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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Protein Supplements - A Guide To Choosing The Right Product

By: Shaun Parker

Protein supplements are of great importance to anyone who is training with the intention of building muscle or increasing athletic performance. Protein, or more importantly the amino acids that it supplies to the body, are fundamental in maintaining and building lean muscle tissue (protein synthesis).

Protein is present in many foods such as eggs, meat, poultry and fish in abundant amounts and these foods should be incorporated into any healthy diet. The nutritional requirements of someone who trains with weights for athletic gain are higher than that of the average sedentary person though, so to meet these requirements its not always possible and/or practical to get the necessary amount of protein from regular foods alone.

This is where protein supplements become truly valuable. Not only are they super convenient - there are protein powders, bars, puddings and cereals now - but they are generally engineered to such a high standard that they surpass regular foods in nutritional profile and in bioavailability/ease of absorption.

Of all the different protein supplements available, each type has their own advantages/disadvantages:

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese manufacturing process. The clear liquid whey is drained off from the cheese and dried into a powder. On the biological value scale, whey is rated at 159 in isolate form and 104 in concentrate form. The next closest to this is egg whites (88). Because of this high bioavailability, whey protein is the supplement of choice for most bodybuilders and athletes. Most whey protein supplements come in a 5lb container and are predominantly whey protein concentrate often with some whey protein isolate mixed in. Whey concentrate is essentially the 'entry-level' of whey protein.

Typically it has 60-75% protein content with the remainder made up of carbohydrates (usually as lactose - which many people have problems digesting) and small amounts of fat. Whey concentrate supplements and whey blends are generally the best selling version of whey protein due to the lower cost (typically 32-40 GBP for a good 5lb tub). Best selling products in this category include Optimum 100% Whey Protein, Reflex Instant Whey and Dymatize Elite Whey.

Whey Protein Isolate

Whey protein isolate is the next step up from whey concentrate. The powder is further refined to remove excess lactose and produce a cleaner, better absorbed and virtually lactose free protein supplement with typical protein contents of 85% upwards at an average price of around 25 GBP for a 2lb tub.

Whey Protein Hydrolysates

The most refined protein currently available is whey protein hydrolysates, also known as hydrolyzed whey isolate. This kind of protein powder undergoes manufacturing processes which produce a pre-digested partially hydrolyzed product that takes very little digestion and is absorbed by the body extremely quickly with barely any fats or carbs. Possibly the most well known and best selling supplement of this type is AST VP2, which retails in the UK at between 28-35 GBP for a 2lb tub.

Casein/Micellar Casein

Whey is not the only by-product of cheese manufacture. More abundant in fact is casein. Casein is possibly the second most popular protein source after whey. What makes casein a popular choice is that it is the opposite to whey protein in terms of absorption rates. Whilst fast absorption is generally more favoured than slow at most times, some people argue that whey is digested too fast for optimal results as a between-meal snack or before bed.

Casein on the other hand takes far longer to digest, which may make it a great choice for before bed as it could sustain the flow of amino acids to the muscles for much longer during sleep. Of particular interest is micellar casein, which is thought to form a gel in the gut resulting in a particularly slow, sustained release of amino acids into the bloodstream.

Two of the most popular supplements containing predominantly casein are Pro Peptide by CNP and Muscle Milk by Cytosport. Whilst whey protein is thought to have the most profound effect on protein synthesis (muscle building), casein is widely considered the best protein source for preventing muscle catabolism (breakdown of muscle tissue caused by dieting or over-training).

Protein Blends

Some feel that the best of both worlds of protein supplementation comes in the form of a blend/mix of both fast digesting and slow digesting proteins, which they argue creates a time-released effect, with the various protein sources being used at their own rates of absorptions.

Others counter-claim that a blended protein will all absorb at the rate of its slowest digesting protein source, but as yet no research has conclusively proved which school of thought is correct. Popular South African supplement manufacturer USN use a protein blend, USN Pure Protein, as their flagship protein supplement.

Meal Replacements

Meal replacements are a mix of proteins (often whey or whey with casein) and carbohydrates (usually maltodextrin or barley and oats), often with added ingredients such as digestive enzymes and vitamin/mineral blends added in. They are designed to either replace a meal or act as an extra meal for those looking to gain muscle size.

They are engineered to provide an ideal ratio of protein, carbs, fats and nutrients. Many MRPs (meal replacement powders), like Met-Rx, come in boxes of pre-measured sachets - making them ultra convenient for taking to the office or to the gym. You can also get them in standard tubs - e.g. USN Muscle Fuel.

Protein Bars, Snacks, Puddings, etc.

The protein supplement market is ever expanding with new and unique ways of getting your protein intake frequently coming onto the market. Protein bars are almost as widely available now as their powdered counterparts and many taste as good as most candy bars.

In the past few years several companies such as Instone, CNP and PVL have made protein puddings - delicious high protein desserts that are either ready to eat out of a can or powders that are mixed into a pudding consistency. Even more recent developments have been high protein breakfast cereals and 'single-shot' liquid whey protein in tubes.

All-in-One Products

The final type of protein supplement is the all-in-one muscle building product. The pioneer of this range was Maximuscle Cyclone - a mix of high quality whey protein, dextrose, creatine, glutamine, HMB and several other muscle building ingredients. Whilst all of these ingredients can be bought seperately, these all-in-one bodybuilding supplements eliminates the need to buy multiple products and allows you to get all the nutrients you want in one convenient protein shake.

This article looks at the variety of protein supplements ranging from Whey Protein, Protein Shakes, Casein, Meal Replacements and more.

Article Source: http://www.electrictext.com/

Shaun Parker has been at the forefront of Protein Supplements such as Maximuscle Cyclone for several years. For more information visit http://www.bodyshapersfitness.com/

Fitness-Catalog.com has a wide selection of protein supplements for all of your protein supplement needs.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

5 Fitness Myths That Are Responsible For Thousands of Fitness Failures

By: Jesse Cannone

Unfortunately, many people are misinformed and are also misled by the many promises of the weight loss industry. Everywhere you look, you see or hear of people promising “Dramatic Weight Loss” with products such as "The Fat Trapper," or "Exercise in a Bottle."

Then you also have the hundreds of diets out there such as "The Zone," "Sugar Busters" or "The Atkins Diet." I'm sure you have heard of many of these yourself. You might have even tried some of them. Unfortunately, these products and diets are not the quick fix, or the miracles they are portrayed as. They are also usually very dangerous.

Below are some common misconceptions among people with regard to exercise and nutrition.

1. You need to exercise to burn fat.

The truth is you don’t gain body fat because of a lack of exercise. You gain it because your blood sugar levels exceed what you are using. Basically, you are eating too many calories at one time.

2. Your metabolism slows down once you hit 30.

WRONG! Actually, hundreds of research studies have shown that the slow down in metabolism is due to a loss of muscle tissue. And the loss of muscle tissue is directly related to a lack of hard physical activity!

3. Pasta and bread are fattening.

Anything is fattening! Lettuce can be stored as fat! Any food or drink, which contains calories, can be stored as body fat if it causes your blood sugar levels to exceed what the body needs at that time. Bread and pasta are actually great sources of complex carbohydrate! The key is how much you eat and when you eat it.

4. Eating after 7pm will make you fat.

Absolutely false! It all depends on whether or not the body needs that amount of calories at that time. Keep in mind your body is constantly burning calories, 24 hours per day, just the amount varies.

5. Strength training will make you bulk up.

Another NO! It seems as if mostly women are concerned with this one. Muscle size is primarily affected by genetics and hormone production; therefore, most women don’t have the potential to build very large muscles.

Muscle burns calories, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn which makes easier to burn fat and harder to gain it!

By no means is this a complete list! There are so many I could write a whole book just about them. The key is in education, but not by reading fitness magazines!

Article Source: http://www.electrictext.com

About The Author

Jesse Cannone is a certified personal trainer and author of the best-selling fitness ebook, Burn Fat FAST. Be sure to sign up for his free email course as it is full of powerful weight loss and fitness tips that are guaranteed to help you get the results you want. www.guaranteed-weightloss.com

info@guaranteed-weightloss.com

Thursday, November 10, 2005

7 Must Know Facts to Build Your Strength Training Routine

Copyright © 2005 strength-training-woman.com

Building a strength training routine can be one of the trickiest parts of a fitness program. Ask 10 personal trainers what the best strength training routine is and you will get 10 different answers. Below are 7 must-know guidelines to use when building a strength training program. Each guideline provides the basic foundation that all strength training programs abide by. Learning the proper way to use free weights will greatly improve your strength, fitness, and health levels.

1) We cannot strength train a muscle today and tomorrow. We have to allow at least 24-36 hours of rest. Lifting on consecutive days leads to overtraining, muscle fatigue, and possible injury. All of our strength gains are made during the rest time!

2) We cannot spot reduce. This means if we want to lose weight in our stomach, doing 100 crunches a day will not make our stomach flab disappear. To reduce stomach fat, we need an overall reduction in body fat. Reducing overall body fat results from eating well, regular exercise, and proper rest.

3) We can spot tone. If we want bigger biceps, we can strength train for hypertrophy (fancy word for muscle growth). It is possible for us to focus on one specific muscle group. This is sometimes called targeted training. Studies have shown that machines isolate a muscle better than free weights.

4) Our strength training routines must be regular and consistent for results to take place. It took us years to put on the weight. We shouldn't expect it to all fall off in three weeks. The best outcome from your fitness and strength training program should be a lifestyle change. Replace bad habits with healthy ones and reap the rewards.

5) Realize that our strength training routine must be changed every 4-6 weeks. This will prevent our body from hitting a plateau and it will keep things interesting. We can change our method, our exercise or our intensity level. Not changing our routine on a regular basis will eventually stop producing results. We will continually grow stronger as we progress with our fitness program. Be sure your body is challenged on every workout.

