Throughout history we have revered and idolized the person who can step up and do amazing things. From Joan of Ark to Rudy; the 5 foot tall football player who just wouldn’t quit against all odds. This trend of idolizing people with amazing willpower has got to stop. The reason we put people on a pedestal is because we are too scared to push ourselves that far, and if people who do push themselves that far are considered elite or idolized then we don’t have to feel bad about not going the extra distance in our own lives.
The older I get, the more I learn that this concept of giving the extra effort not only pertains to the gym and my health but my career, my family, interpersonal relationships, and almost everything in my day to day life. Being present in a conversation with a waiter to a waiter might get you better service. If you make an effort to keep cool at the auto shop then you might get your car back sooner. If you resist getting into an argument with your spouse or child then I can guarantee you that your life will be much easier (I know how hard that can be at times and trust me I am still trying to master that one myself). Finally, making that extra effort in the grocery store and in the gym will speed your quest to better health no matter what fitness level you are at. When you feel healthy and confident the rest of your life seems to fall into place and it makes it easy to go the extra mile in the rest of your activities.
Now we discuss how to accomplish the SEEMINGLY impossible. How can I get 2 more reps when I feel dead tired? How do I perform 1 more round of a circuit when I can’t breathe? Is there no end to push-ups? I have been there myself, along with all of you when you get to that point where you just feel like quitting and that it isn’t worth it. I have been weightlifting and had a goal rep count of 6 and wanted to quit at 4. All kinds of justifications run through your head. ‘Well, I increased the weight from last month so I guess I can skip the these 2 reps,’ ‘I was feeling a little off today so it is understandable that I should skip the last round of my circuit.’ The reality is that these justifications are UNACCEPTABLE!
To overcome these nagging mental setbacks you need to trick your brain. The brain is a complex muscle and the term “mind over matter” is no joke. There are 3 techniques I have found to be very effective:
Don’t forget that these tactics can be used in the grocery store as well. Pick a motivator to use in the parking lot, or before you leave home so when you are in the store and wanting cake you can pull out your weapon and defeat the urge. These methods can also be used in emotional situations. If I am in a situation where I am severely angry, I try to pick a loving thought or motivator like my wife to help me keep my cool. The mind is a powerful tool, now that you know how to harness it don’t ever let it defeat you in a workout, in the grocery store, or in your everyday life!
I have talked about sugar and the importance of limiting your intake of it to prevent an undesirable insulin response by the panreas because, as we know, chronic elevated levels of insulin and blood sugar can cause high blood triglycerides, increased fat deposits, increased tendency for the blood to clot, a rapid return of hunger after a meal, and increased fat synthesis from the liver. These conditions in turn cause heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. This blog is going to basically be a guide of the glycemic index (GI) and the glycemic load (GL) of foods.
The GI is a measurement of how much your blood sugar spikes after eating a carbohydrate compared to a standard carb like sugar. There are numerous factors that go into creating a GI of a food that we won’t get into, like how it was processed or prepared, what other nutrients are in the meal, and fiber content. The biggest thing to remember is that you should always try to eat a balanced meal, even a snack. The GI has its fallbacks and can’t be your only source when deciding on what carbs to eat. This is due to the fact that it is based on 50 grams of a carbohydrate. You will not eat 50g of carbs in a serving (I hope not anyway). So when you look at the GI of a food you should also look at the Glycemic Load (GL). The GL is the GI multiplied by the grams of the carb you are consuming divided by 100. IF I ate 20g of baked potato, it would look like this:
GI (85) x 20g / 100= 17
So a standard baked potato is not something you would want to consume based on a high GI of 85 (you want a GI of 55 or less) and a high GL (you want a GL of less than 15). This potato will spike my blood sugar, causing me to realease a high amount of insulin wreaking havoc on my body and I will be craving carbs again within the hour (give or take). Not to mention for those of you who are overweight already, you are causing high amounts of excess fat to be created and deposited and high amounts of triglycerides to circulate in the blood, possibly causing clotting.
