In this week’s newsletter
Mondays and holidays: two common nutrition mistakes. Remembering to breathe. The mask. Stretching and active recovery. Getting started with workout DVDs. One day I realized I was not feeling well.
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.
Well it’s lockdown time again for many of us so it’s important for us to find ways to keep our stress from hitting 100% like the CPU on my old laptop frequently does. Thank you, Windows 10.
Anyways, if you’re like me you probably have other ways besides exercising that you turn to in stressful times. I’m referring of course to drinking alcohol, eating sugary foods, and generally letting yourself go to pot.
And if you’re like me you probably rationalize your behavior in various ways by playing mind games with yourself. After all, no one likes to think of themselves as a helpless idiot. If this is you (c’mon, be honest!) then you gotta read the feature article below in this issue.
Regardless of what’s happening in the world around you — and let’s face it, watching the news is another way we often try to relax, but it usually has the opposite effect of increasing our stress levels — regardless of what’s happening out there you need to focus on what’s happening up here: in your mind. Because good health starts in the mind.
So stay healthy and enjoy this issue of FitITproNews!
What’s inside this issue of FitITproNews
This month we start off with our feature article from Lana Khazari on how to deal with mindset problems that can torpedo your progress in weight control and fitness. Columnist Robin Camp then follows with some practical advice on facing the fitness and nutritional challenges of the holiday season. Next up is Kris Lall who talks about something many of us are still getting familiar with using properly, namely masks. Jimmy Vo then weighs in on the twin topics of stretching and active recovery, and he shares how these two activities have been benefiting him. Sarah Trammell tells us what to look for when you’re considering buying a workout DVD and she has some terrific recommendations in this area, so be sure to check them out. And finally we want to welcome new columnist Roger Foisy who is an IT Manager with over 20 years of experience. Roger talks about why he decided to eat right and exercise, and he shares some of the struggles he has experienced along the way — struggles that most of us “recovering fat IT pros” are all too familiar with.
Enjoy this month’s issue of FitITproNews and feel free to send us feedback on any of the topics we’ve covered — we love hearing from our readers!
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor
Mondays and holidays: two common nutrition mistakes (Lana Khazari)
Lana Khazari is a Technical Support Analyst for the Corporation of City of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is also a Precision Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and a Yoga 200-RYT Instructor. You can find her online at lanakharazi.com.
Maybe you’ve already managed to give away the household Hallowe’en candy, OR maybe you’ve dipped into a few more Reese’s cups due to the stress and anxiety of Elections and COVID-19. Since the onset of the virus, we’ve been in a state of panic and fear, and the easiest thing to do is seek comfort. But, behind these two different behaviors exists two very different mindsets and attitudes.
Those with the “a few more won’t hurt” attitude may be dangerously thinking that before you know it, it’s US Thanksgiving, and then, there are tons of holiday events. It feels like not the right time; I don’t want to deprive myself of “fun,” so it’s better to grind it out after it’s all done.
The above thoughts are that of a wrong mindset. If you’re interested in losing weight, building muscle, or just feeding yourself better, progress will stall or worse, the opposite happens. You eat more, you start missing workouts, and you gain weight.
We know waiting for Monday or until after all the holiday events never seem to work. And although indeed, one piece of Hallowe’en candy won’t destroy us, it’s what happens after that becomes the problem. We are super good at rationalizing “one small piece” during diet resolutions because we want the pizza. It doesn’t matter which you’re into fasting, paleo, or vegan; it’s not just an adjustment in diet, an attitude adjustment is needed.
Here are two common mindset traps to be aware of, no matter what you follow
Mindset Trap 1: Fresh Start Monday
I’ve been teaching fitness classes for 15 years, and you know you’ve leveled up your skills as an instructor when you own the Monday class. Monday is the busiest weekday in the gym. I’ve got way more peeps hootin’ and hollerin’ on Monday than I do on a Friday.
I’ve heard a lot of things over the years from these gym-goers:
- “Starting Monday, I’m going to do classes every day.”
- “Starting Monday, I’m committing to my diet.”
- “Starting Monday, I’m cutting all carbs” (*Sigh* x 100)
You’ve rationalized that last calorie-loaded meal because it all starts over on Monday.
How do you become a Friday class goer? We need to accept that we are human, and we make mistakes—also, you can reprogram the refresh button in something other than calendar days.
Every moment you have the opportunity to begin again. I often teach this concept in my Yoga and meditation classes. We are human, and we make mistakes. We can’t control everything. We can’t control our thoughts, but we can practice mindfulness. Practicing awareness is a powerful method for dissolving the endless agitations of the mind. Everything that goes amuck is an opportunity to begin again. But start again NOW, not Monday, or worse, January.
