Category: Lifestyle

A number is defined as “an arithmetical value, expressed by a word, symbol, or figure, representing a particular quantity and used in counting and making calculations” by the Oxford dictionary. In several areas of life a number can tell us a lot about an individual without ever knowing them personally. But is a number the most important factor in everything we do? In fitness, numbers can take over our lives if it’s the only thing we focus on. A number can change if adjustments are made to the approach but what do you do when the number isn’t moving or going in the opposite direction of where you would like it to? It is imperative to view a number as a value that we can measure and make the necessary adjustments rather than allow it to place a mental barrier on our lives.

 

As a fitness professional, I’ve trained individuals from all walks of life.The gym for most is where you get the opportunity to better yourself and have fun in the process. Day in and day out we train our butts off and expect a certain result. Sometimes we achieve that goal and sometimes we fall short. I’ve been there before and I’ll be the first to say that if you didn’t succeed in particular lift, it’s not the end of the world. For example, if your main goal is the gym is to increase strength, chasing a number gives you sometime to aim towards but it doesn’t make you any less of a person if you’re not successful. If you fail one day, like most people you beat yourself up about it because that failure is still fresh in your mind, body & soul. So I ask the question of why get stuck on something that’s now in the past and out of our of control?

 

The future we can control and that’s where the focus should be instead! Let’s say during your first working set in the gym you don’t perform the way you would like, shift your focus to the remainder of your workout regime because those too have benefits for you to improve. As long as you step foot in the gym and give maximum effort, you’ll be one step closer to your goal(s).  If you able to identify where you went wrong during the exercise, awesome! You can now work towards progression versus regression. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before or you didn’t eat enough food for the day prior to your training session. No matter what could have contributed to your poor performance, use the number(s) to assess progress and make further progress in the future.

 

The body weight scale is the one of the main reasons people lose motivation to continue to attack their fitness goals. If the scale isn’t moving, there’s typically a reason why. Good or bad! If you have the knowledge to figure out why, great you won! Make the necessary changes and put your focus on other parts of your life. But in the event you can’t, having multiple ways to assess progress can be crucial to your mental health. As online coach, I don’t simply like relying on the number on the scale. I can name several reasons why but the most important one is because the scale has many contributing factors. From water weight to muscle mass, fat mass, meal timing, etc. If you have a coach and his/her only method of assessing progress is your bodyweight, I highly suggest you find a new coach because the scale is end-all for progress. For those of you that do feel stuck due to the scale not moving, use other forms to assess progress such as daily pictures, body measurement or even body fat percentage. For more information on how the scale should be used and why you shouldn’t allow it to affect your progress, please check out one of my past blog article called “The Scale Is Nothing To Be Afraid Of“.

 

Tracking macros has become extremely popular in recent years. I personally track macros to calculate a rough estimate of how many calories I’m actually consuming daily. But I don’t stress myself to be 100% perfect to track every single gram. Even if I’m dieting to cut down and I need 150g of brown rice for each meal, I’m not removing grain after grain if I happen to measure 153g on the first attempt. That in my opinion is just silly! If you think that 3g extra of a carbohydrate is going to cause your progress to slow down or stall out you are highly mistaken. Similar to the scale there are many factors that can impact how many calories each individual will need to consume to truly be in a deficit. Aside from your strength training and/or cardio regime, how physically demanding your job is, the commute or travel to work and even daily activities with family & friends all play a role in daily calories burned. If the goal is weight loss, I wouldn’t suggest anyone to consume more calories because you played basketball with your kids once school was out. Instead it should give you peace of mind that you don’t have to be perfect when tracking your food intake. The goal should be to aim for close enough estimate so that you can still achieve your goals while continuing to enjoy the other aspects of your life!

