Josh Bowen: 3 Reasons Why Soreness Doesn’t Mean Results

joshBack when I first started working out, I loved the feeling. When I first started working with clients, I loved hearing them tell me about it.

Soreness.

One of the first questions, in the old days, we use to ask clients who had been working out on their own, “are you getting sore still.” With little to no scientific research to back up our clams, we obliterated body parts into submission, thinking that everyone need to be sore to get results.

I was wrong.

To this day, I have attracted a client base that loves to be pushed and I love to push them. At times I can be relentless and somewhat domineering. However, I don’t believe the old school “Arnold rules” that says in order to achieve maximum results you must be so sore you cannot walk or move your arms. To be that sore every time you workout seems silly and counterproductive. Every once in a while is OK :) I look to a segment of our population for proof that get paid to workout, professional bodybuilders. Ask any athlete, especially physique athletes and they will tell you the last thing they want to be is sore. It messes with their routine and training. It will happen from time to time but it doesn’t define their progress.

For research to back up my claim, here is a popular research article from the National Strength and Conditioning Journal by a couple of guys I have met and have heard speak several times.

Shifting through all the research jargon I took the following statement to heart, “the applicability of DOMS in assessing workout quality is inherently limited, and it therefore should not be used as a definitive gauge of results.” OK moving right along. Let us get out of the research world (secretly I dislike it) and move to the practical side of things.

You want to be sore? That is great but it does not actually mean you are progressing. It does mean you either broke down your muscle tissue down significantly to create DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) or you introduce a new workout, exercise or rep scheme that your body was not ready for, thus causing soreness. Again, I love to be sore but the point is not to workout every time until you are are so sore you cannot move. This is counterproductive.

So here are my 3 reasons:

1. Soreness can interrupt to today’s workout: Recovery is important, being able to recover after a workout is even more important. If I am training a client full body 2-3 days per week and their legs are so sore they can barely lunge, squat or kettlebell swing this impedes my ability to program correctly for that day. Sure, if your legs are really sore, you can always do arms. However, I love when clients are pushed hard and have the ability to recover (because of adequate protein and rest) fast enough to workout at the same intensity or higher. How you recover workout to workout is more important than how sore you get workout to workout.  *Reminder…this applies to people who push themselves. If you are not pushing yourself, there is no need for recovery, you are already recovered.

2. Intense soreness could mean a lack of quality nutrition and rest A little soreness hear and there is great. Not being able to move (unless you first started working out) is not so good. This could be an indication of improper rest and inadequate nutrition, in particular a lack of high quality protein intake. Protein’s job is to help build and repair muscle tissue. Without it, the muscle will break down and will continue to break down to the point of injury. Same thing goes for recovery. If your muscles never recover you can never get to your full potential.

3. Your body can only take so much I have to tell myself this all the time, “you can only workout so much.” I don’t get as much sleep as I would like and there are some days where I have to rely on protein shakes as my main food source. There is no way I could handle soreness that would prevent me from training myself day to day. Your neuromuscular system is not designed to take a pounding every single day. It needs rest and needs food. 3-4 days of vigorous workouts, coupled with some active rest or complete rest days is enough for most people to get where they want to be. Less is more in this case.

The point I am trying to prove is that you do not need to continuously push your body to point where how sore you get should be a concern. A little tenderness is OK, outright muscle pain, after every workout does not mean your muscles are growing and you are getting better. Do not use this as an indicator of such. Rant over.

Josh Bowen: 3 Thoughts We Should Stop Having About Fitness

joshI have been traveling the last few days and have had several conversations with people on the planes I’ve been on about fitness. One in particular with my taxi cab driver who picked me up at the airport in Florida.

The lady must have been in here early 40’s and in decent shape but really wanted to be in better shape. After finding out what I did for a living she instantly started probing me for information. And as it is in many cases the person will ask questions or state beliefs only to validate their own beliefs regardless of my opinion on the subject matter.

