Top 4 Reasons YOUR ‘Diet’ Is Not Working

Dieting necessarily implies some form of restriction – normally starting with some sort of calorie suppression. The truth is, most dieters take the restriction a little too far – a combination of too few calories and too many foods on the forbidden list.

Ironically, the U.S. is the most diet-obsessed country in the world, yet we are also the most obese. The National Weight Control Registry reports that we spend a grand total of $20 billion a year on the diet industry (books, drugs, products, and surgeries), with approximately 108 million people on a diet in the U.S. at any given moment.

While there are a multitude of socioeconomic, technological, and environmental factors that contribute to this alarming rate, the truth is that when it comes to fat loss, we humans are fighting an uphill battle from the get-go. Our bodies were not designed to subsist on a food-deprived state. By embarking on crash diets, then, we fire up the biological and psychological mechanisms that protect against starvation and incline us, ultimately, to more weight gain.

Here are 4 big mistakes people make when dieting:

1. You don’t consume enough protein.

Of the three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats – protein is the most important when it comes to muscle retention while on a diet. Dietary protein also has a high effect on the thermic system, meaning the body expends a lot of energy breaking it down; thus, more calories burned.

When you diet, your body is already in a stage of caloric deficit. So, what happens when you add in insufficient protein amounts? You get a loss of lean body mass. This is the last thing you want to happen. Now all you have done is taken your unhealthy body and have made it smaller in mass; yet, with no better body fat percentage–which is the ultimate goal!

A general rule of thumb is to aim for your bodyweight in grams of protein a day. So, a person 150lb in body weight should be aiming for 150 grams of protein a day.

2. You focus on the numbers too much. 

Stay off the scale! At least, don’t be on it every single morning. Stepping on the scale every single day is only going to demotivate you when you don’t see a change. Demotivation leads to tapering off your original plan and forgetting about the goal…which is to get BETTER every day, not necessarily to drop pounds every day! The chemical changes taking place in your body aren’t going to reveal themselves on the scale each and every time you step on it. KNOW you are doing the right things, and KNOW the changes will take place in due time…IF you are following the plan: eating right (see reason number 1), exercising, and moving!

3. You’re impatient. 

Everybody wants results NOW. I see this all the time. People automatically give up if they haven’t seen significant changes in two weeks time. Did you go from a desirable body fat percentage to overweight in just two weeks? No? I didn’t think so! So, why would you expect optimal results in that short amount of time. Life doesn’t work that way.

Most people will give a diet program maybe five days – two weeks if they’re lucky – before they jump ship onto the next cool fad. From Atkins to Zone to Paleo, they can’t seem to make up their minds.

Next time you feel like you haven’t made progress, THINK about it. Is there a reason you may have not made progress? Do you really feel that way, or is it just because you stepped on the scale again and didn’t see desirable numbers? Either way, KEEP GOING.

4. No plan of action for after the diet is done.

A “diet” is just that…a diet. If it weren’t just a diet, someone would say they are “making a lifestyle change,” not “going on a diet.” The biggest mistake people make is being satisfied with where they have gotten, so they now think they can go right back to the potato chips, soda, and pizza. That’s what got you there in the first place, remember? What makes you think you won’t go right back?! You will!

The “diet” ultimately has to lead to some version of a lifestyle change, or you will be unsuccessful in the long run. Even if its that the diet was more hardcore, and the lifestyle change is a more laid back type of thing. Either way, you can’t go back to where you were before. Think of the diet as being a kick-starter to your lifestyle change. It gets you motivated, gives you something to follow, and gets you use to the new foods and lack of junk food that you will have to primarily abide by for life.

No one is saying you can’t cheat sometimes. What’s the fun in eating the same crap every single day. I’ll be the first to admit that I purposely slip up on a Saturday night. But, guess what? I go right back to the good stuff. The key is to not let it get out of hand. Do you have that kind of self-control? If you don’t, I would recommend not cheating at all for the first month or two. This may get you going at a faster clip from the beginning, anyhow, and should get you better and faster results.

Control what you can control. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jared

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Training the Athlete: Program Design – Part 1

Strength training for athletes is an extremely complex system that involves careful design, organization, and a long look at a needs analysis. 

Despite what some people may think, strength and conditioning for high-level athletes is not just throwing a barbell on one’s back, slamming medicine balls, and loud music. Your average personal trainer is simply not trained extensively enough to be able to properly train an athlete looking to make significant gains in their respective sport. 

