Coach Calorie How to Lose Weight, Get Fit, and Change Your Life Forever Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:31:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Boost Your Metabolism to Unbelievable Levels Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:31:25 +0000 woman sprinting down streetNo gimmicky spicy foods on this list, only proven and measurable ways to boost your metabolism. Incorporate every idea into your fitness lifestyle and you will realize the true potential of your metabolism.

Reverse Dieting

Just as the name implies, reverse dieting is basically dieting in reverse. Whereas when you diet you slowly cut your calories as your weight loss plateaus, reverse dieting does just the opposite – effectively raising your calories on a week to week basis so as to maximize your calorie intake.

This takes patience and the ability to objectively measure your progress. You must differentiate the difference between fat and water weight. Increasing calories means you inevitably increase muscle glycogen capacity, and glycogen carries water with it. However, water is not fat, and glycogen is fuel for high-intensity exercise.

Be slow and methodical as you raise your calories and your metabolism will increase as you go. Increase them all the way to maintenance levels so you have a new higher base to cut calories from.

Eat More Calories

Eating fewer calories results in a slowing of your metabolism. This is a natural adaptation for your metabolism. To increase the rate at which your body produces metabolism-boosting hormones, you must feed it enough nutrition to carry out these functions.

This is why it’s so important that you always try to eat as many calories as possible that still enables you to lose weight. Keep your calorie deficit small and you will maintain a healthy metabolism all through your weight loss program. A 15% deficit is about all you need to get things going.

Create an Afterburn with HIIT

The afterburn effect, scientifically known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), is your body’s way of returning itself to homeostasis after exercise. Your body uses extra calories after you finish working out to erase its oxygen debt, replenish fuel stores, and to repair muscle tissue.

While EPOC occurs after most exercise protocols, it is most elevated after intense bursts of exercise. If you push yourself in the gym or do intense intervals, you have the potential to have an elevated calorie burn for up to 48 hours after your workout.

Refeeds/Cheat Meals

I’m a big fan of refeeds. Cheat meals are similar, but I no longer set aside specific times to have them. Instead, I incorporate about 20% my calories to come from “free” foods. Doing so enables you to get in plenty of nutrition, and if you pay attention to your portion sizes and calorie intake, you will still make great progress.

For people with highly-adaptable metabolisms, refeeds are a must at least once a week and sometimes twice. Simply eat the same foods as you always do and increase your calories to maintenance levels. This sends strong signals to your metabolism to up-regulate its fat-burning and muscle-building hormones.

Increase Your Protein Intake

No other macronutrient has as strong of an influence on your metabolism as protein. Protein is highly thermogenic, which means it produces heat through metabolic stimulation. Protein uses about 25% of its calories for the digestion process.

Aim to get at least .7-1 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. If you don’t know your lean body mass, you can eat .6-.8 grams per pound. However, if you have a very high body fat, the latter method can be misleading, as muscle is much more metabolically active than fat tissue.

Strength Train

Last on the list but probably the most effective method for boosting your metabolism is strength training. Everyone should be incorporating some form of strength training into their fitness program. The benefits are just too many to ignore.

When it comes to your metabolism, strength training builds metabolism-boosting muscle. This muscle tissue uses calories at all hours of the day to maintain itself. That means a single workout can pay dividends long after you’re out of the gym.

Try to strength train at least once per week. You don’t need a gym either. You can get an effective workout with nothing other than your own body weight. Combine strength training with some HIIT, all while keeping your protein and calories up and incorporating refeeds, and you will soon find out just how powerful your metabolism can be.

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10 Healthy Weight Loss Tips That Put Fad Dieters to Shame Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:17:40 +0000 fit womanEvery year millions of people attempt to lose weight, but only a fraction of them will successfully lose weight and keep it off. The following 10 healthy weight loss tips will set you on the right path for sustainable weight loss.

Make Small Changes

It’s hard for some people to take things slow. They won’t start their weight loss program until they have everything perfect. Their diet has to be planned out, and their exercise routine is charted weeks in advance.

Instead of overloading yourself with a bunch of changes at once, try to make just 1-2 small changes at a time until they become habit, and then make 1-2 more until those become habit too. In time, these new habits add up. Weight loss is much easier to tackle when you break it up and work on one small goal at a time.

Include All Foods

One of the first things dieters have to come to grips with is the fact that most of their favorite foods are going to be off limits. For many people, this over-restriction leads to binge eating and other disordered eating patterns.

It is completely unnecessary to remove every indulgence from your diet. You can still eat all your favorite foods, you just have to be reasonable about it. If 80% of your calories are coming from whole foods, and you’re paying attention to your total calorie intake, the remaining 20% can be filled with foods you enjoy without hindering your goals.

Expect a Reasonable Weight Loss Pace

If you aren’t losing at least 2lbs per week, you’re a failure – WRONG! The standard advice is to lose 1-2 pound per week, but a better measure is between .5-1% of your body mass every 2-4 weeks. Forget about all those extreme weight loss stories your read, see, and hear.

