Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Annual New Year's Posty Thing

Holy cow-- it's almost 2015.  That went fast!  So I suppose it's time for my 2014 wrap-up post and my 2015 hopes and dreams.

2014 was a mixed bag of emotions.  Many people in my life lost loved ones and went through extreme hardships and sicknesses, and my heart is with all of them.  My cousin Marlene died very suddenly just a few weeks ago, which was a big surprise, too.  I have not seen her in a long time, but I remember spending many family events at my aunt's house with her and her family.  She was a wonderful person, and like a sister to my aunt.  She will be greatly missed.

In 2014, some important friendships in my life dissolved, which is always heartbreaking.  I try to see these things as learning experiences, though, and am growing stronger as a result.

2014 also brought some good things.  I made a lot of great new friends and became closer to other people in my life, including my aunt, who I had been sorely remiss in talking to on a regular basis.  She is a beautiful, wonderful person, and I plan to spend a lot more time with her in 2015 (at the very least virtually, since she lives on the opposite coast).

I got engaged in 2014 (I know, right??!!).  Dave surprised me with a trip to Costa Rica and popped the question at the Sloth Sanctuary despite me making it very difficult for him (long story; if you really want to hear the whole thing, I'll tell you in the comments section. :) ).  We do not have a date planned at this point because school is taking up all my time and resources, but most likely sometime in early 2016.  Stay tuned.

I didn't compete in any powerlifting events this year because of a mysterious knee injury I got last winter.  I discovered that the injury was actually from a pair of ill-fitting Sanuks I wore in the cooler weather.  Once I got rid of the shoes, I had no more knee issues. Unfortunately, laying off squats has led to a huge downgrade in my previous squat numbers.  I've tried several different programs with varying degrees of success, but I'm happy to say that this week, I came extremely close to squatting 175lb to parallel, which is by far the best I have done since the issue.  Once I own 175lb, it leaves me just 15lb short of my previous max.

Flawless Fitness and Evil Munky Enterprises both had their one year anniversaries in 2014, and both continue to go strong!  I did lots of workshops with Steel, Stone & Sugar, too.  I'm looking forward to continuing to grow all three in 2015 (and if you'd like a workshop in your area, let me know)!

My bands have done well-- Ed Force One in particular.  It's always an uphill battle, but 2015 looks bright for us!

In April, I started my master's degree program in Health Psychology.  I am almost halfway done, and should graduate in October.  It's hard work and takes up a great deal of my time, but it will be worth it.  I had planned to get my PhD right after this, but I've decided to put that on hold for a while and enjoy having some free time again!

Which leads me to my plans for 2015:

Fitness:  Many of my fitness goals remain the same because I have not reached them yet.  They include:


  • 200lb squat or heavier
  • 150lb bench press or heavier
  • 300lb deadlift or heavier


All at or under my current bodyweight of 104lb.

Other things I wouldn't mind achieving:

  • Mastering short steel bending (I mostly do long bending at the moment-- short bending has always been very difficult for me)
  • Back and/or front levers
  • My friends Jarell Lindsey and Batman O'Brien got me thinking about trying to get my middle splits back, too.
  • 120lb Atlas stone lift


Business:

  • Continue to grow Flawless Fitness, Evil Munky, and Steel, Stone, & Sugar.
  • Graduate my master's program and begin teaching at the community college level (or at a university that will let me teach with a master's degree)
  • Do lots more public speaking (if you'd like me at your event, say the word!)
  • I have a few side projects and planned projects I am not yet ready to talk publicly about, but I am excited about them, and can't wait to bring them to fruition!
Music:
  • There will be a new album with the original band I sing with, Maxxxwell Carlisle, this year-- I'm looking forward to recording it, and to hopefully begin touring!
  • I partnered up with Other World Productions this year to create a series of concerts with Ed Force One and other bands to be named later that will help raise money for people who can't afford to pay their vet bills.  As a huge animal lover, this is an issue near and dear to my heart, and I'm looking forward to our first one on February 13!
  • Hoping to get lots of new shows for all three bands this year.
Personal:
  • You probably don't know this about me, but panic attacks run in my family, and I am one of the lucky recipients.  I'm hoping to conquer them this year, as they can be debilitating.
  • I want to spend a lot more time seeing my friends' shows and just generally being more social.  I miss having game nights, dinner parties, and movie nights.  Once I graduate from school, I'll have a lot more time (and resources) to start having fun again, and I plan to have lots of fun!  
  • I have a few places I'm definitely planning to make time to visit this year.  They include Yellowstone, Portland (Oregon, although I'd love to go to Maine, too), and possibly Idaho.  That being said, I love to travel, and there are tons of other places on my list-- these are just those I am pretty sure I'll be able to make work this year.
  • I started a new tradition this week that I plan to do all year and probably all the years ahead.  Believe it or not, I found out about it through a meme, and I liked the idea so much, I decided to start it.  What you do is, you get a jar (or container of your choice), and every time something nice happens, you write it down and put it in the container.  At the end of the year, you read all the papers and remember all the great things the year brought, since it's easy to forget sometimes.  In the meme they called it a Blessings Jar.  I think I'll call mine the Jar of Awesome.  

  • I'd also like to see this year bring health, happiness, and peace to everyone.  The last few years have been brutal for me and those around me, and I think it's time everyone had some really good stuff happen to them!
I wish all of you the happiest of new years and a safe, healthy, and wonderful 2015 and beyond.  And I'd love to hear your plans for 2015-- feel free to write 'em here!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Alarmism Is Alive and Well

This is more of an op-ed post, I suppose.  Sometimes it's hard for me not to seethe a little, reading the stuff I read by "experts."

I just read this article about Food Babe and her fearmongering style.  Like many in my industry, Food Babe may (*may*) have good intentions, but may be causing more problems than she's solving.  While there are certainly a lot of ingredients in food (particularly stuff that comes in packages) that shouldn't be there, a lot of the information Ms. Babe gives is only partially informed or misunderstood.

Confused?  Yeah, I'm not surprised.


She's not alone, though.  I am inundated with emails with titles like, "The ONE Food You Should NEVER Eat That You Probably Have In Your Cabinet RIGHT NOW" or "The ONE Food That Will Make All Your Gains Go Out The Window" and that sort of thing.  Yesterday, I saw a status from a well-known fitness professional stating, and I quote, that "Plants are as dangerous to eat as pufferfish."

Beans are bad.
Plants are bad.
Fruit is bad.
Wheat is bad.
Carbs are bad. 
Sugar is bad.  No, wait-- it's good.  No, it's bad again.

Seriously, it's getting a little ridiculous.  Should we all be air-itarians?  Oh, no wait-- air pollution.

