Tag: weight loss

I Broke My Own Rules…

So I was laying in bed the other day, it was 4:45am, and I was wide awake. Now, I normally get up around 5:30am anyway so in less than an hour it will be time for me to start my day. Normally, if I feel “ready” to get up, I just get up and get my day started, I don’t roll back over and go to sleep. I find that it makes me feel like a slug the rest of the day. And against my better judgement I rolled back over and fell asleep. I made up excuses in my head, literally telling myself I didn’t have that much to do so why not sleep in. Worst mistake I made all week. Why? Because not only did I get bombarded by the alarm clock at 0530, I actually hit the snooze and fell asleep until 6am. When I finally woke up I actually felt much worse than I did at 4:45am when I was up and ready to go.

Why am I bringing this up you may ask? Because there is something important anyone can learn from a simple situation like this. When you aren’t feeling it, or are on the fence about executing something, that is when you really need to do it. Do it anyway. Don’t feel like working out? Do it anyway. Even if you are a little off that day, do it. Go through the motions. Because you will find that even going through the motions will have you feeling better than if you just skipped out all together. And pushing through days like these can be a huge momentum builder as you move forward. Don’t make excuses, instill some discipline, and get shit done!

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One Simple Way To Burn More Fat Without Extra Cardio

Here is one tip you can use in your weight training if you are not already to really get your metabolism going, without any extra cardio. Simply by adding drop sets, back off sets, or rest pause sets at the end of an exercise can bring the intensity level up to get your body burning fat more efficiently. Now, for those of you that may not be familiar with any of these techniques, let me explain them here….

The Drop Set– A drop set is performed after the last set of really any exercise you may be doing. For example, let us use the bench press as an example. Say you planned on doing 3 sets of 6-8 reps per set. Then, on the last set you do 6 good reps with great technique. Maybe you could have got 7, but stop at 6. Then when you finish your set strip off about 25% of the weight you had on and immediately perform another set to absolute failure. Congratulations, you just did a drop set!

Back Off Sets- A back off set is performed similar to a drop set, except the weight is even lighter than the drop set. Instead of stripping off 25% you are taking off up to 50% of the weight and going to failure, allowing you to really rep out the weight you are doing. This technique works best in my opinion for smaller muscle groups like biceps, triceps, calves, etc.

Rest Pause Sets- Here is one last technique that will really challenge you, the rest pause set. After performing your last set of let’s say ten reps on a lat pull-down, take about 15 seconds rest, and perform another set. Try to get at least 5 reps. Then take another 15 seconds rest and do another set again for as many as possible to failure. This one is killer, but it works.

Try using any variation of these in your training and I guarantee over time you will not only see changes in your body, your exercise capacity and endurance will go up too.

Lat Pull Down

The Importance of a Morning Routine

Is This You?

So….How many of you wake up, and hit the snooze button at least 3-4 times before ever actually leaving the bed? And once you do finally leave the bed how long is it before you actually do something productive with yourself, whether that be exercise, read, or begin some tasks for your job? If you are in the general average then you probably aren’t actually doing anything for at least another hour after you already laid in bed for the first hour. So now we have the first two hours of the day dedicated to….Nothing! Except maybe eating breakfast. And unfortunately these are the same type of people, including some of my closest friends that will tell me, “Derek, I have no time to exercise” what else can I do to lose weight. And being a good friend I will take a look at their current routine and try to help them optimize what they are doing, but in a lot of cases I was not necessary at all. There was no secret, tip, or pill that I was going to give to help them accomplish what they wanted. It all came down to their daily routine and habits!

