1.) Lattes and cappuccinos
Postworkout caffeine may be energizing at first, but it won’t last all day. Plus, your favorite sweetened mocha adds unnecessary fat and sugar. Instead, opt for green tea sweetened with just a touch of honey.
2.) Muffins and other pastries
People often think fruit-filled muffins are a much healthier choice than donuts or danishes. But all of those foods contain too many calories, not enough protein, and are often loaded with sugar.
3.) Candy bars, granola bars, and protein bars
Sure, you’ll find some protein in these bars, but you’ll also find lots of calories. These are never a good choice if sugar or corn syrup is among the top five ingredients.
It’s no wonder most people make pretzels their number one choice when it comes to the office vending machine. It’s easy to be pulled in by the low-fat labeling of these tasty snacks. The down side? They lack adequate protein and contain enough processed white flour to send blood sugar skyrocketing.
5.) Ice cream, hamburgers, etc.
How often have you justified eating junk food after lifting weights or completing a grueling run? “Rewarding” yourself with one of these high-fat convenience foods after a workout cancels out all the hard work you just completed.
Why they’re good for you: Clams are loaded with iron and are one of the few meats high in vitamin C — one serving contains nearly half of your recommended daily intake.
Prep: None needed. Just toss the shells on the grill.
How to cook ‘em: Grill over high heat until they pop open.
Why it’s good for you: In or out of the shell, lobster meat is significantly lower in fat than pork and beef, with a healthy dose of calcium.
Prep: While the lobster is still alive, cut it in half lengthwise, drain and reserve the juices, and brush with olive oil or butter.
How to cook it: Place the cut side down on a very hot grill for 3 minutes, then flip and pour the juice over the top; grill for another 4-5 minutes. The heat caramelizes the meat, giving it more flavor.
Why it’s good for you: Deer meat has fewer calories than chicken breast and twice as much iron as beef.
Prep: Marinate in red wine or olive oil before grilling.
How to cook it: Lean meats are best cooked to medium rare, so 3 to 4 minutes per side over high heat.
Why it’s good for you: This long-necked beast is very lean and contains a large amount of iron.
Prep: Drizzle with or marinate in olive oil. Since the meat is lean like venison, it needs added fat to stay moist.
How to cook it: Grill over high heat, allowing the meat to cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Why it’s good for you: Besides being the ultimate sailing trophy, swordfish has virtually the same number of calories per serving as chicken or beef, and it’s loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Prep: Brush with olive oil and top with a squirt of fresh lemon juice.
How to cook it: Just like ostrich. Grill over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Stay committed to the gym and constantly fine-tune your workouts, and you’re sure to be significantly stronger in a few weeks. But damn it, sometimes that’s just not soon enough — like when you’re meeting your buddies at the gym in an hour, and you want to make sure you smoke them on the bench press. Behold, our best tips to get immediately stronger.
1.) “Work up” to your heaviest weight instead of using a pyramid. Do several warm-up sets with low reps that prepare you to lift your heaviest on your last few sets. That way, you’ll have energy for those sets — the most crucial ones for strength gains. Say you’re planning to squat with 300 pounds for five reps. You could do 135 pounds for six reps, 185 for five, 225 for three, 275 for two, and then 300 for five. By the time you get to the 300 set, you’ll be thoroughly warmed up but not fatigued.
2.) Visualize every rep before you do the set. Imagine how it will feel, where your eyes will be focused, and how you’ll breathe. Doing so will make you more “familiar” with how the set will be done, and it will seem easier.
3.) Rest three to five minutes between sets. To lift your hardest, your body needs to regenerate as much ATP — the fuel source for muscle contractions — as possible. Take the time to feel fully recovered before you attempt any personal record on a lift.
4.) Work on your weak points. If you can’t lock out your elbows on the bench press, try setting the safety rails in a power rack at about your sticking point on the lift. Put roughly 100 pounds more than your one-rep maximum weight on the bar and then try to press it — naturally, you won’t be able to move the bar but try hard anyway for six to 10 seconds. Do four to six reps, resting a few seconds in between, and then lighten the load to the weight you usually have trouble locking out. Your central nervous system should now be sufficiently fired up for you to lift it.
