Weight loss

2 Weeks of Dieting!

So after going back to St. Louis for the Christmas break and packing on some holiday weight, I started off the new year in an amazing little Cantina in the heart of Hollywood, surrounded by professionally made Star Wars costumes and singing throwbacks at the tops of our lungs. Absolutely enjoyed some drinks, amazing company and new friends. The next morning I went full bore on some brunch, followed by snacks all day and a full Dominoes’ Pizza and cinnies to finish the day, and maybe some extra Halo Top, but who’s keeping track. All of this before starting back on my plan come the 2nd. I’ve done several cut and bulk cycles over the past few years, anywhere from a quick 6 week low carb diet to a 18 week slow and steady cut, removing carbs every two weeks until I was in full blown Keto. My last phase of dieting completely cut out the social aspects of life, everything planned out to the minute and exact ounce of food. 7 meals a day, all regimented and cooked days beforehand. No seasonings or flavors were added, life was about becoming a machine, everything revolved around consistency and timing. This time was different. I have been fortunate enough to become close to someone who is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable on the subject of all things nutrition and human performance. Against my previous biases and pride on eating like a robot, and some persuasion and reassurance, I opened my eyes to a whole new world of nutrition that I had previously not experienced.

You see, throughout my life I have been labeled as a classic “yo-yo” dieter. Continually lowering and depleting the system over weeks, with the occasional binge on a greasy burger or pizza to amplify and restore some sort of energy and metabolism. I was able to get super lean, however energy levels were extremely low and I had cardio-ed myself to exhaustion. Holding onto that super lean physique was difficult with no added carb days or rests. This would result in my cheat meal turning into a cheat day, which over the course of a few weeks became cheat weekend. The endless supply of energy felt so great to my body that eating unhealthily actually felt great, and it would become the norm until I felt as though it was time to start the cycle again. There was no such thing as not emptying a full package of Oreos at night. Now I have Oreos in the cabinet and am not even tempted.

So what’s changed? Through some faith and trust, as well as first hand accounts of what can be accomplished, I have found my stride. Mentally, the first few days were difficult, I felt as though I kept wanting to add protein even though I was receiving a sufficient amount. Towards the end of the week I got a bit hangry(hunger anger) but now realize that I was still adapting. I had a high carb day midweek as well as a modified cheat meal Sunday(which you saw on Youtube). Nearing the end of my second full week on the plan, with a high carb day Wednesday, I am confident and thrilled to continue the process!

From December 31st to January 7th I lost 15 pounds, probably a lot of salt and water, but still a solid amount. I have yet to weigh in this week but I am showing abs and obliques again. I’ve done cardio 5 mornings a week, lift 6 days and one full rest day. I’ve been eating Kodiak Cakes waffles and pancakes everyday, and even Halo Top Ice Cream twice a week. My habits have changed while still progressing and have yet to get hungry this week.

All in all I’ve learned to enjoy food again, waffles, guacamole, turkey tacos, with seasoning! Yogurt and even coffee creamer. So not only do I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new or different to past experiences, but to also know that “dieting” doesn’t have to be treacherous. You can still progress and lose fat and go to social gatherings guilt free. Nutrition is about proper balance, never starving and never full. Just trust in the process and the results will come! A special thanks to @galfranie for sparking my newfound belief in not dieting like a savage, as well as tailoring a plan that is already proven successful!

Are You a Juicing Junkie?

Juicing has been an ever-increasing popular fad for drinking your veggies and fruits. So many supposed TV health gurus and infomercial persuaders continue to force feed the idea that juicing is healthy and leads to weight loss. All of you have seen the “lose 10 pounds in a week” sham and some of you have probably taken the bait. Of course juicing looks appealing, who doesn’t want an easier method for getting down all those veggies and receiving all of the benefits and nutrients. The problem is that marketing is winning this battle. Juicing is not good for you for several reasons, let alone the fact of how financially costly and wasteful it is.

