Do you want to lose weight? Perhaps the measure of the scale isn’t actually helping you improve your fitness. In my personal training practice in St.Albert I like to coach my clients on the difference between losing weight and losing fat. Check out the video to learn:
Note: This article is a bit longer than my normal ones, so like an average Canadian (sorry about that) but this is also an important topic deserves a self confession, and an educational component that will actually give you the right tools to help you overcome common reasons “why” you eat that contribute to weight gain.
I remember it clear as a bell. It was curling night with the boys, the late draw and already past my bedtime. It was the final end and I have the last shot to win the game. Not only that, it’s a shot I have actually practiced the most. I lunge out and release the curling stone and watch… and yell, there is lots of yelling “HURRY HARD!” My heart starts racing, I see the stone curl more and more and my stomach falls to the floor, with a quarter of the way to go before the rock arrives at its destination I already know I missed the shot horribly.
And with the game in my hand we lost. Feeling defeated in yet another loss in my first year of curling in the mixed “fun league” I was furious with myself.
A quick hand shake with the other team and I got out of dodge in about 3 seconds flat. Angry with myself for letting my team down, on my way home I was bound and determined to do some damage. My aim was the Dairy Queen close by and a Peanut Buster Parfait. Sadly the DQ was already closed, but did that stop me from my “quest?” Oh heck no, I hit the brakes hard cut across a lane and drove into the parking lot of the gas station convenience store.
It was there I purchased 4 king sized chocolate bars. In the 800 meter drive from there to my house I had already eaten one of them. The other three had no chance either and in about 10 minutes from time of purchase I had consumed all 4 king size chocolate bars. That’s nearly 1700 calories.
Moments later I had calmed down and was “ok” with what I had just done and got back to healthier eating the next morning. Lucky for me.
But if this had been several years ago I would have not been “ok” I would have (on top of being angry with myself) been disappointed and felt really guilty. I would have also only known how to deal with that guilt by…. You guessed it, eating more chocolate. And the cycle would have continued beyond just one eating episode.
I’m sure you have been there in some form or another. Eating food that you didn’t really need to eat, or overeating meals not because you were hungry but because of some other reason that has nothing to do with nourishment.
We’ve all been there.
We will all be there again at some point.
But why does this happen? And what can we do about it?
Well let me first start off by guessing that you are a smart person. You basically know what to eat, the problem isn’t that. The problem you have to deal with is “WHY” you eat.
You see knowing what to eat and even how much to eat won’t make a lick of difference if you don’t address why you eat.
I have a nice little acronym for common reasons why we eat that cause many of us to gain weight.
It’s called B.E.A.S.T. eating.
And if the “BEAST” is getting you more than twice per week, it’s something I recommend you deal with if you want to be healthier. The great part about dealing with it isn’t just weight loss, it’s also a way of improving your stress management skills, and who wouldn’t want that?
B.E.A.S.T. stands for
Are any (or all) of these reasons above causing you to overeat or buy 4 king sized chocolate bars to crush in the blink of an eye? Then it’s time to put an end to that habit and take control… most of the time.
Why You Do This … It’s The Elephants Fault
When addressing “why” you eat. It’s important to recognize and understand what is going on with your brain at the time. There is no better way to talk about it than to use the way Dan and Chip Heath talk about it in their book “Switch”.
Think of your brain as two parts. The first part is your very large instinctual brain. It is emotional, irrational and has no capacity for language or foresight. Think of it as a large elephant.
The second part is a jockey on top of the elephant. This jockey represents your logical brain. The jockey is the one who has capacity for language, can rationalize things and has foresight.
When everything is content the little jockey can steer the elephant wherever it wants to go. But when the elephant is stressed enough to stampede, the logical thinking jockey has no hope of stopping this enormous animal. It’s just along for the ride.
Have you ever eaten too much or you keep eating chips at night while watching TV knowing you shouldn’t be doing that and yet it’s rewarding in the moment so you feel like you just can’t help yourself only to feel guilty about it after the moment is over?
When I purchased and rapidly consumed 4 king sized chocolate bars can you guess what part of my brain was in control at the time?
That whole cycle can be damaging. When these things happen you can now recognize that it’s the elephant that is in control. It’s also why you feel guilty afterwards, the logical brain knows better but just isn’t strong enough to stop it.
Here’s the real kick in the pants. When the jockey realizes what just happened and starts to feel guilty, that guilt is an emotion, which can put the elephant right back in control and the cycle continues and your waist line continues to grow with each cycle.
The key is to first become aware of what part of your brain is taking control. The second key is the learn how to calm the elephant down just before the stampede occurs and keep the jockey in control.
Of course this is going to take practice, which means you won’t be good at it right away, and that’s ok. You will also not be able to control the elephant all the time, that’s ok too. I’m going to give you some battle tested solutions to practice if you are a consistent “BEAST” eater.
Hint (Willpower alone won’t work, the elephant is too strong for that)
Solutions To “Why” You Eat — Battle Tested
With everything mentioned so far you’ve learned about common reasons why you eat that cause weight gain (BEAST) and how your brain works around stress which makes it very hard to control. (Elephant & The Jockey)
Here are Key solutions in order.
Step 1: Record
Start keeping a record of times you overeat or eat foods when you are not physically hungry. Write down why you did that. Write a B for boredom, E for emotional A for anxious etc. Notice any patterns and triggers that set you off.
Step 2: 3D Effect
The first physiological response in your body to stress is a change in your breathing. It sets off a cascade of muscle tension and heart rate changes that signal the brain to activate your adrenal glands. This is how the elephant brain knows how to take over. Among the hormones that get secreted in this process is Cortisol and it also aids in fat storing (BOO!). Great for our stone age ancestors… not so great for you who wants to fit into a smaller size pair of jeans.
To stop this cascade effect you want to practice catching that breath change and follow the 3D effect which is:
- Deep Breathe – STOP! Take 5 deep belly breaths and calm that elephant down.
- Drink Water – Practice making your next action to drink water, an action that has no ill-effects
- Distract – Distract yourself with something that will make you smile or stimulate you logical brain with an activity that requires focus.
The last 2 “D’s” actually create a nice time gap between an initial stressful thought and taking action which stops the elephant and puts the jockey in control.
For me I practice this every time before I check my email because the thought of checking my email makes me anxious which in the past has caused my to reach for a chocolate bar or overeat at lunch if I’m thinking about it as it’s my first task after lunch typically.
Step 3: Test The Jockey
Finally test the jockey using the 5-5-5-5 method and F.O.G.
5-5-5-5 method is a simple one that often reduces the severity of why you eat.
Simply ask yourself “is what ever bothering me going to matter…”
- 5 minutes from now
- 5 hours from now
- 5 days from now
- 5 month from now
You might find the level of severity be within the first 3 “5’s” and something you can laugh off and take a different action that your logical mind can come up with instead of eating.
F.O.G. is a simple acronym that is particularly effective at what’s causing you to want to stress eat.
Is what’s causing me stress based on a
When you do this FOG test you are simply getting yourself to think logically which is the part of your brain that can make the smartest decisions for your health.
So let’s recap:
- Why you eat can be the limiting factor that is causing you weight gain, even if you know what and how much you should be eating.
- You actually have two brains, your elephant and the jockey. The key is the make decisions with the jockey brain and not let the elephant to take control.
- When the B.E.A.S.T. is getting you more than twice a week, it’s something you should address
- Conquer that “B.E.A.S.T.” eating in 3 Steps
- 1. Keep a record of why you eat and become aware of your patterns
- 2. Practice the 3D effect
- Test the jockey brain with the 5-5-5-5 method and the F.O.G. test
Finally, acknowledge that you are human. This isn’t about perfection, getting control over your eating will take practice and you will have to learn to notice what you do and why without judgment. Once you become aware it’s easier to take control.
Put these strategies into practice and let me know how it goes for you. Happy Eating Everyone!
If you want more help you are welcome to contact me email@example.com and I am happy to learn more about you and help you in any way I can.
Lately, maybe it’s because more than half my of my clients are over 50, I have been having the conversation with quite a few clients about the importance of bone density as we age and I thought perhaps it’s something I should write about as it seems to be a benefit of exercise that gets missed… and it’s a very important one.