 

 

We all want to look our best when summer hits! Maybe it’s to be able to flaunt that sexy dress that’s been in your closet for several months or to be shirtless at the pool. No matter what your goal is, social outings can set you back if you don’t create a plan for yourself. If you start dieting early, you will most likely reach your goal weight. But if you’re like the majority of the population, you most likely can get there but with very little room for error. Life is life meaning that simply going to work, going to the gym and eating your home cooked meals can be boring at times. Chances are you’ll most likely fall into the temptation of going out to eat instead of eating those delicious meals you’ve prepped over the weekend. Simply eating out isn’t going to hurt your progress as long as you choose the right options.

First things first, if you plan of going out to eat, educate yourself on the menu of the restaurant. The worst thing you can do when going out to eat with friends is waiting to be seated to only find out that nothing on the menu will fit into your diet. That’s poor planning on your part therefore looking at the menu prior to arrival can save you some time and allow you to choose a few options that will work for you. Obviously the internet exist so if there’s a menu out there for a restaurant, chances are you will be able to find it after one single google search. In the event that they don’t have any information online, the phone still exist. Calling up the restaurant and asking “what are three healthy food options you guys serve?” will give you an idea of what you can possibly have then you can make the final decision upon arrival.

I know what everyone’s thinking, “how do I know what to choose from the menu?” To keep things simple I’ll say this, if you can’t eyeball a dish to estimate how much food is actually on your plate, it’s most likely not a good option. For example let’s say you order a pasta dish that has penne pasta, chicken, olives, bacon & cheese all mixed together, that will be close to impossible to track just by looking at it. Way back when I first started tracking macros in 2014, I’ve learned to know how much food is actually on my plate without a food scale. This comes with time and experience of weighing out meals for so many years. For those of you who don’t have the experience, you’ll have to choose an option that you can find via MyFitnessPal or any other calorie tracking app. This way you have a semi accurate way of tracking what you will or have consumed versus just saying “the hell with the diet” and risking the progress you worked so hard for. But what if I can’t find the option I want in MyFitnessPal? Simply just search the dish you would like to order and always overestimate. For example if I go to a local italian restaurant where I can’t find the entree I want, search the name of the entree and choose an option from another more popular restaurant such as Olive Garden, Friday’s, Applebees, etc. By default what you search for is going to be calculated for 1 serving, adjust the serving to 1.5 in order to overestimate the calories to ensure that you don’t over your calories/macros for the day.

Now let’s say you’ve been tracking for quite some time and you posses the gift of being able to calculate a rough estimate of how much food is on your plate just by looking at it, you have more way more options to choose from. If you want a grilled chicken breast, mash potatoes, baked broccoli and maybe a side of rice, you can track that. Please make sure to always ask your waiter/waitress what oils & sauce are use to cook your meal. I personally prefer my food to be cooked in extra virgin olive oil due to it being less processed compared to other oils and the antioxidants it contains. Any sauces that’s added, I ask for it to be on the side so that I can control how much of the sauce I actually consume. Next time you go out grocery shopping just grab a random sauce that sounds delicious and take a look at the nutrition facts. Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce is 70 calories for 2 tablespoons all coming from carbohydrates. If you’re someone who doesn’t have many carbs to spare, these are somethings you need to aware of. Let’s be honest if restaurants were only using 2 tablespoons of a particular sauce, it probably won’t be a big deal. But restaurants are in the business of making their dishes taste as flavorful as possible therefore keep an eye out for those minor details to ensure you are sticking to your diet the next time you eat out!

With summer right around the corner, many of us are starting to get dialed into our diets to ensure that we look our very best. If anyone has told you that they followed a diet and never gave in to some form of temptation, they are probably lying. While staying away from the junk food can be a challenge for most of us, I believe we all struggle with participating in social events that may or may not influence us to drink our calories as opposed to eating them. Compared to the other macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates & fat, alcohol is tracked at 7 calories per gram. You’re probably wondering who actually tracks their alcohol intake? Not many to be completely honest due to losing track of how many drinks you can consume. While it may be tough to keep tracks of all of your drinks, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible and can’t be done. If you have a structured plan in place, a night out having drinks with your friends won’t sabattage your progress as much as most think.

