Today I embarked on the next part of my journey to helping people better their lives. Once again, I've signed on with NASM, and this time it's to further my fitness education as a Weight Loss Specialist. Following the WLS certification, will most likely be the CES cert (Corrective Exercise Specialist) as I find a lot of people have some sort of injury or imbalance that needs special attention. For now though, it's the WLS cert. And away we go!
I've been asked many times what and how I eat; what do I put in my body that helps me maintain the benefits I've reaped from each rep and drop of sweat. While this is a completely valid question, and one that shows me someone is at the stage where they are contemplating their health, I can't help but feel it's a divining rod to help them steer around the tough answer they know is right on the surface. I think they are looking for that some buried secret that is going to put them on a private jet to the island of eternal health and fitness. It's a tough reality, but everyone on that island has had to get out their oars and row to get there.
The question they should really be asking is, "How do you shop?"
Before we can decide what we're putting in your bodies, we need to decide what we're putting in our shopping carts and, ultimately, our homes. Convenience has a lot to do with the way we eat. If we're out at a restaurant, it's easy to make a bad choice. Maybe it's a special occasion and we use apathy as our defense. Maybe we figure we're paying a considerable amount for the convenience of having it brought to us piping hot with no pots to clean up later, so we should be entitled to the alfredo drenched pasta and another helping of bread. Whatever the reason, I understand that feeling; I have it every time I go out. But, it's the voice in my head I have trained over the years that stays my tongue and empowers me to order something healthier. Sometimes I have bad luck and there's a pool of butter at the bottom of my meal. That frustrates me, but I eat it and just make sure to exercise a bit more. Now, one bad meal isn't going to make a huge difference in my physiological or physical being, but it does hit me psychologically, so I need to make that positive adjustment to keep me on track.
At home, it's so easy to open the pantry or fridge and grab what's easy. The trick is to stock easy foods that are also good for us. The fact that we crave the convenience is what will have us eating the banana instead of going to the store for a bag of chips. We have to make it a chore to eat poorly. If it's available, we'll probably eat it. So we have to make it unavailable; at least as far as it's inconvenient to obtain at the moment we're peckish.
So, how do I shop? Upon entering the store, I head directly to the produce section. This is the best place to start because you can take up a good amount of real estate in that rolling food cage. The more space you fill with the good stuff, the less space you have for the bad. Here's my cart from earlier today. I hadn't even gotten to the lean meats, eggs, and frozen veggies yet.
Everyone says you shouldn't go to the store on an empty stomach. "Don't shop hungry", they spout. I say, "Shop hungry!" If you're hungry and bee-line it to the produce section, all those vibrant colors are going to look tremendously tantalizing. Not only will this have you hoarding the healthy harvest, but it will also begin to train your brain to shop like that all the time.
Once out of the greatest place on earth, I roll on out to the meats where I stock up on all manner of poultry and the occasional red muscled mammal. From there, eggs and frozen veggies have a special place in my cart. When picking the frozen veggies, I make sure they don't have any sauces added; otherwise, it's back on the wire shelf where they can get freezer burn for all I care. Lastly, I will grab a few things from the center aisles if needed. Rice, pasta, quinoa, and barley are all great choices here. Yes, I do buy bread (a simple carb), but usually only a multi-grain with no high fructose corn syrup added.
By this point, my cart is almost full and I can see the bill adding up in my head (also a great way to avoid buying the bad stuff). Do I stop for a dessert for the myself and the family? Usually, unless I have time to make something at home. When I do buy it though, it's normally from the bakery and I read the labels. This is one of the keys to buying the right things: Shop by label. The fewer ingredients, the better. Now, that doesn't give you permission to buy a container of lard and sit in the corner with a giant spoon. Some sense has to be brought to this table when making the right choices. You'll notice veggies, fruits, and meat don't have ingredient lists. This is a good thing. As I'm writing this, a tiny voice came from downstairs that exclaimed, "Yay! Daddy bought apples!" And that would be my 7 and 3/4 (we're told not to forget the 3/4) year old looking for a mid-afternoon snack. Proud parents presiding.
