Nutrition, Opinion, Progress, wellness

Keep Calm and Drink Ya Water

As Derek Zoolander says, “Water is the essence of wetness. Wetness is the essence of beauty.”

Drinking enough water is probably the easiest, and single most important, thing you can do to improve your health. Why? Well just to begin:

1. Your body is up to 65% water.

2. Your blood is around 90% water.

3. Your brain is around 75% water.

4. Your lungs are around 85% water.

When you see just how much of your body consists of water, it’s much easier to understand why proper hydration is that important. That water keeps everything running smoothly in your body, from dissolving vitamins in your blood for easier absorption to lubrication joints to aiding in muscle recovery. If that’s not enough to convince you to up your water intake, there’s more.

Proper hydration can also be crucial to weight loss and management.

First, keeping yourself properly hydrated means that your body is running at it’s best, allowing you to have the best performance in workouts that you can. It also means that your brain is functioning well, keeping irrational thoughts at bay (hello, “i had one cookie so this means I’ve failed and I’m going to eat the whole package and be a failure forever.” That’s much harder to think when you aren’t dehydrated.) Even dehydration of just 2% leads to decrease in physical and mental performance, leading to you feeling lethargic and a bit irrational.

Second, the cue for thirst is most often mistaken for hunger. This means that when you are actually thirsty, you may be reaching for snacks that you don’t actually need. Staying hydrated means you most likely get that thirst signal in the first place, so if you get a hunger pang, you’re most likely in need of some calories.

Third, water keeps you full! You can’t abuse this one, but when you have a belly full of water, it’s hard to overeat. I tell clients to start each meal with a big glass of water. Not only does this help them reach their hydration goals, but it helps to prevent overeating.

Last, water has zero calories. Replacing a soda or juice with a water of the same size can save a ton of sugar and between 100-200 calories. Add all of those calories up throughout the day, and water can be the difference between you hitting your goal or not.

Now that the reasons for drinking water are laid out, the question is now “How Much?” There is actually no universal standard for how much water to consume. It used to be 8 8oz glasses, which is still better than nothing, but water intake is also based on your size, how active you are, how much you sweat, etc. The best rule of thumb there is right now is to drink .5-1 ounce of water for each pound of bodyweight. This means that the intake for a 150lb person would be between 75 and 150oz.

The best tips i can give you for water consumption, especially if you haven’t been drinking nearly enough is just to start.

• Drink an extra glass of water daily

• Buy a refillable (BPA Free!) water bottle to refill all day long

• Drink a glass of water before each meal

• Drink a glass right after you wake up

• Replace one sugary drink with a glass of water

• Use crystal light or MIO drops to flavor water if you need to

Exercise, fitness, Opinion, Progress, wellness

Ready, Set, Goal

Today is the last day of 2018 (we made it, woo!), and tomorrow is the day. The day that you have decided will be the day that you become the person you want to be, and do the things you want to do. Goodbye you of yesteryear, and hello new and improved 2019 you!

I don’t know about you, but I have some HUGE goals for 2019, most that are too big to work towards right off the bat. Why do I say that? Because I like to feel like I’m accomplishing things, as I’m sure you do too. Only working towards my overall goal, and not accomplishing even close to all of it by the end of the month? That’s pretty discouraging. But it’s not my fault, and not yours either if that happens to you. The fault was in your goal, not in yourself. The first step to success, in any journey, is to make sure that your goals set you up for success. These goals need to be as helpful as possible, and they need to be SMART.

*Specific – Make sure your goal is actually specific. Losing weight is a good goal, but losing 15lbs of body fat is an even better goal. This sets us up for an actual number goal, to ensure we’re making progress towards it, and also includes that we want to lose body fat, not just any mass (including muscle).

*Measurable – We want to make sure we can actually measure our goal. A specific goal is usually one that can be measured and tracked. Seeing the physical evidence of progress towards an overall goal can help with both motivation and adherence to the goal.

*Attainable – Make sure your goal is something that can actually be achieved. A goal to lose 50lbs and 10% body fat is a great goal, it is both specific and measurable. However, if we decide the deadline is four weeks to achieve this goal goal, it now becomes unattainable. (Or if you can attain it, it won’t be sustainable). An unattainable goal sets you up for failure before you even start.

