You Are What You Think You Are

 

The brain is the most powerful pre-workout supplement, diet pill, and fat loss fad diet combined.

It can also be your worst enemy and your biggest oppressor to your goals.

It all comes back to the old adage of are you a glass half empty, or a glass half full kind of person?

How do you view things most of the time when it comes to you, your body, your health, your nutrition, your lifestyle, and your abilities?

The more and more you view these things in a particular manner, the more and more you will start to subconsciously store them, believe them, and possibly become them…

You – how do you view you? How do you think about you? Are you someone who is always putting yourself down? Or are you proud of yourself? Do you feel like you are a good person – or do you feel guilt that eats away at your insides?

Your body – are you always calling yourself “fat, ugly, flabby, weak, or gross”? Or do you take a positive approach and realize that these words don’t determine your well being and they don’t make you, the person. I’m not saying that people should ignore it if they have extra body fat to lose and just live in a happy land, but constantly calling yourself these things wont change that, and it will only de-motivate you to do anything even more.

Your health – are you unhealthy? What does that mean? Drinking 10 sodas a day and eating no vegetables? Then change it! Sitting around talking about how unhealthy you are won’t solve a darn thing. The reason I don’t write a ton about “eat these foods to lose fat” is because the truth is that we all know what to eat more of and what to eat less of. It’s the actual doing it that people forget about.

Your nutrition – same thing as above. Be honest with yourself. Are you pounding 500 calorie coffee drinks and eating frozen chicken tenders and mac n cheese for dinner off your kids’ plate? Yep, probably not the healthiest approach. But this is where the mind can really mess with you – in the absence of basic nutrition knowledge. Do you think that you are barely eating, and still struggling to lose weight? In some cases, this CAN be a deeper issue, but that’s for another time. In many cases, it looks something like this:

This is why I believe in some form of basic nutrition education should be mandatory, and some form of tracking should be recommended when beginning a nutritional change.

Your lifestyle – how do you view this? Do you feel like you have a boring life? Again – then do something about it. Try new things, connect with friends, stay out past your bedtime once in a while…

On the flip side – do you live in denial that your current lifestyle choices are leading you down a bad path? A la burning the candle at both ends…

Your abilities – are you always calling yourself weak, stupid, lazy, etc…. well then you will start to believe that that is you. Do you live in a constant fear of failure? The “what if’s” eat you up and keep you up at night…I’m all too familiar with this one – as this is one of my biggest struggles, and something I continue to work on daily. It helps to take a step back and lay things out, look at what you have done, and where you have gotten, and realize that nothing can hold you back if you put your true effort towards it.

So before you go out and sign up for the latest cleanse or diet trend – take a good look at your brain, and think about how you utilize your bodies strongest asset.

Stay healthy my friends,

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Your Generic Weight Loss Goal Sucks

 

Who doesn’t want to lose a few pounds of fat and walk around with a shredded six-pack, smoking hot toned up legs or sculpted shoulders that would make a Greek God jealous?

Okay, there was a little bit of sarcasm and seriousness there.

However, saying your goal is weight loss (while it should at least be fat loss because muscle loss or water loss as a goal is just silly), isn’t going to do much for you. The reason that you want to lose weight is what will bring on the magic. And you are going to have to dig even deeper…

Here is the process I use…

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF SETTING YOUR GOALS – YOUR WHY.

Saying,  “I want to lose weight” is vague and demotivating. Why do you want to lose weight? Because I want to look better.

 Ask again: WHY do you want to look better? Because I want to attract a partner.

 And ASK AGAIN: WHY do you want to attract a partner? Because I want someone to share my life and love with, start a family, and not be alone.

This is your true motivator. You value love, family, and relationships. This is what you need to always keep in mind when stuff gets hard, and you want to give up. Not that you want to lose weight, but that you want to find love. This will always motivate you much more than anyone else ever can.