15 minutes into our ride she had told me how diet X didn’t work for and neither did diet A-R but diet W and Z were the bomb.com. What?! She also referred to anything lifting related as the “man zone” and quickly wanted to tell me how doing an hour of cardio was great but was boring and she wasn’t sure she could tell a difference. You don’t say?

So, as only I can do, I referred her to my book 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom as a step in the right direction for her. Maybe the book could do a better job of explaining the components of fitness than I could do. Either way these random conversations with people boggle my mind. I still cannot understand why we have such a hard time understanding the core principles of fitness. We continually over diet, we look at food as either bad or good and we have no concept of what is too much or not enough.

Let’s set the trend here with the 3 Thoughts We Should Stop Having About Fitness:

Thought 1: Diets Work
If diets work then why is obesity and the number of diet books on sale at an all time? Diets don’t work. Have never worked. Will never work. They are often too stringent and restrict our favorite foods. They are also not nutrient driven and only focus on the amount of calories you eat, forgetting about the nutrient value of protein, carbs and fats.

Thought 2: More Exercise is Better
Using exercise to lose fat is like using a band aid to on a gun shot wound. Thinking you can go workout to eradicate that pizza you just ate or that bottle of wine you just drank is lunacy. The average person cannot eat what they want then go workout and expect to look the way they want. You also can workout TOO much. Your nervous system can only handle so much (this is where the value of rest comes into play) exercise thang it can become fried and will need a break. 3-4 days of vigorous exercise is usually enough for most people, anymore than that and the body will not be able to handle stress (unless nutrition, rest and genetics intervene).

Thought 3: Lifting Weights Makes Women Look Like Men
It doesn’t. Never has. Never will. There are outliers to everything, however those are few and far between. Want to be leaner? Want to have a defined waist, shoulders and back, pick up heavy things. With the help of great nutrition habits, lifting weights will make anyone look great naked. And that’s a great thing!

My hope is I can put these to bed and never have to discuss them again. But the majority of you reading this already know these so if you could forward to friends and family, it would help he education of the exercising public and maybe increase my subscribers! Until next time.

Josh Bowen: Don’t Drink And…Train?

68d5575d-dae6-4f15-b862-33d000b038f5A common question I get from clients, “can I drink alcohol and still get results?”

As with most questions I receive, there is no yes or no answer, it simply just depends. It depends on how much and how much of what you are drinking.

I am a firm believer in moderation and balance. I believe you can achieve your fitness goals and still have a drink or two, here and there. So for argument sake lets define moderation; no more than one alcoholic drink for women and no more than two for men, per day. An alcoholic drink is defined as 4 oz. of an “adult” beverage.

So JB what are the drawbacks to drinking alcohol as it relates to my workout?

Glad you asked, here are 5 side effects to drinking alcohol and working out:

Dehydration
Muscles are composed of 75% water.Inadequate water intake zaps the muscles of strength. When alcohol is in the system the kidneys must filter large amounts of water to flush the alcohol out of your system, causing dehydration. Too combat this, after drinking alcohol drink 32 oz. of water. This should help with the dehydration and lessen your hangover.

Fat Storage
Although alcohol is a carbohydrate, it does not convert to glucose like most carbohydrates but becomes a fatty acid and is more likely to be stored as fat. If you exercise and drink alcohol, it causes your fat metabolism to be put “on hold.” The caloric content of alcohol adds up to seven calories per gram. A 12-oz. beer, on average, contains around 146 calories, 13 g. of carbohydrate and a few vitamins and minerals. A shot of gin has around 110 calories.

Vitamin Depletion
Alcohol depletes vitamins A, B, C, calcium, zinc and phosphorus.This nutrients are vital in the retention and increase of your muscle. To combat this depletion, if you are going to drink take a multi-vitamin prior too. This will help decrease the depletion because you are taking in excess nutrients.

Lowered Testosterone
Alcohol increases estrogen in men, thus lowering the free testosterone in the body. Testosterone helps build muscle tissue.

Beer Belly
This could go with fat storage but a common characteristic of a man or woman that drinks too much beer is the beer belly. Because alcohol is a toxin, the liver must filter it out of the body. If taken in excess over the course of years the liver will secret a fluid that will build up in the abdominal wall. Causing the dreaded beer belly.

