FitITproNews: IT pro and personal trainer
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We kick off this month's issue of FitITproNews by interviewing Kris Kane, an IT professional who is also a personal trainer, martial arts instructor and general fitness enthusiast. Kris is launching a new online program that our readers may be interested in and we'll be talking with Kris about that and other things in a moment. I'll also share a terrific exercise for working your hamstrings that only involves using a fitness ball.
Also in this issue are the following articles by our FitITproNews columnists:
- Robin Camp on the often maligned protein shake
- Rod Trent on breaking free of shoe religion
- Mark Nichols on what it means to be healthy
- Kris Lall on using wearable fitness trackers
- Brian Dougal on my own favorite subject (food)
We also welcome Yuri Diogenes to our stable of columnists who shares about the importance of prioritizing nutrition to help you achieve your fitness goals. Yuri is an IT pro who works for Microsoft as Senior Content Developer and he's also a bodybuilder and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert. We interviewed him back in November 2017 and caught up with him again in June of this year after he won a BJJ tournament in Dallas, and we're glad he's joining us now as a regular columnist here on FitITproNews, so give him a welcome!
Don't forget, if you have any comments or suggestions concerning the stuff in this week's newsletter, email me at [email protected] and we'll share your feedback in the Mailbag section of our next newsletter. And if you're an IT professional who is also pursuing fitness or has had success in losing weight and you'd like to become one of our columnists you can reach out to me at [email protected].
In the meantime enjoy this week's issue of FitITproNews!
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor
Mitch Tulloch is the Senior Editor of FitITproNews and a recovering fat IT pro who lost 50 lbs in midlife and is now on his way to becoming a fit IT pro. Mitch is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies who has authored or been Series Editor of numerous books/ebooks from Microsoft Press. Mitch is also the Senior Editor of WServerNews and writes frequently for TechGenix.
NOTE: We've moved our newsletter!
Just a quick heads up to let you know that we are now archiving this newsletter on our TechGenix website, so going forward you will be able to find both the latest issue and back issues of FitITproNews here:
Issues published prior to August 2019 and dating back to when this newsletter was launched in the Fall of 2017 can still be found in our old archive which is located here:
Subscribe to FitITproNews!
Subscribe today to our FitITproNews newsletter and join 200,000 other IT professionals around the world who receive articles, stories, and tips on exercise and nutrition that can help you transform yourself from a fat IT pro to a fit IT pro! Just go to this page and select FitITproNews to receive our monthly newsletter in your inbox!
Disclaimer: I am not a certified fitness professional or nutritionist so take any suggestions made here "as is" with a grain of salt and a heaping supply of your own judgment. Please read our full disclaimer at the bottom of this newsletter.
In the previous issue of FitITproNews Kris Lall, one of our regular columnists, shared about using CBD oil for addressing chronic pain issues for active IT Pros. This drew the following response from reader Michael Hallsted:
Hello Mitch, thanks again for the newsletter. I'm the last person any one should talk to concerning exercise and fitness training, but I've been taking a spritz of CBD oil, daily, for several years now. This is what sold me on CBD oil: if one searches the internet for human body systems, there seems to be a general consensus that there are 12 of them... like the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, muscular, and so forth. They are rather important. Early in the 1990's, western science and western medicine discovered another body system, the endocannabinoid system. Upon further research, they also discovered that every single cell in the human body contains CBD receptors. Research is still going on to understand why the human body has an endocannabinoid system and why all cells have CBD receptors, but the prevailing thought at this moment, is that the overall function of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate homeostasis. Homeostasis is a key element in the biology of all living things. It is best described as the ability of the body to maintain stable internal conditions that are necessary for survival. It did not take much thought on my part to conclude: Hmmm, that seems rather important and vital to my health and well being, so it is a good thing to do. Now, I can not tell you how CBD oil has made a difference in my life. I'm in my 60's and in general good health, and I wish to stay that way, so I'll continue taking my daily spritz of CBD oil, and I'll let you know in 40 years how it all worked out.
We always welcome feedback like this from our readers, so if you have any comments or questions about anything in this newsletter feel free to email us at [email protected].
Interview with Kris Kane
Kris Kane is a North Yorkshire based personal trainer, martial arts instructor and general fitness enthusiast. You can find him on Instagram at @koachedbykris and also view him professionally on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/kris-kane.
