Will Power and Healthy Habits

Psychological deterrents to exercise and healthy eating adherence are of great interest to me. We’ve previously discussed that people who are more skillful may be more likely to be active, and self-efficacy research reveals that an individual’s belief in his or her ability to successfully do an activity is a large determinant of if he or she will actually do it (Clarke, 2015; Jongen et al., 2016). Other psychological factors contributing to adherence are support and willpower.

A meta-analysis by Burke, Carron, Eys, Ntoumanis, and Estabrooks (2006) demonstrated the value of contact and/or social support in exercise. The more contact and social support available, the greater the adherence was as well as the beneficial effects of the exercise (Burke et al., 2006). I believe this is the reason activities such as Crossfit and spin classes have such loyal patrons. The group or team dynamics increase members’ consistency and, therefore, their results.

Willpower, synonymous with the concepts of self-control and active volition, is another psychological component of diet and exercise adherence. The Fell article (2011) mentions that willpower is a limited resource that gets depleted throughout the day, therefore, the morning is the best time for one to make the decision to exercise. Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven, and Tice (1998) further demonstrated that one’s willpower is limited and one’s willpower in a certain task (for example, exercise) can be depleted by unrelated acts (such as willpower at work) that share this common resource.

Willpower is important for anyone who is trying to change habits, especially those involving diet or exercise, to understand, as relying solely on will power may not be the most effective method. One of my favorite fitness bloggers, Sohee Lee, writes a lot about how willpower comes into play with diet goals. She discusses how restrained eating (when an individual must resist the urge to eat particular “forbidden” foods) draws more on one’s willpower reserves than unrestrained eating (no food is off-limits), and, often, counter-regulatory eating (overeating “forbidden” foods) results from a period of high restraint (Lee, 2016). Because of this, she recommends a no-food-off-limits approach to healthy eating, and that one should make small changes week by week toward healthier eating as opposed to drastic ones. The less willpower required the more likely the healthy habits will last.

References

Baumeister, R., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M., & Tice, D.M. (1998). Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource [Abstract]? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 74(5):1252-65.

Burke, S. M., Carron, A. V., Eys, M. A., Ntoumanis, N., & Estabrooks, P. A. (2006). Group versus individual approach? A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity. Sport & Exercise Psychology Review, 2(1), 19-35.

Clark, J. E. (1995). On becoming skillful: Patterns and constraints. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 66(3), 173-183.

Fell, J. S. (2011, April 4). For best exercise, don’t be lonely or late. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-fitness-exercise-adherence-20110404,0,746272.story

Jongen, P. J., Heerings, M., Ruimschotel, R., Hussaarts, A., Duyverman, L., van der Zande, A., & … Visser, L. H. (2016). Intensive social cognitive treatment (can do treatment) with participation of support partners in persons with relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis: Observation of improved self-efficacy, quality of life, anxiety and depression 1 year later. BMC Research Notes, 91-8. doi:10.1186/s13104-016-2173-5

Lee, S. (2016) Why can’t I stick to my diet: The what-the-hell effect explained. Sohee Fit. Retrieved from http://www.soheefit.com/what-the-hell/

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Excuse #1: I don’t have a plan

“I don’t have a plan.”

“I don’t know what to do.”

You walk into the gym. What machines do you use? What exercises do you do? Reps? Sets? Weight? What about in your workout tomorrow?

I’m going to make it easy for you and outline exactly what you need to do in the gym. Your tasks:
1) Read this article
2) Print the workout PDF
3) Jot some notes on exercise form from my cues and included videos, or pull up this article on your phone at the gym
4) Get  your butt in the gym and work hard, for about an hour, at least 3 days a week or 4 days if you can include an extra credit cardio session.

I’ll walk you through it. 3 days of full body strength training. It’s a great start if your goal is to lose weight, get in shape, and build some muscle tone.  Here’s the plan:

Each day: 

Warm up: 5 minutes cardio, 5 minutes foam roll
Spend 10 minutes rotating through exercises A1, A2, and A3.
Spend 10 minutes rotating through exercises B1 and B2.
Spend 10 minutes rotating through exercises C1, C2, and C3.
Spend 5-10 minutes on exercise D.

