Sunday, July 27, 2014

What You Need to Lose Weight

Soapbox time, Kids.

My feeds are full of lots of really well-meaning people (I hope) encouraging people on their roads to fitness or their weight-loss journeys. They post all kinds of inspiring, motivational quotes-- like this:

And that's awesome. I'm all for encouraging fitness. However, sometimes those motivating quotes come with encouragements to try this amazing product that will give you all the energy and nutrients you need to lose weight and feel great.

Here's where I'll split the post.

Read here if you are working to lose weight and get fit...
Everything you need to lose weight, become stronger, feel better and have more energy is within yourself. Truly. YOU have the power to change your life. YOU just have to want to lose weight, build fitness and feel better MORE than you want to be comfortable.

It is hard. You have to change. THERE ARE NO 30 DAY CHALLENGES, NO PRODUCTS YOU CAN PURCHASE, NO SHORTCUTS that will do the work of change for you. There are tons of temporary fixes. The truth is that all of those products, all of the shortcuts will end at some point, and you will be left with yourself.

Save the money you would spend on supplements or fitness companies. Invest in yourself. If you must spend money, join a quality CrossFit box (here's how) or hire a quality certified personal trainer who will help you structure and reach goals that are specific to your needs.

Read here if you are working to sell coach people using products...
I understand that you have found the perfect way to earn money while helping people find their fitness. You're passionate about seeing people discover a way to look and feel better. I may be too skeptical and cynical, but honestly... I'm feeling used. Am I a friend/acquaintance? Or a potential customer? Is it about you making money off our vulnerability and lack of knowledge about how to get healthy, or are you really, genuinely concerned about our living longer, healthier and happier? Honestly, some of you feel like dealers.

Maybe that was harsh. But I had to say it. (It's my blog, after all.)

I am so very grateful that some of you really want to see people become healthy. And, frankly, you're probably the ones who are reading this. So, what's my point for you? Maybe I'm just venting a little. I'm super passionate about helping people become healthy and fit. Heck, I even looked into becoming a "Coach" for one of those companies. But it seemed that everyone I asked about it, only wanted to have  a personal conversation (aka sales pitch) with me. And I've heard too many stories about people who ask a question about nutrition or exercise and then get bombarded, not with help, but with a sales pitch for products that they "need to try" because they're so "life-changing."

Maybe I just want you to look at your "why."

Stepping off soapbox now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Unwritten (Until Now) Rules of Exercise*

Awhile back I penned the wildly popular The Unwritten (Until Now) Rules of Dieting*. I promised a follow up on exercise. So, here it is. Follow these rules exactly, and you will be a well-rounded person.

1. The Look. Do not exercise until you look the part. You must wear name brand clothes-- specifically Nike, Reebok, or Under Armour. Nike for running. Reebok for CrossFitting. Under Armour for general exercise. Women, be sure to wear yoga pants (Lululemon) or running shorts all the time when you are not working out. Men, wear those long board shorts. You must match. Bonus points for clever sayings on your shirt. Double bonus points if they insult everyone else to prove how awesome you are.

2. Gear. The more gear you have, the better you exercise. Gloves, wraps and straps are just the basics. KT tape. You must own it-- in several colors and apply it liberally. And it must match your outfit. A weight lifting belt is necessary any time you touch a barbell. *Elevation Mask. You must have one and wear it. All. the. time.

3. Shoes. You must have a different pair of shoes for every activity. Reebok CrossFit shoes for CrossFit; Olympic weightlifting shoes for lifting; trail running shoes if you go off road; obstacle course racing shoes; regular running shoes... do not ever wear a regular pair of cross training shoes.
Photo courtesy of CrossFit Fly
For Globo Gym Goers (Globo gyms are highly recommended. These are the gyms that have little to no free weights, strict rules about chalk and grunting, a banned lift list, lots of mirrors, AC that's set around 65 degrees and TVs-- lots of TVs.):

4. Free weights. Nah. Why would you make the effort to pick up heavy weights and load them onto bars, when you can just place a pin or flick a switch to increase or decrease the weight you're moving? The exception is for men. You need the squat rack (for your curls) and the bench press-- forget all those fancy leg machines.

5. Machines. Yes, please. Also be sure that you are sitting and resting on the machine before 1) moving to the next machine or 2) doing another set. And be sure to wipe it down when you're done (you're not really sweating, but who knows what kind of microscopic germs are there)!

6. Cardio machines. Slow and easy. If you go too fast, you might not be able to clearly see the TV, read that magazine or update your social media pages.

7. Phones. Keep them with you at all times. Answer every text or notification immediately. Update with selfies. Really, you'll be in the gym for a WHOLE hour!

For CrossFitters:
8. Chalk. Before you even touch a barbell, you must first liberally apply chalk. Everywhere.
9. Rx. Scaling is for babies. Force yourself to do whatever workout is posted as prescribed. Why worry about good form and avoiding injury? I mean, if Rich Froning and Sam Briggs can do it, so can you.

10. Cost. Maybe you just shouldn't CrossFit. Really, you're paying how much to do all that hard work and be bossed around by a coach who's constantly telling you how to perform the moves correctly? And there's all those other people in your box with their enthusiasm and encouragement. Let them pay the monthly fees.

*If you are not fluent in sarcasm, you will want to check out this post for real tips on how to begin.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

But Doesn't Eating Fat Make Me Fat?

So, I posted awhile back that I was taking the plunge into a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. I just wanted to update my progress. And answer the most commonly asked questions.

And I will remind you that I am not a doctor or dietician. I'm a researcher, fact-finder, truth seeker who has many years experience in the fitness world.

