Free Doughnuts

Can't beat the plain glazed .

DD

O.k. I admit that was a dirty trick to get you to read my blog post. In the battle against obesity however,  I am not opposed to “fighting dirty”. Think about advertisers who spend millions to promote junk food targeting children. Is that fair?

What about the “Happy Meal?” Did the guys at the Golden Arches spend tons of money and marketing research to determine the exact amounts of sugar, salt, and fat needed to elicit an addictive response on the American public? You better believe it.

junker food images

If images like these make you crave the food you see, you are not alone. Our brains are wired to want what we see. It’s part of our physiology. The area of the brain responsible for processing visual information is also conveniently in charge of procuring food.

This allowed our ancestors to eat whatever was available, whenever it was available, in order to avoid starvation. Combined with our ability to store excess nutrients in the form of fat tissue, this allowed our ancestors to have the energy to chase down their prey or gather wild food sources. Later we used these abilities to raise livestock or do manual work in the garden to cultivate our own food.

childhood obesity images

The problem in our modern culture is that our eyes have gotten bigger than our head. There is a fast food restaurant or vending machine virtually in sight at all times and we have to do very little in the way of physical effort in order to obtain this high-calorie, low-nutrient “junk”.

Advertisers know that a picture of their products will stimulate the appetite and cause us to purchase them. Why do you think all of the major Superbowl commercials are for food or drinks? Think about it.

commercial_n

The solution to this dilemma is the same thing that Mom and Dad always said “Go outside and play!” People today are more likely to sit at a desk rather than working at a physical labor type job. Kids also spend the school day at a desk and the summer on a couch. We have hundreds of ways to entertain ourselves, television, internet, video games.The list goes on and on (and on and on).  The fact that I am writing this article and that you are reading it is proof of it! Experts agree the majority of Americans need more fresh air, sunshine and exercise to be as healthy as we possibly can.

Bikes

If you are anywhere in the Atlanta area. You can attend a free outdoor class at Panola Mtn State Park. Details are available at EnvisionHealthCoaching.org/team-extreme

If you show up early, I will even give you a doughnut. Sound fair?

 

Until next time, Stay Strong and Live with Faith- Jason

 

Don’t Count on It!

Calculator

Many people get frustrated and give up when it comes to figuring out when to eat, what to eat and what not to eat. You should not have to use a calculator to know if you are eating right. Nutrition is a science, however it’s not Rocket Science!

Having lost over 75 lbs. and sustaining the majority of that for over four years, I can tell you from my own personal experience what works in the real world.

I do not count calories and I don’t recommend it to anyone. An excessive focus on calories leads to the idea that quantity is more important than quality and this is simply not the case.

With that in mind, here are a few of my best straightforward tips on the subject:

Eat Real Food This one tip alone would probably clear up most of the concerns people have with regard to proper nutrition. We have processed, chemically altered and added preservatives hydrogenated fats and sugars to practically every type of food imaginable until they barely resemble the choices our ancestors had just a generation or two ago!

The bottom line is if it comes from a bag, a box, or out of a window you don’t need it. If it comes from the ground, or ate something that came from the ground, then it’s probably o.k.

Eat More Often This is a major problem that is easy to overcome. Many people in America wake up, guzzle some coffee with sugar and cream and then rush off to work. Later, around 9:00 – 10:00 am (because they are starving) they grab a doughnut or some other pastry. Once that wears off, they experience a drop in energy and start looking around for some fast fix to get back to that level. This is known as the carbohydrate cycle, or more accurately the sugar cycle, since all foods are eventually stored or converted to glucose or blood sugar. My recommendation is to eat a meal within an hour of waking up and another meal or snack again every three hours until bedtime. This keeps your blood sugar levels stable and gives you more energy throughout the day.

Make Vegetables the Foundation of Every Meal This strategy is also huge. Raw leafy green vegetables like Romaine lettuce and spinach are the best. They take up more space in your stomach so you feel full on fewer calories. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli also provide valuable nutrients.  Don’t spoil it by covering them with commercial salad dressing filled with empty calories though. A mixture of olive oil and lemon juice or a little pesto sauce will work just fine!

Build Protein in to Every Meal We also tend to overdo protein consumption in this country,   but if you aim for the right kinds in the right amounts, this tip can be invaluable. The way the protein is prepared and stored has a lot to do with its quality and value. Skip fried and breaded foods. You also want to avoid cured, smoked or dried meats. They are low quality and can actually be harmful. Lean meats like chicken breast, lean beef, turkey or white fish are all excellent. I also eat eggs, Greek yogurt and whey protein every single day. Consume the proper portion, usually a cup or half-cup depending on your size and whether it is for a meal or snack. This is an amount roughly equal to the palm of your hand or a clenched fist.

