

Write down absolutely everything you eat and drink throughout the day, even if it’s something small.  The act of logging everything you put in your mouth will give you a sense of awareness and clarity to what you’re consuming.

You can determine very quickly what your eating habits look like, and at what times of the day you eat or crave certain foods.  You may come to find that you crave junk at specific times of the day, and just being aware of these times can help you avoid the continuation of unhealthy habits.

myfitnesspal screenshot

A very useful tool in creating a meal plan quickly and easily is the MyFitnessPal App.

This application on your phone gives you the ability to track the food you eat daily.  It’s very easy to use, it has a lot of great features, and it’s free!  It gives you the macronutrient breakdown of the food you’re consuming, so you know exactly how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats are in the food you’re eating.

You can scan the bar-code of most items in your local supermarket, and it will pull up the macronutrient profile immediately.  This app also allows you the ability to track your water intake, and your workout times and activities.  You can even set up a profile on the app that will allow you to follow and track your friends eating habits, and they can follow yours as well.  This is a fantastic tool which can aide in the motivation and accountability of healthy eating.

When you are aware of the unhealthy things you’re putting into your body, it will be much more difficult to continue on with unhealthy and sabotaging habits.  You may avoid eating junk simply because you don’t want to log it!

Track the food you eat, and become aware of the nutritional value of the foods you consume.

Sample Meal Plans

Below I have listed a few meal plans that you can use as examples to help you write up your own meal plan:

** Keep in mind; I am not a registered dietitian/nutritionist.  I’m giving very general guidelines and practices that have worked for me, and my clients.  My hope is to give you a few examples to help guide you.

Meal Plan #1:

  • Meal # 1:
  • Instant oatmeal – fat: 2g, carbs: 33g, protein: 4g
  • Medium sized honey crisp apple – fat: 0.2g, carbs: 17.2g, protein: 0.3g
  • Meal # 2:
  • 1 and ½ scoops of natural peanut butter – fat: 12g, carbs: 6g, protein: 5.2g
  • ½ whole grain bagel – fat: 1g, carbs: 26g, protein: 5g
  • Meal # 3 (Protein Shake blended w/ ice and water):
  • Whey protein powder (2 scoops) – fat: 4g, carbs: 16g, protein: 40g
  • ½ banana – fat: 0g, carbs: 15g, protein: 0.5g
  • ½ cup of frozen strawberries: fat: 0g, carbs: 6.5g, protein: 0g
  • Meal # 4:
  • 6 ounces of grilled chicken breast: fat: 3g, carbs: 1.5g, protein: 33g
  • 5 ounces of steamed broccoli: fat: 9g, carbs: 9g, protein 5g
  • 4 ounces of white rice: fat: 3.5g, carbs: 45g, protein: 5g
  • Meal # 5 (Protein Shake blended w/ ice and water):
  • Whey protein powder (2 scoops) – fat: 4g, carbs: 16g, protein: 40g
  • ½ banana – fat: 0g, carbs: 15g, protein: 0.5g
  • ½ cup of strawberries: fat: 0g, carbs: 6.5g, protein: 0g
  • Meal # 6 (Protein Shake blended w/ ice and water):
  • Whey protein Powder (2 scoops): fats: 4g, carbs: 26g, protein: 40g

Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Fats: 42.7g, carbs: 223.7g, protein: 178.5g
  • Fats: 384.3cal, carbs: 894.8cal, protein: 714cal = 1,993.1 calories consumed

Meal Plan #2:

  • Meal # 1:
  • 5 egg whites – fat: 0.5g, carbs: 1.2g, protein: 20g
  • Instant oatmeal – fat: 2g, carbs: 33g, protein: 4g
  • Meal # 2:
  • Whey protein powder (1 scoop) – fat: 2g, carbs: 8g, protein: 20g
  • Medium sized honey crisp apple – fat: 0.2g, carbs: 17.2g, protein: 0.3g
  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter – fat: 8g, carbs: 4g, protein: 3.5g
  • Meal # 3:
  • 7 ounces of grilled chicken – fat: 3.5g, carbs: 1.8g, protein: 38.5g
  • 4 ounces of sweet potato – fat: 0.1g, carbs: 22.8g, protein: 1.8g
  • Meal # 4 (Protein Shake blended w/ ice and water):
  • Whey protein Powder (2 scoops): fats: 4g, carbs: 26g, protein: 40g
  • ½ banana – fat: 0g, carbs: 15g, protein: 0.5g
  • ½ cup of strawberries: fat: 0g, carbs: 6.5g, protein: 0g
  • Meal # 5:
  • 5 ounces of beef (95% lean) – fat: 15.2g, carbs: 0g, protein: 22g
  • 4 ounces of whole wheat pasta – fat: 3g, carbs: 82g, protein: 14g
  • ½ cup of marinara sauce – fat: 1g, carbs: 5g, protein: 1g
  • 4 ounces of broccoli – fat: 7.2g, carbs: 7.2g, protein: 4g
  • Meal # 6 (before bed):
  • Casein protein powder (1 scoop) – fat: 1.5g, carbs: 11g, protein: 25g

 Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Fats: 48.2g, carbs: 240.7g, protein: 194.6g
  • Fats: 433.8cal, carbs: 962.8cal, protein: 778.4cal = 2,175 calories consumed

Meal Plan #3:

  • Meal # 1:
  • 1 English muffin – fat: 1g, carbs: 25g, protein: 4g
  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter – fat: 8g, carbs: 4g, protein: 3.5g
  • 4 egg whites – fat: 0.4g, carbs 1g, protein: 16g
  • 3 tablespoons of salsa – fat: 0g, carbs: 1.5, protein: 0g
  • Meal # 2:
  • 5 ounces of grilled chicken breast – fat: 2.5g, carbs: 1.2g, protein: 27.5g
  • 4 ounces of white rice: fat: 3.5g, carbs: 45g, protein: 5g
  • 5 ounces of steamed broccoli: fat: 9g, carbs: 9g, protein 5g
  • Meal # 3:
  • 5 ounces of beef (95% lean) – fat: 15.2g, carbs: 0g, protein: 22g
  • 5 ounces of fajita peppers (green, red, yellow) – fat: 0.3g, carbs: 8.5g, protein: 1.3g
  • 3 ounces of onions – fat: 0.1g, carbs: 7.7g, protein: 0.9g
  • Meal # 4 (Protein Shake blended w/ ice and water):
  • Whey protein Powder (2 scoops): fats: 4g, carbs: 26g, protein: 40g
  • Meal # 5:
  • 5 ounces of grilled chicken breast – fat: 2.5g, carbs: 1.2g, protein: 27.5g
  • 4 ounces of white rice: fat: 3.5g, carbs: 45g, protein: 5g
  • 5 ounces of steamed broccoli: fat: 9g, carbs: 9g, protein 5g

 Macronutrient Breakdown:

  • Fats: 59g, carbs: 184.1g, protein: 162.7g
  • Fats: 531cal, carbs: 736.4cal, protein: 650.8cal = 1,918.2 calories consumed

Again, It doesn’t really matter when you eat the food items

Based on current research, the concept of “nutrient timing” isn’t particularly important for people trying to look and feel better.

The total amount of protein, fats and carbohydrates you eat, over the course of the day, is more important for body composition and performance than nutrient timing strategies. 

We’ve been told lies regarding this for a very long time:

“Don’t eat carbs after 6 PM.”

“Don’t eat carbs after 4 PM.”

“Don’t eat carbs after (insert any hour in the afternoon here).”

“You only have a half an hour anabolic window after training to get your protein and carbs in!”

The fact of the matter is that your body will absorb and utilize the food in the same way regardless of the time of day that you eat it.  You can eat carbs before bed, as long as it fits your macronutrient ratio.

Remember, carbohydrates are not the reason you will become overweight – the surplus of calories will be.  You need to discover what works best for you.  Do your own research, and do your own experimentation.

Eat the food items that make up your macronutrient ratio on your own terms.  If you don’t like eating breakfast, then don’t eat breakfast.  If you want to eat 5-6 small meals spread out evenly over the course of your day – by all means – do it.

Something to consider: 

There have been studies indicating that people who skip breakfast and eat fewer times throughout the day tend to be heavier than those who eat a healthy breakfast and eat four or five times a day. This may be due to the fact that people who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later in the day, causing them to eat more than they normally would.  It may also be that eating many small meals throughout the day helps certain people curb their appetites.

Stay tuned!  In the next blog I’ll give you some more tips and tricks that will help you create an easy,  sustainable meal plan.  We’re setting ourselves up to win!

 

Food: An Introduction

This is going to sound harsh…  But I’m going to type it anyways.

 

Don’t waste your time in the gym if you’re attempting to out-train a crappy diet.

It doesn’t work. You’re going to get very frustrated and it may cause you to quit.  A lot of people say that the significance of diet is 70% whereas training is 30%, when talking about changing your body composition.  I would say there is some validity to these claims.

Training and nutrition work synergistically with one another when you are trying to lose weight and add lean muscle mass.

