Category Archives: Goals

A New Approach To Wellness

This week, I’m sharing a podcast episode that I believe resonates with this blog’s focus. It’s titled “A New Approach To Wellness”.

Wellness

In it, Chris Kresser discusses how a healthy diet can reverse many of the health conditions that sideline 50% of American adults.

Chronic illnesses that are preventable!

These preventable illnesses include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Stroke
  3. Cancer
  4. Type 2 diabetes
  5. Obesity

I firmly believe that these illnesses can be prevented, reversed, and eliminated by what I refer to as “The Health Triad”.

Wellness

This is where nutrition, exercise, and sleep become the foundation to a healthy lifestyle that’s focused on longevity and vitality. Instead of inactivity and instant gratification.

Great health & wellness only happens when you have a long-term vision, and blend consistency with healthy habits that get results.

Or, on rare occasions when a medical emergency strikes (as a result of facing one of the 5 preventable illnesses due to years of neglect), and you’re forced to make significant lifestyle changes.

But unfortunately, this isn’t even enough of a motivator to make those necessary changes, many times.

If better health & vitality interests you, then you’ll find a wealth of information and takeaways here. And I hope you learn from and enjoy this wellness podcast as much as I did.

Here’s the link:

A New Approach To Wellness podcast

And if you’d like to learn more about Chris Kresser, go to www.chriskresser.com.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Been There, Done That. Now Don’t Get Tripped Up…

This week, we wrap up this month’s habit on “calories”, which completes our “6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality” program. In this final post, I’d like to show you where it’s easy to get tripped up when you’re trying to make healthier choices.

It’s a common problem, and it derails far too many people.

And don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you there. We’ll discuss ideas to help you avoid these obstacles so you can stay on track for better health, despite the challenges along your journey.

But first, I want to share an alarming statistic.

It’s been widely reported that excess abdominal fat puts added stress on the heart, which increases the likelihood of heart failure.

6 pillars program

In a recent analysis involving 12 studies and more than 360,000 people, they found that every 4-inch increase in waist size ‘added’ a 29% chance of heart failure.

WOW!!! That sounds painful. And preventable.

There’s no way I’m going to let my gut put me in an early grave. Or cause me to have my chest cracked open.

Sure seems like an incentive to change a few habits, doesn’t it?

Personally, I’d rather eat right and exercise than have that hanging over me. How about you?

I think Jim Rohn said it best… “There are two types of pain you will go through in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

Let me help you find a way to eliminate this.

Plenty of things are vying for our attention… like friends, family, and co-workers. Busy schedules, work demands, hobbies, and personal commitments. And how about social media, smartphone notifications, the media, and of course our thoughts, just to name a few.

Your list may be longer. And in most cases, aside from the good that you may gain from some of them, these “attention grabbers” usually result in one thing.

They’re a distraction!

More accurately, they can disrupt your plans and interfere with your health & wellness initiative (if you allow them to).

The point being, when you’re trying to make healthier choices and build better habits, it’s easy to get tripped up when life happens and distractions occur, despite your good intentions.

You intend to eat something nutritious, but you’re on the run and short on time. So you grab a highly processed snack because it’s fast and easy; instead of eating the macronutrient-rich meal or snack you planned for.

You think, “At least it says ‘low fat’; or ‘lightly sweetened’; or ‘organic’… So it must be okay.”

Maybe it’s a power bar or a sports drink. That’s good for you, right? Not exactly!

Or worse, you stop at a drive-thru. NOOOoooo!!!

Here are some ways and places where your nutrition and exercise plans could be compromised.

  • A hectic work schedule
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Vacation
  • Business trips
  • Family functions
  • Going out with friends
  • Holidays
  • Late nights
  • Old habits
  • Running behind schedule
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Deceptive marketing

Or just fill in the                       .

Think about what trips you up. Your Achilles Heel.

OK, now that you’ve thought about it, what can you do?

How can you take control, at least most of the time?

6 pillars program

I have some ideas. 10 to be exact…

See if any of these can help:

  1. Keep snacks with you. For example, I like to keep bags of nuts on hand. Like at my desk, in my car, and in laptop bag. And fresh fruit and veggies for the day while I’m on the road.
  2. Prepare and pack those snacks in advance to grab on the run. Otherwise, spare a few extra minutes before you leave to get them together. And remember your water too.
  3. Brown bag it. This makes your lunch decision easy and healthy. And it will probably save you a few bucks too.
  4. Eat before you go out. Yep, especially if you’re going to a function, a party, or even dinner. This way you’ll have had something nutritious and won’t be starving. Which could cause you to opt for less healthy choices. Then you can just “pick” while you’re out.
  5. Eat to 80% full. Your brain will catch up with your stomach if you give it a few minutes. And you’ll feel much better. Think about those times when you think or say “I’m so full”, or “I ate too much”. How do you feel during those moments?
  6. Avoid fast food like poison. I know it’s difficult sometimes when you’re out. It seems like 90% of your ‘options’ are garbage when you’re trying to eat clean. And they are unfortunately! That’s where the first 3 or 4 tips above can help.
  7. Don’t let 5 + 2 = 0. This is where you work hard to stay on track all week, only to throw it all away on the weekend. Late nights and some alcohol will usually sabotage your efforts. I’m not suggesting that you avoid having fun. Just trying to bring awareness to a vicious cycle that can leave you wondering why nothing is working. But it’s one you can easily fix.
  8. Get balanced. Aim for 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat with every meal. Opt for quality – complex or fibrous carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat whenever possible.
  9. Strive for 95, as Carol Merlo puts it. Stop chasing perfection, and beating yourself up when you fall short. Perfection isn’t practical so set your sights on getting it right 95% of the time. And lighten up a little. Go for progress, not perfection.
  10. Learn from feedback. Mistakes and failure are both good things if you learn from them. And these are usually our most valuable and memorable lessons. So, don’t be afraid. Instead, relax and embrace these teachable moments.

