Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I may not be right all the time but….

I often have friends, coworkers and family dispute my views on healthier food choices and making positive changes in your lifestyle.  I am ok with, I admit, I do not know it all and I am not always 100% right.  All I can do is share what has worked for me and those result are undisputable!

Here are my thoughts, if you disagree with me fine, then tell me where we disagree, or better yet, show me what does work?  I am always happy to hear about new ideas and viewpoints, BUT if you do not practice them yourself then what is the point of telling me I am wrong?  People often site Doctors, news reports or online articles with their arguments.  What you have to do is take an overall look at what does works.  There is plenty of conflicting information out there, but if you can just believe that natural foods in their natural state are best then you agree with me on 80% of the approach!  The other 20% may relate to things like eating meat and dairy, outside of that what else is there to debate.  Processed and refined foods are inherently unhealthy, fake foods are seem to never be good, and the best thing to drink is always water!  If you dispute these things then there is little hope for you to get healthier.
What most people do not think about is the hidden agenda behind many of the health messages out there, which are usually rooted in selling something.  Diet books, diet pills, diet foods, diet seminars, workout videos, etc…..it is all about selling something.  I am ok with selling an idea but it must be the right one.  There is no magic cure/pill, or super food; it is all about a balanced approach.  Our healthcare for profession for example is full of overweight people.  Doctors are trained to curing illness and provide emergency care but they are taught very little about diet and prevention.  There are those who do not correlate diet to our overall health, this is a huge issues because Doctors prescribe medicines all day long, but that only helps the symptoms and rarely cures the chronic disease.

One of the other huge factors working against us is our own Government.  As a nation, we subsidies farmers to grown lots of products, which some of these in mass quantities are not necessarily the best foods for us.  As we subsidize and grow more of the products they have to find a way to get rid of them, and where does it go?  School lunches, hospitals, government run institutions, fast food industry, etc.    Therefore, if the government makes unhealthy foods cheap then they are not helping the general population and certainly not the poor.
I will admit I am learning new things all the time and continue to come across conflicting information.  It is easy to find negative feedback to a positive approach and vice versa.  Everyone has an opinion, what I suggest as look at that individual, evaluate their motives and do not rule out ideas that are not the norm.  Our society is growing more and more obese every day, so do you think societies message are correct if that is the case?

If you want to improve your health then start somewhere, do not sit back and do nothing because you are confused or overwhelmed.  I did that for years and stayed Fat!!!!  Implementing healthy foods into your diet is easy (fruits, vegetables, water) and you will see results, reducing the processed foods will also show results – these are two simple steps to help you begin your journey.
Whether you change your lifestyle overnight or gradually improve it, I encourage you to start today.  You only have one body, one life to live so go out and make the best of it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Overeating is not the problem!

Overeating is not the problem!
Did you ever stop to think, “Why am I overeating and getting fat?”  Well the problem is not the overeating; it is being hungry all the time!

This is a simple idea but a hard one to accept in application.  If you are overweight and trying to cut back on the amount of food you eat, what happens?  You get hungrier and want to eat even more to eat (binge eating commonly occurs).  What also happens when you cut back on how much you eat?  You get lethargic and lose your energy and then burn less calories.  Your body is an extraordinary machine because when it senses that we are restricting our food intake, it reacts accordingly and wants to save energy.
Therefore, you may ask how do I lose weight if calorie restriction is not a viable option.  The answer is changing what you eat!  It is really that simple!  “Calorie in vs. calorie out” concepts do not work as a way to maintain a healthy weight or to even lose weight long term.  If you reduce your calories, you will become hungrier and reduce your energy level.  We should realize that this is not sustainable.  I know this from personal experience.

The only way you can win this battle is to eat more food, but eat the right foods.  I have detailed the right foods in previous blog post, but I can say that since I have changed what I eat, I can say I actually eat less, I do not go hungry and I have maintained my weight loss for almost a year now.
You have to accept that when you do not give your body the nutrition it needs it will stay hungry hoping you will fill the void with the right types of foods to satisfy the needs of your body.  If we eat “empty calories” such as sodas, candy, chips etc. then the body will crave more of these foods but you will not satisfy your own nutritional requirements to stay healthy.