Go Low Glycemic The Glycemic Index is a numeric scale that was developed to help diabetics manage their blood sugar. “But I don’t have diabetes!” you say. Even if this is the case, you should eat like you do, or like you are at risk of developing this disorder, because like it or not we are all at risk! Type 2 (or adult onset) diabetes is a major health concern in America and it is directly tied to lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

If you are unfamiliar with this scale, you can look it up online. It basically measures the average amount of increase in test subjects’ blood sugar for a given amount of carbohydrate food compared to regular table sugar. Of course consuming some protein and fat along with your carbohydrate source will minimize the spike in blood sugar, but it pays to know which foods are best when planning your meals.  When your blood glucose is elevated, you won’t lose weight no matter how hard you try.

Fats are our Friends! I couldn’t leave out the last of the major macro-nutrients! Fats have gotten a bad rap over the past 20 years but scientists are finding out that not all fats are bad for you. The ones to limit or avoid are saturated, those that are solid at room temperature, or hydrogenated (man-made). Oils are best limited since they contain too many calories and too few nutrients. However, foods containing these monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats when consumed in moderation are beneficial.

Plan ahead My absolute best strategy is to just make your meals and snacks ahead of time and pack them before your day begins. So many people hit the vending machine or a fast food restaurant out of desperation, simply because they failed to plan ahead. Don’t succumb to this temptation.

With these strategies in place, you will move ahead by leaps and bounds with your attempts at healthy eating and weight loss. I would love to hear bout your progress! Please comment below or on the Community Page on Facebook. If you are not a subscriber yet, you can sign up to receive an article like this one each week to help you look and feel your best. When you do, I will send you a free preview of my new book, Challenged to Change before it is available in stores.

Until next time, Stay Strong and Live With Faith! ~ Jason

 

Take Action!

Most of us know that a lifestyle of inactivity and eating too much processed and refined food is bad for our health, but breaking those habits and making the changes necessary to live a healthy lifestyle is easier than you think. Creating goals and a system of accountability will help you succeed!

Just subscribing to this blog is a step in the right direction. Here are a few more tips to keep you on track

Setting the right goals is vitally important. Most people who are trying to lose weight focus solely on the ultimate outcome. However, it’s more productive to focus on the daily changes in dietary habits and physical activity that will lead to long-term weight change. The people who are most successful at managing their weight are those who select only two or three major goals at a time.

Begin with an inspiring and challenging mid-range goal. Anything more than 2-3 months is considered long-term. Start by envisioning where you would like to be just a couple of months from now. You could break a yearly goal into 3-4 segments with a specific checkpoint and a reward for success.

Useful goals should be (1) specific; (2) attainable and (3) flexible. “Exercise more” is a great goal, but it’s not specific. “Run 5 miles every day” is specific and measurable, but is it doable if you’re just starting out? “Work out for 45 minutes every day” is more realistic, but what happens if you’re held up at work one day and there’s a thunderstorm during your walking time another day? “Do 12 sets of weight training exercise and walk for 30 minutes, 5 days each week” is specific, doable, and forgiving. In short, it’s a great short-range goal!

Once you have a mid-range goal (2-3 months) in mind, and you have set weekly objectives, it’s time to produce some measurable results!  One technique involves selecting a series of short-term goals that get you closer and closer to the ultimate goal.  It is based on the concept of the success cycle.  While a task like losing 30, 40 or even 50 lbs. can seem overwhelming, when you break it down into weekly and even daily steps you can make some pretty incredible progress. I recommend starting out with a small goal like losing 1 lb. a week, and don’t forget to share your progress with an accountability partner or group.

Start implementing these strategies today and you will be well on your way to greater health, strength and energy in the weeks and months ahead! Don’t forget to check in on the Facebook page for daily tips and techniques to keep you motivated. Until next time, Stay Strong and Live with Faith! -Jason

Time and Energy

 

Stress is a major contributing factor to unhealthy habits like overeating, smoking and drinking.  If you allow it,  stress can flood your system with destructive substances like adrenaline and cortisol, or keep you from getting the quality rest you need and impede your progress in the area of health.

Learning how to deal with these issues before they become a problem is the key. Here are a few steps you can implement right away to organize your time more effectively and accomplish more in the time you have, without sacrificing what is truly important.

 

Break larger tasks down:  It probably took years to get out of shape so don’t expect to change everything overnight. Focus on the individual steps and the big picture will take care of itself.

Think of immediate benefit – If everything you are working on is only part of your long-range goals it’s easy to lose sight of your short term progress. Sometimes doing something that seems low-value will give you instant gratification that can boost your self-esteem and put you back on the winning track.

Use your time and energy - Do the tasks with rewards for success and penalties for failure first, or at least schedule the time in your day when you will do them.

Since today marks the summer solstice in the Northern hemisphere and I am a science teacher,  Let me go all “Science Geek” for just a minute……

Scientifically speaking, the sun is the source of energy in our solar system. The earth revolves around the sun in perfect harmony, rotating on its axis and traveling at slightly different distances throughout the seasons.  All this occurs normally and naturally without our interference or assistance.

I personally do not believe that science and spiritual or religious beliefs are at odds, as some have suggested. In a metaphorical sense, when you have a strong central purpose in your life it is like the gravitational center that holds your activities in “orbit” and creates balance.

