10 Reasons to Eat Organically—and Locally

Guest Post by  Steve Edwards Team Beachbody 

“Think globally, act locally” isn’t just for bumper stickers anymore. This grassroots politics–type slogan has become an important way of thinking about where your next meal should come from. But the implications here are far more than political. Buying local—as well as organic—foods allows you to protect your family by feeding them in the safest way possible. Here are 10 reasons to add “visit the local farmers’ market” to the top of your to-do list each week.

Local foods are safer.

Or at least you can find out if they are. Organic food standards are high, but there are still companies out there attempting to cloud the rules. When you buy locally, it’s easier to check out what you’re buying, and you won’t have to hire Magnum, P.I. to do it. The great thing about local media is that they love to cover this stuff. If for any reason a local farm is mixed up in nefarious activities, there’s a good chance your paper has a reporter dreaming of a gig at The New York Times who’ll be on the job for you. Even if this isn’t the case, you can be inquisitive at the farmers’ markets—you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get up to date on the local scoop. Farmers who adhere to a strict code of ethics love to talk about others who do, and those who don’t.

Organic foods are safer.

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Organic certification standards are the public’s assurance that their food and products have been grown and handled according to sustainable procedures, without toxic, synthetic, irradiated, or genetically modified elements, including chemical fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and other additives. At least that’s what the law says. But even though many companies still cheat the system, most of them play by the rules. These rules are in place to help both soil longevity and the health and safety of the consumer. Many Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Now, the EPA considers 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides, and 30 percent of all insecticides, none of which meet organic criteria, to potentially cause cancer. You can’t always be certain you’re getting safe food, but eating organic foods stacks the odds in your favor.

Organic food tastes better.

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Many people would be amazed to taste the difference between garden-grown fruits and vegetables (and wild meat) and the offerings you find down at your local mega-grocery-mart. The main reason for this disparity has to do with something called trophic levels, which is determined by where plants and animals fall on the food chain. When food—even natural food—is manufactured, as when plants are grown in poor soil with some added nutrients, or animals are raised using drugs and a non-native diet, their physiological chemistry is altered. This doesn’t just change their nutrient content—it changes the way they taste.

Organic food is more nutritious

—which stands to reason, based on the whole trophic levels thing. When soils are depleted and then fertilized, only certain nutrients are added with fertilizers. This results in the loss of many of the plants’ original phytonutrients. While these lost phytonutrients aren’t necessarily a major component of any individual plant, they add up in your diet and become a major component of who you are. This lack of phytonutrients in the plants in our diets has a lot to do with many modern-day maladies. With regard to meat, it’s basically the same story. Animals that are fed a poor diet are, as you might imagine, less healthy to eat, because they’re also missing out on essential nutrients thanks to the trophic level paradigm—just like you are.

You won’t have to eat genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Researchers with Genetically Modified Corn

A GMO is a plant, animal, or microorganism whose genetic sequence has been modified to introduce genes from another species. Because the long-term impact of GMOs on our health isn’t known yet, they’re forbidden by the Soil Association Standards for Organic Food and Farming. Furthermore, in order to qualify as organic, animals can’t be fed GMOs, nor can they be fed antibiotics, added hormones, or other drugs. It is not currently required, however, that GMOs be mentioned on food labels, so it’s very likely that anything not certified organic contains some GMO ingredients.

Your drinking water will be safer.

The EPA estimates that pesticides contaminate groundwater in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country’s population. Because organic farmers practice water conservation and don’t use toxic chemicals that leach into your groundwater, organic farming leads to less waste intrusion into our aquifers, which helps keep your drinking water healthier.

Your kids will be healthier.

The toxicity of pesticide residue is determined not only by the chemicals used, but by our body weight in relation to how much we consume. This means that your children are even more at risk than you are. It’s estimated that the average child receives four times more exposure than the average adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. To try and minimize this risk, buy organic, but also make sure that your family eats a wide variety of foods.

To help farmers and farm communities.

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It’s estimated that the U.S. has lost more than 650,000 family farms since 1990. The USDA estimates that half of the U.S. farm production comes from only 1 percent of farms. Organic farming may be one of the few survival tactics left for the family farm and rural communities. The majority of organic farms are still small-scale operations, generally on fewer than 100 acres, and using an average of 70 percent less energy. Small farms use far more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices than large-scale farms do. For example, small farms use manure to fertilize soil, naturally recycling it to keep the land productive. Industrial farms produce so much manure that it’s a human health risk.

The overspill of manure has contaminated water wells with E. coli and other pathogens. This brings up another subject: Industrial farms still—though now illegally—feed animals the ground-up remnants of other animals that aren’t naturally part of their diet. This has led to pathogens like E. coli getting into our foods in the first place.Furthermore, farm workers are much safer on small farms. A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed to herbicides had six times more risk of contracting cancer than nonfarmers did. Due to their direct exposure, field workers on conventional farms are the most vulnerable to illness as a result of pesticide use. Organic farms eliminate that risk by eliminating harmful pesticides and other chemical inputs from their practices.

