7 Ways To Lose Money On Your Health & Fitness?

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Colin Powell

You’ve finally decided. You’re going to take your health and fitness seriously, or maybe you’re already on that road. Good for you. Except along the way you’ll see that there are money pits and cleverly disguised scams to take you for every cent you have with nicely packaged slogans. After years of experience, I’m here to steer you right and help you avoid sinking your hard-earned dollars in unnecessary ways and who they are really right for. Let’s jump right in.

1) Protein Powders. Let’s start with the obvious. Everyone sells them and the prices range from 5lb (2.27 kg)’s for $10 all the way up to $85 for 22lb (9.98 kg)’s. Is it worth it? The short of it is, absolutely not. Just from a useful aspect, there are several reasons why you don’t and one superb reason why you do. The first reason you don’t, there is no need for an overly elevated amount of protein to build muscle. Even a slightly increased amount over the norm will do. Secondly, they market the “window of opportunity” for maximum muscle synthesis. That’s all wrong as well. The muscle-building signal lasts for up to 24 hours after a workout and to that point, studies show that fasting after a heavy workout does not cost you gains.
Who’s it for? If you tragically under eat protein and try as you might you just can’t seem to fix it; if you are vegan and your diet plan is not dialed in like crazy or you find yourself in a situation where you can’t hit your numbers then that is where this supplement comes in real handy. It’s not the devil, just not the be all end all the hype makes it out to be.

2) BCAA’s. Not to keep harping on supplements but since we’re here. Branch chain amino acids are found naturally in many foods. Why not just take the supplements though for ease and convenience? Looking at the natural source for BCAA’s:

— Eggs

— Dairy

— Lentils

— Chickpeas

— Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts.

So when you eat these natural BCAA rich sources, you also get healthy fats, proteins, Macro, and micronutrients. Instead of isolating one thing, you get so much more.

3) Gym membership. You are either in or you are out. Every year thousands of people buy a gym membership and never use it enough to validate its cost or use it at all. It might not seem like a lot but that extra money could be put to better use. On the upside, you don’t need a gym membership to get in shape at all. Doing home workouts is on the rise and just as effective. Your only real need for a gym is the personal training if you are a greenhorn. Then the money is well worth it, but only if you use it.

4) Bad or Wrong programs. Worse than a wasted gym membership is buying into an overhyped, overpriced program. If you’re new, regardless of your goals, keep it simple. Tabata, HIIT, “infernos” and other such programs have their place, but it’s best to start with strength training. Calisthenics costs zero. Do your body weight and work up to weights. Cardio is great too, but start with longer walks then work into a higher intensity. Without the right base, you’ll set yourself up for injury and a non-sustainable program.

5) “Diet Foods.” A big money maker and also a total waste is over-processed “diet foods.” I don’t want to dump on the whole industry, but the so-called “healthy” and “low calorie” is a sham. In my article “Why Health Is Killing America” I get further into this. While there are a few clean prepared foods, if you can just eat whole foods (which you should) then stick to that. Convenience is a real issue for some. Sacrifices must be made.

6) Pills, elixirs, and other Get-thin-quick schemes. Hard work and time is what’s going to get things done, not fat burners, carb absorbers (yes, that’s a real thing) or “natural testosterone boosters.” Most of these come manufactured with synthetic ingredients and those that don’t show promise of working. Want to boost testosterone, balance hormones? Reduce stress.

7) Your Time. I know this isn’t a product but time is money. Every minute you spend unnecessarily following an arbitrary trend or program you can’t get back. For example, studies have shown that anything over roughly an hour in the gym doesn’t generate any more benefits than 45 minutes to an hour. So situate your programs to equal an hour per workout and you won’t burn time. You have a life after all and a life spent just working out is contradictory to what you should be doing. Your workouts should be complementary to your life, not the other way around.

No matter what methods you use, nothing short of hard work, dedication and a healthy relationship with your body will get the job done. Everything else is just a tool.

8 Things Instagram Taught Us About Health & Fitness

“Your body can withstand almost anything. It’s your mind you have to convince”

– Someone smart

Ah, Instagram. To have invested in that venture at startup. A simple way to share one’s art, interests, memes about art and interests. The whose who and the what’s what is on there and there is a wealth of information within the confines of sharing images and short clips. Cooking, cars, politics; all offering a brief glance into lives. That’s all it is though, right? So, what does that mean to someone who has hundreds of thousands or millions of followers?

