In this month’s issue of FitITproNews your Editor the Recovering Fat IT Pro talks about the importance of exercising your posterior chain muscles which are foundational to success in most types of sports and other athletic activities. Also in this issue are these articles by our FitITproNews columnists:
- Robin Camp: What’s in a gym bag?
- Rod Trent: Planning for holiday success
- Mark Nichols: I blew it! Now what?
- Kris Lall: Overcoming Fitness Fear in the (Happy) New Year
- Brian Dougal: I walked on fire Saturday
- Yuri Diogenes: A sample of my HIIT routine
- Kris Kane: Set yourself up to win!
- Lana Khazari: How to eat all the things this season
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: real fitness for real IT pros!
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor
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Strengthening the posterior chain (Mitch Tulloch)
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.
Strengthening your posterior change through regular, heavy exercise is probably the most important thing most athletes can do to achieve more in their sport or profession. The posterior chain consists mostly of muscles in your legs, hips and lower back. In other words, your posterior chain muscles include your:
- Quadratus lumborum (lower back muscles)
These are the key muscle groups used when you perform movements that involve pushing off the ground. In other words, whenever your sport necessitates that you jump, leap, or change direction quickly, you’re utilizing your posterior chain muscles. Sports that involve such explosive movements include sprinting, ice skating, soccer, Olympic lifting, MMA, and so on.
- Some useful exercise for strengthening your posterior chain include the following:
- Deadlifts (various types)
- Squats (various types)
- Hip thrusts
- Pull-throughs (works more the quadriceps)
- Back hyperextensions (but don’t overdo it)
- Step-ups and lunges (again, works more your quadriceps)
There are also some triple-extension exercises you can do to work your posterior chain. These also include your foot muscles and not just your leg and hip muscles. The simplest triple-extension exercise for working your posterior chain is doing jumping squats while holding something light like a medicine ball. More difficult ones include doing circuits of box jumps, hurdles, and so on. Most challenging of course is when you use a barbell to perform so-called Olympic lifts e.g. dead clean, power clean, split jerk, snatch, hang snatch, and so on.
Be warned though that all triple-extension exercises are basically plyometric in nature, and hence very intense. So make sure you build a foundation of strength first in your posterior chain before you start exercising explosively like this. Even jumping up and down in place can cause injury if you’re not warmed up enough or don’t have enough strength in your posterior chain muscles. And Olympic lifts? Well I don’t think I’ll ever get around to trying them, too risky for a middle-aged recovering fat IT pro like myself!
Ask Our Readers: How to properly perform a deadlift (reader responses)
In the previous issue of FitITproNews I mentioned that as far as deadlifts are concerned, I’m a beginner at how to do these properly. So I asked, Do any of you readers out there do deadlifts using barbells? What kind of advice would you give to a beginner like me so I do them properly and avoid getting injured? I mentioned that what I would like is some good advice about things like:
- Foot placement (width and angle)
- Hand placement on bar
- Muscle activation in legs and back
- How to pace repetitions
- Rest period between sets
I’m grateful that I received several responses from our readers concerning this. First up and most helpful was the following email from Chris Brandow, Partner at Invision, a company that provides computer support for businesses in Kansas City, USA:
Look I know there are tons of experts online and youtube that all have the best options for building mass and losing weight but there is one guy that consistently puts out quality material, shoots straight and has the credentials and body to back his claims: Jeff Cavaliere at Athlean-X. I have used his material he puts out on youtube for the past couple years and have noticed better gains than before and no pain because he shows you the right and wrong ways to do things, including the deadlift which is one of the three main benchmark exercises. Even other trainers have given Jeff the respect he deserves.
Chris’s comments led me to this very helpful video by Jeff on how to properly perform a deadlift. After watching this video I was able to check off some of the items on my list above.
Another helpful comment came from Rolly who among other things handles IT for a small company based in Liverpool, UK:
Squeeze your butt.
Somewhat puzzled by this, I asked Rolly to elaborate. He replied:
Activates your glutes when you lift the barbell. Strongest muscles in your hip region.
I tried this yesterday and it seemed to help, so I’ve incorporated it into my deadlift routine.
