It is December. It is holiday time. The amount of stress increases exponentially. More people get sick with the cold or flu and their time decreases because of the demand of parties and social events. Instead of taking to over the counter pills or doctor prescriptions, what if you just moved? How can movement help in making you feel better?
Over the last 30 years, as Americans, we have been obsessed with medicine. From antibiotics to steroids and everything in between, we medicate our selves and quite honestly and quite simply we OVER medicate ourselves. We don’t move as much as our ancestors did, we get sicker more often, we carry more body fat and our stress levels seem like nuclear time bombs just waiting to go off. True, we live longer but in my opinion we don’t live as quality of lives as generations before us. We live on prescription and over the counter medications. And they are killing us.
I am not a doctor, I am not what you would call a “health professional.” I am person who specializes in fitness and movement and have watched first hand how movement can better people in the following areas; physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even sexually (get your mind out of the gutter, I have not witnessed that first hand but people have told me and I take their word for it, dammit.)
Lets define movement for a second. Movement defined as “the act of moving your body or a part of your body.” Now I will had a phrase to the end, “in a fashion that increases blood flow to the body’s tissues, decreases harmful inflammation and increases feel good hormones the body.” That is how we will define movement, anything where you move. Like weight training, walking, going up stairs, running (oh god), sport activities, playing with your kids etc. You get the point…MOVE!
So, can I ask you a question? Has anyone ever been to a doctor for something and instead of prescribing medication that doctor told you to “start moving?” That is not a shot at the medical professionals but I would dare to say that movement (as defined above) could treat and prevent many of the diseases that kill us. From diabetes to heart disease to certain cancers, movement has scientifically shown to decrease the death rate and improve a person’s well being.
You people who are reading this are smart. You are educated. You know what is important overall but what about during bouts of constant stress and anxiety or when you have a cold or infection. How does movement work then?
Activities to Consider When Sick
Light weight training
Activities to Avoid
Heavy weight training
CrossFit style workouts or High Intensity Interval Training
Sprinting or running long distances
Exercise in extreme temperatures
How Exercise Affects Your Immune System
(One time exercise)
Brief Vigorous Exercise- no immune suppressing effect
Moderate Intensity Exercise 45-60 minutes- can boost your immune system
Prolonged Vigorous Exercise over 120 minutes- can decrease immune function causing you to get sicker
Long term moderate intensity resistance Training– stimulates innate immunity (natural immunity; white blood cells, mucous, stomach acid)
Chronic moderate exercise– strengthens adaptive immunity (acquired immunity; acquired white blood cells, vaccinations if any).
Textbook Guidelines to Exercises While Sick
(From Precision Nutrition)
To close this out here are a few tips
To Keep From Getting Sick
Eat organic food
Eat green vegetables
Drink a ton of water
Don’t eat crap
The battle of body fat can be a slobber knocker. The amount of misinformation is appalling. The amount of self proclaimed “fitness professionals” is even worse. This leads to a lot of information out there and hardly an ounce of it is credible. Thousands of diets, workout plans, calorie counting etc., are common ideas thrown around the world for people who are trying to lose weight or more importantly, body fat. Have you ever wondered why big tasks broken down to simple strategies, performed daily in the exact way, often leads to success? Somewhat like the assembly line that lead to more efficiency in car building and other industries. No? Well I have and I know the secret to losing weight and fat and I will share here. And surprise surprise, its not rocket science and it sure as hell isn’t a secret and everyone could do it, if they wanted it bad enough. Got your attention? Good…here we go:
Weight Loss vs Fat Loss
Are they the same? No. If you are continually weighing yourself, you are wasting your time. Weight loss does not equate to an effective, healthy program. So what you lost 5lbs, its pretty easy, just drink a lot of water and call it a day. Worry more about your composition, what your body is composed of not he actual number it says on a scale. Its literally irrelevant. Point being, focus on fat loss and throw your damn scale away…nobody cares! To go deeper, check this article I wrote about stopping the process of weighing yourself http://eepurl.com/bcqeDv
Stop drinking it. Stop drinking it. Stop drinking it. I cannot stress this enough. If you want to change your physique, you have to at least cut back, if not take it out completely. I promise you, you will thank me someday. It is making you fatter, consume more calories, and when you drink too much you act weird in public. Drink water instead. Simple enough. For more on this check out this article I wrote about alcohol and working out http://eepurl.com/2aaSz
Weights over Cardio
For the love of God, stop running. Please stop it. It tears your body down, makes you completely inefficient at burning fat and you run your muscles off. Push a sled, do some farmers walks, or get on the rower or bike but stop running. Lift. Weights. Please! For more on this topic click this link http://eepurl.com/bglMZP
Quite possibly your best fat burner. Those who get less sleep, tend to have higher body fat percentages. Moral of the story…sleep more.