6) Our strength training routines must be built according to our specific goals. Specific goals may be: fat loss, hypertrophy, maintaining weight or adding bulk. Each goal will have a different method that is best suited for optimal results. Someone who is interested in losing body fat will strength train differently than someone looking to increase muscle bulk. Knowing what your specific goals are will aid in creating the best strength training program possible.

7) Our strength training routines must work all of the major muscle groups in our body 1-3 times per week. This includes our biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, back, abs, quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Leaving out muscle groups will create an imbalance.

By using these 7 guidelines, anyone should be able to build a decent and effective program. The idea is to develop a safe strength training routine that provides us with major health and fitness benefits. Strength training has certainly increased in popularity over the past few years. Knowing how to build a strength training routine for our specific goals will move us one step closer to a fit body.

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Lynn VanDyke is the proud owner of http://strength-training-woman.com
You may receive your free strength training log and routines by visiting her site. Her newest ebook has been voted the #1 fitness ebook on the net. Learn more about it by visiting:
http://strength-training-woman.com/31-no-holds-barred-answers.html

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Vitamin and Nutritional Supplement Section Added

We just finished adding a massive section full of all the best vitamin supplements on the market here at Fitness Catalog.com. You can find the vitamins section here:

http://www.fitness-catalog.com/vitamins/

Or you can see a site map with a huge list of all available vitamin supplements at:

http://www.fitness-catalog.com/vitamins/sitemap.php

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success (Part 4 of 4)

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

This is part 4 of the 4-part "Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success" series.

Key #6: Control your rewards

You've heard it before.

"Have a free day. Eat cheat meals."

It sounds exciting, doesn't it? For several days, you focus on ultimate discipline. You eat perfectly "clean" and don't deviate from your diet ... not even a little bit. But that's because you have a great motivator ... the promise of a day or meal where you can literally go "no-holds barred" and eat anything and everything in sight!

If you start to feel a twinge of guilt about your plans to assault the nearest buffet, you can simply flip to the pages of your favorite book and reassure yourself with the claim that this meal is necessary because it will boost your metabolism. It's okay. Have it all. Chow away. Stuff yourself. You earned it, and it won't make a difference, right?

Well ... maybe, and then again, maybe not.

Cheat meals, free meals, reward meals, or whatever names you choose serve their purpose. I know that I would not have jumped headfirst into my first physique transformation if I did not know I could dive back into my binge habits once a week. And it worked ... for awhile. I stuck to the program and was losing weight.

As time progressed, however, I noticed a few disturbing trends.

Monday to me was simply a countdown to the day I could eat anything I wanted. I was obsessed with it. Sure, I was eating clean throughout the week, but I could barely focus on anything else other than the idea that one day I would be going crazy. When that day came, I would actually plot out a course through the city so I could hit as many fast-food and donut joints as possible. We went to buffets and then hit the store and bought pounds of junk food to bring home and consume before midnight.

I realized that this wasn't control. It wasn't even reward. It was addiction. I thought back to when I quit cigarettes. How did I do it? Did I stop smoking six days out of the week, and then have a day where I smoked as much as I possibly could?

My body was giving me a few clues as well. I would feel bloated, disgusting, nauseous, and would often get sick after a free day with a cold or sinus infection. I felt like I spent the first half of the week recovering from the last day and the next half barely holding on to make it to the next splurge festival.

That's when I decided it was time for things to change. I did not want to remain a slave to food. I could not imagine going on like that for the rest of my life, but this was supposed to be a permanent change, right? So I put my foot down.

I started with only allowing myself one or two reward meals per week. I called them reward meals because cheating is not what I was doing ... I planned them, and deserved them. After several weeks of this, I noticed a significant change: I was no longer desperate for those meals, I was enjoying my healthy meals more, and when it was time to have a reward meal, I didn't "waste" it on junk food or fast food ... I'd go to a nice restaurant, sit down, and truly savor it.

Then I began to focus on my portion control. I was still over-eating that one meal, and I would feel like I had a hangover for the rest of the evening. So I made a pact with myself that I would never eat so much that I couldn't have my other meals that day ... in other words, even with a reward meal, I'd control my portion sizes so that I was still ready to eat again after a few hours.

This is when I suddenly found myself in the driver's seat. The food was no longer in control, I was. I still enjoy pizza, ice cream, and many other treats. But now I control my rewards. I don't have to go overboard. I don't have to use one meal as an excuse to jump into a pattern of binge eating for the rest of the weekend. I can decide, ahead of time, what and when I will enjoy my reward, and then eat just enough to satisfy my psychological craving without going overboard. I switched from a free day festival (like smoking a carton of cigarettes) to controlled indulgence (like enjoying a nice cigar).

Here's some final points to consider ...

People are 250% more likely to suffer a heart attack after overeating

Most of the people I know who successfully lose weight and keep it off control their rewards and do not have a splurge meal

Your metabolism takes more than a day of splurging to kick into high gear ... you are better off having a planned week of eating more calories, but from healthy foods

Key #7: Consistently refocus goals

This last key is perhaps the most important.

When I was digging through some old documents, I came across my original goals list. This was in 1999 when I began my fitness journey.

My main goal was to reach 40" and I made a little side note, "if possible?"

Imagine that. A 44" waist and I wasn't even confident that I could lose four little inches!

After my first 12 weeks, I did not have a 40" waist. I had a 38" waist. I blew past my goal. So my new goal became a 36" waist, which I knew was my limit because I was "big-boned." 36" gave way to 32" and at 6% body fat I was able to slip on a pair of 30" jeans ... over a foot (30 centimeters) had been trimmed from my waistline.

Goals can change, and that's okay. Constantly refocus your goals. You may be capable of more than you imagine or currently allow yourself to be. Some of my goals that I created after learning the power to transform include running a half marathon and starting my own business, both of which I have accomplished and neither of which I would have thought possible in 1999.

To refocus your goals is to learn who you are. Maybe you thought you could lose 40 pounds of fat in three months, only to discover you lost 20. That's fine. Set a new goal to lose 20 more over the next three months. Maybe you thought you would never bench press more than 100 pounds, but just did 110 last week. Great! Set a new goal to bench press 150 pounds. As you learn your limits (or rather, how to move past them) don't be afraid to set your goals higher.

Don't make the mistake, however, of falling into the trap of not having goals. This is what many people do ... "When I reach 150 pounds, I'm going into maintenance." That is an excuse to settle, and settling means going backwards and ultimately falling back into your old patterns. By consistently raising the bar, you are able to remain fit. Fitness is about action and movement, not about complacency and "settling."

If you want to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, you must realize you are not on a journey to trim fat or increase your running speed. Ultimately, you are in pursuit of greatness.

Conclusion

These points that were created by people just like you have illustrated that permanent weight loss success is a process, not an event. It relates to the people you interact with, the mindset you adopt, and your core beliefs — even how willing you are to transform them. Studying these points is not enough. You must internalize them and take action. Only then can you become the journey to become your best.

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Jeremy Likness is an author, motivational speaker, international health coach, Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition. He wrote the internationally selling book, Lose Fat, Not Faith http://www.LoseFatNotFaith.com (ISBN 0976907925) after losing 65 pounds of fat. He was a Top Finisher in a 2000 Physique Transformation competition. Read more articles by Jeremy at http://www.NaturalPhysiques.com/

Monday, October 10, 2005

Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success (Part 3 of 4)

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

This is part 3 of the 4-part "Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success" series.

Key #4: Make it a lifestyle

You’ve heard this one so much you probably don’t even pay attention to it anymore. The idea of a lifestyle change has become a cliché. Sure, we all want to avoid the yo-yo diet plan and make something permanent, but few people really take the effort to learn how.

Are you one of those people dead-set in making a difference, so you strap on your shoes, load your refrigerator with nothing but chicken and broccoli, then put on your blinders and focus 110% for twelve weeks until you reach your goal?

What happens after that?

Most people celebrate. They eat a lot. They take a break from training.

A few weeks later, they are back to square one. Instead of feeling great, they talk about how great it felt. Instead of looking terrific, they tell old stories like grandfathers in rocking chairs, “I remember when I could see my shoes and not my belly when I’d look down at my feet.”

It’s great to have focus and to take on the challenge and really pursue it. But have you stopped to think about what happens after?

Are you training and dieting for a few weeks, or for life?

Let me ask you this … if it’s for life, can you imagine yourself eating the way you are eating from now until you are six feet under with a bouquet of flowers above your head? If not, it’s time to change.

You see, living healthy doesn’t have to be about diets and horrendous workouts. It can be about fun. I still recall the first time I set down the barbell and put on a pair of running shoes. Several people wrote me, horrified at the thought of how my muscles would wilt and wither from the rigors of training for a half marathon. How could I give up the admirable iron game for some lousy 13-mile run through the woods? What was I thinking?

The truth is, I’m beyond the need to compare my self-worth to the depth of my abdominal cuts or the girth of my biceps. I’m in this for life, and that means having fun. While I enjoy grabbing rusty dumbbells and slinging them around as I grunt, groan, and sweat like I’m taking an indoor shower, there’s more to life than weight-lifting. That’s why I like to ski, jog, and do other activities as well. I make it fun. And you know what? I can do fun. I don’t have to always have a workout sheet and a pen to stay in shape. Sometimes all I need is a good pair of shoes, two hours of free time, and the good green earth to make my rounds.

The same is true for nutrition. Live a little. Experiment with healthy recipes. Understand what “better bad choices” and “portion control” means. If I want some cheesecake, I might order a slice and split it with my wife and daughter. You’ll catch me eating a slice of pizza on occasion, and even sipping on a glass of red wine. The key is moderation. I don’t have to count the days until my diet is over because I’m focused on the process, not the end result. Learn to get out of the finish line and into the race. You’ll enjoy it more.

