Archive for February, 2012


Nutrition

The basics of nutrition are simple.  Here are the five main principles according to Miami Dade College professor Tim Patton.  I’ve added my own commentary on each, though.

1. Plan Your Meals

This is primarily because a lot of our eating is done without thinking.  This action will bring meal-planning to its proper level of thought, and we will be able to truly understand just how much of what we are eating.

In addition to that, this is to make sure that we aren’t someone who has no breakfast, has a small lunch, and eats a big dinner.  Those people wreck their metabolism because they starve their body when they need energy and then they give their body a feast when they don’t need any energy.  It’s always best to operate under the principle of feeding your body in preparation for the activity you’re about to do.

So, since your breakfast gives your body the fuel for your morning activities and your carbohydrate reserves are likely to be low since you haven’t eaten all night, it’s rational to eat a fairly large breakfast.  Then, since your lunch gives your body the energy for all of your afternoon activities, it makes sense to eat a moderate lunch.  Lastly, since your dinner is only giving you energy for the last few hours of the day, and most people aren’t very active after dinner, it makes sense to eat a small dinner so that you aren’t giving your body a lot of extra fuel to store during your sleep.

2. Eat a variety of foods

On a personal note, I have tried just about every diet out there before I took my first college nutrition class.  After I took General Nutrition and Sports Nutrition, I finally understood that a lot of what I had done before was ridiculous. Continue reading

Lisa’s Cardio

Cardiovascular training is an essential part of any exercise program.  The choice to ignore it is an ignorant one that I have been largely guilty of.  In fact, after my high school sports were over, I largely ignored cardiovascular training because I simply don’t enjoy it.  Then, I met Lisa and it’s her favorite thing since sliced bread, so I did cardio with her.  Now I do it because I want to keep my heart and arteries healthy.

As you can tell, I’m not much of a cardio guy.  Because of that, I asked Lisa to guest-author this part.

Cardiovascular Training

Put simply, cardiovascular training is anything that trains your heart and lungs to perform optimally.  So, the result of it is a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and better cholesterol levels.  Also, it seems to work well in decreasing insulin resistance and therefore decreasing your risk of diabetes. Continue reading

How to Resistance Train

Because of the pros and cons of training for muscle mass vs. training for activities of daily life, we must use them both in order to achieve the most benefit.  Since the concept of training for muscle mass is typically more familiar to most individuals, we’ll use that as our starting point.

However, I need to point out that this writing is almost entirely conceptual.  I’ll make other resources later that explain further how to actually apply these concepts.

Training for muscle mass

Since this book is directed towards the general population, and the general population mainly desires a form of bodybuilding (which is gaining muscle, losing fat, or both), we’ll focus on the concept of bodybuilding rather than using these same exercises for the purpose of strength or power.

According to the NSCA, hypertrophy(muscle growth) is stimulated by using 8-12 repetitions with a 30-90 second rest period between 3-6 sets.  However, the key in exercise selection is that the exercises must be stabilized in order to work only a specific group of muscles rather than the full-body.

In the name of simplicity, we’ll divide the muscle-groups into three major functions.  First, the upper body push.  Second, the upper body pull.  Third, the legs push.  The legs don’t pull because most of us haven’t figured out how to pick up that barbell using our toes yet.

Upper-body pushing includes anything that involves moving an object farther away from you.  It doesn’t matter if that object is a barbell, dumbbell, or resistance band.  As long as you are stabilizing your body and putting yourself in the strongest position to move the resistance, then you are training the upper-body pushing muscles for muscle growth. Continue reading

What Kind of Exercise?

Defining the Terms

Before we get into the physiology of exercise, it’s prudent to take a step back and look at the big picture.  In the fitness realm, there often seems to be a fairly large dichotomy between people training “functionally” and people training “conventionally”.

Typically, we think of people training “conventionally” as bodybuilders doing their exercises on machines or using barbells.  The “conventional” trainers typically have a lot of muscle mass, but their athleticism is limited.

Typically, we think of people training “functionally” as the person standing on a BOSU ball with one foot while doing an alternating dumbbell military press.  These “functional” trainers typically have little muscle mass, but they are relatively athletic.