6 pillars program

As we wrap up the last post of our 6 Pillars program, I want to say thank you. Especially to our pilot group students.

Those of you who stuck with the 6 Pillars program have met or exceeded your weight loss goals. You’ve learned some valuable lessons and have built sustainable habits that are now part of you and your new healthy lifestyle.

And remember, even if you didn’t reach your goal yet, you’ve come a long way. Because you have the results to prove it. Nice work!

If you participated in the 6 Pillars program as a loyal follower of this blog, I am extremely grateful. And I congratulate you as well. I’m proud of you. And you should be too.

And finally, thanks goes out to everyone for keeping me accountable.

Let me know how the 6 Pillars program helped you. I’d love to hear:

  • What was most beneficial?
  • And most challenging?
  • What do you struggle with?
  • And what was your “a ha” moment?

Your feedback is always greatly appreciated.

If you’re new to us and would like to learn about the 6 Pillars program, and how to incorporate these 6 healthy habits into your life, you can link back to the first post of the series here.

And I’d like to ask one final…

6 pillars program

Who do you know that could benefit from a life-changing transformation in their health & wellness? I’m building a waiting list for another 6 Pillars pilot program.

So let me know, or share this.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

The 6th Habit Is Here

Can you believe the 6th habit is here? You’ve accumulated 5 months of healthy habits to your credit. You’re awesome!

Calories

Are your efforts beginning to materialize and compound?

It’s a new month and we are launching the 6th and final habit in our 6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality program. But this doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re just beginning

My overall goal is for you to lose the weight you need to, so you can benefit from improved health and longevity as you make these 6 habits your own. Part of your new healthy lifestyle.

Sure, there’s some effort required, but doesn’t anything worthwhile require some work? Of course it does. And you are well worth every bit of this and more!

Besides, these habits are designed to be sustainable. It’s pretty simple stuff when you think about it. And the payoff ‘in the form of results’ is HUGE! Life-changing in fact.

So, what is our 6th habit? Drum roll please………………

Your 6th healthy habit is…

Calories

I know what you’re thinking – “WTH? Calories aren’t a habit!”.

Okay, you’re right. But stay with me as I explain my thinking here and make it abundantly clear.

Calories play an important role in our lives.

And some people would lead you to believe that it’s only about calories in and calories out – PERIOD.

It’s not! But in a way, it is. However, there’s more to it.

So over the next 4 weeks, we’ll unpack this concept and make it easy to understand, and follow.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in.

Science has proven that a difference in the number of calories consumed vs. the number of calories burned will result in either a loss or an increase in body weight, over time.

It’s indisputable; however, there may be other factors at play.

Calories

My objective for this habit is to increase your awareness about “calories”. And help you incorporate some meaningful healthy disciplines around this important yet misunderstood topic.

I will teach you how to turbocharge your metabolism and turn your body into a fat-burning machine that starts to build lean muscle.

Calories

And this happens when you activate the Health Triad by stoking your metabolic furnace with great nutrition, intense exercise, and adequate sleep.

And it’s all natural…

So stop chasing the latest diets and supplements. Those quick-fix gimmicks only play to your emotions, and are designed to lighten your wallet; not trim your waistline.

Diets are not the answer… even though they’ve been around for years. If they worked, wouldn’t 90% of us be thin?

And it’s not just about going to the gym either. There are plenty of people that exercise every day, yet can’t seem to lose weight.

If this describes you, then break the cycle. If you’ve been dieting and exercising for years, and are frustrated by lackluster results, then GO to the beginning of this program. Commit to 6 months, follow the program, and enjoy your transformation. You can do this!

Now back to this week’s topic.

Let’s begin with some calorie basics.

  1. What’s a calorie?

A calorie is simply a unit of energy. Nutritionally, calories refer to 2 things. Energy “consumption” based on what we eat and drink. And energy “usage” that we burn through physical activity.

  1. Why are calories important?

We need energy (calories) to live. And we acquire this energy directly from the food and drinks we consume. Without this energy, we wouldn’t survive.

  1. How many calories do you need?

We each have a specific number of calories that our bodies require to function properly. Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is a metric that quantifies the actual number of calories your body needs to consume daily, including any calories you burn during exercise and physical activity.

TDEE is calculated by scaling your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR; not BMI) to your level of activity. Your BMR is the amount of energy expressed in calories that your body needs to function at rest.

But don’t try to calculate this manually. There are plenty of good online calculators. Click here for a TDEE calculator.  And if you’d like to calculate your BMR separately, click here.

Your TDEE calculation is the first step in identifying the number of calories you need to consume every day. And remember, as your weight, age, and activity level changes, so does your TDEE.

But there’s one thing I don’t want you to calculate. That’s your body mass index (BMI). In my opinion, BMI is an inaccurate, ridiculous statistic that means nothing. So I want you to forget about it.

