Tag Archives: meal plans

Make Sure It’s Only That Sweater That Doesn’t Look Good This Holiday Season.

ugly-sweater-guySo you’ve got an ugly sweater party to go to…or maybe your family just has terrible taste in holiday clothes… Either way, this little jump-start will help you get noticed for more than just that ugly sweater.  By the time you put on that ugly *** sweater you’ll be feeling like this guy on the left. #winning.  And, you better figure out an answer to the questions “What have you been doing?” “How did you get in such great shape?”  “What is your secret?”  because you’ll be getting them a lot at the party.

 

So this is how you do it…(I hope you sang that too)

STEP #1 CREATE A PLAN

I think I’ve said this before, but if you don’t have a plan then you are planning to fail.  So figure out a plan that will work for you.  Determine when you will work out, and put it in your calendar. For example, say you’re going to hit the gym  at 5pm Monday through Friday, write that in your calendar or put it in your phone. Done, I should see you at the weight rack by 5:05.  Obviously you’ll be using weights and getting stronger  to reach your goals. if you’ve been a cardio queen/king in the past, then I suggest you go read some of my previous posts, like this one and this one

STEP #2 DIAL IN YOUR NUTRITION

You can’t outwork a bad diet.  If you go to the gym every day of the week for 2 hours and bust your butt, and then stop at the fast food joint on your way home to drink a six pack…you’re probably going to get fatter, not in better shape.  Figuring out how many calories you need to eat will help you tremendously in reaching your goals. There are a few apps that are great for this. MyFitnessPal and FatSecret are two that I suggest to people. You could also ask your trainer, he should know or be able to figure it out for you.  I know a guy that is pretty good at this kind of thing, you can check him out here.  The number of calories isn’t your only focus with nutrition, though.  You can lose weight by eating Twinkies and pizza. But, you can’t eat very much and you’ll look like garbage even if you lose weight.  Eating whole, nutritious foods will not only give you better nutrients and keep you healthy while working towards your goals, it will also keep you fuller for a longer time.  Foods that are nutrient dense (chicken, fish, veggies, fruits, greens) take longer for your body to digest, causing a gradual release of energy to your body.  This gradual release keeps you fuller for a longer time (so you eat less) and also helps in the prevention of fat storage from excess energy being in the blood stream.  So eat lean meats, fruits, and veggies, with some complex carbs mixed in.  If you’ve got questions on what to eat let me know, I’d love to help!

STEP #3 FIND A BUFF BUDDY

 buff-buddy-the-elf (This is Buddy The Elf, He loves everything Christmas)

This is a short one. Having a buddy that you meet at the gym and talk about your goals with will help to keep you on track. And, hopefully keep you from diving into that ice cream at night when you are sitting on your behind.  Friends keep friends accountable, don’t let your partner slip up, and they’ll do the same for you.  Become Buff Buddies and be the people at the party that everyone is talking about.

If you are struggling to find a buddy, maybe a Personal Trainer is a direction you should look.  Not only will they keep you accountable, but they also have a whole bunch of advice and ideas they can share with you that will help you reach those goals much faster than on your own.

STEP #4 SLEEP

Go to bed already!  Sleep is one of the most important aspects of being healthy.  When you are tired your body doesn’t function up to It’s potential.  One of the biggest factors in being tired is decision-making. When you are tired you don’t choose the right foods, I know because it happens to me too. And because the science says so.  Sleep allows your brain to “recover” from the day, along with allowing your body to recover from those intense bouts at the gym.  The less sleep you get, the more stressed you become.  Being stressed raises your cortisol levels, and cortisol is known to increase your appetite. Being hungry even after you’ve eaten your daily calories causes you to overeat for the day. Which is how you gain weight. You don’t want that before the big party. So go get your rest.