 These are the things that you literally need to write down, and post on your fridge or at your desk, or on the bathroom mirror – or make the background of your phone – anywhere you will see them frequently and often.

________________________________________________________________________

Now that we have your “why” and your actual goals, we need to break each RESULT GOAL into PROCESS GOALS – these are the steps that will you to your result goal. This is where the focus MUST be, not on the actual result goal.

With “I want to lose weight” as a goal, you cannot sit around and focus on that. You need to write out what are the pieces of the process that will get you there – and hit those HARD.

  • Get to the gym 4 days per week.
  • Measure out my portions.
  • Get 7 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat 1 serving of protein 4 times per day.
  • Eat 4 servings of veggies per day…

If you sit around and just focus on, “why am I not losing weight?” instead of the process goals, you will just keep spinning in place. Focus on the process, and the finish line will come to you.

Write it out.

  • No seriously, get out paper right now and W.R.I.T.E.I.T.O.U.T!!!
  • Write down 2-4 process goals that will help you get to your result goal.
  • Set a timeline (when you want to accomplish it).
  • Hit it hard, and stay the course.

If it is truly an important goal of yours, you will succeed. I’m not saying it will be easy, but if you put in the work, you will get there. I promise.

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Artificial Sweeteners Aren’t Your Problem

Aspartame. The word sends many people into an outrage and a massive debate ensues.

Aspartame is the most common artificial sweetener, and it is not a toxin*** (more on this)

IT is a combination of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Doesn’t that sound scary? Well it’s not (unless you have the generic condition PKU).

Aspartic Acid and Phenyalalnine are two amino acids – two of the same amino acids that are found in EVERYTHING ELSE that contains protein.

Now, anything can technically be toxic when the dose is big enough – even water can kill you if you have too much. This is where the scary studies come in. I was sent this particular article last night by a client – http://www.businessinsider.com/aspartame-sugar-artificial-sweeteners-bad-for-boy-2018-5?r=UK&IR=T

It is a total fear mongering, clickbait and irresponsible titled garbage – harsh, I know…

I, however, am sick of seeing these lay media sites publish fake news quality information without the science to back it up OR even a simple link to the science to back it up, or a further disclaimer that these studies are not scaled for humans…

Since the article doesn’t even cite the actual study done, I’m going to have to make some assumptions.

Let’s say your average rat is 8 oz. and some average guy is 200 pounds. Thats a 400x difference… One can of diet coke has 180mg of Aspartame in it. Since the author doesn’t even say what the “toxic” level of ASP is, I went to the most stingy source – the European Food Safety Authority. They are often more strict than our own FDA.

The EFSA says: “the acceptable daily limit for aspartame is 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight”. So our 200 pound man (90.9kg) x 40 = 3636 mg/180mg per can = 20 cans of diet coke PER DAY would be DANGEROUS! No kidding!

Look, I’m not saying you should go out and consume artificial sweeteners at will, I would recommend the opposite. Limit them to as little as possible. 90%-100% of your fluid intake should be water in my opinion.

What I am saying is that your daily diet coke is VERY VERY unlikely the cause of your issues to lose weight.

What about the “small study of 12 women who drank artificial sweeteners and didn’t feel satisfied”?!?! Well, there are ZERO calories in diet drinks, so it makes perfect sense that they were not satisfied. They probably were hypoglycemic and hungry – and when you ingest zero calories that won’t fix your problem – shocking!

Here is your life hack – if you are hungry, don’t reach for a sugary drink or a diet drink – eat real food! – I know, your mind has been blown.

Sorry for all the sarcasm today, but I’m just tired of seeing these “articles” making the rounds.

Don’t fall prey to these scary articles that don’t even come close to credible – eat how you know you should eat, don’t drink 20 diet cokes per day, and move your body more…simple.

Stay healthy my friends,

Mike

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Here Comes The Buzzkill…

Store this one under the “I know what to do, but whyyyyyy?” tab…

I enjoy a nice whiskey drink or 2 once in a while, I really do. I enjoy a cold beer on a summer day, or at a sporting event.