There is currently no research that I am aware of that assesses the health effects of a mostly meat and fat diet (as the Pufferfish Guy follows), but there is plenty about plant consumption.  I would imagine that eating minimal plant foods would cause pretty serious nutrition imbalances, but that's just me.  I have posted time after time about the myriad health benefits of plants.  Here's more fuel for the fire, should you need it:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/517S.short
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/544S.short
http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jcem.83.7.4752
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/502S.short
and both raw and cooked vegetables have merit, so consume both:  http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/13/9/1422.short

I have, in the past, discussed at length the beans and grains issue.

Oh, and hey-- you don't need to ditch healthy carbs to lose weight (and chances are, you'll feel better if you don't).  

Another thing to consider would be this:  people telling you not to eat THIS ONE COMMON FOOD or THIS TOXIC INGREDIENT YOU ALWAYS THOUGHT WAS HEALTHY are often selling something.  Buy their book/DVD/program and learn about the TWENTY "HEALTHY" FOODS THAT WILL KILL YOU.  You see the link?  Fear, like sex, sells.

So what to do about Food Babe and all the fearmongering out there?  Well, here's my take (and this is nothing I haven't really said before):

-Don't eat stuff that makes you feel bad.
-Don't eat stuff that you have discovered makes your health worse.
-Eat as close to nature as possible most of the time.
-Don't believe every alarmist piece of craziness you read.
-Do your own research-- but read the science, not the hype.  Here is a decent guide to choosing your sources wisely.  Keep in mind that there are numerous conflicting studies in the realm of nutrition and fitness, and it can be confusing out there.  The landscape is always changing.  That's part of what makes it so interesting.

My point is, take everything you read with a grain of salt until you've delved into the facts.

Wait... salt is bad.  No, it's good.  No, it's bad again.


Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Get Healthy Kickstarter

As some of you know, I am a musician.  I sing in three bands ( Ed Force One, Styx & Stones, and Maxxxwell Carlisle).  As you may be aware, musicians don't tend to live the healthiest of lifestyles.  There's a lot of alcohol, pot and other drugs, late nights, fast food/junk food, and other risky behavior.  I'm kind of an anomaly in the industry, since I don't do any of the above, other than the late nights (when I have a show) part.

In the last month or so, I have seen at least 5 of my comrades in music be hospitalized or killed by heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.  I have, over the months and years, seen several more felled by strokes and liver and kidney damage.  I've watched friends of mine with lifestyle-related type 2 diabetes get sicker and sicker due to their refusal to change their habits.  I know of several whose inactivity and extra weight gives them pain so intense that doing every day things like picking up amplifiers-- or playing with their kids and pets-- becomes virtually impossible.

It hurts me deeply to watch it all happening.  I feel helpless and afraid for them.  I went so far as to offer free nutrition classes for anyone who wanted them, but only three people mentioned any interest.

Here's some things I know about the psychology of getting healthy:

1)  Nagging people about it usually causes pushback.
2)  Most people know that they *should* do something, but don't really know what to do.
3)  People get very, very attached to their bad habits, and can, at times, be afraid to let go of them.
4)  Unless someone really wants to change, change will not happen, no matter how badly that person knows they need it. 

And so I have decided to put together this little kickstarter for those who want to change, but need some direction.  For reasons of simplicity, I am leaving out the sciency stuff that I usually put in, but I'm providing links to more in-depth information if people want it, and would be happy to provide more science if anyone wants it.  I also want to leave the comments section open to anyone who has questions.  It'll be like an ongoing Q & A for those who want it, and I will do my best to stay on top of answering questions in a timely manner.

I hope this helps at least one person.  Please feel free to share it with anyone you think might benefit.  My goal is to save lives.  I cannot bear to see one more colleague drop long before their time.

^ This should NOT lead to...


...this.


GET HEALTHY KICKSTARTER

1) THERE IS NO QUICK FIX.   Going on crash diets, "cleanses," taking pills, and so on might work in the short term (all of them reduce calories, which causes weight loss), but don't provide lasting results, and could really harm your health.  Furthermore, these things are not sustainable.  What ends up happening is you lose some weight, then go off the diet, go back to your old habits, and start the cycle all over again.  Yo-yo dieting wreaks havoc on your system, and with time it will be more and more difficult to lose the weight again.  YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE, and it has to be done in a way that is sustainable for you. 


2)  Set goals.  You need your long-term goal ("lose my gut," "no more back and knee pain," "lower my cholesterol and blood pressure" are some examples), but you also need tangible short-term goals.  These are little goals you can reach within a 2 to 3 week period.  So, for instance, if you want to "lose your gut," what might you do to make that happen?  Your plan might look like this:

LOSE MY GUT
Weeks 1-3:  No more soda and juice; cut down alcohol to weekends only (2 drinks/day)
Weeks 3-6:  No more fast food
Weeks 6-9:  Dessert/sweets only one meal per week
Weeks 9-12:  Walk or run 30 min/day
Weeks 12-15:  Eat veggies with every meal
Weeks 15-18:  Start weightlifting 3x/week

And so on.  Once one healthy habit has been solidified in your routine, you add the next one.  That way, you don't overwhelm yourself by doing it all at once.  

I highly recommend writing your goals down and holding yourself accountable to them.  Post them on your fridge or somewhere you'll see them several times per day.  Post them in more than one place!  Be honest with yourself about your progress, and figure out how to get support where you need it.

2)  DON'T FOLLOW DUMB TRENDS.  
-Coconut oil, bacon, and butter are not magical health foods
-Just because someone is a doctor does NOT mean that person is qualified to give you nutritional advice.

3)  Stay active.  Sitting may be the worst thing you can do for your health, even if you get in a workout at some point during the day.  Stand up and move your body as much as possible throughout the day.  Break up your day with walks, squats, lunges, pushups, and so on.   

4)  Tell your friends, co-workers, family, or whoever you spend your time with what you are trying to do.  Ask them for their support.  If they cannot support you, you're going to need to distance yourself from them during meals.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of surrounding yourself with people who want to see you healthy and help you get there.  If you still choose to spend your time with people who don't support your efforts to get healthy, you are going to need to have enough willpower to avoid doing what they're doing, eating what they're eating, drinking what they're drinking (more on this here).

5)  Get enough sleep.  A lot of people do not realize how important getting enough sleep is.  It is important for your hormones, your recovery, your sanity, your heart, and more.  Aim for 7-8 hours per night, or whatever is *truly* right for your body (as opposed to what you have forced your body to become accustomed to).  (More on this here.)

6)  You can't get completely healthy by *only* exercising or *only* changing your food.   You need both parts of the equation. 

