Jumat, 02 Februari 2018

Are You Drinking Enough Water for Optimal Fitness? Day 34 New Year, New You

Drinking enough water sounds easy but many of you are failing to consume enough throughout the day. Water intake is essential for optimal fitness and body function. Approximately 60% of your body is made up of water and it's considered the most important nutrient in sports nutrition and healthy eating. Welcome to day 34, New Year, New You in 365 Days.

Drink Water for Fitness Success 

Are you drinking enough water? Are you always thirsty? Are you sweating during workouts and not replenishing? What color is your pee? These are just a few things to consider about your water intake.

Without adequate hydration, your body isn't able to function properly. Drinking water helps maintain fluid levels, regulate body temperature, and prevents your heart rate from getting too high. This is especially important during your workouts since you're losing fluids through sweat and increased breathing rate. You should drink water before, during, and after physical training. Drinking water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise is often recommended.

Avoid Dehydration

Unfortunately, many of you come to your workout and even perform workouts dehydrated. Common adverse effects may include:
  • A headache
  • Dark urine and not peeing very much
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy, lethargic
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Rapid breathing

Drink Plenty of Water to Reach Your Fitness Goals

Drinking plenty of water is vital to reaching and maintaining your fitness goals. Other beverages like coffee, tea, and other fluids may provide some fluid benefit, but shouldn't be used as a water replacement.

Water is an essential nutrient working in and around the cells of your body to maintain fluid balance and help with the production of energy and protein. When you drink plenty of water, you're doing more than just quenching your thirst. You are helping your body function right so that you can reach your fitness goals. The following is a short list of the benefits provided when you stay hydrated:
  • Calorie control - drinking plenty of water helps you feel full and consume fewer calories. Foods with high water content, like celery, slow the digestive process allowing you to feel full longer.
  • Muscle function - muscle cells require water to function properly. You feel energized and pumped when the muscles contain the right amount of fluid.
  • Detox - staying hydrated helps flush toxins from your body. This helps with weight loss, proper PH, and reduced inflammation.
  • Brainpower - water provides energy to the cells including your brain. This helps promote greater thinking and improved reflexes. Effective workouts require you to be on top of your mental game.
  • Reduced illness - water helps maintain a strong immune system and reduces congestion. Stay well-hydrated to avoid illness and stay on your fitness program. 

How Much Should I Drink?

Water intake will differ per person, mostly based on age, physical activity level, and other medical conditions. The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recommends a general guideline of 91 ounces (11 cups) of water daily for women and 125 ounces (15 cups) for men. Keep in mind this includes water from all food and beverages consumed daily, not just water. The majority of healthy adults can meet their daily fluid requirements by letting thirst be their guide according to NAM. 

The best recommendation is listening to your body and drinking water when you feel thirsty. The problem remains many individuals ignore these body cues and go without the proper fluid intake.

Make it a goal for this program that you drink plenty of water. This means you will listen to thirst cues, drink when thirsty, and maintain light yellow to clear urine. Helpful hints to increase your water intake include:
  • Always have a water bottle nearby.
  • Add flavor to your water (muddled herbs, sliced citrus).
  • Track your water intake (journal or phone app).
  • Drink a glass of water before you eat. 
  • Drink water at the temperature you like.
The important thing is to drink enough for optimal body function, health, and hitting those goals!

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Stay hydrated my friends



Selasa, 30 Januari 2018

Reduce Sugar Intake to Get Fit, Healthy, and Reduce Body Fat - Day 30 New Year, New You

Are you eating too much sugar? Many of us may not even realize hidden sugar is contained in many foods being consumed. Also, much of the food we eat is converted into sugar.

The problem remains consuming too much sugar isn't healthy, contributes to weight gain, obesity, and illness. Refined and added sugar can be addictive and keeps you coming back for more. Because of this, many of us are overfeeding but starving for nutrients. The outcome is a temporary sugar fix and added flab layer.

In order to improve your health, reduce body fat, and ultimately reach your fitness goals, sugar intake needs to be addressed. Welcome to day 30 of New Year, New You in 365 Days.

What You Should Know About Sugar

Your body actually needs sugar to function properly. Carbohydrates break down into sugar (glucose) and provide energy. This is a good thing. However, there is a difference between naturally occurring sugar and refined, white sugar.

Refined white sugar is processed to look pretty and found in foods like bread, sauces, soups, ketchup, crackers, and the list goes on. It's also included in sodas, creamers, salad dressings, and sitting on your table to be added to coffee and cereal. This is the sugar that should be reduced in your diet.

