Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Way Out Is Through

Ever wonder what you'll look like at your dream weight?
 
Maybe you were only at that weight a couple of years ago so the picture is still vivid.
 
Or maybe you were at that weight when you were in your teens, before your college weight gain, before marriage, before kids...
 
The other picture which could be more abstract is, what you'll look like between now and your dream weight.
 
If you've carried extra weight for most of your adult life, it may be difficult to deal with a strange reality. As you start losing a significant amount of weight, certain parts of you look better and others start to look, well...worse.
 
Consider how weight gain affected your body initially. Let's say you're a middle aged man with roughly 50 pounds to lose. Chances are, the weight started showing in the love handles, then the stomach, the chest, and ultimately in the face.
 
What I've found is that the weight loss tends to show in reverse. So the face slims out first, chest tightens, etc.
 
Recently, I was speaking to one of my clients about this. He was losing weight at a pretty rapid clip actually. His face, arms and chest were starting to show more definition which was motivating. However, where his midsection still had space for improvement it was magnified due to how the rest of his torso looked. Not very encouraging!
 
I wish I could tell you that as you lose weight you will look as good as you hope. Maybe this happens, maybe it doesn't. If there is any advice I can offer, it's to keep your eye on the prize.
 
Have you gotten stronger?
Do you have more endurance?
Do your clothes fit better?
Are people complimenting your appearance?
 
Answering these questions and more importantly, documenting the answers can help you stay focused. The scale will not always reveal what you want, neither will the mirror. Your weight loss journey will likely be slow, somewhat painful (a relative term), and frequently unpredictable.
 
If you can arm yourself with the knowledge that the journey will have unexpected outcomes and avenues you are ahead of the pack. A dear friend and former client reminded me that not preparing herself for these realizations was a difficult battle to endure. However, I'll end this newsletter in her words:
 
"Getting your mind ready for weight loss...I remember when I lost the weight wondering why I still felt fat and wondering what it would take to align the two things. Losing weight doesn't cure all that ails. Mindset matters for so many things related to health"-Gillian M.
 
We're here to help!

Breakfast On The Go

I love breakfast. If it were up to me, I’d be eating eggs at every meal of the day. However, not everyone shares my sentiments and not everyone likes eggs (gasp!). While I normally have the time to eat a proper meal in the morning, I’ve actually grown to like smoothies in the morning. Knowing that many of you are crunched for time in the a.m., I thought I would send out a quick newsletter with some of my favorite go-to smoothie recipes to keep you on track with your goals. You’ll have to forgive me for not coming up with more creative names than these! Keep in mind, these would be considered meal replacement shakes, so count them as one total meal. Enjoy!
 
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie
8 oz skim milk (80-100 calories)OR almond milk (40-80 calories)
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (approx 120 calories)
6 strawberries (approx 30 calories)
1 oz cacao nibs (approx 130 calories)
Total calories: Approximately 300-350
Protein: 25-30g
Carbs: 25-30g
Fiber: 12-15g
Fat: 12-15g
 
Apple Pie Smoothie
8 oz skim milk (80-100 calories)OR almond milk (40-80 calories)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (approx 120 calories)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 apple (approx 50 calories)
Total calories: Approximately 200-300 calories
Protein: 25-30g
Carbs: 20g
Fiber: 5g
Fat: 5g
 
Chocolate Mousse Smoothie
8 oz skim milk (80-100 calories)OR almond milk (40-80 calories)
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (approx 120 calories)
1 medium avocado (approx 230 calories)
Total calories: Approximately 400-500 calories)
Protein: 25-30g
Carbs: 20-25g
Fiber: 10-12g
Fat: 20g

How Tough Should It Be?

Brandon has been training with me for nearly 4 years. His goal was weight loss. Since then, Brandon has lost and regained at least 20lbs 4-5 different times. His largest amount of loss was 33lbs. When he hit that number, I said he was only 10lbs away from looking better than he ever had before. He and I were just talking about this a few days ago: he can drop 20lbs like nobody’s business. Lightning fast.