 

You’re not going to like this one…but I think it’s something that more people struggle with than they think…

STEP #5 CUT BACK ON THE BOOZE

I’m not saying you have to stop drinking all together. I enjoy a beer here and there with my buffalo wings, or when hanging out with some friends. But, you have to realize that booze has calories. Empty calories, actually.  That means you get basically nothing beneficial from them.  All they are doing is adding to your calorie total for the day. They don’t help you repair damaged muscles or get the proper nutrients for a healthy body. They only add calories to your diet. Along the same lines is water, except you need to drink more water, not less. You should be drinking much more water than any other drink throughout the day.  Not only does your body need water to survive, but it can also be used as a tool to help prevent overeating at meal time.  Drinking a glass of water before you eat will help to fill up your stomach a little more than normal. When your stomach is full it sends chemicals to your brain that tell it to stop the hunger signals it’s been giving.  Reducing appetite will help you not eat as much, in turn lowering your daily calories.  Bottom line: drink less booze and drink more water. I try to shoot for 100 Oz or more per day. Sometimes I get more, sometimes less, but it’s a good place to be for me. I would suggest trying to get about 60 Oz minimum per day.

 

There it is.  That’s how you get HOT FOR THE HOLIDAYS!  But seriously, these strategies will help you jump-start your fitness goals no matter what time of year it is. All you have to do is start, and stick with it.  Good luck and as always if you’d like any guidance feel free to contact me here.

Go make people forget about that hideous sweater you’ll be sporting!

north-swole

 

Z

 

 

Haha, I couldn’t resist adding this in there!

That might be a good gym name…

Carbs: The Enemy Or The Answer?

carbs-pictureCarbohydrates have recently been under a lot of scrutiny in the weight loss world.  Many people think carbs are what is making them hold onto, or gain more fat on their frame. But, are carbs really to blame for that?  I’ll answer that in a minute, first lets talk about what carbohydrates are, and what they do.

 

Carbohydrates can come in two forms, simple and complex, and both get broken down by your body into sugars, which is how your body uses them as energy. We’ll start with simple carbs. You can probably guess what simple carbs mostly look like.  They are generally going to be things that are more like “treats.”  For example, white bread, candies, cakes, pies, and pop (or soda, depending on where you are in the world) are all types of simple carbs.  Ok, you’ve definitely had some experience with these carbs. I know I have!  So what then is a complex carbohydrate?  A complex carb has more to it than a simple carb. Complex carbs come from more fiber and starch based foods. A few examples of complex carbs are Potatoes, oats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain rice/pasta. Don’t sound as exciting do they?

Ok, that is a really quick and easy difference between the two. Hopefully you’ll be able to tell which is which, and I’m sure you’ve heard people suggest that you limit the amount of simple carbs you eat, and try to get more complex carbs. I suggest that to clients all the time.  But, why? What is the actual benefit or harm between simple and complex carbs? It has to do with how they digest, and the nutritional benefits between the two types.

Carbs and weight loss

Carbs seem to have a big connection in the media and fitness world lately.  Carbohydrates definitely play a role in weight loss, but weight loss is still, and always will be based on eating fewer calories than you burn. No matter what type of calories they are, you have to burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight.  Now, Many people think you shouldn’t eat any carbs, ever.  Many people think you should eat a high carb diet.  I’m of the opinion that you need carbs to survive, but finding the proper nutrient dense carbs (complex carbs) is the best way to do it.

Here’s why: Complex carbs can help fuel your body and provide a sustained energy supply to help you get through your day. Your brain also depends on carbs to function properly, so cutting them out of your diet all together isn’t a good idea. Simple carbs give you a little bit of energy, for a little bit of time. Then you crash…bummer, your boss found you sleeping on your keyboard…nobody wants that.

Simple carbs are probably helping to store a little bit of that winter insulation around your midsection…nobody wants that either.  Why does this happen?  When you eat simple carbohydrates (mostly sugar) your body digests them really quickly because there isn’t much of a nutrient composition for your body to break down. Remember, simple carbs are mostly made of sugar. When this happens all that sugar (that’s what carbs get broken down into in your body) gets into your blood stream, like ASAP.  It’s like doing the self checkout at Target with only one item, no time at all.  All that sugar in your blood stream causes your insulin levels to elevate, which isn’t a good thing in this scenario.  Insulin tells your body to use that sugar as energy or to store it as fat. But with all that sugar getting into your blood stream so fast, your body can’t use it all as energy, so guess what happens to it…..that’s right, it becomes that muffin top, or those bat wings…bummer.

