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

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

  • Is it genetics? Money? Willpower?

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

  • It’s mindset.

And yours may be holding you back.

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

What Is “Mindset”?

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

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

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

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

mindset health healthhabits

How Mindset Affects Your Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Change Your Philosophy and Mindset

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

This is what Dweck suggests in her book:

Step 1. Recognize fixed mindset thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3. Take action.

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

Here are some strategies that will help you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Ways to Workout Smarter….not Harder

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

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

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

Tip # 1 – High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT

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

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

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

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

Next Page : Movements not Muscles…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

healthy is happy

Fitspiration Friday

On a person’s journey from fat to fit, there is going to come a time when personal motivation wanes and the possibility of missing workouts and cheating on the healthy-eating plan becomes all too real.

That’s when we all need a little external motivation.

That motivation can come in two very different forms : the carrot & the stick.

fitspiration
An example of “stick” motivation
  • As a personal trainer, I use a lot of stick motivation with my clients (a little bit of carrot…but mostly stick)
  • One of the most effective forms of carrot motivation is fitspiration…motivational images designed to light a fire under a temporarily lazy ass…
  • Pictures of ultra-fit people…
  • Motivational sayings…
  • Before : after transformation pics…

…serve to help a lot of people (myself included) stay focused on their goals and give them the external motivation that they need periodically to recharge their own internal motivation.

If that sounds like something that might work for you, check out these fitspiration images that I created and/or “borrowed” from around the internet.

And if you feel that these images present unrealistic expectations and do nothing to motivate you, stop reading this post, find something else that can light a fire under your ass and/or find a personal trainer to do it for you. Or leave a snarky comment…your choice.

discipline (2)
Every January, health clubs around the world are swarmed by millions of people who have resolved that this will be the year that they get lean, fit & healthy.

Unfortunately for the vast majority of them, once the initial enthusiasm has worn off and the realization that getting fit is hard work becomes painfully real…they quit…leaving the gym to those of us with the discipline to do what needs to be done…even when we don’t want to.

ultimate weight loss transformation

The Ultimate Weight Loss Transformation

For the record, I like my Santa to be fat, jolly and full of cookies & milk, but around this time last year, our dear old Mrs. Claus was getting a little worried about old Saint Nick’s rising blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Terrified that she was going to lose her man to a heart attack or complications of diabetes, she decided to make some lifestyle changes…and since this past January, it’s been goodbye to the Coca-Cola, cookies, pizza, McDonalds Meal Deals and non-stop reality tv while parked in the La-Z-Boy….and hello to the Paleo Diet, hill sprints and High Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT).

most amazing weight loss transformation

Note – If you need help with your own ultimate weight loss transformation, feel free to stay up and weight for Santa on Christmas Eve…or do some surfing through my archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, you read that right. LESS.

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

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

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

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

eating too much food - restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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5 Reasons You Should Go Gluten Free

Hey everybody…today’s post is written by my personal go-to source for all things GLUTEN…Ms. Jaqui Karr blogger, author, public speaker and expert on gluten and it’s impact on your auto-immune system.

A few weeks ago, I asked Jaqui if she would write me an article on gluten that would give my readers all the bullet-points that they need to know about why and how to go gluten free. I didn’t want her to go into all the intricate details…explaining and proving her points with research and quotes from PhDs. What I wanted was a list of simple – do this / don’t do this – instructions for those of us without an encyclopedic knowledge of gluten and how it may be screwing up our health.

And here are the results…enjoy

GlutenDemystified

1) Gluten is killing you slowly and retarding your brain function. We are all intolerant to gluten at varying levels and your DNA will determine the effects it has on you, but have no doubt gluten IS affecting you negatively and the biggest impact is on the brain. Depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s; there are studies showing even people with schizophrenia healed when they go gluten free and adopt a clean pure diet.

grain brain

2) There are over 300 symptoms and diseases medically and scientifically linked to gluten. As you read this you are experiencing several of them like headaches, stubborn weight, foggy brain, depression, mood swings, skin issues, dry scalp, insomnia, sexual malfunction, back pain, joint pain, muscle soreness, bone deterioration (did you know that most women diagnosed with osteoporosis unknowingly had Celiac Disease when tested later?)

3) Your body and brain function more efficiently when you go gluten free. Gluten causes chaos in your system; it is the ultimate cause & effect. Remove the cause (gluten) and you remove the effects

Gluten-Induced-Disease-Chart-

4) It’s easy to make switches and there’s no denying that a more pure diet will help you get to optimal health. It is impossible to say that when you replace over-processed bleached chemically treated fillers like wheat and barley with real pure foods you won’t feel better. There’s not even a question that it will improve your Quality of Life.

5) You want healthier kids. Gluten is medically linked to ADD, ADHD, Autism, stunted growth, muscle atrophy, and of course: weakened or completely malfunctioning auto-immune system. “Celiac Disease” (which 30% of the developed world has the genes for is exactly that: an exhaustion of the auto-immune system until it fails and starts misreading food).

Next PageThe 5 Best Steps to Going Gluten Free

10 Fantastic Fitness Gifs

If you like fitness…and you like gifs…you’ve come to the right place. Today’s post is a collection of fantastic fitness gifs that I whipped together last night when I couldn’t sleep 😦 Enjoy… kettlebell-swing Kettlebell (or dumbbell) Swings are one of my favorite exercises.

  • They are a great way to dynamically warm up your entire body prior to your regular resistance training workout
  • They are a great way to build core strength
  • They are a great way to strengthen your glutes / booty / butt / rear end / badonkadonk
  • They are a great way to mobilize your hips and prevent muscle imbalances & their associated aches and pains

Next PageStir the Pots

The 12 Most Amazing Hollywood Physique Transformations

In Hollywood, the competition for blockbuster parts is fierce. Sometimes, the difference between landing the leading role and getting a “we’ll be in touch with your agent” brush-off can come down to whether or not…

  1. you have a wicked set of abs and…
  2. a set of pecs that would make Kate Upton jealous.