You make a mistake, resolve to fix it NOW. You eat dessert, decide to change that NOW, You down a beer with the gang, resolve to end that behavior NOW.
If we self-delude ourselves with “do-over” Mondays, we reinforce the limiting belief that we cannot correct the course sooner. When we get closer to the finish line where it’s harder to lose the last 10 pounds, and you believe you can start over at any time, you may never arrive.
Mindset Trap 2: The F@*K It’s
Learning how to step back onto the track after you’ve derailed your diet is an important skill.
You’ve gone for lunch with your friends, and you’ve enjoyed a nice large salad with grilled chicken while your friends had the burger and fries. You feel great about your choice, but then your friends want to hit up the ice cream shop. There are no salads on the menu, and you are experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out). So, you order a small cone of “Moose Tracks.”
To eat ice cream is not a sin. When it comes to dietary fumbles, our emotions supersede our logical mind. Impulsively, we succumb to our wants and then continue to make things worse. The internal dialogue goes something like, “Well, I messed up my diet, so f@*k it might as well dig in.” Then the f@*k it’s carry over through the weekend, and we start over Monday. And you see, we can tightly couple these two mind-traps.
We’ve all been there. This self-delusion is blocking you from success. The solution here is to break it down into something much smaller than it is. One meal with a few hundred extra calories over a week isn’t going to matter as much as we’ve made it out in our minds.
To help dissolve the battle and preoccupation with food, you need to understand and accept where you are. If you are fighting, you are at war. Instead, cut yourself some slack. It’s the meaning that you give something, that gives it power. If you are hyper-focused on your “bad” choices and you feel guilty, it can open up Pandora’s box, and it’s all-or-nothing. If we could interrupt that pattern and instead, soften and be kind. Focus on the good. You choose a salad over a burger, you hit up your workout today, or you took rest because you genuinely need it. Changing the inner conversation with yourself will help to paint a more realistic picture of what is happening. It is easier to conclude that one ice cream is not the end of the world.
These two habits can be hard to overcome, but being aware of them is a significant first step. Reframing your mind and the way you think and feel about “cheating” on your diet will help build discipline. Ultimately, it’s about strengthening your relationship with yourself. Whatever is “eating” you and what you tell yourself often determines WHAT you are eating. Thinking of Mondays and slip-ups in a new way will alleviate suffering and will have you eating differently, too.
Remembering to breathe (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/.
It’s that time of year. Egg Nog is on the shelf, Pecan pie is beckoning, clients are doing last minute rush projects, power outages, hurricanes and fires are playing havoc and stress is through the roof as people prepare for the joy of the holidays.
So, I would like to stress a simple idea for this year’s plague ridden politically divided oddness of a holiday season. Before you start making plans for Thanksgiving and how you are going to placate various family members, make plans to take care of yourself.
Your workouts and diet might suffer a little with all the extra activities and food, but you can mitigate some of that and help de-stress yourself. So here are the ideas I have been working on.
- A) Despite the holiday treats showing up in the office more and more frequently, work on your food prep- If you bring in pre-prepared healthy food to work you are less likely to over indulge on the sweets. If working from home, still do the meal prep and put the treats behind the healthy prepared food.
- B) Instead of a candy bowl at the desk have a bowl of fresh fruit or mixed nuts
- C) Even if you do not have time to go do your workout, do what you can, 15 minutes is better than nothing.
- D) Take at least an hour a week for yourself, whether it is just reading a book or walking your favorite path, taking a bit of time for yourself during all the extra stress will help you recharge, stress weakens the immune system and generally makes us less pleasant to deal with. Take a breath and take care of yourself.
- E) Write out a list of goals for next year and a couple things you want to try. Have you always wanted to go kayaking for example? Do some research based on your interest and take a class, read a book, make forward looking plans.
- F) With everything changing what seems like daily, have a backup plan for sickness, lockdown’s and weather. Be prepared for a Zoom meeting with your family and friends and tons of leftovers, having the plan beforehand will reduce your stress if things do go sideways.
Above all, remember that taking a little time and spending the extra effort on yourself is NOT SELFISH. You are setting a good example for your children, significant other and your family. By taking the time to reduce your own stress you will boost your immune system, be a more enjoyable person to be around and probably enjoy the season a little more.
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
– William James-
The mask (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.
Masks serve a lot of purposes in our culture — for disguise, to frighten, to be a superhero, to provide safety, and more. With more people going back to gyms or simply wanting to get out of the house, now might be a good time to determine the right mask for your workout routine, whether you’re planning to work out in close proximity at the gym or running on crowded streets in the city.
