Healthy Byte: The Fitness Cliff

What New Year’s resolution? (Photo: Getty Images)

The start of a new workout plan starts with a burst of energy: You hit the gym thinking, “Yeah, I got this! Bring it!” But after a few weeks, the initial excitement starts to fizzle. Be honest: Have you even thought about your New Year’s resolution lately?

Turns out, there’s a specific day when this waning motivation starts to happen. Today, Feb. 10, is the day gym check-ins begin to steadily decline — known as the “fitness cliff” — according to an analysis of check-in data from corporate Gold’s Gym locations across the United States.

There are a few reasons motivation starts to wane in February. “People think of ‘motivation’ as a strategy, but really it’s an emotional state,” explains Jessi Kneeland, certified personal trainer and founder of Remodel Fitness. And since motivation is an emotion, ultimately it’s a fleeting feeling, she says.

“Motivation tends to be high around New Year’s, because people get filled with hope and excitement and visions of ‘a new me!’ They ride that emotional state until it ends, which is … usually right about now,” Kneeland tells Yahoo Health.

In addition, a visible change in your body takes time. It’s easy to think “this isn’t working” and quit. “Most of us don’t structure exercise to fold into the habit cycle of our psychology,” Emmett Williams, president of the heart-rate-tracking system MYZONE, tells Yahoo Health. “We don’t reward ourselves quickly enough, and the payoff — weight loss in three months, lower blood pressure in six months — is just too far away for it to be motivating,” Williams says.

So how do you keep from falling off the fitness cliff? “Today is the day when you have the choice to make it or break it,” strength expert Holly Perkins, CSCS, creator of The GLUTES Project, tells Yahoo Health. “The difference between success and failure here is simply action,” she says. “Don’t think about it, just go to the gym. Don’t negotiate, just do your workout!”

If the “just do it” philosophy still isn’t enough to get you moving today, tomorrow, and all month long, bookmark these tips from five top fitness experts.

How to Avoid the Fitness Cliff and Stay Motivated to Work Out

The expert: Nick Tumminello, CPT, strength expert and author of Building Muscle and Performance

The advice:

  • Be honest with yourself. Most people start off doing too much because they’re so motivated, but it’s unrealistic and unsustainable. For example, if you hate getting up early and are the type of person who hits snooze until they absolutely have to get up, it’s unrealistic to say “I’ll get up two hours early to work out and shower.” You’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, look at your history of behavior and find what’s most realistic — not necessarily what you’d like to do or what you think is ideal.
  • Do something that you like. We all know exercise is medicine, but we don’t like to take medicine when it doesn’t taste good. If you like weight machines, use machines. If you hate machines, don’t use machines. Make the medicine taste good.

The expert: Jessi Kneeland, certified personal trainer and founder of Remodel Fitness

The advice:

  • Acknowledge that motivation is an emotional state and thus, by definition, a fleeting plan. Have compassion for yourself when you run out of motivation. It was nice, but it was never meant to last, so don’t let yourself feel guilt or shame when it’s gone.
  • Put into place a real plan by looking at your goals and working backward to break it into daily tasks. For example, if your goal was to be able to run three miles nonstop, instead of running whenever you’re motivated, work out how long it would take you to build up to your goal if you consistently run three days a week.
  • Be generous with your plan; make it easier than you think you need. Set yourself up to experience tiny victory after tiny victory. Feeling like a success will help you stay in a long-term state of motivation.

The expert: Mike Ryan, Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute expert trainer

The advice:

  • Add some “class” to your routine. Whether it’s functional training like TRX or moving to the beat with a Zumba class, group exercise is a great way to inject some energy into a stale routine and will help you with your pledge to get back in shape.
  • Enlist a trainer. Even if it’s just for a few sessions, working with a certified personal trainer who can design a program that’s tailored to your body is the big step to transforming your body and reaching your goals

The expert: Adam Rosante, celebrity trainer and author of The 30-Second Body

The advice:

  • Find a deeper reason to work out. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a hot body, but your impulse to sit on the couch and binge watch a season of Empire is going to overrun your six-pack fantasies. Ask yourself why it’s important to work out. Once you have an answer, ask why again. Repeat that five times and you’ll come up with something truly impactful. Now you have real ammo to help you get your butt up and moving.
  • Take a single step. Most people fail at their fitness goals because they try to overhaul everything at once. It’s just not sustainable. You wind up burning out and quitting completely. Take a second to evaluate your plan and focus on just one thing. Those small daily steps are what add up to massive change.
  • Just freaking do it. Sometimes the best strategies in the world fail to motivate us. Here’s where you need to force yourself to do something, however small. Ten bodyweight squats. A few jumping jacks. Whatever. You’ll find that this simple act ignites the desire for more movement.

The expert: Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer and nutritionist, author of 5 Pounds: The Breakthrough 5-Day Plan to Jump-Start Rapid Weight Loss and Never Gain It Back

The Advice:

  • Make your goals actionable. Think: Walk 10,000 steps a day, sleep at least seven hours a night. Don’t make it about a dress size or a weight.

