Five Stupid Habits of Healthy People

You aren’t a stupid person –not by any means.

In fact, I believe that you’re healthier than most. You exercise regularly. You watch what you eat. You keep up-to-date on the latest health concerns. You don’t binge on sugar. And you never – ever – eat fast food. Well, almost never.

But you do have a few unhealthy skeletons in your closet – ones that you probably aren’t even aware of.

The following 5 Stupid Habits are frequently committed by health conscious people. Once you break these bad habits, you’ll find that achieving your weight loss goals just became a whole lot easier.

1. You’re Dehydrated

  • It has been said that 75 percent of the population is chronically dehydrated. Would you disagree? When was the last time that you actually drank 8 glasses of water in a day?

  • Dehydration occurs when more fluid leaves your body than is taken in. Symptoms include: fatigue, irritability, headaches, nausea, rapid heart rate, and, in extreme cases, even death.

  • Dehydration also slows your metabolism, which hinders weight loss.

You shouldn’t wait until the feeling of thirst or dry mouth hits you, at that point damage has already been done. Instead, constantly rehydrate throughout your day to avoid dehydration.

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The best way to do this is to incorporate water into your daily schedule. Have a water bottle at your desk and train yourself to sip on it often, and get into the habit of drinking a full glass of water 30 minutes before each meal.

How do you know how much YOU should drink? A good rule of thumb; drink half your weight in ounces in each day. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, you should be drinking 75 ounces of high quality water each day. Keep in mind fruit and vegetables contain water and that contributes to your daily count.

2. You Eat Out Too Often

  • Research suggests that most people eat out one out of every 4 meals and snacks. That’s an average of once a day.

  • Restaurant food is designed to do one thing: to taste good. In order to increase eating pleasure, each item is loaded with fat, salt and sugar. This causes you to eat way more calories than you actually need.

  • Even when you order ‘healthy’ items, you’re still taking in more calories and fat grams than you would if you had prepared the item at home. Imagine the last salad you ordered out. Didn’t it come with cream dressing, croutons, cheese sprinkles and a piece of butter laden bread on the side?

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The main reason people eat out is for convenience, so with a little organization you’ll find that preparing your own meals takes less time than you thought it would.

On the weekend sit down and plan out your meals for the week. Then go to the grocery store and stock up on everything you’ll need for those meals. Pack your lunch and snacks each night before bed, then grab it on your way out the door in the morning. When you prepare dinner at home, make enough for at least the next day as well. Your efforts will pay off both in terms of weight loss and in money saved.

3. You’re Sleep Deprived

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        • In Gallup Poll surveys, 56% of the adult population reported that drowsiness is a problem in the daytime. That’s more than half of us that clearly don’t get enough sleep.

        • Healthy adults require 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When you fail to meet this need your body goes into sleep debt, which continues to accumulate indefinitely until you catch up.

        • A lack of sleep negatively affects your immune system, your nervous system, and interferes with healthy hormone release and cellular repairs.

The best way to combat sleep deprivation is to set a scheduled bedtime. Your body will benefit from a consistent sleeping and waking routine, and you’re sure to get all the rest you need.

If you are having trouble falling sleep once you’re in bed, then try these two tips. First, make sure give yourself a caffeine curfew of 2pm, (or at least 8 hours before bed, whichever comes first). Second, eat most of your carbs at night. Want some more sleep hacks? I wrote an entire article on it.

4. You’re Stressed Out

        • I don’t have to tell you that we are living in a fast-paced world and that most of us have stress levels that are through the roof. But what you might not realize is that your stress levels are making you fat.

        • Stress creates an increase in the hormone cortisol, and chronic stress creates a chronic increase in cortisol. This is a problem because is slows your metabolism, leads to cravings and is linked to greater levels of abdominal fat storage.

        • The vicious cycle of stress and weight gain goes around and around. Stress causes you to eat emotionally, and your raised cortisol levels cause that food to be stored as fat.

One of the most effective ways to instantly eliminate stress is to sit down and write out a list of all the things that are bothering you. This should include things that you need to get done, issues that weigh on your mind and anything you believe contributes to your stress level.

