Want Results? Get Off Your Big Fat But!

No, no misspelling here. I’m not talking about your backside. I’m talking about the excuses we find to not do what we know we should be doing in order to improve our health and fitness. “I know I should _______, BUT…”

If you want something to change, you need to be willing to do something different (and that usually means something more difficult). For changes in our health and fitness levels, you need to make sure your diet is where it’s supposed to be, you’re getting in the right kind of workouts with the appropriate frequency, keeping your stress levels down, and getting enough sleep.

Excuses

Excuses outweighing your results?

When you’re not getting the results you want, you need to look at these areas and ask yourself which of those items aren’t happening and what it is that’s getting in your way. As you identify the area of difficulty, listen to yourself. “I know I shouldn’t be eating the doughnuts that work supplies, but it’s all they have there.” “I have every intention of getting to the gym, but something always comes up at work.” Those buts are your excuses, your scapegoats, and you have to recognize that fact. That’s not to say they aren’t a problem, only that knowing that they are a problem means you need to come up with a different solution as to how to work around them. You need to pre-plan for those occasions when your normal schedule is thrown off.

In example, normally your diet is good. You eat what, when, and where you’re supposed to. But, when your friends come to visit for a long weekend, you end up overindulging the whole time and feeling guilty. So, imagine they just called. You know how this weekend usually goes. Ask yourself what you could do differently that would make your weekend diet better. Could you have more fresh fruits and vegetables on hand? If you usually drink alcoholic beverages, could you alternate between those drinks and a glass of water?

The key to getting the results you want, reaching your goals, is getting rid of the big fat BUT that has been allowing you to think you had an excuse. Well, it isn’t an excuse. A but simply means you need to come up with a new way to handle those things that have been getting in your way. If it means enough to you, you can find a solution.

Please let me know if you need any help losing your big but.

Try This!!! It Worked For Me!?

What is probably the worst reasons to try something is because someone says, “It worked for me!” This is true with diets, exercise, supplements, or following some “guru”.

One story from my college days (yes, many, MANY years ago) is a perfect example of this. I was working in the university weight room and saw a huge bodybuilder doing concentration curls (one arm curls in which you’re seated with your elbow resting on the inside of your thigh). He had giant biceps. While curling with one arm, he held a metal pipe in the other and was hitting his biceps with it. I had to go ask what that was all about. He said that by hitting his muscle with the pipe, he was breaking down the muscle faster to build it up bigger…and who was going to argue with him, it must work, right. Whoa… big time wrong! That’s not how muscle breakdown and building works. “Well, (naysayers will say) if it didn’t work, why was he so big? Huuhh?” Well, let’s think of all the other things he could be doing. His diet was probably supplying the right amount nutrients. He was working out hard, even without the pipe. He probably had some genetic advantage, aaand… at that time, it was likely that he was taking anabolic steroids. Still, he said it was the pipe and people would surely believe him.

shake-weight-for-men-in-pakistan-Telebrand.pk_Any exercise program will give results to someone who hasn’t been exercising. It doesn’t mean it is the safest, most effective exercise program. It is just that now you’re following a program and doing some kind of exercise.

Almost all diets will give weight loss results short-term. Whether they are cutting out food groups (paleo, ketogenic, vegan) or managing when you eat (intermittent fasting) or has you track your points (weight watchers), they all will manipulate you into eating fewer calories. Fewer calories = weight loss (at least short term). (Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, has a great post here.)

All that said, I do hope that all of our clients are saying, “Try Jiva Fitness! It worked for me!” What’s the difference? Do your research. If it’s an exercise program or a diet/eating plan, what is it based on? Is there scientific evidence to back it up. Who are the people that created it? Are they qualified professionals? Don’t go blindly into things that are in the popular news. After all, even the Shake Weight was popular for a short time.

Keeping Your Brain Fit

As we age, there are changes that occur that we typically expect to face. These might include some hearing loss, impaired vision, and general aches and pains. These are annoyances for the most part and not things that need to diminish our quality of life to any great extent. However, for many, a big fear and source of anxiety is the possibility of suffering from Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US and the second most feared (after cancer). Who could blame fearing it? It can rob us of our memory to the extent that we don’t remember our loved ones, and, to date, there is no cure for it. That said, there are things we can do to keep our brains as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Brain fitness programs have been explored to help people maintain healthy brain tissue and function.
fit_brainThere are five main elements that we can engage in to help our brains working optimally.

