Happy(and Healthy)Holidays!

The idea that massive holiday weight gain is inevitable is a complete myth. I know this from personal experience because when I first began my weight loss journey, between the beginning of October and the end of December, I lost a staggering 25 lbs.

By persistent effort and discipline I have managed to maintain a total weight loss to date of 75 lbs! The difference this has made in my life has been incredible. Not only do I look and feel fantastic, I can think more clearly and I also have more energy and focus than ever before.

Most of all, my success has also given me the desire to share this information with others. That is why I have these strategies and insights  available to everyone free of charge through this blog. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite Healthy Holiday tips:

Persistence Pays – While I do not advocate increasing the amount of exercise you do to compensate for dietary indulgences, you can get by with an extra treat here or there by remaining consistent with your workouts. Realize that some minor fluctuations in your weight are inevitable, especially when you pass the initial period of accelerated weight loss and enter the maintenance phase.

Due Discipline- It may seem as if there are more responsibilities and less time for exercise at every twist and turn in the road around the holidays. Family and office gatherings, shopping excursions, school concerts and other obligations may alter your schedule somewhat, but if you remain disciplined and pay special attention to making the most of the time you do have in the gym, an occasional missed workout will not hurt your progress either.

Relax! - Recognize the truth. The holidays are an occasion for enjoying time with the people you love the most and enjoying your blessings. Make the most of these moments that matter the most. The best part of the holiday season is that it ends with a new beginning. New Years Resolutions are right around the corner and this is the perfect chance to undo all the indulgences and achieve the results you want and deserve! If you need extra motivation be sure to check out one of our free classes.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all my readers. I am looking forward to continue to provide more insights and information to help you improve in the months ahead!

The Power of a Plan

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We all know that we need to exercise more, eat better and set some goals for ourselves. Sometimes it takes a little “extra motivation” to  actually follow through on these recommendations!

The bottom line is that most of us know what to do. We just need a little push in the right direction to actually do what we know. I have been down this road and I know firsthand that having someone to encourage and motivate you, along with a solid plan to change, makes a world of difference. With that in mind, here are some of my best strategies for making lasting changes.

Set Goals – You will be amazed at what you can accomplish with a clear goal and a firm deadline ( or lifeline, as I like to call it.) It’s also vitally important to remain focused on the reasons you have decided to change.

Get Support – There is strength in numbers. It’s harder to make healthy changes when people around you are not willing to do the same. Most people list uncooperative family or coworkers as a reason that they give up on their attempts at living healthier. Any group of supportive people will do, but for extra motivation you may want to join a group of people with similar goals or join one of our free classes.

Prepare Ahead of Time I pack my meals each day, along with the water I need, and I advise everyone I am coaching to adopt a similar strategy. This way, they won’t be tempted to succumb to unhealthy temptations from the vending machine.

Eat Your Veggies  This is the mental shift we need to make most in America, taking the emphasis off of processed and refined foods that are virtually devoid of nutrients.  Vegetables also take up more space in the stomach and have fewer calories so they fill you up and allow you to lose weight more easily.

Eat more often   Most people eat in response to hunger, which causes a dip in blood sugar and a craving for unhealthy food for a “quick fix.” This is what keeps the fast food and junk food industry going.  I eat each of my meals and snacks before I get too hungry.  A good way to lose weight is to feed your body a steady stream of nutrients throughout the day, that way you won’t get so hungry in the first place.

Prioritize Protein – Adding some protein to your meals will help you feel full and sustain you longer than carbohydrates alone.  It also minimizes the body’s production of insulin.   I recommend lean meats, eggs, and low fat dairy (cultured if possible.)

Train Consistently – Exercise provides the activation energy to get the ball rolling with weight loss and muscle gain. Anything is better than nothing, but for the best results strive for a minimum of three hours of exercise each week. That’s about 30 minutes a day.

Perform cardiovascular and resistance training  If you simply restrict caloric intake in an effort to lose weight, the body will lower it’s resting metabolic rate and the body will break down muscle tissue. Resistance exercise, or strength training, prevents this loss of muscle tissue. I recommend weight training and cardiovascular exercise at each session, but you could also alternate your training days. This is a one-two-punch that knocks out stubborn body fat! The body relies on energy from stored carbohydrate called glycogen. Once the carbs are depleted through weight training, it begins to utilize stored body fat more quickly during cardiovascular exercise. This kicks fat burning into high gear!

Keep these simple strategies in mind and you can begin making great progress towards a happy (and healthy) holiday season.

Give. (Thanks!)

While Thanksgiving Day may be one of the least healthy holidays from a nutritional standpoint, it has recently become the favorite feast of psychologists and other experts who study the consequences of giving thanks.

Research at the University of California, Davis, shows that cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, lowered anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others.* Continue reading

Finally, a weight loss program that works!

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If you ask around, suddenly everyone is an expert in weight loss and fitness! They have all at least heard of the latest diet or weight loss book or gimmick that promises a miracle cure and works like magic. All you have to do is stop eating a particular food or stop combining fats and carbohydrates. I am here to tell you that most of this is absolutely ridiculous!

In in the real world, sustained weight loss progress comes from a commitment to a lifestyle. That way of life includes common sense changes to your diet that you can maintain long-term as well as making exercise a part of your daily life.

We all know what to do but the challenge is that most of us just don’t do what we know. With that in mind, here are some recommendations for increasing your motivation to exercise and eat right.

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Set a goal  Having a clear picture of your end destination makes you much more likely to actually reach it. Be clear on how you will know when you’ve reached your goal. You might take a picture of yourself now and again every three months. This will help you see how you’re progressing.

Develop an action plan. Create a clear, logical and achievable action plan that includes frequency, intensity and duration of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching. Include realistic short- and long-term goals. Start small and progress gradually to help you feel successful and avoid injury or burnout.