2 “Healthier” Options

There are better options to drink than others. Again, these options are lower in calories but anything in excess, regardless of caloric value, will derail your progress in body transformation.

Wine
Is the most friendly of all alcoholic beverages, averaging just 20 calories per ounce for most wines. Check below!

Wine Calories Per Ounce      Carbs Per 5-oz Serving
Chardonnay 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Pinot Grigio 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Zinfandel® White Wine 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Cabernet Sauvignon 20 0.8 g 100 calories, 4 g carbs
Merlot Red Wine 20 0.8 g 100 calories, 4 g carbs

“Hard” Liquor
Not exactly sure why it would be called hard but these are more caloric intensive than wine but not as bad as liquors, mixed drinks or some beers. Refrain from adding sodas to the mix or the calories will go up.

Hard Liquor Calories Per Ounce Carbs Per 1.5-oz Serving
Vermouth 32 0.2 g 64 calories, 0.4 g carbs
Coconut Rum 51 5.3 g 77 calories, 8 g carbs
Beefeater® Gin 65 0 g 98 calories, 0 g carbs
Rye Whiskey 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Scotch Whiskey 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
White Rum 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Vodka 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Cognac 69 2 g 104 calories, 3 g carbs
Tequila 69 5.3 g 104 calories, 8 g carbs
Gilbey’s® Gin 79 0 g 119 calories, 0 g carbs

A life with synergy requires balance and drinking alcohol has its benefits but also its drawbacks. Anything in moderation will be fine, the probably lies in excess and will lead to lower muscle tissue, increased bodyfat and lower quality of life.

Josh Bowen: 5 Tips to Eating Out Smarter

69a6794b-9ea3-4895-babe-eb358190f2abWe live in a world that goes 100 miles per hour…everyday. Sometimes the last thing on our mind is preparing food. Though a necessary evil, preparing our food is always the best practice, instead of eating out. However there are times where going to a restaurant are warranted. 

For nearly 7 years, I traveled up and down the roads and eating out was the only option I had. Through that experience, I developed some “tips” to eat my body full of nutrients and to fuel my workouts at the same time eating out. 

Here are my 5 tips:

1. Game Plan
If you know you are going to be traveling, Google the restaurants close and if need be look at the nutritional facts. If you are in a hurry or you have a business meeting, plan where you are going that you know has healthy options. To use the excuse of a meeting or didn’t have time, is not acceptable when there are so many better options. 

2. Survey the Menu
There will always be better options and most places have a “healthy” option selection on their menu. Just look for it or ask the waitress. Texas Roadhouse in Lexington has the JB Fit Menu


3. Learn How to Order
When I order at a place I tell them specifically what I want:
“No seasoning” “No butter” “Grilled no fried” “Sweet potato plain”
To most this may seem like a pain but it saves you in the long run. Most cooks at restaurants will pile on the margarine and salt, making for an unnecessary nutritional nightmare. Just ask to not have it. I do it all the time, it will be OK!

4. Substitute 
So you steak comes with fries? Hey yo, substitute green beans for those fries or a plain sweet potato. Over the long run this will help you. Meal comes with two sides and everything looks like old school country fixings? Sub out a house salad (salad dressing on the side). Easy substitutions will save the calories in the long run.

5. Control the Portions
They give you too much food. You don’t need all the food they give you. Eat half and save the rest for lunch tomorrow (if healthy). No reason to big out if you do not need too.

Bonus..

5.1 The Table Setting
Some places will give you bread (for free) when they seat you. Resist or tell the host you do not want any bread. Resist the temptation before you gorge yourself on bread before a big meal.

5.2 Cookie Monster
“Would you like to see a desert menu.” Answer no! Again, you will fall into temptation that you will not be able to recover from. Just say no to cake!

Take it from me, I have done my fair share of eating out. But it should not interfere with your fitness goals and the way you feel. Hope you enjoyed this post!

Josh Bowen: Food Cravings

joshI get food cravings. You get food cravings. We ALL get food cravings. But what does it mean?