  1. What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the main components of our diet. Macronutrients perform vital functions and supply our bodies with energy (aka calories). The 3 main types of macronutrients our bodies need include protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Calories

  1. Calorie math.

Let’s take a closer look at how these add up.

  • Protein contains 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram
  • Fat contains 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram*

*Alcohol is obviously not a macronutrient because it is not necessary for survival. But it does provide energy, and the calories do add up. In the United States, a standard drink (which is defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) contains 14 grams of pure alcohol. So, at a minimum of 98 calories per drink with NO nutritional value, it’s easy to see why alcohol is referred to as “empty calories”.

  1. Quality matters.

Bigtime! As it does with so many things in life, the quality of our food choices makes a big difference. And it’s not only limited to the food we consume. It includes the intensity we put into our exercise. There’s that “calories in – calories out” thing again.

Some best practices:

  1. If you’re trying to lose weight, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to keep a food journal. This will allow you to evaluate what you’re actually eating. Keep it for a week or two.

Track everything you eat and drink by date and time. Also note exactly what you consumed, including the size of your portion or volume of the container. The purpose of the food journal is to simply track everything you consume. Not to judge it or over-think it. You need a point of reference, and there’s no better place to start than where you are today.

Remember, we’re trying to make better choices, to build better habits, which will ultimately develop sustainable disciplines for lasting results and lifelong happiness.

  1. Weigh yourself every morning. As long as you understand that sometimes your weight will fluctuate based on what you did or didn’t do the day before. You may also retain water differently on some days. So don’t be consumed by the number day by day.

The main point about doing this every day (at about the same time and under the same conditions) is for the feedback you receive. That number staring back at you can give you clues about what’s working and what’s not. And that information is invaluable.

  1. Wear a heart rate monitor when you exercise. This will help you measure your exercise intensity and track your actual calorie burn. Go to polar.com for options.

We have only skimmed the surface here. Next week we will continue the discussion, and I’ll share some of my frustration about the health & wellness industry.

CaloriesThank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

There’s An App For That…

You’ve heard it a million times… “There’s an app for that”. Well stay with me, because it applies directly to this week’s theme.

So 10K a day is your new mantra.

And you’re R’acking up the steps. Congratulations!

But how are you T’racking your results and progress?

You know the saying, so say it along with me.

There’s an app for that…

As we discussed last week, there are plenty of apps for iPhone and Android to track your steps. And if you’re an iPhone user, the built-in Health app is incredible for tracking your step count.

But it doesn’t only track your daily step count (automatically), it retains all of your recorded data from Day 1.

Track

For example, in the fitness category, you can also track your active energy (calorie burn), minutes exercised per day, number of workouts, and a few other key metrics.

Aside from the step data, the data for the other fitness categories needs to be entered manually. This info is “tracked” and displayed on a dashboard. And represented visually in graph format based on the time frame of your choice – by Day, Week, Month, or Year.

In addition to tracking your steps, you may find a few other apps useful during your walks.

Here are four of my favorites:

  1. Audible: It’ impossible to read when you’re walking briskly, working out intensely, or driving. I use those times to listen to audio books. For about $15 a month you can get an Audible subscription and continue feeding your mind. If you like reading, it’s a way to maximize your reading time. If you don’t like to read, give it a try. You may take a liking to listening to audio books.
  2. Podcasts: Another great source for learning while you’re on the go. And it’s free. You can follow your favorite thought leaders and listen to their content based on your
  3. Music: Sometimes you just want to listen to music or need some motivation to put a little spring in your step.
  4. Your calendar: I do some of my best thinking during a walk. And I want to capture those thoughts. So instead of slowing down to type, I dictate my thoughts into a new calendar event, which allows me to remember the idea when I’m done or at a later time.

And of course, there are other ways to track your step count in addition to using your smartphone. From high-tech pedometers, fitness bands and smartwatches.

Perhaps this will help to put tracking in perspective for you:

“What gets measured gets managed.” ~ Peter Drucker

Or put another way, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”.

TrackThe most important point here is to get moving.

Then, “measure” your activity and “track it” with an app or a device.

On another note,

I recently improved my work habits by going to a standing desk, which I love. And there’s huge a side benefit.

Although it doesn’t count for steps, this one move can improve my cardiovascular health by helping me stay “less” sedentary.

Recent research claims that even if you exercise regularly, sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy for a number of reasons.

Here are a few articles on the subject:

“Don’t be a ‘sitting duck for cardiovascular disease’ — move more, sit less,” ~ Dr. Barbara George, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

If you want to get a handle on how much time your daily sitting is adding up to, check out this sitting calculator. And pay close attention to the notes, which I’ve included in the image below.

Track

‘Nuf said. Now it’s time to go get some more steps…

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Can You Give Me 10,000?

I need your help please. Can you give me 10,000?

I’m not asking you to write a check. But I won’t stop you if you feel so inclined…

It’s Month #5 and we’re launching our next habit – walking.

10,000 steps

Walking has been proven to be a healthy habit. Something we need to be doing all the time. Our bodies are powerful and resilient. And we’ve got to keep moving to remain healthy, vibrant and strong.

Walking is low impact. But it’s great exercise in so many ways.