Key #5: Listen to your body

“Jeremy, I can’t finish my cardio workouts because I get dizzy and nauseous when I do them first thing in the morning, but I can’t eat food because they said I have to have an empty stomach to burn fat.”

“Jeremy, I know I need a ton of protein, but I just can’t seem to get it down. I get ill eating so much protein. How will I ever build muscle?”

These questions are common, because instead of listening to their body, many people are giving up their power by following the current trend or diet program. Your body has built-in mechanisms that can teach you a lot about what you are doing and if it is working. A healthy person knows when it is time to eat, because they get hungry. A healthy person also knows whether or not they require protein. These instincts are built in, but the S.A.D. diet (Standard American Diet) is so loaded with processed food that has no counterpart in nature, it’s no wonder the signal is getting lost.

What happens when you are next to a busy intersection with a constant buzz of cars going by? Eventually, you will tune out the noise. It becomes part of the background. If you are standing next to a deserted road, however, the occasional car whizzing by will attract your attention. You’ll be “in tune.”

The typical diet is so loaded with salt that it completely nullifies your sense of taste. When you try to eat something that is low salt or salt-free, it tastes bland and disgusting. You reach immediately for the salt shaker or at least grab a bottle of Mrs. Dash and cover it with herbs and spices.

Try going without added salt for just four weeks. This is an experiment I experienced first hand, as did my wife, and so do many of my clients. The first few weeks are not fun, because everything is so dull. Then, just like a smoker who has stopped sucking on smoke for a few weeks, something amazing happens. Slowly but surely, your taste will return. Suddenly, you become aware of the subtle flavors in vegetables, fruits, grains, meats, and other foods that just tasted like salt and seasoning before. It’s an amazing experience, if you let it happen.

By removing the additives, preservatives, refined sugars, processed grains, and other artificial components of your diet, you can start to sense your needs for protein and carbohydrates as well. I don’t follow the traditional “slab of meat at every meal” bodybuilder diet. I know it’s popular, but I choose to listen to my body.

I’ve force fed pounds of protein and the end result might be a little more muscle mass, but it also leaves me staring at a block of steak wishing I was somewhere else and hoping I never have to taste a bite of meat ever again. That’s not living … it’s dieting, and I’d rather live healthy than diet miserably. So, I stay in tune. If I crave protein, I eat it. If not, I might just have a vegetarian dish. I listen to my body.

If you have the most energy on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, go for it. If you’re one of those who feels dizzy and weak, then listen to your body. Stop worrying about what “they” say about an empty stomach. Instead, get some food, let it digest, and then get to work. Whatever fat-burning benefit you might have from training on empty will be negated by your lack of energy. Add some fuel and then push down on the accelerator and go full throttle. In the end, it’s calories that are king, not whether or not you time the meal before or after your workout.

If you thrive on high protein and lower carbohydrates, that’s great. Personally, I get extremely irritable when I reduce my carbohydrates and get sick of eating protein when I raise my protein intake. So instead of giving up my power to the almighty diet, I listen to my body. I figure it knows what it wants. Of course, the trend is that you have to cut carbohydrates to lean down, so I made certain I lost 35 pounds and cut down to 7% body fat while eating 300 grams of carbohydrates and 90 grams of protein per day to prove that, first, you can lose fat even with carbohydrates in your system, and second, it doesn’t take pounds of meat and tubs of protein powder to maintain a muscular physique. The proof is in the pudding – you can see my menus and my progress here:

Bottom line, get comfortable with you. Stop ignoring your body. Listen to it. If you find that your “splurge meals” are making you sick, think about the message your body is giving you and decide if you are going to continue it week after week, or if it’s time to take off the training wheels and grow up. You don’t have to have pizza every week to enjoy life.

(Continued in Part 4)

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Jeremy Likness is an author, motivational speaker, international health coach, Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition. He wrote the internationally selling book, Lose Fat, Not Faith http://www.LoseFatNotFaith.com (ISBN 0976907925) after losing 65 pounds of fat. He was a Top Finisher in a 2000 Physique Transformation competition. Read more articles by Jeremy at http://www.NaturalPhysiques.com/

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success (Part 2 of 4)

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

This is part 2 of the 4-part "Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success" series.

Key #2: Forgive yourself

Forgive yourself already! ENOUGH!

You are only human. Whatever decisions, choices, or even mistakes resulted in your current position, get over them. Successful people recognize that in life, there are no mistakes or failures. There are simply undesired outcomes that offer a learning experience. Most people operate from the realm of “what if” and live either in the past or the future. You decide that past failures dooms you to repeat these mistakes in the future, or you struggle with the concept of “what if” and contemplate a future that is pure fiction. It doesn’t exist.

Get real. Live in the present. As long as you continue to dwell on your mistakes, you are simply creating elaborate excuses to share. You can continue to beat yourself up, or do something about it. So what if you were a binge eater? So what if you knew you were going to gain weight, but gave in anyway? Those were all choices that happened in the past. You are in the driver’s seat. You have a brain. You also have the power to control it. No matter how difficult it may seem, you can choose to be different. It only takes an instant to change your mindset. Dwelling on the past is only an excuse to delay the process.

The first step is to forgive yourself. Remember that forgiveness is not an event. It’s a process. It takes time. You’ve spent a long time telling yourself you are bad, lazy, fat, ugly, or other nasty things that just aren’t true. You can continue to do the same thing, or recognize that for things to change, you must change. One easy way to do this is to simply stand in front of the mirror several times per day, look yourself in the eye, and say out loud: “The more I love the way I am, the more I am the way I want to be.”

Does this feel silly to you? It’s not. That discomfort you have isn’t because you’re doing something stupid … it’s because you’re not comfortable with you. In fact, the more excuses you make to not do this exercise, the more reason you should. You’ll find that, over time, you will become more comfortable with who you are. Soon, you’ll look forward to greeting yourself. Eventually, you could even learn to love yourself again.

Key #3: Stop making excuses

If you’ve already talked yourself out of the exercise described in Key #2, then you need to read this and go back to it.

Do you feel that bulge in your pocket? No, not the one with your wallet or makeup kit tucked away. I’m talking about the one you carry around with you all of the time.

To learn more about the victim cards we all carry around with us, listen to the fifth CD in my 5-CD Lose Fat, Not Faith Audio program.

In a nutshell, everyone faces challenges. It is popular to define ourselves by comparing what we have with someone else, but in the end, you can’t please everyone. I’ve heard every excuse in the book.

“I’m too old.” I’ll show you an 80-year old bodybuilder.

“I just got out of heart surgery.” I’ll introduce you to a man who lost dozens of pounds after quadruple bypass surgery and improved his healthy tremendously.

“I’m too overweight and out of shape.” Listen to my interview with Rob “Former Fat Guy” Cooper who lost almost 400 pounds of fat.

“I’ve had too many children to get a flat stomach.” I’ll show you pictures of women with half a dozen kids who win trophies in figure and bodybuilding competitions.

“I work two jobs and go to night school.” I’ll share the story of a woman who was working full time, studying to become a fitness trainer, and teaching her husband how to walk and talk at the same time (he was recovering from brain surgery) while losing over 100 pounds.

The fact is there are always excuses. Instead of wasting your time and energy finding one that sounds good, why not just admit you’re not up for the challenge? Ultimately, you must make the decision to change. If you’re not ready, then just admit it. Stop feeding us the sad drama and save it for someone else. Find someone else who wallows in their excuses and you can have a grand time exchanging all of the reasons why you’re not going to change. The rest of us, we’ve got a different plan. You see, we all carry the same victim cards, but we’re not going to play them. Instead, we’re going to stop being a victim and get on with the business of doing what we set out to do.

(Continued in part 3)

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Jeremy Likness is an author, motivational speaker, international health coach, Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition. He wrote the internationally selling book, Lose Fat, Not Faith http://www.LoseFatNotFaith.com (ISBN 0976907925) after losing 65 pounds of fat. He was a Top Finisher in a 2000 Physique Transformation competition. Read more articles by Jeremy at http://www.NaturalPhysiques.com/

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success (Part 1 of 4)

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

This is Part 1 of the 4-Part "Seven Keys to Permanent Weight Loss Success" series.

Terrorists are aptly named because their tactics are designed to strike fear into the hearts of the people. This fear is often irrational. Many people bide their time suffering anxiety over the next unlikely attack while falling prey to a monster that kills more people every week than those murdered on September 11th. This killer has no hidden agenda and destroys without prejudice. Those who are unfortunate enough to meet this nemesis often suffer prolonged pain before eventually succumbing and “giving up the breath” as death was described in ancient Egypt.

What could possibly be so terrible? In the year 2000, the leading preventable cause of death was tobacco. Only a few decades ago, doctors and priests would smoke during commercials and share their favorite brand of cigarette. Today, there is a stigma associated with smoking because we understand the link between tobacco and death. Unfortunately, there is a new competitor who is rapidly gaining ground. This competitor claimed thousands lives in the year 2000, and was the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Who is this deadly threat to society?

Poor diet and lack of exercise.

Surprised? Thousands of people die every day due to poor eating habits and lack of regular exercise. The death certificate won’t mention their favorite fast food combo meal or the fact that they would rather watch the latest golf tournament than take a stroll through the park. Instead, one of the many degenerative diseases that have been conclusively linked to nutrition and exercise will stake its claim over another life.