This should give you a good head start.  Please post any questions you might have about anything you're confused about.  I will help you and support you to the best of my abilities.  But please, please-- care enough about yourself to take care of your body.  It means a lot to more people than you could possibly realize. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Newsflash: Not Everyone Needs to be a Badass

A friend of mine posted a video of a Kangoo aerobics class on Facebook today.  What is a Kangoo aerobics class, you might ask?  Well, it looks a lot like this:


And, of course, the strength community was raring to make fun of this (as with many aerobics-type classes).  Of course they were.  It's not badass.  And one person even ventured to say that it's "not exercise."

I'm going to share something with you:

I own a pair of Kangoos.

An ex of mine gave them to me for Christmas many moons ago.

And you know what?

THEY'RE FREAKIN' FUN.

No joke.  The main reason they've been sitting in my closet ever since that Christmas is that it's not nearly as much fun Kangooing alone, and I don't know anyone else who owns a pair.  And they freak my dogs out.

That having been said, I wanted to share with you my comments about this, because I really think this is an important subject to broach.  So, at the risk of the strength community shaking their collective head at me in shame, here's what I wrote:

In response to "I wouldn't call it exercise..."

It depends on your definition of "exercise." Does it get your heart rate up? Yes. Does it encourage good movement patterns? Not really.

And my further comments:

It certainly won't make anyone stronger. But it will burn calories. A lot of people just need to move. If it's fun, even better. The average person doesn't find lifting heavy weights inherently fun (well, maybe till they try it, anyway  ). Most people do find bouncing around fun. Hell, I find bouncing around fun. I'm like Tigger. The Western culture desperately needs ways to get people off the couch. I think this is one of many ways that *could* make that happen. Like the SkyZone chain of indoor trampoline parks. Like Zumba. Like going out dancing at night. Like romping with your kids or your dog or your cute neighbor. Whatever. If it gets people moving (and doesn't get them hurt), I'm all for it. Not everyone needs to be a powerlifter. I mean, I do. But not everyone does.

I think a common problem we make as fitness professionals is thinking that in order for something to be "legit" it needs to be badass. It doesn't. It just needs to get people moving more than they sit. We have a horrible culture of sitting. It's killing people. Some of this stuff looks ridiculous. Some of it is ridiculous. But it works in that it makes people move, makes people want to do more of it, makes people smile and laugh and get the hell off the couch. I am a big believer in the "does it make you better?" mantra. In this case, does it make these people better at not sitting? Yes it does. More power to them.

Bottom line:  Have fun.  Look silly.  Freak out your neighbors.  But move.  Please.  Just move.  As far as I'm concerned, Sloth is a much bigger sin than happily bouncing around like Tigger on crack.

I will leave you with this picture of me from 2010, after receiving my Christmas gift.  And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to organize a Kangoo race.  There's gotta be someone else out there with a pair.



Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yay, Meat?

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted this article with the comment, "Yay, meat!"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2105132/Damn-low-fat-diet-How-reformed-vegan-John-Nicholson-gorges-foods-granny-enjoyed--felt-better.html?utm_content=buffere3a6d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#ixzz34kcKvCSc

Now, I know my friend was poking fun at me, since I'm vegan, but I did skim and comment about this article.  I wanted to share my comments with you, because I honestly think this is an extremely important subject.  Articles like the one above abound right now, and I think they are doing the general public a great disservice.

How's that working for you, Paula?


Anyhoo, here's what I wrote:

Now that I've had time to skim this article (forgive me if I misunderstood anything; it's late and I only skimmed the article-- I'll read it in more depth later):

Yep. Of course his health sucked. His health sucked for the reason a lot of vegans' he
alth sucks-- they have a horrible diet full of processed foods, lots of starch/sugar, and extremely imbalanced nutrition. Meat or no meat, if your diet looks like that, you're going to be sick. Meat is neither necessarily the problem nor the solution. A bad diet is a bad diet, whatever camp it's in.

What bothers me about articles like this is that they are HIGHLY unscientific (quoting the Weston A. Price society is pretty much a dead giveaway of an uninformed individual) and that they basically come to a conclusion that has nothing to do with the problem with what they were doing before. Eating meat did not make him better. Getting more nutrition did. Fried food and lard is not a secret to good health, as it appears he's implying. I believe this sort of article is very misleading to the general public, and is how really dumb ideas about nutrition get started.

Bottom line: Just because you're vegan, or not vegan, or low-fat, or high-fat, or however it is you eat, does not mean you're healthy. Your diet needs to have the right balance of nutrition and energy. It should come as much from nature as possible. It should have a LOT of vegetables. Beyond that, it's up to you how you approach it. If your system works for you, it works for you. 

OK, that's all. Getting off my soapbox now. G'night.

I hope this clarifies some things for you guys about this subject.  People are so eager to jump on a bandwagon-- ANY bandwagon-- thinking it's the solution to all that ails them.  Downing "lots of lard, beef dripping, butter, cream and full-fat milk" is not going to save anyone.  

On a side note, I am a moral vegan, which means that the reason I don't eat meat has nothing to do with nutrition.  This lifestyle is extremely important to me, but I do realize that it can be difficult to balance if you don't understand nutrition.  I have made it work extremely well for me, as have many others.  Does that mean it's for everyone?  No, not necessarily.  But it did make me a little sad to see that these people turned vegan for moral reasons and then went against their morality to "fix" their diet-- and, of course, to sell a £12.99 book about it.  Coincidence?  I think not.

You can try using an online nutrition calculator to get an idea about your nutritional intake (like this one:  http://nutritiondata.self.com/ ).  Blood tests can be helpful, too.  If your diet is making you sick, clearly something needs to change.  But it doesn't necessarily mean you need to start munching on sticks of butter.

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Is This A Good Workout?

First of all, I have to apologize for being so lax in posting here lately.  I started my master's degree in April, and it's been kicking my butt, so time has been at a premium.  However, I managed to finish this week's work early, so I have a little time to do some blogging.

I get a fair amount of email that basically looks like this:

"Here's the workout I did today.  Is it good?"

Here's what my answer just about always is:

"Well, is it making you better at what you're trying to get better at?"

Chances are, if the answer is yes, then yes, it's good.

If it's not, or if it hurts when you do it, or if it's done with poor form, then no, no it's not.

Sooo, this is a good workout, amirite?
It's also important to note that what had been working for you for a while may not be working for you now.  Case in point:  My goals, as a powerlifter, are to get stronger in the Big Three Lifts (deadlift, squat, bench press).  Today, I realized that my deadlift and squat numbers had been at a plateau for a while.  So it's probably time to re-evaluate my routine and change something-- I'll probably consult with a powerlifting coach to get some fresh ideas.