1. So, you're eating high fat-- like burgers, fries, doughnuts and stuff?
NO! When I say I'm eating a high fat, low carb diet, this means that I'm getting my fat from the following sources: meat (any kind, including sausage and bacon-- organic, nitrite free, natural); whole eggs; coconut and olive oil; grassfed, hormone-free butter; and avocado.

2. Doesn't eating fat make me fat?
No. Eating carbs with fat make you fat. Eating deep fried foods, sugary treats and carb dense foods make you fat. Specifically, sugar is the big problem. Sugar (NOT fat) has been found to be linked to an increased risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

3. But isn't saturated fat bad for you?
No. A 2010 study found that there isn't significant evidence for for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. As a matter of fact, I was shocked when I looked at the information found here. Click the link and take a look at the top food sources of saturated fat in America. Here are the top five-- cheese, pizza, grain based desserts, dairy desserts, chicken and chicken mixed dishes. Eleven of the 18 top dishes listed also contained carbs and/or sugar with an additional 4 of those listed containing "mixed with" carbs dishes. So, if your saturated fat comes from ice cream, pizza, muffins, cookies and potato chips, YES it's bad for you!

4. What about my cholesterol?
Did you know that your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells? *gasp* The problem arises when cholesterol creeps too high, but see the info above (or the links below)-- saturated fat alone is not the culprit.

5. Don't you need carbs for high intensity training?
Our bodies contain massive amounts of energy stored in the form of fat in our bodies. MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) are also a source of energy for the body. Here is my interpretation of what happens when you transition to a low carb diet: Initially you experience about a week or two of a lack of energy as your body is still looking for carbs as an energy source. In time, you become fat adapted, and your body becomes more efficient at dipping into your fat stores as an energy supply. My husband has been on a high fat diet for 7 months now and hasn't experienced energy or strength loss, but he has lost about 30 lbs. He's nearly as "cut" as he was when he competed in body building.

6. I really can't believe that eating a high fat, low carb diet is perfectly healthy.
Ok, as with anything in life, you have to be smart. You have to do your own research and find out what works for you. Do not eat a high fat diet if you can't commit to sticking to it. I do 2 higher carb days a week, but the remainder of the week, I'm eating about 60% fat, 30% protein, 10% carbs. My carbs come from green veggies, other veggies and fruit-- not Paleo cupcakes, ice cream, or candy.

Great Resources to support my above statements:
On saturated fat:

On cholesterol:

General sources on the eating a high fat diet:
Why we Get Fat and What to do About It by Gary Taubes

On potential problems:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NA Natural Amino Product Review

Since getting serious about developing strength and adding volume to my training, I've begun to take amino acids. Basically, amino acids are the organic compounds that combine to form protein. When the body digests protein, amino acids are left behind, which the body then uses to rebuild its own protein stores in the form of muscle. The body uses amino acids to build and repair; they can also be used as a source of energy.

I have a habit of purchasing supplements solely based on price, not necessarily on taste, ingredients, etc. So, when I was given a container of aminos to try, the price was right, and I was more than happy to write a review of this product. (That was the disclaimer to say the product was provided free, but I'm my own opinionated soul. I can't be bought.)

NA Natural Amino (Grape Flavor)

by Nutriforce Sports

According to the text on the supplement label, the product "Promotes Muscle Tissue Repair, a Reduction of Muscle Soreness and Recovery From High Intensity Exercise." While those statements haven't been reviewed by the FDA (also noted on the label), research does suggest that the statement is, in fact, true of BCAAs.

Taste: I found the grape flavor a nice change from the typical fruit punch that most pre-workout and BCAAs have. I found the taste very pleasant. The taste of the aminos seems to be balanced by the grape flavor. It's not overpoweringly sweet and artificial tasting as some products can be. If you have never tried BCAAs (my husband describes it as tasting like the smell of rotten eggs), you might find the taste of this product unpleasant. However, I assure you, I've used a variety of BCAA powders and this is among the best tasting. It also mixes quite well in a shaker cup (note-- BCAAs foam a little when shaken up).

Supplement Facts: (Per 1 scoop-- 12 g) Calories: 12, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 3g (1g sugar, 1g fiber)

Ingredients: Vitamin B6, B12, Sodium, Potassium, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, Glycine, L-Canitine, L-Tartrate, and Cherry Pure (Cherry Skin). "Other Ingredients": Isomalto-Oligosaccharide, natural & artificial flavors, citric acid, stevia, red beet powder and natural fruit juice color.

Results: I'm very pleased with NA Natural Amino. I've been drinking one scoop mixed with water post workout. It allows me to get the BCAAs that I need to repair my muscles without added calories.

Order this product from Reload Fitness and use my code RFAmy for a discount!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Find Your Passion

Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with all the choices out there.

I want to compete. 

What do I sign up for? 
Obstacle course race. 
Trail race.
Road race.
CrossFit competition. 

Then which one? 

I want to eat healthy.

Which diet (as in lifestyle) do I follow?
South Beach
Gluten Free

And those are just choices of the physical domain. 

To answer questions such as these, you have to move beyond the right now. Staying in the right now is good at times. 
But staying in the right now can lead to lethargy if your right now has you eyeballs deep in the mundane.
Shifting your focus to tomorrow and the week after and the coming months can shift your drive from satisfaction with the routine
discovery of your passion.

What brings you delight?
What makes your heart go pitter patter with joy?
What brings a smile to your face so big that it tickles your soul?

I'm afraid we may have lost it a bit. 
We've become captivated by glowing screens instead of the glow of the night sky.
Our inspiration comes from stories on the screen instead of stories of our own. 

Stop. Doing what fills your time.
Go. Do what fulfills your life.

Find your passion.
Be relentless in pursuing it.