In addition to increasing your metabolism, aiding in fat loss, improving sleep and boosting your mood; exercise has the capacity to improve your bone density.
No one wants to lose their dependance, or miss out on that “bucket list” activity or skip that golf vacation because your bones were too weak to handle a fall, or hold up to the rigours of repetitive movements like snow shovelling, golf swings, gardening, or even everyday movements at work.
And while it’s common to think that bone density is a concern only if you are at a “certain age”, think again. Yes it’s true as we age bone density doesn’t become an even bigger reason why exercise is so important. But here is the thing, starting early improves your chances at prevention.
Post-Menopausal woman, thin women with family history of osteoporosis and men with low testosterone levels are at the highest risk of having weaker bones and should be taking action to slow the bone deterioration down or even improve it. (yes you can do that). Younger women and men who are not actively exercising might want to start making it a priority because you will be adding bone density earlier and giving yourself the best opportunity to maintain strong bones as you age.
With all of that being said what does the research tell us about how to increase bone density?
Well there are 4 exercises that are well documented in aiding your bone density.
- Brisk Walking
– Walking at an up tempo pace is something almost anyone can do anywhere.
Start with a brisk 10minute walk everyday after lunch or dinner and work your way up to 30minutes.
– You can do squats in many difference ways, hold a weight in your hand close to your chest, bodyweight only, sitting back on a bench and standing back up or if you can handle it even squat down and jump up. Which ever squat you do always make sure you start the movement from your hips first and the knee bend second.
Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 squats resting 1minute between sets 3 days a week
- Step Ups/Lunges
– Step ups or lunges are my favourite bone builder exercises because they also add an element of single leg activity which directly transfers into real life.
Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 lunges per leg resting 1minute between sets 2 days a week
– The exercise you can do to maintain upper body bone health is the pushup. The good news is if you can’t do a pushup on the ground you can try incline pushups and as you get stronger you can go lower. I start a lot of my clients off doing counter top pushups, taking it slow and controlled.
Aim for 203 sets of 10-15 pushups resting 1minute between sets 2-3 day a week
Of course there are a couple of factors that I have to mention if you want any sort of benefit from these exercises.
A: You have to make it challenging for your body. The intensity of the exercises has to be just slightly out of your comfort zone. Push yourself to do as many reps as you can stopping about 1-2 reps short of failure. Meaning when you think you can bear to do 1 or 2 more reps with good form that’s a good time to stop, rest a minute and repeat the exercise.
B: You have to be consistent. The benefits of exercising comes from being consistent week in week out. The hardest part perhaps is being consistent so it’s important to plan out when you will workout beforehand.
If you have questions about exercising and increasing your bone health, let me know I am happy to help. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s pretend it’s “THAT” Monday. You know, the one where you said you would start your new workout routine or diet program.
Perhaps you’ve gone down this road before and tried to lose some weight and get into better shape. But for what ever reason it just didn’t stick. We often chalk it up to losing motivation or decide that you just aren’t a “fit” person.
Let’s make this time different. Let’s do this “get fit” thing in a way that it actually sticks, and where you still get to enjoy thanksgiving pies and a daily dose of chocolate.
And Let’s do it with outlining your keys to fitness success in 3 steps.
Step 1: Forget Motivation, Embrace The “Strategic Habit System”
– Motivation is like a wave, it peaks for a time then dissipates, that’s it’s nature and while we can take advantage of the wave when it comes, we need something else to keep us going when the wave of motivation dissipates. That’s where having a strategy in place is key.
More specifically a strategy based on building habits that produce the fit body you want.
Part of the strategy is picking just 1 or 2 things (no more) that you can confidently say yes to being able to do consistently.
Here are 3 examples:
a. Only veggies after 7pm most nights
b. Have only 4 or less calorie containing drinks a week
c. 10minutes of a simple 3 exercise circuit most mornings at 7am (Plank, Squat, Pushup)
Step 2: Start Where You Are – Do What You Can
– We often get caught up in comparing our efforts to others and feel we need to do what they are doing. Or we feel we need to be doing everything all at once and at 100% efficiency otherwise what’s the point. Either way, that never attitude always ends with feeling defeated and thus we give up.
This time practice more self-compassion, instead of focusing on what you are not doing and what you can’t do, take an honest look at your lifestyle, your knowledge and the support around you and start with where you are at right now and focus on what you can do and stay focused on only those things.
Every few weeks evaluate and if you can do more, then do more.
Step 3: Record Your Actions
There is a saying I like to use, “if it doesn’t get tracked it doesn’t get changed.”
Those who record the actions they are working on increase their results by 100%. That’s a big pay off for doing something as simple as writing it down. With my own clients I have them keep a journal and recommend they write down the actions we are working on. You don’t have to write anything more than just those 1 or 2 actions, and once those actions become habitual, then we get to pick another 1 or 2 actions and repeat.
When you start recording your actions, make your first goal to be consistent, then to make progress because consistency, if that has eluded you in the past, is progress in of itself. Perhaps the best part about recording your actions is that it takes the guesswork out the equation. You know exactly how you are doing and can use that knowledge to your advantage and truly make sustainable changes in the way you look and feel.
Use motivation when it comes, but ultimately have a strategy in place that builds sustainable habits that work for you. Stay focused on the things you can do, and take out the guesswork by recording your actions daily so you can repeat the process and continue to make new habits that support your weight loss and fitness goals.
And as always if you need help, you need only ask.
Before I get into the 2 surprising things I want to give a huge shout out to one of our members Samriti who has been working hard on her weight loss goals and as a result has lost significant inches!
I also want to give a big thank you to one of our great trainers Val Keats for working with Samriti among others and doing such a great job. I am thrilled to have a great trainer on my team and am truly grateful for the opportunity to help Samriti and all of our clients.
With that being said, there are 2 things that I notice with all clients that tend to achieve sustainable results:
Now I know what you’re expecting me to say. You think I’m going to say something like, “You need exercise and proper nutrition to lose weight”… right?
Well you’re in for a treat.
Those things are needed, but you probably don’t want to read another article about that stuff right now. In fact, you’re probably tired of the same old articles that you read about online – that’s why you read my stuff 🙂
Thank you for reading, by the way!
Here are 2 lesser-known things that you need to lose weight.
1) The mindset that failure is NOT possible. I’ve worked with a lot of clients over the years and one thing I regularly hear is how they’ve failed in the past. I completely understand what they’re saying and I get the sentiment. They set a goal and didn’t reach it and that equals failure.
But failure feels absolute. It feels like a giant period at the end of long run on sentence. It feels permanent. It makes me feel that the journey I was on is now impossible. Done. Over. Pack up my suitcase and head home.
However, over time I have come to think of failure as part of the journey – not the end. I like to think of it as something we all MUST go through in order to succeed.
I also like to deflate its ego a bit. Failure is not some big massive concrete barrier that cannot be overcome. While it is an obstacle, it’s more like a river in the woods that we have to cross in order to continue on the trail. It’s temporary.
It’s hard to figure out how to safely cross, but it’s possible and well worth the effort it takes. However most important are the lessons we learn as we try to cross. What works, what doesn’t, how we felt, what emotions popped up, and so on. It’s this stuff that makes the next river easier to cross.
2) The mindset that success is NOT the end point. This one always takes people for a loop. After all, we spend our entire lives being told that we must have a goal – that we need to work towards a specific point in the future and when we reach that point we will achieve success.
But I’ve come to learn that in this process we have also come to identify success as some mystical and magical place that when reached… solves all of our problems.
Success, just like failure, is not a permanent or immovable object. When we reach our goal we may have a temporary feeling of success, but it is just temporary. We spend a bit of time here celebrating our victory and our accomplishment, but then something funny happens – we start to wonder what’s next. We set a new goal.
Success is not the end point, but instead it is an indicator. It’s simply a lighthouse that guides us. When the light house allows us to reach safe shores, we may rest for a bit of time and revel in the journey thus far, but we also pick up our bags and move towards our next destination – or our next goal.
I hope that made some sense to you.