MITCH: Thanks Kris for agreeing to let me interview you for FitITproNews!
KRIS: It's a pleasure Mitch, after following your newsletter it's exciting to now be a part of it 🙂
MITCH: Let's start by asking you about your involvement in Information Technology. What's your background in IT and what sort of work do you currently do as an IT professional?
KRIS: I have worked in IT for 17 years, the first 10 was in a support role providing first and second line assistance to schools throughout the North. The last 7 years has seen me working as a Principal Officer in a team supplying cloud based services. We manage and run virtual servers, build and maintain websites as well as deploying Office 365/SharePoint environments for a range of education and commercial clients.
MITCH: What first got you interested in fitness?
KRIS: My passion for the last 20 years has been in martial arts. As a teenager I was drawn to classic actions films starring Bruce Lee and Van Damme. This sparked my interest to try something and prompted me to join a local martial arts club. I was immediately hooked and over time gradually worked my way up through the grades to 2nd dan black belt and fast forward to now, run my own classes.
Alongside this I have always enjoyed resistance training and how it can help shape your physique but when I wasn't getting the visible results expected, I began to educate myself in order to really understand the underlying principles for fat loss and muscle gain. I am now a qualified personal trainer and have completed additional evidence based courses to get a much broader understanding of training and nutrition.
MITCH: I understand you have plans to provide online help to others who want to become healthy and fit. Tell us more about what you're planning.
KRIS: Yes I am just about to launch my online "Koached by Kris" training services and can't wait to put into action all my study, research and knowledge gained from working with clients, to a wider audience.
Our line of work is very sedentary and because of this a common goal for IT pros is to lose body fat, become more active and maybe just to look/feel better about themselves. For those where this is the case I want to show what I believe are the key areas to focus efforts on to get the best results.
At the end of this month I am offering a free 7 day trial as a 'Kickstarter' to get people moving in the right direction. Anyone who signs up will get access to gym or home based workouts but I also want to get them to start thinking wider than just the time spent exercising. We will be looking at how nutrition, habits and lifestyle all play a key role in getting the desired results. I will then have a special offer for those that want to carry on for a longer period with a more tailored approach.
MITCH: Sounds interesting! I'm sure a lot of our newsletter subscribers will be able to benefit from your program. Especially those of us like myself who are still recovering fat IT pros 🙂
KRIS: I would love you and the readers to get involved so we're all in it together. Anyone who registers can access the support group I've set up, which will help to stay motivated and accountable throughout the week. You can sign up for the Kickstarter trial at http://www.kbkfitness.co.uk.
MITCH: What kind of fitness activities are you personally involved with these days?
KRIS: I currently train 3-4 times a week in the gym weight training and my martial arts classes give me some added cardio along with the coaching I do.
When I have time I still like to try other activities and enjoy boxing training and bootcamp style classes but there isn't enough days in the week ha.
MITCH: Anything else you'd like to share or say to our readers?
KRIS: Feel free to get in touch with me with any questions at [email protected] and good luck to everyone with their fitness journey, whatever your approach is just remember consistency is key!
MITCH: Kris thanks very much for giving us some of your valuable time!
KRIS: Thanks Mitch, It's refreshing to see IT pros with a range of active hobbies and interests, anything that promotes us getting away from our desk can only benefit our health, I'm sure we can all learn something from each other 🙂
Exercise Tip: Work those hamstrings!
Exercises like Good Mornings and Romanian Deadlifts are supposed to give your hamstring muscles a good workout, but in my experience they target more the glutes. To target your hamstrings instead, try the following exercise which requires only a fitness ball to perform.
Start by laying on your back with your legs bent at roughly a right angle and feet resting on a fitness ball:
Lift your knees upwards and back off the ground, and roll the ball towards you like this:
Slowly roll the ball away from you until your body is elevated and your legs are almost straight:
Slowly roll the ball towards you to the previous position:
Keep rolling the ball back and forth until you've completed ten reps. Then rest -- you'll need to, because your hamstring muscles will be burning from your hips to your knees! Try completing three sets of this exercise for a really good hamstring workout. Hopefully you'll still be able to walk afterwards!
The often maligned protein shake (Robin Camp)
Robin Camp works as tech support for an Orthodontic Practice Management Software company called New Horizons Software ( www.nhsoftware.com). As a professional photographer on the side, Robin does fashion, glamour weddings and more in his spare time (www.dancingwithlightphoto.com). You can also now find him working out on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/fitittech/.
