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Who’s joining me for the fittest year ever in 2012?

31 Dec

You didn’t think I would go into 2012 without a New Year’s Resolution fitness post, did you?

I’m going to be even more fit and healthy this year. 365 days of commitment – Strength training, endurance training, rest, mobility and lots of healthy eating for fueling. How can you join me in being fitter and healthier than ever in 2012?

Since you will probably quit reading after this list, here’s what not to do in 2012:
– Nothing/be sedentary
– Endless hours of steady state cardio
– Avoid lifting weight / lifting little pink dumbbells
– Overtrain
– Put bad foods, drinks and other toxins in your body
– Skimp on sleep
– Put yourself behind everyone else all the time
– Hold on to stress / let the small stuff stress you out
– Tell yourself “I can’t…”

Let me expand now by telling you how you can be fitter (and healthier!):

– Do something – if you are sedentary, start moving. I don’t care if it’s getting up to walk down the hall once an hour. Just be more active. If you sit at the desk all day, get up and pace while on a phone call, walk to the farthest bathroom in the office, take advantage of that free on-site gym…you get the picture. If you are pretty active, read on…

– Steady state cardio is pretty counter-productive if you are trying to get fit and maintain fitness. Your body adapts and it adapts FAST. You need to be doing a variety of training protocols, from short bouts of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to training longer intervals at about 80-85%. Save the steady state, long slow distance for endurance events. If you train higher intensity intervals, you condition your body to be better at the longer, slower distances, plus you get far more caloric burn from it. Bonus – less risk for overuse injuries (in case you haven’t had the pleasure of an overuse injury, once you have one it will plague you forever. You can still perform, but you’re going to feel the past injury in some way).

– Hello, Jane Fonda called and she wants her pink dumbbells back! You are doing yourself a HUGE disservice if you aren’t lifting actual weight. Fact, lifting heavy outperforms any other kind of lifting format (high rep, low weight = set yourself up to be disappointed again this year). LADIES, WE AREN’T GENETICALLY BUILT TO BULK UP LIKE MEN! Stop living in the shadow of that lie! Pick up heavy weights, give yourself just enough rest to feel a little uncomfortable, then repeat until your training session is over. Then get home and refuel!

– Don’t overdo it. Rest is essential for body mind and body. You will not get fitter or healthier if you run yourself into the ground. Define what rest means to you, be it some gentle yoga, a light bike ride or no workout at all and embrace the rest day! This includes sleep. It’s nearly impossible to be healthy without getting enough sleep.

– You will completely sabotage any effort to get fit if you put junk in your mouth. Looking and feeling good is about 80% nutrition-based. If you eat junk, you will feel like junk. Refer to my last post on 2012 healthy eating.

– You have to put yourself first when it comes to your health. You need to find an hour in your busy day to dedicate to yourself. It’s your time to focus on being healthy.

– Don’t let stress rule your life. Show stress who’s boss. Don’t let stress win. Most of what you are stressing over is not worth the health impact that stress has on you.

– And finally, don’t tell yourself that you can’t. You can get your butt off the couch and take a walk. You can bundle up and take a walk in less than optimal weather. You can give up wheat because you are gluten intolerant (you won’t even miss wheat in a month)! You can learn to like Kale. You can step foot into a gym without feeling embarrassed. You can go to a CrossFit gym and complete a WOD. You can run a marathon in October. You can stop letting your boss stress you out. You can take an hour a day for yourself. You can eliminate worthless tasks from your schedule to get more sleep.

So, are you going to join me in making this your fittest and healthiest year ever?


The big New Year’s "diet" post!

29 Dec

Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor or a dietician. If you need medical advice, please consult with a doc or RD.

With 2012 about to arrive in a few days, odds are that you are probably thinking about going on some kind of diet. First of all – I hate the word “diet”. It’s misused in my opinion. “Diet” is what you eat daily. It’s what goes in your body daily. That said, what should your diet look like as of January 1, 2012?

-Eat lean proteins, a variety of vegetables, some fruits, good fats – all from whole food sources (more on that later).
-Avoid processed and/or refined foods and other toxins.
-Drink water and lots of it.

It’s that simple…or is it?

The above is a good starting guideline. Of course, most people seeking to “diet” want an exact plan – can I eat this? what about that? how much do I eat? how do I know if I’m eating too much? It’s best not to over-think this stuff. TAKE HOME MESSAGE: THERE IS NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL “MODEL DIET”! Sorry to disappoint.

This is where “it’s not that simple” comes in.

