Weight Loss is 99% Mental, 1% Physical

  • Every year, hundreds of new diet / weight loss books hit the shelves of your local Amazon…promising that they have discovered the elusive secret to rapid & permanent weight loss.
  • Every year, thousands & thousands of desperate people plunk down their hard earned cash to buy one (or more) of these masterpieces of weight loss literature.
  • Every year, 97.2% of those good people are left disappointed, overweight and yet strangely hopeful that the next diet book they buy will work as advertised.

And if the diet books weren’t bad enough, the internet is chock-full of experts, gurus and weight loss motivators telling you that weight loss is…

weight loss is 99% mental

Too bad they are 100% wrong. Because…

Weight loss is 99% Mental…1% Physical.

99% mental because until you gain control of your mind, emotions, feelings, urges, etc…all of the diets, exercise programs, supplements, lotions, potions and notions are 100% useless.

Weight Loss is 99 Mental

So….how do you gain control of your brain, emotions, feelings, urges, etc?

That’s where it becomes interesting.

Over the past 20+ years as a personal trainer and tireless student of scientific research, new age-y techniques and real-world success stories, I have come to realize that, like a snowflake, each of us has a unique mental & emotional state. A state created by a combination of genetic inheritance, adopted parental habits and all of the stuff that has happened to us during our time on planet Earth.

What is this stuff that am I talking about?

Your stuff is made up of all the traumatic experiences that you have ever had, all the advice you’ve been given, books you’ve read, meals you’ve ate, tv shows you’ve watched, arguments you’ve had, images you’ve seen, songs you’ve heard, friends you’ve had, enemies you’ve hated, people you’ve lusted after, clothes you couldn’t fit into, etc, etc, etc…

All of this stuff gets mixed & mashed together to create a big bunch of unconscious habits that have shaped the person you are today. And for the purposes of this article, let’s assume that that person is overweight and looking for a way to drop some pounds.

How does that person…

  • overcome all of their unconscious programming?
  • take control of their thoughts, emotions, feelings, urges??
  • and transform their body from fat to fit???

For the answers to these questions, you are going to have to come back tomorrow…I (as a man) am emotionally drained from all this writing about thoughts, feelings & emotions.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Is There a Genetic Cause for Binge Eating?

Before we dive into all the scienc-y goodness of a potential genetic cause for binge eating, I want to address all the people who believe that…

  • Obesity isn’t genetic, and…
  • Obesity is as simple as calories in vs calories out, and…
  • Fat people use genetics as an excuse for their slothful behaviour

Here are the FACTS….as I see them:

  • There is a link between obesity & genetics.

Prader-Willi syndrome is caused by a gene missing on part of chromosome 15. Normally, your parents each pass down a copy of this chromosome. Most patients with Prader-Willi syndrome are missing the genetic material on part of the father’s chromosome. The rest of patients with this condition often have two copies of the mother’s chromosome 15.

The genetic changes occur randomly. Patients usually do not have a family history of the condition.

This doesn’t mean that all cases of obesity are due to genetics. All it means is that there is a confirmed link between obesity & genetics. Whether this current study will establish another link and expand our knowledge of human obesity is yet to be determined.

  • Obesity is not as simple as calories in vs calories out.

A growing body of scientific evidence + over 20 years of helping people get fit has led me to believe that obesity is due to a messy combination of genetic inheritance, eating too much food, eating the ‘wrong’ foods, eating at the wrong time of day, peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc, etc, etc….

And even if obesity was as simple as calories in vs calories out, it isn’t simple to get people to live the rest of their lives counting calories…thanks to all that peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc.

binge eating

  • Fat people quite often use genetics as an excuse for their obesity.

Just like the rest of us who also blame our shortcomings on outside influences. If it isn’t over-eating, it’s over-drinking or over-smoking or over-screwing or secretly being addicted to the music of Justin Bieber. We all BS ourselves. That’s part of being human.

And even if we find that there is a genetic cause for binge eating, that doesn’t mean we will find a “cure”. Obesity isn’t a simple condition with a simple solution…IMHO.

Anyway, them’s the facts as I see ‘em….for now. Future science may prove me completely wrong. Let’s try to keep an open mind and we might just find a solution to our weighty problem.

Let’s Get Back to the Science

In this latest study, Dr. Kelly Klump used “two strains of rats, numerous cans of vanilla frosting and a theory to move one step closer to finding a genetic cause for binge eating.”

“Based upon our previous research, we know that binge eating is influenced by genes, but we have been unable to identify in humans which genes contribute to binge eating. With this research, we decided to study two different strains of rats instead of humans,” Klump said. “Unlike humans, animals do not have the cultural, psychological or psychosocial risk factors for binge eating, so they are simpler to study. A rat could care less what it looks like.”

  • Dr. K used two strains of rats (23 Wistar females, 30 Sprague–Dawley females, 30 Sprague–Dawley males) to determine if one/both/neither strain was prone to binge eating.
  • For two week, the rats were fed their normal ‘rat chow’ along with intermittent feedings of vanilla cake frosting.

“We only gave the rats the vanilla frosting every other day because that mimics human binge eating habits,” said Britny Hildebrandt, a grad student in the Klump lab.

binge eating

What did they find?

  • Dr. Klump et al found that the rate of vanilla frosting binge eating was much higher in female Sprague-Dawley rats.

Wistar females and Sprague–Dawley males had similar responses to the frosting and were classified as binge eating resistant…unlike the female Sprague-Dawley rats…who were classified by Dr. Klump as binge eating prone.

What does this mean & where do we go next?

According to Dr. Klump, “now that we know that the female Sprague-Dawley rats are prone to binge eating, this helps narrow the scope of the thousands of possible genes that could contribute to this disorder. We can now study the strain to identify the genes that might contribute to the disease.

From there, we can map these genes in humans. If we can narrow down to 20 or so genes, then we are one step closer to finding an effective treatment for binge eating.”

Of course, all of this science is going to take time. Even if they find a treatment for binge eating, it’s going to be years from now.

Just enough time for current binge eaters to stop BS-ing themselves and look for ways to help control their own binge eating tendencies….even if their genetics are fighting against them.

Reference

Use Your Mindset to Lose Weight, Get Fit and Be Healthy

healthhabits-fit-couple-web

Why do some people seem to lose weight easily while others fail year after year?

  • Is it genetics? Money? Willpower?

While it’s true these may play a small part, there’s something else that has a much larger role.

  • It’s mindset.

And yours may be holding you back.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind your mindset and underlying philosophy, and show you some proven ways to take action to improve it–so you can finally use your mindset to lose weight, get fit and be healthy.

What Is “Mindset”?

  • Mindsets are beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities.

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, who wrote a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, says there are two different types of mindsets: fixed and growth-oriented.

People with a fixed mindset think talent alone creates success. When faced with a challenge, they tend to take the easy way out to avoid failure and embarrassment. This is a psychological principle known as self-handicapping.

People with a growth mindset believe they can improve their abilities and create successes by working hard, practicing, and learning. They take on challenges even at the risk of failing. They embrace failure because they know they’ll learn valuable lessons from it.

Use Your Mindset to Lose Weight, Get Fit and Be Healthy

How Mindset Affects Your Health

Research shows your mindset can profoundly impact your life—especially your health. Here are several studies that prove it.

In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, hotel cleaning crews were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Subjects in the control group were not given this information. Four weeks later, the first group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. Mindset alone caused physiological changes in their body.

In another study published in the journal Health Psychology, participants were divided into two groups. Each group received a 380-calorie milkshake but one group was told they were drinking a 620-calorie “indulgent” shake and the other was told they were drinking a 140-calorie “sensible” shake.

The researchers then measured participants’ levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your brain to increase appetite.

Those who thought they drank the 620-calorie shake experienced a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake. The study authors concluded that “Participants’ satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed.”

In other words, your mindset about a particular food can affect your hunger and levels of fullness. If your mind tells your body you’re drinking a “skinny” shake, you won’t feel as full. You CAN use your mindset to lose weight, get fit and be healthy.

Finally, in a study published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review that looked at the science of optimism, researchers found that an optimistic mindset can lead to better health outcomes too—optimistic people tend to be healthier on average.

How to Change Your Philosophy and Mindset

So the science clearly tells us that your mindset can have a dramatic impact on your health. The question is, how do you change a mindset that may be holding you back?

This is what Dweck suggests in her book:

Step 1. Recognize fixed mindset thinking.

Even if you have a growth mindset, that pesky little fixed mindset voice will sneak its way in once in a while. You know … the one that produces these types of thoughts:

  • “I have bad genes, there’s no way I can lose that much weight.”
  • “What if I fail?”
  • “I don’t want to embarrass myself.”
  • “I don’t have the willpower to stick with a healthy diet.”
  • “I’m just not as smart/lucky/talented.”

When this happens, simply recognize and accept it. Then do this …

Step 2. Reframe negative, fixed mindset thinking with a growth mindset voice.

Once you recognize a fixed mindset thought, you have a choice: believe those negative thoughts … or reframe them. For example:

  • No excuses this time … I’m getting started.”
  • If I fail, it’s okay. Great accomplishments don’t happen without risk.”
  • Forget diets. I’ll take it slow and making eating healthy a lifestyle.
  • If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll learn.

Step 3. Take action.

Once you reframe a fixed mindset thought, the next step is to take action.

Here are some strategies that will help you: 

1. Write it down. One of the most effective ways to improve your philosophy and mindset is to keep a journal or planner. Use it to capture your thoughts, plan your day, and track your goals. For example, here’s what I do:

  • At the start of every day I write a positive quote at the top of my daily planner (today’s quote is “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it”).
  • Next, I write down everything I plan to do over the course of the day to accomplish my goals (for example, “Write new blog post, network with 3 people, lift weights for 45 minutes, find recipe for healthy dinner”).
  • Then, I evaluate what I accomplished at the end of each day.

Writing things down feels good, and it’s proven to help you cultivate positive mental and physical changes in your body. In one study, participants wrote for 20 minutes each day for three consecutive days about either a positive life experience or a control topic.

Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had improved physical health and higher levels of focus—just from writing about it. That’s powerful stuff. If you want to change your mindset, write.

2. Embrace learning. We all consume massive amounts of information every day. You have a choice whether that information helps you or holds you back. Checking your Facebook page 10 times a day may be mindless fun, but what if you spent that time reading books that helped you cultivate a growth mindset?

I recommend Mind Is The Master by James Allen, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and Make Today Count by John Maxwell. Even if you don’t like to read, buy audio books and listen to them while you drive. Imagine the impact those books and others you’re interested in can have on your mindset over time.

3. Take calculated risks. Whether you want to start your own business or get in the best shape of your life, ask yourself this question: will you be better off by never starting or by taking a chance and risking failing?

It’s an easy answer. Embrace failure. Because it will give you the most valuable feedback in the world. The foundation of the growth mindset is the ability to learn from your failures and become a person who continuously improves.

On Carol Dweck’s website, she says, “Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

In other words, your mindset is like a muscle: the more you use it to both learn and focus on positive thoughts, the stronger it becomes.

Dream big but start small. Focus on your mindset first and you will open doors to anything and everything you want to accomplish in life….perhaps starting with losing weight, getting fit and being healthy.

Your Unconscious Mind is Making You Fat

smore brownies

There I am.

  • Sitting on the couch watching NHL playoff hockey at the end of a long day.
  • The wife offers me some of her potato chips.
  • I decline

I’m a personal trainer dammit, and personal trainers don’t eat potato chips.