Not all seasons in the natural world are times of accelerated growth. There are times of change in temperature and overall climate that contribute, in their own way, to a successful end product. In farming, the soil has to rest periodically to regain the ability to produce.

Human nature has led us to attempt year-round, day-long productivity that simply is not natural or effective. Other cultures around the world observe an afternoon rest that coincides with the circadian trough (the lowest point of energy we experience in the waking day).

It’s up to you to recognize what “season” you are in and work with your own natural energy rhythm to get the results you want and deserve. Physicist Albert Einstein once said ”  “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.” Take time on a weekly basis to plan a schedule, then reflect daily, and even hourly, on how your energy is affected by the food you eat (or don’t eat) and the type of exercise you do (or don’t) do. 

Taking time to plan for greater progress the next week, or scheduling down time when you need it will only increase your effectiveness in the long run.

  Remember, you don’t “have to” do anything – You decide what is important. There may be some things that you really want to do and these may seem urgent. Take the initiative to decide on what is truly important and above all, plan ahead and then execute on your plans to achieve a better body and a greater life!

 

The Plan

Recently, I met up with some family members I hadn’t seen in a while and they all wanted to know what I have done to lose the weight. (I mentioned that I am writing a book about this, but for now this article outlines what I have done and continue to do to maintain these results.)

First I have paid very close attention to diet. I only eat certain things at certain times, in certain amounts and combinations. I plan and prepare my meals in advance so I will be ready when it’s time to eat, rather than wondering what to do.

I emphasize natural foods. Lean protein sources such as chicken breast, lean beef, turkey, and egg whites. I also make sure the carbohydrates I consume are low-glycemic, and high fiber, not processed or refined “junk”. These come mostly from fruits and vegetables.

I also exercise on a regular basis. My goal is to make it to the gym five to six times a week, which I normally do. However, with family, work and school commitments, I sometimes only work out four days a week. When I am there, I sometimes perform cardiovascular and weight training exercises in each session. At other times  I do weights and cardio on separate days.

When weight training,  I choose two antagonistic muscle groups and do six sets for each. The first set is sixteen repetitions, followed by a one minute rest period. Then I raise the weight and do twelve reps. After another one minute rest period, I raise the weight again and perform eight reps. The next rest period is followed by a set of four reps with the heaviest weight  I can manage. After the next rest period, I drop the weight back down and do twelve repetitions. This is the same weight I previously used for my eight  rep set. One more rest period and I do another set of sixteen reps of a completely different exercise for the same muscle group using a similar weight.

Now it’s off to the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical for some high intensity interval training of the cardiovascular variety!

On the treadmill for example, I start off with a comfortable pace of 3.5 MPH and a 0 incline for one minute. The next four minutes I increase the speed to 3.6 MPH and do one minute each at incline levels 2, 4, 6, and 8 without touching the rails. The next minute I back the incline down to level 2 and do one rest period remaining at 3.5 MPH while I check my heart rate. A comfortable warm up level for me is about 154 BPM. Each minute block I incrementally raise the speed and incline until I reach my top speed of 4.0 MPH on a level 14 incline. This raises my heart rate to around 174 BPM which is about 90-95% of my max. (You can determine your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220). Finally, I back the machine down to zero for a four minute rest. Here is a chart that shows my speed and incline minute by minute:

Minute Speed (MPH) Incline
1 3.5 0
2-5 3.6 2,4,6,8
6 3.6 2
7-10 3.7 4,6,8,10
11 3.7 4
12-15 3.8 6,8,10,12
16 3.8 6
17-19 3.9 8,10,12
20 4.0 14
21-24 3.5 0

These are just some of the major tips and strategies I’ve used to transform my health. If you have not already done so, you can also subscribe to this blog or like my Facebook page for regular ongoing updates on healthy living!

In The News

A  new study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, suggests that the calorie-burning benefits of hard exercise persist long after you’ve completed the activity.

People who exercise intensely — doing repeated sprints, for example — can experience a prolonged metabolic effect. Their metabolic rates can go up and remain elevated for seven hours after the session is finished.

That’s why I say that exercise is your first line of defense when it comes to healthy, long-term weight management. We all have times when we eat too much, or indulge in the wrong types of foods. However, if your exercise is on track, these slights don’t have near as much potential to derail your progress.

This does not however, give us permission to live a careless, overindulgent lifestyle. Becoming healthy over the course of your lifetime is a process that requires balance and persistence.

The type of training I recommend utilizes aerobic and anaerobic pathways to build and strengthen lean tissue, as well as conditioning the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Regular exercise will help you look and feel better, but more importantly you will breath more easily and improve the body’s ability to circulate blood and other fluids more effectively which contributes to overall health.

I have written other exercise articles. Please visit that category to the right of this page for more information.

The bottom line is this: Start small and think big. Something is better than nothing. Start where you are but don’t stay there. Continually strive to go further, go faster, and get better. And above all, Stay Strong & Live With Faith! ~Jason