Recipe: Cold Oatmeal

Here is a recipe for y new favorite snack. What I love about it is how flexible it can be, you can really be creative and make it however you’d like. Here is how I do it:

Makes 2 servings
1 cup of Quaker instant oatmeal
1 1/4 cup of almond silk (any milk will work)
1 ts of vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp Hershey chocolate syrup
1/4 cup of chocolate chips
1 ts cinnamon
5 hazelnuts crushed

Preparation: mix everything together, refrigerate overnight and you have a quick and delicious snack.

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Target Zones: Training the Shoulders

Aesthetically speaking, the shoulders can be a very underrated muscle to work. People always talk about having a nice chest or big arms but in my opinion nice shoulders will make the upper body look much better.

The shoulder is a very complicated area consisting of a lot of muscles. Within that one joint you have the 4 rotator cuff muscles and the chest an lats also insert in that area. The large muscle that we generally refer to when discussing the shoulders consists of 3 heads, the frontal, medial and lateral heads. It is important to understand this when working out the shoulders.

The first thing to take into account is that she shoulder joint is a very complex joint which assists in just about every upper body movement. Because of this, it serves many different and sometimes conflicting purposes. For this reason, it’s always important to exercise safely when working on the shoulders.

As I mentioned before, the shoulder joint is the home to the rotator cuff muscles, which rotate the arm internally and externally as well as assist in stabilizing the joint. I like to begin a shoulder workout by working (lightly) on the rotator cuff muscles as a way of reinforcing my shoulders stability for the heavier lifting.

The deltoids consist of 3 heads, the frontal (located on the front of the shoulder), the medial (located on the middle of the shoulder) and the lateral (located on the back of the shoulder) heads. In order to fully develop the shoulder one would need to work all three. Front raises are great for the frontal head. Lateral raises and upright rows are great for the medial head. Rear delt flys and reverse pec dec flys are great for the lateral head. Exercises like shoulder presses are also very effective because they require all three muscles working together as well as assistance from the rotator cuff muscles.

When training the shoulders, it’s important to look at it as a complicated joint which needs it’s parts worked both individually as well as together to get the best results.

Weekly fitness journal

So it’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks both in my business and personal lives. Add to it the pressure of making weight and I had a pretty stressful week. The goal for the past 2 weeks was basically to get my weight to 160 by the time of the photo shoot. Fortunately, I was able to make weight an the pictures came out great. We haven’t finished deciding which pictures to use but here is an example of what came out of the shoot.

Diet: With it being two weeks out and my weight at 169, I basically went to a no carb diet. As I have mentioned in the past, no carb diets are not good unless you have a specific date in mind and you understand that you will put the weight back on once you introduce carbs. Once I got to about a week out, I started to eat very low calories which meant no carbs, and very low fat. I also drank a lot of coffee to help boost the metabolism and give me some energy.

Sample diet:

Breakfast- Coffee and 2 hard boiled eggs.

Snack- Chicken Breast

Lunch- Turkey Chilli

Pre workout- Coffee and oatmeal

Dinner- Ground Turkey

Exercise
The exercise pretty much stayed the same for me. With re focus being weight loss, I was focused on cardiovascular workouts. In the days leading up to the shoot, I did focus more on workouts that would give me more of a pump.

Results:

I made the weight. I was at 160 lbs for the photo shoot so that was a 25 lb drop over the past 6 weeks. I will be updating the website with those photos over the weekend so be on the lookout.

Journal entry:
Strangely enough, the last two weeks were not as bad as I had anticipated. When I took a look back at my diet, in shocked that I was able to manage. I really had no bad urges and never felt too hungry. Even on the last day when all I had was some mixed veggies and tuna, I was perfectly fine. I guess it’s because I can get very focused on the task at hand and the hunger becomes a very minor thing for me. I was very happy with the result. The photographer was awesome and we got some really cool shots. It was definitely worth the struggle. I was also able to celebrate that night by going to my favorite Brazilian Steakhouse and I ate like a monster.
The next step for me is to work on a new goal and to keep moving forward. I’m happy with where I’m at now butbi need to fight against complaciency so there is a real need to determine a new goal and work towards it. Thanks for reading.

Weekly fitness journal: Do as I say…

It’s kind of ironic that last week I posted an article about the importance of not losing too much too fast. I should have prefaced that with a rule saying that extreme measures should only be taken if there is a very specific goal in mind and then only if you are prepared to gain the weight afterward. The irony is that I have a photo shoot scheduled in 3 weeks and I need to be at my goal weight by then. My goal weight is 160 and I now weigh 173 so extreme measures must be taken.

