Finding Your Fitness / Fat Loss Fingerprint

For over 26 years, I have been helping people transform their bodies…melting body-fat, getting stronger, getting fitter, getting healthier, etc.

During that time, I have employed about a bazillion different strategies…meal plans, supplement protocols, training programs, mind-body techniques, psychological counselling, pharmaceuticals…the list goes on and on and on.

While most of those techniques were “borrowed” from other trainers, medical professionals, workout buddies and scientific research, the most important part of my education came from the people I worked with.

Because no matter how effective my transformation programs are, as soon as you introduce the human element into the equation, all bets are off.

What works for one person almost never works with the next victim/client.

There are so many factors at play – physical, mental, emotional, social, financial, legal and of course genetic/epigenetic.

Unlike an exact science like physics and chemistry, transforming an adult human being from this….

fitness fat loss

… into this, is not as simple as…

fitness fat loss(Diet #1 + Training Program #2) x (Motivation / Peer Pressure) = Successful Physique Transformation

Like our fingerprints, all of us are unique. Each of us has…

  • A unique genetic makeup
  • Unique life experiences
  • A unique social life
  • Unique belief systems
  • A unique knowledge base
  • Unique financial resources
  • Etc, etc, etc…

And because of this uniqueness, applying a one-size-fits-all solution to a complex problem like permanent fat loss is usually doomed to failure.

Like our fingerprints, we are complex…full of unique loops, whorls and arches.

So….before you run out and spend some cash on the latest diet book, weight loss supplement or fitness program, I want you to stop, take a long hard look at yourself.

Will this one-size-fits-all solution fit YOUR fitness / fat loss fingerprint?

NOTE: I hope this article didn’t discourage you. While I truly believe that physique transformation can be complicated at times, it isn’t rocket science. If you’re having trouble getting yourself in shape, there are lots of great people out there with the knowledge of what needs to be done. Renting their knowledge, confidence and support may cost you some cash up-front, but the pay-off at the end is definitely worth it.

It’s the same reason I don’t try to do my own car repairs. I need my car for work and I suck as a mechanic. 

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Is There a Genetic Cause for Binge Eating?

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

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

Here are the FACTS….as I see them:

  • There is a link between obesity & genetics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Get Back to the Science

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

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

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

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

What did they find?

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

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

What does this mean & where do we go next?

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

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

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

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

Reference

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Junk Food and the Free Market

I wrote an article today for the Medium.com site. Here’s a little taste to whet your whistle. Click through if you want to read the whole enchilada.

An article in today’s Daily Beast (How Washington Dooms Millions of Americans to Premature Death by Nicholas Freudenberggot my brain spinning about food, obesity, junk food, diabetes, the free market, corporate responsibility, politics, personal responsibility and how all this ‘stuff’ has come together to create an epidemic of lifestyle disease.

In his article, NF brings up a number of interesting facts:

  1. Chronic diseases cause 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States
  2. 49% of Americans have one or more chronic diseases.
  3. In the United States, tobacco, alcohol and diet cause more than 1.2 million annual premature deaths from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other conditions.
  4. Chronic diseases account for $3 of every $4 spent on healthcare—about $1.5 trillion annually in the US of A.

So, how is it, that with all of this available data, the US spends less than 10% of total healthcare funding on health promotion / disease prevention?

  • Is it because public health campaigns don’t work?

Nope….while cases of diabetes have increased 176% in the last 30 years, it is estimated that 8 million ‘premature deaths’ have been prevented thanks to anti-smoking PSAs combined with increased taxes on tobacco products.

Public health campaigns can work…if they are well designed, well funded and receive government support.

So why isn’t that happening?

To find out the answer to that cliffhanger of a question, click through to the full article on Medium.com

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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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5 Ways to Wreck Your Workout

Every January, millions of hopeful people flock to health clubs in a desperate attempt to get fit/healthy/sexy/etc….

And as a personal trainer, fitness research geek and multi-decade gym junkie, I feel that it is my duty to shine a light on some of the ways newbies are wrecking their workouts.

#1 –   Doing Cardio Training before Resistance Training

Most people that join a gym have similar goals…losing body-fat, getting healthier, getting fitter, feeling better, etc.

If that sounds like you, you need to stop doing your cardio training before your resistance training. Doing cardio before resistance training will…

  • slow down your body-fat reduction,
  • slow down or prevent any strength gains,
  • prevent improvements in energy system performance,
  • do nothing to maximize your cardio-vascular function,
  • and wreck your workout.

Here’s how you should organize your workouts:

  1. Short (5-10 min) joint mobility warm-up
  2. Resistance training
  3. HIIT and/or Cardio-vascular training
  4. Joint mobility & flexibility training

Joint Mobility Warm-Up 

Starting your workout with short joint mobility warm-up is a good idea for a few reasons.

  • It physically warms up your muscles, making them more flexible and less prone to injury
  • It causes your joints to be lubricated with synovial fluid, helping them move smoother, preventing injury.
  • It transitions your mind-body from your real-world problems into a “it’s time to workout” mode. This may seem inconsequential, but trust me…it isn’t.

Sample Joint Mobility Protocol

Joint Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP. This warms up your core muscles and establishes a quick mind-body connection to some very, very important muscles.

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up. After the swings, just about every muscle in your body should be nice and pliable and ready for the rest of your workout.

Resistance Training

The type of resistance training you perform depends on your goals. Strength, size, endurance, looking good naked, etc.

The main reason you should perform resistance training before cardio is that resistance training requires a higher level of intensity than cardio training and as you fatigue, your ability to perform at a high level of intensity is the first thing to go.

And if you perform your resistance training in a fatigued state, you are going to wreck your workout, miss out on the weight-loss benefits, miss out on strength-building benefits, and lose out on the energy-system boosting benefits, etc.

HIIT and/or Cardio Training

Whether you perform HIIT or longer duration/lower intensity cardio training or some combination of the two depends on your training goals.

Joint Mobility & Flexibility Training

You have lots of options here…

If you want to learn more about mobility training, I suggest you check out the work of Kelly Starrett and/or Jill Miller. Smart people who make complex stuff simple.

#2 –   Drinking Gatorade while doing Cardio

Unless you are putting in 60 minutes+ of hard, sweaty cardio training, you don’t need the sugar calories found in Gatorade and other sports drinks. You do need water…but you don’t need Gatorade.

In fact, drinking sugary sports drinks minimizes one of the great benefits of of exercise…improved insulin sensitivity.

What is insulin sensitivity…and why should you care about it?

Insulin sensitivity describes how sensitive the body is to the effects of insulin. Someone said to be insulin sensitive will require smaller amounts of insulin to lower blood glucose levels than someone who has low sensitivity.

In short, being sensitive to insulin is good….being insensitive is bad and is a sign that you are on your way to developing type 2 diabetes.

Exercise, Insulin Sensitivity & Gatorade

Lots of research shows us that cardio exercise makes your body more sensitive to insulin. What happens during exercise is that your body pulls stored sugars out of your muscles & liver to fuel your activity. And for most gym-goers, you have more than enough sugar stored in your body to get you through your workout. (that’s why you don’t NEED Gatorade…unless you are a serious cardio athlete)

Post workout, your sugar-depleted muscles are going to be screaming for sugar. And when you chug down a post-workout protein smoothies or make yourself a meal at home, your muscles & liver are going to take priority over most other body processes.

And this is good…because it means that your muscles are going to get all the nutrients they need to recover faster from your workouts.

Takeaway Message – Unless you are a serious cardio athlete, don’t drink a sugary sports drink during your workout. You will perform just as well, recover faster, while getting leaner, stronger, fitter…faster.

#3 –   Training Chest & Biceps 3x per Week

This message is for all the young guys who think that getting a buff chest and jacked biceps is going to make all the girls swoon.

It won’t. You’re just going to wreck our workout, plus…

  • All the other guys think you’re a poseur, and
  • Your arms & chest would grow faster if you started training smarter.

What does training smarter mean?

  • Train your entire body…not just your beach muscles
  • Get stronger through your core & legs…and you will be able to handle heavier weights over your entire body.
  • Remember that training your back also trains your biceps at the same time

#4 –   Believing that Lifting Weights Will Make a Woman Look Like a Man

You would not believe how many women believe that if they start lifting weights, their body with morph, grow and swell into this…

…when in reality, after years of lifting weights, eating tons of protein & nutritional supplements, favourable genetics and a lot of sweat & hard work, fitness model Jamie Eason looks like this…

…not exactly very manly.

The truth is that you are already lifting weights.

  • Every time you stand up from a chair…you are lifting weights.
  • Every time you go for a walk…you are lifting weights
  • Every time you pick up your kid…you are lifting weights

And you don’t look like a man.

As the old adage says, the poison is in the dosage. If you choose to lift weights like a bodybuilder, eat huge like a bodybuilder and inject steroids, growth hormone & insulin like a bodybuilder, you might end up looking like a bodybuilder.

But…if you lift weights in an intelligent manner, eat in an intelligent manner and take a few crucial supplements, you will probably end up looking fitter, healthier, stronger and sexier than ever before.

#5 –   Expecting Immediate Results

Diet experts around the globe will tell you that to lose body-fat, you need to eat less calories than you consume. Referencing two of the laws of thermodynamics, they say that if you eat 500 fewer calories than your body requires to function, your body will free up 500 calories of stored body-fat to make up the difference.

And if you do that every day for a week, you will lose one pound of body-fat by the end of the week.

Unfortunately, as logical and scienc-y as that sounds, it doesn’t work in the “real world”.

The human body is a beautifully messy piece of work.  Two identical twins with identical bodies can follow the exact same diet & exercise program and get totally different results.

And while that seems totally unfair for the twin who isn’t seeing results, that’s real life. Transforming your body is going to require a process of trial and effort.

  • Find a nutrition/training program that has a good track record and seems to fit nicely into your lifestyle.
  • Give it your best for a month.
  • Evaluate how it worked for you.
  • Give it another month or try a new plan
  • Evaluate how it worked for you

Repeat over and over and soon enough you will become an expert on what works for your body.

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Your Unconscious Mind is Making You Fat

There I am.

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

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

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

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

your unconscious mind is making you fat

WTF!!! What just happened?

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

I’ll tell you what happened.

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

Damn you unconscious mind!!!.

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

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

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

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The Truth About Feminine Fitness

A long, long time ago, women’s workouts meant aggressive arm circles, bouncy stretching, and hundreds of step-touches. We got crazy flexibility, ceaseless endurance, and if our diet lined up properly, a lithe, slender body (just like Jane Fonda).

Fast-forward to today’s savvy women and we’ve graduated to wanting a lean, strong body. “Fit” and “skinny” aren’t synonymous anymore – we want a healthy, bullet-proof physique (and gorgeous muscle definition wouldn’t hurt)….aka the NEW feminine fitness.

If you’re still caught in the cardio-only rut or listening to celebrity trainers who admonish us to “never lift heavy weights” lest it make us “bulky,” read on to see what women’s workouts should look like today.

jane fonda workout

The New Paradigm

The updated heavy hitter in fat loss, health, and fitness is, without a doubt, strength training. I’m not talking about bodybuilding here, and you don’t have to be an athlete to strength train. You most certainly don’t have to be a guy to strength train, either!

Experts and scientists now agree that while the right nutrition and cardio-respiratory training are important to health and fat loss, strength training is the third most critical component.

