Avoiding the Holiday Weight Gain

 

Ah the holidays. A happy time filled with family, watching ‘Home Alone’ while sipping hot cocoa on your couch. It’s also a time that can be stressful. Frantically running from store to store, finding last minute ingredients to prepare meals for your family gatherings. Or maybe you’re traveling so you have to deal with getting to and from the airport, avoiding traffic, and figuring out what to pack. And diet and exercise? Forget about it! Those things are your last priorities right? Well time to pump the brakes. Those things should actually be at the top of your priority list! If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else? I know, I’m preaching to the choir. But instead of ignoring these issues or throwing a pity party, let’s be proactive and figure out how to equip you with the tools you need. Use the strategies below to maintain sanity, health, and guilt-free living during the holiday season.

 

  1. Exercise

 

weight lifting
Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

 

Finding ways to incorporate exercise into your life, is as crucial as anything else especially during the holidays. It will help lower stress levels, and subsequently levels of cortisol (which break down your muscle, and can weaken your immune system), help you burn off some of those calories, but most of all keep you motivated!

 

You can come up with an excuse like “oh the gym closed early today” or the infamous “I don’t have time.” But that won’t fly here. Something as simple as a few 10-20 minute walks can make the world of a difference, especially if used strategically.

 

Walking 

Has been shown to decrease post-prandial blood glucose, meaning that it can help you avoid that debilitating food coma that renders us useless for the day. Try a 10 minute walk before or after a big meal.

 

Resistance training

also makes us more insulin sensitive which can help shuttle a large bolus of glucose into our muscle cells, instead of fat cells. I enjoy doing a short bout of exercise prior to my Thanksgiving meal, key word being “enjoy.” I don’t encourage using exercise as a punishment or reward per se, but knowing the physiological effects from exercise can serve as a bonus. As for the time or gym thing, you can do a simple 20-30 minute bout from the comfort of your home, using only your bodyweight, or if you have any hand held weights all the better! Give the routine down below a shot.

 

 

  1. Time-Restricted Feeding

 

I’m sure you’ve heard of intermittent fasting (IF) by now. Time-restricted feeding and IF are sometimes used interchangeably, but it’s the concept of reducing your feeding window throughout the day. Instead of just eating at will, you choose a starting point and an end point.

This helps you prevent uncontrolled eating. Start with a 12-hour window. If you consume your first calories of the day at 8am, you have until 8pm to consume your last. Shortening the window seems to reap more benefits, so you can also try 8 and 10-hour windows.

The science surrounding this method of eating is still emerging, but you don’t need to know all the physiology to utilize this simple and effective strategy.

 

  1. Nutrient Density

 

healthy food
Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

 

Exercising and practicing time-restricted feeding are great strategies for combating that holiday weight gain, but that doesn’t mean you are free to binge on snickerdoodles, brownies, and pumpkin pie. Focus on consuming high quality foods MOST of your meals, and avoid snacking on these treats throughout the day. Start your meals off with nutrient-dense foods such as the ones below. These will fill you up, which will make you less inclined to overeat those nutrient-poor, calorie-rich foods.

  • Consume foods high in protein: grass-fed beef, free range chicken, free range eggs, greek yogurt, hemp hearts, pea protein
  • Healthy fats: avocados, walnuts, pistachios, macademia nuts
  • Fiber from cruciferous vegetables
  • Drink plenty of water

 

 

SPECIAL TIP:

 

Utilize cinnamon, and/or apple cider vinegar

Consuming cinnamon and/or apple cider vinegar prior to a meal, can help normalize blood glucose levels after a meal and reduce large insulin spikes.

 

Cinnamon, particularly of the Ceylon variety, has even been shown to:

  • Increase cognitive function
  • Decrease cardiovascular disease by lowering LDL levels in blood

 

Apple cider vinegar

  • Stimulates digestion
  • Can help curb your hunger

 

4. Stress and Sleep

 

We often think of these as separate entities, but they actually affect each other so much. The more stressed you are, the lower quality of sleep you’ll have. The less you sleep or the lower quality your sleep, the more stressed you’ll be.