Diet- I’m now in a position where I need to cut 13 pounds in 3 weeks or about 4 pounds a week. From a dietary standpoint it means doing something I preach against, cutting carbs. I’m at a point where I limit myself to carbs at breakfast, before I work out and a little at lunch. This also means blame foods with little salt or seasoning an lots of water.

Sample diet
Breakfast- oatmeal w/water raisins and splenda
Snack- 3 slices of smoked turkey
Lunch- baked chicken w/ vegetables and a 1/2 cup of rice
Pre- workout- smoothie with strawberries, blueberries
Post workout- protein shake with skim milk
Dinner- ground turkey

Exercise- this week I’m pushing the calorie burning part of the workout so I have cut out any heavy strength training and replaced it with cardiovascular type work I’d interval training.

Sample workout
Warmup
1.5 mile run
20 minutes of tabatas
1,000 jumps with a jump rope
6 rounds of bag work
Abs

I can be very motivated when there is a goal so I should be fine. The real challenge will be that last week but I’m up for the task. As long as I’m prepared, the diet isn’t all that bad. I eat regularly so I’m never hungry. The workouts this week have been fun. I’ll never be the type to run 6 miles but my style of cardio is very effective. It intense and leaves me feeling like I just got run over by a truck. I will be at 160 by the end and kids, do as I say, not as I do ūüėČ

Feel free to comment

Illustration of why it’s better to lose 1-2 pounds a week

Last week, I wrote about the importance of losing weight slowly and consistently versus a rapid weight loss program. This week, I am going to give an example of what frequently happens when someone loses weight too fast versus someone who does it at a consistent clip.

As I mentioned before, the body is only capable of losing 1-2 pounds of fat per week so any more than that comes from lean body weight which is weight that we don’t want to lose. For this example, we are going to take a person who is 200 pounds and 30% body fat. This means that the person has 140 pounds of lean body weight and 60 pounds of fat. I am going to go through two separate scenarios with this person to show my point.

Scenario 1- This person decides to go on a crash diet or a very low calorie diet. This person could very easily lose 30 pounds over the span of¬†5 weeks. If we average this weight loss out to 5 pounds a week, then in a best case¬†scenario, this person would have lost¬†8 pounds of fat and 22¬†pounds of lean weight. ¬†What results is that this person is actually less healthy at 170 pounds than he was at 200 pounds because his body fat percentage is still 30% and he has lost 22 pounds of valuable lean weight. What makes this example even worse is what happens next. 95% of the time a crash diet will fail within 6 weeks and the person puts back on all of the weight that was lost. In this case, if this person puts back on 30 pounds, he won’t put on 22 pounds of lean weight and only 8 pounds of fat. The likely outcome will be the reverse and he’ll put on 20 pounds of fat weight and¬†10 pounds of lean weight. The result will be that this person will be back to 200 pounds but with a body fat of 36%. He will have gone from 60 pounds of fat weight up to 72 pounds of fat weight because of the crash diet.

Scenario 2- The same person follows a program which includes a balanced and healthy diet with strength training. If the person is focused on losing 1-2 pounds a week the after 6 weeks, this person will only have lost 10  pounds but it will all be fat weight. After 6 weeks, this person would be 190 lbs but his body fat percentage would have dropped down to 26%. Another 6 weeks and 10 pounds of fat later, his body fat would have dropped to 22% and finally another 6 weeks and 10 pounds later and his body fat would have dropped to 17%.

As you can see, scenario 1 lost 30 pounds in 5 weeks but paid for the rapid weight loss by losing mostly lean weight. He also had the added negative  benefit of gaining back mostly fat. Scenario 2 took 18 weeks to lose 30 pounds, almost 4 times as long but this person was able to lose 12 percent body fat and 30 pounds of fat in that time.

Feel free to comment or ask questions. Any involvement would be greatly appreciated.

Why you shouldn’t worry if you don’t lose more than 1-2 pounds a week.

