Pain Free at Last!

Do you suffer from chronic pain? How about frequent bouts with back pain that may have slowed you down or sidelined you? What about tendonitis, knee, shoulder or neck pain? Or a supposed herniated disc?

If you’ve dealt with any of these painful conditions, I feel your pain. For me the pain had become an unwelcome yet ever-present part of my life I just “dealt with”, for what turned out to be a 20-year span.

In addition to thinking “what’s wrong with me”, I was growing more concerned about my future. What would I be dealing with in 20 or 30 years, and how would that impact my active lifestyle? My workouts were done in pain. And my logic was, it hurts when I workout and it hurts when I don’t. So I might as well workout.

Not only does it suck to workout in pain, it affects your strength and ability to go “all out”. By the way, I am not telling you this to complain or ask for your sympathy. I’m hoping to get your attention. And if you can relate to similar symptoms or know someone that’s dealing with chronic pain, I want to help you understand there may be a solution (that doesn’t have to include medication or surgery).Healing Back PainAbout two years ago, a friend had recommended I read a book called “Healing Back Pain”. I guess I wasn’t ready for a cure yet because I didn’t heed his advice. I finally got fed up this past December and couldn’t take the pain anymore. I bought and read “Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection” by Dr. John E. Sarno.

This was a real eye-opener for me. Dr. Sarno offered countless examples about the symptoms of the patients who came to him for pain and that he treated successfully. He provided information about studies he conducted that further explained his concept and the results he achieved. Some of the cases he shared sounded like he was describing my situation.

Now I was really intrigued to learn more about Dr. Sarno, so I bought his next 2 books – “The Mindbody Prescription” and “The Divided Mind”. I was already on the road to recovery after reading Healing Back Pain as my pain was fading. But I needed to learn more and became fully pain-free after reading his next 2 books.Sarno BooksDr. Sarno refers to this process as “TMS”, or Tension Myositis Syndrome. By the way, Dr. Sarno is a Board certified physician. And until he retired a few years ago, he was a Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine on the faculty of the New York University School of Medicine who helped thousands of patients.

After ruling out that the pain is not due to a physical abnormality or something structural, his theory claims that in many cases, the physical pain (most commonly in the back) is a distraction created by the unconscious mind as a way of repressing strong emotional feelings. These feelings include anger, self-imposed pressure, perfectionism, and stress-related disorders. Dr. Sarno asserts that our unconscious mind creates physical pain as a distraction to avoid dealing with the more painful unconscious emotional issues.

Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection was published in 1991 and is the second of four books written by Dr. Sarno on the subject. As he learned more by treating thousands of patients, he amended the diagnosis to Tension Myoneural Syndrome to include not only muscle, but added nerve and tissue as well.TMS CollageSince I am not certified by Dr. Sarno, I am unable to give advice or provide specific treatments. However, I highly recommend that you go to Amazon and start with “Healing Back Pain” so you can begin to learn about the syndrome known as TMS.

You can also find plenty of videos and information online about Dr. Sarno’s work, including some of the more well-known people he has helped. The TMS diagnosis may not help everyone. But if you’re dealing with chronic pain, I think you owe it to yourself to explore his work further and learn more about it. After all, what do you have to lose?

Here are a few resources you may find helpful:

I wish you all the best in your quest to be pain free.

Choose Wisely

Most of us know the importance of exercising and eating right for our good health. There’s a vast amount of information available, perhaps too much. And a wealth of statistics that reinforce the benefits of proper nutrition and fitness. There are also countless professionals eager to help.Personal TrainerHealth and wellness is not a new concept. So why then is such a HUGE percentage of the population overweight and out of shape (pun intended, respectfully)?

With all of the information that’s available and technology at our fingertips, why aren’t more people slimming down and getting healthy? Why are obesity rates still on the rise? And how has such a preventable situation become so pandemic?

Although I can’t claim to be an expert here, I have figured a few things out. I’ve gained valuable insight through my own personal experience, as well as through the experiences of others. So here are some of the thoughts and observations I have about exercising for longevity and weight loss. Specifically as they relate to why we aren’t exercising enough or at all. And why eating right can be so difficult.

  • We know what to do but we’re not doing it.
  • We make excuses about why we can’t get to the gym.
  • We sacrifice our long-term health by making our busy schedule a higher priority than a workout.
  • We work out, but at such a low intensity. As a result, we don’t burn enough calories yet can’t understand why our workouts aren’t producing any weight-loss gains.
  • We fail to realize that exercise (and eating right) will keep our mind sharper, and improve our ability to work productively and handle the stresses that life throws at us every day.
  • We skip meals because we “think” that we’re too busy to stop.
  • We don’t take the time to prepare healthy meals or snacks, so we settle for unhealthy fast food because it’s quick and easy.
  • We know we should eat a good, well-balanced meal but order the burger and fries or nachos grande instead.
  • We delay our “supposed” healthy eating or exercise plan for tomorrow, or next week… because it’s more convenient to do what’s easy in the moment than what’s right or necessary long-term.

So what’s going on? Why does it seem so hard? Why can’t you get started? And if you do start, something always seems to get in the way. How many exercise or diet plans have you started & stopped in your lifetime? Do you think there’s something wrong with you? Sound familiar?

I have a theory.

You need to re-calibrate your mind and get your CHADD’s in tune. Your what? Your Choices, Habits, Actions, Decisions & Disciplines. Choices - Habits - Actions - Decisions - Disciplines GraphicC – Think about it, all change begins with a choice. You consciously “choose” to do something. Every day you make plenty of choices about what you want to do. Or want to change, improve, not do, etc.

H – After a while with focus, concentration and determination, your choices begin to take shape in the form of a habit.

A – And your habits only begin to take root after the repeated actions you take. Action is an integral component in every step of this process.

D – The cumulative net effect of your new habit is the result of all of your decisions to this point, including the choices you’ve made and actions you’ve taken.

D – And finally the finished product becomes a beautiful, new healthy discipline.

If you are over-weight and haven’t exercised in a while, you may find it difficult to get started. My objective is to help you start exercising. And once you do, keep you accountable to find a way to keep it going.