So I decided to try out wearing a mask for myself during my daily run in the city. Mask wearing isn’t necessary much of the time, but once you hit a crowded street and are breathing heavy, it’s time to don the mask!
My first concern was would a mask inhibit my ability to breathe? Would I struggle for breath (more than usual) when approaching the top of a hill, after fighting gravity (and potentially a mask) for several minutes? And since the mask market has exploded during the pandemic and I now have many at my disposal, which mask would emerge as being best for the job?
During my test runs with a mask, I (literally) ran into a few challenges. The first was that as soon as I started breathing heavy, my glasses would fog up. This is expected in high humidity (rainy!) climates. To address this, I made sure to use a mask with a metal nose wire, which most masks now have, on my next run. I had to secure the wire around the nose and place my glasses over the top of the mask to prevent my glasses from continuing to fog up (and me running into a tree).
Picture 1: Secure the nose wire and then place glasses over the mask.
The other challenge, of course, is how easy is it to breathe while huffing and puffing into a mask? If I’m wearing the right type of mask, I’m able to breathe as I jog a consistent (slow) speed on a mostly level surface. When I climb a big hill and the heart and lungs are working hard, it can feel like I’m inhaling certain masks. I think my oxygenation level was probably fine while wearing a mask, but I didn’t measure it in real-time. I definitely did not like the feeling of sucking the mask in through my mouth.
I tested with different masks and my results did vary. I preferred the mask on the bottom right in Picture 2 because it had some measure of breathability, even when breathing heavy. It has looser fit around the nose and mouth, and from a contagion perspective should be fine for outside activities.
Picture 2: The mask on the bottom right works well for this glasses wearer.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to wear a mask while working out, hopefully you’ll be able to find one that doesn’t inhibit your ability to breathe (and see!). Who knows? If you pick the right mask and keep doing your workout, maybe you’ll inherit a superpower.
Stretching and active recovery (Jimmy Vo)
Jimmy Vo is a cyber security professional in the financial sector. He’s a Jiu Jitsu hobbyist and a purple belt under Lucas Lepri in Charlotte, NC. You can find Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyVo
When I find myself locked into a routine, I try to maximize my training. Last month, I talked about working out 6 days a week despite COVID keeping me away from my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) training. Last year around this time, I was training roughly 6 days a week with a few two days in there with my BJJ training. The latter part of 2020, I was doing less training but performing worse.
My hypothesis was my recovery was not as efficient as it was last year. In a 6 day training week, I alternate between 3 Peloton rides and 3 strength training days. After a few weeks I noticed my aerobic and anaerobic capacity was improving but my strength was getting worse. My grit response told me to try harder but my strength was still faltering. I was starting to really cause some strain in my groin which impacted my squats. I finally reflected and took a step back. I needed to focus on two aspects of fitness which I’ve neglected for most of my fitness journey. I never stretched and I would rather train than take an active recovery day. I had to put my ego in check and incorporate an active recovery day in the middle of the week. In addition, I had to do a lot more stretching post workout.
I am not an expert by any means but my preference is to stretch after a workout. My recommendation is to come up with a post workout stretch routine and do it after your workouts. There are a ton of stretches on YouTube. Stretch as much as possible. In order to make sure I hold my stretches enough, I just an on demand stretch class which forces me to do all the necessary stretches. I do a 10 or 20 minute stretch class depending on my time constraints.
According to Healthline, active recovery is a low-intensity exercise. I like to do a low intensity indoor cycling, yoga, and stretching on my active recovery days. By putting in an active recovery day in the middle of the week, it allowed my body to not overtrain. I’m still in the stage of experimentation to figure out the frequency of a mid week active recovery day. Do I need to have a mid week active recovery day every week? To be determined!
By stepping back and keeping my ego in check, I incorporated active recovery and a lot of stretching. This helped me deal with some nagging injuries. After a few weeks I noticed I was a bit more flexible too which has improved many aspects of my training. It’s been said that recovery is as important as the work. Recover well, drink a lot of water, and keep working hard.
Getting started with workout DVDs (Sarah Trammell)
Sarah Trammell is an application analyst at a university in Georgia. She became interested in health and fitness issues when she began making diet and lifestyle changes to lose weight back in 2007 and learned even more when trying to track down what to do about other health issues beginning in 2011 with not much input from doctors. You may follow her blog at ihatemyglutenfreelife.com.
Workout DVDs were probably the biggest factor in my weight loss. They were what got me started on my journey. They’ve helped me to lose weight and keep it off. They’ve enabled me to do a variety of fun and challenging workouts in my own home, even when short on time. If you’d like to give workout DVDs a try to see if they’ll help you with weight loss (or with maintaining weight), here are some things to consider.