Protein shakes. For some people they are a nightmare, the very thought causing flashbacks to tasteless clumpy monstrosities. The good thing is they don't have to be. Protein powders in general mix a lot better than they did 10 years ago, heck, I even remember one of the big supplement companies bragging that their protein powder no longer tasted like gasoline…… Yup, they were pretty bad.
First off, choosing a protein powder: Be aware when choosing a protein powder or meal replacement powder that there are protein powders (plain protein usually with added vitamins) meal replacement powders (protein, carbs, vitamins and fats) and there are also weight gainer protein powders (all nutrients in excess for weight lifters or athletes looking to put weight on). Some supplement companies will also slip in various forms of caffeine, so if you are sensitive to stimulants, check the ingredients.
Personally, I prefer MusclePharms Combat protein powder from Costco. At 49 cents a scoop, it has only 2 grams of sugar, has 25 grams of protein sourced from Whey and Casien additional BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and Glutamine that help with muscle recovery. It mixes well and the Cookies and Cream flavor mixes with pretty much everything without being obnoxious.
Choose the appropriate option for your training goals and sample half a serving before diving in to find out if you can stomach it and to make sure you don't have any reactions.
I personally like to have several shakes premade, that way if I don't have time to sit and eat, I can at least get some nutrients in me. Several shaker cups are a great investment so that some can be in the wash while you still have clean ones.
Making a shake, protein is important while exercising, but it's not the end all. Frozen or fresh fruit are a great addition not only for some carbs but also to provide a healthy sweet kick. One of my favorite shakes is a scoop of protein powder in milk with a cup of blueberries and a tablespoon of baker's chocolate. This mix provides a sweet kick without added refined sugar, some fiber, antioxidants and carbohydrates.
Other ingredients to consider:
Frozen or fresh fruit, the nutritional difference is negligible, frozen tends to be cheaper, fresh tastes better, frozen creates a smoothie consistency.
Spinach, surprisingly spinach blends up very well without adding any taste to a shake.
Vanilla extract-for flavor
Almond extract-for flavor
Unsweetened cocoa powder-for flavor
MCT Oil- Medium Chain Triglycerides help with the metabolism and the sense of fullness, the oil also provides a nice creamy texture.
Matcha tea- a great source of antioxidants-with a mild dose of caffeine- use sparingly
Sweet Potatoes- Yup. Cook them up, dump them in your shake and blend. An excellent source of fiber, vitamin A and C along with low glycemic carbs (slow to digest, good for long term energy and they don't create the insulin spike of refined sugars). A great mix for this is a couple cups of milk, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a tablespoon of vanilla extract, vanilla or plain protein powder and spinach. It tastes like liquid pumpkin pie.
Celery-for extra fiber
Beet powder- high in antioxidants it also encourages the production of nitric oxide which helps control blood pressure and give your muscles better blood flow.
Peanut flour- just what it sounds like. Flour made with peanuts, mix it with bakers chocolate and you have a liquid chocolate peanut butter concoction.
Coffee-Because everything is better with coffee
Ghee- a refined butter this is used in bulletproof coffee and can serve the same purpose here, providing additional calories but acting to satiate the sense of hunger for longer.
Oatmeal- cook it up, douse it in cinnamon, and add an apple. Best served warm, it may not actually be apple pie, but it is satisfying
Plain Yogurt- an additional source of protein and probiotics
Cayenne- adds a little kick, great with a coffee flavor and boosts the metabolism
Creatine- this supplement helps with not only muscle growth but has also been linked to improved memory. The body can only handle 5 grams of pure creatine. Some people get bloaty or cramps with creatine. Use a small dose at first.
Honey- A good natural sweetener, locally sourced honey can help with some allergies
Fresh Mint- use for the flavor and it is supposedly good for digestion
Citrus fruit in any milk based shake unless you are going to drink it immediately, citrus curdles milk.
Flax seed, it doesn't blend well and becomes a nightmare to clean out.
Hard vitamins or supplement pills, many blenders have died trying to crush those big horse pills
Tuna- yeah, don't ask
Raw eggs- although dumping raw eggs in your shake will automatically cause you to hear the Rocky theme song, there is simply too much health risk without enough extra benefits- you can cook egg white and blend those if you want to add extra Casein to your diet (egg protein)
Alcohol- not only does alcohol slow fat metabolism but it also will cause curdling of milk products. Additionally it can lead to impaired judgement which may lead to injury during exercise and it is also a source of empty calories.