Society spends more time and energy worrying about violent threats than dealing with this leading cause of death. While the popularity of products and services designed to address the situation is growing – in fact, the health and wellness industry is en route to become the next trillion-dollar industry according to economist Paul Zane Pilzer – the rate of obesity, overweight, and conditions related to poor diet and lack of exercise such as type II “adult onset” diabetes is increasing. In fact, adult onset diabetes is now being diagnosed in enough children that most medical professionals simply refer to it as “type II.”

Perhaps one reason why this epidemic is so hard to combat is that people are focused on the solution as a product or service, rather than a process. To quit smoking, many people receive counseling, join groups or follow systems because it’s not as simple as tossing the last pack (the author is one of the fortunate few who was able to stop smoking “cold turkey” but found it far more difficult to overcome his poor eating habits). Overweight and obesity is a condition related to behavior and patterns that have taken years to create, so the notion that some magic product will suddenly undo the thousands of days of programming is absurd. Successful, permanent weight loss is a process, not an event.

During a recent seminar that I conduct, participants explored the concept of just how powerful the mind is and how this relates to losing fat. After a serious of powerful exercises, they were asked to create an action plan based on what they learned in order to successfully lose fat and keep it off. The result of this workshop was seven keys that addressed what most diet programs or weight loss systems do not: the fact that fitness starts inside.

Here, then, are seven keys to permanent weight loss success that start on the inside.

Key #1: Be Positive

You’ve probably heard this one before. It’s a popular cliché. In order for it to work, however, you have to move beyond a catchy statement and integrate this as part of your life. In order to truly “be positive” you must start with an understanding of the mind. Your reality is perception, and perception is influenced by your thoughts. Thoughts create reality. What you think about expands.

A good friend and client of mine was a pilot for many years. After the terrorist attacks on September 11th, he was out of work. He went through a period of extreme grief, pain, and anger. His health suffered. It wasn’t the money that struck such a powerful blow. It was something else, a mistake many people made.

You see, my friend’s reality could be summed up with this statement: “I am a pilot.”

Can you see the danger in this? He defined himself by what he did, not who he was. By losing his job, he lost his identity. In reality, he was there all along, but his ego kept getting in the way of finding his true self. He had to learn how to let go and be himself, and define who he was on his own merits, not by his actions, level of success, or how others perceive him.

Many people who are overweight create the same situation. Most will create the statement, “I am fat.” Of course, the desire to lose weight might exist, but if your definition of self-worth is based on the amount of fat you carry, what happens when it’s gone? If you’ve lived with “I am fat” for months or years, who do you expect to become when the fat is gone? This subconscious fear of losing your identity can sabotage your process.

What we think about expands. If you focus on the fat you carrying, or the difficulty you have losing weight, then expect more of it. Expect more fat, and expect a difficult time losing the fact. On the other hand, if you focus on releasing the fat, on your success and the process, then this is what you will receive more of. The fat won’t go away overnight. However, if you spend just one day eating healthy foods and exercising – even if it’s just taking a short walk – would you consider that to be an improvement? Could you call that a “healthy day” compared to your previous habits? What if you decided to be, “I am healthy,” and give the fat some time to let go?

Be positive means be realistic, and focus on the positive progress. Focus on abundance – get more of what you wish to receive, instead of thinking about what you don’t want.

These keys will be continued in part 2.

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Jeremy Likness is an author, motivational speaker, international health coach, Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition. He wrote the internationally selling book, Lose Fat, Not Faith http://www.LoseFatNotFaith.com (ISBN 0976907925) after losing 65 pounds of fat. He was a Top Finisher in a 2000 Physique Transformation competition. Read more articles by Jeremy at http://www.NaturalPhysiques.com/

Monday, August 08, 2005

Strength Training FAQ's

Copyright © 2005 strength-training-woman.com

Do you need some beginner's strength training 'how to' information? I know you must have tons of questions. I will try my best to cover most of the beginner questions with this article. Just remember, above all else have fun and train safe!

How many reps and sets should I do?

How many reps and sets you do is completely dependent upon your goals and strength training method of choice. For example- if your goal is to lose weight and tone up your muscles, then you should consider doing 3 sets of 12 reps. If your goal is to increase muscle size, you will want to continually increase your weight size and consider a pyramid method for reps and sets.


How fast should I lift weights?

When you first learn about strength training, learn about proper speed. I see a lot of people lifting weights way to fast. A good speed is somewhere between 2-4 seconds on the lift and 3-4 seconds on the lowering phase. Your muscles aren't really doing the work if you move faster than that. Momentum is.

Should I workout everyday?

How often you choose to workout is up to you. I always advise beginners to start slowly. A very important rule is to allow your muscles at least 24 hours of rest before lifting weights again. So for example, if you work your biceps today, let them rest tomorrow. I know you will be eager to strength train everyday, but those muscle fibers need time to relax and repair. Strength training beginners must rest just like the pros! A good program will include several days of strength training, several days of rest, and proper exercises for each major muscle group.

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Lynn VanDyke is the owner of http://strength-training-woman.com. She is certified in personal training, nutrition and yoga. Don't miss out on her ezine- No Limits. It is jam-packed with powerful strength training advice and quickly becoming the must-read for all things strength training.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Stretching, Part 1: Why & When

Copyright © 2005 Tanja Gardner

A martial artist friend came to me a few weeks ago, a little confused about stretching. He’d heard a lot of conflicting information about why, when and how to stretch for maximum benefit, and he wanted some clear guidance. I’ve since had two other subscribers ask me exactly the same question – which suggests that it’s an excellent topic for a feature article.

WHY STRETCH?

If you try to stretch a rubber band to its limits when it’s cold, one of two things will happen. Either it won’t stretch very far – or it will simply snap. If, however, you roll it around in your hands and give it a few less intense ‘practice stretches’, stretching it to its full extent becomes easy, and the likelihood of snapping it is minimal.

Your muscles work very similarly. Doing any kind of exercise involving a range of movement your body isn’t used to is just like stretching the rubber band. If you try to do it ‘cold’, you’ll either get a very small range of movement – or you move too far and ‘snap’ (or tear) the muscle tissue. Warm up first however – do a few practice stretches – and your full range of motion is easy to achieve safely.

It’s not only during your workout that this flexibility is important. Your body works on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis which means that, unless you stretch regularly, your joints grow less flexible over time. Less flexibility means less range of movement in your daily life – so if you have to reach or twist to pick something up, you’re more likely to injure yourself. And if you take part in a sport or training programme that involves regularly contracting your muscles (without including some kind of stretching), you’ll find your general flexibility decreases even faster.

There’s a third reason that many of us have been taught to stretch – and that’s to avoid sore muscles the next day. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of evidence that it will actually help. DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is the aching you feel when you’ve pushed your muscles hard the day before. It happens because the exercise has stressed your muscles to the point they’ve developed microscopic tears in the fibres. And although stretching may feel good after a long workout, there isn’t a lot it can do to heal this ‘microtrauma’, so it won’t have much effect on your level of soreness the next day.

WHEN SHOULD YOU STRETCH?

Many of us were taught to stretch before we do any kind of exercise. In fact, the best time to stretch depends on the kind of exercise we’ll be doing. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to separate exercise into three categories: strength training that involves slow, controlled movements; training that involves quick, uncontrolled movements, and anything else.

For strength training, there’s evidence that stretching before a workout is counter-productive. Strength training requires muscles to contract tightly against a heavy weight, and loosening the muscle fibres by stretching them first reduces their ability to do this. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t warm your muscles up before strength training – just avoid stretching them first. If you want to include stretching in the same workout as strength training, it’s better to wait until after you’ve finished your weights work.

For anything involving uncontrolled dynamic movements, however (and this would include most sports, dance methods and martial arts), stretching beforehand is important to avoid injury. Just think back to the rubber band metaphor.

For anything that doesn’t fit into either of these categories, you can probably include your stretching whenever you want to. For example, if your exercise is walking (and you do a lot of walking, so it’s within your usual range of motion), you could stretch before, after, during or any combination of the three.

The important thing about stretching is that it should never be done on cold muscles. If you’re stretching at the end of a workout, this isn’t usually a problem, as your muscles will be well and truly warmed up. If you’re stretching before your workout, however, experts recommend warming up (doing some kind of light exercise that gets your heart beating faster, and blood flowing to your muscles) for at least 5-10 minutes before you begin to stretch.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll look at different types of stretching – and the right and wrong ways to go about stretching safely and effectively. Until then, if you have any specific questions about how the information in this article applies to you, and would like to go through it with a personal trainer, please contact me.

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Optimum Life's Tanja Gardner is a Personal Trainer and Stress Management Coach whose articles on holistic health and relaxation have appeared in various media since 1999. Optimum Life is dedicated to providing fitness and stress management services to help clients all over the world achieve their optimum lives. To find out more about how you could benefit from online personal training, please visit http://www.trainerforce.com/optimumlife/ . To find out more about holistic fitness and stress management please visit http://optimumlife.co.nz, or contact Tanja on tanja@optimumlife.co.nz.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Stress & Exercise: How do I make it Work for Me?

Copyright © 2005 Tanja Gardner

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EXERCISE & STRESS

Everyone knows that exercise reduces stress levels. Doesn’t it?

Actually, some of the research is a little conflicting. For a start, vigorous exercise is actually stressor itself. On a physical level, exercise causes the tiny muscle fibres to actually tear, and then grow back stronger as they heal. Not exactly relaxing for the muscles in question! Quite apart from this, one study showed anxiety levels increase in the first 5-10 minutes of exercise as adrenaline – one of the key stress hormones – kicks in. So how can it be that exercise reduces our stress and anxiety levels over time?

The quick answer is that while exercise is a short-term stressor, lack of exercise is a long-term one. As we mentioned in last week’s stress newsletter, our bodies are built for movement. When we’re sedentary day after day, all the systems that have evolved to service a body-in-motion start to break down, which causes waste-products to build up.