Exercise is vital for your health and wellness. As far as I’m concerned, one of the worst things you could do would be to get discouraged and do nothing. You may be thinking…

  • “I have a lot of weight to lose and can’t imagine getting to my goal weight”
  • “I’m not sure where to begin (or what to do)
  • “It’s been so long so why bother”

Exercise Motivation - What Fits Your Busy Schedule BetterIf you’re in that frame of mind, your primary goal should be to find a way to get moving. It’s NEVER too late to start. But before you do, make sure to get your doctor’s approval. Then set an attainable goal that you can feel great about when you achieve it. Accomplish it, then do it again the next day; accomplish it, then do it again… and eventually over time, momentum will come to your aid.

Let me give you an example. 10,000 steps a day may be too unthinkable right now. So set a goal to go on a 2,000-step walk, 3 times this week. Do that for a few weeks and then start increasing your daily step count gradually. Not sure how to track your steps? There’s an app for that.

Then once you’ve developed the walking habit, it’s time to graduate to other forms of exercise, including strength and cardio training. If you can afford it, you would benefit greatly by hiring a personal fitness trainer. They can help you get results by identifying specific exercises based on your goals and skill level. And they’ll keep you accountable. Check with your local health club for recommendations. Hanging Chad Florida RecountIn a future post we’ll punch through and go deeper into each component of the CHADD philosophy. And don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. We’ll unpack some illustrations and examples to give you greater insight to choose wisely.

For now I’d suggest taking an inventory of your thoughts, along with some of the choices you’ve made over the past week. You can also be more present and aware of the choices you’re about to make. And perhaps even plan a healthy choice or two into your day. Then stick with it to make it a habit. You can do this!!!

I’d love to see your comments about the challenges that have prevented you from developing new healthy habits and disciplines. And how you can break through them with CHADD on your side.

Your Virtual Health & Wellness Advisor

Have you heard the news? extra_extraI’m excited to publicly announce that I’ve started a new blog called Thin2Win (pronounced Thin To Win). I created Thin2Win.net so I could write about health & wellness, which if you know me, you know is a big part of my life and something I’m very passionate about.

This idea came to me after discovering an alarming statistic that more than 66% of the population in America is either overweight or obese. No, unfortunately that’s not a typo.

Despite all of the information and resources available, 2 out of 3 people are overweight. And it’s getting worse, not better. But it doesn’t have to be this way.fat belly

Here’s another disturbing statistic that caught my attention. It’s estimated that for the first time in history, obesity is causing more deaths than malnutrition and hunger worldwide. Until recently, smoking has been the leading cause of preventable death in the US. But some studies are now indicating that America’s persistent weight problem has become the leading cause of preventable death. Poor diet and lack of exercise are the main reasons. And depending on which study you read, high blood pressure and obesity round out the top 3 causes.

[Disclaimer]: Due to the amount of information and conflicting studies online, I could not confirm this statistic with absolute certainty. But obesity is definitely on the rise and so I felt it was still worth mentioning.

My intent here is not to inundate you with a lot of statistics, or make you feel bad if you’re overweight. I simply want tell you about my new site, with the hope that I can help you or help someone you know to find a way to slim down and get to better health. I’ve been fortunate to have found success in this area, so I feel compelled to share and help others succeed at it as well.

I haven’t publicized Thin2Win (until now) because I wanted to have some content available. And after publishing 10 posts, I feel it’s time to start spreading the word and officially launch the site.

What should you expect when you subscribe to Thin2Win? I will publish a new post about health and wellness with weight loss as the central theme, every other Tuesday. But don’t worry, this is not another bogus weight loss site. Although the central theme is about losing weight, my writing focuses on healthy lifestyle changes including good nutrition and exercise; not restrictive diets or supplements.

Some of the content will help you learn how to eat right. Other posts will focus on the foods to avoid. I also want to help you find the reasons to start or continue exercising 3 to 5 times per week. It’s all about taking care of your 2 most important assets – your mind and your body – with good nutrition and regular exercise.

Face it, although we may get a few do-overs or lucky breaks in our lifetime, we don’t get to “trade in” the incredible body we were given at birth for a better one. But you can enhance it with nutrition and exercise. So it’s imperative that we make the most of what we’ve got by taking great care of it and making it better. Use it or lose it!

Think of Thin2Win as “your virtual health & wellness advisor”.healthandwellnessAn online, self-serve, do it yourself resource. I will create and curate valuable content from leading authorities in the areas of health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. My first post will help you understand my “WHY” for doing this, which you can link to by clicking here. I want Thin2Win to be something that:

  • You can incorporate into your existing routine.
  • Helps you get started if you’re not sure where to begin.
  • Becomes a catalyst that energizes you to lead a healthier lifestyle.
  • Provides strategies and ideas to enhance your health & wellness initiative.
  • Motivates you get lean and stay fit.
  • Attacks the obesity epidemic.

By the way, whenever I refer to your “DIET”, please understand that I am not referring to a plan that’s loaded with tons of rules & restrictions. Or a program that you’re going on for 12 weeks for example, in an attempt to lose 30 pounds. Your diet in my opinion includes the healthy foods, liquids, and information that you consume as part of your healthy “LIFESTYLE”. So please abandon any negative meaning you associate with the word diet and replace it with anything to do with your new healthy lifestyle.

And I’ve saved the best for last. In case you were wondering, there is WORK involved if you are truly serious about losing weight and getting healthy. If you’re not serious or aren’t ready to work hard at it, then unfortunately I can’t help you at this time.Runner in ActionThin2Win does not recommend restrictive eating or rigid exercise plans. That’s gonna be up to you based on your likes & dislikes, body type, age, gender, goals and schedule. We are also not a 1 on 1 personal training, nutrition or fitness coach. But I’ll provide guidance and input when applicable to enhance what you’re doing, even if you have a personal trainer.

And as far as the work, there’s no quick fix in our approach. It’s about getting back to the basics. You do need to eat right every day and exercise at least 3 to 5 times per week. The quality of your eating and exercising will be directly proportional to your long-term results.

