Things That Make the Scale Go Bump In The Night

The scale. Friend of few, the enemy of many.

The scale tells us one thing. Our current pull on gravity at the present moment – aka our weight. It tells us nothing else about ourselves. Not how fit we are, how nice we are, how bad we are…it only tells our weight.

The debate rages on about how to use the scale, or if to use the scale at all.

Like anything else in the fitness and diet world, it depends on the individual and their mindset.

If someone has had issues with the scale in the past, first I will look at what they were, how they handled them, and if it was a serious enough problem to avoid the scale – or if we just need to shift their mindset.

Personally – I recommend weighing daily and looking at the average of the 7 days. Or at least 4-5 days and the average of those.

I DO NOT like once per week weigh-ins. Why? Because it is a “doomsday”. The dreaded weigh-in day. And they can poorly represent what is actually happening.

Say you start at 210 pounds (on a Sunday), you would track your weight for a week like this:

Mon: 209 Tues: 209 Wed: 208 Thurs: 209  Fri:211  Sat: 209  Sun: 210

DAMN! Gained 1 pound! – this is what happens to many people. But with daily weighing…

Add up all the weights, and divide by 7 (or the number of days you weighed yourself if you didn’t do 7)

209+209+208+209+211+209+210 = 1465/7 = 209.3 (or a 0.7 lb weight loss)

THEN à enter your WEEKLY AVERAGE (209.3) as your weigh in for the week! See examples here.

Why The Scale Fluctuates

Water.

Mostly water is the cause of the ups and downs day to day. Don’t believe me?

Step on the scale. Step off, drink 16 oz. of water. Step back on. You have now gained a pound (if you haven’t, buy a new scale).

Step on the scale before you have to pee or poop. Step off. Pee or poop. Now step back on. You have lost weight! Yay 😉

Water retention is a massive cause for the scale to frustrate us. What are other things that cause water retention?

Salt

Salt pulls water – I think we all know this. If you eat super salty all day, and you listen to your body’s thirst mechanism, you probably ended up drinking much more water than normal and holding on to it.

Carbs

Carbs are awesome. But they can also bring water with them. This is why when runners carb load before a marathon, I want them to gain 2-3 pounds. This means their glycogen stores are loaded up and they are ready to dominate. Also, this is why low carb crash diets make you lose weight super fast at the start – water weight!

Also, eating too many simple carbs (sugar) without proper activity to balance it out will cause insulin levels to remain high in the body, and prolonged elevated insulin levels increase renal (kidney) retention of sodium (salt).

However, some studies have shown this process can be prevented by consuming more potassium – fruits, veggies, and even potatoes (French Fries don’t count).

Food

More food in your GI tract, more water weight is coming with it. This is just simple logic, right? If you eat a huge meal before you step on the scale, you will weigh more.

This is why I recommend weighing in the first thing in the morning, after you use the bathroom, with no clothes on – to minimize the variables that can cause a flux in water weight.

Stress

The body doesn’t know whether your stress is from exercise, work, or your kids driving you nuts – it just all adds up. Increases in stress lead to increases in the hormone cortisol, and prolonged increases in cortisol lead altered fluxes in anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) – which yes, has an ANTI DIURETIC effect, meaning you retain water.

Inflammation 

Inflammation from injury, sickness, too much exercise all can contribute. This is where daily weighing really comes in handy – and being aware of food intake (calories). You can be in a calorie deficit, and still not lose weight. How? Water.

You can be losing body fat, but gaining water weight due to inflammation – so the scale reads a zero change. How frustrating! This is why sticking it out for the long haul is important. Most people give up when they hit this point.

They are under-eating and overexercising. They are so sore, but the scale just doesn’t move! Sleep patterns become worse – and when sleep gets worse, we are more likely to drop inhibition and reach for sugary/junk foods.

This is when it might be time to assess when you last took a break. Let your body recover, less exercise is okay. Also, take a good hard look at your diet. Was it really as “clean” or balanced as you thought.

Your Period

Sorry ladies, but you’ve got it rough when it comes to the scale and how frustrating it can be. This seems to be most common in the week leading up to your period, and can be upwards of a 5-10 pound swing depending on your size! Again, this is why managing food intake and trusting in the process can be so important. If you KNOW your diet hasn’t changed, but your weight shot up, it’s likely something besides fat that triggered it…

Listen to your body here, basal metabolic rate decreases at menstruation and falls to its lowest point approximately 1 week before ovulation, subsequently rising until the beginning of the next menstrual period.

This explains the random cravings for sweets or treats, or the loss of appetite…listen to your body, and honor your hunger and fullness.

A scale is a good tool. But only one tool.

This is why we need to focus on OTHER metrics to monitor progress. Measurements, internal health, well being, performance numbers, etc.

Maybe your body isn’t ready to lose weight, and you feel like crap. You make changes in your life, feel amazing, but haven’t lost a pound – but your mood, outlook, and energy are better. Are you still going to think that that was a failure?

Look beyond the scale – but also be aware of what changes on the scale can mean.

 

Would you like more help on taking back your life, learning to love health and food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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The 5 Exercise and Diet Myths That Can Go Away Now

Do you know what the WORST part about being a dietitian and trainer is? Telling complete strangers what you do at social events.

“So what do you do?” – “I’m a registered dietitian and trainer”

  • “Oh, so you are totally judging my plate right now…”
  • “What do you think about _____ diet?”
  • “I used to work out all the time.”
  • “So do you sell supplements and stuff?”
  • “I can’t believe you’re eating that”
  • “You drink alcohol?”

The list goes on and on.

I am only half kidding about that being the worst part because it usually gives me an opportunity to make a sale, and hopefully show someone that a better way is out there.

But what most people think exercise and diet have to be to see results is completely wrong.