I just wrote an article about the gut microbiome, and not only can stress make us eat more, it can actually alter our microbiome which can affect our metabolism, difficulty of weight loss, and squander our efforts to avoid the holiday weight gain.

Again the holidays are a fun time, and one or two days of going to bed late might not make too big of a difference, but try to keep a regular schedule.

 

  • Avoid sleeping in too long, as this can throw off your circadian rhythm
  • Avoid eating large meals too late at night
  • Take short naps 20-30 minutes if you didn’t get great sleep the night prior
  • Avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol at night
  • Exercise (reduces stress AND increases sleep quality)

 

  1. Mindfulness and Gratitude

 

Enjoy the moment. Enjoy your food. But most of all enjoy your company. Food is amazing not only because of how they make us feel, but also because they bring people together. Focus on good conversation, and making memories with your loved ones as opposed to how many plates you can put away. Appreciate your food, savor each bite, and give gratitude for being able to share those moments in the comfort of your home with the ones you love.

 

Enjoy the holiday season

 

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym. You don’t have to sacrifice eating your Aunt’s famous double fudge brownies, peach cobbler, or whatever other food-coma inducing goodness will be thrown your way. And you don’t necessarily have to maintain a strict diet during the holidays.

However, you have to do SOMETHING. Keep moving, try an intermittent fast, get more sleep, go for a walk or two outside. Instead of letting your health slide for the last two months of the year, then starting back up with a New Year’s resolution, we can stay on top of our game and THRIVE.

I’m also running a Holiday Fitness challenge helping you stay on track with your goals, and avoid the holiday weight gain. Message me if you’re interested, but otherwise thanks for reading and feel free to share this if you think it’ll help someone else.

 

Please Follow and Share

The Gut Microbiome

 

gut microbiome

 

Our bones, hair, skin, muscle, and all other components of the human body are made up of about 10 trillion cells. The amount of bacteria that live within us? 100 Trillion. TRILLIONS I SAY! We’re technically more bacteria than we are human, which basically means we are all aliens, but I digress.

Seriously though, that’s pretty significant. Have you ever had a “gut feeling”? Well that can actually be explained because our gut hosts the majority of these critters (note we also have bacteria on our skin). Scientists have also now identified a “Gut-Brain axis” which is a communication pathway between the brain and our gut microbiome. Some even refer to our gut as our “second brain” although some may even go as far as saying our brains are our second brains, and our gut is our real brain. The majority of the serotonin we produce in our bodies, is made in the gut. Nutrients like vitamin K, and vitamin B12 are also made in the gut.

 

Our gut microbiome, or the community of bacteria that live within us, have been found to regulate not only our digestion, but also our immunity, stress, mood, cognition, and a host of other things. That’s right, these microscopic busy bodies are not just along for the ride. Alternatively, dysregulation of our microbiome has been linked to things like irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain, diabetes, and even disorders like depression, Alzheimers, dementia, and schizophrenia.

 

While some of these disorders or conditions are influenced by our genetics, epigenetics also play a large role in their prevention or in delaying them. Factors such as diet, stress, and lifestyle factors are known to affect whether or not certain genes are expressed. Meaning even if you’re predisposed to having high cholesterol or high blood pressure for example, if you manage your diet properly, and exercise, these diseases may never manifest. You know what else these factors affect? You guessed it, your gut microbiome!

 

This leads me to wonder. Why do we resort to drugs or pharmaceuticals as our first line of defense against disease? In America we spend TRILLIONS of dollars on healthcare. In 2014, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion, and in 2015 we spent $3.2 trillion [1]. The pharmaceutical industry is also a trillion dollar industry, and the supplement industry, is a billion dollar industry. We spend more money than any other country on health, yet our rates of chronic disease, mental health disorders, infant mortality, and life expectancy are staggering. We give no regard to what we put in our bodies, and what we expose ourselves to, but rather try to mask our symptoms with more drugs. So are we doomed? No. But to start healing, we have to do so from the inside out. With your microbiome.