Have a wonderful Long Weekend Everyone!
The other day I was catching up with a friend and past client who recently has been struggling with her fitness post life-changing event.
While we were talking I could tell she was not her usual confident self.
At one point in our conversation I had to stop her and say,
“Hold on a moment, that’s not you talking, those are just the Gremlins in your head.”
Taken off guard she paused or a moment trying to process that statement and with a curious look she asked what the heck does that mean?
I told her that the words she is using are coming from the Gremlins in her head,
Those sneaky Gremlins like to fill your thoughts and words with swears that under-mind your confidence, take away choice and create absolutes in your head making it very difficult to grow as a person, keep an open mind or have a healthy self esteem.
And without the right mindset it’s very hard to make changes in your fitness. (or anything else for that matter)
Gremlins like to trap you, and keep you down.
My friend asked me “What words am I … or is the Gremlin using?”
I told her about the 6 major swear words that Gremlins feed off of.
– Have To
Of course there can be more, and the context in which you speak with these words and others can be equally troubling.
All of these words have the power to take away choice – As my friend was telling me “I can’t workout, just not enough time in the day” she has just taken away a choice to even go for a 10 minute walk (which later on we rectified)
My friend asked me about all the statements she made where I heard the Gremlins.
“I should have never stopped working out” – She just under minded her own confidence. That was you choice, its ok if you thought it was a mistake, learn and answer the questions “what’s next for you”
“I have to lose this muffin top by June” – That absolute statement sets you up to feel unworthy and likely to give up if June 1st passes and you didn’t reach 100% of your goal.
I asked her “What if you only lose part of your muffin top by June, will you give up because you didn’t get all of the way there?”
“Of course not!” she replied …. “Oh I see what you mean, I guess I don’t have to lose my muffin top by June, but I would like to work on getting as much of it off as I can.”
That statement is a lot better, it’s not an absolute it’s about doing what she can do and of course knowing that she can keep working on it if June comes and goes and she hasn’t lost all of what she wanted she won’t give up.
Imagine stressfully saying “I have to” for weeks on end how draining that would be. Imagine what you would feel like if you got to June 1st and you didn’t do what you’ve been telling yourself you “have to” do for weeks and months on end. Imagine how that effects your mood your energy and if you don’t accomplish 100% of it imagine how that makes you feel then.
Everybody has them, they are often so subtle they go unnoticed but if you are aware of them you stand a chance at stopping them from ruling your thoughts and words.
This week I want you to think about your thoughts about your fitness goals, your abilities and motivations to be fit and lose weight.
If you notice any Gremlins controlling your thoughts, use that awareness to change your statements and rid yourself of the Gremlins in your head.
Special Thanks To My Coach “Coach Joseph” for helping me see and catch the Gremlins in my head.
(Photo Courtest News Toyark)
I have lost count of how many times client’s or people seeking out advice about weight loss have talked to me about how frustrated they are that with all their effort, it just doesn’t seem to be working for them.
The tension in their necks, the defeated look on their face and the devastation in their voice is enough to break your heart (at least if you’re a fitness coach who cares like me).
Over the years I’ve had to play the “fat loss detective” on several hundred occasions and I’ve seen quite a few things that can stop fat loss dead in it’s tracks, and sometimes when you are putting in an effort to lose fat and it’s not coming off, the reasons why are not always apparent especially when it feels like you are doing everything right.
So for those of you who are already putting in the effort, but are seeing your fat loss stall out, these tips are for you.
- You’re super stressed out
I thought I would get the most usual suspect out of they right here. Stay with me because this first one is kind of long. High stress can stall our your fat loss effort big time. When you have high or prolonged stress your hormones start to work against you in terms of fat loss.
One thing that pains me as that quite often if fat loss doesn’t happen fast enough, or if you have a “perfectionist” mindset or an already poor attitude around food or exercise it typically adds to the stress, often to the point where logic and science no longer matter and you become vulnerable to the fast “fad” bull crap that’s out there which for a short time relieves your stress with the short term results… only to heighten your stress when the effects of the fad wear off and you are left heavier and more exhausted than ever.
I am sure many of you reading this article will see some of these tips below as things that have also caused you stress and you will be able to see just how stressing about them just compounds against you.
So how do you get over your stress?
There is no one single way, everyone is different and had different needs to relax. In fact I will have to one day write a series of articles on this one topic, it’s that important. But until then let me give you a few examples:
Take my client Caitlynn for our first example. When her stress goes up her fat loss stalls, if it’s just going to be a knowingly stressful month before things get back to “normal” we don’t worry about it, instead we focus on the types of exercises that make her feel strong and invigorated as exercise is always a great way to de-stress if you are focusing on the positive benefits rather than (“I have to do this to lose fat OR ELSE”)
Another client of mine is a stress fiend. She has struggled with stress all her life. She chose a high stress career and demands so much from herself that when she doesn’t get fast results with her fat loss it just makes things that much worse. For her, it takes some straight talk about the science of fat loss and some mandated rituals that we came up with in her everyday life to help her relax more. Creating rituals that provide a mental break and some self love went a long way for her to be able to calm her emotions down, focus on her actions rather than the outcomes and as a result her fat loss started to pick up again.
If you fat loss has stalled ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 how stressed are you in life, how much stress does working on fat loss cause you? If you are 7 or more you might want to talk to your coach about what you can do to get that stress down.
- You aren’t tracking so we don’t know for sure
If you are putting in a solid effort but have no data then it’s very difficult to be accountable to yourself or a coach that’s helping you. In this case the simple solution is ask yourself exactly what I would ask my clients… “Show me”. Often when we want to change something, what gets tracked gets changed. Eventually those changes become habits and you no longer need to track them, but in the beginning it can make all the difference in the world.
3.You are having too many licks sips nibbles and bites between meals
My client Evan was seemingly doing everything right, but not losing any more fat after a drop of 20pounds over the fall. I asked him to write down everything we ate for a week, even if a fly flew into his mouth, he was to record it. Turns out Evan would eat Hershey’s Kisses from his office mate’s desk several times a day, then at home he would munch while cooking dinner for his family. Those little nibbles and bites really add up and once we saw that he put a stop to it and voila, fat loss was back on track.
- You have unrealistic expectations
Sometimes fat loss has nothing to do with… well fat loss. There are one of three things going on here. Either you think you should be losing it faster which is common if you are experienced with going on diets for many years. (Permanent fat loss doesn’t happen this way) or you lost a lot of fat already but to get to the next level what worked before is not going to be enough and there will have to be addition sacrifices that you will have to determine if it’s even worth it or if just working on being strong, healthy and happy is enough for you.
(Side note: If you are determined to get really “ripped” but it’s going to sacrifice your quality of life and risk your health I am not the trainer for you, I refuse to participate in lowering a person’s quality of life and health)
Thirdly, you might be already quite lean and suffer from a dismorphia of some kind (you look in the mirror and see a terrible flabby body which is not proportionate to what you actually are).
- You determine your success by the number on the scale
There is a difference between weight loss and fat loss, sorry to say but the scale is not a great way to measure fat loss. Weight loss is just that, you total weight including muscle mass, fat mass, bone density, stomach content, blood volume, skin etc. When people tell me the want to lose weight, upon deeper conversations it’s more about looking leaner (more toned) feeling stronger, healthier, having more body confidence and confidence in who they are and what they can do. It’s also about defying “age” and reducing risk of injury. Tell me, how can you possibly sum all of that up by stepping on a scale? And yet everyone does it, and some do it to the detriment of their day (“I stepped on the scale, I was .0045 pounds heavier, my entire day is ruined…. Again.”) I had a client almost a decade ago Olivia. She lost 7 inches from her hips chest and waist combined in 6 weeks, but the scale went up 2 pounds so she gave up. I have never been able to get in touch with her so I don’t know how she faired after that experience. All I know is that in spite of telling her what an awesome job she had done, and to “F” the scale, she could get passed it.
Don’t do that to yourself. You are worth so much more.