 

“But what about my cleanse?!” Let’s get physiological here. Your body’s digestive system is quite literally the entire process of blending! Your mouth and teeth break down the foods, just like the shiny blades on that costly blender on TV. Juicers claim that by blending the food and extracting the juice you are removing the toxins…guess what your liver does? Your liver’s essential function is to break down the nutrients that have been chewed by your mouth and filter and process out all of the toxins. What then happens is the nutrient matter and bulk of the food is sent to the stomach where acids break down the nutrients and are absorbed into the body for fuel. Everything that is not used or needed is turned into waste. Amazing really! Take that in itself into consideration the next time a friend or coworker starts explaining their great new cleanse they’re trying. 

 

There are several other reasons why juicing isn’t all it’s made out to be, and most of them deal with the actual blending and juicing process. By putting several vegetables and fruits into a blender you are removing the bulk or mass of the food and essentially leaving behind a concentrate. By doing this you are now left with the high sugar content from all of the food, yet taking out the fiber and vitamins found in the fibrous material. This means that instead of your digestive system slowly digesting the fibrous food as it should, you are now shocking your system with a glass or cup of sugar. This gives your body an immediate spike in insulin as there is no fiber to slow down the process. The insulin spike leads to increased fat stores and the inability to let go of unwanted fat. Not to mention the fact that you removed the vitamins that are found in the bulk matter, thus leaving you with a glass of flavored sugar. You must remember that fruits are basically nature’s candy. 30 grams of sugar in a glass of fruit juice is digested exactly as that of 30 grams of sugar from a candy bar. The end result of a quickly sugar laden glass of juiced fruits and vegetables is that you will be hungry quickly because it is a liquid, leading to overeating, and further frustration.

 

On the financial side of things juicing really is just a waste. Think of how many fruits and vegetables it takes to make an 8 ounce glass of juice. You can just as easily receive less calories, more fiber, more satiation, and less sugar simply by eating a cup or two of whole fruits and veggies. This results in a happier wallet that can be spent on other fun nutritional items.

 

A final note to remember is that cooking foods releases antioxidants that you cannot get from raw or juiced foods, and what isn’t great about reducing inflammation, aches and pains, and bloating. So next time you or someone you know considers juicing as a means to cleanse or lose weight, do some further research and really take a second look at your overall plan.

Change! Embrace it for Success!

This is a guest post by Psychology Doctoral Candidate @GalFrankie

CHANGE

There are 5 stages to the process of change. Everyone progresses through the stages at a different pace, in their own time. However in order to successfully modify a behavior or make a change, there are certain steps that must be taken to move through the stages successfully.
While the idea of jumping head-first into making a change might seem appealing, because you're in a rush to get started and see results, only about 20% of the human population is prepared to actively and successfully make a change at any given time. Obviously, that's a pretty low success rate! (And supported by additional research that indicates that over 80% of all New Year's resolutions ultimately fail.) 

Therefore, engaging in a behavioral change without creating the foundation to facilitate the change probably isn't in your best interest! 

Stage 1 - Precontemplation 

This is where EVERYONE begins the process of change. This state occurs (as the name suggests) BEFORE you even start considering making a change. It simply describes your current state of being (homeostasis). 
Typically our bodies, minds, and hearts are constantly working to maintain homeostasis, because familiarity can be dealt with more easily than new and different challenges. Disrupting that balance is really difficult, even when it's something that's good for you; eating more healthily, ending a bad relationship, working out more, freeing yourself from an addiction, etc. 

So just work on being mindful about your current life, as is! 

If this is you (or if you got ahead of yourself ), stay tuned for the next stage!!

The Big 3!

Food, water, and sleep. I consider these the big three for overall success throughout the day. If any one of these elements is lacking, or even used in excess, your entire day and course of action can be thrown off track. All of which are so much an abundant part of our lives, yet the most often overlooked. We are creatures of repetition, and as we live day to day in a systematic  way, it is easy to slip into poor habits where we grab whatever food is quickest and sacrifice restful, deep sleep for late night TV binges and social activities. If all you do is really focus in on these 3 items, then your overall productivity and efficiency will increase. So let’s take a look at each.

