VooDoo Floss Compression Bands : Say bye-bye to aches & pains AND say hello to super-fast workout recovery

Every year, we spend approximately a bazillion dollars on all manner of treatments for pain in our necks, backs, feet, shoulders, etc.

Sadly, most of that pain is due to inactivity, poor posture, sitting too long in front of tvs & computer screens, poor training form, etc.

If only there was a way to quickly and inexpensively eliminate those aches and pains?

VooDoo Floss Bands

Way back in 2011, I saw the following Youtube video (with Dr. Kelly Starrett and uber-strong man Donny Thompson) highlighting the use of DISTRACTION and COMPRESSION to help repair shoulder dysfunction…which I happened to be suffering from at the time.

The very next day, I…

  1. Ordered a pair of compression bands, and
  2. Started rehabbing my bad shoulder with the distraction technique.

After 6 days…

  1. My shoulder felt a LOT more stable and was noticeably less painful. I had also resumed resistance training with my focus on rehab.
  2. The compression bands arrived in the mail.

After 2 days of compression & distraction rehab…I was able to press an 80 lb dumbbell overhead with ZERO pain in my formerly-bad shoulder.

In another week, my shoulder felt better than it had in a long, long, long time.

In the 5 years since then…Crossfit exploded in popularity…helping Dr. Starrett become THE mobility  & athletic performance guru…and compression bands became very popular amongst weightlifters, crossfitters, powerlifters AND physiotherapists.

Fast forward to today…and it’s just about time for compression bands (and associated rehabilitation techniques like Donnie Thompson’s distraction technique) to enter the mainstream.

Instead of spending big bucks on massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, etc, it’s time for “normal” people to take advantage of this amazing rehab technique and…

For $65, you will be getting the knowledge and the gear required to keep your joints healthy, strong and pain-free.

And if you don’t want to drop the extra $$$ on Kelly’s book, I have sourced the best “how-to-use-compression bands-to-fix-my-busted-up-body” videos from the Youtubes. They are organized by joint/bodypart.

Note: If you follow the above links (and make a purchase), Rogue fitness will give me 5% of the purchase price as a finder’s fee. It won’t cost you any extra and the dough will go straight into my daughter’s education fund.

If you have any questions about the rehab techniques, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Facebook

Wrist / Forearms

Elbow

 

Shoulder

 

 

Hip / Thigh

Knee

 

Calves

Ankle

Feet

 

 

What’s with all the moral outrage surrounding McDonald’s “better” Chicken McNuggets?

Three weeks ago, McDonald’s released a commercial touting their “better” chicken mcnuggets.

The aim of the commercial was to show how McDonald’s is responding to changing consumer tastes by making their food healthier….because “We all want what’s best for our kids” …so sayeth the commercial’s narrator.

Soon after the commercial aired on tv, people started flipping out.

Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich claimed McDonald’s is misleading customers about its food.

“I was offended watching this commercial during the Olympics about the preservative-free McNuggets,” Shaich said in a phone interview with Business Insider. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ Sure, you’ve got McNuggets that are preservative-free, but what are you dipping them in? Sauces that are filled with that stuff!” (link to article)

“Grossly misleading,” is how Bill Jeffery describes the commercial. The executive director of the Centre for Health Science and Law in Ottawa argues preservatives or no preservatives, deep-fried and salted Chicken McNuggets simply aren’t a healthy choice for children.

“What they’re advocating is so far removed from good nutrition, it’s almost kind of laughable.”

Cue the moral outrage

As a health & fitness professional, this is where I am supposed to jump on the bandwagon and slag McDonald’s for trying to sell us junk food under the banner of health & family & all that good stuff.

And yet…I kinda feel bad for McDonald’s.

Sure, McDonald’s claim/suggestion that their food is healthy is 100% BS. As is their claim that they want the best for my daughter.

mcnuggetsrcrap

What they want is to sell as much “food” to as many people as is possible…just like every other food manufacturer in the world.

And since the fastest growing segment of the food industry is “healthy” food, McDonald’s execs are re-formulating the menu & re-branding their image as quickly as possible.

In regard to their menu, McDonald’s has already stopped using chickens raised with antibiotics prescribed to humans and intends to:

  • switch to cage-free eggs in the next decade,
  • replace the corn syrup in their buns with sugar
  • cook McMuffins with butter instead of liquid margarine, and
  • remove the preservatives from their McNuggets

Which, IMHO, is pretty great for the world’s most popular JUNK FOOD restaurant.

McNuggets-ingredients

Because, we have to remember that since it’s inception, McDonald’s has sold fried meat, white bread, deep-fried potatoes, soft drinks, milk shakes and sugary condiments. And they’ve made billions doing that…because people love that stuff.

Unfortunately, as McDonald’s grew and their restaurants became assembly lines supplied by factory food, the quality of raw ingredients dropped through the floor.

Now, with the public’s shift towards healthier food choices, McDonald’s is responding by improving the quality of their factory food AND introducing healthier new options like kale salads.

Which is a move in the right direction. 

Just don’t expect them to go back to selling beef raised from cattle that eat grass…and fresh potatoes fried in oils that can handle high heat…and milkshakes made with milk from grass-fed cows…and buns baked without preservatives.

brontosaurus-burger

McDonald’s customers aren’t going to put up with a $10 Big Mac. Not going to happen. It would be financial suicide.

McDonald’s sells fast, cheap, sweaty, greasy & salty food…because that’s what humans like best. It’s in our dna.

And as long as McDonald’s is truthful in reporting the nutritional content of their food, even us health & fitness advocates have to cut Ronald some slack and accept that we are the ones responsible for the food we put into ourselves and our kids.

Even if their ads are manipulative & less than honest.

Reference

 

Pre-Workout Caffeine to Get Stronger, Faster, Bigger and More Powerful

A new study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research indicates that the immediate ingestion of caffeine (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) prior to resistance training:

  1. Reduces the level of muscle fatigue and,
  2. Preserves leg power throughout the training session,
  3. With zero increase in muscle damage

Which is awesome if you are interested in getting stronger, faster, bigger and/or more powerful.

In the study, six male handball athletes ingested placebo (PLA) or caffeine (CAF) (6 mg·kg−1 body mass) capsules on 2 different occasions. Sixty minutes after ingestion of the capsules, serum CAF levels were evaluated.

Thereafter, all participants performed a protocol of vertical jumps (VJs). The protocol consisted of 4 sets of 30 seconds of continuous VJs with 60 seconds of recovery between sets.

Blood lactate (LAC) and creatine kinase (CK) levels were determined before and after the protocol.

We found significant differences in serum CAF levels between PLA (0.09 ± 0.18 µg·ml−1) vs. CAF (6.59 ± 4.44 µg·ml−1) (p < 0.001).

Caffeine elicited a 5.23% (p≤ 0.05) improvement in the leg power compared with PLA. The CAF trial displayed higher LAC (p ≤ 0.05) compared with PLA (6.26 ± 2.01 vs. 4.39 ± 2.42 mmol·L−1, respectively) after protocol of VJs, whereas no difference in CK was observed between trials (p > 0.05).

These results indicate that immediate ingestion of CAF (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) can reduce the level of muscle fatigue and preserve leg power during the test, possibly resulting in increase in LAC. There was no increase in muscle damage, which indicates that immediate administration of (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) CAF is safe. Thus, nutritional interventions with CAF could help athletes withstand a greater physiological overload during high-intensity training sessions.

The results of this study would be applicable to sports and activities that require repetitive leg power.

What does this mean to you?

  • To properly follow the protocol used in the study, you need to ingest 6mg of caffeine per 1kg of body weight ( 2.72mg per 1lb of bodyweight)
  • There is approximately 100mg of caffeine in 1 cup of coffee
  • Which means that a 150lb trainee would need to drink 408mg or 4 cups of coffee before training….probably not the best idea if you don’t want to spend your workout in the bathroom.
  • The same caffeine-math applies to tea, Red Bull, 5 Hour Extra Strength Energy Shot (the strongest energy drink with 242mg of caffeine), etc..

As a result, you are going to need to purchase some caffeine pills if you want to take advantage of this caffeinated training boost.

And of course, not everyone’s GI tract is going to do well with all that caffeine.

BUT…if your gut is okay with a big dose of caffeine AND you’re looking to break through a training plateau, supplementing with caffeine immediately pre-workout could be exactly what you’re looking for.

ronnie coleman squat

NOTE: If you try this caffeine protocol, I would love to hear how it works for you. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Reference

NEW Research : Drinking Green Tea Improves Aerobic Capacity

A new study finds  that daily tea catechin consumption (combined with a twice weekly cycling program) improved aerobic capacity significantly in a group a Japanese males.

tbbb_a_1224638_uf0001_b

Previous studies found that dietary supplementation with tea catechins combined with exercise improved endurance capacity in mice.

This is the first study (that I could find on PubMed) aimed to test the aerobic capacity of humans supplementing with tea catechins.

This new (8-week) study conducted on sixteen Japanese non-athlete males shows that daily tea catechin consumption (500 ml test beverage with 570 mg tea catechins) combined with a twice weekly cycling program improved aerobic capacity significantly when compared to the placebo group.

  • Aerobic capacity was evaluated by indirect calorimetry and near-infrared spectroscopy during graded cycle exercise.

  • Catechin beverage consumption was associated with a significantly higher ventilation threshold during exercise and a higher recovery rate of oxygenated hemoglobin and myoglobin levels after graded cycle exercise when compared to subjects receiving the placebo beverage.

These results indicate that daily consumption of tea catechins increases aerobic capacity when combined with semiweekly light exercise, which may be due to increased skeletal muscle aerobic capacity.

Disclaimer:

This research was conducted by researchers who work for the Biological Science Laboratories of Kao Corporation….who just happen to sell a green tea fitness supplement beverage.

img58097202

Which doesn’t mean that the science is bogus. Just something to be aware & skeptical of…just like any good scientist.

In green tea’s favor is a ton of science showing a wide range of health benefits associated with green tea catechins.  IMHO, it isn’t unlikely that green tea catechins probably have a positive effect on your aerobic capacity. There just isn’t any science (other than this study) on this subject.

But there will be. If you’re interested, I have set up an PubMed feed for “green tea & aerobic capacity” Click on the link and you will have access to the latest published research on how green tea catechins improve (or don’t) aerobic capacity.

 

Reference

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry Journal

A Cheap and Effective Diet to Lose Weight Quickly

Recently, one of my clients asked me to assist one of her friends who:

  1. needed to lose weight quickly (in order to be eligible for surgery)
  2. was low on funds

Normally, my training clients are fairly well off, so the diets I usually recommend are loaded with fresh fruits & veg, natural (not factory farmed) meat, healthy oils and a variety of health, performance & weight-loss supplements.

With constraints on time and money, I turned to my good friends…dietary fiber and butyrate.

For those of you that don’t know, butyrate is created as fiber is fermented in your gut. And in addition to a LOT of health benefits generated by this fiber/butyrate process, eating a high fiber/butyrate diet results in:

So here’s what we did

Client Info:

  • 297 lb female
  • Hypertension
  • Exercise limitations
  • No known food allergies or other food constraints
  • Needs to lose weight asap to be eligible for a required surgery
  • No extra income for personal training, supplements, etc

Exercise Plan

Due to her medical issue, the only exercise I could recommend is a daily walking routine (10,000+ steps) and mobility/flexibility training in the evening before bed

Overall Diet Theory

  • Low cost
  • High fiber & butyrate
  • Boring & predictable – making meal prep simple and reducting opportunities to “accidentally” cheat
  • Low time commitment – which is always a bonus

For Breakfast….EVERY day

Oatmeal Custard…..mmmmmmmm good

  • Oatmeal – 1 cup dry large flakes
  • Water – 2 cups
  • 1 XL egg

Recipe here

Optional Toppings

  • Peanut butter & banana – 1 tbsp PB max
  • Raisins & cinnamon – 2 tbsp raisins max
  • Brown sugar & vanilla – 2 tbsp sugar max
  • Frozen berries – big handful
  • Chocolate chips – small handful max

Mix and match toppings as your heart desires…while keeping quantities in line

creamy-oats-4

For Lunch & Dinner….EVERY day

Rice & Lentil Pilaf

This recipe makes enough food for both lunch and dinner combined.

  • 2 cups of dry rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, etc
  • 1 cups of lentils (I prefer the French or Puy lentils…great taste)
  • Chopped garlic, onion & spices (to your taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (grass-fed if possible) – added after cooking
  • Ajvar sauce (or similar flavorful sauce) to taste – added after cooking

ajvar_sauce

 

To drink throughout the day

  • Water (at least 8 glasses)
  • Tea and/or coffee – no sugar or dairy (herbal tea counts as 1 glass of water – coffee & tea count as 1/2 a glass of water)

Results

  • After 4 weeks, she has lost 18 lbs…from 297 to 279.
  • The first week, she lost only 2 lbs. Not sure why, but after the first week, the weight loss has been consistent from week to week.
  • She was a “little bit” gassy for the first two weeks, but that side-effect has resolved itself
  • Similarly, her trips to the bathroom have become healthier
  • Her appetite, especially at night when she is relaxing, is nothing compared to how it used to be. She has always been a late-night snacker.
  • She also told me that she thinks her allergies & her skin are much improved since starting the diet.

And while we can’t quantify anything other than the weight loss, none of her observations sound unrealistic…but as a science nerd, I am still going to take them with a grain of salt.

So there you go…A Cheap and Effective Diet to Lose Weight Quickly

 

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xanthohumol hops beer diabetes obesity hypertension cancer

Attention Beer Drinkers: Compound found in Hops lowers cholesterol, blood sugar and weight gain

If you’re a health & fitness nerd like myself, you already know that metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high serum triglycerides and/or low HDL cholesterol) is fast becoming the #1 health concern around the globe.

img_img_9781587798054_metabolic_syndrome_chartIf you’re a beer lover, you already know that one of the main ingredients in beer is hops.

hops20cones20for20beer20production_0

What you may not know is that, a recent study at Oregon State University has identified specific intake levels of xanthohumol, a natural flavonoid found in hops, significantly improved some of the underlying markers of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals and also reduced weight gain.

Unfortunately for the beer drinkers out there, while xanthohumol is found in beer, it would take 3,500 pints per day for a 70 kg /  human to get enough xanthohumol as was used in the study.

And I’m pretty sure that the calories found in 3,500 pints of beer would counteract all of the health benefits of the xanthohumol.

big-belly-means-inflammation

What is Xanthohumol and how does it work?

  • Xanthohumol is a natural flavonoid found in hops and beer.
  • As it pertains to metabolic syndrome, xanthohumol has been shown to decrease levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), lower insulin levels and reduce levels of IL-6, a biomarker of systemic inflammation.
  • And if that wasn’t enough, there is research hinting that xanthohumol may be a potent anti-cancer agent.

How cool is that…a substance, found naturally in beer, may turn out to be a potent (and inexpensive) way to prevent obesity, prevent type 2 diabetes, prevent hypertension, prevent cholesterol jammed arteries…and prevent obesity.

26481606576_c6e17ce2d5_b

What does this research mean to me…right NOW????

Not a whole heck of a lot.

  • On one hand, you can go online and buy xanthohumol supplements.
  • On the other hand, all of the research conducted on xanthohumol has been done on animals – no human studies. As a result, we have no idea of effective dosage and SAFETY.

My advice?  Stay tuned for more research.

Reference

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Is Lithium Orotate about to become the hot supplement for 2016? Research says…maybe.

In a recent study, conducted on female and male Drosophila – aka fruit flies, researchers found that supplementing with lithium resulted in:

  • Increased life span
  • Improved health over the course of that increased life span
  • A reduction in triglycerides
  • An increase in resistance to stress

According to the researchers, lithium does this by inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) and activating the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (NRF-2).

The researchers concluded that “the discovery of GSK-3 as a therapeutic target for aging will likely lead to more effective treatments that can modulate mammalian aging and further improve health in later life”.

 

Castillo-Quan et al. Graphical abstract-2

This research builds upon a previous study that:

  1. Tested lithium supplements directly on C. elegans worms, and
  2. Observed how natural lithium consumption (water supply) affected the life span of HUMANS.

In this study, the researchers found “an inverse correlation between drinking water lithium concentrations and all cause mortality in 18 neighboring Japanese municipalities with a total of 1,206,174 individuals. They also found that exposure to a comparably low concentration of lithium chloride extends life span of C. elegans.

They concluded that when taken together, these findings indicate that long-term low-dose exposure to lithium may exert antiaging capabilities and unambiguously decreases mortality in evolutionary distinct species (aka C.elegans worms).