Another thing you may want to think about:  Is your lifestyle is supporting your goals?  For instance, if you want to get stronger and you're not sleeping and eating properly (I will be the first to admit that I do not sleep well or enough, and I'm sure this affects my numbers), your ability to reach your goals.  If you're trying to lose weight, so you've jumped on a training plan but have not taken sleep, stress, and diet into account, you're probably not going to be satisfied with your results.

I know this was a relatively vague answer, and it should be.  Things that seem to work for everyone else never really seem to work for me.  I used a sure-fire deadlift plan from a champion deadlifter for a while, and I actually lost a lot of strength in the deadlift as a result.  It wasn't a bad plan.  Obviously not-- it helped make this guy a champion.  But for me, it didn't work.  That's not to say you should never try other people's plans.  They clearly work for at least some of the population, and may well work for you.  Scientific knowledge of strength training is constantly evolving, and there is no universal "right answer." The bottom line is (and this applies to nutrition, as well), if it makes you better, do it.  If it doesn't, then move on.  Find someone smart to help you fine-tune things if you can.

Hopefully this is helpful, and hopefully I'll get another post in soon.  In the meantime, go get better at stuff.  Let me know how it goes.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sobering.

I've been running a 60 day food cleanup challenge for those of my clients who wanted to participate.  Everyone has been doing great, but some very interesting issues have been coming up.  One thing in particular that I find compelling is that people are mourning the loss of their taste for bad food habits. One client expressed his sadness that he's lost his taste for many of the junk foods he used to love.  Another lamented her newfound inability to have more than one serving of alcohol at a sitting.  When I asked them why they missed these things, they both gave more or less the same reasons:  they missed the social component of having these things.  One missed the pleasure the food would give him.  One missed trying out all kinds of different wines and the fact that she and her friends would get together and drink "really good stuff."

The psychology of food and drink is absolutely fascinating to me (it is for this reason that I'll be getting my master's degree and subsequent PhD in Health Psychology starting this month).  We form very odd relationships with our food.  It's our friend, our enemy, our therapist, our reward, our punishment, our go-to activity when we're bored.  We get defensive about it, attached to it, protective of it.  It brings us pleasure and pain.  It conjures up images of our childhood and of happy and not-so-happy times.  We forge and break friendships over it.  It is a powerful force, indeed. 

But should food and drink have this kind of power over us?  Should our ability to socialize be contingent on the presence of fries, chips, sweets, and/or alcohol?  And should our ability to conquer our dependence on these substances (which are all addictive in their own way) be something to be bummed about?

Angry cake is angry.


In thinking about these things, here's some food for thought (<-- see what I did there?):

1)  Are there other social things you can do that don't involve alcohol or junk food?  Is it possible to be social without these crutches?
                Case in point:  I went to the University of Wisconsin/Madison for my undergrad.  It was, at least at the time, one of Playboy Magazine's Top Party Schools.  I went to plenty of parties and had a very active social life.  I've lived in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Italy.  I have a sort of reputation as "that chick who knows everyone," and I sing in bars on a regular basis with heavy metal bands.  I've always been the first one on the dance floor and the one everyone else would point to and say, "I'll have what she's having."  Now, here's the kicker:  I've never had more than a few sips of alcohol (I've just never really had any interest in the stuff), tried a drug, smoked a cigarette, or anything of the sort.  So I can say that absolutely and without a doubt that yes, it is very easy to be social without alcohol.  I know I'm an odd duck.  It may be a different way of thinking for most people, but then again, so is healthy eating.  You just have to learn to be comfortable in your own body without it, and not care what anyone else thinks about your choices.  And that, in and of itself, is an important road to travel.

2)  What are some healthier, non-food or beverage things that you enjoy, that give you pleasure, that make you smile?  Do more of these. 

3) Are the side effects of your bad habits worth it?  And are your newfound healthy habits worth sacrificing?

4)  No one expects perfection.  Nor should you strive for it.  You don't need to quit drinking alcohol completely or give up all your favorite foods in favor of kale salads forever.  A basic rule of thumb is 90% lovely, 10% evil.  Indulge in your vices, but limit it to one evil meal per week, or a very small amount of your vice foods a few times per week.  You will not be depriving yourself, although it is pretty likely that you won't get as much pleasure from those things any more after a while, and might lose a fair amount of your tolerance for them.  And, honestly, that really isn't such a bad thing.  You're gaining a healthier body and releasing your dependence on junk foods and drinks.  You are likely inspiring others to get healthier, as well.  And there's nothing to regret about that.

In the meantime, find pleasure in healthy foods such as vibrantly-colored vegetables, juicy fresh fruit, healthy fats, and lean proteins.  They are delicious, nutritious, and filling, and can give you just as much satisfaction (if not more) as their not-so-healthy counterparts.  Change your mind, and your body will follow.  There's nothing wrong with having pleasure in what you eat and drink, or to have social times around food events.  But food and drink will not solve your problems (and might compound them), will not fix what ails you, and will not replace your losses.  Furthermore, your friendships will not suffer from your not indulging in dessert or alcohol (and if they do, you need new friends).  If you *need* alcohol or food in order to socialize or relax, you may need to take a step back and figure out what is really going on, or possibly speak to a professional. 

Food is awesome.  But it should never be in charge of your life.

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Food As Medicine, Part 6: The Colon

WARNING:  This blog post will be peppered with phenomenally corny awesome puns.  Read at your own risk.

I know this is kind of a crappy subject, but we might as well get it behind us.

(See what I mean?)


The colon, although it is often the butt of my jokes, is actually a pretty important subject to cover, healthwise.  Its main function is to absorb water, salt, and some fat-soluble vitamins from whatever passes to it from the small intestine, and to ferment undigested materials and remove waste from the body.  In Chinese medicine, the Large Intestine is related to the Lung and is connected with the emotion of grief.

A healthy colon.


The large intestine is around 4.9 feet long in the average human being, and begins right around or just below the waist on the right side of the body, where it attaches to the small intestine.  It travels up the abdominal cavity (ascending colon) and then across the width of it (transverse colon), then travels down (descending colon) and finishes... well, you know where it finishes.  Let's not get anal about that.

The typical Western diet and lifestyle wreaks havoc on the colon, and many diseases can result, including but not limited to:

-Colitis/Ulcerative Colitis
-Crohn's Disease
-Diverticulitis
-Polyps
-Colon Cancer

A not-so-healthy colon.


There's no question that diseases of the colon can leave you feeling like s***.  Fortunately, there is much that can be done to prevent and/or heal from these conditions. 

