Why Yoga is Essential for a Balanced Body

To be fit and healthy, it is important to strength train, get cardiovascular fitness, and have flexibility. Strength training is so important for so many reasons and you may read about that here. But it is important to correct muscle imbalances and improve posture.

A muscle imbalance is created by a change in muscle length, strength and neuromuscular activity creating either a static or dynamic malalignment. A malalignment is an incorrect alignment of the joints in the body without moving.

So, how does this happen? Really it happens when one or some muscles are over active and one or some muscles are under active. This can come from doing the same activities day in or day out but it can also happen from sitting at a computer with your shoulders protracted forward and your neck at an anterior strain. I can bet most of us are guilty of that.

As far as over working some muscles and under working other, that can also be a product of moving in the same plane of motion all the time when our bodies are meant to move in all three.

The Sagital Plane is the most (over) used. Imagine your body is split in half making a right and a left side. We run, bike, walk, squat, lunge (most lunges), curl, etc in this plane. The Frontal Plane is the imaginary line splitting your body in front (anterior) and back (posterior) halves. Think of jumping jacks, lateral raises, and side lunges. The Transverse Plane splits the body in half at the waist. Think of twisting, throwing a ball , pivoting, golf, tennis.

What does this have to do with Yoga? Yoga takes your body through all three planes in both a dynamic and static setting. You move your body the way it is meant to and this can help mitigate over use issues. Sun Salutation B alone does this!

Lets talk about overuse in muscles. The most common Over Active Muscles in the body are:

Feet/Ankle: Soleus, Lateral Gastrocnemius, Peroneus Longus and Brevis (the muscles of the back and side)

Knees: Biceps Femoris (hamstring) and Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) ( IT band issues )

Lumber-Pelvis-Hip-Complex (LPHC): Hip Flexors, Adductors (inner thighs), Abdominals, and Erector Spinae (back close to spine)

Shoulders: Lattisimus Dorsi and Pectoralis major/minor

Head and Neck: Upper Trapezius, Sternocleidomastoid (neck muscle), Levator Scapular (exactly how it sounds , it raises your scapular, think of when your shoulders reach to your ears when you are stressed)

So, to work on the imbalances it is important to train the Common Under Active Muscles, which are:

Feet/Ankle: Medial Gastrocnemius (the part of your calf that is closest into your midline), Anterior Tibialis (the muscle used to flex in dorsiflextion), Posterior Tibialis

Knees: Vastus Medialis Oblique (this is the muscle of the quads closest into your midline and one of the biggest causes of knee misalignments is when the Vastus Lateralis is so much stronger and pulls your knee cap outward)

Lumber-Pelvis-Hip-Complex Gluteus Maximus and Medius (yes, the butt muscles are weak on most people. A ‘big butt’ doesn’t mean it is big with muscle. Sorry but true), Hamstrings, Intrinsic Core Stabilizers (the ‘pilates muscles) , and Erector Spinae (and yes I see that I also wrote in for over active. This one can go either way depending on the person)

Shoulders: Middle and Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids, and the muscles of the Rotator Cuff (so yes, those exercises that make you cringe on Track 8 at Body Pump? Do them!)

Head and Neck: Deep Cervical Floor (and I mean your neck, not the OB/GYN definition!)

So, again, how does Yoga help? Yoga is a balance between the strength and the stretch. Each time one of the over used muscles is being stretched, the antagonist muscle (the opposite) is being strengthened. Like Pilates, Yoga uses the deep core muscles as well.

Muscle imbalances are fixed using Corrective Exercise. Corrective Exercise is defined as the programming process that identifies neuromusclar dysfunction and develops a plan of action and implements a corrective strategy.

Ok, stay with me…. Now the Neuromuscular System allows all muscles surrounding a joint to: Concentrically produce force, Eccentrically reduce force, and Statically stabilize the kinetic chain on all three plane of motion (as discussed above). Therefore we need the Nervous System and the Muscular System to communicate! And Flexibility improves this communication. Another score for Yoga!