You might find that having a couple different types of shakes helps, for example one with oatmeal or sweet potato's is going to give you a nice filling sensation in the morning with a steady source of energy, while one that's packed with blueberries and strawberries is going to give you an energy rush that's great an hour before heading to the gym, experiment and find what works best for you!
Of course, remember that a protein shake or two is not a bad thing, but you cannot subsist on protein shakes, your body needs actual food too! Like all diet aids it can be overdone. I would suggest a notebook, figure out what combinations you liked, and what combinations should never be repeated.
Breaking free of shoe religion (Rod Trent)
Professionally, Rod Trent is a PFE/STA for Microsoft, focusing on Azure Identity and Governance and EMS. Privately, Rod is dedicated to fitness through diet, running, and other activities, but also a TV and movie junkie. You can find Rod active on Twitter (http://twitter.com/rodtrent) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rodtrent/).
One of the most important pieces of running without pain is the type of shoe you choose and how long you wait to replace them.
Most realize already that your running shoes have an end of life date. Never run more than 300-400 mile on a pair of shoes. Most running services (ex. Strava, Garmin, etc.) have an option to set a reminder when a pair of shoes has reached its end of life. Use this.
However, shoes are not all the same and there are runners that stick with one brand or another based on a number of factors including recommendation, fashion, cool advertisements, etc. If you're doing this -- stop it. These are just religious dogma.
Did you know?...
- If you're a heel striker, you will experience aches and pains in the knees.
- If you're a mid-foot striker, you are more apt to experience plantar fasciitis.
- And, if you more commonly strike the toe or ball-of-foot, you can eventually expect pre-dislocation syndrome.
You can minimize each of these scenarios just by choosing the right style of shoe.
When I first started running, I decided to work hard at managing my foot strike to ensure a long running career without pain. And, that worked to a point. I was a mid-foot striker to start but worked to alter my gait to more of a low-impact shuffle so that I struck the ball of my foot more often. But, after several years of this (and partially due to aging) I found myself experiencing the beginning of pre-dislocation syndrome.
But, after visiting the podiatrist I learned that it wasn't really caused by the pounding from my foot strike, but the type of shoes I had been wearing.
I have been a religious ASCIS fan since the beginning. The shoe was comfortable, fit my feet well, and offered a wide toe box. But the company more recently altered the toe-box shape to more of a Nike-style which is smaller and pointed. They did this without me really realizing the difference. It's the old "how to boil a frog" scenario. I had worn ASCIS for so long, I really didn't notice the difference until it was too late.
I assume ASICS made the subtle changes to bring their shoes more in line with the fashion component of others in the industry, but I can't be sure. I've never been able to wear Nike shoes for this very reason. For my foot type, Nike brings immediate foot pain, so I avoid them like the plague.
So, after my podiatrist visit, I was convinced I'd suffer minor pain the rest of my life and I needed to wear inserts constantly. But, then after a bit of additional research, I looked down at my feet and realized my foot is not Nike shaped. Its not tapered into a point at the toe. Why do shoe companies do that then? I realized I needed a new shoe brand. I needed to break free of my religious adherence to ASICS.
I've now settled on running shoes from Altra and my pain has disappeared completely. Altra touts "Foot Shape" designs, i.e., they provide the largest toe box area I've ever experienced. They are comfortable, well fitting, and they allowed me to even stop wearing inserts when running. They do look a bit weird (possibly like a set of orthopedic shoes), but -- oh my -- they're just the right prescription.
I've broken free of my shoe religion and I'm gloriously pain free again.
I'm not a running advertisement for Altra. I'm just suggesting that your foot type and your foot strike method should dictate the shoe you wear. Do the research to figure out which shoe will help you eliminate your most common pain areas. Also, don't skimp. Buying a cheaper shoe -- just because -- could lead to pain.
Lastly…your shoe type may change over time, so be constantly aware and be prepared to move your feet to a new home. Over time, your feet will change. I know this personally. My feet have become flatter and wider.
Do the research and read honest reviews. Figure out what type of foot striker you are and then compensate by locating the shoe type and brand that will offer the best support in those areas.