Artim who works in tech support for a company in Indiana, USA expressed the following comment about breathing:
I work out regularly at the gym and when I do barbell exercises I try to do them slowly, more muscle activation that way and more lactate (burn) is generated (leads to fat loss). So I breath in and out several times especially, especially when lowering the bar. Try it. Just don’t hold your breath too long – your blood pressure goes up very fast. A friend of mine had a stroke while lifting heavy.
That bit about holding your breath caught my attention. It reminded me of something called the Valsalva Maneuver which is often used by weightlifters to keep their back safe when they’re lifting. This article from The Art Of Manliness describes how it works:
A more technical article on the maneuver can be found here on Medical News Today:
Interestingly, the above article suggests that the maneuver can cause sudden and persistent *decreases* in blood pressure. Maybe that’s why I sometimes feel lightheaded after I finish doing a set of deadlifts? i.e. almost like I’m going to pass out. Have any of our readers experienced this after deadlifting? Any other suggestions with regard to breathing when it comes to deadlifting? Email me at [email protected].
Fitness Tip: Strengthen your core (Chris Brandow)
Chris Brandow also included the following tip in his email I referenced above:
If you aren’t already doing abs everyday, do yourself a favor and start now. Building a strong core is your foundation for all the other exercise you will do. Abs are one of the few muscle groups you can work everyday with no ill effects. It sucks in the beginning, but after 8 weeks you will be so thankful.
I totally, totally agree with this observation. The last thing I want to experience is a hernia when I lift heavy.
What’s in a gym bag? (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/.
For me the gym bag is not just gym supplies, it’s also a personal day to day emergency bag. I have used a large duffel made by 3VGear for the last few years after going through a bunch of much more expensive bags that fell apart after a few months. The lifetime warranty is a nice bit of insurance too.
Working out causes your immune system to temporarily weaken, a side effect of the efforts you are putting in that will cause you to have a stronger immune system (the body is weird) Because of this it’s a good idea to remember to wipe equipment down and be aware of personal hygiene while in the gym.
Band-Aids & Disinfectant – Be considerate, don’t bleed on equipment! Whether you have an open cut before going into the gym or cut yourself/open a blister while in the gym, have some band aids and disinfectant on hand to prevent infection to yourself and also to be considerate to others. Remember that everyone is sweating in the gym, so any germs they have, if they were not considerate enough to wipe down the equipment are there, open wounds just beg for infection!
A professional change of clothes – An old habit from my journalism days, I try to keep an outfit in the bag, whether it’s because I am being called back to the office or simply spilled my morning coffee on myself, it’s always a good idea to have clean clothes on hand, it keeps you looking professional and saves you a trip home for a change-remember to keep it in a plastic bag so that the scent of your gym duds don’t permeate it.
Soap, shampoo and towel if you shower at your gym
Deodorant – not only does this make those long days at work a little easier but it also helps when you are called back to work from the gym or remember you are running late for date night!
Chalk – (Check your gyms policy) Be considerate and don’t make a mess. Chalk is an important tool as you begin to lift heavy, for those new to using it however, please be aware, it gets EVERWHERE!
Water bottle – Remember to stay hydrated while working out, have one or two water bottles Preferably BPA free and easily cleanable — working out lowers the immune system briefly and drinking from a water bottle that has something growing in it a recipe for disaster. Also put your name on it! Water bottles are easily forgotten and trying to figure out which Hydroflask or variant there of that is yours in the lost in found is just much easier if your names on it.
Protein bars – For those days you did not have time to eat and need a snack before you workout, try to eat between 45 minutes to an hour before working out.,
Carry a copy of your Exercise plan for those days you forget what you are doing (it happens)
Ibuprofen, Excedrin and Dayquil – Hold off headaches, aches and pains and that occasional annoying cold
A couple no sugar energy drinks preferably with BCAA’s
Lifting belt – A lifting belt contrary to popular belief does not “protect your back” Lifting belts force the lifter when cinched down properly to tighten their core and breath properly, this practice of keeping the core tight protects the spine, not the belt and also contributes to better form with less back arching, leading to bigger, safer lifts. When purchasing a belt you want one that’s the same height, usually around 3-4 inches tall- cheaper belts will be taller in the back and do not provide the same benefits. Also, avoid Velcro or buttons, big thick metal clasps are the way to go, a good leather belt will last you years.