For example:

  1. At a brisk pace, walking strengthens your legs and core.
  2. It gets your heart rate up. So it aids in circulation and breathing.
  3. And helps to clear your head. Personally, I do some of my best thinking and problem-solving when I’m on a walk (next best place is the shower).
  4. And if it’s sunny, you get to boost your Vitamin D production. Just remember the sunscreen.

Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends 10,000 steps per day (aka “10K a day”). And he’s not the only one.

10,000 steps

By the way, logging 10,000 steps is no small feat. You’ve got to be deliberate and make time for it. Otherwise you will struggle to get anywhere close to hitting that goal every day.

Let’s clarify a few things.

I’ve created this brief Q&A to help you get started with your new walking habit.

(Q1).   What counts as a step?

(A1).   Everything. But as with most things, quality matters. The faster or brisker your pace, the better. We are all at different fitness levels. And you will know when the steps you’re taking are meaningful, and when they’re not. Regardless, find a way to get to at least 10K a day!

(Q2).   How do I track my daily step count?

(A2).    The easiest way is with your smartphone. Or you can use a pedometer, fitness band / activity tracker, or smartwatch.

(Q3).   How do I track my progress?

(A3).    Your smartphone. As an iPhone user, I use the built-in Apple Health app. It automatically tracks your step activity, as long as your phone is with you when you’re moving. It also displays your “daily average” steps on a dashboard. Plus, a whole lot more health-related data. There are plenty of health-related apps on the Android. I’m just not aware of an all-inclusive one like the iPhone offers at this time.

(Q4).   Why 10,000 steps?

(A4).    Well first off, 10,000 steps equates to approximately 5 miles. Based on my research, I discovered that 10,000 began as an arbitrary number. It was originally created as a promotion by a Japanese pedometer company. But since that time, studies have confirmed that 10,000 appears to be the sweet spot where people lose weight and gain control of their health & wellness.

This article is packed with useful information about activity, ways to increase your step count, and top picks for pedometers, fitness bands, and smartwatches.

Will you commit to 10K a day?

10,000 steps

I hope so.

Just don’t do what I did last May, and you’ll avoid making a similar bonehead mistake. Click here to learn what ‘not’ to do.

This one incident set me back a few months, while the pain lingered for at least 6. But it’s a valuable lesson and I am happy to pass it on. So remember to leave the light on.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

You Are Here

Where do you appear on the “You Are Here” map in your life?

Influence

I know, this is an ambiguous question. You could be thinking about your career, relationships, or financial situation.

You may not be considering your health & wellness in this context, though. But I am, so let me be more specific

I’d like to explore your “unknown” future together. So YOU can see what YOU have to look forward to.

And know where the current path is leading you?

…based on the choices you’re making, the habits you’re building, and the disciplines you’re developing?

I know what you’re thinking… “You can’t predict the future”. And in some ways, I would have to agree with you. You’re right!

But here’s where I have to respectfully disagree with that thinking. You may not be able to predict the future, but you certainly have the control to influence your future.

But here’s the question. Are you going to influence your future in a good or a bad way?

There’s that “compound effect” phenomenon again. Thanks Darren!

It’s like the Energizer Bunny. Always working, whether you realize it or not. And “still going”.

Hopefully, today’s choices are setting you up for an active lifestyle, with great health and happiness, well into the future.

Otherwise, you could be startled to find yourself facing the Grim Reaper around some dark corner when you least expect it.

And you know what he’s known for.

Right! Death, destruction, and ultimate sadness.

Influence

So I have to ask, what’s around the corner for you in the next year?

Is that number on the scale (looking back at you) where you want it to be? And is it representative of your current choices?

What about your overall health, including how you look and feel?

Good or bad, can you see how the choices you’ve made over the past year are compounding for or against you?

How about looking down the road, like at the next 5, 10, or 20 years?

Want to look out even further? I do!

The long-term effect of consistently making bad choices is where the Grim Reaper begins to rear its ugly head. These unhealthy habits eventually morph into some nasty diseases and conditions like:

  • A heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity due to consistent weight gain
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Depression
  • And early preventable death

Bad stuff we each have control over delaying, preventing, or avoiding. So don’t wait until it’s too late!

NOW is the time to influence your future.

Just like saving, investing, and contributing to our retirement accounts when we’re younger will ensure an enjoyable and gratifying retirement. You are saving for your retirement, right?

That’s a different topic, but the same is true about our future health and well-being. We need to make deposits into our “health” account now, if we expect to influence our longevity in a positive way.

None of us are getting any younger. And just like retirement savings, healthy aging doesn’t happen by accident! I don’t care how good your genes are.

We are 3 months into our 6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality program. I hope you are learning and benefiting from this valuable content. It’s based on a few proven and sustainable habits that can be easily incorporated into your busy life.

In fact, I’d like to give a shout out to my pilot group. I’m running a small 6 Pillars “pilot” program with about 20 students that includes private group coaching.

Influence

And I’m happy to report that everyone is benefiting. Although each person has different goals, we are seeing fantastic results as new healthy habits are being built and maintained!

Kudos and congratulations to each of you! Keep working hard.

Your consistent efforts will continue to pay off and compound into massive results that will last a lifetime!

If you need to catch up, you can link back to the first 3 Pillars here:

Next week we will launch into our 4th Pillar. And this habit is at the top of my Health Triad, which is fully integrated with nutrition.

I hope you are as eager and hungry to dig into this one as I am!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Harness The Power

It’s time to learn “how to” harness the power.