*Realistic – This also can be “results based”. Make sure your goal is realistic. This goes hand in hand with attainable. A goal that gives you no chance to reach from the beginning will not help you reach it. It is much better to make multiple, smaller milestone type goals. This will keep your motivation elevated, as you reach smaller goals more often, on your way to the overall goal.

*Time Sensitive – Give yourself a deadline! This goes along with each of the previous attributes of a successful goal, but give yourself a time table to reach your goal, as long as that deadline is realistic. This will again keep that motivation high, as you strive to hit the goal by your deadline. Again, smaller goals with deadlines that approach more quickly, with deadlines every couple of weeks or months, can help keep that drive. This allows you continuously hit goals, rather than feeling like you might never hit your overall goal.

If you write down your goals, and they don’t hit all of the SMART points, there’s no problem with reworking them a bit. The most common goal mistake I come across is too much too soon. This means that your goal is your overall goal, making it not so attainable. All you have to do is take a step back. Think about what steps you need to accomplish to hit that overall goal. What’s the first step? Boom. There’s your goal. I find it most helpful to take my overall goal and work backwards, in there I find my actual, SMART goals.

Set yourself up for success, make sure your 2019 goals are SMART.

Exercise, fitness, Nutrition, Opinion, Progress, wellness

Holiday Wellness

Wellness Tips for the Holiday Season:

1: Do what you want to do. If you love your family and want to spend the season with them, do so. If your family stresses you out, and being with them isn’t what’s best for you, don’t feel pressured to. Your mental health is more important, so do what’s best for you.

2: Enjoy your holiday. (Close to Tip One, but slightly different.) The holiday season is the end of your year, and you should enjoy it. Of course, keep your physical and mental health in mind, but feel free to indulge a bit. Go out for drinks with friends, share a dessert you’ve been meaning to try, blow off your friends and look at Christmas decorations, whatever you want to do, do it.

3: Don’t worry about your diet. Enjoy the food of the season! Don’t go nuts, but make sure that you aren’t neglecting your life in the name of “health”. Remember: veggies are full of vitamins and minerals, not just “low cal options” and exercise is there to enhance your health, not to punish you for eating and drinking too much the night before.

4: Try to stick to your routine. This can be a hard one, depending on your holiday plans, but do your best to stick to what you do daily. Just because you’re on vacation and relaxing doesn’t mean you should neglect all of the habits you’ve worked so hard to form! If your schedule allows, try to get the same amount of exercise in, even if it means three 20 minute walks around the neighborhood instead of three days in the gym. Staying active will only help translate into your new year.

5: Reflect on your year. This time of year can be hard for us, whether financially or emotionally. Make sure, even if you feel like you’re struggling, that you give yourself credit where credit is due. Reflect back on your year, and on your accomplishments and successes. Reflect on your not so big successes, but the lessons learned from them and not the negative feelings. No matter how your year went, let’s focus on the positives, and the lessons we can implement in the next year.

Enjoy your holidays, wherever you decide to and with whomever you decide to. This was all around a rough year for a lot of us, so be sure to give yourself a chance to relax, reflect, and get a game plan for next year. Happy holidays everyone!

Exercise, Nutrition, Opinion, Progress

Health Between the Holidays

We did it! We survived Thanksgiving, and we’re now officially in the holiday season. I already made a post about surviving the holidays (read it here), but here’s a new take on the topic. Before we go any further: one day of overindulgence will not ruin your progress. Your body is smart, and knows how to handle extra calories on a single day (and even a few days of overindulgence won’t ruin your hard work. Just don’t let all of your healthy habits go out the window.) I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed my vacation the past few days, and I do mean enjoyed (pretty sure I had pie for breakfast the past three days), but am I giving up for the rest of the year? Absolutely not.

The four-five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas is incredibly tricky, especially when it comes to health and fitness. It’s in these five weeks that most people get the “all or nothing” mentality, feel like they failed, and throw in the towel on their fitness goals. They think “in just a few weeks, the holidays will be over, it’ll be a new year, and I’ll start then.” Now, really think about just how much time that is.

