Moderation is Awkward

There it is… that word again: Moderation. You’ve heard it countless times, and for some reason, you still don’t feel very comfortable with it.

Whether you’re thinking about your struggles with your diet or your exercise program or your secret knitting hobby,  you have probably been told “everything in moderation!”

So what is moderation, really?

Moderation (noun): The avoidance of excess or extremes.

If moderation is the avoidance of excess or extremes, then what are these extremes?

Avoiding Fitness Extremes

The CDC recommends at LEAST 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week and 2 or more days of resistance training that hits all major muscles groups. However, we often see athletes and fitness enthusiasts training way  more than this. So what is extreme?

Extreme when it comes to fitness should not be measured by how many miles you run a week or how many workouts you do a week. Instead, ask yourself the following questions:

*Am I feeling overly tired?
*Are my joints hurting more than usual?
*Did I develop an injury that won’t go away?
*Is my performance decreasing during my workouts?
*Am I having trouble sleeping?
*Do I feel less hungry?
*Do I feel more agitated or moody than usual?
*Am I losing more hair than usual?
*Do I feel sore all the time?

If you answered yes to more than 3 or more of these questions, you are probably overtraining and going into the extreme.

While you might think working out 7 days a week is better than 0 days a week, you need to be mindful about how your body FEELS. The whole point of exercising and eating better is so that you can sustain these changes LONG-TERM! If you’re exercising to the point of having issues as seen above, you will become demotivated, fall off the bandwagon, and might get some not so pretty injuries along the way.

It’s funny how we’ve made ourselves believe that pain during exercise is normal and part of “getting in shape.” But our bodies know us better than we think they do. And the thing is, you don’t have to push to the point of pain to see results, I promise.

Avoiding Nutrition Extremes

No carb or low carb diets are all the rage these days. While there are many success stories to this approach, many people struggle to maintain this type of diet long-term and begin to feel chronically fatigued. While I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with eliminating some carbs from our diets (as Americans, we basically live off our pizza, beer, donuts, and sausage biscuits), we do need to re-approach how we look at them.

Carbs are ESSENTIAL for our bodies to function properly. I mean, Michael Phelps eats the majority of meals from carbs every day to fuel his training for crying out loud. And yes, of course I know we aren’t Michael Phelps, but that doesn’t mean we can should just be “carb-free”.

When you think of carbs, most of the time you’re thinking of donuts, cake, chips, etc. But none of these foods are in any way nutritionally dense.  In other words, they don’t provide you with any real vitamins/minerals that are beneficial to you. They’re empty calories and  loaded with tons of sugar and unhealthy fats.

When we think of carbs, we need to be thinking of nutritionally dense carbs: brown rice, starchy vegetables, fruits (with the skin), sweet potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat products, etc. But not only that…we need to think about PORTIONS.

Portions are a make or break when it comes to weight loss. If you mess this part up, you’re not going to have a fun time. Carbs should make up 45-65% of the calories for the day, a guideline set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Carbs are extremely important, especially if you are getting active and doing cardio and resistance training.

So how does that break down per day? Say you eating 2000 calories, then that would mean, you need roughly 900-1300 calories worth of carbs a day. Since there are 4 calories/gram of carbs, that would equate to 225-325g a day. A portion of carbohydrates is 15g. This is equal to 1/3 cup of pasta, 1 piece of toast, 1/4 of a bagel etc. A portion of carbohydrate is not just a “serving” on your nutrition label, it’s literally defined as the amount that gives you 15g.

So I know it might sound confusing. So let’s break this down meal-wise (this is NOT including fats and proteins, JUST breaking down carbs):

Breakfast: 45g
* Two pieces of toast (30g) + 1/2 cup orange juice (15g)
Morning snack: 30g
*3/4 cup blueberries (15g) + 2/3 cup fat free plain yogurt (15g)
Lunch: 45g
*2/3 cup rice (30g) + 1/2 cup starchy veggies (15g)
Afternoon snack: 30g
*1.5 oz pretzels
Dinner: 90g
*1 cup pasta (45g) + 1 cup milk (15g) + 2 1oz dinner rolls (30g)
Night Snack: 15g
   *3 cups popped popcorn
Total Carbs: 255g

Just taking into carbs, the above is an example of healthy carbs eaten in a day that meets recommended guidelines. If you’d like to figure out how to count carbs, there are plenty of good cheat sheets you can find online. Google is your best friend here.