Am I Healthy? (Mark Nichols)
Mark Nichols is an IT professional that got started with VMS in 1984 and is now a Sales Engineer for a Global IT Software company and a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer with his local box.
How do you define fitness or better yet, what does it mean to be healthy?
Does it mean you can walk a mile or climb the stairs without gasping for air?
Does it mean being at a reasonable weight?
Does it mean, "Look good naked"?
Does it mean being able to get off my meds (blood pressure, diabetes, etc.)?
I once heard a quote, "A healthy person has 10,000 dreams. An unhealthy person has only 1". An unhealthy person's only dream is to get healthy so they can enjoy the rest of their life. Lousy health does not always occur overnight. For most of us, it is a gradual process based on our lifestyles that takes a slow and unrelenting toll. And the expression of that degraded health could be sudden like a heart attack where a first symptom is an event that causes death. Supposedly, this happens in 50% of cases as reported here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616124938.htm. Alternatively, lousy health could be things like not being able to perform essential functions of life, such as walking up stairs or cooking a meal. Eventually, bad health limits our ability to enjoy life and can become a misery.
As we age, our body's ability to handle the stress of life degrades whether those stressors are from work, diet, or the environment. And the bottom line is that getting older sucks! Things don't work the way they used to. But can we slow the effects or even reverse them? For the most common ones, Cardiovascular Disease and Type II Diabetes, the answer is a resounding YES.
One definition of health or fitness represents a sliding scale that goes between sick, to healthy, to fit like a gas gauge. On this scale, sickness is represented by the E for Empty, healthy as half full, and fit as the F or Full. Interestingly, the measurements your doctor takes, such as blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat percentage, etc. roughly correspond to your place on the scale. The closer you are to fit (or full), the more significant buffer you have against sickness. This buffer is essential because it represents our body's ability to fight infection or the effects of aging or recovering from an accident.
So, does this mean that if I can run a 5K race in under 20 minutes and my blood pressure is normal, I am healthy or fit? Or what if I can bench press my body weight and I'm not overweight or diabetic, does that mean I am healthy or fit? Not necessarily! Our body's complexity means that overall health is more than just our strength or speed or heart rate.
A more comprehensive definition of health and fitness includes measurements of things like our cardiovascular endurance, our neurological effectiveness (balance and coordination), our strength, our flexibility, and our ability to do a defined amount of work in a specified time with accuracy. Having satisfactory health or fitness means we must train all systems. CrossFit does this by including different styles of workouts. Some days have a primary focus of cardiovascular conditioning, while others focus on strength for muscular development or gymnastics for balance and neurological development.
We can't control everything about our health, but we can take responsibility for being the best version of ourselves. If you are a runner, add strength training. If you are a weightlifter, add cardio. And if you are a sedentary IT professional, get off your butt and get moving!
A Wearable Parable (Kris Lall)
Kris Lall works as a product manager in the tech industry for an enterprise software manufacturer. As a youngster, Kris was consumed with soccer before technology came along. Now he's consumed with both. You can find him on Twitter at the not-too-surprising handle @krisoccer.
When I was elementary school age, I remember saving up my money for a Mickey Mouse watch. Everybody wore a watch back then because the time wasn't readily available from an endless number of sources like it is today. Some also wore watches as jewelry (early "bling"!).
Fast forward a "few" years and several technological advances. Smart phones and watches are everywhere. People are less concerned about knowing the time and worried more about everything else -- because smart devices enable us to worry about so much more.
So a couple of years ago I recall thinking that the watch market was dead. Wearables were entering the market from all directions. Android watches, Garmin, Fitbit, Apple Watch, and many more. I was keenly interested in how the watch market -- but what we now think of as the wearables market -- would shake out.
A few colleagues were tracking certain health stats with these wearables: steps taken per day, current heart rate/pulse, calories burned. Moderately interesting information, but not quite compelling enough for me to invest in one. Then came more than one story of a digital wearable tracking, noticing, and alerting the wearer about a heart condition that ended up saving their life. Now that's a compelling reason to wear a "watch"!
I'm no longer a watch (or wearables) nay-sayer and have been wearing one for a couple of years now. I try to attain at least 10,000 steps per day and often find myself checking my daily health stats, including heart rate, minutes of exercise, and steps taken.