Nutrients and Calories
You’re not fat because you are consuming too many calories, you are fat because the calories you do consume are not nutritious and have no value…period. McDonalds has no nutritional value whatsoever. Your body looks at it as foreign and doesn’t know what to do with it. Lean proteins and fruits and veggies, it knows how to process and how to use the energy. Look at your labels, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. In fact reduce the amount of foods you eat that have labels. It will come off easier that way. I go into more detail on this article http://eepurl.com/bwPvun
To effectively lose body fat, you need a plan, you need strategies and you need to be consistent. At Aspire Fitness we offer specific nutritional plans for a variety of preferences and lifestyles. Each program is consistently designed for the client and their needs and wants. Check out one of our nutrition clients and their 2 month check up:
3 lbs 3% bodyfat 1 inch off chest 1 inch off shoulders 2 1/2 inches off arms 2 inches off waist 1 inch of thighs 2 inches off hips Total of 9 1/2 inches lost in roughly 2 months of work.
She worked out with weights, got plenty of sleep and ate a balanced nutritional plan. With our custom nutritional plans we can specifically work with you on portion control, focus on macronutrients and get results.
Are Carbs the Enemy?
To over simplify the destruction of the American diet by saying any one thing is the culprit, is in fact a problem. No one “thing” is the problem and the reason so many are overweight and out of shape. Yes, our nutrition is an issue, but quantifying it by labeling carbs or fats as the sole issue is a gross generalization. Carbs are no the enemy and in many cases can be very helpful for muscle growth, energy levels and nutrients we need. The type of carbohydrates matters more than anything. Lets discuss.
What is a carbohydrate?
Carbs are organic molecules classified according to their structure, simple and complex. A simple carb are smaller, more easily processed molecules known as mono and disaccharides since they contain one sugar molecule or two molecules linked together. Complex carbs are polysaccharides since they contain more than two sugar molecules linked together. Example of a simple carbohydrate would be processed sugar, example of a complex carbohydrate would be legumes, vegetables, anything high in fiber.
Everything is digested as a simple carb no matter what it is. It is just that “healthier” carbs are digested slower than sugar. This digestion can be dependent on several things however:
1. Enzyme action in the gut or mouth
2. Fiber and fat slow digestion so coupling foods can decrease the digestion rate
3. Our perception of the sweetness of the food
The digestion rate is important because the cause of Type II diabetes is due to a constant uptake of insulin due to high blood sugar. The receptors get tired of receiving insulin and quit working, driving your blood sugar up and causing diabetes. This is why it is important to have at least 35 grams of fiber in your diet to help slow the insulin rate. The best fiber will come from vegetables. For more on your digestion and how it works click this link http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=16#digestion
What is up with low carb diets?
Low carb diets became popular via the Atkins and Paleo diet. For the most part, one would eat high protein and fat and very low carbs, carbs only coming from vegetables. Will this work? Short term yes but nutrients will always out trump calories or source of calories. If you are some one who works out regularly, going low carb for a long period of time may hurt you rather than help you.
What is wrong with restricting carbs long term?
(from John Berardi at Precision Nutrition)
1. sluggish metabolism: when carb intake is low T3 cannot be converted to T4 through your liver thus slowing your thyroid function, stalling your metabolism
2. lower levels of muscle/strength building hormones: Cortisol goes up and testosterone will go down
3. higher levels of stress hormones: Cortisol, that bastard stress hormone is increased when carb intake is low
4. weight loss will stall: refer to #1. If your thyroid sucks so will your weight loss
We needs carbs
Carbohydrate intake is dependent on: your activity level, carb source, goals, and genetics. The more active you are the more carbohydrates you need. If you goal is to build muscle and thus lose fat, low carbohydrate intake is not going to get it done. The type of carb source (more on that in a minute) matters as well. Your genetics will always override everything, some people tolerate more carbs than others.