Similar to my previous article on “How To Enjoy A Cheat Meal Without Risking A Progress Setback?“, same rules apply when it comes to alcohol. While the determining factor of weight loss in calories in versus calories out, you don’t want to get completely hammered. If you want to consume alcoholic beverages with the goal of being drunk, you probably will have the negative effects of alcohol as far as body composition goes. Being that alcohol is extremely calorie dense, the only way to ensure your progress isn’t affected too much you want to consumed the majority of your calories for the day from protein, carbohydrates & fat. That way you still giving your body the nutrition it needs and reserving some calories for the night time. So how does one go about planning a night out of drinks with their friends? To keep things simple you want to stay away from drinks that are almost impossible to track such as fruity mix cocktails that contain juice, soda and several different amount of liquors. This will just complicate things and will influence you to give in and just drink the night away. This is what you want to avoid! Instead look into options that are easy & simple to track such as a beer, glass of wine or even a shot of your favorite choice of liquor.

If anyone is familiar with the popular app “MyFitnessPal”, you know that you can find anything & everything by using the search field. If it exist, 9 out of 10 times you should be able to track it using this app. The simplest way to track your alcohol is by tracking them as carbohydrates, fat or even both because you already should be following macros if you’re following a diet. Even though alcohol is considered its own macronutrient, MyFitnessPal won’t break down how many grams of alcohol you’ve consumed so instead we will use our carb and fat intake to track. 1 gram of carbohydrate equals 4 calories and 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories. This will make more sense in the calculation examples below. Let’s say you are planning a night out and you have decided that you will have one Michelob Ultra at 95 calories per 12 oz bottle.

If we were to track this as a carbohydrate we would do that as such:

95 calories / 4 Calories = 23.75g of Carbs

If we wanted to track this beer as fat we would do this:

95 calories / 9 Calories = 10.5g of Fat

If we wanted to track using both carbohydrates and fat we would do this:

47 calories  / 4 Calories = 11.75g of Carbs

48 calories / 9 Calories = 5.3g of Fat

Even though this is a great strategy to stay on track while enjoying the social scene, it’s always best to limit your alcohol consumption as much as you can while dieting. I’ve always stressed the importance of eating your calories versus drinking them and utilizing this method will allow you to plan ahead to prevent ruining the progress you’ve made thus far. Simply follow the steps below to create a food, enter in your calories/carbs/fat and add to your daily diary to ensure the correct amount of calories and carbs/fat are deducted from your total caloric intake.

 

If you clicked on this article, you’ve already read the title and I truly mean what I’ve titled it. Why you may ask? The answer is simple, you can take the necessary steps to the change you want way before the new year but most people allow themselves to wait however long is left until January 1st to take action. Many people will fail in achieving their resolutions not because they don’t want it but because they don’t want it bad enough! Patiently waiting for the perfect time to start something is only delaying the process to be able look at every possible gap that can prevent you from being successful at what you’re trying to attain. If you can tap into your life as whole and identify all areas that could potentially cause conflict with your goals, the greater the chances of you being successful at reaching your goal(s).

Adjust Your Mindset

I know it’s easier said than done but if you’ve been obese all your life, it won’t take a few weeks or months to lose the amount of weight you want. Instead of waiting for the new year to take action, get a head start before everyone because you already identified your weight as being a problem for you. What the difference between a problem that you’ve identified and a problem that let’s say your doctor has identified? They both don’t bring joy to your life therefore waiting for the new year to take action will only cause more internal pain and suffering. Take action now!

Search For Sustainability

Every year, someone either on social media, TV or even the radio is raving about a new fad diet and it’s so easy to feed into believing that this may work for you. But it won’t! Reason being is that most of these fad diets dramatically change the way you’ve been eating in past years. I believe that anyone can follow any diet and be the happiest person ever but most people don’t ease into a diet. 9/10 times they go in cold turkey because they want change fast instead of asking themselves “can I do this for the long term or even the rest of my life?” If they answer is no to that question, that diet isn’t for you and you have to find something else that is sustainable for your lifestyle.