1) Pain

Exercise and dieting do not have to involve pain. Unless making healthier choices for your future is physically painful to you. But really, physical pain with exercise is not a good thing. It is definitely NOT a sign of a good workout. Yes, you may be a little sore the day after or two, but in the muscles, and you feel like you worked out.

Sometimes it’s okay to never be sore! That sounds great, doesn’t it?

Soreness is most common when you push yourself too hard, your form gets crappy, or you add a new exercise to the mix.

All three of those things are not necessary or not recommended either! Training is a skill that must be honed in. You cannot improve a skill if you overdo it, do it sloppily, or try adding a new skill every week.

Stop going to workouts that leave you crippled, puking or passing out. And if you are a trainer who brags about these things – shame on you.

2) Suffering

“I ate a carrot and an egg for lunch today, and I am soooo hungry” 🙂

For some reason, the more hardcore someone’s diet is, the more they will tell you about it. Like a badge of honor. This is not a good path to go down, nor is it necessary.

Now, what is necessary is making realistic changes to your overall food habits if you are not happy with your health. Sitting around and wishing for results while eating way too many calories also is not a good idea.

This may take a new lens to understand.

Instead of seeing changes to your diet as suffering, look for opportunities for small changes with the least amount of stress – think of it as a pawn in chess.

Say you eat ice cream every single night. You love it. You refuse to give it up. Cool!

However, you also know that it’s probably one of the contributing factors to you not being able to lose weight. So you decide to look at the calories. “400 calories per serving”. What is a serving you ask? “Oh man, 1/2 cup! I probably eat 3 servings a night!”

So now, instead of just cutting out ice cream altogether, where can you move one space forward to make a safe, unthreatening move that won’t kill you (pawn in chess). Maybe switch to a lower calorie ice cream. Maybe cut your serving in half. Maybe only eat it on nights that start with “T”. I don’t know, that decision is up to you. But finding a small safe step is often the right move for most people.

3) Cardio for Fatloss

Cardiovascular health is important.

Having a good cardio base is very important. You should be able to get up and run an unbroken mile right now.

That being said – doing more and more cardio for fat loss is not the best idea.

When I say cardio, I’m talking traditional jogging/biking/elliptical magazine reading…you know, the things you see most people spending way too much time on.

Without addressing your diet, cardio will only take you so far. Moving your body one mile burns anywhere from 80-120 calories or so, depending on your weight. Do you know how easy it is to eat 80-120 calories? Easy like 12 almonds easy.

As much as most people don’t want to, you have to address your diet. To reiterate point 2, it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think – but change has to happen.

Traditional cardio drives up hunger hormones, increases oxidative stress in the body, and can be a terrible idea for someone overweight with bad joints in the first place!

Does this sound like something that would make your life easier? What about the Coke you drink every day…switch that to Diet Coke and you just “ran 1.2 miles”.

Increase your step count, move more in general, but don’t think you NEED to run all the time!

4) Workouts Need to Be Long

I don’t care that you spent 3 hours at the gym the other day. You clearly have more time on your hands than I, and that is awesome!

Too many people think of exercise as this all or nothing approach – especially guys.

“I used to workout 7 days per week for 2 hours per day – but now I don’t have time for that, so I don’t work out at all”. You realize how dumb this sounds, right?

If you are currently doing nothing – start with 5-10 minutes per day if you truly think that you don’t have time. Get up 5-10 minutes earlier, spend 5-10 minutes less looking at memes on Facebook. Whatever it takes…you have time.

If you need a way to plan out your day, or really self-audit your time – download this free cheat sheet, and take a good hard look at where you are actually spending your time.

You can make huge strides, build muscle, and lose fat – and your workouts can be 30 minutes long. Full honesty here – this is all relative to much more important things. You CAN get away with 30-minute workouts if you have your total steps in check, your nutrition dialed in pretty well, and you are consistent.

But for someone who is so busy that they don’t think they can work out at all, this is where I would focus my time, in this order:

  1. Monitor daily steps, come up with a goal of +2000 steps over my current level.
  2. Take an honest look at my diet – make 1 change that will make the biggest impact.
  3. Find two “time slots” to workout for 30 minutes.

Start there, and BE CONSISTENT with it…you will be surprised at what that can accomplish.

5) You Can’t Enjoy Anything That Others Do

This kind of sounds like suffering, but the context here is big.

You currently sit around, saying things like ” I wish I could do what they do, and look like they do” – when you have no IDEA what that person does. You only see a small sample size of their life. So that person that looks super fit, pigging out at a wedding dinner and slamming cocktails… maybe they eat and drink super healthy 99% of their life that you don’t see OR maybe they have a severe eating disorder and are miserable on the inside.

You. Don’t. Know!

But comparing yourself to others is the thief of joy.

What I CAN tell you is most people look at this from the wrong angle. Most people spend time and effort stressing about the little things –  about how they will handle Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years…the gauntlet of fatty holidays, what workout is best for them, should they drink vodka or tequila, squats or lunges, apple or orange.

Who cares what you do on the actual holidays!

When in reality, they are 3 days over the course of 36 days. 8%. 

If you spend so much time worrying about 8% of anything and don’t even think about the other 92%, it won’t turn out well.

Focus on what you do normally – and enjoy the hell out of holidays as they are meant to be enjoyed!

Stop looking for the best workout program, and just stick to one for more than a week!

Find a program that you enjoy, supports your goals, and just stick to it.

Stop focussing on the little things that really don’t matter.

I don’t care if you eat an apple or an orange. That is NOT your issue. I promise you that. Chicken or beef? Again – I don’t care.

I care more about what kind of fatty sauce you drown it in, how many glasses of “relaxation” you drink per night or the cookies that are always sitting on your kitchen counter.