There aren’t too many things better than an intense, calorie-burning, ass-kickin’ workout. But if you’re out of shape and have been sedentary for far too long, you need to start slow but be consistent, and increase your intensity as fast as possible. sweat-drenched-pushupAnd be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise or nutrition plans. Because intense exercise combined with great nutrition is the only way to accomplish your weight loss goal and maintain your healthy body. All natural baby!

By the way, I personally despise weight loss pills, supplements, quick fix schemes, and extreme diets; and the companies that market and sell this garbage. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that’s taking advantage of people. If their stuff worked (which it doesn’t, and you knew that), shouldn’t there be a lot less people with a weight problem? Well it’s all bull**** and I hope to raise an awareness that takes a huge bite out of their future earnings and eventually puts them out of business. (Sorry but that stuff makes me nuts!)

In closing, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. I’d love for you to let me know what you think (good or bad). And if you do like what you see, SUBSCRIBE to the blog, LIKE US on Facebook, and spread the word about www.thin2win.net with your friends, family and social circles. And if for some reason you don’t like what you see, tell me why. Your feedback will help me continue to improve the site and help others.

Are You Sleeping Your Life Away?

Let’s face it, we live in a busy world. Demands for our time can be immense, despite seeming innocuous at first. If we’re not careful, a well-planned day that’s going “according to plan” can be derailed in a heartbeat by another person’s agenda or emergency.

Busy peopleWe pile on tasks, projects and commitments. This leads to more of our waking hours spent at work. To our credit, we get more done. And so we are given more responsibility, which means – more work. We say “yes” even though we are already over-booked or spread too thin. It’s like we don’t know how to say no. Sound familiar? Like I’m describing you? Yea, I know; me too…

I used to think that I could work my tail off and get by with little sleep. Hey, I was busy and there was no time to stop; right? And I definitely didn’t want to be known as a slacker. Burning the candle at both ends was like a badge of honor. But that was delusional thinking. Then I was fortunate to have discovered the importance of rest. And how crucial rest is to our mind and body by recharging every night with 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep.

The takeaway here is that if we don’t put boundaries in place, our time can be hijacked without even realizing it. BTW, I used to think I could multi-task too. And by multi-tasking I thought I was being super-productive and getting more done. Again, I was delusional. But this post is not about me or multi-tasking, so let’s get back on track.

EssentialismLast year I read the book “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, which I highly recommend. Greg helps us understand that we can’t possibly do everything. As he puts it, “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential”.

In this post, I’ve gathered some of the best ideas that have been written on the importance of rest, and the negative effects of sleep deprivation. So rather than restating what’s already been written, I will summarize it, include my own thoughts, and then provide links to articles that I hope will be helpful to you.

ZombieIf you’re not getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night, then your mind and your body can not function properly. Your waking hours will be spent in a fatigued, zombie-like state. And although you may think you’re doing fine and able to power through your day in an alert and productive way, studies prove that you can’t. Your mind and body need adequate rest to recharge, every night.

If you’re a driven, “Type A” person, you may believe that your shortened sleep patterns are justified. But by working more and sleeping less, you are NOT being the uber productive person that’s getting more done like you think you are. You’re merely producing lower quality work by operating in a diminished capacity and sacrificing your long-term health & well-being by not getting enough ZZZ’s.

Your energy level during your waking hours will fade. This will eventually begin to take its toll on your mind and body. Your memory and cognitive ability will soon be affected. This impaired state will impact your work, focus, productivity, relationships, personality, reputation, and your health; as if that weren’t enough. Can you hear me now?

Sleeping at the conference table

So what are the negative effects of sleep deprivation? According to WebMD, they include:

  • Decreased performance and alertness
  • Memory and cognitive impairment
  • Stressed relationships
  • Poor quality of life
  • Occupational injury
  • Automobile injury

Some of the medical illnesses that result from long-term sleep deprivation include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Increased mortality risk

Long-term sleep deprivation also:

  • Kills your sex drive
  • Ages your skin
  • Makes you forgetful
  • Can cause weight gain
  • Impairs judgement
  • Makes you moody, emotional and quick to anger
  • Increases the rate of accidents
  • Decreases concentration & productivity
  • Causes your immune system to operate at a lower capacity

Sleep deprivation isn’t just limited to a personal choice, like working longer hours in an attempt to improve your business or advance your career. Other reasons that can seem out of your control include:

  • A health or medical condition
  • A partner that snores
  • Sleep apnea
  • Acid reflux
  • Physical pain
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Frequent urination
  • Stress and worry
  • Jet lag
  • Interrupted sleep patterns that distract or reduce REM sleep

SnoringAnd then there are other causes of insufficient sleep that are well within your control, which include:

  • Caffeine & alcohol consumption just before bedtime
  • Trading sleep for additional time – to work or play
  • Medication and vitamin supplements
  • A pet that sleeps with you
  • Electronics – TV, smartphone, tablet / pad, video games…
  • Falling asleep on the couch instead of going to bed

What can you do to get more ZZZ’s?

  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Lose weight
  • Take power naps
  • Go to bed early and wake up early
  • Get healthy so you can reduce or eliminate your prescriptions

If you’re not getting enough sleep every night, over time, one could say that you are sleeping your life away. Let that one sink in. So do whatever you can to make better sleep a priority!

Sleeping coupleNow let’s take a look at links to some great resources:

So in closing, I can’t stress enough how important sleep is to your mind and body. A good night sleep is crucial to your health and well-being. In fact, getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night should be one of your top priorities. Make it part of your daily routine by building it into your busy schedule.

What keeps you up at night? Have you found a way to overcome it? Share your comments below.

Foods To Eat

So in the last post, we exposed 13 different food groups that in my opinion, should be OFF-LIMITS if you are serious about losing weight. We’re not here to claim that these foods are bad and should never be eaten. Most things are okay in moderation.

But when you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, these foods can be like a “ball and chain”. And the reasons why include that they:

  1. are usually high in calories and low in nutrients.
  2. contain high levels of sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
  3. may also contain trans fat.
  4. are usually consumed too often and in large quantities.

For some of you, that list of foods to avoid may have turned your world upside down. But we’re not going to leave you there for long because in this post we’ll get it right and discuss the foods that you can and should be eating – for your health, wellness and longevity.