But here’s the deal, we need to quit lying to ourselves and thinking that we can get ideal results while still drinking booze like a fish. You’re likely not 18 anymore, and it only gets harder and harder from there.

At 7 calories per gram, alcohol by itself can add up – even more so when you add in the sugary mixers, heavy carb beers, and the natural sweetness of wines.

How about these calorie numbers:

Some popular beers…how many can you put down at a game?

An uber-conservative margarita estimation

Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet

Loaded Bloody Mary (beer chaser puts you at 500 cals.)

 

If alcoholic drinks contributing a hefty amount of calories weren’t bad enough, the effects of alcohol on fat loss are even more discouraging.

When you drink alcohol, it takes over priority in your metabolism – over all other macronutrients – because technically speaking, alcohol is a toxin to your body. In order to try and metabolize and clear the alcohol from your body quickly, your body will focus primarily on that. Yes, this means that your body will stop burning fat, in order to metabolize alcohol first.

Alcohol itself is not easily converted into fat like some will tell you. When alcohol is metabolized it becomes Acetyl-CoA. When Acetyl-CoA levels rise in the body, this signals the body that no sugar or fat needs to be burned. So instead of being a fat “storer”, alcohol is more of a fat burning stopper.

It gets even worse. This same process will also slow down muscle protein synthesis, the process that your body uses to rebuild, recover, and repair muscle, a process that normal revs up your metabolism.

Needless to say, alcohol isn’t going to help you in any of your goals regarding body composition.

However, being a realist – I know that many people won’t give up alcohol completely. True moderation is key and more importantly, limiting the number of days that you consume alcohol to prevent flipping the fat burning switch off for multiple days in a row.

I personally recommend setting a rule of 1-2 days per week that you will drink if you want. This leaves Friday and Saturday night open for me, and I stick to it pretty damn well. It’s not that a lock myself in a room Monday-Thursday (well I kind of do right now…), but if I am out I will just not get a beer. It sounds crazy in Wisconsin, but you can eat dinner out at a restaurant or even a bar and NOT have an alcoholic beverage.

This might also be very hard if you are a wine every night kind of lady or a couple brewskis after work kind of guy…but it can be done. I know many people use a drink or two to wind down from a stressful day. I get it. But is this something you need every night? Switching your body into fat burning suppression mode right after you most likely ate you biggest meal of the day doesn’t sound like optimal timing.

…so drink your booze with breakfast <– Joking

Think of other things you can do to unwind from the day, I bet you can come up with a pretty great list.

Lastly, the alcohol itself isn’t what only leads to most of the calories consumed while enjoying a drink or two, it’s the food choices that are found at bars, sporting events, and social banquets that tend to rack up the calories very quickly.

To be short and blunt, and tell you what you already know – if you are looking for maximal results, your best bet is to limit your alcohol intake as much as possible.

Stay Healthy Mis Amigos,

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Stop Training Like a Dumb@$$

Most people live fairly sedentary lives. We sit for breakfast, we sit in the car on the way to work, we sit at work, we sit on the way home from work, then we go to the gym and train like a maniac. Jumping, hopping, burpee-ing, kettlebell swinging, and doing tons of other high intensity demanding work…then we leave and sit at home, and go to bed, and repeat.

What is wrong with this picture?

Lots of things.

First off, people just sit way too much. Leading to tight hips, tight backs, tight upper chest muscles, weak glutes, and weak un-conditioned core muscles.

Then, you take this body and try to go totally ballistic at the gym. Do we see where the problems lie?

This point was reiterated on the Renegade Radio podcast episode that I was listening to this week with my friend Dr. John Rusin.

In the podcast, John stated – to paraphrase – “most people live in a seated and sedentary life, and then have this crazy bio-psycho-social approach to training – going all out, and thinking every workout must be all or none. These same people who live in a seated position train balls to the wall until they get hurt or burned out. This turns something positive and beneficial (exercise) into a negative, injurious experience”

This couldn’t be any truer.