Seriously, if you’re looking for some motivation to help you hitting the gym and sticking to your diet, check out these amazing Hollywood physique transformations achieved by some of today’s biggest male movie stars…

 1.  Christian Bale

christian-bale-muscle-transformation Christian dropped more than 60 pounds from his normal weight to play the lead role in The Machinist. In the five months between finishing that role and starting shooting for Batman Begins, Christian had to train and eat his way from 120 pounds to 220. Unfortunately, Batman director Christopher Nolan felt Bale had bulked up too much and had him drop 20 of the 100 pounds he had just gained.

Keep that in mind next time you need to drop (or gain) 5 lbs.

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  1. Christian Bale
  2. Michael Chiklis
  3. Daniel Craig
  4. Russell Crowe
  5. Robert DeNiro
  6. Robert Downey Jr.
  7. Ryan Gosling
  8. Hugh Jackman
  9. Edward Norton
  10. Brad Pitt
  11. Ryan Reynolds
  12. Will Smith

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What Happens When Superstar Athletes Endorse Junk Food

  • In a free market, superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams are free to negotiate celebrity endorsement contracts with any company that they choose.

lebron sprite

  • In a free market, parents, pediatricians, anti-obesity advocates and health & fitness nerds like myself are free to be peeved that superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams choose to endorse products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are free to research which superstar athletes are most likely to trade their celebrity status with children for big endorsement contracts with companies who market  products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

athletes market junk food

  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are also free to distribute that research to the media in an attempt to shame superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams about their decision to endorse products that threaten the health of their young fans.

freeoreos1

  • In a free market, public health experts are free to postulate what would happen if superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams had been exposed to the same kind of celebrity endorsed messages that today’s kids are exposed to.

fat lebron

  • In a free market, we are free to absolve Big Food corporations of any & all responsibility and choose to heap all the blame on the parents who buy their children junk food.
  • In a free market, we are also free to recognize that childhood obesity isn’t as simple as “blame the parents” or “blame the corporations” or “blame the government”, and that parents, government, food producers and superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams have all played a role in the obesification of our children.
  1. Parents feed their kids too much junk food.
  2. Government officials are manipulated by the lobbyists of Big Food producers into placing corporate profits ahead of the health of our children as well as the exploding healthcare costs that threaten the financial health of our countries.
  3. And superstar athletes (and other celebrity endorsers) ignore the reality that the kids who look up to them are being harmed by their financial decisions.
  • In a free market, we are free to use social media to tell our sports heroes that we want them to stop selling junk food to our kids
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  • In a free market, we are free to tell our politicians to cut junk food subsidies, promote healthy eating and to force Big Food producers to stop advertising junk food to our pre-teen children.

twinkies1

  • In a free market, we are also free to accept our share of the responsibility and stop feeding our children huge quantities of junk food.

choose-real-food

Childhood obesity is a real threat to the future health of our children and there is more than enough blame to go around.

What Now???

  • If you want to check out the study looking at superstar athletes and their involvement shilling for junk food companies, head over to the Rudd Center website and read it – Athlete Endorsements in Food Marketing – Pediatrics
  • If you want to apply some pressure on the athletes named in the study, go to their social media profiles (Twitter & Facebook are a good place to start) and tell them that you are not impressed. You can also contact the teams that they play for and tell them that you are not impressed with the behaviour of their employee.
  • If you want to apply pressure to the government, write/email/call your representatives directly and tell them that you expect them to start putting the health of young kids ahead of the health of corporate balance sheets.
  • And if you want to apply pressure to the producers of junk food….STOP BUYING JUNK FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS.

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What do you think?

  • As a parent, do you appreciate Peyton, LeBron and Serena telling your kids to eat junk food?
  • How would you feel if they were advertising cigarettes or alcohol?
  • Should today’s athletes be expected to project an positive image of health & fitness?
  • If an athlete’s image is tarnished for taking PEDs, shouldn’t it be tarnished for marketing junk food to children?
  • Do athletes in team sports have a duty to their team to project an image of sportsmanship, athleticism,etc?
  • Do you consider the modern athlete a positive role model for our kids?
  • Do you appreciate junk food producers running advertisements on programs/websites dedicated to pre-teens?
  • Do employees of junk food producers have an ethical responsibility to not manipulate pre-teens?
  • Tobacco, alcohol and firearm producers are prohibited from marketing to children…why not producers of products that promote obesity, diabetes and heart disease?
  • Should our political representatives be placing the health of our children above the profits of junk food producers?
  • Should our politicians be placing the profits and jobs of junk food producers over the health of our children?
  • Should parents stop their kids from watching tv shows with ads for junk food?
  • Should parents contact tv networks to complain about junk food advertising aimed at their kids?
  • Should parents contact their politicians and demand expanded limitations on marketing products to children?
  • Should parents teach their kids about what advertisers are trying to do by running ads during Sesame Street et al?
  • Should parents be teaching their kids about living a healthy lifestyle?
  • Should parents ignore their kids demands for junk food?
  • Should parents feed their kids healthy food most of the time?
  • Should parents eat healthy and teach their kids by example?
  • Should I take a chill pill and stop stressing about junk food producers trying to brainwash our kids, politicians placing their financial wants over the health of our kids and parents abandoning their responsibilities and feeding their kids junk food every day???

Reference

What Happens When A Skinny Person Gets Fat

No one ever said the world was fair.

  • Some of us can eat and drink whatever we want…and never gain a pound of body-fat.

Victorias-Secret-vs-Dove-women

  • While some of us eat healthy, eat small portions, exercise religiously…and still have to shop for Plus Size clothes.

NOT FAIR….especially in a society which:

  • Rewards women (and men) who are lean, fit and have no need to squeeze into a pair of Spanx.
  • Punishes obese women (and men) with lower pay, bad jokes and outright hostility by a growing army of douche-bags.

So, what happens when the world goes all Freaky Friday and a 39 year old woman who is naturally tall…naturally lean…while being naturally addicted to potato chips & pizza…suddenly gains 30 pounds in less than 3 months…without changing her diet or level of physical activity?

  1. Does she freak out and start snorting diet pills?
  2. Does she go into denial and pretend that she still fits into her uber-skinny “skinny jeans”?
  3. Does she morph into a rabid Fat Acceptance advocate denying that obesity is a symptom of less-than-optimum health?
  4. Or does she step back, look critically at the situation and start looking for causes, cures and support?