Our goal is to not just lose weight, but lose fat. To do that you have to lose weight a little slower so as to not sacrifice metabolism-boosting muscle mass. Very rarely does someone lose more than 2lbs of fat per week without sacrificing lean body mass. What’s the point in losing 20lbs if 10 of that is muscle?

Don’t Be Afraid to Eat

It’s amazing how we go from one extreme to the other. Overnight we go from overeating to practically under-eating when trying to lose weight. Mostly, we believe the less we eat the faster we’ll lose weight. This couldn’t be more wrong.

Your metabolism adapts to low calorie intakes by slowing its metabolism. It does this by down-regulating important fat loss hormones. To keep your metabolism from crashing, you need to create just a slight calorie deficit – 15% from maintenance is a great starting point.

Manage Portions

Portion control and calorie counting are really two sides of the same coin. They both accomplish the same thing – managing energy balance. Portion control is the key to setting up the weight loss autopilot.

Get in the habit of knowing portion sizes. With enough practice you will be able to eye a particular food’s calorie intake. This makes eating outside of the controlled house environment much easier.

Don’t Diet

No healthy weight loss article is complete without giving the standard advice of “don’t diet”. Instead, work on changing your lifestyle by working daily on creating new, healthy habits.

Diets have end dates. Rarely do they succeed at long-term weight loss. What typically happens is rapid short-term weight loss followed by a reversion to old eating habits once the diet is over. The weight loss is less “sticky” with diets when compared to lifestyle changes that work at creating new long-term healthy habits.

Follow Through

You must start, but there is no finish. While you will likely reach your weight loss goals, you will still maintain those same habits for the rest of your life that got you to your goal. The only difference will likely be slightly larger portions and more daily calories to maintain that weight.

Don’t let a slip up turn into an excuse to start over tomorrow or on Monday. Get right back on track your next meal. We all make mistakes. File your mistake into the 20% fun food column and keep moving forward. No harm done.

Forget About Diet Blueprints

Are you the kind of person that seeks out preset meal plans? Do you feel like you could lose weight if you could just follow those step by step instructions? That likely hasn’t worked out too well for you.

Weight loss is about discovering your relationship with food. It’s about creating change. You have to learn how to rewire your brain so that your eating and activity habits become as second nature as brushing your teeth. No diet blueprint can do that. Again, work on creating 1 new healthy habit at a time.

Prioritize Strength Training Over Cardio

Fat-burning zones and cardio equipment are notoriously used by new weight losers. That’s not to say they don’t have their place in a fitness program. They just shouldn’t be the priority.

Cardio isn’t going to burn any more fat than weight lifting will. Weight loss is a function of calories, and cardio is just one way to help create a calorie deficit.

Instead, prioritize strength training so that you can build some metabolism-boosting muscle. This muscle will help you burn extra calories at all times of the day, and will give you some muscle tone to look forward to seeing once your body fat percentage gets low enough.

Learn Along the Way

Health and fitness are lifelong journeys. You are either learning new and interesting things about food and exercise, or you’re discovering things about your personality that you never knew existed. No short-term weight loss diet will accomplish that.

Lifestyle changers find, through trial and error, what makes them reach for certain foods. They find ways to alter that habit. They realize the true source of their motivation and find out how to harness that power.

They read books, blogs, and articles about how to better themselves both physically and mentally. Self-improvement is a lifelong goal. You too can not only just lose weight, but you can change your life through furthering your health and fitness knowledge.

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The Science of Willing Yourself Healthy Sun, 06 Jul 2014 16:26:50 +0000 Amy Clover

Today’s post comes from a good friend, Amy Clover of Strong Inside Out.

Amy is the creator of the 30×30 Project, a tour of donation-based bootcamps that benefit suicide prevention charity. This year, she’s doing another tour which she calls “The 30×30 Project all grown up.”

Amy believes, as do I, that strength is more than just how much weight you can lift. Let’s help Amy help others “unleash their strong,” no matter how dark things might seem.

I encourage you to check out her campaign for The Strong Inside Out Tour here, and if it’s something you believe in, please donate and/or share.

Without further ado, here’s Amy to teach us how to create new habits using the latest in scientific research on willpower.

Will Yourself Healthy

On your journey to become the healthiest, strongest you, I bet you’ve heard this more than once: “The first step is always the hardest.”

Many of our healthy intentions get foiled by that frustrating first step. We end up procrastinating on taking action because we can always “start tomorrow.”

Today, I’m going to share with you some insight into the great willpower conundrum, and help you take that next step that you’ve been putting off. All we have guaranteed to us is today. Don’t waste it!

Let’s explore the science behind it, the process to implement new habits, and then commit to the rest of your life right here and now!

Let’s Get Physical

While the jury’s still out on the complete understanding of willpower, we can look at existing research for findings that clue us in on how to manipulate it. Studies show that we can strengthen willpower through repeated use, just like any other muscle [1].

Researchers have found that one model for understanding willpower is that the mind is led by the body [2]. Basically, that means if something hurts, the body will naturally avoid that trigger. If something feels good, the body goes after that trigger.