So what happens if you choose to ignore muscle imbalances and flexibility issues? The body is designed to take the path of least resistance. Meaning that even with movement dysfunction, the body will still find a way to do the action. Think of a squat. If you cant get the ankle flexion needed your body does forward and if your hamstrings are too tight your knees may pull out. The body will do it, but not effective. This is referred to as Relative Flexibility and can set you up for injury

So, in a summary: Yoga takes your body through all planes of motion, helps to fix and prevent muscle imbalances, and improves your nervous system and muscular system synergy. So, get on your mat!

Namaste

What is Ashwagandha and Can it Help You to Sleep Better?

Ashwagandha is a shrub with yellow flowers that blossom into a small red fruit. It is actually in the same family as the tomato! It is native to India, Northern Africa and the Middle East, but is also grown in the United States today.

ashwagandhaAshwagandha is on a very powerful adaptogen herb used in Ayurveda. Adaptogens help our bodies cope with external stresses (i.e. toxins in the environment) and internal stresses (i.e. anxiety and insomnia). They help us to ‘adapt’ by modulating our response to stress or a changing environment.to our environment.

This herb is most well-known for its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the herb give you the vigor and strength of a stallion, and has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. It doesn’t actually smell like a horse though!

So, how does this relate to sleep? Studies have been showing ashwagnandha can lower blood serum cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands that give us that ‘flight or fight’ response. In this modern world, most of us are faced with stress that raises our coritsol. When we have constant stress, our levels of cortisol remain elevated in the body. These leads to the inability to relax and sleep naturally, increased cravings, increased abdominal fat, and even affecting our thyroid.

There has been a few studies done on humans that sound quite promising. According to research published in the July-September 2012 issue of “Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine.”, a study of 64 people with chronic stress were given either placebo pills or 300 mg twice daily of ashwagandha root extract. After 60 days, those taking ashwagandha had significant improvements in cortisol levels. A January 2014 paper published in “Pharmacognosy Research” showed that healthy men who were given 250 mg of leaf and root extract twice daily for 3 weeks had improvements in reaction time and task performance, compared to those taking a placebo.

Ashwagandha even is being studied in cancer prevention/cancer fighting. From the Memorial Sloan Kettering website: “Ashwagandha is a popular Ayurdevic herb. Studies show that it has anti-inflammatory effects. Ashwagandha also relaxes the central nervous system in animals. Laboratory studies found that ashwagandha kills some cancer cells and enhances some immune cells possibly by damaging the cancer cells’ ability to generate the energy it needs to reproduce. Ashwagandha also reduces the level of an important antioxidant in tumor cells, which may enhance the ability of radiation therapy to kill those cells. However, this herb may induce abortion, so pregnant women should not use it.”

So, how do we get our hands on some ashwagandha? I drink mine in my Shakeology .It is also found in the DoTerra Trimshakes. These are nice amounts and both shakes provide many other benefits as well. You may also take ashwagandha as a pill. To fall asleep, I also use DoTerra Serenity Oils as well. These also lower cortisol levels and help you to relax into sleep.

The research is promising and for me, I do need all the help I can to stay asleep. I have no problem falling asleep, but I would wake up and have trouble getting back. The combination of the ashwagandha (in my shakes) , my Serenity oil, and Yogi Bedtime tea has helped me.

 

 

How and When *Should* You Eat

The media can be so confusing. If you scroll your pages, you will see articles saying that you MUST eat 5-6 times a day to keep your metabolism going. Then you will see an article stating that you should eat only 3 meals to keep insulin levels low.

Who is correct? Well, they both kind of are. There is no one plan that works for everyone. We are all unique and our lifestyles have to work with this.

Some claim to eat a large breakfast, medium lunch, and a very small dinner. Others claim that breakfast can be skipped and it is fine to have a late and large dinner. Who is right? Again, both are.