Naturally occurring sugars in fruit, veggies, and milk are considered healthy. These are also known as good carbohydrates and provide either quick or slow release energy for optimal body function, health, and fitness.

So, it's better to consume naturally occurring sugar as opposed to added or refined sugar. Your body will appreciate you eating an apple over a donut for example. One is nutritious while the other is nothing but empty calories filled with preservatives you really don't want in your body.

This doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite dessert or occasional pasta, just be smart about your choices. Eating clean 80% of the time will enable you to achieve your goals without worry because you have taken care of the problem of consuming too much sugar.

What Foods Turn into Sugar 

Carbohydrates are the foods that turn into sugar and provide energy. This doesn't mean to stop eating carbs because they convert to sugar. Remember, your body needs sugar (glucose) to function properly. The important thing is to eat the right carbs to fuel your body.

The biggest carb offenders and weakness for most people are bread, bagels, pasta, white rice, noodles, baked goods, crackers, and chips. Many of you fail to realize cutting down on sugar means more than not drinking soda. It means reducing white food products and processed foods because they convert into sugar once consumed. 

More obvious foods and drinks containing sugar and converting into sugar once consumed include jams, table sugar, sodas, candy, alcohol, processed syrups, and coffee creamers. If the food product is processed, it most definitely contains sugar. Start reading your ingredient labels.

The bottom line is that too many unhealthy carbohydrates are being consumed and flooding your body with sugar. There is also the issue of these foods causing inflammation in your body, the primary cause of most illness and chronic disease. Eliminating processed white products will help reduce added sugar from your diet and promote good health.

Know Your Sugar - Read Ingredient Labels

Many foods contain added and hidden sugars that should be avoided. In fact, there are over 100 different names for sugar (pretty scary). The following short  list includes other names for sugar to be aware of when reading ingredient labels: 
  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • cane crystals
  • cane sugar
  • corn sweetener
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • crystal dextrose
  • evaporated cane juice
  • fructose sweetener
  • fruit juice concentrates
  • high-fructose corn syrup (the worst)
  • liquid fructose
  • malt syrup
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sugar
  • syrup
  • white sugar
  • carbitol
  • concentrated fruit juice
  • diglycerides
  • disaccharides
  • evaporated cane juice
  • erythritol
  • Florida crystals
  • fructooligosaccharides
  • galactose
  • glucitol
  • glucoamine
  • hexitol
  • inversol
  • isomalt
  • maltodextrin
  • malted barley
  • malts
  • mannitol
  • nectars
  • pentose
  • raisin syrup
  • ribose rice syrup
  • rice malt
  • rice syrup solids
  • sorbitol
  • sorghum
  • sucanat
  • sucanet
  • xylitol
  • zylose

The Best Way to Avoid Added Sugar 

Added sugar is contained in almost all processed foods and white products. The best way to reduce added sugar is cleaning up your nutrition by eating whole foods. This means fresh vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, lean poultry and fish, nuts, seeds, and grains. 

This may require a pantry and refrigerator purge. Remove any food products containing added sugar, and replace with nutritious whole foods. If you struggle with tossing food, box it up and donate to a food kitchen or local church.

Reducing added sugar will be an excellent start to getting fit and healthy. You will feel better, look better, and your body will appreciate the detox. 

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Be well and Stay Healthy


Selasa, 23 Januari 2018

How to Stay Motivated and Stick With the Fitness Program - Day 23 New Year, New You

Why is staying motivated so hard? Honestly, starting your fitness program is usually easier than sticking with it over time. This is where the resolution folks bow out after 4 to 6 weeks. Welcome to day 23 of New Year, New You in 365 Days.

How do you stay motivated and succeed in achieving fitness goals and adopting a healthy lifestyle? It comes down to mental game and discipline. You will not always be motivated, but discipline takes over and provides the drive that keeps you going.

Motivation involves a feeling whereas discipline is all about action. You will not want to eat right or workout all the time and you may even dread it. You are not alone and this happens to all of us at every fitness level. I hope this offers encouragement for you.

The important thing is not to quit, or base your fitness program on a fleeting feeling. Discipline is what gets you to the workout and motivation kicks in once you get started. Being around other people who are working towards a similar goal can be very motivating.

The same goes for eating healthy and meal prep. You may be tempted to order a pizza instead of getting out the pots and pans to meal prep healthy food and clean a big kitchen mess afterward. However, once you get in there and start chopping, grilling, and slow-cooking it becomes an enjoyable experience.

You are gaining control of what you're eating and feel good about the accomplishment. This is called sticking to the program and has nothing to do with motivation. Although, feeling better about your choices can be very motivating. Again, it starts with discipline and the actions to motivate the process.