Here is a great illustration of portion sizes to keep everything in check and it is extremely easy to apply to you:
Use this as your guide to have a healthy portion of of all the macronutrients without having to count calories.
A few people do best with low carb diets
1. People with neurological disorders; epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
2. Very sedentary people. The less active you are the less you need carbohydrates
Use this as your guide to eat carbs
Any time meal
Post workout meal
To summarize the carb myth, it is important to realize what you are putting into your body and WHEN you are taking it in. Anything can be done in the short term and reveal results, however long term is much more important and these are tried and true strategies.
Are you full of s**t?
I hope not because that would be unfortunate. But as odd of a topic as your own poop may be, its very important to your health. What you put in your body reflects what you put out. If you eat sh*t you will feel like sh*t. As I dive deeper into my own health and trying to find clues as to why things are the way that they are, I have been reading more on the gastrointestinal tract and how it is the key to our longevity. If you GI tract isn’t healthy, you aren’t healthy. That health is dependent on your eating habits more so than anything. Unless acted upon by disease (which could be nutrition related and often times is) the foods we eat can either make us stronger or be slowly killing us. Your poop and pee will tell a lot about us and unfortunately we are too embarrassed to talk about it.
But being the brash person I am and someone who wants to educate the masses, I want to talk about things poop related. Looking in the toilet after you take a “William Shatner” may give you heads up on your health or lack there of. So lets begin.
A famous quote by a guy I have never heard of states, “everyone poops.” And he would be correct. The equation is simple; you eat and then you shit. Easy enough right? Well not so fast.
How is food digested?
For a short and concise step by step on how your food gets to your colon check out this link http://www.mydr.com.au/gastrointestinal-health/how-your-food-is-digested
The 4 S’s
Once your food is eaten it has to travel 30 feet of the intestinal tract to get to the point of excretion. From there, once you hit the “john” you can base your findings on the four S’s” size, shape, smell, and shade. These four will tell you more about your health and are more consistent than nearly any thing outside of a blood test. Your poop tells you how healthy you are.
When evaluating the situation, check out the color/shade to find out an underlying issue.
Red- lower GI bleeding, beets
Green- undigested bile, Crohn’s disease, Antibiotics, green leafy veggies
Yellow- gallbladder problems, parasite
White- antacids, liver disease, pancreatic disorder
Black- upper GI bleeding, iron supplements, meat, Pepto (learned that the hard way, no pun intended)
Little lumps- it is staying in the intestines too long, so water is being reabsorbed. A lack of dietary fiber.
Too liquid- it is moving through the intestines too quickly so water is not being reabsorbed due to an increase in fiber, a cleanse or infection.
Pencil thin- a mass in the colon could be restricting the stool. Could be an indicator for colon cancer or polyps.
Floats and stinks- body is not absorbing fats. Could be the result of a malabsorption condition, weight loss drugs or Olestra.
Hard and dry- it is staying in your intestines too long, so water is being reabsorbed. Could be due to dehydration, constipation or medications
Non-existent- a sign of disease is not going at all. Your body will become toxic because it cannot excrete it’s waste. Drinking water and increasing your plant fiber will help in making you become regular.A few facts
1. During the course of a lifetime a person will do #2 to account for 9,000 lbs.
2. A healthy turd should look like a torpedo
3. Artificial sweeteners are not recognized by the human body and thus not absorbed, so they pull water into the intestines leading to loose stool
4. Poop is made up of 75% water and the rest a combo of fiber, dead and live bacteria, and mucus
5. Normal is relative: different cultures go more or less depending on location. South Asians go three times more often than British people due to the higher fiber count. Once a day is common for Americans
6. Diarrhea is your stool on speed. It should take 24 to 72 hours for your food to become fully digested and to move on to be excreted. Diarrhea passes all those steps.
7. Poop should sink. Floating stool is cause for concern and meaning you are not absorbing the fat content of your diet.
I realize this may have been uncomfortable to read but it is also a very important topic. Your poo could give you clues as to how healthy or unhealthy you are. Pay attention to signs. I leave you with this funny..