That’s the old way of thinking.  It is my opinion that that should be abolished in favor of labeling everything as “functional for ::fill in the blank::”  Functional means that something does what it was designed to do.  A functional toaster toasts while a dysfunctional toaster does not.  A functional quarterback throws a football fast, far, and with accuracy while a dysfunctional quarterback lobs a football blindly in no particular direction.

So, for our purposes, I’ve chosen to disregard the “conventional” vs. “functional” debate as fairly inaccurate descriptors.  What is typically thought of as “conventional”, I will call “functional for building muscle mass”.  What is typically thought of as “functional”, I will call “functional for activities of daily life”. Continue reading

Who To Listen To

Logic:

In this world, you’re going to find that anyone and everyone has an opinion on pretty much everything.  These opinions always vary in quality and education.  The same is true in the fitness field.

First off, it’s necessary to go back to Aristotle’s approach to logic.  He stated:

Aristotle’s “Three Classic Laws of Thought”

1. “A is A”

2. “A is B” and “A is not B” are mutually exclusive

3. Either “A is B” or “A is not B”

So, essentially, Aristotle set up a system of identifying what is truth.  A fact is a fact.

In the fitness realm, that means that there are some verifiable facts that researchers have found to be true about the human body’s response to exercise.  Some exercisers know these, and some don’t.  Some personal trainers know these, and some don’t.  Despite the disparity of knowledge, that doesn’t change the reality that the facts are the facts.

Essentially, not all information provided to an exerciser is equal.  There are some health professionals who are genuinely professionals.  However, there is a greater number of “health professionals” who are not professionals at all.  They are simply the result of a broken system in which anyone with a few brainwaves can become a “personal trainer”.

As a result of this system, we erroneously classify personal trainers who have spent years studying the human body from the most qualified sources (professors, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, and dietitians) as equal to those who attended a single weekend of classes.  Obviously, these two groups should not be perceived to be equal because they are not equal.  It’s something like trying to compare a Harvard Medical School graduate to an Ethiopian shaman.  They purport to do the same thing, but one is far more educated and effective. Continue reading

Cheerleader

Everyone should have a “biggest cheerleader” in their life.  Having a support group is known to bring about the greatest success.  That is why weight watchers is so successful.  It’s not because they have the best diet or the most science, but because they have the greatest support group system.

I’m so blessed to have quite a few cheerleaders in my life.  One of the biggest and daily cheerleader is my husband.  He has encouraged me from the day we met.  He sings songs about me, always tells me how smart I am, tells me I’m beautiful, encourages me in every idea that I throw out.  He is the ideal cheerleader and I hope that everyone in the world has a cheerleader as great as mine.

I wish that everyone could have such a perfect person to cheer them on, but what I wish for more is that you were your ideal cheerleader, your biggest fan.  I wish that you would think the world of yourself and value your thoughts and opinions.  I want you to think of great adjectives to describe yourself and to call yourself beautiful, inside and out.  Reality is, we should be our biggest fans.  There is always going to be that person out there that is going to encourage you when you need it and say the words you need to hear, but you need to hear and believe them from yourself.  Have some confidence.  Do things others think you can’t.  Take the route less taken.  Be ambitious.  Why not?  Failure is only a perception.  It’s only failure when you believe it is such and give up. Continue reading

Aside from my consistent reading about health and fitness, I’m also a major economics, psychology, philosophy, cosmology and theology junkie.  I just enjoy thinking about things.

I think that in all of these subjects, one issue comes up repeatedly.  This issue is embracing reality.

For some reason, we have a strong propensity to attempt to create our own reality.  We develop an idea of how we believe something should be and then we develop our ideas based upon what we believe should exist.

For example, later in high school and in early college, I believed that the Christian church should look like the one in Acts.  As a result of that belief, I neglected reality and chose to attempt to create my own reality wherein the church in Acts exists in the current.  In this skewed viewpoint, I thought it was intelligent to pursue God’s will how the apostles in the the book of Acts often did…. through casting lots, prophecies, dreams, and visions. Continue reading

We found this article on a website we read.  It’s some expert opinion on whether or not a plant-based diet can be healthy.

If you’re currently a vegetarian or are considering becoming one, you should check this out in order to make sure you understand the issues involved.

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/plant-based-roundtable-1

The Sin of Yo-Yo Dieting

One of the cardinal sins of health and fitness is yo-yo dieting.  It destroys your health.