What does this mean to you?

Right now…not a whole lot. For two big reasons:

Reason #1

The most up to date research has been done on worms & fruit flies, and it will be a while before proper human studies have been completed…and even longer before your family doctor starts handing out scrips for lithium orotate.

Reason #2

All of the lithium / longevity research seems to use lithium chloride as it’s source of lithium. Which could be a problem when we come to doing human research.

And as with most drugs, dosage frequently means the difference between a “good” drug and a “bad” drug.

In regard to lithium, dosage for bipolar patients is a true balancing act, between managing the symptoms of mania and it’s negative effects on the central nervous & renal systems. At high enough doses, lithium can be lethal.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

There is one version of lithium that has become popular in the “alternative medicine” world – lithium orotate.

While the research is limited, a 1979 study in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology found that lower doses of lithium orotate as compared to lithium carbonate may achieve therapeutic brain lithium concentrations and relatively stable serum concentrations.

That would mean that we might be able to get all the positives (life extension, better health, etc) of lithium supplementation without the negatives that increased dosages incur.

Of course….the science looking at the safety and efficacy of lithium orotate is very, very, very limited.

Hopefully, as more researchers (and drug companies) get excited about the potential use of lithium as a minor fountain of youth, the quantity and quality of lithium orotate research will increase.

Stay tuned.

 

Reference

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Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #2

Question #1 : Do you want to be healthier, fitter, leaner, sexier, etc?

Question #2 : Are you insanely busy?

If you answered yes to both questions, have I got good news for you.

Today’s post is the second in a series of mini-workouts designed to:

  • improve fitness,
  • improve health,
  • burn fat,
  • build functional strength,
  • improve energy system function,
  • improve muscular endurance,
  • improve speed endurance
  • AND save you time.

Each post in the series will consist of a single mini-workout.

All of these mini-workout posts will be catalogued together to allow you to mix & match to create your own custom plan. Here’s the first workout if you missed it.

Without any further ado, here is….

Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #2

Exercises

  • Bulgarian Split Squats – modifying the weight (bodyweight, vest, dumbbells, barbell, kettlebells, resistance bands) as your strength & endurance allows.

tumblr_mxbdh76yAZ1qdjo2ho1_400

In the latter part of the workout, after you have ditched all of the external weight (barbell etc), you may find that you are unable to complete full range of motion lifts. If that is the case, you have a few options

  1. Shift your weight backwards onto your heels. This will spare your quads & load up your hips…which are more endurance friendly
  2. Shorten your range of motion. This will reduce your workload while still frying your quads

Bulgarian_Squat

  • Alternating Shoulder Presses – modify weight used to suit your strength/fitness level
  • Band Overhead Pull Aparts – modify resistance band used to suit your strength/fitness level

Set/Rep Scheme

  • Alternate exercises (Bulgarian Left Leg/Shoulder Press/Bulgarian Right Leg/Band Pull-Aparts/etc…)
  • 1st Set – 20 reps, 2nd Set – 19 reps, 3rd Set – 18 reps….all the way down to 10 reps (Total of 11 sets)

Speed of Execution

Perform reps as fast as possible…with good form

Rest

Minimize reps between exercises – zero rest between sets is the goal

How to keep improving with this workout

The design of this mini-workout allows you to keep improving as you choose harder versions of the exercises and/or perform them faster and/or reduce the amount of rest between exercises

The Workout

  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 20 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 20 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 20 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 20 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 19 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 19 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 19 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 19 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 18 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 18 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 18 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 18 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 17 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 17 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 17 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 17 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 16 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 16 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 16 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 16 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 15 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 15 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 15 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 15 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 14 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 14 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 14 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 14 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 13 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 13 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 13 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 13 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 12 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 12 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 12 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 12 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 11 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 11 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 11 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 11 reps
  • Bulgarians – Left Leg – 10 reps
  • Alternating Shoulder Pressess – 10 reps
  • Bulgarians – Right Leg – 10 reps
  • Overhead Pull-Aparts – 10 reps

That’s it for today. As I add new Max Benefit – Min Time workouts, I will include a link to a index page which will list all of workouts in one place.

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If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

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pushups @healthhabits

Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #1

Question #1 : Want to be healthier, fitter, leaner, sexier, etc?

Question #2 : Are you insanely busy?

If you answered yes to both questions, have I got good news for you.

Starting today, I am going to start posting a series of mini-workouts designed to:

  • improve fitness,
  • improve health,
  • burn fat,
  • build functional strength,
  • improve energy system function,
  • improve muscular endurance,
  • improve speed endurance
  • AND save you time.

Each post will consist of a single mini-workout. All of these mini-workout posts will be catalogued together to allow you to mix & match to create your own custom plan.

Here we go with…

Max Benefit – Min Time Workout #1

Exercises

  • Push-ups – modifying the angle of your body to suit your strength/fitness level (feet elevated, flat on floor, hands on bench, hands on counter, leaning against wall, etc)
  • Bodyweight Squats – modifying depth of squat to suit your strength/fitness level (ass to the grass, parallel to floor, 1/2 squat, 1/4 squat, etc)

Set/Rep Scheme

  • Alternate exercises (push-ups/squats/push-ups/etc…)
  • 1st Set – 20 reps, 2nd Set – 19 reps, 3rd Set – 18 reps….all the way down to 10 reps (Total of 11 sets)

Speed of Execution

Perform reps as fast as possible…with good form

Rest

Minimize reps between exercises – zero rest between sets is the goal

How to keep improving with this workout

The design of this mini-workout allows you to keep improving as you choose harder versions of the exercises and/or perform them faster and/or reduce the amount of rest between exercises

The Workout

  • Push-ups – 20 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 20 reps
  • Push-ups – 19 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 19 reps
  • Push-ups – 18 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 18 reps
  • Push-ups – 17 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 17 reps
  • Push-ups – 16 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 16 reps
  • Push-ups – 15 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 15 reps
  • Push-ups – 14 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 14 reps
  • Push-ups – 13 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 13 reps
  • Push-ups – 12 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 12 reps
  • Push-ups – 11 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 11 reps
  • Push-ups – 10 reps
  • Bodyweight Squats – 10 reps

 

That’s it for today. As I add new Max Benefit – Min Time workouts, I will include a link to a index page which will list all of workouts in one place.

 

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Obesity in Canada

Yesterday, the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released their report on the state of obesity in Canada.

Included in that report is a series of 21 recommendations.

As a health/fitness/politics junkie, this report is like catnip to me, so I was pretty eager to get my grubby little paws on a copy.

Let’s take a look inside….

obesity in canada

The Cost of Obesity in Canada

The committee’s findings show the vast scope of this epidemic:

  • Each year 48,000 to 66,000 Canadians die from conditions linked to excess weight;
  • Nearly two thirds of adults and one third of children are obese or overweight; and
  • Obesity costs Canada between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually in health care and lost productivity

In short: Canada’s obesity problem is way too big to be ignored

How did this happen???

1. Nutrition

In terms of eating habits, the committee was told that since the 1980s, Canadians have decreased their intake of high fat foods and increased intakes of fruits and vegetables, as recommended by the food guide. However, consumption of processed, ready-to-eat and snack foods have shown the largest increase over this period.

Over this period of time (80s – present), a review of Canada’s food guide reveals that Canadians have been told to switch…

  • from a diet of a modest number of daily servings reflecting a balance of whole foods
  • to a low fat diet that permits significantly more servings per day, a large proportion of which should be grain products, or carbohydrates.

The committee was told that, as a result, the food guide may be recommending a diet that is nutritionally insufficient with respect to vitamins D and E, potassium and choline and that only by eating artificially fortified and highly-processed cereals can the diet provide adequate levels of calcium, iron and vitamin B12

  • According to 2012 data only 40% of Canadians are eating even the lower recommended number of fruit and vegetables per day, 5 servings.
  • The food guide recommends that adults should be consuming closer to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

At the same time, Manuel Arango, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, indicated that as much as 62% of the Canadian diet can be categorized as highly-processed, a percentage that has been rising in recent decades at the expense of whole foods.

As a consequence of the increased intake of highly processed foods, sugar consumption has increased dramatically from 4 pounds annually per person 200 years ago to 151 pounds annually per person today.

The overwhelming consensus among witnesses with respect to food consumption trends was that the consequence of Health Canada’s evolving food guide and the increasing variety and availability of processed and ready-to-eat foods has been a pronounced decrease in consumption of whole foods and alarming increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods.

As a result, Canadians are eating too much calorie-rich and nutrient-poor food.

In short: Canadians eat too much processed food and not enough real food. 

2. Physical Activity (or lack thereof)

Regarding physical activity, the committee heard that the participation rate in organized sport among Canadians has not declined in recent decades, and may have increased. However, several witnesses emphasized that although participation in such activities is encouraged, it does not by itself ensure that Canadians, especially children, are getting sufficient exercise.

They described how many of these activities include a significant amount of sedentary time and that they tend to lead people into thinking that they are doing more than enough to be considered as being physically active. Members heard, for example, sports such as hockey, soccer or basketball include a lot of instruction time outside of games, and a lot of bench time during games, when participants are idle.

More importantly, several witnesses suggested that it is the decline in active, free play among children and a decline in the activities of daily living among adults that have primarily contributed to an overall decrease in physical activity.

In 2011 the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology  developed separate, evidence-based physical activity guidelines for four age-groups; children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

The physical activity guidelines recommend:

  • 180 minutes per day for toddlers and pre-schoolers,
  • 60 minutes a day for children and youth up to 17 years of age,
  • 150 minutes per week for adults aged 18-64 years including some bone and muscle strengthening exercises,
  • and similar guidance for seniors over 65 years with exercises aimed at improving balance and reducing the risk of falls.

In addition the guidelines recommend that:

  • children under four not be sedentary for more than one hour at a time.
  • Children and youth are advised to limit screen time to no more than two hours per day while limiting sedentary behaviour, indoor activities and motorized transport.

Unfortunately, a minority of Canadians are meeting these goals.

Although 50% of Canadians believe they meet the physical activity guidelines when asked, in fact, when objectively measured, only 15% of adults are actually getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

On average, Canadian adults obtain only 12 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day.

Similarly, children and youth are largely failing to meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. According to Elio Antunes, President of ParticipACTION, less than 9% of children and youth are sufficiently active, and the proportion of active kids decreases with age.

The committee was told that only 7% of 5-11 years olds meet the physical activity guidelines and this proportion drops to only 4% for adolescents.

With respect to the sedentary guidelines, the committee heard that less than 15% of 3-4 year olds and only 24% of 5-17 year olds are meeting the recommendations.

In fact, members were told that children and youth are spending 38 to 42 hours per week in front of television, desktops, laptops, ipads and smartphones.

In short:  While we think we have increased our rates of physical activity via structured exercise (sports leagues, gym memberships, personal trainers, etc), we haven’t….our rates of daily physical activity continue to drop while our rates of sitting on our butts staring at screens have continued to rise.

To make it even worse, we are setting up our kids to be even lazier than we are.

So….what are we going to do about it???

In the discussions of what we can do to reverse the trend of obesity in Canada, participants kept coming back to Canada’s anti-smoking strategy.

Despite the obvious distinction that smoking is a completely unnecessary practice while eating is essential, witnesses noted several lessons that we have learned from the anti-smoking campaign:

  1. the anti-smoking strategy employed several different approaches implemented by different levels of government.
  2. the evidence-base of the negative health consequences had to be elucidated and presented clearly to Canadians.
  3. the strategy had to bring about a societal change in terms of how smoking was viewed.
  4. the change in behaviour would take time.
  5. the strategy would not be popular with the industry.
  6. and finally, the federal government provided the leadership for a pan-Canadian approach.

In their comparison of the anti-smoking strategy to any anti-obesity strategy, witnesses continued to emphasize the need for a comprehensive, health-in-all-policies, whole-of-society approach.

The committee was told that policies, wherever possible, should encourage or facilitate the pursuit of healthy lifestyles. In this regard, witnesses suggested that a health lens, should be applied to a range of policy development, across departments and across all levels of government. An effective all-of government platform would encourage the development of provincial and regional initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles. As such, the committee would like to see the federal government take aggressive measures to help Canadians achieve and maintain healthy weights.

In short:  While Canada’s successful anti-smoking strategy can serve as an effective model, we have to remember that obesity is a much more complex problem and as such requires a more comprehensive solution.

In that spirit, the “Obesity in Canada” Committee has come up with 21 suggestions for reversing Canada’s obesity problem.

Here’s the list….

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that the federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories and in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, create and implement a National Campaign to Combat Obesity which includes goals, timelines and annual progress reports.

@healthhabits says:  This is exactly the kind of thing government should be good at. Bringing all sorts of disparate stakeholders together to work together towards a common goal. IMHO, this is a necessary step.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the federal government:

  • Immediately conduct a thorough assessment of the prohibition on advertising food to children in Quebec; and,
  • Design and implement a prohibition on the advertising of foods and beverages to children based on that assessment.

@healthhabits says:  Quebec has had a prohibition on the advertising of all food and beverages to children under the age of 13 under its Consumer Protection Act11 for many years. Studying the effectiveness of this program to determine if it should be rolled out nationwide makes sense to me.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the federal government:

  • Assess the options for taxation levers with a view to implementing a new tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages; and,
  • Conduct a study, and report back to this committee by December 2016, on potential means of increasing the affordability of healthy foods including, but not limited to, the role of marketing boards, food subsidies and the removal or reduction of existing taxes.

@healthhabits says:  Skip the study and just go ahead and slap a tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages AND take ALL of that money and use it to subsidize un-processed (aka real) food

Recommendation 4

The committee further recommends that the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada immediately:

  • Address the recommendations made by the Auditor General with respect to the Nutrition North program and report back to this committee on its progress by December 2016

@healthhabits says:  Northern communities are much worse off in terms of overall nutrition and the cost of nutritious food in particular. Canada’s north is one giant food desert. As such, it may require special (aka expensive) intervention.

Recommendation 5

The committee further recommends that the federal government conduct assessments of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, the Working Income Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit with a view to determining how fiscal measures could be used to help Canadians of lower socio-economic status, including our Aboriginal population, choose healthy lifestyle options.

@healthhabits says:  Skip the assessment, ditch the tax credits. They are designed to reward the well off & ignore the poor…which is just plain stupid as the poor are the ones driving Canada’s obesity epidemic. If we want to save healthcare & improve economic productivity, any physical activity incentives need to be directed primarily at the poor & secondarily at more affluent Canadians.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Minister of Health immediately undertake a complete revision of Canada’s food guide in order that it better reflect the current state of scientific evidence. The revised food guide must:

  • Be evidence-based;
  • Apply meal-based rather than nutrient-based principles;
  • Effectively and prominently describe the benefits of fresh, whole foods compared to refined grains, ready-to-eat meals and processed foods; and,
  • Make strong statements about restricting consumption of highly processed foods.

@healthhabits says:  All of these four recommendations sound great. 

Recommendation 7

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health revise the food guide on the guidance of an advisory body which:

  • Comprises experts in relevant areas of study, including but not limited to nutrition, medicine, metabolism, biochemistry, and biology; and,
  • Does not include representatives of the food or agriculture industries.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%. Economic bias should not be allowed in Canada’s Food Guide…even if food lobbyists support an MPs re-election campaign.

Recommendation 8

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health prohibit the use of partially hydrogenated oils, to minimize trans fat content in food, unless specifically permitted by regulation.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%

Recommendation 9

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health:

  • Reassess the daily value applied to total carbohydrates based on emerging evidence regarding dietary fat and the fat promoting nature of carbohydrates;
  • Ensure that the regulatory proposals for serving size have addressed all of the concerns raised by stakeholders during public consultation, and,
  • Require that the daily intake value for protein be included in the Nutrition Facts table.

@healthhabits says:  Every few years, nutrition experts flip-flop their positions on the relative healthfullness of the different macronutrients. One decade, we are supposed to avoid fat…then it’s carbs…then it’s “too much” protein, then we’re back to fats…and so on…

My suggestion is to avoid making blanket statements on the healthfullness (or lack thereof) of any macronutrient.

There is nothing wrong with eating fat or carbs or protein.

The problems start when people:

  • start eating excessive quantities of overall calories
  • demonize a single macronutrient and replace it with a highly-processed substitution
  • choose poor quality highly-processed food over real food – fruit, veg, seeds, meat, etc.

With all of this said, I think that the consumer needs as much info about the quality of the food they are eating AND the gov’t can help them by requiring a total nutritional profile of every food product be made available on the company’s website

Recommendation 10

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health assess whether sugar and starch should be combined under the heading of total carbohydrate within the Nutrition Facts table and report back to this committee by December 2016.