This is SO confusing. I know. So, lets break down some of these:

1) Eating mini-meals during the day: This is a good idea if you find your blood sugar is always dropping. But, these meals should contain protein and a good fat source and you may find you may not need to eat as frequently. But lets say your lifestyle doesn’t allow for you to sit down for lunch. Or maybe dinner is spend driving kids from one activity to another. In those cases, mini meals may be best for your lifestyle.

2) No snacks: Ayurveda focuses more on when you should eat and how you eat (sitting relaxed) than what you actually eat. There are lots of dosha balancing foods, but that will be for another article. The circadian rhythm is also in play here. Traditional Chinese Medicine shows how your organs relate to your circadian rhythm and this a great argument for eating three meals a day. Also, having time between meals allows your insulin to lower.

body_clock_nu

3) The theory of ‘Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Peasant, and Dinner like a Pauper’ is based on eating your food during the times when you burn it off. This has been debunked, but if it works for you, stick with it.

4) The theory of eating ‘light to heavy’ is one I first read about from Dietician Kimberly Snyder in her book, The Beauty Detox. This book talked about the digestion process and it made sense to me. Plus it fits my life better. When my daughter was a baby, I ate my main meal for lunch and barely ate dinner. But since she started school, family dinner became more important to me. I enjoy having my main meal at dinner with her. This goes to the Ayurveda principles of ‘how’, although the ‘when’ in Ayurveda is usually the largest meal at mid day. When I am older and my daughter leave for college (no, no, no, not ready!), I will likely go back to my former way. But for now, this works for my family.

So, my point is that there is NO CORRECT ANSWER. We are all made up differently and have different lifestyles. These factors are also constantly changing. You are not married to any pattern. Flexibility is key to ALL areas of your life. So, if what you are doing now is working for you, keep with it. And by that I mean access your energy, hunger, family commitments. If not, play around. Don’t listen to what someone else has found success with. That someone isn’t you.

Strength Training and Why it is So Important

Yesterday after teaching my yoga class, I was talking with a friend/student about the transition from Chaturanga into Upward Facing Dog. I was holding the Chaturanga (Think of a midway pushup where your elbows are 90 degrees) for awhile as I was discussing the form and she mentioned the strength to hold it. I told her that I actually strength train for my yoga practice. That is what inspired this article.

Puppy Plank

Puppy Plank

I believe that EVERYONE needs to strength train. You heard the drill: women won’t bulk up, it increases your metabolism, yada yada yada, blah blah. Well, guess what? That is all TRUE. We all NEED to build some muscle. But we all don’t need to train like a bodybuilder either.

When I competed in Figure three years ago, I did train for bodybuilding. But that was because that was my sport. Now it isn’t. My ‘sports’ now are Yoga and Running. Yoga as my priority. So my training is prioritized to strengthen my body for my practice and to make me a more efficient and faster runner.

OCB NJ April 27,2013

OCB NJ April 27,2013

I still do a ‘bodybuilder split’ and that is because I like to focus a lot of exercise to each body part and it also fits into my schedule nicely so that I have 48hrs at least between muscles. So, I focus on shoulder stability, functional core, Pilates, and single leg exercises. I do train my entire body except for chest (later) but the exercises I choose are designed to meet my own needs.

When I take on a new client, I make sure to ask what they do for activities. For example, when I was living in Westchester I trained a lot of Golf players. I focused on rotational exercise for them as well as shoulder and hip stability while also training the entire body.

If you are brand new to strength  training though, you will start with a basic full body workout designed to build your core and to add strength and then move on from that baseline.

So, the reason I do not train chest… I do yoga almost daily with a strong Vinyasa practice. That is a LOT of pushups. Plus I don’t feel the need to train muscles that are naturally very tight already. For my body I need to open the chest more and strengthen the back. Strength training and stretching is a powerful combination to overcome imbalances.