In case you’re wondering, you definitely won’t become the She-Hulk of your neighborhood if you lift weights heavier than three pounds (or 100!). Women have much less testosterone than men and we have to work hard to build even a small amount of muscle. Even then, we can never build muscles as big as guys unless we’re juiced up on steroids – not likely in your case, I’m betting.

This may surprise you, but strength training helps me express my femininity. Being strong and fit is an important way I define myself. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that strength training has increased my self-confidence in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

Take a look at how strength training is a smart strategy for your body and mind.

Burn Mega Calories

If you’ve ever done a strength-training circuit, you know it can get your heart pumping. Squats, lunges, chest presses, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses back to back without rest is a major calorie burner!

Not only that, but strength training burns calories when you’re not exercising, too. This “afterburn” effect results when your muscles are busy repairing themselves after a good, heavy lifting session.

Since muscle is metabolically active tissue that burns fat even when you’re at rest, strength training increases your metabolism. This means the more muscle, the more fat burning!

Rock Functional Strength

You don’t have to be a bench-pressing beast to benefit from increased strength. Even lifting moderate weights can make you feel stronger and fitter for everyday activities like carrying your kids, pushing the lawnmower, or changing a tire.

Stay Youthful

We can stay strong and active into old age by integrating resistance training into our routine. One study at McMaster University showed that strength training actually reversed the effects of aging by changing tissue at the cellular level in healthy senior citizens [1].

It’s important to understand that unless we counteract it, losing muscle mass is an inevitable part of aging. Feminine fitness weight training helps us stay strong and mobile instead of becoming injured and inactive (which almost always leads to weight gain, too).

Since women are especially susceptible to bone loss, resistance training is also a must for stimulating growth in our bone density as we age.

Look Hot

Of course, when you’ve been strength training awhile, along with eating nutritious foods and managing your caloric intake, you’ll see muscle definition pop on your arms, abs, and legs. Feeling good about your body might be your top motivator, and that’s perfectly fine, too.

I used to have the flattest behind around – affectionately (or not) known as a “mom butt.” But doing heavy squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, and hip thrusts completely transformed my backside into one I am truly proud of (shake it!).

The benefits of feminine fitness strength training don’t stop there – try increased energy, better sleep, improved posture, and yes – even greater flexibility.

Let’s Go!

Getting started with strength training is easier than you might think. If you’re a beginner, I recommend checking out the articles here at Health Habits, my beginner’s guide, and “The New Rules of Lifting for Women,” by Lou Schuler.

Simply keep three things in mind and you can’t go wrong:

  1. Your top priority will always be impeccable form.
  2. You will keep progressing as long as you continue to add weight.
  3. Allowing your muscles to recover is just as important as your workouts.

Enjoy the benefits of feminine fitness strength training, and I’ll see you in the weight room.

About the Author

Suzanne Digre is a NASM-certified personal trainer who coaches clients online and in-person. With over 15 years of lifting experience, Suzanne writes at workoutnirvana.com, where she shares her passion for strength training and clean eating.

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9 out of 10 Dentists Recommend the Paleo Diet

I am a huge fan of the Paleo Diet style of eating. It’s focus on fruits, vegetables and animal protein is in my opinion, the absolute best way for human beings to eat.

And based upon the explosion of Paleo cookbooks and websites over the past few years, I am not alone in that belief.

Luckily for us Paleo dieters, that explosion in popularity has led to a lot of amazing chefs turning their skills toward creating Paleo-friendly meals that would put a smile on the face of the snobbiest of food snobs.

Unfortunately….a lot of those recipes, while tasting amazing, are modifying the “original” Paleo guidelines to a point where some of the health benefits are being lost.

paleo brownies
Paleo Brownies

And it’s not just my opinion. It’s SCIENCE.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows us that a diet of starchy “100% Paleo” foods led to high rates of tooth decay in a group of our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Up until now, all of the archaeological/anthropological research indicated that it was the advent of farming that led to human dental disease. And it’s this transition from hunter-gatherer to farming that is central to the entire Paleo diet.

This new research “shows widespread tooth decay occurred in a hunter-gathering society in Morocco several thousand years before the dawn of agriculture.” And while these findings don’t cast doubt on the Paleo “farming causes problems” theory, it does show us that not all Paleo-approved foods are perfectly healthy.

The Science

During an archaeological dig in Taforalt, Morocco, researchers “analysed 52 sets of adult teeth from hunter-gatherer skeletons dated to be between 15,000 and 13,700 years of age.” Based on the archaeological findings, we know that:

  1. These early humans had not adapted to an agricultural lifestyle. They were hunter-gatherers…the original Paleo dieters.
  2. Their diet consisted of “the systematic harvesting and processing of wild foods, including sweet acorns, pine nuts and land snails.”
  3. This reliance on fermentable carbohydrates “is a key factor in the initiation and progression of dental disease.”

How bad were their teeth?

We’re not talking Austin Powers bad, but the researchers found evidence of decay in more than half of the surviving teeth with only three skeletons showing no sign of cavities.

Professor Nick Barton of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and a co-director of the excavations at Taforalt, said: ‘This study reveals for the first time that at both ends of the Mediterranean, hunter-gatherers had started to eat a variety of different foods and were becoming more settled long before the advent of farming.

Dr Isabelle de Groote from the Natural History Museum said: ‘These people’s mouths were often affected by both cavities in the teeth and abscesses, and they would have suffered from frequent toothache.”

What’s wrong with sweet acorns, pine nuts and land snails?

If we’re talking about macronutrients, micronutrients, enzymes, phytochemicals, etc…. absolutely nothing. These are three very healthy, Paleo-friendly foods.

However, as lead researcher Dr Louise Humphrey said: “A reliance on edible acorns as a staple food could account for the high prevalence of cavities in the teeth found at Taforalt since eating fermentable carbohydrates is a key factor in the initiation and progression of this disease.

The acorns may have been boiled or ground to make flour; and cooking the acorns would have added to their stickiness. To make things even worse, abrasive particles from grindstones contributed to rapid tooth wear so that cavities started to form on the roots of the teeth.”

And since our Moroccan ancestors didn’t have access to a tooth brush or fluoride toothpaste, they started getting cavities, abscesses, toothaches and oral infections.

All because they learned how to make acorn flour crepes stuffed with sauteed pine nuts and escargot. mmmmmmmmm good

What does this mean to Paleo Dieters?

  • It means that ALL starchy, sticky foods can lead to disease…even if they are made with Paleo ingredients.
  • It means that eating Paleo isn’t just about ingredients. How you cook / process those ingredients is important…if you are eating Paleo to improve your health
  • It means that Paleo brownies, breads and muffins shouldn’t make up a regular part of your Paleo diet…especially if you aren’t diligent about the brushing and flossing.

What should you take away from this article?

  • The Paleo Diet is still the best thing you can do for your health & waistline (IMHO)
  • After eating starchy/sticky foods (Paleo or not), you need to floss & brush
  • Boiling, steaming, poaching, broiling, microwaving,  stir-frying and no-cooking are your healthiest cooking (and non-cooking) methods
  • Even if you eat sticky Paleo baked goods, 9 out of 10 dentists recommend the Paleo Diet…and we can bring that number up to 10 out of 10 if you cut back on the Paleo brownies and eat an apple instead.

Reference

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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.

Want to be healthy? Be friends with active people

Playing , socializing and fitness are intertwined in my life.

I love people and I love moving, and it makes me happy when I can combine the two.

What makes it even better is that if you have friends that are active, chances are you’ll be more active, and if you want to get healthy, that’s a beautiful thing.

Being active with friends is a great way to passively maintain your commitment to moving. Any number of friends of mine will call on a Sunday morning and tell me a few people are going out for a game of shinny in an hour. I’m so in. There’s nothing better than a bunch of grown ups skating around getting sweaty.

Two weeks ago my cousin texted me and said she was going cross country skiing and asked if I wanted to join her. It was a last minute impromptu excursion. I quickly packed up my skis and met her at the trail. We laughed as we fell down constantly (it’s early in the season, we’re finding our ski legs!) and we raced against each other on the straight aways. At the end of the trail we both collapsed, laughing, sweating and catching our breath.

This fall, my French Boyfriend built me my own custom mountain bike (swoon!) and we spent a lot of time trail riding around rural Manitoba. Cycling is totally his sport and he’s coaching and motivating me to improve. I was determined to improve my time every week. We’re playfully competitive with each other, it’s fun and a great way for us to connect.

This is how I enjoy spending my leisure time. It’s not an effort to set these activities and routines up, they just happen organically when you surround yourself with the right people.

Start the trend with your own friends and family. Arrange a skate on the river or a tobaggan trip to Assiniboine Park. You might be initially met with some groaning but after the fact, I guarantee that everybody will say, “that was fun, why didn’t we do that sooner?”

And who knows, next Sunday they might call you to go and play some hockey. It has to start somewhere.

So…..who wants to go skating this weekend?

About the Author:

In addition to being a Twitter friend of mine, Lindsay Hamel is a awesome personal trainer from Winnipeg, Canada.

If you want to train with her or just talk about fitness stuff, you can reach her here on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or at her website.

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More proof that you should Just Say No to Cardio

  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

If this sounds like you, you need to stop doing boring old cardio workouts…

human hamster wheel

…and start combining strength training workouts with high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.

Here’s why…

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers examined whether a combination of sprint interval workouts and strength training workouts would result in compromised strength development when compared to strength training alone.

During this study, they also monitored maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and time to exhaustion (TTE) to determine if the HIIT workouts would improve aerobic performance.

The Results

After 12 weeks of 4x per week workouts, they researchers found that:

  • Upper & lower body strength improved in both groups with no difference between the strength training (ST) group and the combination HIIT-ST group.
  • VO2max improved in the HIIT-ST group but not in the ST group. Previous studies have shown that HIIT is equal or superior to traditional cardio in improving VO2max

Conclusions

  • Strength training without HIIT will make you stronger
  • Strength training + HIIT will make you equally as strong
  • HIIT improves VO2max as well or better than traditional cardio training

When you combine this new data with all of the previous studies + years of real-world experience that has shown that traditional cardio training reduces strength, power & muscle mass in favour of aerobic performance (VO2max et al), it all starts to become very clear.

It means that if…

  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

…you need to just say no to cardio and just start saying yes to HIIT + strength training.

Reference

Can my friends make me fat?

Can my friends make me fat?

Q:   Can my friends make me fat?

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

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

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

Can my friends make me fat?

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

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

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

Let’s take a closer look at the science…

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

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

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

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

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

What happens when you alone?

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

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

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

What does this mean to YOU?

It depends.

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

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

obesity-warning-pizza

Reference

 

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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

Health Habits Exercise Videos – Fat Burning HIRT Circuit #1

Here is the 4 minute “kick yo’ ass”, super fat-burning workout exercise video I promised you on Tuesday.

Note: I almost didn’t post it today as it is not 100% finished. The workout is good to go, but I need a bit more time for my video guru Lauren to input all of the instructional text.

So, what I am going to do is get this sucker online right now, and when we have added all the text, come back and replace all this text so future viewers never know that I put a beta version online.