 

 

Factors to Consider for Gut Health

 

I don’t necessarily believe in “good” or “bad” bacteria. I’m sure you’ve seen things like E. Coli outbreaks on the news or people dying from drinking water contaminated with certain bacterial strains. Those are very real things, and I definitely advise caution when consuming certain foods or liquids. For example, drinking water from streams can be dangerous because of animal fecal matter contaminating the source which can be very deadly. Although I call B.S on raw cookie dough being harmful…But in actuality, some of those dangerous bacteria reside in our guts, and are necessary to maintain our health. However, our health issues are exacerbated when these bacteria overpopulate our gut, when we have a deficiency in beneficial bacteria, or more commonly when we harm our gut. Below are some commonplace influences on our microbiome, that we give little thought to, but should actually rethink.

 

 

Anti-Microbial/Anti-Bacterial Soap

No I’m not advising you not to use soap. However, using excessive amounts of anti-microbial or anti-bacterial soaps damages our microbiome, while making potentially harmful strains more resilient. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are in accordance that “there isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water” [2]. And what makes the matter worse, is that many of these soaps contain chemicals such as Triclosan, which is labeled as a pesticide by the EPA. According to the FDA, “laboratory studies have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Some data shows this resistance may have a significant impact on the effectiveness of medical treatments, such as antibiotics. Keep it simple, use normal hand soap, or liquid soap free of any harsh chemicals. I like the brands Mrs. Meyers, Dr. Bronner’s, and Alaffia.

 

Antibiotics

This can be a controversial topic, but simply stating the facts, antibiotics are made to kill bacteria. They essentially wipe out all bacteria in your gut, both “good” and “bad.” In certain instances, antibiotics are absolutely necessary, however I believe they are overused. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “antibiotics save lives, but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. About 30 percent of antibiotics, or 47 million prescriptions, are prescribed unnecessarily in doctors’ offices and emergency departments in the United States” [3]. If you do end up using antibiotics, it would probably be beneficial to use pre/pro-biotics afterward to help re-establish a healthy gut microbiome.

 

Optimizing Gut Health through Nutrition

 

Probiotics

With newfound research bringing gut health to light, I’m sure you’ve also seen the word probiotic around. Probiotics are strains of beneficial bacteria that populate your gut. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt are rich sources of probiotic bacteria that can help increase your gut health. Probiotic supplements introduce certain beneficial strains to your gut, claiming that they will populate your gut.

 

My qualm with probiotic supplements, is that it’s not guaranteed that these particular strains are beneficial to everyone. Certain strains may be good for one person, but not for someone else. Moreover, how do we know what quantity we need? Do we want to overpopulate with certain strains? Do we even know what strains already exist in our gut microbiome? Many of these supplements also contain strains that aren’t even alive, which defeats the purpose. And if they are alive, these probiotics are susceptible to dying due to heat, enzymes, and stomach acid long before they reach their destination. Instead of reaching for a probiotic supplement right away, I advise obtaining your probiotics through whole foods sources, and varying them often.

 

Prebiotics

These are foods that feed your microbiome. Think of them as fertilizer for beneficial bacteria. They are nutrients that allow these bacteria to grow and thrive. They often come in the form of fiber, from sources such as green (unripe) bananas, apples, etc. Prebiotics are more resilient than probiotics in the sense that they aren’t affect by heat, stomach acid, or enzymes to the same extent. Consuming a combination of prebiotics and probiotics is a good strategy to employ in increasing overall health.

 

 

Go with your Gut

 

Science surrounding these fascinating critters is constantly emerging, and there are even health protocols you can utilize to evaluate your gut. Companies like Viome can even evaluate your gut microbiome are revolutionizing the field. We cannot truly say we fully understand everything there is to know about bacteria and the microbiome, but I truly believe that this will be the future of the health field. We evolved to have a mutualistic relationship between bacteria. They were around long before we were, and they’ll probably be around long after. But while our microbiome is hard at work protecting our bodies, it seems like we are hard at work suppressing their ability to do so optimally. The science surrounding the links between health, chronic illness, and our microbiome is still nebulous, and this blog only scratches the surface on what there is to be said about the microbiome. But there’s one thing that’s certain, a healthy microbiome is essential for a healthy body. Take care of your microbiome and it will take care of you.

