Rules Are Good For Everyone

Rules. We set them for our children, we hate them as kids and teens, and we yearn for them as adults.

Yes. Everyone needs rules. Whether we want to admit it or not, rules are the most basic form of having a structured life, and through structure, we find freedom.

We already follow many rules in life, and I’m not talking about the laws set forth by the government, but more so “rules” in the sense of “things that I just do, because it’s what I have to do”.

  • You go to work and do your job – knowing that if you don’t, you will be fired, or not paid.
  • You set aside X% of your income for retirement because as much as you want to spend that money now, you know it will be important to have down the road.
  • Want to keep your teeth? You know to brush your teeth at least twice per day.

So why is it so “bad” to set rules when it comes to fitness and nutrition-related stuff? Yes, people will argue that setting rules for your nutrition or fitness are an unhealthy approach to your health. WHAT?

Setting rules is one of the best forms of creating structure to block out the unhealthy habits that may be holding you back. For example – when we set a rule vs. say “I’m trying to do this” it has a powerful mental meaning.

When someone says “I don’t drink alcohol” vs. “I’m trying not to drink” – the person who says I DON’T has created that rule as part of their identity, thus making it easier to stick to.

Here are some examples of rules that have worked well for me, and my clients. Realize that these rules might not be for you, and are not for everyone.

I Don’t Drink on Weeknights

This is one of my personal rules. Not a drop of alcohol Monday – Thursday. Friday after work is over counts as the weekend 🙂

We all should know that drinking alcohol provides zero health benefits, yes, even a nightly glass of red wine adds up and is more likely to hurt your health than to help it. If it helps you relax and unwind, try finding an option that doesn’t involve 120 empty calories (that’s if you do a standard 5 oz pour).

The Kitchen is Closed

This is one of my new favorites that a client of mine came up with. She was struggling with eating after dinner. Mindless late-night snacking doesn’t help with most people’s goals.

Instead of saying “I’ll try not eat after dinner” it was “the kitchen is closed at 7:30”.

Straight and to the point.

And creating that catchy mantra actually helps it stick even better.

Veggies at All Meals

Not every rule has to be about NOT doing something or removing something. We all know veggies are good for us, and we likely don’t eat enough of them.

So why not make a rule that you will have a vegetable on your plate at every meal.

This rule can work for anything that you are trying to add more of – veggies, water, protein, etc.

Set it in stone and make it happen.

If-Then Rules

Setting up if-then scenarios is also a very powerful way to make things happen. If X happens, I will do Y.

This is a rule and a plan. And we all know that failing to plan means you better plan to fail.

There are infinite possibilities here, and these can be very powerful in helping you reach your goals. They can be used for exercise, nutrition, or any other habits you want to form.

Whether or not you want to admit it, rules and structures do help everyone. So stop thinking that you don’t need a schedule, or rules as an adult, and adopt a new outlook on yourself. I promise that through creating structure in your life, you will only find improvements all-around when it comes to your health.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

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No, You Aren’t In Starvation Mode

I sit down to write this while sipping my coffee with a splash of French Vanilla creamer. What is a splash? The nutrition label says 1 Tbsp is 35 calories. But what about a splash? Is it more, is it less…ah it’s probably close. 

Guess what? It’s actually 3 Tbsp worth…105 calories, or a 70 calorie difference.

For a guy like me, 70 calories won’t make or break my day. But this is only my first eating time of the day. I still have breakfast, pre-workout snack, post-workout snack, lunch, dinner, and maybe another snack! That’s 6 more eating opportunities where I could be off by 70 calories.

This makes for a 490 calorie difference by the end of the day…even for me, that COULD make or break being in a surplus or deficit.

Do you see how easy it is to underestimate what we eat?

This is the biggest reason why people can’t seem to lose it, even when tracking food, following a strict diet, or just trying to “eat clean” – you are still consuming too many calories.

It’s popular for some people to say “well, I think I’m in starvation mode, so I need to eat more”. My bodies metabolism has slowed down so much that it won’t burn calories anymore.

This example may sound harsh, but do why don’t starving kids or people with anorexia experience this “starvation mode” phenomenon? It seems to only affect purposeful dieters, but not people who are actually eating too little…

Studies have shown that people underestimate their intake by almost 50%! In the UK at least…

More than 4,000 people tracked what they are for four days. Men reported consuming an average of 2,065 calories a day but were estimated to actually consume 3,119; while women reported 1,570 but actually consumed 2,393.

