The ‘Not Until’ Motivation Method

I know you’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about.  Well this is a motivation method that has worked for me particularly related to reaching my fitness goals (picture starting to form?).  The way the ‘Not Until’ motivation method works is that it subjects you to endure something (you don’t particularly like or enjoy) until you reach your goals.  Take me for instance, right now I am refusing to shave my stomach until I get firm, lean, and muscular looking abs.  Now to someone else this may not be a big deal but for me personally, I absolutely HATE having hair on my stomach.  It looks gross!!  It’s been about 3 weeks now and my stomach looks like that of a hairy man’s back.  I’ve provided a pic below of how my stomach looks now.  When my abs look the way I’d like them to, I’ll shave my stomach.  This doesn’t affect anyone but me and that’s fine.  I get motivation from knowing the harder I work toward reaching my goal, the quicker I can get rid of my hairy stomach.

Now this is just one of my ‘not until’ methods that I’m sharing with you but this can be used in so many different ways.  For example, you may choose not to shave your legs until you lose 15 pounds or a guy may choose not to shave his face until he gains 5 pounds of muscle.  Additional examples are:

I’ll wear the same tie everyday until…..

I’ll do the dishes 2 days a week until…….. (usually applies to the guys)

I won’t get my nails done until…….

I won’t buy any new clothes until….

I won’t use social media until…..

You get the point!  This could get very interesting! You could make this as personal or public as you want and entice others to join in as well.  If you plan on giving this a try, comment and let me know what your ‘not until’ will be.  Also note that this doesn’t have to relate exclusively to fitness.  You can apply this to any goal you want to reach such as saving $5,000 dollars and refusing to eat out until you do so.

As promised, here are the pictures of my hairy stomach 😦 I’ll post an updated pic when I reach my goal

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Throwback Summer Workout!

This is a cardio workout that I created last year while weight training.

This workout helped me to lose weight, develop my abs as well as improve upon my cardiovascular endurance!

This is a great workout that require’s hardly any workout equipment (all you need is a kettlebell or dumbbell) and can be done in the comfort of your own home.  With this workout you can advance at your own pace.  As you get better you’ll be able to do more rounds.

Warning: It looks easy but you’re in for a surprise! Enjoy!

Risks of having a sedentary job and how to avoid them

Have a sedentary job? Know the risks and how to avoid them!

Many people think they have it made when they have a sedentary job which basically means that you sit at a desk all day.  A lot of the time that includes cool air conditioning and a nice comfy chair.  Sounds awesome right?  Don’t be so quick to take that position.  Sedentary jobs come with a lot of potential health hazards.  Don’t fear, I’m here to help you identify those hazards as well as how to avoid them.

Associated Risks

Perhaps one of the most apparent hazards is weight gain.  Sitting in a chair all day doesn’t promote much caloric burn which is the cause for the weight gain.  I’m sure you eat throughout the day (at your desk or sitting down in a nearby break room) but if you are sitting most of the day you’re not really burning many calories.  As we know weight gain can lead to other potential health related issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Another health risk that not many are aware of is increased risk of blood clots which can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism (blockage in the arteries of the lungs).  According to a study published in the British Medical Journal.  This is a lot more susceptible to happen in women.  Although it is a small increase in risk, it still exists, especially for those with deep vein thrombosis.

If you are not an active person outside of work your fitness levels diminish which can lead to issues such as constant shortness of breath.  According to several studies on this subject most inactive individuals with sedentary jobs experience a shorter life span overall.

Depending on how you sit, you can also gain bad posture from constant slumping in your chair which can also lead to constant neck and lower back pain.

How to avoid those hazards

Although this may all sound scary, you need not worry.  These risks can be dramatically reduced by following a few simple steps below:

1. Purchase a pedometer and set a goal to walk a certain amount of steps each day, shoot for two miles worth of steps initially and increase as you see fit.

2. Don’t email Sue down the hall or Bob on the second floor, walk or take the stairs instead to deliver a message.

3.Break your 1 hour lunch break into two 30 minute halves.  Use the first 30 minutes to eat your lunch and the last 30 minutes to walk around the building or outside.  You can even go a step further and formulate a walking group at your job to join you on your 30 minute walks.

4. Take time to massage your legs throughout the day.  It serves as a small rejuvenation and really stimulates blood flow.

5. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water.  Water serves many important purposes such as ridding the body of toxins, pushing nutrients throughout the body, body temperature regulation and much more.

Follow these 5 simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to a happier, healthier lifestyle!