*It takes three weeks to form a new habit, so, in five weeks, you could be well into integrating your second healthy habit. I’ve talked about how a healthy lifestyle is nothing more than a combination of healthy habits implemented into your daily routine, making a healthy lifestyle. Take the next few weeks to get your water intake up and go for a walk a few days a week to make a huge difference in your health and fitness journey success, especially getting a jumpstart on January.

*Sustainable weight loss is between .5-2lbs per week, depending on your current status and goals. But, in five weeks, you could be 2.5-10lbs closer to your ultimate weight loss goal. I know you have that magic number in your mind, that magic weight (we all have it, no shame). Imagine starting in January, with your goals not so out of reach. And, even if you don’t have a goal weight in mind, implementing healthier habits over the unhealthiest of the holidays helps to offset those indulgences as the season goes on.

Five weeks doesn’t initially seem like a significant amount of time, until you list out what you can really accomplish in that timespan. Now, it becomes just another time period in which we can get closer to our goals.

Putting off your health goals until the “time is right” really sets the tone of those goals as well. Unfortunately, the tone those goals now have is that they aren’t a priority, and can be taken over by anything more pressing. This is why you make the resolution to lose the same ten pounds year after year, that goal isn’t a real priority to you. If it was, you would have hit that goal, and not let other priorities push it out of the way. It’s time to stop the resolution cycle! No more dieting for January, let’s get healthy for life! Believe me, I’m not saying to start a restrictive, regimented plan today. Starting a crazy, restrictive diet, especially during the season of holiday parties, will do nothing but set you up for failure. What I’m saying is now is the time to wake up and prioritize your health. Now is the time to write out your goals (and make sure to make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely). Now is the time to pick a few steps, that you are confident that you can implement into your lifestyle, to help reach your goals.

I overindulged in the past week. I feel it today, I feel off. I don’t feel guilt for not following my routine on vacation, and I don’t feel like a failure in my goals. Today, I am back on my usual routine. Today, I am prioritizing eating lighter, with more vegetables at each meal, increasing my water intake to my usual levels, and going back to my usual exercise program. I’m not “making up” for anything, or going overboard in anticipation of Christmas, I’m just going back to my habits. I’m taking care of myself today, for life, not for January. Who’s with me?

Exercise, Nutrition, Opinion, Progress

Surviving the Holidays

Here we are! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! From October to January, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the various December holidays in between, there are parties and celebrations galore. Each celebration may be unique in it’s traditions, but they all share a common characteristics: lots of food and drinks. Before we go any further into this topic: Enjoy the holidays! Do NOT let your diet get in the way of family time or enjoying your time over the holidays. Each holiday (minus Hanukkah and Kwanza) is one single day. Just like one day of eating salads won’t make you skinny, one day of indulgence won’t break your progress. The point of this post is to make you aware of the choices you are making, especially when holiday parties start popping up like zits.

The Food

Halloween has millions of pieces of candy by the bagful, Thanksgiving brings multiple dinners, and the December guys brings work parties, family gatherings, and celebrations out the wazoo. How is someone supposed to stay on track during a time like this? Simple: we do our best. If we just gave up from October-December, then we need to start over in January (holla resolutioners), and then the cycle begins again. Let’s break the cycle. The biggest thing to remember with Holiday food is moderation. Snag an appetizer as it’s passed around the office party, snack on a fun size candy bar from the community bowl, and have a slice of pumpkin pie. All of these snacks can be part of a healthy lifestyle (and they should be, nothing is off limits with a healthy life), as long as we practice moderation. The problem comes when we can’t stop at one piece, one slice, one drink etc. Again: one day won’t ruin you. However, if you decide to indulge, keep it to one day. Multiple days of going over calories and macros will add up come January.

One of the best tips that I can give you to deal with the Holidays is to keep your routine. Maybe lighten up your earlier meals a bit (one egg and two egg whites instead of three whole eggs or 1/3 cup oatmeal instead of 1/2 cup, etc), but mostly just stick to what you know. If you decide to starve yourself all day in hopes of “saving up” for a big meal or party, guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to go way overboard because you’re, you guessed it, starving. It’s much better to go into a big food situation satisfied and blood sugar on track, than ravenous and cranky. Except for your occasional all out day (plan that one in advance, make sure that’s the day you want), keep tracking your food. You’ll be surprised what you can eat, while still staying within your goal ranges.