A few months ago I read an interesting article (I have searched and cannot find it) about the affect, low quality, nutrient deficient food has on our brains. To summarize the article; research had been done on the brain and how it responded to eating donuts, pop tarts and other “junk” food. Essentially it caused the body to crave these foods even more because the brain and body had not been satisfied with the amount of nutrients it had gotten. So it needed to eat again. This caused overeating in several test subjects.

Make of it what you will but when we crave and subsequently eat foods that would be considered low nutrient food, you end up craving more it to make up for the lack of nutrients that other foods such as vegetables, fruits and lean proteins would provide. Thus causing overeating.

So…What is my body telling me when I crave certain foods? Great question. I have always said that what your body craves, tells you what your diet is lacking. So here is a list of cravings and what you need and what to eat instead:

Craving: Chocolate
What you need: Magnesium
What to eat instead: Nuts, seeds, veggies and fruits

Craving: Sugar
What you need: Chromium, Carbon, Trytophan
What to eat instead: broccoli, chicken, fatty fish, nuts, fresh fruits

Craving: Starchy Carbs (pasta, bread)
What you need: Nitrogene
What to eat instead: high protein foods, fatty fish, chia seeds

Craving: Oily Foods
What you need: Calcium
What to eat instead: green leafy vegetables

Craving: Salty Foods
What you need: Chloride, Silicon
What to eat instead: cashews, seeds, almonds, fatty fish

This is by no means the end all be all list. However, this gives you an idea of how to help your cravings. This also does not taken into consideration the emotional value of food when dealing with stress and the daily stressors of the world.

But there is always this…

Josh Bowen: The Fight Against Cancer

joshCancer is real and serious concern for us all. The following blog is dedicated to Beth, who bravely battled breast cancer for 14 years, Claude Bowen, Sr who passed away in December from prostate cancer and the many other who have fought cancer head on and never gave up the fight. This is for you.

Cancer

A word that strikes utter fear in people. And with good reason. As you see below the statistics are staggering. Every year, cancer becomes more and more prominent. In comes in all faces and types, packaged differently to wreak havoc on the human body. This post is not so much about the stats or what causes cancer but what can we do to prevent or slow the progress of this problem. This post is not to show you how smart or not smart I am as it relates to the disease. This about my grandfather, who was 88 years old and is put up the fight of his life against several types of cancer. Over the course of several months, I have saw the personal struggle he went under and the downward spiral of an independent country boy. It took hold of him and it didn’t let go. It is tough to watch but it shows how tough he was to continue to put up a fight against insurmountable odds.

This is also about my beliefs. Something that I often catch strange looks for and snide remarks about. However, I firmly believe in my heart of hearts that all things are possible through fitness. It is our fountain of youth, protector of disease and an absolute must for the human body. My motto is all things through fitness, it is the name of my website and is etched on my skin. I believe it because I have seen it.

I have seen people overcome disease, fight obesity and win, improve their personal lives and overall become better people. Fighting cancer is no different. Fitness plays an important part in the fight with all forms of cancer. Check these statistics from the National Cancer Institute:

Colon Cancer- Many studies in the United States and around the world have consistently found that adults who increase their physical activity, either in intensity, duration, or frequency, can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent relative to those who are sedentary regardless of body mass index (BMI), with the greatest risk reduction seen among those who are most active.

Breast Cancer-Most studies indicate that physically active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women; however, the amount of risk reduction achieved through physical activity varies widely (between 20 to 80 percent)

Endometrial Cancer-
About 20 studies have examined the role of physical activity on endometrial cancer risk. The results suggest an inverse relationship between physical activity and endometrial cancer incidence. These studies suggest that women who are physically active have a 20 percent to 40 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer, with the greatest reduction in risk among those with the highest levels of physical activity. Risk does not appear to vary by age.

Lung Cancer- At least 21 studies have examined the impact of physical activity on the risk of lung cancer. Overall, these studies suggest an inverse association between physical activity and lung cancer risk, with the most physically active individuals experiencing about a 20 percent reduction in risk.