@healthhabits says:  Give us sugar totals, starch totals AND total carb totals.

Recommendation 11

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health implement strict limits on the use of permitted health claims and nutrient content claims based on a measure of a food’s energy density relative to its total nutrient content.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%. I would also require any nutritional claims require scientific proof. Links to that science should be available from the products page on the company website. Make a claim…back it up.

Recommendation 12

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health:

  • Immediately undertake a review of front-of-package labelling approaches that have been developed in other jurisdictions and identify the most effective one;
  • Report back to this committee on the results of the review by December 2016;
  • Amend the food regulations to mandate the use of the identified front-of-package approach on those foods that are required to display a Nutrition Facts table; and,
  • Encourage the use of this labelling scheme by food retailers and food service establishments on items not required to display a Nutrition Facts table.

@healthhabits says:  If you sell food in a package, you should be required to have a Nutrition Facts table as part of the packaging. As well, a website url pointing to a page with more complete nutrition info about the product should be included as well.

Recommendation 13

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health encourage nutrition labelling on menus and menu boards in food service establishments.

@healthhabits says:  This is a little vague. How about something more specific like…calories, macronutrients, allergens listed in small print on the menu AND a more thorough nutritional analysis for each item on a separate booklet…and on their website as well.

Recommendation 14

The committee therefore recommends that the federal government increase funding to ParticipACTION to a level sufficient for the organization to:

  • Proceed with Active Canada 20/20; and
  • Become the national voice for Canada’s physical activity messaging.

@healthhabits says:  Based upon what I have seen from ParticipACTION in the past few years, I am not sure if giving them more money is the best idea. 

It may be simpler and more effective for Health Canada to hire the same PR flacks that put together Canada’s anti-smoking campaign and get them to focus on a “exercise more : play more : move more” style of message.

I’m not sure why we need ParticipACTION’s added layer of bureaucracy.

Why not…

  • hold a public contest for ad/pr/marketing firms to come up with their best message to get Canadian’s active again
  • have Canadians vote via the contest’s website/FB page/Twitter/etc
  • award the winner the contract
  • promote the heck out of the programs via internet, tv, radio and print.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw out a request to Canadian celebrities & athletes asking them to donate their time to film some short PSAs to add to the Health Canada Youtube channel.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about the fine folks who work for ParticipACTION. They may have exactly the kind of expertise to organize the kind of program needed to get Canadians active again.

Recommendation 15

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities together use the recently established National Health and Fitness Day to promote the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

@healthhabits says:  I didn’t even know there was a National Health & Fitness Day. I guess that’s why they need the promotion.

Recommendation 16

The committee further recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada provide sustained or bridged funding for pilot projects that have been assessed as effective.

@healthhabits says:  Hmmmmmmm who’s making the assessments? And what happens when they haven’t be PROVEN effective after a year or two of government $$$$ in their bank accounts?

Recommendation 17

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health in discussion with provincial and territorial counterparts as well as non-governmental organizations already engaged in these initiatives:

  • Encourage improved training for physicians regarding diet and physical activity; • Promote the use of physician counselling, including the use of prescriptions for exercise;
  • Bridge the gap between exercise professionals and the medical community by preparing and promoting qualified exercise professionals as a valuable part of the healthcare system and healthcare team;
  • Address vulnerable populations, such as Canadians of lower socio-economic status including Canada’s Aboriginal population, and pregnant women;
  • Advocate for childcare facility and school programs related to breakfast and lunch programs, improved physical education, physical activity and nutrition literacy courses; and,
  • Engage provincial governments in discussions about infrastructure requirements for communities that encourage active transportation and active play.

@healthhabits says:  All of the suggestions sound great…and yet they are couched in the kind of government bureaucracy speak that makes me lose all confidence. Can we please get a little less talk about what we want to do and a little more talk about how we’re going to do it!!!

Recommendation 18

The committee further recommends that the federal government provide funding under the New Building Canada Fund to communities for infrastructure that enables, facilitates and encourages an active lifestyle, both indoors and outdoors.

@healthhabits says:  If that means more walking paths, more bike paths and more walkable neighbourhoods…I am on board. If that means funding for arenas & pools…I have to disagree. We need to keep a focus on the cost : benefit ratio. Tax dollars don’t grow on trees.

Recommendation 19

The committee therefore recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada implement a strategy to increase the visibility, uptake and use of the Best Practices Portal by stakeholders across the country.

@healthhabits says:  Never heard of the Best Practices Portal. At first glance, it seems a little meh, but the idea is solid. Give Canada’s docs a dedicated site to source info on reducing obesity & related diseases seems like a great idea.

Recommendation 20

The committee therefore recommends that Health Canada design and implement a public awareness campaign on healthy eating based on tested, simple messaging. These messages should relate to, but not be limited to:

  • Most of the healthiest food doesn’t require a label;
  • Meal preparation and enjoyment;
  • Reduced consumption of processed foods; and,
  • The link between poor diet and chronic disease.

@healthhabits says:  See my comments on funding ParticipACTION above. We don’t need multiple groups coming up with different public awareness campaigns. Have a contest, using the Canadian people as judges, ask Canadian celebrities & athletes for assistance

As well, bring back Home Ec in school.

Recommendation 21

The committee further recommends that Health Canada and other relevant departments and agencies, together with existing expertise and trusted organizations, implement a comprehensive public awareness campaign on healthy active lifestyles.

@healthhabits says:  See above….physical activity, diet and healthy active lifestyles should all be promoted AT THE SAME TIME.

 

What do you think???

Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook if you want to discuss.

canada is the worlds fittest country

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Research Proves Junk Food Advertising Causes Childhood Obesity

Back in the “olden days”, tobacco companies created marketing campaigns like this…

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…and this…

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…and this…

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…in an attempt to make their product seem healthy, family-friendly and to CAPTURE THE YOUTH MARKET.

Because they knew that:

  1. Kids are more susceptible to marketing than adults
  2. People who start smoking as kids are likely to be life-long smokers
  3. Targeting children is the most effective business strategy

“Younger adults are the only sources of replacement smokers” – RJ Reynolds, 1984

“Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens… The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly important to Philip Morris.” – Philip Morris 1981

“The ability to attract new smokers and develop them into a young adult franchise is key to brand development.” – 1999 Philip Morris report

“They got lips? We want them.” – Reply of an RJ Reynolds representative when asked the age of the kids they were targeting

But of course, that happened way back in the olden days, before we got smart and told tobacco companies to stop giving our kids cancer. Nowadays, we would never let an industry knowingly make profits by making our kids sick….would we?

fat-kid-eating-chips-watching-tv

According to this meta-analysis of all of the available scientific research, we know for a fact that unhealthy food advertising does increase unhealthy food intake in children…but not in adults.

And IMHO, that’s because children are children and lack the awareness & experience to resist the siren call of Madison Ave mind control.

According to lead researcher Dr Emma Boyland : “Through our analysis of these published studies I have shown that food advertising doesn’t just affect brand preference – it drives consumption. Given that almost all children in Westernised societies are exposed to large amounts of unhealthy food advertising on a daily basis this is a real concern.

“Small, but cumulative increases in energy intake have resulted in the current global childhood obesity epidemic and food marketing plays a critical role in this. We have also shown that the effects are not confined to TV advertising; online marketing by food and beverage brands is now well established and has a similar impact.

“On the basis of these findings, recommendations for enacting environmental strategies and policy options to reduce children’s exposure to food advertising are evidence-based and warranted.”

And just in case anyone is confused about the health effects of childhood obesity, here’s what the CDC has to say:

Health Effects of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.

Immediate health effects:

  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Obese adolescents are more likely to have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes.
  • Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Long-term health effects:

  • Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.6  One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What does this mean to you?

 

  • Advertisers used to market tobacco to children
  • When enough parents were convinced that tobacco was bad for their kids, they demanded (via gov’t) that advertising tobacco to kids be stopped immediately.
  • Today, advertisers market processed junk food to children
  • Some of us (me, you, World Health Organization, CDC, American Psychological Association, etc) are convinced that (1) processed junk food is bad for our kids and (2) our kids are susceptible to junk food advertising.

Unfortunately, not enough parents are convinced…and until they are, their kids are at a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer,  osteoarthritis, and many types of cancer including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What can we do?

Thanks to the wonders of social media & the interweb, all you need to do is share this article on Facebook and Twitter.

All we need is one @KimKardashian retweet and those corporate childhood obesity peddlers are screwed  🙂

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Childhood Obesity Rates Ballooning All Around the World

Around the world, 41 million children under the age of 5 are obese or overweight according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And since 1990, the number of obese or overweight children around the world has grown by 10,000,000.

As if that wasn’t bad enough….the majority of that expansion has happened in developing countries…countries with fewer financial resources to help reverse this trend.

Why is this happening?

According to the WHO, the explosion in obesity rates of childhood obesity in developing countries is due to globalization and urbanization.

Or in other words…we took one of the crappiest parts of our society and spread it all around the world. Yay us.

fat_kid

 

Specifically, the WHO identifies the marketing & consumption of processed food and drinks factor responsible for the increase in global childhood obesity.

The report said that the global childhood obesity epidemic had the potential to reverse many recent health gains made across the globe and called on governments to address what it called a major health challenge.

“WHO needs to work with governments to implement a wide range of measures that address the environmental causes of obesity and overweight, and help give children the healthy start to life they deserve,” said Peter Gluckman, ECHO co-chair.

Among its recommendations, the WHO said governments should:

  • promote healthy foods,
  • promote increased physical activity and
  • promote healthy school environments

 

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WHO Conclusions

The greatest obstacle to effective progress on reducing childhood obesity is a lack of political commitment and a failure of governments and other actors to take ownership, leadership and necessary actions.

Governments must invest in robust monitoring and accountability systems to track the prevalence of childhood obesity. These systems are vital in providing data for policy development and in offering evidence of the impact and effectiveness of interventions.

The Commission would like to stress the importance and necessity of tackling the complex issue of childhood obesity. WHO, international organizations and their Member States, as well as non-State actors, all have a critical role to play in harnessing momentum and ensuring that all sectors remain committed to working together to reach a positive conclusion.

My Conclusions

The WHO has identified a series global health issue, but like the carpenter who thinks that the solution to every problem is a hammer and a nail, the WHO is suffering from a great big case of confirmation bias.

While I agree that all the groups listed above have a responsibility to do their part in reducing global childhood obesity, the WHO neglects to hold PARENTS responsible for their part in this cluster-fudge.

As the father of an almost-one-year-old baby girl, I am royally pissed off that she will be inundated with messages 24-7 that the consumption of junk food is essential to living a happy life full of fun & friendship.

And I’m also not happy that quasi-governmental bodies allow industry to help develop the official government endorsed “health-eating plans.”

And don’t even get me started on CEOs that put short-term bumps in share price over the health of the children who consume their food products. Companies are made up of people…and if those people don’t care about my kid, I have no problems using social media to publicly shame them and encourage parents to make healthier choices.

Okay…that’s enough ranting for today.

If you can spare 5 seconds, please RT or share this article via Facebook 

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Introducing the 20:20 Workout…The Simplest Get Fit, Get Lean, Get Healthy, Get Strong, Get Awesome Workout of All Time

Introducing the 20:20 Workout…The Simplest Get Fit, Get Lean, Get Healthy, Get Strong, Get Awesome Workout of All Time.

Here’s the general theory:

  • 20 seconds of high intensity exercise
  • 20 seconds of rest
  • Repeat as many times as possible…while maintaining great form & high intensity.

Here’s why this workout is awesome:

  • It’s dead simple. Even the newest of workout newbies can understand “work really hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds”.
  • It improves your energy system fitness…which improves your endurance, strength, power, etc.
  • It makes most trainees stronger very quickly -(experienced trainees who already lift primarily for serious strength won’t see much in the way of strength improvement)
  • It improves the muscular endurance of those people who already lift for serious strength…which will improve their strength training programs
  • It’s great for weight loss
  • It saves time. Most trainees will be gassed after 20 minutes…and it takes a real freak to keep the intensity up over 40 min.
  • As you become more efficient at this program, your power & speed-endurance will improve significantly
  • It can be performed at home, indoors, outdoors, on the playing field & in the gym.
  • It’s fully expandable….from very simple beginner workouts to more complex workouts for advanced trainees or people with physical restrictions
  • It’s 100% free

Workout Examples

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull + Core

  • Stair Step Ups or Box Jumps or Burpees for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Chest Press or Push-Ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Rows or Bodyweight Rows for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Ab Roll-Outs, Front Plank or Dead Bugs for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull + Rotation

  • Bodyweight Squats or Bulgairan Squats for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Pulldowns, Band Overhead Pull-Aparts or Chin-ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Single Leg Straight Leg Flexions – Front, Side & Rear
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Overhead Press – Band, Bodyweight, DB, BB
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Woodchops, Stir the Pots or Palloff Press for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Horizontal Push + Horizontal Pull + Core + Carry

  • Waiter Walk or some other “Carry” variation for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Stair Step Ups or Box Jumps or Burpees for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Chest Press or Push-Ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Rows or Bodyweight Rows for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Ab Roll-Outs, Front Plank or Dead Bugs for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Legs + Vertical Push + Vertical Pull + Rotation + Sprint

  • Bodyweight Squats or Bulgairan Squats for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Pulldowns, Band Overhead Pull-Aparts or Chin-ups for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Standing Single Leg Straight Leg Flexions – Front, Side & Rear
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Overhead Press – Band, Bodyweight, DB, BB
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Woodchops or Palloff Press for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Sprint for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds

Repeat for a set time or until your form starts to break down and/or your intensity drops by (self-measured) 20%

Design Your Own 20:20 Workout

As I said above, the 20:20 Workout is fully expandable and is easily modified to fit your specific needs.

Step #1 : Choose the body movements that you want to work on

  • Push Vertical
  • Push Horizontal
  • Pull Vertical
  • Pull Horizontal
  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Walk
  • Run
  • Sprint

Step #2 : Choose an exercise or exercises for each of the body movements you have selected

Step #3 : Organize the exercises so that you maximize your rest periods. Instead of putting 2 leg exercises back to back, stick an upper body exercise in betweenex. Squat – Horizontal Push – Hip Hinge – Horizontal Pull

Step #4 : Set a timer for a 20 sec work : 20 sec rest interval program. If you don’t have a timer, check out Gymboss. They’re easy to use, inexpensive and will prevent you dropping & cracking your smartphone screen

Step #5 : Fill a bottle of water & get ready to sweat

pushups @healthhabits

Questions? Hit me up on social media – Twitter, Facebook.

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Coronary Heart Disease : New Research Blames Sugar and Exonerates Saturated Fat

For the past 60+ years, doctors have been telling us that saturated fat is responsible for the high number of people dying from coronary heart disease.

These recommendations have been largely based on the observational studies conducted by American scientist Dr. Ancel Keys. In his research, Dr. Keys observed that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat were prone to elevated serum cholesterol and were more likely to expire due to coronary heart disease.

Around the same time that Dr. Keys was presenting his research, another scientist, Dr. John Yudkin, came to a different conclusion – that it was excessive consumption of processed sugars that was driving the increase in coronary heart disease.

And for the next 60 years, both hypotheses have been defended with a succession of studies that:

  1. Observed what people ate
  2. Hypothesized which aspect of that complex diet of carbohydrates, protein, fats, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, etc was responsible for causing coronary heart disease

Unfortunately for us “normal people” who are looking to ways to live longer & better, this kind of science is pretty darn sketchy. Here’s why:

If you have pizza for dinner tonight, Dr. Keys would tell you that the saturated fat found in the cheese & pepperoni is bad for your heart. Conversely, Dr. Yudkin would blame the processed flour used to make the pizza crust.

So…who’s right?

If we rely on observational studies to answer this question, we will never come to a consensus. People don’t eat individual nutritional components…we eat FOOD. We eat meals in which we mix carbs and fats and proteins together.

Observational studies do nothing to separate those components and because of this…this kind of study is next to useless.

Luckily for us health-nerds, in the past fifty years, researchers have added to the observational studies with a giant body of research employing basic science, epidemiology and clinical trial data to provide us with a clearer picture of the relationship between nutrition and CHD risk, CHD events and CHD mortality.