Keep an extra set of headphones in the bag; nothing ruins the routine like forgetting your headphones! Have a cheap spare set so you can continue on with your workout, without being psychologically tortured by whatever bubblegum pop your gym is blasting.
Lifting straps – Straps help you lift weights your grip is either currently unable to handle, or incapable of handling. Straps can also be used to isolate muscles during a lift to take your forearms out of the equation, for example if you are really trying to hammer your back and you feel the movement more in your grip (forearms) you can use straps to take the load off your forearms and isolate your lats. Straps can also take some of the load off if you are suffering from tennis elbow.*Sidenote: lifting straps are one of those things you really don’t want to go cheap on, stick with big brands like Rogue or Ironmind, having a set of straps fail when you are trying to lift three times your body weight is a scary/dangerous experience.
Smelling salts – If you are going for a big PR and need that last jolt to get you over the edge, smelling salts can help get you there, use just before you lift, the effects usually wear off within 10 minutes. Do not use smelling salts on an everyday basis, smelling salts should be used sparingly to push you over the edge, not as a crutch. Using them sparingly also helps to prevent your body from getting use to the jolt. Please note, some sports HAVE banned smelling salts such as Boxing, this is because boxers were using these after injuries, masking potential concussion symptoms. Here in the gym we are using these for the extra oxygen processing, not to mask an injury or push through a concussion. Never put the smelling salts in your nose, always hold them a couple inches from your nose.
Lifting Shoes, running shoes and dress shoes – Use appropriate footwear for your workout, lifting shoes will help with your form while a good set of minimalist shoes will make running a much more pleasant experience than your work shoes.
Planning for holiday success (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/).
As a runner who wants to feel dedicated to the sport and to those self-assigned commitments, doesn’t it seem like there’s always something or someone waiting around the next corner attempting to derail your efforts? And, when you recognize it, there’s a certain level of disgust under the surface — even if you never show it outwardly toward the thing or person.
The holidays tend to be that signaling force for me. There’s no end to the amazing and tasty dishes served during these holiday extravaganzas. My Mom always makes the same favorites that have delighted me since my youth, making it even more tempting. And the majority of those friends and family around me seem to succumb pretty dang easily to the wiles of the sweet and salty and the savory and serendipitous. And, in my case, on Thanksgiving for example, I attend no less than three such banquets all laid with Southern-type feasts.
Eating your weight’s worth in holiday cheer can cause an inability to stay awake during the constant hum of family catch-up gossip — meaning there’s a bit more fuel to drive reluctance of staying on track with your running habits.
For me, I prep for these such occasions. While I probably don’t partake in the assorted sundries as much as others, I still do eat a bit more than I normally do, and since I watch what I eat the rest of the year I get extra lethargic while my digestive system attempts to break down the unfamiliar foods its confronted with. I’m fortunate that for me, it’s not about gaining the weight, because as soon as I get back to my normal regiment, my weight goes back to normal, but, instead it’s about the commitment I’ve made to myself.
As of November 29, 2019, I have extended my running streak to 1600 consecutive days.
So, how do I ensure I don’t run off the rails due to the holidays? Here’s some tips I use to keep my interest stoked:
- Get a good run in before the day’s festivities.
- Get another, shorter run in between food stops, or after the last one.
- If I can’t run before the meal, I’ll at least get my running gear out and have it sitting, waiting.
- When there’s a lull in the gossip action, I’ll reorder my running song playlist or create a new one.
- I talk about my running lifestyle with friends and family. Doing this helps keep me on track but I’m also aware it might incentivize someone else.
And, when a family member or friend hits back some negative reference about your running lifestyle, you can feel sorry for them, but even better, the latest catch phrase from Disney’s The Mandalorian works well…
I have spoken — Kuiil, The Mandalorian, Chapter 2
I blew it! Now what? (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.