For more humane treatment of animals.

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Factory farms treat animals like commodities. They are usually kept in tightly confined pens or cages and often never move more than a few feet for their entire lives. They are also fed the cheapest foods available, no matter how it affects their—and then our—health. Besides the fact that a host of illnesses have entered our world as a direct result of this practice, it’s also just not nice. Animals on organic farms are far likelier to be raised without cruelty. They are also fed a diet much closer to what they would eat naturally, and studies tell us—surprise!—that these animals tend to be significantly healthier than their factory-raised counterparts.

To promote a vibrant economy.

Organic products only seem more expensive because people base their cost on their sticker price alone. However, retail price represents a mere fraction of their true cost. Market prices for conventionally grown foods don’t reflect the costs of federal subsidies to conventional agriculture, the cost of contaminated drinking water, loss of wildlife habitat and soil erosion, or the cost of the disposal and cleanup of hazardous wastes generated by the manufacturing of pesticides. Compared to local farms, there’s also transportation—and the pollutants that result from it—to consider. All of this means that essentially, you can pay now or pay later—just remember that you’re going to be charged interest, mainly in the form of a socially and ecologically diminished world to live in.

 What if you can’t find organic food?

One of our members, who lives in a rural area, went to her local market and requested healthier options. Now the store owner can’t keep them on the shelf. You can, with a little initiative, make a difference. After all, retail stores are in business to serve you. If this doesn’t work, hit the Internet. Since “organic” is the current buzzword of the food industry, there will be options. And of course there’s always your local farmers’ market.

For more information on organic and local produce, check out the Web site for the Organic Trade Association, or type “Community Supported Agriculture” into your favorite search engine.

Shakeology® Is Low-Glycemic: What That Means and Why It Matters to You!

What’s the Glycemic Index?

Simply put, the glycemic index is a way to measure how carbohydrates react in your blood. When you eat carbs, your blood sugar level rises anywhere from a little to a lot. The GI (Glycemic Index) uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher numbers given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar.

What do high-GI foods do to my body? They cause the body to produce higher levels of insulin, but sometimes too much. This gives you an energy burst known as a “sugar rush.” It feels good at first, but then your blood sugar drops rapidly and you “crash.” Eating low-GI foods is a smart way to avoid this, because they stabilize your blood sugar levels instead of spiking them.

What kind of high-GI foods to steer away from and why:

Foods with a high GI (above 70) include white bread, pretzels, potatoes, and most processed foods. Eating these foods triggers a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, which:

  • Encourages the body to store fat

  • Creates a cycle of hunger pangs and feeling unsatisfied

  • Causes an energy crash that leaves you irritated or tired

  • Can lead to high blood pressure, fluid retention and diabetes

In contrast, foods with a low GI (under 55)—like broccoli, oatmeal, peanuts, and Shakeology—help stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, which:

  • Increases levels of glycogen, a hormone that causes body fat to be burned

  • Helps satisfy feelings of hunger

  • Helps balance moods

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease, helps control diabetes, and positively affects the aging process

So you see, eating low-GI foods like Shakeology is good for you! Shakeology’s GI rating of 24 is much lower than most fruits and some vegetables. Low-GI foods keep your sugar levels in check while supplying nutrition that satisfies, energizes, and helps promote good health!

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Best Exercise Ever (Plus Quinoa Recipe!)

It’s always interesting when a client asks me to pin down a single exercise as the one that will help lose the most fat or sculpt the quickest. I’m always slow to answer.

You see, I’m acutely aware of the fact that though an exercise may be perfect for Client A, it may not be the best choice for Client B—which makes me hesitant to label any exercise as the universal best.

That being said, there are exercises that are better than others. And, yes, there are even a few that I would label as the best.

What Makes an Exercise The Best?

When deciding which exercises to include in your routine it is important to consider the type of movement involved. The simpler the movement, the fewer calories you’ll burn. On the other hand, the more complex the movement, the more calories you will burn.

Simply stated, exercises that use complex movements will deliver better results than exercises that use only simple movements. Complex movements recruit multiple muscles, some to stabilize and others to perform the movement. This process keeps your heart rate higher than a simple exercise would, giving you a more intense workout.

What is a Complex Movement?

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A complex movement is a multi-joint movement that recruits large portions of the body to complete the exercise. Let’s compare a simple movement leg exercise with a complex movement leg exercise:

The leg extension machine uses a simple, isolated movement to work the quadriceps. You’re in a seated position moving only your knee joint. There isn’t much involvement, if any, from other muscles and it doesn’t burn very many calories.

Now let’s look at a free weight walking lunge. You start by standing with your feet together and a dumbbell in each hand at your sides (or a barbell across your shoulders, or a medicine ball held at your chest, or even with no weight at all). You take a large step forward and lower your back knee, keeping your front knee at a 90 degree angle. Now you push off your front foot and pull your back leg forward, repeating the movement.

How many muscles did you utilize while performing the lunge? Probably too many to count.