Would you like more help on taking back your life, learning to love health and food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Ladies, Do These 2 Things to Get Results…For Real

There are no magic foods that burn fat, and there are no must eat foods for optimal results. However, if there was a must-have food group or category of foods, it would be:

Protein – one of the three main macronutrients that I always seem to be talking about.

9/10 times when I first meet with a female client or go over the food journal of a client online, the first thing I notice is not enough protein.

Protein is super helpful in fat loss and then the subsequent weight loss management for a few different reasons.

  • It is key for building muscle.
  • It has the highest thermic effect of the three macros – meaning it costs about 25% of the calories from protein during digestion compared to 6% for carbs and 2% for fat.
  • It helps you feel full sooner at a meal, and helps you feel more satisfied after the meal – so you don’t have to go and snack 1 hour later.

So how much protein per day are we talking?

Well, study after study shows that 2g/kg of Bw is best. For those of you who aren’t down with the kilos, that is your BW in pounds, divided by 2.2.

Let’s take a 150 pound woman, divide by 2.2 = 68kg x 2 = 136g protein

In other words, my usual recommendation of .8-1g/lb is useful (120-150g)

How does one eat 136g of protein per day?

It may seem daunting, and there are many ways to do so, but I recommend breaking it down into more manageable windows.

Let’s say you sleep 7 hours per night (you better be!). Wake up at 6AM, and go to sleep at 11PM.

Now we have 17 hours left in the day to eat. Break that up into 3 windows (136/3= 45ish)

  • Window 1 – 6AM-11AM
  • Window 2 – 11AM – 5PM
  • Window 3 – 5PM-11PM

Now your goal is to eat 45g of protein within each one of those 3 windows. Much more manageable to be honest.

This might be one meal in each window, or 2 meals in each window, or a meal and a snack in each window…this isn’t as important as just getting enough protein in the day. It comes down to what works best for YOU.

Lastly, your sources. When we talk about protein, we mean LEAN proteins. Peanut butter, nuts, and fatty sausage have some protein in them, but they are NOT good sources of protein.

Why is this?

Peanut butter = 1 serving = 8g/protein and 16g fat. Most of the calories in PB come from fat.

Chicken Breast = 3oz. = 27g/protein and 3g fat. Most of the calories come from protein.

Other great sources:

  • Sirloin beef – 4oz – 21g
  • Chicken – 3oz – 27g
  • Cottage Cheese – 1cup – 28g
  • Egg whites – 1/2 cup – 10g
  • Greek yogurt – 1 cup – 20g
  • Pork loin – 5oz – 20g
  • Salmon – 4oz – 23g
  • Tofu – 1/2 cup – 10g
  • Protein powder – 1 scoop – 20-30g

Use those sources for most of your protein intake, figure out your three windows, and spread your needs out over those windows and you will be good to go!

What is the 2nd thing?

Strength Training

Strength training to build muscle. Not fluffy exercises, not hours on the cardio deck, not the latest late-night tv gadget – the iron. The dumbbells, the barbells, the kettlebells… the things that many women still fear.

Don’t fear them. Embrace them, embrace your strength, and celebrate what you can truly accomplish in the gym.

The gym is not a place to punish yourself, make up for meals eaten, or work out until your sins have been forgiven.

Strength training with heavy, compound movements, and yes – resting.

By properly strength training AND eating enough protein as described above, you will turn your body into a fat-melting machine, that burns more calories at rest than your friends who seem to spend hours and hour at the gym running their knees away.

Strength training requires effort, enough effort that produces tension, and that tension creates some fatigue in the muscle – and that muscle is adequately fueled with protein. This is how muscle grows.

Strength training requires YOU to challenge yourself, not the other way around. What do I mean by this? Look no further than this excellent quote from my friend Clifton Harski:

One reason that most group fitness relies on high rep / cardio-slop type workouts is that people FEEL like they are working hard…because EVENTUALLY if you do anything long enough or without enough rest, things FEEL hard.

The difference with STRENGTH training is that it should be hard/difficult almost immediately, and people are NOT often willing to work hard and push themselves.

They wait for HARD TO HAPPEN.

Instead of making HARD HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY.

The strength training approach will lead to more physique and physical capability changes OVER TIME.

And it requires that people increase their effort and intensity over time as they earn it.

Cardio slop HIIIT stuff is always hard because people just try and work at a pace and level they cannot sustain. You might even argue that because of that they never actually recover so it just keeps getting harder and their gainz keep being a thing of dreams.

I couldn’t put it any better.

You need to be willing to step up and challenge yourself in the gym – not waiting around for that 100th rep of tricep kickbacks to make your arm feel like it is falling off.

One final example to drive this home…

Let’s say your goal is to do 8 squats. First, make sure your form is perfect. Then how much weight did you use? 20 pounds. Ok – how hard was that?

Using a scale of 1-10 how hard was 8 reps with 20 pounds?

1 being no problem at all

10 being “all out effort, I cannot do another rep!”

For your working sets, you should be at 8 or 9 on this scale. 1-2 reps “left in the tank”.

If you have never actually given strength training a chance, what is there to lose? Give it a go, and give it time – you won’t be sorry!

Would you like more help on taking back your life, learning to love health and food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Put an End to Your Food Sensitivities – FOR GOOD!

It was a Friday afternoon. I had just finished up early at the hospital and I was headed back to Madison for a weekend. I ate some leftover cheese ravioli and slammed a big glass of milk as I rushed out the door to the weekend that awaited.

I got on the road and called my mom just to chat. Then, about 30 minutes into the drive…it happened.

The panic, the cold sweat, and the flipping stomach. I HAD TO POOP!

I flew off the interstate at 90 mph, flew into a Kwik Trip parking lot, parked across 2 spots diagonally, and ran in pinching my cheeks as hard as possible.

