Get Your Learn On 3.28

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Sooo it’s Friday, and only about a week away before I become a dad.  I must say it is one of the most exciting times in my life.  It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short days we will have another rugrat running around the house.

While I’m sure there will be many sleepless nights, coupled with a bit of stress, it sure will be worth it.  Things around the Fagala household will certainly change, and I can’t wait to teach, learn, and enjoy this time.  Enough about me, I’ve put together a great list of articles this week to expand your mind, so get to reading.

And if you didn’t have a chance to read my post on Tony Gentilcore’s site have a looksie here.  Otherwise enjoy the weekend.

82 Push-Ups You Need To Know About- Nick English

Seriously who doesn’t like the push-up?!  It’s one exercise that is probably grossly underrated and has so many benefits, and obviously so many ways you can perform/tweak it.  Now drop and give me 20!

11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods On The Planet- Kris Gunnars

Apparently I liked posts with number in them this week and this one doesn’t disappoint either.  If there aren’t a few of these foods in your nutrition plan each week you need to consider adding them.

4 Reasons You’re Not Getting Stronger- Dave Dellanave

Yep another post with a number.  Dave hits the nail on the head here and gives even a few more reasons to increase strength.  This post compliments mine from Tony’s site very nicely and between the two you should be able to act on a few of these an increase your lifts in the gym, which will make you more awesome, and ultimately a better human being.

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Exercising Isn’t A License To Eat Freely

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It’s funny as I sit here writing, there is some seriously twangy old school Hank Williams on the radio upstairs, and I totally dig it!  It seems the more I listen to this genre of music the more I like it, and I think it’s because those old country song writers just tell it like it is.

Now I’m certain that I just made some people cringe at the mention of Country music, I may have even lost some cool points, and the old stereotypes of lost dogs and ex wives probably come to mind too.  However, one of the main reasons I like those old country guys is because they were brutally honest.

And when it comes to today’s topic, the topic of eating, I’ve got to be brutally honest, we as Americans simply do too damn much of it!  I mean name a holiday that is celebrated without food or drink.  Seriously, we even celebrate Cinco De Mayo, which gives most folks a reason to run to the nearest mexican restaurant for margaritas and the never ending basket of chips and salsa, but has little to do with our own country.

There is certainly nothing wrong with celebrating Mexican heritage or celebrating with food on occasion, but if you’re at a Mexican restaurant or anywhere for that matter, look around and you’ll quickly realize we are a society OBSESSED with food.  The statistics give us a pretty clear indication that this obsession with food has had a nasty effect on our waistline.

One of the biggest misconceptions in the fitness industry to date has been that exercise can be applied as a means to help with our country’s weight problem, but that simply is not true, at least not to the degree that most would have you believe.  If there were a hierarchy of importance for fat loss, exercise does not top that chart, changing your eating does, and that means a nutrition plan that improves the nutrient density of your food, while providing less total calories.

The second misconception is that those who exercise can eat anything because the exercise cancels it out.  This line of thinking is probably one of the most dangerous to those looking for long term fat loss solutions, because it so very easy to overeat and takes much more time and energy to achieve the same calorie deficit through exercise.

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When working with clients, it’s like clockwork, once I mention that calories need to be the focus for fat loss they immediately ask how many calories they need to eat to lose body fat.  Of course I could figure someone’s calorie needs with a simple equation or you can find any one of a million websites to help you do this, but I always stress that we really need to start to learn/experiment enough on our own to discover that information.

Because quite frankly, that calorie recommendation equation could in fact be way off.  As an example, last fall I was focused on dropping a bit of body fat, and found that approximately 2000 calories was my deficit, that kept me from being too hungry, and still allowed me to enjoy some treats from time to time.  I didn’t feel deprived (I can’t say how incredibly important this is) and dropped about 20 lbs over the course of a few months, and didn’t change my exercise habits a bit.

