The TRUTH About All Those “Eat Whatever You Want and Lose Weight” People

It’s true! You CAN eat pizza and lose weight. You CAN eat Big Mac’s and lose weight!

This is something that I see ads for, marketing for, and friends sharing posts about all the time. I myself even share the occasional “I eat ____ as part of my healthy diet”.

The disconnect is this – most people who eat this way don’t show, or talk about the other 90% of their diet. Because that wouldn’t appeal to the average person that wants a quick fix, minimal effort, life-changing plan.

There are some in the industry who do this very responsibly, and are very balanced about it and are very transparent about it. These people are my friends – I don’t associate with the other type – so if you are reading this I’m probably not talking about you 🙂 

Then there are those who have an unhealthy relationship with food. They post about eating 2 pizzas and still having abs, but they then go on to skip their next 4 meals and chug away on the treadmill for 2 hours.

They preach about “eat what you love, get results” – but this isn’t true – because all YOU see is the “bad food” that they indulge in.

Be wary of these people. Be wary of someone who tells you that you can eat WHATEVER you want and still lose weight. The next question you should ask should be, “what quantity of whatever can I eat 🙂 “?

Look, it all comes down to creating a calorie deficit if the goal is to lose weight. We get it. 

I could lose weight eating nothing but Ben and Jerry’s for 2 weeks.

Americone Dream (1 pint) – 1140 cals – 64 fat, 123 carbs, 17 protein

I could lose weight eating 2.5 pints of this per day. But that’s ALL I would get to eat.

How realistic is that?

I would give myself maybe 2 days before I –

  • A) crapped my pants so bad,
  • B) went insane and/or
  • C) Ate my own arm off.

Yes, you COULD do this and lose weight. But it’s not realistic, AND you would become so deficient in many vitamins, minerals, and protein that your weight would be the least of your worries.

Again – you CAN eat whatever you want, but likely not how much you want, and still lose weight.

This is called balance, moderation, or managing – whatever adult term we want to use.

There are many ways to do this, eyeballing things and making general assumptions to literally measuring everything out and tracking macros to a T.

So how can you REALLY eat WHATEVER (not HOW MUCH) you want, and still get results and NOT end up deficient in nutrients or malnourished?

The Most Accurate Way – TRACKING LIKE A BOSS. Become “scale guy” or “scale girl”. 

This works for some people – and I am super happy for them. But I also know many people who won’t do this, even though it damn near guarantees results.

After figuring out your goal intake, if you can hit 80% of your calories from nutrient-rich, balanced foods, you would be just fine hitting the other 20% from foods that you like to indulge in…but you probably can’t indulge in them.

Let’s say your calorie goal to lose weight is 1800 calories. 20% = 360 calories from “junk”. Well, you get a little over a half cup of Ben and Jerry’s. If you are like me, a half cup of ice cream is one spoonful.

But this is how it is done.

You make “adult decisions” earlier in the day if you plan on indulging later in the day. It’s really simple. You eat lower calorie, high protein, high nutrient-rich foods, then indulge later in the day on calorie-dense goodies. But everything is measured out perfectly.

The Eyeball Method

This might be less accurate, but it also still involves making responsible adult decisions.

If you KNOW you will be eating pizza and cake later, how can you “offset” those foods earlier?

Well, pizza and cake is mostly fat (cheese, pepperoni, butter) and carbs (the crust, sugar, flour) so maybe breakfast would be egg whites and veggies (high protein, low fat, low carb), snack 1 would be a protein shake, lunch would be a big ass salad with chicken, and snack two would be a Greek Yogurt and fruit.

It’s not as perfect as measuring and weighing, but it’s still making a conscientious decision to make changes earlier in the day, to enjoy later.

But here is where that approach can backfire…

Let’s say you eat 3 pieces of Little Cesar’s Cheese Pizza and 1 slice of Oreo Ice Cream Cake (1/12th of the cake…LOL, who only eats 1/12th of a cake!)

Well that little meal was 960 calories (122 carbs, 38 fat, 38 Protein)

So unless you offset by that much earlier in the day, you could STILL be in a calorie surplus aka weight gain zone.

This just shows how calorie-dense foods like pizza and ice cream cake and add up super fast! SUPER FAST!

These are usually cases where most people THINK they are “barely eating” and not losing weight.

I’m sorry to break it to you – but if if you don’t track something in your food journal or track it accurately – your body still will.

Whether you want to learn to use a food scale or just start eyeballing things, making a change for the positive is the right way to go.

The last bit of tough love for the day is this: people who say that diets void of treats, sweets, grease, and drinks every day are deprivation diets are full of you know what. How many years, decades, and centuries did people live just fine and healthy lives without junk food?

