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Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

PostHeaderIcon The Switch Trick: How to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

Happy New Year everyone!

As I work with people, I realize how difficult it is for some to keep track of how many calories they consume so I have been trying to think of a simpler approach to weight loss. I came up with this method which is actually based on many studies on habit change and what we know about food.

I call this The Switch Trick:

I have always said that calories count and that if weight loss is your goal, you must burn more calories than you consume, but measuring calories can be a chore so here are some mind tricks to help you get around that. I actually use this approach myself and it has helped me lose weight in the past and maintain it every since.

Habit Change: The most comprehensive research on habit change teaches that you can’t just stop doing something that is a long standing habit. You must replace that habit with something else and believe in your ability to change. This can be done with food. For example, you have gained weight this year because you got into the habit of eating cookies around 2pm. Do the switch trick. Replace the jar of cookies with a basket of apples or any other snack that has less calories than the cookies such as low fat string cheese, carrots, celery, non-fat yogurt, non-fat turkey meat, etc. At first, you will crave the cookies but over time, your body will adapt to the new habit. As a result, you will lose weight because you are consuming less calories.

Sometimes we gain weight because we eat when stressed. We have candy bars on our office desk. Replace them with peaches or anything that is healthier and has less calories. Sometimes we get emotional and buy ice cream. Replace it with low fat frozen yogurt. Sometimes we go for a drive and grab a high calorie Frappuccino. Go for a walk instead and get some iced green tea. As hard as it is to lose weight, I’ve seen many people succeed by replacing many unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol and binge eating with starting an exercise program. After some time, exercise becomes addicting but its a healthy addiction. Find something that suites your personality and that you think is fun and replace unhealthy habits with this new hobby.

Many studies have shown that foods high in fiber, protein and water help us feel fuller. These foods include fruits, vegetables, non-fat lean meats, non-fat greek yogurt (greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt), and whole grains. Studies have shown that only 5% of adults consume the recommended allowance of fiber anyway and this nutrient is vital in helping us feel satiated, keeping down cholesterol levels, aiding in digestion and feeding probiotic bacteria necessary in fighting disease.

Also, replace fruit juice or soda with water or whole fruits. Whole fruits have a lower glycemic index (the sugars in them are burned more gradually because the fiber in the fruit helps to regulate them). The sugar in fruit juice can spike blood sugar levels. Plus, the fiber in whole fruits contains more nutrients and will help you feel fuller than simply drinking juice.

When eating out, order something different. Replace pan fried foods with grilled or roasted foods. Replace creamy sauces with low fat tomato sauces. Replace french fries with a salad, white rice with brown or a bread roll with a bowl of sweet fruit. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate

Now here is the hard part: Write down the new foods on your grocery list and make sure you buy them instead of the old ones.

For more information on nutrition, check out these nutrition blogs:

NUTRITION BLOGS

I’ll be doing a nutrition for weight lost seminar on February 4. For more information, click here:

SPECIAL EVENTS

PostHeaderIcon Should I Sacrifice Sleep for Training?

Over the years of being a trainer, I have noticed a marked difference between people who achieve the results they want and the ones who have a much harder time. Much of it has to do with how people eat and sleep on top of how they train.

Today I am bringing up the subject of sleep because I heard a motivational speaker say that you should sacrifice sleep in order to get the things you want. As a health professional, I do not agree with this statement due to the evidence I have collected over the years. You can sacrifice mindless television watching, video games, negative thinking and junk food, but one thing you should not sacrifice is sleep. A large number of studies have linked lack of sleep with obesity.

Proof of How Lack of Sleep Can Make you Fat

According to a study from the University of Chicago, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to indulge in candy, cake and other sweets than they are in eating fruits and whole grains. Another study that appeared in “The Annals of internal Medicine” measured hormonal levels in people who do not get enough sleep with those who do. They found that sleep deprivation decreases levels of leptin, a hormone that tells you that you are full. It increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry and makes you crave sweets. Additional studies followed how many snacks people who aren’t getting enough sleep eat. The conclusion was that people who are sleep deprived are twice as likely to eat unhealthy snacks.

