Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Scientific Discovery

I have been doing some scientific research lately and have discovered some ground breaking correlations. I hope to submit them to scientific journals and having them published in the near future. Your Fitness Quest is excited to share these findings with you.

I have discovered that weight gain is directly related to the amount of stuff you put in your mouth. The probability of weight gain is further increased when you chew and swallow the stuff. Most people eventually relinquish the stuff they ingest a day or so later but by that time it has given off most of it's beneficial properties including the ones that make you gain weight and is not as valuable or desirable.

Conclusion: if you are trying to lose weight, don't put so much stuff in your mouth.

Sorry for being a smart alec, but I think sometimes we make things more complicated then they need to be. If you are overweight and want to do something about it, then it is important to create an energy deficit (eat less than your body burns each day). If you are taking in more calories than your body needs, the first law of thermodynamics states that excess energy (food) will be stored in the form of fat.

Many people, including myself, eat more than they should. If you are not happy with the results you are getting, then stop kidding yourself by just estimating how much you eat and start using a food journal. It might be a pain in the neck for a while, but it is extremely helpful and will be an educational experience. It will help you learn more about food and yourself. There are tons of free websites and smart phone applications that can help you track your calories and in turn identify the pitfalls to your eating. If you haven't tracked your food intake before, I encourage you to do so for a week. It can be a very insightful experience.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Healthy Associations

Having good examples and positive influences in your life is important in helping you achieve your goals. People who associate with a coach, trainer, or mentor have an advantage when it comes to positive support. I've heard people say that your finances will be an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I think this same concept can be applied to other areas or your life, including fitness. 

As a teenager, I learned the importance of associating with people who pushed me to progress and improve. When I was on the high school basketball team, I was given some good advice to practice against players who were better than me. As a result, I played pickup games with college players who were bigger, taller, stronger, and more skilled than me. For quite a while I got my butt kicked, but the increased competition caused me to improve my game. Eventually I could hold my own against most of the college players I'd play against. It was tempting to play against people I was better than because I could dominate, but you stop improving when you stop pushing yourself.

It's easy to be a big fish in a little pond, and one way to avoid that is to look for associations with people who challenge you to improve and who bring out the best in you. This applies not only to fitness and sports, but music, academics, art, and business. Most parents understand the principle of association and that is why they are concerned with what kind of friends their kids play with when they are little.

So how does this apply to someone wanting to lose weight or get in shape? If all the people you spend time with eat junk food and are overweight, then there is no pressure for you to improve if you are accustomed to an unhealthy environment. If however, you have friends who model healthy behaviors and are physically active, then you are more likely to do so yourself.

Am I suggesting you end relationships with your friends if they don't have a physique better than yours? Of course not, I'm just trying to point out how we are influenced by the people we spend time with and if your family, friends, or associates are sabotaging your efforts, then you may want to spend more time with people who encourage you to accomplish your goals.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fitness Cliques and Stereotypes

It's common for health and fitness enthusiasts with similar interests to band together since they have a particular objective or goal they are excited about trying to accomplish. 

They often disagree with or even butt heads with followers of other fitness disciplines when it comes to what they believe is the best type of exercise or how you should eat. I thought I'd briefly address some of the more popular groups and their traditional emphasis. Please forgive me for the blatant stereotypes.

Body Builders- Size is king, but they also value symmetry, proportion, and definition. Appearance and stage presence is everything for this group so they are frequently accused of being narcissistic. They spend a lot of time lifting weights in the gym.

Marathoners- Runners are a strange breed. I am a poser when it comes to running. I like running 5 Ks and have run a couple marathons, but I don't have the guts or patience to run as much as these folks. Serious runners are often labeled as being skinny endurance machines.

CrossFit and Functional Fitness- This group is not impressed with big muscles as much as they are functional fitness and athletic ability. They have combined a variety of physical challenges involving high reps and plyometrics and have come up with what appears to be timed relay races from hell.

Powerlifters- Strength is all that matters for Olympic lifters and powerlifters. It's ok if you have a gut if you can lift more than the next guy. Don't underestimate a power lifter. They are frequently stronger than they look.

Group Exercisers-This include people who do aerobics, zumba, boot camps, or any other activity people enjoy doing in groups.

Triathletes-As if biking, running, or swimming wasn't challenging enough, someone had to put them all together. I've noticed many guys take this up as part of a mid life crisis. I suppose it is cheaper than buying a Porsche.