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

I am now sprawled out on the couch…..totally immersed in the game…..screaming at the referees for blowing another call….and absent mindedly reaching over and grabbing a handful of potato chips out of the bag…and then another…and then another

your unconscious mind is making you fat

WTF!!! What just happened?

I don’t eat potato chips….seriously. So what happened? Where did my will power go?

I’ll tell you what happened.

  • When my wife first offered the chips, my conscious mind did a quick pro/con calculation and decided to take a pass on the salty/greasy delight.
  • Soon after, my conscious mind became fixated on the hockey game.
  • Soon after that, my unconscious mind snuck behind the back of my conscious mind, and by using a mixture of sensory inputs, old memories, emotions, brain chemicals and hormones, managed to hijack my body and convince it that eating those chips was suddenly a great idea.

Damn you unconscious mind!!!.

  • This is a big reason why diets fail.
  • Your bad habits live in your unconscious mind.
  • Your bad habits have built up powerful connections within your mind and body.

And if you let your unconscious mind run the show, you WILL return time and again to your old habits…your over-eating, under-exercising, making you fat kind of bad habits…

Next PageThe Unconscious Mind…and why it loves making you fat…

10 Ways to Workout Smarter….not Harder

Matthew McConaughey chin-ups workout

Every day I go to the gym and I see the same people doing the same workouts.

  • Runners get on a treadmill and run
  • Yoginis perform their poses
  • Bodybuilders squeeze & flex their muscles
  • Powerlifters lift heavy stuff
  • Aerobicizers attend their group fitness classes
  • And the dude at my gym who wears Adidas soccer shorts from 1978 stretches out his hamstrings threatening to dislodge his “fellas” from their cotton prison (the horror…the horror)

And while all of these activities are laudable and are infinitely better for you than sitting on the couch eating chips and watching reality tv, they all have their limitations. And since it is a new year, I thought it was the perfect time to outline 10 ways to workout smarter…achieving better results, in less time, with fewer aches & pains.

Tip # 1 – High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT

There is an ever growing body of evidence showing that HIIT workouts are superior to traditional cardio training in almost every conceivable way.

  • Less time required per workout – I never, ever perform more than 20 min on a HIIT workout
  • Reduced chance of overuse injuries – just ask a runner about their aches & pains
  • Faster & greater improvements to the cardio-vascular system
  • Increased fat loss due to increased levels of EPOC  (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)
  • Increased total body strength
HIIT sprints
Before HIIT – After HIIT

To recap, HIIT takes up less of your time, is easier on your body, is better at improving the function of your heart & lungs and will help make you stronger and leaner more efficiently than cardio training. Sounds pretty smart to me.

Here are a bunch of articles I have written on HIIT to get you started:

Next Page : Movements not Muscles…

Look Younger, Be Healthier, Be Happier, Live Longer…with Blue Zone’s Dan Buettner

Today’s post is a bit of a departure for Health Habits.

Instead of me rambling on about how you can look younger, be healthier, be happier, live longer, I am going to post a Twitter Chat that I just had with one of my own personal health & fitness experts –  Dan Buettner, founder, author and CEO of Blue Zones

For those of you unfamiliar with Dan and/or his work promoting lifestyle habits associated with Blue Zones around the world, Blue Zone is a concept to identify a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives.

blue zones

The concept grew out of demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, who identified Sardinia’s Nuoro province as the region with the highest concentration of male centenarians. As the two men zeroed in on the cluster of villages with the highest longevity, they drew concentric blue circles on the map and began referring to the area inside the circle as the Blue Zone.

Note – In an effort to introduce you to some of the people that I am influenced by, I will be posting more of these Look Younger, Be Healthier, Be Happier, Live Longer articles in the future. Some will follow the Twitter Chat format, others will be more of a traditional Q & A.

If you want me to interview someone in particular, feel free to leave a comment.

Okay…here’s my chat with Blue Zone’s Dan Buettner.

Can my friends make me fat?

Can my friends make me fat?

Q:   Can my friends make me fat?

  • A1:   Yes
  • A2:   No
  • A3:   Sort of

According to this meta-analysis of fifteen experimental studies, the type and quantity of food that your peers (friends, family, etc) consume does have fairly strong influence on the type and quantity of food that YOU eat.

  • In short, if your friends eat healthy, you will feel the influence of positive peer pressure to eat healthy.
  • Conversely, if your friends eat piles of junk food and drink gallons of sugary beverages, you will feel that influence as well.

Can my friends make me fat?

 

Of course, just because your friends choose to re-enact an episode of Man v. Food every time they sit down for dinner doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to their bad habits & peer pressure.

  • You have free will.
  • You have the ability to transcend your unconscious need to “be one of the gang”.

Even if that means your friends get upset, launch into a major guilt trip and unfairly accuse you of judging their poor eating habits and thinking that they are a bunch of fat losers with no willpower. Seriously, I have seen this happen many, many times with my personal training clients.

Let’s take a closer look at the science…

This meta-analysis, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, looked at fifteen different studies from eleven different scientific journals.

What they found is that “if participants were given information indicating that others were making low-calorie or high-calorie food choices, it significantly increased the likelihood that participants made similar choices.”

In other words, if I am presented with a healthy food option and an unhealthy food option, I am more likely to eat healthy if I am told that everyone else is eating healthy. The same holds true if I am told that everyone is choosing pizza over salad.  

And it’s not just the quality of food. The same peer-pressure effect holds true for quantity of food eaten. When participants were told that everyone was pigging out, they were more likely to strap on the feed-bag as well.

According to the psychology researchers conducting the study, “It appears that in some contexts, conforming to informational eating norms may be a way of reinforcing identity to a social group, which is in line with social identity theory. By this social identity account, if a person’s sense of self is strongly guided by their identity as a member of their local community and that community is perceived to eat healthily, then that person would be hypothesized to eat healthily in order to maintain a consistent sense of social identity.”

What happens when you alone?

According to the shrinks, the “analysis also revealed that the social mechanisms that influence what we decide to consume are present even when we eat alone or are at work, whether or not we are aware of it.”

“Norms influence behaviour by altering the extent to which an individual perceives the behaviour in question to be beneficial to them. Human behaviour can be guided by a perceived group norm, even when people have little or no motivation to please other people,” says Dr. Robinson.

“Given that in some studies the participants did not believe that their behaviour was influenced by the informational eating norms, it seems that participants may not have been consciously considering the norm information when making food choices.”

What does this mean to YOU?

It depends.

If you have terrible willpower AND you want to start living a healthier lifestyle, you may want to consider adding some new healthy friends into your posse and hope that their positive peer pressure rubs off on you.

Of course, you should probably also scan through my blog archives for articles on nutrition and exercise. And feel free to include me in your new healthy-eating posse.

fitspirationReference

How to get in the best shape of your life by actually trying less, not more.

eating too much food - restaurant

How many times have we all started a diet or an exercise program, only to call ourselves “lazy” in the end?

  • When we start an exercise program but feel way too tired to get off the couch and “just do it”, we feel we lack self-discipline. We should try harder.
  • When we start a diet but accidentally slip…we feel terrible. It was our responsibility to take care of what we eat, and we are now letting ourselves down by not eating the right foods. We have to try more.

But what if I told you, that you could enjoy more success if you tried…less?

What if I told you that you can easily stick to exercise and avoid the “couch temptation” even when you’re tired…without having to use self-control, or self-discipline?

Or, what if you could easily eat the right thing, even when you go to a restaurant and all your friends around you are having a culinary feast?

That’s exactly what I am thoroughly describing in my healthy habits book “Surprisingly…Unstuck”, and what I’m including in my 10-week 5-min exercise video service Exercise Bliss to make exercise ridiculously easy to stick to.

You see, there are “little things” that have a major impact in what you do or don’t do. However, even though they have a major influence on you, you have no idea you’re under their spell!

Using these “little things” in your favor can you help you get in the best shape of your life by actually trying less, not harder.

Yes, you read that right. LESS.

The “little things” to get in the best shape of your life by actually trying less.

Do you want to know why watching TV instead of exercising, or eating more when you’re out with friends, are both so irresistible?

It’s because our habits take over. And when habits take over, we find ourselves doing things without even realizing them!

You see, our habits are unconscious. They make us do stuff almost automatically without even thinking about them. That’s how fast they can be. Just like when you accidentally ate meat during your “going vegetarian” experiment. Ooops! You realized it only when you had already swallowed.

eating too much food - restaurant

If you master what habits get activated vs. what habits don’t get activated, then you can easily find yourself doing the right thing…no matter how tired you are and without using any self-discipline.

Habits get initiated by cues in your environment, aka triggers. A trigger can be any kind of sensory cue (something you see, hear, smell, feel, or taste), something you remembered, or even one of your existing routines. They are little things that are all around you, yet powerfully affect what you do.

For instance, when you get in the car, you wear your seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt is the habit, but your brain gets the message to do it when you first experience the car setting environment: The movement of getting in the car, feeling the seat beneath you, leaving your bag at the back of the car, etc.

Your day is inundated with habits: brushing teeth, having breakfast, even how to put on hot water in your shower is an established habit. Even eating is a habit.

Just like triggers can initiate bad habits – without you being consciously aware of that, they can also initiate good habits. Learning how to identify the right triggers and manipulate them in your favor can make the difference between you EASILY getting in the best shape of your life, or you trying really HARD but still failing.

Next Page….How to stick to exercise…even when you’re tired

The Difference Between Can’t and Won’t

fat fit couple its your choice
  • I can’t eat healthy all the time…
  • I can’t make it to the gym tonight…
  • I can’t go for a walk after dinner…
  • I can’t get my kids to stop eating junk food…
  • I can’t quit smoking…
  • I can’t do HIIT sprints…
  • I can’t stop eating grains…
  • I can’t resist the lure of a Starbucks Caramel Macchiatio…
  • I can’t…I can’t…I can’t….

WRONG.

The next time you think that you can’t do something…..watch this .

  • You can eat healthy…you just won’t do it
  • You can make it to the gym tonight…you just won’t do it
  • You can go for a walk after dinner…you just won’t do it
  • You can get your kids to stop eating junk food…you just won’t do it
  • You can quit smoking…you just won’t do it
  • You can do HIIT sprints…you just won’t do it
  • You can stop eating grains…you just won’t do it
  • You can resist the lure of a Starbucks Caramel Macchiatio…you just won’t do it
  • You won’t…you won’t…you won’t…

Unless YOU decide that you will.

The Science Behind Ice Cream Addiction

ice cream sundae

ice-cream-sundaeMost of you can look at this picture of an ice cream sundae, appreciate it’s creamy goodness and move on with the rest of the article.

However, for an unlucky minority, just the very sight of this frozen delight is enough to set off a powerful dopamine response in their brain – leading to a burst of neuro-chemical happiness and an almost irresistible desire to find the nearest ice cream parlor.

For those people, the mental association between this picture of an ice cream sundae and the real thing is so powerful (due to the dopamine), that they can already imagine the pleasure they will receive as they dive into that giant bowl of ice creamy goodness….leading to an actual ice cream addiction…or potato chip addiction…or candy addiction…or chocolate addiction…

And, considering we live in a world where ice cream sundaes aren’t hard to come by, a large percentage of those dopamine-flooded individuals are going to indulge in a bowl or two.

And it’s not just ice cream.

Scientists believe that this study points the way to figuring out why some people are more strongly motivated by environmental cues and therefore at a greater risk of compulsive/addictive behavior.