The internet celebrity

If you believe what is said, that Facebook is for the older generation and that Instagram is for the younger than what I’m about to say should and shouldn’t surprise you. In the age of Instagram Memes have become the new satirical cartoons. Telling a whole story in one image. What happens when people harness that for-profit?

There is a blurry line on fame these days. One is a physical being, maybe an actor or actress, a writer or singer. The other is a blogger, YouTuber or…and influencer. These are individuals you won’t see walking the red carpets, have paparazzi stalking there every move or see on your local news promoting an event while serving soup to a homeless person. Yet companies pay big bucks to have their endorsement and both kids and adults sway to their every post.

This can lead into many areas but for now, let’s discuss one. What Instagram teach us about health, fitness, and wellness?

● The negative impacts they have. They create unrealistic imagery, expectations and results. While not all, most of these people don’t live the lives we imagine based on what they present. Giving us, especially the younger generation all but impossible goals while deepening the already high percentage of issues like body dysmorphia.

This certainly isn’t to say it is all bad. If you need motivation to hit that 5 am workout, need help tweaking your deadlift to reduce low back pain, or learn how protein synthesis works over hours, then it’s great. But if your looking to it for how life should be, your setting yourself up for failure.

● Life in 1080 x 1080. It’s easy to forget and hard to understand that what a person posts is but a snapshot of their life and does not necessarily represent their true selves. Yet we can so easily associate one image with a person’s entire personality. Ask any insta-famous person and they’ll tell you that after a while exhausting because they have to maintain a specific persona. So when we see how talented they are or strong or healthy, that may be all fluff. As fans and consumers, it doesn’t take much for us to become dogmatic about it. This person’s methods are the best. This person’s information is the truest. Honestly, if it lines up even a fraction with what we think, we’ll take it all day long.

● What you see is not what you get. Fitness models are either juiced on gear or are the genetic exception. Avoid comparing your gains to theirs.

It’s the only true means of measuring

● Take advice at face value and do your own research. Fads can dictate a lot in the online realm. When Paleo first came mainstream you were practically ostracized if you weren’t on board. What works great for one might not jive well with you. Take time to research and experiment. I personally don’t so exceptionally well on a high-fat diet but cannot over-consume on carbs either. I have to balance both.

● Remember influencers need to make money too. Support if you like but just because they take a supplement doesn’t make it an end-all deal.

● Remember why you are doing what you do. If you are trying to get healthy, fit or just share wisdom, be cautious of adopting a particular model or modality because it worked for someone else. Your not them. Brand yourself.

● If you base your progress on a picture of another your doomed. Sometimes that’s not even where they are currently but have to maintain status. I’m not condemning influencers, but the rise of insta-famous people has hindered the progress of what true health looks like. Society basses their model of health on, well, models. This is not only unrealistic but dangerous.

● It’s best to compare to your own progression photos. Those show your real effort and validate the sacrifice and discipline. You are your biggest critic and your biggest competitor, best to keep your mind in the game.

Find joy in the process, make your own mark and forget the rest. Self discipline if key to success.

What’s Slowing Your Metabolism – Nine things to consider

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” 

Fran Lebowitz

What’s slowing your metabolism? What causes it to speed up? Listed below are several reasons your fuel burning ship had run aground and what you can do reverse the damage.

● Not eating enough. Whhhaaatttt? Seems contrary. Eat more to burn more. It’s true. By eating more whole foods, you’ll light the fire. Your body wants to produce and by supplying the right fuel in the right quantity, you’ll get it going.

● Eating too much junk. Yup. I just told you to eat more now I’m telling you not to. Well, kinda. The artificial flavors, colorings and other additives in heavily processed foods can add excessive fat to your cells. Full of fats, oils, and sugars, eaten with high carbs is a recipe for a stalled engine.

Artificial colors and flavors to reel you in and keep you

● Not eating enough protein. It’s actually pretty common if your not a regular training enthusiast and even if you are, to under eat your muscle building fuel. Studies are dispelling the myths of protein consumption. Turns out you don’t need 1 to 2 grams per pound. Based on you activity, even a slightly elevated amount will yield great results.

