“Thoughts create words, words create action, action creates habits, habits create character, and character defines your destiny.”

 

When approaching nutrition, sometimes it seems that the harder we try, the farther away from our goals we seem to get.

It’s a lot like falling asleep: the more I concentrate, the less likely I am of actually falling asleep! Similarly, when we start a diet, we tend to concentrate on the things we can no longer have, which creates a struggle.

 

We can constantly fight that struggle and maybe see results, or better yet we can just remove the struggle altogether. 

 

For example: let’s say you’re somewhere talking to your significant other, and a very attractive person wearing provocative clothes walks by. The struggle would be not to look. The general idea is to tell yourself, “don’t look, don’t look, don’t look.”

 

The more you think about not looking, the more the option of looking is on the table. A better approach would be to simply concentrate on looking at your significant other.

So, how does this apply to nutrition? If I start eating clean and tell myself I can’t have pizza, the more pizza will be on my mind. Instead of concentrating on what I can’t have, I need to start concentrating on the things I can have. Removing the struggle does not happen overnight, just as habits aren’t created overnight, but controlling our thoughts is the first step in doing so.

Controlling your thoughts is a huge step in the right direction for achieving a life change with nutrition. Let’s say you’re concentrating on the right foods and doing a great job.  You’re seeing results, you’re making changes, and then all of a sudden a birthday or a wedding pops up, your best friend made you your favorite food, and you stray from the routine you’ve tried so hard to get into.

This is usually where the second pitfall comes into play. For many people, thoughts like this run through their mind: “Well, I blew my diet.” “Everything went down the toilet.” “I cheated, so might as well really cheat.”  If we go back to the word “diet” and think of eating in a habitual way, we soon realize that for you to be upset means you actually thought you were going to go through life never eating your favorite food, or cake, or pizza etc…Not very realistic.

When thinking about nutrition, you have to think of it like finances.  It would be funny if you went out and bought something a little out of your budget and said, “Well, I am in debt, so may as well get really into debt.” Of course not.  On the other end though, saving money is great, but if you save your entire life without spending it doesn’t really serve a purpose.

Its the same thing with nutrition.  Soo you’ve been doing a great job and you have a piece of cake.  You can either enjoy it or beat yourself up over it. If you enjoy it and stop thinking about it, you’re in the proper mindset of no struggle.  If you beat yourself up over it, you are now reverting back to the struggle and bad thoughts, which in turn usually brings on more eating.

One of the biggest pitfalls of many diets is looking at the issue and not the problem. For instance, let’s say I want to lose weight and the problem is I overeat. Now there are a lot of physiological reasons why that is and we will address them in detail in later chapters, but psychologically there are many reasons why this happens as well.

A general approach to someone who overeats and wants to lose weight is to give them fewer calories. Sometimes we take it a step further and try to fill someone up with fewer calories using larger quantities of food. Using this approach is a lot like giving gum to a smoker. Can it work? Absolutely, if the issue was that they just needed to stay busy.  Telling someone to eat less is like telling a smoker to stop smoking – they would if they could. Instead of addressing the problem (smoking /eating), we want to address the issue. Why are they smoking in the first place? Do you smoke when you’re bored, stressed, tired, to help you sleep, or to wake you up? These are the real issues. If you take boredom away, then your desire to smoke will decrease. If you pay more attention to reducing your stress level, you’ll also be less likely to smoke.

Applying this to nutrition is quite simple once you start listening to your body.  Do you eat when you’re bored? When you watch T.V.? Stressed? If you believe that your desire to eat is only triggered by hunger, go to a supermarket when you’re not hungry and just walk around the aisles looking and smelling the products – see how quick that desire for food comes.

For each of us, there’s a standard we hold in all aspects of our lives, whether it’s our financial standing, our job ranking, or even our social status.  It’s human nature to become complacent in certain aspects of our life. Some aspects we strive for and continue to grow in, and others just go into the “will get to pile”.