Now, that is not a knock on regular-Joe certified personal trainers, but a large compliment to personal trainers, strength and conditioning professionals, and other certified individuals who go above and beyond to be the best at their craft. After all, that’s what this is–an art form. 

In part one of this series, I am aiming to explain the first “period” of Periodization, why professionals use it, how it works, and what it is comprised of. 

Periodization is the gradual cycling (maybe days, weeks, or months) of specificity, intensity, and volume of training to achieve peak levels of fitness for the most important competitions. Training shifts from non-sport-specific activities of high volume and low intensity to sport-specific activities of low volume and high intensity over a period of many weeks. 

A macrocycle (usually a year’s training) is divided into two or more mesocycles that revolve around dates of major competitions. Each mesocycle is subdivided into periods of preparation, competition, and transition. Ideally, an athlete will complete a mesocycle of training prior to each major competition, with variations for lengthy competitive periods. 

Periodization for athletes should start with a prep period in which there are three main phases.

Preparatory Period

Phase 1: Hypertrophy/Endurance

The hypertrophy/endurance phase occurs during the early stages of off-season prep. It may last from 1-6 weeks, depending on the condition of the athlete. This stage starts at a low intensity with high volume. In other words, it should involve a lot of sets and reps with lower weight. The goal for this phase of training is to develop an endurance base for future, more intense training. 

Training days can be full-body routines or split (upper body day and lower body day) routines. Exercises should be on the simpler side, and should not be highly tasking (i.e. no snatches, power cleans, or other movements that are highly complex in nature). 

Phase 2: Strength

In this phase, running programs progress to interval sprints of moderate distance, plyometrics activities become more complex, jumping activities can be introduced, and weight training becomes more specific to the event. Intensity level is gradually increased to loads of over 80% of the athlete’s 1RM (rep maximum), or in the 5RM to 8RM range, and only a moderate volume of training is performed. 

Phase 3: Power

As the cycle progresses, load increases to over 90% of 1RM (2Rm-4RM), and speed work intensifies to near contest pace (I prefer barefoot sprints on FLAT grass fields; but, always check your path for any unwanted surprises). Full recovery is allowed between bouts of exercise, and speed training drills, which may include sled towing, sprints against resistance, and uphill and downhill sprints, are incorporated. Prowler sprints and sled towing will forever be my favorite power exercise. There is nothing more challenging to the mind than trying to convince yourself you can do ONE MORE sprint when you are completely gassed. 

Next week—-Part 3: Competition Period, Flexibility Training, and Plyometrics.

 

“You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”  

                                                                                 –Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Jared

 

 

Power Training = Power Athlete

Image

Most of the athletes I come across are looking to be more powerful. They want to be stronger, faster, and more explosive. 

First, let’s get down to the cellular level.

The primary adaptation to anaerobic (intense, short duration) exercise, strength and/or power training, is an increase in muscle cross-sectional area, known as muscle hypertrophy. Muscle fibers both increase in size and in quantity in response to the high intensity contractions of weight training and/or sprint training. 

Nutrition is critical to hypertrophy gains…without adequate food intake or protein intake, amino acid availability and/or surplus energy won’t be available to stimulate this process. But, that’s another topic for another day…

In addition to changes in cross-sectional area, anaerobic exercise can enhance the activity of ATP-PCr (immediate short-burst energy stores) system enzymes and the glycolytic system enzymes. These changes help to increase the rate of energy transfer within the muscle, allowing for more rapid responses to energy demands in the future. 

Training

Most athletes have some kind of pre-season, competition season, and off-season. We will assume the athlete is using proper periodization when training during each of these seasons. 

The “power athlete” can cover a broad spectrum of athletes out there: baseball, football, shot-putter, 100m sprinter, high/long jumper, etc…

The training philosophy is simple: use powerful movement in the weight room to get power results in your sport. It’s not just a mindset, it is physically training your brain to recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers, and training each of those fibers to fire at a high rate of speed. The meat of your off-season should be spent in the power/strength phases of training. We don’t want anyone coming right out of the competition season and throwing stacks of plates on the barbell and maxing out within a week or two. That’s foolish. Spending the entire off-season in power training will lead to the athlete over-training and regressing in just about every category. Today, we are only addressing that heart of the off-season, where the athlete is spending his/her time gaining power and strength. 

The goal of the strength/power phase is to first maximize strength gains with an increase in training intensity and decreased volume. You should start focusing on moving the weight a little faster through your range of motion. Each set should be heavier than the previous. After a few weeks of that, the goal is then to maximize power output. Exercises should be performed quickly, with proper weight. There should be an increase in time between sets. The power phase is extremely taxing on the neuromuscular system and will completely drain you without proper rest periods. 