Clarification: When we talk about your “diet”, we are referring to your healthy nutrition and eating. This is not a “plan” that’s loaded with rules & restrictions. Or a “program” that you’re going on for 12 weeks for extreme weight loss, then off and back to your normal routine. This “diet” as we’ll sometimes refer to will become an ongoing, permanent part of your lifestyle. One you will hopefully look forward to and enjoy. Otherwise, it’s not going to last, which is one of the reasons that most traditional “diets” don’t work long-term.

According to Livestrong, nearly 65% of dieters return to their pre-diet weight within 3 years. Unfortunately, many will end up gaining back more than they initially lost. This trend has earned the terms “yo-yo dieting” and “rebound dieting”.

Our goal is to help you avoid an unhealthy yo-yo pattern. How? Well first by helping you determine your likes & dislikes, so your new healthy food choices are enjoyable. Think about it like you’re getting back to basics. In a nutshell, you want to focus on eating whole foods. Whole foods mainly include plant and animal-based foods. Plant-based such as vegetables, fruits & nuts. And animal-based such as poultry, fish, meat, and eggs.

3 Macronutrients 50-30-20And for good, balanced nutrition, each meal should include the 3 macronutrients. They are protein, carbohydrates and fat. In general, you should aim for approximately 50% of your daily calories from carbs, 30% from lean protein, and 20% from healthy fat. And while exceptions may apply, these ratios are a good benchmark for most of us to aim for.

So let’s take a closer look at the 3 macronutrients:

Protein is an important building block of muscles, bones, skin, and cartilage. And protein will keep you feeling full longer. You want to consume plenty of chicken, seafood and turkey. And include pork loin and lean red meat occasionally. Ditch the frier and go for grilled, broiled, baked or pan seared. Eggs, nuts, beans and seeds are other good sources of protein. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories.

Carbohydrates provide your body with its primary source of energy. And for the record, your body needs carbs. You should eat plenty of complex carbohydrates including green vegetables – cooked and raw, whole grains, starchy vegetables, and beans. And add a few servings of fresh fruit every day. Each gram of carbs contains 4 calories.

And the 3rd macronutrient is fat. So you ask, “If I’m trying to lose weight, why do I need fat? Shouldn’t I cut out all fat from my diet?” The answer is NO, your body needs fat in order to function. Without fat you will die. But we want to minimize our fat intake and try to keep it to healthy fats whenever possible. Like olives, olive oil, nuts & seeds, avocado, and peanut butter. Salmon and other cold water fish contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which make them a great source for healthy essential fat and protein. Healthy fats tend to be high in calories, so limit the size of your portions. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories.

In addition to macronutrients, make sure to drink plenty of water (and not the flavored, sugary type). Women should aim for at least 2 to 3 liters per day, and men should aim for at least 3 to 4 liters per day. And those amounts don’t happen by accident. You need to deliberately spread your water intake throughout the day. So keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Each gram of water contains, say it, ZERO calories. Yes!

And healthy snacks will help you in between meals. Some of my favorites include raw veggies, nuts and fruit. You can add hummus, low-cal dip or salsa for some flavor. I like spicy mustard or Tabasco too. Or you can reach for an apple, a banana, a sliced raw pepper, and any other fruits or vegetables you prefer. A handful of nuts is another great snack – just keep it to a handful or two. You can also find some great ideas online. Click here for 20 snacks that burn fat.

Healthy nutsPrepare in advance and pack some healthy snacks for the day. Whether you’re at your desk or in the car, they’ll keep you on track and nourished in between meals. There’s nothing worse than waiting too long to eat, until you’re starving and ravenous. This will cause you to overeat or binge on high calorie, unhealthy snacks that you’ll later regret. Waiting too long to eat can also have a negative effect on your productivity at work and ability to think clearly. So reinforce your weight-loss goal and brain-power with a little preparation. It’ll go a long way.

Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean!

I love it! This saying sums it up if you want to lose weight and get healthy. Take charge and be the best you can be. You have one body, one life, and an unknown amount of time on this earth to make the most of our lives. So eating right and exercising consistently become essential elements for your good health. And there’s no better time to start than NOW!

Ok, let’s get specific. What exactly should you be eating? Well that’s actually going to depend on your likes & dislikes. We all have different tastes. And our eating choices may also be influenced by religious or social views.

There’s an abundance of great recipes & ideas online. So this is where I’m going to suggest that you need to use your imagination (and Google) to find and develop meal plans that fit your tastes and lifestyle. It’s a great opportunity to experiment by creating a few of your own custom healthy creations.

One Size Fits All

There’s no one size fits all. And so instead of listing specific foods you should eat like we did in the last post on foods to avoid, I’m going to suggest a few resources and ideas to give you guidance.

  1. MyFitnessPat at https://blog.myfitnesspal.com. For a wealth of great recipes, quality health & fitness information, ideas and resources. And the MyFitnessPal app for your smartphone is a fantastic resource for easily tracking & monitoring your progress.
  1. Superfoods are packed with nutritional benefits because they contain high levels of vitamins and minerals. They’re also a source of antioxidants which help to prevent disease and protect us from cell damage. Here are a few sources to check out:
  1. Nutrient dense foods have a lot of nutrients but relatively few calories. Look for foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Food Label

  1. Learn to read food labels so you can understand the nutritional value and content including calories, protein, carbs, fat, sodium, sugar, etc. Be aware that serving sizes are determined by the manufacturer. And serving sizes are sometimes selected so the food company can “fly under the radar”. For example, if a food has less than 0.5 grams of fat (trans, saturated or total) per serving, labels can round the number down to zero. So sizes are “tweaked” so the label can display NO FAT, 0 TRANS FATS… Sounds ridiculous but it’s true. So what you see is not always what you get.
  1. Research indicates that you need to eat breakfast every day. Some experts suggest that breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day, with lunch a little less, and dinner being your smallest meal. And assuming that you got seven to eight hours of sleep (which is also a must), your body and your mind need fuel when you wake up. And eating a healthy breakfast gives you a great start to your day.                                                                                                                                  Think about it this way. If you were going on a road trip, you would need a full tank of gas, right? And if you attempted this journey with an empty tank, it’s blatantly obvious that you’re not going to get very far. Unfortunately, the negative impact of skipping breakfast is not so obvious. Just know that you need to eat a good healthy breakfast every day, so develop the habit and just do it.
  1. And finally, always maintain good portion control. Despite what your mother told you, you don’t have to eat everything on your plate. Eat to 80% full and you’ll feel, and eventually look a lot better.