Adapting to, and maintaining a healthy diet should never be viewed as something temporary.

You need to implement healthy practices for life.

This needs to become a part of your lifestyle.

In doing so, you will reap the rewards of long-term mental and physical benefits. One could argue that nutrition really is the most important component when it comes to altering your body composition for better or worse.  You must fill your engine with the proper fuel.  In order for you to perform at your best, you’re going to have to feed your body accordingly.

No growth can occur without the proper raw materials. Make a decision today to begin filling your body with low calorie, nutrient-dense food.

Nutrients are the reason we eat!

How Food Fuels Us

Our bodies are very efficient at converting the food we eat into useable energy. Every part of the body needs this energy to function properly.

In order to exercise efficiently, and in a manner that will help us achieve our fitness related goals, we must take into account how food fuels us inside and outside of the gym.

Digesting food occurs when we eat by mixing the food with fluids in our stomachs. After the stomach digests the food, carbohydrates (sugars and starches) in the food break down and form another type of sugar.

This sugar is known as glucose. Glucose is then released into the bloodstream after it is absorbed by the stomach and small intestines. Once glucose enters the bloodstream, it can be used immediately for energy or stored in our bodies, to be used at a later time.  Keep in mind that our bodies need insulin in order to use or store glucose for energy.  Without insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels high.  Ultimately, your body’s goal is to digest food and use it to keep your body alive and functioning.

What Types of Food We Should Eat More Of

You should strive to eat more nutrient-dense foods that are abundant in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Foods that are abundant in essential micro and macro nutrients will keep you feeling more satiated than lower nutrient, processed foods.

You’re also going to want to examine how much protein you’re consuming per day. Most people do not get enough good sources of protein in their diets.

Most people consume a larger number of foods loaded with carbohydrates, and fat.  At the same time, you do not want to avoid eating carbohydrates, or fats.  You need both – in balanced amounts to efficiently perform and maintain a healthy weight, lose weight, or even gain weight.

What Types of Food to Avoid

There are many of foods that should be avoided. Processed foods, otherwise known as “convenience foods” should be avoided and will likely diminish your progress if regularly consumed.

Foods that are processed, pre-prepared, commercialized, refined and manufactured are generally not so great.

Some of these food items have very clever and misleading advertisements that make you believe they are healthy.

There are also many beverages on the market that are easily consumed, and packed with dense calories. These calories can add up very quickly.

If you take the time to look at the ingredients list on processed food packages, you will often see some form of wheat, corn, sugar or soy combined with polyunsaturated oils. You will also see a list of additives designed to preserve, texturize, and color the food.

Fast food restaurants and all fried foods should be avoided at all costs.

It can no longer be an option. Stop eating it immediately.  In your eyes, it should be viewed as poison.

In my next blog, I’ll go into more detail about what types of macronutrients are in the food we consume, along with their benefits.

Gaining Muscle

Growing Muscle

The ultimate goal. Elusive in nature.

Excuse me while I get a little corny, but muscle is magic. Those magical little protein filaments are responsible for giving us the ability to do, well… everything.

What else is going to keep you durable for the long haul?

We’re fragile without muscle. Handle with care-worthy.

So how exactly do we get more of it?

Hypertrophy and Protein Synthesis

Hypertrophy can be described as the enlargement of a muscle belly, and this occurs when muscle cells, specifically muscle fibers, grow in size.   Our fast twitch muscle fibers become larger and thicker when we implement strength and resistance training.  Long term hypertrophy, the growth of our muscles over time is known as chronic hypertrophy.

When we train, we experience transient hypertrophy.

This is the “pumped up” feeling we experience when we lift weights.  After weight training, your muscles will undergo a very important biological process known as protein synthesis.

This is the process of increasing the protein content of muscle cells.  Without protein synthesis, our muscles won’t grow.

Protein synthesis is the process of repairing or even removal of proteins in the body that are damaged.  New proteins are then formed.  These new proteins will be more dense, and stronger than the ones before.

When you work out, protein synthesis tends to decrease.  During rest and recovery periods – after lifting – is when protein synthesis begins to increase.

This is just one of the many ways our body adapts and responds to stress.

Our bodies are incredibly efficient at adapting to, and handling stress.  When your body is repairing, it’s in an anabolic state.  Your muscles will grow in size during your rest periods.

