Thursday, August 22, 2013

It Depends...

How quickly can I lose this weight?
How hard should I be working out?
How many carbs should I be eating?
What supplements will help attain goal "X"?

The answer begins with the two words above: It Depends

So often, it's easy to forget the goal we're after. Is it strength, weight loss, better stamina, better sex life, all of the above simultaneously?

Let's cover the givens:

Genetics will always play a significant part. Whatever ratio you want to attribute to your overall results (20,30,40%)
Consistency is crucial. Do you give the program your all 1,2, or 3 days in a row?
How high is your stress level and how well do you cope?
How are you sleeping? How many hours of quality deep sleep?
Oh yeah, before I forget, how young are you? 28 or 68? Makes quite a difference...

There is no ideal circumstance. There is only YOUR circumstance. And the results, no matter how they come, depend almost solely on YOU.

Granted, you can hire someone like me. Or you can find your answers from a website/magazine/book. Join a class, fitness community, or you can keep sitting around at your desk hoping your results will come via osmosis...Let me know how that last one works out for you!

It's important, if not vital, to appreciate and embrace your differences and realize the path you're on is one only you can discover success on. Not what your best friend saw success with (although that may happen).

Where it all gets confusing is the massive amount of information getting poured on you no matter where you go. Should you be training like the elite? Should you starve yourself for faster results. Maybe you'll just say screw it and get cosmetic surgery.

Remember the mass media is spending millions trying to persuade you into a given direction. You can't visit a single website these days without a banner ad telling you how strong, thin, or invincible their amazing product can make you. There are pyramid schemes with supplements to dazzle you with effectiveness and make you rich with promises of endless residual income. What's not to like and be enticed by?

It (all) depends.

My questions to you: How hard will you work to get results you can be proud of? How patient can you be to try different options and stick with something diligently before you determine it's efficacy?

The good news: there is something out there for every BODY. The one thing you can't afford to do is rush the results or sit on your butt hoping for that proverbial pill to get your attention.

We can decipher the rest of the nonsense for you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Elimination Diet

See if this sounds familiar: You've just read/watched/heard about some nutrient or food group that is going to wreak complete havoc on your body and shorten your lifespan if you continue to consume it. And this wasn't just any old piece of alarmist media, it comes straight from the mouth of (insert trusted media journalist, internet guru or talkshow doctor here).

What should you do?

Let me get this disclaimer out of the way first. This message pertains only to people who are not removing foods because of religious or ethical reasons. If, for example, you are completely opposed to the handling of animals for food and as such have chosen to be vegan/vegetarian, I'm not touching that one. I respect anyone's beliefs and think you should stand your ground accordingly.

But for the REST of you...and believe me, that's a lot...

Let's pick on a good buzz topic: gluten.

However, you can insert anything here: dairy, red meat, etc.

We will also need to do some simple mathematics.

Suppose you are a somewhat overweight individual who consumes an average of 2000 calories a day. You have just read a highly inflammatory book about the terrors of gluten. You sit and examine your diet and it looks something like this:

Bagel with cream-cheese for breakfast (Bruegger's?)
Turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch (Panera?)
Spaghetti and meatballs for dinner (Olive Garden?)

If the aforementioned book got you all unnerved, you would take a diet like this and change it to:

2 eggs for breakfast
Chicken salad for lunch
Pork chops and broccoli for dinner

After 1 month of dietary changes like this, you lose 10lbs. You make the somewhat safe assumption that gluten was to blame and you're never having another piece of bread, cookie, cracker, pasta again.

However, you've forgotten a slight detail. Without even remotely cracking a calorie count, by eliminating all gluten products from the first mealplan you have cut back on your calories by 500-800 a day. It's very safe to assume that you have lost weight not because of lack of gluten but because of a decrease in total calories. Had you taken the first mealplan and cut back on portion sizes to net the same total intake the results would have been...about the same.

But wait! That same gluten bashing book also said that I would have less soreness, bloating, and overall crankiness if I pulled it out of my diet and when I took it out I FELT SO MUCH BETTER!!!

This is, in many ways, anecdotal at best. And here we have the PLACEBO EFFECT.

If you trust the source of your information and you convince yourself that if you follow THAT PLAN, you will feel/look/perform better then there is good reason to assume that you will. In addition, if you were to carelessly eat a piece of bread one evening on your gluten-free diet you may tell yourself through every bite "I'm really going to feel like crap because of this bread". Then guess probably will feel like crap. And yet again, you will blame gluten for all of your life's miseries.

Life/Diet/Health, my friends, is all about BALANCE. Unfortunately, some people hear that word and they equate it to walking on a tightrope with their eyes closed and a hard breeze blowing against them.

Let me clear the air of one more thing too. There are SOME people who have legitimate allergies, which have been tested for, diagnosed, and advised with. If you have Celiac disease, by all means, stay away from gluten.

I can also safely say that it's more likely we all have a threshold. For instance, I might be able to tolerate 8-10 ounces of dairy products a day. You, on the other hand, might only be able to tolerate 4-6 ounces. This is closer to reality.