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Once it’s all down on paper, organize it like a to-do list and start resolving each item. Doing so will get the stress off of your mind and will put your body into the motion of resolving each issue.

5. You’re on Exercise Autopilot

        • You do the same thing each and every time you exercise. Same machines, same pace, same duration. While your routine sure feels comfortable, your results have long since halted.

        • A plateau occurs when your body adapts to your routine and weight loss stops. It is incredibly frustrating, and totally avoidable.

        • You don’t have to increase the amount of time that you spend exercising in order to see quicker, faster results. It’s all about challenging your body.

There are two simple ways to instantly increase the effectiveness of your exercise routine. First, increase your pace. Secondly, increase your intensity. Constantly vary your speed and intensity in order to keep your muscles guessing and adapting.

Another way to break through the exercise plateau is to do something totally new. If you regularly use weight machines then start using free weights. If you normally jog on the treadmill then start using the bike. Are you ready to break the plateau as you take your routine to the next level? Would you like to know without a shadow of a doubt that you are going to lose weight in the coming months?

It’s my goal to see you achieve greatness. I believe that you’ve got what it takes.

It’s so simple. Call or email today to get started on a program that will improve your health and well being, and will get you amazing results.

Confidence Booster

Have you ever wished that you had more confidence? People who exercise regularly report experiencing a boost of confidence. Think about it: when you set a higher standard for yourself confidence grows naturally. As you lose weight and feel better than ever your confidence will sky rocket.


Fruit Delight

nectarines-choppedCraving something sweet? This recipe is the perfect summer dessert. If you don’t have nectarine or pear on hand, be creative and use other fresh fruits.

(Buy organic ingredients)

 

 

 

Servings: 2

Here’s what you need…

  • 1 white nectarine, chopped

  • 1 pear, chopped

  • 1 Tablespoon chopped pecans

  • 1 Tablespoon chopped dates

  • Dash of cinnamon

  1. Mix the nectarine, pear, pecans, and dates in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon and mix until well coated.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 119 calories, 3g fat, 24g carbohydrate, 4.5g fiber, and 1.5g protein

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What You Need to Know to Lose Belly Fat

So you want to get rid of some belly fat.

And you can’t help but be on the lookout for that magical exercise that will give you flat abs once-and-for-all.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble of hope…

But all the ab crunches in the world won’t make a dent in your belly bulge, as long as you continue with your unhealthy lifestyle.

This isn’t a cutting edge discovery. In fact, by now it’s common knowledge that spot reduction is a myth.

And yet, time after time, I’m asked to reveal the exercise, or exercise machine, that gets rid of stomach fat.

There is no such magical exercise.

The magic is found in altering your diet and exercise routine to promote fat loss from your overall body, including—but not limited to—your midsection.

Here’s how to really get rid of that belly fat:

Flat Belly Tip #1: Cut Out Processed Foods

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You know how Disneyland has the FastPass tickets that allow you to cut to the front of the ride lines?

Consider processed foods as a FastPass ticket to belly fat.

I wouldn’t be surprised if future studies show that the over-processing, chemical additives and high fructose corn syrup that are pumped into processed food specifically adds fat around your belly.

If you want to lose pounds then stay away from sugars, sodas, chemically altered fats, processed, packaged, fried and preserved foods.

Flat Belly Tip #2: Eat Fresh, Whole Foods

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Once you’ve cut the garbage out of your diet, fill in the void with fresh foods such as:

  • Green veggies

  • Whole fruit

  • Lean, high quality meat

  • Colorful veggies

  • Whole grains, in moderation

While these foods may seem boring at first, stick with it long enough and you’ll grow to love the unadulterated flavor of real food.

Eating a diet filled with the foods listed above will give your body all the nutrients it needs to shredpounds and lean out.

Flat Belly Tip #3: A Consistent, Challenging Exercise Program

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The absolute best way to fight the battle of the belly bulge is with a consistent, challenging exercise program.

  • Consistent: You should exercise 3-5 times each week.

  • Challenging: If you want to see results then keep your body guessing with new exercises and varied intensity.

My exercise programs are specifically crafted to get you into the best shape of your life.

I’d love to hear from you. Call or email today to get started!

Get FREE Access To My New Ebook!