And in their new study, Drs. DiNicolantonio, O’Keefe & Lucan have analyzed the best of that research and concluded that:

  • Saturated fat can raise levels of total serum cholesterol (TC) but TC is only modestly associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and that some types of saturated fat are actually protective against CHD.
  • Conversely, when saturated fats are replaced with refined carbohydrates, and specifically with added sugars, we see increases in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), increases in triglycerides and decreases in high-density lipoproteins (HDL) that are shown to increase your odds of CHD.

Additionally, diets high in sugar may induce many other abnormalities associated with elevated CHD risk, including elevated levels of glucose, insulin, and uric acid, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin and leptin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and altered platelet function.

Does this mean that all sugars / carbs are bad?

NO, because while the body of research indicates that “a diet high in added sugars has been found to cause a 3-fold increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease”, that doesn’t mean that all sugar/carbs are created alike.

Like some saturated fats are cardio-protective, we know that natural sugars found in whole fruits, grains and vegetables are not causing coronary heart disease.

It’s the processed fructose-containing sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup found in highly processed junk foods that are the problem.

 

 

For a more detailed look at the research, check out the link below.

Reference

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Tabata and the End of Night Time Snacking

 

At this time of year, millions of people around the world have resolved to lose weight. Sadly, most of them will fail.

One of the main reasons why so many of us are unable to lose excess bodyfat is night-time snacking.

During the day, we are able to eat healthy, control our portion size, choose vegetables over starchy carbs and stay away from junk food.

 

eatinginfrontoftv

But at night, most of us relax, drop onto the couch, turn on the tv…and say goodbye to our weight-loss willpower.

And nothing wrecks a diet faster than night time snacking while watching tv

A few years ago, I had a client who was having problems with night time snacking. He did everything “right” during the day, but when he finally relaxed at the end of the day, he found himself dealing with major cravings while watching the nightly news.

Most of the time, he drowned his cravings with mugs of steaming hot tea. But as the cravings didn’t lessen over time, we felt that we needed to do something to resist their temptation.

Here’s what we did.

Right before he sat down in front of the tv, I had him perform a single 4-minute Tabata set of Step-Ups using one of the staircases in his home.

And it worked.

We have no idea why it worked – hormones, brain chemicals, recharged willpower – and we didn’t care. All that mattered was that his cravings went away, making it easier for him to achieve his fitness goals.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you 🙂

How to do Tabata Step-Ups

What is Tabata?

Tabata is an exercise protocol in which you exercise as hard as possible for 20 seconds…then rest for 10 seconds…repeating this 7 more times…for a total of 8 x 20 second work sets + 8 x 10 second rest sets = 4 minutes of high intensity exercise.

How do I do Tabata Step-Ups in my home?

You couldn’t find a simpler exercise.

  • Step 1 : Walk over to a staircase
  • Step 2: Step Up
  • Step 3: Step Down
  • Step 4: Do this as fast as you can for 20 seconds
  • Step 5: Rest for 10 seconds
  • Step 6: Repeat Steps 4 & 5 seven more times

Step Up Videos

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Researchers Find a Link Between Excess Dietary Sugar and Breast Cancer

 

Researchers at the University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center have found an alarming link between high amounts of dietary sugar and an increased risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs.

And we’re not talking crazy-no-one-would-ever-eat-that-much-sugar levels of sugar consumption

In the study, the researchers found that lab mice who ate sucrose (table sugar) comparable to levels of the typical Western diet showed increased tumor growth and metastasis.

Previous research have shown this link between dietary sugar consumption and breast cancer development…with inflammation thought to be the cause.

In this new study, the researchers were able to identify sugar’s effect on enzymatic signaling pathway known as 12-LOX and a related fatty-acid called 12-HETE which is causing the cancer growth.

“The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors.”

Cohen added that the data suggested that dietary sugar induces 12-LOX signaling to increase risks for breast cancer development and metastasis.

What does this mean to you?

  1. This science is brand new, so there is no need to freak out and ban all sugar from your home.
  2. Even though it’s early days for this research, we have seen other studies linking excess sugar consumption and cancer, so while you probably don’t need to purge all sugar from your diet, it may be a good idea to at least limit your sugar consumption.
  3. Maybe avoid the Breast Cancer Sugar Cookies.

Reference

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Exercise at an early age = Healthy Gut, Healthy Brain, Healthy Metabolism

In 2015, there has been an explosion of research directly linking the health of your gut microbiota to your overall health…or lack thereof.

When your Mom told you to “eat your yogurt”, she had no idea why eating live bacteria was a good thing…she just new that it was.

Today, researchers are proving Mom right.

In this latest study, researchers at the University of Colorado have discovered that exercise at an early age has a powerful effect on the health of your microbiota…leading to improved brain health and metabolic activity over the course of your entire life.

The researchers concluded that there “may be” a window of opportunity during early human development to optimize the chances of better lifelong heath via physical activity & optimal gut health.

“Exercise affects many aspects of health, both metabolic and mental, and people are only now starting to look at the plasticity of these gut microbes,” said Monika Fleshner – fleshner@colorado.edu, a professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the senior author of the new study. “That is one of the novel aspects of this research.”

Microbes take up residence within human intestines shortly after birth and are vital to the development of the immune system and various neural functions. These microbes can add as many 5 million genes to a person’s overall genetic profile and thus have tremendous power to influence aspects of human physiology.

While this diverse microbial community remains somewhat malleable throughout adult life and can be influenced by environmental factors such as diet and sleep patterns, the researchers found that gut microorganisms are especially ‘plastic’ at a young age.

In the study, researchers found that juvenile lab rates who voluntarily exercised every day developed a “better” microbial structure when compare to sedentary juvenile rats and adult rats, even if the adult rats exercised.

A robust, healthy community of gut microbes also appears to promote healthy brain function and provide anti-depressant effects, Fleshner said. Previous research has shown that the human brain responds to microbial signals from the gut, though the exact communication methods are still under investigation.

Also under investigation is at what age is the microbiome most plastic & most susceptible to improvement via exercise OR other interventions (diet, sleep, etc).

What does this mean to you?

If you’re the parent of young kids…make sure they are active every day.

Mom didn’t need scientific research to know that the bacteria in yogurt was good for you. You don’t need to wait for any further research to know that physical activity is good for your kids.

Reference

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Green Coffee Bean Extract for Weight Loss

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar giant with hundreds of companies telling thousands of half-truths to separate you and your money.

Which supplements should you buy?

In an attempt to look past some of the supplement companies B.S., I employed the power of big data (via Google Trends) to identify the top 10 weight loss supplements….as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S.
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

Supplement #9

Green coffee bean extract is made from coffee beans that have not yet been roasted.

Research shows that the roasting process of coffee beans reduces the amount of the chemical chlorogenic acid found in the bean’s natural “green” state. Therefore, green coffee beans have a higher level of chlorogenic acid compared to regular, roasted coffee beans.

It is the chlorogenic acid in green coffee which is thought to have health benefits for weight loss. 

In addition to these health benefits, there is some research indicating that green coffee bean extract may be helpful for:

How does Green Coffee Bean Extract promote weight loss?

The research is still in the early stages, but the commonly held belief is that green coffee bean extract promotes weight loss via the prevention of calories from carbohydrates being absorbed in the intestines.

In essence, green coffee bean extract is thought to work as a carb blocker...forcing the body to ignore carbs and allow them to leave the body as waste.

Green Coffee Bean Research

Want to learn more about green coffee bean extract & weight loss? Check out the science….

Where can I buy Green Coffee Bean Extract supplements?

Here are the best online sources for Green Coffee Bean Extract:

Note: If you make a purchase from one of these online retailers, I receive a 6-10% “finders fee” …almost enough to pay for this site. Thanks in advance 🙂

Like this article?

The info in this article came from my Special Report – The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016.  

The full report is available to @HealthHabits subscribers, so if you want to see numbers 8 – 1, subscribe now by clicking on the button below. Number 10 is available here.

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New Research : Bodybuilding and the Mind-Muscle Connection

In the bodybuilding world, one of the most important “principles” of lifting is the need to establish a mind : muscle connection.

It’s not enough to lift the weight. For maximum success, the trainee must put all of his/her intention into the muscle that is being worked.

For many of us who aren’t bodybuilders…who lift for strength, power, endurance, athletic performance, etc…this seems like a giant load of new age nonsense.

Until now:

In this new study, researchers found that when trainees (working with loads between 20 -60% of their 1 Rep Maximum) focused on the muscles being worked, they were able to increase muscle activation…without decreasing the activity of other muscles involved in the lift.

By focusing on the muscles, they actually made the muscles work harder.

Which is exactly what those bodybuilding gurus have been saying for decades.

arnold-concentration-curl

What does this mean to you?

If you lift weight in 20-60% of 1 Rep Max range, focusing intently on the muscles being worked seems like a really great idea.

If you lift in the 80+% 1 RM range, there is no need to focus on the working muscles…you should be focusing on perfect form & execution…your nervous system will look after how many muscle fibers are contracting to complete your lift.

In the 60-80% range, I don’t know what to tell you. The researchers in this study focused on intensities of 20, 40, 50, 60 and 80 % of the pre-determined 1RM.

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Reference

Chia Seed for Weight Loss

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar giant with hundreds of companies telling thousands of half-truths to separate you and your money.

Which supplements should you buy?

In an attempt to look past some of the supplement companies B.S., I employed the power of big data (via Google Trends) to identify the top 10 weight loss supplements….as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S.
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

Supplement #8

chiabanner

Chia (aka salvia hispanica) is a flowering plant from the mint family, native to Mexico & Guatemala.

Most famously known for the Chia Pets flogged on late-night tv back in the day, the chia seed has been found to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and as a treatment for:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease, and
  • Stroke

How does Chia Seed promote weight loss?

The fibre found in Chia is mostly insoluble and as such, absorbs a LOT of water as it travels through your digestive tract.

In addition to the relatively high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in chia, it is this high fibre content that is responsible for chia being touted as a effective weight loss supplement.

  • As the chia fibre expands in your digestive tract, a feeling of satiety is created & hunger is reduced…leading to a reduction in calories consumed.
  • There is some thought that the high-fibre chia bolus traps other food sources and prevents them from being effectively digested…eventually being eliminated as waste.
  • There is also some research which indicates that chia helps to lower the blood sugar response to other carb-hydrates consumed at the same time as the chia. For this reason, chia is being used as an ingredient in traditional carbs foods (bread, pasta, etc) as a way to lower the glycemic index of those foods.

Chia Seed Research

Want to learn more about chia seeds & weight loss?  

Check out the science….​

Where can I buy Chia Seed supplements?

Here are the best online sources for Chia Seed:

Note: If you make a purchase from one of these online retailers, I receive a 6-10% “finders fee” …almost enough to pay for this site. Thanks in advance 🙂

Like this article?

The info in this article came from my Special Report – The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016.  

The full report is available to @HealthHabits subscribers, so if you want to see numbers 7 – 1, subscribe now by clicking on the button below. Number 10 is available here. Number 9 is here.

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Can You Be Fit AND Fat : Research Says NO

According to Swedish researchers, the idea that you can be Fat and Fit is 100% false.

In this study, it was found that obese men with a high level of aerobic fitness are more likely to die than normal weight men with below average levels of aerobic fitness.

The Science

Looking at a group of 1,317,713 Swedish men with a median age of 29, researchers investigated the association between aerobic fitness, obesity and death.

Here’s what they found…

  • Men in the top 20% of aerobic health had a 48% lower risk of death from any cause as compared to the bottom 20%.

man runningIn regard to the “fit and fat” hypothesis, the researchers found that men of a normal weight, regardless of their fitness level, were at a lower risk of death compared to obese men who were in the top 25% of aerobic fitness.

In fact, the men with extreme levels of obesity lost all of the benefits associated with aerobic fitness.

is it possible to be fat and fit

What does this mean to you?

  1. Fat and fit is a myth.
  2. While this study focused on men, it would be foolish to believe that overweight women are somehow different.
  3. Going for a run after eating a whole pizza is not a solution.
  4. Obesity is a killer.

Reference

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Coming Soon : HIIT for Health

healthhabits woman.png

Early in the new year, I will be publishing an ebook on HIIT and why it is  such an amazing tool for improving your health.

I have been providing some version of this report to those of my personal training clients with significant health issues over the years. Since then, their doctors have slowly begun to see the benefits of HIIT as a tool to prevent & recover from serious health conditions.

In addition to to the scientific arguments for HIIT, the book will include a LOT of printable HIIT workouts and instructions on how to easily craft your own personal HIIT workout program.

This publication will be available 100% FREE for @healthhabits subscribers.

 

If you already subscribe to @healthhabits, keep an eye on your inbox in the first week of January

If you don’t subscribe to @healthhabits, what are you waiting for?

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Train Smarter : Movements v.s. Muscles

Over the course of history, humans have evolved from single-cell organisms into the multi-cellular complex beings we are today.

In our current form, we are a collection of cells, neurons, hormones, enzymes, bones, muscles that all work together like a super-efficient mega corporation. 

And just how does this relate to working out?

It relates if you are still training like a bodybuilder from 1977

screen-shot-2015-06-23-at-11-59-36-am

Because if your workouts are focused on muscles instead of movements, you are making a big, big, big mistake.

Just like all those cells that came together to become a liver that filters waste products that would quickly build up and kill the entire organism, your muscles weren’t designed to work in isolation.

Even in that most muscle-centric of exercises – the bicep curl – your biceps need your triceps and core muscles and leg muscles and deltoids to pitch in and stabilize

The same holds true for all weightlifting exercises…no muscles ever work in isolation.

Trying to force them to work that way goes against how they are supposed to work.

Think about it…when you walk or run or sprint, you never focus on individual muscles or muscle groups. Instead, your brain sends out the signal to all involved muscles that it’s time to work together and get running.

To that end, one of the best things you can do to improve the efficiency of your resistance training workouts is to stop thinking about muscles and start thinking about movements

Here is a list of the “basic” movements that will serve as a framework for your new movement-based workout program.

  • Push Vertical
  • Push Horizontal
  • Pull Vertical
  • Pull Horizontal
  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Walk
  • Run
  • Sprint

That’s it for today.

Over the next few days & weeks, I will explain these movements fully and provide exercise examples and teach you how to put them together in a complete training program.


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Caffeine for Weight Loss

 

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar giant with hundreds of companies telling thousands of half-truths to separate you and your money.

Which supplements should you buy?

In an attempt to look past some of the supplement companies B.S., I employed the power of big data (via Google Trends) to identify the top 10 weight loss supplements….as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S.
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

Supplement #10

caffeine banner.jpg

 

Caffeine is the 10th most popular weight loss supplement around the world. But weight loss is not all that caffeine is good for. In addition to being an essential part of my morning coffee ritual, caffeine is a chemical found in tea, cola, guarana, mate, etc…

How does caffeine work?

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure. Caffeine can raise blood pressure, but might not have this effect in people who use it all the time.

Caffeine can also act like a “water pill” that increases urine flow. But again, it may not have this effect in people who use caffeine regularly. Note – drinking caffeine during moderate exercise is not likely to cause dehydration

In addition to weight loss, caffeine has many other health-promoting uses, including:

  • mental alertness
  • pain reliever
  • asthma treatment
  • gallbladder disease treatment
  • ADHD treatment
  • low blood pressure treatment
  • as a cream to reduce skin redness & itching
  • athletic performance enhancer

How does Caffeine promote weight loss?

Caffeine promotes weight loss via two separate pathways:

  1. Appetite suppression. Research shows that caffeine reduces your desire to eat for a moderate period of time.
  2. Calorie burning. Studies have shown that caffeine stimulates thermogenesis — forcing your your body to generate heat and energy from digesting food.

In short, caffeine supplements promise to make you crave less food and burn more calories regardless of exercise.

 Caffeine Research

 Where can I buy Caffeine supplements?

In addition to your local health food or drugstore, I have listed some of the best online sources for Caffeine.

Note: If you make a purchase from one of these online retailers, I receive a 6-10% “finders fee” …almost enough to pay for this site. Thanks in advance 🙂

Like this article?

The info in this article came from my Special Report – The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016.  

The full report is available to @HealthHabits subscribers, so if you want to see numbers 9 – 1, subscribe now by clicking on the button below.

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Fish Oil Switches Fat Storage Cells into Fat Burning Cells

Researchers from Kyoto University have discovered that fish oil can switch your fat storage cells into fat burning cells.