After giving such fantastic advice about planning for the holidays to avoid overeating and not exercising in my last article, I blew it! But not quite like happened last year. My strategy for pumpkin pie worked! The pumpkin pie gremlin that would tempt me to eat another whole pie did not win. I gained strength by the knowledge that my eleven-year-old granddaughter was making her first pumpkin pie. I knew it probably was not going to be as enjoyable as my wife’s pumpkin pie. However, the sugar trap laid by a friend’s cranberry-apple pie reached out and grabbed my fork so forcefully I thought the pie was laced with crack. As I was licking the pie plate, cleaning up my third piece, my wife casually asked, “what are you going to tell your readers about this?” My immediate response was, “Do as I say, not as I do!” as I laughed and blushed with guilt.
I am sure the same story of good intentions and sensible precautions flew out the window for others as we gave in to the forces of human biology. Sugar stimulates the same receptors in the brain as heroin and can be highly addictive.
Now what? Should we ignore the guilt and get another piece of pie? NO!!!
First, take a serious look at why we failed. An accurate analysis of what happened may help us avoid the downfall in the future. For me, I made an excuse that it would be rude if I did not try the pie since my friend went to the extra trouble of making it. Lesson learned: It is OK to set aside certain traditions (manners?) when it comes to your health. We are the ones that have to live (or as the case may be, not live) with ourselves.
Second, don’t take the guilt trip. What I did is the past. Just because I failed, it doesn’t mean I am a failure, primarily because I have not given up on my goals.
Finally, recommit to doing the right thing going forward. I don’t have to abandon the rest of my plans just because one part of it failed. I can still hit the gym at my regularly scheduled time.
We have another chance this month with a fresh set of holidays — plan on having fun, enjoying your family, and putting your health first. You will be better off in January!
Overcoming Fitness Fear in the (Happy) New Year (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.
The busiest time of the year for fitness clubs is the first two weeks of January, when people are diligently adhering to their New Year’s resolutions. Once we get to about week three of January, fitness club attendance typically falls off. At least this group of folks made it to the gym.
An entire segment of people makes a similar commitment, intending to start working out, but then never makes that first step. For many, getting to the gym when you’re first starting is the hardest part of the process, as people are often self-conscious due to insecurities related to their body image. I have respect for anyone that makes it to the gym in the first place, regardless of their current fitness level.
My youngest son, Sam, an extremely lean young adult at 6′ 2″ in height and 125 lbs., initially experienced said body image issues. Sam was fortunate to have a friend who had already been through the process of making working out a habit, and who agreed to mentor him. Sam still felt trepidation about going to the gym alone until a few months had passed training with his gym partner.
Reflecting on this, Sam now realizes that his fear was mostly irrational because people at the gym aren’t there to judge. Even the most physically fit people are often insecure about their bodies and are at the gym to focus on improving themselves. In fact, some of the most intimidating (fit!) people at the gym are often the most supportive of fitness newbies.
During Sam’s first few times at the gym, an extremely athletic fellow approached Sam while he was doing tricep push downs and asked if he could work in with Sam, and Sam happily accepted.
After doing a few sets together and providing a few tips on Sam’s form, the fit fellow fist-bumped Sam and told him to keep it up, before continuing with his own workout. This served as a huge motivator for Sam and was a key reason Sam became comfortable going to the gym unaccompanied.
If you’ve ever had a fitness goal on your New Year’s resolution list, but didn’t find the time or courage to take that first step inside a workout facility, let 2020 be the year that you overcome any gym anxieties and achieve your fitness goals. You’ll be happy (and fit) that you did. Happy New You!
I walked on fire Saturday (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.
Hey, IT Nerds, How’s your health?
I walked on fire Saturday. It was amazing.
This weekend I went on a men only spiritual retreat with a friend. There were 32 of us, the youngest, Emerus, was six, the oldest was probably in his 60s. We did sweat lodge, we Om’d, we sang, we beat drums and danced, we prayed, we meditated, and we walked on fire. Yes, even Emerus.
It was an amazing experience of empowerment, of losing myself in the focus of my Creator and walking across a path of burning coals, coming out on the other side changed, but not burned. In the moments before I took that walk, I watched six-year-old Emerus raise his hands high and set his feet on that path and come out victorious. It was inspiring. I wept. I sang a hymn & said a prayer and followed him across those burning coals. Victorious.
I was going to go over my favorite yoga routine, the one that once made me puke, it was that good. But since walking on fire I want to talk about a principle of health that can help us in our everyday lives, one that helped at Thanksgiving, and will help at Christmas. One that helped me walk on that path of fire and come out unscathed.
