stress

 

You slept through your alarm.

 

You couldn’t find your keys.

 

You missed breakfast.

 

And hit every red light to work!

 

Stressed yet? The worst part is that your day has just begun :(

 

What a lot of people don’t realize is that stress is a “silent killer”  – a huge contributing factor to obesity.  Obesity is quickly moving its way up the charts as one of the major leading causes of death in America.

So let’s ask ourselves, what are some ways in which we can mitigate stress? All the while ensuring we stay on the right path to reach our fitness and nutritional goals as well as elevating our mood throughout the day?

Let’s take a look at one thing stress does to our body:

 

Problem: Cortisol

When we are stressed out our body releases a hormone called cortisol. So, what is cortisol? Cortisol is a chemical hormone produced by our body to manage stress.  There are some benefits to cortisol (such as when you need a “flight or fight” response), however, a constant rush of cortisol in the blood stream over a significant period of time (chronic stress) could cause a serious negative response to our body. Some of these responses include high blood pressure, a decrease in muscle tissue, and a change in digestive process which can lead to obesity.

 

Solution: Elevating your Serotonin Levels Through Tryptophan

What we eat, how much we eat and when we eat plays a huge roll on how our brain produces serotonin.  So what is serotonin?  Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter, found mainly in the central nervous system, that helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, learning and memory. The driving force behind this process is an amino acid called tryptophan.  Tryptophan is found mostly in turkey, fish, chicken, eggs, peanut butter, nuts, pumpkin seeds, soybeans and dairy products. (Now I’m not saying it’s time to go on an all-meat diet plan to feel good and have less stress throughout the day!)

The only way tryptophan is absorbed into the brain is if the blood stream is carrying relatively high levels of tryptophan and low levels of other amino acids. Interestingly, a good way to boost the relative levels of tryptophan in the blood stream, and thus the brain, is to eat carbohydrates.  When you spike your insulin (caused by eating carbs), it acts like a springboard for tryptophan and launches it straight to the brain.  When the opposite happens, and if your tryptophan levels decrease and your serotonin levels stay low, well then your bad day just got worse.

Understanding what you eat and what it does to your body will help you meet your fitness and nutritional goals, and more importantly, it will allow you to choose the path you want to walk and the mindset you want to keep.

apple with tablets capsules.

Is it as easy a taking a pill?

It is a safe assumption that eventually someone is going to invent the miracle pill.  This miracle pill will change your weight in the matter of a day or so.  After taking this pill you will have the physique of a gymnast and the abilities of an Olympic decathlete.

Maybe someday, but we’re not there yet.  Qysmia, or Qnexa, is the latest “miracle’ pill.  Sold as a weight loss drug, it is actually a combination of two older drugs: Topiramate, or Topomax, a drug used to treat epilepsy, and Phentermine – formerly known as Fen-Phen, the weight loss drug.

Qysmia has to be prescribed by a doctor so you can’t get it over the counter.  If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have overactive thyroid, taking a MAOI anti-depressant, or have any heart conditions, don’t even think about it.  Actually, you shouldn’t even think about it regardless of any of these factors.  As with any drug or things manufactured by man, there are unwanted consequences.

Qysmia causes a loss of appetite.  Naturally, if you don’t eat you will lose weight.  But this is far from the best way to lose weight and one of the more dangerous methods.  Qysmia may also cause rapid heartbeat, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, dry mouth, numbness, tingling in the limbs, diarrhea, dizziness, depression, nausea, memory loss and memory problems, and slowed movements.

It gets worse:  You have to gradually increase the dosage.  If you don’t, you risk permanent damage.  When coming off this drug you have to gradually wean yourself off of it or you have seizures.  Remember, it has an epileptic drug as one of its components.

So sure, this pill is a real godsend.

Now for the REAL miracle pill.  The things you eat, along with when and how you eat them, can be stronger than any drug man has ever made.  And you know exactly what effects you will get so there are no unwanted consequences.  The right nutrients, when eaten at the right time and in the right amounts, produce the desired results.  These facts are as sure as mathematics and are the foundations of all nutrition plans produced by FitnessVT.

Is it as easy a taking a pill?  No, but nothing worthwhile is ever that simple.  Just having a little discipline and a heartfelt commitment can alter your life forever.  Pharmaceutical weight loss just cannot compete with the efficacy of Mother Nature.

scale-female-300

“The problem with this is sometimes people will overlook the actual aesthetics of their body and just stare at the scale.”

 

To many people on a weight loss program, the scale is the end all be all.  Truth be told, it is a great way to keep track of progress, but it’s not without its faults. In this article I want to go over some of the biggest pitfalls of judging progress strictly off the scale.

I’m going to talk about how the scale can lie, and I want to make clear that just because the numbers are not dropping doesn’t mean that you’re not losing.

Having worked with nutrition for the better part of my life, I have had the opportunity to not only see the physiological side of weight loss, but also the psychological side. Some people have the belief that if they achieve a certain weight that they are going to look a certain way.

The problem with this is sometimes people will overlook the actual aesthetics of their body and just stare at the scale.