- You simply have no patience
Program jumpers, diet hopers, high intensity everything chasers…. STOP. Take a step back, close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose and exhale twice as long through the mouth. Ok I’m going to tell you something you might not want to hear, but it needs to be said. Fat loss… permanent fat loss takes time, it takes lifestyle change and making new habits one at a time. Changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen over night, there are no short cuts and no it doesn’t happen linearly, you are going to have ups and down. Changing these things is hard work, it usually requires gaining more knowledge, having support, accountability (until you can be self accountable) it takes self love not self loathing, and it takes making mistakes and learning from them, that’s why having a coach is in my opinion so important. Life will ebb and flow, thousands of factors will be altered from one week to the next (the more hectic your life is the more factors you have). Learning how to make those changes in the wake of that by focusing on how you can be just 1% better is the key.
My client Erin was struggling to lose fat, some things came up in her life after a huge amount of fat loss had occurred. I was able to coach her through and stay patient and focus on what she CAN do right now in her program (not jumping to something else). It’s like driving in dense fog at night, you don’t need to see the whole way, just enough ahead of you to keep going. Well we got through the “fog” and ended up losing another 60 pounds some time down the road.
- You Think You Can Out Train Your Eating
I’ve said it and wrote it a million times, but it bears repeating at least once more; “You can’t out train your diet”. Exercise is important for sustaining weight loss, regulating hormones, being healthy and yes it adds to calories burning to give your fat loss a boost…. But only if your eating is on point. If you workout then go and overeat (a whole food meal or something else) you won’t be able to lose body fat.
Former clients of mine, a husband and wife duo who have since moved to Calgary (you know who you are) but are still Oilers fans first started training with me to lose fat and thought if they just started working out they would lose a bunch of weight. Unfortunately in the beginning they didn’t lose all that much making no changes in how they ate. Yes they go stronger, and yes they did lose some inches, and health benefits soared and all that good stuff, but their pants were still the same size. Needless to say they were frustrated until they finally started tracking what they ate, and made small changes at a time. As a result of changing how they ate (eating distraction free until satisfied not stuffed, exchanging juice for water and less sugar all around) they were able to lose a combined 70ish pounds.
- You are struggling with too much
Have you ever tried to lose weight and decided to make a complete overhaul of everything all at once? How did that work for you in the long run? Most of the time we think that in order to make a change we have to do it all “right now!” Soon after all those changes overwhelm us and when life takes over we just can’t keep that up and eventually slide back to where we were before doing all that entire “overhaul” thing. Plain and simple for about 92% of us doing everything at once doesn’t work.
You want to workout harder, with more exercises, you want to master eating all of your meals, meal prepping, going out to eat etc. like a boss.
Look, all of those things will come in time, but for the moment focusing on just one or two things and doing them really, really well will get you far better results than doing a whole bunch of things while just barely holding on and stressing out about it (see tip #1).
The theme you want to embody à “Less But Better, and More Often”
Here is a simple way to start:
- Get really strong at 3-4 exercises first (maybe even less). 1 pushing, 1 pulling, 1 lower body, 1 core. You don’t need the next “fancy” celebrity move that got so and so’s butt to pop in that Oscar nominated movie, the best bodies are masters of fundamental movement.
- Get really good a 1-2 fundamental nutritional changes at a time. In tip #6 I talked about being patient. Masters of fat loss are masters of the fundamentals of eating meaning they consistently practice them over and over again.
- Get your attitude right one thought at a time. It’s easy to have those pesky mental “gremlins” put those nasty and demotivating words in your head, forget those suckers. Start by focusing on what you CAN do and why you CHOOSE to take action. Attitude is in most cases the game changer.
- You “let go” on the weekends
You were a perfect prince or princess during the week but on the weekends it’s time to let loose and your eating goes to the wayside. This is a huge problem for a few reasons. First obviously is that the amount of food and drink you put in your mouth on the weekend could be even more than what you cut back on during the week. But the second reason this is troublesome is because it fall inline with the typical “dieters” mentality. Your eating should be for life and eating healthy isn’t a punishment to get through the week until you can’t take it any more and eat poorly on the weekend because you needed a vacation from your eating. That’s no way to live. Your eating habits and your mindset around them need to give you peace of mind, and become a “it’s just what I do” and not be a chore or a bore.
One of my Vanessa clients (I have a handful who go by that name) is a prime example of someone who used to chow down on the weekends after a great week. We worked on eating until 80% full and eating slowly no matter what she was eating or where. This resulted in a much easier action for the weekends and to enjoy eating something other than salad and chicken during the week. Eventually as we worked on her portion control and how to do it with flexibility in her nutrition she was able to successfully get out of that “diet on the week, cinnibon & red wine galore on the weekend” mentality. As a result her habits have helped her drop a few jeans sizes and keep it off… easily.
- Your Sleep Sucks
Maybe the biggest reason for stalled fat loss aside from stress is sleep… or lack there of. Now I know many clients have hectic lives and don’t sleep very well due to spouses sleep habits or pets needing to be let out at 2:51am and again at 4:03am or a cat that decides to get up to no good in the kitchen and you think it’s a burglar and you run down the stairs with a bat ready to defend your life, then you see said cat on the counter with a broken glass on the floor and you look at the bat then the cat and for second you think…. Oh sorry where was I? Oh yes lack of sleep.
Getting 7-9 quality hour of sleep is the greatest “detox” you can ever do to your body. (Sorry those detox diets are complete bunk). You body goes through metabolic processes and a hormonal reset when you are sleeping. Lacking sleep can put those processes in jeopardy making fat loss harder as well as your focus and keeping a positive mood. Oh and lack of sleep and all the hormonal issues it can cause will likely give you food cravings for sweets.
I have had many clients with terrible sleep habits, typically we look to change their pre-sleep rituals to help them calm down, relax the mind and body. With practice their new ritual becomes a stabilizing factor that helps them sleep better, longer and de-stress. It’s another game changer for a lot of struggling fat loss clients.
- You are not very NEAT
NEAT is an acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. There are some people that workout but then sit all day from work to watching TV. In those cases your NEAT is very low and so your calorie needs in the day is low. But then you get someone like my client John who has made an effort to boost his step count every day (aiming for 10,000 now). Being active outside of your workout means you burn more calories in the day. Going for walks, dancing and playing are all great way to get more NEAT in your day and like interest on your investments, it’s not a lot when you look at just one day, but it adds up and make a bigger impact when done consistently day in day out.
So there you have it… phew that was a long one wasn’t it? I sure hope you found something of use in here and if you have any questions or would like to add a 12th know that my door is open as are my ears.
For the past several months much of my life has included playing with my one and half year old son while being bombarded with cartoons who sing songs that sadly continue to play/haunt in your dreams.
Needles to say, it’s been really fun and I am blessed.
One show in particular is my son’s favorate. It’s called “Super Why” and there is a powerful lesson from this show that applies to real world change psychology.
So if you are looking to make a change in your health and fitness or any other area in your life for that matter, this lesson is for you.
While it’s mainly a show about letters learning to read and a simple life lesson like “share with others”; in every episode the story things don’t go right for one of the characters and thus no happy ending.
That’s where “Super Why” comes in, (a boy with the power to read). Super Why changes words in the story to take it from a sad ending to a happy ending.
For example: “From – Mrs. Clark “falls into” the hole. To – Mrs. Clark “jumps over” the hole.
Now this all seems like child’s play, and you might be saying “Robin, what the heck does this have to do with me getting into better shape?”
It’s simple. We all have a story, a narrative we tell ourselves about whom we are.
That story is powerful, it shapes our decisions, has the power to limit ourselves or make us become who we want to be.
Think about the story you tell yourself does say anything like this:
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t like exercise
- I don’t eat vegetables
- Other people are better than me
- I’m not going to do that… what will people think?
- I can’t stop eating cake
- I’m out of control
- I can’t lose weight
- I can’t (insert any more I can’t statements here)
- I’m not worth it
If these are the type narratives you say to yourself then it’s time to pull a “Super Why” and change your story.
Here is an exercise I want you to do ASAP… and don’t take this lightly… it works.
Write down 3 narratives you tell yourself on a consistent basis.
Now change some of the words to something that you would rather say about yourself.