Now that you have some basic information on the GI and the GL, here is a list of some foods and their GI:
white rice: GI= 56- 1 cup, GL = 25
spaghetti:GI= 41- 1 cup, GL= 16
carrots (boiled, better to eat raw): GI=49- 1 cup, GL= 8
sweet corn: GI=55- 1 cup, GL= 21
Cows Milk (skim): GI= 32- 1 cup, GL= 4
Kidney Beans: GI= 27- 1 cup, GL= 10
Honey: GI=73- 1 tsp, GL=4
Bagel: GI= 72 (small bagel), GL= 22
Whole Wheat bread: GI= 69- 1 slice, GL=9
banana: GI= 55, GL= 16
Potato chips: GI= 54- 1oz, GL= 8
These are just a few examples. You might think to yourself “Oh milk isn’t that bad but Ken said not to drink it.” This is why you can’t use only one tool to plan your diet. The GI and GL is great and I use it but you have to take into account other factors like what else milk does. It is loaded with fat and sugar. Milk can cause intestinal problems, ear infections, asthma, allergies, and it flat out will make most Americans fat because of our sedentary lifestyles. Also, the whole wheat bread. Most whole wheat bread in the store is filled with preservatives and alternative sweeteners. Look in the ingredients of a loaf of bread you normally buy. How many ingredients are things you don’t understand? How many list high fructose corn syrup? Sucrose? Sucralose? It is amazing! I am not against bread at all if you buy organic, stone ground whole wheat or whole grain and the ingredients are truly clean. But even then I would only eat it 3 times a week max! There are plenty of healthier ways to get your grains, like quinoa or oatmeal. In parting I will give you a list of healthy snacks:
Nuts- walnuts, almonds, pecans (most nuts hover around GL of 2)
Berries: most are low GL but also offer great anti-oxidants.
There are lots of misconceptions in life. We all have them. When I was a child three of mine were: 1. To be beautiful you must look like Pamela Anderson. 2. You’re not truly in shape unless you look like Arnold Shwarzenegger. 3. If you get pregnant, you get fat. (I don’t know where I came up with any of these, I was a crazy 8 year old). Obviously I was just a kid then and maturity and education have taught me that none of these misconceptions are true; they were likely picked up from watching TV and listening to other media that we’re all subjected to. But with the pregnancy misconception in mind, I have outlined three essential tips to staying fit while pregnant.
Core strength is paramount for a pregnant woman. Pregnant woman are prone to lower back pain due to the simple fact that they are carrying anywhere from 20-30 extra pounds focused directly in their midsection. To build core strength in the first trimester you can do everything from sit-ups and planking to fire hydrants and lower back raises. Planking is the first thing I would recommend because it is a support-based exercise that can strengthen not just the abs but the core as a whole. When implementing stabilizing exercises into your workout, focus on diaphragmatic breathing. This will help in strengthening both the accessory muscles.
Don’t shy away from the things you like. There are many fallacies about fitness training during pregnancy. Most people think they need to drastically alter their program, or even completely cut it out when honestly, unless you have complications, there is not one good reason to stop. There are, however, two guidelines to follow when pregnant and working out: 1. Listen to your body. How does my body feel? If lying on your back makes you dizzy, don’t do it. I have worked with women who have been able to lie on their backs and who have been able to do bridges through their entire term. Others found they couldn’t do it past the first trimester. So again I’ll stress that you need to listen to your body. 2. Stick to what you know. If you were dead lifting and using a TRX before you were pregnant and are proficient at it feel free to keep doing it. There are many women who continue to do compound exercises into their third trimester. But I will also emphasize that pregnancy is NOT the time to try new things. If you’re questioning whether a move is good for you or not, just ask yourself; how does my body feel?
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. Diet plans aren’t necessary if you just make good choices. Keep in mind the old adage: “you are what you eat.” It only became an old adage because it is 100% correct. What you put into your body gets broken down and is used to sustain your life and the life of your baby. Nutrition is crucial to giving your baby a head start in the world and to keeping you alert and healthy. And let’s face it, nutrition isn’t rocket science! Stick to basic foods: green leafy veggies, lean meats, healthy fats like nuts and avocados, and certain fruits like tomatoes and berries. Stay as organic as you can to get away from neuro-toxins and added hormones.
I know I promised 3 tips but here’s a bonus for you: Sleep! There is no excuse for a lack of sleep, especially during pregnancy. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Sacrifice your TV shows if you have to but please be sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night. Also, really focus on your self-discipline. It’s bothersome to me when I hear about how pregnant women are eating whatever they want due to “cravings”. I certainly understand that hormones and changes in your body give you a different perception of food, but stick to your guns and stay healthy. Being pregnant should not be an excuse to fill up on junk food and things that are not only not good for you, but also not good for your unborn child. Stay focused on the long term goals and don’t give in to instant gratification.