The point is, you can have your carbs and eat them too…BUT! it does matter what type of carbs and how much. It may feel strange eating carbs when everyone else is avoiding them, but we promise you will see results either way as long as you are watching portions and making healthy choices.

In Summary

Avoiding fitness and diet extremes is important for overall long-term consistency.  I would hope you want to feel good and look good for more than just a few months, right? In order to stick to a plan long-term, it’s time to consider:

1) How is my body feeling? Am I pushing too hard?
2) Am I eating in a way that supports my goals and in a way I can eat long-term?

By striving to avoid extremes and finding your own moderation, you will set yourself up for long-term success that will keep you feeling, looking, and performing well.

Breaking Fads: 6 Ways to Sort Fitness Fad from Fitness Fact

“A new diet has just emerged!”
“Get a flat stomach without strenuous exercise!”
“Greasy, highly-saturated fat bacon will now make you lose weight!”
“See how Scarlett Johansson got in her best shape for The Avengers in 30 days!”

False advertising and exaggerated claims plague our news feed and creep into our subconscious every single day. This concept is not new. Bold, exciting albeit fictitious headlines have been used to market pop-culture and health magazines long before the age of social media. You may recall similar statements to the ones above plastered on the covers of magazines in grocery stores (strategically placed at the check-out line) as you waited and pretended not to be interested in what the “20 Ab Secrets Fitness Pros don’t Want You to Know” actually entail.

With the social media boom in recent years, which has been incredible for reconnecting with old friends, close family, and the “yeah, I kind of know them” acquaintances, the rate at which this unfounded fitness information travels has gone rampant. Not only does misinformation spread quickly, but marketing has gotten smarter. Supplement companies and product advertisements know that we want to see the truth before we believe it, and they have gotten very clever at mixing scientific half-truths into their marketing as they repackage old fads into new ones (does the ketogenic diet look similar to the Atkins and Southbeach diet?)

There are so many instances in the while working with clients that we encounter people who saw minimal results when they tried a weight loss supplement, the trendiest new diet, or performed the “300 Workout” for 30 days only to find that they didn’t look like Gerard Butler at the end of their 30 day plan.

300 Meme

It becomes more and more difficult for people to see great results because very often they are following the newest fitness fad: exciting and flashy, but methods that either don’t work or it don’t work long-term.

Though I could probably talk for days on each of the following marketing tactics that lead people astray, I’ve condensed it to a short list of 6 ways to sort fitness fad from fitness fact.

1. A Quick Fix

This is perhaps the easiest one to spot. Be aware of marketing that purports that their method(s) can cause a massive, unbelievable change in a short amount of time. While “massive change” and “short amount of time” are subjective, usually these claims look like “How Rita lost 20 lbs. in 20 days” or “Zedd packed on 15 lbs. of muscle in a month. Find out how!”

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a healthy, sustainable weight loss plan is going to see 1-2 lbs. weight loss per week on a good week. Not as marketable as the magazine covers, maybe, but considering it might take someone 2 years to gain 20 lbs., it’s still a great deal to knock it out in a fraction of the time and it’s definitely more realistic to be able to tackle this weight loss goal aiming for 20 weeks (or less) as opposed to an unbelievable, unrealistic 20 days.

For muscle growth it takes “several months for visible changes to occur, as they happen only after thousands of individual muscle fibers have grown larger” according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Be on the lookout for claims that refute these guidelines and try to remember that fitness is a process, and following a consistent, quality process equals progress.

2. Extreme Measures

You’re in a conversation and someone says something along the lines of “I lost 10 lbs. by completely cutting out ________.” Common examples include the ketogenic diet, fat-free diets, the Atkins diet, the Hogwarts diet, etc. This usually indicates that extreme measures were taken for a short duration of time, which SEEM to be a key to weight loss or whatever their goal is; causation without correlation.

The problem here is we don’t know the full story of these testimonials and what was occurring before they made this change. They may say that they cut nearly all carbohydrates in order to lose weight, however, it’s highly unlikely that they cut all those healthy high-fiber, low-sugar carbs out of their diets to accomplish this: the green beans, the quinoa, the sugar-free oatmeal, the carrots etc. These are far different from other, less healthy carb-dense choices such as cake, doughnuts, white breads and many others which are highly processed and are definitely not as ideal of a choice.