1) First and foremost, stress must be managed and reduced.  Our society is a high-stress one, and unfortunately, this stressful condition plays a huge role in many disease, not excluding those of the colon.  (1) (2) (3) (4Point number 3 in my piece about the stomach gives some good tips on stress reduction.

2) Stay away from NSAIDS.  Side effects can wreak havoc on the colon (and the stomach and small intestine, as well). (1) (2)  NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

3)  Try MCT's.  A few (mostly animal) studies show that inclusion of medium-chain fatty acids (such as extra-virgin coconut oil) and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet actually help reverse some of the colon damage that occurs with colitis. (1) (2)  Interestingly, olive oil may make things worse.  (1)

4)  Bring on the curry.  Turmeric (which, as you may know, is one of my favorite supplements), has a tremendous anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Few human studies have been done regarding turmeric's effect on colitis, but initial results are promising.  Turmeric has also demonstrated potential to be a great colon cancer killer (1) (2)

5)  Garcinia extract.  You've seen infomercials for the stuff on TV touting its power as a weight loss agent.  Well, I haven't been convinced of that, but it does show some promise as a colon cancer fighter.  (1) (2) (3)

6)  Maybe slippery elm.  Scientific studies on slippery elm's effect on colitis are few and far between, but enough people have reported success with it that I thought it was worth a mention.  The University of Maryland Medical Center has a good report on the stuff

7)  Fix your food.  Typical Western diets, low in fiber and high in processed foods, ingredients such as maltodextrin, and red meats seem to have a high correlation to colon issues like cancer and Crohn's disease.  (1) (2) (3) (4)  Meanwhile, diets high in vegetables, fruit, and fiber seem to decrease risk of colon issues and to aid in some existing ones.  (1) (2) (3)  You've heard me preach it before. Eat yer veggies, and cut out the junk food.

8)  Pre and Probiotics.  Take them.  Love them.  Several studies have recently come to light showing the wide array of potential benefits these friendly bacteria have, not the least of which is a very helpful effect when it comes to inflammatory conditions of the colon.  (1) (2) (3)

9) Quercitin.  Quercitin, found in foods such as red wine grapes, citrus, apples, onions, tea, sage, thyme, tea, and dark berries and cherries, has been shown to have potent anti-proliferative properties for colon, prostate, lung, breast, ovarian, and endometrial tumors.  (1) (2) (3)

10)  Avoid your triggers.  Trigger foods, foods which make your condition worse, obviously should be avoided.  These vary from person to person, but the most common for inflammatory conditions of the colon include wheat, meat, spicy foods, high fat foods, and alcohol.

11)  Stop smoking.  Smoking has been shown to contribute greatly to many diseases of the colon, and cancer in particular.  (1) (2)   Interestingly, some studies do show an actual protective effect of smoking to ulcerative colitis while being highly conducive to Crohn's Disease (3) (4), and another shows that there is a link between genetic makeup and the effect of smoking on the colon (1).  But as a general rule, smoking is Bad News Bears for the colon (not to mention the rest of the body).  So cut it out. 

12) And, of course, exercise.  Diseases of the digestive system often create muscle wasting symptoms (Crohn's disease is one such disease).  Adding muscle mass may be highly beneficial to your overall well-being, but exercise also has demonstrated the possibility of helping keep symptoms at bay.  (1) (2) (3)

While inflammatory diseases like colitis can't always be prevented, as we do not always know their cause, you can give your body the best possible shot to defend and/or heal itself with a healthy diet and lifestyle.  See what works for you, dump what doesn't, and try not to make an ass of yourself.  (Sorry-- had to throw in one more).

Questions?  Comments?  Have something that's worked for you?  Post it all here!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Success Suckers

Recently, this random guy has been making it his mission to post nasty things on my training videos.  Now, this is par for the course on YouTube-- trolls abound, and fortunately for me, I am not easily upset by these things.  But I found it interesting-- kind of humorous, even-- that one guy in particular has singled me out and spends his time commenting on not just one, but several of my videos, trying his best to belittle what I do and puff out his own chest.

Meanwhile, a client of mine has been working hard (and doing an amazing job) at cleaning up her diet, getting in daily exercise (and being a monster in the gym!), and reclaiming her health, her body, and her self-image.  Her friends and family, however, really aren't impressed by what she's doing.  Quite the opposite, actually.  One "friend" refused to consider eating at a restaurant that had *any* healthy options for my client, and has not spoken to her since the debaucle.  Dinner with her sister and niece turned into a lot of "That's *all* you're eating?" "Oh, one more breadstick isn't going to kill you." and other such baiting comments designed to pull my client off track.  Fortunately, my client has become very strong on her journey to good health, and although she was pretty bummed out by their actions, she was able to push on and not let it sidetrack her progress.

What a sucker.

These two scenarios are very similar in many ways.  They are both fueled by people who, for whatever reason (I can speculate on the whys, but I cannot claim to know anyone else's mind), see other people's success as something to be belittled and/or stopped.  Some people simply are fueled by the failure of others, and cannot handle it when good things happen to other people.  But there is one major difference:  An internet troll hides in the cloak of anonymity.  They do not have any kind of personal relationship with their victim, and feel safe in their hatred that way.  Friends and family, however, are up close and personal.  And that's why it hurts far more when they refuse to support you in your healthy habits.

Trolls are easy to ignore.  Friends and family?  Not so much.  So how do you deal with it when they clearly do not want you to succeed?

The way I see it, there are only a few options:

-Sit down and talk to them.  Let them know why you are doing what you are doing and why it is so important to you.  Let them know that their support and friendship means a lot to you, and that you would love to have them on your team.  Let them also know that they can choose not to support you, but it will not stop you from trying to be the best "you" you can be.  Hopefully, they will hear what you're saying and will become more amenable to your needs.

-More often than not, however, these Success Suckers don't want to back down.  They have their own agenda, and your achievements lessen it somehow.  Unfortunately, this usually means you'll need to break ties with them.  It's definitely much harder to break ties with family than with friends.  For me, it required me to stop going to my parents' Thanksgivings in favor of having my own, and to limit my dining interactions with family members who refused to accept my lifestyle.  I have periodic cleanings of my proverbial "friend closet," too.  I find that these cleanings tend to happen whenever something really good or something really bad happens-- certain people can't deal with one or the other, and will show their true colors at those times.  So I cut ties with them, and although it hurts at the time, you suddenly feel you can breathe.  The freedom to feel good about who you are and what you've accomplished soon replaces any feelings of sadness for having removed a bad energy "friend" from your life. 

