Dietary Monster Tamed…..

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Game almost over.  The opponents have the football on your 2 yard line. You lead by 5 points, but they have the chance to take the lead from you  with a short run or pass. The ball is hiked – and they fumble it! You snatch up the ball and sprint all the way down the field for a touchdown. That there was a 14 point swing my friends, and where only seconds ago you were fighting for your life you are now fully in command of a blowout!

Why don’t we take this dramatic little vignette and apply it to the dinner table?   How can we take our weakest dietary link and turn it completely around – making it our strongest habit? How can we give ourselves that 14 point turnaround? Here’s one simple way.

People try valiantly to ensure that their entrees and side dishes are at least moderately healthy (with varied success) but for many it is the treat after the meal that sinks them. A caloric tsunami ready to drown out all their noble intentions. But Desserts are not naturally unhealthy, in fact nature has  instilled our craving of them for a legitimate reason. It provides a lot that the meals omits.

You’ve gotten all your protein, fat and calorie needs with the meal, but you might still be short on your vitamin and mineral requirements.  Fruits and vegetables are the best source of that.  But if you opt for a typical starch-based dessert such as cookies, pastry or maybe ice cream, you probably won’t be too successful right?  People often habitually reach for these, they might be the only thing associated with dessert, but that is a problem easily alleviated.

Take a look at the selection in the picture above.  The blackberries, dark chocolate covered almonds, pomegranate and grapes have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any food, they also contain other beneficial phytonutrients to help in your weight control, and equally important -  if you give them a chance you find that they are just as satisfying as any other dessert choice.  And here is the key to your success.  We don’t usually think of these delights when we’re out grocery shopping, our habits usually kick in instead and  we reach for those cookies, pies, ice cream or candy.  If you can make it a point to grab the good stuff instead, and its the only thing available after the meal – voila!  You’ve successfully extracted that painful sweet tooth!  And it might come almost as a shock that they actually taste better than what we’re used to having.  Here is another case of mind over platter.  Smart dieting.  Taming that subtle dietary killer.  Why not give it a try!

 

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Ahhh, Lovely Stress…….

Stress wreaks its evil havoc in so many ways:  It has been linked to depression, weight gain, sleep loss, and even shortened lifespan.  But did you know that stress is actually good for you in many ways?  The determining factor is who’s in charge – you or the stressful event?  Understanding this idea can be one of the most powerful ways to change your life for the better, basically reversing all of the above listed detriments and a whole lot more.

We’ve heard it said before: “It’s not the stress itself, it’s the way you and your body reacts to it that matters.”  There is a lot to this, it clearly deserves a closer look.  Think of another very stressful activity that greatly affects your health – exercise.  The benefits of exercise come from the body’s over-repairing or overcompensating for the damage done by what it perceives as an ordeal.  In other words, stress.  But exercise benefits just about every facet of your physical/psychological health.  It makes you a stronger person in almost every way.  So if we have here an example of stress being very good for you, why should we try to eliminate it in other areas of our lifes?  The answer is we should not, we should just seek to control the environment, the parameters of the arena it is expressed in.  Just like we do with our workouts.

Some people may say “if you can do that then it’s not a stressful event”.  I say this is begging the question in a way, but it reflects a lack of understanding of stress itself.  When you are in charge of the event – when you have recourse, or the power to act, you relish it as a challenge instead of a serious attack.  There are easy ways you can encage this confrontation in a positive environment for you as you’ll see below.  Learning the art is very important to happiness and success.

Let’s use the exercise example to illustrate.  Fitness experts are always telling us to observe proper form in our routines, to observe calculated limits of weight to use, proper speeds and time frames for running, etc.  We do it all under strictly controlled parameters.  Only when we get arrogant or lazy and violate proper methods do we experience injury.  These principles can be applied to any stressful scenario.  Here are a few tips for doing so:

1)  Keep your exertion in the gym.  Don’t perform stressful physical activity in between workouts.  In life the rule is the same – keep your work at work, don’t brood about what happened at the office on your family/down time.  Don’t persistently beat yourself up over some minor event that happened at work.  Flip the off switch.  That means change the subject (substitution principal) distract your mind with some pleasurable activity when you get home.