So, what happens that he can drop it so easily but have it sneak back on again? Well, if you know anything about me, I say I haven’t done my job as a trainer to let that happen. But, I know people have to live their lives on their terms and if they’re not committed to the goal, then the goal slips away. Another reason I should mention that should explain a lot:
 
It’s really damn hard to lose weight and keep it off.
 
Fortunately for Brandon, he has a good mentality about this kind of thing. He actually really enjoys exercise (running, weightlifting, swimming, etc). He’s one of the most active people I know. His biggest struggle comes from stress and social pressures. So, if he’s having a bad week at work he’ll go out with friends. That leads to drinking, which leads to overeating, which leads to some more drinking, and Oh let’s eat that too! Next thing you know, that 20lbs is back on about as fast as it came off.

Now, I don’t mean to pick on Brandon. This kind of thing happens to nearly everyone who has tried or is aiming to lose weight. I’ve found for those who are truly successful there are a few things that have to be in place:
 
1) The realistic desire to get to a proposed weight
2) A sustainable plan (food and exercise regimen)
3) The ability to forgive one’s self if things go off track
 
For some, the weight loss goal is unrealistic. For women, it can include wanting to get down to a weight they were before they had children. While it is possible, it isn’t always attainable. The body has changed too much and the demands of life have compounded in a way that doesn’t allow for that drastic of a change.

The exercise plan has to be able to fit into the current lifestyle. In addition, any diet plan has to be flexible enough that it can be sustained over a long period of time (not just 2-3 weeks).

Also, many people allow their first dietary detour to turn into a week long foray into bad eating. The sooner you can give yourself the room to cheat a little and get right back on track, the easier sustainability becomes.
 
So how much can you cheat?
 
Well, I would start small. Let’s say it takes you 1500 calories in a day to lose weight at a reasonable rate. Take 10% of that goal and you can approach your cheat food in one of these two ways.
 
1) 150 calorie cheat snack every day
OR
2) 10% of your weekly calories (using the above example, we’ll say 1050 calories) as a cheat meal. In other words, at 1500 calories a day (10,500 calories in a week for weight loss) you can substitute a rather unhealthy 1050 calories in one sitting and still stay on plan.

I should mention that if you’re going to consume 1050 calories in one sitting, that means you only have 450 calories for the rest of the day to stay on track. However, it does give you the flexibility of eating the food you’ve been craving and likely denying yourself the pleasure of.

Weight loss and ultimately weight maintenance shouldn’t be difficult. Finding a way to stack more healthy behaviors ahead of the less healthy ones is the best place to start!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Small Changes Or Big Ones?

Sometimes, I wish there was a simple solution.

            -Drink more water
            -Eat more veggies
            -Do more cardio
            -Lift heavier weights
            -Put down the cookies

But if I’ve tried to impress anything on the people I interact with, it’s that trial and error is about the only way to solve the health and wellness puzzles. Not only that, but some people thrive and succeed in reaching their goals through small steps and changes which build on one another. Others need a drastic 180 degree overhaul.

Much of this is personality driven, some of it is genetic or environmental. On one hand, there is a lot to say for the person who can look at the beneficial changes they need to make in their life. They can then take the easiest change, attack it full-on, make it habitual and move onto the next. I’ve seen many clients succeed with this approach.

Others need something a bit more over-the-top. The all or nothing, cold turkey approach that throws their world temporarily upside down.

Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle.

I’ve found, for myself, that the bad habits in my life had to come to a screeching halt. No more sticking my toe in the cold water at the pool, I had to jump all in. By the same token, the healthful things that I wanted to add to my life needed to take place in baby steps.

It should also be noted that while gaining control over food in your life is the most effective and efficient way to feel better and look better, some people need to just move first. So, exercising becomes the first good habit and then food comes later. Other people need that immediate gratification of pounds lost, so food control comes first and exercise follows.