One way to explain this is to imagine you go on a vacation and gain 20 lbs.  When you get back, you feel so disgusted with yourself that you do whatever it takes to lose that weight. The reason for this is because that excess 20 lbs is below your internal standard. Once you get back to your original weight though, you go back to being complacent and hoping to lose that little bit of excess weight.

If you look back at your first paycheck at your first job, you might be thinking, “how did I live off of that?!” This reason it seems so hard now is because our standard of living typically increases as we increase in salary. To go back to that initial salary for many people would be extremely difficult.  And the same is true for many people who start to hit their nutrition goals.

Once someone sees that six pack pop, any time he (or she!) starts to let themselves go, that standard kicks in and they get back on the ball to get back to that body they wanted. My point is that first you need to truly increase your standard, and once you hit that new standard, you create a thought process that lasts forever. 

You’ll never want to go back – once you look in the mirror and see the body you want and wake feeling the energy you’ve missed for so long.  Those foods that were so attractive before start to lose their appeal. But creating this new standard requires you to take charge of yourself as if you were the boss. If you were in charge of someone, you wouldn’t allow them to show up to work late every day.  No, you would require them to work the entire day, and the word “can’t” would be frowned upon.

Take charge of your life, create a high standard, and keep yourself accountable!!!

 

“A man that cannot motivate himself must be content with mediocrity, no matter how strong his other talents.” – Anonymous.

 

Everyone will tell you that they have the perfect diet, the latest pill for weight loss, or even the latest and greatest workout equipment for a 5 minute makeover. The truth is that the most powerful weapon you have is your mind and motivation. If I give you the perfect diet but you don’t follow it, it’s worthless. And motivation is built just like everything else in your body.

Just like any other part of your body, it needs to be fed. You feed it and it’ll grow. Write down what your motivation is.  This is something that should take some serious thought.  Is it energy to play with your kids/grandkids, the ability to walk on the beach and feel great about the way you look, confidence to go talk to that special person, or is it to be the best athlete you can be? Whatever it is, write it down!!!

Put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day.  When you’re thinking about what you can’t eat, concentrate on that paper instead.  Lastly, you have to believe that you are going to achieve your goals. If you can’t visualize it (think it), then there’s no way it’ll ever come true.

Once you believe you’re going to accomplish this life change, you have to ask yourself, “what am I willing to do to accomplish it?”. One of the most memorable people I worked with was like a brother to me. One night we had a conversation and I asked him this very question.

It’s very easy to say, “ I would do anything!”, but I broke it down to him and asked him some very important questions. When you truly decide to make a life change, you have look beyond the moment. It’s easy to stick to a diet when you’re sitting around talking about your goals, but it’s totally different when you’re sitting around on the weekend with nothing to do.

At the time this friend was 420 lbs. I asked him, “Can you give me 6 months of your life?” Meaning, no matter what comes up for six months, you’re not going to veer to the left or right – you’re going to walk the path.  Nothing matters, no excuses!! If you’re at a birthday party, wedding, it’s the weekend, it’s your anniversary, someone comes and brings you a pie, whatever excuse we come up with, you’re not caving.

He promised me, and even more importantly he promised himself. To show you his motivation he actually put his house up for sale and moved from Texas to Virginia to live with me!  He gave me six months, and went from 420 to 240 lbs!!!

When this happens, your life literally changes. Of course the tangibles were there – he looked better and he had more energy, but it’s the non-tangibles that were really exciting!!  The confidence, the mentality that he could accomplish anything, and the work ethic to actually do it!! When people imagine their goals, they only see the body of their dreams. People usually don’t have the confidence, the energy, or desire to do and accomplish more and attack things they never thought possible. For many people,W six months is a small price to pay for an entire life of benefits.

 

With the holidays upon us,

we should all take the time to enjoy ourselves and celebrate the good things about our lives.

We deserve it – it has been a tough few years.   Family and friend gatherings, celebration dinners, holiday feasts…you should participate to the fullest.

No one wants to be that guy or gal who cannot enjoy the moment for fear of “breaking” the diet plan.