- I can’t lose weight -> I will lose weight
- I can’t stop eating cake -> I can cake in small portions
- I don’t like exercise -> I like how hip thrusts make my butt look
Review what you wrote down every morning, and every night for 14 days.
Consider this your 14-day mindset transformation challenge.
You may not believe that story immediately and that’s ok.
Give it time.
Be aware of it.
Start to embody your new narrative.
So what’s your story?
I love Halloween. It’s a fun time when you can get fit with a an elite yet down to earth personal trainer in St.albert like me and do it with a smile on your face while doing exercises that mimic things you might have to do to survive a zombie outbreak.
My clients Emily and John (retired local business owners) love how the workouts improve their energy, mobility and functional strength so they can live an active and happy retirement.
Make no mistake, a fun “zombie outbreak workout” can test your fitness ability in a real world way. So not only are clients having fun, they are measuring themselves against potential real world situations that could happen at any time.
To survive the “zombie outbreak” you have to:
- Have the strength to get down on the ground and stand back up… with not assistance (if you want to get up after falling down anywhere you need to be able to do this)
- Crawl on all fours (want to play with small children? Or have to paint base boards?)
- Carry extra weight for distance (have to carry your kids hockey bag a few blocks? how about your luggage across five terminals at the airport with only a few minutes to spare?)
- Lift weights from the floor (from groceries, to kids to moving furniture)
- Move quickly (You might need to save a child from wondering off after that dog who just went across the street, or quickly run out to catch the bus or airplane)
- Stamina (It’s not fun getting tired out from a short walk, there goes your dream of enjoying that European vacation being a delight, or when the elevator is out and you have 6 flights of stair to take it’s nice to feel confident that you have the endurance to make it up without being winded)
Now if you are reading this and those tasks above feel like they would be a challenge for you and limits you from living a better quality of life, why not do something about that?
Wouldn’t it be better to feel confident in your physical ability to handle everyday life with ease? Wouldn’t it be better to have more energy and zest for life?
If you said yes to the above two questions, book a chat with me and let’s create a healthy lifestyle that works for you.
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Season with 2 teaspoons rosemary, and salt and pepper. Roast, stirring once halfway through, until the squash is just tender and golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool until just warm, about 15 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, peel 3 tangerines and slice them crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, removing any seeds. Juice the remaining tangerine and whisk the juice together with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Combine the warm squash, the spinach, tangerine slices and cranberries with the dressing and toss gently to coat. Divide among salad plates.
Photograph by Kana Okada
Recipe courtesy of Marcela Valladolid for Food Network Magazine
It’s Wednesday morning and you’ve just rolled out of bed to start your day. By the time your feet touch the floor to stand up and move off the bed your muscles are hit with a deep soreness. Your mind has a flashback to Monday’s workout and all of those lunges, planks and pushups you did. For a brief moment you question your sanity for actually participating in this “exercise” thing. But then you come to your senses and realize that you are investing in getting results and living a healthy lifestyle.
Half of you reading this will say, “Yes, I love that feeling, it’s a sign of a good workout!” (And I’m just as twisted and sadistic as my coach)
While the other half will say “Oh no I must be so out of shape, I hate this feeling!” (My coach is insane!)
No matter what your “enjoyment” of the soreness also called DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) it shouldn’t really be the goal of your workout… unless you’re literally working out to for the soreness and for no other reason, then by all means try this workout:
100 Jump Squats, 100 Sit Ups, 100 Lunges… Put 4 “Mentos” candies in your mouth and wash it down with a liter of diet coke and drop a 10-pound dumbbell on your baby toe and call it a day. You’ll be sore right away and for days afterwards.
Ok, now that you’ve though about which of your friends is naïve enough to convince taking the Mentos & diet coke, it’s time to get back to reality.
Soreness is sometimes a by-product of your workouts due to various factors that are not entirely known. Science can say that one of those factors is micro-tears in the connective tissues caused by greater stimulus than it is used to. That’s why you get sore more often when you are just starting to workout… almost everything is a new stimulus to your body.
But guess what, regardless of if you get sore or not your workouts can produce amazing results if you are searching for the right clues.
Here are some tell tale signs your workout kicks butt:
- You are getting stronger week in, week out
- You have more endurance
- You are more mobile
- You are enjoying it
- You sleep better
- You are less stressed or handle stress better
- Your health is improving (cholesterol, more energy, less body fat)
Oh and if you are looking for a quick and effective workout for building strength, total body endurance and fat burning sign up for my workout of the month HERE
1. Make sauce: Combine yogurt, dill, oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and chill until used.
2. Heat grill to medium-high (about 450°).
3. Make salad: Cut cucumbers lengthwise into paper-thin strips, preferably with a mandoline. Put in a bowl with herbs and shallot; chill until used. In another bowl, mix oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; set dressing aside.
4. Prepare salmon: Rub all over with oil and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Fold a 12- by 20-in. sheet of heavy-duty foil in half crosswise. With a knife tip, poke dime-size holes through foil about 2 in. apart. Oil one side of foil.
5. Set foil with oiled side up on cooking grate. Set fillets slightly separated, skin side down, on foil. Grill, covered, until fish is barely cooked through, 7 to 12 minutes. With a wide spatula, slide fish from skin to a platter and tent with foil. If you want crisp skin, continue to cook skin on foil until crisp, 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove foil from grill, then gently peel off skin, using your fingers or a wide spatula (skin may break into pieces).
6. Set crisp skin, if using, on plates and set the salmon on top. Discard any liquid from cucumber mixture in bowl, then quickly toss mixture with dressing and mound on fish. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs. Serve immediately with yogurt sauce (salmon skin will soften as it stands).
I hope you had a NEAT weekend! I know I did and I’m happy I did. Now you may have noticed that I used the word NEAT in all caps. No, no it’s not because I think it’s the greatest word to say in the English language, that word is boing (seriously you can’t say it without thinking about something fun) but I digress.
In fact NEAT is an acronym for possibly the most underrated element in your fitness and healthy lifestyle repertoire. It is also one of the most important ones.
NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
Basically NEAT is the energy you burn through activities in the day that aren’t associated with formal exercise sessions. Yes going for walks, moving furniture, mowing the lawn, chasing after a 19month old son… running as fast as you can to the change table after his diaper gets… well you know; are all good forms of NEAT. Now before you roll your eyes and brush off yet another “active living” article, think about the impact of NEAT on your lifestyle and your waistline.
NEAT can account for a large amount of calories burned day in and day out, year in and year out with painless effort.
We know that these days high intensity interval training is all the rage, and for good reason, it burns lots of calories in a relative short amount of time. The problem is that you have to work your fitness level up to a point where high intensity interval training is effective enough to produce a desired effect. The other downside is that it can exhaust you so much that you actually move less through the day basically nullifying the calorie burning effects of the workout. While NEAT when applied can painlessly increase the amount of energy your burn, and of course if you can do both you have a super burn tandem.
One other thing that NEAT does better than any other form of exercise is that it seems to have very little effect on hunger compared to high intensity interval training which is important if you are eating less calories in order to lose fat.
For the next two weeks be aware of just how NEAT you are and look for ways to improve so you can burn more calories and gain more stamina day in and day out and have your health and your waist line thank you for it.
Here is an example of a High NEAT day.
Wake up in the am. Have breakfast; take the dog for a short walk (10minutes)
Take 4-minute stretch break at work every hour (set a reminder on your phone, do it with a work mate)
Every “smoke” break your co-workers have, give yourself a “health” break and move
I know working through lunch seems like a good idea, (maybe today will finally be the day that working through lunch = getting caught up…. HAHAHAHAHAHA) Instead make lunch time, mobility time or walk and laugh time with co-workers
Take the stairs, not the elevator
Learn to dance, go out on a mini “city adventure or hike” Learn to garden, every commercial break or break between binging on Netflix, get up and MOVE.
And on the weekend, you have plenty that you can do to move more especially during these summer months.
If you are a numbers person get yourself a fitibit® pedometer and aim for 8,000+ steps a day.
There are so many ways to be NEAT. It’s easy to do and when done consistently in a way that’s mostly fun for you, the more effective it will be.
