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March 31, 2016

IF – Intermittent Fasting, Alisha’s Journey

After talking about Intermitting Fasting (IF) last week in our video, I just wanted to share with everyone some of the things I have learned about it and how I’m using it to get back to where I want to be, from a body image standpoint.

First off, this is not for everyone, and I would do your research to make sure this is right for you, we are not experts but just sharing with you what we have learned and what we do. If you have any questions or concerns, you should consult a medical professional.  With that being said, here’s what I found, I love me some research!  I started reading the pros and cons of IF and the health benefits, yes I said health benefits and a lot of the information I’m going to share is from the book “The Wild Diet” by Abel James.  For those that are not familiar with Abel, he was one of the trainers on the ABC show, “My Diet is Better than Yours” that aired for four weeks in January 2016. Shaun T was the host of that show, so you know we had to watch. Shaun became friends with him and thought highly of him, so we were like, “Ok if Shaun likes him, he’s probably a smart guy.”

Abel talks a lot about fasting and IF in particular, I was immediately interested in his plan because it sounded like something I could do without starving myself and you get to eat MEAT!!!!!  So far from his book I have learned a lot about food and ingredients in food, which can be a later blog post, but here’s what he says about fasting.  He also warns that it is not for everyone, but if you want to try it, you should.  Most people are trained to eat breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner and sometimes a bedtime snack.  Abel teaches you how eating a “feast” at dinner, with dinner being your largest meal, and not eating again for 16 hours helps your body burn fat, build lean muscle and help you function better.  So if you eat at 7 pm, you would not eat again until 11 am the next day, if you eat at 8 pm you would eat at 12 pm the next day, you get the point.  In that 16 hours of “fasting” your body taps into growth hormones, which boost your metabolism, build muscle, and slows aging.  You sleep through most of the 16 hours, so it makes it a little easier.  It’s ok to have coffee in the morning but you’re supposed to watch what you put in your coffee, the added sugar and creamer are not doing you any favors.  We use stevia and some research we found says you can use a little bit of creamer but not much.  Abel recommends whole fat creamer or raw butter.  Todd and I like the stevia or whole fat creamer (but again, not much!).  Make lunch your first meal with fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and healthy fats and then have your “feast” at dinner with protein, carbs and veggies and then fruit for dessert.  Basically during the 8 hour period, you’re getting your 2-3 meals in for the day.

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I have been fasting for the 16 hour period and the first few days were an adjustment.  You have to listen to your body if your stomach is just growling, drink some water, but if you start to feel light-headed or dizzy, and brain fog sets in, then you might want to eat a small snack like fruit or nuts until you get used to fasting.  If you have a bad sugar addiction, you may want to ween yourself off the sugar some before you start, or Abel says you could have a rough adjustment.

After the 16 hours is up and I’m in my “eating window”, I’ve been using the 21 Day Fix portion containers to plan out my meals and food categories, that way everything stays simple.  I am not afraid to eat my carbs (2 yellow containers for me) at my evening “feast” because I will sleep better and it will give me the fuel to make it 16 hours until my next meal.  We were always told, and I repeated to a lot of you, that you shouldn’t eat carbs (or your yellow containers) at dinner, well with IF, that’s not true.  You need the carbs to get you through the next 16 hours.  What we’ve found in Abel’s book is that your body actually burns what you ate for dinner the night before, in the morning the next day for energy.  He says people always thing Breakfast is what gets you going, but he says “not true”.  According to him, whatever you eat, your body doesn’t actually use for energy for 6-8 hours.  So the breakfast you are eating now, isn’t burned off until later in the afternoon or end of the workday.  The 16 hour fast, causes your body to use fat and what’s in storage for energy and uses the “feast” from the night before for energy.

I have also been working out during my 16 hour fast (usually in the morning) which helps drop fat as quick as possible, boost production, gain muscle and improve recovery.  So you could try working out in the morning, cutting out breakfast and start with lunch and see what happens.  Abel talks about how it’s good to eat your first meal right after you workout, so on days when I’m home, I try to workout later in the 16-hour window and then eat.  I think Todd and I were both nervous about working out on an empty stomach and having the energy to do it, but so far it’s been great.  You are allowed to use your pre-workout, so that helps!