You certainly worked your quadriceps, gluteus, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, supporting muscles in your shoulders, arms and back—just to name a few. You also raised your heart rate and really kicked your metabolism into high gear. That’s what I call a great exercise.

Other Ways to Increase Intensity

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Using complex movements are just one of many ways to kick your workout intensity up a notch. Try incorporating a Super Set into your routine. To do so simply perform two or more exercises in a row and then take a short rest.

Or how about a Compound Set? Perform one exercise, rest, then perform an exercise with opposing body parts. To find exercises that compliment one another, choose ones that have similar but opposite motions such as a chest press and a row.

The key to finding the best exercise is to find the ones that bring your workout intensity to a whole new level.

I’d be shortchanging you if I named any exercise as the best. The fact of the matter is that it is a combination of changing your workouts up, using interval training, and even some good old high intensity interval cardio that will ultimately see you to your goal.

These methods will help you to burn more calories, increase your metabolic rate, and will stimulate the production of morefat burning and muscle toning hormones. Of course, there is more involved to achieving your fitness goals. You need to incorporate fat burning into your routine. You need to consistently challenge yourself during workouts. You need to take control of your eating habits and to get your diet dialed in.

So what’s the best exercise for you? Find out – email us to schedule your no obligation fitness consultation. shredfatinc@gmail.com

A Dream With a Deadline

download

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Can you imagine the new-and-improved body of your dreams?

NOW is the time to attach a deadline to that dream so that it becomes reality

 

Quinoa Fruit Salad

8-24-2014This refreshing summer salad is made with quinoa. Quinoa is a gluten-free, protein-packed seed. It’s a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. Add a side of lean protein to your salad and you’ve got a highly nutritious, balanced meal. You can learn about the benefits of quinoa here.

Servings: 6
Here’s what you need…

 

  • 3/4 cup plain organic full fat Greek yogurt

  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice, divided

  • 1-15 fresh mint leaves, minced

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

  • optional dash of salt and pepper

  • 1 cup organic blueberries

  • 1 cup organic green grapes, halved

  • 1/2 cup organic raspberries

  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar

  1. In a small bowl combine the yogurt, 1 tablespoon lime juice and the mint. Pour over the cooked quinoa and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. In another bowl combine the fruit, agave nectar and remaining lime juice.

  3. Cover and refrigerate each bowl for 2 hours, to allow the flavors to emerge, then combine the fruit with the quinoa and serve.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 114 calories, 1 fat, 13mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 2.5g fiber, and 6g protein.

Motivate your friends, family and co-workers by sharing this article! 

Sleep and Skinny Jeans

What does skinny jeans and sleep have in common? Find out below.

Guest post by Karen Tonnis 

Your mission: to add lean muscle, form some well-defined curves. The prescription: get some sleep!

Crazy as it sounds, that’s the advice you’ll get from bodybuilders, trainers, professional coaches, and fitness experts in general. The fact is your body can only heal, repair, and grow during deep sleep. You can be doing the right things—perfectly portioning out your food, doing hardcore lifting that pushes you to the edge—but all that effort will be negated without enough recovery. You can’t cheat on sleep. We know sleep is essential to life, just like eating and breathing. But there are many theories as to exactly why we sleep, with no one clear answer. One is that sleep “restores” what our bodies lose while we’re awake. And recent findings actually support this theory, showing that many of the major restorative functions in the body, like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and the release of growth hormones, occur mostly, or as noted above, only during sleep.

Warning signs that you’re sleep-deprived

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Have a sneaking suspicion you might not be getting the sleep you need? You’re not alone. An estimated 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. don’t get adequate sleep every night. Here are a few classic signs:

  • Hitting the snooze button consistently on your alarm clock

  • Yawning uncontrollably and at inappropriate times (e.g., workplace meetings, parent-teacher conferences)

  • Feeling sluggish in the afternoon

  • Getting drowsy while driving

  • Having heavy eyelids and watery eyes

  • Experiencing memory lapses

  • Experiencing irritability and low energy

  • Feeling excessive hungriness or a complete lack of appetite

Tips for catching quality z’s

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Now that you know how important sleep is, don’t let it get away from you. Here are some handy tips to make the most of your rest time.

  • From 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night. And wake up at the same time every morning. If you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll wake up automatically without an alarm clock.

  • Get regular exercise. Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.

  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that eases the transition between being awake and sleeping.

  • Sleep primarily at night. Short naps are great for recharging and catching up on missed sleep, but too many naps, and naps that are too long, can interfere with your regular schedule.

Make the most of your workouts

 

Be honest with yourself. If you’re doing the work and the healthy eating plan and you’re still not seeing great results, it could be lack of sleep that’s holding back your progress. Remember, your body is an incredible machine. Give it a chance to recover and build for the jump-start you’ve been looking for.

