Category Archives: Fitness

5 Huge Benefits of Eating Healthy

We all know we’re “supposed to” eat healthier if we want more vitality and a better body; but once your favorite hedonistic foods are put in front of you, it’s easy to forget what motivated you in the first place. Here are some major benefits you can be sure to experience with good nutrition:

1. Easier Weight Control

You know I’m a big believer in the fact that calories control weight, but it’s much easier to control calories when you’re eating nutritious foods. By getting the nutrients and bulk you need from whole foods, you’ll be satisfied a lot sooner and at a much lower calorie amount compared to high-fat, processed foods.

2. More Energy

When you give your digestive system a rest from the burden of processing complicated food mixtures, you’ll be surprised how much energy you free up. You may find you need less sleep and have an increased inclination to exercise–you may even enjoy it more. Things that used to cause stress will seem less significant, you’ll be happier and skip to a different beat.

3. Saves Money

I don’t care what people say about “eating healthier costs more”.  In my experience, it’s much cheaper (and simpler) to live on whole, unprocessed foods. Plus, you’re getting more nutrition for your calories, so you won’t need to spend a bunch of money on supplements.

4. Mental Clarity

When your bloodstream isn’t clogged with refined sugar, salt, and trans fats, you’ll think a lot clearer and you may experience a major boost in creativity. You might also start to see your work as a labor of love instead of something you dread doing.

5. Setting an Example

Living a healthy lifestyle makes you a model, not necessarily a magazine model (although that could be your goal), but a role model to those who think it’s too difficult or not worthwhile to live this way. There is a level of well-being that many people are missing out on, and by being a living example (rather than simply talking about it), you’ll become humbled and proud of your own accomplishments and inspire others along the way. This is doubly important if you’re a parent.

Happy Living

Bodyweight Fluctuations – What Do They Mean?

Your Holiday Fit Guide

Hey folks, the holiday season is here, which means plenty of parties, pastries, and picture-taking. It can also mean falling off your fitness plan and losing all of the progress you worked so hard for, so here are some tips to stay motivated:

Start your New Year’s resolution now

Fitness goals such as leaning out probably rank #1 for New Year’s resolutions, so why wait? If you start now, then when things get in the way such as time off from the gym and holiday eating, at least you’ll be in a better starting position than if you were to let yourself go completely.

Use the law of compensation

It’s all about the calories, baby. There’s no reason to guilt yourself for eating chocolate and the like, just know that all calories count. Feel free to treat yourself to what you like; just cut back in other areas. It might be skipping dinner if you had a big lunch, saving the pie for tomorrow if you already had a lot of candy, choosing calorie-free drinks if you’re planning to have a “rich” dessert, or indulging in an extra workout.

 Workout with a partner

If you belong to a gym, this is a good time to use social support, as the biggest challenge this season will probably be getting through the door. Workout with a friend or anyone you know who frequents your gym at the time you work out. If you’re more of a loner (and single), there’s nothing wrong with scheduling your workout when you know the gym “hottie” will be there, if it keeps you motivated. Just don’t be creepy.

If you work out at home, you’ll need more willpower, but you can still create a positive, supportive environment. Use exercise videos, play some pumped up music, go on a walk with a friend to chit-chat, or take your dog to the big park, and dress warmly.

Do something fun

If you’re not in the mood for exercise, ditch the rigid routines for now and do something fun–this might be a Zumba class, in-ring boxing, indoor rock climbing or whatever your preferences are.

If you need something more relaxing (the holiday season can be stressful) then some simple stretching or a yoga class might be more helpful.

Avoid getting S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and part of it has to do with the sun elevating your feel-good hormone, Serotonin. It can be hard in the winter, but get outside during the day to get some sunshine and fresh air to the extent possible.

Try on your “nice” clothes

This is not about squeezing into skinny jeans; but using your [properly fitting] clothes as a reference point to know if you’re straying too far off your normal, comfortable size. And, you’ll probably be wearing these clothes during the holiday occasions.

Schedule some “me” time

Shopping for and preparing gifts can be stressful, so can traveling, hosting guests and visiting family. Look for any opportunities in the day to be self-indulgent without adding stress. Lay in a dim room and meditate, get a massage, unplug from the world at least an hour a day. If you relieve stress by being active, spend some fun time with the kids, or work on a fun creative project.

Don’t weigh yourself after a big-eating day

You won’t like what the scale says; but it also won’t represent what you think it does. Food mass and water create big gains on the scale, and after a big-eating day, you’ll gain more weight than body fat. This weight drops just as rapidly when you go back to normal eating.

Practice good hygiene

If you have extended time off, it can be easy to lower your standards, and this creates a snowball effect into other areas of your life. Sleep at normal times, start your day with a shower, shave, clean your teeth, try a new hairstyle if you want, do things that make you feel good about yourself.

If you have a tip you would like to add, please leave a comment below.

Happy Holidays

Fast Food for Weight Loss?

Fat loss is a numbers game:

Calories In – Calories Out = Change in Fat Stores

Therefore, fast food can absolutely fit into a fat loss plan, however:

Nobody needs huge portion sizes when it comes to processed foods.

We would probably be better eating all organic, unadulterated foodstuffs like our ancestors, but I like to remain practical and live in the environment as it is.