So far, I am down 3 pounds, but most importantly my waist is getting smaller.  If you watched the video, I did where I talk about my body image issues that’s where I struggle, in my mid-section and I already see results there.  Todd and I both are, the bloating is gone and gone quickly.  We’re very conscious of what we eat during our 8 hours, and yes we do have dessert sometimes, in fact, we pretty much do 85/15 or 90/10 during those 8 hours, and so far the results are good.

That’s it for today; we’ll keep posting and talking about this as we learn more and see more results.  I’m also going to blog about what I’ve learned from Abel about food and what we’re now buying and not buying anymore.

January 10, 2016

The 8-Week Transition Diet

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Transition diets are one of the easiest ways to become a healthier eater.

I’ve been doing them since the ’80s and, in fact, one of the first articles I ever wrote for Beachbody, in January 2001, was a 6-week transition plan. They’re not only great for first-time dieters but are also great for any time you feel like cleaning out your system after a period of slacking off. That’s why I do a variation of this plan almost every year. Here’s my latest creation.

It’s often said that no one diet works for every individual. While this is true, you may have noticed that all Beachbody eating plans target a similar goal: Eat more natural, whole foods and less junk. That’s because there are no secrets to healthy eating. There are strategies that can lead to various performance benefits, but 99% of the goal of eating healthy is to minimize junk and get your diet to consist of real food (you know, the stuff nature makes). With this in mind, our Beachbody nutrition guides use various strategies, all designed to lead you to the same place.

While those nutrition guides tend to be detailed, the 8-Week Transition Diet is for those of you who want simple. Outside of a small list of what you can’t eat, you’re free to chow down on anything. How hard can that be? You should also find that by making your transition gradually, the road to healthy eating is pretty easy.

 

Week 1

No junk. Eliminate junk food from your diet. That’s it, just junk. Other than this, you can eat whatever and whenever you like. The definition of junk is obvious stuff, like potato chips, candy, ice cream, cake, etc. You may be stricter if you’d like, but for Week 1, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just stay out of 7-Eleven. For many of you, this step alone will reap huge benefits.

Cheat Days: 2. Since no one’s perfect, you get two days to cheat. That’s right, two days where you can eat anything you want! A trick on cheat days is to listen to your body. At first, it’ll probably tell you it wants whatever you’ve been denying it. However, over time, it’ll start to crave nutrients you’re deficient in. Learn to read your body’s subtle signs. If you’re craving ice cream, you may be short on essential fatty acids. If you crave a hamburger, your diet may lack protein. By listening to your body and learning what it really needs in this way, you can make better food substitutions. It’s a way of getting in tune with yourself that will benefit you for your entire lifetime.

Weekly focus: Water. Not swimming in it, though that’s good too, but staying hydrated with it. “They” say you should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, but I say you should drink more. Shoot for a gallon (though don’t worry if you fall short). Yeah, that probably seems crazy but almost all of us walk around dehydrated for most of our lives, which not only hurts the way we function but also makes us hungry when we’re actually thirsty. A glass of water when you feel hunger pangs both staves them off and helps you fill up faster when you do eat. As for other drinks, juices and sugary sodas also (obviously) fall into the junk category. And alcohol should be kept to a minimum. We tend to forget (purposely or not) that alcohol has calories. A lot of them: 7 calories per gram. Mixers can be even worse — not only can they add calories, but these sugary calories influence the way alcohol reacts with your body.

Week 2

Each week’s rules are cumulative, so the “no junk” rule from Week 1 will apply until the end, as will each subsequent week’s rule. Remember that this is a process. Treat it as though you’re in school and the subject is your own body.

Eat small, eat often. Eat every couple of hours while you’re awake and try not to eat anything for about three hours before you go to sleep. Following these rules will keep your blood sugar levels more static and your energy level will stay consistent. Try to keep each snack or meal balanced. Something like a 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat ratio, though you don’t need to worry too much about it. Just realize that you need a bit from each macronutrient group. Eat based on what you’ll be doing for the next few hours (if you’re working out, eat a little more; sitting at a desk, eat a little less). The three-hours-before-bed rule is important, especially for fats and carbohydrates. By allowing time for all the carbs you eat to get into your bloodstream, your body will sleep in fat-burning mode, rather than in calorie-storing mode. This is important because undigested carbs in your stomach at night are stored as adipose tissue (fat).