Power napLet’s stop and do a quick energy check.

 

First off, what time of day is it?

Now think about your energy level on a scale of 1 to 10.

Are you feeling refreshed, alert and ready to be productive? How about energized and creative?

Or would you instead describe yourself as worn out? Exhausted and unable to focus on the task at hand? And feeling a bit sleepy?

Towards the end of the day, the latter usually happens to most of us.

Some of this depends on:

  • the type of work you do;
  • the amount of sleep you logged the night before; and
  • your activity level and physical condition.

But none of us are super-human, despite what we may think sometimes. And most of us are dealing with some level of stress.

It’s not an excuse, it’s just reality.

So we need to do everything possible to ensure that we are showing up as our best “selves”. Whenever possible.

We all know the importance of getting 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. But sometimes that’s not possible.

Yet even when we do get enough sleep, hectic work schedules and life can demand more from us than we have to give.

It’s at these times when we can help ourselves by “plugging in” and taking a short power nap.

Power nap

Here’s what some of the experts have to say:

  • Wikipedia: A power nap is a short sleep which terminates before the occurrence of deep sleep or slow-wave sleep (SWS), intended to quickly revitalize the subject.
  • WebMD: A power nap will boost your memory, cognitive skills, creativity, and energy level.
  • “Daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation”, says Sara C. Mednick, PhD, sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping,” she says. “You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”
  • According to David Radcliffe, Vice President of Google’s Real Estate & Workplace Services says “No workplace is complete without a nap pod. We found that the five-minute to 15-minute power nap works on Sunday before you watch the football game, so why not here at work?”
  • Best-selling author Michael Hyatt says “The secret to becoming more productive is not managing your time but your energy.”

“I love a good nap. Sometimes it’s the only thing gettin’ me out of bed in the morning.”

~ George Costanza

 

Power nap

It’s unfortunate that napping carries such a negative stigma. Like you’re lazy, unmotivated, or just wasting time. Thanks George!

But nothing could be further from the truth (in most cases).

I also think that meditation can sometimes provide us with the refreshing benefits similar to those we gain from a power nap. Click here to link back to last week’s post.

A power nap can make you more alert and productive. Otherwise, you could find that You’re Sleeping Your Life Away.

There is plenty written about power naps. And so my goal is to bring more of an awareness to it. Helping you realize the value, benefits, and even the necessity of making time for them whenever possible.

Power nap

I’d like to share some articles and resources:

  1. wikiHow – How To Power Nap: http://www.wikihow.com/Power-Nap
  2. Business Insider – How To Take The Perfect Power Nap At Work: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-take-the-perfect-power-nap-at-work-2014-4
  3. Huff Post – How To Power Nap For All-Day Energy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/15/power-nap-all-day-energy_n_5798256.html
  4. Prevention – The Weird Benefit of Power Naps: http://www.prevention.com/health/sleep-energy/how-your-brain-benefits-power-nap
  5. Great article by Michael Hyatt – 5 Reasons Why You Should Take A Nap Every Day: http://michaelhyatt.com/why-you-should-take-a-nap-every-day.html
  6. And how about a little humor? Laughter is very good for us. Here’s a hilarious short clip from Seinfeld – Season 8, Episode 18: The Nap – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W__qCFWi1KA

So what do you think? Have you benefited from power naps in the past? Or have you learned something here that may help you in the future? Your input matters, so leave a comment.

Can you believe it? You’re halfway there. We have just completed our 3rd Pillar.

I know firsthand that many of you are doing great, and due to your efforts, you’re reaping many benefits from this program.

Power nap

Stay with me. Your efforts are compounding and you’re seeing positive changes. It’s only a matter of time before massive results begin to materialize.

So keep drinking plenty of water, make time for exercise, and find a way to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. This consistency will continue to accelerate your success.

And stay tuned… you’re going to love next month’s Pillar. It’s the foundation for getting to and maintaining your ideal weight.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure

If you want to build a new habit, you need to reinforce it. I have found the best way to do this is with a simple technique called “tracking”. And this powerful technique is proven by the simple fact that you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Tracking

In today’s post, we’ll discuss how you can start leveraging this valuable tool. But more on this in a minute.

I also have an exercise tip from my friend and Certified Personal Trainer, Ron Bove in The Trainers Corner.

This month’s habit is exercise. And so far, we’ve covered the 2 primary types – strength and cardio training. We’ve also discussed the impact that exercise intensity can have on our results.

As you strive to reach your exercise goals, one day at a time

You’ll find that you have:

  • More energy.
  • Better focus.
  • Greater strength and stability.
  • A desire to move more.
  • Increased endurance during exercise and throughout your day.
  • The ability to manage stress better.
  • A lower resting heart rate.
  • Better quality sleep.
  • And a new outlook on life!

Building on our healthy exercise habit, this week I would like to explore the benefits of a valuable tool that I mentioned above. But don’t worry, I am not trying to sell you a new gadget.

This tool costs you nothing, yet will help you accomplish SO much. It will keep you motivated as you begin to see results in this 6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality program.

And hey, you may already be using it to some degree.

What is it?

It’s called “tracking”.

Tracking brings your choices, decisions, habits, and behaviors to your conscious awareness by allowing you to see what you are currently doing, or not doing.

Equally as important, tracking helps you micro-manage the things you want to start, stop, or continue doing.