To simplify:

Protein = Calories
Fats = Calories
Carbs = Calories

All of these are essential to a well balanced diet if choosing minimally processed, whole foods. By cutting one out completely, you can definitely see an immediate response in weight loss, but that it’s actually the result of cutting calories, not necessarily that the macronutrient eliminated is “bad.” You also lose the benefits of the missing macronutrient as well (Carbs help with muscle growth/performance and brain function in the form of glycogen. Fats help deliver and utilize important vitamins.) Sugars, a sub category of carbs, are a different story and stretch beyond the scope of this post, but you can rest easy knowing that you can eat carbs and fats and they won’t make you fat especially if you choose the healthier types in moderation.

3. Marketing Tactics

Even under protection of organizations such as the Federal Trade Commissions, it’s still very common that many programs and products use dishonest marketing tactics to sell their brand. It is not uncommon for many supplement companies to advertise their product as being used by an athlete or competitor who “used their product to get in the best shape of their life.”

What they don’t explicitly tell you is that the athlete had already been training for a number of years, usually at a professional level, and in many cases has used illegal performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids (this is true for both men and women) at some point in their lives.

My opinion on the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs aside, I think we all can agree that any program or product that tells its customers “if it worked for me, it can work for you” is unsubstantiated and loses great credibility when delivered by someone who has utilized illegal drugs to alter their physiology. Not to say these people don’t work hard for their results, they’re just not telling the whole story as it pertains to the product.

4. Credentials of Presenter

Who is delivering the information to you? What do the true professionals say? While there are very knowledgeable people at all education levels in fitness, credibility and credentials do matter a lot. Fitness professionals have varying levels of degrees and certifications, however, even without a PhD in their field, they can typically cite a credible source of where they’re getting their information from.

More than likely though, we hear anecdotal references from Bob at the office or Mary who heard from a friend who read from an infographic that if we cut carbs, our bodies will turn to fat for energy. This should raise an alarm, and we should look further as to what the research and people who study research have to say. There may be more to it than what’s on the surface.

Even if you know or work with a personal trainer, I advise doing research or even politely asking where their information might be coming from so that you can learn more. While I have worked with many phenomenal trainers over the years, I have met my fair share of trainers who provide some of the same misinformation we’re trying to debunk and challenge in this post.

5. Do Real-life Observations Match the Testimonials?

This is a quick section but I’ll highlight a few examples:

• Marketing tells us the key to weight loss is cardio, yet we see most people who are in great physical condition do more weight training and only moderate amounts of cardio.

• We’re told carbs make us fat, but we see athletes who use carbs every day to fuel their bodies to get stronger, faster, and stay conditioned.

• Media portrays that you have to exercise like a maniac to get in great shape, but we see most people who stay healthy year round employ methods of consistency over intensity. They push themselves to see results, but they don’t push over the limit.

6. The “Medicine” for your “Sickness”

This part may upset supplement enthusiasts, but I am going to level with you: Most supplements have little evidence to support that they do what they say they do. Supplements are able to sell their consumable products under guidelines that are not regulated by the FDA the same way that our foods in the supermarket are regulated. This means that in many cases, we don’t even know what we are getting or what the concentration is in these products as they are usually listed under a proprietary blend: a mask to hide how much of each ingredient is in their product. In some cases, especially with “fat burners” they can cause life-threatening harm until it becomes a widespread case worth pulling from the shelf (anyone remember Ephedra?)

Some substances do have evidence to support that they can improve performance (creatine and caffeine are some of the very few) however, even these more beneficial ones are useless if used as a substitute for other healthy practices. A healthy protein supplement may be recommended if you’re not getting enough protein in your natural diet.

What’s most troubling about supplements though is that the products are often marketed as medicine even if subliminally. Even the bottles for most supplements mimic medication in their design and layout. This is to tap into your subconscious that these “fat burners” will make you better for what supplement companies want you to think of as a “weight-gain illness.” Disguising themselves as medicine bottles also builds trust in their product. If it looks like medicine, it must be backed by science and therefore must be safe.

ALT TAG
Side-by-side comparison of a medication and a weight-loss supplement. Which is which?