Blame Your Desk Job

This is a little embarrassing…

Several years ago I was the manager at a packing and shipping store in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida. An elderly lady walked into the store to ship a small package. I took the small box to the peanut machine (styrofoam peanuts for packing); a couple peanuts fell on the floor. I then bent down to pick them up and “snap, crackle, pop” my back gave out on me. Hunched over and sweating prefusely, the little old lady asked if I needed assistance. She then helped me up and placed me in a chair.

I was only 25 years old! How does this happen to a young man?! 

Today’s society is plagued by postural imbalances, mainly due to sedentary lifestyles caused by seated desk jobs, bad workout habits and advancements in technology. Most people are spending a lot of time in office-related jobs which require them to be seated for long periods of time; not only is this not conducive to calorie burning but the seated position is one of the WORST postures our backs can be subjected to. Not only are the tissues in the lumbar spine (lower back) under a tremendous amount of stress while seated but our muscles begin to adapt to this posture, rendering us with chronic muscle imbalances. These imbalances determine the way our bodies move and have a strong correlation with joint health and subsequent pain. When one piece of the kinetic chain is not properly functioning, it can alter the rest of the operating systems. Much like the old saying “you are only as strong as your weakest link”, the same applies to the human body.

What are the hazards of postural imbalances?

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It can lead to muscular imbalances, chronic lower back pain (computer back), weak gluteal muscles that usually lead to lower back pain, sciatica (pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg), anterior pelvic tilt (protruding abdominal), lower crossed syndrome.

This subject is personal to me because I fell into the “blame your desk job” category. I developed lower back pain “computer back”, knee pain,  a serious case of APT (Anterior Pelvic Tilt) and lowered crossed syndrome. I never understood why I had all these issues until I started researching and learning; I discovered what my postural imbalances were, why I developed them, and how to correct them.

APT is when excessive anterior pelvic tilt can contribute heavily to postural dysfunction; as the pelvis tilts anteriorly, the thigh bones rotate inward, causing an increased stress on the medial (inside) portion of the knee joints. This was very frustrating for me because my lower abdominal would protrude. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an ounce of fat, APT will make your lower abdominal stick out (unattractive).

“Lower Crossed Syndrome” is similar to APT. It is basically the combination of tight hip flexors and tight lower back, paired with weak abdominals and weak glutes. This combination leads to an excessive arching in your lower back, a flaccid or protrudingabdomen and a flat butt due to the weakness of the glutes. This muscle imbalance imposes excessive stresses on the lower back with or without heavy lifting, bending, twisting or turning.

The photo below illustrates anterior and posterior pelvic tilt.

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HOW TO CORRECT POSTURAL IMBALANCES:

#1 Maintain proper posture on a daily basis.

While at work sitting at your desk, make yourself aware of keeping good posture. This can be difficult at first, but here are a few things that I did to optimize my body positioning.

  • Lower the height of your chair so that your back touches the back of the chair and your feet rest firmly on the floor slightly in front of you.

  • Center the keyboard in front of you and position your screen so that the toolbar is eyelevel for you.

  • The keyboard and mouse should be moved close to the edge of the desk and your wrists should be supported by a gel pad or wrist support.

  • Avoid repetitive gripping of the mouse.

  • Get up from your chair every 20 minutes, stretch for about 30 seconds, and sit back down. Never be seated for more than 20 minutes. Yes, this also applies to when you’re sitting on the coach at home!

#2 Stretch!

Every morning, wake up and stretch for 5-10 minutes. Perform dynamic stretches designed to correct anterior pelvic tilt, lower crossed syndrome and other muscular imbalances. If you want to know which stretches I perform every day, just book an online session or an in person session with me — email me at shredfatinc@gmail.com

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#3 Develop a strong core.

The cornerstone of all athletic movements is the core muscles. You can train to increase strength, power, speed, agility, and quickness but if your core muscles are weak you will not reap the full benefits. The core muscles serve as a force couple to transfer the power developed in the hips and legs into the arms and vice-versa.  The SHREDFAT INC program not only helps you shred unwanted fat, it also helps develop overall core strength, and it teaches you value of core muscle coordination, AND you can do it from the comfort of your own living room! These exercises place the body in an unbalanced position help to develop the needed strength and coordination needed for your core muscles to function properly. This is CRUCIAL to correcting postural imbalances.

Core-MusclesMy knee problems are currently nonexistent. My APT and “lower crossed syndrome” are about 100% corrected. I owe this all to my weight loss via Shakeology, my SHREDFAT program and the tips I previously discussed. Smart interval training is so important because it helps maintain proper balance between each of your muscle group. Exercises for each muscle group promote optimal growth and are way more effective. This is simply because muscles work in pairs and not keeping the balance between opposing ones can also mean not getting the best results out of your workouts, which also prevents muscle imbalances.

 

 

You Can Find Motivation Oddest Places

Music, as well as health/fitness, is a passion of mine. So when I found out the lead singer of one of my favorite bands Mikel Jollett (The Airborne Toxic Event) wrote an article for Men’s Health back in 2006 I was excited to read it! Mikel Jollett was a freelance writer prior to the band; I already knew he was ridiculously good at writing from his music, but this Men’s Health article is damn good! I’ve attached that article below. I relate to his article so much because as funny as this may sound,  while I was going through my weight loss transformation of 80lbs I was really motivated by the character Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) of the HBO series True Blood.