If you physically approach or touch a trigger that you want to include in your life more often, the research shows that your brain re-evaluates it. Add in a reward for yourself after you do, and you rewire your brain to perceive the trigger as something worth going after!

For instance, if I’m trying to eat more vegetables, but I haven’t been because I think they taste gross, the action of physically holding carrots or broccoli (instead of turning my nose up in disgust and walking away) will cause my brain to reevaluate how it feels about them. Practicing this repetitively makes it easier to willpower your way into implementing new, healthy habits.

Even if your struggle lies in avoiding temptations, the same principle applies. If you physically turn your back on these guilty pleasures, you can rewire the way your body interprets that trigger, making it automatic!

That’s exactly what we’re going to help you do right now. Let’s go over the process of taking that first step and making it into an everyday habit!

Breaking It Down

As we go over this process, I’m going to use the example goal of “starting to work out” to make it more understandable for us. Let’s get down to it!

1. Set a Trigger

Your trigger will be either the thing you want to stay away from, or the thing you want to add more of. Finding your trigger is a simple matter of becoming aware of what you’re battling against.

Let’s say that your goal is to start working out. Your battle is actually getting to the gym, so this is your trigger.

2. Set an Action

This will be either physically turning away from, or physically touching/seeking your trigger.

To start building the habit of working out, I’m going to actively put on my workout clothes and sneakers and get in my car to go the gym. You’ll have to will yourself there the first few times, but it will start to become habit as your brain expects the reward you’re about to set up.

3. Set a Reward

This is what you give yourself after taking the action to let your brain know that it produces a good result.

A reward can be anything that matters to you, but make sure that you’re not sacrificing your hard work while rewarding yourself! For instance, good rewards for starting to work out may include: buying yourself a new book for going to the gym 4 times in a week; an unsweetened iced tea or coffee bought at your favorite coffee shop on your way home from the gym; or time spent on Pinterest at night only after you’ve gone to the gym (you have to earn your way into pinning time!).

You don’t want to reward yourself with things like splurge meals or drinks out; it totally defeats the purpose of working out regularly in the first place!

4. Repeat!

The more often you practice, the stronger your willpower will get. Just like any other habit, working out regularly takes challenging your norm on a regular basis. It’s not easy to begin with, but nothing worth having is, right?

Bonus Points

Though it’s not a part of the process for building new habits, a little motivation won’t hurt anyone. In fact, it might make the process easier.

To inject some serious motivation and drive behind your actions, remember why you’re doing this. When the going gets tough, root yourself in the real reason why you want to work out.

Do you work out to see your kids grow up?

Do you work out because it makes you feel like a superhero?

Do you work out because it relieves stress, anxiety or depression?

Knowing the real reasons behind your goals is key to stepping up to the plate even when life gets in the way. True willpower is more than just a repetitive process; it’s a belief that you can and the refusal to give up on you.

You are worth fighting for, and I want to help you prove it. We’re going to make a commitment to each other right here on Coach Calorie.

In the comments below, tell us the one habit you’re going to start building TODAY.

Looking forward to rising together, Coach Calorie Community! Hope to see you out on the tour!

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How to Start Strength Training When You’re Not Sure How Sun, 09 Mar 2014 13:10:10 +0000 girl doing cable lateral raisesStrength training is the ultimate body transformation tool. Here are 8 beginner (and not so beginner) tips that will get you started on the right path.

Don’t Be Intimidated

Being intimidated of the gym is one of the biggest reasons people never go. Let me be the first to tell you that it is completely normal to feel intimidated when you’ve never been to the gym before. Not only that, but feelings of intimidation happen for experienced lifters too.

I’ve personally been lifting for over 20 years. I’ve been a member of close to a dozen gyms. I even have my own home gym. You’d think that all this “experience” would put you at ease, but in reality, there’s always a certain level of nervous anxiety, and it’s worse when you haven’t been to the gym in a while.

Don’t let this hold you back. After going to the gym for a couple of weeks, you will start to see the same people there and begin to feel at home. Everyone is in their own little world doing their workouts.

Nail Down Your Form

If you want to lessen the anxiety over going to the gym, you can start by reading up on proper exercise form. You should be doing this anyways. I’d estimate more than half the people in the gym use the wrong form.

This does nothing but work out your ego, and puts you at risk for injury. Putting up big numbers is nice, but not when they’re at the expense of proper form. Using 100lbs with good form through a full range of motion is 10 times better than doing 150lbs in an uncontrolled manner and only squatting down a quarter of the way.

Use Free Exercise Instruction Resources

One of the best ways to learn about proper exercise form (other than hands-on experience from a competent personal trainer) is by watching exercise videos. Go over to and start searching for various exercises like the squat, bench press, row, and deadlift.

Watch these people demonstrate the exercises and explain how to do them and what should be going through your mind as you lift. YouTube is a great resource for workout routines too and it’s all free.