Similar exercises can be used for both the strength and power phases. The only difference is going to be a drop in weight and doing the movements quicker or adding a plyometric touch when in the power phase.

For example: Strength phase – Heavy DB box stepups —–> Power phase – DB box stepups with a hop

Strength phases will typically entail sets of 4-6, with the reps being between 3-6.

Power phases will primarily be sets of 3-5, with reps of 2-4. 

So, the volume decrease in the power phase, but the movements will be much more difficult for your body to keep up with. 

**Obviously, serious athletes should always try and seek out a trainer in the off-season (or sometimes even year-round, if possible). But, for some it’s just not an option due to various factors. For those with a trainer, you may never have to worry about all this complex stuff. More power to you!

Be a beast. 

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

 

 

 

 

LEG DAY

Building muscle hypertrophy in the lower-half is something most fitness enthusiasts take seriously–yet many struggle with. 

A lot of the struggle comes from having bad form and not targeting the right areas. One slight shift or translation of the hips/knees can completely alter an exercise into something that it wasn’t meant to be. A deadlift can become a squat very easily without a precise idea of what your whole body is supposed to be doing. This is the sole reason I love full-wall mirrors in a studio/gym. 

Some may just have no idea what exercise is supposed to target what muscle…which is completely normal for beginner and novice lifters. 

I would like to offer up some lower body exercises that I do on my leg days (yes, “DAYS,” not just “day”) that you may have not come across or thought of. 

Good Mornings

The good morning is primarily a hamstring exercise that also promotes hip mobility. Hip mobility is something that is SO, SO important, yet many fail to have the proper movement we need for the long haul. This exercise is a barbell exercise, but you could also use a body bar–which is just a shorter version of a barbell that is pre-weighted and not meant to have plates stacked on it. Another unique twist is to use a thick power band, looping it under your feet and onto your upper back. The most important points when performing this movement: 1. Have a slight bend in the knees before initiating the first movement. 2. Think of driving your butt back first, rather than bringing the chest down. 3. Keep your back flat, core contracted, and toes on the ground. The Good Morning is highly underrated because of its looks, but never judge a book by its cover–because this exercise can directly improve your deadlift numbers and technique. 

Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iycq-kJann0 

Box Skateboarders

There isn’t much to say about this exercise. Its primarily a single-leg, quadricep exercise, with the usual benefits of a squatting motion. I love unilateral exercises due to the indirect core workout you can receive while performing them. The skateboarder is no different. Its essentially a single-leg squat, while adding height and a “pedaling” motion of the opposite leg. The skateboarding motion gives you a sense of rhythm…that’s the best I could come up with. 

FFV Link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=38

Elevated Single-Leg Calf Raise

I’ll be the first to admit, I love working my calves. I don’t need high heels to flaunt them, either. With shorts season on the way, jump on the “anti-chicken-leg” bandwagon. This is the best calf exercise I use (besides the seated calf-raise, which calls for an actual machine). The wooden plank in the video is a homemade calf-raise plank, but almost any elevated surface will do just fine. The only necessity is that your heel needs enough drop room to get a full stretch on the down-movement. I add a single heavy dumbbell and hold it on the same side of the working calf. Be sure to “draw” out the exercise and really hike that heel up on each rep. Full extension will get those cows mooing. 

FFV link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=532

Hip Series

The Hip Series is a three-part exercise that is targeting the external rotators and glutes. Every single client I have come across has weak hips. I can’t stress this enough: If you don’t train your hips, they WILL NOT hold their own and will definitely not become stronger. All day, every day, we spend our time moving in one plane–the sagittal plane (moving forward in a straight line). Your hips have virtually no impact on moving in the sagittal plane, which is why long distance runners will tend to have the tightest illiotibial (IT) bands known to man, and extremely weak external rotators. Pay close attention to detail in this video provided by freefitnessvideos.com, because one subtle movement can take the focus off of the hips. Also: YES, the hips and butt go hand-in-hand, so focus on these to achieve that Jen Selter commode-kisser. 

FFV link: http://freefitnessvideos.com/exercise_detail.php?exerciseID=650

Obviously, my favorite lower body exercise of all time has to be the old-fashioned barbell squat. With fantastic combinations of strength and mobility, there is nothing that trumps it. So, if you are already squatting–squat on–because you’re doing it right. 

 

Moo.

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

“What should I eat to lose weight?”