Our stress response originally allowed us to either fight a potential threat get as far away from it as possible. These are both fairly physical activities. All the biochemical changes – the stress hormones released – are based around this response. They allow us to get into action – and quickly! It’s no surprise, then, that unless we do what our bodies expect and get moving, those hormones have nothing to do but hang around in our bloodstream, making us feel jumpy, irritable and just plain stressed. As soon as we start moving though, the hormones have done their job. Our body as a whole can return to normal, and relaxation can ensue.

There’s more to the de-stressing effect, though, than just clearing hormones from your bloodstream. First there’s the well-documented release of endorphins– nature’s opiates – into your bloodstream. These act to both deaden pain and make you feel wonderful. On top of this, regular exercise actually strengthens your body – improving your sleep, boosting your circulatory and immune systems. Since these are the very things that the stress response attacks, regular exercise becomes a form of preventative maintenance.

Then there are psychological buffers that exercise offers against stress. As we set ourselves exercise plans and goals, and stick to them, we start believing in ourselves more. This can translate directly into the way we deal with the stressors in our life. If we feel more in control of them, the stressors become less powerful.

USING EXERCISE TO MANAGE STRESS

So what do the experts recommend when it comes to controlling stress with exercise?

First and foremost, don’t overdo it. Too much exercise, or exercise sessions without enough rest time between them, lead to overtraining, and overtraining is as dangerous a stressor as anything the work world can throw at you. The current ACSM guideline for a healthy lifestyle is 30-45 minutes, 3-5 times a week. If you haven’t exercised for some time, check with your doctor first, and then start small. Even 10 minutes three times a week is better than nothing. If you want to do more than this, feel free, but if you start waking up tired, getting injury prone, or losing ground instead of gaining it, you need to cut back, or you’ll just increase your stress.

Secondly, make sure you enjoy what you do. Exercise performed because you have to is not going to keep you motivated to do it, and the resentment you feel won’t help with your stress levels. There’s a wealth of exercise options – from walking, swimming and cycling, through to aerobics, martial arts and team sports.

In fact, you don’t actually need to ‘exercise’ to exercise. All you need to do is get active – so if walking the dog, digging in your garden, or playing with your kids appeals to you more, they’re just as valid. And if you need a little help making the commitment, consider the services of a personal trainer.

Lastly, be aware that whatever is causing the stress, simple activity is not going to magically deal with it. If you’re not sure where your stress is coming from, you might benefit from one-to-one coaching with a stress management expert. If you know the root cause, however, getting active will put you in a far better frame of mind, body and spirit, to manage it yourself. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the true miracle of exercise.

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Optimum Life's Tanja Gardner is a Stress Management Coach and Personal Trainer whose articles on holistic health, relaxation and spirituality have appeared in various media since 1999. Optimum Life is dedicated to providing fitness and stress management services to help clients all over the world achieve their optimum lives. For more information please visit check out http://optimumlife.co.nz, or contact Tanja on tanja@optimumlife.co.nz.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Fitness Wars: Revenge Of The Girth

By Aaron Potts

As of the writing of this article, May 16, 2005, we are all almost 5 months into our New Year's Resolutions.

Are you skinny yet?

Did you find your six-pack?

Does your butt look like you wanted it to in those jeans?

For a lot of you, the answers to these questions are going to be "No, No, and, I took the jeans back to the store".

Why? You are a victim of the Fitness Wars, that's why. Your Girth is winning out over your Resolution, and you are probably more frustrated now than you were when you started!

Is there some master conspiracy that is keeping you from getting in shape? Do the rules of energy in vs. energy out not apply to you? Are you in a fat-loss vacuum where the normal laws of weight loss don't work?

Of course not. Yet, you still can't lose the bodyfat, and it is likely because you are simply confused.

If you are like most people, you have gotten fitness advice from the radio, TV, friends, family members, magazines, maybe even a Personal Trainer. Who had the most to gain from giving you fitness advice?

The radio, TV, magazines, and even your trainer are all interested in getting paid for handing out advice to you. Does that make them the most qualified to help you? With the possible exception of your personal trainer, no, it really doesn't.

What about your friends and family? Let's answer this question first: Was the person who gave you the advice in good shape? If not, then the point of that question should be clear!

Fitness Wars - all of these different people and agencies trying to get you to do something or buy something.

How about a little thing that some people like to call "Back to Basics"? Prepare Thyself! You are about to be shown the true secrets to fitness success!!

1. Proper Nutrition. For those of you who don't know what that is, a good rule of thumb is that if man made it, don't eat it! If that isn't enough information for you, then consult a professional nutritionist, or do free research online. If you pay a professional, make sure they are properly credentialed. If you do the research yourself, don't believe what you find if that site is obviously more interested in your money than in your health.

2. Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day. You say that you've heard this a thousand times already? Well, that should tell you something - it works! Your body is a calorie burning machine. If you are an average female, you can only burn about 300 calories at a time. An average male can burn about 400. It doesn't matter how much you exercise - if you eat more than that during any one sitting, some of it is going to be stored as bodyfat.

3. Exercise - at least 60 minutes a day. It doesn't matter what the magazines say, or what you hear on the "1-Second Abs" commercial, or who tells you anything else. Exercise - at least 60 minutes a day. It bears repeating, so feel free at this time to keep saying it out loud until you feel that you have it memorized.

4. Believe. This final step is really the most important. Most people have self-limiting beliefs. In a nutshell, that means that no matter how much education or assistance that they receive, they don't BELIEVE that they can lose weight! Let's see…. how does that saying go? "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right!" Believe it can happen, because it can. Then you will be only 3 short steps away from success.

Wow, what a revelation this article has been! In fewer words than it takes to list the dozens of unhealthy circumstances and afflictions related to being overweight, you have just been given a guaranteed 4-step system for fitness success!

Are you willing to take care of yourself and finally meet those fitness goals, or do you have another 5 months to waste?

Do yourself this one small favor. Count to four, beat the Girth, and remember that January 1st is just another day!

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About the Author: Aaron Potts is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Success Coach whose customers include both consumers as well as other fitness professionals. Sign up for his free Fitness Journal at http://www.fitnessdestinations.com/ or visit his coaching site at http://www.ptsuccesscoach.com/

Source: http://www.isnare.com/

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The How To Guide for Six Pack Abs

Copyright © 2005 Ryan Cote

First off I want to mention that, for most people, getting six pack abs is not an easy task. It requires serious dedication, but it is possible! If were blessed with naturally low body fat and good muscle definition, enjoy it! Otherwise, below is a general 2-step guide that, if followed religiously for 3 months, will produce results.

Step 1: Nutrition

This is the single most important part of the puzzle, hands down. You can have the most impressive set of abs, but if they're covered with a layer of fat, you won't see them! Break up your day with 5 or 6 mini-meals because this jump starts your metabolism. And stop eating the food that is preventing results: white bread, loads of pasta, soda, candy, fast food, hydrogenated oils, sugars and fructose corn syrup.

Instead, replace them with foods that will help you reach your goal: oatmeal, olive oil, whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, chicken, fish, protein and water. Be realistic- you'll slip here and there, but make a conscious effort to radically improve your eating habits because getting a six pack will be impossible if you don't.

Step 2: Exercise

You need to concern yourself with 3 different exercises: cardio, weightlifting and ab exercises. And aim to workout no less than 4 times a week.

The cardio you do can be anything: walking, running, biking, swimming....whichever cardio you don't mind doing so that you'll stick with it. Aim for 30-45 minutes, a minimum of 2 times a week.

Weightlifting is important because 3 pounds of added muscle burns as many calories as a 1 mile jog...and this is while you're just sitting around! Aim for 30-45 minutes, a minimum of 2 times a week. If you're confused as to what exercises to do for each body part, check out out the following website. It features professional bodybuilders, but the information is great and can be used by anyone.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/exercises.htm

The last exercise you need to incorporate into your workout is ab exercises. Aim to work your abs a minimum of 3 times a week. There are a ton of different ab exercises you can do so try to find 3 or so that you enjoy doing so you can mix it up. A good database of different ab exercises is:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/exername.php?MainMuscle=Abdominals

Well, there you have it. Follow the above for 3 months religiously, and while results will vary from person to person, you will experience improvement. It will take serious dedication on your part, but imagine the feeling you'll get when you look in the mirror and like what you see.

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Ryan Cote is the author of http://www.4daystobetterhealth.com/, a free health e-course that shows the average person how to live a healthy lifestyle. Only 4 emails over 4 days and you'll have the basic knowledge to better your health.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Exercise – More is NOT better!

by Greg Ryan - High Profile Fitness Expert!

Years ago when I was a professional bodybuilder, I fell into the mindset that the more I exercised, the less fat I ate, the better I would look and feel. At the time this seemed like the logical thing to do. And maybe in my mind that was correct. However, from my bodies stand point, this was NOT the thing to do, nor was it healthy.

If you have exercised for any length of time, chances are you too have fallen into this mind trap. If I walk thirty minutes and burn three hundred calories, then I will walk an hour and burn twice as many. If I eat thirty grams of fat a day and lose two pounds, then I will eat ten grams a day and lose four pounds. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

While your mind might be able to take that, your body can not. You see this with a lot with people. Out of the blue they just hit a wall. Their bodies all of a sudden just say, “That’s it, I done- no more!” I believe exercising efficiently in less time will do more for you in the long run than trying to do more in the short run.

If you over exercise, your body gets to the point where it just goes through the motions. The only thing you are really doing is satisfying your brain. The muscles shut down, hit plateaus and ache. These are all signs of over doing it. They reality is, which will seem illogical is that the muscles grow and recuperate while they are resting, not during the workouts. This was very hard for me to understand until I worked out for a summer with Brian Silk Mr. Universe. Brian was lifting half the weight in half the time, performing half the exercising I was doing. Obviously I was doing something wrong.