¬†¬†¬†¬† The majority of my clients over the years have wanted some form of weight loss, some more than others. Early on in my career, it seemed to be an inevidability that a person would experience frustration at not losing weight fast enough. Whether the person wanted to lose 10 pounds or 40, there was this feeling of wanting to get from point a-z without travelling through the other steps in between. Generally, when someone is participating in a weight loss fitness program, it is not advisable to lose any more than 2 pounds a week. In fact, losing more than that number is usually less healthy and is less likely to succeed. It was a challenge for me early on to learn the proper ways of articulating this without discouraging the client but over time, I’ve formed a good way of both explaining this and coming up with a good alternative way of approaching weight loss.
We live in a society that is all about instant gratification and the fitness industry is no different. Weight loss suppliments, dvd’s and products are all sold as things that will create almost instant results. This creates an attitude when it comes to fitness which focuses on a lot of weight loss in a very short period of time. When someone approaches their fitness program with this mindset, 90% of the time, they will end up disappointed when they don’t see the pounds melting off. This frustration eventually leads to the person abandoning their fitness program.
¬†¬†¬†¬† People make a few major mistakes when beginning a fitness program geared towards weight loss. The first mistake is that they focus too much on the scale. The second mistake is that the person usually tries for too much too fast. It seems a bit counter to the goal to say that people pay too much attention to the scale but the fact of the matter is that it’s true. When you are in a weight loss program, it’s more important to know the kind of weight you are losing and not simply the amount of weight that you lose. I will illustrate this point in next weeks post but simply put, it’s more important that a person lose fat and inches than total pounds. The second mistake is also common and very dangerous. Often times, especially with beginners, a person will get gung ho over a diet and exercise routine. They will work out 5-6 days a week for an hour and a half, they will go on the new fad diet and usually this person will show a sharp drop in weight over the first few weeks of their fitness program followed by a plateau. Usually within 4-6 weeks, the person has stopped losing weight all together and they start feeling tired, sluggish and eventually get burned out. They stop the program and gain all of the weight back. This happens because the person is not physically and emotionally ready for that kind of program. It’s sustainable up to a point but eventually the budy simply can’t handle the dramatic change and it breaks down.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Aside from the physical and mental fatigue that comes from a sudden and dramatic change is the fact that the body will end up burning lean bodyweight instead of fat for it’s energy. Our bodies are only designed to lose 1-2 pounds of fat a week and usually anything more is going to be lean bodyweight. This means that while 10 pounds may look good on the scale, only 2 of those pounds would be from fat so it’s definitely not ideal.
The right way to approach weight loss is the same way one should approach fitness. Fitness/ weight loss is an ongoing process which requires consistency and regular assessments of progress. A person should be in a fitness program which they feel they can sustain forever. This means starting slowly and increasing the intensity of the diet and exercise over time rather than going to an extreme right off of the bat. It is also important to measure progress. This is not only done by the scale but also by measurements, pant size and even other people recognizing the change in your body. A good weight loss program should see a person make small but consistent progress over time. This is habit forming and much more likely to succeed in the long run. It’s much better to lose 1-2 pounds a week over the course of a year than it is to lose 30 pounds in a month and then to crash and gain it all back.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Next week I’m going to illustrate the difference between a consistent weight loss program and one of your typocal crash dieting programs. Be sure to check it out as it really shows the importance of consistency and steady progress over super fast weight loss.

Strategies for Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits (Part 2)

Last week, I tried to give an explanation for why diets fail and the ways in which a person should approach their eating. This week I’m going to discuss what I believe are the core principles of a good diet. These are easy to follow principles and are things to work on if you are looking to put together a good eating plan.

Principle 1- Daily Caloric Intake (DCI) vs. Daily Caloric Expenditure

This principle is pretty straight forward. The DCE represents the amount of calories your body burns on an average day.  Click here for a DCE calculator. The DCI represents the amount of calories you take in on a given day. Click here for a calorie counter. In order to lose weight, a person must be at a Caloric defecit meaning that the DCE must be greater than the DCI or you must burn more calories than you take in. If a person wants to gain weight, then the DCI must be greater than the DCE. There are 3,500 calories in one pount of fat so for a person to lose one pound a week, he or she must on average take in 500 fewer calories than he or she burns every day.

Principle 2- Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.¬† It’s important because helps set up the structure for the rest of the day. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast actully consume fewer calories per day than those who don’t. The reason why is because skipping breakfast causes a person to feel significantly hungrier when it comes time for the first meal of the day. This hunger usually causes the person to over eat and to make bad decisions.¬† In addition, skipping breakfast usually causes a person to feel tired, sluggish and rely on coffee and simple carbs to gain energy. Eating breakfast, sets up the day properly and when it comes time for the second meal, the person won’t be as hungry. This will cause the person to eat less later in the day and will help regulate the system to get used to eating frequent but small meals.

When beginning a healthy diet, it’s more important that a persn get used to a consistent breakfast than that they make perfect choices. Breakfast doesn’t need to be a huge meal but should be a good mix of protein and carbs. This provides the person with energy that will be needed to begin the day. Good options are oatmeal, certain cereals like total, fruits, egg whites & whole wheat toast and yogurt.

