Fitness How To’s: Consistency

Number One Way to see  Ongoing Results

Here it is. The final week of August comes to a close tomorrow, and so summer is done (unless you live in SW Florida; it’s always summer here). My hope is if you had opportunity to check out this blog series that you may have been able to implement an idea or two to your daily routine. Often times, we can even see some positive initial response from our body when we take steps in the right direction for our health. The trick now is how to keep forward momentum and see those results continue. The best way is pretty simple:

Duplicate What Works!

We’re all familiar with the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” When it comes to our health and fitness, it’s funny that we have so many “quick fix” offers claiming to zap us into better health overnight. The problem is, these things do not last. Whether it’s a fad diet, a crazy new pill, or some crazy “sweat it out in an hour” offer, these simply do not provide lasting results.

I’ve done the fad diets and had temporary success with them. I had gotten into the 230s shortly after marriage, and was able to drop back under 200 with the infamous Atkins diet. What happened? It was simply not sustainable as a lifestyle habit. Two to three years afterwards, I was into the 240s; then 250s; and eventually 276. I was tempted to try the “fat pills”, but never did, and never went for a wrap or anything like that. I did know people who did though, and were very excited about the quick, initial results. Over time, however, it was clear that it didn’t have the staying power to help them achieve their goals.  Turns out there’s something to the conventional wisdom of healthy eating and exercise.

So if we know (on some level) that we actually do have to be disciplined about our eating and exercise habits, why don’t we? We want to have good health; we know what it takes; why don’t we do it? The list of excuses why we don’t is extensive and plentiful; but make no mistake: they are excuses.

find a way

I know that may sound harsh, but please know that I am speaking to myself first on this one, and have drawn my line in the sand that I will never go back to relying on excuses as to why I let my weight get out of control. The bottom line is this: you have to find your reason why you are going to make a change and that must be strong enough to drown out your excuses of why you don’t.

For me, it was my kids. I was well aware that I had terrible eating, health, and fitness habits, and as a teacher I know that for kids the habits and behaviors they engage in are more often “caught” than “taught”. My daughter is about to turn 5. If she was catching what daddy was doing in his eating habits it would have been a bad thing. Change for me was imperative. Find your why, and then make it happen. I came through my fitness challenge with Team Beach Body, and will never look back. In moving forward, I am now involved in the coaching aspect of the challenges. If you would benefit from support in making a change, I can totally identify. We say, “Decide. Commit. Succeed.” I had already made the decision. My commitment was unwavering, and as a result my success was assured. I can tell you that part of my decision and commitment was to find and do whatever was necessary to achieve and model good health for my family. The programs through TBB poised me to achieve the success I was committed to in the shortest time possible. 70 lbs are gone, and beyond that I know that I have a true level of fitness that I haven’t had since high school, if even then. I am most pleased with the results of my investment, and will continue to make decisions in line with my fitness goals, both for myself and my family.

As this blog series closes, I wish the best for all of you who have stopped by my page. Thanks for reading! I pray you will achieve your health and fitness goals. If you would like more information on a challenge group and (like me) would benefit from a world of support to get going in the right direction, please email or message me. I would love to pass on to you what has worked so well for me, and DUPLICATE that success 🙂

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Fitness How To’s: Two Lethal Landmines to Avoid

Two Lethal Landmines to Avoid: Fast Food & No Food

Fast Food

On some level we know that fast food is bad for us; no news flash there. However, our hectic schedules and sometimes the company we keep can dictate where we wind up at a meal time. For that reason, I highly encourage you to plan ahead and take measures to ensure you don’t wind up in the fast food trap. I know they are trying to have “healthier” options and you don’t have to get the fries or triple cheeseburger, but you might be disappointed to discover the nutritional content of that “healthier” option falls far short of what you could have created for yourself at home.

No Food

Almost as bad as throwing “bad food” into our body is putting NO food into our body. While some of us may have acclimated to approaching our eating habits in this way it should be somewhat obvious that it does not promote an optimum state of health for us. We have to have balance in how we approach our daily nutrition, and making a habit of going without meals, or even going an entire day without food will not serve us well.

If you haven’t already guessed, I am suggesting that you incorporate changes to your meal plan to ensure you are able to stick to a viable nutrition regiment each day.

Meal Planning

The first rule of your meal plan:

HAVE ONE. Many of us get so busy that we don’t give any attention to our eating and have no plan. A meal PLAN means that you have considered what options you have and what will be best for the day (and even week!) ahead.

The second rule of your meal plan:

plan for 3-6 meals in your day. Opinions vary on whether it is best for your metabolism to stick with the traditional breakfast lunch dinner format or to make a concerted effort to have 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the course of a day. For myself, I make sure to have my standard 3, and typically incorporate an afternoon snack if needed. I have already planned what that afternoon snack can be, and have it at my disposal should the need arise. I am a teacher, and my morning goes nonstop through lunch so I don’t really have an opportunity to stop for a mid morning snack, but I also have not felt the need for one as I use Shakeology for breakfast.