Green Tea For Fat Loss (Does it really work?)

Let’s make one thing clear right at the start; there is no magic weight loss pill. Optimal health and the physique you desire comes with hard work at the gym, and eating (mostly) clean. With that being said, there are actually some supplements that can accelerate your results.

As it turns out, research has proven that green tea could benefit you.

Read the Back Label, Not the Front

As a rule of thumb, never trust the claims on the front of a food package. Claims like: heart healthy, all-natural, whole grains, or fiber-filled are never reason enough to purchase the item.You see, the real truth about a packaged food item is hidden in the ingredient list on the BACK label, not in the bold claims on the front.

Scan that ingredient list for high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, gluten, trans fats, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils – if the food contains these items then rest assured that it’s not healthy and should not be eaten.


Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Mango

Eating healthy does not need to be boring! This Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Mango will wake up your taste buds, feed your muscles and satisfy your fiber needs, all in one delicious bowl! Meals like this, built around lean protein and veggies, are the way to eat in order to get your best fitness results possible. Enjoy! Servings: 6

*Always purchase organic ingredients*

Here’s what you need…

  • 1 pound organic, boneless, free range skinless chicken breast

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin Olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped

  • 2 carrots, cut in half and then into 2 inch segments

  • 2 heads baby bok choy, chopped

  • 1 zucchini, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (divided)

  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot starch

  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil

  • 1 Tablespoons ume plum vinegar

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut aminos

  • 1 ripe, organic mango, peeled, pitted and chopped

  1. Rinse the chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes.

  2. Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions, sauté for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the broccoli, carrots and chicken and cook an additional 10 minutes. Add the bok choy and zucchini. After 5 minutes add 1/4 cup of chicken broth, cover, and cook an additional 10 minutes.

  3. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth, arrowroot, sesame oil, vinegar and coconut aminos. Add the seasoned mixture to the skillet, along with the chopped mango, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving (without rice) equals: 243 calories, 11g fat, 675mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, and 19g protein

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7 Ways to Avoid Falling off the Healthy Eating Wagon

Whether you’ve been riding the healthy eating wagon for a week or a decade, staying on can be difficult. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can hold on.

Keep reading to learn seven ways to protect yourself against the temptation to fall—or even jump off of the healthy eating wagon—on a daily basis.

1. Don’t Starve Yourself

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Eating is a basic human need. Cut your calories in half over night or slash any specific food group out altogether for a prolonged period and you’ll land flat on your face in no time flat. When you’re eating for good health, you still need to eat. You’ll just need to go with healthy options and avoid eating more than your body needs to fuel itself through the day.

2. No Excuses

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There are as many excuses to fall off the healthy wagon as there are days in a year. So if you’re going to stay on the wagon, you’re going to have to ignore the excuses and focus in on your goal: eating the right stuff. Which brings us to the next way to avoid falling off the wagon…

3. Stay Focused

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Being mindful of your healthy eating ways is easy during the first few days. After all, you’ve spent years eating one way and now you’re changing everything up. In a week or so, however, it can be difficult to remember your desire to eat healthily and even harder to remember why you made that decision. Stay focused on your choices and why you made them to stay strapped tightly on the wagon.

4. Get on the Right Wagon

Every person’s health goals and expectations are different. If you hop on a healthy eating wagon for the first time in your life and expect to shred 30 pounds in a week, you’re going to be disappointed. Setting appropriate goals will help you stay on the wagon and help you make the next goal, as your wagon gets easier and easier to ride to the finish line.

5. Avoid Naysayers 

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Always struggled with your weight? Tried every diet plan known to man without success? Then you’re going to have a lot of folks who scoff at your desire to eat healthily. Let them scoff on their own and find new friends if you have to. Once your lifestyle changes start to pay off, strut by the folks who said they’ll believe you’re serious about healthy eating when they see results and watch their jaws drop.

6. Stay Away from Triggers

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The reason healthy eating is difficult for so many is that unhealthy eating tastes so good! Understanding this and understanding when you most want unhealthy food options will help you stay on the healthy wagon. Have a hard time saying no to sweets when you are out? Plan your cheat meal ahead of time. Eat everything in sight when you’re lonely? Distract yourself with a good book, or with friends who support your healthy habits.