About the Workout:

This is a High Intensity Resistance Training Circuit consisting of…

  • 4 Minutes total work
  • 8 x 30 second sets
  • 3 exercises

The 3 Workout Exercises are…

  1. Squats
  2. Push Ups 
  3. Jumping Jacks

Note – Choose the version of Squats or Push Ups equal to your fitness level. You want to push yourself as hard as possible, while being realistic about your current fitness level

Exercise Options

SQUATS

PUSH UPS

Exercise Tips

  • Push yourself as hard as your fitness level will allow
  • Keep rest to a minimum
  • Maintain correct form – see “how-to” videos
  • Work hard, fast & safe

This is a great fat-burning, fitness boosting workout. However, since I can’t watch over you like one of my “real-life” personal training clients, I need to drop a little common sense…

Please note that this video is designed for educational purposes only. Not all exercises and/or training programs are appropriate for everyone. Before starting any new workout routine, please take into account your personal health & fitness condition. Injuries can happen. Please consult your trainer or healthcare professional before jumping into this or any other exercise program.

Now that that’s over, it’s time to get sweaty….

THE WORKOUT

 As this is the first workout / exercise video I have put online, I would really appreciate your feedback. Be merciless….I want these exercise videos to be as good as they possibly can…without spending a ton of money of course 🙂

Planned Changes/Upgrades

  • We are going to change the timer/buzzer. What I want is a 30 second timer for each set & either a 4 minute timer or progress bar so that people know how much time is left in the workout.
  • Text warning 5 sec before the next exercise starts – “Push Ups are next” – or something like that
  • A longer chunk of text at the end of the workout with more details about the circuit
  • Text before the workout starts with some of the info I posted above

About my experience with these first few exercise videos

It has been incredibly cool. I have been lucky enough to find an amazing partner in my videographer Lauren Webb…(her Vimeo page – her Tumblr). She took my rambling descriptions of what I wanted to do with these videos and is making them look even better than I had hoped they could be.

And we are just getting warmed up. Lauren’s background is actual film making…not exercise videos. As such, this first round of videos has involved a LOT of getting to know each other, our goals for the project, our expectations and what can actually be done on a shoestring budget.

Not only will we be faster with the next round of videos, they will look better and will have more features. Stay tuned.

I would also like to thank our fantastic fitness model Nicole for her patience and positive attitude…as well as her ability to bang out push up after push up after push up.

Finally, I would like to thank the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto for providing the location for the video shoot. With that said, if you’re looking for a new gym in Toronto, I can highly recommend the JCC and suggest that you call and ask for my buddy Manny at the JCC –Call and ask for him at (416) 924-6211 x 500  or  shoot him a direct email .

Health Habits “How-To” Exercise Videos – Squats

As I promised yesterday, today’s post is the second installment of “how-to” exercise videos. Yesterday’s push-ups and today’s squats are going to be combined with a third “mystery” exercise to create a thoroughly unpleasant (and very, very effective) High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout video that I will post on Wednesday. bodyweight squat And as the exercise video library grows, I will create full-length (20 minute) High Intensity Resistance Training exercise videos. These videos will be posted on Thursdays…and will include instructions on how to add mobility, flexibility, HIIT and/or cardio training to the resistance training workout video to look after all your exercise needs. Alright, enough yakity yak…let’s get to the exercise videos

HealthHabits “How-To” Exercise Videos #2 – Squats

Bodyweight Squats

Goblet Squats

Overhead Squats

Tomorrow, I combine these exercises + one more “mystery” exercise into an awesome High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout. Get ready to sweat.

suck it up buttercup

NOTE – As this is my first attempt at doing workout – exercise videos, I would really, really appreciate your feedback on the quality / usability of these videos. My goal is to make them useful for people who workout at home (video on their tv sets or laptop) & at the gym (video on smartphone or tablet). 

Health Habits “How-To” Exercise Videos – Push Ups

I am launching a new project here at Health Habits.

Starting this week, I will be posting…

  • a group of “how-to” exercise videos on Mondays,
  • another group of “how-to” exercise videos on Tuesdays, and
  • a short (4 min) High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout video on Wednesdays

Wednesday’s 4-min circuit workout video will be made up of the exercises posted on Monday & Tuesday.

woman-push-up

As the video library grows, I will create full-length (20 minute) High Intensity Resistance Training workout videos. These videos will be posted on Thursdays…and will include instructions on how to add mobility, flexibility, HIIT and/or cardio training to the resistance training workout video to look after all your exercise needs.

So…here we go….

HealthHabits “How-To” Exercise Videos #1 – Push Ups

Push Ups from your Knees

Push Ups – Standard

Push Ups – Single leg version

Push Ups – Feet on stability ball

NOTE – As this is my first attempt at doing exercise – workout videos, I would really, really appreciate your feedback on the quality / usability of these videos. My goal is to make them useful for people who workout at home (video on their tv sets or laptop) & at the gym (video on smartphone or tablet).

grover sesame street exercise

And before anyone compliments me on my awesome videographer skills with multiple camera angles and video editing and original music and all the other stuff that makes these videos look waaaaayyyy better than all the other exercise – workout videos on Youtube…..it wasn’t me. I managed to convince an amazing young videographer – Lauren Webb…(her Vimeo page – her Tumblr)  – to do all the hard work for me.

I would also like to thank our fantastic fitness model Nicole for her endurance. Even though Nicole is a super-fit personal trainer at the JCC, you wouldn’t believe how many reps she had to perform as we changed angles and played with lighting, etc. Two hours of push-ups, squats and jumping jacks…without getting sweaty and un-model-ly.

Finally, I would like to thank Manny Amaral from the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto for providing the location for the video shoot. Everyone at the JCC is great and Manny is no exception. With that said, if you’re looking for a new gym in Toronto, I can highly recommend that you ask for my buddy Manny at the JCC – Call and ask for him at (416) 924-6211 x 500  or  shoot him a direct email .

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Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

It seems like I hear some version of this question each and every day. Just this past weekend, it was posed to me by Angela.

  • Angela is a forty-something year old woman, with two kids and an executive position at an insurance company.
  • Angela is 5’6″ and weighs approximately 170 lbs.
  • Angela doesn’t want to weigh approximately 170 lbs.

Maybe, some of you can sympathize with her story.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Angela’s Story

All the way through high school, Angela was an average, healthy weight. Not thin; healthy. She participated in gym class and enjoyed playing tennis. In university, she fell victim to the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. By the time she graduated, it was more like 20 lbs.

After graduation, she lost most of that weight by exercising at a health club and watching what she ate.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Next came the babies…

After the birth of her two children, Angela found herself reunited with that extra 20 lbs. Throwing herself back into that same exercise and nutrition program, Angela managed to lose most of that 20 lbs….And then gain it all back….and then lose most of it again…..and then gain it all back plus a little bit extra.

This takes us back to the present day.

  • Angela has 35 lbs. of excess fat that she wants to be rid of.
  • And she feels completely lost.
  • She has read every diet book.
  • She has exercised like an Olympic athlete.
  • She has cleansed.
  • She has popped dietary supplements.
  • She has joined and quit three different diet programs.

Nothing works anymore. So she asks me, “Why can’t I lose weight”?

So Why Can’t She Lose Weight?

The truth is; when it comes to burning off excess body-fat, Angela has no idea what she is doing. But it’s not her fault.

  • The multi-billion dollar diet industry sets people up for failure. If every dieter was successful, who would buy the next best selling diet book? Who would buy the pills or the bars or the shakes or the… Well, you get the point.
  • The diet industry promises you easy weight loss. But when you fail, it is always due to your lack of will-power. So why don’t the diet gurus help you generate that will power?

Why don’t they give you a complete weight loss program involving:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise, and
  • Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Strategies

Starting on the next page, I will attempt to do that

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3 Pieces of Fantastic Fitness Equipment

I am a giant fitness geek. This means that when I see a new piece of fitness equipment…I want to buy it.

  • Unfortunately, a lot of fitness equipment sucks…case in point – the Ab Circle Pro.

Fortunately, there are a few pieces of fantastic fitness equipment that are worth the money. Here are three of them:

1.  The Hammer Head Anchor Gym

In my humble opinion, the Hammer Head anchor gym is a truly fantastic piece of fitness equipment that should be in every home gym.

  • I use it for strength training
  • I use it for flexibility training
  • I use it for mobility training
  • I use it for energy system training
  • It takes up almost zero space
  • It’s cost effective
  • And it’s safe

For years and years and years, I have used a set of high quality resistance bands with all of my clients. They are portable, never break, are versatile and allow me to do just about everything that I can do in a full commercial gym without turning my client’s rec room into a health club. The only requirement that I need from my clients is something solid to attach the bands to…usually a piece of cardio equipment – treadmill, bike, elliptical, etc… It isn’t the perfect set-up for resistance-band strength training, but
it was okay until…

…I got my hands on the Hammer Head anchor gym. The multiple attachment points have allowed me to get way more creative with my selection of exercises. For example, earlier today…

  • I had a client perform a circuit involving a standing two-arm chest press…with the added resistance of a resistance band looped around her waist.
  • In addition to the work being performed by her chest, triceps & front delts, she was also stressing her core muscles as well as stabilizers in her ankles & hips as she resisted being pulled backwards by the band around her waist.
  • As soon as she finished the chest press set, I had her jump immediately into a set of shuffle lunges with the added resistance of the band looped around her waist.

hammerhead h2 home gym strength bands fitness health

For less than $200, they now have a home gym with a lifetime guarantee that takes up zero floor space.

Love it, love it. love it.

Next PageThe Glasstic Water Bottle….

4 Really, Really Good Reasons To Stop Eating Factory Farmed Meat and Start Buying Organic Meat

Today’s post was sparked by a chat I had the other day with someone on Twitter.

I had just tweeted an infographic about all that yucky pink slime in America’s hamburgers. Normally, a tweet like this generates a pile of RTs from people who are viscerally grossed out by the existence of pink slime in their hamburgers.

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

However…on this day, I ran into someone who didn’t care about the existence of pink slime in her McDouble because (in her words) McDonalds burgers taste AMAZING.

After I grabbed my jaw off of the floor, I replied to her and suggested that someone needed to introduce her to a better hamburger joint…because McD burgers ain’t as tasty as she thinks they are…with or without the pink slime.

The conversation went on for a few more tweets, with no real conclusion…she thinks that the Big Mac is the pinnacle of hot beef sandwich…and I prefer a burger made from grass fed beef and a lack of industrial chemicals.

But even though I couldn’t convince her to abandon her love affair with her McBurgers, this little chat got me thinking about the meat processing industry in general and the quality of meat that most of us eat every day.

After about 30 minutes of daydreaming, I came up with what I think are… 4 Really, Really Good Reasons To Stop Eating Factory Farmed Meat and Start Buying Organic Meat.

1.   Your Health

Medical science has come a long way in the last century.

  • Infant mortality rates have dropped.
  • Anti-biotics and anti-virals have saved millions of lives
  • Trauma surgeons put us back together after horrendous accidents

Unfortunately, medical science is having a hard time keeping up with the damage we inflict upon ourselves with our modern diet.

  • Diabetes rates are exploding
  • Obesity rates are exploding
  • Cancers related to diet are exploding
  • Dementia / Alzheimers rates are exploding

All of these conditions are directly related to the food we eat…and unlike the type of medicine we are really good at, these conditions are slow to develop and modern medicine can’t do a thing to cure them.