Stop, Challenge, Choose.
This principle can be used in two ways.
- As a whole — When faced with a temptation, be it pastry, smoking, or what to do with your time, use it.
- It’s Christmas, presents are unwrapped, family is visiting, turkey, pie, ham, mashed potatoes, pie, stuffing, pie, rolls, pie, cranberry sauce, pie… Before you take the second piece, Stop. Pay attention to how you feel. Pay attention to your body. Are you content with what you’ve had? Is your body satisfied? Yes, you may want another piece. But does that meet your goals?
- Challenge yourself. What if I put off having that cigarette for 30 more minutes? And when I get to the end of that 30 minutes, what if I put it off for another 30?
- Choose what is best for you. Choose what will make you feel better, not the quick path to the dark side that is six hours of video games when the leaves need to be raked up, the gutter needs to be rehung, and the trash needs taken out.
- Stop and take a moment for yourself. Find a quiet area, relax and get comfortable, and sit in a comfortable chair or position.
Close your eyes, just breathe. Breathe in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds. Feel your body lift as it fills with life. Notice your chest expanding to take it all in. Notice the oxygen flooding into your body, your lungs. Notice it as you exhale, as your chest settles, as the air leaves through your mouth. Focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders, that’s fine. Just recognize the stray thought, dismiss it, and return to your breathing.
Once you are connected in the moment, let your awareness open to your surroundings. Notice the air conditioning, the thrum of local machinery, footsteps in the hall or on the stairs. Slowly open your eyes and take another breath, ending the exercise.
Take a moment to consider how you are feeling. Hopefully better than what you did before, with that moment of break from stress.
- Challenge yourself. While the fire burned that cord of wood, it was so intense we stood about 20 feet back and were still warmed by it. The coals from that fire were raked into a pathway that I was being challenged to walk across. Not to gain status, not to win an award, or prove to my friend that I could do it. It was a personal challenge that I had to undertake. It was for me, crossing that path of fire, that I can do the things that I set out to do, be it complete a project, get my degree, or maintain a healthy weight.
One of the brothers in this group spoke of a time when his son was preparing to go away to college. He was fretting over the idea of leaving home, of facing the unknown. His father said to him, “Didn’t you walk on fire?” And that was it. The boy dropped all anxiety, because he knew he could do it. He was stronger than fire, he was stronger than life. Challenge yourself and come out victorious.
- Choose life. Choose health and the things that will get you there. Choose to make your health a priority. These things don’t come all at once, but by our daily choices. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass,” said a wise prophet. We choose daily. Hundreds, if not thousands, of choices. Each of those small choices builds up to who we are in the end. Choices of food, of how we react to our spouse and children, of how we handle the stresses of life, of what we’re going to do with our time.
- Stop and take a moment for yourself. Find a quiet area, relax and get comfortable, and sit in a comfortable chair or position.
Stop and find your path. Challenge yourself to take the one that will enable you to grow and become who you have the potential of being. Choose that path and walk it daily. And if you slip up, if you fall off, challenge yourself to get up, to get back on the path, and choose to continue. Walk your fire and be victorious.
A sample of my HIIT routine (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 mentioned in my previous column that after I came second in July at the IBJJF Austin Open — Summer Edition I worked with my personal trainer (Greg McCoy) in a diet that was around 2100 calories (60% protein, 20% fat and 20% carbs), we add lots of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) in my workout routine, and BJJ drills, such as this one that published on Twitter. But, I didn’t want to lose strength either, so we added some heavy compounds of core exercises, such as deadlifts and squads. On top of that, I was training BJJ and Judo (to improve my takedowns) at least 4 times a week. The results were great, and I won the Master 3 Super Heavy division of the IBJJF Houston Open Fall:
Again, I couldn’t really put my cardio to proof, as both my matches last less than 2 minutes, but I felt way faster and prepared. I will give a lot of credit to the HIIT routines that I executed; they were critical for me. Below, you have a sample of this HIIT routine:
Note: the sequence of the 3 exercises below are considered one round, you will do between 3 and 5 rounds with 30 seconds rest in between rounds:
- Not a whole lot of weight, just enough to feel some pressure, the goal here is speed
- The distance can vary of the space you have. If you is not a long space, you can go back and forth
- Aim for at least 30 seconds here
Jumps from the bench:
- The goal here is explosion
- You will basically seat down in this bench, and from there explode as high as you can
- Aim for 30 jumps, which should be done in less than 40 seconds
- This is the most killer one and it is a great way to finish the round
- Aim for 1 minute here
Adding HIIT sessions to your workout routine can and will improve your cardiovascular condition a lot, and if this is your goal, make sure to add at least 3 sessions per week.