Growing Muscle

Below is a list of practices that will help promote muscle growth:

Get enough calories – We’ve discussed the importance of calorie consumption. It’s vital for the growth of muscle tissue. It is absolutely essential. Do not disregard this in the hopes that you will magically grow your muscles without the proper raw materials needed to build them. Keep track of your daily calories. If you see that you are low, and bedtime is approaching – start eating. At the same time, don’t overeat. Don’t allow yourself to go over, and justify it by eating less the next day. That isn’t how this works. Don’t give yourself unnecessary wiggle room, because you don’t have wiggle room. If you want to look a certain way, you need to eat accordingly.

Get enough of the right calories –  All calories are not created equal.  The foods we eat are made up of macronutrients.  the 3 major macronutrients are: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  It’s important to know what type of calories you’re consuming.  You need to be getting the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. This is also vital for the growth of muscle tissue, and the burning of body fat. If you’re not getting the proper ratio of macronutrients daily, you will need to adjust the type of food you are eating, or the amount of food that you are eating.

Lift with intensity – Resolve to lift with intensity (every workout).

Again, I want to make sure we know the distinction between lifting with intensity, and killing yourself. We’re not killing ourselves in the gym, we’re pushing ourselves. It’s not necessary for a workout to cause pain. If you are experiencing pain, you might consider having someone examine your form, because you may be doing something wrong or even dangerous. Lifting with intensity is important. Push yourself! Maintain an intense mindset when you lift. Listen to music that inspires you, and pumps you up during your workouts. Keep your rest periods short between sets. Lift with purpose and intent. Don’t half-ass it. If you’re dragging, you’ll need to be the one responsible for psyching yourself up to get maximum benefit.

Overload your muscles – When we impose stress upon our muscles, our body will adapt and respond accordingly, in an effort to adapt and respond to that stress more efficiently in the future. This is the only thing we are doing inside of the gym. Imposing stress, so that your body will adapt and respond the way we want it to. If you are lifting the same weight for months, your body will adapt and learn to lift that particular amount of weight. This is why it’s so important to push yourself. Once your body has adapted to the stress you impose upon it, it will require additional stress to continually make progress. You want to carefully and appropriately go up in weight and/or volume over time. By appropriate, I mean, it’s not necessary to go up in weight every week. Your body won’t adjust or respond that quickly. You’ll sacrifice form just to move the weight. Go slow. Make sure you’re lifting with proper form, and then when you feel like you have mastered a set weight for a particular exercise – bump up the weight. When you increase the weight, make sure you’re making small, incremental weight increases. It’s counterproductive to make a 50 pound jump – it’s much more appropriate to make 5 to 10 pound increases – at most. It’s during these “push yourself” sets that you should utilize the help of a spotter who can assist you if you get stuck.

Get plenty of rest/sleep – Rest and recovery periods are essential to any balanced and effective training program. Rest periods are when the magic happens. Micro trauma of the muscle fibers will occur when you lift. Your body repairs itself afterwards, during rest periods. This is where the real training effect takes place. When we’re physically active, we deplete our energy storages, and during recovery periods, we replenish them. Without sufficient time to rest and recover, your body can actually prolong the effects of tissue damage and the lowering of energy storages.

Sleep is very important recovery time.

Adequate sleep will not only help you stay mentally healthy; it will ensure you maintain a balanced hormonal profile, and it will aide in muscular recovery.  There are many studies that indicate sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.  You will not metabolize glucose efficiently if you do not get a sufficient amount of sleep.  The body cannot function properly unless it is well rested.  Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Another thing to keep in mind is the central nervous system. The central nervous system is involved in the training of all of the muscle groups, so even if you rest one muscle group and focus on lifting another, the central nervous system might still need time to rest and recover.  Our joints could use a break occasionally, too.  My hope is that you fall in love with strength and resistance, but it’s not necessary to lift 7 days a week, and it could be detrimental to do so.

Get plenty of water – First of all, your body is dependent on water to survive, so it’s kind of important. Like rest and recovery, our bodies will not function efficiently without enough water consumption. The average person loses up to 6 pints of water daily (under average conditions). Dehydration can lead to a decrease in physical activity and performance. It’s imperative that you drink enough water; 65 – 75% of our muscle is composed of water. You need to stay hydrated to fully tap your potential. You need to keep your muscles hydrated. You’re going to want to drink water throughout the day, and especially before, during and after your workouts. You’re going to be losing a considerable amount of water during the workouts through perspiration, so you’ll need to replace it.