The Alcohol

Even more dangerous to a healthy lifestyle than party food, is alcohol. Not because alcohol can’t be in a healthy life (moderationnn), but because the calories in alcohol don’t fill you up, are devoid of any nutrients, and can cause you to eat foods you usually wouldn’t after you indulge. One gram of alcohol contains 7 calories (as compared to 1g/4cals for carbs/protein and 1g/9cals for fats), but contains no nutritional value. To track alcohol itself in a food tracker, either take from your carbs (alcohol cals divided by 4) or fats (alcohol cals divided by 9), depending on which works best for your preferences. The other tricky part about is alcohol is, unless you’re sticking to beer and wine, the alcohol is usually mixed with something to make it more appetizing. Those mixers add sugar and calories, making that 140 calorie shot of vodka into a 350 calorie vodka cranberry. The lowest calorie mixers include soda water/seltzer, diet soda, and fresh fruit juice. I would say to tweak your drink order itself if 1) you know you’ll be indulging a lot tonight or 2) you know you have a lot of alcohol based events coming up. Otherwise, enjoy what you enjoy (and fully enjoy it) and move on.

As well, be sure to keep your stomach full before a night of drinking. You need to make sure your body is able to metabolize the alcohol, and slowly enough (due to food) so it’s not too much too fast. Another issue with drinking is the after drinks snacking. I don’t know about you, but pizza after happy hour is my jam, even if I planned on eating a healthier snack when I get home. Try to keep yourself full and happy before drinking, so hopefully you don’t feel the need to get snackage on the way home. Have some satisfying, yet healthy, snacks waiting for you when you get home too, and hide the not so good for us snacks. The easier it is to access, the more likely you are to eat it.

What do we do?

Halloween is known for it’s candy obviously, and Thanksgiving has the feast to end all feasts, and Christmas is a time of overindulgence with a rich family meal on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and they are only a month apart (if you celebrate Hanukkah, as I do along with Christmas, it is celebrated by frying foods in oil, not any better health wise). If we do nothing, and just overindulge until the cows come home, January is going to be a rude awakening. The biggest thing to remember: consistency is key. Even with your parties and events and meals, stay on your normal workout routine and nutrition. Do not try to “make up” for the extra calories with less food or excessive exercise. That won’t do anything but make you miserable when you aren’t partying. This season is all about fun and enjoyment, so don’t let you fitness goals stop you from enjoying your life. Health is an all around state of mental and physical well being, so being obsessive over calories during the holidays impedes on the mental health aspect. Take a deep breath, plan out the next few months, and continue to smash your goals. Holiday goal: maintain your routine and enjoy the season.

Exercise, Progress

Spooky Shoulders

There’s a muscle in your upper body, one that assists with almost every movement your upper body makes, but is overall very weak unless focused on. What muscle is this? This magic, widely underactive muscle is your deltoid muscle! Also known as your shoulders, your delts are responsible for a multiple of movements, and assist in almost every movement. (It’s also October so we should talk about pumpkin shaped muscles, right?) Not only is strengthening your delts essential to proper (and pain free!) movement, but strong shoulders also give an illusion of toned and athletic arms, no matter the degree they actually are. That bump at the top of your upper arm sets you up for more shapely arms than just working arms, while also increasing your overall strength and stability.

Anatomy:

Your shoulders are actually composed of three different sections of the deltoid muscle, each performing different actions.

Anterior Deltoid: This is the front portion of your shoulder, attaching at the clavicle (collarbone) and inserting into the mid-upper portion of your humerus bone. The anterior deltoid is in charge of flexing your shoulder (or moving your arm forward, in front of your body), and, with the help of the pecs and lats, shoulder adduction (pulling the humerus towards your body). The anterior delt also assists in almost every chest movement, as it is the closest part of the shoulder to the pec muscles. Movements that target the anterior deltoids include front raises, overhead press, upright row, and chest flys.

Medial Deltoid: This is the middle portion of your shoulder, originating at the acromium process (where your shoulder joint is) and inserting into that same mid-upper portion of the humerus. The medial deltoid is in charge of shoulder abduction (pulling the humerus away from the body). Movements that work the medial delt include those that involve the humerus moving away from the body, such as lateral raises and upright rows.

