Starting a food journal: being consciously aware of what you are consuming is half the battle.

There is a popular axiom that states, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

CANI Consulting Weight Loss

Many people who are overweight are unaware of what they actually consume on a daily basis. Starting a food journal is one of the simplest and most effective ways to begin making healthy choices. Start by documenting everything that you have eaten over the past couple of days. Be honest; there is no sense lying to yourself.

CANI Consulting Food Journal

A large part of this process is being willing to face the unpleasant realities that we previously ignored. You can do a manual food journal by documenting everything in a notebook or you can use one of the many online food journals or smart phone apps that are out there. I recommend the app because it’s convenient and contains all of the nutritional information, making it very easy to use. The Calorie Counter App by FatSecret.com is a great option, but again there are many to choose from so find one that works best for you. Once you have the app (or a notebook) document each food item and the amount that you eat along with the general time of the day that you ate it (morning, late morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening, late evening). Don’t forget to include your drinks: soda (pop), juices, beer/wine (unfortunately these contain calories too).

Nutrition_Lable

After you have added all of the food items, look at the total calories and nutritional values for each day, if you are doing it the old-fashioned way and using a notebook, you will have to manually look up the nutritional information for each item and do some math; either way the results may surprise you. The most important part of this exercise is becoming aware of what you are putting into your body. Armed with that information, you can begin to make some changes.

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3 Fitness Myths Preventing You from Accomplishing Your Goals

Are these common fitness myths may be preventing you from accomplishing your goals?

Fitness Myths True False

The internet is filled with free workout videos, exercise videos, fitness books, etc. that provide advice about fitness and how to drop a few pounds. Like anything, some of the information is credible and some of it not so much. Unfortunately sometimes the false information becomes so pervasive that it actually comes to be accepted as fact by many people. Our friend and fitness expert Bob Bateson refers to these as fitness myths and he loves debunking them whenever he gets the opportunity. With more than 25 years working in the fitness industry, Bob often finds himself setting the record straight on a number of these myths. These are the three that he says he encounters most often.

fitness myths scale

Myth #1: Want to lose weight… consume fewer calories.
If you plug your gender and size into most fitness apps, you will probably be given a calorie goal of between 1200-1500 calories per day. Although this might happen to be accurate for you, these numbers are based on average body compositions that are likely different from yours. In reality your calorie goal should be based on a calculation known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This number is assessed by using your specific body composition to calculate the number of calories your body burns at rest in a 24-hour period. Put simply this is the number of calories your body needs to properly sustain life.
This means that if your BMR is 1500 calories and you are only consuming the recommended 1200 calories you are failing to provide your body with enough fuel to make it through the day (if you were resting). While this may seem to be producing favorable results in the short-term, over a period of time your body will begin to store calories in the form of fat to ensure survival.

Bottom Line: The best way to manage your weight is to understand how your body works and to use weight reduction strategies that cut the extra calories that are consumed in addition to your BMR. Which means that you may actually have to take in more calories.

fitness myth body builder

Myth #2: Strength training will make you look like a bodybuilder.
According to Bob, this may be the most common fitness myth that he hears, especially among women. The reality is that it is a big enough challenge for men, who have the added advantage of muscle producing testosterone to help them out, to add that type of muscle mass. Most women simply don’t have the biochemical composition to add enough muscle mass to get “bulky.” This myth often results in people skipping resistance training and doing only cardio (we’ll address that problem next).

 fat vs muscle fitness myths

The simple fact is that lean muscle takes up less space than fat. If you were to look at 1 lb. of muscle compared to 1 lb. of fat you would see that the fat is almost double the size of the muscle. There’s a tremendous difference between a person who weighs 200 lbs. with 5% body fat and a person who weighs 200 lbs. with 30-40% body fat. What’s better is that lean muscle mass helps your body burn more fat, this means that you get leaner.

Bottom Line: Strength training in the endurance work zone (12-15 Reps) will increase lean muscle mass, reduce fat, and have you looking leaner.

Active Lifestyle

Myth #3: You must do more cardio if you want to lose weight.
Although cardio makes you feel as if you got a great workout in and it is definitely convenient (No thinking involved, put on your iPod, set it, and go), the reality is that cardio alone burns fewer calories than weight training. In fact resistance training in the work zone (lifting the maximum amount of weight for a desired number of repetitions) can produce a calorie burn that is 3x’s higher than cardio.