Before workout:  17 – 20 ounces at least 2 hours prior to working out

During workout:  7 – 10 ounces for every 10-20 minutes of working out

After workout:  20 – 30 ounces within 2 hours of working out

Drinking water helps expedite the fat-loss process as well. It flushes out toxins, and natural bi-products of fat.  Water also helps keep our stomachs feeling full.  Many people mistake being hungry with thirst.  Having an adequate amount of water will help boost your energy levels, and it will improve your mood.  Drinking enough water helps regulate body temperature, and it also aids the digestive system.  If you are having trouble getting enough water in throughout the day, consider drinking on a schedule.  Perhaps every 2 hours, drink 20 ounces.  Set an alarm on your phone if you have to.  You can also try to drink 20-40 ounces of water every time you eat to ensure you’re getting enough water throughout the day.  Be sure to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up as well, to help aide the digestion process after breakfast.  Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, by then it’s too late, and you’re already dehydrated.  There’s a very simple way to determine how much water you should be drinking daily:

Take your weight and multiply it by 75% – the answer to that – in ounces – will be the amount of water you should be consuming daily. Let’s take a hypothetical man who weighs 200 pounds and determine how much water he will need to drink daily:

200 X .75 (75%) = 150 ounces

It’s worth noting that 128 ounces = 1 gallon of water

Lift heavy – Metabolism plays a vital role in terms of weight loss – fat loss, specifically. We’ve discussed the importance of adding muscle tissue to your body, which will speed up your metabolism. In order to properly stimulate muscle growth, you must choose weights that push your muscles to their limits. This is going to require you to lift heavy weights occasionally. Your muscles will grow as a result. You need to pick weights that will stimulate your growth hormones, and lifting heavier weights will release more of these hormones. Lifting heavy means a 3-8 rep range is where you need to be – if you can lift the weight more than 8 times – and your goal is to be lifting “heavy,” you should go up in weight. Push yourself! Lifting heavy is the best way to jump-start the fat loss process. Lift to the point of pure muscle exhaustion. Your muscles are made of 2 types of muscle fibers – fast twitch muscle fibers, and slow twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers are recruited when we lift heavy (3-8 rep range), and they give us explosive power. Slow twitch muscle fibers are recruited in volume training, and they give us muscular endurance. A balanced, periodized training program will require a mix of recruiting fast twitch, and slow twitch muscle fibers.

Keep in mind, the heavier you lift, the more recovery time you will need.

 

I’ll take this time to debunk another misconception that refuses to die:

Woman and gaining muscle

I still encounter women who are hesitant to try weight training because they assume it will make them appear bulky or masculine. There are some who assume that lifting heavy will result in huge muscles, and they’ll be stuck with them forever.  There simply is no validity to this myth, and yet it’s still being touted as fact – often.  Women do not – and cannot – naturally produce as much testosterone as men.  Women will develop muscle mass, if they lift appropriately, but it will not be an absurd amount.  Women who use anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone), along with other drugs, are the ones who are adding the massive amounts of lean muscle mass on to their bodies.

Women who conduct an appropriate weight training regimen – without the use of anabolic steroids – will achieve a toned and fit physique. One that is strong, yet still feminine.  Properly performed, lifting heavy can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being including increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, improved joint function, and reduced potential for injury out in the real world.

Weight training is for everyone – men and women.

 

Setting Goals – (Achieving them, too)

We all have goals.

We may not realize it, but striving for something is in our nature. It is within us all to want, or crave something.

But it takes more than just wanting. In order to attain what you strive for, you must put thoughts into action.  The difference in wanting/striving and getting/achieving is purposeful, meaningful action.

You can’t wish for a better body. Changing your physique for the better requires consistent dedication and hard work.  There are no shortcuts to getting the body of your dreams, and that’s the point.

The work is the payoff.

But, we still need an endgame.  We still have a desired result in mind.

Learning to set measurable, realistic and attainable goals may be the most important thing you ever do in your entire life. Fitness goals are no different.

Write them down!

I know it’s cliché, but it’s true – a goal that isn’t in writing may as well be a wish.

Documentation will be a critical part in determining your success. You’ll want to see quantified results.

Below is a list of things that can help you achieve your fitness goals (whatever they may be):

LOOK AT IT – Once you’ve written down your goals, I want you to keep that piece of paper somewhere you’re going to be forced to see it. Put it on your refrigerator.  Put it on your bulletin board above your desk at work.  Tape it on your bedroom wall.  Put it on your bathroom mirror.  Put it anywhere – just make sure it’s visible – every day!  If you can’t see your goals every day, you will forget about them.  Keep them in the forefront of your mind, and you will gravitate towards them daily.  Write down sticky notes with motivational sayings on them and put them on your computer at work and at home.  It may seem cheesy to write all of this down, but it will keep you from slacking and giving up.

