Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Eat Smart, Part 3

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about how to eat right. As you recall, it all starts with a good, healthy breakfast. Unless you had the late night munchies (we’ll save that for another discussion), you’ve been fasting all night. Now it’s time to get your engine started.

You also learned you need to have a high quality starch, whole grains—for long lasting fuel; a low fat source of protein—for building muscle and bone; and some fresh fruit—for quick energy to get things going.

This applies equally to lunch and supper, but you can switch from fruit to greens—to get your vitamins and minerals. Some diet experts also recommend you leave off the starch at suppertime focusing more on protein & vegetables—a Mediterranean diet.

But what happens when you get hungry in between meals? Or if the meals are too big? Or worse, when you have a “train wreck”—like those donuts they brought to work, the mega candy bar from the gas station; or worse, that plate of chocolate chip cookies lovingly made for you by your wife!

The problem’s pretty simple, really. It’s a matter of fueling up more often. If you want to avoid train wrecks, you have to eat smaller meals with snacks in between. If you find yourself reaching for something, it’s because you probably do need something. What you have to do, is control what that something is! You’ve got to plan it out by having healthy snacks around.

Snacks should be about 150 calories for women, and 300 calories for men (sorry ladies). They should have protein—for building muscle and bone, and carbs—for fuel. The carbs can be complex like whole grains, or simple, like fruits.

Here are some great snack ideas for you. Slice up an apple with 1 tbsp of peanut butter (men can have 2 tbsp). Eat some fresh fruit with low fat yogurt or cottage cheese. Or, a ½ of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich on whole grain bread.

You can also have a meal replacement shake—not to replace meals, but as a healthy snack. You can even go with those pre-packaged fruit cups, but fresh is always better if you have a choice.

A lot of people are even eating those 100 calorie bite size snack packages, but be careful—make sure there aren’t any Trans Fats in them (but that’s another discussion, too). You can even consider your dessert as a snack, if the calories are right, and it’s low fat—one of my favorites is low fat frozen yogurt with strawberries!

Snacks will tide you over until your next meal and keep you from having a train wreck later! You’re meals will be filling and more satisfying, too. Next week—we’ll look at the role protein plays in a healthy diet. Now, I’ve got to go have my snack!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Eat Smart, Part 2

This week, let’s look at what a day’s worth of food should look like. Remember, quality whole-grain starches give you long lasting energy; protein builds muscle and bone; and fruits & greens give you quick energy, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals!

It’s the most important meal of the day, and I didn’t make that up! It doesn’t need to be huge—it just needs to be something. Pick a healthy whole grain starch like oatmeal, or a high quality cereal, or 100% whole grain bread. Don’t eat too much—most women can probably get by on 1/2 to 2/3 cup of cereal or oatmeal, or a piece of toast. Men probably need a full cup, or 2 pieces of toast.

Add a good quality source of protein, like low fat milk, yogurt, or soy milk. Even low fat cottage cheese will work. A glass of milk will do, or 6-8 oz of yogurt.

Finally, add some fresh fruit like a banana, some cut strawberries, or even a fruit medley. If you have to, frozen is o.k., but fresh is always better!

Again you need to have a good quality starch—100% multigrain bread, or even Ezekiel bread! 1 slice for women, 2 slices for men. Whole wheat pasta or baked beans are also good choices. ½ a cup for women, and a whole cup for men.

Pick a good protein source, like fish, chicken, turkey slices (get fresh cuts—avoid the packaged kind), eggs, or cottage cheese. Sometimes I’ll have a chicken sub on whole wheat.

Round it off with some fruits or greens—maybe a side salad with low fat dressing. Or, you could have a chicken salad. Remember, the more colors in the salad, the better—it means you’re getting more vitamins and minerals! Another possibility could be cottage cheese on a salad, so you’ll get your protein too.

Some people will choose not to eat a starch for supper, which is fine, unless you’re working out. If so, you really need it for fuel. If you do, make sure you’re getting quality whole grains!

Make sure you get your protein here. Maybe 3-4 oz of meatloaf for ladies and 5-6 oz for men. Or have a chicken breast, or fresh fish—baked, not fried!

Don’t forget to load up on fruits & greens. I have a mixed salad every night, or sometimes a side dish like fresh cut garden green beans! Next week—we’ll take a look at some good snacks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eat Smart, Part 1

Last week, we looked at how to do Smart Cardio workouts, and the week before, Seven Tips for Smart Muscle workouts. This week, it’s time to look at How To Eat Smart.

First of all, it’s important to realize that we are what we eat. If we eat healthier foods, we’ll feel better. If we don’t, we won’t. The answer isn’t found in goofy diets, either. Eating Smart is a learned lifestyle. It’s something you can do wherever you are, if you know how to do it.

Eating Smart also starts first thing in the morning. I made the mistake of working out this morning without having any breakfast—boy was that a mistake! I ran out of gas halfway through, and had to go drink a quick energy shake to fuel back up. I not only didn’t eat smart, I didn’t eat—and that was dumb!

Remember, we’ve been fasting all night (that’s why they call it breakfast), and there’s usually nothing left in the blood stream to use for energy. It is alright to exercise on an empty stomach, if you’re doing light to moderate cardio. Research even shows we’ll burn more fat this way, but it can be tough.

You definitely shouldn’t try doing 20 minutes of high intensity cardio intervals, and then a serious muscle workout without eating though—lesson learned! Next time, I’ll do better.