Bottom Line: No, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do cardio. Having a strong cardiovascular system is essential to achieving your fitness goals. However, if your fitness goal is to burn fat, it is essential that you do your resistance training, in the work zone, first and save your cardio for the last 15-20 minutes of your workout.

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Cardio or Resistance Training?

 

 

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Envision Success: How will the new healthy you look, act, and feel?

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Ok so you followed the advice in our post about how to get started on living a healthier life and you’ve made the decision to begin making healthy changes in your life… now what? Now we get to have a little bit of fun and give your imagination a workout.

disney_quote

Once you’ve decided on health, make it real by envisioning what success will look and feel like. This may seem trivial, but it is an extremely important step in the process. In fact many of the most successful people throughout history have described this step as being fundamental in their process. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey lists ‘beginning with the end in mind’ as the second habit that all successful people have in common. From professional athletes  to the CEO’s of the most successful companies in the world, Covey found that all of them were able to envision what success would look and feel like early in the process. The same is true for this journey, you must be able to envision the new and healthier you.

Picture yourself living an active lifestyle: hiking, jogging, running around with your kids or grand kids. Picture your new wardrobe and how fun shopping for new clothes will be. Picture yourself exercising and all of the great new friends you’ll make. It is also important that you picture yourself getting started. See yourself throwing out the junk food in your house and replacing it with healthy snacks and foods. See yourself getting up early in the morning to exercise or going to the gym after work. Imagine how empowering those things will be and how good they make you feel. Imagine how great you will feel when your friends and family start to notice your progress and pay you compliments about how great you look. See yourself living and enjoying the life that you deserve.

Now that you have the proper mindset, hold on to that image of your future self and remind yourself of it everyday. When you encounter a setback on your journey, return to that image and remind yourself that it’s just a speed bump on the way to the new and healthier you. When you are struggling to get through a run or a workout, motivate yourself by using the image to remind you of what you are working toward. And always remember this quote from the great  American classic …The Waterboy,

“You can do it!”

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Responsible Snacking: A quick tip to help you avoid overindulging on your favorite treats

eating chocolate

Do you find that  you approach snacking with the best of intentions, committed to eating “just one,” “a little bit,” or “only a taste” only to realize -a few short minutes later- that you have consumed your daily caloric intake in the form of M&M’s (they get me every time)?

This short video explains why that happens and how sugar affects our brain:

So should we stop snacking?

Of course not! Snacking is important. It helps keep our metabolism boosted between meals and can reduce our urge to binge eat, actually reducing our overall caloric intake. While we should try to enjoy healthy snacks as much as possible…we still have to reward ourselves with the good stuff every once in a while.

How do we prevent over snacking?

The solution to this problem requires a little preparation and some self-control.

First you will need the following:

Now purchase your favorite snacks: M&M’s, Doritos, Chips, candy bars, etc… these often come in large multiple serving packages (a major contributing factor to the over snacking problem).

Sit down with your scale and snack bags and divide up the snack into managed portion sizes (I like to make my own 100 calorie packs).

IMPORTANT: DO NOT DO THIS WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. 

Example:

If we use Dark Chocolate Peanut M&M’s (my favorite):

The nutritional information tells us that:

Each serving is .25 cup (about 43 grams) and 210 Calories.

Using our scale we find that each M&M weighs about 2 grams meaning that there are approximately 21 M&M’s per serving (43 grams in a serving/2 grams per M&M).

To make our 100 calorie pack we need to figure out the how many calories are in each M&M:

210 Calories / 21 M&M’s = 10 Calories per M&M (WHAT?! But they’re so small)

Now add the appropriate number of M&M’s to our baggie:

100 Calories/10 Calories per M&M = 10 M&M’s (THAT’S IT?!)

The large 19.2 oz bag should yield about 27 individual 100-calorie packs.

Note: Typically the more unhealthy the snack, the smaller your 100 calorie packs will be.

How does this strategy help?

First this helps you to become conscious of the relationship between portion size and calories of your favorite ‘junk’ foods. This means that even if you’re in a situation where you come into contact with these foods and you don’t have the benefit of portion controlled sizes; you will still have an idea of how many calories you are taking in.

It also creates another barrier to binge eating by making you mindful of exactly what you are putting into your body. Every time you open another bag you know that it represents 100 calories.

Woman Eating Strawberry

Finally you should be a little discouraged by the small portion sizes that these foods produce. Hopefully this encourages you to search for new more plentiful and filling healthy alternatives.

Let this mantra serve as your guide when snacking:  Become aware, prepare, and always…snack responsibly.

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