And it’s not just over-eating…this research could apply to all manner of addictions – food, drugs, sex, danger, my blog, etc…

Reference

Is Magnesium a Cure for Insomnia and Restless Legs?

Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of clinical conditions including hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmias, coronary spasm, premature artherosclerosis and diabetes.

It is also used as a treatment for angina, asthma, gall stones, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypoglycemia, fatigue, fibromyalgia, prevention of hearing loss, kidney stones, leg cramps, migraine, osteoporosis, PMS, prostate issues and INSOMNIA.

And according to government data, 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended intakes of magnesium and 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the recommended intakes.

Not good….and up until 5 years ago, that was me.

Until I was introduced to magnesium supplements during a health & fitness trade show.

A rep for Natural Calm gave me a bunch of samples and while I sleep pretty well, I did notice an immediate effect on my sleep. My mind stopped obsessing over what I did or didn’t do that day or what I had to do tomorrow. Just calm.

And it made me wonder…could something as simple as magnesium be a cure for insomnia?

Since then, I have had no qualms recommending this product to clients & friends who are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or just getting their busy minds to quiet so they can relax.

A mug of their lemon flavor drink about an hour before bed does the trick for me every time.

And recently, while searching for a natural treatment for a friend with neuropathy in both legs, I found a bunch of research about magnesium oil helping to relieve muscle spasms, tension and various forms of neuropathy – pain, restless legs, itching, tingling, etc.

Google also told me that Natural Calm makes a magnesium oil.

So, I emailed the fine folks at Natural Calm and told them about my friend and they sent me a bunch of samples – Magnesium Oil & Gel. (being a blogger can have its perks)

And knock on wood, it’s been a great success. Applied on her legs after a  hot bath and just before bed, my friend has seen a significant reduction in pain, tingling and restlessness.

Conclusion

I was a fan before trying the oil…and I am an even bigger fan now.

So, if you think that supplementing with magnesium may be helpful to you, I can honestly & wholeheartedly recommend both the Natural Calm drink and their Magnesium Oil.

NOTE – You can buy Natural Calm and Magnesium Oil at these links

NOTE #2 – I would love to hear about your experiences (good or bad) with magnesium.

Reference

How to Become a Better Person

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Today’s post is a little different than the ones I normally write.

No science…no workouts…no cutting edge nutrition research. Just a short story about one of my friends/clients and how the changes she made in her life has made her a better person…her words, not mine.

How to become a better person in 500 words or less

Suzanne (not her real name) was referred to me by one of her friends. When we met, she was forty-something years old, with three growing kids, a good marriage, a good life, with lots of friends and a job that helped pay the bills for a home in a very nice neighbourhood in mid-town Toronto.

Like a lot of forty-somethings, she was essentially healthy but was carrying excess body-fat and just didn’t feel like her old self.

Based on her friend’s recommendation, she came to me with expectations of:

  1. Dropping the weight,
  2. Fitting into her pre-baby clothes and,
  3. Feeling more energetic.

And while all of those goals came true in the 14 months we worked together, they weren’t the reasons why she took the time to write me the most touching letter of thanks this past week.

gallery_vitruviawoman1

In her letter, Suzanne talked about how her new health habits have made her a better version of herself…stronger, calmer, happier, more creative, more loving…not to mention looking better than ever in a pair of skinny jeans.

  • She wrote about how her cravings for cookies and cupcakes have disappeared
  • She wrote about how she no longer “freaks out” on her kids and husband
  • She wrote about how her lower back & neck doesn’t ache anymore
  • She wrote about how she doesn’t feel sad & anxious like she used to
  • She wrote about how she doesn’t “need” coffee like she used to
  • She wrote about how her energy levels have gone through the roof
  • She wrote about how her relationships have grown
  • She wrote about how her improved work performance has led to a promotion
  • She wrote about how her kids and husband were positively affected by her changes
  • She wrote how her husband has been able to cut back on hypertension meds, lose weight and get rid of his sleep apnea machine
  • She wrote about how one of her kids is no longer on ADHD meds
  • She wrote about how all of her kids are better behaved and are much more physically fit

She also wrote about how she didn’t have to abandon the good stuff from her “old life” to make all these changes. She just got rid of the “stuff” that was getting in the way of being the best Suzanne that she could be.

  • She didn’t stop going out for dinner. She just made better choices
  • She didn’t stop watching tv. She just made better choices
  • She didn’t stop eating cupcakes. She just made better choices.

And that is how you become a better person. You start making better choices.

 

The Bruce Lee Workout

bruce_lee 2

In the world of bodybuilding and physique transformation, one of the most highly respected physiques of all time belonged to a guy who stood 5’7″ and weighed between 130 and 165 lbs.

That’s right…at his heaviest, Bruce Lee weighed only 165 lbs.

And yet, bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger were in awe of the body he built.

So, how did he do it?

And more importantly, how can you do it?

How can you build a body like this?

Well, if you want to learn about the weightlifting routine he used to build his strength and increase his muscle mass….pick up a copy of The Art of Expressing the Human Body.

But…you will be wasting your time.

If Bruce Lee was alive today, he would not be using the training routines found inside that book.

Bruce Lee believed that as a warrior and as a person, one should never “get set into one form. One should adapt and create your own style, and let it grow, be like water”.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water.

When you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup;

When you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle;

When you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.

Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

At this point, you may be asking…what the heck does being formless like water have to do with fitness, working out and getting a wicked set of abs like Bruce Lee?

Well, I’m going to tell you.

Being formless like water means using those training techniques that work for your particular goals…and to not get all wrapped up in dogma.

  • There is no perfect workout
  • There is no perfect diet.

What there is, is….

  • your body as it currently exists,
  • your vision of how you want your body to be
  • and a whole bunch of tools & techniques that may or may not help you achieve your goals.

Becoming attached to a certain training method (bodybuilding, yoga, pilates, crossfit, cardio, walking, aerobic classes, Tae-Bo, P 90X, etc…) is a sure path to stagnation and unattained goals.

The same goes for nutrition.

If the tool is ineffective, find a way to make it effective or replace it with another tool.

Be like water

Unique goals require unique solutions.

One size does not fit all.

Be fluid like water…and get a wicked set of abs like Bruce Lee

Food Addiction: It’s In Your Eyes

woman-eating-chocolate-

As a personal trainer, fitness blogger and all around health & fitness geek, I am constantly reading scientific journals looking for the latest research about nutrition, obesity, exercise science and overall health and longevity. And every now and then, I come across something truly interesting….to my geeky brain.

Something like this research about measuring the pleasure response we get from eating chocolate.

The Science

In this study, researchers from Drexel University found that they could accurately measure our brain’s pleasure response to consuming chocolate with the use of a common, low-cost ophthalmological technique called electroretinography (ERG).

Why is this important?

It’s important because not only is food how we deliver nutrients into our bodies, it’s one of the most powerful ways we generate pleasure in our brains.

woman-eating-chocolate-

Unfortunately, there are a few nasty side effects to eating foods that give us a big boost of pleasure chemicals….calories, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, cancer, etc…

And in 2013, it’s quite obvious that we have a pretty serious problem with those side effects.

Processed food manufacturers have found ways to manipulate their products so that our pleasure centers are constantly issuing commands to eat more, more, more. And for those of us without the willpower of a Spartan, we eat more…and more…and more.

With the result being an epidemic of food addiction, obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

What this new research could do for us is provide a truly “pharmacological approach to the brain’s response to food.” No more airy-fairy talk about cravings and food addiction and willpower and how obese people just don’t try hard enough. If and when this technique is validated by additional studies, mainstream medicine would be able to:

  1. Quickly and accurately measure how different foods impact the pleasure center in our brain
  2. Research ways to make “healthier” foods more pleasurable
  3. Research ways to make “unhealthy” foods less pleasurable,
  4. Thereby boosting our willpower against potato chips and chocolate bars
  5. Eliminating food addiction
  6. And helping us fall in love with broccoli & kale

What does this mean to you?

At this point…nothing.

This is the first study of this technique, and it was a very small study too – only 9 people. But it’s a great start.

There are a ton of ongoing studies looking at how food gives us pleasure in the hopes that we can manipulate these pleasure responses with drugs or medical instruments or diets focused on manipulating macronutrient consumption, etc, etc, etc.

Unfortunately, the gold standard for meauring the effectiveness of these approaches is with the use of a PET scanner…which costs $2000+ per session, is more invasive and takes more than an hour to generate a scan.

With electroretinography, the Medicare reimbursement cost for clinical use of ERG is about $150 per session, and each session generates 200 scans in just two minutes.

ERG

And if you’re a drug company looking to test a compound designed to increase our desire for “healthy” food and eliminate food addiction, the lower financial & time costs associated with this new test is a very big deal. It would allow them to test more products, get successful ones to market sooner and offer them at a theoretically lower cost to the consumer.

And who wouldn’t want a magic pill that makes them think cauliflower tastes better than chocolate?

Reference

Motivation: How to Get It and Fuel It

motivation-adam-ali

Today’s article is a guest post from one of my favorite fitness gurus – Adam Ali.

The reason I asked Adam to write an article for Health Habits is that unlike most fitness ‘experts’, Adam not only cares passionately about bringing fitness to “normal” people, he actually does something about it. Working in one of Toronto’s at-risk neighborhoods, Adam has recently created the Goodfit Battles as a way to get Toronto’s urban youth to participate in active living through fitness training. While politicians and health experts talk about reversing childhood obesity and eliminating the chronic lifestyle diseases bankrupting our healthcare system, Adam actually does something about it.

Alright, that’s enough of  pumping Adam’s tires, on with the article….

motivation-adam-ali

Being known as the motivational-athlete-guy, I receive tons of e-mails from people asking me how do I get and stay motivated. My answer is always the same…I tell them that it’s a simple as just get STARTED and be on the look-out for any & all positive indicators. Seeing small wins lets me know that I am going towards the right direction and that’s what usually motivates me. However, to get those small wins, you got to START. There is no secret to that. Chase things you are passionate about and you are likely to stay on course. Besides finding small wins to motivate me here are some other approaches I use to get MOTIVATED.

  1. Find someone to keep you accountable
    Now not only am I responsible for achieving my goal I have someone also breathing down my neck when I am going off course. A mentor or a friend who genuinely keeps you accountable can dramatically support you to get motivated.
  2. Think about what will happen if you DON’T do it
    It scares me when I think about the consequence of not doing one my goals. I do not want to be regretful and spend any time later in life wondering what if. Out weight the loss of not taking action and that should be enough to motivate you.
  3. Set up anchors
    Display a collage on your wall, set alarms, emails alerts to yourself, to do list, etc to continuously remind you of your goals. This can support fuelling you on your way to your goal.
  4.  Find motivation
    Seek motivation. Go online and search for a video and article. Pick up the phone and call someone and start a conversation – I’m sure you will get encouraged. There are thousands of books on self-development and motivation. If you seek you will find it and remember that the best motivation comes within.
  5. Greatest Invention.
    The greatest invention in my humble opinion has to be the paper and pen. There is something magical when you put your goals on paper. Utilize the magic of paper and pen and get writing everyday. Write a to do list that supports your goals. If you have a worthy thought about your goals or an idea – write it down.

Here is a link to my personal daily to do list. Utilize it daily and I promise that it will motivate you to your goals.

 .

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
—Thomas Jefferson

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About the Author

This article was written by super-trainer Adam Ali, founder of iWontLose.com and creator of the Goodfit Battles. If you want to connect with Adam, you can reach him at Twitter – @ADAMwontLOSE or Facebook or on his YouTube page.