But you should also understand your options before you make a choice.

With regards to this, we at FitnessVT want you to understand soft drinks and what consuming one or many means to you.

Soft drink, soda, pop, cola – whatever you may call it, we have all experienced the fizzy sweetness at one time or another in our lives.  Some of us love soft drinks and suck them down daily while some of us avoid them completely.  Whatever your individual preference may be, here are some things to consider about soft drinks and carbonated beverages in general.

 

Sugar – The Obvious Culprit

Start with the obvious: sugar content in your average soda is astronomically high.  In most cases, a single soda contains more sugar than the average person should consume throughout an entire day.  A term used often, “empty calories,” refers to the caloric content in a soda due to the sugar.  But there is nothing “empty” about said calories at all, oh no…

 

The amount of sugar content is plainly stated on the label.  You down the carbonated sugar water, and since your liver cannot immediately process all that sugar, your body responds by releasing insulin and storing all the sugar for later usage – as fat, of course.

 

Diet Soda and those Sneaky Sweeteners

What about diet soda?  It certainly does not have sugar in it so it must be OK, right?  Well, that is a matter of opinion.  But consider these facts.  While it’s true that there is no sugar (and thus no calories) in a diet soft drink, they do have to be sweetened with something, and normally this something is aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K or a combination of some or all of the above.  Not one of these sweeteners occur in nature.

 

Each was designed in a lab.  Some were even meant to be a component in bug poisons.  That’s right, you are sucking down roach dope and insect pesticide with every fizzy sip.  All of said artificial sweeteners have been linked to neurological disorders or a possible carcinogen.  As an example, aspartame, once ingested, is broken down and converted into…formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde was once used for embalming corpses.  In essence this is what you are drinking.  Again, just keeping the folks informed.

 

Health Issues and Soda, Continued 

The physiologic response of our bodies has a psychological consequence as well.  A short time after consuming a soft drink, our body ups dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain – similar to the response after doing heroin.  This is not to say that heroin and soda are comparable.  However, it does say quite a bit about people’s emotional attachment to soft drinks and cravings for soft drinks.

 

Soda is acidic.  The average soda has a pH of 2.5-3.0.  The human body is typically pH 7.1-7.5.  Lowering the body’s pH has many negative effects on health.  Just a few of these are lower metabolism, increased inflammation and inflammatory responses.  The acidity is a result of sodas containing phosphoric acid and carbonic acid.  High levels of dietary acid have been shown to result in kidney stones and renal problems.

 

In addition, phosphoric acid and calcium share a relationship.  Anytime a drink such as soda is consumed, the body must release minerals in order to buffer the acids and non-mineralized liquid (carbonated water).  Phosphoric acid is buffered by calcium.  Where does this calcium come from?  Bones, teeth, muscle tissue…these are the places where the human body stores calcium and other minerals.  While this may not cause outright osteoporosis, consuming acidic, non-mineralized beverages such as soft drinks does not help one maintain optimal health.

 

So there we have it.  Soft drinks are something we have an option to drink every single day.  But so is water.  The above information should help us all make smart, informed choices for ourselves and for those we are responsible for.  Could we survive by never drinking a single soft drink?  Certainly!  Will drinking the occasional soft drink immediately cause us to dry up and fall over dead?  Of course not.  Stay safe and stay hydrated, and make smart choices about what you drink.

“Drinks all around!”

 

Alcohol consumption is common practice in America and has become a large part of our culture.

But while alcohol is very popular, drinking it comes with a whole host of risks and can derail anyone from reaching his or her dietary and fitness goals.

Other than the drastic drop in athletic performance, alcohol leads to mental impairment, addiction, diabetes, stomach, liver and kidney disease, lower testosterone, and weight gain — just to name a few. 

 

Like the other macro-nutrients that provide the body with calories, alcohol provides the body with seven calories per gram. This is just two calories less than pure fat, raising one’s total caloric intake when alcohol is consumed.  These calories, however, are not used the same way.