If feeling better, looking better and gaining control over your body are important to you, make a list of what you can accomplish with drastic OR minimal efforts. Then decide which route you’ll take.

And should you need help…we’re here for YOU!

In conclusion, I’d also like to add some very special news: Megan, my partner in crime here at RevFit will be welcoming a baby boy into the world in July. While the clients here have known about this for a bit, Megan and her husband Nick were waiting to find out the gender of their first child before making a bigger announcement to the world. So, while she will definitely be missed around here as the big day comes, I speak for myself and all of our clients that we couldn’t be happier! The RevFit extended family keeps growing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Caveat Emptor

Late last year, I had the good fortune of taking on Dr. Michelle Bestic as a client here. After welcoming the addition of two beautiful twins into her family with her husband Dr. Dan Bestic, she decided it was time to get the focus back on her and getting her body into the condition it was in prior to pregnancy. As you’ll soon find out, Dr. Michelle is a wealth of information on all things regarding pharmacology. I am frequently asked my opinion on a variety of supplements, aids and pharmaceuticals. While I definitely have an opinion, I certainly don’t have the pedigree and background that someone like Dr. Michelle has. So, I was excited when she was willing and able to let me interview her with her thoughts on a lot of the topics that clients come to me about. Without further ado, I hope you enjoy our latest newsletter with Dr. Michelle Bestic!

Dr. Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. So that we can give the readers some more insight, could you briefly give a background on yourself?

MB: I graduated with my PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) in 2004, then did a two year post-doc fellowship in pediatric pharmacology and toxicology.  I have been working as a clinical pharmacologist and toxicologist since 2006.  I have published two book chapters, 10 peer reviewed articles and given numerous lectures to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and students about a wide range of toxicology and developmental pharmacology topics, including several on supplements. 

The fitness supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar monster. That tends to explain why there are so many companies looking for a piece of the pie. How do you generally regard a lot of what you see on the shelves at say, a nutritional supplement retailer? 

MB: Generally when considering supplements, the first thing I consider is "Do no harm." That is, I make sure that the supplement is not going to interact with any prescription or over the counter medication or potentially worsen any medical conditions.  The second thing I consider is the manufacturer of the company, does the company follow what we call "good manufacturing processes". Beware of the terms "standardized, verified or certified" as US law does not actually define these.  Look for a "seal of approval," however, this does not guarantee safety or efficacy it merely ensures the product was properly manufactured, contains ingredients listed on the label and doesn't contain harmful levels of contaminants. 

Finally, the last thing that I consider is that on average it takes prescription medications 17 years to make it to market from development, after tests on thousands of people. Yet, there are still medications that despite all of this testing still have to be removed from the market after hundreds of thousands of people take them and still cause awful side effects.  On average it takes a supplement less than 6 months with no FDA requirement of proving safety or efficacy. In fact, a company only has to demonstrate that it is "reasonably safe for human consumption" prior to hitting the market and typically do not need FDA approval prior to hitting the market. So yes, I tend to ignore a lot of the stuff in nutritional supplement stores, especially any "new" products out there because I know they haven't had any safety data collected.


Sadly, there are so many people looking for that "magic pill" that solves their weight loss puzzle or, by comparison, helps them get stronger, faster. Is there anything on the market that you would consider could do the job in either case? 

MB: There is nothing currently on the market that offers a "magic pill" for weight loss. Sorry!  I always tell people the same thing when they ask, the FDA and big pharmaceutical companies are not conspiring to keep you overweight or unhealthy.  If there was truly something out there every major pharmaceutical company would be producing it because they would make billions and there would be multiple agents out there just like there are 10 different types of cholesterol lowering agents

A lot of people are looking for the herbal or homeopathic remedy to cure what ails them. The belief is that if it's not a tried-and-true pharmaceutical that it "naturally" is better for them. How do you feel about that? 