Here’s what happened

About two weeks ago, I got a call from Ms. Skinny/Fat to discuss her recent & unexpected weight gain.

She told me that how, after a brief period of denial (#2), she had become concerned that this weight gain might be an indicator of a hormonal imbalance or some other health issue…and that she had better do something about it (#4). She had already booked an appointment with her family doctor, but since she is friends with one of the world’s greatest weight loss experts (moi), she decided to solicit my opinion.

Over a cup of coffee with her and her husband, we discussed the past six months of her life…what she ate, when she ate it, her work life, her home life, her medical history, her stress levels, her husband, her plans for the next six months, etc…

We looked into every nook and cranny of her physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual aspect of her life…trying to find clues for why her body decided to stop being skinny and start being pudgy.

What we found was that a teeny-tiny dose of mirtazapine (1/4th of the normal starting dose – prescribed for anxiety) was most likely the culprit to have caused a significant shift in her appetite, metabolism, insulin sensitivity, leptin sensitivity and ultimately caused this naturally skinny person to get fat

After a quick consultation with her doctor, Ms. Skinny/Fat made 4 immediate changes to her daily routine:

  1. She started bleeding herself off of the mirtazapine
  2. She started taking a new prescription for anxiety
  3. She started a CBT/Mindfulness Mediatation program for anxiety
  4. She removed ALL starchy carbs from her diet in an attempt to compensate for any potential insulin/leptin sensitivty problems

The Result?

  • Her appetite dropped immediately
  • Her weight gain stopped immediately
  • After one week, weight loss has begun

The Moral(s) of the Story?

  1. It doesn’t take much for a naturally skinny person to get booted out of their excluisive little club. A slight shift in hormones or brain chemicals can have a drastic effect upon body composition.
  2. If you are the type of skinny person who thinks that fatties are fat because they are lazy and without self-control, you may want to put down your prejudices and give your brain a shake.
  3. Obesity IS a symptom of something going on in your body. A perfectly healthy body is NOT obese. Whether the cause of your obesity is easy to find and/or easy to correct is another question altogether. In this case, it was pretty easy to find and seems to be on its way to being corrected.
  4. If you are the type of obese person who blames their metabolism for their obesity, you might be correct in the diagnosis, but you are 100% wrong if you think the situation is hopeless. Obesity isn’t a curse. It’s a symptom of imbalance. Discover the imbalance and try to correct it.

Reference

Be the Best You that You Can Be

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

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

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

We all have limitations…

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

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

calvin-klein-models

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

Be the Best You that You Can Be

 

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The Cure for Stress?

Life is stressful…for all of us.

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

amygdala

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

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

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

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

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

The Science

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what they found:

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

From these observations, the researchers concluded that:

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Reference

Change Your Body Language Change Your Life

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

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

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

What you may not know is that…

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

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

power-posing-hormones

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

Seriously…this stuff works.

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

Reference

The Real Hockey Night in Canada

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

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

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

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

Feel Great with Micro Workouts

What is your typical day like?

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

If you said #1…congratulations…and stop reading

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

Jumping_Jack

 

What are Micro Workouts?

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

What can Micro Workouts do for ME?

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

But I already go to the gym three times per week

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

What do I do?

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

Examples please….

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

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

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

Reference

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Harness Your Emotions to Lose Weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a bunch of images to get you started.

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

The Stick

Nobody says mean things about a fat person…like that fat person says about themselves. Seriously, you would not believe how mean overweight people are to themselves. It’s like masochism & obesity go hand in hand. What makes it even worse is that all of those feelings of self-hatred often end up reinforcing the very behaviors which led to the obesity in the first place. What we need to do is turn those negative feelings around so they help motivate you to stick with your new healthy lifestyle.

Here’s what I want you to do:

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

One More Thing

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

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Say Yes to Fitism

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

How come we never hear about…

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

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

What to do when Life Sucks

Sometimes life sucks.

  • You have a bad day at work
  • You sat in traffic for hours
  • Your “fat clothes” are fitting way too tight
  • You’re sick of being single
  • You’re sick of being married
  • A dog pooped on your front lawn

In response, you:

  • Smack-talk your boss behind their back, or
  • Give the finger to the jerk who cut you off in traffic, or
  • Eat an entire bag of Oreos, or
  • Cry, scream, punch, swear, drink, etc…

And after all that…your life still kinda sucks…maybe even a little worse.

If this sounds like you (me) and you are open to breaking a few of your bad habits, you might want to listen to the words of Pema Chödrön – an American Buddhist who is the resident teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia.

In her book Taking the Leap, Pema Chödrön talks a lot about the Tibetan Buddhist concept of shenpa.

Shenpa is that feeling of being very uncomfortable and having an immediate desire to get away from that feeling as fast as possible. It’s kind of like we are like little kids stricken with a nasty case of poison ivy. The itch is horrible and all we want to do is scratch and scratch and scratch. Unfortunately, scratching makes poison ivy worse.

In real life, when we experience something unpleasant, shenpa kicks in and instigates a strong desire to do “something” to try and make the unpleasantness stop.

That “something” could include the aforementioned smack-talking, finger-waving, over-eating, bad tv watching, cigarette smoking, etc, etc, etc…

Unfortunately for you, giving into shenpa usually makes things worse in real life too.

  1. It relieves our suffering for only a very short amount of time, and
  2. After which, we return to the same problems we had before we inhaled those Oreos
  3. Only now we have to deal with the after-effects of our shenpa over-reaction.

Obesity, traffic tickets, unemployment, alcoholism, a punch in the nose, etc…

Chödrön suggests a different approach.

Instead of running away from life’s bad news….sit with it.

Pay attention to what has just happened and how it makes you feel. Don’t react. Pay attention. And then do what you can to make the crappy stuff a little bit better.

Kind of like putting calamine lotion on poison ivy instead of scratching it.

National Donut Day

Today is NATIONAL DONUT DAY…aka:

  • National Morbid Obesity Day
  • National Celiac Day
  • National Type 2 Diabetes Day

…and OMG…is that a Maple Bacon Donut???