 

 

 

 

[1] “Health, United States, 2015” (PDF). www.cdc.gov. November 14th, 2018.

[2] https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378393.html. November 14th, 2018.

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/features/antibioticuse/index.html. November 14th, 2018

Please Follow and Share

         Stressed Out!

 

 

 

rock

 

 

We hear it all the time. “I’m so stressed out.” “Yeah it’s been a stressful day.” “That’s stressing me out.”

 

 

Well how often do you actively do something to get rid of that stress?

Stress carries a negative connotation, but actually some stress is good! That’s how your body adapts to things. Want to build more muscle? Your body needs a stressor, ie lifting weights. Want to learn more? Your brain needs a stressor, such as reading.

However, the other thing about stress, is that it’s cumulative. Meaning that your body can’t necessarily distinguish being a “good” stress, and a “bad” stress. After a certain point all the stress you’ve placed on your body can affect your sleep, your mood, even weight loss!

The list below is not by any means all inclusive, but it is geared at optimizing not only your mental well-being, but your emotional well-being as well. If at any point you think to yourself, “hmm, I don’t know about this Jules, that’s weird.” It’s okay, you’re outside of your comfort zone. Which is the best place to learn, and grow.

 

 

  1. Work on your Breathing

 

There’s a reason why I listed breathing first. Breathing is so underrated, and underappreciated, yet it is such a crucial factor in everything we do. Want to run for longer? Learn how to breathe. Want to lift heavier weights? Learn how to breathe. Want to destress after a long day? Learn how to breathe. I could write an entire post on breathing (and probably will in the future), but here are a few breathing techniques appropriate for various situations.

 

To get rid of tiredness or sluggishness:

Breathe in through nose for 4 seconds feeling your stomach expand, breathe out forcefully through your mouth. Your exhale should imitate blowing out a candle. Do this 10-15 times

 

In moments of high stress or anxiety:

Inhale for 6 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and slowly exhale for 10 seconds.

Breathe through your nose, into your stomach, feeling your belly expand like a balloon. Also exhale through nose. If you put your hands on your belly you should feel it rise and fall with your breath. Do this for 10-15 breaths.

 

These are just two of many different breathing techniques that could serve you in life. In general, try breathing through your nose as often as you can, there are many benefits to doing so. The book “The Oxygen Advantage” by Patrick McKeown is a great read that dives deeply into optimal breathing for sports performance, as well health.

 

Doing yoga, qi gong, or tai chi, are other great options as they typically are very focused on being mindful of your breathing.

 

 

  1. Meditation Practice

 

 

meditation

 

 

Chronic stress is rampant in our society. Our minds are constantly racing. Worried about what’s going on tomorrow, the day after, the email you sent to your boss, the text you sent to your significant other, the bills that are due at the end of the month, there no end to the barrage. Now I know meditation has certain connotations. I’m not asking you to become a Buddhist monk, there are many types of meditation. It can be as simple taking a minute or two before going to bed, to just unwind. It can be difficult to just sit in silence and NOT think. But there are many benefits to doing so.

 

The benefits of meditation include:

 

  • Reducing stress
  • Enhancing mood
  • Increasing happiness
  • Increasing focus

 

Those are just skimming the surface. One study even found that meditating helped reduce sensation of pain!

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394012004806

 

By the way if you’re an athlete, what usually prevents you from pushing harder? Pain!

Still not convinced? Phil Jackson, one of the greatest coaches of all time, coached Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Ever heard of them? He’s also coached teams to eleven championships. ELEVEN. Surely this man must be extremely high strung right? Actually one of his nicknames, is the “Zen master.” He was known for leading group meditations, as well as his devotion to Zen Buddhism.