Cheat Days: 2

Weekly focus: Carbs are not the enemy. Your body needs them, just like it needs proteins and fats. The trick is to choose the right carbs. As a society, we eat too much refined sugar. Complex carbs, like whole-grain breads, whole-grain rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes are outstanding foods. Even fruits, which have simple carbohydrates wrapped in fiber, are exceptionally healthy. While you don’t want a diet based on nothing but carbs, making the right carb choices will maximize your body’s potential. Try to avoid white rice and flours. Read labels, and try to avoid ones that use the word “enriched,” because this means these products have been stripped of their natural nutrients, overprocessed, and then fortified with a few random nutrients.

 

Week 3

Eat some colorful, low-density food at every meal. These are foods that take up a lot of space without a lot of calories. Veggies are the most obvious example. You can eat a salad bowl overflowing with lettuce and veggies and you most likely won’t exceed 100 calories. By eating low-density foods like veggies and fruits, you’ll keep your portions under control naturally, because they have very few calories for their size. Conversely, high-density foods, like chocolate and butter, are loaded with calories in even the smallest amounts. So beware of salad dressings and other things you add to salads and veggies. Only add enough for flavor; don’t fill up on them. When it comes to live foods, the richer the colors, the fresher the products tend to be. Try to eat a variety of colors in your diet. This simple-yet-random-feeling act will help ensure that you’re covering all your nutrient bases.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Protein at every meal. This becomes even more important as you eat more low-density food, because protein tends to be high-density. Many veggies have a lot of protein, but the quantity you must consume starts to become prohibitive. Try to get some protein — meat, dairy, legumes, nuts, or seeds each time you eat, especially when you’re working out hard, because you need to repair broken-down muscle tissue. Since your body can only utilize a certain amount of protein at once, do your best to eat small amounts often (starting to see a theme?). Reading labels is a simple way to learn how to estimate your protein intake. You’ll notice natural foods don’t have labels but once your diet is comprised mostly of these you’ll no longer need them. More on this later.

 

Week 4

Cook at home. One of the best ways to control your eating is to prepare all your meals yourself. Eliminate all fast food (which hopefully happened in Week 1) and most other restaurant food. You may still eat food from certain restaurants where you can be sure of the ingredients (most will be savvy enough to make a point of how healthy their food is). As you may have seen in the news, restaurants tend to use alarming quantities of salt, among other things. This single step will often bring your body closer to homeostasis (its desired state of balance). This can be hard for many of us because we now have to plan our meals and prepare ahead of time, but try to treat it like vocational school — you don’t learn a new “job” without a little retraining.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Fat is essential. Remember that fat is a vital part of your diet, not just something that makes you fat. What is not vital is junk fat in processed foods. Healthy fats come from fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, etc. — natural sources. You need to be careful about the amount of fat you eat because it’s very dense. At 9 calories per gram, it contains more than double the calories of carbs and protein.

 

Week 5

Reduce starchy carbohydrates. Starches include rice, bread, potatoes, corn, beans, and other legumes. While many of these are in no way bad foods, most of us eat too much of them. The goal here is to cut way down on them, if not totally out, and then add them back in when your body feels like it needs energy. This will teach you the relationship you have with carbs. They are vital for energy but eating too many of them leaves us lethargic (and eventually fat). Once you figure this out, your entire relationship with food will change.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Sugar is only beneficial after a hard workout or during a long one. Your body doesn’t need processed sugar. But if you really enjoy it and can’t avoid letting some sneak into your daily diet, the one-hour period after you exercise is the best time to indulge. During this window, your blood sugar is low, because you’ve used it up to finish your workout (assuming you pushed yourself), and eating sugar during this time will help you recover faster because it speeds into your system and initiates the recovery process. Adding a little protein, but not too much, will enhance your recovery even further.

 

Week 6

If man makes it, don’t eat it. This is likely to be the hardest week of your diet. You want to eat only whole foods and eliminate all processed foods, even good ones, for the week. This includes breads, most salad dressings, all cereal, luncheon meats, cheese, dried fruits, anything with preservatives, and alcoholic beverages. What you can eat are whole foods such as fruit, raw or steamed vegetables, meat (sans any type of sauce), natural whole-grain rice, poached eggs, etc. Since your eating habits have been slowly changing, this shouldn’t be that big a shock to your system, but it will still likely be hard. Try and get creative. There are now many raw and whole food “cook” books that can help keep you entertained.