Burp.

MOTIVATION - CHOOSE YOUR HABITS DIET EXERCISE HEALTH FITNESS

Instant Exercise Motivation #19

The decision to munch on a cookie while watching tv at night instead of sipping on a protein shake after going for a jog is driven by your unconscious habits.

And those habits are controlled by the Basal Ganglia region of your brain.

For more info on your basal ganglia and all the how, why and what can I do about it….check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It gets a little wordy at times, but it covers a lot of the science as well as offering a plan for modifying the habits you want to modify.

Instant Exercise Motivation

MOTIVATION - CHOOSE YOUR HABITS DIET EXERCISE HEALTH FITNESS

America's Food FAIL: Pink Slime in your Burgers and Bugs in your Frappucinos

  • Starbucks Strawberry and Creme Frappuccinos are colored with BUGS……instead of strawberries.

Well done America’s food producers……well done.

America’s Food FAIL: Pink Slime in your Burgers and Bugs in your Frappucinos

  • Starbucks Strawberry and Creme Frappuccinos are colored with BUGS……instead of strawberries.

Well done America’s food producers……well done.

The Coolest Way to Get Bigger Biceps

Brazilian researchers have discovered the absolute coolest way to build massive muscles.

In their study, 16 men were subjected to a laboratory workout consisting of 4 sets of bicep curls at 80% of their 1 RM. The men were asked to perform repetitions to voluntary fatigue and the number of reps were recorded.

In between sets, researchers applied wet bags of ice to the biceps of 8 of the men.

RESULTS?

The 8 men who received the inter-set cooling protocol were able to complete 21% more reps than the control group.

And if that wasn’t cool enough, blood tests indicated that those extra reps were achieved without inducing any additional muscle damage.

Conclusion

  • Hypertrophy is primarily a function of load, volume and recovery.
  • Bodybuilders spend thousands of dollars on drugs and supplements to achieve a 20% increase in training volume
  • The first guy who tries this at your gym is going to look like a freak

Reference

The Prejudice Against Muscled-Americans

America has a secret shame.

Even after decades of confronting her racial, social & religious prejudices, Miss Liberty still harbors an unspoken hatred towards her most defenseless of citizens.

The Muscled-American

And the first step towards ending this muscle-ism is to admit that it exists and expose it to the light of day.

And Jason Jones of the Daily Show has done just that.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Plight of Muscled Americans
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:396657
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
  • Comedy Network – Canada
  • vodpod
  • hulu

🙂

Improve Your Bad Mood with Fatty Food

A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed that this great big delicious, chocolate-fudge ice cream sundae has the power to reduce feelings of sadness.

Congratulations science…..you now know what every Mom with a crying child has known for millenia.

Food soothes raw emotions.

In particular, fatty foods can reduce feelings of sadness or stress or depression…

The Science

The researchers took a group of twelve healthy human volunteers and:

  1. Put them on a 12 hour fast
  2. Induced either neutral or sad emotions (via music & visual images)
  3. Delivered an intragastric infusion of either fatty acids of saline
  4. Measured their levels of fullness, hunger, nausea and mood
  5. Performed a 40-minute fMRI scan, while
  6. Measuring fullness, hunger, nausea and mood 3 more times during the fMRI scan.

Here’s what they found

  • Hunger scores increased during sad emotion and decreased during neutral emotion conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference in hunger ratings between the emotions was much smaller in fat compared with that in saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect)
  • This indicates that the effect of sad mood on hunger is attenuated by fatty acids.
  • The fMRI results agreed with these findings – showing that the behavioral and nerve cell responses to sad emotions were also lessened.

  • Mood ratings decreased during the sad conditions, with no change or a slight increase during the neutral conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference between emotions was smaller in the fat than in the saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect).
  • This difference confirms that fatty acids successfully moderate feelings of sadness.

Conclusion

Previous research has shown that sugary, high-carb foods are effective in attenuating moods – ie making sad people less sad.

This study shows that dietary fat has the same effect.

However, it neglects to mention that drowning your sorrows in lasagna & ice cream sundaes is not a fool-proof solution.

.

Reference

health-healthhabits-fitness-nutrition-diet-jillian michaels positive reinforcement diet - shame

Dieting 101 : Say NO to Shame

Believe it or not, you will cheat on your diet.

At some point in the next few weeks:

  • You’re going to eat too much, or
  • Eat right before bed, or
  • Eat the wrong food, or
  • Skip a meal, or
  • Etc, etc, etc….

It’s guaranteed. Everyone does it. Even Jillian.

It’s how you deal with that cheat that’s going to determine the success of your diet.

If you see your cheat as a temporary slip-up and move on to the next meal, next day, next week…you’ll probably be very successful with your weight loss.

However, if you:

  • Obsess over your cheat, and
  • Keep blaming yourself, or
  • Pretend it didn’t happen, or
  • Hide it from others (ie your trainer)
  • Or find some other way to catastrophize your little diet slip-up

I can pretty much guarantee that your diet is doomed.

Shame is the Diet Killer

When you were learning how to drive, you made all sorts of tiny little mistakes & corrections. But you didn’t crash the car.

When you’re learning how to eat healthy & lose body-fat, you’re going to make all sorts of tiny little mistakes & corrections. You’re going to learn which foods work best for you. You’re going to adapt the generic diet to suit your unique lifestyle.

And as long as you don’t turn your little mistakes into big, emotional problems, you will be successful.

Always remember to stay in the present.

When you cheat on your diet:

  • Recognize that you did it.
  • Ask yourself why you did it.
  • Ask yourself how to avoid having it happen again
  • And then move on. Let it go.

There is no shame in making a teeny tiny little mistake. Learn from it, move on to the next meal and stop beating yourself up over a few cookies.

A Different Kind of Health Habits…..The I CAN DO IT Conference

This weekend, I will be attending the I CAN DO IT conference in Toronto.

Founded by Louise L. Hay four years ago as a forum for kindred spirits to gather, commune, and heal themselves and each other. The I Can Do It! Conference is intended to revitalize your soul, charge your body’s subtle energy centers, and bring a sparkle to your eyes.