Alright so you’re ready to give it a shot now right? Try this:

 

Close your eyes, and get in comfortable position. Bring awareness to your breath and breathing patterns. Now inhale slowly through your nose for 8 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and exhale slowly through your nose for 12 seconds. Once again you should be breathing into your stomach, feeling it rise and fall with each breath. Focus on clearing your mind (I know ironic), and let go of any thought that enters your mind.

 

A simple google search can lead you to all types of meditation practices. In the picture above, I am wearing special headphones from a company called MUSE. The headphones provide neurofeedback by reading your brain waves, in order to help you meditate. You’ll hear a certain sound if you are in a meditative state, and a different sound if you are losing focus. Pretty neat, but also expensive. You can also try the “Headspace” or “Calm” apps which are free guided meditations that you can download to your phone.

 

  1. Keep a Journal

 

journal

Similar to meditation, journaling has numerous benefits. Hey fellas, I know your scoffing over there, but this is especially useful for us. Society has conditioned us to think being in touch with our emotions isn’t a masculine trait, but we really have to get over that notion. Emotional intelligence is increasingly becoming regarded as crucial to becoming a leader, more so than your typical IQ in some cases. Journaling can be an outlet for unaddressed emotions, as well as help you get more in tune with your state of mind. Journaling can also help reduce stress, anxiety, and even help you become a better writer!

No matter what you write, you don’t have to share it with the world. Journaling is a great way to reflect, and unwind after a long day.

Try this:

At the end of your day before going to bed, write a brief summary of anything notable that happened throughout your day. Start with a short paragraph, increasing the length and detail over time. At the end of your entry, write down one thing you learned that day, and one thing you’re grateful for.

 

  1. Proper Nutrition and Supplementation

 

green tea

 

I’ve talked about adaptogens in a previous post (see Mushrooms). Adaptogens are natural or herbal foods that are energizing and contain stress reducing properties. In certain cases adaptogens can be appropriate in supplementing your diet. Keyword, SUPPLEMENTING. Meaning that a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, greens, and proper macronutrients is necessary in optimizing health. That said, the compounds below are among popular and efficacious adaptogens. These can help bring energy up if its too low, or if you’re too stressed, helps bring that back down. Adaptogens can also help regulate sleep cycle, and support your nervous system.

Ashwagandha– Reduces cortisol levels, reduces anxiety, boosts immune system, increases energy levels

Rhodiola- Reduces cortisol, reduces fatigue, fights depression, increases energy

L-Theanine– (found in green tea) helps with focus, stress, increases alpha brain waves

 

  1. Giving gratitude

Think of 5 things you’re grateful for. Now think of 5 things that annoy you. Which list filled faster?

The fact is, we go through our days and we forget to appreciate the small intricacies of life. We start taking things for granted. Now imagine if those things that annoy you didn’t have the impact on your life anymore. How much happier would you be? Giving gratitude can have a major effect on our lives. Here are a few of the benefits.

  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Increase in dopamine
  • Increased determination and enthusiasm

 

This might be the easiest of all to incorporate into your daily regime. Literally all it takes is a thought. You can do this as soon as you wake up, before you go to bed, or even throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be something profound either. You can be grateful for the ice cream cone you ate, or for getting a good grade on a test.

 

Try this: While journaling, think of 2-3 things you’re grateful for and write them down. Alternatively, you can think of something you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up.

 

Just as running, or lifting weights, or riding a bike improves our physical health, there are exercises we can utilize to improve our mental health. By now I’m sure you see a trend in all the aforementioned topics. You don’t need to adopt all of them, and maybe you feel like you’re doing fine without any of them. Whatever the case, do what makes you happy. Get a massage, do some yoga, watch Rick & Morty for a couple hours. Nourish the mind, and the body will be grateful in return.

Please Follow and Share

 

 egg breakfast

 

Nutrition and Fat Loss, Where to Start?