What kind of things do you do to be NEAT? Reply back and let me know.
Have you ever been sore after a workout before? Ha, who am I kidding of course you have, I’m sure many of us have felt that kind of muscles soreness after an bout of physical exercise that was above our normal tolerance level. This effect that tends to happen the next day or even a few days later (why is always worse 2 days after?) is known as “Delayed Onset Of Muscle Soreness” or DOMS for short. While it’s not entirely known why this soreness happens, it’s widely thought that it is part of the repair process to micro-trauma in the muscles and is made especially worse when we perform a lot of eccentric muscle actions (lengthening of the muscle contraction, i.e. lowering the dumbbell in a bicep curl exercise).
I can remember a conversation I had with a new client of mine a few years back, she said something along the lines of “Oh sweet joseph! My legs are sore from last workout shouldn’t w just stretch… for the love of Pete let’s just stretch… or nap.” Of course she was kidding about the nap (or was she?). I explained to her that while the DOMS effect might make you think you should just stretch or do nothing, the opposite can actually help to alleviate the soreness. Exercising can actually help to reduce the DOMS effect. So before you throw in the towel on your workout know that showing up again for another training session might just be the very thing you need to get the blood moving and the DOMS taken care of.
Here are a few other tips to relieve sore muscles:
– Get a massage (I recommend everyone get a massage at least once a month)
– Stay hydrated
– Eat plenty of nutritious fruits and veggies
– And while I have no scientific evidence, a low sodium diet seems to help me or at least when I have more salt in my diet after a hard workout I am “hobbled” sore.
Having said that, there are a few caveats when it comes to DOMS and working out.
The first caveat is that you soreness should only last 24-72 hours at most and 72 is the high end. If you are still sore after that you can rest assured you likely over did it in your last workout, think about taking it easy for a few workouts.
The second caveat is that it’s important to know the difference between muscle soreness and something worse like a strain or a pull. Pain = NO GAIN and you should take time off and perhaps see your physician if it worsens.
The third and final caveat is that it’s important to know that being sore after a workout shouldn’t be the goal. Your purpose for working out is to get better at something and to improve your health. While most of us sometimes wear the soreness as confirmation of a workout (I’m guilty of this sometimes as well) there is no science behind performance and health improvement and muscle soreness. Chase progress not soreness.
I tell you if I wasn’t married to my wonderful wife Kim, I would be out of business, and likely out of ideas of what to write about. As I was thinking about what to write today, I just wasn’t feeling motivated because I was “stuck” and didn’t know what to write about. So I sent my wife a text message telling her that I was having trouble with what to write in my newsletter today.
Her response “Write about motivation and getting stuck… like you are now with your newsletter.” (Cue light bulb over my head.)
Well, that was an easy response… and genius. Of course I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel unmotivated because I feel stuck, I see it all the time in my line of work. In fact, it’s the number one reason why someone will contact me for help. It’s an all too common problem where we feel “stuck” in our goals in getting something done, whether it be the goal of completing a newsletter before the day is out or something much more challenging like changing the way you look and feel. Getting stuck truly is the fuel for losing motivation. So what can you do when you feel stuck? How can you get your motivation back and start taking action on your goals? Well the answer lies in the text to my wife.
“Action precedes motivation”
Most people hope and wait for motivation to come so they can take action when in fact, that line of thinking is backwards. You make motivation when you take action. Now it’s true that this is easier said than done, so let me make it easier and share with you 3 key ingredients to take action and make your own motivation.
Ingredient 1: Small, simple action
The smaller and easier the action is, the more likely you are to do it. So when you are trying to get motivated for even a single workout, don’t think about the entire workout ahead of you, just put your gym shoes on. Simple.
Ingredient 2: Support
Sometimes you just need a little support to help you see what you need to see in yourself in order to get it done. Don’t know what to do? Your trainer can have a plan for you. Reaching out for support can get you seeing those simple, easy-to-do solutions when your mindset is just not in that space.
Ingredient 3: Know your why
Of course you won’t really be motivated to accomplish a goal if you don’t know why you want that goal in the first place. Having a clear understanding of why you want to get into better shape is vital for success.
All these ingredients combine can create “the motivation you need to succeed”. (Sorry to sound like a cheesy infomercial with that line just there.)
In practice this can be so simple. Look back at my problem today with being stuck. My reason for writing these newsletters is to help you with real world solutions to real world problems in healthy living so I reached out to my support and got a simple solution. My first action was reaching out (that was simple enough), my second small and simple action was to write down the topic title and suddenly my motivation took off and I was able to write this with relative ease.
If you are feeling stuck and unmotivated, review what ingredients you need to make your motivation. Do you need to simplify and shrink your action step? Do you need the right type of support? Are you clear about why it’s important to you?
If you need support or help getting clear on your why give me a call, I can help.
Take control of your eating, lose weight and boost your energy
Let’s cut through the lies and come out and say it. If you are overweight it’s because you consumed more calories than your body needs. That’s a fact but it’s also sort of useless information if you are trying to stop over consuming your calories. It’s like telling someone the reason they are drowning is because they are in a lake and can’t swim… “oh now you tell me (jerk!)” tell me something I don’t know.
Knowing that you over eat your calories won’t change anything. Becoming aware of the factors that lead you to over eat will. For a very small percentage of my clients, I can simply help them become aware of how much they are eating and they can naturally lower their portions and lose weight quickly. But for most of us, it’s not that easy, there are other factors in play including why you eat and what you eat that play a role and getting to the bottom of those factors are important. But one question about eating seems to get left out like the geek in school who is always “there” but no one pays any attention to. Funny how those are the ones that grow up and become the “Bill Gates” of the world. (Successful on a world class scale)
The question that I am eluding to is “How do you eat?” The very nature of how you go about your eating behavior has the power to change the what, why and how much you eat. So maybe it’s time to start focusing on making changes to how you eat and start making true lasting results. Here are 4 simple ways to do that.
1. Meal planning
– Become proactive with your eating by having a meal plan. It starts with a plan of what meals you are going to eat for that day or week and building out a groceries list to get what you need for the plan. I suggest to start planning just a few meals each week (maybe just breakfasts to start). You can build from there and as you practice this you will get better at what and how much you need to buy. To make this a habit simple review your plan each day and check mark if you are on plan or “x” if you are off. Aim for 90% check marks before adding more meals to your plan.
2. Eat slowly and mindfully until satisfied
– Stop racing to see who can eat faster you or the dog. Slow down gosh darn it! It takes your body time (15-20mins) to sense fullness. Now I don’t know about you but I know I can sure as hell chow down a lot of food in that time span. By slowing down and learning to listen and stop when you are satisfied and not stuffed (think 80% fullness) you can naturally eat fewer calories. In fact this one habit has served me well for years even when my eating isn’t the healthiest I practice this as much as I can and when I do i’m successful and when I don’t… well lets just say it’s a tie between me and my dog, the only difference is he has no choice in his portions. The bonus to this also comes from being able to savour each bite, enjoying the taste and texture of your food. You’ll be amazed at how your palette for junk food diminishes.
3. Change your environment
– Perhaps the easiest way to eat better is the change up your environment so you have fewer options and temptations. Make home a “safe” place to eat by keeping tempting foods away, instead of eating in front of the T.V. eat at the dinner table, eat on smaller plates, take a different route to work if you can’t help but go through the drive through for breakfast and order the high sugar, high fat, high calories meal. Eat your lunch at work in a place that’s quiet and away from the desk (I know that’s a tough one). In any case become aware of the environment that you are eating in and the choices you make with your eating, seek to change up any situation that commonly causes poor decisions.
4. Change the routine
– Over eating calories can stem from not eating enough… for most the day anyways until you catch up with the lick sip nibbles and bites through the day and a giant dinner after little to no breakfast and a fast food lunch. Instead change your meal frequency in a way that gives you energy, satiety and eliminates that low energy but starved feeling you have by the time you get home from yet another stressful day at work. Another way to change the routine is make a habit of going for a 10minute walk before each meal, it’s amazing what that can do for the psyche and the decisions you make while eating, but don’t take my word for it, give it a try for two weeks straight.