Cheat Days: 1. The “cheat day” mentality is a good one. Decadent desserts, a night at the buffet, drinking with friends, etc., can be good for you as long as they are rewards and not habits. Studies proving this have been steadily appearing for about as long as we’ve been studying things. All work and no play does, indeed, make Jack a dull boy.

Weekly focus: Nuts and seeds make great snacks. A handful of raw almonds or cashews is a quick and easy snack that goes a long way. Don’t be put off by the high fat count of nuts, because this means it takes fewer of them to satiate you. Nuts and seeds are loaded with important phytonutrients, as well as good fats, proteins, and fiber.

Week 7

Be yourself. No rules — just try and eat as healthily as you can and do it by feel. Trusting yourself might seem like a lot of responsibility, but by now you’ll be up to it. Learning to eat by feeling what your body needs is an important step in your transformation. Consider the way you’ve been eating over the last six weeks, but don’t worry about what you should and shouldn’t do. Just fuel yourself. The point is to take a mental break. Relax and allow yourself to eat in a way that feels normal. You may be surprised to find yourself craving something healthy instead of a candy bar or soda. You’ll be better at listening to your body because it’ll tell you what it needs to eat, as opposed to what you’re used to eating. Your body should feel somewhat transformed.

“Reward for a Life Well Lived” Days: 1

Weekly focus: If you’re so hungry at night that you can’t sleep, try a protein shake. A recent study confirmed what’s been a focus of this diet for two decades; that protein before bed can raise amino acid activity for a full night of rest.

 

Week 8

Eat a perfect diet. Let’s get after it. No one is better able to tell you what you should eat than you. Our bodies are all different, and the key to your own perfect diet is learning about how your body reacts to different foods under different circumstances. Your journey over the last seven weeks should have brought you to a new understanding of how food affects your body, both for good and for bad. The time has come to test it. See how well you can eat for a week. In fact, see how well you can eat for the rest of your life. Live and enjoy.

Reward Days: 1, of course!

Weekly Focus: Don’t bonk. Bonking is a state when your body runs out of blood sugar and glycogen for energy. If you feel like your workouts are going backward instead of forward, this is a likely culprit. Use your energy level as your gauge. As soon as it starts to drop, start adding carbs back into your diet until you feel energized all day long. When you feel energized during your workouts and the rest of the day, you’ll know you’ve found the right balance between carbs and other nutrients. Also, remember that as your body puts on more muscle, you will need to eat more. Muscle weighs much more than fat, so as you gain muscle and lose fat, your body shrinks without losing weight. You will also require more calories in order to maintain your muscle. So, when you’re working out hard, don’t be afraid to eat more carbs than you do otherwise.

January 10, 2016

Five of the Best Exercises for Burning Fat

When it comes to dropping pounds, most people go about it precisely the wrong way: They underestimate the importance of diet, and overestimate the power of cardio. Jogging, bike riding (not to be confused with cycling), and other low-intensity exercises can benefit your heart, lungs, and mood, but they’re the scenic routes to a smaller waist. Reams of studies agree: The cardio-emperor has no clothes (and frankly, he’s looking a little chubby.)

To burn fat, you need a smart, nutrient-dense diet and a workout program that’s packed with exercises that target as many muscle groups as possible. You’ll find five of those exercises—picked by a handful of the nation’s top trainers—on this page. So step away from the treadmill, weave these metabolic super-moves to your workout rotation, and watch the fat melt away.

5 Moves for Burning Fat Deadlift

Metabolic Super Move #1: Deadlift
“In the hierarchy of fat loss, resistance training comes right after nutrition, as it has the largest impact on metabolism,” says Craig Rasmussen, C.S.C.S., a trainer at Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California. And no exercise works more “metabolically active tissue” (AKA muscle) than the deadlift, which targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, back, and shoulders. “It’s a true total body exercise, which is exactly what you need when training for fat loss,” says Rasmussen.

Directions: Load a barbell with moderately-heavy to heavy weights and roll it against your shins. Keeping your back flat, push your hips backward, bend your knees slightly, and grab the bar using an overhand grip with your hands just beyond shoulder-width. Drive through your heels, pulling your torso back and up and thrusting your hips forward as you stand up with the bar. Pause, and then slowly lower the bar back to the floor, keeping it as close to your body as you can. Do three sets of 8 to 10 reps.