● Doing too much cardio. Seems weird, but go with me for a moment. These are arbitrary numbers for the sake of explanation. So your trying to get to a goal weight, you need to shed 15lbs or 20lbs. So you cut you calories by 1,000 from 2,500 to 1,500 and start to run, cycle or zumba you way to greatness. After a while you hit a plateau. So you cut calories by 500 more to get things moving and up the cardio. Now your original 1,000 cut which dropped your total intake to 2,500 is now your maintenance and 2,000 calories is cut level. Eventually you continue down this path until you no longer eat but photosynthesize for food and your up to 1.5 hours of cardio. What do you think happens if you don’t maintain this? What’s worse is that if you gain it back, studies show your body adds additional fat cells for survival purposes so now you gain back more weight and have a harder time taking it back off. So what’s a person to do? See below.

● Do more resistance training. Aside from breaking up the monotony of treadmill life, building muscle will kick your muscle-less metabolism into gear. Let’s look at the body like an economy. Building soft fat costs very little. It’s cheap, easily sourced materials and abundant. Strong muscle, on the other hand, is expensive. Materials and time can get pricey. Your body, if fed properly and not in a starvation mode, will pump into the muscle economy, dumping fat storage in lieu of this newfound resource. The trick is, you have to train heavy and often enough to send the muscle-building signal. Muscles at rest burn aprrox. 50 calories/day per pound of muscle, while fat cells only require about 3 calories per day per pound of fat. No gorging for gains either. Keep it clean and you’ll also keep it lean

● Not sleeping enough. Workouts don’t build a thing, only break stuff down. Gains are made in your sleep. Even if you are active, by not getting adequate sleep, you could be sabotaging your metabolism. Your body likes a schedule too. Try to get 7 to 8 hours a night and aim for the same times daily.

● Dehydration. Fun fact, if you want a serious pump in the gym before you go drink a boat ton of water. Not having enough water in a system made mostly of it causes your body to reallocate its efforts. Keep it hydrated to keep it focused.

● Avoid get-thin quick scams. Fat burners, diet fads, and bogus cheap supplements only slow your progress. There is no “body in a bottle.” It comes from discipline, wisdom and time. If you are taking a fat burner and still eating bagels and donuts daily, odds are you are not hitting your goals. I know it won’t get you runway ready in 2 weeks, but the effort will be worth it. The true goal is to fall in love with the process and make the change permanent, not just seasonal.

● Highly processed grains. The U.S. is one of the largest grain consuming nations. Commercially sold bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, muffins, desserts, flours, chips, and granola bars. To help combat obesity, the USDA now highly recommends limiting consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium. Not just a metabolism killer, eating mostly carb-based diets can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Best to choose natural fiber-rich foods as opposed to refined grains.

If you feel like you are the victim of a slowed metabolism, there are steps you can take to get it going. Above all know two things. One, it took a while to get it that way and two, it’s going to take some work to get it back. As someone who has done it, I can honestly say it is a lot of work but it is completely worth the effort.

Why Health Is Killing America

Every year in America tens of thousands of people make the decision to get fit, get in shape or get healthier. Every year gyms are primed to sell you memberships and great deals on personal trainers. While this is all well and good, there is a darker more dubious monster lurking within the confines of the bigger, stronger, faster you market.

We live in a privileged time. Our movies and shows are on-demand. Our coffee comes custom made through a window, foods prepackaged and ready to eat. Never before has it been easier to be…picky. The same goes for the Health Industry in this country. From catchy, clever marketing to overhyped flavors and benefits. Walk into any store and you’ll no doubt see entire sections no smaller than 4 feet all the way to 15+ feet dedicated to making you a healthier you. Right?

Why, in our advanced time, are obesity rates so high? The prevalence of obesity was 35.7% among young adults aged 20 to 39 years, 42.8% among middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 years, and 41.0% among older adults aged 60 and older. – CDC

Truth is, the health industry is just that, an industry. With profit margins and quarterly projections. Is that necessarily bad though? No. What is bad however is that the products their selling you are just as overly processed as the cereals and packaged foods one more aisle over that your not supposed to eat.

Obviously not all products produced under this category are this way but when you get packaged goods, your buying long shelf life, enhanced flavors and colors, thickening agents and “natural flavors.”

Things to look for to avoid:

•Sugar and/or High fructose corn syrup. Aside from adding extra unnecessary calories, they also affect blood sugars and creates cravings.

•Artificial sweeteners. While they might seem like a slam dunk for a lower calorie option, studies are starting to link artificial sweeteners to obesity and diabetes.

