Fitness

5 Terrible ( Yet Common) Healthy Living Habits

Most people would agree that to make healthy eating and fitness into a lifestyle, you will need healthy habits. Helping people create healthy habits that stick long term is a key purpose of Team Quadzilla. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and examine if your healthy habits are as healthy as you think. Read on to see if you relate to any of these common habits that do more harm than good.

1. RUSHING TO THE GYM

Everyone is busy. Probably too busy, but that’s a topic for another time. Stressing, speeding, and leaving no time to shift your mind and body from work mode to exercise mode is not healthy. Give yourself time to warm up and mentally focus in order to prevent injury and get the most out of your workout.

Better yet, skip the gym altogether. There are fantastic options for all fitness interests and abilities streamed to your enabled devices at Beachbody On Demand – my go-to for efficient workouts at home. No frantic drive through traffic, no crowds, lunks, or gawkers, no sweaty machines, you get the idea. Ask me how to try BOD for free. You’ll save time and money and very likely get better results.

2. LOUSY GOAL SETTING

In a moment of inspiration, or desperation, you sign up for next month’s Tough Mudder, or half marathon, even though you haven’t exercised in a few years. Or maybe you realize a wedding or class reunion snuck up on you and you must shed 20 pounds, so you spring for a 30 day gym membership, or adopt the latest fad diet.

But that’s just part of getting motivated, right? Not exactly.

There is nothing wrong with setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, but you need plan. Work backward from the event date to create incremental baby steps to help you get to your goal. Start small and slow, as going all gung-ho the first few days will likely end in injury, frustration, or burnout and you will fail to meet your goal. I am happy to help you come up with a plan that suits you.

3. IGNORING RECOVERY

Especially if you are feeling good and are highly focused and motivated to reach your goal, it sounds crazy to take a break. However, taking a day off can make your next workout more effective. Research suggests that planned recovery can improve performance and also help you boost intensity. Your body needs to rest and recover. It takes a lot of energy for your body to build and repair sore muscles, and you mind will appreciate the break as well. Recovery day can be complete rest or easy activities like stretch and relax yoga, or an easy cruise on your bike.

It’s not macho or impressive to workout hard every day, it’s foolish. Overtraining is a thing, and it will set you back. Plan rest days and work hard on the exercise days. Your body will thank you with excellent results.

4. WORKOUTS ON REPEAT

“I’m going to run a half marathon, so shouldn’t I just run?” Fair question. The answer is absolutely not. No matter the specific event you are training for, it’s best to mix up your workouts so you’re not overtaxing the same muscle groups. Supporting muscles need attention as well. Without a well-rounded plan, imbalances in the body will crop up eventually lead to injury. A running plan, for example, should include stretching/ yoga type workouts and total body strength training to optimize your results.

Further, you may stop seeing results if you’re doing the same workout every day. Your body gets used to certain exercises quickly, so changing it up can keep you on track to build muscle and endurance. By the way, the Beachbody On Demand programs are designed to incorporate necessary “muscle confusion” expedite total body fitness in minimal time.

5. LAZY NUTRITION

“I exercise every day so I can eat whatever I want.” False. Exercise makes up maybe an hour or so a day, but what you eat over the other 23 hours makes all the difference in your results. And I’m not just talking about weight loss or gain. Eating well has innumerable benefits to your overall human performance including more energy, increasing athletic performance, boosting your immune system, decreasing inflammation, improved mental clarity, etc.

You will never be able to out work a poor diet. Focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods — think healthy fats, lean protein, plenty of vegetables — and being aware of how and when you’re eating. Generally speaking, its helpful to maintain an even blood glucose level in your system which means eating smaller meals more often. Eating when you are bored or stressed is usually a bad idea.

Healthy eating habits are best done in baby steps. Change one thing at a time. I recommend to replace foods vs. cutting them. Instead of saying, “I’m going to quit diet soda cold turkey,” try “I’ll replace diet soda with a naturally flavored water.” Once that is normal for you, move on to the next item. Research shows that small, easy changes done over time create more consistency and long-term results.