Week 1-2: Choose weight for each exercise that’s “medium” difficulty.
Week 3-4: Choose weight for each exercise that’s challenging in the last 3 reps.
**Never choose heavier weight if you can’t perform the exercise with good form**

Do this routine for up to 8 weeks!

Warmup

Before you do anything in the gym, warm up! 5 minutes on a cardio machine of your choosing, going from light intensity to medium intensity. Some ideas:

  • Incline walk on a treadmill. Start at 3.0 mph with a 5.0 incline. Over the course of 5 minutes, increase speed to 3.5mph.
  • Stepmill (the one with a conveyor belt of steps). Start at an easy level (1 or 2). Over the course of 5 minutes increase up to a moderate level (3 to 5).

Then, foam roll your legs and upper back at a minimum. This should take less than 5 minutes.

  • Hamstrings (back of thighs)
    hamstrings_foam-roller
  • Quadriceps (front of thighs)
    bordon_quadriceps
  • IT Bands (Outside of thighs)
    itb-foam-roller
  • Adductors (Inside of thighs)
    stuartkari072314_3449_lowres
  • Calves (Back of lower legs)
  • Glutes (Booty)
    images
  • Upper Back
    woman-foam-rolling

Workout A

A1. Chest Supported DB (dumbbell) Row (10 reps)

  • Set an incline bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle from horizontal
  • Rest your chest on the bench with DBs in your hands.
  • Use a neutral grip, palms facing toward your body

A2. Incline DB Press (10 reps)

  • Done on same incline bench set up.
  • Shoulder blades are pulled back behind the body the entire movement.
  • Arms should be at a 45-degree angle to your body, so not flush at sides or straight out from shoulders.

A3. Hip Thrust (10-20 reps)

  • Position your back against a flat bench, with the bench hitting your back just below your shoulder blades
  • Feet are a little wider than your hips
  • Knees are in a line between your ankles and hips
  • Push through your heels and raise your hips up, squeeze booty at the top
  • Start with two legs, no weight, doing 10 rep sets. Increase reps up to 20. Once you can do 20 reps on two legs, try 10 reps using a single leg.
  • This is a long video, but it’s worth the watch.

B1. Leg Press (Machine) (10 reps)

  • Position your feet hip width apart, high enough on the pad so that when knees bend they don’t go past your toes.
  • As your knees bend, keep them in line with your middle toes. Don’t let knees cave in as they bend.
  • Push through your heels as you extend your legs.
  • Don’t lock out your knees

seated-leg-press

B2. Walking Lunges (20 steps total)

  • Hold dumbbells at your sides, starting with light weight(5lbs).
  • Take a big step forward, bend back knee and drive it toward the ground without touching the ground
  • Don’t let front knee go past front toes
  • Keep torso straight up
  • Keep heel of front foot down through lunge movement

C1. Plank (30 seconds to 1 minute)

  • Take deep breaths while holding
  • Don’t let hips dip (with lower back arched) or hips rise into the air
  • Contract the front abs, bringing the pelvis toward the lower ribs

C2. Dead bug twist (20 total or 10 each side)

  • Lower back stays flat to the ground the entire time with abs engaged (draw belly button toward spine)
  • Feet in air, knees bent at a 90-degree angle
  • Arms are straight up in air
  • Rotate torso slightly to one side and then the other
  • Once this gets easier, hold a weight in your hands

     

C3. Scaption (10 reps)

  • Only raise arms to same height as your shoulders (not above as shown in video).

D. Sprints (30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds rest)

  • Set treadmill speed at your sprint pace.
  • Sprint for 30 seconds, then jump off and rest for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.
  • Always start your sprints with a more conservative speed and increase speed on 2nd and 3rd sprints.

Workout B

A1. Seated Cable Row (10 reps)

  • Only arms and shoulders move, not torso.
  • Use an underhand grip with hands shoulder-width apart.