The third (and final) rule of your meal plan:

Do not attempt to make up for today with tomorrow. If you blow your meal plan on Monday, do not create an extra calorie deficit on Tuesday in an effort to make up for it. Monday was blown. It happens; deal with it. Then come back stronger on Tuesday. Identify where you dropped the ball and make improvements until your daily habit match your meal plan and it will start to become automatic.

As I have had my own struggles in creating, implementing, and sticking to a meal plan I wanted to offer some recommendations to the three primary meals in the event that you can relate these experiences. I hope you find them helpful 🙂

Breakfast:

Some of us get acclimated to having no breakfast and just go through the morning on coffee. It should come as no shock that this is really not the best idea. Your goal should be on your fitness and health, not simply losing weight or maintaining weight. You have an awesome opportunity in the morning to jump start your metabolism and give your body what it needs. Take advantage of that by PLANNING to have breakfast, however simple it may be.

Lunch:

When I failed to have lunch planned out, serious disaster could result. When this was coupled with failing to eat breakfast, it was even worse. Lunch time would roll around and I would be starving and have nothing in front of me. Solution? I’ll go get something real quick. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if I need food, and I need it fast, I am probably going to wind up with something for lunch that compromises my nutritional goals. It is critical that you plan your lunch the night before. If you are consistent, it won’t take long until you are looking forward to some of the lunches that you find you enjoy the most.

Dinner:

For dinner, I simply had to pay attention to my portion sizes. To be honest, this is largely because I have an awesome wife who plans our family’s meals for the week. She is an amazing cook, and it is an easy thing to have too much of a great dish that is served at dinner. In fact, it took her a little by surprise when I started paying closer attention to my food quanties, and having just one burger instead of two. I would measure the portions of my dinner sides; I started using the measuring spoons to give myself an exact portion of a salad dressing. At the end of the day, I am usually pretty spent, so having the blessing of a meal already prepared tempts me to disengage my brain altogether and just eat. I came to the place where I no longer wanted to “undo” the efforts I had made throughout the day. Again, in time this became more automatic, but it did require a bit of effort at first.

You Can Do It!

Some will face more difficult obstacles than the standard ones I have presented. The bottom line is that if you PLAN, you will have a huge advantage in sticking to your nutritional objectives. For myself, I found a tremendous advantage in using the approach presented to me by a college buddy who got me plugged into a challenge group that helped to give me balance between my exercise, nutrition, and accountability. I’m down 70 lbs so far, and have now entered my best fitness level since high school football. Drop a comment below or email me if you are interested in learning more about this. If I was able to do it, I promise you can too!

Fitness How To’s: Three Essentials in Exercise

First, let me say that if you are working out and have some form of regular exercise incorporated into your life, congratulations! It is one of the easiest things to NOT do and make excuses as to why we don’t. I know, because for nearly a decade that was me. I came to abhor anything that would make me sweat, and it became easier and easier to not workout. As I got my workout legs back under me, I found three F’s that have served me well at age 40 in keeping up with the demands of some challenging workouts.

Essential #1 – Flexibility

I am not a particularly flexible person by nature. However, flexibility is a HUGE part of making sure that you not only have a good workout, but is critical in making sure that you can continue to workout. Be sure to have some light warmup stretches to ease into your workout. Be sure to engage in active stretching over the course of your workout, and post workout do some focused stretching on the muscle groups you worked that day. Don’t worry if you can’t stretch to the floor or discover you have as little flexibility as I do. Stretch to where you’re comfortable and don’t push into positions your body isn’t ready for.

Essential #2 – Focus

Once you begin your workout, ensure that you are giving focus to proper form. If you fail to keep the form and focus intended in your workout, you are wasting your time. This is not to say that your form has to be perfect. However, there is a marked difference in the results one will achieve by doing moves “similar” to the trainers and duplicating moves you are shown. Solid focus in your workout means you will have to give greater effort in your workouts, but that translates into some phenomenal results. You’ll be happy you did 🙂

Essential #3 – Ferocity

Have a ferocious mindset when you enter your workout. This does not mean that you push your body to the breaking point and beyond; what it means is that even when you have to modify your workouts, you want to make it to the end. Some days will be a breeze and you will be excited to “push play” (as we say in TBB) or just jump into your run or whatever workout you do. There are other days, though, when it is a severe act of will to just show up. When you enter your workout “zone” so to speak, be ready to bring it, and do not waiver in your commitment and determination. Final note: guard yourself against overtraining. After speaking to Focus and Ferocity, I know it can seem even counterintuitive to not go all out, but remember that you are in this for the long haul. Your endurance will increase as will your strength, but you must have the patience to allow your body to acclimate to the demands of a workout regime again. Thanks for reading, and stop by tomorrow as we’ll talk about two huge landmines to avoid so that your efforts are not derailed and your results stay on track!

Fitness How To’s: Four Critical Components to Your Nutrition

Component 1: The right number of calories

While not the only component to weight loss, it isn’t any mystery that if you are serious about losing weight you have to create a calorie deficit. A number of people have struggles that go beyond the simple calorie count, but this is where it begins. If you don’t have a baseline and track in some measure where you are in relation to it, you have no chance of losing those unwanted pounds. That being said, there is a second component to having winning nutrition.

