Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Posts Tagged ‘diet

Obvious Tips About Fitness

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If I read another fitness article telling me to drink water to help lose weight and get fit, I’m going to scream. We get it already – drink plenty of water.

Do you ever get the feeling that there are a limited number of fitness articles that could be written and writers are just putting their spin on the same things we’ve all heard before (myself included)? There may be some people out there that still don’t know the basics, but I’d estimate that about 98% of people interested in fitness already know what they need. I also believe the fitness writers know that we know what advice they are going to provide.

Despite how repetitive it is to get the same techniques and tips over and over again, I will still keep searching for advice. Fact is, to truly know something, we have to be told repeatedly and by several different sources. It was only last year, and only after doing some experimenting myself, that I finally started to truly believe that reducing carb intake was helpful to lose weight. I’m a born skeptic so I need plenty of evidence before I believe something.

  • Here’s a short list of obvious tips about fitness:
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get plenty of exercise – 5 times per week for 40 minutes or more
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep a food diary
  • Weight loss is 90% diet but you need exercise to help keep it off
  • Vary the intensity of your cardio workouts
  • Do strength training at least 3 times a week
  • Do both strength training and cardio
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Avoid sugar as much as you can
  • Fruit contains sugar but can still be healthy in moderate amounts
  • Don’t drink fruit juice, eat whole fruit instead
  • Processed meats are bad for you (I’m looking at you salami)
  • White bread is bad for you
  • Whole wheat bread is better than white bread but still high in carbs
  • Eat foods high in fiber
  • Don’t eat while watching a show or movie or reading a book
  • Eat less later in the day

I’m sure I’m missing quite a few but I got other stuff to do so I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

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Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 31, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Fitness Knowledge is Power

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One of the key factors to getting in shape is knowledge. It doesn’t matter what program or routine you are trying out, if you don’t acquire the right knowledge about fitness, diet and exercise you will fail. With the Internet, there is no excuse for not having access to knowledge. I just Google the term “weight loss” and the first link I saw was http://www.webmd.com/diet/. I went to that page and found a great deal of information – more than I could read in one sitting.

But don’t stop at the first site you see. Keep looking. Your journey should be a constant process of discovery. You need to find out what works best for you. The common advice will get you where you want to go but you may also find tips and tricks that speeds up the process or fits your lifestyle better.

Knowledge is power. I don’t provide a lot of detailed advice on my blog because I know how easy it is to find. I can tell you that you need to avoid sugar but if you want to learn why you can find that information easily.

Learning what exercises to do or what foods to eat is not the hard part. The most difficult aspect of getting in shape is figuring out for yourself how to keep going. What level of progression is too fast or too slow depends on the individual. I’ve pushed myself too hard on occasion and paid the price but I had to find out what my limits are. No book, video or magazine article is going to tell me how much I can take.

The acquisition of knowledge is not just about techniques and strategies. You also need to gain, what I’m going to call, motivational knowledge. Humans learn best by watching others. If we someone else doing something that helps us believe that we can do it. For this reason, I routinely look for success stories and motivation videos online. Go to YouTube and search the term “fitness motivation” and you will find thousands of videos of people working out or offering words of encouragement. Sure some of it may be over the top and extreme, but in the quest to get motivated you often have to witness the fringes of what’s possible.

The answers are out there. You just need to go find them.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

Beauty Is More Than Physical Appearance

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While it is important to strive for a healthy weight, you should not let your size affect your sense of self worth. Whether your are 300 pounds or 95 pounds, how you feel about yourself is more important than how much you weigh. I’ve known obese people who were happy, confident and full of life and I’ve known thin people who were depressed and hated themselves.

Accept and love yourself at any weight. Being overweight is a condition that you need to deal with like any other disease. Treat it and get better. You don’t hate yourself when you catch a cold so don’t hate yourself if you have extra fat around your midsection.

If you try and fail to lose weight that doesn’t make you any less of a person. You just need to analyze your treatment strategy. You may need to give it more time or you may need to try something else.

Obesity is an extremely complex disease. My last medical doctor was obese. If trained medical professionals struggle with weight loss than you should not take it personally if you are having a hard time. You just have to keep learning and trying new things.