As you can see fitness can dramatically changed the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. Think about what the statistics would be on people who exercised regularly who got cancer. I stand behind my belief that all things are possible through fitness, fighting cancer is not an exception to that rule. Regardless of activity level cancer affects us all. Our loved ones and even ourselves will be faced with this disease. The struggle and the will to live is the most important.

Through fitness you can fight and win. For those struggling with the disease, continue to fight and never give in. The spirit to beat it and the mindset is all you need. Keep fighting!

Yours in fitness,

JB

Selected References

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1996). Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved June 26, 2009, from: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/sgr.htm.

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Preventing Obesity and Chronic Diseases Through Good Nutrition and Physical Activity. Retrieved June 26, 2009, from: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/factsheets/Prevention/obesity.htm.

Slattery, ML. Physical activity and colorectal cancer. Sports Medicine 2004; 34(4): 239–252.

IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention. Weight Control and Physical Activity. Vol. 6. 2002.

Ballard-Barbash R, Friedenreich C, Slattery M, Thune L. Obesity and body composition. In: Schottenfeld D, Fraumeni JF, editors. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Lee I, Oguma Y. Physical activity. In: Schottenfeld D, Fraumeni JF, editors. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

McTiernan A, editor. Cancer Prevention and Management Through Exercise and Weight Control. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, 2006.

Tardon A, Lee WJ, Delgado-Rodriguez M, et al. Leisure-time physical activity and lung cancer: A meta-analysis. Cancer Causes and Control 2005; 16(4):389–397.

Giovannucci EL, Liu Y, Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. A prospective study of physical activity and incident and fatal prostate cancer. Archives of Internal Medicine 2005; 165(9):1005–1010.

Holmes MD, Chen WY, Feskanich D, Kroenke CH, Colditz GA. Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Journal of the American Medical Association 2005; 293(20):2479–2486.

Pinto BM, Frierson GM, Rabin C, Trunzo JJ, Marcus BH. Home-based physical activity intervention for breast cancer patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2005; 23(15): 3577–3587.

Meyerhardt JA, Giovannucci EL, Holmes MD, et al. Physical activity and survival after colorectal cancer diagnosis. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2006; 24(22):3527–3534.

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Josh Bowen: Find Your Why

joshA couple of days ago, I was sent a youtube video that made a ton of sense to me. You can watch it here
From a business perspective, this gentleman starts by going through what separates the top companies from everyone else. In particular, he uses Apple as an example. In his example he states that most companies will market in this order; what we do, how we do it and finally why we do it. He later explains that the most successful companies use the “golden circle” and start with why they do it first, followed by how and what. He argues that people will buy WHY you do something over how or what you do. Apple doesn’t have any advantages that Microsoft or Dell or any other computer company has. Apple just knows their why and they include it in all their marketing and branding. This separates them from everyone else.

This led me back to my book, 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom, where I talk about the “Power of the Why,” and why it is crucial to success or failure in fitness and literally everywhere else. I have included a part of it below. But take a moment and really do some soul searching on WHY you do what you do everyday. The why is driving you in every endeavor you choose to be apart of. Finding your why changes the game for you. It motivates you and inspires you to make necessary adjustments and changes to ensure victory on your challenge.

So I challenge you to find your “WHY” in all aspects of your life. It is crucial to survival. To be fair, I will share with you my “WHY.” I am completely driven to making a difference in people’s lives, positively. No matter what the venue, my goal and vision is to impact everyone I train or come in contact with in positive matter so they are better for it. At the end of the day I want people to say, “because of you, I achieved.” It is my why and it is my driving force, not only through exercise and fitness but also through leadership and constant development. Enjoy the below:

The Power of Why (from Step 1 of 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom)

The greatest minds in the human races’ history have always asked one question, Why? Einstein, Edison, and Newton all posed the question of why and no matter how many times they failed they constantly pushed forward. The Power of Why.

Think about a child who is inquisitive, what do they ask repeatedly? WhyWhy is the ocean blue? Why do I have to go to sleep at 8? Why do I have to go to school? Why why why? Their nature is to constantly pose the question of why so they can consistently learn and understand the why.