Benefits of a Routine

Routines can have a profound impact on helping organize your day much more than you think, but it does take some discipline. Getting up a little earlier, or prepping meals ahead of time is not the most convenient, but there is nothing convenient about getting the results you want, it’s just a matter of how bad do you want it? Once you get past the first couple weeks, and this new routine becomes habit you will start to notice some of these benefits…

  1. Reduced Stress– When you actually get up and have your day scheduled, it takes a lot of undue stress off of your life. This way you are not forgetting about taking care of important tasks you may have had for the day.
  2. Gain More Time– When you start holding yourself accountable to your own schedule, the amount of time you will free up can sometimes shock you.
  3. Be Able to Eat Healthier– When you are unorganized and flying by the seat of your pants it is very difficult to get in the right foods you need to meet your fitness goals. More times than not you end up at a drive thru eating trash food. Being on a schedule will free up more time so you can prep some simple, healthy meals instead of relying on quick food options.
  4. Feel Fulfilled– When you put together a daily routine, and you accomplish those little tasks everyday, there is something extremely fulfilling about this process. Because by doing the little things everyday, this leads to big results over time. Fitness and weight loss is the best example of this. Eating the right foods, and not skipping workout sessions is the quickest way to see better results in the gym. But these two things are counting on YOU to fit them in your schedule.

But…

Now, after reading this there are going to be plenty of people that still have the mentality of well, my schedule is already so crazy, I just can’t fit anymore in so I guess the chips will fall where they fall. Let me tell you, that is an excuse. I have yet to meet one person that wasn’t able to find the time to exercise during the day at some point. It’s literally 4% of the day. Discipline, Consistency, and holding yourself accountable are the biggest parts here. You just have to decide to do it.

Understanding Hormones & Weight Loss

Have you ever had that friend that even when they diet and exercised like crazy they still seemed stuck in a plateau that they could not get out of? I think we can all think of somebody that has done this before, but usually not all for the same reasons. One reason may be the closet eater, who hides the fact that they are gorging on bad food choices behind closed doors. Or the excessive drinker, that says they only drink a few beers once a week, and it’s more like 10 beers at 2-3 times a week. The above two examples are not who we are talking about today. We are talking about the guy or girl that is actually putting in all the hard work but just can’t seem to get past that hump. Why is that? Well, the answer could be as simple as your hormones are not in an optimal state for fat loss….Here may be why.

Feeling Stressed?

We have all heard that stress kills right? Well, not only does it kill you, it also kills any fat loss or muscle gain progress as well. Studies have actually shown that when you are in a stressful state for consistent periods of time you can eat the perfect diet for your goals and still not lose body fat. In fact you will either stay the same, or you may even gain weight! So why does this happen? What is triggered in us that is causing this stress?

Cortisol

Cortisol is the stress hormone, responsible for that fight or flight response in the body that gets released when we are perceived to be under stressful situations. When cortisol stays up it is actually benefiting fat gain, and preventing muscle gain simultaneously. Now lets go back to the question of what is causing this in us? What is causing cortisol to stay elevated? Well, there are a number of things that could be plaguing our day. Here is just a small list…

Job or work environment, family life, Time Management, money management, over training at the gym, excess alcohol consumption, and consistent bad sleep.

This list probably covers the top stressors the average person has in there life. I would say out of all of the issues listed above, the number one issue leading to elevated cortisol is consistent bad sleep. You should always try to get at least 6 hours of sleep each night. Now, I know they say 8 hours is considered best, but I am trying to be as realistic as possible. Quite a lot of us are busy people these days. For example, lately I am in bed around 10 to 10:30pm, and will be up at 4:30am ready to go. Whatever your time window is, please remember to not completely neglect your sleep. Try to make 6 hours be your minimum. Also, remember to keep the “blue lights” off when you go to bed at night. Blue light is the light emitted by television screens and phones, and can interrupt healthy sleeping patterns.

In regards to some of the other stressors listed above I highly doubt anyone is suffering from over training, since it is very difficult for the average person to even over train in the first place. But, as far as the rest of the list goes if you want to make a conscious effort to reduce stress try yoga or even meditation. Look for something you can do to unwind and calm the body. Maybe even massage therapy would be a great idea as well. Just keep in mind if you are at a sticking point in your fat loss results and you know in yourself you are doing all the right things then you may want to consider taking a look at your normal routine and figuring out what changes you need to make to get yourself moving in the right direction. Always remember we are here to help so if you need any assistance in figuring out what to do please feel free to contact me at our email address and we will get it figured out.

