Josh Bowen: Stop Relying on Cardio

joshI have been to hundreds of gyms. All over the country and even in England. And no matter what gym I am in, I always see the same scene. No matter the time, no matter the weather, every cardio piece will be occupied. Every treadmill, every elliptical and every stair master all taken with people who are busting their butts for 30, 40, 50 minutes, all in hopes they lose the elusive body fat.

I hate to break the news to you but it doesn’t work. Long term anyways.

But why do gyms pay thousands of dollars for 50-100 pieces of cardio if the activity is all for not? An why do gym patrons get on these machines, like mad men, and forget about all the other form of fitness (lifting weights) the place has to offer? And why does this kind of behavior exist anyway? Where does it stem from?

Answer: its on every piece of cardio machinery, “the fat burning zone.”

For the purpose of this article, I want to discuss a myth about the “fat burning zone” and why doing aerobics as your sole source of exercise may not get you to the promise land.

Before we dive deep into this step, I want to preface it by saying cardio has its place in everyone’s program. To what degree, will depend upon your goals, abilities, and preference. For example, as a trainer, I am on my feet most of the day walking around training clients. I have estimated that I walk anywhere from 2 to 4 miles per day just training clients, depending on the client load. This, by most people’s standards, is cardio. The problem with relying solely on this activity is that there is no 24-48 hour calorie burn (excessive post oxygen consumption) that allows for great body fat loss. Lifting heavy things is the only way to create an environment where the body will burn constant calories past the actual workout itself. There is also a myth associated with cardio.

Myths are fun, especially when that myth is prominent. The “Fat Burning Zone” myth has stood the test of time, through several decades and held its own in exercise mythology. To this day, people still believe that maintaining their heart rate in the “fat burning zone” is better than short bursts of interval training. Perhaps this has something to do with every piece of cardio equipment having a fat burn option, thus disallowing yourself to get your heart rate past a certain point.

Let me explain this in more detail. The theory is that if I keep my heart rate at low level (60-65% of max), my body will burn more fat than if I were to run a 15 second sprint. That part is true as you will use fat as the predominant fuel source during your workout. Heart rate and intensity are inversely related to which energy system you use. The lower your heart rate, the more oxygen that is available and when oxygen is available you use fat as fuel. The higher your heart rate goes, the less oxygen you have available, and the more you must rely anaerobic sources (glycogen, glucose, and creatine) to perform the exercise. So the thought is, I will walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes, keep my heart rate low, and burn body fat. The answer is no. You can walk on a treadmill all day if you would like, but it’s not going to change your body composition. For one, your body will adapt very quickly. And two, you are not burning a significant amount of calories needed to burn body fat. Want proof? Take an Olympic marathon runner and put them side by side with an Olympic sprinter. What is the difference? There is lower body fat and more muscle tissue in the sprinter. There is a reason for that.


Research conducted at the University of Tampa found that doing steady state cardio—such as running on the treadmill for 45 minutes at a consistent pace that’s not near maximal effort (think sprinting)—helps out with weight loss…but only initially.
The subjects lost a few pounds in the first week and then nothing more. The reason? Within a week their metabolism had adjusted and now didn’t need to work as hard to burn off the fat.
One of the biggest “problems” with just running at a steady, moderate intensity pace, is that the calories you burn are limited to the time you spend sweating.
Once your body adapts, the benefit is limited.

Research has shown that quick bouts of exercise are more beneficial in cardiovascular health but also in body composition change. Dr. Al Sears, M.D. the Director of The Center for Health and Wellness, who has reversed heart disease in over 15,000 patients, has this to say in his book The Doctor’s Heart Cure. “When you exercise for more than about 10 minutes, your heart adapts by becoming more efficient. It achieves this efficiency through downsizing. Long-duration exercise makes the heart, lungs and muscles smaller so that they can go longer with less energy, but there’s a trade-off. The cardiovascular system becomes very good at handling a 60-minute jog, but it gives up the ability to provide you with big bursts of energy for short periods. Far from protecting your heart.”