7. Know How to Get Back On

You should aim to stay on the healthy eating wagon all day every day. But you should also be ready when you fall off. While you can find any number of ways to get back on the wagon, the best is to just do it! Admit you goofed up, recommit yourself to healthy living, and start living the healthy life you deserve once again.

Ready to take your fitness results to the next level? Call or email me today and we will get you started on an exercise program that’s designed to deliver massive results. Come on, you deserve it!

Your Daily Habits

Last week we talked about establishing daily fitness habits…have you done this yet?

Your only focus, when it comes to shaping up your body, should be to make and keep a handful of healthy, daily habits. When these healthy habitsbecome your comfortable routine, then you’ve hit fitness gold.

Don’t delay – make the decision to install a few daily fitness habits in your life now, and watch how quickly and consistently your body transforms!

Zucchini Cakes

It’s zucchini season and I’ve got a fantastic, healthy recipe for zucchini cakes that I know you’ll love. Serve these guilt-free cakes with a side of lean protein for a well balanced, fitness meal.

*Always buy organic ingredients*

Servings: 8

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, grated
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 cups grated Zucchini
  • ½ tsp sea or Himalayan salt
  • 2 pastured eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 Tablespoons flax meal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Sweet Paprika
  1. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes, then set aside.
  2. Place grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with the salt and allow to sit in the sink for 10 minutes.
  3. Use a clean paper towel to squeeze excess water from the zucchini.
  4. In a medium sized bowl whisk the eggs. Add the coconut flour, flax and baking powder. Add the onions and zucchini.
  5. Place the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop the dough in heaping Tablespoons, press down with a fork. Cook each side for 3 minutes or until golden. Enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals 51 calories, 2.7g fat, 188mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, and 3g protein

4 Healthy Fats from Fruits

Guest post by Andrew Rice 

Fat . . . fruit. Fat . . . fruit. Let’s say that one more time: fat . . . fruit. Hardly rolls off the tongue, does it? Most fruits and vegetables have very little fat. But there are exceptions; some of the best sources of healthy fats are fruits. Working them into your diet can provide your body with healthy fat that actually lowers your bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol to help protect you from heart disease. Not only that, these healthy, fatty fruits provide an array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, something a slab of bacon just can’t do.

But not all fruit and vegetable fats are created equal, so let’s take a look at some fatty produce and how to incorporate it into your healthy diet. (Ben’s note; remember to always buy organic)

The Avocado

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It’s hard to believe, really, that something so rich and buttery-tasting is a fruit. To me, an avocado is one of nature’s perfect foods, straight from the tree to you. It’s simple, packs a lot of energy, and satisfies your hunger.

Ounce for ounce, an avocado has as many total grams of fat as a Big Mac®, something that led to its being vilified during the “fat free” diet crazes of the past. Seventy-five percent of the calories in an avocado come from fat, whereas most fruits derive their calories from sugars. But ever since nutritionists sorted out the difference between bad and good monounsaturated fats, the avocado has been voted back onto the island.

Half a California avocado has an excellent overall nutrient profile: 114 calories, 2 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of fat, most of which (8 grams) is monounsaturated fat.

The monounsaturated fat found in avocados is mostly oleic acid, which, according to a 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico, may help lower cholesterol. This study found that after seven days of a diet rich in avocados, subjects saw significant decreases in both total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as an 11 percent increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In other words, it showed that avocados raised good cholesterol levels while lowering the bad, a one-two punch against heart disease.

But good fats are not the only attractive side of this leathery-skinned green fruit. Avocados also have 60 percent more potassium than bananas, making them a great post-workout recovery food. They’re also rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants.

You’ll also find a large amount of omega-3s and omega-6s in avocados, excellent news for vegetarians and vegans who want to incorporate these beneficial fatty acids into their diet without consuming fish oil, poultry, or eggs.

Really, the only way you can go wrong eating avocados is if you eat so many of them that the excess calories make you overweight. But as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, bring on the avocados.