5 Moves for Burning Fat Sprint Intervals

Metabolic Super Move #2: Sprint Intervals
“It’s easy to spot a sprinter,” says Angelo Poli, ISSA, owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, California. “Even compared to other athletes, they look muscular and lean.” Since you’re working your largest muscle groups (the quads, glutes, and hamstrings) at a near-maximal intensity through a large range of motion, sprinting challenges your fast-twitch muscle fibers like few other exercises. “That’s good news,” says Poli. “Fast twitchers are the fibers with the most potential for both growth and serious fat-burning.”

Directions: Head to the track at your local high school or university. If you’re already fit, run 400 meters (one lap) as fast as you can, and then walk 200 meters. If you’re just starting out, run 200 meters (half a lap) as fast as you can, and then walk 200 meters. Either way, that’s one interval. Do four to eight. Don’t have access to a track? No worries—perform the workout on a smooth even trail, sidewalk, or beach, and measure each interval by time instead of distance. Sprint for 20 to 60 seconds (depending on our fitness level), and then walk for an equal amount of time to complete one interval.

5 Moves for Burning Fat Squat Press

Metabolic Super Move #3: Squat to Press
“Squatting and pressing are both moves that belong in everyone’s workout,” says Rachel Cosgrove, 2012 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and author of The Female Body Breakthrough. The squat to press combines them into a single move, hammering your legs, shoulders, and every muscle in between.

Directions: Hold a pair of dumbbells next to your shoulders and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat, push your hips back and squat down until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, then drive through your heels as you stand up and press the weights straight above your shoulders. Lower the weights to return to the starting position. Do three to four sets of eight to 12 reps.

5 Moves for Burning Fat Sit Through

Metabolic Super Move #4: Sit-Through
“Don’t underestimate the value of moving around on the floor for burning fat,” says powerlifter David Dellanave, owner of The Movement Minneapolis, in the Twin Cities. “The sit-through is surprisingly taxing—you’re supporting your entire bodyweight on all-fours and then moving through a wide range of motion while synchronizing the actions of multiple limbs and muscles.” In short, it taxes your body and challenges every aspect of athleticism: Mobility, strength, power, and coordination.

Directions: Assume a bear crawl position with your back flat and the balls of your feet and palms of your hands on the floor. In one movement, pivot your right foot, reach your right arm above your head, rotate your chest toward the ceiling, and slide your left foot underneath your body until it’s flat on the floor. You should now be sitting with your left leg extended and your right leg bent. Raise your hips, and reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. Repeat to your other side. Continue to alternate sides with each rep. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

5 Moves for Burning Fat Goblet Squats

Metabolic Super Move #5: Goblet Shooter Squat
This innovative squat-lunge hybrid combines one of the best lower-body moves you can do, the squat, with a rotational element that nails your core. “It’s a killer exercise,” says Dellanave. “You get tremendous time under tension, a huge range of motion, and some good mobility work—especially in your hips.” says Dellanave. “It’s a killer exercise.” And its fat loss dividends are worth every drop of sweat equity.

Directions: Grab a dumbbell and hold it vertically in front of your chest, cupping the top end with both hands (imagine it’s a heavy goblet). Set your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat, push your hips back and lower your body until your hips drop below knee-level. Rotate to your right, dropping your left knee to the floor, and then stand up. Reverse the move, lowering your body, rotating back to center, and then standing up. That’s one rep. Repeat the entire sequence, this time rotating to your left and dropping your right knee to the floor. Continue alternating sides. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

December 10, 2015

Day 10: Keep a Food Log

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It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s shockingly effective at helping people eat healthier, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The researchers found that people who recorded everything they ate for a week lost six more pounds than people who didn’t. Don’t bother buying a notebook—smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, and Eatly make recording what you eat easy. All three also sync with third party fitness trackers, helping you gain a more holistic view of your health and daily activity.

How do you keep track of what you eat?