Lack of sleep also causes stress, releasing the hormone cortisol which also causes us to crave high-fat foods. Cortisol also triggers survival mechanisms in the body that causes us to store fat in our abdominal area.

For more information on how stress leads to belly fat, check out this post:   http://heroestraining.com/?p=417

A study from Case Western University tracked the weight fluctuations and sleep habits of 680,138 women for sixteen years. They found that the women who slept five hours or less per night were more likely to become obese and the women who only got six hours of sleep a night were more likely to be overweight than women who got seven hours of sleep.

Researchers from the University of Warrick, England followed thousands of children and adults and found that sleep deprivation almost doubles the risk of obesity for adults and children. Another study from Stanford University found that people who sleep less have higher BMI (Body Mass Index) levels. In conclusion, there are a huge number of studies that show that lack of sleep can make you fat.

What is just as remarkable is a study conducted by Glamour Magazine to see if sleeping more will help you lose weight.  They enlisted seven female readers and asked them to sleep at least seven and a half hours each night for ten weeks. They were not allowed to change their dietary habits for those ten weeks. All of these women lost weight.

It is very difficult to train clients who are sleep deprived. They have absolutely no energy. I usually train them as a lesson and tell them that they need to get more sleep if they want to get results. When they experience how poorly they perform and how much they struggle, they realize how important sleep really is.

Sleep is Nature’s Steroid

Some recent studies are being done on HGH (human growth hormone) and how this helps people recover, stay young and gain muscle. When we sleep, human growth hormone is released. This is when injuries are healed, when children grow, when cells in the body are restored and when muscles are repaired to gain strength. If athletic performance or strength gains are your goal, then sleep should be on the top of your priority list. Sleep has also been called “nature’s steroid” by many health professionals for this reason. Before you start your intake of experimental HGH, see if you’re getting enough sleep first.

Sleep Increases Athletic Performance

Mah, Mah and Dement studied college swimmers. They tested their athletic performance for two weeks during their usual sleep-wake cycles. Then they tested them after they extended their sleep to 10 hours a day for 6-7 weeks. The results showed that the swimmers swam the 15-meter sprint 0.51 seconds faster, reacted 0.15 seconds sooner off the start blocks, improved turn time by 0.10 seconds and increased kick strokes by 5 kicks.

They also did a study on 11 male college basketball players. After extending their sleep for as much per night as they could, their timed agility sprint improved by 0.07 seconds; their free-throw percentage increased by 9%; and their 3-point field goal percentage improved by 9.2%.

They also studied seven Stanford University football players. They were tested before and after the sleep extension and their 20-yard shuttle run times decreased by 0.10 seconds. Forty-yard dash times also decreased by 0.10 seconds and daytime sleepiness and fatigue scores fell significantly.

Sleep also helps with memory, strengthening the immune system and alertness. This increases athletic performance, work performance, school performance, and wellness. It also makes you less cranky which should help with your relationships.

How Can I Get More Sleep?

–One of my favorite cures for insomnia is exercise or yoga. This helps release stress and burns energy that can lead to a better night’s sleep. Excess exercise can lead to burn out and insomnia so make sure you are getting just the right amount

–Get your life organized. Set aside time for checking emails, spending time with the family, eating dinner etc. so that everyone can get to bed on time.

–Take a warm bath or shower

–Try chamomile tea, which is known for its ability to calm the body, before going to bed

–The smell of lavender is known to calm the senses and release stress, making it easier to go to sleep.

–Instead of sacrificing things that are good for you, such as sleep, how about cutting out things that are bad for you such as excessive alcohol. Though it can make you feel tired, too much alcohol can mess with your sleep cycles.

–Tobacco is a stimulant that can make it hard to sleep

–Too much caffeine is a stimulant that messes with your sleep-wake cycles.

–Overeating can make it hard to sleep so give your digestive system a break. Also, don’t eat too much processed carbs or sugar right before bed

–Sometimes it is hard to sleep while hungry so a healthy snack like a fruit might help. Just don’t overeat.

–Too much television or video games can also lead to inability to sleep. Try reading a book before going to bed, meditating or listening to soft music. Even cuddle with a loved one.

–Take power naps if sleeping at night is not possible. If you have a hard time sleeping at night, limit nap times.

–Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable

–Turn out the lights. Bright lights can fool the hormonal system into thinking it is still day time so avoid the television and other lit screens. Let your body know that it is time for bed.

–If you feel your inability to sleep might be a medical issue, check out AASM (the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.) Here is their website:

http://www.aasmnet.org/

How Much Sleep Should I Get?

These are the sleep guidelines according to the National Sleep Foundation:

AGE DAILY SLEEP NEEDS
NEW BORNS (0-2 months) 12-18 HOURS
INFANTS (3 to 11 months) 14-15 HOURS
TODDLERS (1-3 years) 12-14 HOURS
PRESCHOOLERS (3-5 years) 11-13 HOURS
SCHOOL –AGE CHILDREN (5-10 years) 10-11 HOURS
TEENS (10-17 years) 8.5-9.25 HOURS
ADULTS 7-9 HOURS

PostHeaderIcon Memoirs of a Chubby Kid Who Wanted to be an Athlete

Some people may look at me and think, “She doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle like I do. She’s already in such good shape.” This wasn’t always the case. When I was a chubby kid, I had all kinds of self image issues. I injured my back three times in my life. I’ve also dealt with a knee injury, a hamstring injury, and a groin injury. Like many moms, I dealt with an awful laceration when giving birth to my large son, while the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. I know what it’s like to have never been fit. I also know what it’s like to lose the ability to move and have to start over from scratch.

The hardest part of my job is teaching group fitness classes that cater to mixed levels. I give many options and modifications in my classes. It’s still difficult for a beginner, who has never taken a fitness class before, to do the easier modifications while those who have been doing it for years are doing harder moves. “Just do the beginning move,” they hear the perky instructor say, as if it were no big deal, as if it’s not a blow to the ego to realize that one is not as fit as everyone else.

I know how you feel. Actually, most of us do. Some of the greatest athletes were beginners once, eating everyone’s dust as they struggled in the back of the herd. It’s okay to be a beginner. To be a beginner is exciting. It means you are doing something you haven’t done before and there is nowhere else to go but up.

I still recall my first week of high school. I spent the summer working out at a gym for the first time in my life. I wanted to take the next step and lose more weight so I joined the cross country team. Everyone else on the team was so fit. I struggled, barely being able to run. I wanted to be able to run like them, but I couldn’t. They could run for miles and miles. I barely jogged and walked the warm up.

On Friday of that first week of school, a boy who knew my older brother teased me and said that my brother told him that I joined the team to lose weight. That day, after practice, I cried. The stress of my first week of high school had built up inside me and I let it all out.

The main thing that gets me, when I look back at this memory is the horrible feeling of embarrassment I had for wanting to lose weight. It was true. I didn’t want to be the chubby one anymore. I was tired of the fat jokes. I was tired of being slow. I wanted to be thin. What was wrong with that? First I was ridiculed for being overweight. Now I was being ridiculed for wanting to do something about it.

I’m sharing this memory with you now because I want you to know that you are not alone. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and wanted to give up. It’s a perfectly normal feeling, especially if you are new to something. Think of the first time you started a new job. In a way, the physical part is easy. The psychological part, the part that is dealing with the stress of change and the reactions of those around us is the hard part.

By the end of my first week of school, I had blisters all over my feet. My coach told me to purchase running shoes but I told him the sneakers I already wore were brand new and that my parents couldn’t afford new running shoes.  I guess my coach got tired of seeing me kick those shoes off because of my blisters, preferring to run on the football field grass. One day, he pulled me aside. He said that he liked my spunk and that if I kept trying, even though I could hardly jog, I would get better. He gave me a check for 100 dollars to spend on running shoes. He told me that it was scholarship money.

I couldn’t believe it! It seemed like so much money and I never spent that much on shoes before. I bought my first pair of Nike running shoes with that money and they felt amazing. It made me feel like a real athlete.

I probably would have quit if people like Coach Martin hadn’t supported me, letting me know that not giving up is better than winning right away. On my first cross country meet, I almost finished last. There might have been one or two girls behind me. I learned what it was like to literally eat someone’s dust. A whole herd of girls ran ahead of me, kicking dust into my face, mouth and eyes. Before I knew it, they were out in the distance and I was alone in the back with a few of the stragglers. At some point of the 5k course on hills, a new group of girls passed me. Yes, another race started and I hadn’t even finished the first one. Struggling up “pukes peak,” a steep hill at the end of the race, was shear torture. Still, I didn’t give up. My goal was to finish the race and I did.