And while my friends and family will tell you that I am not the typical sparkly eyes kind of guy, I do have an open mind and an obsession for improving my health, fitness, knowledge, etc…

So, starting tomorrow and running through Sunday, I am going to head down to the Metro Toronto Conference Centre to improve my emotional & spiritual health, boost my energy centers, and perhaps run into Oprah.

Here are some of the speakers attending the conference.

.

I hope to see you there.

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Is Senobi Breathing the Cure for Depression, Obesity and Asthma?

The Senobi Breathing Exercise has been shown to:

  1. Reduce the symptoms of asthma
  2. Reduce the symptoms of depression
  3. Reduce levels of obesity

Not too shabby for a simple breathing exercise that takes all of 30 seconds to do.

What is the Senobi Breathing Exercise?

The Senobi Breathing Exercise can be performed in a 4 different ways:

  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Hands together & fingers intertwined
  • Hands apart

In the standing position, the exerciser stands still with the feet at shoulder width. The arms are extended firmly, initially without uniting the palms. The neck is bent into the back, and the upper body is bent so as to face the ceiling (Fig. 1). The exerciser must take care to avoid overexertion.

  • Air is inhaled for 5 seconds, then exhaled for 5 seconds.
  • This respiration pattern should be done three times;
  • therefore 30 seconds are spent in the posture described.

During this posture, the scapulas shut automatically, so breathing occurs mainly from the abdomen.

To achieve thoracic respiration, we can switch to the hands held together – fingers intertwined –  and the palms turned to the ceiling version. In this posture, the scapulas are open, so the breathing that unites the palms is thoracic respiration.

The seated posture is identical to the standing posture, except for the fact that you’re sitting instead of standing.

Check out this Senobi – Obesity Study

After 1 min of the “Senobi” breathing, substantial up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and increased urinary hormone secretion were observed in the overweight women but not in the healthy controls. Moreover, after repeating the exercise for a month, the obese patients showed significant loss of body fat. The “Senobi” breathing exercise was found to be effective for weight loss in obesity possibly by regulating the autonomic nervous system and the hormone secretion.

Senobi – Asthma Study

After 1 month of regularly performing this exercise, most patients showed a decrease in the frequency of asthma rescue medication use. They also showed a recovery of forced expiratory volume in 1 second. These results suggest that the Senobi stretch is a useful exercise for asthmatic patients to perform to achieve a desirable improvement in symptoms.

Senobi – Depression Study

After one minute of SBE, significant up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and increased concentrations of catecholamines, estradiol, and growth hormone were observed in OWD (depressed) group. After 30 days of SBE, the sympathetic nerve activity and hormone levels had recovered in OWD group, and the depressive state, as evaluated by the Hamilton Depression Scale, had ameliorated. The “Senobi” breathing exercise was found to be effective for amelioration of depression in obese women possibly through up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and hormone secretion.

Conclusion

While the Senobi Breathing Exercise seems a little too good to be true…..it only takes 30 seconds, it’s free and if you’re asthmatic, overweight & depressed…what do you have to lose?

Reference

This is how you sell exercise to America

If you are trying to sell something to America, how do you do it?

  • Celebrities
  • TV/Media
  • Excitement/Fun/Sexy

So why is it that when “the experts” try to convince America that it’s in bad shape and that it needs to drop a few pounds and get fit…they resort to boring education programs and pamphlets handed out at the doctor’s office.

That’s not how Sony sells Playstations or Ford sells cars or Beyoncé sells her music.

And that’s why I love this ad campaign for the “Let’s Move! Flash Workout”

This is how you sell exercise to America.

You create a marketing campaign that focuses on an A-List celebrity who is fit, healthy & sexy while not being an anorexic stick-figure. She is obviously proud of her body and enjoys being active and isn’t afraid to get sweaty.

Combine that with a hit song that makes you want to dance…and then throw in a group of happy looking people who match the appearance of your target demographic.

Then, you reduce the barriers to entry by providing easy, step by step instructions on how to be just like the kids in the video.

Now imagine what would happen if Let’s Move had the advertising budget of a major international corporation like Coca-Cola or Nike.

  • Imagine if different versions of this video were splashed all over tv & the interweb.
  • Imagine if new videos were created for other demographics.
  • Imagine if this marketing effort was part of a long-term, well funded, health promotion program.
  • Imagine if you were exposed to this type of advertising day after day, week after week, year after year.

Imagine if marketers could brainwash America into believing that being fit, active & healthy was fun, exciting, cool, sexy, etc…

This is how you sell exercise to America.

My Emotions Made Me Fat

About 3 months ago, I tested my body composition.

  • Total body-weight was = 243 lbs
  • Lean body mass (bone, muscle, organs) was = 216 lbs
  • Body-fat was = 27 lbs
  • Body-fat percentage was = 11%

And since winter is my time to focus on strength and ignore body-fat, I was pleased with the numbers.

I was strong as a horse and would worry about the excess blubber in the spring.

And then my Dad went into the hospital.

At first, he seemed to be responding to treatment and we were expecting him home in a few days. Unfortunately, he picked up a couple of drug resistant infections in the hospital and things started to go downhill.

But since my Dad has always been a fighter, he went to war against the drug resistant staph & c-difficile. One day he would be getting better and we would feel hopeful. The next day, he would crash. This went on for over two months.

Until, on Feb 9, 2011, my Dad passed away.

Since that time, I have had the pleasure of organizing services, looking after my Mom and attending memorials and family remembrances.

I also went a little mental during the 3 months and gained 24 lbs of body-fat.

  • Total weight as of yesterday is = 267 lbs
  • Lean Body Mass (bone, muscle, organs) is still = 216 lbs
  • Body-fat weight is = 51 lbs
  • Body-fat percentage is = 19%

And it’s not like I went on some sort of cheesecake bender.

Instead of my normal Paleo diet of meat and vegetables, I was eating more like a normal North American.