MMA-These warriors come from a variety of martial arts disciplines. Mixed marital arts has gained a lot of popularity over the last 10 years. There is a lot more to the sport than tattooed bullies beating each other up in a cage.

Traditional sports- Those who play popular sports like football, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, etc. These include elite athletes down to beginners and even out of shape arm chair quarterbacks playing in city leagues.

New Age Fitness-This group is typically into yoga, meditating, enjoying the outdoors, hiking, etc. Frequently vegetarians or vegans. Usually more emphasis on mind, body, and spirit.

I sometimes hear people in some of these different groups disagreeing with or dissing the other ones. Probably because they really don't understand or appreciate what the other camps are really about. Despite the differences in philosophies and objectives in each of these groups, I think they have more in common than most people realize. I take my hat off to all of these groups and their participants who are physically active and concerned about improving their health and taking care of their bodies. I respect anyone who excels at any given sport or activity regardless of if it appeals to me or not.

If you want to get in shape and start exercising, then try one of the above activities that you are most excited about because you will be more likely to stick with it. Which sport of training method is best? That will always be debated, but just think how powerful they'd be if instead of arguing, all the fitness enthusiasts from different disciplines joined forces and and used their strengths like the Superfriends to battle inactivity.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

6 Foods To Eliminate From Your Diet

Part of the challenge of eating healthy is not only eating foods that are good for you, but also avoiding unhealthy ones. The foods listed below are popular choices for most Americans, but they are typically high in calories, fat, and sodium, while being low in nutrients. Before you freak out about some of these foods you may love, remember the concept of moderation. You might still eat some of these foods occasionally, but it should be on rare occasions as opposed to being a staple in your diet.

Hot Dogs, Bologna, Bacon, and Processed Lunch Meats.- These are high in calories, fat, nitrates, sodium, and mystery ingredients.

French Fries and Potato Chips -These starchy foods are saturated in fat and salt.

White Bread - It's just highly processed filler. White bread frequently tries to pose as wheat bread by having a darker color.

Canned Soup - Soups can be healthy, but many of them are off the charts in high sodium. Look for a low sodium version.

Processed Desserts - Little Debbie, Ding Dongs, Twinkies, etc. I walked by a huge display of these last week at the store and was surprised with how big the selection was. I decided to take a picture.

Soda Pop - Also known as "liquid candy." It is the fastest ways to transport calories into your body. Usually high in sugar, caffeine, and carbonation. Even diet soda with no calories is bad for you.

Do I occasionally crave and eat some of these foods? Yes, especially marshmallow moon pies, so I guess that makes me a hypocrite, but I feel much better when I avoid them. If you regularly eat any of these foods, take some baby steps and start cutting back and substituting them with healthier choices.While we are on the topic of unhealthy food, I found this gem on YouTube. If it doesn't make you a little sick, then nothing will.

I'm sure I missed some other unhealthy foods since I only listed some of the obvious ones. I'd be interested to know what other foods you would add to the list.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The HCG Diet

I don't want to offend anyone, but I really don't get the HCG diet craze. I have many friends, acquaintances, and even clients who have done it, but it just doesn't make sense to me, and I think it is just a dangerous fad. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women that is supposed to suppress hunger and help utilize fat as a primary fuel source. The diet requires injections of the hormone or taking it orally with drops under your tongue.

The diet also calls for reducing your calorie intake to 500 calories per day! Who wouldn't lose weight eating only 500 calories a day? Maybe they should rename it the Auschwitz diet. A person who is experiencing such a drastic calorie deficit is also going to burn muscle if they are in starvation mode, and this problem is only compounded when they begin to decrease their physical activity level since they don't have enough energy to exercise.

I also think it is ironic that it's socially acceptable to inject yourself with these hormones in an attempt to change your physique, but doing so with steroids is looked down upon as cheating and is against the law. I need to do more research, but I haven't seen any studies that prove that the HCG injections are the magic ingredient for weight loss as opposed to just a starvation diet. Going on this kind of diet can mess up your metabolism. Once you go off the diet and start eating like you used to, you can expect the weight to return, so it is really not a long term solution.

If you are on HCG or have had good results from doing it, I wish you the best, but permanent weight control is a matter of developing long term sustainable healthy habits. How I feel about the HCG diet can best be summed up with a quote from Mickey Blue Eyes. "The first time I saw that Charles Manson on the news I said 'I know this guy's up to no good'."