Rear Deltoid: This is the back portion of your shoulder, originating at the spine of the scapula (top of the shoulder blade) and inserting in, you guessed it, that same mid-upper portion of the humerus. The rear delt is mainly in charge of extending your shoulder, or bringing your arm back away from the body. The rear delt is the most underexercised portion of the shoulder, which leads to upper back muscular imbalances. Having weak rear delts, and stronger front and mid delts, will lead to rounded forward shoulders, with a tight chest and anterior delt. Strong rear delts help with proper posture, and help to counteract the common tightness that accompanies a mostly sedentary lifestyle. This can lead to upper back pain, along with shoulder and neck pain. Exercises that work the rear delt include rear delt flys, face pulls, and wide grip rows.

Exercises

Your shoulders can be easily worked, either in their own workout day or mixed in with other push muscles, such as chest and triceps. Below are two sample workouts, one push focused and one shoulder focused. Your delts respond easily to volume and intensity, and grow best with a mixture of heavy compound movements, as well as isolation movements with higher volume (3-4 sets, 10-15 reps).

Shoulder focused:

A1: Overhead Press 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps

B1: Incline Press 4 Sets, 8 Reps

C1: Upright Row 4 Sets, 10-12 Reps

C2: Lateral Raises 4 Sets, 10-12 Reps

D1: Face Pulls 4 Sets, 12-15 Reps

D2: Single Arm Overhead Press 4 Sets, 10 Reps/arm

Push:

Warm Up: 10 minutes cardio, 1 set incline pushups, 1 set light overhead press

A1: Dumbbell Chest Press 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps

B1: Overhead Shoulder Press 4 Sets, 8-10 reps

C1: Incline Chest Press 4 sets, 8-10 reps

C2: Lateral DB Raises 4 Sets, 10-12 reps

D1: Upright Row 4 Sets, 10 reps

D2: Face Pulls 4 Sets, 12-15 reps

Nutrition

Sneaking Up Your Protein Game

To form a healthy lifestyle, we need to develop successful workout and nutrition habits. Exercise, though difficult while you’re enduring it, is the easier of the two. Exercise requires components of both strength training and cardio exercise, as well as consistency, but besides that, there really aren’t a lot of rules. Nutrition, on the other hand, requires some effort to really pull off correctly. We’ve discussed plenty of nutrition topics, from the basics behind it to whether a flexible approach is the way to go. Today’s topic is one that is a cause for concern for many of my clients, and it’s that pesky protein intake. Protein intake is one of the most important variables of a healthy lifestyle, but besides saying it’s necessary (and probably trying to sell you a protein powder), it isn’t discussed much.

So why is protein so important?

Protein is one of the main macronutrients in our diets. It is calorically the same as carbs, yielding 4 calories per gram. Protein is made from amino acids, and is the main building block of our cells, including muscle cells. Protein, in enough amounts, helps with muscle building, which contributes to the toned, athletic look many of us are after, and also helps to prevent the breakdown on muscle.

To lose mass, we need to be in a caloric deficit for both our bodies and activity levels. This means that, specific to our own body composition and lifestyle, we need to eat less calories than we need to maintain out current weight. During a caloric deficit, 30% of each pound lost is muscle! In this case, a pound is not just a pound. Muscle mass burns more calories at rest, contributing to your overall metabolic rate. This means that the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories your body burns at rest. Consuming adequate protein (around 1g/lb of bodyweight) ensures that you are not burning as much muscle during this time of a caloric deficit. This helps to not only keep your existing muscle on your body as you lose fat, but also keeps you metabolic rate as high as you can while dieting. This means that, even as you lose body fat and size, you can keep your calories higher while dieting, leading to a less harsh feeling diet.

To gain mass, we need to be in a caloric surplus. This is the opposite of a deficit, meaning that we need to eat more than necessary to maintain our weight. In a caloric surplus, protein intake isn’t as high (around .8g/lb of bodyweight), but is still necessary to aid in recovery from workouts.