Fitness, Nutrition

Why Am I Not Losing Weight?

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Please enjoy this excellent article by Kara Wahlgren.

In theory, weight loss should be easy: Watch what you eat, work up a sweat, and reap the rewards.

But losing weight doesn’t always seem that simple. You can feel like you’re doing all the right things — and you might lose some weight at first, but then you might reach the dreaded weight-loss plateau.

I’m sure you’ve been there: You’ve followed your diet to a T, you’ve cut calories, you work out regularly, and you’re still not losing weight. When you’re putting in the work and still not dropping pounds, well, that’s mind-numbingly infuriating. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

Don’t give up. Below you’ll find 10 reasons why the number on the scale might be stuck, as well as some suggestions on how to help you start losing weight again.

And, remember, it’s a journey. Even before you reach your goal weight by committing to a healthy lifestyle, you’ll start feeling stronger and learning to fuel your body with the right foods, and you might even find a workout you love!

10 Reasons You Might Be Struggling to Lose Weight

Losing weight takes work, but the rewards are worth it: a healthier heart, more energy, and checking yourself out in the mirror (and liking what you see), just to name a few.

1. You Have Unrealistic Weight-Loss Expectations

To be successful with losing weight, you have to have realistic and healthy expectations. And patience! You didn’t put on all the extra weight in a week or month, and you aren’t going to lose it all in a week or month either. And that’s OK.

Also, you might find that you are not actually losing weight but your body composition is changing, so the number on the scale might not be going down as fast as you like. Most scales don’t accurately reflect how much water you have in your system, how much body fat you’ve lost, or how much muscle you’ve gained. That’s why we encourage you to take “before” and “after” photos and to take your measurements.

When you lose body fat, you’ll be able to see it in how your clothes fit and in your pictures. Take a look at these “before” and “after” results to see what we mean!

“Often, I see clients get impatient and, if they don’t lose weight almost immediately, they change their regimens,” says Wesley Delbridge, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “However, they may have been on the right path to begin with; they just needed to give it more time.”

2. You Don’t Eat Enough Food

Super low-calorie and elimination diets — like those that are probably clogging up your social media feed right now — ignore the fact that food is fuel. Calories, including often-maligned carbohydrates and fat, are required for you to live and breathe… let alone to lose weight in a healthy way.

“Because our body weight is regulated by multiple systems, starving ourselves activates the body’s protective mechanisms to defend our body’s weight,” says Ethan Lazarus, M.D., a board member of the Obesity Medicine Association.

“One of these mechanisms is dropping the metabolism as low as possible. In general, we recommend, unless under medical supervision, not keeping your calories below 1,200 calories per day.”

3. You’re Not Eating Carbohydrates (or Protein or Fat)

For a healthy diet — whether or not you’re trying to lose weight — the calories you eat should come from a combination of healthy carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, explains San Diego bariatric surgeon Julie Ellner, M.D.

Whole-food sources of unrefined carbs (ex. legumes, fruit, and raw veggies) are vital to keeping energy levels up so that you can crush your workouts. The fiber found in these carbohydrates (versus, say, a croissant), will help you stay full and help you be less likely to snack on something unhealthy.

In addition, when you eat too few carbs, your body doesn’t stock as much glycogen, the stored form of your body’s primary fuel source, glucose. And since each gram of glycogen is stored with three grams of water, the scale will reflect that reduction in water weight. But that’s all it is: water weight. So, while the lower number might be encouraging, it doesn’t reflect your progress toward your ultimate goal: fat loss.

In addition to losing primarily water weight, cutting back too far on carbs can leave you chronically low on energy, which can hamper your weight-loss efforts by keeping you more sedentary and lowering your workout performance.