Get DVDs with multiple workouts
The early Tae-Bo workout DVDs had an instructional workout, a basic workout, an advanced workout, and an eight-minute workout. The Biggest Loser DVDs have several workouts that can be done alone or in combination, depending on the amount of time you have and your fitness level. One of my Turbo Jam DVD sets has five different workouts, a workout for when you’re just beginning, a strength workout, an abs workout, and two cardio workouts. You get more workouts for your money!
Get DVDs that mix weight training and cardio
Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, both trainers from the Biggest Loser, released their own workout DVDs. Jillian Michaels has multiple DVDs with workouts that use her “3-2-1” formula (three minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio, and one minute of abs). Many of the strength moves, and even some of the cardio ones, use hand weights. These are very tough workouts. Bob Harper has a cardio DVD with multiple workouts, and these make good use of hand weights. They’re also very hard workouts.
Get DVDs that include shorter workouts
These are great for when you don’t have time for a full-length workout but want to try to get in something. Tae-Bo Express is a DVD set with eight ten-minute workouts that can be done alone or in combination. Jillian Michaels has also released a DVD with ten-minute workouts on it. One of the final Biggest Loser DVD workouts includes a set of eight-minute workouts. Some of the workout DVDs I’ve purchased over the years include bonus shorter workouts with their full-length workouts. There are some mornings when I’m running behind, and these shorter workouts still allow me to fit in a workout on those mornings.
Get DVDs with workouts that look enjoyable
I love kick-boxing and dance music, which makes Turbo Jam one of my very favorites. I love using hand-weights, so I look forward to doing my strength training workouts that use them. There are also walking workout DVDs that I really enjoy doing because they provide a good workout without being overly difficult or strenuous. Some days I want to work out without killing myself!
Recommendations for workout DVDs
Hopefully the above tips will help you to find a good workout DVD or two to get you started. In case you need them, here are links to some of the DVDs I mentioned above. Check them out and see if you’d like to try any of them yourself!
Tae Bo Express:
Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred:
The Biggest Loser 8-Minute Body Blasters:
Bob Harper’s Body Rev Cardio Conditioning:
Jillian Michaels 10-Minute Body Transformation:
The Biggest Loser Power Walk:
Workout DVDs are a great way to add variety to your exercise regimen, whether you have ten minutes or sixty. Hopefully others will benefit from them as I have!
One day I realized I was not feeling well (Roger Foisy)
Roger is an experienced IT Manager with over 20 years of experience. Motivated and self-taught he has earned Microsoft MCSE, Cisco CCNA and CompTIA A+ certifications. Roger currently lives in the Florida Panhandle and loves the outdoors fishing and kayaking.
My name is Roger, I have been in the IT field since 1998. Started as a helpdesk tech for a newspaper. In central Florida during the Y2K madness. During that time I did self-study and earned my MCSE and CCNA. After a year doing helpdesk I found an opportunity as a Assistant network administrator for a large circuit board manufacturer. Approx. 300 PCs, 25 servers. On my first day I learned 2 days before I started was the prior Admin / Assistant admins last day so trial by fire.
During this time began my long workdays, bad eating, sedentary lifestyle and Mountain Dew addiction. The weight went on slowly over the next 15 years till one day I realized I was not feeling well, and something told me to check my sugar. In the Walmart parking lot I tested and was at 510.
That day I started to clean things up, no more Mountain Dew was first. Then started changing foods slowly over the next year. Sugar was closer to being in control (with no medication), Down about 25lbs.
I was feeling much better and started to add some exercise in. I found a personal trainer that helped me out 2 days a week. Things were good losing weight / getting stronger and got down 65lbs then the weight started to go up no matter what I did. Doctor ran some tests and I had a Thyroid infection. Took several months to fully clear that up, now I was back up 30lbs.
That brings us to the last 1.5 years. I have increased the weights and have been cleaning up the food. Muscle mass has increased, weight has been inching down. Confirmed this with a Dexascan.
Things went off the rails a bit when covid-19 came around, luckily I had started building my home gym a few months earlier. I added a Concept 2 rower and some more free weights and now I feel I have everything I need.
My eating has been going more towards Keto, my brain is starting to function better and overall I feel much better. Trying to do weights 3-4 days a week. I have a Yoga class for an hour each week.
I hired a trainer to make me a workout plan that uses the equipment I have in my gym, from Nov 15 — Feb 14 I will be following his plan daily to take me to the next level.
Along with the gym I will also be working on finding the beast eating plan for me, Keto has been where I feel best so far but I am going to keep testing variations. I will also be adding some heat therapy (recently bought an infrared sauna).
Send us your feedback!
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