Now that we are all aware of why protein is so important to our intakes, no matter the goal, let’s take a look at ways to increase your protein without even realizing it. As we discussed earlier, adequate protein intake is between .8-1.2g of protein/lb of bodyweight, depending on the goal. For a 150lb woman, who is trying to lose mass, the daily protein intake she would aim for is around 150g. Many people do not get anywhere close to that amount of protein, so asking for Jane Doe to go from 50g of protein to 150g overnight would be ridiculous. There are ways we can sneak extra protein into her diet, without purely chugging shakes or downing bars.

Hack Your Plate

Many times, increasing your protein intake requires nothing more than a slight tweak to meals you already make. Simple ways to increase your protein intake include increasing your protein portion at meals and swapping foods for very similar ones. At dinner (or lunch), many people eat meals that include a vegetable, a grain, and a piece of protein (meat, fish, tofu). A simple way to increase your protein intake would be to increase the size of your protein portion. Instead of one piece of chicken breast, bump it up to one and a half, maybe even two pieces. That, depending on the size of the chicken, can increase your protein intake from 20g of protein, up to 30-40g in a single meal! As well, adding egg whites to your whole eggs in the morning is a good way to increase the protein content of a meal, without adding any other nutrient such as carbs or fats. Maybe you already feel like you eat enough meat, so you’re looking for another way to increase your protein intake. Many vegetables are high in protein, including broccoli (6g for a cup) and spinach (6g for a cup), as well as beans and legumes. Black beans and chickpeas contain 12-15g of protein per cup, but watch out that the carb content of them doesn’t push you over your limits. Edamame and tofu are complete plant based proteins, containing all essential amino acids, making them a high quality protein to add to your meals. Another helpful swap is to switch out your regular yogurt for some Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than traditional yogurts, yielding between 12-20g of protein per serving of yogurt. As with any other yogurt, be sure to watch the sugar and carb content of flavored varieties. Plain Greek yogurt has a bitter or sour taste to it, lending itself well to smoothies or replacing sour cream in recipes.

High Quality Protein Sources:

• Chicken Breast: 20g protein for 4oz serving

• Egg: 6g per egg

• Egg white: 3g per white

• Lean ground beef/turkey: 24g for 4oz serving

• Greek yogurt: 20g per cup

  • Tofu: 20g per cup

• Quinoa: 8g per cup

Supplements

I just said we weren’t going to chug shakes or down bars, and we’re not, but protein supplementation can be extremely helpful. I am a firm believer that the majority of macros and micros (vitamins and minerals) should be coming from whole food sources. However, whether it be because of time or lack of resources, protein supplements can be necessary to get you to that overall intake goal. I tend to keep myself to one serving of artificial protein (either a scoop of protein powder or a protein bar) per day, so as to make sure the majority of my protein comes from natural sources. A scoop of high quality whey protein powder can give you an extra 25-30g of protein, while also helping to reduce some sweet cravings without the sugar (as long as you snag a good tasting protein). As well, some protein bars are balanced enough to be a good snack, giving a sufficient dose of protein (12-20g) while also giving a boost of energy from carbs (around 20g) and some satisfaction from fats (8-10g). Whey protein is a derivative of milk protein, so if you have a sensitivity to lactose, I would recommend a pea or brown rice based protein. These exist, and can be just as protein packed as the lactose derived.

Supplementation Faves:

• Whey Protein Isolate: high quality protein with few fillers or additives

• Pea Protein: high quality vegan protein, good for those with milk sensitivities

• RXBars: all natural protein bar with whole ingredients (12g protein/20-25g carbs/10ishg fat)

• Clif Builder Bars: more protein oomph (20g protein, 20-25g carbs, 10ish fat)

• Fit Joy Bars: use stevia instead of sugar alcohols, much easier on digestion (20-25g protein, 20-25g carbs, 8-10g fat)

Increasing your protein intake doesn’t have to be a chore. Sometimes, it can be as easy as buying the food item directly next to what you usually get. Though the in and out of nutrition is more difficult to get down than the consistency of exercise, healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. There are many ways to increase your protein intake, ranging from swapping protein intakes to simply eating a protein bar. Use a few of these tips and tricks to increase that protein intake, to allow your body to run efficiently, no matter what goal you’re trying to meet.