There are also the "bigger picture" benefits. After your fitness tracker has gathered and recorded a certain base amount of data, you'll be able to create a benchmark of your health stats to compare against the norm. And imagine the health benefits for future generations, as the gathering of an increasing quantity of aggregated fitness data leads to the saving of lives and reduced suffering.
I still don't see much value in owning a traditional watch that only tells time. They can make you look marvelous, of course, but nothing will ever compare to the bling appeal of my 1970's Mickey Mouse wearable!
Let's talk about food (Brian Dougal)
Brian Dougal is an IT manager for Powder River Development, a father of five, a blitz-hobbyist, a table-top role player, and a health coach for the OptaVia Health Program. You can also find Brian on Instagram @dougalhealth.
As I mentioned last month, eating a balanced diet of things prepared at home is a better choice than grabbing a burger, fries, and a shake from the local fast food joint.
The food industry has spent a huge amount of money over the last 50-ish years researching what is called "the bliss point." According to Wikipedia, "The Bliss Point is the amount of an ingredient such as salt, sugar, or fat which optimizes deliciousness." It is the point that the flavor is in the goldilocks zone, not too much, not too few, but just right.
And that is the problem when we eat out instead of preparing food at home, we take in all that research that is meant to make us food addicts, get us hooked on carbs, sugar, salt, and unhealthy amounts of fat.
My problem was not knowing what to eat. I went from structured environments with meal plans, like Marine Corps boot camp, to living on my own and getting to make my own choices, or living with a wife that believed that dinner consisted of a huge dinner plate full of carbohydrate rich Hamburger Helper and six pieces of bread. So I blew up quick, my largest capping about 340 pounds.
And while exercise is important, if your nutrition is out of balance, all the exercise in the world won't help you lose weight.
The other issue that many, including myself, suffer from is the ability to eat a lot before we get full. I was the guy that had the huge double burger, large fries, and a large shake. I could stuff all that in before I "felt" full. I was probably full halfway through the burger and fries.
Consider these seven suggestions to get started on improving your daily nutrition:
- Use the smaller plate. Most tableware sets come with a large dinner plate and a smaller salad plate or side dish plate. Use the small one. Studies show that when our container is bigger, we add more food. To help control our caloric intake, use smaller dishes.
- Limit eating out at fast food restaurants to once per week. This will do two things for you, a) significantly reduce the amount of sugar, salt, preservatives, unhealthy fat levels, and carbohydrates in your diet; and b) boost the amount of dollars you have in your wallet.
This doesn't just mean lunches but includes cutting out the egg & sausage McMuffin on the way to work and the Chinese takeout on the way home.
- Plan meals in advance. Saturday sit down and plan what you will be eating for the week. Set up a Google O365 calendar or write a calendar program, whichever you prefer. But set up a calendar that plans what you will be eating for the week. This should include 3 primary meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 3 healthy snacks to fight off hunger. Eat about every 2 and a half to 3 hours, alternating meal/snack/meal/snack/meal/snack. Get a variety of ideas. If you're eating eggs at every breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and chicken for dinner every day, it can get boring. Look online for healthy meal recipes to get a variety. Healthy leftover dinner makes a great lunch the next day.
- Breakfasts should consist of a healthy protein to help you get your day started. Go low carb, low sugar. Consider a 3-egg omelet or scramble with some mozzarella cheese; a plain Greek yogurt sweetened with some fresh berries or other chopped fruit, and two mozzarella cheese sticks; a 1 cup bowl of oatmeal prepared with milk and a hardboiled egg on the side. Shoot for at least 18-20 grams of protein to start your day. Some experts suggest 30 grams of protein to start.
- For lunch, sandwiches are a great go-to. If you're a sandwich guy, push the jelly to the back of the fridge and try out other yummy high-protein choices, such as the Arnold Palmer - half egg salad, half tuna. Include shopped or sliced pickles and a little sweet baby lettuce on a healthy multi-grain bread, and an apple and cheese stick on the side. Or if you prefer the boxed lunch, a three bean and pasta salad, a baked chicken breast sliced over leafy green salad with a small amount of your favorite dressing, or sliced meatballs on a spaghetti made from zoodles (zucchini noodles). Or for a classic, go with the chicken avocado BLT wrap.
- Close out the day with a healthy dinner salad and chicken or fish on a bed of brown rice, a chicken broccoli stir-fry and noodles, lemon garlic shrimp pasta, or throw an 8oz steak on the BBQ and have a big side salad.