Cuckoo for Coconut

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You can argue that a coconut isn’t a fruit. People will also argue that a tomato is a vegetable and that a peanut, which is really a legume, is a nut. Whatever. We eat them all. While the avocado is unabashedly awesome for your health, the health benefits of the coconut’s flesh, and particularly its milk, are less clear-cut.

This is because unlike the avocado, with its wonderfully healthy monounsaturated fats, which provide it with its silky flavor, the coconut is rich in saturated fats. However, different kinds of saturated fats have different chemical compositions, depending on the number of carbon atoms they contain. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists mainly of lauric acid and myristic acid, whereas red meat like beef contains mostly palmitic acid. Lauric acid has been shown to increase good cholesterol levels, and, along with myristic acide, may have antimicrobial/anti-acne properties. Consumption of palmitic acid, on the other hand, has been shown to increase risk of heart disease in humans.

According to researchers, consuming coconut flesh and/or coconut oil can raise your cholesterol levels, but since they raise your good cholesterol more than your bad cholesterol, things would seem to balance out. But here’s where the research gets complicated: When studying the nutritional properties of one food, it’s important to take into account the other foods it’s consumed with, especially in terms of regional dietary habits.

The Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, studies the eating habits of people in Indonesia and other Pacific island regions who consume diets rich in coconut. Coconut has long been a staple in this region, where there has traditionally been a very low incidence of heart disease. But because the percentage of coconut in the regional diet has been declining for decades as imported foods like red meat have become more available, the incidence of coronary heart disease among these people has increased.

The reason appears to be that Pacific islanders have traditionally consumed coconut along with large quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. (As a side note, the night before I finished this article, I had a traditional Thai dish that combined coconut, fish, and vegetables: squid curry.) So if coconut, coconut milk, and/or coconut oil encourage you to choose to cook a delicious meal of fresh vegetables and seafood, it’ll probably do you good. If you just like the taste of fresh coconut meat, it’s probably not doing you any harm. But frying your donuts in coconut oil isn’t going to turn them into anything resembling a healthy treat.

Olives

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The only fruit that can top the avocado for beneficial fats is the humble olive. Health researchers have been lauding the benefits of the olive and its oil for decades, and the olive rightfully holds a place of honor in the healthful Mediterranean diet.

The main type of fat found in all kinds of olives and olive oils is monounsaturated fatty acid, which helps to lower your total cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels. According to Mayo Cinic researchers, monounsaturated fatty acids may also help normalize blood clotting, as well as benefitting insulin levels and helping to control blood sugar.

In my own experience, cured olives are also highly portable, keep well without refrigeration, and satisfy the same type of hunger that might otherwise have me reaching for a piece of cheese or salami, neither of which is going to lower my cholesterol. My primary salad dressing of choice is simply extra virgin olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Both good things. Trading in your overly processed bottled dressing for some self-mixed olive oil and vinegar is a great way to cut your intake of sugar and unhealthy fats with no loss of taste or enjoyment.

The weirdest fruit of all? The durian

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To be honest, I’m really only writing about the durian for its novelty factor. Unless you grew up in Southeast Asia, it might be hard to feel any love for this giant prickly fruit that, when it’s ready to eat, smells like an overripe armpit. (Yes, you read that right: It smells like B.O.)

But the durian doesn’t taste like it smells, and it’s a great source of beneficial fats. One 100-gram serving (a little more than a third of a cup of cubed pieces) contains 147 calories and 5 grams (or 8 percent of your daily requirement) of beneficial monounsaturated fat. And unlike olives, the durian is also a source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is known to increase seratonin levels in your brain, which can lift your mood. (Interestingly enough, avocados have fairly high tryptophan levels too.)

Finally, like many other tropical fruits, the durian is a good overall source of fiber and vitamins. So next time you’re in a Thai or Indonesian fruit market and get a whiff of something that smells like it needs to take a bath, consider giving the durian a chance.

As soon as I learn a recipe for a delicious durian-avocado-coconut-olive shake, you’ll be the first to hear. Until then, I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is and eating a lot of guacamole and olives to help my cholesterol. And I’ll leave the durians for you.

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.

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“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.

5 Ways to Boost Your Willpower and Beat Temptation

Guest Post By Kara Wahlgren 

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m the first person to curse my weak willpower when I find myself polishing off a bag of tortilla chips or skipping a Piloxing class. But I may have to find a new excuse, because apparently I—and maybe you too—have gotten the whole idea of willpower completely wrong.

