Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calories and Fat Reduction

One pound of body fat is equivalent to approximately 3500 calories. So in order to lose a pound of fat, we need to create a calorie-deficit of 3500 calories over a period of a few days to a week.
We can do this by increasing our calorie expenditure, by reducing our calorie intake, or (best) by a combination of both.

Here are some examples:
  • Suppose you need 2000 calories a day, in order to maintain your present weight.
  • To lose one pound a week, you need to take in 1500 calories, or create a 500 calorie deficit.
  • Over 7 days, this adds up to 3500 calories.
  • The same result can be achieved by increasing your exercise by 400 calories/day, and reducing your calorie-intake by 100 calories/day.
  • That said, a combination of calorie-reduction and increased exercise makes weight loss easier to sustain and far more healthy.

The Cincinnati Fitness Guide To Calorie Content Of Food

There are roughly 4 calories in each gram of carbohydrate or protein, but 9 calories per gram of dietary fat. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. So an obvious way of reducing your calorie intake is to reduce your consumption of foods which are high in fat, and drinks which are high in sugar (alcohol = sugar).

However, proper nutrition and healthy eating is a critically important factor in effective body fat loss. A nutritious eating plan boosts body fat reduction in various ways. First, our metabolism (the way we burn food) needs several minerals and vitamins to maintain its efficiency. Without these nutrients, our metabolism won't burn food efficiently and may slow down, causing a reduction in our rate of fat loss. Second, without adequate nutrition our digestive system may not be able to digest and process our food properly. As well as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber is also very beneficial for our gastrointestinal tract, and helps to avoid constipation and other indigestion-type complaints such as diverticulosis and IBS.

The worst type of foods from both a calorie and nutritional viewpoint are "empty calorie" foods. These are foods and drinks which contain very small amounts of nutrition but large amounts of calories, using up our calorie allowance without providing useful nutrients and energy. For anyone who is striving to reduce body fat, these empty calorie foods should be avoided. Examples of empty calorie food items include: sugary drinks, bleached, enriched, processed foods, and any foods with excess sugar content, including alcohol.

In addition, certain foods may be "calorie-dense". These foods are particularly high in fat-calories (eg. butter, mayonnaise, sausages, high-fat cheese), or they may contain an excessive amount of both fat and sugar (eg. many types of commercial popcorn, white flour muffins or other rich bread-snacks, candy). Obviously, these processed calorie-dense foods are not a good choice for someone who wants to lose excess stored body fat.

The best type of calorie-controlled eating plan contains foods from all food-groups (including essential fats), and aims to help you lose about two pounds of body fat per week max. It should be rich in high-fiber, whole grains, and should include lean protein and a moderate amount of good quality vegetable oils. For most women, a realistic energy intake is 1200-1600 calories per day, depending on age and energy expenditure.

The best program I’ve found to help track both the quantity and quality of calories (micronutrients and macronutrients), and your body's own energy expenditure, is the Body Bugg program. You can watch a demo here.

Regardless of the method, people who keep track of what they are eating are far more successful in their body fat reduction efforts.

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins - HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio 513-407-4665

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Harvard Study Helps You Get Fit

Harvard Business School has been studying the difference in success or failure for people of similar backgrounds for over 30 years. Their studies find that 3% of people are successful, 30% are moderately successful and 67% just exist. The significant difference for the 3% who are successful is that they have written down, specific goals. The 30% who are moderately successful have a general idea of where they are going but don't have formalized goals. The rest are happy to watch the world go by.

Here's the interesting part: The 3% who have written goals are more success as a group than the entire 97% who are either moderately successful or are just watching the world go by.
Even more interesting to me is that people in the 30% moderately successful category only need to put in a small effort to jump into the 3% group. The Harvard studies go on to report that the secret behind the extra little effort is developing habits and strategies that support the goals you set.

This same pattern holds true for people who decide to get fit. The top 3% are 100 percent committed to doing whatever it takes to be consistent with their exercise routine. They have established their goals in writing and take all the steps to achieve them. The 30% who are moderately success are still making progress, but sometimes feel stuck.

If you're in that 30% who are relatively consistent with your exercise and nutrition, you certainly have my admiration. And if you're are ready for the next level, here are the steps to get you into the top category of fitness success:

1. Put your goals in writing. Look at them twice each day. Where do you want to be in 6 months from now? How do you want your body to look and feel? Get very specific and write it down.