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Jason had the exact body I always dreamed about since I was a little fat kid. After each episode of True Blood I felt like working out, haha! When I felt tempted to cheat on my diet, I would think of Jason Stackhouse, and as silly as it sounds this kept me on track with my diet. Motivation can come from the oddest places, but whatever that motivation may be, use it! Put up pictures around your house to keep reminding yourself. Constantly visit whatever motivates you, whether it’s a person, a thought, a feeling, a goal; use the heck out of it!

Here’s the article by Mikel

“Brad Pitt Whipped Me Into Shape”
By Mikel Jollett

I was a big fat slob. Then I went to the movies.

You can find the motivation to get in shape in the oddest places.

Some guys find it in a doctor’s office after a sobering chest exam or blood test or biopsy. Others find it at a high-school reunion when That Girl from 10th-grade biology doesnt recognize them through the haze of cheap vodka, male-pattern baldness, and so many forgotten years. As any good Russian novelist could tell you, life reaches a crossroads – and big changes follow – when sex seems less likely than death.

I found my motivation in the back of a movie theatre in Santa Monica, California. That’s where Brad Pitt comes in, but more about him later.

I was 25 years old, working a hundred hours a week in an office. I hadn’t really set out for that life, but you know how those things go. You’d trade a kidney for an extra zero at the end of your paycheck, and so on. My days were filled with 5-year plans, capital-amortization reports, key-performance indices – i.e., the tortured lexicon of the modern office. For the first time in my life, there wasn’t much time for exercise. Hell, there wasn’t much time for anything but sleep and work. And eating.

unhealthy-eating-86534618Why do so many office events involve food? The candy jar on the secretary’s desk. Doughnuts at morning budget meetings. Rubbery chicken lunches at the Yale Club. Steak dinners with board members. It’s like we’re trying to feed some existential hunger, trying to fill a dark void at the center of office life with caramels, Hershey’s Kisses, and muffin baskets. People eat at the office for the same reason they drink at a bar: to forget they’re there.

I don’t know exactly when it got away from me. In college, on the track team, I had been all-Pac 10 in the 10,000 meters, a svelte 148 pounds whipping around the oval at 70 seconds per quarter mile. At that age, those of us on the cross-country team, those of us who ran 12 to 15 miles a day and ate mountains of food at night, felt like wild beasts. Like we were born to leap boulders, like we were panting, pawing, screaming to run. It’s probably mixed up with some milk-toothed adolescent fantasy, but we really felt like we were pushing the limits of mortality. All that pain and strain and exhaustion and exhilaration. How far can we go? How fast can we run? How much can we take? Let’s find out.

But by age 25, after 3 years in office purgatory, 3 years of meetings and dinners and lunches and drinks, I was up to 225 pounds. Sitting there, listening to these middle-aged men make jokes about their wives over two-martini lunches, I felt caged, fenced in, trapped, old, tired, fat, bored.

I would find myself walking the fluorescent-lit corridors of that ungodly building with reams of green-and-white printout paper covered with endless rows of numbers, a big, round gut hanging over the 38-inch waistline of my green slacks, seething about the budget. “Have you seen these numbers, people?” Every now and then I’d catch a glimpse of my reflection in the office glass and wonder who the fat man was.

Then it happened. In that movie theater in Santa Monica. Fight Club. I know that sounds trite. I know it should have been the birth of my first child or something. But it was Fight Club that did it.

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I remember seeing Marla Singer (played by Helena Bonham Carter), with that ragged eyeliner and waifish body. She was so trashy and dirty and hot and broke. And Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) lived in this abandoned house in the middle of nowhere with the anonymous narrator (Ed Norton). All they ever did was get in fights, wreak havoc, work out, and make fun of the automatons. Though it all ended miserably – but triumphantly! – with that Pixies song when those buildings blew up, God, my life just seemed so tame by comparison, so forgettable, so compliant. I thought, What the hell am I doing? I’m 25 years old.

I saw the movie four times in one week. And I cracked. I quit my job. I dumped my girlfriend. I started working out constantly. Running, swimming, lifting weights, drinking protein shakes, eating apples.

My routine was basic. I thought of it as a matter of simple physics: If I burn more than I consume, my body will metabolize fat. It has to. I figured that at my weight, with my metabolism, I burned about 2,500 calories a day. So I kept to a 2,000 calorie diet and worked out like mad. Four runs a week (100 calories per mile), three swims (100 calories per 15 minutes), four weight sessions (300 calories per hour, plus beach muscles). I made sure I never rang up more than a 7,000 calorie deficit (which equals 2 pounds of fat) in a given week, since your body freaks out when you do that.

It was tedious at first. The runs were painful, I was always sore, and it took so much damn time. I had to make a decision: The plan would come first – it was the only obligation I absolutely had to fulfill. Everything else in my life would have to fit in around it.