Be the Best You that You Can Be

3-Faces-of-Muscle

Every day, I speak with people who want to transform their body from fat to fit. And for the most part, I tell them that the human body is an amazingly adaptable machine that WILL respond to exercise, nutrition, etc.

3-Faces-of-Muscle
Click for larger image

Unfortunately, sometimes I have to splash a little cold water on their hopes & dreams. Just like Mssrs Ecto, Meso & Endo, we all face unique limitations and restrictions.

  • Mr. Meso’s waist is great for bodybuiding…but not so good for becoming the World’s Strongest Man
  • And while Mr. Endo is built for pulling transport trucks out of ditches, he is never, ever going to be as lean as Mr. Ecto without a boatload of illegal and life-threatening drugs.

We all have limitations…

  • Physical – wide hips, narrow hips, small boobs, big boobs, muscle fiber type, metabolic rate, etc…
  • Mental – self-confidence and belief in their ability to improve
  • Financial – gym memberships, trainers, healthy food & supplements cost money
  • Social – support of friends & family isn’t guaranteed
  • Knowledge – Some people still believe that cardio is the best way to lose weight
  • Time – we are all stuck with this one :(

And most of us will never be hired to be the next Calvin Klein model…

…we sure as heck can be better than we are today.

Be the Best You that You Can Be

ANGRY Workout Music Playlist

angry-henry-rollins

Most of the time, my brain is able to tune out the incredibly lame music they play at most gyms/health clubs.

However…when it comes time to dive into a heavy lifting, kick your own butt kind of workout, having to hear the latest Ke$ha song in the background is a HUGE distraction.

That’s when I slap on the headphones and start cranking the official Health Habits ANGRY Workout Music Playlist.

angry-henry-rollins

[box type=”note”]This is not the music you want to listen to while doing cardio or pilates or zumba or driving the car or making dinner or just about anything other than unleashing all your aggression on a pile of heavy weights at the gym. This stuff is going to unleash your inner barbarian[/box]

BAND SONG
Motörhead Ace Of Spades
Nirvana Aneurysm
Silverchair Anthem For The Year 2000
Skinny Puppy Assimilate
AC DC Back In Black
Kid Rock Bawitdaba
Nine Inch Nails Bite The Hand That Feeds
Public Enemy Black Steel In The Hour O…
LINKIN PARK Bleed It Out
Rage Against The Machine Bombtrack
Linkin Park Breaking The Habit
Nirvana Breed
Public Enemy Bring The Noise
DMX Bring Your Whole Crew
Rage Against The Machine Bullet In The Head
Rage Against The Machine Bulls On Parade
Five Finger Death Punch Burn It Down
Ministry Burning Inside
Rage Against The Machine Calm Like A Bomb
Skrillex Cat Rats
Skinny Puppy Chainsaw
Saliva Click Click Boom
Audioslave Cochise
Ozzy Osbourne Crazy Train
Rage Against The Machine Darkness (lp Version)
Foo Fighters Darling Nikki
Skinny Puppy Dig It (short Edit)
Disturbed Down With The Sickness
Rob Zombie Dragula
Nirvana Drain You
White Zombie Electric Head, Pt. 1
White Zombie Electric Head, Pt. 2
Foo Fighters Everlong
Ministry Everyday Is Halloween
Public Enemy Fight The Power
The Prodigy Firestarter
SKRILLEX First Of The Year
Rage Against The Machine Fistful Of Steel
Rage Against The Machine Freedom
NWA Fuck The Police
Skrillex Fucking Die 01
Rollins Band Going Out Strange
Rage Against The Machine Guerilla Radio
Nine Inch Nails Head Like A Hole
Matthew Good Band Hello Time Bomb
Filter Hey Man Nice Shot
Nirvana In Bloom
Linkin Park In The End
House Of Pain Jump Around
Skrillex Kill Everybody
Rage Against The Machine Killing In The Name Of
Eminem Lose Yourself
Bush Machinehead
Rage Against The Machine Maggie’s Farm
Skrillex & Damian Marley Make It Bun Dem
LL Cool J Mama Said Knock You Out
Rage Against The Machine Maria
Rage Against The Machine Mic Check
Marilyn Manson Mobscene
White Zombie More Human Than Human
KMFDM Mortal Kombat Theme
Foo Fighters My Hero
Rage Against The Machine New Millennium Homes
Rage Against The Machine No Shelter
Limp Bizkit Nookie
Soundgarden Outshined
Linkin Park Papercut
Rage Against The Machine People Of The Sun
Ministry Psalm 69
Skrillex Reptile
Various Artists Resident Evil Main Title …
DMX Ruff Ryders’ Anthem
Beastie Boys Sabotage
Skrillex Scary Monsters And Nice S…
The Offspring Self-Esteem
Rage Against The Machine Settle For Nothing
Rage Against The Machine Sleep Now In The Fire
Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit
Beastie Boys So Whatcha Want
Foo Fighters Stacked Actors
Nine Inch Nails Starfuckers, Inc.
Ministry Stigmata
Nirvana Territorial Pissings
Common Testify
Rage Against The Machine Testify
Marilyn Manson The Beautiful People
Five Finger Death Punch The Bleeding
Motörhead / Lemmy The Game
Nine Inch Nails The Perfect Drug
Foo Fighters The Pretender
Rob Zombie Thunderkiss
ACDC Thunderstruck
Eminem ’till I Collapse
ACDC Tnt
Rage Against The Machine Township Rebellion
Rage Against The Machine Vietnow
Rage Against The Machine Voice Of The Voiceless
Rage Against The Machine Wake Up
Guns N’ Roses Welcome To the Jungle
Rage Against The Machine Year Of Tha Boomerang
Death From Above 1979 You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine

Wanna add to the list?

Leave a comment.

Dwelling On Stressful Events Can Make You Sick

why-rumination-dwelling-obs

University of Ohio researchers have found that when people “were asked to dwell on stressful events, their levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of tissue inflammation, rose”. This is the first study to directly measure the physical effect that obsessing on negative events has on our bodies. “Much of the past work on this subject has looked at this in non-experimental designs. Researchers have asked people to report their tendency to ruminate, and then looked to see if it connected to physiological issues (ie cortisol levels). It’s been correlational for the most part,” said lead researcher, Dr. Peggy Zoccola. why-rumination-dwelling-obs

In this new study, Dr. Zoccola et al recruited 34 healthy young women and “asked each to give a speech about her candidacy for a job to two interviewers in white laboratory coats, who listened with stone-faced expressions”.

Half of the group was asked to contemplate their performance in the public speaking task, while the other half was asked to think about neutral images and activities, such as sailing ships or grocery store trips. The researchers drew blood samples that showed that the levels of C-reactive protein were significantly higher in the subjects who were asked to dwell on the speech. For these participants, the levels of the inflammatory marker continued to rise for at least one hour after the speech. During the same time period, the marker returned to starting levels in the subjects who had been asked to focus on other thoughts.

What does this mean to you?

  • C-reactive protein is produced as part of the immune system’s initial inflammatory response. It rises in response to traumas, injuries or infections in the body. In these short-term situations, it’s a good thing.

However, in when elevated levels of C-reactive protein become a chronic, day-to-day kind of thing…it’s not so good. “More and more, chronic inflammation is being associated with various chronic disorders and conditions, such as….heart disease, cancer, dementia and autoimmune diseases.” Conclusions

  1. The result of a single study should always be judged with a critical eye. More research is necessary before mainstream science and medicine will get on board.
  2. You don’t have to wait for mainstream medical approval to make use of this research. We all have stressful situations in our lives…lots of opportunities to obsess and dwell on how we were screwed over by our bosses or that jerk on the highway.

The next time you find yourself dwelling over some crappy event in your life…pay CLOSE ATTENTION to how your body feels.

  • Pay attention to your breathing – are you holding your breath?
  • Pay attenting to your temperature – do you feel warm, cold, normal? Are your hands sweaty, clammy?
  • Pay attention to your heartbeat
  • Look at your face in the mirror…what do you see
  • Pay attention to your muscles – tight or relaxed?
  • Listen to your emotions – anger, sadness, calm, happy?

And after you have collected all that data, ask yourself a question…

  • Is dwelling on this particulary stressful event good or bad for YOU?

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Re this new research, lead author Dr. Peggy Zoccola will be presenting it today at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Miami, Fla. As soon as I have more data from the good doctor, I will update y’all with a new article.[/colored_box]

Reference

The Cure for Obesity

uncle-sam-obesity-web-amerc

Earlier today, I discovered the cure for obesity… and it isn’t a diet or a fitness program or a supplement or a drug or a surgery, medical device, hypnotism or magic pill.

It’s a single paragraph from little self-help/positivity book that I have never read and is wrongly attributed to Charlie Chaplin.

And it goes like this…

“As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF“.

And IMHO, love of oneself means…

  • Eating food that nourishes your body…not junk-food programmed to activate the pleasure centers in your brain
  • Being physically active every day…not sitting on your butt watch crap tv shows
  • Spending time with ‘real-world’ friends…not just your Facebook ‘friends’
  • Getting enough sleep to recharge for the next day
  • Drinking more water and less soda
  • Resisting negative peer pressure
  • Developing positive willpower
  • Ignoring what you want…for what you need
  • Etc, etc, etc….

just say no mcdonalds

Reference

When I Loved Myself Enough

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY“.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody. As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.
Today I call it “RESPECT“.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to
grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY“.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE“.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
Today I call it “SIMPLICITY“.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF“.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY“.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where  everything is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT“.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART“.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
Today I know “THAT IS LIFE“!

What Motivates Me

Bo-Jackson-BoKnows

Bo-Jackson-BoKnows

For a period of four years back in the 80’s, there lived a total freak of nature who:

  • Won the Heisman Trophy in U.S. college football
  • Ran a 4.12 second 40-yard dash time at the NFL testing combine
  • Was drafted first overall in the National Football League entry draft
  • Was drafted first overall in the Major League Baseball entry draft
  • Was named the MVP of the MLB’s All-Star game
  • Played football like this…
  • While playing baseball like this

There was nobody like Bo.

Just thinking of the stuff he could do on the field provided the motivation that teenage me needed to workout harder and longer than everyone else.

Thanks Bo.

Reebok: Live With Fire

reebok-live-with-fire-1

Back in the olden days, before I started blogging as Health Habits, I ran a pretty darn successful personal training business up here in Toronto.  I trained clients six days a week and helped other trainers grow their knowledge & client base.  And I felt pretty good about my contribution to make the world just a little bit healthier, fitter & sexier.

But it wasn’t enough. There were only so many hours in the day that I could work with clients.

  • So…I started Health Habits. And after a few months, I started interacting with all these awesome people who had found my blog.

But that wasn’t enough. It’s really hard for us wee fitness bloggers to get noticed by Google. (Google still favors the big guys Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Livestrong, etc).

  • So…I started messing around with social media…Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest.  And after another few months, I started interacting with a whole new group of people interested in talking about health & fitness.

But it still isn’t enough.

To really have an major effect on the health & fitness of people around the world, you need money and global brand recognition and celebrities and more money for advertising…print, online & tv.

And that’s where a company like Reebok can play a super-important role in helping turn around our current global culture of obesity, inactivity and poor health.

reebok-live-with-fire-1

Here’s the deal…Reebok has recently launched a new brand/clothing line/advertising campaign called Live with Fire.

And as with most sport/fitness ad campaigns, Reebok has put together a bunch of extremely motivational commercials focusing on a bunch of uber-fit athletes. Believe me, this first commercial will get you pumped.