5.) Train with someone stronger than you. Even if you have to invite the biggest animal in the gym to spot you, having someone around who inspires (or intimidates) you will always make you up your intensity.
6.) Load the bar with small plates. It makes the bar look lighter. Your brain won’t register it as heavy. That mental advantage can help you lift heavier or do more reps.
7.) Go barefoot or wear Converse Chuck Taylors. The less material there is between your feet and the floor when you lift, the more muscle your body can activate. It’s also better for leverage on moves like the deadlift (you’ll shorten the distance the bar has to travel). If you train at home or in a hardcore gym, lose the shoes. (If your gym requires footwear, thin-soled sneakers like Chucks are ideal.)
8.) Warm up your rotator cuff before any pressing exercise. Take a two to four-pound medicine ball and push it into a wall with one hand, keeping your arm straight. Roll the ball around on the wall (push hard so it doesn’t slip), tracing the alphabet. Do two sets on each arm, and then do your pressing. Firing up the rotator cuff increases the stability in your shoulders.
9.) Do box jumps in your warm-up for leg days. Do three sets of three reps, resting 60 seconds between each set. Explosive exercises wake up the central nervous system to recruit maximum muscle.
10.) Try a few glute bridges before deadlifting. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet close to your butt. Dig your heels into the floor and bridge up with your hips, focusing on the contraction in your glutes. Do two sets of eight to 10 reps. Preactivating the glutes — the prime movers in a proper deadlift — allows them to fire at their fullest.
11.) Squeeze your glutes on every lift. Tightness through your hips leads to increased stability everywhere and will let you put up more weight immediately on any exercise. In other words, you can, in fact, pull a new record “out of your ass.”
12.) Hold on to an ice pack for one to two minutes before lifting. It’s like a cold shower for your nervous system, awakening your senses.
13.) Use lifting chalk. Magnesium carbonate (not the same stuff you used in school to write a sentence 100 times on the blackboard) keeps your hands dry for a superstrong grip. Like the weight belt, it can help you instantly up your max.
14.) Warm up with a heavier weight than your work set. Do your last warm-up set with a heavier weight than what you plan to use in your first work set. Do fewer reps than what you will do on the work set, too. Using the heavier weight in the warm-up will help you recruit extra muscle mass for the work set.
15.) Wear a weight belt. A lifting belt will help support your lower back on deadlifts, squats, and presses. You can increase your max by tens of pounds just by strapping one on.
16.) Try a hook grip. Grab the bar overhand as usual but wrap your thumbs around it first. Then wrap your fingers over your thumbs. Reinforcing the thumb with the strength of your other fingers gives you a much better grip. It’s a great way to lift heavier without using straps, which don’t let your grip muscles work hard.
17.) Push your belly out during a squat or deadlift. Take a deep breath from your diaphragm so that your stomach swells outward. (If your shoulders rise, you took the breath into your lungs.) If you’re wearing a weight belt, push your gut into the belt so it feels very tight. Inflating your abdomen increases core stability. Do this on sets of five reps or fewer for an immediate strength increase of at least 10%.
18.) Go heavy. Before you curl, load the bar with 20% more weight than what you can lift for five reps. Cheat curl the bar to the top position and hold for two seconds, tensing every muscle. Take four seconds to lower the bar down. Rest one minute, then do your normal set of curls. The load you’re about to lift will feel lighter.
19.) When bench-pressing, drive your heels into the floor. Actively trying to force your body backward on the bench helps turn the lift into a full-body exercise, and it’ll feel easier.
20.) If the bar isn’t coming up evenly during a lift (as in the bench or shoulder press), or one side begins to sink, squeeze the bar on the lagging side as hard as you can. You’ll send a message to the nervous system, and it will increase strength on that side.
21.) Do two or three sets of the plank as a warm-up (get into pushup position and then rest your forearms on the floor). Hold it for 20 to 30 seconds each. You’ll wake up your core, which will better support your lifts.
22.) Take a deep breath after you lift the bar out of the rack on a bench press. Now hold it for your first two reps if you can. By not exhaling too soon, you won’t lose your tight position early in the set. This takes a little practice, so avoid it if you’re a beginner.