Each individual is built differently. Some are taller, some have a larger frame, and because of this, if you achieve the weight of your favorite model or actor, you might not have the same look as them.

To be clear, the most important thing that people need to look at is the one thing they tend to overlook the most: “How do I feel?” This needs to be the number-one factor. If you’re losing weight or even achieving the look you’re aiming for, if you do not feel good you’re not going to have any lasting effects. You need to concentrate first on how you feel, and then on how you look. These aspects tend to work synergistically together.  Once you get this proper mindset down, then you can move forward to making lifelong changes.

Let’s say you’ve been working your program and are feeling great, but the problem is that the scale is not moving.  The scale can be a tricky thing.  We all know that water cannot make us fat because it contains no calories. But one thing that many people forget is that just because it does not make you fat, does not mean it cannot make you heavy. If you weigh yourself, then drink a gallon of water and step back on the scale, you will now be eight pounds heavier. You did not gain eight pounds of fat, you are just heavier because the water has not had time to leave your body. This seems super simple once you think about it, but a lot of people don’t realize how much water truly affects that number on the scale. 

Here are some things that will influence the amount of water your body holds, and in turn will affect the number on the scale:

Timing of your weigh-in
Many people do not realize that over the course of a day you can fluctuate 5-10 pounds based on how much muscle you have, your size, how much you’re drinking, or external factors like hot weather. If you weigh yourself first thing in the morning it will give the the truest weight because you will be holding the least amount of water. If you weigh-in at night, you could be a lot heavier based on how much you ate or drank before the weigh-in.

Amount of sleep you are getting
While you sleep, your body releases water through breathing and sweat. Your muscles are relaxing and repairing themselves from the day.  During this time you can lose a great deal of water. If you have a night that is short on sleep, your heart rate could be raised throughout the day and you tend to hold more water.

Sodium intake
The amount of sodium you take in regulates how much water your body will hold. If you ingest a lot of salt or sodium over the course of a day, your body will hold a lot of water.

Dietary fiber intake
Dietary fiber is found in things like fruits and vegetables. Because of its makeup, dietary fiber holds a lot of water. It can not make you fat — because your body cannot absorb it — but eating it will have an impact on the scale.

Carbohydrates
When we eat carbohydrates our body eventually stores them as glycogen — a source of fuel for future activities. For every gram of glycogen, our body stores three grams of water. Many people who have gone on high-protein diets have lost a quick few pounds. The reason for this is the decline of glycogen held by the body, thus the loss of the water held by the glycogen.

Amount of water you are drinking
As crazy as it sounds, when we hold water the best way to rid the body of the excess is to drink more water. When your body feels dehydrated, it releases an anti-diuretic hormone called vasopressin. The body does this as a security measure to slow the release of water. When you continually drink water, your body senses that it has more than enough, therefore it starts releasing it on its own.

The intensity and type of your workouts
Working out causes damage to the muscles being worked. Just like any type of injury, your body creates inflammation. Doing this causes the body to hold water. Many people go up in weight after a hard workout and get discouraged, not knowing that they did not actually gain fat, they’re again just holding water.

Knowing what causes your body to hold water will help you to truly address your weight-loss goals. It can help you find out if you’re achieving success, just holding water, or if you need to adjust some things in your program.  But don’t get caught in just looking at the scale — make sure you consider all the facts and factors first!!

I am ready

 

If you’re reading this, then like me you have made the decision to change your life for the better by setting a goal of enhancing your health and well-being through the power of proper nutrition. This goal, like any other goal worth setting, comes with its own unique set of challenges, the most difficult being consistency.

How many times in the past have you set out a path to lose those unwanted pounds, only to find yourself a few hours into the first day, stuck at work, STARVING with nothing to eat? It has certainly happened to me, and what inevitably comes next? The walk of shame to the vending machine to sort through the same old assortment of sugar and fat-filled garbage that is always available to curb those hunger pains. After a few days of this issue we often “fall off the wagon” and are back to the same old unhealthy habits that we started with.

The good new is we can change this diet-derailing cycle with just a little bit of foresight and preparation.

 

The first step towards diet success is to pick your food prep days. For my wife and I, we prep our food for the week ahead on Sunday and Wednesday. Like any other change in our routine it was challenging at first, but after a week or so it was just another part of our week, like dropping the kids off at school or cutting the grass.

Using your FitnessVT grocery list makes this preparation step a breeze. The first thing to invest in is some quality Tupperware – it will be your go-to food prep tool. The second investment is a good quality cooler or lunch box. Then you simply look ahead on your FitnessVT program for the week, and prepare all the food listed up to your next selected prep day. Separate each meal into individual Tupperware containers for the week and label each with the time or meal number. Before bed when you’re eating your last snack, fill your cooler for the following day. Make a point to do this at the same time each night so it becomes a habit.

It sounds simple, but more often than not people simply don’t take the time to plan their food for each day and are stuck having to make quick “fast food” choices throughout the week. By bringing your prepared cooler to work each day you avoid falling into this trap. Now I know it might look a little silly rolling a cooler into work, but I’ll take being the strange guy or girl with a cooler in great shape and with perfect health over the poor souls lined up at the vending machine — any day!