So it’s the new year, and one of your resolutions is to get in the gym, lose some weight, and get that body you’ve always wanted. Or maybe the holidays haven’t been so forgiving, and your pants are a little more snug than you remember? Hey we’ve all been there, yes even me. So what’s next? Surely one of those diets everyone is doing will be the answer you’ve been looking for right? Low carb high fat, high protein low carb, fasting, no processed foods? Well which is best? In a future post I’ll delve deeper into those, but before then I think it’s important to lay a foundation for proper nutrition that can address some of the issues you may be having. I’ll be outlining some common mistakes people make, and what you can do to correct them. These are easy things you can implement TODAY, that can help you get on track to a healthier body, and one that you are happy with.

Below I posted my newest Vlog, which is also on the topic of diet and fat loss in case you’d rather watch, than read.

Caloric Deficit

The amount of different diets, that have surfaced over the years can be dizzying. Keto, paleo, veganism, carnivorism, which is best!? Theoretically, none are superior in terms of weight loss if you equate the calories consumed in each. This is because in order to lose body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit. Your BMR or basal metabolic rate, is the amount of energy or calories your body needs daily to maintain normal function. For weight loss to occur, you must consume less calories than that amount. Personally I believe there are many other factors involved in weight loss, than just calories in vs. calories out, but that’s a good starting point. Start with a SMALL deficit at first, and you can increase that deficit over time. Using an app like myfitnesspal is a great way to track how much you’re eating, and what those meals consist of in terms of your macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates).

 

 More veggies and protein 

 

Firstly, BMR or metabolism is directly correlated to lean body mass, i.e how much muscle you have. Protein is often lacking in people’s diets, you should aim for 0.5 grams-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This is usually around 20-30 grams per meal, depending on your frequency of eating.

Even if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important that protein consumption still remains relatively high. In order for your body to maintain it’s muscle tissue, a lot of energy is needed. And thus, lean muscle is usually the first to go when we subtract calories. However, some studies have shown that while in a calorie deficit, consuming higher amounts of protein than normal can help spare your precious muscle tissue.

Eating more vegetables should be self-explanatory. They are full of micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that our body needs. They also have fiber which is beneficial for digestion, and colon health. AND they also make you feel fuller! When’s the last time you overate on broccoli or asparagus? Probably never. These foods are also very low calorie, and nutrient dense, it’s a win win! Now you don’t have to eat a specific vegetable if you don’t like it. I hate tomatoes and avocados (I know technically they’re fruits and I know you probably think I’m crazy for not liking them) so I don’t eat them. Simple.

blueberries

 

Snacking, Counter-intuitive?

 

Why do we snack? Often times it’s because we’re bored. We’re sitting in an office, just waiting until it’s lunch time. And the more you think about it, the more hungry you become so you say “oh some nuts won’t hurt” or “I’ll have some fruit or chips that’ll keep me satisfied until then.” But the fact is, you shouldn’t really be so hungry that you need to eat in between meals. If you are, that means something is probably lacking within those meals. Are you lacking greens? Protein? Fat? 

 In addition, by restraining yourself to eating only during certain periods of time you gain the benefit of a quasi-intermittent fasting effect. The spike in protein synthesis is much greater after 3-5 hours of not having eaten, as opposed to eating food every hour or two. Also, continuously spiking your insulin by eating food constantly probably isn’t the best thing. I’m not by any means saying don’t eat fruit or nuts, I’m just saying eat them as part of your meal to receive a better benefit. Besides, the more you eat in between meals means that you’re just taking in more calories.

 

 

Slow down and chew your food!

 

Now I’m not aware of any specific studies or research correlating how many times you chew your food, to bodyweight. BUT, how about you run an experiment on yourself? The next time you’re eating a big meal, count how many times you chew a spoonful of your food. If it takes you 10-20 chews for one bite, chances are you finish your meal pretty quickly. And I’m willing to wager that you probably aren’t full by the time you finish. So try this, aim for 40 or more chews PER BITE, your food should be the texture of mashed potatoes by the time you’re swallowing. Personally I take foreverrrr and a half to eat large meals. This could be a reason why it’s so hard for me to gain weight, again no data just an observation.

If you’re still on the fence about this, consider the benefits. For one you’ll savor your meals more. Eating shouldn’t be a race, take time to appreciate what you’re eating and the nutrients you’re consuming. Eating will take longer, and thus you’re less likely to overeat.