There is a place for walking on a tread mill, riding a bike, or hopping on an elliptical. It has its place in most everyone’s program design. For example, someone that trains intensely 3 days out of the week and prefers another 1-2 days of cardio, could perform some steady state cardio to keep from overloading the neuromuscular system.

So what should I do instead of doing long bouts of cardio?

The Treadmill
The average person will get on a treadmill and go for 30 minutes. Running or walking for that amount of time can become mundane.  So let’s reduce the amount of time (less is better sometimes) and increase the intensity.

Beginner
Walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes (pick a speed and incline that feels comfortable)
Hop off and do 10 body weight squats, 5 push-ups,  and 10 triceps dips.
Repeat this 4-6 times.

Intermediate
Jog on the treadmill for 5 minutes (again pick speed and incline that’s comfortable)
Hop off and do 10 squat to shoulder presses, 20 push-ups, and 20 band bicep curls.
Repeat 4 times.

Advanced
Sprint on the treadmill for 90 seconds (at a speed and incline you can handle)
Hop off and do 20 kettle bell swings, 20 squat to presses, and 20 push-ups.
Repeat 5-8 times.

The Elliptical
The elliptical is another piece of fitness equipment often used that sometimes becomes a crutch rather than helping with results. It can become boring pedaling for 30 minutes 4-5 times per week and not feeling like you are getting anywhere. Here are some conditioning workouts to break the monotony and increase your results:

Beginner
Start on the elliptical and pedal at a speed that is comfortable for 5 minutes
Take the intensity up two fold for one minute
Hop off and do 10 squats, 10 band bicep curls, and 10 triceps dips
Alternate for the desired time

Intermediate
Start on the elliptical and pedal at a speed that is comfortable for 2 minutes
Take the intensity up three fold for one minute
Hop off and do 10 squat to shoulder presses, 20 push-ups, and 20 band bicep curls
Repeat 4-6 times

Advanced
Start on the elliptical and pedal at a speed that is comfortable for 1 minute
Take the intensity up as high as you can for 2 minutes
Hop off and do 20 kettle bell swings, 20 squat to presses, and 20 push-ups
Repeat 5-8 times

These subtle tweaks can be applied to any apparatus, implementing a different approach to your old school “cardio” routine, and taking it into a conditioning program. Depending upon your goal, conditioning can be done 1-5 days per week.

These are subtle changes, yet effective ones. Every client that I have implemented these strategies with has seen some type of difference. Try it for yourself.

Lauren Mayer: First Name Celebrity

One indication of super-sized celebrity is being so famous that your first name alone is enough to identify you.  Think of such iconic performers as Madonna, Cher, or . . . actually, those are the only clear examples I can think of (okay, maybe ‘Giselle,’ as in the super model, but that’s stretching it).  But now they can welcome a new member to this very small club.  Hillary Rodham Clinton is starting her campaign much more humbly than in ’08, doing small events, featuring mostly other people in her announcement video, and encouraging everyone to call her Hillary instead of Senator or Secretary Clinton.  And because she is such an iconic and polarizing figure, just her first name is more than enough to identify her and to elicit a huge range of responses, from outrage & conspiracy theories on the right, to ‘I’m for Hillary’ cheers on the center/left, to ‘Well, she’s our best hope since Elizabeth Warren won’t run’ on the farther left.

So I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate her announcement by parodying an iconic showtune all about a character’s first name.  (Hint, this is from a musical taking place in Iowa, appropriately enough!)

Josh Bowen: The Art of the Comeback

joshA few names…

Donald Trump, Magic Johnson, Britney Spears, Apple, Drew Barrymore, Robert Downey, Jr. and George Foreman.

What do they have in common? All wealthy? Successful? Dedicated to their craft? Yes but they all have had to make a comeback. In a variety of ways they had to dust the dirt off and come back stronger than ever. Were they burnt out a some point? Of course, but they kept plugging away. The came back from adversity and made the most of their 24 hours they are allotted everyday.

