Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘Fat’

You Ugly Fat Cow

Many, many women spend most of their waking hours thinking about dieting. Or losing weight. Thinking about basically trimming fat off of their bodies so they can be more pleased with the reflection in the mirror. Or healthier.

Many, many men spend most of their waking hours thinking about sex and how good they might look to prospective girlfriends/wife. Thinking about what to do to tone up, bulk up, firm up so they can be more macho. Or healthier.

So we work out and we pay attention to what we eat and don’t eat. And most of us don’t get permanent results if all we are doing is move more and eat better. Because it’s all backwards.

Because Life happens from the inside out.

But interestingly enough, we want the out before we get the in. We are so backwards sometimes. Investing into changing our minds, nourishing them, cherishing them, changing them, stirring them up a bit seems lame. Too labor intensive. Stupid.

Yet come to think of it, controlling and growing our thoughts in the right direction is truly the first pillar of change. Because we won’t ever live above our thoughts. And this is the one pillar that will cause all other pillars to be strong. And only when this pillar is well established can we actually change the shape and health of our bodies. Because everything in life starts and happens from the inside out.  

In my career as a personal trainer, I once had a lovely client who saw herself as an “ugly fat cow.” Every time she would see herself in my wall-to-wall mirror, she would point her chin to the mirror and say, “you ugly fat cow!” Probably three times a session. Or maybe more.

You ugly fat cow.

You ugly fat cow.

You ugly fat cow.

She said it, she believed it, she was it in her own mind. And you know what? As long as that is where her mind was, her body never changed. No matter how hard she worked. No matter how little she ate. Nothing changed.

You ugly fat cow.

As I gained her confidence, I began to talk to her about her thoughts and her speech. Eventually, we got to the place where she was forbidden to say “you ugly fat cow.”

And then she began to believe me.

She changed her mind about herself. She changed her thoughts.

And her body changed.

Lifting Weights the Right Way

Are you guilty of going too light when you lift? If so, you may not be seeing the results you’d like. Learn more about why lifting heavier weights could change your entire bod

Lifting Heavy is the Key to Weight Loss: Did you know that muscle plays a huge role in raising metabolism. That’s because losing fat involves increasing your metabolism, and a pound of muscle burns about 10-20 calories a day while a pound of fat burns 5 calories. That means any growth in your muscle tissue is going to help you burn more calories all day long.

In fact, strength training has all kinds of great effects on your body like:

  • Increasing resting metabolic rate so you burn more calories, even while at rest.
  • Making you lean and slim–muscle takes up less space than fat so, the more you have, the slimmer you are
  • Strengthening bones and connective tissue, which can protect your body from injuries in daily life
  • Enhancing balance and stability
  • Building confidence and self-esteem

However…this only works if you’re using enough weight to stimulate that muscle growth. In other words, if you can lift the weights you’ve chosen (for most exercises) more than 16-20 times, you might not see the kind of fat loss you would if you increased your weight.

People, especially women, are afraid to lift heavy for all kinds of reasons: it feels weird, fear of injury, confusion as to how much is too much, fear of getting bulky (Lifting heavy weights will NOT make you huge–you simply don’t have the testosterone levels to build big muscles. Lifting heavy weights WILL help you lose fat), fear of pain.

But the

  • goal of weight training is to lift as much weight as you possibly can (with good form!) for the number of reps you’ve chosen. In daily life, we typically don’t push ourselves to fatigue in anything we do, so this idea may not only feel foreign, it may feel downright miserable. But it is totally worth it!

 

How heavy should you lift? Lifting between 60-80% of your 1 rep max is the best way to stimulate muscle growth, which is what helps you lose fat. The problem is that most of us don’t think much about how much weight we need, much less going through the process of figuring out 1 rep max for every exercise we’re doing. So, how do you figure out how much to lift if you don’t know your 1 rep max? Typically, if you lift 60%-80% of max, you could do anywhere from 10-20 reps. Lifting at 80% and above takes you down to the lower rep range, which is where you’ll be if you’re trying to gain size. That means keeping your reps somewhere between 8-16, if you’re lifting for weight loss and fitness. Your weights are determined by the number of reps you’re doing.

The important thing to remember when it comes to strength training is that you must give you your muscles more weight than they can handle–that’s how muscles grow. The challenge of lifting heavy is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one and, if you haven’t pushed your body’s limits in a while, just the act of lifting weights may be all you can handle. If you’re consistent with a basic program and build a solid foundation of strength, you’ll be ready for the next step–lifting heavy and pushing your muscles to their limits. You’ll be amazed at the changes in your body. And how much fun it is!

Glycemic Index

 In the past we have addressed carbohydrates and their effect on insulin production in the body.   