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December 8, 2015

Day 8: Eat an Apple, Then Hit the Supermarket

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You already know the dangers of grocery shopping on an empty stomach. (And if you don’t, take a look at your receipt the next time you shop hungry.) But Cornell University scientists have added a new twist to the classic advice: Eat a piece of fruit before you hit the supermarket. In their study, people who ate an apple before they shopped bought 28 percent more produce than those who had a cookie. They also bought fewer unhealthy items overall. The reason: After eating a healthy snack, your subconscious continues to steer you in the same direction, say the researchers.

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December 2, 2015

Day 2: Keep Each Celebration to One Day

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Go ahead and indulge your cravings. Take a break from working out. But return to your normal diet and exercise program the next morning. A review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the longer it takes you to re-focus on fitness, the more your enthusiasm for it will dim, and the harder it will be for you to get back on track. In short, a day off won’t hurt you, but a week or two off can derail your progress toward your goals. It can also inflate your waist size, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The researchers found that just two weeks of inactivity can increase belly fat by seven percent.

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December 1, 2015

How to Get Into the Fitness Zone

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You may have heard people talk about a runner’s high or being in the zone. Sport psychologists call it flow state, but it all means the same thing: it’s the moment in time when you both feel and perform your absolute best. On average, people can easily access about 65% of their absolute strength. When you get into a flow state, you have the opportunity to push your strength to its absolute threshold. In this state, you’ll jump higher, lift more, reach farther, and hold poses longer – all while loving every minute of it!

The state is the result of your brain releasing five brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters into the body. To easily explore the differences between them, let’s enlist the help of some old friends: The Muppets.

Dopamine most closely resembles Elmo. Enthusiastic, engaged, and always wanting to experience new things, Elmo continues to seek adventure and creativity. Even when he doesn’t have all the skills necessary to do what he wants, he focuses and gets physically energized to perform the best he can.

Norepinephrine can be compared to Animal. This wild drummer is full of intense energy and keeps himself locked on select targets (e.g. the drums) which keeps all other distractions at bay.

For endorphins, we can look to How to Get Into the Fitness Zone Bear, the group’s resident comedian who wants nothing more than to relieve everyone’s pain and produce pleasure with his jokes

Anandamide is Gonzo, that daredevil who takes pride in everything that he does. Gonzo doesn’t often let fear get in his way of experimenting with new acts. In fact, his positive state prepares his body for even the most painful and ill-advised performances.

Lastly, serotonin is the one and only Kermit the Frog, the Muppet everyone calls upon to help them cope with adversity. He’s also good at giving everyone warm and fuzzy feelings long after the show is over, despite being cold-blooded.

When you’re in a flow state, all five of these neurotransmitters act as powerful painkillers and allow you to physically and mentally reach new heights.

Here are three things you can do to help yourself achieve a flow state:

  1. Clear Process Goals. Flow is not about having clear outcome goals such as finishing a workout or losing 10 pounds. It’s about using clear goals to help you stay in the present moment. Before you’re about to perform an exercise, set a clear goal. It could be one more rep, five more seconds, lifting two more pounds, etc. Clear process goals center your mind, narrow your focus, free you from distractions, and create self-confidence.
  2. Get Feedback. The more you know how you’re doing and the faster you can course correct any issues, the greater your chances of finding flow. While performing each exercise, quickly assess your technique and effort. Ask yourself if there is anything you should correct or if you can give more effort. When you can quickly and immediately assess your performance, you can also quickly and immediately figure out if anything needs to be improved for the next set. With this tight feedback loop, you continue to stay in the present moment, feel in control and energized, and believe in your ability to push your limits.
  3. Challenge Yourself. Understand that your attention will be most engaged when you choose an exercise that is just above your current ability level. Tasks that are too challenging elicit fear and self-doubt. Tasks that are too easy make room for distractions.
July 8, 2015

Fitness Funk

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When you read “Fitness Funk”, you may be thinking of that smell that your workout clothes get after about 6 months of working out in them, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Although, putting vinegar in with the detergent will help keep that from happening (just saying).  What I’m talking about with fitness funk is what a I’ve been dealing with since fracturing my arm and losing my uncle. Now that I’m thinking about it, it could be just called “life funk”, which is probably more relatable to most of you.

So what is it?

It’s that time in your life when you just don’t feel like yourself and life’s obstacles seem to be coming at you at 100 mph. It’s also one of the most dangerous places to be. It’s what got most of you into the dark place a lot of you may be in, which led to being where you are now which is unhappy.