As a fitness professional, I constantly hear the question: “What should I be eating if I want to lose some weight?” 

Rather than asking this question, we should be asking: “What should I NOT be eating in order to lose FAT?”

Unless you are a wrestler or compete in some other event that requires you to be in a certain weight class, you should never be concerned with losing “weight.” Weight can be anything! Want to lose weight? Just stop eating carbohydrates and within a week you will drop 10 pounds just in water weight!

Let’s focus on losing FAT.

Losing fat is not necessarily about what you should eat, but what you shouldn’t be eating. That is the most important thing. The next most important is about nutrient timing with your consumption of macronutrients. Nutrient timing can be extremely complex and hard to nail down, so we generally stick with the basics unless you are a competitive athlete. 

Foods that will inhibit fat loss and promote fat storage:

- Soda

- Fried foods

- Alcohol

- Pasta

- Mayonnaise

- Candy

- Potato chips

Preventing high insulin spikes is also a very important key to losing body fat. Insulin spikes occur after the ingestion of sugar/carbohydrates. Carbs are a necessity in most cases, but staying away from overloading in one sitting is important for fat loss.

The basics of nutrient timing are important for making sure your body responds correctly to the foods you are putting in your body.

- Include some source of protein with every meal

- Stop carbohydrate intake in the afternoon

- Eat good fats with most meals

- Ingest appropriate, relative amounts of protein within 2-3 hours post-workout

- Also ingest an appropriate amount of carbohydrates post-workout to replenish stores and promote an insulin spike (the ONLY time you want an insulin spike)

           – An insulin spike will open up hormone receptors in cells, promoting muscle growth and fat loss 

- The only proven pre-workout supplement is caffeine (although it should never come via soda)

Keep it simple and follow the basics. Only make it more complex once you have mastered the simple steps. 

 

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

 

 

 

Strength Training for Women: The Myths

There are a myriad of myths regarding females and strength training – too many to count. Yet despite the growing number of women out there slowly converting to lovers of iron and ditching their cardio bunny ways, there are even more women who still believe that strength training is for men only, and that no proper lady would touch anything more than a pretty pink dumbbell.

What makes me happy is when I have a new female client who comes in and says: “I want to get stronger and add more muscle to my body.” YES! I love to hear this. It means that some women are truly getting it! Adding lean tissue to your frame via strength training not only helps you burn more fat faster, but also raises bone mineral density (BMD). BMD is extremely vital for middle-aged women as they age. Low BMD leads to osteoporosis, which leads to your later years being NO fun at all. Women are MUCH more at risk for osteoporosis than men, which makes strength training just as important for them–if not more! 

Myth #1: You should steer clear of heavy weights because it will make you look like a man.

This is the most ridiculous myth out there! Women commonly use the phrase “bulk up” when referring to what they want to avoid. Men have 20 times the amount of testosterone as women have flowing in their blood…TWENTY TIMES THE AMOUNT! The little testosterone that women do have plays no role in muscle building…therefore, bulking up “like a man” is physically impossible (this does not count for anyone on PEDs).

With more strength training, a spiked increase in appetite will follow. Women (along with men) must beware of this increase in appetite. Don’t go off thinking you can eat whatever you want and not put on body fat. Sure, you can get away with more in the 2-3 hour window post-workout, but don’t succumb to poor nutritional choices with your newfound hobby. 

Myth #2: Protein powder is bad for women because it will make them huge.

There is NOTHING special about protein powder. It’s not magical fairy dust that meatheads throw into a shaker bottle and it makes their veins surface to their skin and protrude. Pure whey protein powder is simply taking the best part of animal protein and putting it into a canister for quick and efficient digestion. The biggest perk (and one of the only) about protein powder is its convenience! Adding water to it enables a faster process of protein being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Protein repairs the muscle fibers that have been broken down and torn (yes, little micro-tears) during your workout, and then it also plays a large role in building the muscle fibers back up–making them stronger.

So, if you just finished your strength training session and have plans to have a big, balanced meal in the next couple hours, then there is no reason for you to slam a protein shake. Save it for another day. You will get all you need from that chicken breast, turkey burger, etc…!

NOTE: Protein in excess amounts can increase body fat. The protein consumption method is not a “the more you eat, the stronger you get” type of thing. 

Myth #3: All the fitness models and fitness competitors are on steroids; the average woman could never achieve that look.