Here are a few statistics for you to wrap your head around:
1. Heart Disease is the #1 killer of all Americans 35 and older 2. 2700 people die daily from heart disease, thats almost 1 million a year 3. in 2010 it cost Americans $108.9 billion in services, medication and lost wages 4. 1 in every 6 adults has high cholesterol as defined as higher than 240 mg/dl total cholesterol 5. From 2002 to 2012 the percentage of people using statin drugs (cholesterol meds) is up from 20 to 28%. 6. Heart disease continues to climb every year even though statin medication has climbed as well 7. CEO of Pfizer (the company that makes Lipitor) makes $87,500 per day or $21 million per year. He needs you to take your medication.
Cholesterol is a funny thing to me. All of our panic and focus to put people on (potentially) harmful drugs came from research done 50 years ago. One study essentiality spurred the increase of statin drugs being prescribed to millions of Americans each year. Is it necessary? Does cholesterol cause heart disease? What causes high cholesterol? All very good questions.
What is cholesterol?
It is a waxy, fat like substance found in all cells of the body. It helps make many hormones, Vitamin D and and substances that help digest food. There is HDL and LDL cholesterol. HDL is looked at as good cholesterol because it carries part of cholesterol to your liver and your liver disposes of it. LDL is looked at as bad cholesterol because it supposedly builds up in your arteries. This is the reason doctors focus on increasing HDL and lowering LDL.
What causes high cholesterol?
Years ago it was thought that fatty foods clogged your arteries and would give you a heart attack. This is the reason for the 1980’s “low fat” craze. This low fat obsession also led to a dramatic increase in obesity and heart attacks and strokes. Go figure. Now we know that it isn’t necessarily the high fat content of your diet that causes high cholesterol but rather the amount of processed sugar that is driving the numbers up. Eggs and meat are not contributing to the problem as much as donuts and cake. Period.
How Dangerous are Stain Drugs?
Here are a few:
1. Statin drugs interfere with the production of CoQ 10 which supports the bodies immune system, maintains normal blood pressure, boosts cardiac and skeletal muscle health 2. Inhibits Omega 3 fatty acids from the metabolism of Omega 6 fatty acids. Causing increased inflammation and increasing insulin resistance leading to diabetes 3. Negates the bodies ability to make cholesterol, which is essential for brain health 4. Causes excessive muscle damage and soreness 5. Studies have shown that statin use increasings calorie consumption by 9% 6. Speeds aging and lowers sex drive 7. Causes liver damage
Is it worth it? In my opinion, no.
Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?
(excerpt from “The People’s Chemist”)
Searching for a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis is as simple as looking at the arteries of dead people. This search began in the early 1960s. In 1961, researchers Mathur and colleagues studied the levels of cholesterol and the degree of atherosclerosis seen at autopsy within the arteries of 20 deceased patients as well as 200 more cases selected from medical libraries. All cholesterol levels were taken within 16 hours of death. No correlation could be observed between these patients’ blood cholesterol levels and the amount or severity of “atherosclerotic plaque” within the arteries. Cholesterol levels, whether high or low, had no impact on the growth of atherosclerotic plaque – the major cause of heart disease. In 1962, The American Heart Journal published the research of Dr. Marek and colleagues who also searched for a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Among 106 cases studied, the level of cholesterol did not affect atherosclerotic changes in plaque. His results matched others that were conducted by the same methods, in the same laboratory, and in the same populations.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that at autopsy, postmortem patients who died suddenly showed no correlation between total cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Researchers Jose Mendez, Ph.D., and co-workers point out that their findings agree with previous studies. Notably, they cited researchers Lande and Sperry, who as early as 1936 also failed to find a correlation between cholesterol levels and atherosclerotic plaque. These studies shake the foundation of the current medical model for treating or preventing heart disease.
Let’s go ahead and hammer the nail into the cholesterol myth coffin. If it is true that the risk of heart disease rises as blood cholesterol rises, then we should see elevated total cholesterol among those who die early from heart attack. This, too, has not been the case. Specifically, half of all heart attacks and strokes occur in persons without elevated levels of cholesterol.
Let’s cover the coffin with a layer of cement. If cholesterol caused atherosclerosis; then we would find atherosclerosis throughout the estimated 100,000 miles of adult blood vessels (arteries, veins and capillaries) within the body through which cholesterol travels. Yet 90% of the time when atherosclerosis is found in the coronary arteries the rest of the arteries remain unharmed by cholesterol.
