Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Dreaded Plateau

How are your fitness and nutrition goals going so far?  If you have been at this for awhile, you may have had the frustration of hitting a plateau- that dreaded time when it seems like you are stuck at the same weight and not moving anywhere!  Number one, I would encourage you to always take measurements, because even if the scale isn't moving, you may still be losing inches.  There is always the age old question of which weighs more: muscle or fat?  I will reply to that with:  which weighs more:  a pound of feathers or a pound of steel?  A pound is a pound.  It's not that muscle weighs more than fat, it's that it is more dense than fat.  So, we can actually lose inches, but we may not see a lot of movement on the scale.  Take your measurements once a month.  You will want to measure your chest (for women or men- around the fullest part of the chest area or bust), waist (measure around the navel), the abdomen (about 2-3 inches below the navel), the hips (around the fullest part of your rear end), thigh (have foot planted on the ground and then measure around the fullest part of the thigh), calf (foot planted on the ground and measure around the fullest part), upper arm (measure around the fullest part).  It may work best if you have someone help you with these measurements.  Don't pull the tape too tight, either.

If after you measure yourself you find that you have indeed hit that dreaded plateau, examine a few things.  Are you still keeping a food journal?  If not, start up again.  It's very easy to go over in calories.  Think of it this way:  if you eat just 100 calories more than you need per day, in a year you will have gained 10 pounds.  Another thing to look at is your exercise.  What kind are you doing?  Are you doing any weight training?  Have you been doing the same form of exercise for a while now?  We can sometimes get into a habit of doing the same thing over and over.  I'm going to put it to you bluntly:  if you are not challenging yourself and if you don't feel like you have exerted yourself past your normal ability, you are not going to see change.  I have talked about the overload principal before.  You must overload your body past it's normal ability.  Make sure you are doing both aerobic and anaerobic activity.  The simplest and easiest way for me to explain the difference between the two that you will understand is this:  low intensity vs high intensity.  Aerobic means "the presence of oxygen" and anaerobic means just the opposite.  During exercise with adequate fuel and oxygen (aerobic), muscle cells can contract repeatedly without fatigue.  During anaerobic or non-oxygen conditions, muscle cells must rely on other reactions that do not require oxygen to fuel muscle contraction.  When you are exercising if you are not feeling fatigued or extremely out of breath you are in an aerobic metabolic mode, but when you are feeling exhausted and fatigued you are in an anaerobic metabolic mode.  Here is the benefit of anaerobic activity:  you will continue to burn more calories after you are done working out than you will with aerobic activity.  Make sure you are doing both aerobic and anaerobic activity.  Some examples of aerobic would be:  walking, running, elliptical, biking.  Examples of anaerobic would be:  weight lifting, sprinting, cycling in a spin class where you are doing intense intervals, classic calisthenics such as push ups, squats, mountain climbers- all to exhaustion, exercising such as pushing and pulling different weights, etc.  Aerobic activity is less exhausting than anaerobic, but you need both.  Remember:  if you are not challenging yourself, you aren't getting the most benefit from exercise.  As always, if I can help in any way please let me know!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How MSG Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss and Cause Numerous Other Health Problems

What is MSG?  Monosodium glutamate  is a salt made from glutamic acid.  It's used to bring out the taste in salty and sweet foods.  So, most restaurants put it in just about everything as well as many prepackaged and processed foods.  Side effects from consuming MSG include:  headache, diarrhea, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, weakness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, chills, heartburn, unusual thirst, depression, anxiety/panic attacks, hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children, joint pain, hives, rashes, etc.  MSG is an excitotoxin that crosses the blood- brain barrier which means it can cause neurological problems.  So, as you can see MSG should not be consumed if you are trying to be healthy.  When it comes to weight loss, MSG can cause hypothyroidism, which causes your thyroid gland to not produce enough of the thyroid hormone, which in turn affects your rate of metabolism.  People with hypothyroidism do not burn as many calories and then they gain weight.  Another problem with MSG and weight loss is that it actually acts as a non appetite suppressant meaning it makes you crave the food that you are eating that contains the MSG.  This is why so many people "crave" certain foods, especially fast food.  Think about those fast food french fries that you love or certain other dishes from restaurants.  More than likely they contain MSG.

Now, here's the tricky part.  There are ingredients that contain MSG, so food companies don't have to actually list MSG on the label, only the ingredient that contains it.  So, when you see the following ingredients on a label, it more than likely contains MSG:  autolyzed plant protein, autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, monopotassium glutamate, senomyx, sodium caseinate, textured protein, vegetable protein extract, yeast extract, yeast food or nutrient, flavor, bouillon, cornstarch fructose.

So, the bottom line is, whether or not you are trying to lose weight, get rid of the MSG.  There are studies that have been conducted and are still being conducted to show a relation between consumption of MSG and diseases such as Alzheimer's.  Just remember that whenever you consume it, it is affecting your central nervous system in a negative manner.  If you have any questions let me know!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Breakfast: How eating it will improve your metabolism!!!!!