However, using the harris benedict equation, a common equation used to determine calorie needs, it stated I could lose 1 lb a week while consuming 2600 calories daily.  If I would have chosen 2600 calories as my target I surely would have been frustrated by the lack of progress after a few weeks, as I’m certain I would not have dropped an ounce of body fat, due to the simple fact that I would have been in calorie maintenance.

I was very careful in my planning and portion control when I started my fat reduction plan and it paid off.  Trying to add in an additional 600 calories worth of exercise daily really wasn’t realistic for me as I’m already in the gym 4 days a week, but reducing my intake by 600 calories just took a little planning.  Now I know not everyone wants to count calories forever and I get that, so that is why it is so important to control your portion sizes, and not give into the mindset that exercising is like a get out of jail free card when it comes to food.

It is no secret that our portions are much larger than they used to be, and eating too large of portions means more calories and less success with your fat loss plan.  A historic look at a McDonalds value meal is pretty telling of portions alone.  Around 1960 the average McDonalds meal was approximately 590 calories, which isn’t bad for one meal.  However, the meals offered today are in upwards of 1,550 calories, almost 300% more than 50 years ago.*

Large portions and ultimately too many calories coupled with the mindset that you can eat whatever you want because you exercise,  is a recipe for lackluster results.  While exercising should be a part of your plan, the people with the most success will have been the ones who were able to control their calorie intake, and use exercise for what I think it should be, an endeavor that is fun and enjoyable, instead of a punishment for having a piece of cake.

So if fat loss is in your future, focus on your eating and educate yourself on your portions and total calories, because this is the first and most effective way to reduce body fat.  There are other factors to be considered of course and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the value of strength training and protein content when on a fat loss diet, but those will be topics to cover another day.

*And I’m certainly not suggesting one eat McDonalds either for obvious reasons:)

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Go

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For those people that enjoy running I’ve got another blog up on the Go! St Louis site.  While I don’t run much anymore, it still is an insanely simple way to get active.  I mean you need literally no equipment aside from a pair of shoes, shorts, and a shirt, and as short as some of these running shorts are made today those might even be considered optional.

I never could get behind the whole short running shorts thing, but maybe that’s my own issue.  Now I know I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the recent trends in the fitness industry is to mock running and those that do long duration cardio like running, cycling, and whatnot.

Much like short running shorts I can’t get behind that idea either.  You see I’d much rather be a champion for activity than a detractor, because I don’t think mocking runners wins any points for those that prefer to lift weights.  It really should all be about education.

I’m all for informing people that running is not the answer to fat loss, and in fact there are more optimal ways to achieve fat loss, but anything that gets people jazzed up about exercising I am behind 100%.  That could be running, weight lifting, hell even olympic curling (I guarantee the brushing works up a good sweat).  Either way I think we shouldn’t consider ourselves a part of the fitness elite, because we feel our preferred mode of exercise is superior.

(Steps off Soapbox)  Now that I’ve said my piece click the link below to check out that link I mentioned.

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3 Benefits of Varying Exercises

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I admit it, I am a creature of habit.  I know that in my own programming I don’t change my exercises enough.  There are a lot of people that suffer from perpetual program hopping where they won’t stick with one program or set of exercises for more than a week, I am not one of those people(I’m still a work in progress).

At the other extreme when training clients I include new and different exercises, maybe even sometimes too often.  It’s taken a while, but I’ve realized the error of my ways in programming for both myself and my clients.  There are times like this in life when you get a little perspective, but that new perspective is worthless if you don’t apply it, and so I have.

Last summer I decided to purchase a program from another trusted fitness professional, and I can tell you it was probably one of the best things I’ve done for my workouts in a while!  There were a couple of incredible benefits that I received as a result of doing so.  The first was improving some glaring weaknesses I had in core strength.

I’ve had low back issues for quite sometime and occasionally my back would flip me the bird, and I’d be down and out for a few days.  However, once I started this new program my back within a few weeks started to feel much better, fast forward almost a year now, and I have literally zero low back issues.  The program had me doing exercises I probably never would have programmed for myself, but since they were written in I felt obligated to perform them and feel much better as a result.