Good thing the US doesn’t have an obesity problem like the UK…😐

Why are we SO off from what we think we are eating? Here are the biggest reasons:

1) Little Things Add Up

Bites, snacks, sips, etc all add up. I had a client once carry around a gallon ziplock bag and put every snack, bite, sample, candy, etc. into the bag instead of her mouth. At the end of the day, we looked at it and estimated that she was mindlessly snacking on about 1000 calories every single day.

Little things within meals also add up. Let’s look at my breakfast the other day:

Oats, egg, whites, cheese, and ground beef. But what about the oil used to cook the eggs? What about the milk added to the oats? What about the salsa even? These three ingredients added up to 170 calories of this 880 calorie meal.

Little things add up.

2) Your Body Counts Calories, Even if You Don’t

Clean eating tends to give people a free pass on defying the laws of thermodynamics. It’s clean, so I can eat whatever I want!

Calories still matter, and some of the biggest culprits are healthy fats – nuts, nut butter, avocados, and heart-healthy oils.

You can totally eat these foods, but portions still matter! Measure out a tablespoon of oil. Thats about 120 calories. Pour it in a pan. Do you see how little that is? These things add up, and when you aren’t paying attention to them, you can easily miss something.

3) You Starve Yourself During the Week

Okay, maybe you are only eating 1000 calories. Monday through Thursday that is.

Then the weekend calls for fun, and a cheat day or 3. Diets are like relationships. If you start one and are already looking forward to cheating, it’s probably not going to work out well for you.

It’s quite easy to consume A LOT of calories on a weekend. I’ll throw myself under the bus here. Recently, at our cabin, we had a fun-filled Saturday. Full of pancake breakfasts, afternoon boat cruising and sipping beers, grilling out burgers, and all the side dishes to boot. Then more cocktails and smores by the bonfire… and an estimated 7000 calories later, I felt like a tick ready to burst.

So let’s say I ate 1000 calories all week, then had once binge day of 7000. That’s 13,000 calories for the week or an average of 1857 calories per day. Now you see how “I barely eat all week” can turn into a pretty moderate maintenance intake for many people.

4) You Aren’t In Control of Your Food

By this I mean you eat out too much. The chef doesn’t care about your macros, your diet, your health – he just wants you to enjoy your food, and come back again.

What makes a food super delicious? Salt, sugar, and fat. And lots of it.

When it comes to eating at restaurants you can estimate that pretty much every dish has at least a tablespoon of added oil to it, if not two.

Also plenty of salt, and never the leanest cuts of meat.

This is not to say you shouldn’t ever eat at a restaurant, but just be aware that every time you do, it’s a challenge to your intake.

5) You Lack General Awareness

How many calories in this? Is this a high-fat food? Does this food have protein in it? Will this food fill me up?

All things that everyone should have a basic understanding of. But, thank God we know what a trapezoid is.

You don’t have to be a Registered Dietitian to have a good, basic, understanding of food, calories, and nutrients. Creating awareness around your food starts with Step 1 – where are you CURRENTLY at. This is what I have ALL my clients do before we even start throwing out recommendations. We need to see your starting point and adjust from there.

So this is what I recommend to you – find your starting point, literally track everything for a week (weekends count too!), and see what you are truly eating. From there, make adjustments as needed, and off you go.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

Everything You Need to Know About Meal Timing

Meal timing, or nutrient timing, is a theme that shows up on and off in the world of nutrition. This is for good reason! Meal timing IS important no matter what some people might tell you. However, it may not be AS important as others say, or important for the reasons they convey.

First, meal timing is  NOT  the same as meal frequency.

Meal frequency is how many times you eat during the day. To keep this short and sweet, it doesn’t matter. Total calorie intake matters, and it doesn’t matter whether that is spread over 2 massive meals or 16 tiny snacks. Find what frequency works best for your lifestyle, and go with it. The end.

Meal TIMING is when you eat meals or snacks. Many good questions have been asked in regards to specific times over the last few weeks, so why not address them all here?

1) Is there a specific time of day you should stop eating?

Yes, and no. Old school thought was that if you eat anything after 7 pm (ish) – especially a carb – it will summon the insulin fairy straight into your body and cause you to store all that food as fat.

That is not true. Total calories matter.

However, eating later at night COULD lead to weight gain indirectly. First, if you eat more food at night, and you weigh yourself in the morning, your weight might be a little higher cause you have more “stuff” inside of you. That is literally just weight.

Otherwise, let’s be honest – most people aren’t late-night snacking on pea pods and carrot sticks. Nighttime snacks tend to be higher in calories, and if you aren’t paying attention to your intake, this could be leading to eating too much – but this can also happen at any time of the day.