Familiarize Yourself With Human Anatomy

The human muscular system is complex, but it functions with a lot of common sense. In other words, once you understand the action/reaction when a muscle gets worked, you can apply that knowledge to other parts of your body.

This makes it easy to design workouts and to ensure you’re hitting all your major body parts. Do you know what muscles get worked with the bench press? How about the squat?

Focus on Compound Movements

One of the biggest beginner mistakes people make is doing a bunch of isolation exercises right from the start. As a beginner, you should be sticking to the basics. These exercises are going to get you 90% of your results in as little time as possible.

Compound exercises work numerous muscles at one time and involve the use of more than one joint throughout the movement. So, while barbell curls are fun for building your biceps, heaving rowing movements like the pullup or barbell row will be just as effective (if not more) and will work numerous other muscles at the same time.

Make Strength Your Priority

Seems obvious, right? Make getting stronger the priority of your strength training program. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. People go to the gym and lift the same weights as they did the last time and the time before that.

If you aren’t consistently getting stronger from one workout to the next, you aren’t doing much more than burning some extra calories. To get your muscle working for you, you must continually get stronger, so that you create a stimulus to build muscle. In return, this muscle with graze on body fat at all hours of the day.

Be Consistent

Strength training needs consistency to be effective. Going to the gym once one week and then 3 times the next isn’t going to do much for your progress or for developing effective exercise habits.

Ideally you’d be in the gym hitting the same muscle groups the day you are 100% fully recovered. Sporadic workouts create slow progress or no progress at all. Pick a workout schedule and stick with it.

Don’t Wing It

I admit that it can be fun and liberating to go to the gym not knowing what you’re going to do. Thinking about a squat workout all day is mentally exhausting, and sometimes just walking into the gym and winging it feels good.

Unfortunately, without any kind of structure, your progress is likely to suffer. Workout programs are put together in a way to maximize workout frequency, load, intensity, and recovery.

Write down your workouts. Give yourself a base to build on for the next time. Unless you have an incredible memory, remembering a half dozen exercises, the weight you used, and the sets and reps for each is next to impossible.

These 8 tips are core fundamentals for both beginner strength trainers and experienced lifters alike. If you’re lacking in any of these areas, it’s time to focus and make things right.

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8 Weight Loss Tips You Still Aren’t Using (#4 is a Must) Sun, 23 Feb 2014 14:04:26 +0000 cartoon scale with healthy weightThink you’re doing everything possible to reach your weight loss goals? The following 8 tips are often forgotten, but are integral to your success.

Believe in Yourself

Self-doubt is a debilitating feeling to have when it comes to weight loss. You have to do more than just go through the motions. Believing that achieving your goals is possible is the first step towards sustainable weight loss.

That means having the confidence to know you can push yourself during your workouts. It means knowing you are in control of food. It means believing in yourself even when no one else does.

Write it Down

Writing things down is a powerful, yet completely underutilized concept of weight loss. Many people already track their calories, and this is great, but it is only a small part of what you could be doing.

Journal your workouts. Write down your goals, the way you feel before and after meals, and the things you are grateful for. The process of writing things down creates an imprint in your brain that helps your subconscious mind attain the things you want most.

Imagine Yourself in Your Ideal Body

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be at your end goal? I don’t just mean a hazy mental image of what your outward physical appearance will look like either.

Close your eyes and look your ideal body over from head to toe. Notice the way your face, arms, hair, stomach, and legs look. Notice the way you walk and move more agilely. Pay close attention to the way you feel about yourself and your renewed self confidence. Imagining these things with clarity brings you closer to your goals.

Learn to Say No

Saying no is one of the hardest words people have trouble saying. However, you are going to need to get extremely comfortable with saying it if you want to live a healthy lifestyle.

That’s because there is going to be an overwhelming amount of temptation and peer pressure on your weight loss journey. Friends, family, work, and leisure time are littered with opportunities to give in and rationalize your unhealthy behaviors.

Be confident and respect yourself enough to say no when your actions don’t align with your goals. The more you say no now, the more you will smile later.

Be Part of a Community

Don’t go at weight loss alone. You are going to need and want support. Even if there is no one close to you that wants to change their lifestyle, you still have options.

The added support will keep you motivated. You can learn from other people’s mistakes. These people will be there to pick you up and keep you pointed in the right direction.

Weight loss communities come in all shapes and sizes. There are weight loss forums and blogs, support groups, group exercise classes, and even one-on-one coaching will help.

Change Your Habits

It’s easy to get caught up in the blueprint of weight loss. In other words, eating a particular thing at a particular time, and doing a series of exercises at a particular intensity for a certain duration.

All of these things are good to do, but they don’t address the problem. Change is what we’re after, and to create change you have to create new habits. That means systematically addressing one behavior at a time until the healthy version becomes second nature.

Don’t Try to Be Perfect

It can be a bit of a mental mind-bender to understand that trying to be perfect works against your weight loss goals. There are people out there that can eat 100% clean while tracking every calorie to a “T”.