Make rational decisions with your food, if you feel the need to experiment with different portions and intake amounts of different food groups and nutrients, by all means DO IT.

But playing the elimination game not only can have negative physical ramifications but can screw with your mental perception of food as well.

Need guidance? We can help.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Knowing How, When and Why To Stop

Funny things happen in the health and wellness industry. Sometimes funny (like HA-HA) and sometimes funny (like puzzling and bizarre). One constant that seems to keep popping up is the rampant trend of individuals not knowing when to put the brakes on a given behavior/exercise/action. 

Perhaps you've heard the old joke that goes something like this: 

Man walks into his doctor's office and says "Doc, it hurts when I go like this."

The doctor, very matter-of-factly, says "Then don't do that".

So, what's the problem exactly? 

We tend to fall into certain traps when it comes to behaviors we hope will make our body look and feel the way we want it to. I wish I could attribute it to one particular activity but it isn't that easy. So, I'll give you some examples I hope can illustrate my point. 

I'd like to affectionately recall a conversation I had with a client of mine just last week. This individual is always in a fantastic mood. Always smiling, always upbeat. Never an unkind word drops from her mouth. She also is more active than any other person I currently know. Yoga, tennis, golf, personal training. She literally never stops. To her credit I'll say, she's in great shape. But she has recently recovered from a fairly nasty injury and has been trying to regain full mobility of that joint again. While we continue to work in efforts to give her full strength back, I ask her how she's doing. She remarks the joint is pretty sore. When we target the issue directly, what we find is that she never stops moving. Every day contains an activity. I ask her if she's ever considered taking a day of recovery and that's when "the look" strikes. That look which innocently asks "What do you mean, recovery?" 

You see, as someone who people pay their hard-earned money to in efforts to get and keep them moving, you have to learn 

Elite athletes have to do it. And it isn't just because they push their bodies to the limits so often. We all have limits. We all have thresholds. Your body needs a break sometimes. Me personally, I take two days off each week. Usually Saturdays and Sundays. However, everyone is different. It has to be a trial and error experiment for you. 

If you find you're not getting as strong as you'd like, your soreness lingers for days on end, or your endurance/stamina capacity isn't improving your body may be screaming at you to give it a rest. 

It's not just about taking a day off though. 

It's amazing to me how many people I meet and work with who continue to perform an activity that their body clearly is not equipped to handle. So they injure and re-injure themselves and are never firing on all cylinders. I know this may come as a shock to some people but there are actually people out there who really have no business running. Or doing yoga. Or competitive cycling. Blame genetics. Blame biomechanics. Or maybe you need to get a more qualified coach to make sure your body is performing the way it should be on any given exercise. I'll be the first to say, I'm not the expert if you need a coach on proper running mechanics. That's something I would reach out to far more experienced people than myself for. 

Take a personal inventory and be honest with yourself about what's working and what isn't. Know when your body is telling you to back off a bit and rest or abandon a form of exercise altogether. You're not going to be perfect at every occupation and your body is not going to be amazing at every style of athletic movement. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Nation of Guinea Pigs

Imagine life if we could all live it the same basic way: eat similar diets and expect similar outcomes, take the same medicines when illness strikes and have similar results, etc.

As each of you well know; life sadly, is not like this. My diet doesn't look like yours, your body doesn't look like your neighbor. She's stronger, he's smarter. They make more money, and those over there have less opportunity.

Frustratingly, the media allows us to believe certain myths which allow us to believe greatness, perfection, and beauty are easily attainable. Especially for those genetically blessed celebrities who can spend all day with personal trainers, dietitians, and have nannies watch their children so parenting can take a backseat to physique and appearance.

The trick becomes: finding what works for YOU.

Some people need fewer carbs in their diets, some need more. Some people can eat grains and consume dairy products, others can't touch them. Prozac for you, Wellbutrin for your buddy. I think you get the picture.

Progress starts with admitting you're different, special. Not in a silly way. And your first step becomes driving yourself with patience. Patience is a difficult word from me. Those who know me will be the first to tell you, it's not a virtue I'm blessed in abundance with.

However, this is your body we're talking about. And it will take time to see any reasonable goals you hope to achieve. Just like it took time for you to be good or great at your job; parenting, marriage, etc.

Not to mention, most of us plan (or hope) to be on this earth for quite some time. To be healthy for our loved ones, to give back, whatever your burning motivation is.

In all seriousness, it's not just about the length of life but making damn sure the final years aren't completely a nuisance!

And it means, that despite all the best intentions and unforgiving deadlines, you have to be willing to experiment with yourself to find the right balance. Just the right foods in proportionate amounts and the best mix of exercise and rest. You'll have to be a proverbial guinea pig.

So, it's the middle of this fine summer week. If the heat doesn't slow you down, focus on YOU. Look at what food is doing to you. How it's making you behave. If you're happy with the image you see when you step out of the shower. Is there more (or less) you should be doing right now?

We're here to help.