Build a social support network. Find a buddy with whom you can work out regularly. You can help and encourage each other, rely on each other for moral support and accountability, and share in your accomplishments. If you need additional help and accountability, you can hire a coach or personal trainer or check out one of our free classes.
Use reminders. Put your gym bag by the door so you remember to take it to work. Or schedule your workouts into your calendar or planner and set electronic reminders on your cellphone or computer.
Have fun. Find an activity that you enjoy and will stick with, along with an environment that is supportive, safe and comfortable for you.
Make it convenient. Exercise at home to fitness DVDs if you don’t have time to drive to the gym. Exercise at the time of day when you have time and you enjoy doing it.exercise-happiness-1
Record your progress. Keep a written record of your exercise (weights, sets, reps; distance walked, run, or biked; flights of stairs climbed; etc.) to provide information about progress that reinforces your exercise
behavior.

Reward yourself. Treat yourself to something that is compatible with your health and fitness goals (e.g., not a piece of chocolate cake, but something else you enjoy, like a movie, flowers or new exercise clothing).
Believe in yourself. You can implement a strategy and achieve your vision. Self confidence in your ability to succeed, can be built by affirmations or positive self-talk and by small fitness gains.
Don’t expect perfection Keep your focus on what makes exercise meaningful for you and what you ultimately want to gain from your exercise program.
Persist. Making good exercise and nutrition choices day after day can be challenging. If you have momentary setbacks, accept them and get back on track.
Your exercise goals depend on your ability to understand your exercise personality and motivators. Having a clear goal or vision that excites you and pursuing it in an enjoyable way is a great start. It’s all about knowing what makes you tick and pairing intention with action to achieve tremendous fitness results!

If you need help putting together an exercise and nutritional program that will work for you, just send me an email using the link below: 

Your Progress Roadmap!

Before 2 After

It’s been a few months since I first shared my incredible weight loss progress by having my success story featured in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.

I show these photos to encourage others and to let them know that they can get similar results following my program.

I still run into people almost every day who want to know how I managed to lose  the weight. As I shared in the AJC interview, it took me about a year to lose the first 50 lbs. and I have stayed committed and continued to make progress over the past three years.   Here again is is the basic program I have followed in order to this weight and more importantly keep it off.

1) Intense exercise for a total of about 4 hours per week, spread out over 5-6 sessions. I spend about half the time weight training and the other half doing cardiovascular exercise.

2) Eat a balanced, portion-controlled meal about every three hours. This should consist of a portion of lean protein and a portion of complex carbohydrates.  Skip the added fats, salt and sugar. Also, eat lots of veggies.

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3) Drink lots of water. (I aim for 3 Quarts of water each day.)

4) Find a support group. (Relax guys, this doesn’t have to be a Weight Watchers meeting!) Any group of supportive people will do; friends, family, co-workers, fellow health club members, or a church group. The more people you have to hold you accountable, the better! If you live in the Atlanta area and you would like more information on an all new free weight loss group kicking off this month, click here

5) Set goals! This is basic to progress in any area of life. If you don’t have a destination in mind, how will you get there? Once you have reached your goal, set a new one! This is the key to progress in all areas of life.

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6) Stay focused. Persistence pays off. Sometimes, you just have to continue putting one foot in front of the other, especially when it seems like you are going nowhere.

7) Cheat to win! (By this, I mean you must allow yourself one chance each week to eat whatever you want.) Just don’t allow this break to affect your new healthy habits and mindset. One or two treats a week will actually recharge you and help to avoid weight-loss plateaus.

8) Have faith. One of my favorite passages from the Bible is Mark 9:23, in which Jesus is quoted as saying “All things are possible for those who believe.” These are definitely words to live by!

Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to achieving a greater level of health and fitness in no time. Remember, it’s not selfish to improve yourself. This is the only way you will have the energy and ability to accomplish your daily tasks and achieve your dreams!

Focus: The Way to Win

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Following through on your commitment to improve your health takes time.  If you can see your ultimate destination, you are much more likely to take the steps you need to take to get there. With that in mind, here are a few of the best tips I can offer to help you make lasting, positive lifestyle and behavior changes:

Plan your work and work your plan. Your plan is like a map that will guide you on this adventure. When making your plan, be specific. Do you want to exercise more? Decide on the best time of day and how long you will exercise, then stay committed. Write everything down, then ask yourself if these goals are realistic for you.  Most importantly, record your progress and review it often. This will help you stay focused and aware of your accomplishments.

Start small, think big. After you’ve identified realistic short-term and long-term goals, break them down into smaller, more manageable steps that are specific and can be measured on a weekly and even a daily basis. If your long-term goal is to lose 20 pounds in the next three months, then a good weekly goal would be to lose one pound a week. If you know you need your weakness is late night snacking, decide to replace dessert with a healthier option, like a protein shake or a piece of fruit. Check off each day’s success. As the week goes by, you will feel more successful knowing that you are meeting your daily goals!

Stay the course. Unhealthy behaviors develop over a period of time, so replacing these behaviors with better ones also takes time. I find that people run into problems when they try to change too many things all at one time. To increase your chances of success, I suggest that you focus on one or two changes at a time. As each new healthy behavior becomes a habit, you will find it easier to add another practice that will contribute to the overall change you’re striving for.

You can’t focus on everything. Focus means selecting a relatively few important tasks and making them a priority, not trying to do everything. The changes that you want will take time and commitment, but you can do it. Just remember that no one is perfect. You will have occasional lapses. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, stay focused on your goals. Minor slip ups on the road to your wellness are normal and okay. Resolve to recover and get back on track!

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

Remember, I am also available for personalized coaching, just contact me using the form below and we will create a plan that allows you to achieve the level of health and wellness you deserve!