True moderation of these foods is much less than most people think.

True moderation is once a week, once a month, or “here and there” – not once per day, or even 3-4 times per week (depending on the food/drink).

While macros and calories matter, your quality of nutrition matters as well. It goes beyond the number on the scale. It is about internal health, blood health, gut health, heart health, skin health, and the true sustainability of a diet.

So yes, you can eat a little bit of what you want, and still lose weight, and feel batter – just probably not to the extent of what you might think.

 

Would you like more help on taking back your life, learning to love health and food again, figuring out how to find true balance, or just crush some goals and get the body of your dreams?  IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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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.

 

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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,

 

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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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

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How to Avoid Gaining Fat on a Holiday

“What will I do this _______ (insert holiday here) – how will I stay on plan?”

I get this question a lot, and I sense the worry of many patriotic Americans this 4th of July, who know it is their civic duty to celebrate our independence by stuffing our faces full of processed meats, things we call salads that are hardly salads, and epic amounts of American beer…because that’s what freedom looks like!

Now, the cliche answer that many coaches will put out there is – one day doesn’t matter.

One day won’t ruin your month of work, your year of progress. Just like one salad doesn’t make you healthy, one binge day won’t make you fat…

yeah yeah yeah, we have heard it all.

But what if this is wrong? What if one day CAN derail you? Well, I’m here to explain that it can – and how you can minimize the damage.

Let me get this straight though – if you have been rocking your lifestyle, training, and nutrition lately, and you have one crazy day of pigging out, then get right back to your normally planned routine on July 5th, then yeah…most likely you might wake up a little puffy, water-bloated, and hungover… but it won’t undo weeks of work.

But for most people, this is not the case.

From a psychological standpoint, many people struggle with the whole “get right back to it” part. And to make matters harder, many preemtively prepare for a holiday by using the ol’ “i’ll be pigging out in 2 days anyway, so might as well start now” line.

AND to go full science nerd on you – one day of overeating CAN lead to fat gain if you push your calories into a surplus.

For example – let’s say your maintenance calorie level is 2000 calories. If you eat 2000 calories every day you stay at the exact same weight.

Now let’s say you have been losing weight by eating 1800 calories per day. Your week might look like this with a July 4th party…

  • Monday 1800
  • Tuesday 1800
  • Wednesday 1800
  • Thursday 5000
  • Friday 1800
  • Saturday 1800
  • Sunday 1800

AVERAGE: 2257 calories aka a SURPLUS

So yes, one day of super binging CAN derail you. Facts our facts. No fake news here. The key is to not let it if it happens. Yes, you will have a setback – but this is not the end of the world. It is what it is…and frankly it’s called being a human.

The mistake most make is they beat themselves up over this weight gain. They feel guilt, shame, and disappointment – and eventually, just give up. That is where the mistake lies. Not in the one-day bender for America – but giving up BECAUSE of the one-day bender.

If you put yourself in the right mental mindset, you can get over this mental hump and just keep fighting forward – great! It happened, now just move on. Don’t vent about it on social media, don’t cry about it to your spouse – just move on.

Now how can we minimize the potential for that one-day bender causing a setback?

Be Active

Get a workout in. A hard one. A heavy one. You know you will be eating like a patriot on July 5th, 1776 later today, so make room for all that fuel. I love doing heavy leg days or strongman type workouts on holidays.

I like this one for today:

  • Farmer Carry
  • Sled Push
  • Clean to Press
  • Sled Pull

I will use bodyweight for farmer carries and double bodyweight on the sled. 6 rounds sound fun.

Also – go for walks after meals. Don’t just sit around in a coma all day. Just move.

Prolong Fasting

If you know you are grilling out around noon, maybe have a light breakfast or skip it altogether ( not recommended if you are doing the above recommendation of training hard). There is nothing wrong about prolonging your fast from the night. Some might say this encourages eating disorder like behavior – which in some it might – so know your mind and body – BUT for many, this is just a biological tactic that humans have been doing unintentionally forever up until the current century.

The other tactic is prolonging the fast the day after.

If you wake up tomorrow still full from today, here’s a newsflash – you don’t need to eat. Listen to your body. Again – for some, this might trigger eating disorder like behavior, but for many, this is just called mindful or intuitive eating. Don’t eat unless you are hungry is a simple, but a very challenging thing to master.

Keep it Normal as Possible

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean you NEED to pig out. I know, crazy idea!

The fact is, you can enjoy the celebrations and the company of others without pigging out. There is nothing that says you need to change a thing with your diet.

But I am also here to reinforce the bigger picture.