2)  Don’t “lift” more than you’re capable.  Know when you’ve reached your limits and move on to something else.  Compromise, clear the air, again -distract your mind – occupy it with another project.

3)  Keep things in perspective.  Is that minor insult really a cause for outright war?  If you lost a small sale will it really sink your career?  Then why beat yourself up over it?  You can still go home kiss the wife, have a tasty meal, and your job will be fine till tomorrow.  It’s not the end of the world.  Now if you got into a car accident, was blinded and paralyzed that might be a bit worse though, wouldn’t it?

4)  Get organized..  I could write volumes on this one, the gist is this:  The more you have preestablished routines or “filing methods” for dealing with daily transactions and contingencies, the faster and easier you can handle them.  And the less of the negative pressure you put on yourself.  Organization means far more than neatness.  It means having the commonly used items closest at hand.  Put those rarely used envelopes or stack of forms farther downstream, have your desk and your life set up, lean and mean and ready to roll! In other words get the miscellaneous stuff out of the way!

Contrary to what we hear on in an unending barrage, stress is not your enemy.  With a little preparation and practice you can turn those trying events to your advantage and possibly change your whole outlook in life – turn a negative into a positive – that results in the biggest swing!

 

 

 

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Get More From Your Workouts

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There’s nothing worse than busting your butt with the weights or on the trail and having very little to show for it, right?   If you’ve been working out for a while now and you’re getting mighty tired of seeing gains at a snails pace, or worse yet you’ve run into that inescapable plateau, take a trip back down fundamentals lane for a nice fresh surge of satisfaction……

1.  Muscles still follow the stress, rest/recovery cycle; if you are not working your muscles hard enough, or incorporating adequate rest/rebuild time and nourishment you will not see any progress - period.  Once you’ve broken those babies down properly you have to remember to invest in the material to overbuild what you had.  Forgetting meals or snacks is as bad as forgetting a workout.  Its simple math..

2.  You should use your creativity when planning your routines.  Just as in Tony Horton’s “muscle confusion” idea, you have to find ways to keep your muscles in a stressed state with every workout.  The body overcompensates in it’s growth to eliminate the stress in the next session.  So this also means that you must continually add to the stress/build cycle so you must revisit those “confused muscles” with some regularity.  Use an intelligent split program.  Incorporate adequate rest days in between each hard workout to allow for growth and nervous system compensation.

3.  Don’t forget supplementation!  I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to down a few capsules than to crank out 10 more deadlifts….   Supplementation can give you the edge you need to bust out of a rut.  And they provide many other health benefits (such as immunity) to justify their necessity.

Notice the ones in the picture above.  They are layed out left to right in order of their best application.  Coffee, Beta-alanine, Rhodiola all stimulate greater exertion and workout energy.  (Isnt that the name of the game?)  These are best taken 30-40 minutes before the session.   If you are serious about your fitness you should really invest in a can of whey protein.   It is the quickest way to replenish and restock your muscles for growth after exercise.  It also strengthens your immunity.  Coq10, B vitamins and lipoic acid are all essential to energy generation.  They really do make a difference if you use them regularly.  Magnesium and the herb Boswellia are very effective in relieving the joint and muscle pain incurred with a hard workout.  Well worth the investment.

4.  Get that sleep!  Sleep is the most important time for muscle growth.  Growth hormone is at its highest and the body concentrates on repair and revitalization at this time.  See some of my earlier posts on how to get that good nights sleep if you are having trouble doing so.  Magnesium and rhodiola can also soothe stress before bedtime to make it easier.

So keep these tips in mind if you are frustrated in your workout program.  The chances are you are missing one of the fundamentals if you aren’t progressing steadily.  There’s no magic -  But if you’re on the right track you can bet there’s gonna be a lot of excitement!

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Power Breakfast with TASTE

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Did you have a hard workout last night but you want something more substantial than a smoothie for breakfast?  Are you headed out the door for work but want a real meal in a hurry?  Here’s the healthiest and tastiest one I’ve found to fit that bill.  It covers all the bases: high protein dose (@25 g),  complete spectrum vitamins and minerals, fiber, omega 3s –  and you can prepare it in less than a minute.