Most of us believe that willpower is some innate, magical quality that only a lucky few are born with enough of to reach the goals they set for themselves. But according to scientists and psychologists who specialize in this sort of thing, what we call “willpower” is actually just a one-two punch of self-control and smart decision–making strategies.

On one hand, that’s bad news for anyone—ahem, me—who likes to use lack of willpower as an excuse for falling off the weight loss wagon. On the other hand, it’s good news because it means you can hone your willpower like any other skill. And, just like doing push-ups, it gets easier the more you do it. Here are five easy ways to tap into your willpower (or whatever you want to call it).

1. Change how you define willpower

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You have it or you don’t, right? Wrong. Instead of thinking of willpower as a genetic gift, think of it as a game plan. “Instead of saying, ‘I have no willpower,’ ask yourself how to handle the situation,” says registered dietitian Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., and author ofDiabetes Weight Loss—Week by Week. Think you just can’t give up your soda habit? Can’t stick to a gym routine? Can’t make yourself eat veggies? Think again. “When my patients say, ‘I can’t,’ they usually mean, ‘I choose not to,’ or, ‘I haven’t yet figured out how to,'” Weisenberger says. “There is a solution to most problems. You have to look for it and then practice that strategy.” Another fun fact? Through his research, willpower expert Roy Baumeister discovered that those who believe willpower is finite tend to run out of it. Those who believe that willpower is not a limited resource continue to be able to tap into it when they need it. Believe in your willpower, find a few strategies that work for you to set yourself up for success, and voilá, you’ll have the willpower you need.

2. Set yourself up for success

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You’ve probably heard the adage that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. The same can be said for willpower—a little prep work can help you make healthy choices. “One of the best things you can do is create an environment that will help you be successful,” says Mitzi Dulan, R.D., coauthor ofThe All-Pro Diet. “Avoid buying chips and cookies. If you buy chocolate, buy bite-size.” Look at it this way—if you can resist buying chips at the grocery store, you only have to resist temptation once. If you buy the chips, you’ll have to resist temptation every single time you walk past your kitchen.

3. Respect your R&R

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In House of Cards, Kevin Spacey’s character Frank Underwood quips, “I never make big decisions so long after sunset and so far before dawn.” Sure, Underwood is a manipulative villain, but it’s not a bad strategy—lack of sleep can impair your ability to make smart decisions. “Both stress and sleep deprivation affect hormones that may impact our appetite and food choices,” Weisenberger says. “Adequate sleep and appropriate stress management aren’t optional—they are as critical as eating your fruits and vegetables and being physically active.” No matter how busy you are, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and carve out a few minutes each day to de-stress. It can make a world of difference to your willpower.

4. Keep your sugar in check

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It’s harder to stick to your diet when you’re hungry—not exactly breaking news, right? But it’s not just pure hunger that’s getting in your way, or else you’d be just as satisfied with a handful of carrots as a handful of cookies. The real problem is that glucose levels seem to play a big role in self-control, so the hungrier you get, the harder it becomes to choose healthy foods over calorie-laden comfort foods. Last year, Baumeister wrote in the APA Monitor on Psychology that low glucose levels can reduce self-control—so eat before you’re famished if you want to improve your odds of resisting junk-food faves.

Oddly enough, Baumeister found that it also works the other way around—exercising self-control can actually lower your glucose levels. It’s possible that the more decisions you have to make, the more your glucose levels dip, and the harder it is to make a healthy choice the next time. In other words, resisting that donut on your commute to work might make it harder to walk past the candy dish in the office, or turn down greasy takeout at lunch. So rather than relying on sheer self-control, see if you can find ways to avoid tempting situations—for example, find a route to work that doesn’t pass your favorite bakery. That way, you’ll have plenty of willpower left for the temptations you can’t avoid.