We are all pretty unique. You can follow some general guidelines and they may work very well for you, but I will almost guarantee there will be a plateau. This is when you start to discover what does and does not work for you. THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL OR DIET – IT TAKES TIME AND EFFORT TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS. Even most who have gastric bypass surgery gain at least some of the weight back. Don’t ride the fad diet rollercoaster. I get it, you want to be thinner, more cut, look better naked – we all do. But don’t you also want to be healthy inside? Being healthy inside requires a healthy lifestyle (part of which is having a healthy diet).

So, what can sabotage a healthy diet besides bad friends, dessert and that little devil on your shoulder? Autoimmune diseases, medications, food allergies, digestive issues…the list goes on. Don’t give up hope! Understand that you have your own unique issues to work through. Now may be the time to see the doc and get a little blood work. Did you know that too much Omega-6 in our diets can cause inflammation, this wrecking “diet” efforts? It’s said that a great number of us has some form of gluten intolerance. What if eliminating gluten was all you needed to do to cross the plateau? It’s well-known with women that certain forms of birth control cause weight gain and water retention. What if crossing the plateau was as simple as changing forms of birth control? Do you really need milk if you are lactose intolerant? Are you active or sedentary? You’ll have different needs depending on your answers. Everything we ingest and do has an effect in and on our bodies. If you haven’t noticed, the systems in our body do not work independently from each other. You want to feel good (and look good), don’t you? And for the last time, please get an unrealistic image out Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie out of your head – It does nothing but sabotage your efforts! Be the best YOU can be!

Back to whole foods, and not the store that takes your entire paycheck each week. Whole foods are non-processed from nature edible items. Is a Twinkie a whole food? Ummm, no. What’s even in those?!?! How about canned green beans preserved in sodium? Nope, not that either. Neither are the cups of yogurt with fruit in the bottom. Neither are Egg Beaters. Vegetables and fruits from the produce department, cuts of meat from the butcher, eggs, raw PLAIN nuts…you get the picture. Twinkies, not whole food, head of fresh broccoli, whole food. I suggest shopping with a local farmer or farmer’s market for these items. You’ll get the freshest whole foods available. Extra bonus if you care about the environment – eating local is far more eco-friendly. You should only be eating foods that are in season. P.S. – local farmers often jar extra crop like tomatoes to be used in the off-season. Extra, extra bonus – you are giving back to the local economy by putting money in that farmer’s pocket, rather than the big businesses that supply grocery stores with sub-optimal foods and with home offices in BFE. Extra, extra, extra bonus – you aren’t at risk for the variety of fun and potentially life-threatening bacteria that end up in mass-produced foods. Just Google “2011 food recalls” and see the lists that come up. This stuff is sitting on our grocery store shelves!

You can take all the knowledge above and stop there if you want, or read on for more fun blabbering…

This is how I eat: I eat only local whole foods. I follow what some would call a lacto-Paleo diet. Fresh veggies and fruits (esp. leafy greens – my favorite!), grass-fed, no hormone meats and dairy (I try to use dairy sparingly due to it’s tendency to produce an inflammatory response), raw nuts with nothing on them, water, coffee, tea, some alcohol (mostly red wine), eggs. I don’t eat anything refined or considered a processed food. I make my own energy bars (it’s pretty easy to be honest). I do not eat wheat or other grains (grains are a touchy subject, but most are genetically modified and processed to get in their store-bought form. Grains also can elicit some bad digestive issues and being someone with a history of digestive problems, I want to avoid feeling bad. In addition to other digestive issues, I was extremely hypoglycemic and I no longer struggle with that, despite having to go without food for long times on occasion). Sparingly, I use 72% or higher dark chocolate in recipes, as well as coconut milk and flour. I don’t measure my portions. I NEVER “cheat”…if someone is “cheating” on their diet, then they aren’t using the word diet right in my opinion. I don’t feel deprived of anything – I didn’t have a Christmas cookie or any other dessert this year, nor did I crave all of the above. I love cooking. It can be super easy – steam some veggies and grill a piece of chicken, or it can be complicated gourmet cooking that keeps me in the kitchen for hours. I don’t like to eat out much because I find the chef at home is far better than most in restaurants! 😉 I feel great and look great eating this way. This has been a culmination of baby steps and lots of tweaks to my diet. No, I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with my weight, but even I have seen some pleasant body composition changes. I believe eliminating wheat/grains and beans have had the most effect on me. I don’t get gassy and I don’t retain water – at all. I have some recent blood work to show that this dietary lifestyle is working good for me.

The same diet probably won’t have the exact same effects on you. The point is to use the starting point way above (that list of what to eat), make it your lifestyle and if you still aren’t where you need/want to be health-wise, look at other changes you can make.

It’s THAT simple!