The why gives reason behind decisions and clarity behind things that are not yet understood. Reason and clarity are very big when discussing fitness goals:Why is getting in shape important to you? Why will having bigger arms or a smaller waist positively impact your self esteem? Why?

As you embark into a fitness regime it is important to remember why you are starting. From the mere example of you reading this means, on some level, you are interested in fitness. Either you; are wanting to start, wanting to continue what you started or are looking for fresh ideas to keep you going. Either way, we all go through a pre-contemplation phase when it comes to working out.

Some decide to put both feet in and go after it others keep one foot in and the other out and then there are those that never start. The decision is a personal one but once we cross into the stage of doing something about our current situation, it is important to remember why we are doing it.

So here is what we are going to do…
I am going to generalize everyone and pose the following questions:

1. What outcomes are you wanting/expecting from exercise program?
2. Which of those outcomes is the most important to you?
3. Why is that so important to you?

The answers to any of those questions can and will vary considerably. Everyone starts or continues and fitness program for different reasons. The importance to find the why behind the what.

Is the answer to number one; more energy, less body fat or to be healthier? We can easily put those answers into three categories; how you feel, how you look and how your insides are functioning. Either way these are important to you.
Now we must pick one as our sole goal to focus on. This should be the driving force on your fitness journey, the thing you cannot live without. Once we have answered that we are on our way.

Lastly, we must instill the Power of the WhyWhy is that goal important to you and why is it the most important to you? The answer will define your fitness experience and adherence. Is it because you’ve always wanted abs or because you felt better when you were 20 lbs lighter? At the end of the day we all do this for an emotional reason and to boost how we feel about us. Nothing more, nothing less. Fitness changes us for the better by supplying confidence and increased self esteem we may not have gotten from anywhere else. This is the

Power of the Why!

Never forget your why and the reason you do this. On the days when you don’t feel well or you’re stressed from work. Remember your why. It is powerful beyond all comprehension.

PS: Write your most important goal down and the reason it’s so important on your mirror or car dash. When times get rough and you feel like quitting look at it and remember why you are here. Positive thoughts and energy creates positive outcomes.

Josh Bowen: Is It Really About Fitness? 5 Reasons Why it is Not

joshThe title of the blog may seem confusing and even appalling to most. It may lead you to question my sanity after 11 years as a personal trainer. “How does he not know what his job is?” Just hold on for a minute. For years I have had this approach when it came to clients, focus on more than fitness and nutrition.

See I believe fitness is a vehicle that we use to improve people. People HATE exercise, for the most part. For one reason or another most people disdain the process of trying to get into shape. They have goals but most of the time those goals are deeper than fitness. They impact every aspect of their lives. So, if it deeper than fitness why do we not concentrate on more than fitness? This approach may actually help you jump start your fitness and go on a quest to better yourself.

In my mind exercise/fitness and good nutrition affect every aspect of my life. Therefore, not only do I affect the physical part of me and they way I look but I also affect several other aspects of my life; relationships, better sleep, energy, confidence etc. So if you knew that working out would help boost your confidence and help you have the courage to ask a pretty girl on a date or make a great speech in front of the CEO of you company, would you be more aped to do it? Of course you would. Here are 5 of the most impacted areas of our lives that fitness increases more than anything else.

1.  Confidence

jbtransform

The picture on the left is from my high school graduation in 2000 and the picture on the right is from last year. On the left I weigh an astounding 140lbs on the right 200lbs. Forget the numbers and the obvious physical difference, the number one benefit that fitness has provided me is confidence. Without it, I would not have been able to speak in front of hundreds of people, write a book, go on a bootcamp tour for 14 days across the US or be a personal trainer. Physically I am different but the most effect has been in my confidence.

So many of my clients will list confidence as their number one benefit from working with a trainer and starting an exercise program. The proof is in the pudding.

2. Relationships

As a continuation from confidence, I find that increased relationships with others is a direct reflection from being fit. Often times clients will meet new people and friendships are born or their existing relationships improve because of heightened self confidence.