  • A giant cookie with my Starbucks coffee
  • Sandwiches instead of salads or stir-frys
  • A can of Coke in the hospital cafeteria.
  • Hard candies and potato chips from my wife’s stash
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • and the occasional giant bowl of ice cream

Combine all this junk with my skyrocketing levels of cortisol and a bad case of the blues – and I have managed to pack on an extra 24 lbs of blubber and a newfound fear of my bathroom mirror.

And if that isn’t the perfect example of how emotions can make you fat, I don’t know what is.

Luckily for me, between my muscle mass and my ultra-casual personal trainer wardrobe, it’s hard to tell that I packed on the weight.

But, I know it’s there.

.

But not for much longer.

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FYI – More info on Emotional Eating

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This is Why You Need to Take Astragalus

Astragalus Membranaceus has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.

And even though us Westerners are a few thousand years late to the game, our scientists are working hard to get us up to speed.

In particular, an interesting study just came across my desk which showed how a decoction of the dried root of the Astragalus plant was very effective in:

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

Which is kind of a big deal considering that excessive body weight, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease is fast becoming the new normal in North America and Europe.

So, I decided to do a little more research into Astragalus and it’s effect on insulin sensitivity et al.

And I found a pile of research.

Research which showed how Astragalus was effective at:

  • boosting immune system function – cold, flu, infection, fever, allergies
  • reducing hypertension via a diuretic effect
  • eliminating free radicals
  • improving cardiac function
  • improving chronic fatigue
  • improving heart function
  • improving kidney function
  • improving symptoms of asthma
  • improving stomach ulcers
  • reducing inflammation
  • improving your body’s ability to handle stress

as well as…

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

All with no chance of toxicity.

Which is kind of important when you start messing around with herbs and roots.

So…where can you get this Astragalus stuff?

The Dreaded Kraft Dinner Hangover

I did something really stupid yesterday.

It was just one of those days where I was:

  • short on time
  • running low on healthy food
  • hungry as a bear
  • and in a bad mood (crappy day, don’t even ask)

As a result of my crappy day, my stress levels were sky high and my serotonin levels were down in the dumps.

As a result of that, I began to have a wicked craving for carbs and was experiencing a generally crappy mood which also caused a craving for a great big dietary hug from Mom.

So, in a moment of emotional weakness, I ripped open a dusty old box of Kraft Dinner from the pantry.

And I ate that glow in the dark orange, mushy, creamy, full of chemicals, pasta slop.

And I loved every spoon/shovelful.

Unfortunately, for the rest of the evening I was craving carbs like a heroin junkie craves heroin.

And this morning, I woke up with everything aching…my head, my back, my muscles feel stiff and sore and I am still craving carbs and feeling generally like crap.

So, what did I do to get rid of my Kraft Dinner hangover?

  1. Exercise – at 4:30 this morn, I woke up and did 30 minutes of joint mobility and muscle flexibility exercises. Nothing too intense – just working the stiffness out of my body
  2. While exercising, I drank a serving of Athletic Greens
  3. I also choked down a Vitamin B Complex pill and another herbal adaptogen product to help get my hormones back in order.

The result:

At 6:30 this morning, I started writing this post and…

  • my headache is gone,
  • my craving for carbs is 82% gone,
  • my muscles feel normal – not optimal, but okay.

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Overall, I feel 91% less crappy and ready to go train another 6 clients.

Conclusion

Just Say No to Kraft Dinner

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Do Not Buy the Ab Circle Pro

Once in a blue moon, a piece of fitness equipment comes along that is so lame that I actually smack my forehead while watching the infomercial.

I can’t believe that anyone would be so gullible to actually believe the marketing hype.

But, the commercial doesn’t go away….people are actually buying this thing.

So, today…we’re going to discuss the Ab Circle Pro.

Well, actually, we’re going to watch a video of Little Miss Consumer Reports laying the smack down on the Ab Circle Pro

Too damn funny.

I particularly enjoyed her skewering of the ACP’s “friction free track”

Correct me if I am wrong, but without friction, there is no workout.

I also enjoyed how she pointed out the “Just 3 mins a day” claim was a bunch of B.S.

And the part about a low cal diet and regular exercise being part of the Ab Circle Pro program.

Too damn funny.

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But seriously, if you know anyone gullible enough to buy the ACP, please send them a link to this post.

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The Science behind Beauty Sleep

According to the latest research….your Mom was right.

A good night’s sleep is the best thing you can do to look attractive and healthy.

In this study, researchers looked at the relationship between sleep and our perception of attractiveness and health.

The researchers took 23 participants between the ages of 18 and 31 and photographed them between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. on two separate occasions – once after a normal sleep and once after being deprived of sleep.

A group of 65 observers were then asked to rate the photographs for attractiveness and whether the individuals looked healthy and rested or unhealthy and tired.

Results

  • The sleep deprived photos/people were judged to be less healthy, more tired and less attractive.
  • Conversely, the well rested photos/people were judged to be unbelievably sexy and a veritable picture of health.

Conclusion

The researchers concluded that “humans are sensitive to sleep related facial cues, with potential implications for social and clinical judgments and behaviour”.

In short, if you want to look your best…get some beauty sleep.

Reference

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The Douchebag Workout

We, as a species, have reached a new low.

Is there a worse exercise video than this?

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All Hail the Heart Attack Grill Diet

You’ve got to respect the folks at the Heart Attack Grill.

At least they can admit that their food comes complete with a side order of “sudden weight gain, repeated increase of wardrobe size, back pain, male breast growth, loss of sexual partners, lung cancer, tooth decay, liver sclerosis, stroke, and an inability to see your penis.”

And while Ronald McDonald prepares to defend the health benefits of his Happy Meals in a court of law, the geniuses behind the Double Bypass burger step up and corner the moral high ground in the junk food industry.

And if you’re lucky enough to weigh over 350 lbs, you Eat for FREE!!!

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The Tea Party Guide to Health & Fitness

Pretty much everyone affiliated with the Tea Party movement hates “Obamacare”

To them, publicly funded health care means:

  • increased taxes
  • inferior health care services
  • a decreased level of American health & fitness
  • and an increase in big government gravedigger jobs

And they’re not happy about it.