Here are a few articles if you want to learn more:

2.   Your Kid’s Health

Same reasons as above…but instead of just making ourselves, now we’re talking about your precious little bundles of joy.

3.   Your Tastebuds

Back in the olden days, your great-great-great-great grandparents ate organic…and free-range…and local…and all that other good stuff that costs me extra every time I go grocery shopping

But unlike me, they didn’t call their food organic or free-range…they called it food.

Because that’s what food was.

  • Cows grazed on grass until it was time for the rancher to turn them into dinner for his neighbours and…
  • Farmers used manure from their livestock to grow better vegetable crops and…
  • Chickens pecked around in the dirt eating bugs and seeds and grass and worms and…
  • Crops were rotated and seeds were shared and our produce wasn’t covered in chemicals or grown from genetically modified seeds and…
  • Hunters went into the woods and hunted for game

And not only was their food healthier…it tasted better.

Ever since I switched to free-range, naturally fed meats, I can’t believe how much better they taste, look and smell. The beef I buy comes from a co-op of ranchers in PEI who finish their grass-fed cattle by adding potatoes to their feed…they swear that it makes the beef taste sweeter.

I chuckled when the butcher first told me this…but that night as I was chomping down on a mushroom cheeseburger, I couldn’t stop making noises about how good the beef tasted….seriously, it was like I had never had a burger before…Ahhh-mazing.

FYI – Earlier today I made a meat sauce of grass-fed beef, mushrooms and tomato sauce. Very simple, very basic…but the taste…OMG. Right now, I am baking a spaghetti squash in the oven. In 10 more minutes, I am going to pour the sauce over of the spag and have a serious post-workout dinner. Mmmmmmmmmm good.

Better ingredients = Better tasting meals

4.  You’re not cool with torturing animals

As a self-aware human being and life-long meat eater, I understand and accept the moral implications of killing animals for my dinner.

  • Because I eat meat, I am partially responsible for the death of other animals.

I can live with this…I may not think about it all the time, but when confronted by a rabid vegan in a nutrition forum, I am able to own up to my complicity and still sleep well at night. Nature is bloody and meat consumption is partially responsible for the state of human evolution and our big brains.

What I can’t accept is the cruelty we inflict on the animals trapped in our industrial meat factories.

It is seriously messed up.

For example…in this video expose of Walmart’s pork suppliers, we see…

  • Pregnant pigs confined to gestation crates so small they are unable to even turn around or lie down comfortably
  • Workers slamming conscious piglets headfirst into the ground and leaving them to suffer and slowly die
  • Workers ripping out the testicles and slicing off the tails of piglets without the use of any painkillers
  • Sick and injured pigs with severe, bleeding wounds or infections left to suffer without veterinary care

All so we can save 50 cents on a pound of Walmart’s breakfast sausage.

Like I said…seriously messed up…and it doesn’t have to be this way.

If mega-corporations like Walmart told their suppliers to stop torturing their livestock, it would happen. It might cost you an extra 50 cents per pound of breakfast sausage…but it would happen.

Note – If you live in the U.S. and would like to see Walmart stop sourcing meat from producers who torture their livestock, you can sign this online petition…it takes about fifteen seconds.

Conclusion

I’m sure that there are a lot more reasons for you to stop eating factory farmed meat and start buying organic meat, but since I only thought about it for 30 minutes and I’m not that bright to begin with, I only came up with four really, really good reasons.

Hopefully they are good enough to get you to re-think tonight’s dinner purchase.

 

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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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The Best Vitamin C Foods

Back in the 1970’s, Dr.Linus Pauling popularized a theory that high doses of Vitamin C would significantly decrease the incidence of the common cold.

This theory spurred a widespread belief that consuming more vitamin C will reduce the risk of catching a cold and reduce its severity. While that theory has taken a beating in the past few years, no one can deny that Vitamin C is a nutritional superstar.

  • Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen – an important structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone.
  • Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter – norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are critical to brain function and are known to affect mood.
  • In addition, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of carnitine, a small molecule that is essential for the transport of fat into cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the fat is converted to energy.
  •  Research also suggests that vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and the incidence of gallstones.
  • Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke).
  • Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. One recent study of cigarette smokers found that vitamin C regenerated vitamin E from its oxidized form.

So…which are the best Vitamin C foods?

Most of us get our Vitamin C from a glass of OJ with our breakfast.

And while that glass of liquid sunshine is a great way to get the “C” into your body, it’s also a great way to get a whole bunch of sugar without all the fiber, vitamins & minerals that goes along with most solid-food sources of Vitamin C.

And for that reason, I am giving you 2 different lists of Best Vitamin C foods sources

The JUICE list….

  • 1 cup of Orange juice – has 124 mg Vitamin C…over twice the daily recommended amount
  • 1 cup of Pineapple and grapefruit juice drink has 115 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Cranberry juice cocktail  has 107 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Grapefruit juice  has 94 mg vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Grape drink has  79 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Vegetable juice cocktail has 67 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Pineapple juice – 1 cup has  25 mg Vitamin C

And the FOOD list…

 

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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.

Quick Navigation

  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
Click to expand
Click to expand
  • 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.

.

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

The Walmartification Of The Organic Food Industry

There was a time in the ‘not so distant’ past, when organic food was just a teeny tiny sliver of the entire food consumption pie. Organic products were bought and sold primarily by hippies and health nuts. Not any more. In fact, since 1990, organic food sales in the United States and Canada have been growing at approximately 20% per year. In 2006, sales of organic food in the United States and Canada topped $18 billion. Numbers these large were enough to catch the attention of the mainstream agri-business industry. As a result, a growing percentage of the new growth in organic food sales is being driven by mainstream supermarketsIn 1998, organic food sales in supermarkets were half the size of the sales in natural food stores. However, by 2006, supermarket sales had grown to be neck and neck with the natural food stores.

click to expand the image

Even as food prices keep rising year after year, the demand for organics keeps rising faster than non-organics year after year, resulting in….

  • the expansion of existing organic food companies – both public and private,
  • the introduction of thousands of new raw & process organic food products,
  • takeovers (and mergers) of small organic independents by large food producers/retailers,
  • the introduction and expansion of private label organic brands by the large food producers/retailers,

Next pageAnimation of the Organic Food Industry and How it Has Changed – 1995-2007

TellSpec answers the question…what is in that food?

Imagine for a second that you are someone who…

  • is trying to lose weight, or
  • is allergic to peanuts, or
  • is lactose intolerant, or
  • doesn’t want to eat foods laced with pesticides, or
  • just wants to know what is in that food that they just picked up at the supermarket.

In 2013…what you would do is take a quick look at the nutritional info on the back of the package, or pull out your smartphone and consult an app that gives you the nutritional info of the average sized apple or serving of pasta salad or the nutritional info claimed by Senor Nacho Grande.

nacho chips label nutrition

In 2014, what you’re going to do is whip out your TellSpec scanner…

  • aim the TellSpec scanner at that bowl of nacho chips,
  • press the button until it beeps
  • firing a low-powered laser at the chips,
  • measuring the reflected light with a nano spectrometer, and
  • sending those measurements up to TellSpec’s cloud servers
tellspec spectrometer
The TellSpec scanner sorts these photons by wavelength and counts them. The resulting numbers, called a spectrum, describe the chemical compounds in the food.

Once in the TellSpec cloud, the data will be analyzed using a proprietary mathematical algorithm. And in less than 20 seconds, TellSpec will send the results of all that number crunching and nanophotonics back down to your smart phone, computer or tablet

tellspec phone1

Letting you know EXACTLY what is in that food you are (or were) about to eat. TellSpec will give you the…

  • Calories
  • Macronutrients
  • Micronutrients
  • Allergens
  • Chemicals
  • Ingredients

tellspec phone2

Letting you make an INFORMED decision about the food you were about to eat…or serve to your child.

  • Which could be kind of a big deal if you have a problem feeding your kid nacho chips laced with Tartrazine – a food dye made from petroleum – known to cause CANCER. (funny how the manufacturer never mentioned the tartrazine in their nutritional info graph)
  • It could also be a big deal if your kid is allergic to peanuts…which is about 99% of all kids nowadays.
  • It could also be a big deal if the reason you keep getting headaches every day is because you are sensitive to gluten or dairy or MSG or any of the chemicals found in processed foods.

tellspec phone3

And because TellSpec can track what you eat, as well as how you feel after eating, it can help identify potential food sensitivities and allow you to make changes to your diet with or without the help of your MD.

It can also track your caloric consumption, your distribution of macronutrients (carbs/fat & protein), which micronutrients are missing from your diet as well as advise you to cut back on the canned tuna sandwiches (Google tuna & mercury levels for more info).

tellspec phone4

How Cool is That?

If you’re anything like me, your mind has just been blown away by the TellSpec scanner.

And it gets even better. TellSpec is developing a software development kit that will provide developers with tools for directly accessing the food analysis data from our servers so that they can create their own amazing applications. The SDK includes source code for iPhone and Android apps, an API for TellSpec’s analysis engine, JSON specifications for data interchange, and access to information about each nutrient, chemical, allergen, and ingredient.

Unlike the fine folks at Apple and most other tech companies, the really fine folks (Isabel & Stephen) want all of the world’s software geeks to push the TellSpec technology even farther to provide even more value for the end user.

Where Can You Get a TellSpec Scanner?

You can’t get one yet 😦 The TellSpec is still in development, and as of October 1, 2013…

  • They have developed the analysis engine, coded it, and tested it, 
  • They have successfully tested three prototype scanners, including one using a nanochip,
  • They have finished the industrial design for the scanner,
  • They are well along with the user interface design;
  • and they have been doing an independent validation of the underlying algorithm.  

Now What?

If you want one of these bad boys, you can get one by supporting their IndieGoGo campaign – hurry up…time is running out.

Open your HTML editor and load the file that has the iframe coded.

2
Type “align=middle” into the HTML iframe code. The code below is an example of a centered iframe:

This code centers the internal page within the iframe.

3
Use a div tag to center the iframe within the web page. The code below encapsulates the iframe and centers it on your web page.

4
Save the page. Use your web browser to test the new settings. Open the page in a web browser and view the iframe location. It’s now centered on the page.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_5825834_center-iframe.html#ixzz2kMJXJiek

Here’s what they need – $650,000

Here’s what they need the money for:

  • Manufacturing the TellSpec scanner and get all the regulatory approvals needed to ship it.
  • Deploying the food analysis engine on servers that reliably provide quick analysis of the spectra.
  • Developing the SDK for Android and iOS platforms so others can build exciting apps.

Personally, I ponied up $420 to become a beta tester of the TellSpec scanner because I can’t wait for the production models and because I am totally geeked by the potential of this technology. I will be meeting with the founders of TellSpec next week to discuss the beta testing procedure as well as potential future applications for the technology.

Conclusion

For $150, you can grab one of 500 Early Bird Specials – You’ll receive one TellSpec scanner and two years of unlimited analysis of your food scans. Once those 500 spots are gone, the price shoots up to $200 for the next 500 people and then up to $250 for the next 3000 people.

I have no idea what they are going to cost once the IndieGoGo campaign is closed and they go on sale to the general public. But I have a feeling they’ll cost more than $250.

tellspec scanner

Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to have one of these bad boys before they go on sale at Amazon and Best Buy?