Many people think that the sign of a good workout is to feel completely obliterated by the end, and feel like they got hit by a Mack truck for days after the workout.

What most burpees look like…

The Solution

Instead of always thinking that you need to be pushing it to the max and going all out – listen to your body and train smarter, and recover even smarter.

If you sit all day, make sure you are taking time DAILY to mobilize your hips, stretch your hips, stretch your chest, and strengthen your abs and glutes. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just a simple little circuit.

When you get to the gym WARM UP! A warmup is NOT walking on the treadmill for 3 minutes, doing some arm circles and then jumping right into your heavy set of bench pressing.

A warmup should consist of three main things that can be accomplished in 5-10 minutes:

  1. Mobilizing tight muscles (dynamic stretching, foam rolling, active mobility drills)
  2. Priming the working muscles for the workout (if you plan on doing bench, prime the pecs, shoulders and upper back with some band work for example)
  3. Getting the heart rate up…you know, the actual WARM part of warming up!

If you are feeling run down or beat up, take it easy at the gym. Focus on high-quality strength training, and don’t think that you need to do the latest burpee challenge or 1000 box jumps.

Lastly, on your off days – don’t spend the whole day laying on the couch. Do some mobility work, and go for a nice walk – even just 30 minutes will do wonders for helping you feel better.

Need a sample recovery day workout? Want to know why I think burpees are the dumbest f****** exercise in the history of ever? Subscribe to the MG FITLIFE insiders and you will find out on Tuesday of next week 😉

Stay healthy my friends,

Mike

 

You CAN Out Train a Bad Diet…Until You Can’t

 

I’m sure you have heard it before, probably even from me – you can’t out train a bad diet. Meaning, no matter how hard you workout, your excessive exercises cannot negate a poor diet, eating too much, eating like a child all the time or even eating too little over time.

Truth is, you can out-train a bad diet, at first.

Your diet has too many calories in it…

If you go from no exercise to a ton of exercise and don’t change a thing with your diet, you will lose weight initially. It’s calories in, calories out at it’s finest. But then what do you do once you physically cannot add more exercise to your life without missing out on family time, work, sleep, or other more important things?

Aside from running out of time to add in more exercise, there is also the effect of hormonal changes that come with excessive exercise (leptin and ghrelin fluctuations), driving your hunger levels up, and making it easier to eat more than you burn – especially if you are already eating a bunch of calorically dense junk food at will.

If you continue to lean on exercise for fat loss, you also can run into what is known as the constrained theory of energy expenditure – however, it is no longer just theory.

Essentially it has been found that once someone goes over a certain threshold of exercise, their body will actually start decreasing the calories burned from NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis – calories you burn from just moving throughout the day).

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(15)01577-8

The traditional model, the Additive Model, figures that the more exercise one adds to their life, the more total calories will be burned. The latest research has shown the Constrained model to be more realistic – with a breakpoint of diminishing returns.

A little bit of exercise (45-60 min 4 to 7 days per week) can elevate the number of calories you burn each day, a moderate amount likely won’t make a huge difference, and extreme amounts WILL burn more, but this is not likely sustainable.

The best way to see this is to use a step tracker while NOT working out. Most will notice that as they increase working out, their steps actually decrease over time – because the body will naturally begin reducing unnecessary energy expenditure outside of exercise to conserve stores.

The point to take away is not that more exercise is worthless, or “bad” – but rather using more exercise without addressing nutrition is a very steep and frustrating uphill battle.

Your diet has too “LITTLE” calories in it…

Hang with me on this one. There are several instances when I have seen this happen.