Change Your Environment

As a former heavyweight, not referred to myself as a boxer, I realize that in order to make a new habit permanent I had to change many visual aspect of my life. From tossing out all processed snacks from my kitchen to limiting the time I spent with people who had the luxury of eating whatever they wanted without the fear of gaining weight. Our environment is huge part of our success and a lot of us take that for granted or just ignore it all together. But I can tell you first hand that you shouldn’t ignore it especially if its influencing you to go back on your word of commiting to the fitness lifestyle. It doesn’t mean cut everyone in your life that doesn’t want to get fit and be healthier. It simply means communicate your goals to your circle so they understand what important to you at this present time. If they’re not willing to understand your goals, surround yourself with people that will and support you to continue your journey.

The exact time frame it takes to create a new habit is very subjective but once you’ve mastered it you’ll know. How? Let’s say every day or on the days you’re schedule to go to the gym, you don’t create any excuses and get your workout done feeling like you’ve conquer the world. Or every week you go grocery shopping and as you shop you’re thinking of what new delicious healthy dish to make for this upcoming week. These are all powerful signs that you’ve committed to changing your old habits to better yourself. Many personal trainers live for new years to come along because that when so many people seek help with their goals but don’t be like the rest. Follow the advice I’ve provided for you above, educate yourself from reliable sources and start working towards redefining the new you now!

Cardio isn’t required in your training routine but it is highly recommended. In order to keep things simple I will only focus on performing LISS(Low Intensity Steady State) cardio as opposed to discussing all forms of cardio. Along with benefits such as increased heart strength, most people utilize cardio to burn extra calories to increase fat loss. The best times for you to perform your cardio will ultimately depend on your goals and/or lifestyle. In the past, I’ve done cardio post workout, pre workout and even fasted. Each time frame has its own benefits believe or not. Choose the time frame that will benefit you the most in your own journey.

Post Workout Cardio

If your goal is to build the most amount of muscle possible, cardio at the end of your workout will be the smartest choice. Main reason is to be able to utilize your energy on the lifts that will build the most muscle instead of cardio. If you have scheduled to perform a 30 minute cardio session and you get that done first, you’ll have less energy during your strength training portion of your workout. It’s completely fine to warm up with 5-10 mins of cardio but completing the entire cardio session before hand can impact your strength levels during your strength training. Prioritizing your energy for the heavier lifts will allow you to lift the most amount of weight while applying the most amount of tension to your muscle. With LISS cardio being low impact on the body, you should still be able to perform it towards the end of your workout.

Pre Workout Cardio

Let’s say your someone who doesn’t care much about building or retaining muscle while dieting, performing your cardio before hand is an option. Also if the strength training fatigues you to the point of where you have little to no energy to perform the cardio post workout, doing your cardio first will benefit you tremendously as well. I always emphasize to my clients to incorporate strength training and cardio together because it’s the smartest way to lose fat, but if the strength training is more taxing on the body, prioritizing cardio first will ensure that you have the energy to complete your full routine.

Fasted Cardio/Separate Session

Fasted cardio is a concept a lot of individuals believe in. The theory is that if you perform cardio while being in a fasted state, your body resorts to its fat stores as energy to get through the cardio. Makes sense right? Only problem is that there isn’t any studies to back up this claim. Instead we have a study where 20 women were divided into two groups, one group performing cardio in a fasted state and another group performing cardio after consuming a meal. The conclusion was that body compositions were similar between the two group regardless of being fasted or fed prior to training. Click here for the full article on the study. So what’s the point of doing fasted cardio anyway? Fasted cardio or performing your cardio session separately can help with potential time constraints while at the gym. For example if you prefer to strength training later in the day when you’ve eaten a good amount of calories but only have about an hour for your session, doing your cardio separately can help you not feel like there isn’t enough time to complete your entire routine.

