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!

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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 🙂

Likes and comments are much appreciated! If you don’t see this option, please click on the article title at the top of the page and check down here again. Thanks!

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!)

To Waste or Waist?

If you grew up in a home like mine, there was ample appreciation for what we had and it was unconscionable to allow food to go to waste. Translation? You cleaned your plate, and did not allow food to go into the garbage. While well intention-ed, this approach to eating fails to take into account the possibility of not having a well balanced meal, or have portions in excess of what we actually need. Add to to this the pressure of needing to validate family cooking by going back for seconds, and you have the makings of some potentially bad eating habits.

Of course, in high school this wasn’t such a big deal with football and plenty of activities to counteract the massive calorie intake. However, enter college, and then marriage with that same mentality in place but no exercise to balance it and it can create a bit of an issue. I was able to compound this problem further by looking at every plate put in front of me as a challenge as to whether I could finish it or not. With so many restaurants offering outlandish portions it became extraordinarily unhealthy for me when we would eat out.

As I have recounted in my other posts, the inevitable results of these eating habits landed me at 276 lbs. Fortunately I was introduced to a challenge group from a college buddy and by following the program with Shakeology and Les Mills Combat I am now within striking distance of breaking through the 200 barrier! I now plan that when we go out I may very well eat half my meal and bring the other half home.

This got me to thinking: why do I force feed myself when I know that I’m done with my meal? Then it struck me! I was still using the same eating philosophy from my childhood. I began to actually think through this idea of “Leave nothing to waste!” It occurred to me that just by shoveling what was left into my face does not mean it has benefited my body. Whenever I eat in excess, the bottom line is that it goes to MY waist, which means by eating it the food has gone to waste twice over!

Please know, I am not abdicating that we should get in the habit of throwing food away. I believe that if we reprogram ourselves to learn our bodies better, we can be better prepared to know when we are best served by ordering smaller portions or being ready to take food home. There are those occasions when it doesn’t work to try to bring the food home due to spoilage or distance from home. While it may be aggravating to throw perfectly good food away, what’s worse is if we waste the food twice over and pretend that by eating it we made a good decision. I am learning to listen to my body better. I encourage you to do the same, and when appropriate allow some food to go to waste so that it won’t go to waist 🙂

Les Mills Combat

For my return to the world of fitness I chose to use Les Mills Combat. I ordered the challenge pack to get my first Shakeology bag and the workout at a significant discount. First, I have to let you know that I LOVE this workout! I did TaeBo back in the day, and this so blows it out of the water. Having said that, I really want my review to be an honest reflection of what I experienced as I went through my 60 day challenge with the program.

I remember pushing play for the first time and wondering how this was going to go. At first I felt like this wasn’t so bad. I really felt like I could adapt to what they were doing. I quickly learned that having not done any exercise for a decade has a negative impact on one’s endurance. After 20 minutes I about collapsed and was more watching the workout than doing it. I’ve always liked a good challenge, though, so I looked at it as having a new goal in front of me.

For the second workout, I was introduced to Dan and Rach’s version of a High Intensity Interval Workout, or HIIT for short. This one was called HIIT Power. I haven’t been worked like that since high school football. I did not keep up for even 10 minutes of this workout before I had to resort to the modifications, and even then I was done after 15 minutes. I was exhausted, but still wanting to respond. Enter Day three.

Something interesting happened on day three: SORENESS. Pure, unadulterated soreness. It hurt to walk. To make things even better I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old who love to climb into daddy’s lap. This was not a good day. Still I had made the commitment to do this, and I wasn’t going to throw in the towel at my first real test. As it turned out, I felt better after having done the workout, much as it hurt when I started it. I was still sore, but the workout actually subsided the pain a little.

Before moving on, I have to let you know that Dan and Rach bring an AMAZING level of energy and enthusiasm to the workouts, and even though I was sore, I in part looked forward to the next workout because I got to be infused and motivated through the support of their encouragement. Short version: It was FUN!!!

My program track allowed me a break for day 4, and I was most thankful. I was still sore, it still hurt to walk, and yes, my children were relentless. My day 5 workout was another HIIT workout: Shock Plyo. I was at least mentally prepared for what to expect, but my body was not able to keep up with much of the workout. Back to modifications I went for as long as I could go. Crushing soreness? Yup. Still there.

Day 6: back to my original workout, and after fighting through the soreness I actually sensed I was doing slightly better. Still, the soreness lingered, and I was once again thankful for an end of the week break. When day 7 came, I was finally feeling my legs getting back to normal. It didn’t hurt to walk, though my kids were still able to cause some twinges of pain (totally worth it!).

During week 2 of the program I was making incremental progress and the soreness was MUCH lighter. Not gone altogther, but nothing like week 1. In week 3, I was able to keep up with a workout here and there, and the soreness was entirely manageable.

As the time went on, I saw more and more gains and was suddenly keeping up with the 60 minute workouts and loved the feeling of accomplishment that came when I was done. The HIIT workouts continue to be challenging, but I appreciated that even more as I knew I still had at least another level to aspire to.

I know that my week 1 account might seem daunting to some, but I give you the most honest perspective I can so that you can know what you might be in for if you have not been working out for a few years as was the case for me. I encourage you to be ready to commit, and to know what that will entail. You can do it! I loved this quote and posted it on my facebook page when I saw it:

You can do it!

You can do it!

Currently I am trying T25 and getting great results with it as well, but I can’t wait to go back and do the advanced version of Combat. If you are looking for a great way to start getting back into shape, Les Mills Combat will get you there 🙂

I’d like to try that…

If you’ve read my prior posts you know that while once a skeptic I am now 100% a Shakeology advocate. It delivered on it’s promises of being nutritious (and delicious), and more importantly it CRUSHED my craving for garbage food. To know that it is doing that while not only giving my body the recommended nutrition it needs but arming me with probitoics, phytonutrients and exotic superfoods that boost my health even more moved me from thinking about Shakeology as pricey to seeing it as an incredible value. Clever little video short talking about it here:

Shakeology Value

Shakeology Value

Don’t misunderstand; I realize that it’s quite a commitment to make when you first add Shakeology to your regiment. I also know that it DELIVERS. My results have been incredible, and I’m on my way to size 34 pants and shorts from a size 42. Did I mention that’s after 73 days? I’m not there yet, but am quite confident that I will make it to size 32 before the year’s end. For me, that’s better than high school.Ok, enough testimonial. How would you like to try a single serving pack on me? I have a limited supply of single serve packs I can send out as samples, but if you leave a comment or email me I would be happy to introduce you to what made a dramatic change for me. Take your second chance on fitness and hit the reset button. What do you wish you had started a year ago to be benefiting from now? What could you start today that would move you to your goals a year from now? Take the first step!

How Necessary is Nutrition?

When I first planned to lose weight, I figured I would simply apply the formula I knew would work. I would simply ensure that I burned more calories than I took in. The problem with that is I gave no attention to where the calories I received would be coming from, and worse yet my body would not necessarily feel “full” because it was not receiving the nutrients it craved. The led to some really bad cycles, and wondering how I could make so little progress in weight loss. I used workouts as an excuse to treat myself to whatever I wanted to eat. It did not take long to discover that I was easily able to “undo” whatever benefits I benefits I would get from my workouts.

When I joined my first challenge group, I learned that 70% – 80% of my visible results would be directly related to my nutrition. What was the question again? How important is nutrition? About 3 to 4 times as important as your workout. The good news is that if you have coupled Shakeology together with your workout program, you are poised for tremendous success in your fitness goals!

I welcome your comments below, or you can shoot me an
email
🙂