Don’t wait until after you lose the weight to feel good about yourself. Taking charge of your future and committing fully to improving yourself can be like a shot of adrenaline to your self confidence. People will notice and react. Some may be fearful of your new path because it may shine a light on their own faults. If they can’t handle it, let them go – there will plenty of new people on the path to meet.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

March 10, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Fitness

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Measure Everything

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One of the first steps to getting fit is to measure everything you can related to physical fitness. Just the act of tracking your calories and weighing yourself can kick start the process of losing weight. Knowledge is power and when you know what you are eating, you’ll tend to make better decisions. Also, the number on the scale can be less discouraging when you know you are better off than when you started.

There are number of web sites with mobile apps that can help with keeping track of everything. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal which has a mobile app I use to track all my data on the go. MyFitnessPal will help you determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain your weight. It will also help you determine the amount of calories you need to consume to meet your goal weight.

When thinking about your goal weight, I suggest focusing on a short term goal of losing 5 pounds. You can write down a long term weight loss goal on a piece of paper or electronic storage, but try to focus on the short term on a daily basis. Once you lose that 5 pounds you can set another 5 pound weight loss goal. The thought of losing 50 pounds can overwhelm you, but losing 5 pounds at a time means you’ll hit 10 rewarding milestones.

For people starting a health and fitness routine, I suggest that they spend the first week or two just tracking what they eat without restrictions. By doing this, you get a clear indication of how you gained the weight in the first place.

Measure Your Body

Take as many measurements of your body that you need, specifically your waist. If gaining muscle mass is a priority, then you’ll also want to measure your thighs, biceps, calves and chest.

Start tracking your weight by weighing yourself at least once a week. You can weigh yourself on a daily basis, which I prefer to do, but you need to realize that body weight can fluctuate on a daily basis.

Track The Food You Eat

Keep track of everything you eat. Buy a food scale to weigh your portions or use measuring cups. Don’t try to guesstimate portions! Take the time and measure what you are eating and you’ll be surprised at how many calories you are consuming. You don’t have to weigh items that are easy to estimate like apples, bananas, eggs, single serving food packs, etc.

The one type of food that is not as important to measure are vegetables. It’s difficult to gain weight eating vegetables so eat as much as you like within reason. The great thing about vegetables is that they crowd out higher calorie foods. If you fill up on broccoli, you’ll be better able to resist filling up on foods high in carbs or fats.

While the number of calories is the most important measurement, it is also important to know what percentage of carbs, protein and fat you consume. There are different opinions on what the right percentage is but most can agree that carbs should be less than 60% of your total calories – some would suggest as low as 10%. Most will also agree that you should at least 10% of your calories from protein – I personally strive for 20-30% protein.

Again, MyFitnessPal can help with tracking your macro-nutrients. I am not associated with MyFitnessPal in anyway – it’s just the tracking tool I use and know. There are other tools out there, but I don’t know them enough to make recommendations.

Track Your Exercise

Exercise does not burn as many calories as most people believe. The real benefit of exercise is that it helps you maintain weight loss. If you are significantly overweight it is crucial for you to accept the fact that you will need to exercise for an average of an hour per day for the rest of your life. Let’s put that in bold:

People who are or were significantly overweight will need to exercise an average of an hour per day for the rest of their lives in order to maintain weight loss.

For most people, that can be a bitter pill to swallow. Most think that just need to diet and exercise until they lose the weight and then they can go back to a normal life. It doesn’t work that way. Once you return to the same habits, you will gain back the weight and then some.

If you haven’t exercised regularly before, it can very difficult to start exercising an hour per day from the start. But don’t worry – you don’t have to exercise that much to start losing weight. The hour per day exercise is a long term habit goal that you should work towards over time. It may take months before you have developed the habit and made adjustments in your life to exercise an hour per day. By the time you get to that point, you’ll have made amazing progress in your weight loss and fitness goals.