And this impacts your results – bigtime!

How freakin’ cool is that?

Tracking

Here’s an example of how I’ve used tracking.

For the past 20 years, I have worn a heart-rate monitor during my workouts. I did this so I could measure and track my calorie burn. And that’s because calorie burn was an important metric that helped ensure that I was meeting or exceeding one of my goals.

I’m still tracking my calorie burn, but to a lesser degree because I’ve got a good handle on that metric. Other things I’m tracking at the moment include my daily water intake, sleep, and weekly exercise.

But here’s the main point I want to pass on.

If you are serious about a goal (and why wouldn’t you be), you should be tracking the key behaviors that will help you achieve that goal. And if your goal is to lose 30 pounds by July 1st, then pick ONE important element to measure. And start tracking it immediately!

Let’s look at some key behaviors that you can track based on a weight-loss goal.

  • Your daily steps.
  • Your daily calorie intake.
  • The number of times you exercise every week.
  • The number of calories burned during exercise.
  • The type of exercise performed (strength or cardio).
  • The number of miles you walked or ran.
  • The number of hours you sleep every night.
  • The number of times you say NO to dessert.

Some of these metrics can translate into data that will become the daily and weekly next steps of your longer-term goal.

This is key!

But make it easy on yourself.

Track one thing for the next month. After you build that habit, you can add a second key behavior to track. Which is exactly what we’re doing in this program.

Just don’t fall into the trap of tracking everything at once.

It may seem exciting for the first week. But it will quickly become a monotonous chore that you will eventually despise. And then stop doing altogether.

So make it a habit that’s simple. One that you will want to maintain.

And tracking with your smartphone is a great way to start.

Tracking

For example, iPhone users have the built-in “Health” app. The dashboard feature makes it so easy to enter and view the information you want to start tracking.

Visually, you can see your progress. And it’s all stored in one place.

For Android users, check out the Google Fit or S Health apps. Or do a search in the Google Play store to research any new apps.

So what’s my tip for this week? Start tracking.

Measure and track one key behavior that will help you accomplish your annual health & wellness goal.

What’s the ONE key behavior you’ll start tracking?

For additional help, check out these 2 posts on tracking:

Along with these valuable resources from Darren Hardy:

And if you’re interested in tracking your exercise calorie burn, then I highly recommend you check out Polar heart rate monitors. Unlike the Fitbit or other fitness trackers, Polar heart rate monitors are better for tracking calories burned (in my opinion).

Why?

Because you’re measuring calories burned during exercise only. Our bodies burn calories all day long. When we are walking, talking, eating, sitting… Even sleeping.

And I’m not interested in tracking something that happens naturally and automatically. Especially when I’m in a resting state.

TrackingI prefer tracking something that I’m doing incrementally that is positively impacting my good health. And that’s exercise.

So I track it!

What do you think? Will you give “tracking” a try? I sure hope so.

Before we end this post, I want to introduce you to my friend Ron Bove. I’ve asked Ron to provide a brief piece this week on exercise.

The Trainers Corner:

by Ron Bove

Try This All-in-One Combination Exercise
A side-step squat with wood chop works your arms, torso, abs, back, legs, thighs and butt. Make sure you maintain proper form when doing this exercise. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a 3 to 4-pound medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the ball down toward your left knee, step out with your left leg and bend it no further than 90 degrees, keeping your right leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 10 to 12 reps on one side and then repeat on the other leg.

We’ve covered a lot today.

Next week we’ll wrap up our exercise habit with a topic that will keep you coming back for more. One more post on exercise, and a desire to dive into our 3rd Pillar next month.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

#tracking

Is Cardio Exercise Right For You?

Cardio exercise anyone?

Hopefully you have some muscle soreness that hurts SO good from last week’s strength training sessions. And since we’ve recently launched our second pillar for better health & vitality by adding the healthy habit of exercise to our routine, get used to the feeling.

If it’s new to you and you’re not sure, give it time. This feeling of muscle soreness will become something you’ll look forward to and appreciate in the future.

It’s Month 2, Week 2 of our 6 Pillars program. You’re drinking a lot of water and racking up extra steps from additional trips to the bathroom. And yet you’re still coming back for more.

I commend you on your interest and determination!

You can work through the soreness with another strength training session, which will help to kill the pain, while you integrate some cardio exercise into your next workout.

Cardio exercise anyone?That’s right!

It’s no surprise that cardio is our second type of exercise.

So let’s start by getting clear about what cardio “is”.

Cardiovascular exercise (aka cardio or aerobic exercise) is any exercise that gets your heart rate up, and keeps it elevated for a significant amount of time. Cardio improves fitness by increasing your oxygen intake and heart rate. Cardio exercise promotes increased use of oxygen in order to improve the overall body condition.

According to Wikipedia, aerobic exercise is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.

Aerobic literally means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen” and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper was the first person to introduce the concept of aerobic exercise. In the 1960s, Cooper started research into preventive medicine. He became intrigued by the belief that exercise can preserve one’s health.

Cooper is credited with conducting the first extensive research study on aerobic exercise in the 1960s on over 5,000 U.S. Air Force personnel. In 1970 he created his own institute (the Cooper Institute) for non-profit research and education devoted to preventive medicine. He sparked millions into becoming active and is now known as the “father of aerobics”.

What is considered cardio exercise?