Breakfast. The most skipped meal of the main three we typically eat. Why? Well, most people will give you the greatest excuse of all time “not enough time.” I will tackle this “time” issue in a moment but would also like to offer this piece of information:
In a recent study by the American Diabetes Association of 5,000 men and women found the following of people who eat breakfast consistently;
34% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
43% less likely to become obese
40% less likely to develop fat around the midsection
Now I realize this breakfast “debate” could go on forever but when you look at the root of the word, it literally says break the fast. Therefore, I am behind the breakfast concept and really believe this is all about behavior rather than just eating. If you eat first thing in the morning, you are less likely to be starving by the time lunch rolls around and less likely to gorge yourself on whatever is in front of you. Eating breakfast also allows you to get the required macro (protein, fat, carbs) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients your body needs for daily performance and body fat decrease. Basically, it is a requirement of life!
So I have you bought in one breakfast, now lets talk about the objections to eating breakfast.
I don’t have time
Make time. Period. You make time for other activities, you can make time for this. Some of you are rolling your eyes but this is important. Waking up 30 minutes early is not going to kill you. Diabetes, obesity and fat around your stomach will.
I don’t know what to eat for breakfast
This is a fair objection. So lets dissect it and help you out.
So you are a busy mom or dad and you have to get the kids dressed and out the door as quickly as possible. Or you are a stressed out college kid who needs to get to class but wants to sleep an extra 15 minutes because you were up studying last night. Or you are a hard working personal trainer who needs to get to the gym before 5:30 am to meet his first client on the day and needs to get a lot of food in quickly. Did that cover everyone? Good. Here are few ideas for breakfast that do not take a long time and still satisfy the objection of good sources of protein, carbs and fats.
Always a good option for breakfast, whether whole egg or just egg whites, they do not take much time at all and are pack with protein and micro nutrients to help start your day. If you are in a hurry get the liquid egg whites and zap it in the microwave or add them to your smoothie.
I use the brand “Love Grown Foods” oat clusters that are GMO, gluten and everything else free. It literally tastes like cereal and can be used as such by adding a little almond milk. Quick, easy and a great source of carbs. My preference if you are going to eat cereal. You could always sprinkle some protein powder on top as well.
Many of my clients love smoothies for breakfast. They are easy to make and you can get really creative with them. Here is a great illustration on how to make a smoothie:
Everyone knows I have a love for Quest bars and while I don’t always recommend eating them for breakfast, if you are in a hurry a bar plus a handful of almonds would do the trick. Stop with the Power Bars, Coby.
To go along with the smoothie idea, having a simple protein shake mixed with almonds and oats, would be a great substitute for the old school eggs and oatmeal.
I mentioned these already but almonds and nuts are packed with great nutrients and more importantly fat that your body needs for high performance. If it were a matter of nothing or nuts, go with nuts or you’ll go nuts.
Side Note: McDonalds Egg White Delight does not count as breakfast.
I realize we are all in a hurry. I realize that we can all make a zillion excuses. And I realize not everyone will read this email and put anything into practice. BUT I hope you see the value of breakfast and some of these options will help you get something in your system before you go to work or school.
Let’s be real here, we all hate talking about what we eat. We either don’t want to talk about it because our nutrition sucks and we know it sucks OR we don’t want to talk about it because we don’t want to change it. We like our eating habits, regardless if they are benefiting us or hindering us. When I ask a blanket statement of, “How is your nutrition,” you get a ton of different answers, mainly ones that want to deflect the question all together. From there, the general public focuses and obsesses over the amount of calories something has. This week we heard a story of a client not wanting to put brown mustard on a turkey sandwich because they didn’t want to go over their calories for the day. It can get a little absurd. This is not our faults, we are taught in the media that eating less will make you skinny, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
JB- “Do you believe in counting calories?” The answer is simply no! A calorie is not a calorie. They are not all created equal. 200 calories from McDonald’s and 200 calories from fresh vegetables are two totally different things. I also don’t believe in consuming less and less calories (below 1200 for women and 1800 for men) as this practice destroys our metabolism. But what I do believe in is using your portion sizes to guide your nutritional choices. This guide could help you tremendously as you look to overhaul your nutritional plan and get healthier and fitter.