23.) Keep your wrists straight during a pressing lift. The heavier the weight gets, the more you may have a tendency to let your wrists roll back, but don’t. Keeping them straight is a more natural and stable position that will allow you to complete the lift more easily. If you can’t keep them straight, work on your grip strength.
24.) Perform a “dynamic” warm-up instead of jogging on a treadmill or pedaling a bike. Do bodyweight lunges, throwing exercises, or jumps — any movement in which you move your joints through a full range of motion. It will better prepare you to lift than just breaking a sweat with light cardio because it warms your muscles and joints while also prepping the central nervous system to lift heavy.
25.) Squeeze the bar hard for three to five seconds. Let go and rest for three to five seconds, and then begin your set. Squeezing the bar (it also works on dumbbells) forces that tight feeling everywhere in your body and reminds you to stay tight during the lift.
It’s hard to believe the plank could provide such a great workout—until you try it. Keith Scott, A.T.C., C.S.C.S., a strength coach in Medford, N.J., recommends conquering the plank before attempting any heavy weight exercise.
Get into pushup position on the floor.
Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can. Your goal should be to hold it for two minutes.
“The plank helps develop strength in the core, shoulders, arms, and glutes,”
says Scott, making it a great prerequisite for lifting heavy weights or playing intense sports. Even though you aren’t moving or lifting weight, you have to constantly squeeze your abs to hold the position—most people can’t last 30 seconds on their first attempt.
Ways to improve your plank time
The longer you can hold the plank, the more resilient your lower back will be to injury, and the better your abs will look once you burn the fat off them. Follow these tips for longer plank times.
If you don’t have the core strength yet to do a regular plank, you can build up to it by doing a bent-knee plank. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
SCREWUP: Marathon TV Pig-Out
SCREWUP: Boozing with the Guys
SCREWUP: Lazy Business Trip
A decade ago, it would have been hard to write this column. While there were all kinds of foods and supplements sold with promises to burn fat, none of them had any scientific data to support the claims. Today, scientists are beginning to understand how certain foods actually do rev up metabolism or enhance hormones to help us burn fat. You’ll read about the six best fat-burning foods below. Ten years from now, a column on fat-burning foods is bound to be full of science-based information on dozens of foods that can help boost metabolism and burn fat. So stay tuned.
In addition to helping build muscle, your metabolic furnace for burning fats, lean protein helps stoke the fat-burning fires— its thermogenic effect is 20 to 30 percent compared with an anemic 3 to 12 percent for carbohydrates. This basically means that it takes many more calories to digest, absorb and utilize protein versus carbohydrates. As you include protein in every meal and snack all day long, you raise your fat-burning potential, as well.
Make sure to choose lean protein sources such as eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat and vegetable proteins. If you don’t already have a blender and some protein powder, buy them. When you crave a high-fat or high-carb snack, reach for a protein shake instead.
For many years, nutritionists assumed you lost weight when you ate fish because it has fewer calories, pound-for-pound, than red meat. Now however, it appears that reasons go above and beyond calories. Most important, the type of fat found in fish appears to enhance the efficiency of the hormone leptin. This protein circulates in your bloodstream and, like the hormone insulin, is a key hormone in the weight-management equation. Leptin regulates your food intake as well as your body’s energy expenditure. When cells in your brain sense a rise in leptin, they signal other parts of your nervous system to turn down your appetite and turn up your metabolism.
I recommend that all my clients eat five fish meals a week. The omega-3 fats support a healthy heart, a healthy brain and nervous system, and possibly enhance the efficiency of leptin, helping you boost your metabolism and control appetite. It hardly gets better than this. While all fish have more omega-3 fats than a hot dog, the fatty fish like salmon, black cod, herring, sardines, mackerel, halibut, fresh tuna and shellfish are highest in omega-3 fats.
The kinds of fat that you eat can influence your energy expenditure and bodyweight. Energy is released through heat production in a process called nonshivering thermogenesis, which is controlled by uncoupling proteins (UCP) in the cells of brown fat, white fat and muscle. Researchers interested in finding out if diet can influence this process investigated possible dietary enhancements of thermogenesis in rats. They found that olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats, increased the activity of the UCPs, and hence of metabolic rates. Because of the short duration of the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, no differences in bodyweight were recorded between the rats fed olive oil and those fed other fats. However, international studies have shown that Mediterranean-style diets higher in olive oil are associated with weight maintenance and little weight gain over time compared with diets lower in olive oil. However, overall fat consumption still does add many calories to the diet, and those subjects with a very high fat consumption were overweight compared to those who controlled their total fat intake.