I call it a bowl of cereal on steroids.  I decided to put this mix together in answer to my boredom from the whey/chia shake I was having every morning.  Not being a big fan of cereal grain, it took me awhile to find this brand –  Post Great Grains.  It met my first criteria – low sugar, no HFC’s (high fructose corn syrup) and also NO added “natural flavors” which are merely hidden MSG and other “brain depleting” chemicals.  Very important to me.  Second, and equally important I found that it simply tastes better than many of the bland, clearly sugar-based ones out there.

I can also delay my daily supplement pile as this blend provides 25 – 50% of my vitamin/mineral complex, and a healthy dose of omega 3 from the chia. I now take my coQ-10, vit D, lipoic acid, and other sups at later meals which have a greater concentration of fat for their absorbtion.

This is a meal that stays with you, and gets you off to a healthy start.  If you are pressed for time during the day and may thus become an unintentional victim of the fast-food syndrome, at least you know you’ve got that healthy base in.  And if you are a weight lifter feel free to  load up the whey that you sprinkle on.  It complements the taste rather than clashes with it.     Bon appetite!

 

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Fitness Goals in Perspective

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Look at the two athletes posed on their respective magazine covers; which one appears to be in the better physical condition?  Obviously it’s the man on the right, right?  Heck, the guy adorning the UFC magazine almost looks like the “before” picture to him!

Well looks can be deceiving my friend.  Though our man on Muscle & Fitness is certainly in excellent shape, you might be surprised to know that the other guy – Chris Weidman, UFC middleweight champion of the world,  could very likely  blow him away in any form of fitness test they attempted.  If  you’ve experienced any form of MMA training, you can attest to the fact that it is one of the most gruelling form of workouts.  And that’s before you even start grappling!

Again, I have absolutely nothing against Crossfit and other form of high intensity training.  I perform many of their routines in my own program.  However, even back in the 90′s when I did almost 2 hours a day I dreaded the jiu-jitsu sessions where we would “roll” all out to practice a routine.  Rolling is essentially wrestling, and no matter how fit you might be  30 seconds of hard grappling will leave you in a quivering heap on the floor.  Believe me – or just simply try it yourself!

Of course forms of intense training like these are not usually undertaken to develop a “cut, sexy physique” – ala our friend on the cover.  We perform these to build and maintain our strength and/or to compete in strenuous competitions.  If you simply want to look good, lose weight or otherwise improve your health or longevity a much more moderate program will suffice.  Like they say, any exercise is good exercise.  And even if you don’t look like a champion your appearance will still improve dramatically.  At any rate, on the flip side – being a bit pudgy and in good condition is much better than merely being slim.  As discussed in my post a couple weeks back our body types vary and some will remain either heavy or lean regardless of what they do.  ( I gave up trying to look like the guy on the right somewhere around 1982. :)

By the way, Chris Weidman was clearly not pumped up in that photo.  I suspect it might have taken place right after an exhausting cage match.  The guy is a monster and a machine when he closes the gate!    (If I had used a picture of lightheavyweight contender Mark Hunt for this comparison - a man many clinicians might call obese – you’d of thought I was out of my mind!)

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5 Simple Steps to Age REDUCTION

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Antiaging has gotten a LOT of attention in recent years and it stands to reason.  As baby boomers and people of other countries slide inexorably into that “gray areaof life they naturally seek out anything they can find to lessen the effects.  I say why not take it a step further and opt for some Age Reduction instead?  Here are 5 tried and true ways to turn back the clock and put yourself back into that body you had 15 years ago.  (where you belong!)

1.  Stop chasing miracles.  Age reversal requires informed, systematic and consistent application, not a pie in the sky grasping for straws approach.  That doesn’t mean that it is difficult – remember the phase “work smarter not harder”?  You can find angles to accomplish this all over this website.  On the other hand, when someone touts the “New, incredible miraculous diet supplement!” little red flags should pop up, because this is clearly a sales pitch - you’ll notice that they end their “breaking news” with a call to order right now!  Have you ever heard a scientist report that way?  Vow right now to not fall victim to great miraculous anything, to demand solid research to back your expenditures.

