Get Your Learn on 4.23

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It’s a bit strange getting back to writing regularly, but like any habit that has gone by the wayside I’m sure it will begin to get more comfortable as long as I keep at it.  In the interest of just getting back to regular posts I only have two articles to share today.  Enjoy!

 The Big Roadblock To Losing Fat- Bryan Krahn

Bryan is one of those writers that really resonates with me.  Mostly it’s the fact the he’s not afraid to just tell it like it is and not sugarcoat things.  There is no shortage of information available to all of us and that is a huge stumbling block and Bryan hits the nail on the head here.

The Education of Millionaires– Michael Ellsberg

I just finished this book on tape the other day, and admittedly the title is little misleading in my opinion, but I really enjoyed it.  The premise of the book is that we don’t all need to get a four year degree to find success and that in fact many of the most successful people opted out of college and were all the better for it.  Now I’ve done my fair share of school and there is certainly value in it, but I think we need to teach the next generation how to make more conscious decisions before committing themselves to a mountain of debt and very little on the job skills.

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Get Your Learn On 5.2

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It’s going to be a short and sweet post today, as the sleep deprivation has kicked in a bit, and my ability to focus, let alone put together a coherent string of words is quickly going down the tubes.  I’ve got a couple of great articles to check out this week that will most definitely make you smarter.

Eating Half The Banana (How To Eat When Training For Fat-Loss Part 1)- Francis Nitsch

This was a great two part series on some different aspects of fat loss.  I can’t stress enough how important a healthy mindset is when trying to achieve success.  If you’re mind is cluttered and full of negativity you will have a hard time achieving and maintaining the goals that you want for yourself.

Eating Half The Banana (How To Eat When Training For Fat-Loss Part 2)- Francis Nitsch

And part two!

89 Simple Swaps That Could Change Your Life- Laura Schwecherl

These were great!  I’m a big fan of the greatist site as they always put out solid content.  These are some tips that you can swap out that can definitely make an impact on your health.

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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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Get Your Learn On 2.27

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I read a ton of different articles each week, and always have a few books that I’m working on at any given time.  Reading is just that important to me, and I distinctly remember the first time I was enthralled with a book.  It was “The Boxcar Children”, I was in the third grade, and that bright yellow cover was like a beacon.

I don’t remember the storyline, but I do remember getting into the book so much that I finished it in a day or two.  When I find a book that I really like I can do the same thing even today and knock off a few hundred pages in an evening, much to the chagrin of my wife.

Why is that important, aside from the entertainment value books provide, there are tons of lessons to learn by reading books as well as others writing, most of which can be accessed for free, or at least very inexpensively.  I feel I can express a decent thought in written format, but I know full well that my style may not speak to everyone.  So hopefully each week you have the opportunity to be exposed to some excellent writers and learn a thing or two.  That being said enjoy this week’s edition of “Get Your Learn On”, and yes that’s a new sexy ass name for this series.

The Deficit- How We Lose Fat- Leigh Peele

This might get a bit technical but it’s a great read on some of the specifics behind fat loss.  Pretty simply put if there is no deficit there is no fat loss, but Leigh says it in a much more elegant way.

You Are Standing Wrong- Nate Green

This is a great post on the mechanics of standing.  Seems like a pretty easy thing to do, but most of us are pretty bad at even that.

Learn From Your Elders- Ross Enamit

I can only hope that I am deadlifting when I’m 92.  This is truly a testament to the fact that age is only a number, and this 92 year old dude totally kicks ass!!

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Christmas in February, The Best Diet For Fat Loss, and More!

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I’m still a bit new to this writing thing, at least writing regularly.  I’ve really started to enjoy the process, but sometimes it takes me FOREVER to get to a point where I’m satisfied with the finished product.  Much to my wife’s chagrin I head to the basement once or twice a week only to emerge a few hours later, by which time she’s snuggled up in bed.

How does that apply to you, you might ask?  Because like most everything we do writing is a learned skill, as is the ability to get in regular workouts, learning the guitar, or even playing whack-a-mole (seriously who didn’t love that game).  When I first started writing much like when I first started working out, I was a walking ball of fail.  I tipped the scales at 165 my freshman year of college and that 165 consisted mostly of skin and bones, but since that time, and with a lot of trial and error I’ve made big improvements in strength and physique.