Cocoa Tea : Anti-Obesity, Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Cancer

You gotta love Mother Nature. Only she could come up with a plant – Cocoa Tea (Camellia Ptilophylla Chang) that…

  1. Prevents diet-induced obesity,
  2. Has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants,
  3. Shows promise as a treatment for liver cancer,
  4. Lowers levels of fat in your blood,
  5. Is a useful chemotherapeutic agent against prostate cancer,
  6. Is caffeine free, and
  7. Tastes of vanillin and jasmine

white_cocoa_tea

What is Cocoa Tea – aka Camellia Ptilophylla Chang?

Camellia Ptilophylla was discovered in 1981, growing wild in southern China. Since then, cocoa tea has been domesticated and rigorously studied by Prof. Chuang-xing Ye, of China’s Sun Yat-Sen University.

Chemically, Camellia ptilophylla is different than the tea you buy (Camellia sinensis) at your local supermarket, with three major differences.

  1. Camellia Ptilophylla aka Cocoa tea is naturally caffeine-free,
  2. Cocoa tea has high levels of the alkaloid theobromine,
  3. Cocoa tea is high in the catechin gallocatechin gallate (GCG) while regular tea is high in the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG),
  4. Cocoa tea has high levels of the alkaloid theobromine.

cocoa tea chemicals

It is these high levels of theobromine which have resulted in Camellia Ptilophylla being given the nickname of cocoa tea, as cocoa is the world’s most popular source of theobromine.

Different Types of Cocoa Tea

Like traditional tea (Camellia sinensis), cocoa tea is processed using different production methods resulting in white, green, black and oolong versions. The different methods of fermentation results in different flavors and different chemical compositions.

For example, as Camellia ptilophylla is fermented and moves from a green tea to an oolong tea and finally to a black tea…

  • Polyphenols are reduced – 38.58%, 30.41% and 23.6%,
  • Catechins are reduced – 23.51%, 17.68% and 4.02%,
  • Theaflavins are increased – 0.11%, 0.11% and 0.17%,
  • Thearubigins are increased – 4.29%, 5.00% and 9.71%,
  • Theabrownins are increased – 2.75%, 4.90% and 13.52% ),
  • along with increases in water-soluble carbohydrates, flavonoid glycoside and gallic acid.

Interestingly, levels of theobromine (3.52%, 3.43% and 3.71%) did not change with fermentation.

How should you prepare Cocoa Tea?

According to Prof. Chuang-xing Ye, to get the full benefits of cocoa tea, an infusion of Camellia ptilophylla tea leaves (g) with 50 times boiling water (ml) for 3 min is recommended. 

Why should you drink Cocoa Tea?

Even though the research looking into the health benefits of Cocoa Tea has just begun, it’s looking like a legitimate superfood. Here are four studies which highlight the potential awesomeness of cocoa tea as a health food.

Study #1

After testing a water extract of white cocoa tea (WCTE) against human prostate cancer (PCa) in vitro and in vivo, researchers found that oral administration of WCTE (0.1 and 0.2%, wt/vol) to athymic nude mice resulted in greater than 50% inhibition of tumor growth. Based upon these findings, the researchers concluded that WCTE can be a useful chemotherapeutic agent against human PCa….keeping in mind that the science around white cocoa tea is very new and it will be a long time before Big Pharma develops a WCTE pill to combat prostate cancer.

Study #2

A second study aimed to evaluate the anti-liver cancer activities of green cocoa tea infusion (GCTI) in vitro and in vivo using human hepatocarcinoma cell line HepG2 cells and nude mice xenograft model. Study results showed that GCTI significantly inhibited the proliferation of HepG2 cells in a dose-dependent manner  inducing HepG2 cells to undergo apoptosis or programmed cell death . Which is a good thing when we’re talking liver cancer cells. The study authors concluded that tumor growth was effectively inhibited by GCTI in a dose-dependent manner as indicated by the decrease in tumor volume and tumor weight after 4 weeks of treatment and that GCTI may be a potential and promising agent of natural resource to treat liver cancer

Study #3

Another cocoa tea study indicated that a single oral administration of cocoa tea extract suppressed the normal increases in plasma triacylgycerol (TG) levels when mice were fed olive (23% inhibition) or lard oil (32% inhibition).  Under the same condition, cocoa tea extract did not affect the level of plasma free fatty acid. Likewise, the extract reduced the lymphatic absorption of lipids. Also, cocoa tea extract and polyphenols isolated from cocoa tea inhibit pancreatic lipase. These findings suggest that cocoa tea has hypolipemic activity…which might be a good thing for a population with chronically elevated plasma triacylgycerol  levels due to it’s addiction to deep fried chicken nuggets and hot dog stuffed pizzas.

Study #4

To find out whether cocoa tea supplementation can improve high-fat diet-induced obesity, hyperlipidemia and hepatic steatosis, and whether such effects would be comparable to those of green tea extract, researchers studied six groups of mice that were fed with:

  • normal chow (N),
  • high-fat diet (21% butterfat + 0.15% cholesterol, wt/wt) (HF),
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 2% green tea extract (HFLG),
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 4% green tea extract (HFHG),
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 2% cocoa tea extract (HFLC) and,
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 4% cocoa tea extract (HFHC).

The researchers found that 2% and 4% dietary cocoa tea supplementation caused a dose-dependent decrease in

  • body weight,
  • fat pad mass,
  • liver weight,
  • total liver lipid,
  • liver triglyceride and cholesterol and,
  • plasma lipids (triglyceride and cholesterol).

These findings show that cocoa tea has a beneficial effect on high-fat diet-induced obesity, hepatomegaly, hepatic steatosis, and elevated plasma lipid levels in mice….comparable to green tea.

Conclusions

  1. As cocoa tea is a newly discovered substance, there is not a large body of research into it’s pros and cons,
  2. The research that has been completed looks very promising,
  3. There is a lot of upcoming research looking into the health benefits of cocoa tea,
  4. You can wait for the research, or you can try to get your hands on some cocoa tea and run your own small-scale private experiment,
  5. Unless you live in southern China, it’s pretty hard to get your hands on cocoa tea 😦

Stay tuned – I will update this post as new research is conducted.

Reference

Sustainable Livestock Production is Possible

According to a growing body of research, not only is sustainable livestock production possible, but with growing numbers of consumers expressing concern for improved animal welfare, environmental impact and the overall healthfulness of the meat they purchase, sustainable livestock production may actually soon be economically feasible.

In a recent University of Cambridge study, researchers have identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.

sustainable livestock
Silvopastoral livestock production

Professor Donald Broom, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research said: “Consumers are now demanding more sustainable and ethically sourced food, including production without negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment and the livelihood of poor producers. Silvopastoral systems address all of these concerns with the added benefit of increased production in the long term.”

In a silvopastoral system, animals are allowed to feed on a diverse group of edible plants which:

  • promotes healthy soil with better water retention,
  • makes better use of available farm land,
  • encourages predators of harmful animals,
  • minimizes greenhouse gas emissions,
  • reduces the need for herbicides,
  • minimizes contamination of local land & water,
  • improves job satisfaction for farm workers,
  • reduces injury and stress in animals,
  • improves biodiversity,
  • improves welfare and encourages biodiversity using native shrubs and trees,
  • increases human food supply,
  • produces healthier meat,
  • while enabling a profitable farming business.

And who can argue with healthier animals living in a healthier environment amongst happier ranchers working on profitable farms producing healthier meat for consumers who care about living longer & better.

cow-factory
Modern/factory livestock production

Real World Examples of Sustainable Livestock Production

According to Professor Donald Broom, “the planting as forage plants of both shrubs and trees whose leaves and small branches can be consumed by farmed animals can transform the prospects of obtaining sustainable animal production. Such planting of ‘fodder trees’ has already been successful in several countries, including the plant Chamaecytisus palmensis which is now widely used for cattle feed in Australia. Another success has been in Colombia where a mixed planting of the shrub Leucaena with a common pasture grass resulted in a 27% increase in dry matter for food and 64% increase of protein production.”

In other silvopastoral livestock systems, researchers have seen an increase in growth and milk production…all without the need of milk producing hormones like rBST.

Conclusions

  1. I like eating steaks and hamburgers…and I am not alone.
  2. I like being healthy…and I don’t believe that eating factory farmed meat is conducive to being healthy….and I am not alone.
  3. I don’t enjoy the reality of animals living in inhumane conditions just because we are either intellectually lazy, morally deficient and/or financially greedy…and I am not alone.

And when I find out about a method of sustainable livestock production that may indeed be financially viable…I hope that I am not alone in wanting to help make this possibility become a reality.

What’s Next?

If I am not alone in thinking that the silvopastoral system of sustainable livestock production is pretty darn cool…I am asking that you share this article far and wide. If more people know about the concept, more people will talk about it, and more farmers will look into it, and more people will agree to buy from those farmers and so on and so on and so on.

Reference

More Proof – HIIT Better than Cardio

I-LOVE-HIITAs a personal trainer with 25 yrs of experience AND as a certified fitness junkie, I love HIIT because…

  1. it works really, really well to help my clients get fit really, really fast,
  2. it helps my clients drop excess body-fat really, really fast
  3. and because it is really simple to program HIIT workouts and it fits into the busiest of schedules really, really well.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees HIIT like I do. 

There is a large group of trainers and fitness “experts” who…

  • think that low intensity cardio is superior to HIIT for developing aerobic fitness, and
  • fear that the High Intensity aspect of HIIT is dangerous to the health of their clients.

Their concern is that people with less than perfect cardiac function are at imminent risk of suffering a heart attack if their trainer puts them on a HIIT protocol. Which makes sense….if you haven’t read a medical journal in the past few years and still believe that low intensity cardio is the only safe way to improve cardiac function..

However, if you’re like me and don’t want to wait for our mainstream health & fitness to catch up with modern science, I invite you to…

1. Take a look at some of my articles about HIIT and Cardiac Function

2.  Take a look at the latest research investigating HIIT and building a healthy heart

In a study just published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers tested the effectiveness of HIIT workouts to improve the VO2max/VO2peak of 112 patients with coronary heart disease.

NoteVO2max/VO2peak is considered to be the gold standard for aerobic fitness, and aerobic fitness is believed to be the best indicator of cardiovascular health and a well-established predictor of total and cardiovascular mortality in subjects with and without coronary heart disease.

This means that exercise protocols which drastically improve VO2max/VO2peak are to be seen as powerful tools to help the medical (and fitness) communities prevent coronary heart disease and extend life.

In this study, the participants were divided into three groups based upon exercise intensity – as determined by percentage of HRmax.

  • <88%,
  • 88–92%, and
  • >92% of HRmax

The goal of the study was to determine if higher relative intensity during exercise intervals would elicit a greater
increase in VO2peak…leading to greater & faster improvements in aerobic fitness and in theory improve cardiac related mortality rates.

Here’s what happened

  • No adverse effects occurred during training
  • Overall, VO2peak increased by 11.9 % after 23.4 exercise sessions
  • Higher intensity exercise groups showed the greatest increase in VO2peak
  • 3.1 mL for the <88% group
  • 3.6 mL for the 88–92% group, and
  • 5.2 mL,for the >92% of HRmax group

hiit heart function

These findings build upon previous research which shows that the beneficial cardiovascular effects of aerobic exercise are intensity dependent, with higher intensity exercise showing a superior effect…leading the study authors to conclude that  “CHD patients who are able to perform high intensity training should aim at increasing exercise intensity above 92% of HRmax and thereby possibly achieve even greater improvements in aerobic capacity”.