  1. Physical exercise has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, as well as stimulate the production of brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) which has been described as “Miracle Grow for the brain”.
  2. Proper nutrition, healthy foods in healthy amounts (especially those high in omega 3 and antioxidants) helps to keep the brain’s tissues functioning optimally.brainfitness-elements
  3. Cognitive challenge is essential and more than just doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku. Look for learning opportunities that involve multiple senses such as learning to play an instrument or learning to speak another language.
  4. Stress management can have a big effect on our lives. Stress elevates cortisol levels (stress hormone) which, if it is chronic, can destroy brain cells making it harder to remember and think clearly. Try activities that can reduce stress such as exercise, meditation, or other things that draw your attention away from your stressors.
  5. Socialization is also important. Studies have shown that people with many social connections, that they interact with on a regular basis, experience a slower rate of memory decline.

These elements of a brain fitness program don’t need to be addressed separately. In fact, one of the best things you can do is to layer various elements together. Fitness classes are a great example of the possible layering, exercise, cognitive (following and/or learning choreography), stress reduction, and socialization with others in the class. Another example could be taking an Italian cooking class where you also learn Italian (cognitive, socialization, possibly nutrition). As I think about it, there’s a very popular one at the moment, the social painting classes (socialization, cognitive, stress reduction).

We can make a difference in our brain’s health and function. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. (I think I heard that someplace 🙂 ) Don’t let yourself slide into mental decline if it can be prevented or even delayed. Try to integrate these 5 elements into your life. Mix and match them. They are what make life richer and help keep it that way.

 

 

Eating to Build Muscle

Building muscle, whether young or old, keeps us able to do the things we want in life. That may be playing sports or carrying groceries. It also, being a more metabolically active tissue than fat, helps us keep fat off. The more muscle we have, the higher our resting metabolism, which means we burn more calories at rest than someone with less muscle. Now, to build muscle, we need to challenge them so they need to adapt and grow. This is most effectively done through resistance training (i.e. weight lifting). Most of us understand that. What a lot of people don’t know is that eating the right foods in the right portions is equally important.

Let’s start where everyone’s mind goes first, protein. Protein, by itself, does not build muscle! Resistance training stimulates muscle growth. However, if you don’t have adequate protein to help with tissue synthesis and repair you will not gain muscle and will likely even lose it.

natural-protein-650x250

So, how much protein do we need? Often, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) is looked at for guidance. You would think that would make sense, right. But, the RDA is about surviving, not thriving. They are minimal allowances. To build muscle, we need more. Alan Aragon, nutrition researcher and educator, in his book with co-author Lou Schuler, The Lean Muscle Diet, recommends 1 gram of protein per pound of Target Body Weight (TBW). So, say you weigh 240 pounds and wish to weigh 200, 200 lbs is your TBW. That means that you should eat 200 grams of protein per day. This is equivalent to 2.2 grams per kilogram, almost 3x the RDA which only recommends 0.8 grams per kilogram. Now, Aragon is not being age specific with his proposal. Yet, several studies that looked specifically at older adults, recommend increased protein intake from 0.8 to between 1.2-1.5 grams per kilogram, still less than Aragon’s. I believe (yes, this is me giving you a judgement call) that, from all of the research I have read and presentations that I have been to, the amount of protein for muscle gain (thriving, not surviving) lies on the higher end of the spectrum, probably between 1.8 and 2.2 grams per kilogram.

Now, muscle-building nutrition is also more than just about protein. We need adequate carbohydrates and healthy fats AND … enough total calories. If we are eating too few calories our bodies may turn to our muscle to break down into fuel. Obviously this is counter productive if we are trying to gain muscle. I’ve worked with many, so-called, hard gainers (those that can’t seem to gain muscle). More often their difficulty stems from one of two things or a combination of both. Either they are not challenging themselves appropriately with their weight lifting program or they are not eating enough to support muscle growth.

Quick approximation of Daily Caloric Needs (DCN): there are many formulas to determine DCN and all are ballpark guesses. I tend to start with the Harris-Benedict equation to determine the resting or basal metabolic rate (BMR) add in activity level and thermogenic effect of  food. Then I will tweak it up or down as we monitor results. You can use this link to get you started – Harris-Benedict calculator. Take your BMR number and multiply it by your activity level (1.2 for couch potato – 1.75 for high-end athlete). Now add in 10% of your BMR for the thermogenic effect of  food. This will give you an approximation of your DCN.

If you want to gain muscle at any age you need the growth stimulus (resistance training) and the support for growth by getting enough protein and total calories. Now go put on some muscle!