However…unlike the typical sporting goods ad campaigns, Reebok is going beyond the typical hero worship commercial. Reebok seems to be really, really serious about getting Joe Six-Pack and Suzy Soda-Pop to see these athletes not only as role models…but as actual human beings who have to work really hard to be as fit as they are.

  • Reebok isn’t selling us the dream of being a pro athlete.
  • They’re trying to sell us a potential reality….of what we can be if we work at it….if we Live with Fire.

And of course….if we choose to buy a whole bunch of Reebok gear, then I’m sure that’s fine with them too. They are a business after all.

It’s brilliant. We all know that we need to eat better…and move better…and live better. But most of us are also lazy as hell.

And that’s where the mega-bucks and brand recognition of Reebok can have an effect far greater than anything little ole Health Habits can do.

So, check out the Live with Fire videos and spread the word to all your friends who NEED some motivation to get in shape.

And if you want to tell them about Health Habits at the same time…I would appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.

reebok-live-with-fire-2

The Immorality of Obesity

America-obesity-epidemic

Last week, media mogul Rupert Murdoch pissed off a whole bunch of people with the following tweet about a woman in New York who suffered injuries when the sidewalk she was walking on collapsed out from under her.

rupert-murdoch

 

Obesity apologists all around the twitterverse were freaking out…hunting and pecking out expletive-filled anti-Murdoch tweets and blog posts. It was a veritable orgy of obese indignation.

And yet…it got me thinking.

  • Why is it that so many people in our society feel free to mean so damn nasty to fat people?
  • Why is it a character flaw to be fat?

We all have bad habits. We all do things that aren’t 100% healthy for our bodies.

Even personal trainers like me.

For example, this past Saturday night, I spent about 5 hours…

  • sitting on my butt
  • watching Hockey Night in Canada
  • and drinking beer with friends and having one heck of a fun evening.

Does this make me a bad person?

Would it have made me a bad person if (instead of being an uber-healthy personal trainer) I had been that 400 lb woman who fell through the sidewalk?

Maybe it’s time we create a little separation between people and their actions.

Obesity and related lifestyle medical conditions ARE a significant medical problem….costing millions and millions of dollars. But instead of being a giant A-hole like Rupert Murdoch or a Fat-Apologist like the Jezebel blogger I linked to, maybe we should focus on the actions that have led to increased rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, etc…

  • Maybe we have a little more sympathy for people who make poor decisions,
  • And a little less sympathy for people who exploit those bad decisions for financial & political gain

America-obesity-epidemic

Is Bread Healthy?

bread-gerry-dee
bread-sidney-crosby
Eat bread and grow up to be a super-athlete like Sidney Crosby

The processed food industry isn’t happy with us.

  • They are not happy how they are being blamed for the obesity epidemic.
  • They are not happy how “normal” people are starting to listen to us health nuts.
  • They are not happy being portrayed as the bad guy
  • And they are really, really not happy that a growing percentage of us are buying less of their products.

It’s that hit to their bottom line that is forcing them to respond to this darn “healthy eating” epidemic.

Yesterday, Coca-Cola released a commercial highlighting all of the steps they have “voluntarily” taken to help reverse the global obesity epidemic.

Today, we’re going to look at a commercial produced by Dempster’s Bread…designed to convince you that bread is just as healthy as fruits and vegetables.

Huh…maybe Gandhi had it right.

While the processed food industry is still fighting hard to protect their market share, they sure aren’t ignoring or laughing at us health nuts anymore.

gandhi-first-they-ignore-yo
Gandhi says “Just say NO to junk food”

So, what do you think?

  • Is bread healthy?
  • Is it as healthy as fruits & vegetables?
  • Is it tasty with some bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes shoved between two slices?

Aspire Assist = Medically Assisted Bulimia

aspire-assist

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we now live in a topsy-turvy world where….

  1. Obesity is a major medical and financial problem.
  2. Young girls (and now boys) are under a lot of peer pressure to NOT BE FAT.

As a result of #2, doctors tell our kids that bulimia is very, very, very bad and that instead of binging & purging, they should eat a healthy diet and be more physically active.

bulimia-2

Unfortunately, as a result of #1…

  • We have also seen an explosion in the number of people undergoing major surgery to help them lose weight, and
  • We have the creation and medical approval of the AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System…

aspire-assist

A medical device which replaces a bulimic’s fingers with….

  1. A tube which is surgically implanted in the stomach and is attached to…
  2. A Skin-Port which is equipped with a valve which is attached to…
  3. A battery operated pump which…
  4. Sucks a portion of your stomach contents out of your gut…
  5. And mechanically vomits/poops them into your toilet.

Don’t believe me?

If that wasn’t gross enough for you…here is a real-life example of the AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System in action.

Does anyone else see the irony here???

  • Self-directed bulimia is BAD
  • Medically-assisted bulimia is GOOD

confused-emoticon

This is quite a society we are building here. Idiocracy…here we come.

The Best Exercise for a Fit Sexy Body

dance-fitness

What if I told you that there was a form of exercise that…

  • Raises low self-esteem
  • Burns a ton of calories
  • Is scientifically proven to repair distorted body images
  • Increases functional fitness
  • Is incredibly effective for OBESE participants
  • Is a great way to make new fit friends
  • Makes you stronger
  • Makes you leaner
  • Makes your fitter
  • Makes you more flexible / mobile
  • Makes you sexier
  • And is incredibly FUN!!!

Fit Sexy Body

Fit Sexy BodyAnd what if I told you that this form of exercise is the biggest fitness trend to come along since spandex & leg warmers.

In fact, led by the market leader (Zumba), dance fitness classes are spreading around the fitness world at an amazing rate. And as a result, there are a lot of women (and a few men) who are transforming their bodies, getting healthy and having a great time while they’re doing it.

Unfortunately, along with all of this fun, there has also been a spike in ankle & knee injuries caused by people doing dance fitness classes in shoes not made for dancing. My physiotherapy buddies here in Toronto have seen their waiting rooms fill up with Zumba injuries over the past couple of years.

What does this mean to you???

It means that if you want to…

  1. create a fit sexy body with dance fitness
  2. while avoiding sprained knees & ankles

…you need to seriously think about buying a pair of dance specific shoes.

Fit Sexy Body

And I can heartily recommend these two brands of dance fitness shoes by Ryka…

… because over the past 5 months, I have had a group of female clients trying out different pairs of dance fitness shoes and these 2 pairs kept getting the best reviews. It wasn’t even close.

They fit better…they look better…and they perform better as dance fitness shoes.

Fit Sexy Body

The official Ryka sales pitch – Ryka designs all their shoes to fit a woman’s foot shape, muscle movement and skeletal structure. For example, the “Q-angle”(quadricep angle) – the anatomical relationship between the hip and knee – measures 5–7 degrees greater for women than men. As a result, women tend to shift more weight to the outside of their feet which leads to over-pronation, instability at foot strike and higher risk of injury. All Ryka sneakers, are designed and developed taking into account a woman’s unique fit needs.

Their dance fitness shoes are further modified with a low profile compression mid-sole, lateral stability and a pivot point (the pink circle) designed to help the shoe respond correctly to dance fitness movements.

These are not running shoes or tennis shoes. They are dance shoes.

NOTE: There are a growing number of dance fitness shoes on the market. I am recommending these 2 pairs of Ryka shoes because my “guinea-pigs” loved them. I have no financial involvement with these products other than they supplied samples free of charge for my experiment. There were 3 other manufacturers who supplied footwear free of charge. Their shoes didn’t test well…so they’re not in the article.

Reference

Five Weight Loss Secrets the Experts Will Never Tell You

diet-books

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business. It’s a multi-billion dollar business which combines recycled weight-loss theories with new celebrities year after year. It’s a multi-billion dollar business which sells the promise of transformation…while secretly hoping that you never succeed.

Today, I thought I would let you in on a few of the secrets that they will never mention in their weight loss books.

diet-books

  • All Diets Work

Whether they have you counting calories, restricting food groups or modifying when you’re allowed to eat, almost everybody will lose weight at the beginning of a new weight loss program. Their program is not nearly as special as they want you to believe.

  • All Diets Fail

Most people already know the difference between diets that make you lean and diets that make you fat. The problem isn’t lack of knowledge…it’s lack of consistency. The world’s most perfect weight loss diet is 100% useless if you don’t follow the rules.

  • Following the Rules Can Be Extremely Uncomfortable

In addition to being affordable and almost-always available, a large percentage of us rely on junk food to modulate hormones and neuro-chemicals in an attempt to reduce stress levels and make raw nerves feel…less raw. It’s the same reason why other people drink, do drugs, beat their spouses, etc. When you take away your emotion-soothing foods, you may be able to rely on willpower for a while as you try to ignore your “stuff”, but eventually, your willpower won’t be strong enough…and the siren’s call of Ben & Jerry may just be too strong for even the most awesome of celebrity endorsed diets.

  • Uncomfortable Doesn’t Mean Impossible

No matter how much you rely on junk food, there are psychological, neurological and nutritional approaches that can help reduce your dependence on food to modulate your emotions. And most of them are free or at least very reasonable. MP3s of guided meditations, brain wave entrainment and/or hypnosis require very little cash and almost zero effort from you…and can be very, very helpful. Supplements like Chill Pills cost less than $1 a day and can have a profound effect on your mood. Dr. Judith Beck lowers the cost of using Cognitive Behavior Therapy as a weight loss aid by laying out her techniques in her book – The Complete Beck Diet for Life.

  • You are Your Best Diet Guru

No weight loss expert will ever know what it’s like for YOU to lose weight. They won’t feel your cravings…or have to resist your urges to snack late at night…or have tell your friends that you will be eating a bowl of chicken vegetable soup instead of sharing their giant platter of Nachos Supreme!!! But then again, they can’t judge how your body responds to a week of Intermittent fasting or how peri-workout nutrition has helped you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. They can’t make the very specific observations and adjustments that will help you overcome your weakness while maximizing your strengths and advantages.

What should you do with this info?

I have met and talked with a lot of weight loss gurus over the past decade…and most of them are pretty decent people with an honest desire to help overweight people lose weight and get fit. They realize that there is no perfect diet. They realize that what works for you might not work for me. They realize that weight loss can be a long, drawn-out, incredibly frustrating endeavor.

Unfortunately, if they wrote that in their book… NO ONE would buy it.

So…take what you read in a diet book with a giant grain of salt. Think about the theory behind the weight loss plan. Think about how easily you would be able to integrate that plan into your lifestyle. And if you decide to take the plunge, pay attention to how your body, mind and emotions respond. And be ready to make tweaks to customize a “one-size-fits-all” diet to make it fit your life.

And if you don’t want to spend any money at all, just download a FREE eBook copy of A Paleo Diet for the 21st Century.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Pig Out

Can my friends make me fat?

Last night, I had a wicked craving for chicken wings.

So, after my last client, I rounded up some of my buddies, hit my favorite wing joint and cleared out my sinuses with excessive amounts of hot sauce.

While we were there, we couldn’t help overhearing the group of 20-something year old women at the next table as they laid waste to a massive pile of wings, fires, deep fried cheese, beer and fruity cooler drinks.

Impressed we were with their eating prowess…those girls could really put away the chow.

girls-pigging-out
…just a generic photo of girls pigging out

Unimpressed we were with how the ladies treated the one who stayed away from all the starchy stuff and only drank water.