What time is it?

time to change

Since this weekend marks the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to decide on how you would like for things will change in your life over the next few months.

I am challenging all my readers to identify a goal in each area of life and to work at it with full focus and strength over the next 60 days or so that are left in this year. (Think of it as a jump start on your New Year’s resolution.)

While the primary focus of this blog is on Health and Fitness, In order to succeed in a balanced way, I also recommend you set goals in each of the following areas:

 

  • Career & Finance
  • Family & Relationships
  • Education & Personal Development
  • Spiritual and Contribution

This process requires focus, balance and discipline, but the result will be major advancements in several areas. So let’s get started!

The first step in our four part process is vision. Vision goes beyond the ability to see things with your natural sense of sight. In fact, it transcends the ability to perceive altogether and it is really more about the ability to conceive an idea. The word vision is synonymous with imagination. Imagination is the ability to create things that do not currently exist. I define vision as a picture of the future that inspires and motivates. There is a phrase in the Bible that says “Write the vision down and make it clear.”( Habakkuk 2 :2) In other words, putting something into words helps to solidify and clarify it in your own mind.

The next step is inspiration. Inspiration is the idea that you can and will succeed. The word “inspire” is from the root word meaning “breath”. Whatever you do should inspire you and be as natural as breathing in and breathing out. Once you have an idea, you need inspiration to turn on your ability to achieve the end result. Without the belief that you can be successful however, you will not even begin the process.

Now we come to the third step along our journey, motivation. The word motivation is composed of two parts, motive and action. Motive is an end goal or result, action involves the steps needed to take you there. Without a purpose, there can be no purposeful activity, no true motivating energy. This is a very important principle, your daily goals contribute to your long range goals. Remember, you have to start somewhere unless you want to end up going nowhere.

The fourth and final step in our progression is innovation.  Innovation is the process of applying timeless truth to new problems. Innovation is the ability to think and act in new and creative ways. New is something that has never been attempted before, at least by you.

Challenge: This month start doing some “new things” in your life. Start some new healthy habits. For example, you could set a goal to lose 5 lbs by the end of the month. The new habits you could develop to accomplish this might include exercising for 45 minutes a day, five days a week and planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks instead of hitting the vending machine or a fast food location. How would you benefit from setting a goal to spend an additional four hours reading something informative or inspirational this month instead of watching television? What about that book you have always wanted to write? Could you find the spare time to write a chapter a week?

Get motivated! Get inspired! Get started! and Get Busy! And don’t for get to post a comment here or on our Facebook fan page or send me an email .  I would love to hear about your progress!

Now for something really scary….

With more than 300 different compounds having been identified in chocolate, it clearly delivers far more than a brief sugar high. Yet its cocktail of chemical effects on the central nervous system are not well understood. So how does it work?

Like many other sugary foods, consumption of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s self-produced opiates. This enhanced release of endorphins reduces the chocolate-eater’s sensitivity to pain.

Chocolate also contains small quantities of anandamide, another neurotransmitter chemical found in the brain.  It has been speculated that they promote and prolong the feeling of well-being induced by anandamide. The more you eat, the greater the “high.”

My suggestion? Well, everyone is going to eat sweets over the next week. After all, the candy companies have spent millions of dollars over the course of your lifetime to ensure that you make a connection between fun times and their product.

The best thing you can do is stay consistent with everything else; namely exercise and water intake.Also, keep moderation in mind when buying treats for your family or to hand out to trick-or-treaters.


Interval Training

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Are you ready to take your workout to the next level? If the idea of burning more calories without spending more time at the gym appeals to you then consider Interval Training.

Interval Training is not as complicated as you might think. It simply involves alternating bursts of more intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.

This technique can be used with any type of cardiovascular exercise. Take walking for example. If you’re just starting an exercise program, you might alternate slower walking with periods of faster walking. If you’re already in pretty good shape, you might start by incorporating short bursts of jogging or running into your regular brisk walks. For example, if you’re walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks. The eventual goal is to work up to an all out sprint for one minute followed by a one minute rest period of slower walking. You could do five cycles of five one-minute intervals of increasing intensity for a full 25 minute session.

Whether you’re a novice exerciser or you’ve been working out for years, interval training can help you rev up your workout routine. Check out these benefits:

  • Burn more calories. The more vigorously you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn — even if you increase the intensity for only one minute at a time. Remember, you can do anything for one minute! This mindset can blast your performance past your perceived limitations. This increased calorie burn also lasts for several hours after your workout. This is a benefit you don’t get with slower paced training.
  • Improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you’ll be able to exercise for longer periods of time or with more intensity. Imagine finishing your 60-minute walk in 45 minutes. Think about the additional calories you’ll burn by keeping up the pace for the full 60 minutes.
  • Keep boredom at bay. Turning up your intensity in short intervals can add variety to your exercise routine. It gives you something to look forward to. You can’t take it too easy when you are recovering from your last high intensity interval and getting ready for another one!

I’ve been using this strategy for several years with great results. Try this technique in you next workout and watch your results soar!

Qualities of a Champion

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Whether you consider yourself an athlete or not, in one way or another we are all competitors. Each day we take up the challenge of becoming a better person. The Bible is filled with comparisons between life and athletic competition. For example:” Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

 Most of the New Testament was written in Greek. To the ancient Greeks there was no division between physical development and spiritual development. In fact, they have a saying which is translated “a sound mind in a sound body.” After all, these are the people who invented the Olympic Games. So, they knew a thing or two about athletics. You may have seen statues or movies about the ancient Greeks. They always wear those long robes. The runners literally had to strip off those robes if they wanted to run, otherwise they would trip and fall. Winning in life also requires focus. We have to eliminate those non-essential tasks that can stop us from doing what is most important.