You also need protein and fat. Both will help you feel full, but fat also helps regulate your hormones and protein is vital to building lean muscle mass, the primary determinant factor of your metabolic rate, Ellner says. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be.

4. You’re Not Working Out Hard Enough

When you go for a jog or long, slow bike ride, you burn calories, but your metabolism settles back to normal soon afterward. That’s one of the reasons high-intensity exercise like the kind of metabolic conditioning you’ll find in Beachbody programs such as CORE DE FORCE and 22-Minute Hard Corps is superior for weight loss. Not only do you burn more calories during every minute you work out, but your metabolism also remains elevated for days instead of hours.

5. You Only Do Cardio Workouts

When most people want to lose weight, the first thing they turn to is the treadmill, aka the “dreadmill.”

Hating your workout isn’t going to help you stick with a workout routine. And, you may find you have better luck losing weight if you take the emphasis off steady-state cardio and focus more on strength training.

According to one large-scale study from the Harvard School of Public Health, people who spent 20 minutes per day strength training gained less belly fat over the course of 12 years compared to those who logged the same number of minutes doing cardio.

“Even if following a healthy diet for weight loss with adequate protein, we don’t lose 100 percent fat,” says Lazarus. “We lose part body fat and part lean body weight (muscle), and losses in lean body weight can result in the metabolism slowing.”

“Strength training — whether it’s with weights, yoga, Pilates, or any other resistance-based workout — is important to preserve lean body weight and metabolism. Think about it: Weight training gives your body a bigger engine. That bigger engine burns more gas getting you around town,” Lazarus explains.

Cardio can certainly be a part of your weight-loss routine, but try to include weight-lifting sessions and bodyweight circuits into your routine several times per week.

6. You’re Trying to Change Your Whole Lifestyle At Once

Going on a diet sounds like it’s just one simple change. But, in reality, following a healthy diet and weight-loss plan may include shopping for new foods, learning new recipes, changing how you spend your time after work, potentially getting up earlier to work out, increasing your step count, fighting cravings for junk food , drinking more water, and so much more.

That’s a lot to take on at once and can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

That’s why a habit-based approach can help, especially for those who have a history of going on and off diets. A review from experts at the University College London’s Health Behaviour Research Centre shows that habit formation is vital to making sustainable, long-lasting changes.

Try focusing on changing one thing at a time, and practicing that change until it’s really cemented, and then work on adding in the next one. Some good examples of healthy changes:

7. You Don’t Pay Attention to Your Body’s Cues

Trying to belong to the clean-plate club can hinder your weight-loss efforts because it ignores your body’s way of regulating food intake: namely, hunger and satiety.

“Paying attention to how each bite makes the body feel is critical to getting in touch with how much food we actually need, as well as what types of foods make us feel good and energized versus fatigued,” Ellner says.

She recommends eating when you are slightly hungry and to stop eating when you are slightly full. Although a 2014 Public Health Nutrition review suggests intuitive eating is a better tactic for weight maintenance versus weight loss, it has been shown to improve mental health and physical health factors other than body mass index.

If you find yourself gravitating to the kitchen or your desk’s snack drawer, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Often we eat out of habit, boredom, and stress. (Or because we’ve confused hunger with thirst!)

As you eat, nixing distractions such as the TV, computer, and phone can really help you hone in and recognize when you’ve eaten just enough, Ellner says.

8. You Eat More Than You Think You Do

“When people track their food intake for the first time, they are usually shocked to see what they are really eating throughout the day,” says board-certified family and bariatric physician Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., a diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.

You don’t have to do it forever, but tracking every single thing you eat for as little as a week can help raise awareness of what you are eating and where you are getting excess calories or sugar, Nadolsky says.

Make sure to track everything — those little taste-test bites you take while cooking or handfuls of candy from your coworker’s desk add up.

Plus, if you add a “notes” column to your tracker or food journal, writing down how you felt prior to each meal can help you learn how your emotions, energy levels, and food schedule play into what you eat.