So, if you're one of those souls with a divining rod, endlessly searching the land for that golden nugget, I challenge you to walk the same fluorescent lit path as roughly outlined above. It may be difficult, but what you find at the end of it may be more priceless than any buried treasure.
Today officially marks the first day I've ever been late to a client (by 4 minutes, but that's still unacceptable) and I am jumping for joy. You may ask, "Mike, what drives you to revel in this plyometric celebration?" My answer to you is: Modern Technology. I officially hate modern technology as of today.
As per usual, I give a final check on my tablet to make sure I have everything I need for my next client before I walk out the door. This time however, the several hundred dollar device in my hand that is supposed to make life easier insists on performing an update before I can put conductive digit to capacitive screen. One harsh grunt later, I hit the 'install' button and wait...7 minutes!
After a bit of grade school math, I learn that this seven minute loss still gets me there a couple of minutes early, and all is well. Or so I thought. After a mandatory reboot, I find most of my applications are grayed out; including the office suite I use for the routines. Somehow, the update (that's a euphemism for 'big pain in my butt' in case you haven't guessed by now) had overwritten some files making these programs unusable. Ugh! Onto Plan B.
After a quick text to my client, I run upstairs to my laptop, turn on the printer, pull up the routine, and hit 'print'. As I see the printer icon come up on the taskbar but hear no sound coming from the printer, my previous grunt involuntarily upgrades itself in duration and decibel level. The printer is 'offline'. On my POS, the only way to get the printer back online is to remove it and reinstall it. Since this would take even more time than I was comfortable with, Plan C (AKA DEFCON 1) forced its ugly head from the abyss. I resorted to pulling every cord imaginable from the laptop like the Bionic Man weeding a garden, and sprinting away.
I miss my Walkman.
Did you know that being skinny-fat is a thing, and that this thing can be more dangerous than being overweight? It's true. Being on track to lose weight for the sake of losing weight and not focusing on health is actually worse than being a bit larger while maintaining a good exercise regimen and eating a well-balanced diet.
Even though someone may not look obese on the outside, they can be metabolically obese on the inside. Some people with a high metabolism may choose to ignore their lifestyle assuming they are already healthy, but in fact there may be fat surrounding their organs which puts undue pressure on the body. This could lead to complications like diabetes. People who are MONW (metabolically obese, normal weight) tend to have a higher mortality rate than diabetics who are obese.
Some causes of being MONW include ingestion of artificial sweeteners which trick the brain into thinking sugar is on the way (this causes the pancreas to secrete insulin which is the fat storage hormone); low-carb diet (body burns muscle tissue in place of needed glucose and it's not sustainable in the long run); lack of sleep (increases the level of cortisol which promotes overeating, muscle loss, and gain in abdominal fat), performing all cardio (like running) with no resistance (lack of muscle can lead to insulin resistance).
If you feel you may be at risk of being MONW, dump the artificial sweeteners, get some sleep, balance your diet, and start picking things up and putting them down along with doing your cardio.
Today I stood--sweat dripping off me onto the driveway--chomping furiously away at an apple. Unfortunately, I was fresh out of my preferred snack and had to downgrade a bit to my old friend the Red Delicious. Though every glorious bite of my crisp pal was providing a quick jolt of glucose needed for me to finish the yard work that lay before me, I couldn't help but secretly wish it were a pear. Before I get into why, let's get a couple things out of the way.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not a fan of fruit juice when it comes to weight loss. Even freshly squeezed is a time bomb with which you shouldn't be tinkering. With such a low amount of fiber in relation to the sugar present, the fat is going to pack on anyway. Your best bet is to just stay away from all sugary drinks no matter if they were sweetened by nature or not.
But what about fruit? Whole, solid fruit. Yes, that's much better, but it's my belief it should only be consumed in small amounts. I'm not a registered dietitian, but I it's been my experience that two or three pieces per day (depending on the fruit) should be plenty. The reason I say this is that nature's candy is packed with sugar. While you feel you may be doing something great for your body eating a lot of fruit, you may be overdoing it in the sugar department.