I know the steps above will provide a strong foundation for a healthy pregnancy. It will also provide a great jumping off point to getting your body back after the baby is born. So live healthy, eat healthy, and sleep healthy. Your body will thank you and so will your baby!
Any diet plan that tells you to eliminate or severely restrict one of the core nutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrate) is worthless in the long run. Atkins Diet, for instance is a low carb diet. They only allow 20g of carbs per day to be exact. That is about 80 calories; not very much, right? What happens is that you lose a lot of weight because carbs is your body’s primary source of fuel and if you cut that out, whoolah! You have a low-calorie diet. You will lose weight on a low-calorie of any kind; for a while. Most of the people who start the Atkins diet gain all their weight back and then some! Their body becomes starved for carbs and before you know it, they relapse. This is why your daily food intake has to be foods that taste good and have to well balanced so it is healthy and easier for you to acclimate to.
When you eliminate a nutrient, it is likely that you will become deprived of essential vitamins and minerals. My advice to you as far as starting a new health plan is to keep a food diary. Write down every single thing you put into your mouth. Then choose one thing you need to cut out and one thing you need to add in and one thing you can switch out for something else. For example,
Classic American Breakfast:
– coffee with cream and sugar
– toast with jelly and butter
– glass of water, coffee with stevia
– 1 cup oatmeal/Quinoa with berries
– 1-2 eggs
We substituted sugar for stevia, added eggs for protein, and took out bread and jelly and added oatmeal with berries. With the new healthy breakfast you avoid all the processed, free radical causing foods and replace them with anti-oxidants, protein, hydration and stevia which won’t spike your blood sugar. Test this system out for a while. It isn’t a diet, and it isn’t a permanent solution but it is a fantastic way to get started.
Why You Should Eat Eggs
It’s 6am and you are getting ready for work. There is no way you want to get the cooking ware out and make something complex, so what? Grab that english muffin, Eggo, toast? Spike your blood sugar and then crash later on…
Why do that to yourself when there is an easy and healthy option that has gotten a bad rap. The answer is eggs. That’s right, a simple and powerful little food. Eggs don’t take very long to cook as long as you don’t get fancy and try for the perfect omelet, or fried egg (which I don’t recommend anyway because of the added fat). It takes about 6-8 minutes to boil an egg depending on how you like them. You can scramble them in about the same amount of time or less. The fastest way is to put them in a bowl and microwave them. I hear from a lot of my clients that they have no time to eat healthy in the morning. The egg provides the perfect opportunity to get your day off to a healthy start. I like to plan ahead and boil a whole dozen and eat them over the course of a few days. A large egg is about 70-90 calories of amazing nutrients that provides your body with the building blocks it needs to function at a high level.
People are scared of eggs because of diet marketing ploys that encourage you to eat egg whites or not eat eggs at all. I hear constantly, “egg white omelet,” or “ egg white breakfast sandwich.” It is true that there is no fat in egg whites but I ask you this: why do you not want to eat fat? The body needs fat and fat can help you lose weight. There is only about 5g of fat in an egg and only 1.5g of that fat is saturated fat. Yes, there is dietary cholesterol in eggs but natural cholesterol consumed in whole, unprocessed foods will not spike your blood cholesterol levels. In fact, your liver produces cholesterol because it is needed to build cell membranes, transport “bad” cholesterol out of the blood, and cholesterol is also a building block for glucocorticoids which aid in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Still not sold? Cholesterol is also used in your sex hormones: testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone and we all want those produced regularly and to their max potential.
Eggs also contain 6g of protein with all of the essential amino acids. Eggs are considered a complete protein. Sprinkle in Vitamins A, E, D and don’t forget about the anti-oxidant power of tryptophan and tyrosine and you have yourself one hell of a power food for your muscles and your heart health.
If you are in a hurry to get to work but don’t want to compromise your health then pop a couple eggs in the microwave, add some spices or organic sauce like salsa and you will not only save your morning from diet disaster, but you will actually give your health some much needed fire power for the rest of the day.