Specifically, they found that consuming fish oil:

  1. Activates receptors in your digestive tract which…
  2. Engages your sympathetic nervous system…
  3. Causing fat storage cells to metabolize your fat

Background Info

Fact #1. You have three types of fat cells 

  • White fat – which stores calories and contributes to obesity
  • Brown fat – initially thought to exist only in babies, brown fat arises from infant muscles and is designed to help keep their little baby-bodies warm. “More recent imaging data suggested that adults, too, maintain some brown fat’.
  • Beige fat – similar looking to brown fat, beige fat doesn’t come from muscle, but is created by the “browning” of white fat in adult humans. It is found in “scattered pea-sized deposits beneath the skin near the collarbone and along the spine in adults”

Fact #2. Previous research has shown that fish oil has a number of powerful health benefits…including fat accumulation.

These two facts led the scientists at Kyoto U to investigate how fish oil and brown fat cells interacted.

The Study

Researchers fed a group of mice “fatty food” while feeding other mice “fatty food with fish oil additives.

The researchers found that mice who ate the fish oil supplement gained 5-10% less weight and 15-25% less fat compared to the non-fish oil eating mice.

 Figure 1: Fish oil intake reduced body weight gain and fat accumulation

srep18013-f1

Fish oil intake decreased body weight (A) and abdominal WAT (B) gain in mice. Mice were fed a control diet (C), control diet containing low-dose DHA-enriched fish oil (LD), control diet containing high-dose DHA-enriched fish oil (HD), control diet containing low-dose EPA-enriched fish oil (LE), and control diet containing high-dose EPA-enriched fish oil (HE) for 10 weeks. 

The scientists also found that the fish oil supplements caused an activation of the sympathetic nervous system, forcing white fat cells to transform into beige fat cells.

Figure 2: Fish oil intake induced UCP1 expression in interscapular BAT (brown fat) and inguinal WAT (white fat)

srep18013-f2

Fish oil intake induced UCP1 protein expression in interscapular BAT (A) and inguinal WAT (B). Fish oil intake also induced UCP1 mRNA expression in interscapular BAT (C) and inguinal WAT (D). Fish oil intake induced beige adipocyte-specific gene expression in interscapular BAT (E) and inguinal WAT (F). 

 

The researchers concluded that it was this transformation of white fat storage cells into beige fat burning cells that protected the lab mice from their “fatty food” diet.

What does this mean to you?

If you’re concerned about gaining or losing body fat…start eating more fatty fish and/or supplementing with fatty fish oils.

Fish Oil Supplements

Which Fish Should You Eat?

The following infographic shows which fatty fish are healthiest (re their good oil) and which fat are the healthiest (re low levels of mercury)

fish-omega3-mercury

Reference

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A Better Whey to Boost Your Health

Every year, bazillions of dollars are spent on drugs that promise to lower our cholesterol & triglycerides levels.

Some work, some don’t.

In a recent study, researchers discovered an inexpensive and yummy way to lower LDL cholesterol & triglycerides.

That’s right…I said yummy.

Here’s the plan/recipe

  • 45 grams of whey protein
  • 150 mg of supplemental calcium
  • 0.75 μg of vitamin D3
  • 2.5 g of prebiotic dietary fiber
  • 500 ml of water

Toss all these “healthy” ingredients into a blender with some frozen fruit and some cinnamon (for taste & GI control) and you’ve got a health booster that has been shown to have a significant effect on…

  1. Reducing low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels
  2. Reducing triglyceride levels

…in just 21 days.

And it tastes great too.

Reference

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“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon”

According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, “eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon.”

As news of this research spread around the web, Vegans reacted like this….

tumblr_lbvabxXijT1qbi71b

But wait…before everyone flips out…

Let’s take a closer look at the study

In this study, the Carnegie Mellon researchers were investigating how three different USDA-esque weight loss plans would impact the environment.

Here are the three diet plans

  1. Reducing caloric intake to achieve “normal” weight without shifting food mix…aka same diet as before, just less of it.
  2. Switching food mix to USDA recommended food patterns without reducing calories…aka “healthy” diet, same calories as before
  3. Reducing calories & switching to USDA recommended food patterns…aka “healthy diet” AND fewer calories

How did they measure the environmental impact?

To compare the three diets, the researchers calculated how…

  • growing,
  • processing,
  • shipping,
  • selling
  • and storing all the foods consumed in the three diets

…impacted energy use, blue water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

They crunched all that data to arrive at a series of environmental impact scores (energy, blue water, GHG) per kcal for each food.

From there, they calculated the overall energy, blue water & GHG scores for each of the three diets

Their findings?

Dietary Recommendation #1 resulted in a decrease in energy use, blue water footprint and GG emissions by approximately 9%.

Which makes sense…2000 calories of pizza is going to use less energy than 3000 calories of pizza.

Dietary Recommendation #2 increased energy use by 43%, increased blue water footprint by 16% and increased GHG emissions by 9%

The data showed that eating more fruits, vegetables, dairy & seafood bumped up the global footprint because of their relatively higher resource use and emissions per Calorie.

Even when the researchers dropped the caloric intake of the healthy food for Dietary Recommendation #3, they still saw an increase in energy use of 38%, an increase in blue water footprint of 10% and an increase in GHG emissions of 6%

And that’s where we get our headline…“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon”

bacon

Even if you starve yourself on healthy food, you are harming the environment more than if you ate the standard American diet of grains & processed food.

This can’t be true, can it?

Yup…it’s true. But here’s why.

Our current food production system is geared towards producing the food most of us eat…processed grains and cheap fats & protein.

We are incredibly efficient at producing crap food. 

From farm to table, our mainstream food infrastructure is an amazing artificial organism.

Conversely, our infrastructure for healthy food is a joke in comparison. Small-scale healthy food producers give us amazing foodstuffs, but at a per-unit cost (financial & environmental) far in excess of their mainstream competitors.

If our healthy food producers had the infrastructure of our less-than-healthy food producers, they would match them for price & crush them in terms of environmental impact.

But they don’t and as a result, we are left comparing apples & oranges.

karl_smile

So cheer up my vegan brothers & sisters. And keep eating your fruits & veggies.

As more and more “normal” people start eating healthier, the financial & environmental costs of healthy food will drop.

Reference

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The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016

Unlike a lot of personal trainers, I am not a big fan of weight loss supplements.

In the 20+ years I have been transforming bodies, my clients have sculpted new bodies thanks to:

  1. A total commitment to eating healthy, and
  2. Exercising smarter.

However, there have always been a minority of clients that have needed some help in the form of supplements or pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, in the past 5 – 10 years, that small percentage has been growing and growing.

I don’t know if it’s…

  • genetically modified foods,
  • the chemicals found in processed food,
  • a lifetime of poor food choices manifesting as broken metabolisms

Whatever it is, more and more of my clients NEED weight loss supplements to help boost the effectiveness of their new diet and fitness routines.

Because of this, I have put together a report of the top weight loss supplements for 2016.

Starting with a list of 30 popular weight loss compounds, I used the big data of Google Trends to identify the most popular weight loss supplements as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S. 
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

With all that data, I was able to identify:

  1. The top weight loss supplements for 2015, and more importantly 
  2. The projected top weight loss supplements for 2016.

SO….HOW DO YOU GET THE REPORT?

  • If you are an email subscriber to @healthhabits, you don’t have to do anything. A copy of the report should be sitting in your inbox right now. If not, shoot me an email, and I will get one to you asap.
  • If you don’t already subscribe to @healthhabits email updates, hit the button below, follow the sign-up procedure and a report  will be flying to your inbox in mere seconds.

Henry Rollins v.s. McDonalds

A lesson in nutrition from an unlikely source – Mr. Henry Rollins

enjoy

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“I Don’t Have Time to Workout” Workout

Around the world, the #1 excuse for not exercising is…”I don’t have enough time”.

As a public service to those uber-busy people, I have put together a template for a 15 minute workout that is simple, effective and works for beginners & elite athletes alike.

  • 15 minutes
  • Great workout
  • Guaranteed results
  • No more excuses

Step #1

Buy a set of very affordable workout bands like these. ($30 from Amazon). You can probably find a set for next to nothing at the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Value Village, etc.

Step #2

Find a place to exercise.

Bands can be attached to a door:

or any immovable object:

Note: The spring link used in the video costs about $2-3 at Home Depot.

Step #3

Get an interval timer – Smartphone (iphone, android) app, Gymboss timer, etc.

gymboss-interval timer

Step #4

Choose 1 exercise / exercise combo from each group:

Group #1 

  • Step-Ups
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Scissor Shuffles
  • Running in Place / Jogging on the Spot
  • Shuttle Runs
  • Skipping Rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Exercise Bike sprints

Group #2

  • Standing Band Chest Press
  • Standing Band Row
  • Standing Band Overhead Press
  • Standing Band Pulldown
  • Standing Band Woodchop
  • Standing Band Pallof Press
  • Standing Band Thrusters

Group #3

  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Bodyweight Hip Thrusts
  • Bodyweight 1-Leg Deadlifts
  • Standing Band Hip Thrusts
  • Bodyweight Jump Squats
  • Standing Band Deadlifts
  • Standing Band Lunges

Step #5

1.  Set your timer for a 4-minute Tabata style interval

  • 20 seconds of exercise
  • 10 seconds of rest
  • Repeat 8 times
  • Total time: 4 minutes (160 seconds of exercise + 80 seconds of rest)

2.  Perform the chosen Group #1 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

3.  Rest 90 seconds

4.  Perform the chosen Group #2 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

5.  Rest 90 seconds

6.  Perform the chosen Group #3 exercise using the 4-min Tabata style interval. Using good form, perform as many reps as possible.

7.  Done 🙂

Step #6 – Optional

If you decide that you have more than 15 minutes and want to increase your volume of exercise, add additional exercises from any of the three groups.

Step #7 – Optional

Before you grab a shower, you could choose to add some mobility/flexibility exercises into the mix. Here are some resources:

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Restaurant Revolution: When Healthier Menus = Healthier Profits & Healthier Kids

In April 2012, Silver DIner, a full-service family restaurant chain with 15 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, made three major changes to its children’s menu in order to make healthier items easier to choose.

  • Meals were re-designed to meet or exceed nutrition standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program (59%, compared to 22% before the changes).
  • Healthy side dishes became the default choice – strawberries, mixed vegetables, or side salads–were automatically included with all kids’ meals by default.
  • And less-healthy choices such as french fries, soda and lemonade were removed from the menu.

NOTE: Fries and soda were still available…upon request.

What Happened Next?

  • Children’s meal prices increased by $0.79 for breakfasts and $0.19 for non-breakfast meals.
  • Restaurant revenue increased with yearly percent change as follows:
  • 2008-2009: +1.5%,
  • 2009-2010: −2.1%,
  • 2010-2011: +11.1%,
  • 2011-2012: +5.1%,
  • and 2012-2013: +5.1%.
  • Orders of healthy meals, strawberry and vegetable sides, milk, and juice increased
  • Orders of French fries, desserts and soda decreased
  • Total calories ordered by children decreased (684 kcal pre vs. 621 kcal post)
  • Except for the kids who requested un-healthy choices (935.0 pre vs. 942.9 post)

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5240489134522368

Conclusions

  1. Chain restaurants can create healthier menus without alienating their ‘non-health-food’ patrons,
  2. Kids will eat healthier restaurant meals when menus are designed correctly,
  3. Chain restaurants can increase profits by making their menus healthier

Where do we go from here?

  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider taking a look at the Silver Diner kids menu and use it as a template for re-working my own kids menu
  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider applying the same menu format for the main menu as well
  • As a parent, I am going to send a link to this article to the restaurants I frequent most often. The number of obese children in our society is truly horrendous and we all need to pitch in to reverse this trend.

Please Help

Most people will never hear about this article, this research, this restaurant.

Please help by tweeting, sharing, pinning, tumbling, stumbling, etc.

Reference

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Junk Food Can Damage Your Metabolism In Just 5 Days

The human body is an amazing machine. Capable of:

  • Climbing mountains,
  • Adapting to environments as disparate as the arctic and the tropical rain forest.
  • Running for hundreds of kilometres at a stretch,
  • Lifting freakishly heavy weights.
  • Amazing technological advances,
  • Creating art that can elevate the soul

Unfortunately, what your body can’t do is consume junk food – aka the Standard American Diet – without starting to fall apart.

Here’s the science:

According to this new study, after just 5 days of eating a diet that included sausage biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and food loaded with butter, healthy college-age students experienced a significant change in how their muscles processed nutrients. And not for the better.

According to the researchers, eating a starchy, fatty diet disrupts how your muscles metabolize glucose, “which could lead to the body’s inability to respond to insulin”, leading to insulin insensitivity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a reduced quantity & quality of life.

NOTE: In the study, the test diet was designed to have fat make up 55% of the calories – as opposed to a “normal” 30% fat diet – with the inclusion of foods such as sausage biscuits and mac & cheese. And while I agree that a diet in which 55% of the calories comes from fat can be called a “high-fat” diet, I would argue that it would be more accurate to call it a “high fat AND carb” diet or a “high fat AND starchy carb” diet or a “high fat AND high gluten” diet.

To infer that fat is the villain here may not be wholly accurate. We need a bit more research before we start blaming a single macronutrient.

What does this mean to you?

  1. As yummy as sausage biscuits smothered in gravy and bacon smells, you may not want to eat it very often. Your body hasn’t evolved (devolved) to handle this type of food.
  2. If you can’t resist the siren song of Mac ‘n Cheese, space it out with some healthy food, like a Big Salad, to help your muscles sensitive to insulin.
  3. The next time you hear about a study saying High-Fat or High-Carb diets are bad, take a closer look at what the researchers consider high-fat or high-carb.dia

Reference

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Oscillation Training – Get Stronger, Get Fitter, Get Healthier

A couple of years ago I wrote an article entitled Increase Your Bench Press…thanks to Koji Murofushi.

In that article, I introduced you to oscillation training and how you can use this training method to:

  • rehab injuries,
  • prevent injuries,
  • improve muscle imbalances,
  • thereby increasing strength,
  • and agility,
  • and speed,
  • and power

Since then, I have read numerous studies looking at the effectiveness of weightlifting with:

  1. Stable loads on unstable surfaces – ie Barbell squats on Bosu, foam mats, Swiss ball, etc
  2. Unstable loads on stable surfaces – ie Dumbbells, kettlebells on floor, benches

My unofficial meta-analysis of these studies shows that:

  • Stable loads on stable surfaces allows for maximum force production of the prime mover muscles.
  • Unstable loads (DBs, KBs) on stable surfaces reduces force production in the prime movers (agonists) by a negligible amount while producing a similarly tiny increase in synergists & core muscles.
  • Unstable loads on unstable surfaces (Bosu, Swiss ball, foam mat) further reduces force production in the prime movers while ever so slightly increasing force production of synergists & core muscles.

There have also been numerous studies which postulate that training with unstable loads on stable & unstable surfaces will eventually lead to increases in muscular strength & power as muscle imbalances are corrected, core strength improves and all muscles involved in athletic movements – agonists, antagonists & synergists – are trained to work together more effectively.

And now for the new research:

In this latest study, researchers tested the effectiveness of oscillation training via a series of parallel back squats with an unstable load (weights suspended from the bar by an elastic band)

oscillation_training_overhead_squat
Couldn’t find a good back squat with hanging bells video to create a gif 😦

The Study:

  • Fifteen resistance-trained males completed ten repetitions of the back squat with 60% of their one repetition maximum in both stable and unstable conditions.
  • Peak vertical ground reaction force and the integrated muscle activity of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medius, biceps femoris, soleus, rectus abdominis, external oblique, and erector spinae muscles on the right side of the body were determined.

Results

  • The unstable load resulted in a small (3.9%), but significant decrease in peak vertical ground reaction force. This makes sense considering the previous research on unstable loads.
  • The unstable load also produced noticeably greater muscle activation in the rectus abdominus, external oblique, and soleus.

This may turn out to be highly significant – where previous studies on trained individuals found that DBs or KBs or vibration platforms or Bosus or Swiss balls produced small increases in muscle activation in these “helper” muscles, the use of oscillation training was much more powerful.

Oscillation training may actually turn out to be a really useful tool for athletes and wanna-be athletes.

What does this mean to you?

If you are one of the following trainees, systemic use of oscillation training may be just what you need:

  • Someone stuck at a strength/size/power/speed plateau
  • Someone with sore shoulders or knees or back or…
  • Someone who plays a sport
  • Someone who finds their body is feeling “older”
  • Someone who has poor posture
  • Someone who wants the health benefits of yoga and/or pilates bust hates yoga and/or pilates
  • Someone who want to be as fit as they can possibly be
  • Someone who just started doing Crossfit and doesn’t want to destroy their shoulders
  • Someone with a big gut
  • Someone who wants to maximize the health benefits of weightlifting without getting “too big” or spending too much time.