I will spare you the details from here.

This was the last time I drank milk. Spring 2014.

Since then, I have realized a few other foods thats don’t hit me THIS hard, but lead to some unfortunate results.

How about you? Do you have issues with certain foods? Do you feel lost, frustrated and confused as to what you can eat and what you can’t? I know how you feel.

I felt this same way once – before the “incident” that “woke me up” – but what I found now is that by investing a little extra effort and time into solving this issue, I can now live mostly gut issue free!

Let’s start with the simplest tactic: awareness.

Like anything else that matters to you, you need to be aware of the fact that you are doing it or not doing it. “I have no clue why my kid resents me?” – maybe you are unaware that you never play with them… “I have no clue why I always get bloated and gassy after certain meals” – time to become aware.

Take mental, or better yet, physical notes on what’s going on! See if you can pin down the food that is causing the issue. For me – nearly crapping my pants was the final wake up call I needed to know milk probably wasn’t the best option.

Also, I noticed that every time I ate a raw fruit with a pit, my throat got scratchy. So guess what, I stopped eating them.

So many people decide to throw in the towel on their food and say “this is just how it’s going to be…”. Well, that’s not me, and that shouldn’t be you.

Once you find awareness, it is time for acceptance. 

Milk wasn’t a hard one for me to give up. But other dairy products that I love have been.

However, none of them give me as bad of a reaction as milk, so sometimes I choose to live with them…and this is part of acceptance. Either accept the fact that something makes you feel so crappy that you are okay with avoiding it, or accept the fact that you are going to live in denial and just continue feeling crappy.

For me, I have accepted my choice to avoid milk, and to limit the other stuff to special occasions – and accept that I might be a little gassy and bloated – and I’m ok with that once in a while.

What if you cannot pinpoint the culprit?

Food sensitivities can be brutal, and hard to pinpoint. Some common issues that maybe don’t seem so common are:

  • asthma and allergies
  • autoimmune disorders
  • skin conditions
  • arthritis
  • atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases
  • neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia
  • mood disorders
  • ADD/ADHD
  • narcolepsy
  • addiction
  • migraines
  • kidney problems

(via Precision Nutrition)

If you feel like you cannot pinpoint what is causing your issues, I suggest running an elimination diet. Yes, don’t get a test done – they are often inaccurate, and will just end up telling you to do an elimination diet anyways.

So here we go again, something that seems “hard” and most people won’t do this. But the freedom that this might bring you, and the pain and frustration it might prevent should motivate you to do this!

The Elimination Diet Protocol

First Three Weeks; follow these guidelines – via Precision Nutrition

Yes, this sounds tough, but again – worth it. Buckle down, own up, and make this happen.

After 3 weeks:

You want to pick ONE group that you eliminated and introduce it back for ONE day. Then cut it out for 2 days again – and look for any weird symptoms:

  • Gi Issues
  • Worse sleep
  • Joint pain
  • Sinus issues
  • Skin issues

Then reintroduce another food group and repeat the process with everything you cut out – one group at a time.

It might look like this:

  • Weeks 1-3 – Elimination Diet Protocol
  • Week 4- Monday – Add coffee back (yes, this would be the hardest for me too)
  • Week 4 – Tues – Wed – Cut coffee out (note any issues)
  • Week 4 – Thursday – Add citrus fruits back
  • Week 4 – Friday -Saturday – Cut out citrus (note any issues)

Repeat this with everything, and when you DO have that 2-day stretch where something seems to feel funky – you NOW have you suspect! Good work!

Final Tips

Yes, I know this doesn’t look easy. But again – are you willing to work to improve your well being and health?

Look back to the list above of what foods you can eat. Toss out anything that isn’t on the list – or the stuff that is on the elimination list. Then, use it as your shopping list. Go grocery shopping and buy only these foods, and find ways to prepare them.

It actually doesn’t look all that bad…

So much so that if this post gets 10 shares, I will run a full elimination diet and document the whole process for you! Game on!

Take your health back, invest in the process, and feel better in just about a month and a half…doesn’t sound all that bad, does it?

 

Would you like more guidance on taking back your life, learning to love food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

When Diet and Exercise are NOT Enough

I exercise, and I eat well – yet I still DON’T SEE RESULTS!

First question – what results are you after?

Second: Do they align with what you are doing?

Third: Do they align with what you do 24/7/365?

These are the three biggest questions you can ask yourself right now when it comes to the overall lifestyle that you are currently choosing to live. By taking a deeper dive into these questions, you may come to some harsh realizations that you did not want to accept, or you may come out completely “woke” to a different viewpoint.

What Results Are You After?

9 out of 10 people are going to start with “weight loss” as their answer. That’s a fact.

I encourage people to dive deeper. Weight loss could be accomplished just taking a giant dump, or chopping off a limb. Yet, we still give SO MUCH power to that silly little number on the scale.

“Hi, my name is Mike, and I lost .8 pounds in a year – sign up to work with me :)”

Not the most impressive sales pitch, huh?

Good thing “weight loss” wasn’t my goal.

My goal was to add muscle mass without putting on fat while being able to cut back to 3 days of lifting per week, enjoying more time with my family, and building my business. Now that is a specific goal!

If you look closely at the weight trends you can see when I was doing a small “massing” phase, and when I was doing a small “cut” phase…but thats beside the point. The point is – what are your REAL goals, that are not confined to a number on the scale.

Sure, you may have 50 pounds of body fat to lose, but I still want you to dig deeper than “lose weight” as a goal. Figure out why that 50 pounds needs to come off, and also find some other parameters to measure, because the weight will drive you nuts.

  • Measurements
  • Body Fat %
  • Performance Numbers
  • Fit of Clothes
  • Reduction in Medications
  • Blood markers

These things can all provide MUCH more insight than a number on the scale.