A2. Bench Pushups (6 to 12 reps)

  • This is a progression to pushups on the ground
  • Arms at a 45 degree angle to the body
  • Work up to 12 rep sets on the bench. Once those are easy, work up to 10 rep sets on the ground (flat), then 10 rep sets with your feet on the bench and hands on the ground.

A3. Sumo Squats (10 reps)

  • Wide stance, booty back, knees out
  • Push through heels coming up
  • Keep back straight

weighted-sumo-squat

B1. Kettlebell (KB) Deadlift (10 reps)

  • Keep heels in contact with ground and back straight

B2. Step Up (with DBs) (10R/L)

  • Start with no weight
  • Push through heel
  • Back straight, chest up
  • Do all the reps on one side, then all the reps on the other side

C1. Deadbug Progression (10R/L)

  • Low back flat against ground
  • Alternate right and left side reps

C2. Diagonal Curl Up (10R/L)

  • 10 reps on the left side then 10 reps on the right side

C3. DB Bicep Curl (10R/L)

  • Alternate arms: right arm curls, left arm curls, right arm curls, left arm curls….
  • Standing
  • Palm up
  • Move slow and controlled through entire rep

Alternating-bicep-curl-female

 

D. Jump Rope: alternate 1 minute jumping, 30 seconds rest

  • Keep your shoulders back, chest up
  • First minute: singles (one double-leg jump per rope turn)
  • Second minute: “+” shape. Hop forward-back, left-back, right-back, back-forward while jumping rope
  • Third minute: alternating single leg jump, one jump per rope turn.
  • 1-3 rounds of this!

Workout C

A1. Lat Pulldown (10)

  • Keep shoulders back and down the entire time
  • Overhand, shoulder-width grip or a little wider

lat-pulldown

A2. Cable Chest Press (10)

  • Don’t let elbows go behind your body

A3. Birddog (10 R/L)

  • Opposite arm and leg
  • Keep trunk, shoulders, hips stable
  • Hold each rep 5 seconds

B1. Goblet Squat (10)

  • Booty back
  • Back straight
  • Hold weight at your chest
  • Keep heels down and push through heels to come up

B2. Single Leg (SL) Deadlift (10 R/L)

  • Hold one weight (kettle bell or dumbbell) with two hands
  • Keep back straight
  • Slight bend in the knee
  • You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstring
  • Actively extend through back leg to counterbalance

Single-Leg-Deadlift-Kettlebell.jpg

C1. Cable Wood Chop Low to High (10R/L)

C2. Med Ball Crunch (10)

  • Hold ball overhead
  • Actively press lower back into ground
  • Raise ball to ceiling until shoulder blades come off the ground
  • Hold for one second before lowering

mb53_medicine_ball_workouts_crunch_medicine_ball2

C3. Cable Tricep Extension (10 R/L)

tricep-rope-extensions.jpg

D. Plyo Circuit:

20 Lateral Hops (pause and balance for a moment on each rep, start with narrow jumps, get wider)


10 Box Jumps (jump up, step down one foot at a time)
Unknown-1.jpeg
20 Up and Overs (start slow, get faster!)
lateral-jump-over
20 Skips (moving or in place)


 

Here’s a PDF you can print with all three workouts:

Full Body Beginner Workouts ABC


 

Extra credit cardio session:

Cardio Option A: 30 minutes of steady-state exercise

  • First 5 minutes: slowly warmup from light intensity to moderate intensity
  • 20 minutes at moderate intensity (an intensity where you are working but not working at an all-out or “sprint” level)
  • Last 5 minutes: cool down by decreasing your pace or resistance over 5 minutes

Cardio Option B: 30 minutes of Intervals

  • First 5 minutes: slowly warmup from light intensity to moderate intensity
  • 7 Intervals (21 minutes) of:
    • 1 minute at high intensity (sprint, max, push yourself, as hard as you can go for the minute)
    • 2 minute at low intensity (keep moving but let your body and breathing recover)
  • Last 4 minutes: cool down by decreasing your pace or resistance over 4 minutes

Ways to increase cardio intensity: 

  • Increase resistance
  • Increase incline on treadmill
  • Increase pace

**use hands to hold onto cardio equipment as little as possible

Easy Peasy!