Even if you start with only 10 minutes of exercise per day, if you do it consistently you’ll be able to add another 5 minutes, then another 5, then another until you have reach your hour per day goal. It is important to note that the goal is an average of an hour. You may need to miss days of exercise so to compensate, you may need to exercise even more than an hour on some days.

Don’t stress out too much about the hour per day rule. Over time exercise can become somewhat addicting. Most people with a high level of fitness have to worry about overdoing it more than not doing enough. Trust me – you’ll love the benefits of exercise so much you’ll want to do more than you need.

To track the amount of exercise you do, buy a stopwatch. Also helpful is a pedometer. With a pedometer, the focus is on number of steps which can be more motivating than time. If you know you can comfortably do 10,000 steps per day, you might get the urge to shoot for 15,000 steps per day.

Conclusion

I know there are experts who say that you don’t have to measure to get fit and healthy but studies have shown it helps (see WebMd: Keeping Food Diary Helps Lose Weight). One big contributor to weight gain is lack of knowledge or misinformation. You see a loaf of whole wheat bread and you may believe that has to be good to eat. But when you know the amount of carbs in even whole wheat bread, and you know you have already consumed too many carbs for the day, you can make a more informed choice. Depending on your food intake at the time, 6 ounces of steak may be healthier than a bowl of oatmeal.

 

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 22, 2014 at 9:54 am

Posted in Fitness, Life, Self Improvement

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Failing Is a Prerequisite For Success

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This weekend I ate way more than I had planned. I’m not worried as dealing with bad days is part of my plan. The experience does prove a point about the overestimation of the value of will power.

I am what you would call a type-A personality. When I set my mind to something, there’s nothing stopping me – I’ll just keep going until I succeed or the cost of continuing outweighs the benefits of success. I’m not saying this to boast but rather to make it clear that I am not an indulgent person who lacks self-control or will power.

This past Saturday, when I got the urge to overeat, I first tried to determine if the urge was a genuine need for food or if it is just the body’s survival instinct overacting. Based on my calorie intake for the day and my level of exercise, I did not need to eat more – in fact I was already over.

I had enough food to eat so I reasoned that I had to ignore the urge. That worked for about an hour but the urge was so great I couldn’t focus. I gave in and ate before my next planned meal. But then I ate some more. While watching a movie with the family, I ate a large Hershey bar with almonds and some Chex Mix. I don’t remember everything I ate, just that I kept eating.

While this was occurring, I became fascinated. The urge to eat was overriding my conscious decision not to. It was like the analytic part of my mind was overthrown by the animal part. All I could do was observe and try to figure out what I could do to prevent this from occurring in the future. I knew the urge to overeat would eventually run its course and I would be back in control again.

Today, I am back on track and had no trouble with overeating.

The point of all this is to illustrate that will power can only take you so far. It doesn’t matter who you are, if the urge to eat is great enough there’s nothing you can do to stop it entirely. There’s no point in feeling guilty when you have a bad day. The best thing to do is to try and figure out what triggered it and make plans to continue.

The big difference between people who can stay on track and those that don’t is how they handle set backs. If you have in your mind that you can’t control your weight, whenever you have one of these setbacks you see it as confirmation of your self doubt. If you remain objective, you would see it as part of the process and move on.

Every time you fail and get back on track, it becomes easier to stay on track and the consequences of failing become less. Over the years, I’ve become very good at failing. Every time I fall down, I learn from it.

This last setback was way overdue. I had been on a good run of exercising and eating right for the past three months. My body fat is now down to the single digits and my strength is at peak levels. During this period, I knew it was just a matter of time before something gave and I was surprised I had  maintained my discipline for so long. Now that I’ve had my setback, I feel like I’m staring another period of training – like hitting reset.

Perhaps when most people experience a setback, it’s like a release valve is triggered and they need to reset and start again. When starting out with a lifestyle change, that release valve might get triggered more often than for someone whose been doing it longer.

Developing will power and discipline is like developing a muscle. When you hit your point of failure, you are going to rest no matter how determined you are. The key is keep trying. Every time you hit that point of failure, you stretch your discipline and like a muscle it will grow stronger.

Don’t use a failure as an excuse to quit

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 3, 2014 at 8:35 pm