He went on to explain to me just this. The hardest thing for me to do at that time was walk out of the gym when it seemed as though I was only through half my workout. One year later I won the Mr. Michigan Bodybuilding championships.

Here is my point:

Making progress in your exercise program comes down to; working smart not hard, listening to your body, and understanding more exercise is bad for you in the long run. The magic is in this formula: Consistency + variety + efficiency = results!


About the Author

LOSE WEIGHT IMMEDIATELY! FREE MINI COURSE click here www.resolutions.bz Discover the common sense way to lose weight without dieting that the doctor’s DON’T want you to know. Greg Ryan is a best selling author, former employee of Kathy Smith, and high profile fitness expert.

Monday, July 11, 2005

How Important Is A Golf Fitness Program

by Mike Pedersen

A golf fitness program can make the difference between you optimizing your golf potential or playing the same frustrating golf you may be used to playing.

It’s no secret that the body swings the club and plays the game…so why wouldn’t you consider a golf fitness program to play your best?

A golf fitness program consists of strength, flexibility, endurance and even nutrition. But the big difference is making your golf fitness program as golf-specific as you can.

How do you do that?

First off…just take a look at the position your body is in during the golf swing. It’s “on your feet” and in golf posture (bent at the waste, knees flexed, upper back fairly straight, ankles flexed, etc…).

Can you now see how any “physical limitation” you have will dramatically affect your ability to make a sound, repeatable golf swing?

So the answer is definitely starting a golf fitness program. It’s not as intimidating as you may think. It doesn’t take going to a gym. It doesn’t involve lifting heavy weights and really killing yourself. It doesn’t involve 2 hours every day of the week either.

A golf fitness program can be as simple as using a pair of hand weights (dumbbells), an exercise ball and exercise tubing. All very inexpensive, portable and perfect for your home or even your office.

You can take your exercise tubing, attach it to a door and make downswings every day of the week. This is a great exercise to sneak in at your office that will have a direct impact on the power you produce through impact.

Designing a “complete golf fitness program” will take a little more creativity. I would strongly recommend pursuing a qualified golf fitness trainer to put together a complete golf fitness program that addresses your specific physical limitations.

You don’t want to waste your time on exercises and stretches you don’t need to do. You want to focus on a balanced golf fitness program that will improve your weaknesses.

You will be amazed how quickly your game will turn around. I’ve worked with golfers who have seen improvements in a matter of days! Literally! Their fitness had declined so much they couldn’t even get the ball airborne off the tee and within days were hitting it dozens of yards further.

What a joy to hear stories like that!

You too can see some huge improvements if you start your golf fitness program right away!

About the Author

About The Author: Mike Pedersen is one of the top golf fitness experts in the country, author of the Ultimate Golf Fitness Guide, and founder of several cutting-edge online golf fitness sites. For more information on his golf fitness programs, visit his new golf fitness – golf training site at Perform Better Golf.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Exercise Bikes vs. Treadmills

by Michael Walker

You’ve decided you want to exercise at home. There are hundreds of pieces of home cardio equipment available. The most popular are treadmills and exercise bikes. In deciding between the two, you should compare long-term sustainability, the effectiveness of the workouts, and safety.

Overcoming Boredom

The biggest obstacle to a home exercise routine is sticking with it. You don’t have to drive to a gym, so your home fitness equipment is more convenient. The problem is that other distractions are just as convenient at home. The key is to make your routine fun. You want to look forward to your daily workout. You have to be realistic. Playing with the heart rate monitor or watching the calorie counter go up will only be fun the first couple of times you exercise.

Treadmill vs. Boredom

On a treadmill, you walk. Walking isn’t that fun. You can walk at different speeds, but that isn’t really much more fun. If you get a treadmill that offers an incline, that keeps it a bit more interesting. Walking uphill isn’t exactly fun, but it’s different. It presents a challenge.

You can’t really read on a treadmill because you are bouncing up and down. You can’t keep your eyes on the same sentence, and you usually end up with a headache. Basically, the only thing fun to do on a treadmill is watch television or movies. If you are really into TV or movies and are able to put your treadmill in front of a television, you can probably keep your treadmill workout from becoming too boring. Problems consist of commercials, the noise coming from the machine, and again, the bouncing.

Exercise Bikes vs. Boredom

Exercise bikes are unique in that many of them come programmed with various biking routines. You simulate different courses that require you to sprint, pedal uphill, and perform at different levels within one workout without having to keep pressing buttons and changing everything. You can even select random programs so you don’t know what’s coming, which really keeps you on your toes. Some exercise bikes can even be plugged into televisions and video games to let you interactively pedal through visual courses.

On upright exercise bikes, you run into some of the same problems as treadmills as far as reading is concerned. Recumbent bikes, however, allow your hands to be free to hold a book or magazine, video game controller, or phone. Multi-tasking during an exercise bike workout keeps it from becoming boring and allows your workout to more easily fit into a busy schedule.

Defeating boredom to successfully keep up a long-term exercise routine is much easier with an exercise bike than a treadmill.

The Calorie Factor

In a study conducted by Nordic Track, young, healthy people used various exercise machines and did cardio workouts. Although they felt they used the same intensity on all machines, they burned the most calories on treadmills and ski machines.

On average, most people burn about 750 calories per hour on a treadmill. The same people are likely to burn about 550 calories per hour on an exercise bike. So it’s a no-brainer, right? You should get a treadmill because they burn more calories.

Well, not exactly. You can’t get so caught up in which machine burns the most calories. You have to take a lot of other factors into consideration. How likely are you to sustain a treadmill routine as opposed to an exercise bike routine?

Because exercise bikes are usually more fun than treadmills, you are much more likely to stick with it long-term. This means that even though you can burn more calories on a treadmill, you are also more likely to stop using it altogether.

You might also find it difficult to use it long enough per workout session to get the full benefits. Most people find it easier to workout for 20 minutes on an exercise bike than 20 minutes on a treadmill. You have to think about that. If you are likely to only do 10 minutes on a treadmill but can easily do 20 minutes on an exercise bike, you will burn more calories per session on an exercise bike.

So just going strictly by the numbers, treadmills burn more calories. If you easily get bored or have tried and failed to stick with exercise routines in the past, you might want to consider burning less calories per hour in favor of a sustainable long-term exercise bike regimen.

Your Safety

The biggest difference between exercise bikes and treadmills is overall safety to your body.

The first case of safety is the most basic. You can fall off of a treadmill. It’s very difficult, however, to fall off of an exercise bike. In fact, you would probably have to try to fall when riding an exercise bike. While you might be thinking you’d have to be pretty clumsy to fall while walking, it happens more than you’d think. People get involved with watching television or the beat of music. One wrong step and you can seriously injure yourself. It’s also possible to spill water or sweat on the treadmill track, causing a safety hazard you might not notice until after you’ve slipped.

Another safety hazard is injury from the activity itself. A treadmill puts quite a bit of stress on your joints, especially your knees and ankles. Even if you invest in a treadmill with some degree of shock absorption, when you eventually get to a jogging or running point, you can put severe orthopedic stress on your body, even up to three times your body weight. People with existing conditions such as arthritis will find a treadmill painful at times due to this stress. Otherwise healthy individuals can sustain injury and possible long-term damage over time.

Exercise bikes put much less stress on your joints. A properly positioned exercise bike supports your weight and still allows you to receive the benefits of a higher impact cardio workout. Upright bikes can sometimes stress your back in the way you have to bend to reach the handlebars. Recumbent exercise bikes, however, can actually improve existing back pain by forcing proper posture and giving support as you exercise. On any exercise bike properly used, your knees and ankles are not stressed as they are on a treadmill.

The less you stress joints, the less likely you are to sustain an injury during your workout. You are also less likely to be sore afterwards. Most importantly, a non-workout injury doesn’t always have to halt your exercise routine on an exercise bike. If you hurt your back or neck, you will find the support of a recumbent exercise bike will keep you from having to stop your exercise regimen altogether. Let’s face it – if you have to stop, you are less likely to start again.

An Exercise Bike is Better for Your Health than a Treadmill

As you can see, both pieces of home fitness equipment have advantages. While the treadmill continues to be the most popular piece of home gym equipment, most people are more likely to faithfully use an exercise bike. This means you’re more likely to have to dust a treadmill until it gets the garage sale sticker.

About the Author

Michael Walker is a freelance author providing useful information about exercise bikes, recumbent exercise bikes and mini exercise bikes.


Be sure to check out the excellent selection of exercise bikes here at Fitness-Catalog.com...

Maximum Cardio Part I

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

Cardiovascular exercise is an important component of general health. While certain people may require different amounts and types of cardio, everyone should engage in at least a little cardiovascular activity each week. There are many methods for training which all have their advantages. You should learn what works for you and what you truly enjoy so that you will continue to perform cardio and reap benefits of good health.

Depending on your goals and body type, different amounts of cardio may be required. A lean "hard-gainer" trying to add mass may benefit from only one or two cardiovascular sessions per week. On the other hand, someone like myself who is extremely prone to storing fat and sensitive to carbohydrates may require 3 or more sessions in order to maintain peak physique. Since you can only get better at a particular exercise by performing it, those interested in running marathons or participating in endurance events such as a triathlon must increase their frequency of cardio in order to prepare for the event.