Staying motivated takes daily choices and a positive attitude. It's more about discipline and wanting to succeed than feelings. Once you grasp that it's absolutely normal to feel unmotivated sometimes is when you actually gain motivation. You understand actions speak louder than feelings and will keep you going when motivation is lacking.

Helpful Tips and Ideas

The following tips may help during those times when motivation needs a boost:

  • Realize motivation is a feeling that changes daily.
  • Discipline carries you when motivation is lacking.
  • Do your workout anyway, you will feel better afterward.
  • Stay positive and surround yourself with like-minded people with similar goals.
  • Reach out to a friend or significant other to help keep you accountable.
  • Hire a personal trainer.
  • You are not too busy (excuses are unacceptable).
  • Whatever is going on in your life, you can succeed.
  • Place post-it notes with positive affirmations all over the place.
  • You have come too far to only come this far. Keep going!
  • The struggle is real and the best reason to keep going.
  • You can do it!
  • Join a gym and take fitness classes.
  • Sign up for a healthy cooking class.

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Be well and Stay Healthy


Rabu, 17 Januari 2018

Make Progress Your Goal, Not Perfection - Day 17 New Year, New You

Fitness is about progress and not perfection. Many of us can struggle with a perfectionist personality. This can interfere with living healthy and often derails your fitness attempts. Welcome to Day 17, New Year, New You.

When your focus becomes more realistic, not based on comparisons or the way you think fitness should be is when awesome stuff happens.

First, allowing yourself to be a beginner is important. No one starts at the top and sometimes we even need to start over due to an injury or illness setback.

I speak from experience when it comes to being knocked down by an injury and although the setback was difficult, I applied a progressive program to recover. There is nothing pretty or perfect in hard work and if you look good at the end of your workout, it certainly wasn't done correctly.

We can put so much pressure on ourselves with exercise programs doing too much too soon. Somehow we take on this belief that we should be at the same level as a seasoned athlete. This only leads to discouragement and frustration.

It takes months and years to develop personal fitness levels. If your goal is to run a marathon, it takes baby steps of progression and adaptation to this type of program. The same applies to muscle development. We certainly are not going to see a bicep cap after one session of resistance curls. You're also not going to drop 20 pounds in one week. Improving your health and fitness takes time and staying realistic about progress.

When you approach fitness programs with a progressive attitude, it's more realistic and enjoyable. Progressive simply means:
  • starting where you are
  • accepting where you are
  • not comparing yourself to others
  • doing what you can
  • mastering what you are able to do
  • then moving forward to the next level
Progression is what gets you to the next level of fitness without risk of injury. It also promotes a healthy body and mind. Let's say you struggle to perform a pull-up and hang there stuck on the bar. First, the pull-up is one of the hardest bodyweight exercises to perform and we have all been in this position as a newbie.

Believing your first attempt should be a successful body lift with head over that bar is unrealistic. It takes a progressive training program of slow back strength development to accomplish this challenging exercise. Those who can perform one or more pull-ups have been doing this exercise for years and have built enough back strength to perform the exercise. This is called realistic fitness progress.

Progress includes modification to exercise to build strength. Let's take another look at the pull-up and apply realistic methods of progression. In order to build back strength over time to achieve the goal of performing a pull-up, implementing modifications is necessary and may include:
  • negative pull-ups (starting at the top and lowering yourself slowly)
  • using a spotter 
  • bench spot
  • Gravitron machine (removes a percentage of your bodyweight for easier lift)
  • TRX straps or resistance bands hooked around feet 
Consistency with modified exercise and building strength will enable you to progress and eventually perform the exercise without assistance.

Progression can also be applied to incorporating healthy foods into your nutrition.  Begin slowly by eliminating one thing like soda, and replacing it with drinking water and herbal tea. This process continued over time will enable you to adopt healthy eating as you eliminate unhealthy food choices.

The goal should be to eat healthy 80 to 90% of the time without feeling deprived. Implementing eating well using progressive methods is shown to be less stressful, enjoyable and lifetime sustainable.

Life is already hard enough without making a healthy lifestyle feel like a burden with unrealistic expectations. Applying progressive methods to your workouts and daily food intake creates a positive outlook mentally and physically. It enables you to feel accomplished with your programs and feel good with each step taken toward your goals

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Be well and Stay Healthy


Minggu, 14 Januari 2018

Meal Prep for Fitness Goals and Improved Health - Day 15 New Year, New You

Many of you have heard of meal prepping to achieve fitness goals, but do you really know what it means? Do you know how to meal prep? Welcome to Day 15 of New Year, New You in 365 Days.