Example: Someone believes that they are following a super restrictive diet, only eating 1200 calories, but not losing weight! After a closer look we find:

  1. They follow this strict diet 5-6 days per week, then go hog wild because they are over restricted and end up eating 2000-3000 or even 4000 calories on one day in the week, putting their weekly average into a caloric surplus.
  2. They are forgetting to track everything, even the little bites add up!
  3. They are using inaccurate measurements of their food, and actually eating much more than they believe.
  4. They are not counting liquid calories (yes, I’ve even had people not track milk because they thought that liquid calories didn’t count…)
  5. They have been under years of restriction, leading to a slowed metabolic rate, or a dysfunctional thyroid (this is MUCH less common than people think, but it happens)

99% of the time, when it comes to not losing weight because of eating too little, it usually is from more of a user error than an actually slowed metabolic rate.

Even if your goal is weight loss, and you are physically active – you need to make sure you are still eating enough to fuel your workouts, keep your metabolic rate fired up, and most importantly fuel your muscles for recovery.

When you undereat and over exercise, you eventually hit a wall, burn out, get sick, get injured, get overtrained and un-motivated. So even if you are looking to lose weight, your intake should actually increase with your increase in activity – and as long as you create a slight deficit, you will still lose fat at an appropriate rate, and feel much better than most people who are over-restricting.

Need help with eating enough for your goals and having someone hold you to it? Sign up for the…

Jump Start into Summer Challenge! (Still 5 Spots Open! – for ANYONE, ANYWHERE). 

Fill out the quick form and I will put you on the early registration list:

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You Don’t Lack Discipline, Motivation or Willpower

You lack direction and accountabilty.

It is a very common discussion that I have at least once per week. “I wish I had the discipline/motivation/willpower to do ______”. I get where these people are coming from, and they are not technically wrong that having more of these “things” would be beneficial – however, they are focussed on the wrong “things”.

Discipline 

Saying that you need to find more discipline often times means that you lack a self-driven purpose. You lack a driving force to be disciplined for, you just continue on your ways thinking that maybe tomorrow will be different. Or maybe you are truly content with your current condition, and that’s fine – as long as you are truly okay with it.

I love to use monetary analogies. Having fiscal discipline is important for saving money for a large goal. To buy a house, save for a big vacation, or to pay off debt. Ironically enough, there have been studies showing that people who are over-indebted have a 100% greater chance of being overweight or obese.

Now, these are just correlations, and it is a chicken vs. the egg scenario – because when one is short on money, it CAN be (but not definitely) cheaper to buy unhealthy foods. But what this also can show is that discipline transcends throughout multiple aspects of life.

If you can have the discipline to save for retirement, a house, a vacation – then no, you don’t need the discipline to do things to improve your health, you need a purposeSIGN UP BELOW!

Motivation

Motivation does NOT translate into compliance. Intentions and setting up your environment for success does. In the British Journal of Health Psychology; a study showed that intention bests motivation when it comes to exercise follow-through.

Control group: 38% exercised at least 1x/week
Motivation Group: 35% exercised at least 1x/week.
Intention group: 91% exercised at least 1x/week.

The intention group was told to create a plan for when and where they would exercise over the following week. Specifically, each person in Group 3 was told to state their intention to exercise by completing the following statement…

During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE]. 

The same strategic approach can be used for nutrition and dietary modifications. During the week I will eat vegetables at 2 meals per day – for example.

Instead of saying you need motivation – create intention. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Constrained (SMART) goals work best. SIGN UP BELOW!

Willpower

Willpower is finite – it can and will run out if you try to depend on it. Sure, you can use willpower to resist reaching into the cookie jar in the kitchen, but eventually, you will give in and eat them. (Protip – keep them out of sight, or completely out of the house!)

Studies have shown that willpower will eventually run out if you continue to resist something that is constantly forced into your environment. However, more recent studies have shown that this is only true if you believe it to be true. Huh?

Belief drives behavior.

Believing in success and yourself will help you more than sitting around and belittling yourself and continuing to beat yourself up. If you consistently are bombarded with negative self-talk – or worse, negative talk from those around you, you will subconsciously behave like like you believe you are.