Yes – one day CAN derail you. But you don’t need to let it. If you want to enjoy 4 brats and 12 beers – go for it. Just own your decision and own the result, and move on. We could sit around and blame others for why we pigged out on a holiday and how we have no clue why our weight went up, but that’s lying to ourselves.

Enjoy the day how ever the heck you want to – if you choose to take a day off, sit around, and pig out – awesome! If not, awesome! Just remember it’s your decision and your decision alone.

 

Happy 4th America!

 

 

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Stop Lying to Yourself About Reaching Your Goals

You are holding yourself back. No one else, but you.

This is a very hard thing for many people to accept. If you are okay with your current life – not even talking fitness and health here – that is awesome! But if you are not happy, and you continue to not take ownership and do something about it, you are the only one to blame.

You need to take ownership of your life and your decisions, and stop blaming outside people and things as the cause for why you can’t do XY and Z.

Ask most people what a good show to watch is and they will fire off 5 shows on TV or Netflix, but then those same people will tell you how much they wish they had the time to go to the gym.

They have the time.

It’s just not a current priority of theirs – and thats okay – as long as they don’t complain about not seeing specific results that they want.

We need to get better at owning our situations and choices.

When I played football in high school, one of our rules was if you screw up on a play, you say “my fault coach” and move on, and don’t do it again. Obviously, if someone had too many “my fault coach”‘s – they would get demoted.

But taking ownership of our mistakes, and moving forward saved us a lot of time and energy that I’m sure many people would rather spend arguing about why they screwed up, or how it was so-and-so’s fault…but we had work to do, and didn’t need to waste time doing that.

This is one of the many reasons why Eden Prairie Football is a powerhouse in the state of Minnesota and we were undefeated state champs my senior year #glorydays

When it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition – these same rules apply.

You do have time to workout. You do have time to make a healthier meal. You CAN sleep more.

You just need to prioritize these things and put in the work. Like anything else worthwhile in life, the results FOLLOW the work!

Here are some of my favorite examples of how you can do all of the above:

Making protein breakfasts – okay, this one is pretty specific, but it’s one of my favorite “myths” to bust. Eggs and egg whites are a staple of many peoples healthy diets – while the standard American breakfast is full of carbs and sugar. It takes me less than 3 minutes to make eggs in the morning. You can find three minutes – I promise. No excuses here. View the Instagram video below on how to do this:

View this post on Instagram

Less than 3 minutes…it’s all you need to make eggs for breakfast and really up your protein game. . . . Eggs and egg whites are the most complete form of protein, and one of the healthiest foods you can eat. . . . I hear this so often “I don’t have time to make eggs in the morning” – and then this person either skips breakfast, or eats a total carb and sugar bomb of a breakfast. . . . 3 minutes is all you need. If you cannot find 3 minutes to improve your health, you don’t want it bad enough – there is no other way to put this. . . . #eggs #healthybreakfast #breakfast #protein #nutritiontip #easybreakfast #eggwhites #rdapproved #onlinecoach #onlinedietitian #healthyfood #cookingvideo #cookingtip #timesaver #savingtime #priorities

A post shared by MG Fitlife – Mike Gorski, RD. (@mgfitlife) on

If you have a little bit more time you can throw any veggies in the pan while it heats up. One of my favorite tricks is to cut up a bunch of veggies on a weekend, throw them in a plastic bag in the freezer, and then when I need them for eggs I just grab a handful and throw them in the pan while it heats up.

Working Out – “I wish I had time to work out all day like you” – is something that is assumed because I am a trainer. Lately, I have been lifting 3 days per week for anywhere from 60-90 minutes. And that is all I do for working out. Honestly.

Strength training is what I love doing. It also happens to be one of the best things you can do as far as exercise goes. The benefits are endless and I went into more detail on it here.

You need to find something that you at least sort of enjoy, and stick to it as your exercise. You won’t stick to something that you hate. If you enjoy yoga or running – then do that!

Obviously, I am biased and will always recommend strength training in some way shape or form because it is proven to be the best form of exercise 🙂

But here is what else my day looks like:

  • On my feet all day – getting an average of about 11,000 steps per day right now
  • I track my diet and hold myself accountable to my food choices
  • Usually, get in one 2 mile walk per day with the family after dinner

You don’t need to spend hours in the gym. But you do need to get off your butt. Here is a totally free resource to get you started: Free Dumbbell Only Workouts

Getting More Sleep – again, you choose when you do this. Yes, there are some busy frickin people out there that need to work late and get up early. But start with a true assessment of your day. Are you wasting any time on mindless TV, phone use, or anything else?

Be honest with yourself.

Power down the electronics 30 minutes earlier tonight, turn the lights down and see what happens. You can’t knock it until you try it, and you won’t know how it feels to get more sleep until you do!