Do Your Desired Results Align with Your Current Nutrition and Training?

If I wanted to get super strong in the deadlift, it wouldn’t make much sense to train like a marathon runner.

If I wanted to lose a bunch of body fat, but keep all my muscle and stay “jacked” looking, it wouldn’t make much sense to go on a starvation diet.

There is much more to “diet and exercise” than eat less – exercise more, or eat more – exercise less.

It takes TIME to build muscle, and patience (or high dose anabolic steroids). It takes time to rebuild a broken metabolism.

If you want to maximize your muscle-building potential, training once per week will not cut it.

If you want to lose maximal bodyfat, eating 1000 calories per day will not end well.

If you want to become a more confident version of yourself and create a newfound level of happiness – losing body fat and looking sexy might not cut it…

We give these misconceived images to our goals and imagine that once we are at our arbitrary goal, we will find our result (leanness, happiness, etc.) However, we often miss the mark on taking the best path to those goals AND enjoying the journey.

If you are not happy, fat loss won’t make you happy.

If you are not confident, building muscle won’t make you confident.

They may help, but to get these kinds of results you must dive deeper, seek out different avenues to work on, and stop thinking that your body determines your persona.

Do Your Desired Results Align with What You Do 24/7/365??

No, this doesn’t mean that you need to obsess over diet and exercise all day, every day. Quite the opposite.

You become a walking version and representation of what you do on average, over and over again.

Maybe you crush it in the gym 4 times per week and follow a rigid diet 4 days per week…

But Friday-Sunday you party hard, booze it up, become sleep-deprived, and eat so much hangover food that you feel like Jabba the Hutt.

You likely are not going to become a bikini model, or be mistaken for Pre-Endgame Thor any time soon.

A) Trains, Eats Well, Repeats.                           B) Parties Hard 7 Days Per Week

This even goes far beyond diet and exercise. What are you sleep habits like, stress levels like, social interactions, and aspirations to a higher purpose or meaning in life?

Yes, having your health and taking care of your body is one of the most important things you can do, because, without that, you probably won’t be able to do all the other things you enjoy. BUT it is NOT the ONLY important thing in your life – or it shouldn’t be.

Back to my goal – add muscle mass without putting on fat while being able to cut back to 3 days of lifting per week, enjoying more time with my family, and building my business.

Yes, there was still a component of my body in there – and that’s my choice, man. BUT I also didn’t want to live at the gym, or not be able to play with my daughter and wife because “daddy has to train” – and I want to give my family a great life, so continuing to grow the business was important to me without adding tremendous extra hours “at work”.

I can proudly say that I did all of the above, and looking back on the year…did it pretty damn well.

This is over the course of 8 months…not 8 weeks. Time is important my friends.

Goals and results around your body and health are often accomplished more by what you do outside of the gym than what you do in the gym. Read this again.

Even if you train hard 7 hours per week. That leaves 161 other hours for you to do things that either support your goals or go against them. 

This can include so many things outside of food and exercise – so just make sure that your lifestyle aligns overall with what you want to accomplish – and make sure you know what you really want to accomplish.

 

Would you like more guidance on taking back your life, learning to love food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

The 9 Essential Exercises for Serious Runners (with Videos)

Runners love to run. This is obvious. Running can also be a double-edged sword.

Some swear it is the best form of exercise, and others swear off it for life because of bad experiences.

Running can be one of the best forms of exercise and competition, and at the same time can be one of the most stressful and injurious forms of exercise.

Running is a fantastic way to improve your physical, and mental health, your internal and external health, and meet a lot of awesome people.

When you run, your foot strikes the ground, one foot at a time, with the force of 3 to 4 times your body weight on the joints of the hip, knee, and ankle.

What most of them need is not more running, but more strength training. Appropriate strength training. The right kind of strength training…if they want to maximize their potential.

Because of the impact and stress on the joints, and most people’s running form, the muscles of the lower body can often get imbalanced. The quads get dominant and the posterior chain becomes underused and weak.

The goal of strength training for runners should be to balance out the lower body, and also strengthen the most powerful muscles of the lower body – the hamstrings and the glutes.

Here are 9 exercises you should be doing regularly as a runner, and doing them well! They are in no particular order of importance but are in order from most basic to most advanced.

1) Body Weight Glute Bridge

The most foundational exercise for the glutes (your booty). Make sure your heels are about a hands length away from your butt, flatten your back before bridging up, then drive your hips up toward the sky, and squeeze your cheeks together like never before.

Add a pause at the top to make sure you are feeling it in your glutes, and if you have a hard time flattening your lower back, try lifting your head slightly – as seen in the video.

2) Single-Leg Foot Elevated Glute Bridge

Running is done on one foot at a time, so it makes sense to train each leg individually. This helps balance out the muscles left to right and find weak links from left to right.

Start with your foot up on a bench (or windowsill) at a height that allows you to start at a 90-degree bend at the hip and a 90-degree bend at the knee.

Flatten your back, and pull your other knee toward your chest.

Drive the arch of the working foot into the bench (or windowsill), drive your hips up while maintaining that 90 degree bend in your knee.

3) Weighted Glute Bridge Variations

The final step of training the glutes for power is loading them up with some weight. This isn’t your 100 rep booty bump Bootcamp challenge, but REAL strength training. Aim for reps of 6 to 12, get a strong squeeze, and feel the glute pump.

These 3 variations go from easiest to hardest.

With the B-Stance, you are really only using one leg, and the other is just resting on the floor as a sort of kickstand. So in the above video, I am working my left glute, and my right foot is just helping with balance.

4) Hamstring Curls

Now that we have covered the powerhouse of the lower body, lets shift gears and talk hamstrings.