Instead of continuing to think “I am fat” or “I have no willpower” – and if other people are telling you that, well then you need to find other people to hang out with… shift your beliefs in yourself. This is not to say that you should live in denial, but thoughts like “I am working at being more healthy” or “I am a strong-willed person” will slowly build and create a more powerful subconscious.

If you believe that you have poor willpower – you will have poor willpower. If you believe you have no discipline – then you won’t have discipline. If you believe that you have no motivation, then you won’t have motivation.

If you have a plan, set yourself up for success, layout specific intentions, and start taking action – you will “magically” have better willpower, better discipline and better motivation – and thus – better results!

Need help with creating a plan of action and having someone hold you to it? Sign up for the…

Jump Start into Summer Challenge! (open to 10 PEOPLE, ANYONE, ANYWHERE). 

Fill out the quick form and I will put you on the early registration list:

Thanks and I will be in touch shortly!

 

What’s Wrong With Body Transformation Challenges(?)

 

Many gym owners and trainers like to run short-term challenges under the title of “X” Week Transformation Challenge.

And many trainers or fitness experts like to rip on them because “how can you really transform your body in X weeks?” or because maybe some questionable weight loss tactics are pushed to get crazy results.

Here’s a different take: I think transformation challenges are great, HOWEVER, the approach must be correct and the mindset of the person signing up for them is the true area of concern.

What makes transformation challenges great:

They give someone a short-term goal to focus on, they can boost motivation, create greater accountability, and increase morale while done in a group or with friends. While you likely won’t totally transform your life in X weeks, you can get a great start and get the ball rolling on creating some awesome habits for a lifetime.

What makes transformation challenges not so great:

Depending on the tactics used or results promised, I’ve seen claims of 20 pounds in 6 weeks, or other super rapid weight loss promises. Truth is – this is possible. However, these results rarely last more than 1 year, and studies even have shown that 90% of people who lose weight at a rate faster than 1 pound/week on average gain it all back and then some within 5 years.

The BIGGEST Issue with Transformation Challenges…

It’s not the challenge, Transformation Challenges are AWESOME! It’s not the promises of life-changing results…it is the mindset of the individual going into the challenge thinking that this short period will truly transform their lives.

Could it lead to life-changing results? Of course! You could sign up, learn about your nutrition, exercise habits and fall in love with the process and jump-start a lifetime of healthy habits.

However; going into the challenge thinking that you can sign up for a few weeks, hit it hard, and then have your problems solved is a dangerous mindset to be in.

Having this sort of quick fix mindset will only leave you starving, grumpy (hangry), and disappointed when your challenge is over.

It is on the participant to realize that there is more to getting long-term results than a short window that is only a couple of weeks long.

This is why I prefer calling them ” X Week Jumpstart Programs/Challenges”. Right away it is implied that this is only the beginning of a process, not a life-changing event with a start and finish, and shifts the mindset to a more long-term view.

Short-term challenges are great – if you view them as part of a bigger goal. Health doesn’t have a start and end date. It is an ongoing process that needs to be committed to for life, whether or not you are doing a challenge. Use challenges to jump-start the process, but when the challenge is over, keep working towards your long-term goal – and keep chipping away at it day after day.

So if you have fallen off the wagon, are lacking motivation, or have never started and have no clue where to start – let’s get the ball rolling, and start creating those habits that will last you a lifetime. I won’t promise insane results in 8 weeks, but I will promise that you will learn a lot about nutrition, your body, and exercise – and if you take the jumpstart seriously and work at it, you will be in a much better place than you were at the start of the challenge…

With all that being said…

Stay tuned for an important announcement about my first ever “Jump Start into Summer Challenge” – Coming SOON! (open to 10 PEOPLE, ANYONE, ANYWHERE). 

If you are already interested – fill out the quick form and I will put you on the early registration list:

Thanks and I will be in touch shortly!