My writing is a similar story.  I sent out a regular newsletter when I owned Essential Fitness, which for those of you that don’t know was my old personal training studio.  Those newsletters were the genesis to this blog, and I’d say I’ve come quite a way in my ability to put together a coherent message that people enjoy reading, but it’s still early and I’m still learning:)  I do realize the value though in reading and learning from others, and I do quite a bit of it each week, and you should too.  So here are a few of the articles I read this past week.  Enjoy!

15 Things You’re Probably Not Doing Enough Of- Chet Morjaria

This was a good article and number 1 really relates to the beginning of my post.  There are some things we don’t like and writing at one point in time was one of mine.  But as we keep doing those things we get better and build confidence, and eventually I dare say maybe even master it, whatever that may be for you.

Merry Christmas Bob- Chris Shugart

I know Christmas is already passed, but for those of you that are already into lifting heavy things, and even those that aren’t it’s an inspiring piece.

The Best Diet For Fat Loss- Mark Fisher

Mark does a great job explaining that we all need to figure out nutrition that works for us.  Some funny stuff here too, as Mark certainly has a way with words.

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Calories For Fat Loss, Gym For Strength

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I, for sooo long, was convinced that since I worked out 4-5 times a week I was allowed to eat just about whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted. And that is true, I was free to eat whatever I wanted, but I never was quite as lean as I’d like to be. Quite frankly, I felt justified in my overeating because I was “very” active.

I consider myself to be fairly well educated, yet I had a faulty belief system despite the level of knowledge I had acquired. This faulty belief system mixed with a little bit of denial and the inability to be objective about my appearance was the reason that I not too long ago… was over 200lbs (and I’m not talking jacked, but doughy and quite honestly overweight).

I, as a fitness professional, even make mistakes and am in a constant state of learning when it comes to developing the body I want. Hopefully I can shorten the learning curve to reaching your goal whatever that may be. So sit back and get ready to have your mind blown (ok prolly not, but let’s pretend this is new amazing information you’ve never heard before).

When it comes to fitness most of us walk into the gym or start a workout program because we aren’t happy with the person looking back at us in the mirror. Ultimately, we want to lose a bit of body fat and maybe get some bigger biceps to turn a few heads in the process.

While the gym is a great place to start, I for the longest time placed my trust in the gym and weightlifting to help me achieve the body of my dreams and failed miserably. Ok maybe I didn’t fail miserably; I got fairly strong in the process, but mostly ignored the largest key to success in developing the body you want. Nutrition, and more to the point… total calories.

It’s so simple, it’s almost laughable. If you can get into a calorie deficit and still be able to have a chocolate chip cookie, or some frozen custard every once in a while (life isn’t worth living without a bit of frozen custard every once in a while in my opinion) you’ll lose body fat.

So one of the greatest things you can do for yourself is divorce the mindset that hitting the gym will get you ultra lean, because the gym without a supportive nutrition program won’t do it. Nutrition is really where it’s at when it comes to fat and weight loss.

Don’t misunderstand me the gym is awesome it makes us look great, feel better, hell even deadlift a mack truck if that’s what your into, but a poor nutrition plan will quickly sabotage the most intelligently designed program.

But Ian what about going gluten free, avoiding high fructose corn sugar, and eating like a friggin caveman! Doesn’t that get us the body we want?” you say. To that I say horseshit! None of that matters until you control for calories. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t have those conversations, but they are secondary if your goal is to lose body fat.

There may be a bit more to the story than just calories but quite frankly it’s minutia until you have regularly been in a calorie deficit (and by regularly I mean consistently over the entire week not Monday through Friday with a 5000 calorie binge on Saturday and Sunday). If you think you are in a calorie deficit and you haven’t lost body fat and the way you look in the mirror has not changed, I challenge you to be brutally honest with yourself and reassess your nutrition.

If your appearance has not changed, nor has the scale, then almost certainly you are eating too many calories. Take a second and track how many calories you eat. Use myfitnesspal.com, lose it, or the other 5000 apps out there that have a great database of foods to track with.

Yes that means you will have to measure your food with a measuring spoon or measuring cups, and maybe invest a few dollars in a scale to measure some portions of dead animal flesh. It does take a bit of time and it may be a little annoying but you’ll have to ask yourself is it more annoying to not reach the goals you have for yourself?