Volume vs Intensity? What is best for max results?

Rate Of Perceived Exertion?

Here is something I wanted to share with you guys to put things into perspective for you. How many of you have heard of rate of perceived exertion? If you have great, if not what this means is how much did you actually exert yourself during exercise. From one to ten, rate today’s workout. Was it a 6,8,or even a 10? Now, most people like to think they are giving a 10 effort every single time, but what if I told you that may not be the best approach? Let me explain…

Imagine you and I were at the gym together, and I asked you to do as many push-ups as you could possibly do until failure, not one more repetition in the gas tank. And, let’s say you did 20. Would it be wise to come back to the gym tomorrow and do the same exact thing? Would it be a good idea to even come back and do the same movement in 2 days? The answer is the same… no. But if I said hey, how about you only do 10 or 12 push-ups a day with good form, could you do this everyday? Think about it from this perspective, say you did your push-ups at 12 reps every day for 7 days in a row. You would have done 84 reps in the week. Now, if you did the 20 rep routine that you could only endure 3 times a week, not only did you beat your body up, you also only accomplished 60 reps for the week, which is 30% less volume! I have always been a big proponent of intense training, but if you are only able to do that training 3 good days a week, you may be leaving a lot of progress on the table. Mathematically speaking, in this tiny example there is a 24 rep difference in the week. Multiply that by 52 weeks in a year. You are looking at 1248 repetitions!

Intensity

This is Why the Russians Kick Our Ass

In Russia, they utilize what has been coined as Eastern Block training, a style which incorporates a lot more volume being performed, with lower intensity. The only time the intensity goes up is when you get close to a competition. Other than that you are staying at that 6-7 intensity out of 10 range on your training sessions. But, staying disciplined and consistent with getting in your training sessions, which is key as you can see from the example shown above. So if you are ever wondering if you are training enough or too much because you aren’t seeing progress, I would suggest keeping this in mind. You may need to change up your training routine. If you are exercising 4 days a week, but always feel fatigued and sore, you might be going too intense and may benefit from breaking up your lifting session into more frequent workouts with less intensity. Either that or you are a novice and you have yet to discover what true exertion, or failure is. But that will come with time, just like anything else. That’s it for today, thanks for reading.

Why is Re-gaining Weight so Common?

How many times have you seen someone who was obese, begin to lose weight using diet and exercise, and get very close to their end goal, and then they end up stalling out, or even worse, start to put the weight all back on. They seem to be doing most of the right things, but a few slip ups here and there and the weight just sticks back on to them like glue. Here’s why….


Why You Keep Re-Gaining Weight

As we grow up, from a child to an adult, our bodies naturally end up with a fixed number of fat cells that we develop during our childhood years. Then as we hit adolescence that number pretty much stays where it is, unless we begin to eat so much that our body is forced to create new cells. This only occurs when all other fat cells have been filled to the maximum capacity, causing the body to adapt by making new cells. And the worst part is once these cells have been created, they do not go away. You can diminish them down by losing all that excess stored energy that is inside the cell, so in other words you can shrink the fat cells, but you can not eliminate them. So if you were obese with 40% body fat, and drop your body fat percentage to say 17%, you will still have the cells with you equivalent to 40%, but they are not filled because you have utilized the bulk of those cells for energy through what is called lipolysis, which is your bodies’ ability to take stored fat and use it up as energy. Now this is a great thing, to go from 40 to 17 percent, but since such a high percentage of fat was present at one time, this will make you more sensitive to re-gaining body fat since those cells are still present.

The biggest issue with having all these extra cells is when you do lose body fat, those cells are used to being filled up, which provides you extra energy for daily tasks. And since your body has burned through all that extra energy, it will offer resistance at times to try to get itself back to what it thought was normal, aka homeostasis. Also, when these cells are depleted through fat loss, the bodies leptin levels, (hunger hormone) will get kicked on in a lot of cases because again the brain is thinking you are depleted and need to eat, so leptin gets kicked on, and hunger sets in, causing you to over eat or totally cheat on your diet.