  • Set empirical (number-based) goals so that you can actually count them and push yourself to hit that number. For example, eat protein five times a day, unplug for at least 20 minutes, or do at least five minutes of strength exercises each day.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: This Year’s Goal – Try Being ‘Basically Healthy’

How To Be a Basically Healthy Person
Here are the laziest-possible ways to shine up your diet and fitness
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Even if we have the best of intentions, the goals we set to get healthy (after this last slice of pizza, of course) sometimes fall by the wayside. It can be hard to stay motivated, or even properly informed, since the recommendations for what to eat and how long to exercise can be confusing and conflicting. (Fat, for example, was off the menu for years under official guidance that eating fat makes you fat, and now that advice is getting kicked to the curb.) As a result, truly healthy behaviors can have a hard time cutting through the noise. Despite everything we know about the health benefits of exercise, a recent study found that 43% of employed adults do not exercise often.

Yet getting healthier is still a worthy goal, and many experts in the fields of exercise, health and nutrition have clear ideas about how to get there. Here are some low-stress, bare-minimum ways to become a healthier person, even for those of us who love to eat and hit snooze.

How to eat

Eating healthy shouldn’t be a nutrient numbers game. And no: you don’t have to go vegan or adopt a Paleo diet. Just make sure your plate contains more than two different colors, says Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “If it’s not, it’s boring, and you won’t meet your nutrient requirements,” she says. “If it’s green and red and brown, you can.”

After coloring your plate, make sure to consume it—and enjoy it—with someone else. “Sharing a meal with friends and family impacts our health and how we age and fare as we get older,” Meydani says.

Some countries, like Brazil, follow just that advice. Their government recommends eating whole foods, avoiding processed ones and dining with other people.

How to exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that American adults do two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus some muscle-strengthening on the side.

Many people don’t do any of that. A 2015 study published in the The BMJ argued that older adults, especially, find it hard to meet that government advice. “Getting inactive people to do a little bit of physical activity, even if they don’t meet the recommendations, might provide greater population health gains,” wrote study author Philipe de Souto Barreto, a researcher at University Hospital of Toulouse, in the paper.

Yet new evidence suggests they don’t need to. Barreto points out that a study of more than 250,000 older adults found that getting less than an hour of moderate physical activity each week was linked to a 15% drop in death, which means that people do benefit from even a small amount of exercise. Studies have also shown significant health benefits fromsimple exercises like walking.

Some researchers are seeing how low people can go when it comes to time spent working out. Enter the one-minute workout, where you work out as hard as possible for 60 seconds, with some warm-up and cool-down exercises thrown in, too. Even though the time spent exercising is minimal, it’s meant to be hard, and is shown to improve health and fitness. “There might be time-efficient ways to get fit,” says Martin Gibala, chair of kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada. “The notion of meeting people in the middle is positive—but there’s no free lunch.”

The takeaway

Stressing out over meeting government numbers—whether for nutrient values of the number of exercise minutes—may not be worth the headache. Getting some exercise every week and eating colorful meals with friends can be an enjoyable way to live a healthier life. Doing something, it seems, is what’s important.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Hard Truth About Weight Loss

We’ve been conditioned to think of exercise as a key ingredient — perhaps the most important ingredient — of any weight loss effort.

You know the drill: Join the gym on January 1 if you want to reach your New Year’s weight loss goal.

To learn more about why, I read through more than 60 studies (including high-quality, systematic reviews of all the best-available research) on exercise and weight loss for a recent installment of Show Me the Evidence. Here’s a quick summary of what I learned.

Exercise accounts for a small portion of daily calorie burn

One very underappreciated fact about exercise is that even when you work out, the extra calories you burn only account for a small part of your total energy expenditure.

There are three main components to energy expenditure, obesity researcher Alexxai Kravitz explained: 1) basal metabolic rate, or the energy used for basic functioning when the body is at rest; 2) the energy used to break down food; and 3) the energy used in physical activity.

total energy expenditureJavier Zarracina/Vox

What’s important to absorb is the fact that we have very little control over our basal metabolic rate, but it’s actually our biggest energy hog. “It’s generally accepted that for most people, the basal metabolic rate accounts for 60 to 80 percent of total energy expenditure,” said Kravitz. Digesting food accounts for about 10 percent.

That leaves only 10 to 30 percent for physical activity, of which exercise is only a subset. (Remember, physical activity includes all movement, including walking around, fidgeting, et cetera.)

 The implication here is that while your food intake accounts for 100 percent of the energy that goes into your body, exercise only burns off less than 10 to 30 percent of it. That’s a pretty big discrepancy, and definitely means that erasing all your dietary transgressions at the gym is a lot harder than the peddlers of gym memberships make it seem.