Principle 3- Drink lots of water

Water intake, along with maybe breakfast, is the most neglected part of many diets. It is recomended that we drink 8 glasses of water a day and that number actually increases if you participate in a fitness training program. Water is great for many reasons. First of all, it keeps us hydrated. The higher the hydratio lever, the thinner the blood and easier it is for the heart to work. Second, it helps your body get rid of waist and toxins, like a cleaning system for the body. Third is that the more you drink water, the less likely you will be to drink sodas, juice and other beverages with high sugar contents. This is very important. Most soda and juice have no nutritional value and simply serve as empty calories, a great way to cut calories is simply to cut those out and replace them with soda. If you drink 3-4 cans of soda a day, you can immediately cut 400+ calories daily.

Principle 4- Eat Smaller more Frequent Meals

You have probably heard this one before and it is really important. Eating frequently can play a huge role in a weight loss program. First of all, every time the digestive system begins work, you burn calories. So, whenever we eat, we are also burning some calories in order to digest the food. What this means is that if person A eats 2000 calories over 3 meals and person B eats 2000 calories over 6 meals, person B will burn more calories throughout the day because the digestive system was active 6 times vs. only 3 by person A. Secondly, The more frequent the meals, the less hungry we will be from meal to meal. This means that we will eat less at each meal instead of overeating due to hunger.  Finally, frequent meals will help to keep our energy levels up and consistent instead of a roller coaster like many go through.

Principle 5- Day to Day Consistency

Consistency is the most important part of maintaining healthy eating habits, especially if you are beginning a new plan. Eating habits can be a challenge to fix and unless it’s ingraned in us, it’s very easy to fall off the wagon. Try to maintain consistent times to eat each day. Eat breakfast at 7:00 each day for example, rather than at random times. Also try to not leave more than 4 hours between meals or snacks. This will cause you to consistently think about eating but you’ll never be too hungry. When beginning a healthy eating plan, make sure to come up with something that works, is comfortable for you and stick to it. If you have a bad day or two, don’t beat yourself up just get back to the good habits. If you are consistent, then after a few months, you’ll find that you are sticking to these principles without even having to think about it and then you can make more specific changes to your new eating plan.

Strategies for maintaining healthy eating habits (Part 1 of 2)

As mentioned in a previous post, the majority of diets fail. Diets fail for a wide variety of reasons but there are a few basic reasons why most diets are destined to fail right off the bat. The key to maintaining healthy eating is to change the approach one has to their “diet.”

Why do diets fail?
Of the many reasons why diets fail, I think the biggest comes from our perception of the word “diet.” When people think of that word, they associate it with something temporary, something restrictive, painful and a means to an end (losing weight). These are all negative associations and automatically make the diet likely to fail.
Another reason why diets fail is because they are generally not sustainable. Most diets are so restrictive that a person can only stick to It for a finite period of time. A person may notice significant weight loss from a new diet but once they go off of it, the weight is likely to come back on in equal or greater numbers. The final reason why diets fail is because they are often not specific to the person. Everybody has different habits, lifestyles and physical needs. A diet must take all of these individual needs into account in order to be successful.

How do I approach an effective diet?

In order to have successful diet, one must overcome the obstacles mentioned above. The first thing that we need to do is to change our mindset when it comes to the word “diet.” The word “diet” simply refers to the way we are currently eating. Whether your diet is healthy or unhealthy, the word still applies so there is no need to apply those negative connotations. For a diet to be successful, what is needed is the proper mindset. It needs to be approached as a lifestyle change and not simply a way to lose weight. While weight loss may be a goal, it is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to keep the weight off long term.

A typical crash diet is designed to be used for a finite period of time and generally to lose a significant amount of weight over a short period of time. While these diets can yield good results initially, the person will almost always gain the weight back once they stop the diet. For this reason, a good diet must be sustainable. It needs to be something that the person can stick to for an indefinite period of time. If someone can sustain a healthy diet, they will lose weigh at a steady and consistent pace but more importantly, they will keep the weight off.
The reason why I use the word “strategies” in the title is because it is essential that a person have a strategic approach to their diet. Everybody is different and requires a different approach to structuring their diet. Specificity is very important and we need to take a variety of factors into account. Things like work schedule, availability of food, sleeping habits, religion etc. all may have a potential impact and should be takes into account. If a person can pit together a diet which takes into account their lifestyle, they are more likely to stick with it than if they are simply given a sheet of paper with what they should do.

Please check back next Tuesday for part 2 of this series as I will go into the 4 basic rules and you can start to build the frame of a good diet.

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