Most of the time when we encounter someone overweight or needing to make a change, there’s a lot of “un-happiness” involved that got them there. Whether it’s from overworked and busy life schedule, it all leads down the same slippery slope. It comes with no warning and by the time you realize it’s here, it’s too late to avoid it. My funk has been a little different, when I hurt my arm almost 2 months ago, it has kept me from being able to play tennis and do ANY kind of resistance training. That for me is a bad combination. Working out is a stress reliever for me, tennis has become a love for me, when you take those away it makes Todd a very sad boy. Then you add in the loss of my uncle 2 weeks ago, it gets darker.

So what’s the point in all this?

For starters, we all have funks, it’s what you do with it that counts. It’s whether you wallow in it and let it become a black hole in your life that starts to take up permanent stake in your life, or if you claw and fight your way out of it. For me it made me somewhat depressed and not act like myself around Alisha and I found myself pulling away from the social scene and friends. I’ve been putting on that fake persona with everyone else but knowing something wasn’t right, then a friend of mine told me that when it happens it forces you to examine things and re-focus. So I did.

For me it’s made me appreciate the lifestyle that I live and made me realize how important it is to take care of yourself and stay healthy and prevent injury. It also made me focus on my daughter and wife more and realize how important they are and that I need to make the most of my time with them. It made my dad and I reconnect in the last couple of weeks after losing a brother and an uncle and how much he and I need to appreciate the time we have together. It’s made me realize how important having those things in my life are.

Don’t get me wrong, from a workout standpoint doing strictly cardio workouts has been fine, but it’s boring after a while and it’s not me, it’s not what my body responds to, it’s not what makes me happy and allows me to relieve stress. I talk all the time about finding your “soul” workout (and that was before the whole Soul nickname came to be with Shaun), that workout or type of working out that makes you feel like you’re living in that space where you belong. But I’ve just accepted that there’s things I can’t do until the arm is healed, much like those of you who have to modify feel when you see us or people in the videos doing things you can’t do. It reminds me of how I felt when I was 255 lbs. and couldn’t do a pull up to save my life.

In time things come and patience is a virtue, one I don’t have a lot of. I just want you to know that whatever you’re dealing with in your life, you’re not the only one. It’s easy to look at people and think, “Wow they got it all figured out!”. They don’t. I don’t and neither do you. Nobody does. The ones who pretend they do are the most fake of all. I want you to know that we all struggle with different things at different times, but take comfort in knowing that we are here for you and we get it. As I’m writing this I’m still not 100%, I haven’t been posting in our Challenge Groups on Facebook like I should (because of the withdrawal thing) but Alisha has picked up the load. I’m better than I was a week ago and I’ll be better on Monday when the doctor hopefully releases me and says “GO BE YOU” and I’ll be back! Until then I’m going to remind myself each day that it’s ok to struggle and embrace where you are and live today to the most no matter what.

I’ll make ya a deal, I’ll do it if you will … sound good?

do-more-makes-you-you

June 3, 2015

Self Image, the Good, the Bad and the Critical

You know what I find funny? You think that once you’re in shape that your body image issues go away. WRONG! What else I find funny, is that even fitness professionals like Shaun T have body issues. As he and I have become best friends, he’s taught me a lot about body image, but the most important thing he’s taught me (and he doesn’t even know it) is that by him having body image issues he’s shown me that we ALL deal with it. And it’s ok!

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When I say Shaun has body image issues, I mean that he has those days where he’ll come up to me and ask me “Do I look fat?” When he first asked me that, I wanted to punch him in the face, but then I realized he was serious. To him there are days that he feels fat! To you and me, we would think “Are you serious?”, I’d give almost anything to look like you. Then I had to realize that yes, even fitness professionals have days where they feel fat.

I don’t know why this makes me feel better, except to say that it does and should with you, make you feel NORMAL. So I started talking to Shaun about this and one thing he said that rang so true with me is this:

“When we look in the mirror, our eyes always go to what we hate the most.”

And he’s right. When you look in the mirror, you always see what you don’t like about yourself, not the 10lbs you’ve lost, not the biceps or your calves from your years of running or playing sports … you see the flab (usually on your stomach) or the somewhat double chin or whatever you find to be your trouble area.