It’s hard to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise

Using the National Institutes of Health’s Body Weight Planner — which gives a more realistic estimation for weight loss than the old 3,500 calorie rule — mathematician and obesity researcher Kevin Hall created this model to show why adding a regular exercise program is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss.

body weight plannerJavier Zarracina/Vox

If a hypothetical 200-pound man added 60 minutes of medium-intensity running four days per week while keeping his calorie intake the same, and he did this for 30 days, he’d lose five pounds. “If this person decided to increase food intake or relax more to recover from the added exercise, then even less weight would be lost,” Hall added. (More on these “compensatory mechanisms” later.)

So if one is overweight or obese, and presumably trying to lose dozens of pounds, it would take an incredible amount of time, will, and effort to make a real impact through exercise alone.

Exercise can undermine weight loss in other, subtle ways

How much we eat is connected to how much we move. When we move more, we sometimes eat more too, or eat less when we’re not exercising.

One 2009 study shows that people seemed to increase their food intake after exercise — either because they thought they burned off a lot of calories or because they were hungrier. Another review of studies from 2012 found that people generally overestimated how much energy exercise burned and ate more when they worked out.

“You work hard on that machine for an hour, and that work can be erased with five minutes of eating afterward,” Hall says. A single slice of pizza, for example, could undo the benefit of an hour’s workout. So could a cafe mocha or an ice cream cone.

There’s also evidence to suggest that some people simply slow down after a workout, using less energy on their non-gym activities. They might decide to lie down for a rest, fidget less because they’re tired, or take the elevator instead of the stairs.

These changes are usually called “compensatory behaviors” — and they simply refer to adjustments we may unconsciously make after working out to offset the calories burned.

We need to reframe how we think about exercise

Obesity doctor Yoni Freedhoff has called for a rebranding of how we think of exercise. Exercise has staggering benefits — it just may not help much in the quest for weight loss:

By preventing cancers, improving blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar, bolstering sleep, attention, energy and mood, and doing so much more, exercise has indisputably proven itself to be the world’s best drug – better than any pharmaceutical product any physician could ever prescribe. Sadly though, exercise is not a weight loss drug, and so long as we continue to push exercise primarily (and sadly sometimes exclusively) in the name of preventing or treating adult or childhood obesity, we’ll also continue to short-change the public about the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise, and simultaneously misinform them about the realities of long term weight management.

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health; it’s just not that important for weight loss. So don’t expect to lose a lot of weight by ramping up physical activity alone.

As a society, we also need to stop treating a lack of exercise and diet as equally responsible for the obesity problem in this country. Public-health obesity policies should prioritize fighting the over-consumption of low-quality food and improving the food environment.

Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte Special Holiday Edition: Smaller Plates for a Smaller Waistline

2015 11-25 Feat laurawallstaylorEtsy Shop

Etsy Shop: laurawallstaylor

Be more like picky Goldilocks and you may very well not need the typical New Year’s resolution to lose the holiday weight. The strategy is far simpler than one may think.

New research carried out by University of Cambridge has produced the most conclusive evidence to date that the giant plates and super-sized silverware secretly encourage us to overeat and over-drink.

Researchers compiled data from 61 studies that analyzed the behaviors of 6,711 volunteers. And what they found was that men and women “consistently” consumed extra-big portions when offered more heaping servings on larger plates or in larger glasses compared to when they were offered meals and drinks on a smaller scale. Therefore, the study experts have concluded if people simply reduced their portion size on a regular basis, this one lifestyle change could reduce an average daily food intake up by 22 percent—and as much as up to 29 percent—among American adults.

Co-author Dr. Gareth Hollands, a health psychologist from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at Cambridge, says the obesity crisis is “far more complex” than blaming someone’s lack of self-control around food. “Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption,” he states in a formal press release.“Helping people to avoid ‘overserving’ themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating.“

Furthermore, he offers a few ways the food companies and decision-makers can potentially help downsize this ongoing issue. For example, restricting price promotions on larger-size items, offering smaller size items for a better value, as well as store managers placing larger-size foods in less convenient locations throughout the stores.

But how can consumers start cutting back on their portions at home? “Begin by downsizing your plates,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, nutrition consultant and author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, tells Yahoo Health. “A plate under nine inches is the best way to help prevent overeating.” She also advises filling half of a smaller dish with non-starchy vegetables, which “will allow your plate to still look full with much fewer calories.”

Also, leave the enormous bowls and platters in the cabinet. “I recommend my patients do not leave the food on the table, such as serving food family style,” she explains. “When it is out in front of you, you are more inclined to pick, take seconds and eat more with your eyes over your stomach. Instead, fill your dish and leave the food out of sight when eating.”

When it comes to the do’s and don’ts of grocery shopping, Palinski-Wade advises going for the snack and dessert items—even the healthy ones—that are packaged in individual portion sizes. However, if the big bags are more economically priced, then make your own one-size servings at home. “Invest in small portioned plastic, glass containers, etc. to easily divide out portions, whether snacks or meals,” she says.

And most of all, do not head to the supermarket when you’re hangry or even “just” hungry. “When this happens, you end up with too many of the wrong types of food and often start snacking as you are unloading the groceries.”

Originally Posted HERE

Feature Art: GlenArthurArt.com

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