But, thanks to their libertarian / Ayn Randian roots, a growing minority of Tea Partiers have decided to fight back by taking control of their own health & fitness.

Instead of waiting for an Obamacare Death Panel to come and put them out of their misery, top level Tea Partiers have already taken the first step by contacting yours truly and asking me to create a…

Tea Party Guide to Health & Fitness

For the past 3 months, we have been beta testing the program on a small number of Tea Party elite.

So far, things are going great.

A certain high ranking female member of the movement has whipped herself into a Wonder Woman-esque level of health & fitness, while another famous Tea Partier no longer gets winded during his radio show.

Blood pressures are down and bench press weights are up.

In short, it’s been a great success.


Busyness = Happiness

Let’s face facts: You’re lazy

  • You watch tv instead of tackling that pile of dirty laundry.
  • You surf the net instead of getting some exercise.
  • You play video games instead of preparing a healthy meal for tomorrow’s lunch

And you’re not alone. Even me…Mr. Health Habits can be a lazy couch potato (usually during NFL Sunday afternoons).

But, what if I told you that waaaayyyyyy down deep in your primal DNA, you actually hate being lazy and instead you crave activity.

What if I told you that for each & every one of us….busyness = happyness….Would you believe me?

Would you believe these scientists when they hypothesize that:

  1. People dread idleness and desire busyness, but
  2. Without a reason to get busy, we revert to laziness.

The Science

The researchers grabbed 98 college students and told them to fill out a bunch of surveys about their school and that they could do nothing else during the experiment.
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BORING.
  • After leaving their belongings (e.g., cell phones, books) with the experimenter, participants were given the first survey.
  • Upon finishing the survey, they were told that the second survey would not be ready for another 15 min and that they were to drop their completed first survey at a designated location during the waiting period.
  • There were two such locations, one nearby (right outside the room) and the other far away (a 12- to 15-min round-trip walk).
  • Participants could either deliver the survey to the nearby location and wait out the remaining time (the idle option) or deliver the survey to the faraway location, return, and then wait out the remaining time (the busy option).
  • In both cases, they would receive a piece of candy when they dropped off the survey, as a token of appreciation.
  • Some participants were told that the candy was the same in both locations while others were told that there were 2 different types of candy and that they would be chosen at random.
At the end of the 15-min waiting period, all participants were given a second questionnaire that asked, “How good did you feel in the last 15 minutes?”
Responses were made on a scale from 1 (not good at all) to 5 (very good)
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The Results
  1. In the “same candy” group, most participants were lazy and chose the closer location
  2. However, in the “random candy” group, more participants chose the faraway or “busy” location

The potential of a “better” candy was enough of an incentive to convince the participants to reject the “lazy” option and to choose the “busy” option.

And when they were asked how they felt during the past 15 minutes:
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  • The participants who chose the faraway or “busy” option were universally happier than the lazy participants.

 

Conclusions

  1. We’re happier when we are busy
  2. We’re less happy when we are lazy
  3. And yet, without a “reason”, we choose laziness over busyness.

As if being happy wasn’t enough of a reason.

A Light Went On

Today is a great day.

fitness health exercise diet weight loss

I have been working with this woman for almost two months.

During that time, she has said all the right things. She wants to be healthy. She knows it’s not going to be easy but she is willing to do the hard work. She has tried this before but this time is going to be different.

blah, blah, blah

All the same things that we tell ourselves when we know we should do something, but we don’t really believe that we can actually pull it off.

Basically, it was a great big load of self delusion disguised as an Oprah-esque self-help pep talk.

But today, after workout # 19, I get a call from her.

And things were different.

I almost don’t know how to describe it.

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Before today, she understood that she could transform her body if she ate and exercised the way I told her. But tody, that theoretical belief became something bigger.

Now, she knows that she can transform her body.

And I don’t mean that she knows which exercises and diet are required. That’s my job.

  • She knows how to produce the spirit, will, intestinal fortitude…whatever you want to call it.
  • She knows how to take control of her thoughts and feelings.
  • She knows how to get herself  to actually do the things she needs to do.

She doesn’t just believe it…she knows it.

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And that is the moment I wait for with all of my clients.

And that is why today is a great day.

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The 25 Fittest Men in the World

For almost 10 years, Mens Fitness has been compiling a list of the fittest men in the world. I have no idea what their criteria is (other than being a celebrity), but they must be doing something right because it is one of their most popular issues year after year after year.

Here’s this year’s list:

rafael nadal abs

1.     Rafael Nadal

Someone at Mens Fitness is seriously in love with Nadal. Seriously.

I was going to print out their reasons behind choosing Nadal as the world’s fittest guy, but the author kept going on and on and on and on….it was a freaking love letter. Check it out here if you want.

The List at a Glance

  1. Rafael Nadal
  2. Hugh Jackman
  3. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
  4. Josh Hamilton
  5. Usain Bolt
  6. Rudy Reyes
  7. Paul Ridley
  8. Shani Davis
  9. Bob Burnquist
  10. Sir Richard Branson
  11. Richard Roll
  12. Tim Tebow
  13. Lebron James
  14. Jared Padalecki
  15. Simon Dumont
  16. Manny Pacquiao
  17. Adrian Fenty
  18. Robert Downey Jr.
  19. Kevin Rose
  20. Phil Keoghan
  21. Akon
  22. Georges St.Pierre
  23. Lewis Hamilton
  24. Clive Owen
  25. Larry Fitzgerald

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The Secret to Health and Fitness is……


confidence

Because, according to Canadian researchers, people with high levels of self-confidence are more likely to have good health habits.

Conversely, those individuals with lower levels of self-confidence are more likely to be found on their couch, eating nacho chips and watching CSI re-runs.

The Research

A research study of 5167 Canadians, published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, has shown that psychological concerns are the most important barriers to an active lifestyle.

During the study, researchers asked participants how confident were they that they could regularly do a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (PA) three or four times a week and a total of 60 minutes of light PA each day.

This self-efficacy score was consistently related to higher physical activity across gender, age group, education level and family income level.

According to the authors, “Confidence in one’s personal ability to carry out exercise plays a central role in the direction, intensity and persistence of health-behavior change.