 

Food

We know already that food is essential to our day, but with busy schedules it is so easy to grab a highly processed granola bar, candy bar, or sugar loaded snack that is only momentarily fulfilling and lacking any real nutrition. Take your time to prep well rounded, nutritious meals that include unprocessed sources of protein, carbs, and fats. Some people try so hard to limit carbs and fats that they end up becoming depleted, which leads to overindulging later in the day. Along with the types of foods to eat, it is important to fuel yourself every few hours. This keeps your insulin levels more neutralized and prevents periods of high energy and crashing. I personally eat 7 to 8 times a day, and at no point am I ever starving or full.

 

Water

Studies have shown that being dehydrate by only 5% can lead to a 30% loss of physical performance. Along with this loss is also mental function. A 2% rate of dehydration drastically reduces cognitive function and leads to a decrease in decision making. I personally drink 1-2 gallons of water per day, as do most of the male fitness junkies that I know. Any less than this and I feel mentally fatigued with feeling of brain fog and a significant loss of strength in the gym. Let’s be clear here, you will be using the bathroom more frequently, but will lead to a more energized day. Many active females in the should be consuming anywhere from 2 litres to a gallon per day. Another extremely important aspect of water is digestion. An often taboo and squeamish topic is digestion. It is so vital to the function and performance of our bodies. Increased water enhances regularity which also helps with satiation and ability to process the incoming food.

 

Sleep

The most amazing thing about sleep is that it is the time in which your body replenishes and repairs itself. Everything from growth hormone, muscle repair, water homeostasis, adrenal stores, and digestion. From a physical standpoint lack of sleep will make the body hold onto to water, as well as not repairing muscle tissue as it should. Both of these can quickly lead to injuries and unsatisfactory weight loss progress. The hypothalamus releases growth hormone while you are in REM sleep, and this directly affects the rebuilding of muscle tissue. From a mental aspect lack of deep, restful sleep can lead to cognitive decline and lack of energy. Your brain restores your adrenal glands during sleep, and over several weeks of poor sleep habits, adrenal glands become burned out making it extremely difficult to think and work at a high level.

In times of stress and overzealous schedules, it is important to keep these 3 specifics in mind, and altering them in a positive manner can allow you to handle the additional workload. This will allow for longevity and long term goal reaching. 

Gymtimidation for the Newcomer

The gym can be a daunting place to any newcomer or person who is not 100% confident in themselves or their new surroundings. It’s important to understand that even though stepping into the gym for the first time can be a scary endeavor, it is also a refreshing and exhilarating experience. You are actively pursuing your goals of getting into better overall shape, losing weight or adding muscle depending on your goals. The anxiety of going to the gym will subside after a few days because it will become a familiar place. Against stereotypes and preconceived notions, the majority of people inside of a gym are often friendly, courteous and helpful. There is a general understanding amongst the fitness community regardless of level of fitness, whether it be a professional bodybuilder or first timer, that everyone is there working to improve one’s health. The days of gym bros and your classic meatheads are fading, and overall people want to see others improve their lives as they improve their own.

 

Given the fear of the gym, another aspect is the equipment. Is is 100% possible with advances in machinery and labeling to do an entire week’s worth of workouts without ever touching a free weight or dumbbell. The majority of machines will not only show you what body part the machine is for, but will also describe in detail how to safely use the machine. Free weights can be intimidating, as many people fear improper form or using the wrong weight. With the ease of use for selecting weight amounts on machines, it is extremely easy to adjust the settings to a weight that is suitable for you.

 

Another important thing to remember is to ask for help. There are so many knowledgable people and trainers in a gym. All of these people also have their own questions for techniques and form. Ask for assistance if you are uncertain of how to use a piece of equipment. They will be more than happy to help as offering advice not only helps you but gives them a feeling of fulfillment as they’ve now expanded their fitness knowledge to someone new who will be able to use it forever.

 

From the perspective of the seasoned regular it is necessary to remember that you were once the person stepping foot in the gym for the first time. Offer help to someone who is clearly out of their comfort zone, and remember that they’ve taken a big leap in conquering fears of the gym as well as improving their life.