For us mere mortals however, a more moderate approach will take us to our end goal. When it comes to food choices, that means following the 80/20 rule (80 percent whole foods and 20 percent “fun” foods).

When it comes to exercise it means not beating yourself up when you miss a workout. Missing a single workout doesn’t negatively impact your goals so long as it doesn’t start a chain reaction. Make more good choices than bad ones, and you’ll continually get closer to your goal.

Eat More Than You Think You Should

Chances are, you could be eating more than you currently are. What do I mean? I mean that the vast majority of healthy lifestyle changers under eat. As a society, we tend to over eat the bad stuff, and under eat the good stuff.

Eating 1200 calories isn’t a sustainable calorie intake for most people and eventually leads to a reversion of old eating habits. Do yourself a favor and fuel your body with more energy, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

I’d venture to say that just about anyone can eat 200-300 calories more without any negative consequences. Give it a try using small 50-100 calorie increments, and watch your energy levels tick upwards, your mental well-being improve, and your chances of long-term weight loss increase.

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How to Eat Healthy When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want To Sun, 16 Feb 2014 14:12:30 +0000 girl not happy about her spouse eatig pizzaOne of the hardest parts of transitioning into a healthy lifestyle is trying to eat healthier when your spouse has no desire to change their ways. Here are 8 things you can do to make your transition easier.

Take Ownership of Your Behavior

As difficult as it is to try eating healthy when your partner doesn’t support you, the fact still remains that no one is force feeding you. There are always going to be people around you that want to see you fail, so if you ever want to succeed, you will have come to grips that you are in complete control of your actions.

Confront Them About Peer Pressure

Some spouses not only don’t want you to change them, but they seem to go out of their way to sabotage your own efforts. They knowingly push food onto you and try to tempt you more than usual just to test your willpower.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and tell your spouse that what they are doing isn’t appreciated. They might not even realize what they are doing is hurting you, and many times they think it’s just playful behavior. Speak up.

Explain Your Choices Once and Be Done

Spouses and colleagues alike have a bad habit of questioning your healthy lifestyle choices. Most of them don’t do it because they’re interested in changing their lifestyles either.

Usually, their questions have more to do with making you feel bad about your choices. When confronted with this situation, simply explain that you want to be healthier for you and the people close to you. If that’s not good enough, then it’s time to reassess the relationship.

Ask Them For Their Support

Whether or not your spouse chooses to join you with your new healthy eating habits, that’s no reason to not have their support. Ask them to be supportive of your decisions and to respect the choices you’re making. Tell them you aren’t expecting them to change too, but that you’d still like them to be accepting of the new you.

Lead By Example

As bad as we want our spouse to join us in eating healthier, the fact remains that pressuring someone into doing something almost never works. For your spouse to change their lifestyle too, they need to come to the realization of change all by themselves.

That doesn’t mean you can’t influence the situation, however. Lead by example. Let your spouse see how much happier the new you is. Let them see what eating healthy food does to your physical appearance and mental health.

Sometimes people have to see things with their own two eyes before they believe it’s possible. Be patient and they might be asking you for advice soon enough.

Streamline Your Cooking

Dinner tends to be a troubling time when your spouse’s food choices don’t align with yours. If you’re the one doing the cooking, you’re likely going to have to make two separate meals.

Of course, you could always tell your spouse to make their own food if they don’t like what you cook, but when you’ve lived your entire life together a certain way, that can make for a sticky situation.

Instead, if you’d rather have a more seamless transition, you can try to find ways to use the same ingredients while being able to make one of the meals healthier. For example, if you’re already cooking chicken for some crazy mexican dish, you can use that chicken as part of a healthier salad.

There really isn’t much extra work involved. Separate side dishes are also fairly easy to prepare. Now, if you aren’t the one doing the cooking, don’t expect your spouse to start cooking separate meals. It’s going to be time for you to do a little cooking yourself.

Create a Section for Your Food

Having to weed through all the processed food to find your healthy food can play some major mind games on you. Take a few minutes and clear a shelf or cabinet that’s to be used exclusively for you.

Make a shelf in the pantry, and make a section in the refrigerator too. This will help you own your lifestyle and separate the opposite lives that are being lived in the house.

Choose a Restaurant That Has Options

Finally, when you two decide to go out to eat, try agreeing on a restaurant that serves something you can both enjoy and that aligns with your goals.

Nearly every restaurant has their menu posted online, so there’s no reason why you can’t agree on something before hand. Don’t wait until you’re hungry to decide either. Hunger has a way of aggravating the situation.

If you’re ready to change your eating habits but your spouse isn’t, try following some of the ideas laid out in this article. I think it will make the transition a lot easier on you.

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How to Make Every Day a Cheat Day Without Sacrificing Your Goals Wed, 12 Feb 2014 13:52:21 +0000 woman holding chocolate bar over faceWouldn’t it be nice if you could eat what you wanted and still lose weight or maintain a fit physique? Without sounding too much like an infomercial, I want to show you how that’s not only completely possible, but necessary for long term weight management.