3. Diligence

A direct reflection of being fit is increasing one’s diligence and determination. Get tasks completed because they have more energy or confidence is common place.

4. Clarity

The hormonal effect of exercise is documented but what you often forget is the increased ability to think clearer. This aspect comes in handy in todays fast moving world. I always have told people I never make decisions until I have worked out that day. Working out will give me the extra time and mental clearness to think about making a decision.

5. Self Esteem

Confidence and self esteem are different. Self esteem is how you view yourself and how you feel about it. Fitness supplies the increased self esteem that one feels like they can conquer anything. Feeling better about the way you look is the best feeling in the world.

All in all, I do not concentrate on fitness. I concentrate on the effects of fitness and how it effects and impacts our lives. Anyone who has started an exercise program an continued with it can tell you that there are more than just five aspects that help better their lives. Focus on the effects working will give you, instead of thinking about whether you can do it or not.

Josh Bowen: 10 Foods You Need in Your Diet

joshOf all the types of questions a fitness professional is asked, nutrition is the most common subject. Quite frankly people are clueless when it comes to what they eat. Conversely, that is not their fault. In this country we search for the quick fix, the easy way out and our media has done a great marketing job on “diets.” These diets usually consist of restriction some selection of food; fat, carbs, meat etc. So we are constantly told what we “shouldn’t” eat and rarely are we told what we should eat. So I wanted to put together a list of 10 foods that most everyone needs (barring food allergy, religious reasoning or preference). These 10 foods have various purposes that go beyond how many calories they consist of. These foods help the body ward off disease, decrease inflammation, and add vital vitamins and minerals to our body.

1. Eggs- Eggs are on this list for a variety of reasons; the whites are full of high biological value protein (that is a good thing), the yellow is full of leptin (which controls appetite) and they are extremely versatile (scrambled, poached, boiled etc.).  Eggs also have 12 vitamin and minerals, one of which (choline) is vital for brain development and increased memory. Eggs are nutrient dense only containing 75 calories per egg.

2. Nuts- If you only look at foods based upon their fat content and calorie count you would probably leave these section of food out. You would be missing the point of the article. Yes calories matter, however a twinkie may have less calories than a Big Mac that does not mean it is a good option. Most nuts are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids that are good for the cardiovascular system and act as an anti-inflammatory warding off potential disease. Also nuts are considered an antioxidant which has the potential to decrease the potential for cancer. Because most nuts are high in fat, thus high in calories, use proper judgment and portion control and monitor the salt as well. Almonds, cashews, pistachios are all good choices.

3. Sweet Potato- One of my all-time favorite foods that packs a punch and is nutrient dense. Sweet potatoes are technically a vegetable, although we rarely think of them in that way. Their dark orange coloring makes them high in Vitamin A and C and an outstanding source of potassium. Diabetics can enjoy these foods because they are lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, generally because of their high water content. Sweet potatoes also act as an anti-inflammatory.

4. Broccoli- Another one of my all-time favorite foods. Without the cheese, broccoli is a true super food that is packed with potassium a rich source of Vitamin A, C and K. It can be very beneficial for diabetics because of its high fiber content. Just remember, no chees

5. Apples- Not all fruits are created equal. Some are good and some are not. Apples however are unique, the skin is full of fiber (blunting the insulin effects of sugar) and they have high antioxidant content. Apples have been linked to prevent lung cancer, improve lung function and help prevent Type II diabetes.

6. Salmon- the American Heart Association recommends eating salmon twice per week because of the high Omega 3 content. It is low in calories, high in protein and low in saturated fats. If at all possible choose fresh salmon versus farm-raised.

7. Kiwis- They are a nutrient dense food that has an entire days requirement of Vitamin C in one large kiwi. Also high in fiber and potassium and a good source of Vitamin A and E. Great taste and texture makes this fruit a great super food.

8. Beans- Beans are loaded with insoluble fiber which is great for ridding the body of unwanted waste. These are heart healthy foods which are low fat good source of protein. Beans are versatile, they can be a good side dish, a great substitute for meat and chicken and can also be mixed in with other foods to make a great snack.