236298311668558690_uJ9TYnnK_bIf you are local and see me training at the gym (I train at quite a few), hit me up with any questions. Or email me at sharonsherry83@gmail.com . My goal is to get more people to strength train and pick up the weights or kettles or bands. Whether at the gym or in your house. I can also recommend some great at-home options too. Regardless of your gender or age you do need to strength train.

Taking a Social Media Diet

It is so easy to get caught up in the fake world of social media, it can be quite addicting. From FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to finding positive reinforcement (how many people ‘liked’ my picture) to trying to find inspiration.

But often, too much social media brings us down. We are bombarded with awful news,
politics, hate, envy, and messages telling us that we aren’t good enough. We aren’t fit enough, we aren’t the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the most successful, etc.

Social media is not the real world. It is a make-believe space where people get to put up their best pictures, argue behind the safety of a keyboard, and show their best face. But social media can be wonderful too. It is a great way to connect with groups, actually find inspiration from real people, learn about community events, find new interests, and so much more. The trick is to find a balance.

IMG_1412First of all, I want you to clean up your accounts. You don’t have to ‘un-friend’ your actual friends, but the ‘unfollow’ option can be wonderful. So, the first step is to ask yourself how you feel after reading certain posts. Do you feel as though you aren’t good enough? If the post making you doubt yourself? Are you comparing yourself in a negative way? Is it stirring up bad emotions? OK, if this person is a true friend and is not a hate monger or racist or anything like that simply unfollow. Otherwise just delete that person. Who wants to be friends with someone who’s morals aren’t in line with yours. It is fine to be friends with someone with different interests and tastes, but morals and values are another thing.

So, we cleaned up your feed. The next step it to limit your usage. This includes social media, email and texts too. Here is how to do that:IMG_2706

1) Delete the Facebook App from your phone. This way you are not tempted to mindlessly scroll. This way you will be present to those around you when you are out. Save Facebook for when you are home and alone. It is quite rude to play on Facebook when you are with your friends or at work in meetings anyway. Trust me you aren’t missing much. You can go through all your friends at home later

2) Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning. Do something, anything, first. Sit and have a cup of coffee, meditate, workout, shower, etc. Don’t make it the first priority of your day to get online.

3) Put your phone away during meals. Even if you are dining alone.

4) Turn your phone to airplane mode when you workout.

5) Read real books and magazines rather than using your device.

6) Make real-life plans with the friends you chat with on social media with at least once a week.

And, if none of this works then maybe it is time to take a full social media fast. I did that last year and de-activated my accounts for a few months. It made a big difference to me.

Now go get outside and do something!

My Old Blog and My Current Fitness

I all but ignored this page for the past two years as I was in school for two years straight (Yoga for one year and Real Estate for another). I miss writing and I IMG_1305want to come back to posting more regularly.

As I was taking a look though this website, I remembered my first blog and re-read some of  my old posts there as well. Please check it out by clicking on the link. I wanted to share it here since I do have tons of articles. I see how my fitness has changed over the years, but how I’ve always remained consistent in working out. I went through times of running, bodybuilding, bootcamp, back to running, only yoga and more.

Now at age 47, I feel as though I am at a point to pick what I love and then train to be better at what I love. I love Yoga and Running! I went back to strength training, some plyomentric and a regular Pilates practice in order to run stronger and faster and to hold my yoga poses with the best alignment possible.

I am not as strict with my nutrition as I had been. Since I am not training for competition, I no longer count my macros, but after doing that for so long I naturally loosely follow that same healthy framework. I still drink my Shakeology daily and eat a wide variety of healthy foods, and the occasional treats too!

My goals are more aligned to being good to myself and honoring my body with exercise and nutrition rather than restrictively punishing myself.

I will write more on Yoga and Running too. Please check this page regularly for new updates

xo

Sharon

 

Epigenetics

** I originally wrote this post in 2011, but updated now

In 2011, I  came across some information about something called the ‘Epigenetic Diet’. Now this seems to be more and more mainstream. This is not about weight loss; it is so much more powerful than that. Researchers are trying to prove that this diet may prevent cancer. Of course, this piqued my interest and I found myself researching it more.