Now print the PDF and get to the gym!

Let me know how it goes!

 

All About That Bass!

Everyone loves a nice, strong booty but getting one takes work!

Activation Drills

The first challenge many face on the road to booty gains is muscle activation. A great percentage of our days are spent, not generating power through our bums but sitting on them! For many, getting those gluteus muscles firing properly takes some persistence with activation drills. Try one or all of these at the beginning of your workout:

  1. Prone Scorpions (8 reps on each side)
    Lie facedown with legs together and arms out to a “T.” Squeeze one glute to initiate the movement, then swing it over toward the opposite hand. Touch toes to the ground and return to the starting position. Focus on keeping the opposite shoulder and hip on the ground.
  2. Birddog (6 reps on each side)
    Start on all 4’s, keeping the core tight by drawing the belly button toward the spine. Extend opposite arm and leg while keeping torso still and straight. This exercise has a bonus of also being a great core activation drill!
  3. Supine Bridge (10 reps)
    Position feet slightly wider than hip-width, push through the heels, and raise hips up. Squeeze your booty at the top position and hold for a second or two. Then lower to just above the ground before repeating.
  4. Bowler Squat (5 reps on each side)
    Balance on one leg, keeping that knee soft (slightly bent, not locked out). Push your booty back and use the opposite leg for a counterbalance as you reach down and across the body with your opposite arm. Keep your back straight! This exercise has an added benefit of reinforcing proper hip-hinge technique.
  5. Wall Marching: Glute Isometric Hold  (2 reps on each side, holding each rep for 5 seconds)

Booty-Building Exercises

The next step is building strength and size in the glute muscles. Here are a few of my favorite exercises.

  • Barbell Hip Thrust (3 sets of 8 reps)
    1.-barbell-hip-thrust-420x420_0.jpg
    For everything you need to know about hip thrusts, Bret Contreras is your guy! Check out this article.
    As a side note, this may not seem like the kind of movement you want to do in gym…in public, but trust me! The benefits far outweigh the potential awkwardness, and when in doubt, just avoid eye contact!
    7bi68
  • Banded Squats + Side Steps (2 sets of the following sequence)
    Step 1: Place mini band above or below the knees (I prefer below)
    Step 2: Take 10 steps sideways to your left, maintaining tension in the band at all times.
    Step 3: With legs a little wider than hip-width, perform 10 squats.
    Step 4: Take 10 steps sideways to your right, maintaining tension in the band at all times.
    Step 4: With legs a little wider than hip-width, perform 10 squats.
    d02a04a382375eea86ccb6d5d78f944c
  • Bulgarian Split Stance Squat (3 sets of 8 on each leg)
    Start with this exercise unloaded- Good luck!
    posterior-power-5-moves-to-wake-up-your-glutes_c
  • Kettlebell Deadlifts (3 X 10 Reps)
    Sit back, keep your heels down, and back straight. Push through your heels while coming up and squeeze your booty at the top.
    4853669_how-the-kettlebell-can-improve-your-deadlift_tc3053edc

Also, check out Bret Contreras’s (Known as the Glute Guy) 30 Day Ultimate Better But Challenge!

Give these a shot! Take a video/picture of yourself! #k8irelandactive

Strength Training for Fat Loss

So, you want to lose weight?

To start out, let’s make an important clarification:

  • Weight Loss: Doesn’t specify where weight is coming from. Weight can be lost from all sources including muscle, fat, water, limb amputation, organ removal, etc.
  • Fat Loss: Specifically, losing body fat, preferably while maintaining muscle mass and all limbs.

You want to lose fat, but how?

Option A: Spend countless hours of your week on a cardio machine

A 2011 study found that, on average, it takes 86 hours of  (steady state) aerobic exercise to lose 1 kilogram (about 2.2 pounds). If your goal is to lose 8 pounds (about 3.5 kilograms) that is 301 hours of cardio, or 3 hours and 20 minutes of cardio every day for the next 90 days. No thanks!