Your mind can play some serious tricks on you and you would be surprised at what’s there, that you’re not seeing. What I mean is this: people see us differently then we see ourselves. So many people pay me compliments on my arms, talk about how fit or muscular I am and you know what? I walk away from it not believing it. I will constantly go up to Alisha and say,

“I wish I saw myself the way others see me.”

She always tells me they’re right, but in my mind I still see and feel like the overweight 255lb guy that I was 7 or 8 years ago. It’s crazy…correction it’s STUPID.  I share this because it’s really hard to shake this, Shaun and I both have talked about this and we both go through it … trust and believe.

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Sometimes I go and watch our YouTube videos from years past and think “Man I was fit back then when I first did Asylum!” and then I realize that even then I didn’t appreciate or see myself the way I actually was … fit!

So my question for you is this: Why do we do it to ourselves?

We only have one life to live, why waste it making ourselves feel less than? There are plenty of people out there who will do that for us. Fortunately, we also have people who are there to lift us up, focus on that. Believe in the people and trust them when they say you look amazing.

Ciara is a perfect example, a good friend of ours who has lost a lot of weight since we met her in January and looks amazing!!! I told her the other night how great she looks and she said “Yeah but I still feel fat and don’t like this and don’t like that.” and I realized that she does it too. We all do.

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My point to you is this, you’re going to have days where you feel amazing and days where you feel fat. You’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are either. Learn to live in a space where you can see yourself as you are, amazing and unique.

Celebrate your successes, every pound, every inch counts. It’s all about the journey and you should thrive and live in each day of it. You will hit potholes and you will have stormy days but the good will always outweigh the bad. Remember that you are amazing and never compare yourself to others.

The truth is, we all have different body types. I will never have abs like Shaun does, it’s just not in my genes. But I can be happy with a flat stomach and see it as an amazing accomplishment and live in that! If I beat myself up over something I can’t change, then I’m wasting my time.

Another thing to consider that Shaun taught me, you have to be able to live a lifestyle that you can maintain. Which means if you are super strict and workout really hard to get down to 5% body fat….great! Now ask yourself can you maintain it? You may be able to, but then another person may like to indulge in sweets or alcohol and may only be able to maintain 10-12% body fat and still look amazing. In their minds, they may feel bad because they can’t stay at 5% because of what they like to eat, but they still workout hard, still look amazing and fluctuate between 5% and 10% and get upset! Let me let you off the hook, stop.

Another piece of advice I got from Shaun, live in a space you can maintain. When I was at my leanest and had the best abs I’ve ever had I was super strict with my diet, but in all honesty I can can’t maintain it. So Shaun told me,

You have to live in a space and know that you still look amazing and you’re in a space that you can maintain.

Am I super ripped? No. Am I happy? Yes! That’s all that matters. Do you, accept you and realize that you’re amazing the way you are today, you can get better tomorrow if you want and you can also live in the space you’re in. Ignore the days where the mirror talks smack and just remember that we think you’re amazing the way you are today.

todd-alisha-kiss-square

July 21, 2011

Short on Time? Make Pita Pizzas, A Quick Healthy Meal

pita-pizza-21258460So I dug this out of the archives because I’ve fallen in love with these.  I have Alisha make a bunch of these for me and we freeze them for lunches or fast meals.  Much better than a frozen pizza from the store and much better for ya!  You control the ingredients!

 

 

 

 

July 21, 2011

Lesson: How to Constantly Improve Your Fitness

262648_2142187832418_1177886052_2652353_1406288_n So as you may or may not know, Alisha and I are very dedicated to helping you with your fitness goals.  To achieve a healthy and fulfilling life.  Part of that to us is being REAL.  To talk about our struggles and our accomplishments.  So this is about as real as it gets.  Over the last 90 days I saw tremendous success with the Asylum program and then the last 30 days, hit a wall.  Yeah I was bummed, but learned a lot!  So here you go….take a look as we continue this journey together!

Reach out to us anytime, we’re here to help!  [email protected].

 

 

May 11, 2011

Insanity the Asylum: Day 29, Speed and Agility!!!

blog pic Shaun T’s Beachbody Workout, INSANITY THE ASYLUM: Day 29!!!  Speed and Agility!  Can’t believe it’s day 29.

 

 

                                                       Day 1 of the Asylum                             Day 30 of the Asylum

 

NC Fit Club