Ok. Let’s put this in our terms. We are talking fitness, nutrition and lifestyle. We are in the month of March and by now most people have given up on their fitness goals. But not you.

The snow may have interrupted your flow. You may have gotten sick and it caused you to miss a workout or two. And you may have had work stress that may have prevented you from working out with your trainer or going to the gym on your own. Is this you? Here is some advice on how to make the comeback:

Go
Go back to the gym, go back to your trainer go back to eating decent again. No reason why you can’t. No reason for you to feel defeated. This is marathon not a sprint.

Remember Why You Started
Why are you here in the first place? What is it that you desire? Why is it important? These are all questions you must ask yourself. You must also decide if it is worth to you to keep going. My money is always on, it is.

Simplify
Stop making this complicated. It’s not. You eat 3 quality meals, workout 3-4 times per week, drink a ton of water and sleep as much as your life allows. It’s not rocket science but it does require your patience and your consistency. Without both, forget about it.

Either you are in or out. Your mind decides which one. The above list I’m sure got down on themselves and was very burnt out on their craft but they never gave up. Their spirit was in them at all times. They made the comeback, just as you will.

Liz Roach: Bourbon Classic, Round 2

Liz RoachWhen “pixie dust” is a featured part of a dish, you know you’re in for an amazing taste experience.  Sprinkled atop smoked oysters, the magical ingredient conjured up an award for “Best Classic Small Plate” for Chef Levon Wallace at this year’s Bourbon Classic event.  Chef Wallace (formerly of Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky) has now moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work for Cochon Butcher, but the memory of his and other bournon-tinged creations lives on.

Set at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, this year’s Classic again delivered an unforgettable program of smoothly finished events. The opening night featured an array of mouth-watering dishes and beguiling cocktails, such as Diane Rehm of Feast’s concoction of apricot and black pepper bourbon sour featuring Russell’s Reserve 10 year. Chefs and bartenders expertly paired dishes and signature drinks in two categories (classic and contemporary) to compete for the coveted Bourbon Classic barrelheads.  Following the competition, attendees headed across the street to Chef Edward Lee’s restaurant Milkwood for the after-party and additional cocktails (because really, there are never enough).

2015-02-21+20.02.02On Day two, participants filed into “Bourbon Classic University” classes, where they honed their knowledge on topics such as country ham and bourbon pairings and bourbon flavor profiles.  A highlight of the day occurred in John Shutt of Blanton’s workshop, where he expounded on the art of entertaining with whiskey (which requires thoughtful consideration, if you do it right). In between classes, a master distillers session featured a gathering of the greats giving their thoughts and stories. The event ended with another round of bountiful food and bourbon, as guests congratulated themselves on surviving another year with intact livers and improved palates.

Planning has already begun for next year’s Bourbon Classic, which will take place in the winter of 2016. Click here for details.

Lauren Mayer: Rand Paul Isn’t Sexist (He’s A Jerk To Everyone)

Senator Paul’s presidential campaign got off to a rocky start last week, with his constant issues with the media (and reminding everyone of the episode several weeks ago where he patronizingly ‘shushhed’ a female journalist).  He may not have been quite so patronizing to male reporters, but at least he managed to prove that his obnoxious behavior wasn’t limited to women.

I’m far more offended by his actual policies than his behavior – for a supposedly libertarian renegade, he hews quite closely to the far-right agenda of trampling on reproductive choice, gay rights, etc. – but as a satirist, I have to acknowledge him for said behavior, since it is what we in the business call ‘comedy gold’.

Josh Bowen: Food Prep 101

“You either prepare to succeed or prepare to fail…there is no in-between.”

joshYou have great intentions. You want to eat better. You want fitness results. But you didn’t bring any food to work today. So you go out with the rest of the crew and eat Mexican.

Is this you?