Option B: Embark on a strength training program. This is my choice. I’ll tell you why!

Reason 1: You’ll burn more calories doing nothing

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of Calories the body burns at rest on a daily basis, and it is directly dependent on the amount of lean body mass (i.e. muscle mass) one has.

Lean body mass: mass of the body not including fat.

The more muscle one has, the higher his or her lean body mass, the higher his or her BMR. Research estimates that each pound of muscle burns an extra 30-35 daily Calories. If a person gains 5 pounds of muscle, he or she will be burning an additional 150 Calories every day and losing an additional pound of fat every 3 weeks or so.

Reason 2: Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)

After periods of intense exercise, one’s metabolism can remain elevated for several hours after training. Oxygen is the currency of the body during exercise. During periods of intense, anaerobic exercise, the body depletes its oxygen reserve and goes into oxygen debt. After finishing the training session, the body must continue working to pay back this debt and does so by taking  in more oxygen over a period of time. The more oxygen debt, the longer the body takes to repay it.

Lifting weight can have a much greater effect on EPOC than other types of exercise. With enough intensity, this EPOC can last more than 38 hours after a workout.

For those of you who doubt the intensity of weight lifting, I suggest wearing a heart rate monitor during your heavy deadlift or squat sets. My heart rate gets as high as 170 beats per minute on those.

Reason 3: Strength Training Decreases Hunger Hormone

Ghrelin is called the “hunger hormone” because as its level rises, one feels hungrier and as its levels decrease in the body, one feels full and satiated. A recent study found ghrelin levels fell 13 to 21 percent after an intense strength training workout.

Reason 4: Muscle is required to look “toned”

Many desiring fat loss envision having a “toned” physique. A healthy diet and a lot of cardio can get you fat loss but not the “toned” look you desire. Muscle is required for this, and it doesn’t just show up- it takes months of work!

Not only is strength training important for building muscle, but it’s also crucial for maintaining muscle. Many fat loss strategies (cardio, eating less, exercising more) put the body into a catabolic state where it is breaking down tissue for energy. Unfortunately, these tissues include muscle tissue that the body doesn’t think it needs (because it isn’t being used on a regular basis). Strength training promotes anabolic processes in the body where muscle is built (or repaired), which helps in maintaining the muscle one already has.

Too often (especially with drastic weight loss strategies) a person will lose a lot of muscle in addition to fat from his or her fat loss efforts. The result is a skinny-fat appearance and lowered resting metabolism (remember Reason 1? Your BMR is dependent on lean body mass) making it more difficult to A) continue losing weight (because of slowed metabolism) and B) keep the weight off (because the body’s Caloric maintenance level is so low).

How to lift weights to lose weight:

  1. Prioritize exercises that use many muscle groups or large muscle groups
    For example: 
    Row Variations (Working the upper back, shoulders, and biceps)

    Chest Press Variations (Working the chest, shoulders, and triceps)

    Squat Variations (Working glutes, hamstrings, quads, core)

    Deadlift Variations (Working the legs, glutes, core, back)

  2. Lift Heavy Weight
    If you are a new to weight lifting, I suggest sticking in with “easy to medium” realm as far as weights go, for the first 2-3 weeks as you learn technique and your body adapts.
    Anyone else should lift weights that are in the “medium to hard” difficulty (as long as you can maintain good lifting technique). For example, if you are performing 3 sets of 10 reps of an exercise, your last 1 or 2 reps of sets 2 and 3 should be challenging. If you get to rep 10 and feel like you could have done 5 more reps, increase the weight on the next set.
  3. Vary your repetition ranges
    If you are new to weight lifting, stay in the 8-12 rep range to learn proper form.
    More experienced lifters can play with other rep ranges. I find myself starting workouts performing 4-rep sets of an exercise and finishing a workout with a couple sets of 12-20 reps.