What does this mean for you?

  • If you’re a CHD patient, you need to talk to your cardiologist about HIIT training…keeping in mind of course that CHD patients need to keep a close eye on how everything they do – exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, stress, etc – can impact the function of their CV system.
  • If you’re not a CHD patient, it means that if you want to improve your aerobic fitness and avoid dropping dead of a heart attack, you NEED to start doing some form of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training.
  • And if you’re a doctor or fitness expert who still believes that low intensity cardio is the best way to improve aerobic function, you need to put down your preconceptions and pick up a scientific journal every now and then.

Reference

  • Moholdt T, et al. The higher the better? Interval training intensity in coronary heart disease. J Sci Med Sport
    (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2013.07.007
  • Rognmo O, Moholdt T, Bakken H et al. Cardiovascular risk of high- versus
    moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in coronary heart disease patients. Circulation 2012; 126(12):1436–1440.
  • . Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2009; 301(19):2024–2035.

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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

The Difference Between Can’t and Won’t

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

WRONG.

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

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

Unless YOU decide that you will.

 

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The Science Behind Ice Cream Addiction

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

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

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

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

And it’s not just ice cream.

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

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

Reference

Who is Your Favorite Fitness Blogger / Tweeter / Tumblr / FBer / Pinner???

Believe it or not, in just four short months, it will be January 2014…and just like every other January since the beginning of time, millions of people are going to:

  • Resolve to “get into shape”…
  • Go shopping for the latest celebrity diet/fitness book
  • While ignoring all of the amazing non-celebrity fitness bloggers / tweeters / tumblrs / pinners scattered all over the internet.

Missing out on some health & fitness advice that actually works and costs a whole lot less than a delivery from Amazon.

So, as a personal service to everyone involved, I am asking for a little feedback from you – my fitness friends. Tell em about your favorite fitness sources by leaving their name, websites, social media profiles, reviews, testimonials, etc in the comment section below.

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Come late December of this year, I will take all your comments and assemble a “Best Of” article with links to all your hidden gems. [/colored_box]

And with the awesome power of social media, we can spread that list far and wide, helping all those January 1st fitness virgins while simultaneously rewarding your favorite fitness bloggers / tweeters / tumblrs / face bookerspinners with new readers and followers.

It’s going to be a real win/win/win….unless you don’t leave a comment 😦

Who is your favorite fitness blogger / tweeter / tumblr / pinner???

(and don’t say me…my ego can’t get any bigger)

Is Magnesium a Cure for Insomnia and Restless Legs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Reference

Lose Weight with Cocaine

As the world’s biggest health & fitness nerd, I read dozens of research papers every day…looking for any new ideas that could help my clients, readers and social media followers transform themselves into healthier, fitter, stronger, better versions of themselves.

Today…I came across one of the weirdest studies related to body weight and fat storage that I have ever seen.

cocaine tony montana

Entitled “The Skinny on Cocaine: insights into eating behavior and body weight in cocaine-dependent men”, the study was designed to confirm or debunk the general assumption that weight loss associated with cocaine is due to its appetite suppressing properties.

The researchers recruited 65 male volunteers, half cocaine users and the other half non-users. Eating behaviour, food intake, body composition and plasma leptin levels were measured. And although the cocaine users reported…

  1. Significantly higher levels of dietary fat consumption
  2. Significantly higher levels of dietary carbohydrate consumption
  3. Patterns of uncontrolled eating

…their body fat mass was significantly lower than the non-cocaine users.

cocaine body fat

They also found that the levels of the hormone leptin were lower in cocaine users and trended lower as the duration of the user’s stimulant use increased. This decrease in plasma leptin together with a high fat diet suggests an impaired energy balance, which typically leads to weight gain rather than weight loss.

Because of these surprising new findings, the researchers believe that regular cocaine abuse directly interferes with metabolic processes and thereby reduces body fat.

For addicts looking to kick their coke habit, this explains why they are prone to significant weight gain when they stop using cocaine.

But what about all those dieters desperate to drop some significant weight?

Do they wait a decade or more for Big Pharma to jump all over this research and start investigating a new pathway towards that elusive safe & effective weight loss drug?

Or do they try to self-modify their metabolism with a little Bolivian marching powder?

Reference

Increase Your Bench Press…thanks to Koji Murofushi

The Koji Bench Press is known by many names:

  • the Crazy Bell Bench Press,
  • the Bamboo Bench Press,
  • the Banded Kettlebell Bench Press,
  • the Hanging Kettlebell Bench Press,
  • the Crazy Plate Bench Press
  • the Bandbell Bench Press
  • and the Chaos Bench Press.

Whatever you call it, the Koji Bench Press has been attributed to Japanese hammer thrower Koji Murofushi and his unique training techniques.

The general idea behind the hanging weights is to create a higher level of instability via it’s pendulum chaotic oscillating effect….taxing and strengthening the assistance / stabilizer musculature….

….preventing & repairing injuries….

…improving athletic performance…

…while exposing any weaknesses in your musculature.

NOTEThe first time you try this technique, GO LIGHT!!!!

I’m not joking. Until your nervous gets used to the Koji bench press, you’re gonna shake and shake and quite possibly dop the bar onto your face. So GO LIGHT!!!

Over time, I have found the Koji bench press to be a great tool for helping get rid of sticking points, increasing totals and helping “sore shoulder” lifters bench with less pain.

You’re going to look strange doing the Koji, but if you give it 2-3 months, you will see improvements.

How to Get Strong – The Science of Strength

In an earlier post, The Components of Physical Fitness, I divided physical fitness into it’s component parts and provided a brief introduction of each part.

In today’s post, I am going to focus on muscular strength…or as Google likes to say…how to get strong, how to get stronger, how to get brutally strong, how to get freaky strong, etc, etc, etc.

And if you plan on getting freaky strong, you’re going to need to understand the whys and hows behind getting strong. And those whys and hows are all based in science.

So….we’re going to look at some of that science to help you figure out how to maximize your own personal levels of “strong”.

Intro to Muscular Strength

How strong you are (and how strong you could be) depends on the performance of your body’s skeletal muscles.

Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them.

  • Sit on the couch and they will atrophy.
  • Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions.
  • Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

Muscular Strength can and has been categorized in a variety of different ways. In this article, I am choosing to divide Muscular Strength into four categories, based primarily on Newton’s Second Law.

vec F = m vec a (force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration.) Mass relates to how much weight/mass a muscle or muscle group can move. Acceleration relates to how fast that weight/mass is moved.

By using and manipulating force, mass and acceleration, we can force our muscles to adapt and become more efficient at generating…

4 Types of Muscular Strength

  • Maximum Muscular Strength
  • Maximum Muscular Power
  • Maximum Muscular Speed
  • Maximum Muscular Endurance

NOTE – Each of these categories has different characteristics with regard to mass and acceleration

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How to Become a Better Person

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

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

How to become a better person in 500 words or less

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

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

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

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

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

gallery_vitruviawoman1

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

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

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

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

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

Will Obesity Bankrupt the USA?

Last month, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease.

The very next day, representatives of both the Senate and House of Reps introduced bipartisan bills that would require Medicare to pick up the tab for obesity treatments…including prescriptions, counselling and bariatric surgeries.

One of those bills, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, presents the following findings:

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) According to the Centers for Disease Control, [highlight color=”yellow”]about 35 percent of adults aged 65 and over were obese[/highlight] in the period of 2007 through 2010, representing over 8 million adults aged 65 through 74.

(2) Obesity [highlight color=”green”]increases the risk for chronic diseases and conditions[/highlight], including high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

(3) More than half of Medicare beneficiaries are treated for 5 or more chronic conditions per year. The [highlight color=”yellow”]rate of obesity among Medicare patients doubled from 1987 to 2002, and spending on those individuals more than doubled[/highlight].

(4) Obese men and women at age 65 have decreased life expectancy of 1.6 years for men and 1.4 years for women.

(5) The [highlight color=”pink”]direct and indirect cost of obesity is more than $450 billion annually[/highlight].

(6) On average, an obese Medicare beneficiary costs [highlight color=”green”]$1,964 more than a normal-weight beneficiary[/highlight].

(7) The prevalence of obesity among older Americans is growing at a linear rate and, left unchanged, [highlight color=” blue”]nearly half of the elderly population will be obese in 2030[/highlight] according to a Congressional Research Report on obesity.

And that’s just America’s seniors we’re talking about.

  • What about the huge glut of boomers just entering their senior years?
  • What about all of America’s children raised on a diet of processed food and soda?
  • What about all of America’s poor who can’t afford to eat healthy food?

What happens when they become seniors and medicare starts footing the bill? What happens when medicare coverage evolves into Obamacare coverage and everyone in America becomes eligible for government funded obesity treatments?

And we haven’t even discussed health conditions related to obesity that are already covered by medicare and Obamacare.

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Certain forms of cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis and joint replacement
  • Liver disease
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Depression
  • Etc, etc, etc…

Because all of these medical conditions are related to obesity and primarily caused by the same “modern” lifestyle that causes obesity….

  • Inactive
  • Stressed out
  • Low nutrition diet
  • High calorie diet
  • High consumption of processed food

And it’s not getting any better. According to the OECD and CDC, 35% of Americans were obese as of 2010…and that percentage is climbing year after year after year.

obesity-rates

What happens if we keep getting fatter?

Projections indicate that if we keep getting heavier at the projected rate, “the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030”.  

This means that America could be looking at “more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades”.

Obesity could contribute to more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.

And just in case you’re one of those few people who looks after themselves and doesn’t have to worry about obesity, heart disease, etc…

Remember that these health conditions are costing all of us real money…

obesity costs

As you can see in the chart above (look at the SOLID line), total medical expenditure costs per person increase exponentially as individual Body Mass Index rate rise linearly.

Which is not good considering the public cost of obesity is going to keep rising…which means [highlight color=”yellow”]your insurance premiums and tax burden is going to keep rising[/highlight]…even if you’re in tip-top shape.

More Obesity Economic Data

  1. Estimates of the medical cost of adult obesity in the US range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per annum.
  2. Obesity costs Medicare $61.8 billion per year
  3. Obesity makes up 8.5% of the Medicare budget
  4. Obesity makes up 11.8% of the Medicaid budget
  5. Based on current trends, the cost of obesity to the US are expected to increase by between $50 and $70 billion per year

And that’s not including indirect costs such as lost productivity, insurance premiums and lost wages. It has been estimated that [highlight color=”yellow”]America could be losing up to $580 billion in GDP per year[/highlight] thanks to lost productivity due to obesity.

The following infographic, created by the Public Health Dept. of George Washington U highlights these financial costs (and future cost estimates). The full infographic is available here.

obesity financial cost

Is there hope for America’s economic waistline?

YES. Analysis of the current data indicates that if the average American BMI was reduced by just 5% by the year 2030, rates of disease would drop significantly and nearly every state in the nation would save between 6.5 to 7.9% in healthcare costs.

For a giant state like California, this would mean an additional $81.7 billion dollars not spent on obesity & related illnesses.

And how do we reduce those obesity rates???

That’s the $81.7 billion dollar question.