That’s my list and I’m sticking to it. What’s on your list. Leave a comment below.

Foods To Avoid – Just Say NO!

Let’s start with the premise that you need to lose 30 pounds and that’s your primary objective (or substitute your number). So I’ll go out on a limb here to make a point. You’ve developed some bad eating habits. The extra 30 didn’t just happen overnight or by accident. It took some time to put it on, so it’s gonna take some time to take it off.

You’ve gotta kick this bad habit.

But we’re not here to beat you up. I’ll assume that you are serious about losing this weight and will do just about anything within reason to make this happen. So take complete responsibility for your situation. Then let’s learn from the past. Specifically, how poor choices compounded over time and got you to where you are today. And finally, let’s learn to use the “compound effect” to your advantage.

How? By making small, incremental positive changes in your nutrition, that in time, will transform into amazing results.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a healthy, lean, and physically fit person. And in this post we’ll cover one of these factors by helping you discover the foods you need to avoid.

No Idea What I'm DoingI find that far too many people have no idea what they should be eating for their good health. Equally as bad is someone who knows, but lacks the discipline. In fact, in today’s busy world it’s much easier to make unhealthy eating choices than to take the time to prepare a healthier alternative, or to go out of your way to find one. So I guess in some ways, it boils down to how bad you want it.

To make a blanket statement that some foods are bad and you should never eat them would be foolish. Actually, you can eat just about anything you want if you do it in moderation. But if you’re 30 pounds overweight, and serious about losing it, I’m here to suggest that you will need to avoid certain foods. Well actually, you need to STOP eating them until you get your weight under control. So consider them OFF LIMITS for now.

Is there anything to eat?
C’mon, this isn’t what I ordered. I’m starving!

Please don’t mistake this as a restrictive diet. We are building a healthy lifestyle. It starts with awareness, choices, then action. And your actions will begin to take shape in the form of healthy habits and disciplines which will evolve into your long-term healthy lifestyle. As Jim Rohn used to say, “What’s easy to to is easy not to do”. The choice is all yours.

If you can’t completely eliminate sugar, salt, and refined white flour from your diet, try to significantly restrict foods where they are present or use them sparingly. They are harmful to your weight loss initiative, unhealthy and should be avoided; at least whenever it’s possible. Also, don’t be deceived by artificial sweeteners. Use them sparingly if you need to.

And please understand that every time food is touched (or processed), the nutritional value declines, making it less healthy and desirable.

Stop eating these unhealthy , low-nutrient foods.

So here’s my list of 13 foods to STOP eating (in no specific order):

  1. Fast food joints: That’s right. Mickey D’s, BK, DD’s, and all the others. How ’bout this? If there’s a “drive-thru”, drive by and don’t look back. Keep going until you find a healthy meal somewhere else.
  2. Fried and battered foods: Yes, french fries are off limits. So is fried chicken. Anything fried counts, so stay away.
  3. Processed foods and snacks: Potato chips, pretzels, and the whole gamut of low nutrient snacks. How about cold cuts, pepperoni and other processed meats? Yep! If it wasn’t living at some point – like on land, in the sea, or in the ground, you’ve gotta question it. If it’s in a bag, bag it! And be careful of granola & protein bars. They’re sometimes full of sugar and calories disguised as a healthy snack.
  4. Restaurants: Most of the food prepared in restaurants contains higher than normal unhealthy fats and extra calories. So try to cut back on the number of times you eat out. When you do go out, ask for healthier alternatives. Like grilled or broiled instead of fried, steamed veggies instead of fries, and water instead of soda. And skip the dessert. Your waistline and wallet will ultimately appreciate it.

    Not a good heart-healthy choice.
    Not a good heart-healthy choice.
  5. All-you-can-eat buffets: Step away from the buffet. Even if you’re not overweight, all you can eat buffets are one of the worst things you can do to your body.
  6. Sodas and other sugary drinks: Anything from colas, sweetened teas, flavored waters, juices, smoothies, etc. Stick with pure H2O.
  7. Candy: Do I need to list ’em out here? Didn’t think so.
  8. Creamy soups, sauces, dishes and dressings: Cream of broccoli or whatever soup including New England clam chowder. Creamy & cheesy sauces. How ’bout BBQ sauce? Sorry Memphis & Dallas, we’ll have to take a rain check. And chicken pot pie is another dish to avoid. Add to that all salad dressings. Get ’em on the side and only use a fraction of what they give you.
  9. Baked goods and desserts: Cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries. Sorry mom (you’re still the world’s best baker). No doughnuts either. And while we’re at it, let’s add ice cream to the list.

    Are these off limits too?
    Drop the doughnut and slice an apple!
  10. Bar food: Appetizers and things like nachos, fried calamari, burgers, wings, and sliders are only a tip of the iceberg. Safe to say, anything on the bar menu is probably off-limits.
  11. Alcohol: WTF? That’s right, you don’t need these empty calories when you’re trying to lose weight. And a few cocktails will usually negatively impact your healthy eating plans in a number of ways. So cut it out altogether or keep it to a minimum.
  12. Pizza, pasta, bagels and bread: Derivatives of refined white flour have virtually no dietary fiber or nutrient value. And if that wasn’t enough, studies indicate that there are a number of other detrimental consequences from eating these foods. No, this isn’t another “carb-bashing” diet. If you must have your pasta & bread, then go w/the healthier whole wheat or whole grain version, and do so in moderation.
  13. Bacon: Nooooooooooo! For obvious reasons, bacon appeared in multiple categories, so it got it’s own.

    How long is this list?
    Is there an end to this list? Help!

WOW, that’s quite a list. And I bet you’re thinking “If I can’t eat all that stuff, then what can I actually eat?” Don’t worry. We’ll cover that in our next post where we discuss the foods that you should eat.