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Stay healthy my friends,

Protein 101 – What, Why, And How Much?

Protein; what every gym rat likes to talk about. The truth is, protein is very important for everyone looking to maximize his or her health. To keep it simple, protein is made up of the building blocks of tissue – amino acids. In addition to muscle, protein also makes up hair, skin, nails, hormones, and enzymes.

Besides being important for rebuilding muscle, protein has a few other pretty important attributes;

Protein helps with satiety, or fullness, and will help control overall intake and hunger pangs.

Also, 20-35% of calories from protein are burned through digestion or the Thermic Effect Of Food (vs. 5-15% from carbs, and 0-5% from fat) – so eating a higher protein diet keeps your metabolism revved up. Have you ever gotten the meat sweats after eating a ton of meat? It’s a real thing…

High protein foods are pretty much anything that comes from the flesh of animals, or anything produced by an animal that is edible (milk, eggs, and dairy based protein powders). High protein, non-animal sources include tofu and beans – which also are a moderate protein source at best and also a significant carbohydrate source.

Protein is probably the most under consumed macronutrient in the average diet. For a healthy individual looking to maximize performance (performance not necessarily meaning athletic performance, but overall performance through out day to day tasks) , health and overall strength, I always recommend eating 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. (200 lb. healthy male = 200g of protein per day).

Where this recommendation changes a bit is in overweight or obese individuals. If looking to lose body fat, a caloric deficit is still crucial, and if somebody is 300 pounds, eating 300 grams of protein per day might not be possible or necessary.

In these cases, I like to use 1.25 grams per pound of Lean Body Mass.

 So lets say that someone is 260 pounds, and 35% body fat. 260 x .35 = 91 pounds of body fat. Taking the total weight (260) minus the body fat (91) gives us 169 pounds of lean body mass x 1.25 = 211 grams of protein.

If you are serious about your training (or health for that matter), you need to be serious about your protein intake. Training is catabolic – meaning it breaks down muscle tissue. Sufficient protein is key for proper recovery and boosting performance.

If you are more sedentary, maybe its time to consider getting some weight training in – but that’s for another time. Our bodies eventually get to a point in our 30s and 40s where we start losing muscle mass. This is called sarcopenia. It has been proven that this process can be slowed or even reversed by following even a basic full body strength program and eating enough protein to facilitate recovery and maintain muscle mass.

So take a good look at home much protein you currently eat, and most likely you will be looking to increase your intake. If you are currently eating 100 grams, and your goal is 200 grams, I don’t recommend trying to make that jump overnight.

First, try to find what your consistent daily average is. (100 grams per day)

Then, try increasing by 10 grams per day for whole week (110 grams per day). Keep increasing by 10 grams per day every week until you get close to your goal intake.

I have found that naturally when people focus on increasing their protein intake, they start cutting out more and more less nutritious foods, especially foods that are loaded with junk carbs and greasy fats.

By simply starting slow, and slowly increasing until you get to your desired goal intake, and you will be once step ahead of everyone else who is still trying to jump from fad diet to fad diet.

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Stay healthy my friends,

Sweat Out The Stress: 3 Tips You Didn’t Know You Needed

 

I talk a lot on here about the benefits of working out – weight training in particular – but one often ignored benefit is the power that exercise has on our emotional well being.

While exercise in itself is technically a stressor (intense exercise causes elevations in cortisol, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) – it can provide a ton of anti-stress effects and feelings to give you some pretty awesome benefits.

It has been found in numerous studies that  even just 5 minutes of physical activity can decrease feelings of depression and anxiety. I’m not claiming that a quick 5 minute run with make all your problems go away, but it might make you feel better.

So how does this all work? Is it from that feel good rush of endorphins we get? Maybe not…

When it comes to the “old” field of thought, exercise will increase your brains endorphins (your bodies endogenous – internal – opioids). However this is little evidence to support that this is a significant amount and we don’t see many hardcore gym goers looking like they are strung out on heroin.