MB: I sort of addressed the last question with the FDA testing and requirements.  However, I will add a couple of things.  First, anything and I mean absolutely anything can be a poison when taken in an incorrect amount.  Excessive water consumption has killed people. Also there is a misconception that "natural" equals "safe."  Opium and nicotine are also "natural" substances yet I don't think anyone would label them as "safe."  I had a patient once take too many fish oil tablets and ended up in the hospital with significant toxicity.  I am not saying that there aren't products out there that may help, just that if you are avoiding prescription medications because you think they aren't "safe" consider the fact that the supplement you are about to take has never had to prove safety data to anyone!

What do you consider the best resource for a layperson to determine whether or not they should be taking a supplement? 

MB: I would like to think that a health care professional would be the best source but sadly a lot of us don't really keep up to date on all of the supplement information and data.  I really like this website: http://nccam.nih.gov/  It is the national center for complimentary medicine and integrative health.  It has a pretty decent review of a lot of herbal products. I also like www.naturaldatabaseconsumer.com 

Because you see weight loss through a different lens than someone like myself, what would be a pharmacist's approach to safe and effective weight loss? 

MB: Most pharmacists don't take medications! Haha! Most would tell you however that the safest way to approach weight loss is through a healthy, balanced diet and physical activity.  Supplement use should be limited to just that, as a supplement to possibly fill in gaps in your diet.  Example, someone with low iron may need iron supplements.  If you don't eat a lot of fish, perhaps omega fatty acids.

What is interesting is that there are agents that will cause you to lose weight.  Taking too high of a dose of amphetamines or thyroid medication certainly works, but you can die in the process.  They are highly toxic to your heart in the doses needed to cause weight loss.

In your opinion, how much impact does the placebo effect have on supplementation?

MB: The placebo effect response varies widely in many studies depending on the condition being treated and how a placebo was introduced to a patient.  Interestingly, the more someone believes something (placebo or not) is going to work, the higher the rates of response.  There are certainly studies where the placebo effect was 0% and there are ones where the results were >50%.  In general, most references state and it is generally well accepted that the placebo effect is anywhere from 25-33% of individuals. 

If there were some general words of advice you could give to the public, but most importantly, to the health-conscious readers of this newsletter, what do you want them to know?

MB: General words of advice is that there is no substitute for a healthy diet and active lifestyle.  Nothing comes close to mimicking the health benefits produced by these two things.  To put this in perspective, the World Health Organization has estimated that if the major risk factors for chronic disease were eliminated which are lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, at least 80% of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and more than 40% of all cancers would be prevented.  If you wish to use a supplement in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle just consider the following - the supplement you are choosing may lack appropriate safety data, tell your healthcare provider to make sure there are no interactions with any disease states or medications, choose a reputable manufacturer and be conscious of the doses of the supplement you are taking, more is not always better.

I’d like to again take a moment to thank Dr. Michelle for all the great information. I also have to give credit to her for helping me with the title of this newsletter since I was having a writer’s block! I’ll speak for both of us in saying, I hope you were able to take some pearls of wisdom from our chat together!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Facing The Addict

I have a confession.

I am an addict.

Once upon a time, my addictions were of the more destructive type. That might be a story for another day. For the sake of this particular newsletter, I wanted to tell you about my addiction to something you may relate to better.

I’m addicted to sugar. 

In 12-step programs, members are told that it isn’t necessarily the amount of a substance you elect to consume but the psychological impact of it.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a sweet tooth. However, when I found my passion for this line of work, I realized that I had to temper my consumption of sweets. For me, if they’re not around I do just fine. Every so often, a craving will strike and I’ll buckle. My problem is when the sweets around, it’s as if they call out for me.

This past Christmas, 3 different people (clients, mind you!) brought me cookies. All shapes, sizes, flavors, etc. I had more variety than I knew what to do with. And like many of my clients who are battling weight loss, I would attempt to justify eating any of them.