Meal prepping is one of the most popular ways to stay on track with eating right. It does take planning, time, and cooking healthy. It's not a diet and quite the opposite. It means having plenty of nutrient-dense foods ready to fuel your body and achieve fitness goals. It also includes cooking in bulk and separating out meals to eat during the week.

Nutrition remains the primary ingredient to achieving and maintaining a fit and healthy body. No amount of exercise is going to make up for an unhealthy diet. Getting fit the right way takes a combination and balance of eating right and exercise. This is where meal prepping gives you a definite edge up to reaching goals and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

I highly recommend re-reading my Blog post on Cleaning Up Your Nutrition for Results as a great compliment to this topic. It also provides an excellent grocery list of healthy foods to buy for meal prepping.

Mastering the art of meal prepping isn't difficult and actually simplifies and reduces the amount of time spent cooking during the week. Plan to use a weekend day or day off to buy, cook, and meal prep. The following cooking methods are typically used:

  • Crock pots also called slow cookers
  • Oven roasting
  • Outdoor grilling

Crock pots are the most popular methods to meal prep. When the weather isn't favorable for outdoor cooking, slow cookers are always ready to go. Many people purchase more than one crockpot to bulk cook lean meats and oatmeal at the same time for example.

The most popular protein food cooked in bulk are boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you can crockpot 6-10 chicken breasts at one time. I enjoy topping the chicken with roasted garlic salsa and letting it cook all day or even overnight. You may prefer sprinkling with your favorite spices, herbs and a small amount of water.

Steel cut oatmeal is another crockpot favorite. Using a 4-quart slow cooker works well for cooking a triple batch. Simply follow the cooking directions, except add the ingredients to your slow cooker instead of stove top. I also enjoy adding a chopped apple, 3 cinnamon sticks, and tablespoon of vanilla to the oat and water mixture. I give it a stir, set to low, and let cook overnight. Batch size will vary depending on how many people will be enjoying the oats.

Meal Prep Guidelines

Meal prepping is simple, fun, and promotes eating better as a lifestyle. The following guidelines will help you get started:
  • Buy a crockpot (slow cooker) or two.
  • Buy a large roasting pan for cooking vegetables.
  • Buy a large stove top pot for cooking grains, legumes, etc.
  • Purchase individual serving size storage containers.
  • Buy a nice fabric cooler to carry your healthy food to work.
  • Buy snack size and sandwich storage bags for holding raw veggies, nuts, etc.
  • Buy a nice knife for slicing and chopping vegetables. 
  • Buy sanitary cutting boards you can wash in the dishwasher.
The following will help add flavor to your healthy food:
  • Garlic, spices, and herbs (pick up a nice variety)
  • Variety mustards
  • Salsa
  • Siracha chili sauce or Cholula hot sauce
  • Low sodium chicken or vegetable broths

Prep and Eat Your Veggies

Eating plenty of vegetables is essential to your health and another component to meal prep. Buying celery, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, red peppers, and green beans are just a few examples. The following veggie prep tips will be helpful:
  • thoroughly wash, drain, and cut up vegetables.
  • Raw veggies can be stored in snack or sandwich bags in the refrigerator ready to grab during the week.
  • Cooked veggies can be stored in individual storage containers ready to be added as a compliment to your cooked lean meat. 

Popular Meal Prepped Meals

Eating healthy is tasty, not boring or bland like many assume. How you meal prep will determine the flavor of your food. Once you get the hang of spicing up your chicken, grains, veggies, and oats, you will enjoy the results of eating this way. The following meal prepped foods are often combined into individual meals:
  • Chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli
  • Crockpot chicken and roasted veggies
  • Salmon and vegetables
  • Greens topped with chicken, avocado, and salsa
  • chicken, white rice, and broccoli (athlete fuel)
  • Chicken, quinoa, and vegetable
  • Chicken lettuce wraps with salsa

Enjoy an older video of my crockpot cooking


Success takes planning, and in this case, cooking. It also takes some time to portion out your chopped veggies and divide the meals. The time is well spent and will keep you accountable for eating the right way to reach your goals. Remember, small steps create big results and this is just another step toward living a real, sustainable, healthy life. Let's do this!

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Be well and Stay Healthy


Kamis, 11 Januari 2018

What is The Best Exercise Program For You? - Day 11 New Year, New You

The best exercise for you is one that works for your body, lifestyle, is enjoyed, and repeated for life. Welcome to Day 11!

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best workout program for you. Your fitness level and lifestyle are the first things that come to mind. Also, your overall feeling about exercise. Exercise is a component of physical fitness and another important part of achieving lasting results.