Be Specific – It’s very easy to say we want to get in shape. Most people have that as a goal at some point in their lives.  But it’s not specific.  There are too many variables in sayings like “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to get skinny.”  Now, if I say something more specific, like “I want to lose 15 pounds in 2 months” – I have a much higher chance of success because my goal is very specific.  You set yourself up for success when your goals are specific.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Something You Can Measure – You cannot change what you do not measure. It’s important to measure your progress.  But, it’s worth noting that the more you measure your progress, the more you can continue setting goals.  You should never stop setting new goals for yourself.  As a species, we are meant to challenge ourselves, and create things.  We are purposeful beings that thrive when we aspire towards something every day.  The only way to truly progress in life, and in living, is to set measurable goals for yourself, and then work daily to achieve them.  Keep a notebook with you during the workouts.  Track how much weight you are lifting.  When you find yourself lifting the weights easily, and you want to challenge yourself, you can gradually go up in weight.  It’s also a good idea to keep a food journal with you to keep track of what you are consuming.  One of the great things about technological advancements in the fitness industry is that there are many tools and applications that can help us keep track of our progress.  Today, we can measure our heart rates during exercise, our workout duration times, calories burned, water consumption, and food intake.  Utilize these resources in measuring and quantifying your progress.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic and Attainable – Generally speaking, we can only achieve goals that we believe we can realistically achieve.  It is unrealistic to set a goal of making 1 million dollars in a year when you’re current annual income is 15,000 dollars.  Our minds aren’t capable of making such a leap.  Setting goals that pertain to changing our body composition are no different.  Make sure your goals are realistic.  Once you achieve your goal – set a new one.  Celebrate the small victory, and then set a new small goal.  Eventually, little by little, you will be in the best shape of your life – and even then – you will want to continue setting new goals to achieve.

Make Sure Your Goal Is Attached To a Deadline – Attaching a deadline to your goal is something that will make the attainment of that particular goal much more likely.  If you have a timeline associated with something you want to achieve, then you will progressively work towards it.  You will have a sense of urgency.  It is much more likely that you will not reach your goal if you do not set a deadline in which to reach it.  Make sure your deadline is short enough to see results, yet it is not daunting or intimidating.  If you give yourself too much time, it is very easy to lose focus and to not stay dedicated to what it is you hope to achieve.

Example: I’m going to lose 15 pounds in 12 weeks, as well as reduce my body fat % from 22% to 20%.

Once you have clearly defined a specific goal you’d like to achieve, follow these 4 steps:

Step one:  Write down your weight.

I want to make sure you understand something first. You should not be obsessing over the number on the scale.  The number means very little.  You are not a number on a scale.  The number doesn’t define you.  That number doesn’t even really tell you a whole lot.  It doesn’t tell you how much body fat you have on your frame, and it doesn’t tell you how much lean muscle mass you have on your frame.  I’m asking you to document it in the beginning, but please, don’t obsess over the number.  If you have a considerable amount of body fat to lose, then you know you’re headed in the right direction if the number goes down.  If you don’t have a lot of body fat to lose (and you’re trying to gain more muscle mass), the number going down week to week may not be a good thing.  The number might even go up!  Gasp!  Keep that in perspective when measuring your weight.

Step two:  Have someone determine your body fat.

It’s important to know what type of weight you’re carrying. Determining your body fat percentage will tell you a much more interesting story than a scale will.  You can determine how much fat you have on your body, but you can also keep track how much lean muscle tissue you have as well.  It’s important to increase the amount of muscle we have on our bodies for numerous reasons.  One of the many benefits to strength and resistance training is that we will decrease body fat, and increase lean tissue.

Step three:  Have someone take your measurements.

Anyone at your gym should have the ability to take your body fat, and measurements. If the front desk attendant can’t do it, they can at least find someone who can.  Generally, a friendly personal trainer would be happy to help you – and you can use them as a resource as well.  Keep in mind that some of our measurements may decrease, while others may increase, and that’s okay.  You may lose inches on your waist and gain an inch on your biceps!  This particular scenario could potentially be a win-win scenario.  Also keep in mind that the differences in your body fat percentage and the differences in your body measurements will be the most dramatic in the beginning.  As your body acclimates to strength and resistance training, the differences will become less and less dramatic.

Step four:  Take a picture of yourself. I know, I know… this might be the last thing you want to do.