Lastly, if you eat too close to bedtime, your body may be trying to digest food while you are trying to get to sleep. This can cause a decrease in sleep quality, which over time, can lead to a decrease in glucose tolerance, AND actually make you crave more sugary goodness the next day – again, making the battle more uphill, but not impossible.

2) If I workout first thing in the morning, do I need to eat something before?

Probably not. Unless you are training for more than 90-120 minutes, your last meal of the day yesterday is probably enough fuel to get you through.

So people can tolerate a little snack before, some can’t.

But if you are working out at 5 AM, and want time to digest your snack, so you get up at 3:30 AM to eat, which cuts into your sleep…yeah, no – just get the extra sleep, and have a little water and maybe some electrolytes during your training session.

Sacrificing sleep to eat a piece of toast because you think you NEED it for a 45-minute moderate training session is a bad idea.

3) Do I need to eat within a certain time of ending my workout?

Yes, if you are training hard.

The “anabolic window” used to be 30 minutes after a workout. You had to sprint to your car and slam a protein shake before all your gains went away. It’s not that crazy anymore.

However, if you are training hard – pushing some heavy weights, breaking down a lot of muscle, or doing sprint work – you will want to spark the recovery process ASAP, and this window is more like 2 hours. So, no need to rush, but get something in your body soon-ish.

What should you eat? – some carbs and protein. It used to be thought that the carbs were needed to help shuttle the amino acids from protein into your muscles – but actually, the carbs help mitigate the cortisol spike that you get from hard training, and shift your body into recovery mode.

The protein helps start the muscle repair process which is important because this is when your muscles actually grow. How much protein? Shoot for .18g/pound post-workout. 

4) What about eating carbs only around your workouts?

This is a good strategy for some people, but not necessary. It is based on the idea that carbs are fuel for training, so you want to fuel up before and after your most active part of the day, and eat fewer carbs when you are less active.

If calories are controlled, this actually doesn’t matter.

However, if you are doing long training sessions or running a marathon, then yes, you will need some carbs to replenish your glycogen.

Some people feel charged up when eating carbs before a workout, so they are able to train harder. Some people feel sluggish if they eat carbs before a workout. You have to find what is right for YOU.

Also – for some people, this simple strategy just helps them control calories more, so it defacto works, but there is nothing magic about it.

Don’t overthink this stuff…

At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works best for your schedule, your body, and your lifestyle. Play around with timing, but keep it consistent for a week or so before making a judgment call on if it was good or bad for you.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

Time to End the Passive Acceptance of Declining Health

Getting old, weak, and frail.

Getting weak and fat.

Getting sick more constantly.

Getting older and sleeping less.

Feeling like trash after eating a huge meal.

These seem to be accepted as the “norm” by many, but why?

While we cannot stop the clock from aging us in years, we can slow down and even reverse everything that comes with it.

As we age, we get busier. We have jobs, kids, more responsibilities, etc. I get it.

But why does this all of a sudden give rise to the idea that gaining weight, getting weak, and having a lower quality of life is part of the path we are meant to walk?

I work with and have worked with, many clients in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s who have improved their overall health by leaps and bounds.

A passive life is a life doomed for suboptimal health and the only person you can truly blame for this decline is yourself. This is the first step to righting the ship. This is not meant to shame you, this is meant to motivate you. You are to accept responsibility for getting yourself to where you are now, and thus you can get yourself out!\

Change is now, and change is good.

1) Accept that your current state, if you don’t like it, is from years of passiveness.

Maybe you got caught up in a job, raising a family, etc. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it is just what probably happened. You let yourself go. The first step is realizing it, and deciding that today is the day to make a change.

It’s like that co-worker down the hall who has seemed to always have that persistent cough and sniffle. They have accepted that this is what they will have on a day to day basis, and maybe it doesn’t bug them anymore. Meanwhile, you just want to march down there with a box of tissues and cold medicine because they clearly aren’t doing anything to fix it.

Look at yourself from the perspective of others. What do they see?

Audit your lifestyle. Are you happy with your health? Your life? How do you feel when you get out of bed?

You don’t need a fancy gym, tons of super expensive food, or magic powders and pills to change it either – you just need to put your foot down and make a commitment – NOW.

2) Get Active

Start with walking. If you can’t walk because of injuries – get on a bike. Most people know I am a strength training junkie, but if ALL you can do is walk to start, that’s awesome. Begin strength training as soon as possible. Walking is important, sure, but strength training is the literal fountain of youth. All you need to start is your body weight. More on that in a second…

Work on increasing your cardiovascular endurance by walking even 5 minutes a day. Start SOMEWHERE. By just moving a little more each day, you will start seeing the benefits, and start the ball rolling towards reversing your self-neglect from years of no work.