I am prepared to take you through a course of food preparation. But first lets digress on why you would prepare your food:

1. Selection- I find that clients that prepared their meals ahead of time select better foods. Clients that do not prepare meals, tend to select whatever is available. Selecting whatever is available is a great way of messing with your fitness results. Need help grocery shopping? Check out this grocery list http://eepurl.com/bbcDCH

2. Cost Effective- Today I fixed 3lbs of chicken and a half pound of rice. This will last for 10-12 meals. The total cost $60 or $5-6 per meal. To eat out and get the same meal would cost $10-15. That is a savings of $5-10 per meal. In other words, prepare your meals.

3. Results- Everyone wants results but few are willing to do what it takes to get them. If you want results, prepare your meals. It is that simple.If you must eat out, check this out on steps to eating out http://eepurl.com/bc_ACD

Now let us get down to the “nitty gritty” on how to prepare your food.

1. Prepare ahead of time- Take a day or two and prepare your meals for the week. Plan what you are going to have (in accordance of your goals) each day and only cook what you need. This will save you so much more time and headache and at the end of the day..money.

2. Keep it simple- Do your best to keep it simple. A great protein source, a steamed vegetable and a small amount of carbohydrates (depending on goal) is a great way to prepare your meals.

3. Variety- If you want variety for taste purposes, use different seasoning and sauces to switch it up. Keep the additives to a minimum but also it is important to have fun with your meals. Getting a cookbook and trying different recipes is a great idea as well. A resource is my friend Kate. She an author and chef and you can find out more about her at http://simplynutritiousbykate.com/

4. Fun- Try you best to look at this as fun, rather than a chore. This process is to help you see fitness results and keep you on track and more efficient.

For your enjoyment, here are some of my lovely clients food prep pictures:

food prep 2

food prep 1

food prep 3

Josh Bowen: 10 Rules for Fitness Success

joshI want to tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You’re probably thinking I’m Jack Nicholson in the A Few Good Men. No, I’m just JB and I have to tell you truth, the cold hard facts. Nutrition will always stand in your way from being a success or a failure in your fitness journey. It is the rule, science backed, and JB approved. You CANNOT out exercise your diet. So, why do people overeat and make bad nutritional decisions? Well planning and preparation are everything and those that do not plan, fail. It is that simple.

You must plan your meals ahead of time to be a success. Eating habits play a huge role as well. Habits are powerful behavioral patterns that allow us to perform many of our daily tasks without conscious effort. Translation, sometimes what we think we are eating is actually good for us! That’s scary! Social pressure from our inner circle can influence the way we approach our diet on a daily.

Last and most important people overeat for emotional escape. There is a strong correlation between “comfort foods” and making humans feel good. Refined sugar, sodium, high saturated fat filled food causes our brain to release serotonin. This causes our bodies to relax and feel good. This becomes a behavior and not a physiological need for food. After a stressful day, people tend to throw the rule book out the window and eat whatever makes them feel better. Not good.

So with that said here are The Rules, that if followed can produce some great results.

The Rules

Rule #1

Preparation
Prepare all meals in advance regardless of location. Coolers, bags, Tupperware etc. Must prepare for success and not prepare to fail. Most important rule. If this is absolutely out of the question refer back to this article for strategies for eating on the go http://eepurl.com/bc_ACD or this on what to eat out http://eepurl.com/8AjIn

Rule #2

Breakfast- Must be the largest meal of the day. Breakfast literally means to break the fast. When our bodies sleep we utilize glycogen from our liver stores to keep our blood glucose levels normal. When we wake up our body requires glucose to revitalize our body and allow our brain to function at a high capacity. Also, eating breakfast prevents overeating the rest of the day. This will get our metabolism moving for the rest of the day.

Rule #3

Choose a Cut Off Time- This is more behavioral than physiological. Start by setting a cut off time for when you will stop eating. At first, start with 8 pm and progressively move it up til you are eating dinner at 6 pm and not eating again to the next morning (if you workout late at night, adjust the time because you need post workout nutrition). This discourages late night cravings which can destroy our diets. This will get clients in the habit of cutting off their eating habits at a certain time for maximum weight loss. Dinner must be 1/3 smaller than breakfast for optimum weight loss.