  • You’ve got nutrition experts saying that they need to educate the public on how to eat healthfully.
  • You’ve got politicians eager to enact taxes and bans to force us to stop eating junk food
  • You’ve got diet gurus publishing a new crop of diet books every January
  • You’ve got celebrity personal trainers willing to sell you their master plan

And so far, it ain’t working 😦

fat-couple walking 

Reference

The Absolute Best Barefoot Running Shoe

Last year, I reviewed the Skora Base running shoe. In that review, I concluded that the Skora Base was an excellent barefoot/minimalist/natural running shoe. Excellent…but not perfect.

  • The soles were very durable, giving the shoe a very long life
  • Great ventilation = reduced stinkfoot
  • I received lots of positive feedback on how the shoes look…not important, but nice
  • Easy to slip on…way easier than Vibrams
  • A little on the heavy side for a barefoot shoe
  • Comfortable as heck
  • Designed to encourage “natural” walking/running gaits
  • A toe box roomier than standard running shoes but not as roomy as some uber-barefoots
  • Zero heel drop
  • Average sole thinkness – not super thin like Sockwa but way better than a lot of “barefoot” shoes. This give them decent ground feel.
  • And the unfortunate feature that when my cross-training workouts got a little hot & sweaty, I found that lateral stability became a significant issue. Not a big deal if you’re running around a track, but if you’re bounding through the woods or playing a little tennis, I found that I was almost sliding sideways out of my shoes.

So….when I heard that Skora has two new models for 2013, I was curious to see if Skora had addressed my personal issues with their kicks. And they have.

With two new models…. The Phase and the Core.

phase x skora

Here are the upgrades…

  • The toe box is roomier in both styles- I can now wiggle my toes while wearing both the Skora Phase and the Skora Core
  • The new for 2013 synthetic upper Phase is lighter than my synthetic upper Base shoes. 7.2 oz v.s. 7.9 oz
  • The new for 2013 leather upper Core is lighter than the previous leather upper Form shoes. 8.1 oz 8.2 oz (not much of a diff here)
  • Both of the new styles are using a new injection blown rubber outsole giving both the Phase and Core a “grippier” feel and an increased ability to feel the ground beneath your shoes. This new sole reminds me of the sole Leming uses.
  • And finally, both shoes have much improved lateral stability. This might be due to the new lamination process used to bond the upper materials and overlays without stitching. Skora claims “this results in a stronger, more durable upper with less seams to let in water or rub against the skin”. All I can tell you is that I am not sliding around in this shoe.

So, all in all, both of these new Skoras – the synthetic Phase and the goatskin leather Core get two great big enthusiastic thumbs-up from yours truly.

SKORA_CORE-M03_medial_34_3

If you want to learn a little more about the specifics of these shoes, please continue reading…

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.
Where my old Skora Base shoes have a 9mm Forefoot/heel stack height (sole 4mm, midsole 5mm), the new Skora Phases and Skora Cores have both been reduced down to 8mm while changing the sole material from a high abrasion rubber to a grippier injection blown rubber. Defintely an upgrade in my mind.
SKORA_CORE-M03_outsole_36_3
  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

I can’t get over how much this shift to injection blown rubber has made on the proprioception capabilities of these new Skoras. As mentioned above, both the Phase and Base are 1 mm thinner. And unless you are the princess from the Princess and the Pea, I doubt you can tell the difference. But there definitely is a difference in ground feel with these new Skoras. It has to be the new rubber.

SKORA_PHASE-M03_top_59_3

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Like the older model Skora Base & Form, this is where I believe Skora really separates itself from the rest of the barefoot/minimalist/natural shoe pack. Unlike some minimalist shoes which basically slap some rubber onto the bottom of a polyester sock, the Skora engineers have created an aysmmetric last shape with a curved bottom profile. And it’s that curved outsole which is supposed to mimic the natural foot shape and encourage a natural medial to lateral rolling motion which makes the Skora truly unique. And with the now wider toe box, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. Unlike any other minimalist shoe that I have ever worn, the Skora Base actually makes you run naturally. No more falling back into old patterns of heel striking.

All 4 models of Skora running shoes (Core, Form, Phase and Base) will have you landing midfoot and absorbing impact as your feet were originally designed. And while that may not be a huge deal for someone (me) who has spent years re-training their neuro-muscular system and suffering though freakishly tight calves and the converted their bodies to a minimalist style of running, it is a gigantic deal for someone who wants to start running ala barefoot put has spent years running heel-toe. For this one feature alone, I can’t say enough good things about Skora.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Both of these 2013 models are lighter than their predeccesors – with the Skora Phase weighing 7.2 oz and the Skora Core weighing 8.1 oz. Not the lightest barefoot shoes on the market, but light enough that you probably will never notice the difference. Next page – the review continues…

health fitness exercise healthhabits

Our Health Care System is Completely Backwards

Earlier this evening, I was reading a business book entitled Breaking the Time Barrier. The book is written for small business people (like me) in service industries who bill their clients on an hourly basis. Written as a pseudo-fable, the author tries to hammer home the lesson that I should be billing my clients based on the value I bring to them…not by selling blocks of time to them at an hourly rate.

The author recommends that I…

  1. determine the goals of a potential personal training client – ie a 20 lb weight loss or a 10 pt. drop in systolic blood pressure,
  2. identify the value of their goals to them. How much do they value their health, fitness, appearance?
  3. Offer solutions designed to achieve their goals
  4. Charge them a percentage of the value of their goals in return for my solution

…as opposed to selling them hour long chunks of my day..with the implied promise that those hours are going to add up to their goals…of a 20 lb weight loss or a 10 pt. drop in systolic blood pressure.

And that got me thinking about other personal trainers…and the fitness industry…and then the entire health care system. And by the end of my pondering, I concluded that our health care system is completely backwards.

Our Current Health Care System

Currently, we have a society where rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, depression et al increase year after year after decade. And instead of the health care system offering solutions to help us achieve our goal of good health, it offers us products & services designed to…

  1. mask the symptoms of disease
  2. extend life after the medical condition has become critical

poppin-pills

We’re not paying for health…we’re paying to manage pain, disability and disease.

[colored_box color=”green”]If I was a cynical man, I might start thinking that our health care system is a bit of a racket. Why focus on keeping their patients healthy when they can sell them lots of stuff when they get sick?[/colored_box]

But what if doctors could make a good living and keep us healthy at the same time?

  • What if our health care system taught us how to eat for health?
  • What if our health care system taught us how to be active for good health?
  • What if our health care system taught us how to shop for and cook healthy meals?
  • What if our health care system made healthy food inexpensive?
  • What if our health care system made health & fitness cool like Hollywood makes really bad movie sequels seem cool?
  • What if our health care system made access to exercise facilities universal?
  • What if our health care system focused most of it’s efforts on keeping us healthy?

And what if you paid for these services in advance…like you do everything else?

For example…

  • If you want shelter from the elements, you buy a house or rent an apartment.
  • If you want to get rid of hunger, you buy food
  • If you want to travel from home to work, you get a bike or a car or a transit pass.
  • If you don’t want to be lonely, you talk to people, go on dates, nod and smile at the stuff they find important…

We all pay a price in some form or another to achieve the goals that are important to us.

So why don’t we do that with our health care system?

Why don’t we pay doctors to keep us healthy? Isn’t that what we want? To be healthy…and fit…and strong…and attractive.

seniors exercise fitness

So why do we pay the health care system to mask our illnesses and keep us alive in hospital beds while our family goes bankrupt trying to keep us alive just a little bit longer?

Can anyone answer that question for me?

The Bruce Lee Workout

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

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

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

So, how did he do it?

And more importantly, how can you do it?

How can you build a body like this?

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

But…you will be wasting your time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, I’m going to tell you.

Bruce_Lee

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

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

What there is, is….

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

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

The same goes for nutrition.

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

Be like water

Unique goals require unique solutions.

One size does not fit all.

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

bruce-lee-lats

Happy Canada Day 2013!!!

Anniversaries are a great time to re-evaluate…looking forward to the future while learning from the lessons of the past.

And as today is Canada Day, and all Canadians are celebrating our national birthday, maybe it’s a good time to take a good, hard, long look at ourselves in the mirror and commit to making the coming year a healthier, fitter year for all Canadians.

canada-fat-fit-2

After all, none of us want to look like the guy on the left.

Food Addiction: It’s In Your Eyes

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

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

The Science

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

Why is this important?

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

woman-eating-chocolate-

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does this mean to you?

At this point…nothing.

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

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

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

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

ERG

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

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

Reference

How Often Should I Exercise?

Q. How Often Should I Exercise?

A. According to Dr. Pietro Tonino, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Loyola University Hospital, “celebrities look the way they do because they’ve followed their intense regimes for a long time. They also can afford ace trainers who make sure they don’t hurt themselves, vary their routines and keep them motivated”.

Another difference: “Most people that I know don’t have that amount of time to work out every day,” Tonino says.

Overexercising can be dangerous, warns the doctor. You might see some short-term benefit, but at the risk of long-term damage.

Among the hazards:

  • degenerative damage to tendons,
  • ruptured biceps or pectorals
  • and muscle strain.
And all it takes is an hour a day...
And all it takes is an hour a day…

“Thirty minutes a day to an hour a day would be a good workout,” Tonino says.

Which kinda makes sense.

  • Americans are told to perform moderate-intensity aerobic (endurance) physical activity for a minimum of 30 min on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 20 min on three days each week.
I'm too sexy for this shirt...
I’m too sexy for this shirt…

ooops, that’s only 60 minutes a week. And that only keeps you from dying, it doesn’t give you a six-pack.

  • In Canada, Big Brother recommends that all good little Canadians accumulate 60 minutes of physical activity every day to stay healthy or improve your health. Time needed depends on effort – as you progress to moderate activities, you can cut down to 30 minutes, 4 days a week.

Alright, 2 hours of moderate activity each week….making us twice as fit as the Yanks?

What about the Brits?

  • For general health benefit, adults should achieve a total of at least 30 minutes a day of at least moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days of the week.  The recommended levels of activity can be achieved either by doing all the daily activity in one session, or through several shorter bouts of activity of 10 minutes or more. The activity can be lifestyle activity or structured exercise or sport, or a combination of these.

We have a Winner!!!

150 or more minutes of moderate intensity activity each and every week.

Okay, that’s it then, 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is your exercise prescription.

Wait a minute, what’s this?

In a new study, published July 28 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers tracked 191 overweight and obese women to determine the exercise prescription required to maintain a weight loss of 10% or more of initial body weight over two years.

The Study

  • The women were instructed to eat between 1200 and 1500 calories a day.
  • They were assigned to one of four groups. The groups were based on exercise intensity (moderate v.s. vigorous) as well as the number of calories burned through exercise – 1000 to 2000 kcal per week.
  • The participants were encouraged to divide their exercise over five days a week and to exercise for at least ten minutes per session.
  • They also had regular contact with members of the Health and Physical Activity Dept at the U of Pittsburgh.

The Results

  • After six months, all of the women had lost weight.
  • About half of the group lost 10% or more of their starting weight.
  • However, after 2 years, only 47 (25%) of the overachievers were able to maintain their weight loss.

So how did the Fantastic Forty-Seven do it?

Researchers found that the women were averaging 275 minutes (1835 calories) of exercise per week. That’s 55 minutes a day on a 5 day schedule, or 40 minutes a day if you exercise every day.