Another thing to consider is the types of foods you’re eating, foods high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients usually take longer to chew and breakdown. Try eating a steak and compare it to how long it takes you to eat a plate of pasta. Just something to consider.

 

 

Increase fat intake.

 

Now, our beloved fats. Fats are crucial for, well living. Healthy fats like nuts, avocados, coconut oil, ghee and even grass fed butter do wonders for the body.

They are extremely important for hormone function and production, energy metabolism, nutrient absorption, and nervous system function, Most the cell membranes in our body contain fat, and our brains, are the most fat dense organ in our body! How is it then that it has become so vilified? Without going too far down a rabbit hole, lets just say, back in the 70’s the sugar industry “influenced” (with their checkbooks) what certain research had to say about the link between sugar, fat, and heart disease. No I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and no I didn’t make that up. Here’s a link to an article highlighting the issue, but just google “sugar industry, harvard scientists” to find dozens of articles bringing this corruption to light.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/09/14/493957290/not-just-sugar-food-industry-s-influence-on-health-research

But I digress..Bottom line, fats slow digestion, are necessary for our body, and they keep you full longer. Carbs tend to make us feel unsatisfied so we consume more of them. Eat more carbs around when you workout, and less so at other times of the day. Before and after your workout is the ideal time. This doesn’t mean throw common sense out the window and overindulge in fats, but again they have a place in most diets, and more often than not it’s appropriate to eat them.

 

cashews, almonds, nuts

 

Catch your Z’s

 

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about how important sleep is. But the fact of the matter is that it is probably even more important than we know. I could write a book about how important sleep is, oh wait there are tons of books researching the importance of sleep!

Getting restful sleep is crucial for the body, and has MAJOR effects on weight loss, and metabolism. So I’ll just leave this here.

“Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: 1. alterations in glucose metabolism; 2. upregulation of appetite; 3. decreased energy expenditure” (Sleep Medicine Reviews Journal).

This means your body will alter the way it uses sugar, potentially through insulin desensitization. Isn’t diabetes when your body is desensitized to insulin? Hmm.. Also appetite will also increase, which can potentially lead to overeating. And what’s worse, a decreased energy expenditure means even if you have an intense workout, you’ll burn less calories than you would have while getting enough sleep.

 

The Almighty: Exercise

 

Let me be clear, exercise is not an option. It’s not a matter of wanting to lose weight or not, that’s just an added benefit. However if you want to live a healthy life now, and in the future, exercise should be a priority. Exercise daily for a minimum of 20 minutes. And a few days a week I would ideally increase the exercise to 45 minutes or an hour. Resistance exercise like lifting weights and high intensity intervals is ideal for fat burning and will also reap a plethora of benefits. Some of these benefits include: neurogenesis, better learning, better body composition, better mood, better sleep, increased longevity, increased libido, need I go on? 

Try this: Tabata sets are performed by doing an exercise for 20 seconds all out, resting for 20 seconds, then repeating 6-8 times. It could be a simple exercise like a squat, or a burpee, pick your poison.

Checkout my youtube page if you haven’t already, for free workouts I’ll be posting!

 

Key takeaways: Think of your diet as fuel for your body. No matter your profession, you’re all athletes, and you need to eat to perform. Whether it’s on a stage, on a court, or in an office, wherever your domain is, give yourself a leg up and give your body what it needs. Does this mean that you can’t eat anything that doesn’t fall within the parameters of nutrient dense, low calorie, vegan, keto, paleo, or “clean” foods? Hell no! Live your life, remember eat what you want, but first what you need.

 

Please Follow and Share

Building your Core, 6-pack included

 

 

Hollow body hold
Performing a hollow-body hold

   

    Everyone wants a 6-pack. And even if you don’t, I think it’s safe to say most people wouldn’t mind losing a little fluff around the midsection. So how do you do it? Surely 100 sit-ups a day, or more will do the trick right? Unfortunately, doing that might be causing more harm than good.