Is There Any Way To Eliminate Fat Cells Then?

There is one method that doesn’t technically “kill fat cells”, but converts them into a more useful type of fat, and that is cold exposure. You see there are two types of stored fat cells, white adipose tissue cells, and metabolism stimulating brown fat cells. By using cold therapy, research has shown that white fat cells can begin to convert to brown fat cells, making them more susceptible to be utilized as energy. Now when I say cold therapy, we aren’t even talking about cryo chamber cold or anything like that, we are just talking about cold showers, or applying ice to certain areas of the body. Very simple things to do to help with converting the cells, but there is a catch to this. The cold therapy must be consistently done to keep that conversion happening. So taking a morning walk without a coat, or taking a cold shower, even applying ice after a workout to certain areas all can be beneficial to keeping those fat cells brown, and in a burning state. So if you can’t eliminate them, just convert them!

Benefits Of A Ketogenic Diet

Where to Begin

The Benefits of a Ketogenic, or Keto Diet are vast to say the least. With that being said let’s take it from the top.

Fat Loss

This is the most popular reasoning that people have attached themselves to the keto diet….Thanks to TV ads and social media. Some of the promises made by slick marketers on how keto will drop bodyfat effortlessly, or selling you some type of keto supplement to help cut weight is almost always snake oil.

But there is truth in the fact that a keto diet will help keep your insulin levels low, which creates a great environment for your body to burn fat. When you are not taking in a lot of carbohydrate, especially 50 grams or less per day, your body will have to pull from other energy sources to fuel itself. The next fuel source from stored glycogen, or carbohydrate would be your bodies stored fat, which is how the magic happens. Once your body begins using stored fat as fuel you will begin to really see some progress in your fat loss goals.

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Greater Hormone Response

Not only does a keto diet aid in fat loss by utilizing stored body fat, it can also aid in increasing key hormones such as growth hormone as well. When the bodies insulin levels are lowered from eating keto, this causes growth hormone to stay more elevated. The benefits of more growth hormone production is tremendous, but here are a few key benefits…

Better Energy Production, Vitality, Joint Support, Fat Loss, Better Looking & Skin, Better Sleep Quality.

So eating keto is not just for weight loss purposes, but really can have anti-aging benefits as well by increasing growth hormone production. Lets move onto the next benefit.

Helps Build Mitochondria

Mitochondria, are the power plants of our cells, turning the nutrients we uptake from foods into ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, which is our cells energy source. The more mitochondria we have the more energy we can receive from food we eat. When the body goes into what’s called ketosis, after eating keto for a while, this state puts new demands on our bodies’ mitochondria, which causes the body to adapt by producing more mitochondria. This means more energy, and an increase in physical performance.

Better Cognitive Function & Reduction In Brain Fog

When the body is in Ketosis, it naturally produces more GABA, an amino acid that acts like a neurotransmitter, a calming neurotransmitter to be exact. Depressed GABA levels have been shown to cause brain fog, which now explains why a lot of dieters that go Keto begin to notice a certain clarity after a few weeks, due to the increase in GABA.

Ketogenic diets have also shown to cause a decrease in cognitive decline in patients with certain nervous system diseases, such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons.

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So eating a ketogenic diet is not just something that can be beneficial for weight loss purposes, but can be an aid to keep you healthy as you age. But always remember even eating keto you can not ignore food quality, which I can’t stress enough. Until next time.

Is Following a Keto Diet Healthy?