Taking control of how you eat is such a game changer. The confidence you get from actually being in control of your eating can cause you to make better food quality choices, eat fewer calories and even get emotional eating under-control. Now I know I just gave you a bunch of tiny actions you can take. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed and try all of them at once. Instead pick one thing to do and move forward. If it was my choice without knowing your specific situation I would suggest start with the meal planning but go in with the mindset of it being an experiment in which you can learn about what works for you. From there your experiment will reveal what other factors of how to eat will work for you. Give it a try, let me know how it goes, and if you need help along the way, I am here to help.
I’ve been wanting to write a story with this tittle for almost 3 years but couldn’t quite figure out how to word it. Then I realized the key to writing this piece was in the tittle. I’ll touch on that key in a just a little bit.
This piece was first written for my newsletter which goes out every Tuesday. If you’ve been a loyal reader of these newsletters you will have noticed I sent this one out behind schedule. Needless to say it’s been busy with family and a growing fitness business. Finding time to write was a challenge this particular week but then it came to me what I should write about. Today I want to share with you one of my philosophies in fitness that’s maybe a little off the cuff but still a valuable lesson to learn especially if your efforts to look move and feel better are stressing you out.
The idea of having the perfect diet or workout plan is being pushed everywhere I see in the media. “If you aren’t doing it all right, then you suck” seems to me the hardcore message everyone is used to. I think taking in this advice if you aren’t gearing up for a photo shoot, a high performance sporting event or a physique competition is sending the wrong message. Let me be blunt, you don’t need to look for the perfect diet or workout program, you just need to look for the next step forward. Look for the process, look to get something done in a way that you enjoy it. Screw perfect!
A few years ago I came to the realization that I too was getting swept up in the perfect health message and found myself feeling stressed out and negative about my body, my eating, hell it was crushing my confidence too. Once I realized that I remembered that you only have one life to live and striving for perfection is honestly a dumb thing to be in pursuit of. So I created a philosophy for myself that allows me to enjoy progressing with my health and fitness goals while ditching the restrictive nature of seeking “perfection”. I much rather do a few pushups, go eat some hot wings once in a while and like a hand grenade be “close enough” to my target of what being healthy means to me. And you know what, it’s worked out very well for me. I actually enjoy working out because I do the activities that I like to do like strength training and golf. When I go out for wings I am not ashamed, I’m not “cheating” on my diet, it IS PART OF MY DIET. I’m keeping a nice balance of somewhere in the 80% range and I’m happy with it because I can live a healthy life without restriction. And when it came to being late with writing this tonight, I once again reminded myself that if this is the first time I didn’t get a newsletter out before noon on a Tuesday… I’m not perfect… but like a hand grenade the impact is great even by being close enough.
Over the past 3 years or so I have had several personal training clients online and offline in St.Albert and the St.Albert area that have been doing short but frequent 12-minute workouts with good results. In fact I started doing them myself when on vacation as a goal of maintaining some sort of strength and fitness and noticed how well it worked both mentally and physically.
So if you are:
– Short on time
– Just starting a fitness routine
– Wanting to add in an extra workout or two
Then give this protocol a try. I call it the 3 in 12 program. And it’s really simple. You choose 3 exercises do complete in 12 minutes. Sounds like not enough right? Trust me, give it a try for 14 days in a row and you will likely already notice a difference in your performance and how you feel. Why does this happen?
Well short workouts can do a few things for you.
- They are short so it’s easy to actually show up and do it (no excuses)
- They get your circulation going which makes you more alert and productive
- Because it’s short most people naturally push themselves more compared to a longer workout so your intensity is there for the entire workout.
- Getting in a good workout usually leads to making better food choices as well.
- Short workouts like this don’t usually make you hungry so if fat loss is your goal eating less and working out for less time (as long as it’s effective) might be the perfect fit for you.
- Exercise even 12 minutes of it can help to reduce stress and put you in a good mood.
- Exercise can help you get a better nights rest.
If you want to do it as a complete routine aim for 6-7 days a week otherwise use this protocol when you are time crunched and can’t get to your normal workout routine.
Step 1: Set the timer for 12 minutes
Step 2: Choose 2 strength exercises and either 1 mobility or 1 cardio exercise
Step 3: Aim for 10-12 repetitions
Step 4: Do as many rounds with good form as you can in 12 minutes. (Note: Use the first 2 minutes to go light and get the body warmed up)
You will want to choose exercises that don’t really compete with one another (they don’t use the same muscle groups). This way you can push the pace from a cardio stand point while the muscle get a rest.
For a basic plan choose at least 2 different workouts in the following fashion:
Workout A Choose Variations of
Lower Body: Squats, Lunges, RDL’s, Hip Thrusts
Core: Planks, Side Planks, Rotation, Reverse Crunches
Cardio: Jumping Jacks, Mountain Climbers, Shadow Boxing, Sprinting
Workout B Choose Variations of
Pushing: Pushups, Chest Press, Shoulder Press
Pulling: Rows, Cobra’s, Chin Ups
Cardio:Jumping Jacks, Mountain Climbers, Shadow Boxing, Sprinting
Here is an exact workout program you could use at home with just a set of Dumbbells and Bodyweight
- Alternating Reverse Lunges x 12-16 total
- Plank Saw x 8-12
- Towel Shoulder Mobility Drill x 5sec hold per side OR Shadow Punches x 40
- DB Rows x 10-12
- Pushups x 10-12
- Spider Lunges x 4/side OR Jumping Jacks x 20
- DB Squat to Press x 10-12
- W-Cobra x 10-12
- T-Spine Rotation x 8/side OR Mountain Climbers x 30
There you have it three quick 12 minute workouts you can do everyday or just something to do when you’re short on time.
Just in time for summer, a tasty low calorie treat.
STRAWBERRY ORANGE YOGURT POPSICLES
Makes: (10) 3oz popsicles
Hands on time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes + freezing time
1 lb fresh strawberries
2 cups full fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
Hull and slice the strawberries and place in a large bowl. Using a fork, stab the strawberries vigourously until the juices release, about 30 seconds. Stir in the yogurt and juice.
Transfer to popsicle molds and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.
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Love those delicious Starbucks Breakfast Wraps? Here is a recipe that you can do at home. Take a 20 minutes or so on the weekend to make a bunch of them and your morning breakfast routine can consist of 2 minutes in the microwave. That’s faster than a drive thru (and healthier)
8 medium-size tortillas (or 6 large)
10 ounces baby spinach leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
16 ounces egg whites (approx. 10 egg whites)
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
salt & pepper to taste
- Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat then add the spinach and garlic. Cook until the spinach starts to wilt, roughly 5 minutes. Next add the diced tomatoes and stir together, cooking for another 2 minutes. Transfer the spinach/tomato mixture to a large plate lined with a paper towels (to absorb excess moisture) and set aside.
- Place the skillet back on the burner and then pour the egg whites in. Use a spatula to stir them around as they cook, for about 5-7 minutes, until they are scrambled. Remove from heat and set aside.
- While the eggs cool, cut 8 pieces of parchment paper into 10-inch squares. One by one, place a tortilla on top of each square and fill it with the egg whites, spinach mixture, feta and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Fold the ends of each tortilla together then wrap it with parchment paper, continuing with each one until all 8 are wrapped.
- Place the wrapped tortillas into a large plastic freezer bag and then try to press the excess air out. Alternatively, you can seal it shut by leaving just enough space in the seal to slide a straw in and then use your mouth to suck the excess air out as you slowly slide the straw out and close the seal. Write the date on the bag and then place in the freezer.
- When you’re ready to eat a wrap, simply remove one from the bag and microwave on high in the parchment paper (or wrapped in paper towels) for 2 minutes. Allow to cool and then enjoy!
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- 1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
- 1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
- In a blender, combine the yogurt, strawberries, banana, flaxseed, protein powder, and 2 tablespoons water. Blend for 1 minute, or until smooth and blended.
Per smoothie: 278 calories, 18 g protein, 56 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 8 g fiber, 148 mg sodium
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I’ve been extremely grateful to be a personal trainer in the St.Albert and St.Albert area. My clients are awesome and not matter what custom action plan we put forward each and everyone finds a sneaky way to create a habit that helps them get results. Over the years I’ve taken notes of all the little tricks they’ve used and come up with a list of real clients using sneaky tricks to get real results.