5. Focus on tomorrow’s goal, not today’s mistakes

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When you’re on a weight loss regimen, it’s easy to obsess over the occasional slip-up—a high-calorie snack here, a skipped workout there—and lose sight of your long-term goal. But the ability to rally after a setback may be more important than the ability to make virtuous decisions all the time. Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, coined the term “grit” for people who stay focused on a long-term goal, come hell or high water. “The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon,” Duckworth said in a 2007 study. “Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”

So the next time you’re tempted to curse your lack of willpower, remember that self-control is a skill—and like any skill, you’ll screw up a few times while you’re learning it. What’s important is that you keep going. “Determine your weak areas or obstacles and make a plan to overcome them. Put your plan into practice, evaluate it and adjust it if necessary. And expect to stray from the plan and know that you can keep moving forward”.

Melanie T. Lost 75 lbs with Shakeology’s Help

via The Shakeology Blog

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“I love Shakeology!!! It is so good for you and it made me feel as though I was taking a proactive step each day towards being healthier!”

What inspired you to change your life and begin your transformation journey?

My children are my inspiration. When I looked at my activity level and their activity level, we were on opposite ends of the spectrum. Fortunately a friend had found Beachbody workout programs and Shakeology a few months earlier and encouraged me to give it a try. (Prefacing it with, this isn’t an overnight process.) I knew at this point in my life, I needed a program that was long term…I needed a lifestyle change!

Tell us about your life before you started the program. How did you feel about yourself and your body?

Prior to starting my Beachbody Challenge in January 2012 I had hit a record (non-pregnant) high for my weight. I hated my body and was extremely self-conscious. I was lethargic, depressed and uncertain of what steps to take to get back on track with my weight and my health. I knew I needed to do something, but I didn’t have the energy or the focus to lay out a plan of attack.

What is the greatest challenge you faced before beginning the program?

I had always focused on dieting and not on my overall fitness. Interval training similar to the Shredfat inc program helped me to realize that weight loss isn’t the only goal I should have, thus helping me to adhere to the workout schedule. The workout schedule was a great motivator!!!

Why did you choose this particular program?

The programs I chose have been based on my goals at the time, weight loss to strength building to toning, each program has had a major impact on reaching my goals! Top priority though is fun workouts that I enjoy doing! 

How has your life changed?

I have become more focused and active. My confidence is higher and I feel healthy, not just “fit”. I love the knowledge I have gained about health and fitness and my ability to share it with others! Plus, I have met a new group of people who share the same goals for a healthier lifestyle!

 

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How Does Shakeology Work?

Shakeology contains the following nutrient groups and ingredients. Each nutrient group helps your body on a variety of levels. Here’s the breakdown!

Protein and Amino Acids: Whey, Pea, Brown Rice, Chia, Quinoa, Amaranth, Flax, Sacha Inchi.

What these do in your body: Help build lean muscles, improve skin and hair, support optimal brain function, improve mood, and reduce cravings.

Antioxidants and Super-Fruits: Cacao, Coconut Flower Nectar, Acerola Cherry, Pomegranate, Camu-Camu, Bilberry, Goji Berry, Blueberry, Acai, Green Tea, Rose Hips, Cinnamon, Luo Han Guo.

What these do in your body: Help reduce oxidative damage from free radicals, promote heart health and ideal blood pressure, support joint health, and keep your brain healthy.

Phytonutrients and Super-Greens: Moringa, Spirulina, Chlorella, Spinach, Barley Grass, Kamut Grass, Oat Grass, Wheat Grass.

What these do in your body: Help alkalize the body and promote detoxification of the liver, kidneys, and blood to restore health and vitality.

Adaptogen Herbs: Maca, Astragulus, Ashwagandha, Maitake Mushroom, Cordyceps, Reishi Mushroom, Schisandra, Ginkgo, Tulsi (Holy Basil).

What these do in your body: Help protect the body from stress, support the immune system, and balance the endocrine system.

Prebiotics and Probiotics: Yacon Root, Lactobacillus Sporogenes (Bacillus Coagulans).

What these do in your body: Help promote regularity, support a balanced microflora environment in the intestinal tract, and improve digestion.

Digestive Enzymes: Amylase, Papain, Cellulase, Lactase, Lipase, Protease, Bromelain.

What these do in your body: Help the body break down foods and increase absorption of nutrients.