Rule #4

Drink Water- water plays a part in most physiological aspects of our body, from anabolism to washing waste out our body. YOU MUST drink water and lots of it. 10 glasses a day will not cut it. Shoot for a gallon every day. The more water you ingest the less your body retains. View this article for more on water http://joshjbbowen.com/2012/12/31/the-old-gallon-jug/

Rule #5

Squat- Simply put DO IT!!! Squatting is primal movement pattern we have been doing since we learned to walk. It involves virtually every muscle in your body and quite frankly is a must for anyone. Read more about it here http://eepurl.com/–1Lz

Rule #6

Eat Fiber- Fiber’s most important property is it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Also helping the body in ridding certain waste. 30-40 grams.

Soluble- dissolves in water. Oats, legumes (beans, peas and soy beans) apples, bananas, berries, barley

Insoluble- whole wheat bran, nuts, seeds, skin of fruits and veggies.

Rule #7

Stress: Manage it!- Stress can be a huge culprit in preventing weight loss and eventually leading to weight gain. We either do not eat or over indulge because of our stress levels. Worse, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol that cannibalizes our muscle tissue as well as slowing our metabolism. Learn more about your hormones and how they impact your body fat loss and retention here http://eepurl.com/7YX6b

Rule #8

Limit Alcohol Consumption- People are more likely to eat 20% more calories while drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a toxin to the human body that must be eradicated before any other nutrient. Thus slowing down the breakdown of fat and carbohydrates, slowing the metabolism. Limiting this even 50% will have amazing turn around effects.

Rule #9

Limit Refined Sugar- sugar increases the rate the pancreas releases insulin, thus causing an imbalance. If it is not required by the body it is put into storage. Devoid of 90% of its vitamins and minerals contributing to an ineffective metabolism and poor recovery and weight control. Also inhibits the release of growth hormones depressing the immune system. Increase ingestion will increase inflammation of joints requiring more time for recovery.

Rule #10

Work out 3-4 days per week. Preferably mostly resistance/strength training based programming with concentration on whole body lifts (squats, deadlifts, lunges, pushups, presses). More muscle, less body fat. The equation is simple, backed with proper nutrition and you have a recipe for success.

The combination of all 10 of these guidelines would make a dramatic difference in who you are and who you want to be. The question is the execution. You’ve got it!

Lauren Mayer: Comedians’ Dreams Sometimes Do Come True

Frequently, in political satire truth is so much stranger than fiction that it makes my job a simple matter of setting reality to music.  If I were to write a fictional character who was so clueless, he didn’t bother to secure basic variations of his domain name, and so egotistical that he compared his science denial to the principled stance of Galileo (and then completely mis-represent Galileo’s breakthroughs), no one would take me seriously.  Which is why satire is almost always the best response to political shenanigans.

Ted Cruz’s first week as a declared candidate was like something out of a Monty Python routine.  So here’s a fitting musical tribute:

Last Night’s UK/Notre Dame Game — in Tweets

Josh Bowen: Pour a Little Sugar…Out

Humans have been using sugar since the 5th century. And since that time, humans have been consuming it in record amounts. In fact in 1801, historians estimate each American consumed 8.4 pound of sugar each year. In 1909, Americans consumed 85 pounds of sugar a year (6 lbs of corn sweeteners, 80 lbs of cane and beet sugar). In 1999 Americans consumed 151 pounds of sugar (84 lbs from corn sweeteners). Oh and by the way a person dies from Type 2 Diabetes every 7 seconds and it wasn’t officially discovered until 1935! Wow! There is a direct relationship to the amount of sugar one ingests to the potential for contracting Type 2 Diabetes.