It is very important to understand and remember that diets high in processed sugars have been clearly shown to produce insulin resistance, which is primarily developed as a result of the fast absorption of simple sugars.  If you start your day with a high-glycemic load, you are going to have cravings all day long.  Complex carbs found in fruits and veggies don’t have the same quick, deleterious effect on insulin levels.  Low-glycemic carbs are absorbed slowly and raise the blood sugar levels slowly and steadily, and insulin levels rise only high enough to push glucose into the cells where it is burned as energy. Studies have shown that regular lower GI choices cause you to snack on lower calorie choices, give you energy, keep you feeling full and cause your metabolic rate to not slow down too much!

The glycemic index of a food refers to the rate at which foods cause glucose (sugar, which all carbs turn into) to rise in the blood.  The higher the glycemic index, the faster that food converts into blood sugar, so the more your body has to make insulin and the harder it is to bring your insulin level into balance. Many other factors come into play, including the amount of protein, fat and fiber eaten with the carbohydrates and the cooking and processing methods, so we have to always remember that the whole diet  counts, not just the individual foods. Yet as you become aware of the GI of the foods you eat, you can tweak some of what you eat to your advantage so you avoid the spike in blood sugar and therefore the rush of insulin that causes you to eat more calories still. Try to avoid mostly carbohydrate meals or starches without any fiber and select a balanced diet from a variety of foods, with a focus on nutrient-dense vegetables, fruit, low fat dairy, and lean proteins, we will naturally have a lower glycemic load.

The glycemic index number is determined in part by the speed with which we eat and digest. The faster the sugars/starches are processed and absorbed in the bloodstream, the fatter we get; anything that speeds the process of digesting carbs is not recommended and anything that slows it down is great!  Digestion breaks the food down; anything that keeps the food intact longer is beneficial to us. So, raw broccoli is better than cooked broccoli for example.  In processed foods, the marketing people already digest it somehow for us: white bread hits the bloodstream like white sugar from the sugar bowl!  On the other hand, old-fashion coarse bread puts the stomach to work.

Three basic truths:

1.The more the food is preprocessed, the more fattening it will be

2.Fiber delays the stomach’s effort to get at the sugars and starches in carbohydrates.

3. Fat and protein also delay the stomach’s effort to get at the sugars and starches in carbs, so adding a bit of protein and good fat to your carbs is beneficial—almond butter with the bread for example—because you will then make less insulin and reduce the cravings for more food later.

The bottom line is simple: If there isn’t any surge of blood sugar, the pancreas doesn’t produce as much insulin and we don’t get the exaggerated cravings for more carbs. Learn to eat foods that cause a gradual increase/ decrease in blood sugar and anticipate hypoglycemia, averting it with timely snacks.

Noteworthy:

~Fruits’ sugar, called fructose, have a lower glycemic index than table sugar.  Mixed with fiber, fructose is acceptable; without the fiber, it could hurt you, so keep the fruit whole and unpeeled if possible, and avoid juices.

~Maltose, the sugar in beer, has a higher glycemic index than white bread (bad!).  Insulin response to it leads to fat storage in the abdomen—“beer belly.”

~Metamucil with water is a neat solution 15 minutes before eating to lower glycemic load of a meal.

Burning Fat

Can we really turn our bodies into fat burning machines?  What is the best way to burn fat?  We get our energy from fat, carbs and protein but which one our bodies draw from depends on the kind of activity we’re doing. Obviously, it makes sense to most people to use fat for energy, because we think that the more fat we can use as fuel, the less fat we’ll have in our bodies, right? Yet using more fat doesn’t automatically lead to losing more fat.

Understanding the best way to burn fat starts with some basic facts about how the body gets its energy. Primarily, the body uses fat and carbs for fuel. A small amount of protein is used during exercise, but mainly just to repair the muscles after exercise.  The ratio of these fuels will shift depending on the activity you’re doing.

  • For higher intensity exercise, such as fast-paced running, the body will rely more on carbs for fuel than fat. That’s because the metabolic pathways available to break down carbs for energy are more efficient than the pathways available for fat breakdown.  For long, slower exercise, fat is used more for energy than carbs. When you sit or sleep, you are actually in your fat-burning mode!
  • To actually lose weight, it doesn’t matter what type of fuel you use. What matters is how many calories you burn as opposed to how many calories you take in; you need to burn the calories, not necessarily using more fat for energy. The harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn overall. But, you’ve probably never contemplated the idea of sleeping more to lose weight, as lovely as that thought is.

Just because you’re using more fat as energy doesn’t mean you’re burning more calories.

Exercising at lower intensities will use more fat for energy–this basic premise is what started the theory of the ‘fat burning zone,’ or the idea that working in a certain heart rate zone (around 55 to 65 of your maximum heart rate) will allow your body to burn more fat.  This theory has become so ingrained in our exercise experience that we see even see it on cardio machines.  But it is misleading, because even though working at lower intensities isn’t a bad thing, it won’t burn more fat off your body unless you’re burning more calories than you’re eating. One way to increase your calorie burn is to exercise at higher intensities.