Using a stability ball, drive your hips up and curl your heels in towards your butt – the KEY is keeping your hips up. If you drop your hips and curl in like many people tend to do, you lose all tension and synergy from the hamstrings into the hips…and that is the whole point of the exercise!

Notice in the video, how at the top of the curl, you could draw a straight line from my knees to my shoulders. That is the goal.

5) Romanian Deadlifts (RDL’s)

This is a pure hip hinge – and it lights up the hamstrings when done right. Start with a soft bend in your knees, but from there, drive your hips back, not down.

Pretend like you are trying to push a desk drawer shut with your butt because your hands are full and you are too lazy to turn around.

Keep your back flat from your head to your tailbone. Do NOT round your back forward, or keep your head pulled up and back – keep your spine locked at neutral and head on straight in line with your chest.

In this video, I am using a barbell – but you can do this movement pattern with dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, or a small child.

You can also progress to the much harder single leg RDL, but make sure you have your hip hinge form down first!

6) Split Squats

To integrate the hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings as one in the best way possible for runners, look no further than single leg split squat and lunge variations. Running is done on one leg at a time, so it makes sense to train one leg at a time, right?

The split variation or other single-leg variations also allow you to keep a better spinal position – and avoid the dreaded hunched over squat look that I see in so many endurance athletes. You know what I’m talking about… but this is a different story and post altogether.

**If your squat looks like this, shoot me a message and I’ll hook you up with your fix.**

* Again – these can be done with any type of weight, and the weight in multiple positions – we are just focussed on the movement pattern itself.

7) Rear Foot Elevated or Bulgarian Split Squat

Slightly more advanced, the RFE SS allows you to get a deeper stretch in your hips, and really isolate the single leg.

Slow them down, and feel the stretch. Drive your plant foot through the floor. Don’t be afraid to challenge these with heavier weights!

8) Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge is a slightly more dynamic and advanced single-leg movement, but again – form matters. The big key to focus on here is to step back, but not JAM your foot back into the ground. Control is key, and slowing this one down is your friend.

9) Walking Lunge

The walking lunge brings it all together. Single leg work with added forward locomotion…sounds like running, right?

Keep the core tight and control each step, driving through the heel and getting the glutes firing here. Make sure you keep your front foot flat on the ground as you come up from the lunge. No tippy toes!

So there you have it, the 9 exercises all runners should be focussing on!

How and when should you do them? Great question!

I would shoot for 2-3 days per week, depending on how intense your running training is at the current moment.

From there, pick one bridge variation, one hamstring variation and one single-leg variation per day. Complete 2-4 sets of each exercise, and keep the reps between 6 and 12 reps. 

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Is Diet Culture Dooming Us All?

As I touched on last week, I firmly believe in distancing morality from food. There are no good nor bad foods – there are just foods, and healthy and unhealthy portions, based on your current situation.

But as a dietitian, a so-called “expert” in the realm of nutrition, how can you NOT say that there are bad foods?!?

This infuriates people. The dieters. The gurus. The zealots.

There are CLEARLY BAD FOODS! Gluten, sugar, carbs, fat, dairy…

People love to give these labels and marry them to a specific ideology around food.

Here is the deal, and the shocking truth – people are different. What may be unhealthy for one person, could be okay or tolerable for another. Gluten, for example, can wreak havoc on someone with Celiac Disease, or a major intolerance… but to someone else, it may be totally fine.

Dairy – especially milk – causes me some super unpleasant side effects within minutes of consuming. While my wife can handle it.

People are different.

While there are some fairly universal truths when it comes to what we eat being a healthy option – vegetables are one – there are STILL outliers. Some people have terrible reactions to peppers, and onions. Some to broccoli (and no, that’s not a legit excuse to avoid eating broccoli if you can).

People are different.

Do you get the point yet?

What about donuts? And pie? And cookies? How can you say that those are not bad?

Again – context matters. What is bad about the dount? The donut itself isn’t bad. It’s frickin delicious. Eating 20 donuts per week…still not bad in itself, but probably not the healthiest decision. Eating a donut once in a blue moon, while being active and balancing your diet with mostly non-donuty foods? Probably 100% totally cool.

So by adhering and perpetuating the diet culture – which is only successful 5% of the time – where has it gotten us? Not very far. Yes, 5% of people who lose weight on a diet keep it off for more than 2 years.

So 95% of people who try to diet, fail?

No.

95% of diets fail people. 

Most diets out there make it so unbearable to continue forever, that after a year, maybe two – life happens and you start back to your old ways. You see, food is pleasurable. It’s not just fuel, or macros, or sustenance to get you to a weight that will make you happy. It is supposed to be enjoyed. We cannot deny that foods bring pleasure.

When these diets deprive us of entire food groups or put us on an insanely low amount of calories, then, of course, we are bound to give up. Who wouldn’t??

So how the heck are people supposed to lose fat, improve their health, or get super sexy 6 pack abs?!?!

Awareness. Acceptance. Time. Consistency. Patience. And Effort.

Awareness as to how you have gotten to your current state, and if it is a state of unhappiness, figuring out why you are unhappy. Will losing weight ACTUALLY make you happier? Solve the root of your unhappiness? If not, then don’t even think about trying to lose weight. Solve the root problem first.

Acceptance that you have gotten to your current state because of a cumulative effect of things you have an have no done over years and years. This is not meant to shame, but to just accept ownership of your decisions. You decided to stop working out for 10 years. You decided to stop cooking meals, and eat out all the time. You decide every morning to drink 800 calories from Starbucks. None of these decisions are inherently good or bad, they just are what they are – and they have lead you to your current point. Once you accept that YOU have gotten yourself here, you can also accept that YOU can get yourself out.