I'm not saying we should completely avoid fruit since many types are rich in vitamins and minerals. In fact, fruit should be a necessary part of our menu and still a better snack alternative to most of the products available today. But why not take it a step further? Why not let the numbers and percentages work for us and reach for a powerhouse of a fruit: The pear!
Pears edge out many fruits including the almighty apple in a few ways. While 180 grams of each come in at around 100 calories, the pear packs 1.5 times more fiber, a little more protein, and a bit less sugar than the same amount of apple. With the higher ratio of fiber to sugar, the liver processes the fructose slower leaving you feeling fuller longer. Not only that, but the breaking down of sugar and storage of it as fat is slowed. Juice just shuttles the sugar right through and into fat stores. Without the higher amounts fiber, you may end up grabbing another glass or two and compounding the problem. Fiber is the key here (25 grams is the recommendation for women each day and 30-38 grams for men).
A word of warning, though: Yes, the sugar in fruit is different from the refined sugar in a candy bar, but this doesn't give you license to eat all the fruit you desire as sugar is still sugar. Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver, and even then, only a limited amount is processed in that manner. The rest becomes triglycerides (fat). There's about 17 grams of sugar in one medium pear which equates to a touch over 4 teaspoons. The recommended daily allowance for women is 24 grams (6 tsp.) and 36 grams (9 tsp) for men.
So, while it's still a good portion of your daily allotment of sugar in one pear, there are many more options in the fruit world that are higher in sugar with less fiber to police it. Whether it be a higher amount of sugar or a lower amount of fiber, you can do much worse than the pear.
I encourage you to look up the nutritional info on the next piece of fruit you are about to eat. See how it matches up to other fruits in your daily routine. Calculate the amount of sugar and fiber you have remaining for the day and try to stick to the recommended amounts. Feel free to post your findings and experiences below; I'd love to hear what you've learned and how you're using the information you've found.
It's official! Martial Body Fitness is now a part of the YMCA's upcoming sessions (Granby branch).
Classes start February 24th and will be held Tuesdays from 5:15-6:00pm, and on Thursdays from 9:30-10:15am.
Come join us for fun and fitness!
The second Martial Body Fitness segment is up on SCTV. The segment starts at 25:03 (click here).
The first Martial Body Fitness clip on the Media page is now on Simsbury Community Television. You can see it featured HERE starting at timestamp 23:58.
On Tuesday, August 19th I will be giving two (at the moment) Martial Body Fitness demo classes at the Healthtrax in Avon, CT during their open house week. One is at 9:30am and the other is at 1:00pm. If you or someone you know may be interested in a new exercise program, pass this along. Space may be limited depending on the room I'm allowed, so if there is more interest than anticipated, I'll see if I can get some more times this week. See you there!
(To my fellow Martial Artists, if you know of someone who is interested in trying out a bit of the arts, please let them know this would be a great way to get a small taste of what we do while still getting their sweat on. Thank you!)
Today's post isn't really fitness related, but I suppose I could set it up that way by saying, 'A few hours of yard work is great cardio'. There, now it's an official "fitness" post and I can continue on to the rant that my subconscious mind is trying to weave from four successive, uppercase letters I dare not mention here.
I finally realized today why I despise working in the yard so much. On the other hand, if it weren't for this one major annoyance, it would almost be euphoric. I don't know if you know this, but apparently there is a spot in every yard where sun and shade fade into one another so fluidly that Mother Nature decides she needs to hand out free hats. They aren't at all attractive or functional and, no matter the day, she only seems to have one type in stock. Made up of a mixture of nasties ranging from midges to mosquitoes, I've come to simply call them "Gnat Hats". Once this cornucopia of carnivorous culicidae is clamoring for your crown, it must be worn for the duration of the project. You can spray, swat, and run in circles all you want, but it's yours to keep.
I was actually enjoying the seemingly endless cutting, pruning, wacking, and weeding until the thistle tugging therapy came to a halt and I found myself on the steps of Chapeau Boutique de Mere Nature. Being her only customer today, I thought I'd be treated like royalty and adorned with cherry blossom petals or at least a sweet sap. Instead, she met me at the door, tilted her head to one side, and with a condescending wave of her longest, gnarly finger said, "No such luck; it's the Gnat Hat for you sweaty man!"