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

Losing weight and getting fit is not about giving up everything you love about food. It’s not about eating clean 100% of the time. It’s not about eating flavorless food or about feeling excluded from life events.

You don’t have to feel like the odd ball because your goals don’t mesh with your friends’. You don’t have to beat yourself up for eating an “off-limit” food.

You don’t have to wage an all-out war against food. Your next meal doesn’t have to be on your mind before you even finish your last one. You don’t have to suppress cravings to the point of bingeing.

You don’t have to confront peer pressure every time someone brings food to the office simply because you’re trying to lose weight. You don’t have to explain your choices every time someone questions them.

No – you don’t have to give up the joy of eating for the greater good of fitness. It doesn’t have to be an either/or decision.

Finding Happiness in Moderation

Most of fitness resides in the middle. Whether that be in reference to eating or exercise, the result is still the same – extremes tend to be short-lived and risky.

By pushing to far to one extreme, either by cutting out all sugar or exercising intensely every single day or omitting an entire macronutrient, you risk having quick but short-lasting results. The more to the extreme you go, the more risky the outcome.

Moderation might not get you the super fast results you desire, but it will get you the results you want – in time. By moderating your food restriction and including the foods you enjoy on a frequent basis, you increase your chances of sticking to your program, and that is what ultimately gets you results – adherence.

What Should Your Day Look Like?

Follow the 80/20 principle. That means 80% of your calories come from whole foods, and 20% come from “fun” foods. Most people will actually find that they don’t need the full 20% of calories to be happy, and that a small 200 calorie snack completely satisfies them.

Let’s put this concept into a real life scenario. Let’s say you need 1750 calories per day to lose weight. If you chose to eat 20% of those calories from fun foods, that would be 350 calories. Think about all you could do with 350 calories.

That’s a cup of ice cream, a few cookies, a giant slice of pizza, a few glasses of wine, or a serving of fries. Do you really think that eating one of these items is going to negatively impact your weight loss when you’re eating below maintenance calories and still eating 1400 calories each day of nutritious whole foods?

The answer is no. In fact, there have been stories in the news all the time of people experimenting by eating nothing but garbage and losing weight so long as they maintained a calorie deficit. That is not to say you should fill your calories with garbage (more on that later).

You Can Have What You Want Again Tomorrow

The key to moderation is to manage portions and to stop when you’re supposed to. Many people struggle with this concept because they think just having a little of something will lead to an all-out binge fest.

I completely understand this, but much of this behavior has to do with the idea that you’re not allowed to eat these foods in the first place, so you get your fill before you restrict your behavior again.

You have to change your thinking process. Understand that you can repeat the process of including “fun” foods in moderation again tomorrow and again the next day. The feeling is liberating and really does help you stop eating when you’re supposed to.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Health for Fitness

This article wouldn’t be complete unless I added one huge caveat – don’t sacrifice your health for fitness. What do I mean by that?

I mean don’t fill your calories with a bunch of trans fat, artificial colors and preservatives, and ingredients that harm your body. While the short term goal is to lose weight, the long term and most important goal is to be healthy.

Do your best to limit these kinds of foods and choose “fun” foods that are made without them. A simple trip to a health food store such as Whole Foods will show you all kinds of amazing foods you can eat.

Just about every food you like can be made without harmful chemicals and ingredients. Look at the ingredients section on the food label, choose a food that’s made with non-artificial ingredients, and then include those foods guilt-free and in moderation into your daily lifestyle.

I guarantee your weight loss efforts will be a lot more enjoyable, and you won’t sacrifice your results one single bit.

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The Ultimate List of Common Strength Training Mistakes to Avoid Sun, 09 Feb 2014 14:01:46 +0000 girl doing kettlebell swingsMany strength training mistakes are made by both beginner and advanced lifters alike. Here’s your go-to list of the most common mistakes to avoid.

Taking Advantage of Momentum When You Shouldn’t

Certain power movements require some momentum to accomplish. However, the average person uses way too much momentum and swinging when they lift.

Momentum doesn’t work a muscle through the full range of motion. Instead, it works toward improving your reversal strength. When you lower a weight down and immediately reverse it, there is a large amount of stored kinetic energy. This energy acts like a spring and ends up neglecting the beginning of the concentric phase of the movement.

Training Your Ego Instead of Your Muscles

A lot of people are afraid to use the amount of weight they should be using. That’s because it’s typically much less than what they work out with.

Afraid to be thought of as weak, they proceed to load up a bar with weight they can’t lift correctly. In essence, they are exercising their ego instead of their muscles. Use the right amount of weight and don’t worry what others think.

Using a Reduced Range of Motion

There are times when partial reps have a benefit – like when you’re trying to train your sticking points. For most people though, they should be lowering the weight and raising it through the full range of motion.

Unless you want to get really good at doing quarter squats or partial pull-ups, you must carry the load from beginning to end as much distance as safely possible.

Not Paying as Much Attention to Your Lower Body

It seems men are more guilty of this than women are. It’s the beach body mentality – arms and chest get priority. Unless you want to look like Mr Potato Head, you need to be training your lower body with the same intensity as your upper.