After about a month, after the initial shock had worn off, once my feet had calloused over and my hair had become ragged from the chlorine, the plan became something else. A dare. Not in the okay-tough-guy, No Fear, come-over-here-and-check-out-my-glutes kind of way. More like it was a daring thing to do.

Because if you think about it, it’s kind of absurd. Grown adults running through fields, unprompted, unchased, lifting heavy objects for no practical purpose, swimming back and forth repeatedly across a rectangle of water and heavy chemicals. It prompts a question in your mind, while you’re pursuing these senseless tasks: What sort of creature does this kind of thing, anyway?

Over time, the answer becomes obvious, even if it’s just something you feel in your bones: Because this is what I was born to do. This is what this body was made for.

As for the desk job, those hellishly vapid budget reports: Was I honestly made for that crap?

When the money that I’d saved ran out, I started working as a carpenter, walking around with a tool belt on all day, driving a 5-ton truck, familiarizing myself with the layout of Home Depot. It was good to be paid to sweat. The guys I worked with couldn’t quite understand why I was doing basic construction instead of the cushy office job I’d left. “Hey, Stanford U,” they’d say to me, “think you could nail this two-by-four in that frame over there? They teach you how to do that in school?”

The work itself had its benefits. At the end of the day, when my back hurt and my hands ached from pounding a hammer or wielding a screw gun for 8 hours, I felt as though I’d earned a drink. And anyway, there is a certain manful pride in knowing your way around a miter saw and a speed square. But it was mostly monotonous and nothing I had aspired to. I wasn’t in it for that.

I was in it for the sense of possibility. For the idea that you can shake your life up like a soda bottle and smack it against the wall. That whatever prisons we construct in our lives – whether it’s an awful job, a gut, an unhappy marriage, an addiction, the things in life that hem us in, that make us wake up in the morning in a cold sweat and think, How did I get like this? and How can I escape? – all these things are transient. For me, and maybe for anyone, the answer was, just leave. Tear the entire thing down.

In 6 months, I was down 55 pounds – to 170 – and had all the accoutrements that so famously go with exercise: more energy, more confidence, better sleep, less stress. In place of the gut, I had the six-pack I’d had in college. I was also broke and single and had squandered what I had once understood to be a promising future. I didn’t care.

I met a girl in Las Vegas. We exchanged phone numbers, and when I got back to Los Angeles, I called her. She invited me over to her place, a real dump in Culver City that was brimming with empty wine bottles and Liz Phair posters. When I walked in, she was sitting on the couch – skinny, big eyes, flat chested, her shirt half unbuttoned, dirty blonde hair, and lots of eyeliner. My own private Marla Singer. I nearly cried.

fight-club-soap

“Have you seen this movie?” she asked, pointing to the television. And I couldn’t even make this up: It was Fight Club – the scene where Ed Norton fakes a fight with his boss to get fired. In the process he destroys the office, cutting his hands and back and face on the shattered galss of a coffee table. He walks out, whistling, pushing a pile of office equipment in a cart, with a smile on his face and blood dripping down his shirt. Fantastic.

I know, I know. Sophomoric. It is, a bit. But whatever the motivation, once I started taking exercise seriously, I felt more alive. I felt that my life had possibilities. I felt stronger. There’s really nothing so basically transformative, nothing so regenerative, as getting in shape. Some of it is simple blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, and endorphins. Your high-school P.E. teacher could have told you that. But it’s also the sense that if you can change your body, you can change anything. You feel your muscles working beneath your clothes, you become aware of your heartbeat, and you remember that you’re an animal first and animals do not like to be fenced in.

The fact is, we’re going to be dead someday, and I don’t care how important we are or how much money we make, how refined our taste in wine, music, clothes, literature, art, women. Those things are great, but there’s just no escaping that your life begins and ends in your own body, your health, your ability to talk to That Girl with confidence, smile in the face of sobering news, senselessly lift heavy objects, swim great distances across various geometric figures, test your mortality, shatter some glass, eat an apple, tear across the plains, and run down a bloody gazelle.

It may be absurd, but honestly, you have to fill the void somehow, and you’re simply not going to do it with muffin baskets.

Processed Foods and Your Health

Did you know that about 90% of the American household food budget is spent on buying processed foods; this is one of the major contributing factors to the obesity epidemic in this great country of mine. Now allow me to ask you this; if a bag of chips had a warning on the bag that read “Warning: these chips will make you obese, and most likely cause hypertension and cardiac arrest” would you still eat them? Well, in a sense, you do see that warning on chips; just read the ingredients. I’m writing this post so you can gain a little knowledge about how processed foods affect your health.