How to incorporate Oscillation Training into your program?

  1. Start small. This is supplemental work, meant to make the rest of your program work better.
  2. Don’t do oscillate before doing big compound lifts using the same muscle groups/movements. You don’t want to wear out your assistance muscles prior to needing their help on a big compound lift.
  3. You can do oscillation work after doing big compound work, or
  4. Do oscillation work on off-days – rest days or days where other movements / muscle groups are being worked.
  5. You don’t “need” a fancy bamboo bar. It’s nice to have, but you can just hang plates off the ends of normal barbells with a good set of Jump-Stretch style bands.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on social media 🙂

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fitbit surge healthhabits review

Fitbit Surge Review : Is this the fitness tracker you’ve been looking for?

When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, steps are just the beginning. Fitbit tracks every part of your day – including activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep – to help find your fit, stay motivated and see how small steps make a big difference.

https://fitbit.com

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Fitbit via Mode Media>. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Fitbit.

As per my policy on review articles, I only post reviews of products & services that I would recommend to my “real world” clients and I only request payment when a company wants time-limited exclusivity, meaning that I won’t review a competing product for a specified period of time. This is one such case.

When a rep from Fitbit called me last fall and asked if I wanted to review Fitbit’s Surge fitness tracker / wearable / watch, my initial reaction was…NO WAY!!!

I have tried out LOTS of fitness trackers over the years…with the end result being that after a few months, all of them found their way into the back of a drawer and were never heard from again.

Don’t get me wrong. The data that I received from most of my previous fitness trackers was useful, but only to a point. Up until now, fitness trackers were great for runners & walkers, but pretty much useless for anything else.

And while I wasn’t surprised that the Fitbit Surge has the latest & greatest technology for runners:

  • Measuring heart rate in real time right from your wrist without having to push any buttons while you run.
  • Using that real-time heart rate data to gauge & adjust training intensity on the fly.
  • A built-in GPS giving you data on pace, distance, elevation, floors climbed, split times, route history, route map and workout summaries to help you adjust your running program as needed.

Even with all this, I still wasn’t interested in doing the review. Like most fitness folk, I do more than go for a run or a walk.

  • I lift weights,
  • I sprint hills.
  • I do yoga.
  • I circuit train.
  • I do a bunch of different stuff.

That’s when the Mr. Fitbit smarty-pants told me that the Surge can be used to track all sorts of different workouts:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Cross-training
  • Hiking
  • Pilates
  • Weight training
  • Spinning
  • Circuit training
  • Yoga
  • and more

By now, I was a little intrigued. But, I still said no because as cool as this thing was sounding, my history with previous fitness trackers told me that:

  • I would still end up putting it on for workouts…
  • Taking it off for the rest of the day…
  • Occasionally forgetting to put it on in the morning…
  • And eventually losing track of it altogether until it popped up at the back of my junk drawer in the kitchen.

What I needed was a good reason to wear this thing. Something more than all the fitness tracking technology.

Here’s my reasoning:

  • Most of us used to wear a watch.
  • But, as soon as we all got mobile phones, a lot of us ditched our watches because our phones had a clock.

Why did we do that?

  • Pulling your phone out of a pocket is much less convenient than a quick glance at your wrist.  
  • Why would we abandon a superior piece of time-telling technology for an inferior one?

Simple.

  • The annoyance of carrying two pieces of technology outweighed the annoyance of having to dig your phone out of your jeans when you wanted to check the time.

Don’t believe me?

  • My clients who self-identify as runners wear their fitness trackers 24 hours a day.
  • My clients who don’t identify as runners wear their fitness trackers for workouts and take them off when they settle in for the night at home.
  • Normal people (who want to be fit) buy fitness trackers and eventually stick them in drawers.

Unless the annoyance of wearing a fitness tracker on your wrist is significantly outweighed by the benefits, it’s gonna end up in the back of your junk drawer in the kitchen. Believe that.

So I asked Mr. Fitbit…what can the Fitbit Surge do to make my life better, in addition to improving my health & physical fitness?

Mr. Fitbit replied that the Surge will allow you to:

  • See who is calling or texting you on your mobile phone without having to pull it out of your pocket
  • Pause or fast forward your phone’s music player QUICKLY and EASILY while you are working out.

Two things that would make my life just a little bit easier, and would get me to wear a watch for the first time in over 5 years.

Here’s my review:

Looking at the technology, the Surge has all the functions I want in a fitness tracker…

fitbit surge review - ultimate fitness super watch fitbit surge review app fitness

  • GPS Tracking & Mapping
  • Continuous heart rate readings. 24 hours a day. No straps. No clips.
  • Continuous activity monitoring
  • Multi-sport functionality
  • Workout intensity monitoring
  • Sleep Monitor – quality & quantity
  • An excellent (IMHO) Computer / Smartphone app interface….very simple & intuitive.

fitbit surge review app fitness

    • It also works with a bunch of third party health & fitness apps. Which is great if you’re already an active member in one of the major online fitness communities.

And if you’re not part of an existing online fitness community or online fitness training advice service or motivation app, Fitbit also allows you to contact/challenge/praise/shame your fitness friends as well as make new friends via the Fitbit community.

Note: Fitbit also offers a “premium” service, providing personal training, nutrition & sleep consulting. I didn’t try this service, so I have no idea how good (or bad) it is.

Moving on to the reason why I decided to review the Surge

I couldn’t be much happier with the Surge, because in addition to all the cool fitness tech, it made my smartphone even smarter.

Call & Text Message Monitoring

      • With the Surge, I can monitor phone calls & text messages during situations when I “can’t” check my phone .i.e. during business meetings,
      • Or when I’m walking, running, working out, etc,
      • Or when it’s charging across the room.

Music Player Control

Not as big a deal as the call/text monitoring, but still pretty useful for me.

When I’m working out at the gym or running, I use my smartphone as a music player. Sometimes, I need to pause the music or skip one of my less favorite songs.

Prior to testing out the Surge, I had to pull out my phone, open the screen-lock, open the player and pause/skip to the next song. I realize this is the very definition of a first world problem, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to just reach over to my wrist and push the pause or FF button

You’re going to appreciate this when someone interrupts your workout at the gym.

Things I would change about the Fitbit Surge

      1. The display is a back lit monochrome LCD display. Considering that competitors like the Microsoft Band and the upcoming Apple Watch both have high definition OLED screens, the Surge LCD touchscreen looks very 2014.
      2. While the phone call/text notifications are FANTASTIC, it would be nice to receive notifications from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Not essential, but nice.
      3. Re music player control, some people prefer to use streaming services rather than playlists stored on their phones. Control of these services would be great for those users.
      4. Style wise, it would be nice if Fitbit had an option that looked less like a sports-watch and more like a watch-watch…something that would look nice with a suit.

NOTE: Online, the Fitbit Surge is getting compared mainly to the Apple Watch. And I have a bit of a problem with that comparison. While the Surge gives you on-board GPS and optical heart rate monitoring, the Apple watch uses less accurate optical heart rate sensors and the watch doesn’t have GPS.

Which kinda sucks if you bought the Apple watch to be your fitness tracker.

It’s like comparing these two pair of shoes.

basketball-shoes

Sure, they both look like basketball shoes, but each was designed with different purposes and for different consumers. One’s a fashion shoe. The other is a fitness shoe.

  • The Apple watch is a smartwatch with fitness features.
  • The Fitbit Surge is a fitness tracker with smartwatch features.

Which one you choose depends on your needs for the product. At least, IMHO.

NOTE: I have no idea if Fitbit is looking into adding more smartwatch-esque features in the Surge 2.0 or if they looked into them already but decided against them due to cost constraints.

I’m pretty sure they could have put in an OLED display and added more connectivity options, but that stuff costs money…which would be reflected in the purchase price.

Maybe Fitbit could offer two different Surge versions…the current version at $250 and a second version with OLED screen & Twitter updates for $350.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the strongest recommendation I can give in support of the Fitbit Surge is that I very seldom take it off and I have no plans to stick it in my kitchen junk drawer.

  • At first, I fiddled around with the watch commands…swiping the touch screen, pushing buttons…trying to get the thing to do what I wanted it to do.
  • After a few days, I was pretty good with it and was developing a habit of using the watch and checking my dashboard daily.
  • After a few weeks, I was really comfortable using the watch and I had developed a dashboard routine that took about 2 minutes per day.
  • As I was already a giant fitness nerd, I didn’t exactly need the Surge to motivate me to exercise.
  • What it did allow me to do what get a better handle on how my training was affecting my overall health.
  • As a result, I have made some minor lifestyle & exercise changes which have paid off nicely. Definitely worth the $250.

At the end of the day, I can heartily endorse the Fitbit Surge.

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A Diet for People Who Can’t Stick to a DIet

No one likes dieting.  Just thinking of…

  • Counting calories, or
  • Eating fewer carbs, or
  • Avoiding white foods, or
  • Cutting back on fat, or
  • Living off of lemon juice, cayenne pepper & maple syrup, or
  • Writing down everything you eat, or
  • Eating nothing but kale, or
  • Drinking 20 glasses of water per day, or
  • Chewing each bite of food 20 times, or
  • Popping fat-burners, or
  • Taking pictures of every meal, or
  • Eating nothing but bacon, or
  • Spending too much bathroom time thanks to laxatives, or
  • Loading up on “natural” weight-loss supplements, or
  • Eating only raw foods…

…fills most of us with an almost unbearable sadness.

Let’s face it. Diets suck. 

healthhabits health fitness fat couple fit couple poster

  • Wouldn’t it be cool someone came up with an weight loss plan for people who can’t stick to a diet?
  • And wouldn’t it be cool if that weight loss plan was based on some solid science?
  • And wouldn’t it be cool if that weight loss plan was 100% free?
  • And wouldn’t it be cool if that weight loss plan gave you the weekends off?

Today is your lucky day!!!

Today I am going to tell you about the research conducted by Dr. Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Professor Panda and his associates are interested in understanding the molecular mechanism of the biological clock. In his lab, he “uses genetic, genomics and biochemical approaches to identify genes under circadian regulation in different organs and to understand the mechanism of such regulation.”

Luckily for us, two of his recent studies (see References below) have looked at how a time-restricted diet produces weight loss & prevents metabolic disease.

Here’s how it works

In his 2012 study – Time-Restricted Feeding without Reducing Caloric Intake Prevents Metabolic Diseases in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet  – Dr. Panda found that animals who had their food consumption restricted to an 8-hr window were protected against obesity, hyperinsulinemia, hepatic steatosis, inflammation and have improved motor coordination….even though they consumed an equivalent amount of calories compare to the control group which was allowed to eat whenever they wanted during the day.

diet health nutrition obesity healthhabits

Think about that…you can eat just as much as you NORMALLY do, but by restricting yourself to an 8 hour feeding window, you will

  • Prevent obesity,
  • Prevent insulin resistance,
  • Prevent leptin resistance,
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes,
  • Have a healthier liver,
  • Have lower levels of inflammation, and
  • Will be physically more coordinated.

But wait…it gets even better.

In his 2014 study – Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges – Dr. Panda looks at how time-restricted feed (8-9 hrs per day) works against PRE-EXISTING OBESITY.

health diet obesity healthhabits

What they found is that, even without restricting calories, instituting a 9-12 hour feeding period…

  • Reduces obesity,
  • Reverses the progression of type 2 diabetes,
  • Improves liver function and high cholesterol

…even when the little lab mice were allowed to…

  • Eat whenever they want on weekends
  • Chow down on high-fat, high-fructose, and high-sucrose diets throughout the week

What Does This Mean For You

It means that by restricting your food consumption to a 9-hour window during the work week, you can…

  • Keep eating your “normal” diet,
  • Lose body-fat,
  • Improve your liver function,
  • Lower your cholesterol,
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes,
  • Drink beer & eat nachos on the weekend

NOTE: I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but even though I am super-excited about this research, I want to prepare you for the possibility that further research may expose flaws in the theory. That’s the nature of science. For now, I suggest cautious optimism. Give this plan a try for a 4-6 week period and see how it works for you. After all, you are your own personal lab mouse.

And if you want to let me know how this plan works for you, contact me via social media. All my social media links are in the footer.

Please share this post via your social media platforms. This is great new science that deserves to be spread as far & wide as possible. Please share on all your platforms.

Reference

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healthhabits treadmill fail health fitness exercise

Motivate Your Lazy Butt with these Fantastic Fitspiration GIFs

We’ve all had one of those days. A day where nothing seems to go our way….

crossfit FAIL health fitness exercise fitspiration

But wait…it could be worse.

treadmill fail health fitness exercise healthhabits fitspiration

Then again…maybe things aren’t as bad as you thought. Maybe your luck is about to turn around…

feer_running health fitness exercise workout healthhabits fitspiration

Maybe you’re starting to get your feet under you and your day is starting to look better.

deadlift fitness exercise workout healthhabits

Maybe you’re stronger than you think.

@healthhabits health fitness exercise

Maybe you’re a real-life badass…

pushups health fitness exercise healthhabits workout

Capable of enduring the tough times…

ronnie coleman leg press health fitnes exercise workout healthhabits

with grace…

sprinter health fitness exercise workout healthhabits fitspiration

power…

olympics health fitness exercise workout healthhabits olympics snatch

and a burning desire to never, ever stop…

mountain-climbers fitness exercise workout healthhabits

NOTE: Please share these images via social media. We all need a kick in the butt every now & then. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this collection of fitness images is worth at least a few thousand.

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John Oliver Bitch Slaps the Sugar Industrial Complex

For years & years & years, health nerds like me have used websites like this to:

  1. inform the public about the health problems caused by the over-consumption of sugar, and
  2. shame the processed food industry into cutting back on added sugars

And for years & years & years, most “normal” people never heard our tiny online cries from the health & fitness wilderness. The fact is, no one likes to be told that everything we eat is bad for us…especially from a bunch of health nazis with six-packs and personal trainers.

But recently, the mainstream media has (finally) caught on to what us health nazis have been saying…that processed foods loaded with extra sugar (and chemicals & crappy fats) are really, really bad for us.

And it’s not just the news networks and the documentary filmmakers. It’s political comedians like John Stewart, Stephen Colbert & John Oliver…

And this is fantastic news for the health of the nation…and really, really bad news for processed food producers who pump loads of extra sugars (and chemicals and crappy fats) into their products.

Because when a guy like John Oliver can…

  1. make you laugh out loud, while
  2. getting you really pissed off at the Sugar Industrial Complex (aka Big Food…aka the people who sell food in boxes with lots of ingredients that no one can pronounce)

…you can bet that a lot more “normal” people are going to get the message.

And as they say, laughter is the best medicine.

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A Technological Revolution for Health and Fitness Nerds

Quick post for all you fitness nerds out there.

Today is the day that I finally get my greedy little hands on a Push Strength workout/fitness tracker. As an early indiegogo supporter, I am one of the first people to have one of these bad-boys and because I love y’all so much, I am going to share the wealth.

Starting tonight, I am going to use my Push Strength band to start testing:

  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercise tools – machines vs free weights vs bands vs body-weight
  • The real-world effectiveness of different training routines
  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercises – pistol squats vs bodybuilding squats vs power squats

And because I love all my fitness friends, I will be sharing all that glorious data here at Health Habits.

But that’s not all….

Later this month, I will be meeting with the CEO of Tell Spec to discuss when I can expect to get my grubby paws on one of the beta units as well as organizing a series of amazing tests with all the other beta testers.

For those of who who don’t already know, Tell Spec uses a handheld scanner in concert with a learning algorithm and a cloud-based database to create a tool that will tell you exactly what is in the food you eat…or don’t eat.

At present, the “TellSpec BETA identifies calories, macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) and a limited number of ingredients all at reasonable concentrations in food”. And while that would be cool enough, it’s going to get way, way cooler.

As us beta-testers start scanning different foods, we are building the database, pushing the algorithm to evolve…and improving the scope & accuracy of the technology. This means that by the time TellSpec is ready for sale to the general public, it will be able to tell you exactly is in those chicken mcnuggets you scarfed down for lunch.

And while that is amazing enough for us health nerds, what it also means is that the entire processed food industry is going to be in for a rude awakening. Instead of having to deal with a small group of health nuts trying to spread the gospel of healthy eating, they are going to have to deal with a LOT of normal Moms & Dads who are going to be pissed off with the crap they are being sold.

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

And if that wasn’t cool enough, the Tell Spec could be a actual lifesaver for all those kids with serious food allergies. Instead of trusting labels, kids armed with a Tell Spec scanner can make sure that that nut-free cookie is actually nut free.