MAXIM 1: Your body type and goal for training will dictate the type, frequency, and length of your cardio

When your goal for cardio is general health, you have a few decisions to make about what type of cardio you will perform. Many people enjoy taking long, slow runs. Enjoying cardio is important, so if you find an enjoyable method of cardio, there is no reason why you should discard it. The same decision should influence your choice for timing. Many people claim that you must perform cardio first thing in the morning and/or on an empty stomach to see maximal benefit. I disagree. If you have trouble waking up or putting a full effort into morning cardio, and will get a much more vigorous workout in the evening, then why not do it then? Perform cardio when you feel the best, when you are ready and know you will stick with it and give it 100%.

MAXIM 2: Find cardio that you enjoy, and do it when you feel you have the most energy

There are many styles of cardio. There is some debate about what cardio is best for you. People preach about training in the "zone" of a particular heart rate for maximum fat burning benefit. While it is true that your body will utilize more fat for energy during this period, this is not the entire picture. Moderate cardio means your body will recover quickly - your heart rate will return to normal within a short period. Intense cardio, which elevates your heart rate beyond the "zone", may not burn as much fat during the exercise, but your body will take longer to recover. Your body must process waste and your heart rate will remain elevated for hours after the bout of exercise. You will burn more calories throughout the day, and therefore you will receive a superior benefit.

To better understand this, let’s consider a situation where you burn 200 calories during exercise. You have a choice: you might burn those calories walking at a brisk pace and reading a book, and it will take you 1 hour. Or, you might burn those calories performing short sprints followed by periods of moderate jogging, and you will burn those calories in 20 minutes. While the "hour" cardio kept you in the "zone" for fat burning, guess what? The 20-minute cardio elevated your heart rate and took you into an anaerobic zone where your body accumulated an "oxygen debt" - a need for oxygen and fat burning to help flush waste from your system and recover from the intense exercise. So during a 24-hour window, you will burn MORE than the 200 calories, and therefore be closer to your fat loss goal.

While there is no hard, scientific evidence to support this next maxim, I truly believe in it. I have witnessed this not only in my own transformation, but also with countless others as well.

MAXIM 3: The less time it takes to burn the same amount of calories, the more calories you will expend later that day

This maxim may seem confusing, but it’s very simple. It means that if you are going to burn 200 calories, when you burn that 200 calories in 20 minutes instead of 1 hour, your metabolism will increase throughout the day and you’ll end up burning MORE than 200 hours when that day is done. This is why high intensity interval cardio, like that recommended in David Greenwalt’s book, "The Leanness Lifestyle" or the "20-Minute Aerobic Solution[tm]" which is recommended by Bill Phillips in Body-for-LIFE™ is so effective - it burns the most amount of fat in the shortest period of time.

Just because high intensity cardio may burn more calories doesn’t make it superior to moderate cardio except with respect to calories burned. There is some evidence that you may improve your cardiovascular health more quickly with high intensity cardio, but this is no reason to discard your long runs. If you have a busy schedule and wish you fit 3 short, 20-minute sessions, then intensity is the way to go. If, however, you truly enjoy your long bike ride or jog on the weekends, then go ahead and do it - you will still be improving your health and burning calories, and if it is something that you enjoy, you will stick with it! Remember, too, that if you are training for a marathon, all of the 20-minute high intensity cardio in the world will not prepare you fully to run 20+ miles. You must perform the moderate, long duration cardio to prepare your body for the event.

This leads us to another maxim. Your heart rate can provide you a lot of information about your training. Over time, your resting heart rate should decrease. Mine went from the high 60’s to a current value of 48 due to my cardiovascular conditioning. When you train with weights, you can use a heart rate monitor to see what your target heart rate is (weight training will take it to the anaerobic levels, or about the maximum heart rate you would want to train at) - this will provide much better feedback than a generic formula. By tracking your heart rate, you can monitor your effort. If you train today at 160bpm then have a lousy day and don’t feel like you’re receiving any benefit, use your heart rate as a guide. As long as you are pushing hard enough to hit that 160bmp mark again, you know you are getting at least the same intensity from your training as the time before.

We will cover this next maxim and more in Part II.

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Jeremy Likness is a world-renowned Health Coach and author of the internationally-selling e-Book, Lose Fat, Not Faith. A Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Jeremy lost over 65 pounds of fat himself before launching his company, http://www.NaturalPhysiques.com, with the mission to transform thousands of lives one success story at a time. Jeremy specializes in lifestyle changes with a unique approach to health and wellness that starts on the inside.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

8 Tips to Burn Fat Fast!

Copyright © 2005 Pat Rigsby

Are you looking for that “jump start” to rev your metabolism and get you bathing suit ready? The following eight tips will improve your workouts and ignite your metabolism. Try some or all of these tips, but beware, the result may be a number of admiring second glances and stares when you don that bikini or pair of trunks.

1. The majority of your workouts should be composed of free-weight or cable exercises.

Compared to machines, free-weight and cable movements often require more skill, create muscular balance, and have a greater metabolic cost. For example, it is more difficult to balance the weights, and to coordinate muscles when performing free-weight exercises. Although this may sound like a disadvantage, it is actually a benefit. By balancing and stabilizing free-weights or cables you are working more muscles through a greater range of motion resulting in more muscles developed and more calories burned.

2. Use mostly compound (multi-joint and multi-muscle) exercises.

When focusing on improving body composition, you can't worry about “detail” exercises, so you should use exercises that'll get you the biggest bang for your buck. Isolation exercises can be used at the end of a workout to work on a specific weakness, but only do the bare minimum.

Virtually every savvy fitness professional is privy to the fact that compound exercises recruit the most muscle groups for any given body part.

If you seek lean muscle and the increase in metabolism that comes with it, you must choose exercises that allow for the greatest load. One of the main reasons why squats are superior to leg extensions for quadriceps development relates to the fact that the load you can expose the quadriceps to is much greater with squats. That’s why presses and dips will give you great triceps development, while triceps kickbacks will do little for triceps development and even less for the metabolism.

A good rule of thumb is to use lifts that will allow you to use the most weight. These will have a systemic effect on your body that'll help maintain or increase your muscle mass, and in turn ignite your metabolism.

3. Super-set or group exercises.

Perform either non-competing muscle group training or antagonist training. Non-competing muscle group training would involve doing a set of a lower body exercise, and following it up with an upper body exercise. Antagonist training is executed by alternating exercises that target opposing muscle groups (e.g. chest and back). The list of benefits includes: quicker recovery, greater strength levels and shorter workout times.

This design can be a huge advantage in your mission to burn fat. If you alternate exercises for opposing or non-competing muscle groups, you’ll be able to keep your heart rate elevated and burn calories like a blast furnace!

4. Keep rep ranges, in general, between 8 and 12.

Through research, it has been determined that the best range for hypertrophy (muscle gain) is roughly between 8-12 reps. Since the main focus of your resistance training efforts is to gain lean body mass and stimulate your metabolism, this rep range fills the bill perfectly. “High reps for tone and fat loss” is the “big kahuna” of all training myths! Somehow the aerobics, yoga and Pilate’s community have convinced us that when we perform bodyweight exercises or light resistance training for high reps, our muscles magically take on a beautiful shape without growing or bulging. On the other hand, if you challenge yourself with moderately heavy weights, your body will take on a bulky, unflattering appearance. If you believe this, you probably still believe in the Tooth Fairy!

5. Rest only 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

When you keep the rest periods under one minute, it’s easier to stay focused on the task at hand and keeps your heart rate elevated. In addition, it forces your muscles to recover more quickly between sets, along with keeping your nervous system revved up.

If your first movement in an upper/lower body superset is squats, you might want to rest 60 seconds before attempting your second movement. However, if your first exercise is a fairly "easy" exercise, like lat pull downs, you might only wish to wait 30 seconds before doing the second part of the superset.

6. Every session should consist of approximately six to eight exercises.

Why? Because empirical evidence has shown that normal trainees can consistently maintain six to eight exercises per session without burning out.

It’s imperative to base your exercise selection around compound, multi-joint exercises. Seventy-five percent (75%) of your exercises for each session must be compound exercises. Six single-joint isolation exercises are not going do the trick. Sure, you can perform a few isolation exercises, but the majority of your exercise choices should be multi-joint.

7. Perform Total Body Workouts.

First and foremost, you must drop the notion that a muscle group can only be trained once or twice a week. Fitness enthusiasts from the past didn't train that way and you shouldn't either. The more frequent muscle producing / fat burning sessions you can have, the better.

8. Cardio is not the cure-all for Obesity.

Cardiovascular exercise aids in the creation of a caloric deficit, but the caloric expenditure during cardio is temporary. Strength training addresses the core of the problem by permanently increasing the rate at which the body burns calories by adding muscle. The best programs will include both strength training and cardiovascular training, but the core or the programs effectiveness is resistance training.

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Pat Rigsby is a nationally renown fitness expert and co-owner of Fit Systems. For the latest tips on fitness and nutrition, you can subscribe to his popular newsletter at: http://fitsystemspersonaltraining.com/fitnews.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Practical Way to Lose Fat

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

Today's society is about speed. We no longer have to wait for the oven to warm our food because we have microwaves ready to do the work in less time. Breaking news events don't travel by telegraph across the great oceans; they are transmitted instantly with live video over the Internet or bounced from the array of satellites that float in constant, geosynchronous orbit. It comes as no surprise that supplement sales are on the rise as we continue to seek out quick, convenient ways to lose fat – fast!

Losing fat is not difficult. I have been coaching clients to break through plateaus and send their fat cells running for cover for years now. So why does this continue to be an elusive goal for so many people, who “struggle” just to lose a few inches?

We can address this by creating a practical guide to lose fat. Is this a special diet that will have the pounds melting off? No. Is it a secret workout program that causes you to burn fat while you sleep? Nope, not that, either — your body already does it. So what on earth can we share?

There is a secret, over 2,000 years old, that was leaked to the general public by the father of medicine, Hippocrates. Somewhere along the way, it was lost again. Let's bring it back to light. It goes like this:

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it?