Basic Guidelines for Nutrition and Weight Loss

Basic Guidelines for Nutrition:

• Distribute protein, carbohydrate, and fat throughout the day at each meal (read my earlier post on how to read nutritional labels)

• Choose whole grains and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables over refined grains and simple sugars

• Limit alcohol consumption, when you do drink choose light alcoholic drinks

• Schedule no fewer than four and as many as six meals a day. This helps to control hunger, minimize blood sugar fluctuations, and increase energy levels throughout the day

• Avoid empty calories (calories gained from foods with no nutritional value such as junk food) and highly processed foods (foods with artificial ingredients, sweeteners, etc), which contain many calories and do little to provide satiety (feeling of fullness)

• Drink plenty of water (9 to 13 cups per day).

• Never eat under 1200 calories per day as it’s not sufficient for proper energy and nutrients needed throughout the day.

• Take a multivitamin to ensure that you are getting the nutrients that you may not be getting from the food you eat throughout the day

Basic Guidelines for Weight Loss:

• Make small decreases in food and beverage calories and an increase in physical activity

• Count calories for the first 2 weeks to allow you to become accustomed to knowing how much to eat in relation to serving sizes.  (Note: If a sudden diet change presents too much of a challenge up front, it may be easier to begin by decreasing your portion sizes and limiting yourself to one plate or serving. As you get better at eating smaller portions, begin to incorporate healthier foods and pay more attention to nutritional labels)

• To get an idea of how many calories you should eat per day to reach your ideal weight, plug in your information and target weight here: http://www.webmd.com/diet/calc-bmi-plus

Suggestions:

• To assist with eating properly, I recommend you use the government site https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/ .  This site provides the following:

o Get your personalized nutrition plan.

o Track your foods and physical activities to see how they stack up.

o Get tips and support to help you make healthier choices and plan ahead.

o Provides a food-a-pedia that gives you access to the nutritional information for over 8,000 foods to assist you in making the right choices

Hope this helps!

Shake things up a bit….try this Crossfit Workout!

Whether you’re getting bored with your current workout routine, looking for a challenge, or just always wanted to give Crossfit a try, we’ve got the perfect Crossfit workout for you!  This workout gives you a great challenge no matter what your fitness level may be.  We will call this WOM which stands for Workout of the month as we will introduce a new Crossfit workout every month which gives you plenty of time to allow your body to adapt to the current workout and achieve optimal results.

Instructions: This workout includes 6 exercises which make up a set.  When all exercises in a set are completed, that completes one round.  You are to complete a total of 5 rounds in the shortest time possible.  Needless to say this workout should be timed from start to finish and recorded so you know your time to beat the next time.  It is recommended that this workout be completed at least 2 times a week.

Benefits: Ultimate calorie burn, improved cardiovascular fitness, total body workout, improved strength, toning

Crossfit WOM – June

  1. 15 Pushups (men’s style preferably or modified pushup if not feasible)
  2. Jump Rope – 45 seconds
  3. 15 Full body crunch
  4. 10 Burpees
  5. 10 meter moderate jog (down and back x 2)
  6. 15 Kettlebell/Dumbell Swings

Remember to record your time in order to help you track your improvements.  I’ll post one each month. Good Luck!

Note: Always consult a physician before beginning any workout plan.  For best results ensure to follow a proper diet plan.

Understanding Nutrition Labels…

How to read Nutritional Labels to aid in Healthy Eating

At some time in our lives we’ve all made the conscious decision to eat healthier.  Why not?  The benefits are well worth it!  However, does your diet fall in line with your health and fitness goals?  Are you sure that you’re eating healthy?  Many of us can’t answer that question.  A lot of us think that we’re eating healthy because a particular food is perceived as being healthy and that’s not the case all the time.  Knowing how to read food labels is important in that it ensures you are buying healthy foods and not just going off of universal perception.  Below we go into detail to explain what is typically included on a nutritional label and what it means to you.

Calories

First and foremost, you will run into the dreaded ‘Calories’ section.  A lot of people who do read labels only look at this section and still read it wrong.  Calories are expressed in 2 ways on nutritional labels.  They are expressed as ‘Calories’ and ‘Calories from Fat’.  Before we go any deeper, another important thing to remember is that everything listed on the label is PER SERVING.  This means that if a particular food product is 100 calories per serving and is a total of 8 servings then the entire product is a total of 800 calories.  This is important because it lets you know that you need to watch your serving size when preparing food and think twice before you go for seconds.

Calories represent the total amount of calories (per serving) including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  Calories are what your body uses for energy and if it is not needed it is stored and weight gain occurs.  If your body is constantly metabolizing calories then weight loss occurs.  So if you have a goal of gaining or losing weight, apply accordingly.