People who have higher PA self-efficacy will:

  • Perceive fewer barriers to Physical Activity
  • Be less influenced by those barriers and
  • Will be more likely to enjoy Physical Activity

The Researchers’ Recommendations

“Our findings highlight the need for health promotion programs to enhance people’s confidence and motivation, as well as providing education on the health benefits of physical activity”.

Booooooooo!!!!

How are health promotion programs going to boost self-confidence?

How is knowing that he doesn’t eat right or exercise enough going to make Joe Six-Pack feel confident that he can change my life and improve my health?

How is another pamphlet on the health benefits of physical activity going to make Suzie Chardonnay forget that she has tried every diet known to man and is still 50 pounds overweight.

It won’t.

So, where do Joe and Suzie get this self-confidence / self-efficacy?

They borrow it.

  • They borrow it from other people whose have been in their shoes and have succeeded at improving their physical fitness.
  • They borrow it from friends and family who have seen them succeed at other challenging situations.
  • They borrow it from personal trainers like yours truly

You may not believe in yourself.

Most of my clients don’t believe in themselves…at the beginning.

But, since I have helped hundreds of people transform themselves from fat to fit, I know that I can help them do the same thing.

And because I have 100% faith in this belief, they begin to believe. Slowly at first. And not without any setbacks. That’s life.

But eventually, as my Vulcan mind control tricks begin to work, they start to believe that they can do it. That they can improve their health and maybe even lose a few pounds.

This is what we need to do.

Help each other believe that we can succeed where we have failed in the past.

Not just hand out another pamphlet.

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Related Posts

Want To Be Happier?…Part Two

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a recent study (by researcher Dr. Steven Toepfer) which showed that the SECRET to HAPPINESS is GRATITUDE.

All that research got me thinking…Which scenario is better for your health / longevity?

  1. To be overweight, but happy, or
  2. To be lean but unhappy

After an informal poll, I discovered that an overwhelming number of people think that happiness is more important than a healthy bodyweight when it comes to your overall health and longevity. And I would have to agree with the majority.

In response to my findings, I thought that I should present a little more information about the psychology of happiness.

Here are some of my favorite speakers on the psycology of happiness:

Tal Ben Shahar – Positive Psychology

Shawn Achor – Positive Psychology

Robert Holden – The Happiness Project

happiness-now

Martin Seligman – The Father of Positive Psychology

Link to Dr. Seligman's talk at TED

Related Posts

Want To Be Happier?

HAPPINESS

We all want it and most of us have no idea how to get it. Until now???

According to researcher Dr. Steven Toepfer, THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS IS GRATITUDE.

I can hear you asking…Gratidtude for what? The economy is going down the tubes, we are running out of oil, I am working harder and longer than ever before and I still may lose my job, and on top of that, there’s the threats of terrorism and global warming.

According to Kent State University’s Dr. Steven Toepfer, we have been going about it all wrong.

“Everyone is pursuing the American dream. We are wealthier than previous generations, consuming more and experiencing more, but yet so many of us are so unhappy,” Toepfer says.

“The question of ‘is there something simple we can do to be happier?‘ is one that he has been thinking about for many years and one that has interested people for much longer.”

With that question in mind, Toepfer enlisted a group of students to explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted the students’ lives.

Over the course of a six-week period, students wrote one letter every two weeks with the simple ground rules that it had to be positively expressive, required some insight and reflection, were nontrivial and contained a high level of appreciation or gratitude.

After each letter, students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness.

“I saw their happiness increase after each letter. The more they wrote, the better they felt,” says Toepfer, who also witnessed improvement in participants’ life satisfaction and gratitude throughout the study.

“The most powerful thing in our lives is our social network.

It doesn’t have to be large, and you don’t always need to be the life of the party, but just having one or two significant connections in your life has shown to have terrific psychological and physical benefits.”

In all, 75 percent of the students said they planned to continue to write letters of gratitude even when the course was over.

“We are all walking around with an amazing resource: gratitude,” says Toepfer. “It helps us express and enjoy, appreciate, be thankful and satisfied with a little effort.

We all have it, and we need to use it to improve our quality of life.”

An Extra Bonus

And if that wasn’t enough, there is a growing body of research showing that positive emotions such as happiness are linked to good health and increased longevity.

This 2006 study showed that a PES (Positive Emotional Style – or happiness for the non-science geeks reading this) was associated with an increased resistance to the common cold and the influenza virus.

Conclusion

I must admit that when it comes to making health claims, I need proof. But when it comes to happiness, or examining the impact of happiness on my health / longevity, proof is a little hard to come by.

It is difficult to distinguish between the effects of positive and negative emotions. For example, do elderly living on their own or with family live longer because they are happy or because they are not sad?

It’s not a simple equation. However, modern medicine has no problem stating that emotional stress is a very real threat to our health.

So, why shouldn’t happiness be a very real benefit to our health?

Want to Be Happier – Part 2

References

Health Promotion v.s Disease Prevention

In an article printed in the BMJ (BMJ 2008;337:a399), Dr. Butler et al, are presenting a theory that is so revolutionary, so unbelievably insightful and paradigm shattering that it may signal an evolutionary shift in how medicine will be practiced for the next millenium:

The promotion of health and longevity may be more successful at preventing disease and improving both the quality and quantity of our lives than attacking individual diseases.”

I like to call this the “An Apple a Day keeps the Doctor Away” theory.

But seriously folks, the authors of this study believe that a shift towards health promotion and disease prevention could pay off with social, economic and health benefits for present and future generations. We’re talking improved quality and duration of life. It’s a win-win.

health-healthy-fitness-family-healthhabits

In the study, the researchers note that since we all have biochemical mechanisms that influence how quickly we age, and that through lifestyle changes or possibly even genetic alteration, it is possible to extend lifespan by postponing or even eliminating aging-related processes and diseases.

To Recap:

Health promoting activities – eating healthy, exercising, nutritional supplements, meditation, etc may not only be more successful at preventing disease and improving the quality & duration of our lives than the current medical practice of attacking diseases as they crop up, it might just improve the social & economic health for us and for our kids.

How awesome is that?

 

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

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