Get an inexpensive pedometer like this one -> http://amzn.to/2hNpsK9 and track your steps. Aim to increase your daily average by 10% until you consistently hit 10,000+ steps per day.

To be honest, exercise and movement don’t matter as much as diet. It’s the truth that no one wants to hear.

However, it is usually the easier of the two to adopt and can lead to a snowball effect of health, eventually triggering changes in diet. So start moving more, and start thinking about some little changes you could make down the road…

3) Get Strong

Weight training is not just for people in their 20s and 30s. Like I stated earlier, I have helped many people, 50+ years old, get stronger and thus improve their quality of life and increase chances for longer independence well into their 80’s and 90’s.

Image result for summary of adaptations to aging and resistance training

Start with bodyweight work, and machines. Track your reps and weights, and try to improve in some way each week. Even one more rep, or 2 more pounds, over time can make a huge difference.

What’s the number one reason people need to move into an assisted living home or lose their independence?

Because they cannot stand up on their own. Strengthen your legs, your core, your grip, your arms, and you will be on the path to longevity instantly.

If you are totally new to strength training, have no fear – READ HERE

Once you get the movement patterns down, you need to actually challenge yourself enough and you can develop muscular strength at any age. Again, see the table above as to why this is important! Studies have shown that older adults need to lift in 70-85% of their 1RM range for strength. What does this mean?

Let’s say the MOST weight you can lift off the floor – the deadlift – is 100 pounds for 1 rep. This is you 1 rep max, or 1RM.

In order to build strength, you will need to train with at least 70 pounds on your deadlift for multiple repetitions. This should be a somewhat challenging weight, that only allows you to get 3-5 reps per set, the golden standard range for strength training.

*Depending on age, mobility, and skills, there are MANY ways to train the deadlift movement pattern, so don’t think that you HAVE to be able to pull a barbell from the floor – find yourself a great coach that will work with you!

This isn’t the ONLY weight range you should and can lift in, as science has shown that even at 50% of 1RM the body will experience changes in muscle function – aka – good things happen.

The key is that you are lifting a weight that challenges you for the appropriate amount of repetitions.

3) Eat “like a grown up”.

This is preached by world-renowned strength coach, Dan John. Eat like a grown up.

Lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, high fiber carbs, and healthy fats – these should be the staples of your diet.

Drink mostly water only.

Cut the fast-food, skip the sugary foods, and lay off the booze a little – and you will instantly find your health, immune function, sleep cycle, and life improving.

Start with one meal at a time or even one side dish at a time. Swap out french fries for veggies, or pop tarts for eggs. Small changes make for big results.

We really don’t need to overcomplicate nutrition and what to eat and what not to eat – I think most people know this. The more important thing to focus on is WHY we eat it. It’s easy, cheap, fast, and pleasurable – sounds like the world’s oldest profession – not something most people want to associate with.

Create your environment to support your goals. Don’t bring crap food into the house, and crap food will less likely be consumed. Mind-blowing stuff! Look at what your current portion size of foods is as well. If you need to lose weight, the most simple place to start is literally just to eat 10% less at each meal. Don’t change another thing.

Just plate your food as you normally would, and then remove 10% of it. Seriously. Try it.

We need to stop living passively in our lives. We are where we are right now because of ourselves, no one else.

And in the end – it’s not even always about us. To be there, actively,  for our spouses, kids, grandkids, but most importantly – ourselves – is the best investment one can make for the future.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

 

 

5 Common Sense (But Often Ignored) Ways to Reduce Your Calories

Before you seek out the latest fad diet, supplement, or 21-Day-Cleanse program (for the 5th time this year), consider that the answers that might be right in front of you. The solution to your problem may not be “try something new” – it might be “pay attention to your current self”.

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3 Reasons Why Your 1200 Calories is Really 2400

“I’m trying to eat 1200 calories a day, and I still can’t lose weight!” Raise your hand if you have heard this, said this, or read this before. We all have. Somewhere, someone came up with 1200 as the magic number to lose weight – especially for women!

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Hey Friend, Long Time No Talk…

This is usually how these conversations start. Before you know it, your long lost “friend” is inviting you to a new 30-day challenge that also requires you to buy hundreds of dollars worth of supplements. Are MLM supplements healthy, necessary, and good quality? And do they really work? Let’s dive in…

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Your Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Vacation

Vacation. It’s supposed to be a time to relax, enjoy, and unwind. But to some people, the thought of being in a new environment, off their routine, and surrounded by epic foods and drinks can bring upon the stress of losing gains, and gaining pounds. Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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.

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