Time. It will take time. You didn’t get unhealthy from eating one “bad” meal. You won’t get healthy from eating one “good” meal. Go back to awareness. Why are you here? What got you to this point? Why is it important that you not be at this point? Dig deep. Find the real “why” that will pull you out of the bed each morning, and encourage you to realize that you don’t need food to cope with your stress.

Consistency. Again – one salad, one donut – won’t change much. You need to be consistent. But not OCD. If you give yourself time, you can be more lenient. Enjoy holidays. Enjoy birthdays. But maybe don’t celebrate every taco Tuesday with 4 margaritas. What you do the majority of your time, will lead you to become the person that is a direct result of your efforts.

Effort. It’s simple, but not easy. Most will give up when they don’t see 10 pounds gone in 10 days. Most will want 7 minute abs to be true. Most will want the supplement that their friend scammed sold them on to work now. Truth is, you still need to put in the effort. The effort is needed to move your body, break a little sweat, and challenge yourself occasionally. The effort is needed to not bring foods into your house that you know you struggle with. The effort is needed to not give up when you feel you are doing everything right, but the scale hasn’t moved in weeks (scale doesn’t mean everything – never forget that).

We haven’t failed at diets. Diets have failed us – because what we perceive diets to be are miserable, unsustainable and damn near laughable.

 

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Let’s Stop Calling Foods “Good” and “Bad”, Shall We?

I sat down in my office to get to work on some client check in’s for my online nutrition coaching. The first one I opened, BAM! There it was… “I need to call you, I am really struggling”.

I remember my stomach dropped. What was going on? How serious was this? Am I going to need to refer out to someone more suited for this kind of talk?

We got on the phone the next day and I was met with such a sigh of relief. Well, sort of relief.

This client explained to me that she was feeling so guilty about tracking her bad foods in MyFitnessPal because I would see it and shame her. This was our first week working together…

I explained to her that I NEVER shame anyone, especially for what they eat and only maybe for the sports team they choose to support…but the bigger point I made was one that I make often.

Food Carries NO Morals. It doesn’t affect our morality. It doesn’t change who we are as a person. Food is not good, it is not bad, and it doesn’t make us good or bad based on what we eat.

Food is food.

I say that this call was the only sort of a relief because she wasn’t in danger or anything, but this is something I hear all too often – people calling foods good or bad or making them out to be these magical unicorns or evil trolls….it’s food people, that’s all.

The more “power” we give to foods by labeling them a certain way, the more they will affect us at a psychological level. Think about the forbidden fruit story from the Bible. Eat whatever you want, but you better not touch that delicious looking apple! Well…thanks a lot, Eve.

When certain diet gurus or magazines need to make money, they criminalize one food while promoting another. This is usually from some sort of bastardized study that someone in their research department read, and said, “yeah we can stretch this”.

At the same time, you better bet there is a paper trail connecting them to the food or supplement that they are touting as the miracle food of the week.

Food is Food. Nothing else. Don’t give it the power that it doesn’t have, and you will realize that you are more in control of your food “addictions” and impulses than you think!

So what do we call foods then? You can’t tell me that eating Twinkies and HoHo’s is good for you…

If this is you reading this, you are right – I’m not telling anyone to go out and crush beers and ice cream (terrible combo anyways).

We have 2 categories of foods or two ends of the spectrum so to speak.

Calorie Dense and Nutrient Dense

Calorie dense foods are probably the foods that most would label as “bad”. Pizza, cake, ice cream, alcohol, fries, greasy hamburgers, cookies, donuts, etc.

These foods pack a ton of calories, in a relatively small volume.

Think Snickers bar here. Pretty small, and packs 280 calories, and not a whole lot of quality nutrients. That is calorie-dense. Not BAD. Not GOOD. But calorie-dense.

Nutrient-Dense foods are on the opposite end of the spectrum. These are foods that are loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and low in calories per gram.

Think vegetables, fruit, lean meats, whole grains. The foods usually labeled “good”.

Think broccoli here. A full plate = 200 calories. It’s loaded with vitamin C, fiber, and other great micronutrients. Then we have 200 calories of delicious peanut butter…roughly the size of a golf ball. #Sad

But now there is a twist…foods that are both.

Of course, there is a twist…calorie dense AND nutrient-dense foods do exist.

These are your healthy fats – olive oil, avocado, nuts, coconut oil…

Via VeryWellFit – check out the awesome nutrients of almonds! Also, check out how 24 almonds (this is not that many) is 164 calories. Calorie AND Nutrient Dense.

Again, check out avocados. Awesome fiber, and heart-healthy fats…but also 227 calories (or more if you are getting steroid avocados).

These are usually the culprits when people say “I eat clean, and still can’t lose weight!”

You see, you can eat “clean” all you want, but if you are in a calorie surplus…you will still gain weight.

Awareness is the key to success. I’m not here to tell you how to eat, what to eat, or what foods are good or bad. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs. If you take the time to learn about this stuff, become aware, and make some small changes, I promise you can start moving in the direction that you want to.

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4 Ways to Simplify Your Workouts Without Stressing Over the Small Stuff (With Videos)

When it comes to working out, there are a million different things you can do and a million different ways that people think is best.

The one common factor: hard work and challenging stimulus.

So why do we NEED to overcomplicate things? The tried and true methods still exist for a reason. The staple exercises still exist for a reason. They work.

But what about when we are low on time, energy, equipment or creativity? Can we still get in a good workout? I better bet you can. Here are a few of my favorite methods or modalities to train when there is a limiting factor.

Time

I love doing simple timed supersets or trisets. Let’s say you only have 30 minutes to be in and out of the gym. Okay, take 5 minutes to warm up and 5 minutes to cool down. That means we have 20 minutes for a workout.