  • Running and walking (briskly) – outside or on a treadmill or elliptical
  • Cycling – outside or on stationary or spin bikes
  • Stair-climbing / stepping – stadium stairs or the newer stair-climbing machines
  • Swimming – known as one of the best exercises you can do
  • Kickboxing, jumping rope, and hitting a heavy bag
  • Dance, including Zumba
  • Games like basketball, soccer, tennis, and the lower intense game of table tennis
  • Hiking and mountain biking

What doesn’t count? I strongly suggest that you avoid the exercise gimmicks that are sold on TV. You know the ones that have great looking fitness models who claim that using this supposed “gadget” is how they got into such great shape, in only 5 minutes a day.

Does anyone believe this?

It’s important to get the heart pumping, the blood flowing, the lungs breathing, and the sweat dripping. I can’t admit to loving my intense cardio sessions while I am at the beginning or even halfway through. But when it’s over I feel great. And it’s that combined feeling of euphoria with a sense of accomplishment and the long-term results that keep me coming back for more.

Cardio exercise anyone?

I firmly believe that intensity matters with exercise. Once your doctor approves you for exercise and you’ve spent a few months building up your strength and endurance, it’s time to add intensity to your strength training and cardio exercise sessions.

As your intensity level increases, the length of time you need to spend exercising can be reduced.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become a popular form of cardio training in recent years. HIIT involves alternating intensity levels during aerobic exercise.

For example, during HIIT, you increase the resistance or your speed for 2 minutes, which increases your intensity and heart rate.

Then you reduce it to a more moderate intensity with less resistance or speed for 1 minute, which helps you recover and slightly reduces your heart rate.

You can do this manually, or by selecting the “interval” option on many of the new cardio exercise machines.

I’d rather spend 30 to 40 minutes at a ‘moderate to high intensity’ level than 60 or more minutes at a lower one. Wouldn’t you?

I personally strive for 2 serious cardio sessions every week, plus 2 to 3 strength. It used to be 3 to 4 cardio sessions and 1 to 2 strength, but I was burning too many calories, which was causing me to lose lean muscle. But losing muscle is not the goal, so I changed the ratio.

I also incorporate cardio exercise into my strength training sessions. I do this with a heart-pounding 10 to 15-minute warm-up before lifting. Or 5 to 15 minutes of rope. And sometimes I’ll squeeze in a few sets of hitting the heavy bag, which elevates the heart rate.

And by incorporating “super-sets” when I lift, I’m automatically including cardio into my strength training sessions.

Super-sets are a way to maximize your time by performing 2 or more different exercises of different muscle groups with very little to no rest in between.

For example, one super-set could consist of a set of bench presses, bar curls, dumbbell fly’s, and reverse curls without resting between each exercise. You rest when you’re done with those 4 different exercises. Then you do it again for a couple more sets.

The alternative would be one set of bench presses and rest. A second set of bench presses and rest. A third set of bench presses and rest. Next, a set of bar curls and rest…

You get the point. A lot of resting and wasted time when you could be doing something else.

Although we introduced strength training last week, the point here is to illustrate how super-setting can add a cardio component to your strength training sessions by keeping your heart rate up. In my book, that’s another form of intensity that makes a difference!

Zumba has become a popular cardio routine for the ladies. I can’t personally comment on the benefits of Zumba because I have never participated in a class. But from what I’ve seen, I’m not convinced that you’re going to burn a lot of calories.

However, if it’s fun and gets you moving, then it’s a good thing to include in your workouts. As long as it’s not the only thing you do. Add a couple strength training sessions and other forms of cardio to the mix and you’ll be happy with the long-term results.

Spin on the other hand, will burn a lot of calories. When you adjust the resistance and change your speed, and go at it with intensity, you’ll have an invigorating, heart-pumping session that leaves you drenched and satisfied. It’s a great leg workout too.

My go to cardio workout is the Octane elliptical. The “interval” option mixes 2 minutes of higher resistance which kicks up the intensity, with 2 minutes of lower resistance.

This is a form of HIIT mentioned earlier. The reduced resistance gives you time to catch your breath and bring your heart rate down a couple ticks before it’s time to kick it up again.

It’s a great workout that burns a lot of calories in a 35-minute session when you really go for it.

Cardio exercise anyone?

I’d like to re-emphasize a point I made last week.

You should seriously consider hiring a personal trainer. Especially if exercise is new to you. Or of you’re out of shape and it’s been a while since you’ve exercised. Even if it’s only for a few sessions.

Or at a minimum, ask the gym staff for assistance and recommendations. These men and women are trained professionals who can help you identify the right exercises based on your fitness level and goals.

You’ll learn how to use machines that may seem foreign or complex, and how to perform new exercises while executing proper form.

I found this fact interesting and wanted to share: 1kg of muscle burns 50 extra calories a day, whereas 1kg of fat burns just 3 calories a day. More proof that lean muscle is your friend.

Let me see if I can help you understand the value of cardio by ending this post with a list of (some of) the benefits.

Cardio exercise:

  • Increases energy
  • Strengthens your heart
  • Improves lung capacity and strengthens your lungs
  • Boosts metabolism, burns calories, and helps you lose weight
  • Helps reduce stress
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Reduces LDL bad cholesterol, and boosts HDL good cholesterol

If you haven’t started your exercise program, you need to, while you continue to reinforce your water habit. Remember, we’re deliberately building one habit at a time. There are only 6, and we’re on number 2. Find a way to weave these into your day. It’s up to you to make it happen!