Complex carbs also get broken down into sugars, but there is a big difference between the two that gives complex carbs the better outcome.  Complex carbs have more fiber. At Target, complex carbs are the worst. thing. EVER! They are like the new kid checking you out for the first time and you bought one of everything from the store…there goes your Saturday…  But in nutrition,  Fiber is your friend, fiber takes way longer for your body to digest than most things (if your body can digest it at all, that’s a different topic though). This is the main factor in which type of carbohydrate you should choose to eat.  Because of the fiber it contains, and being so nutrient dense, complex carbs digest at a much slower rate. In turn, this provides your body with a longer lasting energy source. Only a little bit of that sugar gets let into the blood stream at a time, just enough that your body can use it as that energy and not have to store the extra amounts as body fat.  See the difference?

Complex carbs and Simple carbs are opposite of your Target visit.  At Target you want to be fast and efficient (simple carbs), not slow and steady (complex carbs). But if you remember from my previous article, you want your body to be the opposite of efficient. So, slow and steady wins the race.

When to eat simple vs complex?

The best time to eat simple carbs is around your workout. Right before works, but in my opinion right after your workout is THE BEST time.  That’s when your body can use all that extra energy right away instead of having to store it as body fat.  After your workout your body will be depleted of its energy sources and will be craving those carbs to help rebuild your muscle and recover from your brutal workout.  What? Your workout isn’t brutal? You’re not lifting enough weight then.

Any other time of day, I would suggest basing your meals around 1) your protein source, 2) a complex carb, then 3) your fat source.

Now, I’m not saying your can’t ever eat a donut againdonuts. But, if you are trying to lose body fat, you’ll need balanced meals with a complex carb that will keep you fuller for longer, and will give you some helpful nutrients along with it.  oh yeah, and to eat fewer calories than you burn in the day.

I hope this helps you understand a little but more about how your food choices affect your waist line, and as always if you’ve got questions send them my way right here!

 

Choose wisely today,

Z

Your How To Guide For Weight (Fat) Loss

You want to lose some weight?  Here is how you do it!

All you have to do, is burn more calories than you take in (eat) throughout the day.  Problem solved, good luck!

 

20160830_193853
This is Cody, Cody lost 4 of these 5lb fat chunks using these tips and a proper exercise program. Be like Cody, be successful. 

Just kidding, I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that!  It really is that easy, though.  To lose weight, the only thing you need to do is use more calories during your day than the calories you eat.  It pains me to say this, but it’s true… as far as straight weight loss goes, it does not matter if you are eating chicken, rice, and broccoli or if you are eating Twinkies and Snickers.  As long as your calories consumed stays under your calories burned for the day/week, you will lose weight.  But, when most people say “I want to lose some weight” what they really mean is, they want to lose fat and not lost muscle.  Which takes a different approach.

Now, with that being said if you want to actually look fit, in shape, or sexy after you lose the weight, it’s going to take a little more effort and planning than just eating fewer calories.  You are going to have to exercise, preferably resistance training, and plan your meals along with eating better quality foods in those meals. That exercise needs to be something that challenges you. Something that makes you work, hard.   I think people are afraid to do the proper exercise intensity and style because they see it as being too difficult (and it should be difficult!), but in reality the workouts are the easy part.  If you talk to almost anyone who has been working out or training for a long time, I will almost guarantee they will tell you the hardest part is not the gym, it’s the meal preparation.  It takes time, and sometimes what it takes is making boring food, but more importantly it takes consistency…It doesn’t always have to be chicken, rice, and broccoli. If you plan things out you can get a little more variety! The planning is key here.

So, how much should you eat? That answer is different for everyone.  If you really want to determine the exact calories you should be eating you have to do some math. By putting a few numbers into the Basil Metabolic Rate formula and deciding how active you are (or are going to be), you can determine how many calories you should be eating.  (If you would like to find this out just shoot me a message and I’ll help you figure it out.)  But, as a general guideline most women need around 1500 calories and most men around 2000 calories for the day. Again, if you are the size of Shaq, or you have bodybuilding goals, those numbers probably aren’t going to work for you. But, for the average man and woman they can be a good starting point.