 

Alcohol Leads to Fat Storage

When alcohol is ingested, it is converted into acetate in the liver which then floats in the blood stream. Under normal circumstances, the body prefers to use carbohydrates and fats for energy, and as a last resort, it will use protein.  But when acetate is present in the blood from consuming alcohol, the body quickly begins to burn it for energy instead of using carbohydrates and fats.  So, because there is no longer an immediate need for those carbohydrates and fats, the body will shuttle them to fat stores for later use.

 

To make this problem worse, when we’re out drinking we often have more carbohydrates and fats in our system due to the fact that alcohol often leads to poor food choices. There are not many bars out there serving healthy whole food options at happy hour.   What we often see are wings, pizza, and anything else that can fit in a deep fryer.  Even though you might otherwise refrain from eating these types of foods, alcohol also tends to increase our appetite and lower our inhibitions. This is quite a dangerous combination, especially for someone dedicated to accomplishing their fitness goals.

 

Alcohol has also been shown to lower testosterone. Testosterone has a powerful fat-reducing effect and is also a very anabolic hormone. Lowering it will halt its full potential as a fat burner and decrease gains in lean mass. This ultimately will lead to a lowered metabolic rate, making weight loss an even bigger challenge. The higher someones metabolic rate, the more calories he or she will burn at rest.

 

Alcohol also can damage the stomach, especially when consumed in excess. This can lead to a decrease in the rate and efficiency in which food can digest.  This again will interfere with someone’s healthy metabolic process and weight loss process.  Lastly, alcohol use can lead to liver damage, which is where fat is broken down into fuel. Damage to the liver will slow its ability to carry out this process.

 

Is it crazy to think someone will completely refrain

from drinking alcohol? 

 

Depending on a person’s goals, no it’s not. However, drinking is a part of our culture and customs. Understanding this fact and the facts about alcohol’s effects on your performance will ultimately lead to a greater success rate in reaching your goals.

Alcohol will have a negative impact on any effort to lose body fat and will greatly lower performance. The most important takeaway message is to always drink in moderation and never lose sight of your goals.

Traveling and good nutrition for most people go together like water and oil.

 

So to truly accomplish a life change, we have to attack this way of thinking head on.

It is not realistic to think we have to stay in the same routine, never travel, and never go on vacation to stay on point with our nutrition goals.

In this article, I want to give you the knowledge to adapt on the move and to empower you to plan ahead and stay in the game!!

 

When addressing traveling and nutrition, we have to always plan ahead. I cannot say this enough!! When training for an event, you do not just show up; you prep and game plan. This might sound intimidating, but it’s really quite simple. Start by making a road map of your entire trip and plan accordingly.

 

First you need to consider: are you flying or driving?

 

When driving, loading the car with food and drinking water is relatively easy. But when flying, you don’t want to load your one carry on bag with a bunch of food, and we all know you can’t take liquids through security. To address this, I carry an empty half-gallon bottle with me and just fill it up at the drinking fountain once I’m inside the airport. And in terms of food, you want to carry things that don’t spoil fast and don’t require utensils.

 

Don’t get me wrong — you can totally cook and carry Tupperware into the airport, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

 

When choosing travel foods, choose those that are predominately one food group. For instance, a doughnut is fat and carbs. Two food groups, not a good choice. Some good examples are as follows:

 

Carbohydrates: Apples, Oranges, Pears, Bagged Celery, Cucumber.

Protein: Jerky, Chicken Pouches, Tuna Pouches

Fats: Walnuts, Almonds, Macadamia Nuts, Cashews

 

You can easily bag a few of each of these foods and carry them everywhere you go. The most important thing is to have something with you at all times.

 

Once you get into this habit, the next items to address are portion size and timing. To help you understand how much of each food we need, I believe it’s beneficial to know what each food group does for our body.

 

Fats are our bodies primary source of fuel when we are aerobic, meaning when we have oxygen to fuel our muscles. Aerobic activities include sitting, standing, walking, and jogging. When you’re on vacation, these are probably going to be a majority of your activities, which means a majority of your calories should come from fats. In addition to fueling your body, fats release a hormone called leptin, which tells your body you’re full. This feeling will come in extremely handy while you’re on vacation :).