I ran cross country throughout high school and discovered martial arts in the meantime, something I could get really good at. Over the years, I discovered more movement modalities such as yoga and pilates. I learned that exercise isn’t just about weight loss and muscle gain. Exercise can be used to achieve relaxation, rehabilitation, energy and healing. Over the years I have helped athletes, seniors, kids, beginners and elite practitioners, all with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

I want everyone to know that there are so many fitness modalities that can help you in your journey to being healthy and strong. You just have to start looking. Try walking, running, dancing, martial arts, yoga, weight lifting, aqua classes, chair classes or many more. We are all on our own journey, a journey that will make us explore our bodies and minds. It will make us come to terms with what we can and can’t do, and what it means for us to be healthy.  I hope to offer to my support, no matter what your set backs and accomplishments might be.

For more personal stories and struggles check out:

Be Kind For Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=502

PostHeaderIcon 112 Ways To Break Your Plateau

According to the law of overload, we must place new demands on the body in order to make it change. For example, if you want to lower your fat percentage, you must exercise in order to burn more calories and become thinner. If you want to make your muscles stronger or faster, you must load your muscles with heavier weights or train in a way that makes you faster. We add some recovery and rest to the formula so the body has time to adapt and what you have is a stronger, faster, bigger or smaller frame. Once your body has adapted, it is a new, fitter body. But what if you want to lose more weight or improve your athletic performance to an even higher level?

Now you have to load your body in a new way because it has adapted to the loads you initially placed on it. When the body stops improving (stops losing weight or getting stronger or faster), it is called a plateau. A plateau is something trainers are very familiar with. In order to break plateaus, we introduce new challenges in order to generate more results.

So basically, if you want more results, do something new. If you want to maintain your body, do what you have been doing, if you want to reverse the affects of exercise and become less fit, stop doing what you are doing and let yourself go.

Breaking a plateau doesn’t have to be daunting. Change can be exciting and interesting. Just for fun, I compiled a huge list of simple ways to break a plateau below. If you find that your body has stopped changing, pick something from the list below that you haven’t tried yet and is specific to your athletic goals. To learn how I broke my plateaus while losing weight after having a baby, check out this blog: http://heroestraining.com/?p=80

112 SIMPLE WAYS TO BREAK PLATEAU:

  1. Lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions
  2. Lift lighter weights with more repetitions
  3. Add one or two more sets
  4. Time your rest periods and make them shorter
  5. Take a break (sometimes, we stop improving because our body is burnt out)
  6. Find out where you are weak and strengthen those areas (you’ll be surprised at how much addressing your weakness will enhance your athletic performance)
  7. Use bands instead of weights
  8. Use weights instead of bands
  9. Use cable instead of weights

10.  Use barbells instead of dumbbells

11.  Use dumbbells instead of barbells

12.  Use kettlebells instead of dumbbells or barbells

13.  Use a tire or boulder instead of barbells

14.  Do Jumping Jacks, pushups, burpees etc. between sets as an active rest.

15.  Stop using rest periods and do circuits instead (a circuit program consists of working out one muscle group and then working out another muscle group while you rest the other. You never stop moving)

16.  Try doing a really intense fifteen minute workout instead of a moderate one hour workout

17.  Do speed intervals instead of long distance (intervals are cardio workouts where you go really hard and then rest for a timed interval, and then go really hard again)

18.  Do shorter speed intervals (ie, 100 yard sprints instead of 400 yard sprints)

19.  Do longer speed intervals (ie, 800 yard sprints instead of 400 yard sprints)

20.  Do fartlegs (ie, run or cycle fast for 3 minutes, jog for five)

21.  Do long distance instead of intervals

22.  Walk up a hill

23.  Walk up a steeper hill

24.  Run up hill

25.  Do hill intervals (sprint up a hill, then rest or just walk down. Then sprint up the hill again for a set amount of times)

26.  Run while pushing a sled

27.  Run while pulling a sled

28.  Run while pushing a baby in a stroller

29.  Do bear crawls instead of running or walking (walking or running on all fours, hands and feet)

30.  Instead of just sitting in front of the computer, flex or squeeze your muscles while working

31.  Instead of sitting or lying down while watching TV or reading, ride a stationary bike; walk on the treadmill or any other exercise.