With each meal have the following:
1-2 Palms of Protein
1-2 Fists of Vegetables
1-2 Cupped Handfuls of Carb Dense foods
1-2 Thumbs of Fat Dense Foods
1 Palm of Protein
1 Fist of Vegetables
1 Cupped Handful of Carb Dense Foods
1 Thumb of Fat Dense Foods
Fish (cod, orange roughy, salmon the best)
Carb Dense Foods
Fat Dense Foods
Nuts and Cashews
For more foods check out The Best Damn Grocery Store List…Ever http://eepurl.com/biIymf
We all know that counting calories long term is futile, annoying and just not sustainable. Being able to manage your portion sizes just by using your hand, can be a great alternative. It could possibly be more effective as well. In closing, remember to just keep it simple.
I write a lot. I write more than I read. I write on real life happenings, mostly on fitness, nutrition and motivation. My world inspires my writings. This entry is no different. You may like this entry, you may not but it applies to us all. Each day we are presented with a choice to keep going on some things or to quit and give up. This is a blog inspired by someone going through an unimaginable amount of pain and sorrow, to the degree most will never know. The pain is lots but her spirit will never be broken. #teamawesome
We all are under the understanding that life is not fair, it can be cruel and unjust at times and if you are not careful it can beat you to the ground, if you let it. Some things don’t make sense. Bad things happen to good people. The universe sometimes is not in our corner. This week these known facts became even more apparent to me. Sometimes this world just plain sucks. We all know it and sometimes it gets to us, even when situations have nothing to do with us. When we see people around us hurting, it puts life into perspective. It becomes a learning lesson. How many times can you get knocked down and still get back up. This is the true measure of strength.
Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. That reaction is crucial. The severity of your situation can cause you to become jaded, frustrated, angry and the worse thing…quit. We often dwell more on our failures than our successes. We often feel like the universe is telling us no, when in fact it may be telling us “not yet.” Perception is everything, how you look at your situation through your own eyes is how you ultimately react to it. Its a choice, either quit or keep going.
Don’t let the world shake you to your knees. Get back up and come back for more. As the old adage says, “get knock down seven times, get up eight.” Here are some great reasons to never, never, never give up:
You are Alive and You Can
As long as their air in your lungs and gumption in your heart, anything and every is possible. No matter how many times you have failed, you are alive and can do it again.
Believe in Your Dreams
Your dreams are you dreams, if you give up on them you give up on yourself. Keep going forward.
People usually only regret things they didn’t do rather than things they did do. Go do stuff and have no regrets.
It Will Change for the Better
“For every dark night, there is a bright day after that. So keep your head up, chest out an handle it”
You Deserve Happiness and Success
Our birth rites are freedom, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We deserve that. YOU deserve that. Keep plugging away until you find that.
Everyone who has ever achieved massive success will tell you that they were on the brink of quitting when they finally broke through. When you feel like it can’t get any worse, keep going forward. On the other side of hell is success.
As the great Jim Valvano said at the ESPYs years ago when he was fighting cancer, “Never give up, never give up.” Never, ever give up on your dreams. Keep inspiring.
On the paradigm of “fat less” principles we often focus on nutrition and exercise as the most important. However, we often forget about the recovering aspect, more specifically sleep and its important on muscle growth, fat loss and overall health. In fact, 30% of Americans sleep less than the recommended amount (7-9 hours). Pair that statistic with the obesity rate of 35.7% and you have something worth looking at.
A study done by Brigham Young University found a trend between amount of hours slept and body fat percentages with females. The study found that having too little sleep, 6.5 hours on average per night and having inconsistent sleep/wake times contributed to higher body fat percentages than those you slept 8 hours per night on average and had consistent wake/sleep times. Conclusion of the study, which you can read here http://www.ajhpcontents.com/doi/abs/10.4278/ajhp.121012-QUAN-500 found that quality sleep and consistency of sleep contributed to lower body fat percentages in women. I imagine the same would be for men.
So why does sleep matter when it comes to our body fat percentages? Here is how:
Sleep is important because of the recovery aspect of it. When you work all day and workout 2-6 days per week you must have sound nutrition and sleep to repair the damage done. If not, your body fights you by breaking down and becoming injured. While you sleep your body releases growth hormone from the pituitary gland to help repair you muscles so they grow and it also helps in breaking down fat stores and releasing them into your system to be metabolized. Essentially growth hormone reduces your body fat percentage by growing your muscles and breaking down your body fat. If you didn’t sleep adequately, this process would be interrupted and could actually back fire on you.