  • They kept nagging at her to eat some fries and deep fried cheese sticks.
  • When she declined, they piled some on her plate.

When she didn’t eat them…

  • One of the big-eaters started to get angry and suggested that she thought she was better than them (did I mention they were drinking).

This went on for about ten minutes with all of the cheese stick eaters joining in and bombarding our heroine with different “mean girl” psychological techniques.

In the end, she gave in, ate some fries and order was restored to the group.

But it left me wondering…is this what it takes to fit in in 2012? If your friends eat like crap, do you have to eat like crap to fit in? Back in the 80’s, there was a anti-drunk driving campaign that said…

friends-dont-let-friends-dr

Maybe we need something like this to reverse the our problems with obesity, diabetes, metabolic disease, etc.

The Cure for Stress?

meditation---christy-turlin

Life is stressful…for all of us.

Unfortunately for most of us, stressful events can cause an unconscious response in our “lizard-brains”…

The Amygdala’s response to stress

…leading to uncontrolled emotional states, anxiety, fear, depression, etc.

However, new research has uncovered how an eight-week beginners course in meditation can…

  1. Reduce activation in the right amygdala
  2. Improve your emotional stability
  3. Improve your response to stress

…which should lead to a calmer life, free of out-of-control emotions, fear, anxiety & depression.

And seeing as our lives don’t show any sign of slowing down & becoming more peaceful, this is some pretty important research.

The Science

The researchers studied the effect of two different styles of meditation.

  1. Mindful Attention Meditation
  2. Compassion Meditation
  • Three weeks prior to beginning the study, all participants participated in fMRI scans of their brains while “viewing a series of 108 different images of people in situations with either positive, negative or neutral emotional content”.

Meditation was not mentioned during this pre-experiment scanning session.

  • Three weeks after the scans, the participants were enrolled in one of two eight-week meditation courses – mindful attention meditation OR compassion meditation.
  • Three weeks after completing their meditation course, the participants returned for a follow-up fMRI scan.

As in the previous fMRI session, the participant viewed a a series of 108 different images of people in situations with either positive, negative or neutral emotional content while being scanned. Note – participants were not allowed to meditate during the scanning process.

Here’s what they found:

  • The mindful attention meditation group showed a decrease in activation in the right amygdala in response to all images – good, bad & neutral.
  • In the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity also decreased in response to positive or neutral images
  • However, when negative images were shown to the compassion meditation group, right amygdala activity increased.

From these observations, the researchers concluded that:

  1. Both forms of meditation provide “enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”
  2. “Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer.
  3. Since increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, they believe that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself.

Conclusion

  • To start getting the benefits of mindful meditation…the next time you find yourself with some spare time (waiting for the traffic light to change, sitting in the doctor’s office, riding in an elevator), focus on your breath…ignoring everything else…for just a few moments.

If you can do that…try extending the length of time…when you have the time.

  • And if you want to give compassion meditation a try (without signing up for a class), the next time you do a mindfulness meditation, try focusing on someone you love…and send out feelings of love out to them.

Kind of like a lot of us did as kids..

Reference

5 Ways to Jump Start Your Weight Loss

jump

In the 12+ years I have been working as a personal trainer, I have met a lot of very smart, very successful people with a broad knowledge of weight loss tips, tricks & secrets….and yet most of them weren’t able to get the results they wanted.

And sometimes, the answer to their weight-loss problems was as simple as one little tweak.

Here are some of my favourite “tweaks” to jump start your weight loss.

Jump Start Your Weight Loss

Cleansing

Most people think that cleansing is all about…

  • starving yourself, and/or
  • drinking a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup & hot sauce, and/or
  • shoving a colonic tube up your butt

WRONG.

In it’s essence, cleansing is all about…

  1. ignoring our taste buds for a SHORT period of time, and
  2. putting our Gastro-Intestinal tract in the spotlight for a SHORT period of time

And as un-fun as that sounds, your guts will thank you.

Without getting all alternative-health-y on you, just about every client of mine has seen health & weight-loss improvements via the occasional use of cleansing protocols.

HIIT

The beauty of HIIT training is that you don’t need to mess with your usual routine to reap the benefits.

For example, I worked with a cyclist a couple of years ago who was interested in increasing his power. Unfortunately, he and his coach weren’t willing to cut back on his high-volume cycling regimen. So, I integrated a series of HIIT sprints into his cycling program.

And while we weren’t able to test his strength improvements in the gym as I usually do, he did see a vast improvement in performance and a perceived improvement in power when race season began.

Nutrient Cycling

There are many different ways to cycle nutrients to maximize recovery from exercise and encourage fat loss. This is my favorite method:

  1. Simple carbs during workouts – Gatorade, Fruit Juice, etc.
  2. “Fill you up” carbs post workout – starchy veg, grains, etc.
  3. Crunchy carbs & greens the rest of the day – spinach, broccoli, etc.

The idea behind this plan is to manipulate insulin secretion to minimize fat storage and maximize muscle recovery via the re-filling of muscle cells with blood sugar & micronutrients.

Eat Dinner Like A King

This sounds counter-intuitive to common sense…and it is..sort of.

Normally, I advise clients against eating a big dinner because their day is winding down and that big blob of dinner calories is going to get stored as fat while they watch tv and drift off to sleep.

However, with this dietary tweak…

  • I ask them to have a medium sized breakfast made up of protein & fat foods with next to no carbs (ex scrambled eggs & peppers)
  • I ask them to have a small lunch consisting of protein & fat foods with next to no carbs (ex Greek salad with 1/2 chicken breast)

NOTEThis plans works best with people who are busy throughout the day. We’re trying to take advantage of the appetite killing effect of a busy work-day.

At the end of their work-day and before they eat dinner, I ask them to exercise. It might be a trip to the weight room or a group exercise class or 20 minutes of swimming or even a 10 min session of HIIT bike sprints.

After the workout, they get to eat a nice big satisfying dinner consisting of whatever foods they want. This big meal results in a ton of pleasurable brain chemicals and related hormones being dumped into the body…resulting in emotional pleasure and no sense of dietary deprivation.

 Have an Open Mind

There is a Chinese proverb that states “a closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood”.

And when I look at the mainstream approaches to weight loss, I see a whole lot of closed minds recycling the same old inefficient weight loss techniques year after year after year… with little real-world success.

What I want you to do is come at your weight-loss with an open mind.

  • Think of yourself as a really small-scale science experiment.
  • Stop repeating the same old weight-loss techniques that have failed you in the past.
  • Try something new for a month or two
  • Evaluate it
  • If it’s not working…dump it
  • Try something else…until you find something that works.

And if you still can’t find something that works, come back to Health Habits. I have lots more weight-loss tips & tricks to jump start your weight loss.

Jump Start Your Weight Loss
Be like water my friend…like water

Change Your Body Language Change Your Life

lynda-carter-wonder-woman

There is a large body of research which shows us that your body language tells us lot about your state of mind.

In fact, we all make split second decisions about other people based on their body language each & every day.

  • Do we like that person?
  • Do we trust them?
  • Do they give us the creeps?

What you may not know is that…

And you don’t even need to believe me for it to work.

http://embed.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

Because “our bodies change our minds, our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

Spending 60 seconds in a “power pose” WILL increase your test, decrease your cortisol and make you feel and act like your best self.

Seriously…this stuff works.

Like Dr. Cuddy says…“Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”

Reference

The Real Hockey Night in Canada

nhl-nhlpa

As a proud Canadian hockey fan, I thought that I should remind…

  1. the NHL team owners (billionaires)
  2. and the NHL players (millionaires)

…that even if the NHL strike never ends, there will always be Hockey Night in Canada.

Thanks to Sport Chek for organizing the best hockey games seen at the ACC and the Saddledome in a long, long time.

Get Fit & Lose Weight – Emotional Jeet Kune Do

jeet-kune-do

Every day I help clients discover & push the buttons that they need to push…. if they are going to…

  1. Get the exercise their body needs
  2. Eat the food their body needs
  3. Think the thoughts they need to think and
  4. Feel the feelings they need to feel

…in order to become the healthiest, fittest, sexiest, most awesomest selves they can possibly be.

Here’s an example of the plan I used to help one of my clients lose 185 lbs over the past two years.

  • 319lbs – 185 lbs = 134 lbs

Small carb-free meals for breakfast and lunch

For example, breakfast would be 3 scrambled eggs with butter AND lunch would be a small Greek salad with feta, olives, lettuce & tomatoes – no dressing.

My reasoning behind this approach was that she was a busy executive and was very, very busy throughout the day. The combination of a busy day and not being around food made it “easy” to focus on work and forget about food.

[box type=”note”]It took a few weeks for “easy” to become easy. She hated me a little bit at first.[/box]

Large Paleo meal at dinner after her evening workout

1 big plate full of paleo-friendly food after her workout. That means loads of veggies and a good sized piece of animal protein. She was also allowed to have a piece of fruit for dinner. One of her favorites was the sauteed apples I posted about here.

She was full after dinner every single night.

Supplements

  • 1 tbsp of fish oil every morning
  • Probiotics with breakfast
  • Digestive enzymes with each meal
  • Multi-vitamin and minerals
  • Workout energy drink – I had her use Scivation Xtend

Emotional Jeet Kune Do

My client is a very, very smart woman. And very self aware. So when I told her that she WOULD transform her body into something even more awesome than what she was asking for…she told me that I was full of shit. Literally…she told me I was full of shit.

And after I finished laughing my ass off…I explained to her that over the 20+ years I have been training people, I have learned two things:

  1. Massive physical change is theoretically possible for just about everyone
  2. I am really, really good at making the theoretical happen

And to make the theoretical come true, I employ a system of emotional Jeet Kune Do on my clients. And like Bruce Lee, my emotional Jeet Kune Do is a style with no style.

This means that since we’re all unique creatures with our own individual thoughts, feeling, emotions and peculiarities…there is no fitness/diet plan that will produce awesome results for all of us.

We all have our own unique buttons that need to be pushed to get us to break and replace our bad habits.

And in her case, I asked her to lie to herself.

  • First, I asked her to imagine herself as a total freak of nature…super healthy, super fit, super sexy, etc…
  • Second, I asked for her reaction to this visual picture
  • She came back with another “you’re full of shit” comment
  • After which, I went into my spiel  about being good at making transforming people and that I truly 100% believed that we can make this change with her body. And that the biggest impediment was that she didn’t believe me.

Here’s where the Jeet Kune Do comes in.

  • I asked her to start lying to herself

Whenever she doubted my plan…or her ability to not eat ice cream…or that she would ever have a butt you could bounce quarters off of…I wanted her to:

  1.  Accept her doubts (past history + emotions will not be ignored or minimized)
  2. Get angry and tell the doubts to “Fuck Off…because  she’s going to do exactly what those doubts say she can’t”

And the reason I think this worked for her is because in her business career she has been faced many times with people, boards, companies & governments who told her that she couldn’t do what she wanted to do.

And most of the time, she responded by getting angry, getting to work and kicking their asses (after telling them to fuck off…inside her head)

The essence of emotional Jeet Kune Do is to search for your buttons…not your friend’s buttons, or the fitness guru’s buttons…YOUR BUTTONS.

Feel Great with Micro Workouts

Jumping_Jack

What is your typical day like?

  1. Relaxed, fulfilling and full of moments where you nourish your body, mind & spirit
  2. Stressed, fast paced, hectic and hurried

If you said #1…congratulations…and stop reading

If you said #2…you really, really need to take the next 60 seconds and learn about micro workouts.

What are Micro Workouts?