 The term “sin” also originated in the Greek games. When the archers missed the target, someone would call out “sin” which literally means “to miss the mark.” When we fall into the habit of doing what we know is wrong, we have sinned or missed the mark of God’s best. So how can we “win the race” of life? The author tells us in the next verse, it says: We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

 I titled this message Focus and Discipline: The Qualities of a Champion. Because that is what it takes to win, focus and discipline. The followers of Christ were originally called “disciples.” Today, that word has lost its original meaning, but a disciple is literally “one who is disciplined.” So, a disciple is someone who is committed to a way of life or belief system. Discipline is simply the ability to make yourself do what you know that you need to do, whether you feel like it or not .Research shows that the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do are the same things that successful people don’t want to do, but successful people do them anyway.

 Back to our text: “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:11)

 We all need to exercise discipline if we want to achieve success and be a champion. Sometimes, discipline comes down to just putting one foot in front of another. When we can’t see the finish line, we have to dig in and do the right thing day in and day out. Sometimes we just “walk by faith.”

James J. Corbett won the first heavyweight championship prize-fight in which the contestants used boxing gloves. Prior to that, they would often go as many as 27 rounds, with bare knuckles. James J. Corbett also had a way with words.  Knowing his background, we can appreciate it even more when he said:” Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the center of the ring, fight one more round.  When your arms as so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round.  When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round—remember that the man who always fights one more round is never beaten.” (source: The Preacher’s Word)

In his letter to the church in Corinth Paul wrote “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” (1 Cor. 9:26-27). When it came to his mission, he was very focused, he wrote I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what is ahead, I press on to reach the goal and win the prize.” (Phil 3:14)

 Jesus used one word metaphors to describe Himself “I am the door, I am the gate, I am the way.” But when it came to His mission, He said “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). He paid the ultimate price for our salvation. There is nothing we can do to deserve it or earn more of it. Everything we do as a follower of Christ is out of gratitude and the desire to use the life we have been given to impact others.

A true champion spends a lot of time in the gym.  He prepares, trains, exercises.  He is a disciplined athlete.  I can tell you from my own experience, having lost a total of 75 lbs. It takes discipline to get your body into shape, to eat right, to give up pleasures that others are enjoying.  But it is done to win the prize. As author and speaker Zig Ziglar said “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does taking a shower – that’s why I recommend you do it daily.”

In closing: Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word conform means to just go along with the crowd, to do what everyone else is doing. Being transformed is a change of mind, body and spirit. Like this passage suggests, it’s something we have to do every day, it’s not a one-time thing. It has to be ongoing.

In the same way, we have to exercise spiritual discipline, invest time in spiritual growth, train our minds and hearts in godliness, practice restraint when temptations come, and exercise the disciplines of Bible study, prayer and fellowship.  It’s not always easy, but in order to grow, to “build some muscle” we have to have some resistance to overcome. We have to push ourselves each day to become more. I leave you with these words from the F.C.A. ( Fellowship of Christian Athletes) competitor’s creed:

“I am a competitor first and last. I am created in the likeness of God almighty to bring him glory. I am a member of team Jesus Christ. I wear the colors of the cross. I am a competitor now and forever. I am made to strive, to strain, to stretch and to succeed in the arena of competition. I am a Christian competitor, and as such I face my challenger with the face of Christ.”

Until next time, Stay Strong and Live With Faith!

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.

Dr. [Joseph] LaForgia, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia, says 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.

Workplace Wellness

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According to a recent American Heart Association report preventable diseases, such as heart attack and stroke, cost businesses an estimated $151.5 billion in lost productivity. Across the board, the typical employer loses an average of $2,598 per worker per year due to health-related absenteeism and “presenteeism” (when an employee is at work but at diminished capacity due to mental or physical distress.)

At the same time, health insurance rates continue to rise an average of 5 percent to 10 percent a year and these costs begin to cut into either profits or wages. The good news is that businesses are also heeding these numbers and as a result, employee access to wellness programs has increased by 35 percent since 1999, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is estimated that medical costs fell by roughly $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, while productivity losses fell by $2.73, according to a 2010 study in Health Affairs (Vol. 29, No. 2).

The trend toward workplace wellness program is likely to continue, says Ballard. “This is an area that is poised for growth.”

Strategies and Solutions

While there is no single or simple solution to the childhood obesity epidemic, here are some suggestions on things we can do as parents to help make healthier choices the easy choice for our families.

  • Limit media time for kids to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day whether at home, school or child care.
  • Work with schools to promote programs that limit foods and drinks with added sugar, fat and salt that available outside of the school lunch program.
  • Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Prepare healthier foods at family meals instead of relying on fast food options.
  • Purchase and serve your family water instead of drinks with added sugar.
  • Make sure your child is getting plenty of physical activity each day.
  • Most importantly, model a healthy lifestyle by getting regular exercise and eating right yourself!

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/solutions.html

Now you Know

Understanding the benefits of exercise—including reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, colon cancer as well as increased energy, improved fitness and better quality of life—can motivate you to begin or continue an exercise program. Here are some recommendations for building and maintaining exercise motivation from the American College of Sports Medicine:

Set a goal or vision. Having a clear picture of your desired outcome (your destination) makes you much more likely to achieve it. Clearly specify how you will know when you’ve reached your goal. You might take a picture of yourself now and every four weeks, so you can see how you’re progressing.