Like I mentioned earlier : dishonest marketing is getting more sophisticated and harder to spot.

In Summary:

In an age where the truth is harder to find and distrust is at an all-time high, it is important for us to be aware of the information presented to us and to be able to sort the fad from the facts. Not everyone spreads misinformation with the intent of tricking others. In fact, I believe most people are actually operating out of benevolence when passing on the latest success trends to others.

The problem is that many times, especially in health and fitness, is that these methods simply sound good at face value and miss so many other important factors that are important for long-term success. Causation without correlation.

As always a moderate, consistent, and well rounded approach always works best and is something we at Eon Fitness employ in all of our exercise programs whether working with clients in-person or through our online personal training programs. If you found this information to be useful, please feel free to share it with your friends, and leave us a comment below.

Who Do You Need to Become?

How many times have you told yourself, “I’m gonna lose 20 pounds and fit into a dress I used to love to wear? or “I’m going to become a gym-a-holic and finally get fit!”?

 

Many of us have goals for ourselves we’d like to accomplish for our health. Some goals are lofty and life-changing while others might be small. So, today I wanted to spend a few minutes addressing an important concept when it comes to goal setting that many of you might find helpful.

 

We all know that change is hard. It can be difficult to change our ways when we’ve been stuck for so long doing things OUR way, the comfortable way. We have these goals in our heads of what we’d like to do, like how many pounds we want to lose, or what dress we hope we can fit in again. But many times, we fail to know what it will take to get there….or if we’re even ready.

 

I want you to work backwards when it comes to goal setting and first visualize actually reaching a goal you’ve had in mind. Really soak in how you believe you will feel when you get there. How does it feel? What will that look like?

 

From there, I want you to ask yourself one question: Who do I need to become to get the goal I want to achieve? 

 

What do I mean by that? Let’s think about your goal for a minute. Let’s say you have it in your mind you want to lose 20 pounds and start working out 5 days per week and right now you are not working out at all. Big goal, right? Big goal, but doable.

 

With that goal in mind and understanding where you’re currently at, begin to think of what things you might have to learn or do differently to get there. Do you have to wake up 30 minutes earlier to make a nutritious breakfast instead of always skipping it? Do you have to spend 10 minutes the night before getting your workout clothes ready by your bedside to make it easy for you to slip them on in the morning to go for a walk? Do you have to start tracking calories to figure out where your problems with your nutrition lie? Do you have to learn how to meal prep so you can have a healthy lunch at work instead of eating out every day? Do you need to take 5 minutes in the morning to meditate to focus your mind before starting your day?

 

Sometimes there may be things you do not know how to change or even start. If you’ve never worked out before, how do you know how to create a sustainable workout program for yourself? And if you’ve been working out forever and still seeing no results, how know to achieve your fitness goals?

 

It’s okay to admit you might need help. The important thing is to realize that even though you may have to make a monetary investment to learn what you do not know, you will get that money back from the results you achieve and the money you save in future medical costs.

 

Therefore, instead of just thinking “I’m going to lose 20 pounds”, I want you to think about who you need to BECOME to achieve these goals. If you can’t accept change, you will never reach your big goals. With big goals comes big change.

 

We must accept change by addressing our weaknesses and acknowledging we must take steps to learn and grow. You are NOT weak in acknowledging these things. Conversely, you are STRONG for being self-aware and willing to progress yourself to be better. 

 

So I ask you today – who do you need to become to reach your goals?

sunrise (1).png

 

The Lost Art of Weight Maintenance and Setting Realistic Health Goals

These days it’s hard to find nearly anyone who isn’t on some type of diet trying to lose X amount of weight. Instagram has become a haven for fitness fanatics and weight loss journey-ers alike. Magazines and media constantly promote weight loss products, services, and diets that fuel consumers urge to lose weight. The problem is, we never really hear people’s stories about how they are after the weight loss.

'Let me know if these weight-loss pills actually work.'

Our society loves the idea of weight loss. It gives companies a reason to sell their ineffective products and supplements and it gives you something to work for. It creates purpose, drive, and a plan. But what happens if you reached your desired weight loss/body composition goal?