My personal journey to improve strength and conditioning is still happening, and I don’t think it will ever stop, because the reality is that there is always room for improvement.
Set yourself up to win! (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.
The year is drawing to a close which means now is a great time to start planning some goals ready to smash in 2020!
January is typically when people have that fresh boost of motivation aimed at their fitness goals, however without a solid plan in place a lot of people soon slip back into old ways, become demotivated and possibly have abandoned them altogether before the month is over.
I want to cover some pointers which will help not only get you off to a flying start but keep you focused along the way.
First, time for some reflection….have a think back over this year, did you achieve your goals? If so then fantastic! For those where you fell short, then try and establish what stopped you, be honest with yourself and think about what you could have done different. It’s important to celebrate both successes and areas of improvements in order to improve moving forward.
Use the remaining days of the year to set out exactly what you want to achieve in 2020, being as specific as possible. It is also really important to acknowledge why you want to do them, what difference it would make to you, and how you would feel this time next year when you have succeeded. Write all of this down and use it as a reference to remind yourself on a regular, even daily basis.
When the new year arrives don’t just wing it when it comes to taking action, you need a plan already in place. Make sure you know exactly how you are going to achieve each goal or seek out someone who has knowledge in that area to help you.
If your goal is gym based, do you have a routine ready to follow? If not then get Googling as there are lots of free plans available online or if you are a member of a gym ask if you can have a revised program which many provide as part of your membership.
If your goal involves better nutrition, start now by researching some healthy meals and checking out recipes to keep your food choices interesting. Again, there are lots of free resources on the net including apps like Pinterest that have some great meal plan examples.
Once you have established some goals and made a plan then make yourself accountable to achieve them! Let others around you know what your intentions are, get input from your friends and family and ask for their support. You might even find someone you know that has a similar goal and you can be training buddies to help push and motivate each other. Also, most gyms tend to do new year offers so get ready to sign up and make more of a commitment to go.
Typically at this time of year everyone is a bit frazzled and ready for a break. Make sure you take time to relax and enjoy some rest over Christmas. It will do you good to re-charge your batteries, work on your goal planning then get ready to go into the new year focused and ready.
I hope the above gives you ideas to think about. There’s a saying “motivation gets you going, discipline keeps you growing” and the best chance you have of this is by having a structure in place to guide you into a solid routine which week by week will lead to improvements.
If any of your new year goals involve fatloss and you want some further support, head over to my Facebook page where I will be offering a new Kickstarter week of free workouts, nutrition guidance and lots of useful tips help get you going in January:
Good luck with your training and have a great Christmas 🙂
How to eat all the things this season (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.
There’s nothing like the holiday season to stir up anxiety over family, friends, and food. This fear over food is what makes everything about healthy lifestyles wrong for the obsessive dieter.
From Thanksgiving to New Years, ’tis the high season for calories. Starting with cornbread, candied sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie the average Thanksgiving plate approximates at 4500 calories. That’s just ONE meal.
For the calorie-tracking crazed who use guilt cardio to burn off the binge, that’s 4-5 hrs of running on a treadmill. That’s if you don’t collapse into a heaping pile of shameful sweaty broken.
Don’t be that person. It’s ridiculous to think that you can out-exercise these calorie-laden meals. Breaking the cycle of guilt and shame earlier on will prevent you from being that person on Jan 1st still desperate to sweat off the extra pounds but who’s commitment doesn’t last longer than the first 4 weeks.
The truth is that food is everywhere. We know you aren’t saying no to grandma’s casserole, your coworker’s tray of Christmas cookies and the chocolate candy-cane bark you made for the kids. This truth hangs on even past the holidays.