 

Carbohydrates are our bodies primary source of fuel when we’re anaerobic, meaning without oxygen. Such activities include lifting, running at a quick pace, Crossfit, or MMA training. This is the time that starchy carbs, like rice, quinoa, and barley, come in handy. Besides fueling your muscles, carbohydrates create glucose, which is your brain’s primary source of fuel. To fuel the brain, we want to eat the fruits prescribed to keep insulin spiking to a minimum. Starchy carbs fuel the muscles for anaerobic activity while fruits and veggies fuel the brain. We use our brain all day long, so we need to provide it with adequate energy.

 

Protein is used to repair and rebuild muscle. Typically on vacation we are not looking to build or break new records in terms of muscle gain. With that said, we still need the hormonal response from protein. When consuming protein, our bodies release a hormone called glucagon. This hormone tells your body to release stored energy. Typically, we have tons of energy stored as glycogen from carbs or lipids from fats. Telling your body to do this will increase your energy while keeping your body fat low.

 

Hopefully now you have a basic understanding of what different foods do for your body. Choosing what to eat should be based off this knowledge. If I need to release energy, I would consume protein; if I need to fuel my brain, fruit and carbs; and for overall energy, consume fats.

 

We need all these foods continuously throughout the day, so when having a snack or meal we should incorporate some of each. Your portion size should be dictated by the amount of muscle you have, the size of an individual, gender, and the amount of activity. A 200-pound man with 10% body fat should have a meal of 1 fruit, 12-16 nuts, and about 4 oz of meat. If you’re higher in body fat, lower in weight, or female, lower the intake slightly. If you’re leaner, bigger, or if your activity is more strenuous, increase the amount slightly. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just consistent.

 

The last important thing when it comes to travel and nutrition is timing. When traveling, it is extremely easy to lose track of time. Whether you’re racing to make your flight or just stuck in security, food usually is not on the top of your to-do list. When this happens, we let time slip away and then, all of a sudden, we are starving!!! So remember – we have to stay ahead of the hunger!! To prevent this scenario, set a timer on your watch or on your phone and have it go off every three hours to let you know it’s time to eat.

 

Once you get to your, destination you still have to plan. Keep food and water with you everywhere you go. When your timer goes off, eat!! Another issue that will come up is eating out at a restaurant or eating at a friend’s house. When eating at a restaurant, stick with foods straight from the earth: salads with no dressing, cheese, or croutons, and meats that are lean. Opt for anything with loin in the word or lean chicken breast, shrimp, oysters, lobster, or fish. Stay away from any meats with the word rib in it, like ribeye, prime rib, or ribs in general. If you get a lean steak, you don’t have to add any fats because you get plenty in the meal. If you just get a salad with lean chicken, you can put a little olive oil and vinegar as dressing to get your fats.

 

If you’re eating at a friend’s house, stick with the same rules and keep portions to the size of your hand. Remember, it is not a contest of how much you can eat. If you have a tendency to eat everything in front of you, tell the waiter to pack half the meal in a to-go bag or tell your friend to give you a small serving.

 

I am now confident you have the knowledge to go out anywhere and stick to your program. Thanks again for using FitnessVT!!

 

Today I want to give you some much-needed information about your weight loss goals.

 

When people address weight loss, they tend to address the problem, but not the issue.

For example, if I want to quit smoking, instead of just saying I’m going to stop, I have to look at why I smoke in the first place. It might be when I am stressed, when I am bored, when I need a wake-up or to help me fall asleep.

The same goes with your nutrition goals. I don’t want you to stop eating to lose weight, I want you understand why you are hungry in the first place. With this information you can stay ahead of the hunger and truly achieve your goals!!

To address hunger we have to understand a little bit of how our body works and the different reasons why each person has trouble addressing their nutrition goals. The following are a couple of the most popular reasons that I see people get beat by hunger or lose the battle in their nutrition goals.