3 Harmful Ingredients Found In Processed Foods That You Should Be Aware Of:

 

  • 8192765-48213-no-msg-stampMonosodium Glutamate (MSG) – Research suggests that monosodium glutamate causes obesity, making unhealthy snacks even unhealthier than you may have suspected. MSG is an excitotoxin, a substance that overexcites neurons to the point of cell damage and, eventually, cell death. Humans lack a blood-brain barrier in the hypothalamus, which allows excitotoxins to enter the brain and cause damage.  According to animal studies, MSG creates a lesion in the hypothalamus that correlates with abnormal development, including obesity, short stature and sexual reproduction problems. By avoiding foods with MSG, you are not only protecting your health and your family’s health, you are also protecting society’s health by not supporting companies that use MSG. Use your buying power to show that you don’t accept manufactured foods that use MSG or any of the other hidden forms of MSG such as yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins and autolyzed proteins.

 

  • high-fructose-corn-syrup-250x150High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Since the late 1980s, HFCS has replaced regular table sugar, honey, and similar sweeteners in practically everything. A Princeton University study found that rats that were fed HFCS gained fat 300% more quickly than those fed an equal (or slightly larger) dose of fruit-derived sugar. High-fructose doesn’t just make your body fat, it makes your heart fat too. There is a strong link between the irresponsible consumption of high fructose corn syrup and elevated triglyceride and HDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Together these can cause arterial plague build-up and eventually lead to dangerous heart conditions including hypertension, heart disease, and even stroke. Like anything else you eat or drink, HFCS is processed by your liver, gallbladder and kidneys. And it’s especially destructive to your liver. When combined with a sedentary lifestyle, permanent liver scarring can occur. Excessive amounts of soda, energy drinks and junk-food simply aren’t worth losing a foot or going blind or harming your children.

 

  • notransfatcali1TRANS FATS – Once hailed as a cheap, heart-friendly replacement for butter, lard and coconut oil, trans fats have been denounced by one Harvard nutrition expert as “the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history.” Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel. Crackers, cookies and cakesand many fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries — even the stick margarine you may rely on as a “heart-healthy” alternative to saturated-fat-laden butter. Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. That’s double trouble for your arteries. And unlike saturated fats, trans fats also raise your levels of artery-clogging lipoprotein and triglycerides. Check the ingredient list for any of these words: “partially hydrogenated,” “fractionated,” or “hydrogenated” (fully hydrogenated fats are not a heart threat, but some trans fats are mislabeled as “hydrogenated”). The higher up the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” is on the list of ingredients, the more trans fat the product contains.

 

Weird Ingredients Found In Processed Foods That Will Make You Think Twice:

  • KFC’s Chicken Pot Pie contains L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, an amino acid often derived from human hair, feathers or a mutation of E. coli!

  • Subway Sandwich Rolls contains fertilizer! Ammonium sulfate can be found inside many brands of bread, including Subway’s. The chemical provides nitrogen for the yeast, creating a more consistent product.

  • Beaver Anal Glands in Raspberry Candy! The anal glands of a beaver are a common ingredient in perfumes and colognes but are also sometimes used to enhance the flavor of raspberry candies and sweets.

  • All Hostess Products (Twinkies, Ding Dongs, etc.) contain beef fat!

  • Skittles and sprinkles contain beetle juice! They get that glaze from the secretions of the female lac beetle.

  • Wendy’s Chili has sand in it! Silicon dioxide is used as an “anti-caking agent,” perhaps to make sure the chili can last for days and days over a heater.

In an effort to keep this post short I only included 3 harmful ingredients found in processed foods; don’t be mistaken, there are plenty more harmful ingredients found in these foods. Eat whole foods instead of the synthetic processed junk; get real food with real benefits! Flush out all of the processed junk food you’ve consumed over the years by drinking Shakeology, you’ll feel great!

Antioxidants…Why We Need ‘Um!

Antioxidants are surrounded by a lot of hype. They are touted as everything from disease fighters to memory protectors to the antidote to aging. So what are antioxidants? Why are they important? What is the best way to get them in your diet? 

Antioxidants help fight oxidation, a normal chemical process that takes place in the body every day. Oxidative stress and free radical damage to cells is harmful because it may initiate the early stages of cancer and heart disease. Eating foods rich in antioxidants help fight the oxidation and free radical damage plus, they also help you look and feel younger by helping to slow down the aging process and help to prevent cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Finally, an added bonus is that they also help to speed up the recovery from exercise which means more muscle and less fat on your body!

Health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend eating between five and nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables every day.

Shakeology meets this recommendation and more because it contains some of the most potent antioxidants on the planet: flavonoids and phytonutrients such as spinach, blue green algae, carrot powder, strawberry powder, and vitamins E and C. All of these help to prevent free radicals from oxidizing and destroying cells. In addition, the ingredients in our antioxidant blend such as pomegranate, acai berry, camu-camu, goji, and blueberry also have powerful antioxidant effects to support your immune system and help protect your body from normal inflammatory response.

So the bottom line is to choose your foods wisely to help prevent healthy-aging as well as cellular health from the stress of oxidation on your cells. Your cells need a variety of antioxidants to fight the destructive little molecules that wage war in the body daily and Shakeology, as well as a well-rounded diet of fruits and vegetables, can help do exactly that!