 

 

 

 

Further Reading

Training Guidelines for Beginners by Sohee Lee

Eat, Lift, and Condition to Lose Fat and Maintain Muscle by Bret Contreras


 

  1.  Friedenreich CM, et al. Adiposity changes after a 1-year aerobic exercise intervention among postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Obes (Lond). 2011;35:427-435

 

Meatballs and Muffintops

Meatballs

Buffalo Meatballs. They aren’t too spicy either–just enough! I’ve been using this recipe so long that I don’t know where I found it, so I apologize to whomever I’m unable to give credit to. Anyway, here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious, protein-filled….balls.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 4oz Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 package (16-20oz) ground meat (I used ground turkey, but you could easily use another ground meat variety)

Mix all ingredients together. Form into meatballs of desired size on a cookie tray. Bake 450 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Serving ideas:

  • Meatballs + Rice
  • Meatballs + Salad
  • Meatballs + Celery and lite Ranch
  • Meatballs in a baggy in your purse… I can’t be the only one =P

Let me know if you try ’em!

Muffintops

Weight Gain Jean Girl

Well, to be more precise, this is the cardio element to get rid of them.

Parts of my fitness goals this year include losing fat and challenging my heart regularly, so in addition to my 4 day lifting split each week, I’ve started with 1 day of cardio every week. This way, if my results ever plateau or my body doesn’t feel challenged with this small amount of cardio, I can always add more.

images.jpeg

While there are many ways to do cardio (i.e. exercise that gets your heart rate up for health and calorie burning), my favorite way is short, sweet, and takes only 20 minutes.

Zombie Sprints

This can be done in any cardio modality, but is best done in a way that doesn’t limit speed (not treadmill or step mill). I like sprints on flat ground, hill sprints, spin bike sprints, or elliptical sprints (as a last resort).

  • Warmup: 5 minute (light to moderate intensity). You may want to incorporate dynamic stretches such as high knees, butt-kicks, lunges, etc to stretch out a bit.
  • Sprints: 10 minutes
    1:40 at 50% effort
    20 seconds at 105% effort (life-or-death-speed sprints, like zombies are chasing you)
    Repeat 5 times.

    • If you feel like you can do another sprint after those 5, you didn’t push hard enough
  • Cool down: 5 minutes (moderate to light intensity)
  • You’re done! Go home (or stretch a bit)

Zombie-Chase-zombieland-20358646-1280-1024

This is a type of training known as HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. The benefit to this type of cardio is it improves your anaerobic and aerobic capacities, speeds up your metabolism for the next 12-24 hours (more calorie burn), and preserves muscle tissue which can be catabolized from long-duration cardio.

 

DIY Healthy Diet

 

The-Problems-With-Low-Calorie-Diets-Article

Many of us find ourselves with more than ideal amounts of body fat. Listening to a Physique Science Radio podcast the other day, Layne Norton said something that resounded with me; talking about the national obesity problem he stated that, contrary to what one may think, we are actually really good at losing weight. Many obese or overweight people lose a significant amount of weight at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, statistics show that over 90% will gain it back within 3 years. What’s the problem?

Sustainability

Can you see yourself eating this way in 5 years?

The best diet is the one you can stick to [forever].

Diet-recipes34.jpg

If you’ve had success (weight loss) on diet xyz but gained the weight back, that diet didn’t work. It wasn’t sustainable.

This is why I’m a fan of the “moderation” approach, also called flexible dieting or if it fits your macros (IIFYM). No food is off limits and neither is the occasional alcoholic beverage. In my experience, restricting or excluding foods from a diet tends to increase cravings for them and the chances of binging on them at some point in the future.

dietcycle

Life is too short to exclude delicious foods. Sometimes, I want to enjoy a homemade spaghetti dinner with my family, a glass of wine with a fancy dinner, or a sundae with more whipped cream than ice cream. More so, I definitely do not want to feel guilty.

In this article I’m going to outline the steps I use with myself and clients to change eating habits for the better.

Steps to a Sustainable Diet

Take your time with these tasks. Spend at least one week focusing on each step, and don’t be afraid to hang out on one level for a month, a couple months, or a few years.