Epigenetics research focuses on the effects that diet can have on the structure and the function of DNA. It was formerly believed that cancer is caused by a mutation in DNA, but scientists are finding that more than half of the cases are caused by changes in gene activity rather than the structure.

Ok, here is some quick science:  Your DNA is made up of a unique sequence of about 3 billion nucleotides. These are arranged into units called ‘genes’. Your genes contain all of the information needed to produce proteins necessary to create your cells and tissues to sustain your life. The process of creating a new protein in your cells is called ‘gene expression’ and your body closely regulates it. It is believed that mistakes in gene expression lead to illnesses like cancer. One of the ways of regulating gene expression is through epigenetics.  Epigenetics research focuses on the change of gene expression by means other than the change in DNA nucleotide sequence. This is where diet comes in.

So, what do I think of this? Well, I am neither a doctor nor a scientist but I think it makes sense. We learned back in basic high school biology class that our cells are constantly regenerating. So, as our cells change, what are they being built from? To me it makes sense that they are made using what goes into our body, whether that be food, medication, drugs, environmental pollution, etc. Since we can’t 100% control the environmental factors, I think we should pay great attention to what we can control. That means it is important to watch what you put into your body. Do not smoke or take drugs, limit alcohol (although in moderation it has positive benefits), make sure the medicine you take is really needed, watch out for dangerous chemicals in plastic, and avoid nitrates and chemicals in your food.

But the good news is that there is so much more you can ADD than to avoid. Food such as broccoli, blueberries, tomatoes, and grapes as well as flaxseed, chia, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, green tea, and red wine are some examples of things that may be able to ‘turn on’ genes that suppress tumor growth and ‘turn off’ the genes that promote growth. Of course, none of this is proven yet but I personally believe that it will be some day. And from what I have been reading now in 2015, it does look like science is starting to prove this!. It definitely will not hurt to add these to your diet.

I eat broccoli, flaxseed or chia, blueberries, green tea, cinnamon and tomatoes everyday and  grapes and  and turmeric often, and of course enjoy a nice glass of red wine.

 

XOX

This blog is for informational purposes only.  It’s not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician.  No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website.  Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health. It is advised see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.

 

Challenge Groups

IMG_1069Most people DO want to be fit and healthy.  They want the energy to play with their children, enjoy traveling, having fun adventures, being comfortable in their clothes. No one sits around thinking, “I just love being out of shape!”.  The problem is, despite some misleading claims in this industry, there’s no magic pill we can take or to achieve our health and fitness goals.  It takes discipline and hard work. Easier said than done right?  True, here are many people who go to the gym, run, bike, workout without anyone pushing them. Exercise can be quite addicting one you do it. And there may be some, much few, people who can say no to treats, eat the proper portion of healthy foods, and stop when full without anyone to motivate them or guide them. But most of us that need a little extra push. I do myself which is why I highly recommend joining a Beachbody Challenge group.  Here are 3 reasons why:

1. You’re not alone:  Joining a challenge group gives you the opportunity to have a support group of people with similar goals. This is motivating for most people as you have support and encouragement from peers.  It becomes difficult to “skip” a workout when you see everyone else in the group getting their workout in. Also, you can have a little friendly competition with others in the group and the progress of everyone becomes contagious.