Congratulations to Scott Compher! Scott is a member of our 6 Pillars “pilot” program who lost 10 pounds during our first month.

Evidence that small changes can make a BIG difference if you do the work. If you stay committed and focused on your goal by building these 6 habits, your results will show up too…

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Exercise For Longevity

Welcome to Pillar 2! This week we introduce the second healthy habit of our program – exercise. If you participated in Habit 1, I’d like to congratulate you for completing this first vital habit.

Habits help you exercise for longevity

In case you’re just joining us, we are launching 6 healthy habits to help you get into the best shape of your life. One new habit every month, from January to June.

You can link back to the first habit here.

But you may be wondering…

“One habit per month? Why are we taking it so slow?”

Here’s why

Habits can be difficult to develop, especially when life gets in the way. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to succeed. By giving you the gift of focus and time to reinforce each new habit.

For month 2 we will add exercise to your routine. It’s an essential part of your healthy lifestyle.

In addition to making you look and feel great, you will become stronger and leaner when you exercise for longevity.

I’d also like you to consider the additional benefits. Exercise will

  • burn fat and build muscle.
  • reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • improve your heart and cardiovascular functions.
  • increase blood flow to your brain and improve cognition.
  • prevent heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • strengthen bones and improve balance as you age.
  • prevent or reverse nasty diseases like type 2 diabetes.
  • improve your focus, creativity, and productivity.
  • get you into fantastic shape, if done right.
  • help you lose or maintain weight.
  • reduce anxiety and depression.

And the benefits of exercise don’t stop here.

The two primary forms of exercise that we will cover include strength and cardio training. This week’s focus will be on the strength part. Strength-training (aka resistance training or weight lifting) becomes even more important as we age.

It’s been proven that our muscles, bones, circulatory and respiratory systems all benefit from strength-training. But despite this fact, not enough people include it in their weekly exercise routine.

Reasons vary but include limited knowledge of what to do, a lack of discipline, and a concern about becoming too bulked up with big muscles. Like this guy…

Why does Arnold exercise for longevity

Ok, so I have to ask. Was this your first thought when I mentioned strength-training? Were you afraid you would bulk up like Arnold?

Be honest…

Take a deep breath. Relax. And don’t worry. You will never look like this. Even if you spent 3 hours a day in the gym, 6 days a week.

So let’s eliminate that concern right up front. Unless it’s your goal and you consume large amounts of performance enhancing drugs.

Otherwise, you don’t have to worry. Go train hard with confidence.

If you’re new to exercise, body weight exercises like the ones covered in the Accelerate Your Weight-Loss post can become your initial workout for the first month or two as you acclimate your body to exercise, based on your fitness level.

It’s best to take it slow in the beginning.

You will also need to change the order of these 6 exercises to suit your muscle groups better.

For example, start with push-ups. Then move to squats, mountain climbers, lunges, planks, and high knee pull-downs. And then go for at least 3 sets.

During the first month, you should not be concerned with intensity, or results. Instead, shift your focus to learning the exercises and practicing good form.

After you graduate to weights, you can perform one set of this “accelerate your weight-loss” routine as your pre-workout warmup.

Exercise for longevityAfter the first month or two, your strength-training routine will continue to target the major muscle groups including your legs, chest, back, shoulders, arms, and core.

I strongly suggest that you hire a certified personal trainer (CPT) at your local gym. Especially if strength-training is new to you.

CPT’s possess the skills to help people with different physical abilities and fitness levels by customizing the right exercises that enable you to achieve maximum results.

In addition, the one-on-one interaction ensures that you’re learning the proper technique and doing the exercises in good form. Even if it’s only for a few sessions.

Tom Venuto, former bodybuilder and best-selling author suggests using dumbbells when you’re just starting out. Dumbbells are easy to handle and you can use them in the gym or at home.

Dumbbells encourage equal development on each side of your body, and they’re safer. Especially if you’re training alone. I personally include them in my strength-training sessions.

Burn the fat feed the muscle teaches you to exercise for longevity

By the way, I highly recommend his book Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle if you want to get in shape, the natural way through exercise and good nutrition.

Not only is Tom an expert in his field, he offers great insight and devotes a section to specific exercises in his 28-day plan. You’ll learn about the 10 biggest weight training myths, and how weight training helps you get leaner.

So let’s recap.

  • This month’s healthy habit is exercise.
  • This week’s homework involves starting a strength-training plan.
  • If you are new to exercise, spend the first month or two getting your body acclimated by doing body-weight exercises. Click here for suggestions.
  • After your first month or two of body-weight exercises, it’s time to start strength-training with weights. Preferably with dumbbells, 2 to 3 days per week.
  • Refer to Tom Venuto’s 28-day plan (TNB-28) in Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle.
  • You should hire a certified personal trainer (CPT) to match your physical abilities and fitness level with the right exercises.
  • And there’s no need to be intimidated by big muscles or physically fit people. You have your own goals and abilities. Focus on what you want! And work towards achieving it.

Disclaimer: Whenever starting a new exercise plan or nutrition program, you should always consult a doctor.

And finally, here’s a brief list of resources to help you exercise for longevity:

In the meantime, keep reinforcing your water habit by drinking more water as you begin to exercise for longevity.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.