    The fact of the matter is whether or not your abs are visible, relies very little on how many ab exercises you do, and more so on your diet (My next post will be about how to lose body fat so keep an eye out for that!). Additionally, there is no such thing as spot-reduction. Meaning if you want to lose fat on your arms, doing more arm exercises won’t reduce the fat in that location specifically. Likewise, if you do a ridiculous amount of crunches and sit-ups, you won’t reduce your belly fat. Working your abdominals definitely has value, but there’s a better way to train your core, as well as get that definition in your stomach region that you want. But first, let’s define the core.

 

What is the Core?

    Your core is comprised of various muscles. First, your rectus abdominis, or abs. That’s your 6-pack muscle.

     We also have our obliques which are lateral to our abs, and extend from our lower ribs down to our hip bones. On each side we have external obliques, and internal obliques right underneath. And that’s usually the extent to which people train their “core.”

    But you also have your transverse abdominis, which is a crucial and overlooked muscle. It lies underneath your abs, and wraps around to your back. Why is it so important you ask? Do you have lower back pain? If so, chances are this muscle is weak. Strengthening your TA is an easy way to address low back dysfunction, and it is key to maintaining a healthy body long-term.

    Your core isn’t only on the front of your body. It also comprises of muscles on your backside. Your Quadratus Lumborum (QL), spinal erectors, and even your glutes can be considered part of your core!

 

Core Training
   

Core Training Philosophy

    While sometimes it is nice to feel a little burn at the end of a workout, there are more effective ways to train. Instead of thinking about how many repetitions of an exercise you can do, think about how long can you hold a position. How much force can your body resist, while in a disadvantageous position? And not only that, how long can you maintain good posture while doing it? I give crunches a bad rap, because it’s constant flexion and extension of your lower spine. Your lumbar spine isn’t necessarily meant to go through large ranges of motion, especially repetitively. Instead of creating movement like flexing, extending, and rotating your spine, try anti-rotation, or anti-flexion/extension.

 

    A good place to start is checking out the video I made (down below). I filmed some simple but extremely effective exercises that challenge core strength and stability. This is just part one in a series of instructional videos I’ll be making, so be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel if you haven’t done so yet! Some common cues are keeping your stomach tight, and/or drawn in, while keeping your butt squeezed. Isometric holds (static holds), and eccentric lifts (slow and controlled descent) are great methods in challenging your core. You can also get creative with your foot positioning. The wider the stance, the more stability you’ll have, meaning the easier it’ll be. The closer the stance the harder. Then you can progress to a split stance, single-leg stance, eyes closed, etc. Possibilities are endless!

 

 

How to train your core, effectively!

   Try this not that: How do YOU work your obliques? Often I see people doing side bends with weight. While this is one way of working them, your core muscles are MUSCLES. Doing repetitions contracting will cause them to grow. And if you already have some “love-handles”, doing side-bends will give you a thicker appearance in that area. Instead try some isometrics or static holds. Side planks are great, and there are many different variations to challenge you. Shoot for a minimum of 15 seconds!

    Instead of a crunch, try a hollow body hold. Instead of a Russian twist, try a pallof press. If you experience back pain, Dead bugs, and bird dogs are very simple exercises that I would start incorporating.

    Lastly, instead of a sit-up try a plank. Planks are simple, but when done correctly they’re a great exercise. I often hear people say they can hold a plank for more than a minute, but when I see them try, their butt and hips are high up in the air, they’re pushing their stomach out, and clasping their hands together for dear life. Try keeping your stomach sucked in, glutes squeezed, forearms parallel to each other. Resist gravity and maintain this posture while keeping your core engaged, and I promise that by the 30 second mark you’ll be challenged a whole lot more than by the 2 minutes of crappy planking you’ve been doing.

 

    I hope this clarified some things concerning core training, the key takeaway here is to look beyond the conventional in order to build your core, and get that 6-pack you’ve always wanted. Of course, doing that through an eclectic approach! If you have any questions or want to request a video on any specific exercise, feel free to reach out or leave a comment! Thanks for reading, see you soon.  

 

 

 

Please Follow and Share