2. You have a plan: Since every Beachbody program has a schedule, joining a challenge group with a Challenge Pack gives you a daily plan.  Most people fail when it comes to fitness because they don’t have a concrete plan.  Not having a plan can be frustrating due to lack of results.  By putting an actual game plan together, along with the support of others will yield positive results. And remember to not stop the plan after the challenge is over.  Make it a lifestyle! Often, the groups will stay open even after the challenge is over for this very reason

3. You’re eating right: Another key reason why people don’t reach their fitness goals is their diet.  We can spend hours in the gym, and ruin it 15 minutes later with a latte and cake at Starbucks.  The beauty of a challenge group is that is combines fitness, support AND nutrition since Shakelogy is part of the process.  Think of Shakeology as your Daily Dose of Dense nutrition but you will need to make healthy meal choices in addition to Shakeology. In my Challenge Groups, meal plans, recipes, shopping and more are focused upon.

In my almost three years of running these groups, I have seen challenge groups work over and over again. The feedback from my challengers are amazing and many even go on as coaches to pay it forward. Send me an email if you are interested in joining my next challenge group so you can be next on the list to share your success story! Here’s my email:  sharonsherry83@gmail.com

For daily tips and motivation, please like my Facebook page here: Sharon Sherry Fitness

 

Protein

Protein! How much do we REALLY need? Well, first let’s look at why we need it

Training for first show

Training for first show

Protein is made up of amino acids, the body’s primary building blocks. Muscles, bones, skin, internal organs, and enzymes—and much more—are all made of protein. Protein also regulates fluids and pH. And your immune system needs protein to work to keep you healthy. Protein is also the most satiating of the Macronutrients (or ‘macros’) , the other being Carbs and Fats

To function at your best, you need 20 different amino acids. Eleven of those your body makes naturally. The other nine are called “essential amino acids” and they need to come from your diet. A protein that contains all nine essential amino acids is called a “complete protein.”

The easiest way to get your essential amino acids is by eating animal products. Just like us, animals are made of protein, including the nine essentials. But there are some plant based proteins that contain them. Hemp and soy contain all nine essential amino acids, although I am hesitant to recommend soy and do not consume it myself. You can also eat a combination of legumes (beans and peas) and grains to get all the essential amino acids such rice and beans. And you don’t have to eat them all at once, but in the same day. Vitamin C helps absorb iron since plant (or non-heme) iron is harder to absorb, so have some oranges or peppers with your rice and beans. If you aren’t Vegan, then eggs and dairy are both good complete protein sources.

Eggs are considered a ‘perfect protein’ and often used to rate other sources. Egg whites are about the purest source of protein you’ll find in nature. You may see that bodybuilders like to use eggwhites but that is often to hit exact macro targets. When I competed in Figure I did this to make sure my protein macro was exact.

But I strongly suggest eating the entire egg since they  loaded with micronutrients, and the micronutrients are key to health.

But like most animal proteins, you are also getting a fat source with it. That is not a bad thing at all since we do need our fat, especially the healthy omega-3 found in fatty fish

Plant-based protein tends to go the opposite direction and are loaded with carbs. That became my problem when I was eating a Vegan diet. It was okay in my 20s and 30s. But now in my 40s, my body can no longer process such high carbs. For me, an animal sourced protein diet with higher fat keeps me lean.

I am also a huge fan of whey protein since it is the fastest absorbing, making it great for quickly delivering protein into muscles after a workout so they can begin the recovery process. I limit my dairy since I am mildly lactose intolerant, but the whey in my Shakeology is an isolate, meaning it is pure and no lactose.

Many bodybuilders will consume casein at night since your muscles absorb casein slowly, it will feed them all night long. I haven’t tried this myself so I can’t really attest to whether you get magic muscle growth at night or not, but I can guess it is more of a myth.

On my lifting days, I do take branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are said to be the go-to amino acids for energy production in muscles during strenuous exercise. Also, a number of studies show that they inhibit muscle breakdown during intense exercise.

Again, whether this is true or not is debateable, but I am willing to try this. It is hard for me to build muscle and for me this combined with the Shakeology seem to help.

But with protein remember that more isn’t ‘more’. Our body has no way of storing protein. Eating too much of any macro will turn to fat.

Most of what I read is that you can use about 30 grams of protein (for amino acid functions) in one sitting. That’s about 4 ounces of meat. But again, that is debateable. We are not machines and some of us may absorb more, some less.