Component 2: The Right Kind of Calories

Many people who still struggle in losing weight after they have their calorie count under control see much improved results when they give focus to getting their calories from the right sources. While this example is a bit extreme, no one would recognize that there would be an issue in attempting to get all of your calories from soda and chips. You could technically gauge how much Coke and Potato Chips to have at all three meals to stay within a target calorie goal, but on top of feeling miserable you not likely see any changes. For some, that balance in the macros of your nutrition must be a bit more precise than for others. Keep your pulse on how many calories you proactively plan to get from protein, carb, and fat sources.

Component 3: Effective Distribution of Calories

One huge downfall many of us have fallen prey to is fasting through the day in an effort to use all of our calories in one meal. That does not allow our metabolism to achieve any balance, and is likely to wreak havoc on our body, mood, and emotional state. Avoid this pitfall! Plan at least 3 mealtimes on your day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and make an effort to stretch into 5 to 6 smaller meals on the day. With these in place, the 4th component is a no-brainer.

Component 4: Water

This was one of my greatest struggles. I had virtually lived on diet soda, and water was just too boring for my taste buds. I have made great strides by using water with lemon (and other citrus) to have some flavor and get to my 8 (+) cups of water on the day. The good news is that as you incorporate more water into your diet, the more your body will want it. This does not happen overnight, but I can tell you that I can actually sense my bodies thirst for water and soda has little appeal for me anymore.Seek to keep balance in your eating habits and you will see great strides in your weight loss journey. One final note, also be sure to not create too large a calorie deficit and so starve your body that it begins to shut down. One of the best tools I have found in helping me to reach target goals in this regard is an app/website called myfitnesspal (My fitness pal). You can put it on your smartphone or just log into it on your computer at myfitnesspal.com. It is totally free and allows you to track not only your calories but your fat, carb, protein, cholesterol, sodium, etc. Hope you have a terrific Tuesday, and drop by tomorrow for some tips on exercise 🙂

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Fitness How To’s: Five Keys to Fitness Success

As we enter the final week of August I decided to do a countdown on my fitness page each weekday to focus on things you can do to end the month on a good note and be poised to start September off right! Tune in every day this week to get tips & reminders on how to accelerate your weight loss and achieve your fitness goals.

Day 1 – Five Keys to Fitness Success: Exercise, Nutrition, Accountability, Commitment, Adaptability/Resilience.

Exercise

There are a host of things we could look at, but let’s keep this simple. If you are serious about losing weight and/or getting fit the first item on this list comes as no surprise. It’s no secret that exercise is an essential part of fitness, no matter what level of exercise you engage in. It does not have to be high intensity, but you have to give your body some level of activity and elevate your heart rate. If you need this reminder as I did, renew your mind with the truth that it is ok to sweat a little.

Two inevitable questions that now follow: How much exercise? How hard should I go? In answer to the first question, make a plan to exercise at least three to four times this week. If you have been engaged in regular workouts you could even push to five or six workouts in the week. The level of intensity should be in line with what your body can handle, and only you know that. The real key here is to start slow if you’re just getting back on the horse or have never incorporated a regular workout routine before. You can always increase intensity the next day if things don’t seem challenging enough, but it would be terrible to get sidelined by an injury just coming out of the gate because of impatience. The duration of each workout is again going to be something you either know how to gauge because you know your body, or have to learn. If you are learning (or relearning) your body start with a half hour including cool downs. As you feel you can handle more consider gradually moving to 45 minutes and eventually even a full 60 minutes of activity.

Nutrition

Equally obvious is what nutrition you allow into your body. This is a huge deal because all the efforts of your workouts can be undone if you think you eat whatever you want simple because you “worked out”. Be smart, and identify some healthy meals you can use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to ward off the hunger monster.

Accountability

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves; A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
I know there is a huge temptation to believe you can simply get it done on your own. The truth that we all know to be true is this: we do better with accountability. We thrive and gain strength when we have someone who goes through the struggle with us and helps keep us focused. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one providing encouragement.
Find at least one accountability partner, but if at all possible get a group of 3 or four. Give them the authority to ask tough questions and be prepared every now and again to tell on yourself.

Commitment

Don’t be in it for the short term. Make the commitment for the long haul. Temporary results are incredibly frustrating as the other side of the yo-yo diet always seems to leave us worse off than when we started. Make the commitment that you have decided to take ownership of your health and fitness goals and BE COMMITTED to them!

Adaptability

How does the saying go? “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Be prepared for the fact that your ideal plan to bring a fitness regiment into your schedule may not go entirely according to plan. You will have to “tweak” things, and possibly make sacrifices to get workouts in and be resilient enough to adjust to the curve balls life will inevitably throw your way. You can do it! It just might not look the way you envisioned it at the beginning 🙂

Your thoughts? Talk to me below! Comeback tomorrow as we give more focused attention to nutrition! (If no option to like or comment appears, click on the article title and scroll back down. Thanks!)