32.  Hike up hill while pushing a baby in a stroller (I used to do this. It’s really hard)

33.  Swim instead of run

34.  Try skipping instead of running

35.  Try the rowing machine

36.  Lunge up hill

37.  Try step up lunges

38.  Try step forward lunges

39.  Try walking lunges

40.  Try split, jumping lunges

41.  Lunge in a different direction

42.  Lunge with a child on your shoulders

43.  Do pushups with a small child on your back

44.  Do pushups with someone pushing on your shoulders

45.  Do pushups with a band pushing on your shoulders

46.  Do sit ups with a child pushing on your chest

47.  Use a weight vest

48.  Use a sand bag

49.  Use ankle or wrist weights while taking pilates class

50.  Hire a personal trainer

51.  Join a fitness class

52.  Sign up for a race or marathon training program

53.  Take up a new sport

54.  Run or cycle on a different trail than you are used to

55.  Play tag with your kids

56.  Try jump squatting instead of just squatting

57.  Do one legged squats instead of squatting

58.  Do one legged lunges instead of just lunging

59.  Do one legged deadlifts instead of just deadlifting

60.  Try squat thrusts instead of your usual squat routine.

61.  If you do back squats, do front squats instead.

62.  If you do front squats, do back squats instead.

63.  Try squatting on an uneven surface like a bosu ball

64.  Try pushups on a bosu ball.

65.  Try pushups on two bosu balls

66.  Try pushups on a stabilitiy ball

67.  Try pushups on two stability balls

68.  Try crunches or planks on a bosu or stability ball

69.  Try clapping plyo push ups

70.  Try pushups with one leg off the floor

71.  Try pushups with one arm off the floor

72.  Do a pull up or pull up assist instead of a lat pull down

73.  Try one armed pull ups

74.  Climb a rope, pole, tree, mountain or wall instead of pull ups

75.  Do a row from a push up position instead of a standing position

76.  Use a stability ball instead of a bench

77.  Do twenty burpees at the end of your workout before you cool down.

78.  Do twenty jump squats at the end of your workout before you cool down.

79.  Do forty jumping jacks at the end of your workout before you cool down.

80.  Do thirty pushups at the end of your workout before you cool down.

81.  Hit a punching bag as hard as you can.

82.  Get heavier boxing gloves

83.  Get heavier jump ropes

84.  Try criss cross jump ropes

85.  Try hopping on one leg

86.  Try squat jumping with a jump rope

87.  Try jumping up once while spinning the rope twice.

88.  Try jumping up once while spinning the rope thrice.

89.  Just jump faster

90.  Do your workouts faster

91.  Do you workouts slower

92.  See how many reps you can do with a lighter weight

93.  See how many reps you can do with a heavier weight

94.  Do as many reps as you can with a light weight, then do the second set with a heavier weight and switch off.

95.  Take longer rest periods but use heavier weights (just don’t rest for too long)

96.  Only give yourself a certain amount of time to do as many reps as you can.

97.  See if you can beat your time.

98.  Race your friends

99.  Do multiple muscle exercises (for example, instead of just squatting, add thrust press to your workout and make it a squat thrust so you are working your upper and lower body at the same time. Bicep curls isolate the biceps but pull ups work the upper back and biceps.)

100.Do a burpee to a squat thrust

101.Instead of doing leg lifts from the floor, do it while hanging from a bar

102.Do crunches or sit ups from an incline or hanging upside down

103.Do planks instead of crunches

104.Do pikes or jack knives instead of crunches or planks

105.Do planks with one arm or leg off the floor

106.Do pushups with your feet on the wall

107.Try military push ups

108.Try handstand push ups

109.Run, walk, lunge or skip in the beach sand

110.Play soccer on the sand instead of on the grass

111.Run, walk, lunge or skip up a sand dune

112.Go for a walk during your lunch break or after dinner