Your quads, hamstrings, hips, and glutes are huge muscles – much bigger than your chest, biceps, and triceps. Adding muscle to these areas will do amazing things for your physique.

Not Including a Form of Periodization or Progressive Overload

Do you keep track of your workouts? If you’re going into the gym and doing the same thing each time, you’re never going to make any real progress.

You must plan your workouts so that you’re continually getting stronger over a period of time. You might have to push forward with weight and then back off some before pushing forward again, but the overall trend should be up if your goal is to get stronger.

Unknowingly Creating Muscle Imbalances

Antagonistic muscles, the muscles that are opposite the muscles getting worked, need to be trained in balance. In addition, stabilizer muscles often get neglected, which keeps them weak and leads to injury when lifting heavy weight. Make sure all muscles in your body, however small or unnoticed, are being training equally.

Trying to Spot Reduce Fat With Exercise

Using the leg extension, leg curl, abductor/adductor, or glute machines aren’t going to help you tone up your butt and legs any better than any other exercise. That’s because fat loss cannot be targeted with exercise.

Fat loss is systemic, not localized. Use strength training to work your entire body and to create a metabolic environment that’s conducive to fat loss. Your diet will take care of the fat loss.

Attempting to Train Through Sickness or Injury

I’m guilty of this one. Getting sick or injured always seems to happen when I’m at the height of motivation. Let’s be real though – you’re doing more harm than good by trying to tough it out.

Give your body time to recover from an injury before you hurt yourself even more. Same with being sick – let your body use its energy resources to get you feeling better instead of using them to rebuild muscle tissue.

Not Giving Yourself Enough Rest Before Your Next Workout

You stimulate growth when you train, but you grow when you rest. Training and recovery are equally important. Your muscles must be recovered if they are to work at their max capacity. Depending on the intensity of your workout, the amount of work you did, and your diet, you may need 48 hours or more to fully recover.

Overdoing the Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises are fun, but they are the long route to results. Compound movements, exercises that use multiple muscle groups at once, are much more effective at building muscle and strength. Make the core of your strength training program composed of compound exercises, and then use the isolation movements to work on weak points.

Keeping Your Intensity Levels Too Low

Simply going through the motions isn’t going to do much for your physique. Ladies, it’s time to put the colored dumbbells aside unless they’re difficult for you to use. Men, being able to squat as much as you bench is a sign you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough on lower body days.

Using High Reps Thinking it Will Burn More Fat

Higher reps don’t burn any more fat than lower reps. The goal of strength training isn’t to burn fat, it is to get stronger and add muscle. Use a mixture of rep schemes and then focus on your diet if you want to lose body fat.

Not Doing a Proper Warm Up

Warm ups don’t get the attention they should. Nearly every one of my injuries can be attributed to not fully warming up.

You must get your heart rate up and blood to the muscles before using maximal loads. Doing some dynamic stretching before a workout can help prevent injury and even improve performance.

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5 Simple Ways to Lose Weight Without Even Trying Wed, 05 Feb 2014 13:50:30 +0000 woman doing preacher curlsWant to make the weight loss process 10 times easier? Then stop trying so hard. Here are 5 painless ways to lose weight that use very little effort.

Follow the 80/20 Principle

If you don’t already know what the 80/20 principle is, it’s an idea that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. This connection has been made in just about every aspect of our lives – business, economics, and even fitness.

Wouldn’t it be nice to only have to put in 20 percent of the effort to lose weight and still get the majority of the results? That is entirely possible and likely the way most people should be approaching their weight loss goals.

Why? Because people have a tendency to over think the process. Not only do they get stuck in information overload, but they also take an all-or-nothing attitude towards weight loss.

Focus your attention on the main ideas of weight loss – eat whole foods 80% of the time, get active, make healthier decisions, and you will begin to notice your body composition changing without having to really even try.

Boost Your NEAT

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the amount of energy you use to do things other than sleeping, eating, and exercising. For example, cooking, cleaning, walking to your car, making the bed, and carrying groceries are all examples of NEAT.

What has been noticed in recent years is how much of an impact NEAT has on the number of calories you burn during the day. In fact, it is thought that NEAT contributes the majority of our calorie burn each day, and is thought to be the key determining factor in an individual’s resting metabolic rate [1].

What does that mean for us? It means that finding small opportunistic times to move a little more can burn an extra 10 calories here and there, which add up over the period of the day. Try living a slightly more active lifestyle, and the pounds will drop without giving it a second thought.

Focus on Being Healthier

What’s the easiest way to lose weight without trying? How about not trying to lose weight at all? That’s right. Since weight loss and gain is a side effect, we can influence the cause/effect dynamic by focusing our attention on trying to be healthier.

By simplifying our lifestyle choices down to the question – “Is this action going to make me healthier”, we can begin to lose weight via attacking the core of the problem.