Timing
When we think of an athletic body, we don’t typically envision the body of a sumo wrestler. However sumo athletes go through painstaking training and are actually extremely regimented when it comes to nutrition. Most people who see sumo wrestlers would think that they eat all day long. The truth is that they only eat twice a day. They eat something called Chanko-nabe, which is a mixture of various meats and fish with rice and vegetables. They starve their bodies through the night, eat, then again starve their body through the day and eat once again before bed. The reason that this is so successful in weight gain is because in starvation mode, the body’s main goal is to preserve energy, basically, hold onto anything it can. Many people without even thinking about it have a similar diet.

Typically, they get so busy, they miss breakfast and end up starving. By the time they eat, they tend to overeat and because their body is in starvation mode they will end up storing a majority of that food. Eating more frequently keeps hormones balanced, helps us stay in front of the hunger and tells my body that there is no need to store fat. It’s easy to forget meals, so put a timer on your watch or phone to let you know it’s time to eat. Also make sure to always carry a little bag of nuts so if you get stuck somewhere, you’ll have something to keep you from crashing and going into starvation mode.

Sleep
Then there is the person who constantly skimps on sleep. When we sleep, it not only resets our mind but it also resets our hormones. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you you’re hungry. When we don’t get adequate amounts of quality sleep, our body produces a large amount of this hormone. This type of person tends to never feel full. If this is the case with you and you just don’t have the ability to get more sleep, try increasing your protein intake in the morning with egg whites. This has been shown to decrease your ghrelin levels throughout the day.

Stress
If you were to look at a graph of the amount of stress in your life lined up against a graph showing your weight and you see a correlation, then this could be the thing that’s killing your success. Stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is actually called the stress hormone. When released in excess, it tells our body to store fat; and unfortunately the type of fat storage from this hormone has been shown to go straight to the gut.

Along with the release of cortisol, when we are stressed our body also tends to release ghrelin (the hunger hormone), since it calms the body, in addition to making us hungry. If you go on a vacation and eat junk but end up losing weight, that’s another sign that stress is causing your lack of weight loss results. If this sounds like you, staying away from caffeine and doing physical training will help lower cortisol and ghrelin, and in turn will help you stay on track with your goals.

Dehydration
If I told you that the number one fat burner in the world is water, you would have a hard time believing me. But it’s true. Three percent dehydration can equal a thirty percent decrease in performance. Not only does water increase metabolism, but it also increases energy and lubricates joints. For a lot of people, it’s not actual hunger they are feeling, but their bodies’ desire for water. If you are hungry and haven’t been hitting the water bottle, drink 16 oz and wait 15-20 minutes. If your hunger diminishes, this could be the key to your hunger. Think of water as the gas pedal to your body’s car. The more you press the pedal, the faster your body uses fuel and the faster you lose weight!!

Insulin
When we consume carbohydrates that are high glycemic (white bread, white rice, sugar, candy), it releases a hormone called insulin. This hormone tells your body to store energy. This is needed at specific times like after a workout, but during the day it can have a lot of negative effects. When I spike my insulin, it goes way up and then tends to go way down; once this happens you can get the shakes and feel light headed, and because of this your hunger will increase drastically.

To prevent this, you want to keep your insulin in check. You need to stay away from high-glycemic foods during the day as well as avoid overeating which tends to increase insulin as well. If you happen to let insulin get the best of you, consume about a tsp. of cinnamon. It’ll flat line your insulin and help curb your appetite in the future.

Addressing our specific weight-loss issues will help us achieve goals much more proficiently than just trying to stop eating. For some of you, more than one of these issues might apply. In a perfect world, we could just eliminate stress or have a perfect night’s sleep every night. This is obviously not possible, but there are ways to counter each of these issues. Knowing which issue is causing you hunger in the first place will help give you the ability to attack it before it beats you and makes you detour from your goals.

The program we designed for you will address each of these issues. It gives you what you need when you need it. If you stray, just get back on the wagon and keep trucking forward.