  • short bursts of fairly intense exercise…lasting between 30-120 seconds.

What can Micro Workouts do for ME?

  • Micro workouts can give you the mood-improving effects outlined in the articles referenced below.

But I already go to the gym three times per week

  • That’s great, but what happens when the mood-improving effect of yesterday’s workout wears off? Micro workouts take very little time and provides mood-boosting results immediately….when you need them.

What do I do?

  • Micro workouts are short in duration – 30-120 seconds
  • Micro workouts are fairly high in intensity
  • Micro workouts require lots of muscle to be involved – no bicep curls

Examples please….

  • Jumping Jacks (fast paced) for 30 seconds…rest 30 seconds…Jumping Jacks for 30 seconds…rest 30 seconds
  • Bodyweight squats for 60 seconds
  • Push-Ups for 20 seconds…rest 20 seconds…push-ups 20 seconds….
  • Racing up a flight of stairs…rest…race up another flight..rest….

We’re not trying to get a “real” workout here…we’re just trying to break up your stressed out thought patterns with a burst of physical activity and activate your natural  mood-boosting hormone production

While this technique has been used with a number of different mood disorders, you should probably consider talking to a mental health professional if you’re having problems coping with this crazy world we live on.

Reference

Nutrition Experts Are Full of SHIT

horn-of-plenty

As a big fitness/nutrition geek, I am constantly consuming the latest information on how to improve the health of our overweight & inactive society.

And when it comes to improving public health, the nutrition experts are forever saying that it all comes down to education.

If only “they” could teach “us” how to…

  • Eat healthier
  • Move healthier
  • Live healthier

…we would all take that knowledge…and stop eating junk food while watching re-runs of  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

Too bad they’re full of shit.

In this new study, researchers presented 124 test with a fake food buffet consisting of 55 replica food items.

Nutrition Experts Are Full of SHIT

  • Participants in the control group were instructed to serve themselves a meal, as they would normally eat from the given selections.
  • Participants in the instruction group were asked to select a healthy, balanced meal.
  • People in the instruction + information group were also instructed to select a healthy meal, but in addition, they received nutrition information based on the Swiss Food Guide Pyramid.

The results?

  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group reduced their consumption of sweets & desserts.
  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group increased their consumption of fruit.
  • No other food categories (including vegetables) were significantly altered.
  • There was very little caloric difference between the meals of all 3 groups
  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group perceived their meals as healthy
  • The control group perceived their meal as less healthy
  • All 3 groups considered their chosen meals equally tasty

Nutrition Experts Are Full of SHIT

Their Conclusions

  1. When people aim to prepare a healthy meal, they replace dessert with fruit.
  2. Nutritional information on portion sizes fails to increase the amount of vegetables in a meal
  3. People, who were asked to choose a healthy meal, chose meals that they perceived as similarly tasty.

My Conclusions

  1. We like to eat tasty food…and most of us are not willing to abandon yummy to get healthy.
  2. We already know which foods are healthy and which are unhealthy
  3. We need more nutrition motivation and less nutrition education.

So, where do we go from here?

  • How do we motivate ourselves to eat healthier???

That’s the billion dollar question. I’m still waiting on an answer from the nutrition experts.

Reference

Brainwashed to be Fat?

BRAINWASHED-FAT

I am a big believer in people accepting personal behavior for their own actions…. and in-actions.

Regarding obesity, while a large percentage of obese people do live with conditions (genetic, environmental, financial) that increase their odds of porking out, we can’t ignore the fact that most obese people make horrendous choices when it comes to the food they eat.

But what if you knew that…

  • Large food companies use psychological techniques designed to brainwash us into eating specific products?
  • And that the foods they’re convincing us to buy have contributed directly to the lifestyle diseases that are bankrupting our healthcare systems?

 

  • And what if you knew that government subsidies have artificially lowered the costs of some foods?
  • And that those artificially inexpensive foods are the main ingredients in those very high-profit / high-obesity foods you are being brainwashed to purchase.

Would it annoy you to know that we’ve combined the worst of free market principles…

  • Companies using psychological manipulation to drive sales

…with the worst of government intervention

  • Billion dollars of subsidies leading to a rapid decline in the health of citizens and exploding healthcare costs.

Would that annoy you?

Or have you been brainwashed too?

An Amazing Real Life Weight Loss Story

pedro-oliva-transformation

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business. And to make sure that those billions keep rolling in, weight loss companies pay celebrities huge piles of cash to convince you that only they have the secret to rapid & permanent weight loss.

And I have to call BULLSHIT on that.

You want to know how to lose weight…. you need to talk to Pedro Oliva.

Pedro is a Twitter buddy of mine who has managed to radically transform his body/health/attitude over the past year. Here is his story…in his own words.

  • Q –  From your before & after picture, it’s obvious that you have lost a LOT of weight…how much and how long have you been working at it?

It’s been a year and I have rid over 100 lbs.

  • Q - Do you have a goal weight and if so, have you reached it?

My Goal weight is somewhere around 230. All time high was 385

  • Q - What changes (pro/con) have you experienced in your life as the pounds came off?

The pros are way more energy, I’m more active. The cons is some of the loose skin.

  • Q - What made you decide to lose the weight?

My kids are my inspiration. I did not want to die young.

  • Q - What made your efforts so successful?

I gave up soda. I was a huge soda drinker, also gave up fried foods.

  • Q - What tips would you give to someone who has tried to lose weight but has never been successful?

Stay focused and give yourself little goals. Take your time, results will come

  • Q - What’s more important to you…weight or health?

Health, being alive is the key

  • Q - Did you follow a specific diet?

I try to eat the right foods, lots of chicken and fish, vegetables

  • Q - Do you still follow that diet?

I do but some times I reward myself.

  • Q - Anything else you want to add?

Do not let anyone say you can’t do it alone. I am proof you can if you dedicate yourself and have a realistic approach, this will not happen overnight.

Reference

The “Eat Like a Dog” Diet

fat-dog-fit-dog

One of my clients had an epiphany yesterday.

  • For the past 4 months, she has been busting her butt losing weight and transforming her body.
  • For the past 3 months, her husband and her dog (not pictured) have also been put on a healthier diet (not by their choice).

And after 3 months, the unofficial winner of the familial weight loss challenge has been….THE DOG.

WTF?  How did the dog emerge as the weight loss champ?

It’s simple…the dog never cheated on his diet. Not once in 3 months.

  • He ate the food that his “Mom” put in his bowl
  • Lacking opposable digits, he was unable to open his bag of kibble or work the can opener to get more wet dog food.
  • He went for a walk everytime someone grabbed his leash.

In short, he was the perfect personal training client.

Unfortunately for us humans, we have opposable thumbs that are capable of ordering an XL pizza for delivery…ruining our diet and causing us to lose a weight loss challenge to a dog.

So….here’s my question for you…how can you modify your lifestyle so you eat & move more like a dog and less like a human???

The Science Behind Willpower

chocolate-fudge-brownie-ice
  • We all have cravings.
  • We all have willpower.
  • Unfortunately for our living room furniture…our collective willpower seems to be getting it’s ass kicked by our cravings for junk food.

So, imagine my delight when a group of scientists from Caltech U discovered which region of the brain is responsible for resisting cravings.

Specifically, the researchers found that when people are presented with a temptation like chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, two regions of the brain go to war. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the  dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC).

After tempting a group of test subjects with an ooey-gooey chocolaty dessert, the researchers found that

  1. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) drives us to give in to the pleasure of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream
  2. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) drives us to resist that short term pleasure for long term health benefits.

They also found that both regions become active and compete against each other when we are presented with a temptation like ice cream, booze, extra-marital sex, etc.

They also found that unless you strengthen the dlPFC by resisting short term urges on a regular basis… it’s going to get it’s butt kicked by the vmPFC.

In essence – willpower is a muscle…just like Grandma said.

Reference

Childhood Obesity: Bruised Feelings v.s. Logic

childhood-obesity-psa-minn

Childhood obesity is a significant health issue in America and around the world.

Unfortunately for America’s little butterballs, they live in a world where….

  1. Everyone want quick fixes to complex problems
  2. Gov’t & NGOs think that education is the cure-all for obesity & related diseases
  3. Way too many people feel that their bruised feelings trump logic & common sense.

Exhibit #1

Minnesota Blue Cross released the following two videos as part of their ‘Better Example’ anti-obesity campaign. The gist of the videos is that parents need to start setting a better example for their kids by making healthier food choices.

Makes sense to me….parents eat junk food…kids eat junk food…parents eat healthy food…kids eat healthy food…parents are lazy…kids are lazy…parents are physically active…kids are physically active.

Monkey see Monkey do….Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way.

Some people see this anti-obesity campaign as:

  • A personal attack directed at them

I know no one will ever believe me when I say this, so fine. Whatever. But since, apparently, this isn’t evident even among health professionals churning out ad campaigns, I do not fucking eat chocolate cereal and buckets of ice cream. Here is what I actually do: Pretty much every morning before work I walk 1.1 miles uphill to a coffee shop, which is across the street from the organic co-op where I do all my grocery shopping. I eat normal, human amounts of unprocessed, fresh, largely local foods. I have no mobility problems. I have flawless cholesterol and blood pressure. I never get colds, I have never been hospitalized. I have a great job, I make a good living, I’m in an incredibly happy relationship. Sometimes I eat dessert, sometimes I don’t. I pay taxes. I take care of my family. I do not commit crimes. I’m nice to strangers. In general, I think you could say that I contribute more to the world than I take out of it.

And I’m a fucking epidemic? I’m a problem?

You have the gall to make generalizations about my life because, in your eyes, I superficially resemble a massive, diverse swath of the population whose lives you’ve also deigned to generalize? Whose complex, painful, messy, joyous lives you’ve boiled down to, “Har har too many Cheetos”? Please.

Even if I did eat a bucket of pancake-flavored ice cream for breakfast, burrito ice cream for lunch, and salisbury steak ice cream for dinner (OMPH GROMPH GROMPH), I still shouldn’t have to justify my existence to the world in the way I just did. But the fact that I exist, and I am not the sinister straw-fatty pictured in the above commercial—doesn’t it seem likely that there are other fat people like me out there who also aren’t lying about their lifestyles? And in that case, isn’t this commercial FUCKING USELESS NONSENSE? Congratulations! You guys totally “got serious” and took down not-the-problem-at-all.

Lindy West – Jezebel

  • Systemic prejudice against obese people

There have always been fat people. There are fat people like me, who hardly ever eat any processed foods. There are fat people with glandular issues. There are disabled fat people who would love to exercise but can’t. There are healthy fat people. And sure, there are fat people who—fuck it—just really really like Cheetos. Guess what? Those people are allowed to exist too! There are a million different kinds of fat people in the world because FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. And kids are people. And if your solution to this “problem” is telling already vulnerable fat kids that they’re an epidemic that’s ruining the world, then fuck you.

Sheeeeesh…what a cry-baby.

She actually makes some cogent arguments about how America’s food production & distribution companies need to accept responsibility for creating an obesogenic marketplace, but she totally blows it by whining about how mean everyone is being to her.

The Facts…as I see ‘em

  • Obesity is caused by a mixture of nature & nurture
  • We can’t do anything about nature – your DNA is your DNA – deal with it
  • We can do something about nurture – develop Health Habits
  • The world is full of a-holes who like to insult people based on their obesity, skin color, sexuality, height, lack of hair, abundance of hair, clothing, musical preferences, etc…

Quit acting like a victim, take responsibility for your life and grow a thicker skin

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Harness Your Emotions to Lose Weight

lean-fat-guy-man

The experts who say that the key to weight loss is education are wrong, wrong, wrong.