Sugar is very debilitating to the human body, causing hormone issues and ultimately leading to Type 2 Diabetes. It is also very addicting. Princeton University did a study and found that sugar has the same effects on the brain as cocaine and other street drugs do. “Our evidence from an animal model suggests that bingeing on sugar can act in the brain in ways very similar to drugs of abuse,” says lead researcher and Princeton psychology professor Bart Hoebel.  Some of this information may surprise you, as there are a lot of myths out there as it relates to sure. Here are a few, with the real story.

Both “reduced sugar” and “No added sugar” mean the product has no sugar? NO

FDA allows the term “reduced sugar” on all products that have 25% less sugar than the leading brand. Meaning that the product could still have 75% of the sugar content of the original formula. “No added sugar” is used for a variety of foods with naturally occurring sugars such as jams, jellies, yogurt, milk, tomato sauce.

Low sugar

If a food is labeled “sugar free,” it contains no sugar? Not necessarily

“Sugar free” foods can legally contain trace amounts of sugar (less than .5 grams per serving). Meaning 1/8 of teaspoon of sugar might be in the food you are eating. If you consume one serving its no big deal, but if you are eating several of these items it could add up.

 “Low fat” and “Fat free” mean “Sugar free?” False

Low fat yogurt is a perfect example, low in fat but high in sugar. It is possible the product could have more sugar than its high fat counterpart. Many low fat muffins, breads, cookies and salad dressings have more sugar than the regular product. Many of these products also contain health harming artificial sweeteners.

Raw sugar, brown rice syrup, and maple syrup are better for you than refined sugar? No

This is a way manufactures fool consumers by capitalizing on their desire for natural sugars. Raw sugar and maple syrup have different flavors but their nutritional value is no different than plain table sugar. They are all metabolized like sucrose raising blood sugar levels and suppressing the immune system.

Fruit juice concentrates are better for you than refined sugars? False

Foods containing orange, pineapple, or other fruit concentrates may look healthy but they are metabolized in the same way as refined sugars. Fruit concentrate is stripped of its vitamins and minerals, fiber.

Honey is much better for you than sugar and we process it differently? Not true

Honey is made up of 1/3 fructose, 1/3 glucose, a little maltose and water. Honey is more concentrated than sugar. It has 5 grams of sugar per teaspoon versus 4 grams for table sugar. Some studies even have shown that honey raises your glucose levels higher than table sugar and suppresses your white blood cell count more.

Sucrose is natural? NOPE

In its natural state sugar would be a 20 foot cane stalk. Natural means you can pick it off a tree or bush or dig it out. To make sugar, sugar they have to add hydrocholoric acid or sulfuric acid to rid it of impurities. In addition, sodium nitrate or salt is added as are chlorine and other harmful agents.

Anything labeled “All Natural” is better than anything refined? No

There is no legal term for using the word natural under US food law. Companies can call anything natural that they want. In fact some sweeteners are made from all natural ingredients but are highly concentrated sources of sugars

Fructose comes only from fruit? No

Fruit consists of many sugars, only one of them is fructose. Fruit also contains glucose, dextrose, maltose, galactose. You can also get fructose from processed foods and beverages as well as pharmaceuticals, flavors and cosmetics. Fructose typically is chemically refined from corn in the US. People get it confused because they think of fruit. Fructose is more readily metabolized to a form of triglycerides in the liver and in the blood.

Sweeteners are ok to use in substitute of sugar? No

Most popular sweeteners used today:

High fructose corn syrup

Sucrose

Brown sugar

Molasses

Maple syrup

Dextrose

Maltodextrin

Xytol

Honey

Splenda

Aspartame

These cause water retention and decrease potassium, causing the adrenal glands dysfunction because of the mineral imbalance.

sugar sigar

At the end of the day most of us (myself included) have physical goals related to decreasing our body fat. The first place I would start in that quest would be to evaluate the amount of sugar I took in. From here we can decrease as necessary to achieve our goals. Foods higher than 5 grams per serving of sugar would be the first I would dispense of. This is easier said than done but keep it simple and great things will come.

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