Take a picture with your body facing the camera, your profile, and your back. Make sure to include your entire body.  You’re going to want to measure the progress of your upper body, as well as your lower body.  Don’t be afraid to take these photos.  These photos will be invaluable when looking back on your fit journey.  They are documented proof of your transformation.  Day to day, you’re going to be examining your body in the mirror.  We all do it, especially when we first start exercising.  It will be very difficult to see your body changing day to day.  Measuring your progress with photos will be the proof you need to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.  Pictures can often be a driving, motivating force that helps keep people on the right track.  We need to see our transformation to really believe in it.  Once you believe in the transformation that is taking place in your body, it will inspire you to keep going.

Every 4 Weeks

Follow these four steps every 4 weeks. If you can, try to document your weight, body fat percentage, and your body measurements at the same time of day that you did previously.  Preferably, you want to do this as soon as you wake up, before you eat breakfast.  Aim to do them before your work out.  Aim to have the same person take your body fat, and your body measurements each time.  Use the same scale.  This will help maintain consistency, which will give you a more accurate representation of your results.  Try to take a picture of yourself in the same way you did previously, and wear the same outfit if possible.

Apply these ideas, and you’ll be smashing your fitness goals in no time.

 

 

New Years Resolutions: A Success Story

I posted this on the 1/1/2016 on my Facebook Page.

I thought I would share it here on my blog as well, considering the entire month of January is awash with people signing up for gym memberships in the hopes of getting back in shape.

Below I’ve listed a few tips to help you start the new year on the right track:

1. Have a plan

– Decide when you’re going to work out.

Decide how often you’re going to work out, which days of the week you’ll be working out, and at what time of day.

Stick to the plan.

Do not deviate from the plan.

Consistency is easily the MOST important component to getting in shape.

If you stray from the plan and skip 2 weeks of working out, you’re doomed. DOOMED.

**** Not sure how to develop a plan? Hit me up, and we’ll make one together.

2. Realize that getting in shape is a process

– Getting in great shape is going to take time.

It’s going to take longer than 2 weeks, and it’s going to take longer than 2 months.

Disappointing I know, but anything worth having is going to take time.

If it’s been 2 months and you don’t notice ANY change, you might be spinning your wheels and/or you’re doing something wrong.

**** Not sure how to progress? Hit me up, and we’ll determine what steps you need to take to get the results you’re after.

3. Don’t get stuck in the CARDIO COMFORT ZONE (I beg you)

– I see people on the treadmills, the elliptical, the bikes, the stair steppers all day – every day.

I shake my head often.

You know what all these people have in common?

They’re out of shape, overweight, and weak.

I wonder if they’re wondering why their bodies don’t change?

I have a theory…

Lifting needs to be the priority.

Want to get in shape?

Acquire lean mass on your frame.

That means muscle.

**** Not sure how to lift? Hit me up, and I will you show you how to lift safely, efficiently, and effectively.

4. Have a balanced approach in mind when deciding your training regimen

– What I mean by this is, you don’t want to do bicep curls every day.

Focus on the big compound lifts and then work to the isolation lifts.

Squats, Dead Lifts, Bench Press, Pullups, Rows, Overhead Press – these come first.

Leg Extentions, Leg Curls, Calf Raises, Bicep Curls, Tricep Extentions, Lateral Raises, Shrugs – These come second.

**** Not sure how to formulate a balanced, and appropriate workout program? Hit me up, and I will make one specifically for you, and then I will guide/coach you through it.

Basically, hit me up.

I’m looking for dedicated people who are gonna work to get in the best shape of their lives.

Hit me up if you need guidance. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

I’ll make it easy and fun, we’ll have a great time!

 

Getting in shape: Being prepared mentally is the first step

Getting in shape:  Being prepared mentally is the first step

Before we can truly change our physical nature, we must make some breakthroughs within.

It all starts intrinsically.

When we’re preparing ourselves to do anything in life, whether we’re trying to get a good grade on a test, get a promotion at work, or change our body composition – We MUST be mentally prepared to do it first.

Beliefs

Most people tend to have a lot of self-limiting beliefs about themselves. We tell ourselves that we can’t do something, and then – shockingly enough – we don’t do it.

You need to start challenging these self-limiting beliefs that you hold about yourself.

They are the destroyer of dreams. They are pure fabrications, created by our own subconscious in an effort to keep us “safe.” They will stifle your ability to really go after what you want in this life.

You cannot allow your self-limiting and self-defeating beliefs to dictate how you live your life.

Start asking yourself questions such as:

 Why do I hold these negative beliefs about myself?

 Why am I so sure I can’t do it?

 Where did this self-limiting belief originate? What is the source?

 Was there a time in my life where I proved my self-limiting beliefs wrong?

Once you have identified the source of the self-limiting belief, you have the power to deny its power over you.