If you disagree with this concept then there is literally no hope for you to lose weight.  I do not want to oversimplify or be negative but it is nearly impossible to have the discipline or energy to fight obesity with starvation.  There are a lot of calorie restricting programs out there and many that offer meals, supplements or replacement food like shakes and snack bars.  These programs can work in the short term but as many people can tell you, they will not maintain a healthy weight year after year.
My suggestion is first decide that you really want to be healthy, make some changes in your eating patterns, give it a few weeks and your body will adjust.  You may not lose the weight quickly at first, but you did not gain the weight overnight either.

On another note, if you start exercising to lose weight then you will want to eat even more!  Your body will want to have more food to support the additional calorie burning activity.  With this said, you will have to eat more if you start exercising so be prepared to eat the right types of food to support additional exercise!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Going to the gym!

I am very amazed at what I see at the gym these days.  Personally, I did not start going to the gym until I had already lost most of my excess weight (about 60 lbs.).   I began to go to the gym to help make my body leaner and stronger to promote my running.  It is a great way to cross train and build up my fitness.  I have gained about 8 lbs. of muscle with no change in my overall size in about 6 months.
First you have to decide why you want to go to the gym, is it for weight loss or bodybuilding / strength training?  If you are overweight, then you must understand that lifting weights will not help your overall weight loss effort.  I am not trying to downplay the significance of strength training, but if you are overweight, losing the fat should be the most important goal.

For weight loss and heart health, you must workout aerobically (with oxygen)!  There is a lot of science to this but I am not going to go in the details about it here.  Think about it this way, you must raise your heart rate to the point of sweating after 5-8 minutes, but still be able to carry on a conversation, i.e. not out of breath.  If you cannot talk to the person next to you while working out then slow down, if you are not sweating then go faster.  Do not think you can add 3 layers of clothes to help you sweat off the fat, the clothes make you hotter but it does not raise your heart rate in a healthy way.  You must go for at least 20 minutes; however, 30-60 minutes is better because it trains your body to burn fat after the glycogen has started to deplete from your body.
Heart rate monitors are great, especially if you are training to go for ½ or full marathons or training for long distance cycling events.  Get smart about how to use them and how to stay in the zone for maximum benefit.  You can find more about this online.

Weight Lifting: If you plan to lift weights then you should take the following advice (this is not about becoming a body builder; I am not qualified to speak on that).
Make sure you are able to do 8-12 reps, 2-3 times.  Varying this on routine on different days can be helpful, i.e. more weight with fewer reps, then more reps with less weight.

Rest muscles for 2-3 days, alternating workout areas each day.  You could do chest muscles one day and arms the next.  Do the same thing with the legs.
Focus on overall core muscles, very targeted workouts have little benefit, so for toning the stomach, hundreds of crunches will not give you a six pack, only proper weight loss can do that and overall strength building will do that.

Do not believe that protein shakes, powders or whatever the gym is trying to sell you will help.  The only effective way to build muscle is proper nutrition at the dinner table.  As Americans, most of us eat too much protein already, too much protein makes your body toxic, and your kidneys have to work overtime to get rid of the excess amounts.
I am amazed at how many people sit on a cycle for 10 minutes then go straight into the weights or core exercises. Many of them are overweight and you must understand that the weight lifting will build some muscle (that will stay hidden under the fat) and muscle burns more calories than fat, but the best thing to do is to lose the fat first!  Body Builders can be some of the unhealthiest people out there because they do not work out aerobically.  Their hearts are weak and I cannot even imagine what their blood work is like.  I am not trying to be stereotypical here, but you cannot always take what the muscle magazines say as being a good healthy option.

Keep in mind that exercising will not fix bad eating habits!  The more you work out the more you will eat.  If you eat bad food then you will just eat more of it!  You can see big people running all the time and not get thinner, only food choice will fix that ailment!
My disclaimer – before doing anything go to a Doctor to verify you are healthy enough to exercise!