Develop a realistic action plan. Create a clear, logical and achievable action plan that includes frequency, intensity and duration of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching. Include realistic short- and long-term goals. Start small and progress gradually to help you feel successful and avoid injury or burnout.
Use environmental cues. Put your gym bag by the door, so you remember to take it to work. Or schedule your workouts into your calendar or planner and set electronic reminders on your cellphone or computer.
Have fun. Find an activity that you enjoy and will stick with, along with an environment that is supportive, safe and comfortable for you.
Make it convenient. Exercise at home to fitness DVDs if you don’t have time to drive to the gym. Exercise at the time of day when you have time and you enjoy doing it.
Record your progress. Keep a written record of your exercise (weights, sets, reps; distance walked, run, or biked; flights of stairs climbed; etc.) to provide information about progress that reinforces your exercise
behavior.
Build a social support network. Find a buddy with whom you can work out regularly. You can help and encourage each other, rely on each other for moral support and accountability, and share in your accomplishments. If you need additional help and accountability, you can hire a personal trainer. Look for a trainer who is credentialed by a well-known organization, such as ACSM.
Reward yourself. Treat yourself to something that is compatible with your
health and fitness goals (e.g., not a piece of chocolate cake, but something else you enjoy, like a movie, flowers or new exercise clothing).
Believe in yourself. You can implement a strategy and achieve your vision. Self confidence in your ability to succeed, can be built by affirmations or
positive self-talk and by small fitness gains.
Don’t expect perfection Keep your focus on what makes exercise meaningful for you and what you ultimately want to gain from your exercise program.
Persist. Making good exercise and nutrition choices day after day can be challenging. If you have momentary setbacks, accept them and get back on track.
Your exercise goals depend on your ability to understand your exercise personality and motivators. Having a clear goal or vision that excites you and pursuing it in an enjoyable way is a great start. It’s all about knowing what
makes you tick and pairing intention with action to achieve tremendous fitness results!

Success Stories

 

Jumping

The National Weight Control Registry is an ongoing national scientific study of people who have lost a significant amount of weight and have been successful at keeping it off.

The results of the study, conducted by the Weight Control and Research Center of the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I. will be used to formulate future guidelines and recommendations for treating and preventing obesity in America.

Registry members have lost an average of about 65 lbs and kept it off for 5 1/2 years. About half of registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other half lost weight with the help of some type of program.

My results are typical of those in the study. I have lost over 75 lbs to date (with a 50 lb. loss having been sustained for more than 3 years). This week marks a milestone for me because my 75 weight loss has now been sustained for one year!I followed a diet and exercise program of my own design that was based on solid scientific evidence.

Virtually all of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake and increased their physical activity in some way to lose weight. The most frequently reported form of activity was walking. Most of the participants report that they continue to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and engage in high levels of activity.

According to the study, the majority of the participants:

  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • Watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  • Exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

Source: National Weight Control Registry Website

 

 

Break the Stress Chain!

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Stress, as we know, is a major contributing factor to unhealthy habits such as overeating, smoking, drinking etc.  If you allow it to, 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.

So it is to your advantage to learn how to deal with these issues before they become a problem. 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.

Focus of tasks that produce immediate benefits – So much of what we do these days contributes to our long-range goals. With this kind of pressure, it’s easy to lose sight of the progress you are making in the short term. Sometimes doing something of seemingly low-value will give you instant gratification that can boost your self-esteem and put you back on the winning track.

Break larger tasks down into manageable chunks – Be patient. It takes time to achieve something of lasting value. It probably took you years to get out of shape so don’t expect to change everything overnight. Just focus on the individual steps and the big picture will take care of itself.

Prioritize 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. People today are busier than ever before. We all play many roles, husband, wife, father, mother, employee, student, and so on.

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

Training Tips: Progress and Success

training

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Only 20 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of exercise every week. The question is, “Why?”

After all, it’s not hard for people to begin an exercise program. It is however, difficult for most people to continue exercising. The gyms are always crowded around New Year’s, but when you check back in after a few weeks everyone seems to have lost their resolve.

When people ask me how I have lost more than 75 lbs and what type of exercise I do, I tell them that I just stop at the gym after work and do a 30-45 minute workout. Most people seem shocked to learn that you can make this kind of progress with such a small investment of time. The truth is that you don’t have to rearrange your life to get in shape, you just have to be focused.

The first part of my workout is weight training. This takes about 20 minutes or so. I pick two large muscle groups per session, say chest and back for example, and for each of those two groups I perform 6 sets of weight training exercise ranging from 16-4 reps on the heaviest. Then I move on to cardio. I do my “running” on an elliptical trainer due to tendonitis in my right heel. I am living proof that anyone can overcome obstacles to regular exercise.

Studies conducted back in the 1980s found that only 50 percent of people who started exercising continued to do so for an extended period of time — and those results are still true to this day, Even the most motivated people tend to drop their exercise routine within a few short months.

To avoid being one of those statistics, I suggest that you set measurable short-term goals instead of long-term goals. You may want to lose 1 pound in the next week, for example, If you remain focused and committed, this could result in a loss of 50 pounds in a year.To avoid disappointment, you may want to wait 2-3 weeks before your first progress check, since it may take that long for your body to begin adapting to new a new exercise and diet program. When you check in after 3 weeks or so and discover that you have dropped 3-6 lbs. this will motivate you because you know that the habits that got you there are simple and repeatable. Remember, success builds on success.

Without goals, you might get a few weeks in and see that you still have a lot of weight to lose and give up. But, with short-term objectives, you will be able to reach attainable (and more importantly) sustainable benchmarks, which will keep you motivated to keep on going!

Food for Thought

home-compassJust as there are four different types of energy; mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, there are also four different types of hunger that correspond to these four dimensions of self.

While we all know what actually physical hunger feels like, and you have no doubt heard of or maybe even experienced emotional eating, few of us understand what spiritual hunger is and how to properly nourish this aspect of our nature. Continue reading

Moving Forward / Looking Back

How and why do people achieve great things?

Studies of human achievement from a scientific perspective have revealed that sustainable changes are the result of having a specific outcome in mind and carrying out universally applicable, repeatable methods.