What do these numbers mean? They mean that you’ll need to track what you are eating, at least in the beginning.  If you don’t keep track, how do you expect to know how many calories you are eating throughout the day? It doesn’t work if you don’t track, at least in the start of your program. You may get to a point where you are eating a majority of the same foods and you just know how many calories they have.  At that point, as long as you are still having success towards your goals, then you may be able to forgo the tracking for a while. Until you reach that point, keeping track is a great place to start. I bet you are eating way more calories than you think you are!  If you would like to use an App on your phone there are a few that I suggest. The first is called FatSecret (feel free to add me as your Trainer) and the second is MyFitnessPal (I’ll be your friend on here too).  These are very convenient tools. Plus, who doesn’t have their phone on them at all times to keep track of their food?  But, there is still something to be said about using old-fashioned paper and pen.  Something about the mind-body connection to actually writing it out makes a difference sometimes.

Now, on to the easy part. Exercise. Pick something you enjoy doing, that is going to make you sweat or breathe heavy, and do that almost every day.  If you need guidance in this part of it, find someone who has some experience and can help you out. Preferably a fitness professional, like myself.

There you go, this is your starting point to reaching those goals!  Take this as your sign that you need to start. Today. Right now. Stop putting it off, and get to work! Now is the best time to start!  As always, I’m here to help if you’ve got questions!

 

See you at the gym,

Z

 

 

You Can’t Lose Weight. Yes, I Said Can’t. Here’s Why…

So, this is probably how it started…you see a friend, old acquaintance, or celebrity that looks like they’re in pretty good shape.  You have kind of let yourself go in the last few years, but think “they look really good, maybe I should try to get in shape…”  You start actually using that gym membership you’ve been paying for. You’re hitting the gym a couple of days per week, trying to eat better during the week. But, you go out on the weekends, oh and you went to a few happy hours during the week, and that Friday workout? You cut that short because it’s been a long week and you just wanted to get home… You tell yourself you are trying. But really, you had already decided that you aren’t going to reach those goals before you even started. That sucks doesn’t it?

Remember back when you said “Maybe I should try to get in shape”?  Yeah, that thought was already the death of your goals.  You know why? Because YOU DIDN’T COMMIT.  You said, maybe I’ll try it. If it happens, awesome, but I don’t want to get my hopes up… I don’t really want to give up anything in order to have success. Your mindset was that it would be nice, but I don’t really want to do what it takes. You like the idea of getting in shape, but you don’t really want to commit to sacrificing a few things that will actually get you to succeed.

Your mindset, and your willpower are your strongest attributes when it comes to getting in shape.  You don’t need to have a degree in fitness, you don’t need a masters in nutrition.  You just need the mindset of “I’m going to do this. NO MATTER WHAT.”  If you make the decision, and commit to reaching your goals. Whether you just want to lose 5 pounds, or you want to win a bodybuilding show, you will get those results. It takes commitment and being dedicated to the goal in order to reach it.  Going in saying “I’m going to try…”  that is going to fail a huge percentage of the time.  You may get lucky once, but it won’t last.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU COMMIT? 

You decide you will do whatever it takes to get to that goal.  You commit to getting your workouts in during the week, and eating better, and improving yourself.  You may not have a lot of knowledge about nutrition, but that doesn’t matter. Because you committed, and then you go find out what types of foods you should be eating. You may ask a trainer at the gym (Hi, my name is Zach, I can help), or you may do a little google research (just be careful you get that info from a solid source, not some quack that is following the tapeworm diet..#stupid). Either way, you have committed to reaching success and you WILL DO whatever it takes to get there. It may take you a year, maybe less or maybe more, but you will get there. YOU WILL HAVE SUCCESS! Because you committed, made the decision, and you are willing to make a few sacrifices in order to hit your goals. And you will eventually get those goals. Maybe through trial and error, maybe from hiring a trainer like myself. (hint, one will get you there faster), but you will get there because you decided so.

So as I wrap this rant up, I’ll leave you with a challenge. I challenge you to write this out in your planner, on a sticky note on your fridge, wherever you will see it and remind yourself.  I AM COMMITTED. I HAVE MADE THIS DECISION. I WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES.  I WILL REACH MY GOALS. I WILL SUCCEED.  Write that, or some version of that, down somewhere you will see it daily so that when you are about to dive into that ice cream or chocolate, it smacks you in the face and reminds you not to screw up your goals. If you want another level of accountability, feel free to take a picture of it and post it on my Facebook page, I’ll  help you stay accountable.