Sweetie promises to celebrate all your achievements.
The best part of this is that this creates room in your life to find, notice and embrace people who love and support your goals and who will cheer you through your rough times and celebrate with you when you're at the top of your game.  Having good energy around you is so important, in all walks of life (ever had a great job with crappy co-workers or a mean boss?  Yeah, you get what I mean). 

Whatever happens, your health and wellness is of utmost importance (can't do much in life without it).  So don't let Success Suckers have their way.  They don't deserve your time.  There are, whether you can see it right now or not, a whole bunch of people who would love to help cheer you on and support you as you become your best.  Surround yourself with that great energy, and most importantly:



What are some strategies you use to keep Success Suckers from bringing you down?

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

GUEST POST: Jarred Harris-- a layman's take on fitness apps!

This is a guest post by Jared Harris, an upstart in the online writing world looking to share his knowledge about fitness, tech, and how the two cultures intertwine.

 



Let’s be honest: some of us are walking around with humongous smartphones in our pockets, purses, and attached to our hips. Our devices are already large enough, but then, some of us add even more weight to them when we buy those shock-resistant OtterBox cases. Sometimes, I feel like carrying my phone is a workout in itself—the mental anguish of keeping up with it and the physical exertion of having to carry it. If I’m at the gym, I often leave my phone in the locker room, or if I’m going
on a run, I leave my phone at the house on the kitchen table (everyone, for safety reasons, I do not recommend leaving your phone at home, especially if you’re going on a late evening jog).
However, there are plenty of occasions when having your phone on you can elevate your workouts and push you harder. There’s no denying that when it comes to working out in this digital age, smartphone apps have revolutionized and encouraged health and fitness. So, I want to share some of my favorite apps—the ones that I lean on when I don’t have a workout partner or a personal trainer, and I need to set some clear goals and boundaries for myself. 


Oreo likes the "Swatting Skills" app to improve his ability to beat up on the dogs.


Noom - This was the app that help me put my entire workout agenda into perspective. It’s not totally dedicated to the workout part, as it gives a significant amount of attention to food intake and meal planning. It’s important that you understand how the foods you’re eating are either working with or against your workout plans. Also, Noom has a “coach” feature. I don’t know about you all, but when I see or hear the word coach, it puts my butt in gear. Sorry, I had some pretty no-nonsense sports coaches in high school. Anyhow, this is a more casual app that helps you just as much as it makes you hustle.
I don’t use it as much anymore, but as you can tell from this article on Re/code, the app is gaining popularity and even more investors. 

Couch-to-5K - This one also has a coach, and will measure your pace as you’re training for your first or next 5K. I like this one because as you’re jogging, the coach is constantly chiming in with tips and encouragement. The only drawback is that you have to keep your phone from locking if you want to hear the coach at each interval, but I’ve found that its built-in GPS is a good enough feature to forgive the silent coach. 

RunKeeper - I’ve conquered the 5K and the half-marathon. Now, I’m training for the big kahuna: 26.2 miles. So far, my reliable companion has been RunKeeper, and with its built-in sharing feature, I have been able to post my progress on all of my social media accounts. Yes, in a way, I’m bragging to my friends, but it has also helped me build a support system for the coveted goal of completing a marathon. This app will work on any platform, but what excites me most is that Verizon Wireless announced that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will come with a built-in heart monitor, which I can’t wait to put to use in tandem with RunKeeper. 

Zeel - You would have figured that I would have listed this one first, right? What’s more awesome than a massage app? In case you’re unfamiliar with the app, I should warn you that it will NOT turn your smartphone into your personal masseuse. It will, however, link you to experts and practitioners that will help you with your massage techniques and let you book appointments with alternative healthcare providers. 

Zombies, Run 2! - Hey, if you’re not jamming to your workout playlist, there’s another way to enjoy yourself while you run—escaping zombies! What else will make you high-tail it? This is an app I usually load up during the last leg of one of my three-mile jogs. I prefer a light sprint during the last 400-800 meters of my runs, and this is perfect for the upshift. So far, I’ve only used the updated version of this app a handful of times. It’s not the most sophisticated app in the world, but I do agree with Lifehacker when they say that the new interface is a lot more attractive than the first Zombies, Run. 


Thanks for the article, Jared!  

Do you have a fitness app you love?  Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Misery Loves Company

"I've been trying to eat healthy, but my co-workers keep bringing in sweets..."
"I want to cook better foods, but my spouse wants pizza..."
"I keep trying to go on hikes but my friends just want to go out to eat..."
"I buy healthy stuff for me and cookies for my kids, and then end up eating my kids' cookies..."

Sound familiar?

"No, I do NOT want more chips!!"

It is an unfortunate fact that the people most likely to derail you from your health and fitness goals are those closest to you.  And although I have written about this in the past, I think it's important to mention it again, because out of all of the reasons people give me for not sticking to their plans, these are, by far, the most common.

When it comes down to it, there's only one person in control of your body-- what you do with it and what you put into it-- and that's you.  And although some obstacles may be more difficult to overcome than others, if you really want to make a change, you'll succeed.  So let's start there.  How badly do you want this?  How badly do you want to change your body, improve your health, or reach whatever goal it is you've set for yourself?  You have to really be ready to change in order to make real progress.  It's quite possible you're not there yet.  And that's OK.  Just understand the consequences of your actions, whatever road you choose, and decide if they're worth it.

For instance:  I know a lot of smokers.  Every last one of them says, "I really should stop."  "I want to stop."  "I know it's bad for me."  They usually say this while lighting another one.  The only ones who succeed in quitting are the ones who have officially decided that they no longer want to be a smoker, period, and no matter how difficult it is to quit, they're going to do it.  Changing your lifestyle is not an easy task.  It requires resolve and determination.  So your very first step needs to be to decide, once and for all, that this is what you want to do. 

If your mind is made up and you're ready to change, finding supportive people can be really hard.  People love to make excuses for their own bad habits ("Just wait till you're my age!" is my favorite-- especially when it comes from people younger than me), and misery loves company.  No one wants to eat that plate of fries alone.  They want you to share it with them so they don't feel too bad about it.  (Hey-- maybe you've been that person!)  So when you're drinking water while they're chugging beers, their instinct is to get you to join in. 

I think the most important thing you can do is to let your saboteurs know that you are trying to get healthy, and to please not bring you food and drink that goes against your goals.  They might be supportive of that and listen, or they might either distance themselves from you or try to derail you even more ("Oh, come on, one cookie won't kill you!").  You have to be prepared for this and take it in stride.  I know this can be really difficult, especially when your arch nemesis is your spouse, your sibling, or your best friend.  But in order to succeed, you have to just carry on, even when it's difficult.