The Expectancy-Value Theory , a concept from the field of psychology, states that in order to successfully complete any challenging endeavor people must not only be interested in the outcome, but they must  also be able to see how their actions contribute to the attainment of the goal.

(Ok, I just lost about 97% of my readers so if you are still with me, you are one of the select few who will actually apply what I am about to say and reach your goals. Congratulations!)

So, what am I saying?

  • Everything you do matters. Each of your actions has a consequence, either positive or negative, based on whether it contributes to your goals.
  • Time is not money. If time was money, we would all be mega-rich because each of us has all the time available.
  • Time management is really energy management. It is up to us as individuals to channel our energy towards those activities that contribute to our goals and away from tasks of little or no value.
  • In terms of fitness and weight loss, if you want to succeed you must begin with a clear goal. Put it in writing and set a deadline for achievement.
  • Get a strong enough reason to keep you moving towards your goal even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.
  • Efficiency is not doing everything perfectly. Efficiency is doing the most important things consistently and eliminating non-essential tasks and activities.
  • Once you set up a goal, the things that  prevent you from achieving are known as obstacles. Most of these are self-generated and can be overcome by persistence and the determination to follow through.
  • What works for one person may not work as well for someone else. It is up to you to find a plan you can follow and keep going until you reach your goal.
  • Once you reach a major milestone, set a new goal so you continue to progress rather than slipping back into old habits. This is why most diets fail. Once the “diet” is over, people go back to eating “normally” (which for most people involves lots of poor eating and very little physical activity).
  • In order to succeed, you must retrain your brain and body to work for you. This involves reestablishing your body’s set point. In biology, we teach that all organisms strive for homeostasis. In everyday language that means we try to stay the same. However, in order to improve you must change.

Here are a few more tips you can use to accelerate your progress:

1) Find models

2) Imitate their actions

3) Duplicate their results

In simplest terms, if you want to achieve something you have never done before, find someone who has gotten the result you want and do what they did.

I am happy to continue providing this information each week. I am also working diligently to find others who have made these changes and help promote the tips and techniques they use to improve as well.

I am at a place right now that I once only dreamed of. This week I reached a major milestone by reaching a new personal best of 176.8 lbs. That’s 77.2 lbs. lost to date!

When I first started writing, it was just to motivate myself and get my thoughts in print. Now hundreds of people read, watch and listen to my advice each week. This is proof that a definite goal and a plan to get there, combined with diligent action will always result in success.

Finally, I want to send a resounding “Thank You!” to all the amazing people who have subscribed, commented, shared, tweeted (well maybe somebody out there will tweet this?) and liked all that I wrote and recorded this year. I owe a debt of gratitude I can never repay to the greatest people in the world, the members of the Challenged to Change Community!

If you are a subscriber or you stumble upon this page, write your comment below. I always want to know what my audience is thinking.

Until next time Stay Strong & Live With Faith! ~Jason

Success Cycle

After finishing my daily four mile bike ride this morning, I was surprised to see that the Men’s Olympic Cycling Road Race event was on television.

I realized that just like competing to win in an event such as this one, losing weight and getting healthy is a process. It’s one that requires persistence, dedication, and endurance. Continue reading

Share Your Story

 

 

 

success-kid

Congratulations! People in the Challenged to Change Community are getting great results! This week alone, several of you have contacted me to share the progress you are making. Together, we are turning the health and strength of this country around. You deserve to be proud of your accomplishments!

If you hit a major goal this week, whether you dropped weight, gained strength, or simply honored your commitment to exercise a certain amount or eat healthy, I would love to hear about it and I’m sure that the other members of our community will be encouraged by your achievements.

Please feel free to share this post or contact me with specific questions or comments you may have. ( Your questions may be featured on a future episode of the podcast, but your contact info and full name will not be used.)

I am always on the lookout for pics our community members post of themselves doing something active with family and friends or making better decisions about what and how much to eat. If you want to be featured as a Success Story on the site or our Facebook fan page just let me know and I will help you put your story in a format that will encourage and motivate others.

You have made an excellent choice by associating with other people who are also making positive changes.  I want to take a moment to personally thank each member of this community and helping to change the face of good health in America.

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

Your Progress Roadmap!

Before 2 After

It’s been a few months since I first shared my incredible weight loss progress by having my success story featured in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.

I show these photos to encourage others and to let them know that they can get similar results following my program.

I still run into people almost every day who want to know how I managed to lose  the weight. As I shared in the AJC interview, it took me about a year to lose the first 50 lbs. and I have stayed committed and continued to make progress over the past three years.   Here again is is the basic program I have followed in order to this weight and more importantly keep it off.

1) Intense exercise for a total of about 4 hours per week, spread out over 5-6 sessions. I spend about half the time weight training and the other half doing cardiovascular exercise.

2) Eat a balanced, portion-controlled meal about every three hours. This should consist of a portion of lean protein and a portion of complex carbohydrates.  Skip the added fats, salt and sugar. Also, eat lots of veggies.

3) Drink lots of water. (I aim for 3 Quarts of water each day.)

4) Find a support group. (Relax guys, this doesn’t have to be a Weight Watchers meeting!) Any group of supportive people will do; friends, family, co-workers, fellow health club members, or a church group. The more people you have to hold you accountable, the better! For more information on my all new Season of Change Challenge kicking off this month, click here

5) Set goals! This is basic to progress in any area of life. If you don’t have a destination in mind, how will you get there? Once you have reached your goal, set a new one! This is the key to progress in all areas of life.

6) Stay focused. Persistence pays off. Sometimes, you just have to continue putting one foot in front of the other, especially when it seems like you are going nowhere.