•Soy. I know your thinking, soy isn’t that bad. The majority of soy used in processed products is highly genetically modified and contains large amounts of pesticides. Not to mention it’s an allergy for a growing number of people.

•Casein and/or Whey. Just because it’s not soy-based doesn’t make it good. Low-quality over-processed dairy can be just as bad.

•Chemical and artificial additives to enhance flavors, textures and shelf life. Your liver is trying to process these and your body is absorbing them.

Fun fact: clean label project did a piece on the levels of heavy metals in protein powders. Most plant-based products, including organics ones, tested high in heavy metals, BPA’s and other chemical additives. Higher than normal.

The same goes for food bars. A quick trip into any “health food” section has the big names: Luna bar, thinkthin, Larabar, cliff bar and more. Most of these are packed with preservatives and the ones that don’t, scarcely have the nutritional properties to warrant the money for them. I use these brands as examples but they alone don’t shoulder the weight. These are items designed and marketed to health aficionados, but what about the everyday person whose life doesn’t revolve around BCAA’s, Casein vs Whey and pre-workouts?

The term “natural” is so abused that it’s made its way into the category of words so generic that I abhor hearing them. Words like “value” “wholesome” “nourishing” and the like. Truth is it’s just catchy marketing. Let’s take granola bars for example. Most of the time the level of sugar is nearly half your RDA if you follow those. If your smart you know your RDA of sugar does not include highly processed ultra-refined sugars. Cereals, preflavored oatmeal, watered down sugar rich yogurts. All this designed to make you feel like you eating right, but your not. It’s the Whole Foods version of McDonald’s.

The average consumer is being sold synthetic garbage at premium prices with flashy labels with slogans like “protein-packed” “high in vitamin C” or “fat-free.” Truth is, chemicals, artificial coloring, and flavors take a toll on your body. Studies show a connection between artificial sweeteners and obesity/diabetes. For the sake of keeping this article from being epically long, I’ll say this: all these are designed to stimulate your dopamine receptors.

Supplements then? Honestly, most supplements also fall into this category. BCAA’s, Proteins, vitamins. It’s meant to supplement when you can’t rightly get what you need, no to replace. Which is my Segway into what you should be doing and my challenge for you.

Source ALL your body’s needs from food. Why food? This is 2019 after all. Shouldn’t we be more advanced? The short of it is, fake foods are often so highly processed or downright synthetic that your body scarcely recognizes it. From heavy metals that flow to your brain to food coloring that is a known carcinogen, real is always better. The enemy of eating truly natural is a lack of variety. We can be so dogmatic that we eat the same foods week after week. This is why I advocate for seasonal eating. Your body was designed to operate certain ways during certain times of the year. Feed it what it needs based on your genetics and the season.

Not to mention that the average health impacted individuals, whether, from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or any other ailments from poor diet and lack of exercise more often than not choose a pill over effort. The health industry, which includes Big Pharma, seeks to make it “easier” when in fact they make it unhealthier. Eat your proteins, eat your eggs. Eat your vegetables and greens and non-GMO grains. Spend one week making every meal and see the difference.

I know this seems simple but it often beard repeating. So as an added bonus I’m going to present you with a challenge

Post your results. How did you do?

Tell me how it goes and what you think. Thanks for reading

Finding Your Decision

Keeping Ideas Simple

We’ve all had that moment. That moment when we tell ourselves “it’s time to get healthy” and for most of us, that’s as far as it gets. The lure of the everyday routine we’ve built is too great, the disruption too much to deal with. What if though, you are a step passed that. Not all in but not ready to back out. Now it’s time to find your decision.

For some, it’s a more complicated decision than most. The time, money and commitment. It can seem daunting. I have work, kids, a husband or wife, school, hobbies, friends, etc. I don’t have time to fit this in. Yet we instinctively know it’s importance. Why? Your body is talking and for a long time you’ve been ignoring it, but now your paying attention. You might feel sluggish, constantly tired, overweight, overstressed, weak or just lacking.

My biggest hurdle when I started was the feeling of self-consciousness. Not that I was out of shape, which I was, but how I felt when I did a workout. It felt awkward and almost unnatural. I felt vain like it made my body look disproportionate. All these things were telling me to stop….so I did. Why do we tell ourselves this? In a way, we’ve made the fitness realm just that, it’s own side niche where only “those people” belong. It’s not a bad hobby to have but it’s not “normal” either.