So, how do you do damage control without whipping out the calorie calculator, weight scale, or dressing into your smallest pair of pants in hopes of squeezing you into submission?
Eat what you want, just change how you eat.
There is plenty of advice out there telling you what you can’t eat.
Limit the desserts – sugar!
Limit alcoholic beverages – empty calories!
If the holidays are a time for you to submerge yourself into a joyous celebration then limiting anything is going to be psychologically damaging.
Instead, this one habit is powerful and transformational: EAT SLOWLY.
I know what you are thinking. No way is eating slower going to prevent me from packing on the pounds over the holidays.
Well, maybe not completely. But, it could prevent some. You’d definitely find yourself in a better position for January.
And if this was the only habit you practiced next year, I’d bet you’d lose more weight than following any restrictive meal plan.
Because how you eat is much more important than what you eat.
The diet industry gets us caught in the details of “don’t eat this” and “eat that”.
Yet, we eat in our car. Or we eat standing up. Or we eat in front of our TV or computer. It’s mindless.
Slow and mindful eating may seem too simple to be the solution. You don’t have to figure out which foods to eat, how often, and how much. Those factors can help a lot. But why go complicated, when you can stay simple. Eating slowly is the simplest way someone can start to lose weight and feel better, almost immediately.
Yes, it’s so simple, but how can it work?
Here is the magic…
- Feel less deprived while eating less
Without even changing what you are eating.
When you slow down, you have time to taste, see and smell what you are eating. You’re checking in, instead of checking out via distractions. It’s psychological. You know what you are eating, that you’ve eaten, and feel satisfied sooner.
On a physiological level, it takes 20-minutes for our body to let us know we are full. Eating slower allows the time for those satiety signals to kick in and let us know that we should stop eating.
- Feel better through enhanced digestion
When you eat too fast, you take big bites and forget to chew. Those chunky bits don’t convert nicely into chyme – the food sludge created in your stomach and passed through your intestines. We also lose our chance at absorbing vitamins and minerals when food is not broken down properly. Fast eating leads us to indigestion and an unhappy GI tract. Do you often get bloated and gassy during meals? Food for thought anyone? Slow down.
- Learn when you are “full”, learn when you are “hungry“
Do you ever notice that you eat at a scheduled time even if you aren’t hungry? Do you ever notice yourself having to always clear the plate? Most of us eat when we aren’t hungry and always eat past full.
Slow eating allows us the time to listen to our internal signals. You begin to learn from your body’s biofeedback mechanisms. Over time, you can begin to master “listening to your body”. This will help retrain your brain to eat when your hungry and stop when you are full. You will never have to DIE-t again.
- Disrupt binging and other behaviours
Cravings or food binges can come on strong and are often hard brain patterns to interrupt. Slow eating can help do this over time. As soon as you notice that you have an overwhelming urge to keep stuffing yourself with food, slow down as much as you can. “Slow” binge. The slowing down helps to bring in mindfulness. You may not be able to conquer these tough situations right away because they can often make us feel powerless. Applying the “slow” binge technique to these complex situations will help build more awareness of why this is happening. When you slow down, you can start to break the chain of emotionally-driven binging. Over time, you will eat less and feel less powerless because you can stop sooner. You will be able to tap into your rational mind and find other ways to soothe yourself more effectively.
Try adding the habit of “eating slower” to your bag of tricks starting now.
Try pausing before each bite. Or take a breath before each bite. Or set the fork down in between bites.
It’s harder than you think.
Make it a game. Set the timer for 1-minute. Add 2, then 3. If you are always a rushed eater, notice when your thoughts are telling you that you are wasting time.
Accept that you are going to be consuming extra over the holiday season. Try consuming it slower. We might not always have control of the food on our plate. But we can control how fast we chew it. The holidays don’t happen every day, so remember that you won’t be eating like this forever.
Still downed too many cookies at office potluck? (Probably not as many if you practiced eating slowly).
If you feel like this still isn’t enough for you to survive the holiday season, use those extra calories to your advantage elsewhere. The holy trinity of hypertrophy (muscle-building) is to train big, eat big and sleep hard. Might as well use those indulgences towards some extra pump at the gym.
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