For instance, if you write: “I worked through lunch, and then my blood sugar completely crashed and I felt super shaky” after your “candy bar” entry, that gives you a lot more information as to what will help you avoid that daily 2 p.m. vending machine run, says Delbridge.

If you don’t have the time or headspace to count calories, you can also try the Beachbody Portion-Fix Eating Plan, which calculates your approximate total daily calorie needs and helps you stick to them with a color-coded portion-control container system. Simply eat the number of containers prescribed in your daily calorie range, and you don’t have to track or count calories.

Also, don’t try to accelerate your losses by slashing more calories than what’s recommended. If you don’t eat enough, your body will try to compensate for the excessive calorie deficit by slowing your metabolism. Your goal is to eat at just enough of a deficit to allow your body to burn through its fat stores.

9. You Don’t Get Enough Good Sleep

Just because you can “power through” on not much sleep, it doesn’t mean you can thrive that way — especially when it comes to weight loss.

“When we sleep, body fat makes two important hormones, leptin and adiponectin,” says Lazarus. “Leptin is our body’s best natural appetite-suppressing hormone, while adiponectin is helpful in making our body respond better to insulin.”

He explains, “After inadequate sleep, in addition to being tired, which we all know is every dieter’s worst enemy, we will be hungry and crave carbohydrates.”

In addition, one small study found that when dieters slept for only 5½ hours, they experienced 55% less weight loss and also saw their lean body mass decrease compared with those in the study who got 8½ hours of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 sleep 7 to 9 hours per night. If you consistently get less than that — and 35 percent of American adults don’t get this amount, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — it’s time to make sleep a priority.

Stop treating sleep as a negotiable or the first thing to go when things get busy. To set yourself up for success, plan your sleep (establish a regular sleep schedule), and then schedule everything else on your to-do list around it.

10. You Spend a Lot of Time Sitting or Inactive

Hitting your workouts is great, but for optimal results, you shouldn’t limit movement to your workouts, says Nadolsky, noting that it’s your total amount of daily activity that truly matters for weight loss.

Unfortunately, simply exercising for 30 or 60 minutes a day doesn’t move you out of the sedentary category, and research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that regular exercisers tend to spend just as much time sitting compared to those who skip their workouts.

Try integrating what Nadolsky calls “exercise snacks” throughout the day. Once per hour, get up and walk around your office, perform a single set of (bodyweight) squats, try deskercise,”or just enjoy a few standing stretches. Take a walking meeting, ditch the escalator for the stairs, or use a basket rather than a shopping cart when picking up a couple of things at the supermarket.

Fitness

7 Reasons to Start Strength Training Today

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If you think strength training is only for bodybuilders and athletes, it’s time to challenge your assumptions. Strength training offers several important benefits, and you don’t need to frequent a gym or own a bunch of equipment to get the job done.

Here are seven benefits of strength training:

  1. STRENGTHENS BONES

The fact is, by the time you celebrate your 30th birthday, you’ve already reached your peak bone mass. And if you’re not careful, your bones will gradually weaken, making them more susceptible to breaks and fractures. This is especially concerning for women, who represent a whopping 80% of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis. To keep your bones strong and sturdy, you need to challenge them. Strength training is one of the most potent bone-building weapons according to a research review in Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism.

“[Strength training makes] the muscles pull on the bones, causing them to slightly bend and ‘squeeze,’” says Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM., a senior clinical professor at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. This “squeeze,” she says, increases the process of turning over and laying down new bone.

2. PREVENTS INJURIES

If you run, bike or play recreational sports, regular strength-training sessions can keep you healthy and injury-free. Many running and sport-related injuries are caused by muscle weaknesses, notes Janet Hamilton, MA, certified strength and conditioning specialist, registered clinical exercise physiologist and owner of Running Strong in Stockbridge, Georgia. For example, knee injuries in runners can often be traced to weakness in the hip muscles, Hamilton says; in particular, the medial glute muscle that powers lateral movement and keeps the hip stable. Strengthening this and other sport-specific muscles can lessen the impact on your joints, tendons and ligaments, keeping you running, jumping and lunging sans pain.