7) Cheat to win! (By this, I mean you must allow yourself one chance each week to eat whatever you want.) Just don’t allow this break to affect your new healthy habits and mindset. One or two treats a week will actually recharge you and help to avoid weight-loss plateaus.

8) Have faith. One of my favorite passages from the Bible is Mark 9:23, in which Jesus is quoted as saying “All things are possible for those who believe.” These are definitely words to live by!

Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to achieving a greater level of health and fitness in no time. Remember, it’s not selfish to improve yourself. This is the only way you will have the energy and ability to accomplish your daily tasks and achieve your dreams!

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 Road to Recovery

Exercise-Signs

Experts from The American College of Sports Medicine say that weight training not only improves your body composition and increases your daily performance, but it is also helpful for preparing and recovering from surgery.

This was good news for me since it was one year ago that I spent two  weeks in the hospital following an emergency surgical procedure to remove a benign tumor along with a 12″section of my large intestine. I have no doubt that my ability to recover so quickly was due to my ongoing commitment to weekly exercise and healthy eating.  Continue reading

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!

Back To Basics

Cooking and eating dinner as a family and being active together will foster healthier relationships and better communication in addition to helping instill healthier eating and exercise habits in your children. So get your children involved in the food preparation process and make sure to set aside time for the whole family to be active together.

Source: U.S. D.A. Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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

 

 

 

Seasons of Change

The challenge to all my readers is to identify a goal in each area of life and to work at it with full focus and strength over the next 90 days.

While the primary focus of this blog is on Health and Fitness, In order to succeed in a balanced way, I also recommend you set goals in each of the following areas:

  • Career & Finance
  • Family & Relationships
  • Education & Personal Development
  • Spiritual and Contribution

This process requires focus, balance and discipline, but the result is major advancement in several areas. So let’s get started! Continue reading

It’s All About Balance

Balanced-Stones

So many of the principles of healthy living relate to balance. You have to balance healthy eating and exercise with days to relax and recover. Learning to balance all the requirements of a busy life can also be tough when you are trying to make these kinds of changes.

Balance is essential in some areas. For example, it is impossible to ride a bicycle without balance. I have found the key to this however, is to remain in motion.

Balance is one of the principles from the healthy living classes I am teaching this summer through the local recreation department. We also have a free  group exercise meet-up this weekend if you are in the Atlanta area. You can get more information by filling out the contact form below.

Having good balance is important for a lot of the activities we do every day, from walking to climbing up and down a flight of stairs. Exercises that improve your balance can also help prevent falls. This is a common problem we see in older adults and people recovering from heart attack or stroke.

The American Heart Association reports that Balance Exercise is one of the four types of exercise; along with strength, endurance and flexibility.  You can check out some of their recommendations by following the link below:

American Heart Association: Physical Activity in Adults

Balance exercise can benefit those who are overweight. Excess weight is not always carried evenly throughout the body. This can cause you to lose your balance when you stand up or make a sudden move.  You may not even be aware that you have an imbalance until you try balance exercises.

Just like anything else, start small and think big. Try incorporating some basic balance exercises into your workout. You just might be amazed!

The Secrets to Getting Super Healthy!

Rock

Celebrity Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted a photo of himself this week recovering from emergency surgery. (Photo Courtesy of wn.com)

Things have an interesting way of coming full circle. This time last year, I was about to undergo emergency surgery myself to have a benign tumor removed from my large intestine. I will spare you the details, but it was an invasive procedure and I was somewhat debilitated during the recovery time, which lasted several months.

The thing I discovered along the way is that getting healthier and stronger revolves around having a greater purpose behind what you are doing. Continue reading

Accountability Counts

Cross Training 8x11

Religious involvement is linked to many positive health outcomes, such as happiness, lower rates of smoking and alcohol use, and even a longer life. However, a new study finds that those who attend religious activities are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t go to church as often.

Researchers at Northwestern University sought to find out how attending religious events is associated with weight gain over time. They analyzed data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study, which followed more than 2,400 people aged 20 to 32 for 18 years. Over that time, the scientists found that people who went to church activities at least once a week were more than twice as likely as people with no religious involvement to become obese.

While the study did not take into consideration which church activities were associated with the most weight gain, the authors speculate that those who attended church were more likely to have a broader social network, which in turn may lead to more opportunities to gather over food and drink.

“Results of the scientific study suggests that religious groups can benefit from targeted diet and exercise programs to counteract whatever trends may be promoting weight gain among church-goers.”

Interestingly, the same social forces that may contribute to obesity may also prove to be helpful in combating weight gain.

“Simply by virtue of their infrastructure and social support networks, religious groups are well suited to enact health interventions for diet and exercise in an efficient and effective manner,” says one researcher. “They have a natural built-in support and follow up system which is extremely important in creating sustainable lifestyle changes.”

Church-goers are already known to have better overall and mental health than non-churchgoers. Obesity is just one area where there is more room for improvement and better health outcomes.

I could not agree more. The connections I have at my church have helped me to maintain a weight loss of 75 lbs for several years. This is why I list community involvement as one of my major success strategies. This is also the reason why I believe that active involvement in a faith community is so important, because it harnesses the power of existing connections and powers outside yourself to produce greater results than you ever could alone!

If your church or group would like to book me as a speaker, please contact me through this link: Speaking 

In The News

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My success story is being featured in today’s print edition of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Here’s the link to the online version of the story:
http://www.ajc.com/news/lifestyles/health/jason-atkinson-41-of-mcdonough-lost-75-pounds/nfwCw/

Note: This is just a quick post to get the word out to everyone on WordPress. If you subscribe by email, facebook or twitter, you may have already gotten this message.  If you haven’t, you can do that now by following the links above.  I plan to post an extended version of the interview, which was cut short, due to space requirements, so stay tuned. There are lots of exciting things happening this summer!