Calories from fat include different kinds of fat such as saturated fat (bad), unsaturated fat (good), and Trans fat (bad).  Contrary to popular belief a certain amount of fat IS required in all diets.  However, we’d like to try to avoid the bad fats such as saturated and Trans Fat (explained next).  Out of the total number of calories you consume, at least 25 to 35% should be from fat preferably saturated fats.  For instance if your daily calories are 1800 calories (per day) your daily fat caloric intake should be between 450 to 630 calories.  That totals about 50 to 70 grams of fat.  We get this number because 1 gram of fat has 9 calories so when we divide 9 into 450 we get 50.

Total Fat

Total Fat is expressed in grams per serving.  Total fat usually includes unsaturated fat (usually not listed), saturated fat, and Trans fat.

Unsaturated fat is known as the “good fats”.  They are usually broken down into monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.  Keep in mind they are listed on labels sometimes and sometimes not.  Just know that Total Fat minus Saturated and Trans fat gives you healthy unsaturated fats.  These fats are usually derived from plants and vegetables and can help lower cholesterol. The 25 to 35% recommended amount (in relation to daily caloric intake) as described above should consist mostly of unsaturated fats.

Saturated fat is known as one of the bad fats.  These are usually derived from animal products such as meat and eggs.  They’ve been shown to cause increases in cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.  It is recommended that not more than 7% of the recommended 25 to 35% should come from saturated fats.

Trans Fats are another type of bad fat.  Although falls into the unsaturated fats category, it has been split into its own category due to the classification as a bad fat.  They’ve been shown to increase bad cholesterol levels and decrease good cholesterol levels.  Try to avoid if possible.

Cholesterol

Next up on the label you’ll see cholesterol usually represented in milligrams.  Cholesterol is produced by the liver as a waxy substance.  Your liver usually produces a sufficient amount of cholesterol which your body uses to aid in building cell walls, producing Vitamin D and certain hormones.  There are 2 types of cholesterol.  Low-density Lipoproteins (LDL) which is knows as the good cholesterol and High-density Lipoproteins (HDL) which is known as the bad cholesterol.  However, too much cholesterol can lead to health problems such as heart disease and clogged arteries.

Most foods we eat have LDL or bad cholesterol which clogs the arteries.  HDL is responsible for removing waste from the arteries so they don’t clog.  Being active or involved in some type of physical activity is said to increase the good levels of cholesterol.  It is recommended that you aim to keep this number under 200 mg per day.

Sodium

Sodium is a mineral that is actually needed in the body for certain functions such as staying hydrated, pH balance, fluid regulation, and a few more.  Sodium is contained in most foods that we eat today.  The recommended daily sodium intake should be between 1500 mg to 2300 mg.  Those that have illnesses such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and are older in age are recommended to stay on the lower end of that spectrum not to exceed 1500 mg.  Too much sodium can lead to health problems with the most noted being high blood pressure which increases the chance of other health complications.  As this is a necessary mineral, be sure to get no less than 180 mg to ensure your body continues to function properly.

Total Carbohydrates

Total carbohydrates or “carbs” as we like to call them consist of sugars, fibers, and starches.  Starches are not listed most of the time.  Carbohydrates are used to provide the body with energy needed throughout the day.  It is recommended that 60% of your daily caloric intake should come from carbs.  Be careful because carbs are metabolized and turn into sugar which can affect blood glucose levels.  This is especially important for those with or at risk of Diabetes.

Dietary fiber can affect digestion.  It is recommended that we try to eat 5 to 10 grams per day.

Sugars are sometimes added to food by manufacturers as a sweetener however, most of the time they are natural sugars such as those found in fruit.  Sugars provide no nutritional value.  If you can find foods with no sugar, that’s awesome!  If that isn’t possible, it is recommended that you try to keep sugar less than 100 calories per day (about 6 tablespoons).  To help put it in perspective, know that 4 grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 gram of sugar equals 4 calories.

Proteins

 Last but not least we have proteins.  Proteins are found all throughout our bodies, skin, nails, hair, cells, tissue, etc.  It is responsible for the growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissue.  Needless to say protein is necessary for proper body function.  The minimum recommended daily protein intake should be .8 grams for every 2.2 pounds of body weight.  So if a person weighs 160 pounds, 160/2.2=72.72 and 72.72x.8=58 grams per day.  This number may increase depending on your fitness goals.  Bodybuilders usually consume higher amounts of protein to aid in muscle growth.  However, when it comes to protein consumption the body only uses only what it needs and disposes of the rest.

Hopefully this article arms you with the information needed when shopping for healthier food options and knowing exactly what to look for.  Always remember that percentages are represented per serving.  This can also be useful when planning meals for the day so you can control how much of each macronutrient (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) you are consuming.  Good luck and Healthy Eating!