Step 1: Track Food Intake

Record food amounts as accurately as you can, using measuring cups or a food scale when available. Tracking food, while tedious, gets you acquainted with the amount of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) associated with certain foods as well as the average amount of macronutrients and calories you consume on a day to day basis.

Tips:

  • Use a phone app such as MyFitnessPal or MyMacros+
    IMG_5863
  • Don’t judge yourself for what or how much you eat. You are an amazing, awesome person–that has nothing to do with what or how much food you eat! Approach this like a scientist: observe your food habits with objectivity and without emotion. There are no “right” or “wrong” foods or amounts.
  • Consider purchasing a food scale that measures food in grams and ounces

Step 2: Track Food Intake + Meet Protein Goal

Continue tracking food. In addition to this, gradually increase your protein on a daily basis up to your target amount.

Protein is one of three macronutrients in food (carbohydrates and fats are the other two). Protein is what muscles are made of, and consuming protein helps fuel, build, and repair muscle during and after workouts.  Protein increases satiety, and it is also very difficult for the body to store protein as fat.

To calculate target protein, multiply current body weight in pounds by 0.8 to 1.0 (0.8 if not very active, 1.0 if you enjoy protein or workout regularly) and the product is the number of grams of protein you should eat in a day. For example, for a person who weighs 150 pounds, the daily protein goal is 120 grams if he or she does not workout regularly and 150grams if he or she does.

Protein sources (not limited to): chicken, tilapia, tuna, salmon, really any fish, eggs, egg whites, jerky, turkey, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whey.

images

Tips:

  • Center each meal around a protein source
  • Aim to consume 20-40 grams of protein at a time
  • Protein shakes or smoothies are a convenient way to get more protein
  • Make a list of protein sources you like to eat and keep your pantry stocked!

Step 3: Energy Balance and Macronutrients
Track Food +Meet Protein Goal + Meet Calorie Goal

Continue tracking your food and meeting your protein goal. Additionally, hit a daily Calorie goal. Keep reading to learn how to calculate yours.

Eric-Helms-Muscle-Strength-Nutrition-Pyramid

The foundation of the “nutrition pyramid” is energy balance. Energy refers to Calories. The goal is balancing the amount of Calories one expends during the day with the amount of Calories consumed or slightly altering them to gain or lose weight.

BalCalories2

To find a starting point for your daily Calories, multiply your current body weight by 13, 14, or 15, depending on your level of daily activity (low activity or sedentary job=13, high activity or active job=15). If your goal is to lose some weight, multiply by 13.

Example: 150lb X 13 = 1,950 Calories

Protein has 4 Calories (energy units) per gram, so if a 150 pound individual is eating 150 grams of protein, he or she is consuming 600 Calories of energy. Subtracting this amount from the daily Calorie goal: 1,950-600 = 1350 Calories remaining to be “spent” on the other macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats.

Step 4: Micronutrients
1 Whole Food Meal Each Day + 1 Serving of Veggies

In addition to performing the previous 3 steps’ tasks, incorporate one meal comprised of whole food ingredients each day and one serving of veggies. For bonus points, have your serving of veggies with your whole foods meal.

Whole foods: foods that contain only 1 ingredient and haven’t been processed by mankind in any way.

  • Salmon, asparagus, and a baked red potato with a little butter (real butter)
  • Eggs/egg whites, walnuts, green chard, and coffee with coconut oil
  • Salad with canned tuna, sunflower seeds, and vinaigrette

Vegetables: spinach, kale, asparagus, peas, corn, chard, squash, zucchini, broccoli, radishes, and more. Boil, roast, steam, or sauté them and season with salt, pepper, garlic, etc.

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Work up to eating a couple servings of veggies each day (most days) and consuming mostly whole foods with a few “fun” foods here and there.


Consistency, not perfection, in each of these steps will help improve your dietary habits. Keep things simple, don’t over think the minutiae, and enjoy foods you like!

For more reading, check out Sohee Lee’s Website or her How to Count Macros e-book.

What is your sustainable diet like?

Let me know if you give this a shot!