How is everyone doing on removing the high fructose corn syrup from their homes?  I hope you are finding that it is getting easier and also, that it is getting tastier eating all of those wonderful whole foods.  But, many of you may still be inhibiting your metabolism from burning at it's best.  What is the number one way to sabotage your metabolism?  Not eating breakfast!!!!  You see, your metabolism is like a fire.  Unless you "feed" it, the fire will go out.  So, when you eat a meal or a snack, your metabolism will start burning at a higher rate for a couple of hours.  That is, unless it is a meal of simple carbs like white sugar, white flour, etc.  Your body burns through that much quicker than say a complex carb such as brown rice, whole wheat flour etc.  If you are someone who doesn't eat breakfast here is what happens:  you eat dinner around 6 or 7pm; you go to bed at 11pm; you wake up at 7am and skip breakfast; you don't eat lunch until around noon.  If you follow a schedule somewhat like that, your metabolism is absolutely dead for much of your day.  If you eat dinner at 7pm your metabolism will burn higher until about 9pm.  If you don't eat breakfast and wait until lunch the next day to eat, your metabolism has been at it's lowest for 15 hours!!!!  You are missing out on a lot of calorie burning.  Here is what you need to do:  eat breakfast when you wake up, which for most people is around 7am; eat a mid morning healthy snack around 10am; eat lunch at noon; eat an afternoon snack around 3pm; and then eat dinner around 6 or 7pm.  Do you see how your metabolism will actually burn more?  If I eat at 7am it will burn high till around 9am.  And, then I'm eating a snack at 10am which will keep my metabolism burning until I eat lunch at noon.  My lunch will keep it burning until around 2pm and then I'm eating a snack at 3pm and so on and so forth.  Do you get the picture?

Now, this is not a license to go out and eat whatever you want.  Make sure you are making good food choices. This means you want nutrient dense foods:  the most food, with the most nutrients, for the least amount of calories.  Think whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean protein, and dairy.  And, if you do eat nuts make sure you measure them- it's very easy to eat several hundred calories worth without even realizing it.  I measure just about everything.  I think you would be surprised at how many servings you may be eating without realizing it. Be conscious of what you are putting in your mouth at all times.  NEVER eat from bags of food.  Always take out a measured serving and put it on a plate or in a bowl to eat.  We can start eating mindlessly and not even realize it until the whole bag of chips is gone!

What is a good breakfast?  Eggs or egg whites, lean protein, yogurt and granola (always measure- granola can add up in calories quickly).  You can do a whole egg plus an egg white omelet with veggies and lean protein and a sprinkle of cheese.  That will give your body a lot of fuel!

If you start eating right you will feel better and will have motivation to exercise more!!!  Nutrition and fitness go hand in hand!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Amazing Exercise That Works Your Whole Body!!

It's the:  push up!!!  I know many of you are cringing right now, and, I was right there with you at one time.  The thought of doing a push up was not appealing to me, but, it was because I couldn't do many of them.  I finally got over it when I realized the amazing amount of muscles it works in your body.  The primary muscles being worked are the muscles of the chest and triceps, but, because of the position that your body is in, nearly every muscle from your shoulders down to your toes gets a workout- if you are in proper position.  And, that includes your abdominals!!!  Tired of doing those abdominal crunches?  You will feel your abdominals when you do push ups.

I started 2012 doing 60 push ups a day.  I usually do them in 3 groups of twenty.  I have my whole family doing them!  If you have never done a push up before start on your knees if you need to.  Just make sure that your hands are not too far forward- you want them to be under your shoulders, but a little bit wider- not too wide, though.  Your body should look like a long plane- without your bottom sticking up in the air.  Your feet can either be touching or spread out some.  If your feel are spread a little it will give you some stability.  If you can't do 60- start with 20 and work your way up.  There has been some controversy as to whether or not you should do push ups everyday.  With weight training, we recommend every other day to give your muscles time to repair, but, because push ups are an exercise that you are not holding a weight in your hands, it is considered more of a calisthenic, which can be done daily, as long as your joints are not in severe pain.  Muscle pain is to be expected as your body works out, but, joint pain is not good.

So, let's challenge our bodies!!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Have a Challenge For You!!!!!!!!!!

Happy New Years to everyone!!!  The year 2012 is going to be a year for everyone to get fit and healthy- so, I have a challenge for you!  I know it can be overwhelming trying to get rid of all the bad stuff at once, so, I will give you a new challenge each month to eliminate from your diet.  I will also give you a fitness challenge each month.  Do you accept this challenge?  I hope so!!!

Your nutrition challenge this month (each item you eliminate is not just for the month, but to be carried on throughout the whole year and hopefully forever) is to get rid of everything with high fructose corn syrup.  I know you are probably thinking that I'm starting you out with a huge challenge, but, I am here to tell you it is possible.  Go through your pantry, cupboards, refrigerator and freezer and start reading the backs of those packages to see what you need to throw away.  There are so many substitutes available now that are free of hfcs, so if you need help trying to find an alternative to a favorite food, let me know and I can make some suggestions.

Your fitness challenge this month is to workout at least 20 minutes each day- 5 days a week.  We will start slow and build up.  You don't need to join a health club if you can't afford it- you can do it right at home!  Here's your first workout:  Do 1 minute of lunges, followed by 1 minute of squats, followed by 1 minute of jumping jacks, followed by 1 minute of push ups (on your knees if you need to- challenge yourself though), followed by 1 minute of abdominal crunches.  Repeat this circuit 3 more times for a total of 4 times through.  If you need a little more challenge hold dumbbells while you are doing the lunges and squats.  If you have been exercising already, do this circuit 5 times instead of four.  Or you can do jump squats instead of regular squats. You can always make a workout harder or easier.

So, who's in?  Let's make 2012 the year you took control of your nutrition and fitness!!