An interesting thing happens when you begin to avoid the foods on this list. You’ll start to feel better, look better, and you will lose weight. You may even discover that your cravings start to fade.

Too restrictive you say. Too bad I say. Too harsh? Sorry. You can either stay with the current plan or get serious. I hope this helps you take the first step. Developing healthy habits and disciplines will enable you to get your weight under control. And doing so will lead to improved health, wellness and longevity.

Here’s another viewpoint from Dr. Michael Roizen in his new book “This Is Your Do-Over“. In it, he suggests avoiding the 5 food felons.

  1. Saturated fat.
  2. Trans fat.
  3. Simple sugars.
  4. Added syrups.
  5. Simple carbohydrates.

How can we help you? Let us know what you’re struggling with by leaving a comment. And thanks for sharing your time with us.

You’ve Gotta Move!

You have permission to sit down to read this post as it’s a little longer than usual, yet well worth your time. Then you need to get up and get going!

sedentary [sed-n-ter-ee]

adjective

  1. Accustomed to sit or rest a great deal, or to take little exercise.
  2. Characterized by or requiring a sitting posture: “a sedentary occupation.”
  3. Doing or involving a lot of sitting: not doing or involving much physical activity.

Sedentary - Fat Cat on a CouchIf you’re trying to lose weight, or want to enrich your physical condition, being sedentary is NOT the way to help your cause or improve your health. But you already knew that, right? So instead of simply stating the obvious, let’s clarify something. Unless you have a medical condition that requires you to be sedentary, or you’re rehabbing an injury, you have NO excuse!

Losing weight isn’t easy, so don’t make it harder on yourself by stacking the odds against you. On the flipside and with all due respect, losing weight isn’t hard (or doesn’t have to be difficult). You simply need a plan that you support with some new behaviors and better choices. And ultimately over time, your new healthy decisions will help you develop the habits & disciplines necessary to focus on your nutrition & exercise so you can get lean and stay fit.

If you’ve set a goal to leave the sedentary lifestyle behind so you can lose weight and improve your health, then walking would be a great start. But only after your doctor has given you the okay. As a disclaimer, I’d suggest that you consult your primary care physician before stepping up your activity level or starting an exercise regimen.

Researchers say you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on all or most days. Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends 10,000 steps per day as a way to improve your health. And while I agree, I think it’s important to note that walking is only one element for improving your health & wellness.

When walking becomes part of your daily routine, your endurance & energy will improve in a short period of time. As you progress, you can increase the distance, along with your pace, your time, and the incline (or resistance).

Sedentary - Walking Shoes10,000 steps will take deliberate action and conscious planning. And not only is it doable, the upside includes improved health & wellness – but only if you want it and put in the effort. I personally prefer the oudoors for walking, but a treadmill is a great alternative for the times of year or when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Depending on your situation, you can quickly move into other aerobic (cardio) training after a few weeks, which will help you burn some significant calories. I would also recommend that you incorporate some basic anaerobic (strength) training exercises as well to start building lean muscle and contribute to your calorie burn. It really comes down to using some common sense, getting back to basics and challenging the boundaries of your comfort zone.

I was surprised to read in a recent article how leading a sedentary life can lead to so many debilitating diseases. This includes but is not limited to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), elevated triglycerides, abnormal cholesterol levels, insulin resistance, and obesity. Being sedentary can also affect memory, sleep, and feelings of anxiety & depression.

It’s mind boggling because these life-threatening conditions are SO avoidable and preventable. And it all starts with activity. YOU’VE GOTTA MOVE!!!

If you’re not sure what to do or need some guidance to break the inertia, you have many options. There are plenty of online resources. You can also hire a personal trainer or speak with fitness and nutrition professionals for ideas.

So seek out advice for burning calories and eating nutritiously. These professionals can provide ideas based on your goals and the latest science behind cardio and strength training. You should also find out if your gym offers group classes which can help you get started. Whatever you decide on, take the first step. You’ll feel great when you take action and start building momentum.

Keep in mind, you may need to try a variety of different things until you find a few exercises that you enjoy and can do for the long term. It’s for your own good, so make it a habit to exercise, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s a small price to pay with a huge payoff.

The second point I want to make here is that you need to move all the time. You want to become the exact opposite of an unhealthy, over-weight couch potato.

Sedentary - Laying Down with Remote on BellyYour 30-minute cardio or strength training sessions 3 to 5 days a week are essential for keeping your heart healthy, in addition to helping you achieve your weight-loss goal by burning a lot of calories. However, what’s often overlooked is what you’re doing (or not doing) outside of the gym.

Are you sitting for extended periods of time behind a desk? Or wasting hours on the couch in front of the TV? That’s the sedentary part I want to address.

For example, have you ever asked someone in another room to bring you something, like a glass of water or cup of coffee instead of getting off your butt to get it yourself? Or is there something upstairs that you need, but instead of getting it yourself you ask someone else to grab it for you? Or maybe you put it off until you finally make it upstairs hours later? C’mon, that’s just LAZY.

Nike said it best, “Just Do It!”. So why don’t you? You can do it. Remember those 10,000 daily steps? Well, they don’t just happen by accident or happen on the couch. You have to be deliberate and force yourself to move. And then it becomes a habit; part of your lifestyle.

25 steps to the kitchen isn’t going to burn any calories to speak of. But it’s the act of moving and staying active that results in the real benefit. Get the mail, take out the trash, walk the dog (longer than usual), take a stroll around the block a few times; whatever makes you happy and gets you up and about.

Hey, you can even walk to the store or walk to the gym instead of driving, as long as it’s safe and you have a path. Wouldn’t that be different and interesting? I started doing this after returning from a vacation to Europe where we did a ton of walking. Not many are doing it back here in America. Maybe you can start a new trend.

And if you want to start tracking your steps, there are plenty of app’s to choose from. I’ve been using the Breeze app (from FitnessKeeper, Inc.) on my iPhone for the past 6 months and it does the job pretty well. There are plenty to choose from including the old fashioned pedometer.

Here are a few additional resources to help you get moving. Check out:

Good luck in your quest to be healthy & fit!