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Top 10 Workout Songs November 2012

Music, the language of the soul, is as old as humanity. The therapeutic benefits of music can be traced back in time to ancient shamanistic rituals. Music, as tool of healing was recognized in the writings of Aristotle, Pythagoras and Plato. They believed that it can influence physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being and improve quality of life. In fact, there have been many recent studies that show if you listen to music while exercising, your brain will probably work better too.

 

Here are my top 10 workout songs for November 2012:

10) Muse – “Survival”:

“It’s not long before the backing vocalists give way to singer Matt Bellamy, who provides a theatrical feel to the track. In his best Freddie Mercury-esque delivery, the singer shows his range, going from showman to rock god in one fell swoop.” – Chad Childers (Diffuser.fm)

9) Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”:

The powerful vocal chords of front woman Brittany Howard are enough to power me through any workout. This track in particular has tremendous build ups that keep me pumped.

8) Calvin Harris – “Acceptable In The 80’s”:

I feel like I’m in an 80’s gym pumping iron when listening to this one. I am a huge fan of 80’s influenced music; as you guessed from the title, this track is just that, with a video game vibe to it. I can dig it!

7) Matt & Kim – “Tonight”:

I dare you to listen to this song and not feel great. It’s bursting with positive energy, making me forget about my worries, and simply bask in the joys of life.

6) Passion Pit – “The Reeling – Calvin Harris Remix”:

This is Calvin Harris’ fuzzy, dance-floor remix of Manners‘ first single “The Reeling.”– Passion Pit AND Calvin Harris? Yes, please!

5) Mystery Jets – “Show Me Nothing”:

“The melodies are upbeat, instant and travel nicely around the very dance-orientated music. ‘Show Me The Light’ is a cracking dig at indie dance pop and the 90s influences are handled excellently.” – Jack Olchawski (TheFourOhFive.com)

4) Shiny Toy Guns – “Speaking Japanese”:

Fresh from their newly dropped album “III”, this track is flavored with dance, rock and synth-pop sounds enhanced by vocals from Chad Petree and Carah Faye.

3) Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch – “Sweet Nothing”:

Florence Welch featured on a house track; need I say more? Crank up the volume, pump some iron, and dance in between sets; who cares who’s looking!

2) The Killers – “From Here On Out”:

A Tom Petty inspired little gem with a chorus that’s bound to be humming in your head all day. It’s a quick hitting and fun tune that’s great for doing some sprint intervals.

1) The Killers – “Carry Me Home”:

This has been my go to workout song as of late. When I feel like taking my workout to the next level, I crank up the volume on this incredible song, and get to work. The Killers have created a masterpiece with their latest album ‘Battle Born’; if you haven’t heard it yet, what are you waiting for?

 

You can view, listen and subscribe to my entire SHREDFAT workout playlist below. How cool is that!

How Can Shakeology Improve Your Digestion?

Many people suffer from digestive symptoms and problems. Some of the main complaints that people have when it comes to digestive problems are bloating, gas, stomach pains, constipation, etc. For each of these symptoms and conditions there is usually an underlying cause as to why they are happening.

Changing your diet to one that’s filled with healthy ingredients rich in prebiotics and probiotics, as well as staying active, can often times be the solution to digestive imbalance. Many of our customers have told us that once they started drinking Shakeology and started getting active, their digestion problems have gotten better or disappeared all together.

“Ever since I started drinking Shakeology, I no longer binge on the bad stuff. Now my skins glows and her digestion is where it should be.”– Becky B.

Shakeology contains many ingredients that are beneficial to the digestive system such as prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Prebiotics and Probiotics, are natural components of certain plants. They help support the “friendly” bacteria in your digestive tract and they may also help with the absorption of minerals such as calcium. Digestive enzymes, from plant sources such as pineapples and papayas, help your body break down food into its individual components, making the nutrients easier to absorb. Cooking can destroy food’s natural digestive enzymes, so there’s a good chance that you don’t get enough of them in your diet.

Drinking a glass of Shakeology daily can help move things along, so to speak, because of the prebiotics, probiotics, whole food ingredients, fiber, and digestive enzymes. If you are seeking good health, the place to start is in your digestive tract. Healthy digestion is key to detoxify your body each day and helps prevent unhealthy diseases.

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