- For snacks, an ounce of mixed nuts, a red bell pepper with guacamole, an apple with peanut butter, celery stick with cream cheese, half an ounce of dark chocolate with half an ounce of almonds, hardboiled eggs, or baby carrots with a little dressing. Shoot for decent protein, and no more than about 150 calories.
- Recipes are all over the internet, and it's just a matter of taking the time to do a little research, but having a plan for your meal, just like having a plan for your next server install, will help you keep on the right track and avoid the high sugar, high carb foods that add more weight.
- Try to eat your breakfast within 30 minutes to an hour of getting up. Your body is doing maintenance while you sleep and eating soon after waking will give it the energy it needs to replenish what it used up. Also, if you feed your body sugar first thing in the morning it will burn the sugar. Instead, by giving it protein, it continues to dip into fat stores for extra energy, which helps us lose weight.
- When you do go to a restaurant, look for healthy choices and alternatives. I usually get a steak and salad, because it's steak. When dinner also comes with a potato choice, most decent steak houses will sub a half-cup of cottage cheese or a squash mix. Get the salad bar so you can control what you're getting. Start with that big leafy salad, and add high protein choices like eggs, ham, soybean sprouts, green peas, mushrooms, broccoli, mozzarella cheese. Add chicken or shrimp, if it's available.
- Drink water. I'm sure you've heard it said your body is 60% water. What that means is that your body needs the stuff. If your only water intake is when you stop by the water cooler to chat, that isn't enough. Get a Powerade Zero (because it's zero sugar) bottle and fill it at least three times per day. That's 96oz of water. Your pee will be clear, your kidneys will run better, and those nasty headaches may subside. I find when I get a headache I'm usually dehydrated.
- Get off sugared soda. I don't know about you, but I hate diet soda. The aftertaste just isn't something I enjoy. But what I did find that I liked is Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. These two drinks taste a lot more like the real thing, and don't have the aftertaste. I have no more than 2 20oz bottles in a day, one at lunch and one at dinner. The rest of the time I'm drinking water.
When I changed my eating from the fast food joints to healthy recipes high in protein, low in carbs and sugar, I found that I had more energy in the day and overall just felt better. Plus, I had more cash in my bank account to afford my wife's Amazon spending sprees.
As an aside and update: August 9th I was 240 pounds, this morning I was 232.
Next month: Sleep, energy, and stress.
If you have to prioritize something, let it be your nutrition (Yuri Diogenes)
Yuri Diogenes is a Senior Program Manager for one of the biggest software companies in the world, author of the book Ready, Set, Achieve (www.readysetachievebook.com), amateur Bodybuilder and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter.
I lift weight since I was 14 years old, but since I started working with IT at the age of 18, I started to relax my nutrition, to a point that at the age of 24 I was already overweight. I was still training five times a week, one hour a day, but I had zero progress, and I was continuously gaining weight, until I achieve the peak of my obesity of the age of 36, where I hit 280 lbs with 36% body fat. When I started my journey to lose weight (first part of the journey is documented at Quest Nutrition blog here, and the second part here and a summary video can be found here), I didn't realize how nutrition played a pivotal point in the body transformation, my mindset was still driven by "exercise more and eat what you want", and that was leading me to nowhere. Once I started to truly control my food intake, and follow a proper nutritional plan, I started losing weight and my body was starting to actually transforming, muscles were popping up and I started feeling better.
When many IT Pros think about getting in shape, the first thing they do is a gym membership, they go everyday in the first week, and then start skipping days until they just go once they feel like it. This approach always leads to frustration and disappointment. The feeling is always: I worked so hard, and nothing really happened. First of all, you did not work hard enough, and second, you started the other way around.
You need to make sure you have a good nutrition plan to ensure that you have all the nutrients your body needs. You need to re-educate yourself on how to eat, instead of three big meals, perhaps you should start eating small portions every three hours, to keep your metabolism working and also to avoid hunger. Once you have this settle, then you can invest in a good training program and start working to be in calorie deficit. But the most critical recommendation is: find a good professional to work with on the nutrition side as well as in the physical training side. You can read thousands of diets on the web, thousand of training, but at the end of the day, what will really work is something that was customized for your needs. If you can have both (good nutrition and training at the same time), prioritize nutrition, make sure you body has the right level of fuel, so you can operate in the best way possible. After that, you can fine tuning by adding physical activity.
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