You don’t have to worry about how much protein you should eat or whether you should eat carbs after 6pm or if you should exercise at a particular heart rate. Instead, just make better decisions in regards to your health than you previously were, and your body composition will begin to normalize to a healthy weight.

Enjoy Your Exercise

I’m a big fan of strength training for fat loss, performance, and overall health. However, I’m completely aware that not everyone likes to lift weights. If you are one of these people, don’t!

Nothing will burn you out faster or make you feel like you’re trying too hard than doing exercise you don’t enjoy. Exercise is supposed to be fun. If you do it right, it will feel like childhood playtime.

To lose weight without trying you need to choose exercise that you will look forward to doing for the rest of your life. As the slightly altered saying goes – if you do exercise you enjoy, you’ll never exercise a day in your life. Think about the activities you enjoy doing and then get creative in finding ways to make them more difficult and challenging.

Stop Counting Calories

I personally like counting calories. I might not do it every day, but I still do it every now and then to make sure I’m eating what I think I am. I think it provides valuable information for people trying to lose weight.

On the other hand, I will admit it’s not for everyone. In fact, some people thrive simply by practicing moderation and portion control. It’s a sort of mindless eating that isn’t mindless at all.

They follow the 80/20 principle outlined above by eating whole foods 80% of the time and then not beating themselves up the 20% of the time when they eat “fun” foods.

They don’t just practice food quality moderation, they also practice food quantity moderation – otherwise known at portion control. Once you’ve established healthy eating habits, it’s much easier to just eat a little less.

Portion control is a form of calorie counting. If you haven’t had much success with calorie counting, perhaps put it on the back burner for a bit and instead focus on what you’re eating.

By eating 80% of your calories from whole foods, you essentially create an environment that makes it difficult to overeat. Eating whole foods creates the calorie restriction all on its own.

So, if you’re looking for ways to tone down the weight loss noise, any of the 5 methods outlined in this article will help simplify your weight loss pursuits. Take weight loss one day at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself.

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The Best Way to Lose Weight That Everyone Forgets About Sun, 02 Feb 2014 14:32:01 +0000 woman with workout towel around neckWeight loss would be so much easier if people focused their efforts in the right place. Here’s the best way to lose weight that everyone forgets about.

Most Weight Loss Tips Don’t Fix the Problem

I’m a big fan of weight loss tips, as every once in a while I read one that helps me to think about my fitness lifestyle in a different light. Read enough about weight loss and fitness, and you begin to start developing your own philosophies on the subject.

Not only that, but I find these tips highly motivating. At worst, they remind you of certain aspects of fitness that you might have forgotten about. At best, they can inspire you to push forward and change your life.

However, while most of these tips are beneficial, they still don’t address the problem of weight loss, and therefore are ineffective when used alone.

Everything Tries to Treat the Symptom

That is the problem. Nearly every one of these weight loss tips tries to attack the problem by treating the symptom. Weight is a symptom. Whether it goes up or down is an effect of your lifestyle habits.

Because of this, it makes very little sense to make weight loss the focus of your weight loss program. Instead, we need to focus on what causes the weight loss and treat the actual problem – a faulty lifestyle.

Focus Your Efforts on Creating a Healthy Lifestyle

What we need to do to effectively lose weight is simplify every decision in our life to a basic question. What is that question? Is what I’m about to do going to make me healthier?

That question is going to get right to the root of the problem. Each time you answer yes to that question you are shifting the momentum towards achieving a healthy body composition.

Think about that for a second. Had you asked yourself that very question during the period of weight gain you experienced, you would have noticed that the answer to the question would have more times than not been no. You gained weight as a result of mindlessly answering no.

That’s because weight gain is a side effect of living an unhealthy lifestyle. Just the opposite also holds true – weight loss is a side effect of living a healthy lifestyle.

Take the Emphasis Off Weight Loss

To create a period of sustainable weight loss we need to take the focus off of weight loss and instead put it on trying to be healthier. When we do this we begin to change our body from the inside out.

Ultimately, we should be trying to figure out how to be healthier, instead of trying to figure out how to lose weight. The latter will always leave us in a period of transition. The former will help us work towards creating a new healthy lifestyle, and in return, we’ll receive all the mental and physical benefits that come along with one.

Weight Loss is an Involuntary Action

Contrary to popular belief, we do not control our weight loss, at least not in the technical sense. We indirectly influence it with our actions, but we don’t physically tell our bodies to send fat loss hormones throughout our body to mobilize fatty acids, and then tell them to burn them for fuel. That is an involuntary action undertaken by our body.

So why try to control it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to let your body do as it may, and instead focus on the actions we take in our life that make us healthier both mentally and physically?

These are the things that are within our control. These are the things that empower us.

Once you’ve actually created that healthy lifestyle, influencing your body composition becomes as easy as eating less or eating more. The roots have already been established. Eating less is then a much less overwhelming concept to implement.

The next time you find yourself getting frustrated at your lack of weight loss, take a step back and remember the big picture. Refocus your efforts on creating a healthy lifestyle, and weight loss is sure to be a positive side effect.

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