Yo-yo dieting is a repeated cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain.  At first, this doesn’t appear all that bad.  So, somebody went from 200lbs to 150lbs and back to 200lbs.  Who cares?  Yeah, they’re back where they started, but at least they’re not worse off now!

Unfortunately, they are worse off now.  The body can be a difficult machine to master.  Since your body is entirely concerned with survival and not very concerned about your figure, it doesn’t get along with the yo-yo dieting concept.  Consider the following example:

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Muscle Gain for Fat Loss

Each pound of muscle mass burns 50 calories a day.

Sadly, that’s probably new information for a lot of people, and it’s likely why most exercisers still have trouble controlling their weight.

A lot of dieters see exercise and nutrition as different issues.  However, they’re simply different sides of the same coin.  Your exercise and nutrition are both vital issues when it comes to your health.  So, when you go on a lower calorie diet without exercise, havoc ensues within your body.

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2012 Long-Term Physique Goal

Steve Cook. IFBB Men's Physique Competitor

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what the heck my goals are.  For my next long-term goal, I want to look like this guy:

He’s 6’1”, and he weighed 205lbs with 4% bodyfat when the picture of him was taken that I thought was awesome.  Frankly, I don’t want to be 4% body fat.  I’ve gotten down to 4.8%, and it’s not much fun.  Now, I want to figure out how his lean body mass compares to mine adjusted for our height difference.

First, I need to adjust for his height since I’m only 5’10”.  I need to account for the weight of three extra inches.  From what I’ve read, there’s no clear way to determine exactly how much weight each inch should account for.  I’ve heard anywhere from 5lbs to 10lbs.  I’ll go with the conservative aim of 5lbs.

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“Life by the yard is hard, but life by the inch is a cinch!”

Goal setting is tough.  It’s no wonder we all have so much trouble achieving long-term goals.

For myself, the hardest part of achieving big goals is being able to break them down into small goals.

For example, my new long-term goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle and lose 3 pounds of fat (I’ll update on how I chose that goal later).  Those of us who have tried gaining muscle have come to find that it’s a fairly difficult endeavor….  Especially when it’s combined with losing fat.

So, I’ve set out my plan of trying to gain one pound of muscle per month.  I’ve done this before while gaining fat with it too, but it will be much harder when trying not to gain fat as well.

The critical issue behind all of this is how I approach this new-found goal of gaining ten pounds of muscle and losing three pounds of fat.  Regardless of how I look at it, it’s a big goal.  Realistically, it will probably take me a little over a year.

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Most diseases that Americans die of today are preventable.Years ago, Americans used to die of infectious diseases.  However, we figured out how to cure those, and that’s definitely a good thing.  But now, we are more or less the authors of our own destruction.  We can point the finger at our culture, our family, our friends, big food corporations, etc.  But at the end of the day, we’re the ones who decide what food goes into our mouths and how much activity we get.  Not convinced?

What kills Americans today?  Largely heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

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I know losing weight is one of the goals many people possess and most of the time, people like to measure their success by how many pounds they are losing on the scales.  While this may be the easiest and most convenient way to measure success, it may not be the most accurate.  We also live in a “I want this now” kind of generation and so anything we want to achieve, we want to achieve it as fast as possible.  As far as losing fat, this is neither safe or possible.

Let’s look at an example: Jenny who is 170 pounds and her body fat is 40%, goes through a quick weight loss program with a low calorie diet.  By the end of the 6 week program, Jenny is 140 pounds at 30% body fat.  This means before Jenny started the diet, she was 170 pounds with 68 pounds of that being fat.  After she went through the weight loss program she had lost a total of 30 pounds and now weighs 140 pounds with 42 pounds of that being fat.  Overall, she lost a total of 30 pounds and since she started with 68 pounds of fat and now has 42 pounds of fat she lost a total of 26 pounds of fat.  That means the rest of the weight lost was from muscle.  Jenny lost 4 pounds of muscle which also means she is burning about 200 calories less than when she went in since each pound of muscle burns about 50 calories a day just to maintain itself.  At first glance, the program Jenny did might seem good because on the scale it looks like she lost 30 pounds, which she did, but 26 of those pounds were fat and 4 of them were muscle, which slows your metabolism and makes it easier to put on weight. Continue reading