If you’re currently injury-free, you can maintain adequate strength with a couple of workouts per week, Hamilton says. On the other hand, if you need to address an underlying weakness, plan on doing specific rehab exercises 3–5 times per week.

3. BOOSTS ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

Just as strength training can help you stay injury-free, it can also elevate your performance in your sport or activity. “Strong muscles will be better able to produce greater force, generate greater power and sustain for longer durations before fatigue or failure,” Hamilton explains.

How you structure your strength sessions depends on your primary activity. For example, if you’re an endurance athlete, you’ll benefit most from higher-repetition exercises (15 reps or more). If you prefer to play basketball or rugby, aim for lower-rep exercises (6 reps or fewer) to build power. I address this issue of strength training for endurance sports like triathlon in a short video.

4. HELPS LONGEVITY

Using data collected from more than 80,000 U.K. residents, researchers from the University of Sydney discovered strength training reduced risk of death from any cause by 23% and death from cancer by 31%, regardless of whether that training involved bodyweight-only or weighted exercises. If you add some good old-fashioned cardio, your risk of death from any cause is reduced by a total of 29%. To live long, researchers recommend strength training at least 50–60 minutes per week and doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio every week.

5. PREVENTS AGE-RELATED DECLINES IN MUSCLE MASS

Just as your bones quit bulking up around age 30, you also start losing muscle mass (also known as sarcopenia) at about the same time. Often, the older you get, the less you move, Olson says. This only speeds up your strength declines and makes everyday activities — like getting up from a chair and carrying groceries — incredibly challenging. Regular strength training can not only help you maintain your current muscle mass, it can also help you create new muscle. When you lift weights, you damage your muscle fibers. As your fibers repair themselves, they add more protein to each fiber, ultimately making them denser and stronger, Olson explains.

6. CURBS ANXIETY

New research from the University of Limerick, Ireland, reveals that lifting weights can ease anxiety, especially when done in group settings. After analyzing 16 studies on more than 900 subjects, researchers discovered that resistance training 23 times per week significantly improved anxiety symptoms regardless of session length. To keep anxiety at bay, grab your buddies for a group lifting session or join one of my Team Quadzilla virtual Challenge Groups.

7. BURNS MORE CALORIES AT REST

When it comes to torching calories, cardio typically gets all the credit. But while cardio burns more calories during exercise than strength training, building muscle through strength training allows you to burn more calories after exercise. This is because, unlike fat, muscle is a metabolically active tissue. In other words, every pound of fat you replace with a pound of muscle raises your basal metabolic rate or the number of calories your body burns at rest. According to Olson, one pound of muscle burns about 7 calories per day at rest, while fat only burns about half that amount.

To focus on muscle growth (also known as muscle hypertrophy), perform sets of 6–12 reps with a moderate weight and limit rest to 1–2 minutes between sets, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Keep in mind: No matter how much muscle you add, it won’t be enough to out-burn the excess calories from a poor diet. So be sure to prioritize vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, proteins and whole grains.

Credit Lauren Bedosky and the myfitnesspal blog for doing the heavy lifting on this article.

Fitness, Fortitude, Nutrition

What Happens When You Go “All In”