2.  Cultivate a positive attitude about fitness.  A physically fit person in his sixties is as healthy and can perform  as well as an unfit person in his forties.  Other than a few gray hairs and wrinkles he looks just as well too.  But it goes way beyond that.  Beginning and continuing in an exercise program actually reverses many biological earmarks of aging – diminishing hormone levels such as DHEA and Testosterone, brain size and function,  telomere and other genetic “timers”;  and of course your bone/muscle body mass composition and other factors are all radically improved.  A simple commitment of 30 minutes every other day can dramatically change your body and your outlook over time and you will amaze yourself with the results.  Here you can find plenty of ways to motivate yourself to fitness.

3.  Use a little Mental Jui-Jitsu about dieting.  The key points of a dietary age reduction plan are to seriously cut back on calories, limit processed foods, cut down on sugar, and add more nutritious fruits and vegetables.  The simplest way to do this?  Use the power of substitution in your menu planning.  At the supermarket purchase apples instead of potato chips, ice water for soda, etc. What you have in the cabinet at home is what you’ll be eating.   This girl here has a plethora :) of ideas for cutting calories with substitution.

There are many powerful benefits to be realized with calorie restriction.  It affects genetic and cellular age timers on a fundamental level and is the only proven way to dramatically increase lifespan.  But just as in exercise you might not want to overwhelm yourself with too large a cutback. Better to just start with a few simple food items and gradually build to it as you see the results pile in (or off!)  (Don’t worry that “serious calorie cutting can lower your metabolism, raise cortisol and put you into starvation mode” etc.  There is a bit of truth to this, but over time you will still lose the most weight.  Just look at calorie starved people in prisons). 

4.  Take age reducing supplements.  In addition to covering the shortfalls of the typical diet these can replace the diminishing levels of certain chemicals necessary for life.  They can also limit the destructive accumulation of AGES and other waste products.  Other supplements (and foods) can mimic the effects of calorie restriction and over time provide actual age reduction and life extension.  They’re inexpensive and all you have to do is swallow them!   A broad spectrum multivitamin, extra Vit D, B vitamin complex, Co-Q10, Lipoic acid, and fish oil are all essential to any age reversal plan.  Here is a more comprehensive list.  They are all well accepted the world over and backed by solid research and application.

5.  Get adequate rest.  While many harp on the total number or hours of sleep required, the depth and quality is far more important.  7 restful hours is superior to 8 or 9 fitful ones.  Nature has ensure that the greatest benefit is in the first 3 hours, that is where sleep is deepest, and when growth hormone spurts and melatonin are most prevalent.  For this reason I don’t recommend taking medications before bedtime, unless you must for that meds effectiveness.  Most medications inhibit growth hormone release.  If you are having difficulty getting a good nights rest you might try this post here.  Sleep is essential for everything from mental function through immunity, it is a critical component of your age reduction plan.

There you have it, hope to see you on board!

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Don’t Worry About “BMI” Scales – Just Hit The Weights!

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Referring to the ubiquitous BMI calculator, at 5’9″ and 170 lbs  I am classified as an overweight individual,  sob.   ;)   I can’t understand it – I’ve worked out religiously all my life and my body fat is only about 8 or 9%, what am I doing wrong??

Jokes aside, in my opinion the Body Mass Index is just a slim hairs breath above useless.  The only reason the charts have any value at all is because – since such a small % of people exercise regularly (about 25%),  the chart creators figured that nearly everybody was fat, so  “why don’t we just see how much!”

We all know that body composition varies greatly from person to person.  Large boned people (endomorphs) and muscular ones (mesomorphs) all slide over to right in the chart; this along with the person’s activity level should carry a lot more bearing.  Now a study has leant some veracity to this obvious statement.

A study published recently in Scientific American  followed 3600 seniors for a decade and found out that body muscle mass was a better predictor of longevity than body mass index itself.  In fact, losing weight itself (except in cases of obesity) was not really important at all - particularly for the truly aged.  This backs up other studies that showed that being slightly overweight was not a health risk, so long as the person stayed active of course.  My conclusion is that a sedentary lifestyle at an ideal weight is no insurance policy, its better to be a pudgy endomorph who hits planet fitness 4 times a week!

How do you stand up to the great, almighty, empirical life predictor?  Here it is:

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I’m actually more of an ectomorph myself, that makes this chart even more unrealistic.

Warren

 

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