“I’ll just eat one”
“I’ll train harder today, since I ate three”
“I worked out really hard so I can afford to eat these”

Now, I’d like to think I’ve got more knowledge about this song-and-dance than the average Joe. I KNOW you can’t out-exercise bad food choices. But the addict was taking over.

I finally had to make the decision to regretfully throw the remaining cookies out. When the sweets aren’t around the temptation to eat them and the craving for them tends to subside. But like any consistent addict, it’s the first few days of withdrawal that are the worst.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to my other dietary addictions in this order: caffeine and salt.

I joke with a lot of people that due to my long hours here at the studio, I’m nearly brain-dead at 4:30 in the morning when I go to brew my first cup of coffee for the day. Now, I still make sure I get my 20 or so ounces of water in before I start with the coffee, but it’s never far away.

Because I tend to internalize stress and lack of sleep when it strikes, I can always tell if I’m giving in to my caffeine addiction by how late in the day I continue to consume it. It’s usually a bad sign for me if I can have a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage in the afternoon but still fall asleep at night. Then I realize I have to start cutting it back again.

But enough about me, the inspiration for this newsletter came from one of my newest clients. When I sit down with a potential new client, our consultation always covers food and dietary habits. In this most recent conversation, she said the words that a lot of people fail to admit:

“I’m a sugar addict.”

I was quick to tell her that I too, have a sugar addiction. Judging by the look on her face when I said that, she probably wasn’t expecting someone in my line of work to struggle with the same thing!

I relayed my cookie story to her and we were able to commiserate over the hold that sweets had over us.

So, how do you succeed over your addictions?

I realize that not everyone has a sweet tooth. Some people don’t know how to stay away from potato chips (salty foods), or cheese (fatty foods), or diet coke (artificial sweeteners/caffeine).

There are several different things that can play into our dietary weaknesses:

-stress
-mineral deficiencies
-lack of sleep
-patterning issues (my personal favorite)

Let’s say you have developed a habit of having dessert after dinner every night. Most dinners are salty in nature and having that complimentary sweet treat can balance things out. After a week or so of this habit, your brain starts to expect the dessert. Perhaps you tell yourself you aren’t going to indulge in the ice cream this evening. Sure enough, the pattern is ingrained and you find yourself right back in the freezer, salivating at the thought of your treat.

The trick is to change the pattern.

Find something new to do directly after dinner. Maybe you go for a walk. Or maybe you brush your teeth. Or read a book. Maybe you just need to drink something to keep your mouth occupied. No matter what you choose, a new pattern has to develop (just like it did when you started your trend of after-dinner desserts).

For some people, it’s just about minimizing the caloric damage. Instead of a bowl of ice cream, it’s a small square of dark chocolate. Or maybe you share the ice cream with your spouse or significant other. For other people, they have to stop cold turkey because they’ve lost the control over this particular food.

Where you can really run into trouble (as is the case with my aforementioned client) is when the treats (or trigger foods) are always lurking at your place of work. Despite your best attempt to abstain, just knowing that the foods are around is too much temptation.

You have to learn your limitations and decide the best course of action. It’s true that one cookie or one small bag of chips won’t make you gain legitimate weight. But how does that one indiscretion cascade into other issues?

In the case of my fellow sugar addict, one trick that recently worked was the recognition of investment. We spoke about her monetary investment in me as her trainer. I asked her to justify that expense against her cookies.

“Is that dessert worth the equivalent to the price you pay me as your trainer?”

And all of a sudden, we have a different perspective on the trigger food. More than anyone, I always want there to be a return on investment for people who train with me. Personal training is not cheap. And the fact remains: very, very few of us (see elite athletes) can out-train poor diet habits.

The first step towards breaking away from your respective addiction: sweets, alcohol, salty foods, caffeine, etc is realizing how it’s contributing to the problem. Then you have to decide how you’re going to change your patterns. Will you do it on your own or will you develop a support system around you? Whatever decision you make it’s on YOU.