This doesn’t mean however that you need to avoid low intensity workouts if you want to burn more fat. There are specific things you can do to burn more fat and it all starts with how and how much you exercise.

Burning more fat with cardio exercise: 

High Intensity Training: There’s no doubt that high intensity workouts can be helpful for weight loss as well as improving endurance and aerobic capacity. For example, a 150-lb. person would burn about 225 calories after running at 6 mph for 30 minutes. If this person walked at 3.5 mph for that same length of time, he would burn 85 to 90 calories. High Intensity Cardio falls between about 75 to 85 of your maximum heart rate (MHR). This translates to exercising at a level that feels challenging and leaves you too breathless to talk much. An example of high intensity workout is a 20-minute workout at a fast pace: You can use any activity or machine, but the idea is to stay in the high intensity work zone throughout the workout. You’ll find that 20 minutes is usually the recommended length for this kind of workout and most people wouldn’t want to go much longer than that.

Interval Training: A great way to incorporate high intensity training without doing it continuously is by doing intervals. Alternate a hard segment (e.g., running at a fast pace for 30 to 60 seconds) with a recovery segment (e.g., walking for 1 to 2 minutes). Repeat this series for the length of the workout, usually around 20 to 30 minutes.

Moderate Intensity Cardio: Moderate intensity exercise typically falls between about 60 to 70 of your MHR  At the lower end of this range, you can carry on a conversation without much difficulty and you feel pretty comfortable with what you’re doing.  Moderate intensity workouts have some great benefits, not the least of it being comfort, which we help you be more consistent with your program; better health — Even modest movement can improve your fitness while lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure; more choices: high intensity workouts will usually involve some kind of impact or, at the least, a fast pace, but you can usually get up into the more moderate heart rate zones with a variety of activities, providing you work hard enough. Even raking leaves or shoveling snow, if you do it vigorously enough, can fall into that category.

 Low Intensity Activity: Low intensity exercise is considered to be below about 50 to 55 of your MHR, keeping you at a pace that isn’t too taxing and doesn’t pose much of a challenge. It involves the kind of long, slow activities you feel like you could do all day and, even better, activities you usually enjoy such as taking a stroll, light gardening, a long, slow bike ride. a gentle stretching routine.  This doesn’t have to be a structured, scheduled workout, but something you do all day long by walking more, taking the stairs, doing more physical chores around the house, etc.

Mix it up!

Too many high intensity workouts in one week can lead to overtraining, overuse injuries, burnout, inconsistent workouts or growing to hate exercise!   Having some variety can help you stimulate all of your different energy systems, protect you from overuse injuries, and help you enjoy your workouts more. If you’re doing several days of cardio each week—which I hope you are!– you probably want just 1 or 2 workouts to fall into the high intensity range. You can use other workouts to target different areas of fitness (like endurance) and allow your body to recover.

Exercise Consistently: It may seem like a no-brainer that regular exercise can help you burn fat and lose weight. Yet it is not just about the calories you’re burning, but it is also about the adaptations your body makes when you exercise on a regular basis. Many of those adaptations lead directly to your ability to burn more fat without even trying. When you exercise regularly, your body becomes more efficient at delivering and extracting oxygen — Simply put, this helps your cells burn fat more efficiently.   When you exercise regularly, your body also has better circulation, allowing fatty acids to move more efficiently through the blood and into the muscle. That means fat is more readily available for fueling the body.   Consistency also increases the number and size of mitochondria, the cellular power plants that provide energy for the body.  And of course, regular exercise will also help you manage your weight.  The more activity you engage in, the more calories you’ll burn, and the easier it is to create the calorie deficit needed to lose weight.

Tips for Consistent Exercise

  • 1. Schedule some exercise time every day, even if it’s just a few minutes.
  • 2. Split up your workouts. You can get the same benefit from short workouts spread throughout the day as do with continuous workouts.
  • 3. Change daily routines to incorporate activity. Park at the edge of the parking lot at work to add more walking time, or add an extra lap at the mall when shopping. Integrating more activity into your usual routines will help you stay active, even if you don’t have time for a structured workout.
  • 4. Make exercise your focus and schedule the rest of your day around it instead of trying to squeeze it in when you can. If it’s not a priority, you won’t do it.

 

Lift Weights: Adding more muscle by lifting weights can also help with burning fat. Lifting weights preserves muscle mass, and by now you know that muscle is metabolically active, so when you lose it, you also lose the extra calorie-burn muscles can provide.  As you lift weights, it keeps your metabolism going; a nutrition-only approach to weight loss could lower a person’s resting metabolic rate by up to 20% a day! Lifting weights and maintaining muscle helps keep the metabolism up, even if you’re cutting your calories.  Weight training also helps you burn extra calories; if you lift weights at a higher intensity, you can actually increase your afterburn, or the calories you burn after your workout.

When it comes to burning more fat, you have to work at it—there is no magic!

 

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