When I decided to go vegan, a lot of people made things difficult for me.  When I went back East for Thanksgiving many years ago, a lot of people made fun of the food I'd made for myself, and my father actually dripped turkey juice on it (whether or not this was an accident is up for debate) and then was angry at me for not eating it anyway.  That was the last Thanksgiving I went back East.  Ever since, I've held my own vegan Thanksgivings at my house with people who love the food I cook, and it's been wonderful.  My parents weren't thrilled that I didn't come back for the holiday any more, but I knew this was the right decision for my own well-being, and I have never regretted it once.

I've been dumped, passed over, and made fun of many times by friends, family members, and boyfriends for being strong, for being a business owner, for my eating habits, for my ambition.  Not gonna lie-- it hurt.  A lot.  But because these were all things that were extremely important to me, I kept at it.  Not doing/being any of these things simply was not an option.  In the end, I realized who my true friends were, and I was better off.

My point is this: although people will challenge you, you have the final say in your choices.  So do what's right for you.  That may mean finding a new group of friends, cooking special meals for yourself while ordering pizza for everyone else, or sitting on your hands instead of raiding the donut box at work.  The results you get from succeeding in your goals will last longer and make you stronger than a pepperoni slice ever will. 

So be strong, stick to your guns, and a whole bunch of other motivational clich├ęs.  Remember that you are in control of what you do, and that every action you take has a consequence, good or bad.  Decide which consequences you want (hopefully they're the good ones!), and make them happen.  You will be happier as a result, even if it's hard to see when things get rough.

How have you overcome your health and fitness obstacles?  Questions?  Comments? Post it all here!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Is It Nuts To Eat Beans and Grains?

In recent years, I've heard more and more admonitions about beans, grains, and nuts, saying that they'll pretty much turn your gut into a Toxic Wasteland of Horribleness.  Some pick and choose some as being more lethal than others:  "NEVER eat lentils!"  or "only black beans are OK to eat" or "Macadamias are OK, but no other nuts!!" or "SOY???  SOY WILL KILL YOU!!!"  or "Consumption of grains will bring about the zombie apocalypse!!"  OK, maybe I'm paraphrasing a bit.  But that's the general gist of what I've been reading and hearing.

One of my dinners:  Buckwheat, quinoa, barley, chia seeds, split peas, lentils, kale, purple cabbage, carrots, lemon juice, EVOO, cayenne.  Because I'm a risk-taker.


And, in a way, they're right.  Beans, nuts, and wheat have various biologically active compounds in them that can be toxic to the human system.

Now, let me start by saying this:  if we try to avoid every toxin that exists in our food, chances are, we're going to starve.  Just about everything on your plate has toxins or antinutrients of some sort in it.  From spinach (oxalic acid) to grains (phytates) to eggs (conalbumin, avidin) to parsnips (psoralins), and many more, toxins are everywhere in lots of the things we eat.  Avoiding the toxins does not necessarily outweigh the benefits of eating these foods.

There are a whole ton of anti-nutrients and toxins in beans, grains, and seeds we could discuss, but it would take me all year to write that blog, so we'll narrow it down.  One issue in particular that people get very concerned about is something called lectin.  Lectin is scary stuff. When the offending plant parts are raw, they protect themselves from being eaten by creating antinutrients such as lectin.  Consumption can cause all kinds of gastrointestinal yuckiness and possibly death, which, as we know, is tough to recover from.  There were even some incidents of kidney bean poisoning due to consumption of incorrectly prepared kidney beans. 

Ah, but there's the thing:  the key part of that sentence would be "incorrectly prepared."  The antinutrients and toxins in these beans are present in undercooked and dry beans.  Beans have to be prepared correctly.  Pressure cooking and boiling seem to denature lectin and other antinutrients, and canned beans are also considered perfectly safe. (1) (2) (3

Sprouting/soaking many types beans, grains, and nuts also lowers (but does not remove entirely) lectin content; the longer they sprout, the more the lectin denatures. This doesn't work for every kind of bean and grain, but as a general rule, it's a good prep method.  The reason you soak beans and grains before cooking them is for the purpose of lectin reduction/easier digestion.  You can even add some baking soda to the soaking water or try autoclaving to help reduce lectin even more.

 Fermentation also seems to significantly reduce or eliminate lectin in many cases. (1) (2)

And remember-- lectins aren't all bad.  As a matter of fact, lectins have been found to be useful for cancer treatment, fungi, and even HIV and retroviruses.  (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)  So, while too much of a good thing is not so good, the right amount of a good thing can be... good.

 But what about gluten, you ask?  Isn't that some sort of inflammation-causing beast of the devil? 

Well, yes.  Gluten is really, really bad for you...

If you have celiac disease.  Or are gluten-intolerant.  But in a healthy digestive system, gluten is broken down just fine.  If you don't feel good when you eat gluten, by all means, get rid of it.  But if you're fine with gluten, chances are, gluten is fine with you, too.  If in doubt, go without for 30 days and then slowly re-introduce it and see how you feel.

Here are my takeaway notes:

-ALWAYS prepare your beans and grains properly-- soak them first, and cook them fully under high heat (pressure cooker is my favorite method).  If in doubt, buy canned beans (look for those without any added sugars, meats, or other unnecessary ingredients-- you really just need to see beans and water there).  Don't forget to use the bean cooking liquid-- a lot of the nutrients end up there!

-I prefer einkorn, sourdough, and sprouted grains to regular wheat, personally.  They are more nutritious and digest better.  Modern wheat has been bastardized to create a higher-yield product, which, unfortunately, also created a not-as-easily-digestible product.  Einkorn wheat is what wheat was before money got in the way.  It's easier to digest and has a lot of beta-carotene and other nutrients in it (and I dig the way it tastes, too).

-Don't ditch healthy foods (beans, spinach, whole grains, fruit, etc) just because you read somewhere on the internet that they're the ONE WORST FOOD you can eat.  Do your research and see if the alarm is justified.

-Always do what works best for you.

-And remember:  many cultures have survived and thrived on diets full of beans, nuts, seeds, and grains.  Diets containing beans, whole grains, and nuts/seeds have been found to have many excellent health benefits, too. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Chances are, you'll be just fine.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Being Your Own Valentine

I was inspired to write this blog post by this and by this.  

What those wonderful posts made me realize was something I had only a hazy awareness of until now:

I rarely get photos taken with my belly showing.  I don't wear midriff-flaunting shirts, I don't wear a sports bra in the gym.  I just about always keep it all under wraps. 

I am lucky enough to have as friends some of the greatest people in the fitness industry.  And many of them have phenomenal, flawless, lean and tight six-pack abdominals.  I've seen them, I've admired them, I've envied them.  No matter how low my body fat gets, how straight I stand, or how much I suck it in-- this is simply not a state of physicality I am able to achieve.  I think I might have had a two-pack once, but I looked emaciated, and I did not like being that thin. 