How cool is that?

Stay tuned…the technological revolution for us health nerds has just begun.

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Children, Health, Politics, Toronto, Woonerfs and a whole big pile of BS

Back in the olden days of my youth, the kids on my block used to race home from school, throw their schoolbooks onto the floor , run back outside and play sports until it was too dark to see and/or someone’s Mom started yelling at everyone to go home for dinner.

So why is it that I never see any kids playing outside anymore?

Maybe it’s because:

  • all the parents are freaked out that their kids will be abducted or run over in front of their house…
  • or the kids are inside playing video games and/or texting their friends…
  • or that cranky neighbour on the block keeps complaining to the city about the noise made by kids playingand the city decided that it’s better to shut up a cranky old SOB than to have our kids out in the fresh air getting some exercise.

road hockey canada

It’s not as if we have a childhood obesity problem….

  • Oh yeah, we do have a childhood obesity problem.

It’s not as if rates of childhood type-2 diabetes have skyrocketed….

  • Oh yeah, rates of childhood type-2 diabetes have skyrocketed.

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids live healthier lives, reducing rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids live healthier lives, reducing rates of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety

obama-basketball

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids score better grades at school….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids score better grades at school

It’s not as if exercise helps our kids develop emotional & social skills while reducing symptoms of ADHD….

  • Oh yeah, exercise does help our kids develop emotional & social skills while reducing symptoms of ADHD

healthy-kids health fitness healthhabits

It’s not as if the value of unstructured play amongst their peers has been scientifically proven to be superior to organized sports in terms of physical, emotional & mental health….

  • Oh yeah, unstructured play amongst their peers has been scientifically proven to be superior to organized sports in terms of the physical, emotional & mental health of our kids.

It’s not as if the cost of organized sports is becoming too expensive for more & more families….

  • Oh yeah, the cost of organized sports is becoming too expensive for more & more families

It’s not as neighbourhoods in which adults & children create social ties (via pick-up sports or other activities) are perceived as better & safer…potentially increasing real estate values.

  • Oh yeah, neighbourhoods with a sense of community are universally perceived as better & safer.

rink - skating outdoor

So why is it that instead of encouraging our kids to be physically active in their neighbourhood, city bureaucrats elect to play Grinch and confiscate their portable basketball net?

Seriously…this is no joke. Police in Ohio literally stopped a bunch of kids from playing hoops in front of their house, dragged away their portable basketball net and fined the adult owner…even after the owner offered to move the net.

How’s that for Serve & Protect?

But that’s not the end of this sad story.

As videos of this type are wont to do…it went viral…with the local news media running it over and over and over, making the police and lawmakers look like total jackasses.

And because no one likes to look like a jackass….when it came time for the net owner to have her day in court, the prosecutor dismissed the case….hoping that the problem will go away and that the tv people will move on to another story. Which it did 😦

And it’s not just in Ohio. Earlier today, I was talking to a Mom in my hometown of Toronto who had a similar story.

She was recently told by the city that she had to remove the portable basketball net that she put up for her kids and their neighbourhood friends….or the city would fine her and remove the net.

And what reason did the city use to demand the removal of the basketball net from the edge of her residential cul-de-sac?

Because it was a danger to garbage collectors.

Sure, they can navigate around parked cars and avoid piles of snow in the winter, but a portable basketball net…that’s a whole different story.

Obviously this is total BS.

And according to my Twitter pal, the real story is that an alleged neighbour, who allegedly works for the city, allegedly complained that the kids were allegedly making too much noise.And because all bureaucracies favor nepotism over common sense, the basketball net had to go.

(see how I avoided a lawsuit by using the word allegedly…smart huh?)

But wait, let’s forget about the BS story about the garbage collectors…what about the children? We all “know” that city streets can be dangerous. And a lot of us believe that city roads were built for automobiles and that kids (or adults) have no business being on the road in front of their house?

IMHO, that is another pile of BS.

One of the fastest growing concepts being used by city planners all around the world, known as the living street or woonerf, is based on the idea that city streets aren’t the exclusive domain of the automobile and that by using a variety of methods…

  • Streets are often built at the same grade as sidewalks, without curbs.
  • Cars are limited to a speed that does not disrupt other uses of the streets (usually defined to be pedestrian speed).
  • To slow down drivers, the street is set up so that a car cannot drive in a straight line for significant distances, for example by placing planters at the edge of the street, alternating the side of the street the parking is on, or curving the street itself.

…drivers are forced to pay attention, slow down, and not treat residential street like main arterial roads. And I think we can all agree that a cul-de-sac should never be confused with a main arterial road.

And while there are still a bunch of city bureaucrats in Ohio & Toronto who have declared war on kids playing hoops or road hockey in front of their homes, there are some brave souls in city government who see the concept of living streets as one to investigate.

While Holland has thousands of woonerfs, Toronto is about to get our first.

Just think, maybe in a few years, Toronto’s elected officials & it’s bureaucracy will see the benefit of:

  • slowing down drivers on our residential streets…
  • allowing our kids to play pick-up street hockey games with their friends…
  • and even getting us old folks outside to sip coffee and chat while watching our kids grow healthy & strong

Then again…maybe it’s better that our residential streets are turning into racetracks and that our kids are growing up fat and unhealthy.

(Apologies for that last sentence…writing this article got my inner Norma Rae worked up)

What would my inner Norma Rae do next?

Toronto is in the midst of an election campaign. On October 27, we go to the polls to elect a new Mayor and a gaggle of councillors, As such, now is the perfect time to give the candidates an opportunity to look like a defender of children and a slayer of stupid bureaucracy.

Here’s what I propose.

And if you can’t do any of that…organize a big road hockey game for this weekend and send me an invite 🙂

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LEPTIN

Is Leptin Gene Therapy the Future of Weight Loss?

Every year, millions of “weight loss” dollars are spent by pharmaceutical companies in the search for a drug that can prevent and/or reverse obesity. And every year, billions of “weight loss” dollars are spent by consumers on supplements, gym memberships, pills, potions & lotions.

Unfortunately, every year…almost all of that money is wasted as obesity rates creep higher & higher…pushing up the number of people with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, etc.

But what if instead of looking for a drug or a vitamin or a diet or a workout…the solution to obesity was genetic therapy?

  • What if there was a way to reverse obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc thanks to a combination of leptin genes and a “safe” adeno-associated virus delivered to you via an IV injection?
  • What if researchers were already working on this?
  • What if the research has already seen success in lab mice studies?

Would that get you excited about a scientific cure for obesity & it’s related lifestyle diseases?

Assuming you answered yes to the above question, I will continue with a brief overview of the science for all you weight-loss geeks.

LEPTIN

A Very Brief Overview of the Science

  • Researchers use adeno-associated viruses as a vehicle to deliver leptin into your body
  • The virus/leptin combo is injected into test subjects (mice) via an IV
  • The nonpathogenic virus infects the host’s cells with the leptin gene
  • The expression of the leptin gene is played out over a long period of time
  • Unlike a direct injection of leptin into the host’s brain, the adenovirus delivery method circumvents the “normal” leptin resistance feedback loop

Allowing for a sustained drop in appetite, a sustained drop in food consumption, a sustained drop in body-fat, reduced blood sugar levels, reduced triglyceride levels, improved glucose tolerance, etc, etc, etc…

What does this mean to YOU?

Unfortunately not very much right now. All of this research is being conducted on mice…meaning that you shouldn’t expect to get an anti-obesity injection from your doctor anytime soon.

Still, as a health & fitness nerd, this science is pretty darn cool. If you think so too, pass it on.

Public interest via social media, means more attention via mainstream media, which means an increased chance that someone / some company with deep pockets will fund additional research.

And additional research can’t help but speed up the process and maybe, just maybe…we’ll have a safe & effective treatment for obesity & it’s related diseases.

And that is pretty darn cool too.

Reference

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How many BURPEES does it take to burn off 1 grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Here at @HealthHabits, I like to try and answer the big questions that have been plaguing mankind since the beginning of time.

  • Where do we come from?
  • Where do we go when we die?
  • How many burpees does it take to burn off 1 grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte with whipped cream?

Today, we’re focusing on the PSL…

Note:

It takes a “fit” person approximately 10 minutes to do 100 burpees. That means, burning off the calories in just one grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte will take Mr. or Ms. Fitness 34 minutes of non-stop burpee action.

34 minutes of this…

burpees

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10 Ways to Burn 1 Pound of Body Fat – Vol. 4

Welcome to the fourth edition of 10 Ways to Burn 1 Pound of Body-Fat.

The following list will highlight different physical activities and tell you how long they will take to burn 500 calories….which is a convenient number because a pound of body fat is 3500 calories and there are 7 days in the week.

And if my Grade 3 math skills are still up to date, 500 calories burned  x 7 days in the week = 3500 calories burned per week = 1 pound of body fat burned off per week.

And that’s pretty cool. So, here we go….

THE LIST

Zumba

  • It will take the average American Male (191 lbs) 62 minutes of Zumbafying to burn 500 calories
  • It will take the average American Female (164 lbs) 72 minutes of shaking her booty to burn 500 calories

zumba

To find out how long it will take YOU to burn 500 calories…

  • take your weight (ex 200 lbs),
  • divide by the average American weight – male or female ( ex 200 lb male / 191 lbs = 1.047),
  • and multiply the result by the average time that I calculated (ex 1.047 x 62 mintes = 65 minutes)

Exercise List

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The Journey from Fat to Fit

Every January, bookstore shelves groan under the weight of the hundreds of brand-new weight loss/diet/exercise/nutrition/snake-oil books.

And every January, millions of people…unhappy with their bodies…spend bazillions of dollars…in the hope that one of those books will contain some magical insight that will allow them to transform their bodies from fat to fit…without having to sweat…eat spinach…or lever their butts off the sofa.

Unfortunately…

The journey from fat to fit is never going to be that easy.

  • You’re going to sweat.
  • You’re going to eat healthy.
  • And you’re going to stop spending every night on the couch watching tv and/or playing XBox.

But in return, you’re going to…

And to help you get there, I have put together the “From Fat to Fit” roadmap…

Consisting of a series of 4 meta-steps, this DIY infographic will make your transformation from fat to fit simpler, faster and much, much, much more effective….I promise.

TheJourneyfromFattoFit

Step 1 – Follow a plan

I don’t really care which plan you follow.

  • If you want to combine an Atkins diet with a yoga routine, go for it.
  • If you want to become a Vegan who does Crossfit, go for it.
  • If you want to count calories and do exercise videos at home, go for it.
  • If you want to join Weight Watchers, perform EFT tapping, go to AquaFit classes with the little old ladies at my gym, go for it.

In my 20+ years as a personal trainer, I have helped people transform their bodies using all sorts of different plans. In my experience, finding a plan that works best with the client’s lifestyle is infinitely more important than the plan itself.

And science finally agrees with me.

According to researchers at McMaster University, all diets work…if you can stick to them.

Conducting a meta-analysis of 48 randomized clinical trials of branded diets – Atkins, Weight Watchers, Zone, Jenny Craig, LEARN, Nutrisystem, Ornish, Volumetrics, Rosemary Conley, Slimming World and South Beach – Mac researchers found that any weight loss differences between these popular diets are minimal and likely of little importance to those wanting to lose weight.

What was important for weight-loss success is the ability of people to stick with the diet.

  • People who stuck with the diet, lost weight.
  • People who didn’t…didn’t.

What this means to you

This means that instead of following the latest & greatest weight loss program, find a program that works best with YOUR current lifestyle.

  • How much time do you have for exercise, meal prep, etc?
  • How much money can you put into the program?
  • What kind of foods do you love/like/hate?
  • Do you prefer group activities or are you a lone wolf?
  • Do you like lifting weights & sprinting or would you rather go for a walk with your dog/spouse?

Be picky. For the plan to work, we NEED it to be a custom-fit it to YOUR lifestyle.

It’s like buying a new pair of shoes. No matter how awesome they look on the shelf, if they don’t have your size, you’re not buying them. 

Step 2 – Cook & eat real food

Back in the olden days, Moms taught their daughters how to shop for, prepare and cook complete, nutritious & yummy meals from scratch. Aside from the obvious gender role sexism, this was a great thing for the health, wealth & appearance of the whole family.

And it’s going to be a great thing for you too.

  • Cooking real food costs less than frozen diet meals
  • Cooking real food costs less than diet-delivery meals
  • Cooking real food lets you modify meals to fit perfectly with your tastebuds
  • Cooking real food will give you complete ownership of your plan and will make you proud of yourself
  • Cooking real food gives you control over the quality of ingredients
  • Cooking real food gives you control over calories
  • Cooking real food gives you control over macro & micronutrients
  • Cooking real food teaches you a skill that you can give to others (kids, friends)
  • Cooking real food can be a very calming, zen experience…helping to reduce day to day stress
  • Cooking real food for friends & family is great for expressing & receiving love…and that’s a heck of a great feeling
  • Cooking real food means no more artificial flavors & colors
  • Cooking real food means you can invent new recipes and try new flavors
  • Cooking real food means that your kids will learn how to cook real food, eat healthy, be healthy, be fit

And that’s just off the top of my head. There are so many more benefits to learning how to cook like Grandma did.

Luckily for you, Youtube has a ton of “How to Cook” instructional videos. Here are a few to check out.

Step 3 – Non-Workout physical activity

On the infographic, I ask the question: After dinner, are you more likely to go for a walk, or sit on the couch and watch tv?

If you answered sit on the couch and watch tv, I am 99.99% sure that you will never achieve your weight loss goals.

There are two reasons why I believe that:

  1. Sitting on the couch at night watching tv (or playing XBox, or surfing the net, or some other form of inactivity) means more calories consumed via snacking & less calories burned as you sit on your keester. Over time, this caloric sabotage is going to make a major difference in your body transformation.
  2. Being inactive during your “leisure time” means much more than just calories in : calories out. It is a symbol that bleeds into the rest of your life, sabotaging your food choices and influencing your decision to skip your early-morning workout or replace your home-made healthy breakfast with a muffin from Starbucks.

On the flipside, being physically active (walking, cycling, cleaning the house,etc) after dinner is guaranteed to have a positive impact on your body transformation.

  • In addition to the calories burned and the snack foods not consumed, going for a walk with your spouse/kids/friend is hugely beneficial to your mental and emotional health.
  • As well, this “non-exercise” exercise has a sneaky way transforming your overall point of view towards leisure time. Watching becomes doing. Instead of staring at a screen, shared experiences become the new normal. The entire family becomes more active and interactive.

Step 4 – What do you do when stress hits?

Nothing wrecks a healthy diet faster than a crappy day at work…or a sick kid…or an overdue pile of bills…or some other emotional catastrophe.

While your logical mind is calmly & rationally telling you how important it is to stick with the plan and eat healthy…your out of control emotions are screaming at you to wolf down a dozen donuts, an extra-large pizza and a six-pack of beer.

Can you guess who is going to win that argument?

Without a pre-existing plan to handle life’s rainy days, your weight loss / getting healthy plans are going to take the occasional beating from your emotions.

Here are a few techniques for controlling your emotions when life punches you in the face

Note: All of these techniques may seem different but they all work on the same principles:

  1. They distract you from the emotional thoughts
  2. They prevent you from obsessing & bring you back into the present moment
  3. They give you time for the emotions to die down & your conscious mind to regain control

My advice: find something that works best for you & your unique lifestyle

  • If you’re religious…pray
  • If you carry a smartphone with headphones…load it up with meditation or brain wave entrainment mp3s
  • If you don’t buy into this new-agey, crunchy-granola stuff…drop to the floor and do push-ups & ab exercises until you are a sweaty mess.

The how is irrelevant…all we care about is short-circuiting your emotions & regaining conscious control of your mind.

Conclusion

Getting lean, fit & healthy isn’t rocket science.

  1. Find a plan that works for YOU
  2. Cook real / healthy food
  3. Increase your “non-exercise” physical activity
  4. Learn to control your emotions

And feel free to contact me with questions (Twitter / Facebook) if you need to chat.

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Truvia is NOT Stevia…but it is a fantastic insecticide

Wait a second. How can Truvia be safe for me to eat and yet it kills fruit flies like Dexter Morgan on crystal meth???

According to study authors Sean O’Donnell and Daniel Marenda, “during an examination of the effects of commonly used non-nutritive sweeteners on the longevity of Drosophila melanogaster (aka the Fruit Fly), they discovered that erythritol, the main component of the sweetener Truvia, was toxic when ingested by fruit flies as compared to similar concentrations of nutritive sugar controls (sucrose, corn syrup) and other non-nutritive sweeteners.”