I’d say good luck, but you don’t need luck. Why? Because you committed, that’s why.

Now go get it!

Zach

 

 

The #1 Exercise For A Flat Tummy Or A Six Pack. (It’s not what you think…)

six-pack-abs-01

Hey!

First of all, I have to confess that I “gotchya” a little bit with the title. Here’s why…

There is not one single exercise you can do in the gym that will automatically give you the tummy of your dreams. Whether you are strictly a cardio person, you only do bench press, or you stay on that “ab section” of the gym floor for your whole workout, doing only one of those won’t give you a six pack.  And guess what, doing all of them won’t either… UNLESS you do this one “exercise” I’m talking about.

I know what you’re thinking, “just tell me what to freaking do already!” Well, here it is.  The one thing that will help you the most in trimming down that tummy fat is……………….. COOKING YOUR OWN FOOD.

There you go. There is the answer that I’m sure you didn’t expect (or want) to hear.  But, that’s the truth.  If you want to get ripped like Channing Tatum or Jillian Michaels, or even just slim down your midsection a few pounds after the summer of boating and “beer-ing”, you will most definitely have to start cooking your own meals.  Now, I don’t mean buying frozen prepped meals in a box or making frozen pizza. I mean buying uncooked, real food that you will have to cut, chop, wash, and cook before you eat it.  For example, buy uncooked meat (chicken, beef, pork) with some veggies (carrots, peppers, etc) and then some type of starch or grain (rice, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yes those white potatoes are fine)  and cook them yourself.  This way you can control how much oil (you don’t need much) you cook them in. Or, you can bake a lot of foods without oil and use seasonings instead. That way you aren’t getting those extra calories out of the oils and sauces that you would if you went out to eat.

Here is something to think about. Restaurants are preparing foods so that they taste good (and boy do they taste good!), not necessarily in order to make them healthy.  Granted, some are becoming better at looking into the health side of the equation. But, most just want to make your taste buds explode with joy so you come back and eat more. That isn’t a recipe for weight loss, or health in general.  (Side note, you can make healthy foods taste delicious without all those extra calories. You just have to plan a little bit).

The biggest reason to cook your own meals may not be just to lose those pant sizes and belt notches. But let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be trim and fit?  Whole, real foods are more nutrient dense than their processed cousins.  “And, your point is….?” the point is that you get more good vitamins and minerals out of real foods than the processed ones.  A cheeseburger you make yourself, will give you more health benefits than the one you get from the drive through up the street, which is comprised of basically empty calories (not completely empty, but I hope you see the point).  Whole foods can help you with all kinds of health benefits that your doctor would love to tell you about, or maybe he does/has already discussed them with you… They can help you lower your cholesterol, they have more fiber, which will help you…well, be more regular in the bathroom… and help to keep your blood sugar regulated which helps control or prevent diabetes, and also weight gain (high blood sugar levels lead to weight gain or diabetes, which if left unchecked or unattended to can develop into more serious issues. Like limb amputation).

So, while you’re crunching away during your noon workout (WHAT!? You don’t work out over lunch?!?!?! I can help with that…) think about what you are going to cook for your evening meal tonight. Do you want chicken? A salad? pork chops?  Then you can swing by the grocery store on your way home to pick up that fresh meal you’re about to make. (Insider tip, stay around the outer edge of the grocery store. That’s where they keep the fresh foods, and you won’t get tempted by the junk in the middle isles.)

Anyway, there is the #1 “exercise” you’ve been looking for that will help you lose that mid-section fluff.  But, don’t forget about that workout either!  You can lose weight just through improving your diet, but you can’t look sexy as hell if you don’t work hard in those workouts and build some muscle!

If you aren’t sure where to start in your weight loss or fitness journey, I suggest starting in the kitchen. But, if you need a little more guidance, or a great workout, then give me a shout. I’m here to help! You can shoot me an email right here… or head on over to my facebook page and drop me a message here

All this food talk is making me hungry, I better go cook something.

Good Luck,

Zach

What is the perfect diet? Here is your answer.