Before I go any further, I will qualify this point by emphasizing the fact that yes, there are very few people out there who are able to maintain a lean, stage- or photoshoot-ready physique year-round. I’ll also argue, however, that that’s not because it’s impossible. Rather, many choose to switch over into the offseason, during which time they likely intentionally put on some weight in an effort to make improvements to their physiques and dial even sharper than before come next season.

But all of that aside, here’s a cool fact: we all have abs. They’re there. That six-pack? Yes, you’ve been sporting it. The only thing separating them from showing themselves off to the world is a cozy coat of fat.

If you’re looking to achieve the look of a bikini competitor or fitness model, chances are good that you have most, of it not all, of the muscle mass necessary to start off. This is great, because all that means that is you have to lose bodyfat in order to unveil that coveted physique. Easier said than done, I’m aware, but think of it as an art. Over a period of several weeks and months, you’ll chip away at your body, slowly uncovering the sculpted arms and curvy legs you’ve been after.

Myth #4: You should switch up your training routine every week to keep your muscles guessing.

I recommend a minimum of four to six weeks on any given training program before moving onto something different. By this I don’t necessarily mean utilizing the exact same exercises for the same reps and sets week after week. There are multiple ways to go about implementing progressive overload besides increasing the load on the bar: varying speed, shifting body position in relation to the load, changing stability, and so on.

With that said, sticking to the same program gives you time to become better at the prescribed exercises by providing more opportunities for repetition.

I know what you may be thinking. “But I need to confuse my muscles and keep them guessing!” Unfortunately, muscles do not get confused (sorry, Tony Horton), nor do they participate in guessing games. And if you’re afraid you might get bored, then I ask you, what is so boring about making improvements from one workout to the next? What’s dull about going to the gym and lifting 10lbs more than the week prior or to mastering perfect technique? Boom…I’M FEELING SKINNY, TONY!! — What movie??

Myth #5: To lose fat, you need to crank up the cardio.

Actually, doing more cardio is the best way to… do more cardio. Doing it for the calorie burn will ultimately leave you disappointed, cranky, and tired.

This may be a hard pill to swallow, but steady-state cardio burns surprisingly fewer calories than you’d think. One study found that it takes an average of 86 hours’ worth of aerobic exercise to lose 1 whopping kilogram, and a meta-analysis revealed that steady-state cardio in and of itself is not an effective weight loss therapy.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of about a thousand other more useful things I could be doing with those 86 hours than peddling away on a bike. If you do it because you love it, or because you are training for the events that you love, that’s different! I totally get it! I love it, as well…but, it’s not going to give me the results I’m looking for. 

Rather than steady-state cardio, interval training is the way to go. Other names for this include metabolic conditioning, circuit training, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These short bursts of high intensity activity alternated with periods of active have been found to produce equal, if not better, results as traditional steady-state cardio with just “a fraction of the time commitment” (namely, 0.75 hours versus 13.5 hours). This is likely due to the increased excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or energy expenditure in the time following the workout. Basically, go harder for shorter bursts…and take very brief rests in between each bout. 

I hope I’ve inspired at least one woman to begin, or get back to,  their strength training. 

 

Happy New Year’s Resolutions!

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

Triglycerides: Foods that will lower lipids in your blood

For my 1 year anniversary of starting this health and fitness blog, I will try to keep this one short and sweet…

When it comes to the health of adults, blood pressure and cholesterol readings seem to get most of the lime-light. Family physicians may point to your triglyceride number and explain what it means, but rarely will you be given much advice on how to lower that number. THAT number–not your cholesterol or BP reading–is MOST important for keeping heart and artery diseases at bay. High numbers of triglycerides causes inflammation; and inflammation causes heart disease. 

“But, what exactly are triglycerides…?”

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn–particularly “easy” calories like carbohydrates and fats–you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia). 

The higher end of normal to borderline would be considered 150-199 mg/dL. Generally, you want to keep your number below 200. If you are above 200, something in your diet needs to change. 

“What’s the difference between cholesterol and triglycerides?”

Triglycerides and cholesterol are separate types of lipids that circulate in your blood. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy, and cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones. Because triglycerides and cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood, they circulate throughout your body with the help of proteins that transport the lipids (lipoproteins).

Here are 5 types of foods that will lower your triglycerides if they become a steady part of your diet:

Omega 3’s: healthy fats that can be found in most fish (salmon, tilapia…) or via supplement (see previous post on supplements).

Olive Oil

Beans

Spinach

Grapes

 

Here’s to lowering your triglycerides, having an even healthier 2014, and many more anniversaries of health and fitness blogging…

 

Happy Holidays!

Jared

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.