Now many may say that they feel a “rush” of energy or improvements in mood during exercise – while exercise may increase endorphins slightly, the main reason we feel better during a workout is much more physical rather than hormonal – you are just moving, and the body is meant to move! Exercise increases blood flow, oxygen flow, and damn it just feels good to feel your body improving your time or weight lifted.

What has been proven – and is pretty neat, is how exercise helps improve your mind OUTSIDE of the gym

Exercise is technically a stressor on the body – it elevates cortisol – and the more intense the exercise is, the more elevation you get.

Just like training might be a form of practice for a sport or activity, training is also a form of practice for your bodies ability to handle stress outside of the gym.

Along with cortisol being elevated, the hormone norepinephrine (NE) rises as well. This is the hormone that is the target for elevation for most anti-depressant drugs. When NE rises, it forces the bodies systems (cardio, renal, muscular, nervous) to communicate better with one another, and manage stressful situations more efficiently.

So by exercising and increasing our NE during exercise, we are training out body to handle rises in cortisol more efficiently outside of the gym, and from our regular everyday stressors.

Now here’s a curveball…

As I have noted before, too much intense exercise (especially coupled with extreme dieting) is a big no-no and will only lead you down a path of wrecked bodies and hormones.

There is a popular quote out there that says something like “The Only Workout You Regret is The One You Missed”.

While this sounds badass and motivational, it’s wrong to a certain point.

The workouts you regret are the ones where you didn’t listen to your body and guilted your self into doing some crazy high intensity workout while going off of 3 hours of sleep, no food, and in a severely dehydrated state. You don’t get a medal of honor for being a tough guy or gal in this case – you get a weakened immune system, a possible injury, and a body overwhelmed by stress.

To get the stress relieving benefits of exercise you need to train – but it has to be smarter, and not harder.

Here’s how:

1) Workout’s are only as beneficial as your recovery.

if you aren’t sleeping enough, not eating enough, and not taking time to just chillax a little bit, you will not be getting much out of your workouts, and only setting yourself up for more frustration. People need to start listening to their bodies more. If you know you are tired, and underfed – go for a 30 minute walk instead of doing the latest 100 Burpee Challenge (the worst thing ever invented).

You will be fine, you will feel better, and you will be better prepared for your next actual hard session.

2) Exercise is VERY Important…but isn’t for weight loss.

Stop counting your calories burned from exercise. Read that again. Yes, a trainer is telling you this.

When we put the stress of “I’ve gotta burn X calories” we take the fun out of training. Here’s a buzzkill – your calorie burn trackers are inaccurate anyways.

Exercise has so many amazing benefits, but as a primary source for weight loss it’s a terrible idea and its a trap that many gyms like to sell people on…

Exercise is for health, strength, fun, stress relief, social interaction, longevity, vitality…but not weight loss.

3) Have a plan A and B for your workout.

Ever go to bed, thinking about how you are going to CRUSH the weights the next day, or burn the pavement up with your epic sprints…only to wake up feeling sore, beat up, and groggy?

Instead of trying to stick to plan A and grind through, keep a plan B in your back pocket. That doesn’t mean do nothing, but it means pick something that is less stressful. Your body is probably trying to tell you something here.

Maybe work on mobility, lower intensity cardio, a more dynamic effort workout (lighter weights for speed), or at least shorten up your intense part of your session and couple it with some lower intensity walking and foam rolling at the end.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong – this is not a pass to start going “easy” on all your workouts – because most people truly don’t push themselves to an intensity that they can actually handle – but if you are a hardcore gym goer, and starting to feel a little burnt out, maybe it’s time to take a little step back and let your body level out a bit.

So next time you are feeling “blah”, go for a walk – even 5 minutes – and then assess what’s going on. That might be all you need, or you might be ready to toss around some weights – but either way, listen to your body, and keep the enjoyment in exercise.

 

 

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Stay healthy my friends,