I used to spend a great part of my day criticizing my appearance and wasting time on the little things regarding my weight. Social media made me feel like I needed to be striving for a weight loss/body composition/strength goal at all times and it became exhausting. I never felt good enough. I think this can be a common trap to those who are getting closer to the goals they have for themselves. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with setting up new fitness goals, I do think its important to know how to feels to just maintain. It is a skill we are not usually taught, as most of our time we are spending trying to get better or reach a goal.

Society is always propelling us to go above and beyond and tap into our true potential. We go through years of school, getting smarter (hopefully!) and more experienced. We bounce from job to job to grow our careers, we have babies who grow to be adults like us…we are always trying to reach toward the future.

I see a lot of extremes in fitness in my profession. Many women have started to want to compete in bikini and bodybuilding competitions while fixating so much on their diet and workout routines, and other important aspects of their life fall by the wayside. On the other side of the spectrum, a lot of fitness newbies begin to associate fitness with extremes which many times intimidates or de-motivates them to pursue a healthy fitness journey of their own.

So how do you find comfort and balance in a world of such extremes? It’s important to really sit down and figure out your own health and fitness goals, short-term and long-term. Write everything down and really decide which are realistic for you. Then, break down your goals into smaller chunks that are achievable. When you reach certain goals, check them off. If you are starting your fitness journey for the first time, this is hugely helpful, as most of the battle is just developing healthier habits.

Here are 10 goal ideas to work on that are achievable, better your health (and save you money on medical costs in the future), and make you feel better over time:

  1. Get at least 10,000 steps per day
  2. Drink half a gallon or more of water a day (depends on your activity level and some of this comes from food!)
  3. Perform moderate aerobic activity (e.g. brisk walking) 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (e.g. jogging, elliptical, biking) per week
  4. Reducing salt in your diet (look up DASH diet for ideas)
  5. Supplement Vitamin D if you do not go outside and iron if you are anemic
  6. Stretch a couple times a day
  7. Perform core stability (e.g. dead bugs, planks, pallof presses, bird dogs, etc.) exercises 2-3 times per week to prevent lower back pain and injuries
  8. Weight lift 2-3 times per week for total body focusing on compound movements (exercises that use more than one muscle group) sticking to 8-20 rep range for 2-4 sets if you know how or know a trainer who can help you with putting together a safe plan based on your limitations
  9. Learn your portions and memorize them. Learn how to read nutrition labels.
  10. Eat balanced meals of healthy carbs, proteins, and fats. Getting enough protein (~50g+) will help stabilize your hunger levels.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on creating goals of your own. The goals above can be broken down into smaller goals that will make it less daunting to start. Get good at the basics like above before tackling more vigorous goals like doing a spartan race.

Remember, you don’t have to go to extremes in order to be healthy. Once you hit certain goals like the ones above, create habits around them and continue doing those things. If you fall off the bandwagon, it’s OKAY, but get back on! Continue to strive to be better over time, not overnight. This will help you reach a maintenance mode where you don’t have to think about all these things all the time. It will become a habit. But remember, habits only form from what we repeatedly do. So repeatedly doing healthier things like the ones listed above will eventually become habits which will have significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing. So to answer the question earlier in this post, habits are what should happen after we reach our weight loss or fitness goals.

YOUR habits create YOUR maintenance.

Forget what others are striving for or what you think you should be striving for. Do what YOU want to strive for and be realistic. As Tony Robbins says, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” 

Why You’re Not Losing Weight

There are many reasons why you might not be losing weight. Weight loss occurs when we are burning more calories than we consume through a combination of both food intake and exercise. If either of these components is lacking, weight loss can slow down. With so much information out there, it can be hard to determine how many calories you need to be eating to lose weight. Today’s post will touch on how to figure out if you are eating too little, too much, or if you are right on target for meeting your weight loss goals.

I like to break down the kinds of people who are struggling to lose weight into two categories:

    1. Those who are not eating enough to lose weight
    2. Those are are eating too much to lose weight

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Prioritize Strength Training for Your Fat Loss Goals

Over the past several years, I have worked with primarily female clients. Most of the time they come to me after seeing little to no results from their current exercise routine. Their goals typically include getting “toned”, building muscle, or looking better.

After inquiring about what they are currently doing, most women will say they are just doing cardio 5x/week or taking group exercise classes. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, performing cardio and taking classes alone will not get them to their goals of building muscle. 

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