Get Fed Up and Do Something About It!

In the last few posts we focused on the importance of setting goals. We looked at why determining exactly WHAT you want to accomplish is paramount to goal achieving.

Then we discovered that after deciding exactly what you want to achieve (your target), identifying WHY you want to accomplish the goal is the second-most important step. Without a strong WHY, daily distractions and other people’s agendas can derail you. You’ll find yourself dealing with the “urgent”, making it difficult to get to the “important”.

We also learned how “tracking” can help bring a moment to moment awareness to the many unconscious choices we make. These unconscious choices can sometimes sabotage your good intentions, which negatively impact your results.

Although we are all unique individuals, we have many similarities, thanks to evolution and how our brains are wired. In fact, we are all driven by a desire to gain pleasure and a need to avoid pain.

Pleasure & PainThese 2 powerful forces are involved in most, if not all of our decisions. They are major unconscious motivators and influences behind “why and when” we do things. So it’s important to recognize these forces so you can take control of your decisions by leveraging them to your advantage.

“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.” – Tony Robbins

Think about how you get yourself to do something that you really don’t want to do. What motivates you to take action? To get it done? The carrot or the stick?

We are all motivated by different things. Every decision we make is influenced by one of these two principles. And whichever of the 2 emotions is stronger in a given situation will usually determine our next step.

Pleasure or Pain ImageFor example, let’s say you plan to go to the gym in the morning. But when you wake up it’s dark, cold and rainy; and it’s so warm and comfortable under the covers. So you start negotiating with yourself (in the comfort of your bed).

You may try to rationalize that you’ve already worked out 4 days this week and missing a workout isn’t going to hurt. Or that you’ve been working long hours and could use an extra hour of sleep. How do I know? Been there, done that!

But if your WHY for going to the gym is stronger, then your feet will hit the floor and you’ll be on your way, rain or shine.

On the other hand, let’s say you’ve got a proposal to write that you’ve been putting off. And in that moment, you perceive that pain to be less than the intense workout you are now dreading. Maybe you’ll work on the proposal now and postpone your workout until this evening (’cause you want to mix up your routine, or something like that…).

See how it happens? There’s no right or wrong answer here. Only you can determine what’s best for YOU. And that could include taking in that extra hour of rest and blowing off your workout, without feeling guilty (as long as it doesn’t happen every day).

Sometimes you just need to slow down and listen to your body.

These are only a few examples. My point is to bring your awareness to these 2 forces and help you understand how they play a part in every area of your life. And once you become aware of how this desire to gain pleasure and need to avoid pain influences your choices and decisions, you can be better equipped to make more conscious, positive changes in your life.

This is a simple concept to understand in print, but not always so easy when you’re busy, stressed out or not consciously thinking about it. And that’s the point – to be more conscious and aware of your choices, habits and decisions.

If you want to lose those extra 30 pounds once and for all, and keep it off forever, it’s time to discover your pain & pleasure drivers. Understanding these 2 forces, and how they influence your choices & decisions adds another dimension to helping you succeed.

Let’s face it, we all have areas in our lives where we want to improve. But things like “life” can sometimes get in the way or take a priority over our own plans. Whether that means you’re spread a little thin, overwhelmed & stressed, or dealing w/struggles & setbacks, you have a number of tools and strategies for dealing with the hand you’re dealt.

I’m not sure who said it but it’s genius. “It doesn’t matter what happens to you. Stuff happens to everyone. What matters is what you do about what happens to you.” – Unknown.

The great John Wooden also said it well when he said “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out”. I love these 2 quotes.

Now go make something happen and let us know about it. To your success…

What’s a Calorie?

You’ve heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”. Now I’m not suggesting that calories and garbage are related, but if you think about it metaphorically, it’s a great example that can be expressed in many ways. For example, ” you are what you eat”, or “you get out what you put in”. It also reminds me of the phrase “what you think about most of the time, you become”, because it all starts on the inside.

Let’s start the discussion with a little Q&A:

CaloriesSo what’s a calorie?

A calorie is simply a unit of energy. Nutritionally, calories refer to energy consumption based on what we eat & drink. This also includes energy usage through physical activity. Here’s an example: I eat a large apple every day which contains approximately 116 calories, while a 10-minute slice out of my 40-minute elliptical workout burns approximately 175 calories. This is sometimes referred to as calories in vs. calories out.

Why are calories important?

Most of us associate calories with food and drink, but anything that contains energy has calories. We need energy (calories) to survive. And we acquire this energy directly from the food and drinks we consume. Without this energy we wouldn’t survive. And just for the record, the quality and the quantity of the calories you consume matters – bigtime!

How many calories do you need?

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is a metric that quantifies the number of calories your body needs to consume daily to function, excluding any calories you burn during exercise. This measure is best estimated by scaling your Basal Metabolic Rate to your level of activity. But don’t try to calculate this manually. There are plenty of good TDEE calculators online. Click here and plug in your info. Your TDEE calculation is the first step in identifying your daily calorie requirements.

Does counting calories really matter?

Calories DO matter! And depending on the amount of weight you need to lose, you’re gonna be counting calories in some way. That is, if you’re serious about losing the weight and keeping it off. This includes keeping track (remember tracking?) of the calories you consume every day. You can do this easily with an app on your phone, which I’d strongly suggest, like My Fitness Pal. Although you could also use a spreadsheet to track your calories, you’re better off searching for the My Fitness Pal app on your phone.

Or you can create meal plans in advance. This approach saves time and helps you plan better since you’ll know the number of calories you’re consuming in advance. However, you may find that a combination of the 2 approaches is necessary to fit your busy lifestyle. The key is to figure out a plan that works best for you. And remember to track the number of calories you burn at the gym.

Calorie math anyone?

Macronutrient caloric breakdown:

  • Protein contains 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
  • Fat contains 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram*

*Alcohol is obviously not a macronutrient, but the calories can add up. In the United States, a standard drink (which is usually defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) contains 14 grams of pure alcohol. At a minimum of 100 calories per drink before mixers with no nutritional value, it’s easy to see why alcohol is referred to as “empty calories”.