As well, the women who exercised the most were also eating the least. On average, they ate 444 less calories than the women who exercised the least. It should also be noted that after crunching the numbers, the super group was eating 3108 less calories per week than the slacker group. And then when you add in the fact that they were also burning 1100 more calories per week, it’s no surprise that they did better than their chubby sisters.

Conclusion

Theirs: The addition of 275 mins/wk of physical activity,in combination with a reduction in energy intake, is importantin allowing overweight women to sustain a weight loss of morethan 10%. Interventions to facilitate this level of physicalactivity are needed.

Mine: Keeping in mind that I am a personal trainer and that I spend a good part of my day screaming for “one more rep”; I think that this research paints a realistic picture of the type and amount of activity needed to keep our society from getting fatter and fatter.

And before you say it, you do have 40-55 minutes of free time each day.

According to data collected from the annual Health Surveys for England between 1997 and 2006, rich old white people are more likely to participate in sporting activities than other demographic groups.

This also happens to be the demographic that carries the least amount of excess fat. Even worse, the fitness participation gap between rich and poor, black and white, old and young appears to be growing wider. So it seems that while more and more lily-white baby boomers are trying to get fit, the rest of the general population is getting fatter and lazier.

And before you say it, the rich actually have less free time than the rest of the great unwashed.

“Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman has found, however, that being wealthy is often a powerful predictor that people spend less time doing pleasurable things, and more time doing compulsory things and feeling stressed”.

“People who make less than $20,000 a year, for example, told Kahneman and his colleagues that they spend more than a third of their time in passive leisure — watching television, for example. Those making more than $100,000 spent less than one-fifth of their time in this way — putting their legs up and relaxing”.

“Rich people spent much more time commuting and engaging in activities that were required as opposed to optional. The richest people spent nearly twice as much time as the poorest people in leisure activities that were active, structured and often stressful — shopping, child care and exercise”.

So, no more excuses, get your rear in gear.

Here’s your inspiration…

Get off the couch!!!
Get off the couch!!!

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No Time to Exercise?

  • Every January, approximately 3 billion people make a resolution to make exercise a daily part of their lives.
  • Every February, approximately 2.99 billion people abandon their resolution because…they have no time to exercise.

Their lives are just too busy…work, kids, home, groceries, more work, youtube, etc, etc, etc… They just don’t have ANY free time…or at least that’s what they tell themselves.

What if I told you thanks to HIIT, HIRT and my gigantic fitness brain, even the world’s busiest person has more than enough time in their day to get enough exercise to be fit, healthy and outrageously super-sexy.

You would probably say prove it…so prove it I will.

outdoor gym suspension trainer

THE PROOF

Last week, I was standing in the driveway speaking to one of my neighbours. After trying to squeeze me for free training advice, “Jim” proceeded to tell me how even though he paid almost $200 per month for a gym membership, he just didn’t have enough time in his day to get to the gym.

After giving “Jim” a serious eye roll, I suggested to him that he had more than enough time in his day to exercise and that he was full of BS. And after an thoroughly uncomfortable silence, I dragged him into my backyard to show him the suspension trainer that I had hanging from a tree branch.

Two minutes later, I had Jim cranking out set after set of push-ups, bodyweight rows, chin-ups and a variety of core-torturing exercises. And in less than 5 minutes, Jim was a sweaty, tired mess…and thoroughly in love with my suspension trainer.

Once Jim caught his breath, I suggested that…

  1. He borrow my Jungle Gym for the week
  2. Hook it up on the fire escape in his backyard/driveway
  3. Agree to do a 5 min mini-workout every time he walked past the Jungle Gym.

Fast forward seven days…

  • Jim has averaged 3 x 5 minute mini-workouts per day
  • He feels physically great – lots of energy, stronger, etc
  • He feels mentally great – less grumpy, less stressed out
  • He has lost a little body-fat
  • He has pumped up his flabby little-girl muscles
  • And he’s buying his own Jungle Gym.

Most importantly, he admitted that I am a fitness genius and the best neighbour on the street 🙂

BUT WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A JUNGLE GYM or SOMETHING TO HANG ONE OFF OF???

Have no fear my friends.  You don’t need any fitness equipment to take advantage of these mini-workouts. Here’s the plan.

  1. Select a place or activity that you visit/perform on a regular basis every day – (walk past the tv, walk into the kitchen, go to the bathroom, answer the phone, etc)
  2. Every time you visit that place or perform that activity, commit to doing a mini-workout. This could be as simple as 10 push-ups off of the kitchen counter or 5 body-weight squats or 30 seconds of step-ups or as involved as a 5 minute HIRT workout on your backyard Jungle Gym.
  3. The length/intensity of workout depends on how many mini-workouts you will perform over the course of your day and your personal fitness level. If you choose an activity that you perform 20 times per day, keep the workouts very short. For Jim, he started out with 2 workouts per day – walking to get his car in the morning and again when he returned home from work. As he got to enjoy his mini-workouts, he began to make excuses to head out into the backyard.

If you’re just starting out, make the individual workouts very easy…and perform a lot of them throughout the day. If you’re fitter, make the mini-workouts longer (5 min max), tougher and less frequent.

Most important, this plan needs to work with YOUR schedule if it’s going to work. We’re trying to make these workouts fit seamlessly into the rest of your day so that they become part of your “new normal”. After a few months of this, you can begin to consider a gym membership or extending your “at home” workouts into longer duration (30 min) and/or higher intensity sessions.

Here is a List of Bodyweight Exercises to get you started

  • 2 leg squats
  • 1 leg squats
  • Assisted 1 leg squats (hold onto something stable)
  • Bulgarian Split Squat
  • Lateral squats (side to side)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Shuffle Lunges (like JJs, but moving front to back instead of side to side)
  • Burpees
  • Single Leg Bodyweight Deadlifts
  • Step Ups – use the stairs in your house or a chair
  • Hip Thrusts – 2 leg or 1 leg
  • Standing Leg Kickbacks – for glutes
  • Standing Leg Side Kicks
  • Standing Straight Leg Front Kicks
  • Bridge / Plank – Face down, face up or sideways
  • Toes to the Ceiling ab exercise
  • Windshield Wipers – lying on back
  • Push Ups
  • Back Rows – use kitchen table to hold on to
  • Shoulder Press

I have included a lot of exercises for variety, but if you are just starting out, I would suggest you stick to a rotation of…

  1. 2 Leg Squats
  2. Push Ups
  3. Back Rows
  4. Lateral Squats
  5. Bridge / Planks
  6. 2 Leg Hip Thrusts

Click links for exercise videos

For more info, feel free to comment and/or check out the following posts.

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3 Pieces of Fitness Gear that You Need to Buy Right Now!!!!

Back in the olden days, human beings performed manual labor every day. They walked, ran, lifted, carried, dragged, pulled and pushed. Today, most of us spend our days sitting, typing, reading, talking and googling.

As a result, modern humans are fatter, weaker and sicklier than our ancestors. And while some of us are okay with this side-effect of our modern society, a growing percentage of the population isn’t. After leaving their physically inactive jobs for the day, they head over to the gym and spend a big chunk of their free time trying to get stronger, leaner and healthier.

Unfortunately, most of those people start their fitness journey with no idea how they should go about getting stronger, leaner and healthier…and thus fall prey to the marketing promises of the fitness / weight loss industry….a multi-billion dollar business sector that relies on hype and promises…pumping hundreds of new books, dvds, pills, potions and pieces of fitness gear onto the market every year…promising amazing physical transformations…

fat-to-fitt

…and unfortunately, most of this fitness gear is crap.

Luckily for us, amongst all that health & fitness detrius, there are always a few products that…

  • Do what they promise
  • Are worth much more than their purchase price
  • Deserve all the social media love that we can shower upon them.

Here are three of those products

1.  GLOBE GRIPZ

globe grips grip strength

For my personal training clients, Globe Gripz do two important things.

  1. They makes their hands stronger..which allows them to make the rest of their body stronger.
  2. They magically eliminate shoulder joint impingements…eliminating pain, preventing injury and allowing us to reverse decades-old structural issues.

How?

  1. The increased diameter of the Globe Gripz forces your hands to work harder to hold onto the implement – dumbbell, barbell, kettlebells, band, chin-up bar, etc. The increased workload leads to increased muscular strength in forearm, hand, finger strength.
  2. The baseball shape of the Globe Gripz allows my clients to use a neutral grip (see middle image) which reduces the strain, impingement and chance of injury on their elbow and shoulder joints.

It’s a really simple piece of fitness equipment and for less than the price of a single physical therapy session, I have seen my single pair of Globe Gripz help a whole bunch of clients get rid of sore shoulders while make significant gains in grip and overall upper-body strength. They’re a must-buy.

2. BECOMING A SUPPLE LEOPARD

For the past 27 years, I have lifted heavy things, sprinted up hills, jumped over obstacles and bashed into trees, fences and other human beings. And as a result of my somewhat insane behaviour, I have developed more than a few aches and pains. And up until about two years ago, I spent a fair amount of cash on physical therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc, to help minimize those aches and pains.

But since I discovered Kelly Starrett and his MobilityWOD videos, I spend a lot more time fixing my own aches and pains and a lot less money having someone else to do it for me.

Imagine my surprise when I heard rumours that Kelly was working on a book that would take all that video goodness and re-assemble it into book form…complete with an index chapters dedicated to specific injuries/treatments along with step-by-step pictures showing how to perform all of his painful yet awesome rehabilitation exercises.

I was totally geeked. Unfortunately, those rumours started about a year ago and the book was only released on April 23.

Since April 23, I have read the book at least 10 times. Seriously.

If you have aches and pains..or if you exercise on a regular basis..or if you are aging like the rest of us..or you want to be fitter/healthier..or you know someone who fits this description…

BUY THIS BOOK  and save a TON of money on physio, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc….

3. YOGA TUNE UP

yoga-tune-up

Jill Miller and her Yoga Tune Up program was introduced to me when Kelly Starrett  featured her in a few of his MobilityWOD videos. In particular, it was this video on diaphragm mechanics that really captured my attention.

Such a simple movement…with a truly powerful impact on the type of aches and pains that sitting in a chair inflicts upon all of us.

After seeing this video, I contacted Jill via Twitter and asked if she would be willing to send me a bunch of Yoga Tune Up stuff with the promise that if I loved it, I would write up a review article. She said yes…and sent me a bunch of videos and therapy balls. And for the past month or so, I have been beta-testing the videos.

The verdict?

Everyone who has tried these videos more than three times has raved about them…me included. And this is coming from a guy who hates, hates, hates yoga classes.

        

Jill’s program is a weird and wonderful combination of yoga, calisthenics, corrective exercise, movement techniques and body therapy….designed to repair damaged muscle tissue, increase overall strength, create balance, increase flexibility, improve coordination, reduce stress and bolster the immune system.

And while I can’t comment on the immune system boosting, I sure as heck can confirm that doing Jill’s dvds 3 x per week will loosen up your knots, reduce that pain in your neck/back and have you moving, standing and sitting in weirdly graceful manner. I will continue to use her dvds and therapy balls and have recommended them to all of my clients.

Like Kelly Starrett and the folks at Globe Gripz, Jill has put together a unique program that produces massive results with a minimal time and financial commitment…..unlike all of those D-Bags who sell crappy fitness gear on late-night infomercials.