Sleep is so vital to everything that most desire – fat loss, muscle gain, more energy, more productivity, more money…

So set a timer to tell you to get your butt to bed. Hold yourself accountable, and make it happen.

Tracking Food – if I had a dollar for every time I told someone to just start tracking their food (not even making recommendations yet) and they said “I don’t have time for that” – I would have probably about 500 dollars – cool story.

But… if I had a dollar for every time someone started tracking their food, and they came back to me and said “wow! you haven’t even told me what to eat and I already lost some weight!” – I would be a millionaire. (okay maybe that’s a stretch…).

So many people claim to not have time to track, yet, those who do see the benefit right away.

Why wouldn’t you give it a shot? Truly – like setting yourself up for sleep – you can’t doubt it or knock it until you give it a fair shot. So many people just assume that they can’t do it without even trying.

Once you get the hang of it, it will only take you about 15 minutes per day – guaranteed to improve your chances of getting results.

How many people would buy a product called “The 15 Minute Workout” if it promised fat loss and sustainable results? So why not commit to tracking your food if that provides the same?

You don’t need to track forever, but it can be a great learning tool. Studies have shown that people underestimate their intake by 48%, and overestimate their output (calorie burn) by about 21-61%!

Many people “think” they are eating in a deficit until you track everything – nibbles, bites, and snacks included – and you will find that this stuff adds up fast!

Again, this is just a tool to bring awareness – and is not meant to punish or shame you. Awareness must always precede change.

Track your food while sitting on the toilet for all I care…just give it a try.

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I’m a Registered Dietitian…and I Don’t Like Vegetables

True statement.

Sort of.

If you offered me a choice between what I would rather have:

  • Meat or Vegetables
  • Starchy carbs or vegetables
  • Fruit or vegetables
  • Dessert or vegetables

I would choose option one every time.

But – I eat them. Not enough, but I eat them – and most of the time I do enjoy them, but not more than the other parts of the meal.

When most people, myself included, think of vegetables, we think of boring, plain, raw, steamed or boiled vegetables. Not very enticing.

But, when prepared in a slightly different way, or with some extra seasonings or flavors added – they aren’t that bad, and actually enjoyable.

Roasting, air frying or grilling are my go to options. Add in some fresh garlic, lemon juice, or a little seasoning blend and they can be game-changing.

When it comes to nutrition, fitness, and health – we KNOW what we need to be doing, eating, not eating, and not doing to optimize our health. The disconnect comes from actually taking action and doing it, especially if it isn’t the most enjoyable.

Take traditional cardio for example.

I know that having cardiovascular health is important. I know that cardio is great for heart health, conditioning, and even muscle recovery.

But there are endless things I would rather do than jog on a treadmill, sit on a stationary bike, or plant my butt on a rowing machine.

So I make it more enjoyable and incorporate different forms of cardio in my training or add something that I want to do to my cardio (what I need to do).

If I am going to listen to a podcast or a new album release, I will do it during one of my recovery walks. 30 or 45 minutes of walking goes by extra fast when listening to something enjoyable AND if done outside in nature.

If I don’t have a podcast to listen to, I will do more of a conditioning circuit workout for 20-30 minutes. Pick a couple of exercises that get the heart rate going, and repeat for a metabolic circuit. These can be things like dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell complexes.

View this post on Instagram

Don’t over complicate your training for the sake of being cool or different. There is a reason why these movements have withstood the test of time – they work. . . . Here I turned 4 fundamental movement patterns into a simple dumbbell Complex. These are great for getting your heart rate up, metabolism revved and still hitting the muscles decently well. . . . 5 reps of all 4 (squat, row, hinge and push-up) followed by a rest period (2 minutes for beginners, 90 seconds for intermediate and 60 seconds for advanced) . . . Complete 5-8 sets or set a timer for 15 minutes and just go. Make sure you use a weight that makes the 5 reps challenging. . . . #dumbbellworkout #dumbbellcomplex #metcon #hiitworkout #fatlossworkout #musclebuilding #primarymovements #squats #rows #deadlifts #pushups

A post shared by MG Fitlife – Mike Gorski, RD. (@mgfitlife) on

Or I will do strongman type workouts that involve pushing sleds, pulling sleds, carrying heavy things, and slamming ropes, medballs, or sledgehammers.

This is what we all must learn to do. It’s easy to sit around and tell people what they should be doing in the short term, to gain benefits in the long term…but many people still don’t actually do it!

Instead, we need to find strategic ways to take what we KNOW we should be doing, find a way to spice it up, and DO IT.

The human body is meant to thrive off of whole, nutritious foods.

The human body is meant to be active and strong.

We all only get one body – so you better find a way to make the most of it.

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Stay healthy my friends,