9. Quinoa- What? Yea Quinoa (pronounce keen-wa) is an ancient grain that is now readily available in health food stores and sections of your commercial grocery stores. Its high in protein and fiber and a good source of iron. It is as easy to prepare as rice and can be combined with nuts and beans as a good meal.

10. Berries- pack an incredible amount of nutritional goodness into a small package. They’re loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, low in calories, and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. And their flavors satisfy sweets cravings for a fraction of the calories in baked goods. Blueberries lead the pack because they are among the best source of antioxidants and are widely available. Cranberries are also widely available fresh, frozen, or dried. All can add flavor and nutrition to numerous dishes, from salads and cereals to baked goods and yogurt.

So instead of focusing on foods you shouldn’t eat, concentrate on the foods you should. Start incorporating the above and watch your health increase dramatically which will vicariously help you reduce body fat, lower your blood sugar and help you build more muscle. Let me know if you have any good recipes!

Josh Bowen: 5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Being a Personal Trainer

joshThis week’s installment, is not necessary about “tips” but more so about perspective. I took on a new fitness challenge recently and it got my thinking about my time as a trainer and what it has taught me. I believe we can look at all aspects of our life and extract many learning experiences from it. Here are mine.

My 11 years in the fitness industry has taught me a lot about life. It has taught me what to do and in some cases what not to do. Life often emulates art and I have always thought of personal training as art, it makes sense that I have learned some important life lessons. In no particular order, these are the 5 things I have learned about life from being a personal trainer:

1. Anything can be achieved with passion.

I’m not the best personal trainer and I am far from perfect. I am however passionate, a word that is thrown around in the fitness industry more than anything. My definition is simply one who eats, sleeps, breathes their work. That I do. Fitness taught me how. Through ups in downs, passion has let me conquer personal issues as well as professional. An unrelenting quest to be the best version of myself was taught to me from my experience in this industry. I attribute everything I have accomplished personally and collectively due to that passion. Without it, I have nothing.

2. If you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to achieve it.

My clients and clients of other trainers have taught me this. My client Rolodex is full of people who conquered the odds, all because they wanted it bad enough. In my book 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom I tell a story about a woman from Columbus who lost an extraordinary amount of weight and developed a community of enthusiastic people wanting to do the same. Or the woman who I have trained for many moons, who at first just wanted to be fit but now owns her own personal training business, all because wanted it more than other people. If you want it bad enough, you’ll go get it.

3. No one gets to where they are, alone.

I didn’t get to this point by myself. I had help…a lot of help. That help came in the form of support from others a long this 11 year journey. It also came in the form of detractors and negative people who taught me what I didn’t want be. No matter how successful you are, you got there with help. If I was never given a shot to train at Gold’s Gym in 2004, I would never be here today.

4. Bad times will always pass.

Obstacles are put in front of us not to stay and best us down but to leave after we have conquered it. I’ve seen it a thousand times, some one who goes through turmoil but keeps at it and never quits, always turns out for the better. If I have learned anything from working with trainers and clients is, regardless of the situation, if you keep at it, never waiver and never quit you will come out of the dark and into the light. It’s that simple.

5.Look to add value versus make money.

Money comes and goes like the wind blows. No matter how much you have you cannot take it with you. Having money is not impressive, adding value to other’s is. I have learned this through experience in the fitness industry. I have seen people with lots of money that truly had nothing, nothing because they were not adding value to others. The single most important lesson we can all learn is how to add value to someone else’s life. Whether it is to listen, be a shoulder to cry on or help a friend in need, adding value to someone means so much more than money. “Choose legacy over currency,” is a favorite quote of mine and it means to simple to add so much value to someone that you build a legacy and are never forgotten. A very important lesson.

I could write a list longer than this but for time purposes I will keep it short. Being in fitness has taught me so much that I feel honored to talk about it everyday. The lessons I have learned are so important not only to my life but the lives that interact with on a daily basis.