Some people can have a little of their trigger food and they’re okay not to overstep boundaries. Others (like myself) have to completely distance themselves for fear of overindulgence.

Not sure if you have a food or substance addiction? Ask someone close to you whose opinion you value and trust. Someone who is unlikely to cast judgment on you. The truth might not be easy to hear but sometimes we’re blind to our own misgivings.

Ready to conquer your weaknesses?

We can help!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Simplicity

I think I’m on at least 15 different mailing lists regarding fitness. Some are trainers I follow, others might be nutrition or therapy based. Not to mention, the countless trainers, programs or organizations I might follow via different social media outlets. And this is the time of year that you see the words in some way shape or form:

New Year, New You.

The message remains essentially the same.

You survived the holidays, now let’s reinvent you.

In my heart of hearts, I know I’m supposed to convey a similar message. I want you to lose the holiday weight. I want you to feel better about yourself: to be stronger and have a better self-image. Contrary to what happens at the box gyms around me, I don’t really see much of an uptick in business in January. Perhaps it’s because the price point for personal training is higher than the fees of joining a place like Planet Fitness or the like. Or maybe it’s just that many people believe they can do it on their own and so that’s the first course of action at the beginning of the year.

But rather than see how many massive changes we can make in your already busy and demanding life, I would only ask that you simplify what needs to be done. Take a look at this list and see what would be the EASIEST change to make in your life starting NOW.

Not drinking enough water? Add 16-20oz to each remaining meal or snack today. Refrain from drinking more water after your last meal of the day. Tomorrow morning, wake up to 16-20oz of water and repeat the drill for the rest of the day. If you find it difficult to eat frequently enough to match water intake to your meals, I recommend setting the timer on your phone to go off every 2-3 hrs. It sounds a little tedious but it will help you develop the habit of keeping yourself hydrated through the day. After a week or two, your body will start asking for the water with signals you’ll be well aware of and you won’t need to use the timer on your phone any longer.

Eating too much in the evening? Start balancing the size of your meals at the beginning of the day so you’re not completely famished at night. One counterproductive trend I see more often than anything else regarding food is people who cram the majority of their calories into the end of the day. If you reverse this trend and keep evening consumption smaller, you will wake up with more of an appetite making this change easier to implement. This is not an easy change to make for many people because they have trained themselves on the habit of overindulgence at night.

Drinking too many calories? This can go hand in hand with the effort to drink more water in general. Look at what you drink throughout the day. Remove or drastically limit ANY drink that has more than 10 calories per serving. This will likely include juices, sports drinks, creamer or sugar in your coffee/tea, alcohol, and pop. While I can’t completely change those who drink diet pop, I would ask that you limit the intake of those drinks and switch for water instead.

Confused by what should be on your plate? The media might have you believe there are bad foods out there. As in, if you eat these foods you’ll never lose weight or look the way you want, etc. While this may be true for those with diagnosed food allergies, the general problem for many is just too many calories in general devoid of food selection. A simple change would be to look at your plate and fill it like this: 50% of the plate should be a fibrous veggie (spinach, broccoli, etc), 25% of the plate should be a protein (beef, chicken, fish, tofu, etc.) and 25% should be a starchy or low sugar carb (rice, potato, etc). No calorie counting necessary.

Crunched for time and don’t think you can exercise? Your body will benefit from ANY movement you do above and beyond what you currently do. Granted, you will need to ramp up the intensity of your movement at a certain point but there are countless studies proving that 3 bouts of 10 minutes of exercise in a day can be just as beneficial as a straight 30 minutes. The important thing is to continue to challenge yourself with the time allotted.

Find one change and implement it immediately. Then, remember to forgive yourself if you happen to derail. Life happens to all of us. Any one of these changes can make a difference for you, you just need to determine which change fits your lifestyle right now. As life and work and family continue to dictate what happens for you, some of these changes may need to revolve around that.

We’re here to help!