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5 Reasons Why You Are Fat

REASON #1. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAY NO

How many times have you eaten unhealthily because of food offers and meal invitations? It happens all the time! I know some of you may think it’s rude to turn down food especially at someone’s dinner party, but it’s really not rude at all. You have weight loss goals you need to accomplish and eating those foods will be a delay in accomplishing them. If the person(s) offering you food get offended, then they don’t have your best interest in mind; they should respect the fact that you are dedicated and determined to achieve your goal. When temptation kicks in, remind yourself this; nothing taste as good as feeling fit feels. Take my word for it, as someone who used to eat all kinds of unhealthy crap.

REASON #2. YOU HAVE TOO MANY EXCUSES

Excuses are like armpits, everyone has them and they all stink.

Excusitis; it’s an illness that many people suffer from not only in fitness goals but in all aspects of their life. People with excusitis let negative words sink into their mind, such words as embarrassment, bad genes, bad luck, fear of failing, and fear of people. If you are making excuses every day, you will continue to set yourself up for failure. Successful people DO what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. From this day on, take action, be confident, and just get things done. Stop making excuses about why you can’t workout, just get it done. Nobody ever says “Damn, I shouldn’t have worked out today”, but if they didn’t workout, they will always say “Damn, I should have worked out today”. It never fails. You’ll feel so much better once you start accomplishing goals. Start small as small steps equal big leaps.

Watch this incredibly inspirational video below. I bet you’ll stop making excuses now. #NeverGiveUp

REASON #3. YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH FOODS ARE HEALTHY

Food manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the sole purpose of tricking consumers into thinking they are eating something healthy, but in reality it’s making them fat. For example, the term “low fat” is usually synonymous with “loaded with salt and cheap carbohydrates”. Labels are about marketing; the nutrition chart is about content. So ignore the front, and look for high saturated fat, protein and fiber, and low amounts of carbs. And remember, whole foods have no labels. They’re the best choice of all; it’s nearly impossible to eat too much of anything that grows on a tree, bush or vine.

 REASON #4. YOU ARE SEATED WAY TOO MUCH

The computer is the enemy of your abs.

The simple act of sitting in a chair for a long time is one of the riskiest activities we engage in on a regular basis. Not only is sitting for a long time not conducive to calorie burning, it’s also the major reason most of us have back problems and muscular imbalances. I know this all too well, I used to have “computer back” and APT (Anterior Pelvic Tilt). I made the decision, and the effort to correct those problems and now I feel better than ever. I used to have to wear a knee brace just to walk around the mall; now I don’t wear any braces when walking, and I can play basketball for multiple hours with no problem! If you want to learn how I corrected it, simply shoot me an email. shredfatinc@gmail.com

REASON #5. YOU DON’T PLAN YOUR MEALS

If you don’t plan, you plan to fail

The truth is, fit people plan their meals in advance. When you plan your meals you end up saving money, saving time, and you’ll avoid binge eating on junk food because your prepared healthy foods will be available. During my weight loss journey of shredding 80lbs of fat,  I made a habit of purchasing all my groceries each Sunday, then preparing, chopping and storing all the food so it would be easily accessible throughout the week; I can’t tell you how much doing this helped me achieve my weight loss goals. Need help creating healthy meal plans? Click here to get custom Meal Plans created for you, for only $2.99 per week!

Snacks Under 100 Calories

Although some of you may feel guilty about snacking, know this; snacks aren’t necessarily bad as long as you choose the right snack. In fact, well timed healthy snacks helped me reach my weight loss goals. You may be asking yourself which snacks should you eat? Select foods that satisfy your hunger, supply your body with energy and provide important nutrients.

I’ve compiled a list of 30 healthy snacks under 100 calories: *Always buy organic*

  • Grapes: 1 cup (62 calories)

  • Popcorn: 2 cups, air popped. (62 calories)

  • Raspberries: 1 cup (64 calories)

  • Tangerine: 1 (47 calories)

  • Pear: 1 (86 calories)

  • Peach: 1 (58 calories)

  • Mango: 1 cup (99 calories)

  • Apple: 1 (77 calories)

  • Broccoli: 1 cup (58 calories)

  • Cashews: 10 (91 calories)

  • Cherries: 19 raw (98 calories)

  • Watermelon: 2 cups cubed (94 calories)

  • Organic Free Range Egg: 1 hard boiled (70 calories)

  • Almonds: about 14 unsalted, skin on (98 calories)

  • Baby Carrots: 30 pieces (72 calories)

  • Strawberries: 1 cup (77 calories)

  • Kiwis: 2 medium (84 calories)

  • Peanuts: about 20 (96 calories)

  • Cheerios: about 1 cup (99 calories)

  • Blueberries: 1 cup (84 calories)

  • Banana: small/medium (about 95 calories)

  • Cucumber Slices with Hummus: 1 cup cucumber slices, 2 tbsp hummus (98 total calories)

  • Avocado: about 2 ounces (99 calories)