What is Integrative Health Coaching?

While most Americans have probably never heard of Integrative Health, this holistic movement is gradually beginning to reach many of the nation’s hospitals, universities, and even medical schools. Integrative Health uses a whole-person approach designed to treat the individual, not just the condition. The goal is total wellness of mind, body and spirit. Continue reading

The Champion’s Way

Decide today on your goals and put them in writing. Focus on something specific and measurable that you can achieve in the next 30, 60, or 90 days. Then go out and do what it takes to get there! This will do more to propel you towards success than anything else you can do.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.” Continue reading

Ask the Coach

Question: I seem to be stuck at 224- only four lbs from my mini goal. I have bounced up and down a little, but not going lower. My diet is on track and exercise has been great. Any suggestions on getting back on track? I want to reach my goal and set the next one!

Answer: Are you drinking enough water? That helped me out of a plateau once.  One of the functions of your liver is to burn body fat. If you are dehydrated, the kidneys can’t function properly, so the liver has to assist them in eliminating other toxins from your system. This prevents the liver from functioning as well as it could.  Water is vitally important, especially in this summer heat. The rule of thumb is to consume one oz. of water for every two lbs. of body weight. Give it a try, you just might be amazed!

The Domino Effect

Domino-Effect

We all know that the choices we make every day affect our ultimate outcomes in life, but have you ever stopped to think about how one decision leads to the next?

Take for example your first decision of the day, When the alarm goes off, you can choose to get up or to get back in bed. You can choose to go for a morning walk or sit around and do nothing. You can choose to review your major life goals or just read the headlines, Continue reading

5 Nutrition Myths “Busted”

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There is so much misinformation floating around these days regarding proper nutrition that I thought it was time to set the record straight. Here is a list of the more common ones,  “Mythbusters” style! Like any good scientist,  I have tested all of these and I am happy to report my findings below. Continue reading

Exercise is Medicine

The Exercise is Medicine initiative is designed to bring health care providers and health and fitness professionals together as part of the same patient health care system.

This new initiative would call on all health care providers to assess and review each patient’s physical activity level at every visit.

These are their recommendations for the general public: Continue reading

Maker’s Diet Update

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I am currently on day 35 of the Maker’s Diet. This is a 40 day physical and spiritual health renewal program based on the bestseller by Jordan S. Rubin. So far, I am really impressed with the results. I have dropped about 10 lbs in just a few weeks using this method. This brings my total weight loss to 75 lbs!

As I wrote a few posts ago, I began reading the book and following the program last month to heal the damage caused by a stomach virus. You may have heard about the “Paleo” or primitive diets that are gaining popularity. The Maker’s Diet promotes a similar nutritional regimen, focusing on natural whole foods and promoting lean meats and protein sources, lots and lots of vegetables (mainly raw) and fruit, nuts and seeds.

I have not eaten any grain (wheat, oats, rice etc.) or starches (potatoes, corn, beans etc.) or drank milk in over a month! I have also eliminated sugar with my coffee in favor of honey, and I have gone an entire month with no chocolate or pizza. To my own surprise, I haven’t even wanted these things.

Is it coincidence that the time I chose to implement this program is during the season of  Lent, the 40 day period leading up to Easter when Christians traditionally fast or give up something in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection? Call me crazy, but I don’t really think so. Prayer is a powerful component of this program  and one that is lacking from other approaches I have tried. I can honestly say that my faith has grown stronger and my levels of gratitude and commitment have also deepened as a result of this program.

I am not here to promote one author or book over another but I do want to share the success that I have experienced with this approach and recommend you try it. More and more people are coming to the conclusion that eliminating grains entirely, (especially wheat products) is a safe and effective approach to maximizing weight loss. The fact that this plan is documented to have stood the test of time, existing at least since the Old Testament was written, is only further reason to give it a try.

Do The “Write” Thing

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One strategy you can begin using right away to start getting better results with weight loss is to simply write things down.

You can start by writing down your goals. Give them a firm deadline and list the steps you will need to take in order to achieve them. You may also want to create a sort of mission statement. Begin this process by reflecting on the reasons why making healthy changes is important to you in the first place. Do you need to correct a health problem? Do you just want to look and feel better? Do you want to trim a few minutes off your 5K time? Do you want to simply be around for your family as long as possible? All of these are important considerations when compiling a list of goals.

Remember to phrase your goals in the personal, positive, present tense. For example my own goal for this year is “I weigh 179 lbs on May 10, 2014. I have 10% body fat and my midsection is 35 1/2 ” at the widest point.” In order to do this, I plan my workouts and meals and will remain committed to this process until I succeed!

Next, write down your workouts and record your meals. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that following this procedure will contribute to your achievement much more than not doing so. If you have a system in place to track the appropriate behaviors, you are much more likely to stick with it. I have included a free worksheet on my home page that you can download and print to record your goals, meals and workouts. You could easily come up with a similar worksheet or simply write these things down in a notebook or on your computer or phone to start improving your results today.

Remember, as motivational author Napoleon Hill wrote in his landmark bestseller Think and Grow Rich “Reduce your plan to writing… The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire. When you translate something into writing, you have just taken the first step towards moving it from the intangible to the tangible. A written list of goals, plans and actions is a physical object you can hold in your hand. It is no longer a vague, hazy dream that you may forget without acting on. By following this simple process you will be one step closer to making your dreams a reality!

 

 

Mindless Eating

Psychologist Brian Wansink, director of the food and brand lab at Cornell University and author of the 2006 book “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” has found that people are much more likely to eat the most conveniently placed food item in their pantry. He’s also found that eating from a bigger bowl or plate, or drinking from a wider glass, can make people consume as much as 30 percent more calories—which, over a lifetime, could add up to dozens of extra pounds.  Link to article