Here they are:
1. “I ask myself if I’m hungry enough to eat an apple, if I’m not then I find something else to do instead of eating. If I am, then I eat.” (Trish S.)
2. “When I have a craving to snack on wings or something crunchy at night I eat cauliflower and hot sauce and cucumber. It satisfies and defuses my appetite.” (Robin M.)
3. “I put 3 elastic bands on my water bottle, each time I complete one bottle I remove an elastic band.” (Emily S.)
4. “When I don’t feel like working out I make it a goal to put on my running shoes and fill up my water bottle, it usually ends up with at least a few minutes of exercise.” (Will H.)
5. “I keep a journal that records my little victories and what I’m grateful for every day, it gives me the mindset I need to take action.” (Erin H.)
6. “I created a new set of core values for my life. It’s my guiding light for the decisions I make especially when I catch myself in those internal conversations when chocolate is around.” (Chelsea W.)
7. “Instead of believing that I can’t do something I ask myself can I do that?” (Jen S.)
8. “When ever I make a mistake with my eating choices I think of it like I just made a poor investment, it’s makes no sense to put more money into it, just like it makes no sense to keep making poor food choices. Make the next meal a good investment.” (Cal R.)
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 1/4 cup lime juice (~2 limes)
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- Mix the taco seasoning and lime juice, cover the chicken in the mixture and optionally marinate for 30 minutes to over night.
- Grill over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side, let sit for 5 minutes and slice before enjoying!
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Have you ever tried to lose weight only to find yourself too hungry before your next planned meal? It’s a disaster; you end up overeating and possibly making poor decisions. While it’s a good idea to practice being a little hungry before your next meal, letting yourself go from hungry to “Hangry” is usually a recipe for weight gain and yo-yo dieting. Instead aim to consume these 6 natural appetite suppressants that will leave you feeling fuller for longer so you don’t become the next person on the Snickers Commercial.
- Green Leafy Veggies
Veggies provide vital nutrients and fibre which help signal your brains satiety levels that it got what it needs.
- Lean Protein
Protein like poultry, fish, pork and beef provide weight in your stomach and it takes longer to digest than any other macronutrient making this a powerhouse for making you feel fuller for longer. Aim to have a palm sized serving in 3 meals a day. Even vegetarian dishes can get in on the action with protein rich legumes like beans.
- Green Tea or Coffee
The caffeine and antioxidants in these hot beverages when consumed in moderation can help suppress appetite. Just go easy on the sugar and cream.
- Cayenne or Hot Sauce
Spicy, has been an age old battle tested way to eat fewer calories. It can give you a slight boost in your metabolism temporarily as well. One evening snack that can help curb cravings is cauliflower in hot sauce with cucumbers to cool it down. It won’t take much before you feel full and your late night cravings are non-existent.
There is an old rule that works fairly well as a marker for being aware of your hungry. “If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you probably aren’t actually hungry”. Of course when you are hungry enough to eat an apple, then by all means have one. Apples are filled with soluble fibre and pectin, which can fill you up for hours.
It happens too often in line of work. Seeing people overeat snacks throughout the day because they are hungry when in fact they are confusing thirst for hunger. Make it a rule to drink a glass of water between meals to keep yourself hydrated and never confuse thirst for hunger again.
It was October 1st 2003 in a west St.Albert hotel gym where I trained my first client in my first session. I was still in college but was given the opportunity to take someone on and so there I was at our 9:30pm training time learning about my first client.
Upon my discovery questions with my client I learned that he wanted to lose weight. I was too green to probe more into it and just took his goal at face value. Once we started training he saw minimal weight loss on the scale.
We were both perplexed and frustrated since we were training so hard and even made some decent progress in his nutrition. My client had to buy smaller sized jeans, visibly had a smaller gut, was now eating veggies every day and was significantly stronger and more mobile.
But despite these great changes we both felt like it was once big fail with his lack of weight loss. As a personal trainer I made my very first mistake… and it happened on day 1. That mistake… focusing on the number on the scale and disregarding the other markers of weight loss success.
What I can tell you from that experience is even though it still feels like a spur in my butt when I think about it, I am grateful to have stumbled on that hurdle early, as I don’t like to lose and was quick to learn about my mistake and how to be better because of it. Since that first client of mine I have come across hundreds of clients and thousands of people who never trained with me fall into the same trap as my first client.
Relying on only the numbers on the scale as a source of progress or worse relying on it to measure happiness or self worth is a big mistake and it could be holding you back from reaching your goals. It’s certainly caused far too many people to quit when they were in fact on the right path. Don’t fall prey to this.
“Looking only at the number on the scale while ignoring the other markers is kind of like gardening. You plant a bed of flowers and when it comes time for them to bloom you only focus on one flower. If that flower doesn’t bloom you burn the garden failing to notice all of the other flowers that flourished with vibrant colors.” –Robin Mungall-
Now some people will ask me, “Is the scale important?”
Well in short, it depends on WHY you want the numbers on the scale to go down. You see when most people want to lose weight, it’s more than just about weight loss. It’s fat loss and more specifically it’s what that fat loss will do for you mentally, emotionally and physically. If you just wanted weight loss you could just chop a leg off and step on the scale with your one leg and the scale number would be less. But I’m guessing you didn’t want to “just lose weight”.
Now there is evidence that if you weigh yourself everyday that you are more likely to lose weight because it keeps you focused and accountable to your actions. But take this research with a grain of salt. If you are someone who is obsessed with the numbers, I suggest finding a different action that accomplishes the same thing. Take progress photo’s perhaps, or every morning try on that “too tight” pair of jeans you’ve been wanting to fit comfortably into, or better yet, review your progress from the last 5 days every morning.
Now I don’t want to leave you high and dry and tell you to forget the scale and end this article. Let’s talk about some other ways to measure if you are on the right path to a sustainably lean and fit body.
1. How Your Jeans Fit
Weight loss is a poor indicator of how much fat you lost. Most of my clients want to look more “toned” and fit into a smaller size jeans. Jeans are an easy indicator if your waistline is shrinking and if your butt is firming up. Aside from just your jeans you can take it a step farther and use a tape measure around your chest, waist, hips, arms and thighs for a more accurate reading.
2. Measure Your Habits & Actions
Much less sexy than monitoring jean size but this is likely the best way to measure success… as long as you are honest with yourself. Track and monitor your actions, and more importantly the progress of your actions. Did you make progress in your workouts this week? Did you make progress in your eating habits this week? Take the time to create a system that answers this clearly with a yes or no. “I think so” won’t cut it, you need to track your actions and be certain if you want to make changes.
3. Measure Body Fat
Weight loss is not fat loss, it could be water weight, and it could be muscle loss or even bone density loss. They are different and can effect your body differently. Lose a lot of weight from muscle and bone density and you are lighter on the scale, but you are also weaker, with an increased risk of osteo related diseases and your metabolism is slower making it harder to maintain what ever weight you lost. Lose body fat while maintain muscle and bone density and you will likely move better and have more energy.
4. Measure Your Health
There is an old saying “you don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight”. While I think both happen simultaneously, the saying is fairly true because fat loss typically happens third in the order of changes. It starts with making mental changes about yourself (being positive about you) then your health changes (as in your cells, organs and gut health improve lowering your risks of certain diseases) and finally the fat starts burning off much easier and enjoyable.
5. Measure Your Enjoyment
Permanent changes in your body come from making permanent changes to your lifestyle and not through a miserable process that you “crush” for only 12 weeks only to make no life changes other than a short stint of hardcore beat your butt into the ground workouts and ultra restrictive eating that can’t be sustained long term. You mine as well enjoy the process of making healthier changes because these changes are going to be required for life if you want to keep the body you are looking to get.
The scale can be part of what you measure, it’s the lesser of the methods to measure progress. I understand the allure, it’s quick and simple, unfortunately your body is not simple. Before your next “weigh in” Choose 1-3 of the above measuring methods first.