Usually I’ll have a piece of Ezekiel Bread and some yogurt, first thing in the morning, or at least a Meal Replacement Shake (24grams protein/24 grams carbs). I just happened to get side-tracked and before I knew it, it was time to work out.
And that leads to one of our main problems. Many people are missing breakfast, and that’s a shame. Of if they do have something, it isn’t enough, or it’s poor quality. You need more energy to start your day—especially if you’re doing intense exercise. A fire doesn’t start burning without some kindling, right?

Miss a meal, and then some snacks, and it’s no wonder you might have a train wreck with those donuts or ___________ (fill in the blank) in the office later. No wonder you’ll gobble the whole bag of chips.

You’ve got to start out right. Eat 3 smaller meals a day, with 2-3 snacks in between. You’ll be fueling up as you need it, and you’ll burn everything you eat. The average woman needs around 1500-1650 calories to lose weight, and the average man needs around 1800-2400.

That amounts to around 400 calorie meals and 100-150 calorie snacks for women, and around 500-600 calorie meals and 250-300 calorie snacks for men.
Next time (after I’ve had my breakfast), we’ll talk about what healthy meals should look like. See you in the gym!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Exercise Smart, Part 2

Last week, I told you about a talk I had recently with a client. Like many people, they’d put some of their weight back on, and were pretty frustrated.

Before going into what they’re eating, I always like to find out what they’ve been doing in the gym. Remember, it’s easy to workout and not get what you want—you’ve got to exercise smart!

Building muscle is the key to boosting your metabolism. More muscle means your body needs more energy to survive, so you become a fat-burner all the time! And ladies, you don’t need to worry about looking goofy, your body will simply get toned up and look great! So, we looked at seven keys to exercising smart:

Be Consistent—nothing happens without consistency.
Always Push Yourself a little—so your body has to change.
Go Slower—to make it safer, and harder, too.
Use a Full Range of Motion—to get more flexible
Use Some Free Weights—to use your stabilizer muscles and core more.
Change It Up every few weeks—so your body has to keep adapting.
Get Enough Rest—so your muscles can fully recover.

We also need to exercise smart in our cardio workouts. Did you know that you can walk everyday for years and get fatter? If you do the same thing you’ve always done, your body has no reason to change—so it won’t. Then, as you get older, your metabolism slows down, burning fewer calories. You can actually keep exercising, but gain weight!

What you have to do is push it a little. You’ve got to make your body change, or it won’t. It might even get worse. So, the best way to push it is by doing interval training. This lets you push it a little, and then back off to recover.

If you’re walking, do some intervals where you walk faster for a couple minutes before backing off to recover. Then hit it again. Or crank up the grade on that treadmill. Walk uphill awhile, and then come back down for a little bit. Then, hit it again. Or, mix up some hills with walking faster.

If you’re running, jog a little while, and then walk. Then do it again. Maybe this is your first time jogging. That’s O.K. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, or how far—just that you push it a little bit at your own level. Always try to push it a little faster, or for a little longer. Don’t just do the same thing all the time!

If you’re on an elliptical, bike, stair-stepper, etc… try some intervals there, too. Go faster for awhile, or crank up the difficulty to a higher level. Then back it down to recover before hitting it again.

Remember, Interval Training burns more calories in the same amount of time. It also has a much longer afterburn—so you’ll burn more calories even after exercising. This should help you jump start your metabolism again. Next week, we’ll look at the other side of the equation—how to get back to eating right!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Exercise Smart, Part 1

I just had a conversation with someone about how things have changed—for the worse. They’d lost quite a bit of weight before, but have gained it back.

How did that happen? What’s going on? This is a pretty common thing, and I know it can be pretty depressing. You should see my “quit file.” It’s five inches thick and filled with people who have stopped trying for one reason or another.

First of all, I have to say that individual is extremely dedicated to their exercise routine—never missing a workout. So what’s going on? Let’s look at the workout side of things first.

A success coach once said “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” This principle also applies to your body when working out. We’ve got to learn how to exercise smart! Here are some rules to follow.

1. Be consistent. Show up. Get it done. Show me someone who works out daily for a couple years, and I’ll show you someone who’s close to their ideal body weight.

2. Always push it a little. I’m always amazed at how often I see people doing the same thing they did the last time I saw them working out—and it might be months later! I wish I could personally train or coach everyone all the time—because man, do I push them. But they need to learn to push themselves.

3. Go slower. It’s safer, and it’s much more work, too! Slow it down—especially on the downward lowering part (eccentric contraction). That will get you way better results.

4. Use your full range of motion. Don’t do short motions. Contract the muscle all the way, and let it stretch out fully the other way. This is more work, and it also makes you more flexible.

5. Start using some free weights like dumbbells and barbells, in addition to the machines. While machines provide a good starting point, they have their limitations. Free weights force you to balance the weights, so all your stabilizer muscles, and your entire core (abs, obliques, low back) have to work more. You burn more calories, and build more muscle, making you a better fat burner, too!

6. Change it up. Every fourth week, do a “deload” week, where you just go crazy—doing different exercises. Your body is “fearfully and wonderfully made” and it adapts very quickly—getting used to things. Shake it up a little!

7. Get enough rest. It takes at least 96 hours for a muscle to fully recover. Try using a 3 Day Split instead. On Monday do Pushing (chest, shoulder, triceps). On Wednesday, do your Lower Body (legs, hips, low back). On Fridays, do your Pulling (back & biceps). Do your Cardio on your other days.

If you do these things, it will start going back the other way. Next week, we’ll look at how to do Smart Cardio Exercise, and later, we'll look at how to get back to eating right. Hang in there!