My 6 picks for a healthier 2012

18 Dec

You have the Christmas gifts for everyone else…now it’s time to give yourself a gift. What better time than during the gift-giving season? Here are my 6 picks for a healthier 2012:

1) For those who live in areas of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, my first pick is weekly delivery from Green Bean Delivery (if you don’t live in the delivery area, check around your area – similar services are popping up all over the country). I’ve been using Green Bean Delivery (GBD) for my groceries for over a year now. What I like about GBD is the wide selection of superior-quality local foods, from organic produce to grass-fed meats and everything healthy in between. My weekly order is delivered right to my door in temperature controlled bins. I don’t have to worry about quick produce spoilage because my veggies weren’t picked 2 weeks ago, shipped in a truck across the country and sitting on a grocery store shelf for a week prior to purchase. I get better quality from the local farmers who care about their product. AND…I’m at no risk getting one of the many unnecessary illness-producing bacteria (e.g., e-coli and salmonella) coming out of the major food manufacturing plants (e.g., Cargill). (Disclaimer – these bacteria can pop-up on local farms too, but it’s less likely that you will get e-coli or salmonella from a small local farmer – they are generally a large manufacturing facility problem.) If you absolutely can’t find a service like Green Bean, shop your local farmer’s markets and mom & pop grocery stores. You’ll find higher-quality, more environmentally-friendly, healthier choices in those places.

2) Don’t have a smartphone yet? Time to get one! It’s the only piece of technology I need. No, Steve Jobs did not leave me in the will! With the ability to play music, have endless fitness and nutrition apps in hand, built in timers, cameras and social networking – a smartphone has nearly everything you need to get fit, stay motivated and track your progress. If only smartphones came with athletic shoes…

3) Speaking of athletic shoes, a great pair of shoes is essential to fitness. One size does not fit all when it comes to the type of shoe that’s right for you. I’m can’t tell you if you should be barefoot or a thick-soled motion control shoe that keeps your foot totally restricted. You need to do the research to determine what is best for your feet – read up on the positives and negatives of each type of shoe. For example, while the rate of stress fractures with minimalist shoes is higher than normal (generally from misuse), severe motion control shoes create problems with the Achilles tendons and plantar fascia. The best research can be found in dedicated shoe stores (they will let you try out shoes for hours), exercisers who have been through the shoes choices, doctors who have your health (not their wallet) in mind and tons of expert blogs on the subject. Be open to donating your old shoes in favor of new shoes that suit your feet.

4) Put down that Self / Men’s Fitness Magazine and pick up a book (or 20) or read an expert blog surrounding in-depth detail of nutrition and fitness topics. Should you become vegetarian or eat like a caveman? Is wheat the new fat? Is [insert any number of fitness rumors] a myth? What’s the difference between P90X and CrossFit? Should you be doing a crunch or a plank for core strength? I promise you, there are a wealth of experts (chefs, biologists, doctors and alike) who write nothing but books and blogs about these and other nutrition / fitness topics. You won’t be lacking for data. Can’t find these experts? Try Twitter – they are all on there posting study after study daily. It will open your mind to new possibilities and ways of living your healthy life. Don’t just believe what Jillian or Dr. Oz tell you – go out there and educate yourself! Come on, you have shoe research to do!

5) If you don’t know how to cook – take some cooking classes. Then invest in quality cooking supplies. Did you know that non-stick cookware is linked to numerous diseases? A-ha! You would if you were doing your reading (see #4 above). Just having the basics (both cookware and cooking knowledge) gets you ready for a whole new world of eating healthy. You may never be a 5-star chef, but what you cook will taste far better than fast food (and be FAR better for your health).

6) This last one is something I truly believe in – the gift of personal or small-group training. Having someone there to teach you new ways to use your body, to encourage you to move beyond what you think you can do, who will push you to be your best. We all need that…even other trainers and fitness experts. Whether you hire a personal trainer for one-on-one sessions or join a CrossFit box, find yourself someone who will push you towards and beyond your fitness goals. You might just achieve something that you never would have imagined could be achieved. SHAMELESS PLUG – Contact me if you want to train with me, or come to the CrossFit box where I am just one of 5 super-awesome coaches. Or if my blog totally annoys you and you can’t stand me – I can provide referrals. I know several great trainers in the area.

Extra credit for those who want to geek out: Know your numbers, as in, VO2 Max/submax, body fat and resting metabolism. It’s not very expensive to have the testing done and a number of places in town will do the tests, but I want to offer another SHAMELESS PLUG for a personal recommendation: Baseline Fitness (located in Worthington, OH.). Believe it or not, they don’t pay me to recommend their business! If you have real specific goals you are working towards – weight loss, a figure competition, an Ironman event – having this knowledge isn’t a bad idea. Plus, all the info you get can be plugging into a heart rate monitor for easy tracking and training. See how your numbers look in January and perhaps June or next January. You’ll see the result of the hard work that you are putting into eating healthy and working out.

Here’s to a healthier 2012 for all of us!