Get Your Learn On 4.25

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Happy Friday! Hopefully you’ve got some most excellent plans for the weekend.

It’s funny how just the fact that the weekend is within grasp can drastically change your mood.

I’ve got a pretty solid list of excellent reads today. Some fitness based and some not. While the focus of my writing centers around fitness and health I’ll commonly read articles on politics, religion (I know two of the most contentious topics around) and many others.

I’ll share some of the ones that I find most interesting and thought provoking even if they don’t directly have to do with fitness.  Hence my first article on anxiety:)

How I Cured My Anxiety- Charlie Hoehn

While this may not be a “cure” for anxiety I’m certain it can help.  Not all methods work for all people, I’m not a fan of large broad sweeping statements like this one, as it is just link bait.  However, I do thing there are some nuggets in here that can help people better deal with anxiety.

I’ve had my own personal battle with anxiety, and have found that simply being a bit more self aware has helped me immensely.  Either way if anxiety is something that affects you this is at least worth a read.

Why You Should Not Be Running- Mark Rippetoe

There has been a lot of sentiment in the fitness community hating on running, and that is not why I’ve posted this.  As I’ve mentioned before I really try to be a champion of all types of physical activity.  If someone likes to run go for it, if cylcling is your thing have at it, hell if prancercizing is your thing by all means(ok maybe not that’s just weird).

However, running is not the health panacea that it has been made out to be.  In fact, in my opinion, there are superior modes of exercise(strenth training) to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.  This article helps to outline that.

Building Muscle Slowly- Brad Pilon

This piece I can’t suggest enough in that building muscle and great fitness is a slow process.  While you may engage in a 12 week contest or something that kickstarts success, a long term focus on building great fitness and health is the only true way to reaching your goals.

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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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Let Them Eat Cake

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You’ve heard it before “That cake looks good! I’ll just run an extra 2 miles tonight to make up for it.” The next thing you know your face is nothing but a mess of icing and crumbs. That really is not an uncommon sentiment to have, especially when you are in an environment with a ton of food, work potlucks, buffet restaurants, or the like.

However, that is a faulty thought pattern, because it’s based on the pretense that exercise is the main focus to aid us in fat loss. And quite simply it’s not.

You might say I’m being a bit nitpicky, but there really is value in changing our mindset with respect to that line of thinking. I’ve written about the importance of changing our nutrition to aid fat loss here
. But, increasing your exercise by adding 2 miles to your evening run or tacking on a 30 minute cardio session, shouldn’t be the targeted strategy to support your fat loss goals.

Taking an honest look at the energy expended for a 2 mile run, for a person of average height and weight, it only amounts to about 200 calories burned*. Seriously 200! That just sucks when you look at an average slice of cake clocking in around 370 calories**, that is if your portion size is appropriate, and let’s be honest usually it’s not.

That information just turned your 2 mile run into 4 miles:(.  So what to do now? Attempt to avoid cake altogether, stop going to functions that have tons of food? Lock yourself in your bedroom, and decide no to come out until the zombie apocalypse comes and there is no more cake! These aren’t viable options, and I’m not convinced the zombie apocalypse is coming anytime soon either.

It really comes down to three things. 1) Finding balance. 2) Allowing ourselves indulgences from time to time in the appropriate portion or calorie amount that supports our goals. And 3) To enjoy said indulgences without feeling guilty.

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Finding balance simply means that we should eat a variety of foods that support our goals and provide us the nutrition to sustain health. We can do that by making sure we have plenty of fruits and veggies, healthy cuts of protein, and healthy fats (in the appropriate amounts), each and every day.

Balance also means not making up ridiculous rules around food, or avoiding certain food groups altogether (that is unless medically you need to). Those rules only serve to get us one step closer to disordered eating, and that does not sustain or promote health, and it is not balanced.

Eat the damn cake. That’s what I’d tell you with respect to the second point listed above. No, not every day, and especially not for breakfast (ok maybe for breakfast sometimes), but when you crave cake have some, knowing you either need to adjust for it later in the day or not worry about it at all, just get back on point the next time you eat.

Lastly, learn how to forgive yourself. There will be times when you take down half the cake and wash it down with a bowl of ice cream. When that happens we need to be patient with ourselves and realize we are human, and at times the cake tastes just that good. Beating yourself up over it for days after and subjecting yourself to insane workouts to make up for it, fall outside the bounds of being balanced.

So I challenge you to the next time you are faced with a food decision instead of thinking you’ll just punish yourself on the treadmill for it, sit down and enjoy.

Now where did that cake go I’m hungry!?

*A rough estimate.

**This 370 calories is based on 1/16th of a piece of red velvet cake from Costco. Man that cake is delicious!!

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Hills: Are You Man/Woman Enough?

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Whether you’ve run hills in the past or not, I’m certain we can all agree…they SUCK!  Not suck in the sense that they are ineffective, but the sort of love/hate suck you know is necessary to make you a more badass version of yourself.  Plus if you don’t feel accomplished or like a beast after a good hill run then I’m not sure we can be friends.

Check out my latest post over at Go! St Louis, where I talk a bit more about hill training.  Fair warning I do geek out a bit, but not so much that you won’t get something out of it.

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Link Love To Start The Week

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Soooooo, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a series like this pretty regularly, and there is no time like the present.  Basically I’ll link to a couple of articles that I’ve read recently and find particularly insightful.  Most of them will be fitness related, but there are other topics that may find their way in this series as well.  I read a fair amount because I think it’s just that important, so important that I try and do it daily, and I think you should too.  Here’s to blowing your mind, or at least expanding it.

5 Things That Will Make You a Better Runner– Ian Fagala

As I mentioned last week I’ve been asked to do some regular contributions for Go! St Louis, if you missed my post on their site last week be sure and check it out.  

11 Reasons People Think Calories Don’t Count — And Why They’re Wrong – Armi Legge

I really can’t stress this point enough.  If your goal is fat loss and you are not looking at calories as a means to do that you are missing the bus.  I would liken this to driving from New York to LA without a roadmap, you might get to your destination but it’ll take a hell of a lot longer.

Stevia: Natural Sugar Alternative or Toxic Chemical?– Chris and Kara Mohr

There are all kinds of crazy opinions out there on artificial sweeteners.  You’ve got the Aspartame will give you cancer crowd, the conspiracy theorists that believe the FDA has been bought by the Aspartame Association, artificial sweeteners will make you grow a third nipple, and probably a million more.  Now I’ll admit I use Stevia daily in my coffee and this gave me cause to potentially reconsider that, at least to maybe stop daily use.  The only way  you can make an educated guess on what is best for you is by having all the facts.  While all the facts aren’t quite in on Stevia, at least you can make a judgement call based on your own research.

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5 Things To Make You a Better Runner

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I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be doing some guest blogging over at Go! St Louis.  I’ve done a bit of work with them in the past and have ran a few of their races.  They are a great presence in the St. Louis area and do a lot to promote not just running but fitness as a way of life.

In this post I touch on just a few things that you can do to make you a better runner.  Even if you aren’t a runner they are great points that I think anyone can begin to implement into their own training to make some improvements.  If you like the article feel free to get social and share it on the interwebs like facebook or whatever form of social media you use.

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