Dinner And Everything After…

There is an ideal in fitness – a false meme that can be a contributing factor working against a person with a weight loss agenda.  If I had to narrow my list of fitness pet peeves down, this one would be top 5.  What I would like to illuminate, and help people conquer is the age old idea that a person seeking weight loss should not eat after dinner.

Tina’s Energy Crisis

I will use the example of a 30-something female who I’ll call Tina:

Presumably Tina eats dinner around 6:00 in the evening – whatever Tina’s dinner might be is not too relevant.  If she’s an average American 30-something female, she’ll not actually eat breakfast until after 10:00 in the morning, and it will be scarcely healthy – enter the scone or the energy bar with a latte.

 

A slower metabolism is just a scone’s throw away…

 

As a 30-something, active female Tina requires about 1,800 calories per day to maintain her body weight.  This means Tina is burning approximately 75 calories per hour to break even.  To evoke a safe, sustainable weight loss, a calorie deficit of about 150 calories less per day would be recommended.  This will place Tina at 1,650 calories per day.  This means Tina will be living off approximately 68 calories per day on her journey to an  improved body.

Relative to Tina’s BMR, she will be burning slightly more than those 68 calories per hour while she is awake and active – even if she sits on her ass all day and does little.  What is often misunderstood about calories burned during the course of a day is that Tina will be burning only slightly fewer calories while she is sleeping – calories necessary for the energy it takes to sleep and recover from any would-be exercise or activity during her day.

If Tina stops eating at 6:00pm – after dinner, as is often recommended by the fitness media, and doesn’t eat again until 10:00am, then Tina has not fueled her body for a 2/3rds of the day – fuel which is required around the clock to bolster and enhance the metabolic effect for fostering weight loss.  A majority of the day spent not eating – not fueling.  How is a car supposed to make such a long journey without fuel…?

There is no shortage of published work suggesting hibernation theory; that by not eating often enough the body senses a decreased energy income.  In order to overcome that decreased energy income, the body slows the metabolic process down to use less energy.  Body fat is stored increasingly, and used only sparingly as fuel.  This is how bears get through winter.

A Smeal Is A Hell Of A Deal

In a weight loss endeavor there’s little difference between snacks and meals – I just call them smeals.  Every successful weight loss success story I have been associated with, male or female, young or not-so-young, has had several things in common, not the least of which is the rhythmic eating of smeals throughout the day.  A smeal after waking up in the morning, a smeal at bedtime, and a few smeals every three to four hours in between can add up to a loss.

Eating rhythmically throughout the day, the brain and body conclude that since more energy is on the way, it’s not as urgent to slow down the metabolic process or to store energy as quickly in the form of body fat.  That is, the motor runs fast, efficiently, and uses the best fuel.  Add to that, additional calories burned due to increased activity, and the energy reserves (body fat) are utilized.  This is one scenario in life when it’s good not to have reserves.

Sumo Slow

I often use the Sumo wrestler as an example of slowing down the metabolic process.  We envision these large men who hail from Japan, a predominately demure culture, as being able to eat whatever they want.  In part that’s true, Sumos take in a majority of their calories from a calorie-rich stew called, Chankonabe.   However, Sumo wrestlers coax their metabolism by eating great quantities of Chankonabe, but only do so only once per day.  This intake of substantial calories only one time per day enables weight gain at an exponential rate.  Sumos train, eat, and sleep in an environment called a stable.

Life in the stable. I wonder how stable is heart is…?

A thought:  For those reading this believing they will lose weight by eating just a little during the day and having a large dinner at night, remember Sumos live in stables, athletes dine at tables – and do so frequently.  Be well.  rc

 

Point The Finger At You…

Many people I know complain – most people I know complain often about the healthcare system.  People complain about greedy insurance companies, convoluted billing systems, apathetic physicians and medical workers, and about how those in Washington only make the problem worse.

At the foundation of all of this, in my opinion, there is much truth.  The system in its current state blows.  However, if every capable adult chose to exercise for 20-30 minutes daily, and every capable adult chose to keep their calories in line with CDC recommendations, I suspect the healthcare system would be much more fluid, much more time efficient, and far more dependable than it currently is.

Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and strokes occupy a large portion of the healthcare pie.  Often times these ailments are genetically predisposed and can not be helped, but most often they are self-inflicted.  In either case, none of these are the fault of greedy insurance companies, they are not the fault of convoluted billing systems, and they are not the fault of healthcare workers, or lawmakers.  We can make the healthcare system better by making ourselves better.

A little movement daily, and a few less calories at each meal could add up to a drastically improved healthcare system.  It could also result in a country better prepared to deal with increasing its woes.   Be well.  rc

The Strength To Be Perfect…

The Form On The Inside

I tend to think absolutes.  Since most of my thinking each day is dedicated to the ideal of strength training, I spend a great deal of time thinking about proper form in strength training – absolute form.  By absolute I mean perfect. I think about it.  I teach it.  I attempt to live it.  I believe I benefit from it greatly, outside and in.

Strength training is an endeavor where perfection actually can be attained, and done so daily.  Think about that.  Few opportunities in life can provide us with a chance to approach, let alone achieve perfection.  It’s possible to do with strength training.  Perfection in strength training is a choice – a series of choices.

Proper form in strength training is the heart of it.  Internal and external benefit to one’s body notwithstanding, strength training is where a supreme connection can be made between mind and body – between spirit and flesh.  Though good form may be visible to, and appreciated by an onlooker, good form in strength training takes place first on the inside.