Recently in the media, I have been seeing the keto diet popping up, and not for good reasons. People are making claims that keto diets are causing problems such as heart disease. But is the keto diet as bad as it is being made out to be? Let’s take a look…

Quality vs Quantity

When eating a ketogenic diet it is still very important to pay attention to the quality of the foods you are putting in your body. For example, eating two cheeseburgers without the bun, and a few veggies on it would constitute as being “keto”, but you are also consuming a large amount of trans fats that are known for causing heart disease. So even thou the two cheeseburgers kept your carbohydrates low, it is still a very poor choice in food quality. This concept of quality vs quantity can be applied to any meal of any time of the day. Another great example is breakfast. Instead of eating a few scrambled eggs topped with home made salsa and sliced avocado, you decide to eat one scrambled egg with a pound of bacon and cheese. In this scenario you are again keeping your carb intake low, but the foods you are putting in your system will play a roll in your overall health over time.

keto diet for beginners

Too Obsessed With The Numbers

Another issue that has been getting noticed is the fact that people can’t figure out why sometimes there ketosis readings are coming back so high, meaning they are barely into ketosis even thou they have been eating a very low carbohydrate diet. No one has discovered why this is yet, but I am sure at some point down the road scientists will in fact figure it out. The important part to remember is that you are in ketosis, and you are getting all those benefits from being in that state, which we will discuss in another post because honestly there is a pretty lengthy list. By people getting obsessed with there keto readings they actually end up cutting out some very healthy and beneficial foods in there diet for more meats because the thought process is, “well I guess I should try to cut my carbs from 40 to 15, and then maybe my ketosis reading will be better”. More isn’t always better, and as long as you are in ketosis in the first place, honestly who cares about the number, just be consistent with your diet so you can stay in that state to reap the benefits. Don’t sacrifice eating good quality foods to attempt to get a better ketosis reading. This mistake can cost you in the long run in terms of your overall health, and we have discovered doing so may not even help your numbers anyway. In our next installment we will touch on the benefits of being in ketosis. Until next time.

3 Simple Methods for Fasting

Now that we have discussed the benefits of fasting in terms of fat loss, today we are going to touch on a few simple ways you can apply this concept to your daily lives.

Method 1: 16 on and 8 off

This Method of Fasting is broken down into windows. You fast for 16 hours and eat your meals for the day in an 8 hour window. To me this method actually seems to be the most practical out of any of the methods I have tried so I figured I would start with this one. I feel the main reason it is realistic is because the time you are sleeping you are on a fast anyway. So if you sleep 6-8 hours, you almost have half of your fast knocked out already. All you need to do now is tighten up the window on your last meal in the evening, and your first meal in the morning. For example, let’s say I ate my last meal at 8pm last night. Then I went to bed around midnight. I wake at around 7am, and already I have 11 hours knocked out on the fast. Instead of having breakfast, I simply wake up and have some coffee, or tea along with water. I will sip on whatever zero calorie beverage I prefer until around 12pm, when my 16 hours is up, and then from 12-8pm I will have my meals for the day. Typically I spread them out to 12pm, 3pm, and 7:30pm.

Method 2: Every Other Day Method

This method is exactly how it sounds and it definitely takes fasting up a notch. You fast for 24 hours, and then eat normally for 24 hours, and alternate. On your fasting days I do know that some people allow for a small calorie intake on your fasting days like 25% of your normal intake, which is equivalent to one small meal, but others go all day without. This one would be tough to try right out of the gates in my opinion. If you haven’t fasted before I still feel the 16/8 method would be best.

Method 3: The Warrior Method

In this method, the idea is to fast all morning and into the afternoon, until the later evening, and then eat one large meal. I mean its like thanksgiving dinner type of meal. You are consuming a high amount of calories at this meal, and then doing the same thing again tomorrow, and the next day. One meal a day, in the evening. If I did this method my meal would be between 2400-2600 calories at one sitting! Probably a 16oz ribeye with a huge salad topped with a large avocado. By the time I add on all the extra foods to my salad the calorie intake would be right where it needs to be.

Again, I would suggest if anyone wants to try fasting in any way to help accelerate fat loss, that they start with method 1, eating in windows. From here it is a much easier transition into something like the warrior method or even the every other day method. If you struggle with cravings in between your windows I would suggest drinking green tea when you are on your fast. The green tea can really help keep the cravings down for you, to make it easier to stay on track.

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