But here's the thing:  I'm strong (not as strong as I'd like to be, but certainly stronger than the average bear).  I'm flexible.  I'm extremely healthy and vibrant.  My body fat hovers between 14% and 16%, and I feel great.  I have very few hangups about my appearance...

Except for that belly.

I catch myself analyzing it in the mirror sometimes.  In someone as small as I am, even a little bit of bloat looks huge, and in the eyes of my worst critic (me), that hugeness doubles.  I cast a critical eye and announce, "I've gained weight."  And then I get annoyed with myself, because I'm doing exactly what I tell people not to do.  If I mention this insecurity of mine to anyone, they look at me like I'm nuts, and they retort, "Are you kidding me?  Have you seen MY belly?"  And we have a ridiculous insecurity swordfight, followed by a "WHAT??  You look fine!!  Look at how bloated I am!!" And so the cycle progresses.

But I get it.  We're surrounded by images of flat bellies in magazines and on television.  It's hard to be imperfect in this world, even though all of us are.  And all I really have to do is go visit one of my abdominally blessed friends to feel juuuust a little physically inferior. 

One time, I was at a hotel for a conference with one such friend.  And I noticed her walk up to the mirror and check out her own abs.  But not with a proud eye-- with a critical one.  And she said to me, "They don't look like this all the time.  It depends what I eat, or how I slept, or what I drank."  And then she went back to glaring at her reflection, analyzing her perfect (to me) 6 pack abs.



When I opened my studio in September, I bought some acrylic mirrors online.  When they showed up, they were much thinner than I'd realized, and they warped when I put them up.  People complained about them.  But I decided to keep them, because what they do is make people aware of their form in their lifts without focusing on their insecurities about their bodies.  And now my clients seem to like my funhouse mirrors.  "If I stand over here, my right leg looks huge!  *giggle*" 

I guess we've all got it in us, to take our beautiful, healthy bodies, however they may present themselves, and nitpick about them until we're convinced we're just a hair away from being Jabba the Hut doubles.  We compare ourselves to others, no matter how unrealistic that is, and we judge ourselves by media and our peers.  It's sad, and it's unfortunate.  And I'm just as guilty as the rest.  

So how about this Valentine's Day, we all learn to love our bodies just as they are, without comparing them to anyone else's?  That's not to say don't strive to improve on your health, strength, or anything else.  Just love who you are at this very minute, however you look in the mirror.  Don't make perfection your goal, and don't make anyone else's body your goal. Make being the best you you can be your goal.

So I am accepting Lauren Fleshman's challenge, and I'm posting my belly right here on my blog.  I love this challenge, and I think it is extremely important to us as a society to realize that we are beautiful just as we are. 





Happy Valentine's Day to you all. 

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Five Ways You Might Be Messing Up Your Goals (And Five Fixes)

In the over 20 years I've been a trainer, I've seen a lot of mistakes that have prevented people from reaching their health and fitness goals.  Here are some of the more common ones.  Recognize yourself?

"I'm going to stop (insert bad habit here) for one month!"  Awesome.  But what happens after one month?  Here's the problem:  if you set an end date for stopping bad habits (or starting good ones), and then you go back to it after that date, has it really done you all that much good?  I have had several clients through the years who have declared that they are cutting out alcohol, pot, junk food, etc for a set period of time, with no intentions of quitting for good.  And for that period of time, they do great.  Once it's done, they start again.  And then they regain the problems that came along with the bad habit, and it's back to business as usual until they take another break from it.  It's Yo-yo Habiting.

The fix:  If you want to quit a bad habit or start a good one, don't give yourself a time limit for it.  Just do it.  Embrace it.  And don't go back.

Buying junk food "for the kids."  First of all, you know you're going to eat it if it's in the house.  Second of all, why is it not OK for you to eat it, but perfectly OK for your kids to eat it?

The fix:  Stop buying junk.  Adopt a household healthy eating policy, and teach your kids that healthy foods can be awesome.

Not making time to move.  Most of us have, either by necessity or not, adopted an extremely sedentary lifestyle that is also so packed with work/obligations that exercise falls to the wayside.  Unfortunately, the more you sit, the higher your disease and mortality risk appears to be. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

The fix:  You have five minutes, right?  I don't care how busy you are.  You have five minutes here and there.  Do something physical for five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the afternoon, five minutes in the evening.  There.  That's 15 minutes.  Now, how about you walk up escalators, park a little further away, take stairs whenever the option is there?  How about taking phone calls walking?  Going over to your co-workers' desk instead of calling them?  Having walking meetings?  Maybe getting a standing desk? What if you set an alarm on your computer to go off every half hour or so, got up, and did 10 quick deep knee bends or pushups?  What if you used some of your TV time to take a walk, go biking, swing a kettlebell, dance like no one's watching?  There are a lot of ways to sneak exercise into your life, no matter how busy you may be.  Write it in your schedule if that's the only way you can do it.  But do it.

Forgetting the veggies. If I've told you once, I've told you a million times-- eat your veggies!!!  They provide a myriad of incredibly healthy benefits for a very low caloric load, and they are filling and delicious.

The fix: If you're not eating veggies because you're just not in the habit, make it a point to include them with every meal.  If your problem is that you don't like vegetables, it's time to get over it.  Put spinach and sprouted broccoli in your sandwiches.  Make soup.  Blend them up into shakes.  Make green lemonade.  Grind lots of leafies into pesto.  There has to be at least one way you'll eat them.  Find it.  It's worth it.

"I don't cook."  I meet a lot of people who say their diet suffers because they don't cook.

The fix:  There are basically three ways you can fix this.  1) learn to cook.  2) hang out with someone who cooks, and get them to cook you lots of healthy things.  3) order healthier.  Skip the white breads, the pasta dishes, the white rice, the fried foods, the fast foods.  Ask for extra vegetables, and that they not be fried or covered in butter or other weird sauces.  Remember that just because it says "salad" does not mean it's healthy.  If you're getting a salad, make sure it has a lot of different kinds of vegetables in it (iceberg lettuce is barely a vegetable, IMHO), and skip the croutons/won ton strips/taco shells/tortilla strips and the creamy dressings (stick with extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar whenever possible).  Make sure the majority of your plate is vegetables, whatever you order.  If you do meat, stick with grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish.  If it says "crispy" or "creamy" (or Krispy Kreme), stay away.  And remember just because you're out doesn't mean you have to order the dessert or overindulge on the alcohol.


Hope you found this to be helpful.  How do you get in your own way, and how do you think you can fix it?  Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!