How Beliefs Affect Us

Know this: you’re self-limiting beliefs are lies.

They are complete and utter bulls**t.

The source may originate from some source of fear or a feeling of insecurity, or scarcity in your life, but the fact remains, they are bulls**t. The sooner you realize that you’ve conditioned yourself to believe things that are going to keep you safe, small and complacent – the sooner you can come to the realization that you have the ability to change them. And changing these self-limiting beliefs will take a lot of practice.

In time, you will be replacing limiting beliefs into beliefs that will serve you on your journey. You must instill in yourself a set of beliefs that will inspire and empower you. You are capable of tremendous things.

You need to start believing it.

Change Your Mind

It helps to know exactly where you’re going, and it helps even more if you know the steps to get there. However, even with all the tools at your fingertips, you must be prepared to get there mentally first.

You must be ready and willing to change. You must utilize the infinite power of your mind to change everything on the outside. Change from within leads to changes in the outside environment. If you change your thoughts, you can change your entire world.

Change Your Thinking

You have to change your mind about fitness.

You have to rid yourself of all the misconceptions that you have about getting in shape, and getting healthy. Unfortunately, you’ve been told lies your entire life regarding all things related to fitness.

These lies come in the form of advertisements, magazines, billboards, television, movies, articles online, infomercials, and products being sold in your local grocery, and supplement stores.

It can be nearly impossible to weed through all of the misinformation that is constantly bombarding our attention with one sensationalist claim after another.

No Shortcuts

One of the main points I want to really drive home is this: getting in the best shape of your life is hard work.

There is no quick fix.

No magic pill, cream, wrap, vitamin, powder or supplement that will help you attain the body you’ve always wanted. Like most things goal related, getting in the best shape of your life requires dedication, time, and energy.

You really must accept this fact before you can be ready to change. When I say hard work, I mean consistent hard work. Consistency is crucial. Perseverance is critical.

Support Systems

One of the ways in which you can really keep yourself accountable is by having a nurturing support system around you. Don’t be afraid to tell the people in your life what you’re trying to accomplish.

Get them on your team.

Let them help you stay accountable. Sometimes making a declaration to the world of what your goal is will help ensure you succeed. But, don’t just talk the talk. You’ve got to take action. Your friends and family want you to succeed, and they will help you succeed. But you should let them know ahead of time, so they can give you reinforcement on your journey. They won’t allow you to slack.

Getting Rid Of the Negative People in Your Life

On the other side of the coin, if there are people in your life who you know may sabotage your ability to succeed; you may consider keeping them at a distance.

If you have a friend who is always inviting you out to eat or someone who always wants to go out to the bar to have “a few” drinks – it might be a good idea to separate from them for a while.

There will always be people in your life who won’t understand your goals and aspirations.

Unfortunately, you might be close with certain people who will knowingly try to diminish or squash your goals.

They may even try to make you feel bad about having goals!

They may not understand what it is you are trying to do, or they might even resent the fact that you’re doing something that they should be doing. In either case, you must determine who these people are and distance yourself from them. They will be no help to you on your journey. They will try to bring you down to their level and make you feel bad about your goals.

You don’t have to cut them out of your life completely, but you might consider doing so.

Remember, a true friend will encourage you. A true friend will be happy for you. A true friend will understand. A true friend will help you succeed. A true friend will be waiting for you at the finish line.

Self -Support

Comparison is the thief of joy. – Theodore Roosevelt

Comparing ourselves to others is human nature and we all do it.

Here’s a really important tip: don’t compare yourself to others.

Don’t look at other people’s bodies and compare them to your own. The second you start comparing yourself to someone else, you’re going to feel bad about yourself. You’re going to feel unworthy. You’re going to start second guessing yourself. You’re going to start doubting why you even considered trying to improve your life and your health in the first place. Your self-limiting beliefs will re-emerge and sabotage you and your progress.

Realize that everyone is on their own journey. You are on your journey. Some are successful on their journeys and others are not as successful. This shouldn’t concern you. Focus on being the best version of yourself as possible. Strive to be a better you. The best “you” that could ever be. Better than the version of yourself that existed yesterday.

There’s no need to chase perfection, because perfection doesn’t exist. Comparing yourself to someone else is a fruitless, regressive endeavor.

Be content in knowing you’re building a better you. Get stronger. Challenge yourself. Take pride in the fact that you have made a decision to change your life for the better.

Enjoy the journey, and forget about the destination. Allow others to inspire you in a positive, proactive way. Then think about how you will be inspiring others very soon.

What are your biggest mental hurdles?  What are your biggest intangible obstacles?