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Angie and I recently finished a rigorous fitness & nutrition program called 80 Day Obsession. The name is a little off-putting as I don’t like to think we are (or ever need to be) “obsessed” with our fitness or physique. I prefer to think of this endeavor as 80 days fully committed, focused, and “all in.” It was a personal test to see if I could eat really healthy for 3 months and stick to a challenging workout schedule. I often say we must do hard things if we want to be our best, so I put my words to action. Here are a few key takeaways from the experience:
Results are Visible
While my photos may not blow you away with transformation like Bruce Banner to Hulk, some pretty cool stuff happened to my body.
Lost over 4% body fat
Lost about 3″ from my waistline
Gained nearly 1″ in my arms
Gained about 5 lbs.
Angie reported losing over 8 lbs. and 7 inches overall which is significant for someone who is already fairly petite. There’s one thing you need to remember about the scale though. Muscle weighs more than fat, so to focus on the scale as the judge & jury for success in your healthy living journey is very short-sighted. No one wears a sign with their weight on it. It’s about how you carry the weight, how you FEEL in your skin, and what you can DO now that seemed impossible before. Clothes fit better, and in Angie’s case she’s down a couple sizes even though the scale only says down 8 lbs. More importantly, she’s gained confidence from this experience which brings me to my next point.
Invisible Results are Awesomer
That’s right, I said awesomer. Doing something hard like a rigorous fitness program does amazing things to you that can’t be seen in before & after photos.
     Added significant strength – Angie & I both increased our weights more than we could have hoped. We FEEL so much stronger because we ARE MUST STRONGER.

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     Mental fortitude increased – I can’t say enough about this part. The “doing hard things” is mostly mental. The body will go where the mind takes it. We are so apt to quit when something is hard, so to LEARN to conquer our mind and tell it “No!” when we feel like quitting, when we feel too tired to exercise, when we feel like eating cookies instead of carrots, is a really big deal. The DISCIPLINE learned is that I can do more than I thought, I CAN conquer my mind – my thoughts, feelings, and attitudes to align with my goals.

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     Eating Healthy Isn’t Punishment – I had my doubts about the nutrition plan that goes with the workout program. Yeah, you probably think I’ve been a healthy eater for a long time so this would be no big deal. You are mistaken my friend. To REALLY dial in the nutrition by eating certain food groups at specific times of day in specific quantities, and eating ALL THE FOOD I’m supposed to was a huge challenge at first. Practice became habit. My body adjusted to eating 5 meals with 6 servings of veggies a day . All the veggies! I was rarely hungry, no energy crashes, VERY regular digestion, and we saved money at the grocery store.

“Hmmm. Eat more, save money, and get more lean? Where do I sign up??”

Further, meal times required no fuss or thought. No scavenging through the pantry. I planned ahead. I did meal prep on the weekends. Virtually all my meals were accounted for ahead of time. Super easy. And when I wasn’t at home, I could either take a healthy snack with me or just make good choices. Just because donuts are offered, doesn’t mean I have to eat them. Especially in the last month of the program, I found it easier to make healthy choices. Instead of craving sugar and junk food more as I went along, I wanted it LESS. And when I did treat myself, it was disappointing at best. It’s miraculous really. The body craves real, healthy food and rewards you when you eat it.

Bottom line is that eating healthy is actually a blessing, a gift rather than a punishment. My transformation is mostly mental in the way I see food. I understood the ideas of healthy eating before, but this experience has changed me. Healthy habits refined. Momentum built. Confidence growing.

I firmly believe that when you conquer your mind with discipline and a lifestyle of healthy habits, the benefits can reach into other areas of your life to make you a better spouse, friend, parent, worker, etc. Do you want to be a better person? Gain confidence? Get in the best shape of your life? All at the same time? Maybe it’s time for you to go “all in” on a complete fitness and nutrition program.

Fitness

The Paper Plate Workout

Before I go global with this new exercise craze, I wanted to share it with you first. Inspired by some moves I learned in Beachbody’s 80 Day Obsession workout, I have prepared a 20 minute full body workout you can do in your living room. The only equipment you need is a pair of paper plates. That’s right. Don’t laugh. Moves like Windshield Wipers, Pike Scissor Twist, and Sumo Slide will challenge any fitness level.

Join me in Studio 1A at Team Quadzilla World Headquarters for a workout unlike any you’ve done before.

Get the full workout HERE.

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You can also find other excellent workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment for FREE in the Fitness Challenges page on my website.