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One of the other immediate benefits, was not having to worry about writing my own programs for a while.  You see when life gets a bit nuts, and you don’t know which way is up, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of doing the same things for too long and expecting different results, often referred to as the definition of insanity.  This approach however, will not only produce subpar results it could even open you up to a higher risk of injury from the repetitive movements.

Lastly, and the one that surprised me the most was how much the new exercises illuminated my imbalances.  You see we all have imbalances to some degree, whether it’s being stronger on our right side due to being right hand dominant, or our left quad being more muscular since we blew out our right knee in high school football.  Imbalances are found in just about everyone, but if we don’t do something to offset those they can start to snowball and lead to injury just like repetitive movements.

So the take home is be sure you are finding balance when adjusting your programming.  You don’t want to be doing the same exercise program for 10 years, but you also don’t want to be a program hopper trying every new workout under the sun.  I hate giving general recommendations as I feel they usually just confuse people, or worse yet they feel that it’s gospel and they should do nothing else.  That being said I’ll break my own rule  and say generally sticking with a program between 8-12 weeks with appropriately built-in progressions/regressions is a pretty good start, at which time you might want to start think about changing things.

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Wendy’s Frosty Protein Smoothie

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My buddy Jared of Accelerate Health and Fitness posted this on facebook a few weeks back and it’s been made many times in the Fagala household since.  I mean really who doesn’t like a Wendy’s Frosty right?  Try it your taste buds will thank you.

Ingredients

3/4 Cup (6 Ounces) Almond Milk, I usually use regular milk which is equally as delicious

~ 15 Ice Cubes

1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder

1-2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Sweetener of choice (1/4 of a frozen banana or stevia)

The trick I’ve found is starting the blender with everything but the ice in it.  Then add the ice cubes one at a time until the consistency is where you like it.  Enjoy!

Get Your Learn On 3.14

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I get pretty excited this time of year because when I know St. Patty’s Day is close, it means Corned Beef and Cabbage day is close.  In fact we had it last night and it was GLORIOUS!  Ok the cabbage part not so much, but I love me some Corned Beef, and I love a good Reuben sandwich in the days following.

We probably should have waited until Monday to cook it, but seriously I’m not sure I could’ve done that knowing that delicious hunk of meat would be waiting in the fridge all weekend.  So whether you plan to celebrate a bit with some corned beef and cabbage or decide to go for a run and enjoy a few green beers afterward (St. Louis has a great St Pattys Day Run sponsored by Anheuser Busch), I have some great reads to start your weekend.  Enjoy!

Top 5 Reasons Your Diet Isn’t Working – Chad Landers

I know I know I’m a broken record when it comes to calories and fat loss, but it’s because it’s that important.  If more people were educated on portion sizes and how much food they actually ate, they would ultimately be more successful in their attempts to lose body fat.

6 Life Lessons From 2013 – Jim Smith

These kinds of posts are always helpful for me to get a little perspective on life.  I know it’s a few months old, but when I read things like this it helps me chill out and enjoy the aweseomeness that is life.  There are so many things in life to be grateful for and learning continuously is one, as is being able to look back and evaluate and learn from your past experiences.

Recovering Your Metabolism: Do You Need to Increase Or Decrease Your Calories? (Part I) – Lucas Serwinksi

Tony consistently puts out great information and this piece is no different.  This actually comes from Lucas Serwinski and he knocks it out of the park on some interesting points about Metabolic Damage.  While this probably isn’t a factor for a lot of people out there it is good to know and does have a lot of good information.  If you have been dieting for a long time it does make sense to start to add calories back in slowly, and ultimately spend as much time at a maintenance level of calories as you did in a deficit.

Recovering Your Metabolism: Do You Need to Increase Or Decrease Your Calories? (Part II) – Lucas Serwinksi

And this is part two of that post.  I couldn’t leave you hanging.  These two posts do a great job of breaking down a complex topic without losing in you a lot of science speak.

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