  • In their study, they found that fruit flies raised in tubes containing Truvia (see above), lived for an average of 5.8 days.
  • The average fruit fly lives 45 to 60 days.

They also found that Truvia-fed flies had difficulty in climbing up a small vial, indicating impaired motor function.

The problem, the team discovered, lies in an ingredient present in Truvia but not in the other six sweeteners: erythritol, a commonly used food additive approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This is the same erythritol that has been found to be safe for rats, dogs, humans, etc in previous studies referenced by the fine people at Coca-Cola and Cargill.

What does all this science this mean???

  • If you’re a fly, this is bad news.
  • If you’re a human who hates fruit flies buzzing around the bananas on your kitchen counter, it’s good news. According to the science, we now have evidence that erythritol baits could be used as effective insecticide against fruit flies.

However, if you’re a consumer of food products containing Truvia, you have a choice to make.

One of the core assumptions of modern toxicology is “the dose makes the poison.” Drinking a glass of water is good for you – Drinking a barrel of water is toxic to you. Conversely, the most acutely lethal toxin known to science is the botulinum toxin – the same toxin used millions of times around the world to get rid of wrinkles.

Based upon this assumption (and the safety studies mentioned previously), Erythritol, and by extension Truvia, is…

  1. Safe to humans
  2. Deadly to fruit flies

However, not every scientist in the world believes in the infallibility of “the dose makes the poison.”

  • Some scientists question whether doses that are “safe for human consumption” are equally safe for babies in the womb.

For example, this study found that a dose of atrazine (a commonly used herbicide) 20,000 times lower than the lowest level known to affect adult frogs caused 20% of tadpoles to become hermaphroditic in adulthood.

And it’s not just the effect of toxins on our little frog babies. Not all toxins follow the “normal” monotonic curve in which the response to a dose of toxin increases with the size of the dose. Some toxins respond as per the non-monotonic curves pictured below.

For example, this study found that lower doses of BPA (bisphenol A) can have larger impacts upon the proliferation of prostate tumors in adult male humans than higher doses. Weird but true.

At the end of the day, what does all of this mean to you???

  • Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol?
  • Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant?
  • Should you buy a jar of Truvia and leave it open in your kitchen to kill fruit flies?

Me?

  • I would rather drink water
  • If I had to choose a calorie-free sweetener, I would choose stevia over Truvia
  • I would also advise all potential parents to follow my lead.

What about you?

  • What do you think of the research?
  • Do you consume Truvia?
  • Will you continue to consume Truvia?

Reference

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How to Get a Tan Without Risking Skin Cancer

  • You know that you look better with a bit of a tan.
  • But, you’re worried about getting skin cancer.

What would you say if I told you that there is some pretty solid science showing that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is more effecting at improving skin colour than suntanning?

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior showed that (Caucasian) people who eat lots of fruit and vegetables have a more golden skin colour thanks to the high levels of carotenoids.

Most widely known for their presence in carrots, carotenoids are a type of antioxidant that helps reverse the oxidative damage we incur in our daily lives. In particular, carotenoids have a powerful effect on our immune and reproductive systems.

Lead author Dr Ian Stephen said: “We found that, given the choice between skin colour caused by suntan and skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin colour, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”

Dr Stephen suggests that the study is important because evolution would favour individuals who choose to form alliances or mate with healthier individuals over unhealthy individuals.

We should note that while this study looked exclusively at Caucasian faces, it may be true that a study of other racial groups would produce similar results.

Previous studies have shown similar preferences for skin yellowness to be found in an African population.

For more info on this study;

If you want to participate in future studies regarding health & beauty, check out The Perception Lab.

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The Best Tasting Fruit You Have Never Tasted

What do you think of when I say the word – FRUIT?

If you’re like the vast, vast majority of North Americans, you are now thinking of…

  • Apples,
  • Bananas,
  • Oranges,
  • Grapes,
  • Watermelon,
  • Strawberries, or
  • Peaches

And that’s okay.

There are lots of reasons why the fruits listed above are North America’s most popular.

  • They taste great.
  • They’re portable.
  • And they have transitioned well to industrial farming techniques.

However….after 40-something years of crunching apples in the fall, slurping watermelon in the summer and blending up berries & bananas in my smoothies year-round, my taste-buds started to become bored with the Top 10 fruits & vegetables.

Luckily for me, the solution to my gustatory ennui was a brisk 20 minute walk down Spadina Ave to Toronto’s Chinatown and it’s vast array of produce vendors and exotic fruits & veg.

Luckily for all of us, if you can’t find the following fruits in your hometown, there are a LOT of online produce peddlers who will pack & ship fresh produce direct to your door. As I have access here in Toronto, I haven’t ordered online and as such, can’t recommend any particular vendors.

Note: This list of my favorite fruit will continue to grow as I try & fall in love with new products. Whenever I add a new fruit, I will re-post the article. If you want to be updated, sign up for an email subscription to the blog and you will get new article updates.

Alright…here we go….introducing the best tasting fruit you have never tasted. 

Durian

durian fruit health nutrition healthhabits

Some of you have already heard of Durian fruit. More specifically, you may have heard about how Durian smells like:

  • rotten onions,
  • pig-shit,  
  • vomit,
  • skunk spray,
  • turpentine,
  • raw sewage,
  • gym socks, etc.

Seriously…this thing is so stinky, it has been banned from hotels and public transportation systems all over Southeast Asia.  But the taste more than makes up for the odor. Durian fruit offers a taste that is unlike any other thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. 

A taste that was best described by a British naturalist named Alfred Russel Wallace way back in 1856:

The five cells within are silky-white, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes.

Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. … as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed

Because of the stink, I don’t eat Durian as often as I like.

To make life easier (and to keep my wife happy), I prefer to head down to Chinatown and have it prepared for me in one of the nearby restaurants. That way I get all the yummy flavor and don’t have to deal with the prep or the stinky leftovers

Next Page – Sugar Apple (aka Sweetsop and/or Custard Apple)

More best tasting fruit you have never tasted.

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Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks – good idea, bad idea???

Last Friday, California’s State Senate Appropriations Committee voted (5-2) to pass a measure requiring distributors of bottled or canned sugary drinks to put a warning label on their beverage container.

SB1000 would require a warning label to be placed on the front of all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories in every 12 ounces.

Not too surprisingly, America’s soda pop producers were not amused. The California Beverage Association issued the following statement.

“We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue,” the group said in a statement, calling the proposed bill “misleading” claiming that “just 6 percent of calories in the average American’s diet come from soda, fruit, sports and energy drinks, compared with 11 percent in sweets and deserts. Moreover, it said most calories are consumed in the form of fats, oils and starches in food”.

Translation: We agree that our product is crap and directly contributes to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer, but…we’re not as bad as the guys who sell candy bars, potato chips, pizza, etc.

What happens next?

  • SB1000 requires a majority vote of the full Senate before it can become law. That vote is scheduled to occur in the next two weeks. In the meantime…
  • Supporters of the bill (California Medical Association, California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the California Black Health Network and supporting Senators) will issue public statements supporting the bill and it’s health & financial benefits.
  • Critics of the bill (California Beverage Association) will defend their position on health promotion, question the effectiveness of warning labels and raise the issue of potential job losses due to the cost associated with placing warning labels on their products.

Will the Bill become Law?

Who knows?  Going up against the processed food industry is no easy task. Pepsico and Coca Cola have lobbied and defeated previous labelling and “soda tax” bills in states across the nation.

Still, proponents of the bill are hopeful. California’s Democrats hold a super-majority in the Legislature and are traditionally more supportive of this type of motion.

Will the Warning Labels Have Any Effect?

Once again…who knows?

In a recent study,  researchers concluded that if the USA had adopted cigarette package warning labels in 2012 (when Canada enacted tobacco labelling legislation), the number of adult smokers in the USA would have decreased by 5.3–8.6 million by 2013….meaning that there would have been 5.3–8.6 million Americans with a reduced chance of dying from lung cancer.

Health warnings on cigarette packages saved lives in Canada and would have saved lives in the U.S. of A. And that sounds like a pretty darn good return on investment.

So….is it really such a jump in logic to assume that health warnings on sugary drinks would also reduce consumption of said sugary drinks…thereby improving American rates of insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer???

Are all Warning Labels equally effective?

After looking at Canada’s gnarly anti-smoking images, I started wondering if California’s proposed sugary drink warning label….

…will be as effective?

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Will a text-based warning be as effective as pictures of cancerous lungs and impotent cigarettes?

Methinks that California’s legislators need to go back to ye olde Photoshop drawing board and bedazzle their warning labels.

Let’s see if we can come up with something better

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Nothing like a little parental awareness (guilt?) to help spark better shopping habits.

Somehow, I doubt that Pepsi will re-work their logo to create this custom sugary drink warning label.

If morbid obesity isn’t a strong enough warning, how about neuropathic foot ulcers and leg amputations???

obesity-warning-fruit-juice

There is nothing like a juice box full of chemicals & high fructose corn syrup to show that you don’t give a shit about your kid.

What do YOU think?

  • Are warning labels on sugary drinks a good idea?
  • Is a text-only label as effective as labels with scary pictures?
  • Can you come up with any better labels?
  • Would you like to see these labels where you live?
  • If so, would you be willing to email your gov’t representative RIGHT NOW and tell them that you want warning labels on sugary drinks?

Reference

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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…

abs are earned in the kitchen (1)

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???

 

That IS the billion dollar question.

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Who do you trust with your health?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the food provided to us by Mother Nature/God/Natural Selection?
  • Or do you trust the processed food executive whose job depends on you eating more deep-fried GMO corn covered in pink slime and processed cheese food?

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the reassuring tv voice (I’m not a real doctor, but I play one on tv commercials) urging you to buy their latest pill for fixing your blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, wonky erection, etc?
  • Or do you trust the family doctor who sits down with you, looks you dead in the eye and tells you that you need to make some unpleasant life changes…even if you’re going to get pissed off?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the celebrity diet guru/celebrity trainer/celebrity doctor who promises a miracle plan/workout/supplement?
  • Or do you trust the “real-world” nutritionist/trainer/doctor/friend/stranger at the gym who tells you that getting healthy is a lot of hard work…and then proceeds to tell you why?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust late-night infomercials?
  • Or do you trust scientific research?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the people peddling MLM weight-loss shakes on social media?
  • Or do you trust the guy/gal who brings a big tupperware of healthy food for lunch every day?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Do you trust the part of yourself that looks for an easy solution to getting healthy & fit?
  • Or do you trust the part of yourself that knows that healthy & fit doesn’t come easy?

Who do you trust with your health?

  • Your answer

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Springtime: Time for Cleansing?

Ahhhhhhh, the first day of spring.

The time of year when we say goodbye to snow and parkas and snow and cold and snow….and turn towards the ugly truth that hibernating for three months has resulted in a few extra pounds of body-fat.

For us northerners, this period of winter-hibernation is pretty natural. Kinda like a bear.

Unfortunately, unlike our ursine friends, you (and I) don’t have the ability to slow down (and speed up) our metabolisms as the seasons change. As a result, homo sapiens need to take some external steps to un-do the damage caused by a winter of sloth and comfort eating.

And because this physique neglect is fairly universal in cold-weather climates, spring-time presents an annual opportunity for health/fitness/nutrition companies peddling products designed to help us reverse the effects of our winter sloth.

Unlike the January onslaught of diet books, spring is dedicated to cleansing.

What is cleansing?

According to Wikipedia, cleansing is alternative medicine “approach that claims to rid the body of “toxins” – accumulated harmful substances that allegedly exert undesirable effects on individual health in the short or long term. Detoxification usually includes one or more of: dieting, fasting, consuming exclusively or avoiding specific foods (such as fats, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, juices, herbs, or water), colon cleansing, chelation therapy, or the removal of dental fillings.

According to my naturopath, nutritionist, osteopath, alternative medicine pals, cleansing is a practice where you…

  1. Reduce stress on your body by dieting, fasting, colon cleansing and/or eliminating “stressful” foods
  2. Supporting your physical body via herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc
  3. Supporting your mental/emotional/spiritual body by meditating, praying or any other practice that helps you become more conscious of yourself.

Note – most mainstream cleansing programs focus on the diet and supplements. Probably because it’s hard to package meditation and/or prayer in a box. Kidding aside, step #3 can be quite personal and is pretty hard to sell to a mainstream audience. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It can be as simple as sitting still for 5 minutes a day and paying attention to your breath.

Still Interested in Cleansing?

Before you run out to the health food store and buy a cleansing kit, lets take a close look at what makes a cleanse a cleanse so that you can better understand what type of cleanse works best for you.

Part 1 – Reducing Stress on Your Physical Body

This aspect of cleansing is all about taking a break from your normal patterns of eating, drinking, inhaling, etc. This means…

  • Eating less food – dieting and/or fasting
  • Eating healthier foods – reducing processed foods, reducing harder to digest foods (animal protein), supplementing with vitamins, mineral, herbs, etc to give your body all of the “stuff” it needs to be as healthy as possible.
  • Drinking healthier drinks – say yes to water and tea – reduce or say no to booze, dairy, coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, etc.
  • Stop smoking (tobacco, etc)
  • Clean out all of the junk you have collected in your colon via a colonic or an herbal/fibre cleanse. I know it sounds gross, but there is a lot of data (scientific & non-scientific) linking leaky gut syndrome to a whole host of inflammatory conditions. And while there is little scientific proof backing up the efficacy of colonic cleansing, I have spoke with far too many people who speak highly on a colon cleanse to dismiss it out of hand. The idea is that you clear out a lot of the residual “stuff” that can line the walls of the colon possibly leading to leaky gut/diverticulosis/etc.

Note: There is no science backing up the claims being made by proponents of colonic cleansing. However, there is no science indicating that an herbal cleanse can cause you any harm. This treatment modality is 100% up to you.

Part 2 – Heal Your Physical Body

In Part 1 of a cleanse, you are removing “harmful” substances, foods, habits from your life. In Part 2, you are giving your body an abundance of healing nutrients to supercharge your body’s ability to maintain perfect health.

We’re talking vitamins, minerals, enzymes, high ORAC fruit & vegetables (whole & supplements), healthy oils, herbs and lots and lots of water.

Note: A lot of cleansing kits focus on supplements designed to support liver function as the liver’s main job is to filter junk out of our bodies. And while supporting liver function makes sense to me, I prefer to take a more wholistic view of the body. The liver doesn’t work in isolation. Your kidneys, lungs & skin also play a role in removing toxins from your body. If we’re cleansing the entire body, shouldn’t we support the entire body.

Part 3 – Supporting/Cleansing Your Mental/Emotional/Physical Body

You won’t find any mention of Part 3 in any cleansing kit you pick up at your local health food store. And I won’t be offended if you skip this part of the article altogether.

But…if you’re going to all the trouble of dieting/fasting/colon cleansing and popping supplements to help your physical body operate better…can’t you find a few minutes in the day to make yourself a little bit calmer…a little bit happier…a little bit less stressed out???

You’re ready to start cleansing…now what?

  • Start by deciding if you want to buy a “cleansing kit” or you want to DIY it. It’s up to you and your personality. Some people do better following a pre-set program (buy a kit at the health food store, buy a cleansing book, do the Master Cleanse, etc) while others would rather come up with a plan that fits THEIR lifestyle and personal likes/dislikes.
  • Know that all cleansing plans are offering some combination of Parts 1 & 2 that I outlined above. All of them. The Master Cleanse reduces calories, keeps water consumption up and claims that the lemon & pepper cleanses your system while the maple syrup provides necessary nutrients. The Cleanse-in-a-box kit from the drugstore tells you to cut calories, eat your veggies and pop their pills with lots of water. What they are telling you to do is very simple. They make their money selling you the associated products/services. Don’t be fooled into thinking they have some secret knowledge.
  • Now that you have looked behind the wizard’s curtain and understand what makes a cleanse a cleanse, take a look at a bunch of cleansing products. Do they make sense to you? Do they jive with your lifestyle? Do they cost too much money? Do you need all the bells & whistles. Be critical. Use that big homo sapiens brain of yours.
  • Find a friend to cleanse with you. Misery loves company and it is easier to stick to a cleanse if someone else is doing it with you.
  • Pick a start date and an end date. Get everything prepared for your start date. If you’re not prepared – food, supplements, tupperware, etc – you’re gonna fail.
  • If you fail to complete your full cleanse, don’t worry about it. However long you stuck to the plan did some good for your body. Be proud of that….and then get ready to start the cleanse again. You can do it.

GOOD LUCK

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