The Singular Repetition: A Timeless Place

An arm is extended and retracted.  A leg is raised and lowered again.  A torso turned and returned.  Through all if it there can be purity if the mind chooses purity.  It can be heavy and not require momentum.  It can be intense and not require a breach of form.  It can be productive and still be perfect.

A connection is first made – a realization that the weight moves up or down only when the mind and the body reciprocate with one another to achieve this objective.  The objective is to challenge the body and the mind, simultaneously, to direct heavy objects despite gravity.  As the mind and body intermingle to achieve this, the world beyond is minimized.

The singular repetition of a strength exercise, executed in proper form, through a complete range of motion, dialed into with absolute concentration, is as cleansing to me as a deep breath of fresh air. For that one moment, that one repetition, I am alone in a perfect state that transcends time. I am not even aware that there is a world beyond my repetition, let alone beyond my workout.

When the fatigue from the set – from the cumulative effect of the perfect repetitions allows the weight to feel so heavy that perfection gives way to momentum, I will break from my trance as cleanly as the break between two Saltine crackers and stop the lift.  I will then regroup, catch my breath, sip some water and begin again.

Client and workout partner, Carrie, exhibits a level of perfection with her strength training that is good as good gets. And the results are clear…

 The Choices: A Brief Seminar On Momentum-Free Execution of Strength Movements

1) No weight selected on a machine, barbell, or dumbbell ever be so heavy that perfect form could be not be attained for the desired number of repetitions. A body doesn’t know how heavy a weight is.  It only knows how heavy a weight feels.

2) Concentric: With weight in hands, or at the ends of the feet, one begins a slow raising of the weights. This lifting phase of the exercise (when the weight in whatever medium is headed upward toward the ceiling) should take 3-4 seconds. Regardless of the exercise or apparatus, whenever a weight is rising toward the ceiling, one should exhale slowly through the mouth as the weight rises.

3) Pause: When the weight is at its highest point away from the floor, that muscular contraction should be held a moment. An extra breath or two should be taken between each completed repetition. This increased oxygenation will allow the set to be sustained longer.

4) Eccentric: The weight is slowly returned to its starting position. This phase should take 5-6 seconds. One should breathe in slowly while the weight is being lowered.

5) Pause: When the weight is at its lowest point, the extension should be held for a moment with the muscles involved fully stretched yet still engaged, then returned upward.

6) Going excessively heavy will not make you stronger.  Cheating your form won’t make your muscles any larger and certainly not any shapelier.  Taking away from the purity of the exercise is to take away from the purity of the functional and the aesthetic effects of strength training.

The Perfection Connection

Moving weights perfectly, slowly through a complete range of motion will add value to your human experience. Choosing perfection in strength training will not only help you look better, but it will make you stronger where it matters most; outside the gym in this ongoing challenge we call everyday life.  Whether one is carrying a basket of laundry across a room or a bucket of tools across their property, a better outcome awaits from the pursuit and the practice of the perfect repetition.

It is though, the mental clarity I gain from this age old form of body-prayer, which keeps me coming back – perfect repetition after perfect repetition.  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head…  Oh, and to learn more about Carrie’s other creative outlet, please visit www.babyasart.com

Clean Water Is Hard To Find…

Take a glass of clean water.  Put it beside a glass of dirty water.  Take a spoonful from the glass of dirty water and stir it in to the clean water. In an instant you have two glasses of dirty water.

Start over again with a glass of clean water and a glass of dirty water.  Now, take a spoonful of the clean water and stir it into the dirty water.  The dirty water remains dirty – the clean water has not changed anything.

If people were glasses of water, nobody would look like this…

In our social environments; the workplace, schools, social groups, religious groups, and even fitness groups there will always be people with good intentions and those with lesser intentions.  Bad habits spread more easily than good habits.  But we’re not glasses of water, we’re social beings capable of change.  Thus, we should never quit trying to spread our good habits, and we should always strive to be resistant to poor habits.  Indeed.  I hope I’m taking notes…

Be well.  rc

Flossoccoli…

GMOs in our food system have been a hot button issue in many circles lately including, science, politics, fitness and nutrition.  Those for and those against GMOs, seem evenly divided in the arenas of science and politics.  In fitness and nutrition however, most everyone I know is against allowing GMOs into our food system.  Today, as a fitness trainer, I would like to state for the record my full support the inclusion of GMOs in our food system.

You see, I eat broccoli and spinach every single day – often several times per day.  Of course the broccoli and spinach get caught in my teeth.  Being health minded I floss those particles out as quickly as I can to avoid a buildup of bacteria.  However, I can’t always find a floss pick as quickly as I need to use one, and I often don’t have time in-between my training sessions to hunt down a floss pick.  Soon the next client walks in and I’m suddenly stuck in my next training session, and all I can think about is the broccoli caught between my teeth, and not the client.  The client soon realizes this, and can tell I’m not at the top of my game.

I fear that if this happens enough, I might lose clients over this — my thinking of floss picks rather than focusing on them.  I am therefore in full support of science catching up with this potential career threatening problem in my life and, creating a genetically modified broccoli; flossoccoli.  Flossoccoli will provide me with both good nutrition to support my body, and immediate access to an important tool to aid in my dental hygiene.  And don’t you dare tell me you thought of it first…

Flossoccoli; for good nutrition combined with quick dental heigene…

Happy Election Day!  Be well.  rc