Truth is, we were made to move. Made to lift, bend, stoop, carry, throw, jump and climb. The advent of better and better technology has crushed that natural tendency to the point that we have to seek out physical activity instead of it being a part of our day-to-day lives.

   Finding my decision happened when I had my first son. I knew right then that I wanted to be around as long as possible and be able to play with him as much as possible. So I started. First with running which then was a Segway into lifting. It was awkward but I found my reason to make the decision.

   If you are still on the fence, it’s time to do some soul-searching. If you are reading this, you are ready.
The anxiety of joining a gym, of telling the people your with of your decision or the amount of effort it will take on your part to fit it in and make it work does not compare to the feeling of accomplishment and sense of self-worth you will gain when you decide to quit waiting and get to work.

Wrapping it up: there are many reasons to start living a healthier Lifestyle. More than reasons not to. When you take yourself seriously people will take you and your decisions seriously. Once you begin you’ll see how amazing it is and how much better you feel about yourself right away. It doesn’t have to consume your life or completely derail your existence. It simply has to begin…and it begins with a decision, one that you have to find for yourself.

In my next two articles, I’m going to discuss finding your time: how to fit it all in and the motivation to do so as well as finding your program; what’s right for your goals as a beginner or someone with decent ability but isn’t quite sure where to start. We’ll keep it simple and as effective as possible.

Please feel free to contact me, leave a comment below and follow me for more content.

Training & Your Immune System

We’ve all heard it before “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We know now that there is more to it than that, just as we are still learning that the affect’s fitness has on our bodies, namely in this article your immune system.
I thought this appropriate since we are heading straight into the dead of cold and flu season. In my previous post, I spoke on how to Prime your immune system ahead of time so you have the best chance when you do run into such viruses. Now I want to discuss what effects regular fitness has on it as well.
   I do use the word “fitness” like I’m attempting to be general but let’s be honest, I mean working out or for the more enthusiastic amongst us, Training. For the record, although I don’t compete, I prefer “training” as well.

   If you don’t exercise, the benefits might seem obvious…a better lifestyle, better diet and weight/fat loss and of course my system is going to operate better…..but what if you already a pretty active person? Take me for example, I haven’t logged less than 15k steps at work in more than 10 years, but I continuously get sacked by sickness each season. Mind you I work in direct contact with the public so it’s pretty easy.

   The short of it is, well…there isn’t a short (insert sad emoji)

There are two main complications with this subject:
1) It’s widely known that regular exercise does have a benefit to boosting your immune system.
2) Research is…well…not quite sure how.

There are several theories. However, none of these theories have been proven. Some of these theories are:

Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.

Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or WBCs circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. However, no one knows whether these changes help prevent infections.

The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. (This is similar to what happens when you have a fever.)

Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.
More on that study Here.

It is said that when you train, you create an inflammatory response, especially with resistance training, which leads to muscle growth and while your body is attempting to repair that damage, it is more susceptible to invasion.
   An article in Science Daily titled “Research debunks ‘myth‘ that strenuous exercise suppresses the immune system” basically says that the immune suppressing response is a myth. Mind you this was done on endurance athletes.

That moment…

So what’s a person to think? Well, for one thing, if your sick don’t get your snot on the gym equipment, that’s gross. Secondly, although its debatable on the overall intensity of the response, what isn’t a debate is that one happens.

The obvious is that you prevent some serious problems by performing regular exercises:
• Heart disease
• lower cholesterol
• increased bone density (resistance training)
• improved lung function
Side note — You ever see those people riding a bike and smoking? Yeah. Their not doing it right.

So we know it helps…how much is or just how is still under research. So let’s say you are sick and are just not feeling it. I’m going out on a limb and just say a dead lift PR is not happening…but that doesn’t mean your routine is scrapped.
Try focusing on what can benefit you when you do get back up and running. My favorite is Mobility Training or straight up Flexibility work. This can be done just sitting in a room, on the lawn, your bed…wherever.

Wrap it up!
• Workout Regularly to increase immune system.
• listen to your body.
Keep it simple. The general rule of the gym jungle is “if its from the neck up, go for it. Chest down, take some time off.” I think this is pretty good advice. If you are just not feeling it, don’t push it. Loss of gains, strength or inches is so minimal that it’s not worth it.

*As always, It’s important to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. He or she might have advice on what exercises are safe and any precautions you might need to take while exercising.