If you’ve ever wondered what is the best meal plan, or diet to follow you are in luck! I’ve got the answer right here.  But first, let me explain what the word “diet” means.  The original meaning of diet is this: “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”  Pretty self-explanatory, right?  Your diet is WHAT you eat.  But throughout the years it has come to a different meaning. It has now been developed into a WAY of eating, most notably a way to lose weight.  Probably around 99 % of the time when I hear someone say the word “diet” they are referring to eating less food in order to lose weight.  In my book, that’s not the correct use of the word, but since the dictionary has adopted it as a definition I can’t really argue that anymore… what I can do is inform people on how to use the word, and also how to improve nutrition so they don’t have to use the word diet!

Back to the point, What is the perfect diet? Are you ready? Here it is… there isn’t one.  Well there you go. Good luck finding out what works for you!

 

 

Just kidding, I couldn’t leave you in the dark like that! So, there isn’t one specific diet that works better than others.  There are a plethora of diets out there that can/will help you to lose weight. For example, carb cycling works, IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) works, Atkins, Paleo, even the Twinkies diet works.  Yes that says Twinkies…and if you do it right you could eat nothing but Twinkies and lose weight.  You will look like garbage, but you will lose weight if you get your calorie numbers in the right range.  All kinds of diets will help you to lose weight, IF they are lower in calories than you are burning.  Burn more calories than you eat, and you lose weight. It’s like science or something…

The real trick is finding a diet (a way of eating) that works for you, and that you can sustain.  You can’t do the Twinkies diet forever and live a healthy life because you would get about zero nutrients from your food (if you can call it that).  Finding something that works for you doesn’t mean you won’t have to make some sacrifices along the way.  For example, drinking booze. People tend to have a hard time giving up booze. I’m not saying you have to give it up forever. But, if you’ve got a goal to reach then why in the world wouldn’t you give up one little thing for a while to reach that goal? Guess what, you’d save some money too…  But, just because you gave it up for a while doesn’t mean you can never have it again.  If I was doing a bodybuilding show I would probably give up my favorite food of all time (buffalo wings) for a while in order to reach my goal, but it wouldn’t be forever. I would definitely get some after the show!  Sacrifices may become a necessity if you want to reach the goal. You just have to decide which one is more of a priority. Do your personal health goals mean more to you, or do those wings and drinks? It’s up to you, but your choices mean you don’t get to complain because you aren’t getting results. You chose it, remember?

As far as a meal plan or diet goes, I like to suggest carb cycling or IIFYM because while you still have to eat a majority of healthy foods like lean meats and fruits and veggies, these give you a little bit of wiggle room to add a fun snack in here or there.  As long as it fits into your calorie or macro numbers.  But, sometimes it is difficult for people to sustain keeping track of things (if you really want the success you’ll do it, but that’s for another post).  The goal is to find something that you can sustain, for a long period of time, like forever… that won’t stress you out and won’t make you go on a crazy eating rampage.  It may take a month for you to figure out what works for you, or it may take years for you to find what works. Everyone is different in how many calories they need, what their goals are, and how their body functions on different nutrition.  Some people are geared towards needing more carbs (mostly athletes), or fats, while others need more protein (bodybuilders, women, ok everyone needs more protein).  Cookie cutter meal plans don’t work the same for everyone, you need to step into the lab (kitchen) and get to know your food and how your body responds to it.  If you don’t ever make that link between your body and the fuel you feed it, you will never reach the success you want.  Could you run a gas-powered lawn mower with electricity? Nope.  Does your TV remote work with the wrong size batteries? Nope.  You have to find the right fuel source and way of eating for your body to work properly towards reaching your goals.

So what is the perfect diet? The perfect diet is the one that works for you. It’s the one you can keep doing, forever.  It may be completely opposite of what your spouse does, or what your best friend does. But that’s OK. They don’t have the same body as you, and they don’t have the same goals as you do. So why would you want to do the same thing as them if it doesn’t work for YOU?  That’s right, you don’t.  And if you don’t know where to start, lean meats, fruits, and veggies are a great place to look. But, your personal trainer may have a few tips for you to look into.  It won’t hurt you to ask them. Actually, it’ll help you.

 

Zach