  • Every obese person in the world knows that eating pizza at every meal will make them fat and sick.
  • They also know that eating a lot of fresh vegetables will make them lean & healthy.

Lack of education isn’t the problem…emotions are the problem.

  • Negative emotions that drive them to inhale an entire tub of ice cream
  • Positive emotions that motivate them to live a healthier lifestyle

So…how do we learn to harness these emotions and use them to our advantage?

Here are two tricks that have worked for my clients over the past 12+ years.

The Carrot

  1. Put together a collection of images that inspire you to live an uber-fit healthy life.
  2. Look at these images EVERY morning before you start your day
  3. Look at them periodically throughout the day – save images on your phone, make them your screen-saver, post them on the fridge, tape them to the inside of your gym locker, etc…

Here are a bunch of images to get you started.

[box type=”note”]Some people have “issues” with motivational images making them look silly. My advice: unless you’re still in high school, stop worrying about being judged by other people. Most people spend too much time thinking about themselves to be concerned with your silly physique pics [/box]

The Stick

Nobody says mean things about a fat person…like that fat person says about themselves. Seriously, you would not believe how mean overweight people are to themselves. It’s like masochism & obesity go hand in hand.

What makes it even worse is that all of those feelings of self-hatred often end up reinforcing the very behaviors which led to the obesity in the first place. What we need to do is turn those negative feelings around so they help motivate you to stick with your new healthy lifestyle.

Here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Write yourself a letter – about how you feel right now…about your body, about your health, about your emotional state, your relationships…and how your obesity & poor health negatively impacts your life
  2. Print out the letter
  3. Sign the letter
  4. Read that letter EVERY morning before you start your day
  5. Read that letter EVERY night before you go back to bed
  6. Take some very unflattering pictures of yourself and stuff them away in the back of your sock drawer
  7. Every 30 days, take new picks & stuff them back in the drawer
  8. After a year, pull out all the pics and review the changes

One More Thing

  • You are going to blow your “diet”, skip a workout, forget to read your letter, inhale an entire cheesecake.
  • It’s expected and it will happen
  • It happens to everybody
  • You’re not a loser
  • After cheating, read your letter again and again and again.
  • One cheat doesn’t negate all the hard work you have done since starting this transformation.
  • One cheat doesn’t negate all the improvements you have made to your health, fitness & physique.
  • Dust yourself off, pick yourself up, look at your motivation pics and go get some exercise

Is Your Brain Hardwired to Make You Fat?

insula-addiction-obesity

In a recent study, researchers have found that “obese prone” (aka chubby) individuals are more likely to have lower gray matter volume in the insula, medial orbitofrontal cortex and cerebellum than those individuals who describe themselves as “obese resistant” (aka skinny).

Looking specifically at the insula region of the brain, the researchers found that insula gray matter volume was negatively correlated with leptin concentration..

And as we know from a bunch of studies, low leptin levels are associated with increased feelings of hunger and the consumption of massive quantities of nacho chips.

This research dovetails nicely with previous research linking the insula region of the brain to addictive cravings – cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc. So, it’s not too surprising that it’s linked to over-eating as well.

Conclusions

The Researchers – “These findings suggest that individuals at risk for weight gain have structural differences in brain regions known to be important in energy intake regulation, and that these differences, particularly in the insula, may be related to leptin”.

MineSo what!!! Genetic causes are irrelevant to everyone except for the scientists looking for a “cure”. If your brain structure makes you prone to overeating and obesity, that’s just your (and my) bad luck. Unless you’re a neurosurgeon willing to operate on yourself, the structure of your insula is pretty much set.

Start eating & moving smarter.

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Instant Exercise Motivation #25 – ESPN’s Body Issue 2012 – Pt 3

Stacy Sykora - Volleyball Player

Here is the 3rd and final installment of ESPN’s collection of incredibly fit, incredibly talented, incredibly sexy human bodies.

Walter Dix – Sprinter
Oksana Masters – Paralympic Rower
Tim Morehouse – Fencer
Ashton Eaton – Decathlete
Anna Tunnifcliffe – Sailor
U.S.A. National Volleyball Team
Destinee Hooker – Volleyball Player
Megan Hodge – Volleyball Player
Alisha Glass – Volleyball Player
Stacy Sykora – Volleyball Player

I am already looking forward to next year’s installment.

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Just Say No to Seitan

satan-loves-seitan web

Four months ago I started working with a new PT client.

  • The client is a 42 year old woman
  • Who has been a vegan / vegetarian for the past 18 years
  • Whose goals were to drop some stubborn baby weight and improve her overall health & fitness.

The first month involved setting up her program, training & teaching 3x per week, 3 cardio & joint mobility sessions per week….and a never-ending argument about her diet.

  • Because…as a modern vegetarian, 60-80 % of her calories were coming from grains and soy.
  • And as the local Paleo guru, my clients are all “encouraged” to ditch the grains and soy and embrace the Paleo Diet.

Fast forward to today….

I finally convinced her to ditch the grains & beans and go Paleo for the past three months. During that time, she has seen massive improvements in:

  • Fat loss
  • Stomach bloat
  • Face bloat
  • Back fat
  • Sinus allergy symptoms
  • Rosacea
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Afternoon sleepiness
  • Blue moods – no clinical diagnosis, she just “feels better”
  • And some lady issues that she didn’t elaborate on  :)

And she credits most of that improvement to her elimination of grains….especially wheat.

In the last month, she has played with re-introducing various “forbidden” foods. And the one that provoked the most noticeable “side effect” was wheat products – seitan, bread and wheat noodles. Almost instantly, she experienced stomach upset prompting a trip to the bathroom.

This prompted her to do a bunch of research on gluten intolerance. Part of that research involved contacting  my online friend Jaqui Karr. Jaqui is my go to source for gluten info.

Jaqui is as obsessed with gluten as a tween is with Justin Bieber.

[box type=”important”]If you want more info on gluten and the horrible stuff it’s doing to your body, check out Jaqui’s blog… or better yet, learn everything she knows about gluten via her Gluten Demystified program. Jaqui blends scientific research & common sense really, really well.[/box]

[box type=”note”]My client is such a big fan of Jaqui’s work that she has started promoting the Gluten Demystified program on her Facebook page and on a new Tumblog devoted to gluten intolerance[/box]

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Say Yes to Fitism

The #1 reason why people diet and go to the gym

Last night on the news, I listened to stories about socialism, racism, creationism, nationalism, and multiculturalism.

How come we never hear about…

Fitism:  the doctrine that fitness and the fit lifestyle are awesome and important. “his fitism allowed him to look great naked”

The #1 reason why people diet and go to the gym

A Real Sophie’s Choice: Baldness or Suicide?

finasteride---web

Baldness Sucks!!!

Unfortunately, according to a new study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry….”men who developed persistent sexual side effects while on the anti-baldness drug finasteride (aka Propecia), have a high prevalence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts“.

During their research, the researchers found that:

  • Most former finasteride users exhibited some degree of depressive symptoms
  • 11% had mild symptoms of depression
  • 28% had moderate symptoms of depression
  • 36% had severe symptoms of depression
  • and 44% reported suicidal thoughts

In the control group….

  • 10% had mild depressive symptoms with no cases of moderate or severe symptoms
  • and 3% reported suicidal thoughts.

Study author Dr. Michael S. Irwig concluded that “the potential life-threatening side-effects associated with finasteride should prompt clinicians to have serious discussions with their patients. The preliminary findings of this study warrant further research.”

And if that isn’t an understatement….

Reference

Is Nintendo Wii Boxing the Future of Fitness???

nintendo-wii-boxing

In a study published in the Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal, researchers found that “thirty minutes of Nintendo Wii Sports boxing provides a moderate to vigorous aerobic response in healthy young adults and can contribute to daily recommendations for physical activity”.

This study backs up another 2012 study which found “that Nintendo Wii Fit “Free Run” may act as an alternative to traditional moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in fulfilling the American College of Sports Medicine requirements for physical activity.”

And another study which found that “exergaming has the potential to increase physical activity and have a favorable influence on energy balance, and may be a viable alternative to traditional fitness activities for children of various BMI levels”.

Pretty cool…huh?

But before you cancel your gym membership and go buy some exercise video games, there are a few limitations to exercise video games.

  • These games are primarily upper-body dominant. In a 2011 study, researchers found that “current Wii and PlayStation Exer-Fit technology failed ACSM guidelines for cardiovascular fitness….but that a specially adapted lower limb controlled PS2 allowed participants to exceed the ACSM guidelines”.
  • In my experience, video game playing quite often includes copious quantities of Doritos and Coke. This may have a negative impact on the health benefits of Wii boxing
  • Gamers don’t play exercise video games – and exercisers like to actually exercise… in real life
The Top 10 Video Games of 2012…include one exercise-friendly game.
  1. Mass Effect 3
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  3. NBA 2K12
  4. Just Dance 3
  5. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  6. Battlefield 3
  7. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
  8. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
  9. UFC Undisputed 3
  10. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Of course…all of these pros and cons are technology dependent.

Who’s to say that in 5 years, we don’t have a fully virtual gaming experience where the movement of our avatar is directly related to the movement of of physical bodies in a much more accurate manner. If you want your character to sprint out of the line of fire…you have to sprint…same with jumping, diving, pushing, pulling, etc…

That would be pretty cool.

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Iyashi Rock Bathing = Ultimate Relaxation

iyashi-bedrock-spa-2
  • Your life is busy
  • Your life is hectic
  • Your life is stressful

Your life needs the kind of ultra-relaxation that only a Japanese Ganbanyoku (rock bathing) spa can provide.

And lucky for me, Toronto is blessed with an authentic  rock bathing spa – the Iyashi  Bedrock Spa. And on days when I am feeling that life has kicked me around a little bit, I book a rock bathing session and let all of my stress melt away.

What is Rock Bathing?

[box type=”info”]Originating from Thailand, Rock Bathing – uses a special stone, called Black Silica, to heat your body from the inside out. These black silica stones are unique in that they naturally release Far Infrared Rays (FIR) and Negative Ions to help the body perspire and “detoxify” and are found in only one mountain in Hokkaido Japan. Unlike regular saunas, the silica rock beds that you lie on are kept between 42° to 44° C with the humidity at about 60%, providing for a comfortable temperature that is incredibly soothing and relaxing. Other clients have referred to it as being in a “Rain Forest”.[/box]

And while I can’t verify the validity of the health claims associated with Ganbanyoku, I can tell you that you WILL:

  • Sweat a LOT
  • Feel more relaxed than you have ever felt
  • Feel amazing for hours after the session – my skin tingles for a few hours…weird but pleasureable

I have also spoken with other clients who claim that weekly rock bathing sessions have dramatically improved their symptoms of arthritis, allergies and fibromyalgia.

[box type=”info”]Rock Bathing is nothing like a regular sauna or steam bath. One of the first things you will notice is your sweat – you will sweat a LOT – but there is no odour, saltiness or stickiness to it. And if you take the opportunity to stretch or do some yoga poses during your session, you will find that your muscles are unbelievably supple and receptive to stretching.[/box]

Note – As with all my reviews, I only tell you guys about products and services that I completely believe in and would recommend to clients, friends and family. I am a paying client of Iyashi and a huge fan. If you’re in the Toronto area, check out Iyashi. If not, do a google search for Ganbanyoku [your city].

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