2. Visualize yourself in your ideal body. In your mind see yourself exactly how you want to look; feel what it's like to have an abundance of energy and vitality, free from excessive stress. Realize that our subconscious mind drives much of our behavior and it does not know the difference between something that is real and something that is vividly imagined. Whatever you picture in your mind and consistently think about drives your behaviors, actions and mindset, and ultimately your outcomes.

A great visualization technique is to invest 10 minutes every night, while lying in bed with your eyes closed, visualizing in detail how you want your body to look. Start from the ground up and focus your visualization on how you want your legs to look, and then move up to your hips and thighs. Focus attention on your midsection, then your chest arms and shoulders. Finally, visualize your new lean and vibrant face. See and feel how you want to look, act and feel as a healthy, fit, energized new person.

3. Get help! Unless you're a mechanic, you probably don't service your own car, just like you probably don't do your own taxes or perform surgery unless you're an accountant or physician. So, unless you have an exercise science degree, you stand to benefit substantially by going to see a qualified personal trainer. Beyond the obvious knowledge, trainers provide accountability, motivation, support, and are your partner in health and fitness keeping you on your path toward achieving your goals far more quickly than most of us can on our own.

So where are you? Which category do you find yourself today? Regardless, take a few simply actions today to get to that next level.

Have an awesome Tuesday!

Click here to watch how "Old School" training gets you fit Fast!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio 513-407-4665

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Are You Going Down with the Gloom and Doom?

Negativity sells. It must, as that's all we ever see when we open the paper or turn on the news.

  • Dow Falls Below 10,000
  • Gloves Come Off on the Campaign Trail
  • US Bank Failures Almost Certain to Increase Next Year
  • Are You Going Down with the Gloom and Doom?
Yes, my headline is negative too. But in my defense, I understand negativity sells better than positive headlines (unfortunately), and I wanted to compel you to read the positive steps we can take during challenging times.

Yes, economically we're in a challenging spot, yes politics can be an ugly game, but come on, all this negativity is to the brain like a steady dose of Big Macs is to the heart - very destructive! Seriously, how depressing is it to begin your day with these thoughts, images and perceptions?

It's Time We Take Control!

Why not focus on the fact that we have a tremendous economic system and it always has, and always will, rebound. We've had significant affluent times in the past and will experience tremendous growth again in the future. The market will rebound, as will housing and banking. And, we WILL learn valuable lessons from our current challenges to allow us to gain the wisdom to prevent similar challenges. We always do.

In the meantime, here's what we can do to stay mentally, emotionally and physically strong and fit:

1. Begin your day with positive thoughts, words and mental images. I know, some people may say this is hogwash, but all of the successful people I know feed their brains with positive information or affirmations each day. Simply establishing and visualizing your goals is a positive influx to your brain. Reading something inspirational works equally as well as does listening to a motivational or educational book on CD during your commute. Feed your mind the positive; guard your mind against negative thoughts as if you were protecting your house from a robber. Both can take everything you have.

2. Focus on making better nutrition choices. What we eat directly impacts our energy, emotions and mental outlook. Low fat proteins, whole grain carbs, and fruits and veggies optimally fuel our body and mind.

3. Get regular exercise. Hundreds of studies have reviewed the relationship between exercise and mental state. An article titled "The Influence of Exercise on Mental Health" published in the Sports Research Digest suggested that exercise decreases depression more than relaxation training or casual recreation, both regularly accepted treatments for depression, and suggests that exercise rivals that of psychotherapy. Regular exercise significantly stimulates our "feel-good" brain chemicals of serotonin and dopamine while keeping the stress hormone cortisol in balance.

On the contrary, if you don't feel "good," everything feels more difficult. Getting your workout in, eating healthy foods, or going for a walk or jog feel as if they are overwhelming tasks when you're not "up". These are those moments where you just have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and just do it. Shortly thereafter, the good feelings kick in.

Now more than ever, it's time we take control over how we feel. We can't control our politicians, our economy, the stock market or the price of gasoline. However, we always determine what we focus on in any moment in time. Focus on what you want, feed your mind with positives, strive for healthy nutrition and be consistent with your exercise. You'll feel mentally, emotionally and physically strong, confident and empowered to conquer any challenge that may come your way.

Take a moment to see how our friends get "Fired Up"!

Have a positive and productive Wednesday!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
HealthStyle Fitness, Inc.