The problem is that in our efforts to find something — fast — we tend to resort to equations and formulas that should magically spit out the right number of calories, or eliminate entire food groups like sugars or carbohydrates in our quest to make our fat cells cry (what some people call “sweat.”)

Everyone will benefit by reducing fat and increasing muscle. It's not so much your weight that may slow you down, it's the percentage of that weight that comes from fat! So how do you target the love handles and saddle bags without losing your guns or wheels, as biceps and thigh muscles are affectionately termed in the bodybuilding world?

1. Move more, eat more.

Whoa — wait a second! We all understand the idea behind moving more. That means burning more calories. But eat more? You thought it was eat less, didn't you?

The truth is that you must eat more: more intelligently. You must eat more nutrient-dense foods. In turn, you will consume fewer calories. Less calories does not mean less nutrition, when done correctly.

Even engineered foods (shakes, bars, and sports drinks) contain little nutritional value for the calories that go with them. There is nothing that beats nature's own packaging – fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and so on. If you want to remain satisfied and full, try consuming over 50% of your calories from fresh fruit and vegetables. Your calories automatically go down, while your intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients goes up. The idea is to consume foods as close to their natural state as possible. This means you'll do most of your shopping on the outer edge, or perimeter of the grocery store where the meats, eggs, and fresh produce exists, rather than in the middle, where everything comes in boxes, bags, and cans.

Want some nutrition-packed snacks? Try dates or figs with raw cashews. Roasting nuts may damage some of the healthy fats. You'll notice that roasted or cooked nuts are addictive, while raw nuts are not. Can't take the blandness? Buy roasted, lightly salted and raw nuts, then mix the two together for a compromise. Afraid of the fats? Don't be. These come loaded with fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, along with a healthy dose of fatty acids. My personal favorite is celery sticks with all-natural peanut butter.

2. Make Your Muscles Resist!

As your calories decrease, there is a chance you may lose muscle mass. Avoid this by making your muscles resist. Your muscles don't know the difference between gravity or any other form of resistance. The way to keep them active and toned is to engage in weight bearing activity. While the majority of your training will be focused on endurance, don't neglect the power of strength training. Strength training will improve your bone density, build lean muscle mass or preserve it while you are trimming the fat while providing explosive power when you need that kick during your competition. It also helps maintain joint integrity and strength, which is necessary to combat the repeat-use syndrome many runners develop in their ankles, knees, and hips.

Because your goal is not to stand on stage in a bodybuilding competition, but instead an endurance goal, keep your workouts to two or three short, intense training sessions — 20 or 30 minutes each — every week. Get in, give it 100%, and then recover and focus on the rest of your training. Stretch thoroughly.

There is an added benefit as well: resistance training burns calories for hours after you are finished, and studies show the combination of resistance training and aerobics burns more fat than aerobics alone.

3. Slow and Steady

Want a recipe for disaster? Try doing too much, too soon. Most people grasp this concept with training, so why do they fall short when it comes to nutrition? Think “better,” not “perfect” when changing your nutrition habits. You want to crash? Go on a diet. You want to change? Transform your lifestyle. Small changes over time tend to last longer than quick-fixes like fad diets or magic bullet pills and supplements.

As an example, if you currently drink soda, don't go cold turkey and jump straight to water. Most will find themselves chomping at the bit for something cold and fizzy! Instead, make a gradual transition. First, switch to diet soft drinks. After you are used to the change, try sparkling mineral water with a lemon or lime. Finally, transition to water. Make small changes, get used to them, and you will be well on your way to trim, fit body.

Conclusion

If you are like most people, you did not suddenly gain fat overnight. It was a gradual transition. So why should you expect losing the weight to be any faster? Take it slow. A pound of weight per week is a good rule of thumb for permanent fat loss. Anything faster may be too restrictive and could be lean mass (even muscle) instead of simply fat weight. Perhaps the most useful tool for losing fat isn't a nutrition guide or workout program after all — it is a trait. Patience is by far the most powerful tool to lose fat and keep it off.


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Jeremy Likness is a world-renowned Health Coach and author of the internationally-selling e-Book, Lose Fat, Not Faith. A Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Jeremy lost over 65 pounds of fat himself before launching his company, http://www.naturalphysiques.com/, with the mission to transform thousands of lives one success story at a time. Jeremy specializes in lifestyle changes with a unique approach to health and wellness that starts on the inside.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Five Keys to Healthy Eating Part II

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

In Part I, we covered two keys to healthy eating: enjoy what you eat, and believe in what you are doing.

In Part II, we explore the remaining three keys to healthy eating.

3. Practice moderation

Moderation is the key to everything. Many people operate in an either/or mode – either they are following a program perfectly, or they are simply going wild with their eating habits. A true lifestyle plan will be easy to follow because you won't have to worry about counting calories or weighing foods. Why? Because you are operating from a zone called moderation. This zone is tough for many people to find, and sometimes it requires going through a strict dietary regimen in order to create the control you deserve to have over food, instead of allowing food to control you.

Moderation simply means permission to enjoy without excess. When you want a glass of wine, you pour one and savor it. You do not suddenly feel guilty and then punish yourself for having it. If you are having a slice of pizza or ice cream, you don't create a license to eat until you are stuffed. Instead, you have a slice or two and enjoy it. If you are full, you are done. If not, then you might share a dessert with your spouse or someone else at the table.

Those who are successful at keeping their weight off don't overeat and they don't create limits. Some people truly enjoy healthy foods and eat these all of the time. Others have a balance they create. What is common is that they do not become a victim when they cannot eat a certain food – if a special occasion arises, they are happy to enjoy a piece of cake. The key is that they are in control and don't overdo it ... and when it is done, they don't allow guilt to override their success.

4. Be flexible with new ideas

Change is tough. Change is scary. If change were easy, there would not be millions of dollars in books about how to face change being sold. Change in your nutrition or health is no different than change in other areas of your life. Embracing a new style of eating can feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I know – I have been there and done that myself.

The key to success, however, is not to become so boxed into your comfort zone that you cannot open to new ideas. For example, I had been conditioned to combine protein and carbs at every meal, that when my wife suggested I attempt food-combining (a concept where you do not eat proteins and starches together – for more information, read “Fit for Life” by Harvey Diamond or “Total Health Makeover” by Marilu Henner) I simply resisted. “No way – that's not right! I've learned that ...”

Eventually, however, I came to my senses. No matter how much I have read or learned, the reality is experience. You can argue with me all day long about what color the sky is – but if it is blue in my reality, then that is the reality I will embrace. Everything productive in my life has come from being able to embrace change and try out new things. I discard what doesn't work, and embrace what does. This ability to not fear the unknown allowed me to try food-combining even though it did not fit into my existing reality. What I found was an eating method that gave me more energy and helped me feel more comfortable. By stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying something new, I was able to integrate more freedom into my eating plan.

Don't be afraid to try new programs, new dishes, and new recipes. Don't pre-qualify your decisions by going to research and reading about calories and studying the fat content. Instead, just try it. Keep a journal. Record your feelings in the journal. Observe how your body reacts. Create a dialogue with food that works for you rather than living in someone else's system. Don't fear change – change is required to move from overweight or obese to healthy and lean!

5. Learn to hear your body

Most of us tune out our body's protests. It is a requirement in modern society. When we are constantly stuffing our bodies with foods that damage and harm us, our bodies cannot continue to sensitize us to the pain or we would be in a constant state of suffering. So instead, the brain tunes out the signals like background noise. We no longer realize the harm that we are doing to ourselves. We confuse cravings with hunger. We think we want sugar when our body is screaming for healthy fats. It creates a state of constant stress that we are not conscious of, and it impacts the core of our health.

This is why I believe it is great to quiet and calm things down. Don't be afraid to juice fast for a few days. Try a "5-day high-fiber cleanse" to reconnect with your own health. Don't listen to your friends who will scream “starvation” and swear you are going to lose pounds of muscle. Muscle doesn't disappear overnight, and starvation is when you have NO food, not when you go on a modified fast that provides nutrients but gives you the ability to break out of a cycle of cravings and self-abuse that modern, processed foods create.

Learn to eat when you are ready, not when it is time. This doesn't mean that if your preferred style of nutrition is consuming six meals per day that you stop. What this means is that you get in tune with your body. If you are not hungry when it is time for meal two, go back and adjust meal one so that it doesn't fill you up so much. If you are starving by meal two, change meal one so that you are satisfied – increase the portion size, add healthy fats, or introduce new foods.

By learning your body, you can break out of the cycle of measuring and weighing foods. You come into contact with yourself, and learn to flow. When you feel it is time to eat, you eat. You don't eat a pre-allotted amount of calories. Instead, you listen to yourself. Think about whether you feel like having a lot of protein. If the thought turns your stomach, focus on salads, or fruit, or whole grains. Find what feels comfortable and then eat enough to satisfy you without leaving you stuffed. Practice this for a few weeks and you'll find that you can think yourself into the shape you desire without having to obsess over calories.

These are the five keys to successful, healthy living that I have observed. The people I know who have conquered their weight and are comfortable in their bodies used different methods. Some are vegetarians, some advocate low carbohydrate diets and others feel that high protein is important. Despite these differences, however, ultimately the plan they settled into addressed these five key points and allowed them to live in their health rather than having to work on their lack of it.

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Jeremy Likness is a world-renowned Health Coach and author of the internationally-selling e-Book, Lose Fat, Not Faith. A Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Jeremy lost over 65 pounds of fat himself before launching his company, http://www.naturalphysiques.com/ with the mission to transform thousands of lives one success story at a time. Jeremy specializes in lifestyle changes with a unique approach to health and wellness that starts on the inside.

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