Let’s use an example that your current TDEE (the number of calories your body needs to function) is 2,500, which is known as your maintenance level. And you’ve determined that you want to achieve a 20% reduction in your caloric consumption, approximately 500 calories per day. This means that you can expect to lose approximately one pound per week (500 calories X 7 days = 3,500 calories per week).

This calorie reduction can be accomplished in a few ways.

  1. By reducing the number of calories you consume by 500 per day.
  2. By increasing the number of calories you burn by 500 per day.
  3. With a combination of reducing calorie intake and increasing calorie burn every day.

I would suggest that you experiment with the online TDEE calculator to help you understand the impact that your “activity level” has and how you can maximize your results. But please realize that it’s not always that simple or exact. There are many other factors to consider including your body composition.

For one person with a lot of weight to lose, reducing 3,500 calories in a week may equate to losing 1 to 2 pounds from fat and water. Meanwhile, for another person that’s in pretty good shape, reducing the same 3,500 calories in a week may result in the loss of 1 pound or less, but possibly at the cost of some lean muscle loss. This is because your body will hold onto fat stores as you get closer to your ideal weight. And as a result of your biological “survival mechanism”, your body will sacrifice muscle over fat.

By the way, a 20% reduction in calorie consumption per day is about as high as you want to go. Otherwise, you’re cutting too many which will result in constant hunger. That’s no way to live and nearly impossible to sustain long-term. So don’t set yourself up for failure. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Achieve big, long-term results with small, incremental positive changes.

You can do it! My goal here was to familiarize you with the basics of calories. We’ll cover this topic in more detail in a future post.

For now, start by figuring out how many calories your body needs. Think about how your activity level can influence this and accelerate your weight loss. Ideally you want to plan to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, so set your calorie reduction goal accordingly. Develop your meal plans so you can eat clean and give your body the best possible fuel. Track it relentlessly. Learn from your wins and losses. Have some patience and compassion for yourself, but don’t settle for mediocrity or excuses. It’s not hard, but it does require effort, discipline and perseverance.

This is your one and only body so go make the best of it!

Are You Keeping Score?

What’s one way you can keep score of your habits. You know, the ones you’ve determined to be important to your goals and their achievement in 2015. Before you answer, let’s do a quick exercise to put it into perspective.

Picture this… you’ve set a goal and your commitment level is 10. You’re very excited and truly believe that this time, unlike all the other failed attempts in the past, this time you will get rid of the weight you’ve committed to lose. You feel so powerful and so unstoppable at this point.

But think about it. Isn’t this how you felt every other time too? Each time you discovered a “new diet” or “new method” for losing weight, you actually felt the same positive emotions.

So what’s different this time? Could it be that this time you put your goal on paper, and reinforced it with “WHY-power”?

If so, I commend you! But you’re not done. If you haven’t determined your “WHY”, you may be in for another failed attempt. So go back and figure out WHY you want to accomplish this goal, this time, and what it will cost you if you don’t. You can click here to jump back to last week’s post on the importance of your “WHY”.

After you’ve figured out your “WHY”, I’m going to recommend another step to help you stay successful. What is it? It’s called “tracking”. In fact, you probably do some form of tracking in your life. But you’re just not conscious of it, or maybe you call it something else.

So what is “tracking”? In a nutshell, it’s a great way to find out where you currently stand. Tracking brings your choices, decisions, habits, and behaviors to your conscious awareness by allowing you to “keep track” of the things you want to start doing, stop doing, or continue doing.

Keeping ScoreHere’s how: Let’s say you want to lose 30 pounds. Then keep a small notebook with you and write down (track) everything you put in your mouth. This includes every meal, beverage, snack, candy, cocktail… Everything!

Why everything? You want to lose 30 pounds, right? Well, until you know what you’ve been eating and all that’s contributing to your weight issue or current status quo, you’re gonna have a tough time shedding that extra weight. Tracking will help you see what you’ve been eating so you can identify ways to improve.

How long should you track? You need to give yourself a little time so stay with me on this. The first week is to help you learn about your eating habits. Let’s assume that if you’re 30 pounds overweight that you’ve picked up some bad habits along the way. And until you bring some conscious attention to your nutrition, accomplishing your goal is not going to be easy. After all, we’re not talking about a diet here. You are creating new healthy habits and a new long-term lifestyle. This requires time, focus and effort; and some discipline.

You may find through tracking that you’re consuming a few sugary beverages every day. That’s easy to eliminate. Or maybe you reach for a low nutrient, high calorie processed snack every afternoon or evening. How about extra or over-sized portions? That will be uncovered. And don’t forget about alcohol. Talk about empty and unaccounted for calories. They all add up, and it’s virtually impossible to know until you get a grip by bringing awareness with tracking.

Now that you have 7 days of data, you can begin to evaluate your choices. Some will be obvious that you’ll want to stop immediately. Others can be replaced with healthier alternatives. And you may also want to consult with a Registered Dietitian to help you develop meal plans that align with your new healthy lifestyle.

Tracking will bring clarity. Now you can continue to track to reinforce (and keep track of) the good habits you want to maintain. You will find tracking to become a motivational ally. How? It will motivate you to do the things you’ve committed to but may not feel like doing in the moment. Think about how you feel when you complete a task and check it off your list. It feels great and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

On the other hand, tracking can also help you break an undesirable habit by bringing awareness to it. And knowing you need to write it down may sometimes be enough to stop you. By the way, this feedback is invaluable and it’s a great way to chart your progress. I hope you can see that there are countless reasons to track, and numerous benefits for doing so.

Now you have some powerful info that you can incorporate into your new nutrition and fitness plans. And you’ve positioned yourself on the side of success as you set to achieve your 30 pound weight-loss goal. Tracking has given you a conscious and concrete understanding of things that have compounded over time and contributed to your weight gain.

Now it’s up to you to. How cool is that?

Don’t judge, just track it. Then learn from your results, improve ’em, and keep tracking. Ignite The Compound Effect to start working for YOU!

 

P.S. You can learn more about tracking, the benefits of the “Compound Effect”, and get personal mentoring from Darren Hardy (and much more), by subscribing to Darren Daily.

Take control of your health & wellness. Start today!