After reading this article you should now understand that the best time for YOU to do cardio is the time that works best for YOU! There is a lot of misinformation in the fitness industry that has cause many of us to over complicate our lives to reach our fitness goals. If you don’t like doing cardio first thing in the morning, you can do it at other times of the day. Cardio is a tool that is used to create a larger caloric deficit therefore as long as you get it done and the time you choose to perform it aligns with your goals, you will lose fat and reveal the physique you desire.

If I was to categorize the amount of messages I get on a daily basis, the winner would be how to tone up and reduce belly fat. I know what everyone wants to hear! Most likely a list of exercises to perform or maybe some magic foods to accomplish that but the truth is simple. In order to tone up and/or reduce belly fat you have to be focus on continuously reducing your overall body fat as a whole to start seeing the definition and results you desire. If anyone is telling you different they are simply lying to you! There are many different factors that affect how you effectively lose body fat but if your consistent in your approach, you will get closer to your ultimate goal.

Calorie Deficit

If you’re not in a calorie deficit, your body will remain the same or worst you will gain weight. How do I know if I’m in a calorie deficit you may ask? Without changing anything, eat and train as normal then weigh yourself first thing in the morning for 2-3 days. If your weight is dropping you’re already in a deficit. If your weight remains relatively the same, you may be close to the amount of calories to maintain your weight also know as you maintenance calories. If you weight is increasing, you could be eating over your maintenance which puts you in a calorie surplus. The most accurate way to figure this out if through trial and error. Most individuals who have been tracking for a while will know how many calories their bodies would need but that comes for years of experience. You can utilize any macro calculator from any website but understand that those are just estimates and it’s impossible for a calculator to understand your body let alone what your daily life consist off so trial and error will be your best bet!

Continue To Strength Train

From beginners all the way to the more advanced lifters, you’re strength training should remain consistent while you diet. For advanced lifter if you completely abandon lifting you run the risk of losing muscle mass which is what you don’t want. If your a beginner you’re leaving potential muscle growth on the table that you would have put on. Untrained individuals or beginners can take advantage of the “newbie gainz” due to the new stimulus on the body of strength training. The less muscle mass a person has, the slow their metabolism will be therefore while dieting, one of your main objectives should be to retain or build the most amount of muscle while being in a caloric deficit.

Use Cardio As Needed

I’ve seen many people get extremely lean just from dieting and strength training. Cardio isn’t necessary for fat loss but it definitely helps when the diet isn’t enough. Start small maybe 15-20 mins on your preferred cardio machine and continue to monitor your weight each morning to see if the extra cardio is in fact putting your a deficit. Cardio and diet go hand in hand meaning that if you prefer to eat more food while dieting, you will have to do more cardio and vice versa. The trick is to do enough cardio where your weight is still dropping but not too much where you’re creating a huge calorie deficit that your body hasn’t slow work towards. Adjust cardio in small increments maybe by about 5 mins. The same way you wouldn’t just drop 1,000 calories from your diet, you should just add 30-60 minutes more cardio than what you were doing prior to making the change.

Be Patient

Any knowledgeable trainer or coach will tell you that losing 1-2 lbs per week is great! But for some people that amount of weight just isn’t fast enough for them to see their bodies changing. If you’ve been overweight or obese all your life, it took several years for you to reach that point. It’s going to take time for you to lose the weight so don’t rush the process. As a person who had bad eating habits growing up, I’ve learn alot about how certain foods, following specific macros or different types of training styles affect my body. Use this time to do the same because that is how you lose the weight and keep it off for the rest of your life. As a online coach for my clients, I create sample meal plans at the start of their coaching so they understand what I would eat if I were them but they are not obligated to follow the meal plan exactly or at all. I want my clients to eat what they want as long as they stay within the calories/macros I provide for them. That way they still eat the foods they enjoy while still continue to chase their progress. Dieting shouldn’t be depressing. Sure there will be days, where your just not feeling it but ultimately there are plenty of good healthy choices that are delicious. Find the ones that work for you and keep incorporating them to help you throughout your journey!