I have talked about cortisol many times, as it does the exact opposite of what testosterone and growth hormone do. It stores body fat because the body becomes overstressed (increased training, life stress, lack of rest) and increases your body fat percentage. If you don’t sleep this guy kicks in, instead of growth hormone and your body fat percentage goes up and you wake up tired and groggy.
Our lives are busy and it is not feasible to get the required amount of sleep EVERY night. However, as with most things, it is a cumulative effect over several weeks, months, years that has the most effect on our bodies. By trying to be consistent every night and getting adequate rest and sleep we can see a dramatic difference in our bodies. This is a must!
What can I do if I didn’t get enough sleep?
Naps are great for getting in extra sleep you may have missed. Even if it is a short 20 minute nap on the couch at your lunch break, anything to increase the amount of rest you get is important to your physical goals.
This topic deserves multiple entries as I believe it is that important. Even thought I do not have statistical data to prove my claim, I would say the best results I get with clients are due to them being able to control stressors of life and getting adequate rest. I would also like to add reducing the amount of alcohol in the diet does impact sleep patterns and helps reduce body fat. Moral of the story is sleep lots and drink alcohol sparingly if at all.
Judging by the title, you may not think this will not be a fitness or nutrition related post. I, however, believe fitness is 100% tied to our self esteem and how we feel about ourselves rather than actually picking up weights or doing cardio. We exercise to feel better about ourselves and ultimately give ourselves more self esteem and confidence. Why do you think so many people take gym selfies? Let’s be honest, its not a workout if you don’t record it right? I’m being sarcastic…obviously.
BUT…I am serious about fitness tying into our psyche. As our bodies improve our self esteem should improve as well, right? If you only compared yourself to yourself you would find that you would be happier with your results and feel the momentum swing of results (no matter how big or small). The unfortunate part, as a general rule, we don’t compare ourselves to ourselves, we compare ourselves to society norms (whatever that is) and/or other people. This is a recipe for disaster not only in our results but also how we perceive our results. I truly believe this derails people from achieving their personal Mount Everest.
So many times, as a trainer, I am inundated with this:
“I want Jennifer Lopez’s butt”
“I want the Rock’s shoulders”
“How come my arms don’t look like some of your other clients”
I am just as guilty. I fully admit it. I often have to stop myself from looking at the Rock or some other athlete and thinking, “Damn I’m working hard but these guys are bigger and leaner than I am.” This thinking is futile. This thinking is a waste of time. This thinking will derail you off YOUR goals.
I feel bad for women in this scenario because of all the media messages and marketing that is thrown their way. The magazine stand with the perfect model on it can get in your head and think you are less than what your are. The Victoria’s Secret fashion show with the twigs walking around with no muscle puts a stigma in people’s head, that this is how you are suppose to look. It’s all bulls**t. YOU and you alone define what you want to look like, not society, not Vogue magazine, not Sports Illustrated and sure as not Hollywood.
So what do we do to stop this wasteful process? I have a few ideas;
Compare Yourself to Yourself
We are all born unique and different from everyone else. Therefore we should celebrate our individuality and not worry about what any one else is doing or looks like. Your journey is your journey, not the person next to you. Not what you see on television It is personal to you. It is futile for me to compare myself to the Rock. He has different genetics, different circumstances, different behavior patterns. We are no the same. We may train the same, but we are not the same. The same goes for you. Be different. Be you.
Skews your Judgement
The quest for the perfect body can often lead to extreme measures. Supplements, weight loss diets, extreme fitness routines, everything underneath the sun to be “perfect.” Well there is no such thing. This attempt can skew your judgement and start trying and doing things you often wouldn’t. Put the diet pills down, they are only hurting you. Eat real food and pick up heavy things, it works.
How we feel about ourselves is all we have. Our confidence in ourselves and our bodies is vitally important. When we follow the status quo we lose our identity and thus lose our precious form of self. Believe in yourself. Get 1% better everyday and let that carry you to your goals.
I realize this piece is all over the board and may not be for everyone. I also realize that most of us can be more happier with ourselves if we just stop comparing ourselves to others. Take this article to heart and maybe share with others.