Certain natural chemicals called catechins are abundant in green tea; animal and human studies show that these chemicals appear to increase fat burning and stimulate thermogenesis, and the combination with caffeine in tea appears to boost the effect. The amount that you need to consume isn’t absolutely clear. A 1999 study in Maryland used syx, one-quarter cups of tea per day for four days. A more recent Japanese study found successful results feeding two one-half cups every day for 12 weeks. A study from the UK published this year demonstrated increased fat burning in exercising young men. In this study, researchers used a green tea extract of three capsules (containing a total of 890 +/- 13mg polyphenols and 366 +/- 5mg EGCG [the catechins]). Since the amount of catechins is difficult to control with brewing, many practitioners recommend using a green tea extract for better dose control.
Milk ranks high on the list of fat-burning foods. No doubt you’ve read about or heard the commercials for how milk can help you lose weight. The high calcium content of milk helps it turn off a key obesity gene, keeping your body from turning up the fat-making machinery to high, and helping your fat-burning metabolism run smoothly. At the same time milk is the primary source of whey protein, shown in studies to enhance fat burning and limit the turnover of calories into fat storage by the liver. Subjects on a calorie-reduced diet given 20 grams of whey protein supplement every day after an exercise bout lost significantly more fat and maintained significantly more muscle mass compared to subjects given a placebo. Milk is a natural source of whey protein, and you will also benefit from adding a whey protein supplement to your diet.
Studies have shown a thermogenic effect of capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers. When chili-containing meals have been fed to subjects regularly for four weeks, results have shown an attenuation of high blood insulin levels after the meals. While weight loss was not studied, a lowering of blood insulin levels in overweight subjects may ultimately lead to weight loss. Other studies using a capsaicin supplement have been shown to be effective, but the dosage must be strictly followed. One Danish study using a supplement combining green tea extract, capsaicin, tyrosine and calcium for seven days showed a 2 percent increase in energy expenditure in overweight and obese men. The researchers found that only the capsules that were not enterocoated were effective. The coating, which inhibits digestion in the stomach, inactivated the efficacy of capsaicin.
Is your quest to shed those extra pounds on target or way off the mark? We asked MF weight-loss adviser Christopher Mohr, Ph.D.,R.D., to weigh in on what works and what doesn’t.
Drink More Water
It’ll flush away sodium, which bloats you. You’ll also be less likely to down high-calorie beverages. People often underestimate how important hydration is when it comes to losing weight.
You’ll never lose weight until you change your diet. Americans have grown accustom to large portions at the dinner table. The bottom line is you’ve got to take in fewer calories than you are burning each day. Period.
Ever notice how sprinters have extremely lean, toned bodies? Sure, they spend half the day training on the track, but even the average person can greatly benefit from 10-20 minutes of interval training each day. There’s no better way to burn off fat.
Fill Up On Fiber
Fiber allows you to make the most of the food you eat, because it keeps you full longer than any other food. Load up on lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day.
Pop a Multivitamin
They can fill in gaps in your diet but don’t expect them to work miracles. You still need to rely on a nutritious diet in order to maintain healthy metabolism.
Off the Mark
The morning dash to get shower, dressed and out the door usually results in you skipping the most important meal of the day. Bad move. The meal keeps your body’s metabolism stoked and burning strong throughout the day.
Light Weights, High Reps
While good for toning, this method doesn’t burn much fat at all. Increasing the weight accordingly allows your muscles to work harder and burn more calories — even after you leave the gym.
An active person can’t simply go without carbs. In fact, your body needs at least 100 grams a day for energy. Always remember to maintain a balance of carbs, protein and healthy fats in your diet. This gives you what you need in terms of energy, muscle growth and recovery.