Do you know why fast food chain restaurants offer ever-increasing portion sizes of their menu items? From a business standpoint, it made more sense (and dollars) to offer larger sizes instead of assuming customers would just order more of the same item, because consumers don’t want to appear “gluttonous”. Instead of 3 burgers, you order a triple stack. Instead of 3 orders of fries, you get the large, and so on. In fact, the “small” sizes as we know them now were once the standard size.

Fast food is known to have a high calorie density (food energy per weight/volume). In other words, you get more calories per bite in processed foods vs. non-processed foods. This is why cake tastes better than carrots. However, your eyes (and stomach) will deceive you when determining a “sensible” portion size of man-made food. Long story short, the most waist-friendly size is usually the smallest. I go for “value” or “junior” when I want a tasty treat because I get the same satisfaction (without the bloated regret) as I do from larger sizes. If it’s there, you’ll eat it. The last bite is always the same as the first, so might as well enjoy it slowly without sacrificing leanness. Did you know the average person spends only 11 minutes in a fast food restaurant? It’s easy to pile in 2000 calories in one sitting, so you have to be careful.

Remember, the way to lose fat is through a calorie deficit and as a result, you’re going to feel hungry some of the time. Get used to it.

The Athletic Body

When you consider the shape of an athlete, what do you see? Keep in mind there are a variety of athletic body types as there are different sports. Even within a sport as diverse as football, there are clearly a wide range of body types suited to their positions on the field. Outside of football, the spectrum goes all the way from the stringy build of a distance runner to the hefty build of a sumo wrestler.

You do not need to be an athlete to build an athletic body type. The universal signs of an athletic body are: broad shoulders, comparatively slim/narrow waist (not necessarily a six-pack), strong arms, sturdy legs, and good proportions. In short, well-muscled or at least slightly above average for your genetic body type, and reasonably lean (again, not necessarily ripped).

An athletic body screams sex appeal (men and women), and by building correct proportions and staying lean, you may be mistaken for an athlete even if you are not.

The process of getting there is a story unto itself. But the important thing is to start the journey. Use resistance training as a productive tool and learn all you can about nutrition to feed your body for optimal health while avoiding excess. You won’t be a freak (unless you’re supplementing hormones) but you will turn heads in a more self-fulfilling way.

Managing Expectations with Your Body

If you’ve ever been to a bodybuilding show or a fitness magazine photo shoot you will see the most ripped human beings on the planet. Fitness models and physique competitors attain a level of leanness and being “dry” (bodybuilding lingo for absence of water retention underneath the skin) that is surreal.

When you see these same people in the offseason you will see a different-looking physique altogether. That is because the levels that are now standard for competition and magazines/ads are generally unsustainable by even the most dedicated trainees. The offseason look isn’t bad; it’s just not the onion-thin skinned, anatomy chart defined physiques that you see on stage or in photos.

I can’t find much data on this but I can speak from experience: the body shape you can obtain is not necessarily what you can sustain. You might be able to diet your way to “ripped” but getting and even staying there requires constant hunger and obsession with food.

There are three categories of people who can sustain very low body fat percentages indefinitely:

1)      Extreme genetic ectomorphs

2)      Chemically enhanced (human growth hormone, thyroid, stimulants, etc.)

3)      SUPER active

What is a sustainable body fat percentage?

Though numbers may vary, I believe 15% body fat is more realistic than 10% body fat or less. At 10% body fat, you have definition everywhere: full abdominals, chest, back, legs, arms, shoulders, etc. Once you go beyond this, you’re approaching competitive territory. I noticed at this body fat percentage, while you look and feel amazing about your body, food will always be on your mind and I even became interested in foods I wouldn’t have eaten previously. At 15 percent, on the other hand, there is a good outward contour of the muscle groups in a well-trained individual–though there are not as many “cuts” on the physique, it’s still a lean/in-shape look in clothes. And you can diet down from 15% to 10% in about 8 weeks of being strict and consistent. I wouldn’t recommend going much above 15% because you will start to feel uncomfortable and measures of health (not to mention self-image) may start to suffer. Keep in mind staying this lean still requires some amount of effort–not extreme competition levels; but an overall dedication to a healthy lifestyle.

It can be hard to accept a more realistic body shape and size when you’ve experienced better, but it’s important to focus on your health and what’s realistic in the long-term. I know my performance is a little better at a more moderate body composition even if I don’t look as athletic. Stay positive.

Gold’s Gym – Venice, CA: The Mecca of Bodybuilding

Gold’s Gym in Venice, California is considered “The Mecca of Bodybuilding”, and for good reason. I used to be a member here and still consider it the best gym in Southern California. There are many fitness centers throughout Los Angeles, but very few give you the hardcore experience of Gold’s Venice.

The Gym

The first thing you’ll notice about Gold’s Venice is its massive size. The gym is essentially a huge warehouse building, located just minutes from the beach. There are three big rooms and an outdoor area, featuring the best exercise equipment, old and new. The place is well ventilated with large doors, so you’re getting natural light and fresh air.

The Atmosphere

An obvious reason to come out to Venice Gold’s is the energy. Despite being a gym known for bodybuilding, it’s a very social and welcoming environment. The clientele is as diverse as the gym itself. You’ll see professional bodybuilders, actors, musicians, WWE wrestlers, models, and many more, all who train very hard. The general gym etiquette is very good; but at the same time, you can make all the noise you want. For the purist gym rat, nothing beats the sound of weights clanging.

The Experience

If you’re out in California, I definitely recommend training at The Mecca. Google has apparently bought the land so I plan to visit as often as possible. It will be hard to find a comparable location, but I hope it stays in Venice.