It will be essential for you to first identify where you see yourself regarding exercise:

The Physical Part

  • I am a sedentary person and don't exercise at all.
  • I exercise occasionally. (a few times per month).
  • I exercise regularly (3-5 times weekly).

The Mental Part

  • I dislike the thought of exercising.
  • I don't like exercise discomfort and being sore the next day.
  • I don't like to get sweaty or feel hot.
  • I feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and don't know what I am doing.
  • I am too busy to exercise.
  • I fear going to the gym.
  • I can get bored easily and quit.
  • I feel pretty confident with my exercise program.
  • I enjoy going to the gym, feel stronger, and better because of it.

Choosing Your Workout Program

Acceptance of where you are physically and mentally will be the start of selecting the best workout program for you. Allowing yourself to be a beginner will be an important part of this process. It will also help with improving how you feel about exercise. 

All components of fitness are individual and not universal making this about your program, your body, and your progress. Your workout may mimic an exercise program through guidance but it belongs to you. This is true for everyone at any fitness level.

That being said, the following tips will help you get motivated about choosing a workout program that works best for you:

  • Accept and allow yourself to be a beginner. This may require enlisting the help of a qualified personal trainer, watching online fitness expert workshops and exercise classes, and buying books on the subject of exercise for beginners. 
  • Understand that exercise will be a temporary uncomfortable process. Change takes challenging your body and exercise discomfort is normal. Remember, short-term discomfort for lasting results. This will take getting comfortable with getting uncomfortable. 
  • Write down physical activity that sounds fun to you. Look into classes, videos, etc., that cater to your likes. This is very helpful for those who dislike the thought of exercising. You can do it!
  • Make it a goal to exercise at least 3 days per week to start.
  • A challenging workout will heat up your body and produce sweat. This will require a change of mindset for those uncomfortable with this. Remember, it's only for a short time and gets you closer to your goals. This also requires getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • Avoid boredom and promote muscle confusion by changing up your workout programs regularly. This will keep you motivated.
  • Gain workout confidence by pushing past your fears and into the gym. This will feel hard, but each day will get easier. I promise!
  • Being too busy is an unacceptable excuse not to take care of your fitness. This is an issue of priorities, not having time. Remove the calendar clutter and make time to exercise. 
  • Already confident in the gym but have hit a plateau? Research different ways to challenge your body, join a new fitness class, increase your weight resistance/reps. There is always a way to improve and progress your workout program.

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Be well and Stay Healthy


Selasa, 09 Januari 2018

How to Make Fitness a Priority - Day 9 New Year, New You

Many of us fail to make fitness a priority and wonder why results aren't happening. Do you fall into this category? If you want to make a change in your body and life, it will take evaluating the way you're living now.

Where do you see yourself:

  1. Sedentary, not living a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Sorta living a healthy lifestyle, but not really committed.
  3. Living a healthy lifestyle.

Once you have determined your category, you will be able to move forward with positive changes. The goal for all of you would be living a healthy lifestyle. Understanding how to go from an unhealthy to a healthy lifestyle is an important step in the process. It will be one of the most significant decisions you will make for your life and health.

Fixing the Problem

The problem remains that fitness is not made a priority. Excuses or reasons still get in the way of making healthy choices. Instead of using reasons to validate living unhealthy, you will need to start evaluating your priorities to make healthy your lifestyle. 

Living a healthy lifestyle is the only way you will achieve the body you want and the quality life you desire. It does require time, effort, planning, and discipline. It is a commitment to loving yourself the best you can. The following guidelines will help you make fitness a priority and on your way to achieving results:
  • Get out your calendar and review your current schedule.
  • What is unnecessary? (be honest - overtime, social, tv, social media, etc) 
  • Avoid filling up all your time with busy stuff. This includes good stuff (donating time, socializing, etc). Even too much of doing good can add stress to your life. 
  • Remove things causing stress and not beneficial to your health.
Once you have removed all the clutter and reasons from your calendar, now you will have room to do the following:
  • Schedule at least 3-5 workouts per week. (don't cancel this appointment)
  • Maintain a healthy grocery list and pick the best time to go shopping.
  • Plan one of your days off to meal prep/cook healthy for the week.
  • Pack your cooler daily with healthy food for work.
  • Plan quality quiet time for meditation, reflection, prayer 2-3 times/week (even 10 minutes is helpful)
  • Spend more time outside and away from computer/social media.
Remember, creating healthy habits take time. Implementing these steps will be a progressive process but one of the most rewarding. 

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Be well and Stay Healthy