Swear Off Your Favorite Foods
Anytime we want to drop few pounds, most of us immediately slash all comfort foods from our diets. The problem is you’ll eventually cave, and it won’t be pretty. So enjoy a treat once in a while — just remember that moderation is key.
Train, But Just Barely
Any degree of training is better than nothing at all. But you can only get out of something what you put in. Remember, losing weight isn’t just a matter of going to the gym once a week. It also involves lifestyle changes. Talk a walk on your lunch break, park on the opposite end of the parking lot at stores, and do more yard work (your girl will love the new you).
People love to reward themselves for a hard day at the gym. But, remember, many granola and protein bars are also packed with extra calories — don’t cancel out all the hard work you just put in at the gym.
Load Up On Diet Snacks
Another misconception in the diet arena. Baked chips and fat-free candy are still junk food. Train your body (and mind) to think of fresh fruit and vegetables as delicious snacks. After 30 days, you’ll be surprised at how you start to crave these nutritious foods.
When it comes to losing weight, people always put the emphasis on cardio. While running and biking is highly recommended, you still need to get in some strength training. Working those muscles is what really fires up the metabolism.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle & Leo Babuta Zen Habits…thank you
Our daily lives are often a series of habits played out through the day, a trammeled existence fettered by the slow accretion of our previous actions.
But habits can be changed, as difficult as that may seem sometimes. Finally, you’ll have the tools to change the habits that you found difficult to change in the past” (thanks Gail)
I’m a living example: in tiny, almost infinitesimal steps, I’ve changed a laundry list of habits.
W’ell start off with… The KISS Method:
Keep it stupid simple
Habit change is not that complicated. While the tips below will seem overwhelming, there’s really only a few things you need to know. Everything else is just helping these to become reality.
The KISS simple steps of habit change:
1. Write down your plan.
2. Identify your triggers and replacement habits.
3. Focus on doing the replacement habits every single time the triggers happen, for about 30 days.
That’s it. We’ll talk more about each of these steps, and much more, in the cheatsheet below.
The Habit Change Cheatsheet
The following is a compilation of tips to help you change a habit. Don’t be overwhelmed — always remember the simple steps above. The rest are different ways to help you become more successful in your habit change.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. - Eleanor Roosevelt
As I gazed back and reflected on the past 365, I realized that 2009 has been perhaps my best and my worst year ever. It’s funny, because that’s what I thought about 2008, but my years seem to be getting better and better now that we are 3 days into 2K10.
And so I reflected on what made these past two years so bad yet great at the same time, and how I could leverage these successes for even further improvement. I’d like to share some things I’ve learned about the past two years, and how you might be able to use them to make this next year your greatest year yet.
1. One goal. This will sound crazy to many of you who have so many goals you’d like to accomplish. And trust me, I know how that feels. I started out 2008 with a whole bunch of goals, but I only accomplished about half of them. I didn’t realize how things would change for me during the year, and anyway, 9 goals is too many.
I’ve said this before, but it’s so important I’m going to repeat it: you’re at your most powerful if you focus on one thing at a time. If you have 10 goals, you’ll spread your focus thinly. But if you have one goal, you’ll be able to focus you energy and attention completely on that one goal. And that’s one of the secrets of success.
Click on this post, Then you can leave yours for all to see at the bottom:
Gretchen Rubin of the excellent blog The Happiness Project recently did a post with tips for writing your own personal commandments, and it got me wondering: what are my personal commandments?
It’s a tough question, because most of us have a lot of ideals that we’d like to embody in our personal lives. How to choose? Gretchen’s post has a good list of some ideas others have chosen, many of them things I’d like to choose myself.
So I decided to figure out what the essence of my personal philosphy was. I started with a brainstormed list, then simplified down to the essential. Actually, I could simplify even more (you could get away with just one commandment) but I like my list — it helps remind me of different things I’m trying to do.
I originally had 12 things on this list, but I decided to simplify. Here are my Four Commandments:
1. Be very present.
2. Seek to understand and accept without judgement.
3. Be compassionate, passionate and CARE.
4. Do less, live more.
In case you’re wondering what I cut off the list: smile, go slowly, be love, do it now, keep things simple, and be harmless. I also combined some of them (2 and 3 are combos) to simplify.
What are your commandments? Share in the comments below .