Pick 2 to 3 exercises that hit different muscle groups – upper, lower and maybe abs.

Set a timer to beep every 2 minutes, then do 6-12 reps of each exercise, rest until the beep, and repeat again. Here is a simple example using just one dumbbell:

Dumbbell Offset Reverse Lunge

Dumbbell Renegade Rows

If you do this every 2 minutes, that means you are getting in 10 sets of each. Pretty darn good work.

No Equipment

Your body weight can be a great tool here.

Keep it simple, pick a set number of rounds, or like the previous example, do timed rounds.

Here we have a squat, row, single leg RDL, pushup and single leg glute bridge:

***If you don’t even have a bar to row on, just skip it, but make sure you get in some rowing movements later in the week!***

Just a Barbell

“Just” a barbell is a ridiculous statement. You can do SO MUCH with a barbell!

Here is a simple barbell complex: squat, row, RDL, and push up.

Obviously, you want to use a challenging weight, and the right number of reps based on the weight and or the rounds you choose to do. I have done this exact complex for 25 minutes straight (6-8 reps per exercise with 135 on the bar, plus 1-minute rest after each round) and it is BRUTAL!

Get Creative

Maybe you just have a foam roller? Or a log? There is literally no excuse to NOT get a workout in.

Here is a foam roller only complex, and my cabin log workout (this was more of a joke, but it IS possible!)

 

BONUS: It doesn’t always have to be crazy! 

Here was a cabin mobility/pump workout I did in the basement of my parent’s cabin. Don’t overthink these things!

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Your Diet Doesn’t Matter, and 3 Other Things That Don’t

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Let’s stop the talk about this and that diet being best…

Currently, America sits at a 40% obesity rate, and about a 75% overweight rate. Here are the cold hard facts from the CDC itself:

  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death.
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

So what caused this?

Well depending on where you get your information, or what Netflix documentary you decide to confuse with a factual, educated report, it could be anything!

Sugar, fat, carbs, processed foods, toxins, meat, etc… have ALL been blamed!

Those documentaries always will have an agenda. The people they interview are usually trying to sell something, and they will cherry pick their studies only to support their beliefs. Just like a political debate, you are only getting one side of the story. Remember that the next time you watch a food doc, and decide you need to change your whole life based on one movie.

Here’s what some pretty smart and unbiased people have come up with:

We eat too much, and we move too little…this is it.

Yes, sugar has contributed (even though consumption is actually DOWN over the last 10 years). Yes, fat has contributed (stop putting butter in your coffee, please!) Yes, processed foods have contributed…

But it all comes down to eating too damn much, and not moving enough.

AND studies have also shown that you can lose weight while pretty much eating whatever you want AS LONG as you are eating less than you are burning aka a calorie deficit.

But what about internal health, like blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure?

These markers will ALL improve with a loss of fat. If you are currently obese and have a high marker for any of these, stop wasting time reading about the XYZ diets that are best for you, and just start focussing on losing some weight.

Internal health markers all show significant improvement with body fat loss regardless of what diet you use. Yes, even high fat keto diets improve cholesterol, and high sugar diets have improved blood sugar levels WHEN they are used in a calorie deficit eliciting a fat loss effect.

What about exercise? Don’t I need to punish myself for my gluttony?

That’s the last thing you need to do. If you are obese, and not active, doing some crazy hardcore boot camp or HIIT  training will destroy your body, joints, and soul.

It may LOOK like that is what you need based on commercials and outdated TV shows… but truthfully you need to first focus on diet, then just start walking.

Walking is free. Walking is low impact. Walking has many other great benefits:

  • Blood sugar control after a meal
  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Joint mobility
  • Improved mood
  • Free dog interactions (if you like dogs)

If you are NEW to exercise or have any form of chronic pain because of your severe obesity – PLEASE DO NOT sign up for a crazy high impact Bootcamp class. Find a good personal trainer who will work with you and where you are at.

What Foods Should You Never Eat Though?

The internet and gurus love to use these lines as click bait. Truthfully, there IS NO MAGICAL FOOD that will make you fat by itself. It doesn’t work that way.

There are no good or bad foods, they have no morals. There are only good and bad portions or good or bad reasons as to WHY we are eating.

Good reason to eat: you are hungry and need nourishment.
Bad reason to eat: any other time, really…

But even this is only partially true. Think about the coffee shop. You sit down and order a large cappcifrappecoco and a scone because, duh, its a coffee shop, without even thinking.

How many people go there because they truly need a meal vs. meeting up with friends, hanging out after a kids baseball game, or magically appearing in the drive-thru because we are stressed?

So it’s not so much about WHAT we eat, but truly not knowing WHY we eat that we need to be focussed on.

What About Fancy Workout Programs to Boost Fat Loss?

Again – not that simple.

The very popular at home, the P90x program is a great example.

Independent researchers looked at three groups:

  1. People who did the program.
  2. People who did the program, and the nutrition plan that came with it.
  3. People who did the nutrition plan that came with it, and their own workouts of choice.

Guess what? Groups 2 and 3 had the same results, while group 1 had worse results.

This shows two things: nutrition matters and exercise modality kiiiiiinda doesn’t…

I say that with a grain of salt, but it’s really just like a diet – you need to find what works for YOU and what you can do safely.

Now, that being said, if you are after a certain LOOK, there are certain ways you will need to train.

You can’t train like a cross country runner and end up looking like a bodybuilder.

But you still don’t need to make training so darn complex. Find a solid program, stick to it for at least 12 weeks, and then assess if you are better off now than you were when you started.

I hope this helps clarify some things for you, and I hope that you can use this knowledge to either help yourself in the right direction or someone you know and care about – so feel free to share it along!

Until next time, stay healthy my friends,

Mike

Would you like more help on taking back your life, learning to love health and food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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