The ADA states that you need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. To determine your weight in kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.) If you’re a heavy exerciser then you may go up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you exercise regularly, you’re somewhere in the middle, somewhere around 1.5 grams. If you’re injured, sick, or really broken down, eat more protein. Ten years ago, I had pneumonia and had to consume more protein to heal. Same idea applies if you had surgery. Personally, I tend to go a bit higher than the ADA recommendations. I have about 100-120 grams but not more than that, and I am very active.

But also remember that not one macro is ‘magic’. Right now high fat is trendy. I am sure I will be writing a post about fat needs soon lol. Balance your macros. The 21 Day Fix is great for that. But educate yourself. It is your body afterall

 

Fat Loss and Healthy Nutrition

Unfortunately, you cannot ‘out-train’ a poor diet. When you work so hard building muscles and shaping your body, it is important to keep your body-fat low so the results can be seen. The late Jack LaLanne had said ‘exercise is king, nutrition is queen, put them together and you have a kingdom’. I like to also add that if you then add SUPPORT, you have a HEALTH EMPIRE. That is where the Beachbody model of Fitness, Nutrition, and free Coaching really works. You can read more about it here

IMG_2706

Since each person is metabolically unique and has personal food preferences, diet really isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ program. But it is still important to use the following general guidelines:

  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. But for losing fat, limit your fruit to 2 servings
  • Fuel your muscles with lean protein such as wild salmon, chicken, turkey, eggs, grass-fed beef, whey protein powder, pea protein or tempeh.
  • Limit dairy to one to two servings per day. Plain Greek yogurt is a good choice since it is high in protein and low in sugar. It is really important to watch sugar.
  • If you eat grains, choose whole grains such as brown rice, oats, amaranth and quinoa over processed carbohydrates. Quinoa is actually a seed, so if you are grain-free you can still have it. Grains are optional though, there is plenty of fiber in veggies
  • Eat healthy fats such as nuts, avocados, coconut, and olive oil but in moderation. They are healthy but still high in calories. Grass-fed butter such as Kerrygold is a good choice for some as well. But again, fat is ‘trendy’ now, but is is by no means a free-for -all.
  • Eliminate refined starches and sugars. These are ‘empty calories’ that can quickly pack on pounds, add bloat, and prevent you from being lean. I can bore you with the ‘geek speak’, but it is due to an insulin surge.. not all calories are created equal.
  • Be aware of ‘liquid calories’ and try to drink water, black coffee, tea as your primary beverages.

 

If you are trying to lose weight, it is best to aim for a gradual weight loss of one-half to two pounds a week for women, and one to three pounds a week for men. Quick weight loss doesn’t last. Instead of a ‘diet’, think of a lifestyle change that you can maintain.  To successfully lose weight and maintain the loss:

  1. Use the guidelines above to make good food choices.
  2. Find a reasonable desired weight and then calculate the estimated calories needed to maintain that weight. Multiply by 12-15 calories for light to moderate activity and 15-20 calories for higher levels of activity.
  3. Create a calorie deficit for weight loss (to get to that desired weight) by subtracting 20% of the maintenance calories per day.
  4. Try to eat the majority of calories during the day so you don’t ‘blow it’ at night by being too hungry. You don’t have to eat five times a day though. That is an old myth. As long as you are in your calories , you can divide your meals how works best for you.

 

For example, if your desired weight is 125lbs and you are moderately active, your maintenance calories are (125*15) 1,875 calories per day.  To reach that desired weight, create a deficit for weight loss by subtracting 20% of maintenance calories (375 calories) for a total of 1,500 calories per day. Again, weight loss should be no more than one-half to two pounds a week.

Soon, you will look great both in and out of your jeans!

Have a wonderful and healthy week

XOX

This blog is for informational purposes only.  It’s not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician.  No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website.  Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health. It is advised see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.